§ [FIFTH DAY]
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [30th November]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as followeth:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.—[Mr. J. N. Browne.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ 3.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I beg to move, at the end of the Question, to add:but humbly regret that despite the Resolution passed by this House on 5th April of this year relating to instruments of mass destruction Her Majesty's Government have not displayed the necessary sense of urgency in seeking means to rid the world of this menace.May I recall what the Resolution of April last contained? In it the House recognised that the hydrogen bomb was a great menace to civilisation and that any recourse to war might lead to its use. It called on the Government to take an immediate initiative to bring about a meeting between the Prime Minister and the heads of the administrations of the United States and Russia. The meeting was to consider the problem of the reduction and control of armaments and to devise positive policies to free the nations from fear by the strengthening of collective peace under the United Nations.
That Resolution and the wise, generous and non-party speech made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition on that day received a very poor reception from the Prime Minister. We all recall his speech and we all regret it. But the Resolution was unanimously adopted by the House and that made it a mandate to the Government, a mandate to take immediate initiative at the highest level to strive for a new start in the work on armaments in the attempt to rid the world of the dangers that now threaten the lives of every man and woman.
608 It was eight months yesterday since that Resolution was adopted and, in our view the mandate is almost wholly unfulfilled. Indeed, we think that the Government have treated it with contempt. True, the Disarmament Commission of the United Nations met on our proposal soon after 5th April. Its sub-committee was formed and sat in Lancaster House and the present Minister of Supply took part. It received the Anglo-French memorandum, which he and M. Moch drew up, and an admirable paper from the United States delegate on inspection and control.
Let us look at that against the history of the Commission. It was set up at the end of 1951 by the Assembly of the U.N. with the full assent of M. Vyshinsky. It was told to draft and prepare for an all-round and massive armament reduction under international control and was told to report within six months. The Government soon showed what they thought about it. They did not send a Minister, not even a junior Minister, to represent them. The Commission met for four months in 1952. It received some admirable proposals on general principles to which we in this House gave support and which were brought forward by the Western Powers. It printed these proposals, together with the record of its discussions, and called that its Report to the Assembly.
Then, for 20 months, it never met again. No serious work was done until, in April, 1954, by our Resolution, the House compelled the Government to ask for the Commission's Report. The sub-committee of five was then set up. It met in London, at Lancaster House, for two or three days a week for about six weeks. It made another Report like that of 1952, a collection of interesting proposals and 300 pages of the verbatim record of the talks.
No one who reads the verbatim record will feel less than admiration for the then Minister of State, who is now the Minister of Supply. I do not want to embarrass him. I admire his patience, his persistence and his tact, but what support has he received? What action, what initiative, have the Government taken at the highest level? Has the meeting which the House demanded between the heads of States ever been proposed? Has the Prime Minister sent any messages about disarmament to President Eisenhower or Mr. Malenkov? Has he discussed it with 609 M. Mendes-France, who went to New York to speak of it the other day in the Assembly?
Has he made a speech about it to declare his faith in the principles which the then Minister of State put forward and to wipe out the lamentable effect of his speech of April last? Has the Foreign Secretary made a speech about disarmament since April; have the Minister of Defence, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Home Secretary, who were all most intimately concerned?
The Minister of State has done well and has got a little progress. We all rejoice in last Saturday's resolution in the Assembly on an international atomic agency for peaceful uses. That is only very indirectly connected with disarmament. It cannot do much and anyway it was President Eisenhower's proposal made to the Assembly after the Bermuda Conference a year ago. The Prime Minister did not even go from Bermuda with the President, to lend him his support. Counting the Bermuda journey, the Prime Minister has crossed the Atlantic four times since 1951 and has never visited the United Nations.
There is some other progress. The Anglo-French memorandum, which was utterly rejected at Lancaster House in the summer, was accepted by Mr. Vyshinsky in October as the basis on which the subcommittee will now continue its work. That has got rid of two stupid and obstructive difficulties that should never have been raised. But this is very modest progress. The memorandum is mostly on general principles and general objectives.
After three years the Commission has not even begun to draft the first chapter of a disarmament treaty. Even the Minister of Supply has not shown much sense of urgency, but his senior colleagues have shown no sense of urgency at all. He has had no support at the highest level. Now, when there is a chance that drafting may begin, the Government take him off the job and throw away the knowledge experience and personal authority which he has gained. At the Government's rate of progress we cannot hope for a disarmament convention for many years—and how much they care about that is eloquently shown by the fact that in spite of the Resolution of April last they do not say a word about it in the Gracious Speech.
610 When my right hon. Friend moved that Resolution in April he described the power of the hydrogen bomb and said—rightly, as the House thought—that urgent action was required; that forces of destruction keep piling up; that all other problems are really dwarfed by this; that time is not on the side of the survival of civilisation, and that every month the danger is increased. That is just as true today as it was eight months ago.
Looking back to 1951, it is apparent that the Government have done very little to arouse the nation to the danger, or to lead the world. They have done almost nothing to make men think that this problem dwarfs all others. Except for the former Minister of State, they give me the impression that they think that disarmament, while no doubt desirable, is at present Utopian, and perhaps can usefully be discussed in some far-off, happier days to come. It may be true that we shall not get disarmament until we get a general settlement between East and West, but it may also be true that we shall not get a general settlement between East and West until we get disarmament; the two may have to go together.
It is certainly true that we shall not get disarmament without a long and careful preparation—which has barely been begun—of a plan in draft treaty form, which shows how the technical problems can be solved and which is plainly safe and fair for every nation. It is vital that that draft convention shall be ready by the time that the chance of a general settlement comes—and the mere existence of a treaty, with the hopes it would arouse, might help to bring a settlement nearer.
It may well be that the Kremlin will never accept an Austrian treaty; it may well be that they will never accept the unity of Germany—so long as they are still thinking in terms of competitive armaments and war. I believe that the Government, like many other people, regard disarmament as Utopian, because they have come to think that immense armaments, long-term conscription, the constant development of weapons, and immense expenditure on military research are a part of the Almighty's ordering of the world, only to be ended when He works a new and universal miracle in the hearts and minds of men.
611 In fact, it is only 70 years—a strong man's life-time—since the growth of modern armaments began. In 1884, we spent £30 million on our defences. In 1893, Mr. Gladstone resigned as Prime Minister for the last time; he opposed a plan to build new ships against the French. His colleagues insisted on the ships, and defence expenditure rose in 1894 to £35 million. By 1904, Von Tirpitz had come along, and we switched our friendship to the French. By 1914 our defence expenditure had risen to £77 million, and hon. Members who are as old as I am will remember that people then used to say that the burden was intolerable; that we had better have the war and get it over.
We had the war, which Lord Grey and the Prime Minister and their Liberal colleagues had striven to zealously to avert. When it was over, Lord Grey wrote his two-volume history of the pre-war years, and this was his conclusion:Great armaments lead inevitably to war. The increase of armaments that is intended in each nation to produce consciousness of strength, and a sense of security, does not produce these effects. It produces a consciousness of the strength of other nations, and a sense of fear.Let hon. Members consider what has happened in the United States in the last five years. Lord Grey then described how wrong was the German attitude when he negotiated with them in 1914. He went on:But although all this be true, it is not, in my opinion, the real and final account of the origin of the Great War. The enormous growth of armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity and fear caused by them—it was these that made war inevitable. This is the truest reading of history, the warning to be handed on to those who come after us.His warning went unheeded. A pledge to make a general treaty of disarmament was inserted in the Covenant of the League of Nations, but it was unfulfilled. After 1918, British expenditure on arms at 1914 prices, never fell as low as it had been then. The Disarmament Conference of 1932 was allowed to fail; Hitler came to power, and the arms race became swifter and more dangerous than ever.
The present Prime Minister saw its danger. In the House of Commons in 1936 he spoke some words that have a great significance today. He said: 612I cannot believe that, after armaments in all countries have reached a towering height, they will settle down and continue at a hideous level far above the present level, already crushing, and that that will be for many years a normal feature of the world's routine. Whatever happens, I do not believe that will. Europe is approaching a climax. I believe that that climax will be reached in the lifetime of the present Parliament. Either there will be a melting of hearts and a joining of hands between great nations which will set out upon realising the glorious age of prosperity and freedom which is now within the grasp of the millions of toiling people, or there will be an explosion and a catastrophe, the course of which no imagination can measure, and beyond which no human eye can see."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd April, 1936; Vol. 311. c. 339.]Those were prophetic words, and I hope that the House will mark them. They are the answer to what many people say today. They support the Amendment which I have moved this afternoon.
We won the Second World War. We destroyed Hitler. We made the United Nations. But the arms race still went on. In 1939, we were spending £523 million on armaments. In 1954, we are spending £1,640 million. At 1914 prices, that is six times what we were spending at the peak of the arms race which, Lord Grey said, had brought about the First World War. It is 14 times what we were spending 70 years ago. But, as every hon. Member is aware, by far the gravest aspect of the present arms race lies in the results of our vast expenditure of £160 million a year upon military research and development.
Never in history has there been so swift a revolutionary change in armaments as in the last 10 years. Most of the conventional weapons of 1945 are museum pieces today. It is the new weapons which have been developed since then that are a mortal menace to us and other nations. I venture to think that the Government have been less than candid with our people about the dangers which these weapons involve. Indeed, when I read what the Secretary of State for War says upon how to make an Army mobile in atomic warfare, or the former Home Secretary's broadcast upon the hydrogen bomb and Civil Defence, or the former Minister of Supply upon guided missiles, I wonder whether they are being honest with themselves.
Let us consider guided missiles—the successors of Hitler's V.1s and V.2s. The Americans have six types in service, in 613 the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Some of them are defensive, to be used against aircraft, and some of them are for attack. The Russians are supposed to be ahead in this field. They are supposed to be making them by tens of thousands a year. The problems of fitting nuclear warheads and guiding the missiles on to their targets have been solved.
American Service authorities are talking officially about what they call the I.B.M.—the inter-continental ballistic missile. This super-V.2, which carries a tremendous hydrogen warhead and has a range of 5,000 miles, is capable of travelling at 4,000 miles an hour and being guided to the city to be attacked. We are told that it will be in quantity production in seven years. A Canadian expert, Dr. Shrum, who is a Fellow of the Royal Society, says it will be only five years before modern jet bombers and jet fighters will be out-of-date, and his conclusion is "There will be no escaping the I.B.M."
In this country, we can forget the "I", because a much shorter range missile will do for us. It has been said that with ordinary high explosive warheads, all England could now be laid waste as far north as York. And the experts agree that they foresee no possible defensive measures against ballistic missiles, once they have been launched.
As far as I remember, Ministers have never talked about the chemical weapon, poison gas. But, before 1939, all our experts thought it was the greatest danger to the country. We all carried our gas masks round for years, and even babies had their gas-proof perambulators. Hitler never used it, perhaps because he was twice gassed himself in the First War, and did not want to face the risk again. In the First War, gas produced far more casualties, ton for ton, than high explosive, and in the last 10 years a new group of gases has been developed—the "nerve gases," officially known as Tabun.
A United States Army and Air Force Field Manual says that these gases are far more deadly than any used before. They are colourless, they cannot be smelled, cannot be felt and cannot be seen. They enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth or skin. They seep through ordinary clothing, and they destroy the central nervous system. The 614 victim dies in agony in a few hours, and there is no adequate known defence or antidote at all. The danger of its use is real. The use of Tabun was a leading feature of the big manoeuvres called "Exercise Flashburn," which the United States Army carried through this year.
I leave out bacteriological warfare, because it is a contentious subject, and I come to the hydrogen bomb and the atom bomb. These are four weapons in one. There is blast—high explosive on a gigantic scale; they are incendiary—hundreds of major fires, resulting in a fire-storm, from every bomb; there are gamma rays, which are deadly at a great distance to those who are exposed to them; and there is residual radio-activity, which is perhaps the worst of all. Again, with respect, the Government have been much less than frank about this danger.
In June of this year, a London paper published a long article, which was, frankly, officially inspired recruiting propaganda, written on the basis of official maps, propaganda to get people to join in Civil Defence. It was all based on what the Government called the "nominal bomb"—the one that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But it is years since the scientists produced an atomic, a nuclear fission bomb 10 times as powerful as that, equivalent in its destructive power to 200,000 tons of T.N.T., instead of merely 20,000, like the "nominal bomb."
Last month, another great paper published an article, which again seemed to me to have been officially inspired, which said that if 12 hydrogen bombs fell on Britain we might expect to lose a million dead. If one hydrogen bomb fell on this Palace of Westminster, the area of total destruction would be nine miles across—out to Poplar, Wandsworth Common, Hammersmith and Primrose Hill. The area of heavy damage would be 20 miles across—from Enfield to the far side of Wimbledon Common. There might be casualties from radio-activity in Reading, Oxford, Cambridge and elsewhere.
I prefer the candour of the leaders of the United States. Admiral Strauss has told us that one hydrogen bomb, such as was exploded at Bikini, can totally destroy any city in the world; and we know that the United States now have another one which is far bigger. Mr. Val Peterson, Chief Administrator of Civil Defense in 615 the United States, held an exercise not long ago, when 425 heavy bombers attacked, and 30 per cent. were supposedly shot down. He told Congress that the casualties were 9 million dead. The United States Secretary for Air has said that a whole continent, man, beasts and vegetation, could be blasted in a single night. General Chidlaw, United States Commander of Continental Air Defense, said last week that 90 per cent. success against enemy bombers would not save the country from paralysis and defeat.
These men are soldiers, tough Republican administrators, who live with this problem every day. Perhaps they overstate it. Perhaps the experts are too hopeful about the I.B.M. But, in fact, for the last 10 years, the tempo of weapon progress has been far faster than the scientists have predicted. Some people say that in the very danger of these weapons safety lies; that war has abolished itself; that if we go on piling up the bombs, no one will ever dare to fight again.
The whole of history is against that view. So is the immense premium which these post-war weapons place upon the aggressor's devastating—perhaps, as he may hope, unanswerable—attack. The Governments cannot risk the fate of humanity on a gamble such as that. In spite of everything, I am all for Civil Defence, but that is not where safety lies.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
There is no hope in simply banning nuclear bombs.
In 1933, when the Foreign Secretary was there, our Government proposed to the Geneva Conference a ban on the bombing of civilians and on all weapons that made use of fire. We said that this was inherent in the accepted principles of international law. But, in 1943, we burnt 60,000 civilians to death in our raids on Hamburg, and in 1945, the Americans burnt 80,000 in a single raid on Tokyo. A few months later, we used the atom bomb.
In my view, there is no hope in unilateral disarmament. We do not stop the arms race by dropping out. But there is another answer that must surely strike every hon. Member with blinding force. If we could undo the work 616 of the last 70 years, and go back to the defences, the expenditure, the manpower and the weapons which we had in 1884, surely, every nation would feel far safer than it does today. The fulfilment of the United Nations Charter pledges to disarm is the only policy that is not now Utopian, the only policy that can give the national security for which armaments allegedly exist.
I know that there are difficulties of every kind. I know the greatest of them. I have suffered in the United Nations from Russian obstruction, like the Minister of Supply. I bitterly regret the Russian attitude to the United Nations plan for atomic energy control. In my view, it was a noble plan: Dr. Oppenheimer's work; the internationalisation of the greatest scientific discovery of all time. I know that the problem is far harder now than it was in 1946, because great stocks of atom bombs exist.
I regret the Russian hesitation about inspection and control. They accept a permanent United Nations inspectorate, stationed on Soviet soil, with, what they call, "wide powers"; but even in his last speech to the Assembly, Mr. Vyshinsky left it quite obscure whether these inspectors would really be able to detect a violation, if it occurred. I regret the Russian attitude to German unity and an Austrian treaty. If they are genuinely afraid of German militarism, by far their surest safeguard, as Dr. Adenauer and M. Moch have so often said, lies in the drastic disarmament of Germany, as part of the general system, and under permanent United Nations control.
There are political difficulties elsewhere. I regret the attitude of the United States about the seating of China in the United Nations. I regret their decision to deneutralise and rearm Formosa. I regret their support for the revolution in Guatemala last July. I believe that all that is due to the arms race; to the acute fear among Americans which followed the Russian's discovery of thermo-nuclear bombs.
In any case, all these difficulties, political, technical and scientific, can be overcome. Let the Prime Minister remember the minute which he wrote on the Mulberry project in 1943. Dr. Oppenheimer 617 told me, only six months ago, that, in his belief, a workable scheme for atomic energy control could still be found. But reading the records of the Lancaster House discussions, and the reports of the recent Assembly debates, in which the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs took part, I have the feeling that we shall not get much progress, that the tempo will not be quickened to keep up with the tempo of weapon progress until a major Government puts up a definite, concrete plan.
For years the Assembly has been passing resolutions pledging every Government to the total abolition of instruments of mass destruction; to the major reduction of all other arms and forces; and to inspection and control. For years the Disarmament Commission has been debating by what stages, and in what order, these objectives should be achieved.
The Minister of State will tell us that, on that important matter, the Assembly at last has made some progress. But that very progress only makes it the more urgent to have proposals about how the abolitions will be made, how the reductions will be effected, how the organs of control will work. It is only when one gets down to the details that the true difficulties really appear, and a clear hope of a solution can be born.
I put it to the Government that they should now draw up a practical and comprehensive plan; that they should call in all the experts and scientists required; that they should lay the plan before the conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in six weeks' time; that they should ask the Prime Ministers to endorse it, to make it a Commonwealth Plan; that they should lay it before the United Nations subcommittee as our proposal for the basis of its work; that they should ask the subcommittee to work continuously and quickly, and to report to the Special Assembly on Disarmament, to be held next year, which India has proposed. I hope that the Government will say that the Prime Minister will himself attend that Assembly, to give our British view on the progress made.
The Prime Minister told us on Wednesday that he is staying in office to work for peace. Then he must give a great part of his efforts to this problem of 618 armament reduction and control. He must mobilise the Commonwealth in its support. When they are united, as they would be, they are still by far the greatest single force both in the Assembly and in world affairs. He must urge the plan himself on President Eisenhower, on Mr. Malenkov and M. Mendès-France.
The right hon. Gentleman must explain himself to Russia that, when we ask for absolute guarantees of full inspection and control, we have no desire to meddle in their internal affairs or interfere in their economy. Let him tell them that, if we reach agreement on a massive international armament reduction, with effective inspection and control, we can reconsider all our alliances and pacts—N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O., Western Union—I have backed them all—our pacts and their new Moscow conference plan—all might then be merged in a world-wide system of mutual guarantees. Let the Prime Minister tell them that we will use our influence, all we have, to bring China in.
This is a very ambitious programme, but disarmament, if we ever get it, will be a tremendous operation: a political revolution in the conduct of international affairs to match the physical revolution in world society which the scientists have made. But let the Government remember the words of John Stuart Mill:Against a great evil, a small remedy does not produce a small result; it produces no result at all.By a programme such as this, the Government can fulfil the mandate given them by the House eight months ago.
It is true, as my right hon. Friend said then, that all other problems are dwarfed by this. Our generation must end the arms race, or the arms race will assuredly end us. It exerts a terrible compulsion, as remorseless and as inexorable as fate. Albert Einstein was a lifelong pacifist; yet it was he who first proposed to President Roosevelt, in August, 1939, that the Western democracies should make the atom bomb. He knew that Hitler's scientists were working on it, and that, if they got it first, that might make the Nazis the masters of mankind. The arms race will drive the nations to the ultimate disaster, if they allow it to go on. Now is the time to stop it; and we are the people who should lead the nations back to peace.
§ 4.10 p.m.
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
In this Amendment, Her Majesty's Government are accused of not havingdisplayed the necessary sense of urgency in seeking means to rid the world ofinstruments of mass destruction. Since the war—and I think this is apparent from the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker)—it really has been common ground between the parties in regard to disarmament that particular weapons, however dreadful, cannot be dealt with in isolation.
That was made quite clear by the Leader of the Opposition on 5th April, and by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) in the same debate; and the right hon. Member for Derby, South has made that point again and again. Therefore, that means that this Amendment is censuring the Government not for their handling of issues relating to a particular weapon, but for their efforts in regard to general disarmament.
The Amendment also specifies that the ground for complaint is not that we have done wrong, or have put forward unsound plans, but simply that wehave not displayed the necessary sense of urgency.The Resolution of 5th April is brought in aid, and as the right hon. Member for Derby, South has said, that Resolution suggested an immediate initative to bring about a meeting between the Prime Minister and the heads of the Administrations of the United States of America and of the U.S.S.R., to consider anew the problems of the reduction and control of arms by the removal of fear and the strengthening of the United Nations.
In accepting that Resolution, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made the Government's position quite clear. After referring, first, to progress through diplomatic channels, and, secondly, to progress through the Disarmament Commission, he then said:Then I would say that, thirdly, there is any and every opportunity that presents itself, either at the United Nations or in any other way, for talks between Ministers at any level, and, finally, the meeting at the highest level of all. All or any of those means we are 620 prepared to employ, and ready to employ, and it is in that sense that we accept this Motion. We shall employ all and every one of them, but, as a Government, we think that we are entitled to say how, when and where to put the emphasis at any given time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th April, 1954; Vol. 526, c. 151.]That is exactly the position that the Government have been taking up, and precisely the manner in which they have been tackling international problems since that debate. Suggestions about a lethargic and indifferent Government sound strange when we consider the record of achievement during the past eight months. Despite all the dangers still remaining, few Foreign Secretaries and few Governments could have had a more remarkable record in that period.
First, there were the Geneva Agreements which, in addition to ending eight years of bitter fighting, and in spite of all the uncertainties that still prevail, provided a basis for a modus vivendi in South-East Asia. There were the settlements with Egypt and Persia, the agreement with Saudi Arabia, the settlement of Trieste, the conclusion of the London-Paris Agreements on Western European Union, and, what is more, for the first time since 1945, some progress towards agreement—how much I shall deal with later—with the U.S.S.R. on the question of disarmament.
I do not believe that any Government without a sense of urgency could have achieved so much in so short a time, nor do I believe that we failed to display that sense of urgency. The challenge today is confined to disarmament, and perhaps it is not inappropriate that I should speak in reply, because I was the United Kingdom representative at the London talks, and I led the United Kingdom delegation to New York in September and October, when the General Assembly considered disarmament.
It may be said that it showed a lack of urgency to entrust the Minister of State and not the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs with these discussions. But when the Lancaster House talks were taking place, my right hon. Friend was in Geneva, working for peace in a way which won the admiration of the whole House, and when the New York discussions were taking place my right hon. Friend was engaged in the talks on the London-Paris Agreements, which an 621 overwhelming majority of this House approved. Of course, throughout I acted under the instructions of my right hon. Friend, and I spoke in the name of the Government.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
How can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say that an overwhelming majority voted for the London-Paris Agreements, when there are 625 Members of this House and only 264 voted for them?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman should be more accurate in his facts. I did not say that an overwhelming majority voted for the Agreements; I said that an overwhelming majority had approved them, and that is quite correct. Therefore, I am very glad to defend the Government's record since April in these matters.
I do not think that we have any cause to be ashamed—far from it—but, on the other hand, may I make it perfectly clear beyond any misunderstanding that I am not the least complacent about the present position, or satisfied with the progress made. We can never be satisfied until rapid progress is being made along the road to full agreement. But what is nonsense—and I suspect that many hon. Members opposite know it to be nonsense—is the allegation that we have not been actuated by a sense of urgency. The right hon. Member for Derby, South said some pleasant things about me personally, but he did not exclude me from the charge that I had not been actuated by a sense of urgency.
I think that there are certain basic considerations in the approach to disarmament. The first is that existing causes of tension will not be removed merely by the conclusion of a disarmament treaty. I think that until the existing causes of tension have been removed, it probably will not be possible to get signature of a disarmament treaty.
Secondly, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that peace will never be permanent unless there is an understanding between the nations about armaments. Thirdly, in the course of preparing the disarmament treaty, we shall without doubt, as we progress in agreement, contribute to the general lessening of tension, a lessening which will make possible a settlement of outstanding 622 matters of disagreement. The two processes are complementary, and must go along together.
Fourthly, the ever-increasing destructiveness of modern weapons—not only of nuclear weapons—invests our efforts with great urgency, and I can assure the Opposition that they have no monopoly of anxiety in these matters. The right hon. Gentleman had small praise for the speech of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 5th April. If he reads the earlier part of that speech again, he will see that my right hon. Friend said very much what the right hon. Gentleman said about the destructiveness of the hydrogen bomb, and said it with all his great authority.
§ Mr. Lloyd
Against that background—and in this discussion I am quite willing to decide by actions—let us consider the situation as it was on 5th April, 1954. I must say that I think the right hon. Gentleman gave it rather a cursory examination. The position was that there had been long debates in the Atomic Energy Commission and in the Conventional Armaments Commission when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were members of the Government of this country. The U.S.S.R. had turned down the Baruch Plan and the United Nations Plan, and no progress at all had been made in those six years.
In Paris, in 1951, there had been seven weeks of debate in the United Nations. My right hon. Friend had spoken strongly in support of the tripartite proposals then put forward. That was the occasion when Mr. Vyshinsky said that he had laughed all night at our proposals. During those seven weeks we made the experiment of a small subcommittee meeting in private. The Disarmament Commission had been set up by agreement. Then there had been the nugatory debates of the Disarmament Commission in 1952. I admit that, but it was not for want of trying. A number of constructive proposals were put forward by us, but they were turned down.
During the spring and summer of 1953, further discussions were postponed by general agreement until the Korean armistice had been reached. It was thought that that would create a better 623 atmosphere. At the Eighth Session of the United Nations in September, 1953, the United Kingdom delegation gave a new impetus to the consideration of these matters by laying special emphasis upon disarmament, both in the general debate and subsequently. The idea of a further series of private meetings was put forward.
In December, 1953, President Eisenhower put forward his far-reaching and constructive proposals for the peaceful use of atomic energy. I agree that those proposals had only an indirect effect on disarmament generally; but if one could get some agreement about atomic energy in the international field, that might pave the way for a wider agreement.
At the Berlin Conference, in February, 1954, there was some discussion between the Foreign Ministers and, as my right hon. Friend told the House on 25th February, it was agreed among the Foreign Ministers—Mr. Molotov and the three Western Foreign Ministers—that the best way to try to make progress was in the Disarmament Commission. It is not true to say that the Disarmament Commission met and that the sub-committee was set up because hon. Members opposite did what they did on 5th April. It had been agreed that the Commission should meet, long before, in February, and steps had been taken for that. It was on the direct initiative of Her Majesty's Government in March that the actual arrangements were made for the start of the Disarmament Commission and to set up a sub-committee. It was hoped that it would meet in London.
Over all these years the Soviet position had hardly changed. They wanted, first of all, a ban on nuclear weapons. Then they wanted a one-third reduction in the armed forces of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council and the simultaneous establishment of control. We had said, I think with the general approval of this House, that an unsupervised and unenforced ban on nuclear weapons was not worth the paper it was written on; if there was confidence enough to rely upon a paper declaration there was no danger of war, anyhow.
Secondly, we said that a one-third reduction, a fixed percentage, in conventional armaments would simply perpetuate existing inequalities and the resulting tensions. Thirdly, we said that we 624 could not accept a situation in which, after entering into an agreement upon banning some weapons and reducing others, then and only then should we begin to discuss the constitution, functions and powers of the control organ: for that was what the Soviet proposals were shown to mean.
Subject to those three points, our position was flexible. Above all, it had become clear that the Soviet Union did not intend to permit the agents of the control organ to be in position, with the necessary authority, powers and resources before the prohibitions and reductions began to come into effect.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
Is it not incorrect to say that the Soviet were proposing a paper ban? In a great deal of detail, they did suggest a control organ with powers of inspection, checking, and calling for papers. Was not their doubt that the inspectors would be in position before any ban had taken place and that the whole information about the Russian uranium mines would be known, without the certainty of any later agreement?
§ Mr. Lloyd
It is true to say that the Soviet proposals were for a paper ban, because they said there must be an immediate ban, and there must be agreement to establish the control organ. The ban would start at once, and then we should start to work out an agreement with regard to a control organ. There was much talk about this, and much pressing of the Soviet representatives upon this.
The furthest that we could get them to move—[Interruption.]. The immediate ban on use was to start now, and then we had to start to work out the organisation of a control organ. At a later stage, the ban would cease to have moral force and would become legal when the control organ was set up. It was to start off simply as a paper ban.
§ Mr. Lloyd
A paper undertaking not to use. It is absolutely essential to have an agreement which can be supervised, controlled, and enforced. Otherwise, we are simply adding to world insecurity. I shall have more to say about the hon. Gentleman's second point in a moment.
That brings me, in fact, to my next point. To enter into disarmament treaties 625 which people will regard simply as scraps of paper means that each side will not know whether the other fellow is going to keep his word. That does not make for peace, does not add to international security, and adds one more risk, one more tension and one more element to the prevailing insecurity.
That was the position in April, 1954. The sub-committee was set up on 23rd April, and it met on 19 occasions between 13th May and 22nd June. The verbatim records have been published in Command Paper 9204–309 pages of them. I wonder how many hon. Members have read them. This record includes urgent appeal after urgent appeal to the Soviet Union to get down to constructive work with us. The Soviet representatives tabled three resolutions, simply reiterating their previous views.
The United Kingdom delegation asked the Soviet Union to agree on a list of weapons to be prohibited, and a list of weapons to be reduced. We offered to get to work at once on levels for the armed forces and armaments that were to remain. The Soviet representative said it would be a waste of time to do so unless we accepted an immediate and unsupervised ban on nuclear weapons.
The United States delegation put in an important and far-reaching paper on the control organ which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South praised, and which we begged the Soviet representative to discuss in detail. I put in two sets of questions, which appear in the record, to try to clear up uncertainties on matters connected with the control organ. The Soviet representative did not answer my questions, and again said that it would be a waste of time to discuss the United States' paper unless we accepted an immediate, unsupervised ban. Finally, on 11th April, we tabled the Anglo-French Memorandum.
All these documents were approved by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, He approved the Anglo-French Memorandum when he was in Geneva. In all this work my close friend and collaborator was M. Jules Moch, known to many hon. Members opposite. I do not agree with his views on many topics, such as Socialism and the German defence contribution, but on disarmament we have been working closely together over the 626 last three years, and I have found him an inspiring and loyal colleague.
We have taken each step together in the last eight months, of course with the agreement of our Governments, but in complete harmony. If the charge of lack of urgency rests against the United Kingdom and its representatives, it certainly rests against him as well. I do not believe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite believe that at all. That shows how unjustified is this Amendment.
The Anglo-French Memorandum was a great step forward. We sought to meet known Soviet objectives. Hon. Members will have noticed that in the record there are two meetings for which there is no verbatim record. They are listed at the beginning. That was my idea. I wished the Soviet representative to have a chance of examining and commenting on our proposals without a record being taken, and if he had constructive proposals to put forward consistent with ours, we wanted to see whether we could amend our proposals. We wanted to incorporate them in our proposals before we formally put in our Memorandum. There were no such suggestions.
I will not weary the House by reading the Memorandum, which was circulated in Command Paper 9204. It stated the objectives of our disarmament plan; the prohibition, and elimination of nuclear weapons, the reduction of conventional weapons. It provided for the setting up of the control organ, and the placing of it in position. It then provided for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and the agreed reductions in conventional weapons to proceed pari passu, the timing of each phase to be determined by the control organ. I will ask hon. Members to note that point.
The Memorandum was strongly approved by Canada, and it received warm support from the United States. Hon. Members will remember that Canada was a member of the sub-committee. I ask hon. Members to consider the significance of the willingness of the United States to hand to an international organ authority over its vast military resources, provided that the Soviet Union was prepared to do the same.
As the right hon. Gentleman has said, the Soviet Union representative turned down our proposals flat. He made it clear that he thought no useful purpose 627 could be served in discussing them further. On that note, on 22nd June, we broke up, after five weeks of sustained—and urgent—effort. I thought, however—as I did hint to the House on one occasion in June, and on another in July—that we had made some impression upon the Soviet representative, and I hoped that by the time of the meeting of the General Assembly, in September, there might be some change.
In due course the Assembly met. Delegate after delegate praised the Anglo-French Memorandum. Dr. Lange, the Labour Foreign Secretary of Norway, gave it special commendation. Surely enough, in his speech, Mr. Vyshinsky indicated a change in the Soviet line. During the last three years, I have seen a great deal of Mr. Vyshinsky. He was a remarkable dialectician. He always put the Soviet case with force, with care, and sometimes with humour, and I regret his sudden death.
At the end of a speech of violent attack upon the usual targets for his invective, he read out the Soviet Union resolution on disarmament, indicating that they had abandoned the demand for an immediate, unsupervised ban on atomic weapons, and had accepted the Anglo-French Memorandum as a basis. The resolution, however, was most obscure. I spoke shortly after Mr. Vyshinsky, and sought urgent clarification.
I also insisted that the disarmament item should be taken first in the Political Committee. That, to begin with, was not the general view. As the discussions on that point were private I must not mention names, but hon. Members would be surprised at one delegation in particular which wanted delay. As I say, that was not, at first, the general view, but, by persuasion privately, we achieved our purpose. The reason why we wanted it taken first was that we hoped that the Soviet had changed their position sufficiently to do that which we had been begging them to do since May, which was to talk about levels, and arrangements for control. It was urgent to find out where they stood.
The debate in the First Committee continued from 11th October until nearly the end of the month. Anyone who has had anything to do with negotiations with the 628 Soviet Union, knows that that cannot be a rapid process. It takes a good deal of time to grind out the relative positions. In the First Committee, I welcomed the change in the Soviet position. I asked a considerable number of questions, as did other delegates, about the Soviet resolution. We got very few answers.
On 15th October I made a speech examining in detail the Soviet resolution and showing that, although it purported to be based on the Anglo-French Memorandum, there was room for considerable doubt if that was the fact. The Soviet resolution, as will be remembered, provided for disarmament in two phases, the first being that, within six months, half of the agreed reductions in conventional armaments and armed forces were to take place. That process was not to be supervised, but was to be reported to an interim control committee.
The second phase was to include the second half of the reduction in conventional armaments, the whole process of nuclear disarmament—prohibition of use, manufacture, and retention of nuclear weapons—and what was called the simultaneous institution of an international control organ.
At no time did we obtain satisfactory answers about the powers of the interim control committee—and really, disarmament which is just refereed, as it were, or controlled by someone making reports to an interim committee, is not necessarily very satisfactory. The second phase, really, was very much what previous Soviet proposals had been, with its doctrine of simultaneity—simultaneously having the ban with the reductions, and the establishment of the control organ.
Above all, it was made quite clear by Mr. Vyshinsky that the final control organ was to have the power only to inspect and to recommend. Any action was to be taken on the authority of the Security Council, where, of course, the Soviet Union would have their power of veto.
§ Mr. Beswick
Could the Minister tell the House—it was never stated in any of these documents—what force Her Majesty's Government had in mind? If the inspectors discovered any breach of the undertakings, how were they to enforce observance?
§ Mr. Lloyd
Our position was that the agents of the international control organ must, by the treaty setting up that organ, have certain powers. We had a good deal of discussion in the United. Nations about that.
Mr. Vyshinsky said that by turning on a tap one could alter the use of nuclear fuel from peaceful to warlike purposes. I said that the inspector of the control agency must have the power to order the tap to be turned off. If he could not give an order to the Government or manager of the factory, it did not seem that the control organ would be effective. If there was simply to be a notification to the Security Council that such a factory had started to do something some time ago, the whole damage might be done before any enforcement action could be possible.
Even then, if the majority of the Security Council decided on some action, the Soviet Union veto would apply. It seemed to me that if we were to have effective disarmament control, it was absolutely essential for the agents of that control organ to have, by treaty, certain powers and certain rights, to give orders to the people operating those atomic plants.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)
Does the Minister accept the view of the United States Government, which is that the international control organ should work within the framework of the Security Council? That, I understand, is quite clearly the United States view. In what way does what the right hon. and learned Gentleman say differ either from that view or from that of the Soviet Government?
§ Mr. Lloyd
What I am saying I said in agreement with my United States colleagues. I did not mean to elaborate this in so much detail, but I gladly do so.
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) asked what would happen supposing the order of the control agency were disobeyed. It then goes forward as a perfectly clear breach of a treaty. It goes to the control organ and to the Security Council. The matter is beyond doubt. It does not go up as a question of whether or not some level has been exceeded. The issue of fact—that the treaty has been disobeyed—is perfectly 630 clear because, by the treaty, there would be power for the agent of the control organ to give certain orders. In the old days, when it was a question of building a battleship, the other system would have done, because a battleship takes so long to build, but when dealing with nuclear fuel one has to have a system which gives the agent of the control organ authority to take immediate action.
The question arises where one draws the line between enforcement and punitive action. It is quite true that the United States paper had suggested that the control organ itself should have power to cut off all supplies of nuclear fuel from a country in breach of the treaty. That, however, seems to be going a long way towards the punitive element. It is one of the matters which, in my last speech on this matter, I suggested we want further to discuss with the Soviet Union, because I thought that it might be possible to reconcile the two positions, and decide what was enforcement and what was punitive action, that is to say, punishment for disobeying the treaty.
As I was saying, Mr. Vyshinsky made it perfectly clear that the only power of the officials of the control organ would be to inspect. They could not give an order. They could inspect, and they could make recommendations to governments. They could not even deal with the people whom they were inspecting. They had to make recommendations to Governments. Any action taken had to be taken on the authority of the Security Council, where the Soviet Union has the power to veto.
In our position we always agreed that the control organ must be within the Security Council, in the sense that any question of going to war, or taking sanctions short of war, must obviously be left to the Security Council. But as to the power of the control agency, I believe that we were absolutely right.
To clear the air after that speech of Mr. Vyshinsky I put two very simple questions to him. First, did he accept that there must be agreement as to the nature, functions and powers of the control organ before countries began to carry out the agreed disarmament programme? Secondly, did he agree that the officials of the control organ should be in position, and be ready and able to function in the countries concerned before 631 those countries began to carry out the programme?
I stated, that affirmative answers to those two questions would clear the path towards the consideration of the complicated, intricate matters which were outstanding, and would be the green light. Mr. Vyshinsky rather objected to the method of question and answer, although I did not see how else we could really get on. His answer eventually to the first question was, in effect, "Yes," and to the second question that that was a matter to be further discussed. He repeated that any enforcement action of the control organ must be subject to veto.
On 20th October, I tried to summarise the position reached. The idea of an immediate unsupervised ban on nuclear weapons had been dropped. That was to the good. Both sides wanted a comprehensive plan for the prohibition of nuclear weapons and a reduction in conventional armaments. Both sides agreed to the control organ. Both sides were agreed about the reduction in conventional armaments, although the Soviet said that they still wanted one-third formula. The Soviet refused to say whether they agreed that the control officials should be in position and ready to act before the programme was carried out. The Soviet still maintained that enforcement action should be subject to a veto. They had said, however, that they accepted the Anglo-French Memorandum.
There are, therefore, still many awkward questions to discuss, such as the extent of the control that is practicable over nuclear materials, owing to the developments which have taken place since 1946, but it is my firm belief that we have reached a better position for further negotiation than we have had for some years. I believe, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, that progress has been made.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman say a word or two on the proposal of the Government of India that there should be a standstill agreement on nuclear explosions?
§ Mr. Lloyd
If I may, I propose to deal with that matter in a moment or two.
632 I apologise for the length of this account, but I have been trying to summarise many weeks of discussion and sustained effort. The Resolution of the First Committee, recommending a further series of private talks, was unanimously passed on 22nd October, and it was accepted by the General Assembly on 4th November. Before I left New York I discussed the next steps with Mr. Vyshinsky and others. It was generally felt that a period for study and reflection was necessary, and I do assure right hon. and hon. Members that a sense of urgency and emotion are not by themselves enough. Much skilled preparatory work has to be done.
But I did tell Mr. Vyshinsky privately of our urgent desire to make progress quickly, and we agreed that the Disarmament Commission should meet as soon as convenient after the General Assembly had accepted the Resolution. It met on 19th November, with Mr. Vyshinsky in the chair. It was agreed that the sub-committee should meet early in December. In fact, I think it is to meet on Wednesday, and arrangements have been made for substantive talks to start in the New Year.
I have indicated that although it might be said that we have had our turn, we shall be delighted to have a subcommittee again in London. Her Majesty's Government will be represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting). I cannot give dates, but I am certain that time spent in further preparation will not be wasted. We have very definite ideas on how to tackle the next series of discussions. I have never greatly disagreed with the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion about a treaty. In fact, I think it will be seen from these various papers which have been put in that we have been trying gradually to build up a series of documents which might at a later stage be drawn into a treaty, but perhaps it would be better during the negotiations not formally to categorise them as a treaty.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I think it is a matter which has to be worked out. It depends on whether one reaches an agreement. I agree that if we can get the kind of international control which we have in mind, it will go a long way to make the further causes of war between our countries impossible. It will go a long way in the direction of submitting to the rule of law in international affairs. If we are to deal with nuclear weapons, this is the only way to go about it; I believe we have made some progress and I am hopeful of further progress.
This account has necessarily been somewhat personal, because I happened to be a member of the Government speaking for the Government in these discussions, under the direction of my right hon. Friend. But in all these weeks and months, we have been pressing and pushing on these negotiations, so intricate and yet so vital, so urgent and yet so time-consuming. Whether a meeting of the heads of Governments would help on this subject is a matter upon which a variety of opinions must be held. These are matters of great complexity and detail. There is the factor that failure to make a high-level agreement might spoil the prospects for the next series of private meetings. A high-level meeting is not really necessary to tell the private meetings to get on with the job. My right hon. Friend will deal further with that matter when he winds up the debate.
As for the action of the Opposition today, whatever they may think right to say or to do, we regard these matters as urgent. The possession of nuclear weapons in the hands of the West has been a great deterrent to aggression. It has safeguarded us in these islands. We are accused of not awakening people here to their horror. I think the public is fully aware of the horrors of the nuclear age.
One feature, a grim and significant feature, of recent developments is that now geographically large countries have to face the knowledge that nuclear war 634 means mass destruction for them also. At the same time, we should not forget that another world war fought with so-called conventional weapons would mean the end of civilisation, although a few human beings might survive. Therefore, our objective must be the outlawing of aggression, and the contriving of a comprehensive scheme of disarmament.
The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) asked me just now a question on the subject of experiments. We are fully aware of the dangers. The banning of large explosions might not achieve all the objects sought, but I do agree that it is a matter of very great importance, and we have been considering it very seriously.
To conclude, the policy of Her Majesty's Government is to seek to maintain the strength of Britain and that of our allies, threatening no one and coveting no one's territory. We shall continue to seek settlements of outstanding problems. We shall play our part in reducing tension. We shall continue to seek, as a matter of urgency, agreement on a comprehensive, sound, properly controlled system of international disarmament. In our search for these settlements and agreements we shall not give up, and we shall not relinquish our sense of urgency.
I do not know whether it is intended to press this Amendment to a vote. I must say that a vote for it tonight would pay scant regard to the facts. It would not be in accord with reality and would not help the Government in their difficult tasks. But whatever Her Majesty's Opposition decide to do today, it will not affect Her Majesty's Government's determination to use their steadily mounting influence and prestige in international affairs, in every way possible, to buttress the cause of peace, and to seek a state of international society in which there will be peace, not only between the nations but also in the hearts of men.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
I am honoured, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that you have called me to follow the two speakers from the Front Benches. By its very tone, the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) must have encouraged most 635 of us on this side of the House on this very important question, but while I was listening to the speech of the Minister of Supply, so coherent and so lucid, I became more and more impatient as he went on.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman completely ignored the terms of the Resolution which the House passed on 5th April this year. We heard him talk about the Geneva Agreements, about Persia, about Saudi Arabia, about Trieste and about some agreement with the Soviet Union in the Disarmament Commission, but we have a right to ask him and the Government what action they have taken to implement the decision of the House on 5th April.
May I remind the right hon. and learned Gentleman of some of the terms of the Motion which was then debated? It reads:That this House, recognising that the hydrogen bomb … constitutes a grave threat to civilisation … would welcome an immediate initiative by Her Majesty's Government to bring about a meeting between the Prime Minister and the heads of the Administrations of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the purpose of considering anew the problem of the reduction and control of armaments…We have a right to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government what they have done about that Motion, which was carried by the House. Twelve months before the debate on 5th April, the Prime Minister suggested a meeting of the heads of foreign Governments, but for two years, apparently, the Prime Minister and the Government have taken no initiative towards a meeting of that kind, despite the fact that they accepted the Resolution of 5th April.
That is the difficulty in which we find ourselves. Negotiations and activities have been going on since 1945, but the House has felt from time to time, and has said from time to time, that a meeting of the heads of Governments was necessary if there were to be a new conception and a new understanding of the situation. That is why I became impatient not only as I listened to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, but also as I read the reports of the Disarmament Commission to which he referred.
636 I have not often sought to address the House on matters of this great importance, perhaps because I know my own limitations, but I am encouraged to do so today because of two circumstances. First, the House may remember that about seven or eight months ago my hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras, North (Mr. K. Robinson) and I adopted a line which was not in agreement with the decision of my party on the hydrogen bomb. Altogether, 63 of us took that line, but my hon. Friend and I were officials of the party and when we went into the Lobby against the decision of the party executive we did it with our eyes wide open, knowing full well that we could no longer continue to be Whips of the party.
Sure enough, a few days later we found ourselves out of our exalted positions as junior Whips. Because of what I did on that occasion I felt that I wanted to say something on this subject this afternoon.
In recent weeks, with some of my hon. Friends, I have had an opportunity to go behind the Iron Curtain for five weeks.
§ Mr. Royle
We felt the bump as we went over in the aeroplane.
We had five days in Moscow and almost five weeks in China. We saw a great deal of China, and, because of what I saw there, I want to express my views on this subject. My approach to this matter is very different from that of most hon. Members. My attitude to these weapons of mass destruction is more in line with the views which were expressed on the first day of this debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson). To me, I say sincerely, it is quite inconsistent with the Christianity which this country and the United States profess for us to manufacture, let alone to contemplate using, hydrogen bombs. Their destructive power will be aimed, willy nilly, at the masses of the civilian population in the large cities of the world.
After having been for five weeks amongst the 600 million people of China; after having seen their kindergartens, their schools and their youth centres; 637 after having seen something of the efforts of their new Government to turn an old and very backward nation into one which is ready to play its part in world affairs and to give its people a chance of a fuller and more secure life, I want to tell the House that I am not prepared to agree to drop a hydrogen bomb on any people in any place at any time and in any circumstances which can possibly he imagined.
The attitude of some of our friends across the Atlantic, and, alas, some of our own military leaders, seems to be that the ideology of Communism is such a menace to their way of life that it ought to be checked by these infernal methods. I begin to wonder which, ultimately, is the greater menace—the possible spread of Communism or the possibility of a hydrogen bomb war. The ideology could die after some years. After all, countries' policies and Governments change from time to time. But how long would it take a country like ours to recover from the effects of a score of hydrogen bombs? We talk very glibly about preserving freedom. Who will enjoy the freedom which will be preserved as the result of a hydrogen bomb war, and what will they have left to enjoy the freedom with? Millions of people alive can contest an ideology, but millions of dead cannot enjoy the freedom of this world.
In line with the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North, my final test on whether or not we should make or use the hydrogen bomb—and I hope the House will permit me to say this—would be to ask myself the question: would the founder of the Christian faith agree to make or to use it? Does any right hon. or hon. Gentleman doubt the answer? I believe that in nuclear weapons we have the greatest threat to understanding and to peace. I do not believe in the argument of deterrents; in time of war somebody always goes mad, and these bombs might be used, and, I think, probably would be used.
I ask the Government to act at once on the Resolution passed by the House on 5th April and to take steps to get the leaders of the great nations together. I believe that we as a nation could play the rôle of example by saying that we would have not part at all in production of hydrogen bombs. That would be a gesture which would throw wide open the 638 doors of good will. We can no longer be the greatest economic Power in the world, we can no longer be the greatest military Power in the world. But let us take steps to show that we are the greatest moral Power in the world.
In our visit to the East we found a friendliness towards this country which was very moving. If the House will permit me, I will give one or two illustrations. We had two hours with Chou En-lai. The Foreign Secretary spent a long time with him at Geneva and I hope he will agree that he is a man of peace and understanding, a man who seeks to be understood by us and who has a tremendous desire for peace with us. I will never believe that Chou En-lai is a megalomaniac. He is modest, friendly and, I believe, far too engrossed in the reconstruction of his own country to want war or to risk war.
At the other end of the scale, we saw peasants, in the boiling heat, stripped to the waist, pushing barrows laden with sacks of rice to the collecting centre. The barrows stretched behind one another for miles along the road and, as our cars blinded the peasants with dust, they stopped and clapped their hands in greeting to the Britishers who were visiting them. Do we return that friendship? We saw them building reservoirs and dykes to stop future floods. We saw them carrying out the earth in baskets supported on bamboo poles, as the trade embargo prevents them from having bulldozers and mechanical navvies. They told us that they placed an order for £2,700,000 worth of trucks with Austin's but a licence was not granted, so that they have to use baskets and barrows for transportation purposes.
Last night, by the late news on the radio, we were told that the Government of China had accused Britain of aiding the United States of America in the latest treaty with Chiang Kai-shek in regard to Formosa. Later, the statement was issued by the Foreign Office—and I accept it—that we did not help with that treaty. I ask the Foreign Secretary whether we protested in any way about that treaty? I agree that it is very moderate in its terms compared with previous statements and actions, but the presence of the United States Fleet and United States Air Force around and on Taiwan is not conducive to good understanding.
639 On this matter, I disagreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mr. Baird) at Question Time. We rightly condemn the holding of a number of United States airmen by the Chinese Government. That is a matter for the United Nations, but the United States Government helps Chiang Kai-shek to govern nine million Chinese on Formosa and he continues to represent China in the United Nations without protest from Her Majesty's Government.
The talks we had and the observations we were able to make bring me to the conclusion that the Chinese Government will continue to press hard their rightful claim to Formosa. I will never believe that they will risk war, particularly a third world war. I wonder how we would feel here if it were possible to imagine a deposed ruler of this country establishing himself on the Isle of Man and, because he disagreed with our ideologies, he were to accept the help of a foreign country constantly to threaten this island mainland, if I may use that term. I think we would be very disturbed about it. I feel that we are quite justified in appreciating the point of view of the Chinese Government in regard to Formosa in exactly the same way.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
As my hon. Friend is always fair, he may care to say something about the position of Chiang Kai-shek and the two million who went to Formosa with him. After all, it is not so very long since Chiang Kai-shek was the white knight in shining armour, the first one to oppose Fascist aggression. Surely my hon. Friend does not want to see him thrown to the wolves.
§ Mr. Royle
I am prepared to agree with some part of that statement at once. Although two million went to Formosa with him, very many have left Formosa and gone back to the new China. We talked to some of them and got their views on this matter. To me, Chiang Kai-shek was never a knight in shining armour. The more we looked at Chiang Kai-shek and his regime the more we realised that it was one of the most corrupt regimes that has ever existed. Whatever is said about the new Government of China I make bold to say that it certainly is not a corrupt Government. Its very honesty shows everywhere.
§ Squadron Leader A. Cooper (Ilford, South)
Would the hon. Member say how many non-Communists have been killed by this incorruptible Chinese Government since it came to power?
§ Mr. Royle
I think that what was said in an aside by an hon. Member, "So what?" is the answer. Whatever Governments have existed—I take it to ourselves as well—there have been things about which we are not very proud. Particularly in times of war and dispute—I put it no higher and no lower—that applies under all circumstances. It is ridiculous to think that we could continue to keep this Government of China, that dignified and great nation, out of the United Nations organisation. All right-thinking people recognise that claim.
Instead, we join in the continuance and the building up of power blocs. Power blocs have always led to war. I know that both sides are to blame. Eastern Germany is arming, we are told, and so we agree to arm Western Germany with divisions of troops and an air force; and—as yet it has not yet been denied—we may be giving the West Germans possession of nuclear weapons. So the tough answer to the Note which the Foreign Secretary sent last week is for the satellite nations to be told that the East will increase its arms. We said that that would happen.
It is all so crazy. What a world we are living in! Can we not accept the offers to get together? Cannot Her Majesty's Government take the initiative for getting together on a higher line than has been attempted so far? We need the wealth which is being poured out in arms. We need it for the benefit, betterment and development of backward nations and of mankind generally.
Since 1945, the U.S.S.R. has behaved abominably. The U.S.A. has not been very good either. But from our visit to the East, and from the recent declarations of President Eisenhower, it would appear that there is a better spirit abroad. Can Her Majesty's Government harness it and take the initiative, and lead the world to a new life of understanding and peaceful co-existence? Can we not start by suggesting the banning of these infernal weapons and by saying, "We will not make them"? I believe that that is the right approach.
641 I know that I shall be accused of being very naive. I have risked that accusation, but I believe that I have followed the spirit of the Resolution which the House agreed to on 5th April. I close by saying that the world needs more simplicity and less suspicion.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Is it not desirable that we should come closes again to the subject which the House has decided to discuss this afternoon, which is the impact of these vast new nuclear forces in particular upon the life of the whole world, and what, if anything, can be done to avert the menace which they embody? If we fall this afternoon into a discussion on Chinese affairs, we shall use up very rapidly the all too short time which remains to us to discuss these matters of paramount importance, and upon which, it may well be, the lives of everyone here depend.
§ Mr. Elliot
There is an association, and one can broaden an association to meet almost any contingency whatever, but the argument which has been developing as to the merits or demerits of Chiang Kai-shek might easily take up the whole of the rest of the afternoon.
There is a matter of vehement urgency for us to discuss here. It is all the more important because of the item of news in this morning's papers, in which we read that the proposal of President Eisenhower, launched a year ago, for a conference on co-operation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy, has received the assent of the whole United Nations, in-chiding the Russians. That is a very important point, and I consider that the immediate prospect of a vast broadening out of the technical uses of atomic energy will raise a new set of problems demanding immediate and urgent attention, just as much as the existence of the warlike means by which atomic energy can be applied.
It is vital for us in this House to realise that we are standing at the threshold of a thing as big as the discovery of fire. This is the discovery of 642 fire the second. We have used fire, oxidation, molecular energy for not very long—10,000 or 20,000 years—and they have brought us to the threshold of this new source of energy, the source of energy locked up in the atom.
The dangers of war and the peaceful uses of this energy are inseparable from each other. Lt is just as impossible to separate the peaceful uses of atomic energy from the possible warlike uses of atomic energy as it is to separate the peaceful uses of explosives from the possible warlike uses of explosives. Nobel, the founder of the Peace Prize, the man who invented the uses of nitro-glycerine in dynamite, was so horrified by the thought of what he might have brought upon the world that he founded the Nobel Peace Prize.
What are the warlike uses of explosives compared with the major peaceful uses of explosives today in mining? The mining industry of the world would come to a stop of it were not for the use of explosives. Last year, the mines of this country alone used 25,000 tons of explosives. The mines of the Union of South Africa used 60,000 of explosives.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
That may be all very interesting, but can the right hon. Gentleman say what possible peaceful purpose there is in the hydrogen bomb?
§ Mr. Elliot
Yes, I can.
All the scientists are solid in saying that the existing sources of energy will be used up in a comparatively short time. When I listened to the hon. Member for Salford, West (Mr. Royle) describing the hardships of the peasantry in China, I said to myself, "Yes, and there, but for the grace of our inventors in this country, go we." Unless we find a source of energy to replace the sources of fossil fuel, which we are using up at such a rapid rate, there we will go in this country. It is we who will be pushing the barrow, and carrying the baskets of earth, and in a not very distant future. [Laughter.] Hon. Members opposite must face the facts.
The fact of the matter—and I speak with some knowledge, and the responsibility of a certain acquaintance with scientific facts—is that nobody denies that the heavy sources of energy which are 643 available to us from coal and oil will be used up within, say, half the period of the life of Westminster Hall, and certainly within the equivalent of the whole life of Westminster Hall—and that is not very long. Half the period of the life of Westminster Hall will see at any rate the fuel resources of this island exhausted, and a period equal to the period during which Westminster Hall has stood will see the present fuel resources of the world exhausted; and back we all go to the barrow and the basket.
It is on the hydrogen bomb, fusion reaction, and on fission reaction that the future of mankind depends. That is the thing we have got to discuss this afternoon. It is not merely a question of armament and disarmament. We are standing at the threshold of the discovery of fire the second, and in a short time much of what we say will seem as out-of-date as the first councils of the village elders when they met at the cave mouth to discuss the wonderful and annoying discovery of young Waugh, who had found that by blowing the spark of a flint he could produce fire. This was a terribly dangerous thing, they thought, and it must be stopped.
We can no more put a stop to atomic energy than we can put a stop to the discovery of fire. If we did, it would mean sentence of death upon thousands of millions of people in this planet. I ask the House to rise to the level of the discussion upon which we are now embarking. The proposals which have been put forward must allow for continued research and work upon nuclear fuels, upon both the fission and fusion fuels, upon the uranium and the hydrogen sources of energy.
I say, too, that President Eisenhower's plan is certainly the most urgent and most practical step that has been taken to deal with this matter. As a result of his initiaive, a conference will be called next year. Already the United States has endowed the other peoples of the world with the possibility of a gift of 100 kilos of fissionable material, to which we have added, I think, the possibility of 20. This great discovery is being shared with other Powers, and how to square this with security and peace is one of the great problems of our time.
644 I listened to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) discussing his proposal that plans should be drawn up and laid before the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. I certainly could not agree more that they should be. The time is short indeed. If the plans are to be laid before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, is it not necessary to discuss them in this House, and not merely in public?
If we are to get agreement with the Commonwealth is it not necessary to see a certain amount of agreement between the Government and the Opposition? The offer was made by the Prime Minister of consultation with the Opposition. What is the answer to that offer? Are we to go forward with our plans without the Government and the Opposition having discussed them in confidence? Are we to go forward with a plan without having discussed it in confidence between the two sides of the House? It would be terribly weakened if we were. This task is so urgent that it is impossible to exaggerate its importance.
One hon. Member opposite asked for figures. He asked what were the numbers of the atomic bombs in various stockpiles. Greatly daring, I shall hazard a guess from such information as I have been able to collect. I shall guess at a rate of production also. My guess is that between 7,500 and 10,000 atomic weapons are in the stockpile of the United States and about 750 to 1,000 in the stockpile of the U.S.S.R.
§ Mr. Elliot
I am trying to put forward facts which are of vital importance to us all, goodness knows. From such information as I have been able to gather of what is the production rate, I should say that in the United States it is about 500 to 1,000 a year, and that in the Soviet Union it is a rate of some hundreds. All that is fissionable material, and all material which can be used for peace or war, which can be used for energy breeding as well as for mass destruction.
It is perfectly true, as Mr. Vyshinsky said, that by the turning of a tap one can change this over from peaceful to warlike purposes. I find it very difficult to believe that without a close system of 645 inspection, and a powerful deterrent in the background, it will be safe to allow humanity at its present stage access to all these enormous sources of energy. Anyone who gets hold of even a small amount of fissionable material can, if he will, cause an immense amount of harm, without some kind of control; and some kind of deterrent backing, which at present is represented by the stockpiles of the two great Powers.
Whether there is any other way of exerting control I do not know, but I am perfectly sure that we cannot exert it by a paper bagful of written aspirations, or even agreements, if they are not enforceable, nor yet by blowing up the present stocks of fissionable material. We cannot do it that way, because this knowledge exists, and this knowledge is spreading through the world. The seeds have been broadcast, and the plant will grow.
We have, then, an enormous and difficult task before us. I would fully agree that the first thing certainly is to lay before the Commonwealth Prime Ministers the utmost indication of the state of knowledge up to the present, and also the best indication we can give them of the extent to which common purpose stretches between our two Front Benches here, and the two sides of the House. Then, after that, they can go forward to the proposed conference on atomic energy with a knowledge of what strength we have to work upon.
As I say, the issues before the world are the control of the new discovery and the power which it gives, and the way in which these can be used and adapted for peaceful purposes. It is also a fact that when one speaks to the technical people they say, "This is closer than you think." It is coming nearer. The prospect only recently was thought to be a matter of 50 years—50 years before this power could be brought into general practical use. The time was then shortened down to 25 years. It is now brought down to 10 or 15 years.
The Chairman of the General Dynamic Corporation, who was responsible for the construction of the great atomic submarines of the United States, the "Nautilus" and the "Sea Wolf," last week proposed a long-term programme for the peaceful use of atomic energy. At the beginning there would be a research reactor; passing on to a 646 portable reactor; passing further on to a stationary power reactor, which he reckons at present will allow the production of energy at a capital cost of 250 dollars per kilowatt. All these are practical steps that are being discussed. I say again, these uses of this fissionable material are inseparable from possible warlike uses of the same material.
We certainly shall not do any good by the sort of banning suggested in the speech, with which otherwise I had much sympathy, of the hon. Member for Salford, West. He talked about disarmament and the banning of certain forms of armaments. We have heard that talk before. There was talk of peace and disarmament two decades ago. We in the Government at that time can be blamed for many things. But the thing for which we can most be blamed is that we did not arm faster and harder. That was a thing for which we have been blamed, and for which we may be rightly blamed in future—not for having too many arms but for having too few, and no one could be more vigorous in their condemnation than hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite.
It has been suggested how peaceful and quiet the world would be if we could get back to the levels of 70 years ago. Was the world so quiet and peaceful in Napoleon's day, in the Napoleonic Wars? Was the destruction of life so negligible in the Thirty Years' War, which brought Central Europe down to cannibalism and reduced the populations of great and prosperous countries by tens of millions? Peace is not brought to the world merely by the reduction of expenditure on armaments. Of all the countries in the world, Great Britain has the greatest right to say that; for we disarmed to the edge of risk.
We are blamed now, and in some cases rightly blamed, for not having done more to shoulder that load of armaments and to take our full share of preserving the peace of the world. We shall certainly have to shoulder a heavy load, a heavy military load as well as a heavy industrial load. But an industrial load we shall certainly have to shoulder. Now is the time to consider that; not by saying that we must ban this, or that, or the other of these sources of energy.
The scientists tell us that we must eventually rely upon the development of 647 hydrogen energy. Whatever other fears we may relieve by talk of the banning of these sources of energy, we shall certainly not succeed in dispelling the fear of a world without energy at all, which, believe me, is one of the great fears which those engaged on long-distance planning have constantly at their elbows.
It will require concentrated thought such as we have not given to it up to now, and, therefore, concentrated education such as we have not given to it up to now. There is great need for a very much more intense effort in the way of technological education if we are to play our part in the development and understanding of these new sources. Their development will be just as important for the century to come as the development of iron, steam, electricity, and oil were to the century and a half that have just passed.
This door has been opened. We cannot shut it again. The possibility of this knowledge has been conveyed to the world. The world will not abandon it. We have now to seek how to develop and control it. The first real step was taken by President Eisenhower, when he suggested a commission on the possible peaceful use of atomic energy; and the first practical step forward was taken on Saturday, when the whole United Nations, including the Russian bloc, agreed to set up a committee to prepare for a conference which is to be called next year, in the near future, to discuss the possible uses of this energy.
It is along these lines and not of the mere suggestion that we should ban this or that sector of military development, that we shall find the solution to the problem. Now, with desperate urgency, is the time that we should be working on it, not merely by demanding that the Government should do something, but by doing something ourselves, by meeting behind closed doors, by speaking in private together, by discussing frankly what can be done.
§ Mr. Elliot
Unless we meet privately, we shall not speak frankly. Unless we speak frankly, we shall fail in the object which we all have at heart; of securing the making of peace.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. J. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I have listened to the speeches made so far and especially to the opening speech by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker). It was a perfect example of an emotional, pacifist speech which could have been delivered on any platform to strike terror into the hearts of men and women and to offer no solution to the problems with which the world is surrounded. All these problems of weapons of world destruction are occupying the thoughts of every man and woman throughout the world. To allege that any person in this country or in this House is neglectful of any opportunity either to ban these weapons, or to seek a way out of the terrible impasse that mankind has got into, is completely wrong.
I have thought for a great number of years that there are problems concerning which we try politically to exaggerate differences that do not really exist, and that foreign affairs, the danger of war, and the banning of weapons could form the subjects of a joint council of both sides of the House and both Front Benches to try to reach common agreement about the steps that can be taken speedily to avert the tremendous catastrophe of another war. We only play into the hands of evil forces which seek to exploit differences to the advantage of one side when we engage in this deadly combat affecting the lives of millions of people.
There are, rightly, fundamental issues in politics which separate both sides of the House. These issues must be put to the test at elections and one has to secure sanction for changes or sanction to prevent those changes from taking place. But when we come to the stage of world danger I have come to the conclusion, steadily over the years, that there should be some common understanding. A policy should be formulated which would give the nation the opportunity of seeing our Parliament really in action in the best sense of the word and combining all the forces which seek to protect this country and the world from the tremendous danger of world war.
Having said that. I will go further. I heard the Minister of Supply make a splendid speech at the United Nations. I had contact with a great number of people 649 from many countries who paid a great tribute to the earnestness, sincerity and energy which the Minister displayed at the United Nations in trying to get agreement in the face of overwhelming difficulties on the world problems which are overpowering mankind. As I have said, I have come to a stage at which I doubt political differences in certain fields of activity and whether the political answer is the only answer to the problems that surround mankind.
I have taken the opportunity of placing on the Order Paper an Amendment to the Address, to add at the end:but humbly regret that, while we have the overpowering financial burden of armaments, the tragic menace of war and the world fear of the hydrogen bomb, no provisions are made for the national and international acceptance of moral and spiritual standards of moral rearmament as being the only approach that has never yet been put into practice by any Government and which could unite the family, the nation and the world and offer to Russia and the Iron Curtain countries a superior ideology based on moral and spiritual principles instead of bitterness, hatred, envy and class division, with its consequent brutal dictatorship, and as the real way to a new world of sacrifice and service under God's guidance.I know that it will not be called, and I am not anxious that it should be. I have merely placed it there to formulate the basis of my thoughts, which are very clear on these issues.
The differences are not only political. They are moral and spiritual and they strike at the very roots of society. We have on the one side a force that is steadily undermining the power of the West. That force of godless materialism presents its programme and policy in an aggressive manner throughout the world. It is forcing these issues, along with other problems, and driving ahead among the youth of the world. Yet we in the West, who claim certain moral and spiritual principles, keep these principles largely in the background. We are afraid to present them to the nation and say, "Here is the unifying process in which we are entitled to engage to bring about a solution of the problems of our day."
In politics, we have created in the hearts and minds of the youth of the day the impression that only materialism matters in life. I am not saying that of one side more than the other. We have all gone out at election time and have attempted to employ a system of mass 650 bribery of the electorate. We have never considered whether the world could pay the price. We have advocated materialism and have neglected something else. I remember the late George Lansbury used to say in my youth, "You may work for a change of system and a changed world and you may get them, but unless you change the hearts of men you are defeated in your aim because they will not face up to their responsibilities in a moral and spiritual way."
I say, therefore, that in all this materialism which we propogate we neglect the real thing in life—the spiritual uplift of man to keep up with the material demands. We have created a vacuum in the [hearts and minds of men and the Communists come along to fill that vacuum with the passions of bitterness, hatred, abuse, malice and terror. This hatred that is instilled into the hearts and minds of men in place of a moral and spiritual outlook is being turned in the direction the dictatorship wants and all the evil forces of mankind follow.
Now let me say this, because it has something to do with the negotiations taking place in foreign fields. Dictatorship can never become a democracy. There is no point at which a dictatorship can become a democracy. The man at the top has a gun in the back of the man below him and so it is right down the ladder. Every man has a gun in his back. The vested interest of dictatorship remains and can only be removed by a revolution taking place in those territories governed by one man. Therefore, Communism as we know it today carries within itself the seed of its destruction.
The Marxist phrase that capitalism has within itself the germs of its own destruction is well-known, but that can equally be applied to Communism and it can only be changed by a further revolution. What revolution is there that can take place? I suggest that a moral revolution is the answer to this question. We have to rescue mankind from the abyss into which it is slipping. I confess that I was very strongly and vigorously anti-Communist. Today I am not, because of the change which has taken place in my own heart and in my outlook on life. I look to a higher ideology which will appeal to man, rather than to the brutal system of hatred, fear and terror that Communism produces.
651 It is no good making anti-Communist speeches or anti-Communist attacks to defeat Communism. There has got to be a superior ideology so that mankind can say, "Here is something superior to that offered by the Communist world and it is something which can stop the rot." There are some people, for example, who say that religion supplies the answer, but no religion in itself can save mankind from the difficulties we face today largely because of the bitterness existing between the different religions which prevents them uniting in anything of a positive character.
But the moral standards of Moral Rearmament are something above religion. People can worship God in their own way and yet can unite around the moral and spiritual forces provided by Moral Rearmament and, forgetting all their differences and antagonisms, present a solid phalanx throughout the world against the Communist creed.
Let us examine this still further. The danger of war comes from the fact that the Communists are fighting with the wrong weapons but for a new world. It is no good anybody thinking that there is not going to be a new world. There is, but what kind is it going to be? Is it to be dominated by fear, hatred, bitterness and godless Communism, or is it to be a world of moral and spiritual principles animating mankind and driving it to greater heights of a lofty character under God's guidance?
In my estimation this is a superior ideology and if it is presented to the people it can effect changes in mankind. It is the only thing that can stop the rot. What do the Russians say about Moral Rearmament movement? They have broadcast about it sometimes twice in one programme, they say it has tremendous possibilities. It has a bridgehead in almost every country, and it is capable of world expansion. Therefore, Communism has marked it down as enemy No. 1 in today's struggle.
We ourselves need not imagine that the youth of this country are going into a war to lose their lives in order to provide security and a loose and easy life for those at the top in this and other countries. Communism is largely inspired by those who occupy high positions and who consider that they can get 652 away with every form of exploitation and depend upon the lower men to defend their easy and loose way of life. Millions of young men today are prepared to fight for high ideals, but in no circumstances will they give their lives, health and happiness to keep in high positions a few people who intend to exploit them.
Moral Rearmament teaches that there is enough in the world for every human need if it were not for some folks' human greed. That is a very lofty principle. This is not a movement which one can join, because it is a way of life. For a number of years, I was studying Moral Rearmament. I remember that in my disturbed days from 1945 onwards I began to look at the struggle that was taking place in this country and in the world between political parties. Every single difference was magnified out of all proportion to the real issue. I began to see—and ultimately I saw after a number of years—that in Moral Rearmament we had something that was vital.
I discovered that if I was to change the world then I must begin by changing myself. I faced up to that responsibility. I made up my mind that every evil within me had to be eliminated. I then found it was necessary to unite my family who would help other families to unite, and by this process we would unite the nation in a common cause.
§ Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)
Can my hon. Friend tell me why Moral Rearmament should suddenly have taught him all these things? Surely, as a Catholic all his life, he knows that the Catholic Church has always taught these principles, that it has advocated many of the things he has described to us long before we ever heard of Moral Rearmament.
§ Mr. McGovern
That is the answer which is commonly given.
Some time ago I met a clergyman who repeated the same thing and he finished by inviting me to give an address and put forth the case which I had spent an hour and a half in my own home presenting to him. I have never denied that Christian principles have emanated from the churches, but many people who go to church on Sunday look upon it as a sort of insurance. Some of them do it to give themselves a cloak of respectability; and with others it it becomes a mechanical action.
§ Mr. McGovern
I have a right. Sometimes I think I have no rights in this House when I look round me, but I am taking rights. I am claiming the rights.
All the world's religions are setting the best example they can for their own adherents, but they cannot of themselves show us the way out, nor can any single religion. It can only be done upon a high plain which will lead to a unity of moral standards so that we can present a united front to the godless materialism of Communism.
To me, the issue is very plain indeed. This superior ideology must be put over to this country and to the people of the world and we must get acceptance of it. A very powerful man in the Foreign Office told me not long ago, "Moral Rearmament is coming up so much today from foreign countries and from Colonies that we cannot now ignore it. It is becoming a force."
I will give an illustration from. Kenya. A change was brought about in the lives of 500 or 600 men in the hard core camp. They were changed from Mau Mau adherents into supporters of Moral Rearmament and were prepared then to co-operate with all to find a solution to the African problem.
A man called David Warauhu, a Moral Rearmament supporter, got word in Caux that his father, a chieftain, had been, murdered by Mau Mau. The information was sent to him by a man called Bremer Hoffmeyer, whose uncle had five cabinet posts in the South African Government. Warauhu went back and enlisted in the Moral Rearmament movement of Africa to tie his work down there. Shortly afterwards, he had to send word to Hoffmeyer in America that his wife's father and stepmother had been murdered by Mau Mau and that David Leakey had been buried alive.
These were two Moral Rearmament adherents. They did not say, "We mast be bitter and hate and carry our anger to the extent of getting the people respon- 654 sible." Warauhu sought out the man who had planned his father's death and made him a changed man, and Hoffmeyer made similar efforts. We find that negro leaders in America have gone to Africa to try to change the population.
We in this country are not facing up to the responsibilities of our time. I believe in the creation of armaments to hold the fort, but, beyond that, we should strive with might and main to ensure that the armaments are never used. Behind the fort we must create the moral and spiritual environment which is necessary to save the world from the difficulties surrounding it. In the struggle which is taking place in the world Moral Rearmament has been the one unifying force presented as a superior ideology. If any other can be suggested, let us hear it, but to me Moral Rearmament holds the field as the only alternative.
I believe that if we cannot unite the population on that basis the world is lost and godless Communism will take over country after country, step by step. If we are serious, we must recover the minds and hearts of the youth of the world and get them to enrol under the banner of the superior ideology to oppose Communism.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
I feel very proud to follow the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), because there is hardly an hon. Member for whose sincerity, independence and courage I have greater respect. Whether or not we felt that his remarks were very closely related to the Amendment, he was certainly talking about the most important things in the world. I do not want to become involved in the argument that he had with his hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) and his hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mrs. Cullen), but I certainly feel that he was right in his analysis of the opposition to Communism not being enough if it is merely a negative approach and that we must have some positive dynamic idea other than Communism to put in its place.
This is an issue on which, apparently, there is a good deal of disagreement between the two sides of the House, but I do not feel that we have any reason to quarrel with the chance the Amendment has given us of having a discussion on the 655 most important matters which the House ever has to consider.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) painted a very grim and horrifying picture of the terrible powers of the hydrogen weapon, nerve gases, the inter-continental ballistic missile, and so on, but I can assure him that we are absolutely at one with him in realising the horrifying nature of those weapons. I look forward more than to any other day to the day when the armaments race will begin to go into reverse.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply has already outlined the activity of the Government during the last eight months since the Motion was accepted on 5th April. I entirely agree with him—I gather that it finds general agreement in the House—that it was impossible to separate nuclear from other weapons in this kind of discussion, and I am also convinced that we cannot separate a discussion about rearmament from the general framework of foreign policy.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South talked about some people thinking disarmament a Utopian idea. My own belief is that we are likely to reach disarmament only when there has been a serious change in Soviet foreign policy. I often ask myself why nations maintain a high level of armaments. I am convinced that there are three possible reasons: first, insecurity; secondly, restlessness; thirdly, a mixture of the two.
It is foolish for us to believe that there is suspicion and distrust only on one side of the Iron Curtain. I am willing to admit that there may be great suspicion and distrust of the West beyond the Iron Curtain. However, I find Russian behaviour since the end of the last war extremely difficult to reconcile with the hypothesis that fear of the West is the main driving force of Soviet foreign policy.
For instance, why was there no reduction in Soviet military strength when the West reduced their strength so low after the war? Why was there the extreme and very dangerous provocation of trying to squeeze the Western allies out of Berlin? Why was there continual opposition to a control organisation in respect 656 of nuclear weapons when we all admit that a ban on nuclear weapons would be very much easier to enforce in the United States, this country and other nations of the West than in the limitless hinterland of Soviet Russia? Also, if fear is her dominant motive, why has Russia become, if anything, more reasonable rather than less reasonable since the Korean War began?
I do not believe that these facts—they are undeniable facts—fit into the framework of Russian insecurity. I believe that they fit rather more easily into the hypothesis of Russian restlessness. The Russian success in the cold war during the last decade has very largely depended on the immense superiority she enjoyed in conventional forces. They have not been used, but their influence, as we shall probably all agree, has been quite enormous.
It is very much more difficult for the Western nations to maintain a high level of armaments than it is for Soviet Russia. By maintaining that high level of armaments, Soviet Russia has made necessary the diversion of millions of pounds from the relief of poverty in the backward areas.
Soviet Russia will maintain a high level of armaments as long as doing so serves a useful purpose, that is, until the West is fully able to defend itself against any attack. When all nations are disarmed, then it is quite clear that there is very little danger of war. When all nations are heavily armed, then there is relatively little danger of war. But when armaments are in unbalance, as they are at the moment, then the danger of war is greatest and the chance of disarmament is least.
It is a very great paradox indeed, but I believe it to be true—and I am beginning to think that paradoxes are the greatest truths this world affords—that the chance of disarmament increases with the build up of Western strength. I therefore claim that the Government have not only taken the initiative and directly pressed for disarmament on every available occasion in the last eight months, but also, and I think it very important indeed, through the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in taking steps to increase the defensive strength of the Western nations, 657 have brought near the day in which disarmament proposals will be sympathetically and very seriously considered by the leaders of Soviet Russia.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
I wish I could feel that the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) is right when he suggests that we are better able to effect disarmament as we build up our armaments. All history is to the contrary. I am amazed when he asks a number of questions about the behaviour of Russia. We fail to appreciate the fear in the East just as the East fails to appreciate our fear.
It is reasonable that in the East today questions might be asked about why, even before the end of the war, our own Prime Minister had such fear about Russia. We could well ask why the Prime Minister today shows the fear that he felt about Russia even before the end of the war. It is because we failed to appreciate the importance of this that we are now in this difficult position.
I am especially grateful for this opportunity to speak tonight, because I want to make some personal observations. It is eight years since I had an opportunity of speaking in the debate on the Address. On that occasion, in moving an Amendment to the Motion in reply to the King's Speech in 1946, I made a speech against military conscription. There was a Labour Government at the time, and I was then somewhat inexperienced. I was reminded by the present Leader of the Opposition and by the Patronage Secretary, now the Chief Whip on this side of the House, that what I was moving was in fact a Motion of no confidence in the Government.
However, I did not follow the example of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who decided not to allow his Amendment to go forward, or not to vote for it. I pressed mine to a Division, because I had a deep conscientious conviction that it was wrong for this country to compel young men to learn the art of killing. I have always believed that that was a matter that must concern the individual and be a matter of voluntary agreement. On that occasion, I deeply regretted that my first Amendment in this House was against my own Government. However, the Whip was not withdrawn from me.
658 Today I am in the position of being Whipless. Nevertheless, I can assure the House and the country that I have not changed; I have consistently followed the line of being opposed to military conscription at every stage, from 12 months to 18 months to two years. I said in this House that so long as I had breath in my body I would not vote for military conscription. I informed my constituents before they selected me that that was the view I took, and I have reminded them of it at every General Election since. I have consistently opposed conscription and rearmament. Therefore, there is no change.
I may be regarded as a rebel Member, but I am certainly not an independent. I sit as a Socialist, and I am glad to be able to support my right hon. Friend who has moved the Amendment this afternoon. I do so because I am sure this House, if it will examine the facts, will see that the present Government have never really regarded as a matter of urgency the emergence of the hydrogen bomb. I listened to the Minister of Supply making a long speech explaining the meetings that had been held. To me, it was like a long Foreign Office diplomatic rigmarole. We have had so much of this. We need action, and I cannot understand why the Prime Minister, who talked at the previous Election about a meeting of heads of States, could not have found an opportunity for discussing at a high level the emergence of this terrific means of mass slaughter.
My criticism is that there is nothing in the Queen's Speech whatever that can bring or suggest ways of peace for an anxious world. The reason is that in the last eight months, since they have known the vast danger that faces the world, the present Government have thought of only one aspect. They have rushed, almost with indecent haste, to see that Germany is rearmed, and that all the defensive pacts—in regard to South-East Asia, N.A.T.O. and the London and Paris Agreements—are made effective. My opinion is that their anxiety to rush through the rearmament of Western Germany and the agreement to place British troops upon the mainland of Europe has brought about conditions in Europe in which there is real danger of the hydrogen bomb being used. We ought to face that fact.
659 My hon. Friends and I, who voted against the London and Paris Agreements, did so because we were convinced that they constituted a step towards war, and towards the creation of the very fear which has been mentioned by the hon. Member for Bridlington. I do not know of any other issue which could create more fear in the world than the rearmament of Germany. Russia has made it perfectly clear all along that whatever happened she would be bound to take action, and I am not at all surprised that there is now talk of further rearmament in the East to meet what it believes to be the danger from the West.
The Prime Minister has greatly endangered the atmosphere in Europe. [Laughter.] I do not think that this is a matter for laughter. The Prime Minister has made a speech which has aroused all those fears in Europe which make it extremely difficult for negotiations to take place. If my hon. Friends could look at the London and Paris Agreements in the light of the Prime Minister's speech, they might decide to take up a different attitude. I can only say that the action which I took, in accordance with my pronouncements to my constitutents, was what I believed to be right, and of all the letters which I have received—approaching 200—not a single one has said that my action was wrong.
I should like to mention two of the communications I received today. One came from a man who lives in Birmingham. He says:With 23 years' Army service behind me, I have seen enough of British foreign and imperial policy in action and, like many more, I am tired of it. In 1924, on the North-West Frontier, I saw aircraft and artillery bombing and shelling unarmed and defenceless people. I think the last people to free themselves will be the British, free from American and Conservative domination, for colonial peoples will free themselves from British grip first.I wonder whether we can look forward to a time when the youth of Britain can be free from conscription.
I remember my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) being asked, upon the introduction of peace time conscription, eight years' ago, whether it was to be regarded as permanent. My right hon. Friend, who is sometimes accused of having a song in his heart, on that 660 occasion had a hymn—"Lead Kindly Light":I do not ask to seeThe distant scene: one step enough for me.I wonder what he thinks today, now that our Army is to be stationed on the mainland of Europe, and there is a possibility, even if we avoid war, of conscription being with us for the rest of the century. I object to it, and I shall oppose it as long as I have the opportunity and honour to represent my constituency.
Another communication which I thought was rather interesting came in the form of a postcard from a man who thanked me for making what he referred to as a lonely gesture. He said:Winston to the right of them,Bevan to the left of them,M.P.s in front of them,Voted the six out of the 600.I never thought that I should be reminded of the Charge of the Light Brigade, but there were certainly many who volleyed and thundered on that occasion, and I may take a little consolation from that fact.
"Peace through strength" is a delusion of the Government and many other people in regard to the present situation. Peace through strength brought Germany to her knees, as it has brought every country into disaster. I am sorry that my hon. Friends have not followed more closely the opinion of the Social Democrats in Germany, because I believe that they are right. I was in Germany two years ago, and I had the opportunity of speaking with Dr. Schumacher, who made it quite clear that the most important single issue which the world ought to consider was the unity of Germany for peace and not its integration with either side.
Herr Ollenhauer, speaking for the Social Democrats, said:We Social Democrats are of the opinion that the Federal Republic should not assume new obligations in connection with the Western system of Defence and in place of the European Defence Community project before a new and serious attempt has been made by way of negotiations with the Soviet Union.It is a tragedy that the Foreign Secretary would not accept the idea that we should proceed with negotiations now, but, instead, thought that we should wait until the London and Paris Agreements had been ratified and we had the strength to enforce them.
661 The German trade unionists take a line similar to that of the Social Democrats. I was a guest of the trade union movement in Germany when. Ludwig Rosenberg, a member of the German Trades Union Congress, in charge of international relations, explained to me that his files were full of objections and protests at the rearmament of Germany. He said that those protests came from all over the country. He also said:It is remarkable that the Trades Union Congress of Germany is non-political. It is not affiliated to any political party, not even the Social Democratic Party.Yet the German T.U.C. passed a resolution in opposition to German rearmament.
It has been made clear by this resolution that they object to the rearmament of Germany. Expressed in very clear terms, the Trades Union Congress resolution, which was opposed by only four votes, stated that the rebirth of a German Army constituted a danger to the internal development of the Federal Republic. It also stated that it involves the risk that a militaristic, authoritarian state would be created, which would put an end to the efforts of the German Labour movement to create a political, social and economic democracy.
The Congress rejected every form of military participation today until all possibilities for negotiation had been exhausted in an endeavour to bring about an understanding between the nations and effect the reunification of Germany. I think that that is the way, and that if that can be done before it is too late we may be able to do something to remove some of the fear and tension in Europe today, as well as to control these powerful weapons.
I notice that Lord Montgomery has been making a number of speeches recently. He seems to be running about the world as a shining example of militarism. He recently unveiled a memorial at E1 Alamein, and, according to "The Times" of 25th October, this memorial has a cloister in which are inscribed the names of 11,945 soldiers of the Commonwealth who have no known graves, and yet this is what Lord Montgomery said on that occasion:We meant to win outright, and win we did. Victory goes to the highest bidder.662 I am not quite sure what Lord Montgomery meant, but some of these high military people do a lot of bidding with somebody else's lives.
But I objected more to another sentence, because he said that it was in that spirit that we should go on. He said:In the power of that spirit, we crossed the deserts and seas, and, under God, the one continuing captain of all fighting men—I think that is blasphemy. Lord Montgomery has no right to claim that God is the captain of all fighting men. As a matter of fact, I doubt very much whether, if Jesus Christ were in our midst at the moment, we could imagine for a moment that He would be prepared to adopt atomic weapons and use them in the world. If the Archbishop of Canterbury or anybody else in the Church thinks that it is right to use these weapons in any circumstances, of course, they should be prepared to drop them, but I cannot associate all this with Christianity.
Lord Montgomery continued:—let us dedicate the comradeship of the desert, and serve the British flag and carry it across whatever barriers still bar the way to broad lands of friendship among men.I notice that Lord Montgomery fled across to America and was recently in Omaha. What was he doing there? I was in Omaha a year ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "What were you doing there?"] Omaha is the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command of America. There are 150,000 trained men there ready, at the pressing of a button, to drop atomic and hydrogen bombs. I may say that I was in Omaha for the American Quakers, to talk to them about peace, and it was very difficult indeed. Nevertheless, Lord Montgomery goes there, and what does he tell us? He says:There is going to be no war, but we shall drop the atomic and hydrogen bombs if there is one.Why should he go there to tell us that? I should like to know whether, in fact. Lord Montgomery did something else while he was there.
I think it is about time that we had a bit of open diplomacy and much less secret diplomacy. When I first came into the Socialist movement, E. D. Morel was the man who exposed secret diplomacy, and I think it is about time that we had a bit of open diplomacy now. Some people talk about Communism being the 663 danger of the world. I do not agree with Communism, nor do I agree with any kind of dictatorship which takes away the liberty of the individual. I do not believe that Communism is the real danger in the world today. I think militarism is the danger, and that applies to this country, to Russia and to everybody else.
It is a warning to our nation and to the rest of the world, and I hope that Russia will not be unduly influenced by the unfortunate remarks of our own Prime Minister. I think we need to be brought together, but on some different principles. I think it was Tom Paine who once said that an army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. It will march to the horizon of the world and will conquer.
May I say this, in conclusion? I appeal to the House once again to shake off the old beliefs and once more take up the opportunity for negotiation. What does it matter how long it takes? It is better to talk than to fight, and I think that it is better that we should seize every opportunity, even though we think there is a vacuum, rather than bring about a Europe in which conditions arise where these terrible weapons of slaughter can be used. I do not think that the Government have seized their opportunities in the last seven months. I think they have failed. They have given priority merely to defence and physical strength. Let them now consider that the people of this country want action for peace through negotiation, and not the beginning of a war of world destruction.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I am sure that the House will have sympathy for the personal views of the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates), but if his personal belief as a pacifist is to be transformed into national policy I can only remind the hon. Gentleman of a rhyme written by Belloc, which runs like this:Pale Ebenezer thought it wrong to fight, But Roaring Bill, who killed him, thought it right.Unfortunately, there are too many "Roaring Bills" in certain parts of Europe today to make it possible to adopt this policy of unilateral disarmament, no matter how we regard and might support 664 some of the arguments which the hon. Gentleman applied.
To turn to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), who attacked the Government for their lack of a sense of urgency, I thought that the right hon. Gentleman himself manifested a considerable sense of unreality. Everyone will agree with his description of the full horrors of a thermo-nuclear war. Many of the things he said about the horrors of warfare today may very well be true; indeed, these things are marching on. Whereas, only a year ago, the thermonuclear bomb was discovered, today there is a cobalt bomb with a far wider power of destruction. It is a grave thought, and as the Prime Minister said, perhaps the overwhelming thought of the day. I think that many hon. Members will have been somewhat depressed by the lack of reality which the right hon. Gentleman manifested in going beyond that in his speech.
This Amendment is different from the Motion put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in April. It calls attention merely to nuclear weapons, whereas I think that a much wider approach, like that of 5th April, is necessary. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply has pointed out, and as the right hon. Member for Derby, South and others have said, the question of disarmament and of avoiding the use of these horror bombs cannot be resolved merely by banning the use of the atom or thermo-nuclear bomb. We must look at a much wider field, and that is why I object to the narrow way in which this Amendment is drawn.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
If the hon. Gentleman will be good enough to look at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow, he will see that I expressly said that the banning of one weapon or of any one group of weapons would be useless, and that we must have an all-round scheme for banning atomic and thermo-nuclear weapons and for drastically reducing all the rest.
§ Mr. Fraser
In that case, it might have been preferable if the Motion put down by the Opposition on 5th April had been differently worded.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It is all indicated in the Resolution of 5th April, which is available to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Fraser
Of the five main steps which can be taken towards achieving the advancement of peace, the first step is the easing of world tension, and I think that this Government have gone some way towards that. The second step is obviously the question of the general disarmament negotiations. My right hon. and learned Friend has shown that some real progress has been made in that direction. True, it is not the overwhelming progress for which we might have hoped, but the Anglo-French Memorandum is at least a step forward.
I think that a concrete plan can now be put forward for dealing with the actual technical problems of controlling the use of atomic and thermo-nuclear bombs. Indeed, I believe that some such plans were put forward under the Baruch Plan as long ago as 1946, and that that Plan must remain the basis of any further plans on such lines. These technical controls will take a great deal of time to work out. Therefore, when hon. Members opposite ask for a meeting of heads of Governments, I think that they are being a little premature. We must, first of all, get more co-operation from the Russians and from the other Powers involved in working out the details. I believe that both here and in New York my right hon. and learned Friend has made great progress in that direction.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I can well understand the argument that it is perhaps a little previous to call for a meeting of the Big Three, but why, in that case, did not the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends do the honest thing and vote against the Resolution of 5th April?
§ Mr. Fraser
The whole point was that the question of immediacy could not be accepted as meaning within the next five minutes, five days or five months. It depended on much wider issues, one of which was the question of the Geneva Conference which was about to be held. Another was the working out of the Disarmament Commission. There were many other things which stood between the interpretation of "immediate" and the more reasonable interpretation of "as soon as possible" put forward by hon. Members on this side of the House.
The matter is not entirely in our hands. In order to reach a successful conclusion 666 we must have a willing party with which to negotiate, and such a party has not existed in the Soviet so far. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) has said, attempts in this direction have been made again and again. Even in 1946, when Russia did not possess the atomic bomb, the offer of the West was rejected. I believe that what the Government have done is the most that could be done in the circumstances.
As my hon. Friend and other hon. Members have said, one of the bases of successful talks on disarmament must be to make certain that the eventual final sanction behind disarmament is that the power on both sides should be more or less equal. Again, we must see that our defences in this country are strong, and, therefore, I believe that the type of unilateral disarmament which has been talked of by some hon. Members opposite is dangerous. People will only turn to disarmament when they realise the appalling devastation that these new weapons can produce. As the Leader of the Opposition said in the debate on 5th April, this is not merely a prospect of a broken-backed war, but of broken-backed civilisation. That, I believe, to be absolutely true.
To achieve the necessary disarmament which we all desire, I believe that we must negotiate from strength. I also believe that the Russians may try to force on the West a build-up of both nuclear and conventional armaments with view to draining away our economic strength. However, that is not a matter for me as a mere amateur soldier of the last war to discuss in this debate. It is a great strategic question which these entirely new and novel weapons have raised. Some people have said that the thermonuclear bomb makes war no longer an extension of policy, in the Clausewitzian sense, because the only result can be something in which no policy can exist.
The danger with which we are faced today is that those opposed to the West, believing in the ruthless discipline of their own peoples, may try to force a final arms race upon us and thus impair the resources of the West by forcing on us not merely a build-up of normal weapons, but also of thermo-nuclear weapons. That we and colonial Powers such as ourselves should be faced with 667 a conventional and thermo-nuclear stalemate in the West and a "continuous process of nibbling to death," as Mr. Nixon once put it, in the Far East, in the Middle East and perhaps one day in Africa—is very serious. When we talk of defence, we have to see this possible twist in Soviet policy.
We have also to see that questions of defence are more easily understood in this country and are more open to discussion in this House. It is extremely difficult for an hon. Member, perhaps rightly, perhaps wrongly, to find out what goes on in these matters, especially now when there has been some easing of tension. We have a defence programme running for nearly five years. It was started by the party opposite, and, rightly, has been pursued by Her Majesty's present Government. We must look seriously into Parliamentary control of that programme, to see whether it is as efficient as it should be.
The Select Committee on Estimates deals with sums running into £1,600 million and I am sure its work is well done, but when I read through the Estimates I find it difficult to understand whether the money is being well or ill spent. We have occasional debates on defence and many Parliamentary Questions, which largely concern personnel. But very rarely does this House discuss the main issues of defence, which are changing more rapidly than ever before in military history. The last three years, or the last 18 months, have seen a complete change, far more sudden and, in its effects, more sweeping than the evolvement of the knife to the caveman or of the bow and arrow to the men of the pre-Christian era.
This House has to consider expenditure of £1,600 million a year upon inadequate evidence, independently of whatever Government is in power. We should see whether the suggestions made by the Prime Minister to the Leader of the Opposition could not be adopted, namely, consultation among the leaders of all parties, or a new system of more frequent consultation, and a Committee of this House to look into these matters more closely. When we look at the immense amount of money that has been spent in certain areas, perhaps we do not see the results we would like to 668 see. We see Government Departments working on annual budgets instead of budgets which could be more effectively spread over a period of years
We see in several of the Services a danger of too much perfectionism in mechanical construction which, in a time of rapidly changing ideas, is the sure road to obsolescence. We see too much money being invested in super-excellence of equipment, with the danger of those items remaining too long in employment. Those things have to be considered.
All this may seem a little Irrelevant to the issue of the atomic bomb as raised in the Amendment, but I profoundly believe that they must all be taken into consideration. There are questions of easing tension abroad, of the main disarmament work, of technical preparations to control the use of the nuclear fission bomb and, above all else, of the control and support and improvement of our own Armed Forces to create something like a balance between East and West. The fatality and hopelessness of war must be made clear to both sides, and we must negotiate from strength. That strength needs to be more closely investigated by the House.
I hope that we shall not divide upon this Amendment, which concerns us all. I hope something more will come out of it, leading to better understanding by this House and more information from the Government about the problems that face all of us.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
Every one of us can agree with the last sentence of the speech of the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser).
I have listened to every speech made in this quite interesting debate, and they have roamed over a wide field: over China, Formosa, the rearming of Germany and matters of that kind. In truth, the point at issue is a very narrow one: whether Her Majesty's Government have or have not displayed the necessary sense of urgency in seeking to rid the world of this menace. That is the point we should be discussing.
The very interesting speech made by the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) was very learned and constructive about the great discoveries and the new nuclear knowledge and the need 669 there will be for its use in the world in future. That is not the point we should be discussing, but without a doubt it opens out a vision of prosperity which otherwise the world might not experience.
We are anxious to know how to bring an end to the antagonisms now persisting in the world. How long must we go on arming and rearming and making new discoveries for the destruction of one another? We are spending vast sums of money. The hon. Gentleman has just spoken of the enormous sums we spend, which are annually twice the amount of the whole Budget for everything we needed in 1938, the year before the war. Now £1,600 million is spent by us on preparations for war. The whole world is spending, as near as we can estimate the sum, £41,000 million. How ran we put an end to all this? What can be done? There is not the slightest doubt that the one desire of every man and woman Member of this House is that this situation should come to an end.
I want to mention one or two things before coming to the steps which have been taken and those which could have been taken. Listening to some of the speeches—even the speech of the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates)—I rather gathered that, in the main, the British were to blame; that somehow or other we had installed in Russia a feeling of insecurity and fear that had necessitated her then taking the tremendous steps she has taken, the vast army she has built up, and then doing her best to discover the atom bomb and how to use it, and now the hydrogen bomb.
Surely one remembers that in 1945, when the war was ended, the position here was as the hon. Member very rightly says. We had a Socialist Government in power. Remembering the doctrines and principles of the Socialist Party before the war, I should have expected them to have been proceeding as rapidly as possible, not only towards disarmament, but certainly putting an end to all forms of conscription. I remember joining in the very debate which the hon. Member has mentioned and the answer to a Question which I put to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton).
The action that had to be taken by us was not taken without cause. There was surely sufficient cause already for it to 670 be taken. What had happened to the little countries around Russia? In the Baltic, three that had known independence for 20 years had been taken. There is a very full account of the arrest, in one single week of all the important people of Estonia, by the Russians when they came over and took charge, and they did it at the very moment when the Estonian Government were in Moscow making what they thought was a treaty of mutual support. What had happened to Poland—Czechoslovakia—Rumania—Bulgaria?
The Socialist Government felt, therefore, that the steps which were taken had to be taken, and they have had to be continued ever since. If there is any country which really has done its very utmost to try to lead the other countries to a way of disarmament and peace, it is this. It is second to none. It is rather interesting that credit is very often given to President Wilson for introducing, at the end of 1917, the great idea of the League of Nations. We now know that on Christmas Day, 1916—rather a significant day—the Prime Ministers of this country, of France and of Italy met and put forward that very idea in a far and away better form.
It is especially interesting to those of us who believe that ultimately we must have among the nations what we have among the individuals within a nation—a rule of law—that that idea came from the Prime Minister and Government of this country. I am proud of that, because of the great reputation Britain has for its belief in the rule of law and the administration of law.
I copied the following from the ending of the declaration which was issued upon that great Christmas Day. They were saying, of course, that the nations should come together and that there should be disarmament and co-operation. They added that there should be this proviso:Behind international law and behind all the treaty arrangements for preventing or limiting hostilities, some form of international sanction should be devised which would give pause to the hardiest aggressor.That was written as long ago as the end of 1916. It was followed by the appointment of a committee under the chairmanship of Lord Robert Cecil, as he then was, assisted by a great international lawyer well known to you, Mr. Speaker, and to myself, Lord Phillimore. 671 General Smuts also assisted. It was put before the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth when they came here in March, 1917, and was accepted by them. One would therefore claim that every effort was made by us to bring about a better understanding amongst all the nations. That is a tradition we have followed steadily since we had to face the terrible desolation and losses caused by the 1914–18 War.
It is not enough that one objects to the atom and the hydrogen bomb. All war weapons are bad. All war is wrong. Nothing good comes out of war—nothing, except devastation, suffering, desolation and losses throughout the centuries and through the generations. It is that which we are anxious to stop. It is not merely that we should prohibit these bombs, but that we should prohibit all forms of war weapons. I was rather surprised at one part of the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker). He referred rather lyrically to 1884 and to the fact that only £30 million were then being spent upon armaments. I agree that it was a good vintage year; it was the year in which I was born, but I do not think there is any other merit about it.
At that time £30 million were spent by us, and there were also the millions which were spent by Germany, Italy, Russia and others. Was there any security or safety in the world? From the first moment one took an interest in international affairs one remembers nothing but fear of war, talk of war, defence against war and the maintenance of the independence of our country. I can draw no distinction whatsoever—and I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman wants to draw any distinction—between heavy weapons and light weapons. All of them really should be banned and brought under complete control.
I come to the very short point that remains. On 5th April we had that very interesting Motion before us. It was accepted by the whole House. It is rather interesting that it has been followed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Hon. Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union branch of this House put it forward as a resolution for consideration by the Inter-Parliamentary Union which met at Vienna at the end of August. It 672 was passed unanimously, in practically the same terms as the Motion accepted by this House on 5th April, by nearly 40 Parliaments who were there represented. What does that mean? That again the Parliaments, the representatives of the peoples, the representatives of democracies everywhere, have the same anxiety—how to bring about permanently a just peace and put an end to war. All that they are asking for is what this House asks for—that the attention of the Government should be drawn to this matter, and that their Governments should take every step possible. What steps can be taken?—apparently two. There is, first, the ordinary machinery one of acting through the United Nations.
I listened with very great care to the very full statement that was made by the former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Listening to him, I felt that he had devoted all his time, energies and thoughts, hour after hour, day after day, and week after week, to trying to bring about some form of agreement which would result in a proper scheme for disarmament. He has had a certain measure of success. He is certainly carrying the free nations with him in all that he is doing. The trouble has been in trying to persuade the Russian Government to join with him in agreeing upon what would otherwise, by today, I suppose, be a very complete scheme.
Therefore, I cannot find in the statement that was made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman on what he has been doing since 5th April that in any shape or form he has been guilty of failing to displaythe necessary sense of urgency in seeking means to rid the world of this menace.I do not know what more he could do. I do not know what more anybody on the opposite benches could have done.
§ Mr. Davies
I believe that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has done everything he could do. There is one other suggestion, and that is that there should be an approach made from what is called the top level authority. That is a suggestion which I am proud to think I put forward, with colleagues of mine, as long ago as 1947, at a time when discussions between the Foreign 673 Secretaries had broken down, and it looked as though they would never meet any more. The House will remember the bitterness in which the discussions were then being conducted between Mr. Molotov on the one side and Mr. Bevin on the other. Then in November, 1947, the discussions broke down completely.
It was then that some of us suggested that there was one way only of reopening the whole of this matter, and that was by the Prime Minister of this country, representing not only this country but the British Commonwealth, and the Prime Minister of France meeting with Mr. Stalin who was then responsible for Russia. Nothing happened until the present Prime Minister, in a speech at Edinburgh in February, 1950, also put forward that idea. It was not accepted at that time by the then Government. They accused the present Prime Minister of an Election stunt. However, he made the same suggestion in that famous speech on 5th May last year, and we all welcomed it, and again welcomed it on 5th April last. There was one question, and that was with regard to the date of the meeting. I can say quite definitely that I asked for discussions to start then, and I said that this matter was so urgent that every effort should be made to bring the Prime Ministers together.
Am I to blame the Prime Minister? If those were just the bare facts, I would. But immediately after that came Geneva, and we were all hoping that it would bring to an end the Korean war and the Indo-China war. We waited anxiously for the results, and fortunately a truce was arranged and a temporary agreement was made with Indo-China. Then came the disagreement about E.D.C. and it looked as though there was disintegration amongst the free countries. Most of us are proud to think of the part played by this country in trying to bring together once more the parties concerned, and particularly are we proud of the efforts made by the Foreign Secretary.
An agreement has since been made, and there is Obviously a duty upon us to approach Russia, although there seems to be an understanding that no approach can be made until the agreement has been finally ratified by all the parties. As soon as that is done, I think the Prime Minister will carry out his undertaking 674 that he gave as long ago as 5th May last year, and repeated on 5th April this year.
In view of those facts, I cannot say that there has been a failure to understand the urgency of this matter. Therefore, I hope the House will once again show unanimity by saying that our one desire is for peace, to put an end to all armaments and that the people should not only learn to live together amicably but should also respect one another's ideas and obey the rules of law.
§ 7.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) especially for two things. I am grateful to him for reminding us of what he, I think justly, described as the narrow point upon which the debate turns today; that is to say, whether enough sense of urgency has been displayed: I think there is no doubt that "displayed" must be the cardinal word in that sentence.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman also from a party point of view for, as I take it, expressing the mind of his party to approve the action taken by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and by the Minister of Supply, and in general to approve the action of the Government in this connection and, therefore, to disapprove the Amendment. I am grateful for both those things.
I speak partly because I feel in one sense more optimistic that any of my predecessors today, and in one sense more pessimistic. We have had perhaps—I do not say this in the least to criticise anyone—more than our usual share of autobiography in the debate today, and perhaps, also, we have had more than our usual share of theology. I will try, so far as I can, to avoid those two subjects, but I would like to say one thing on the theological side.
I thought that the debate more than once got to a point where, however natural and proper, it was not really practicable to continue it in the conditions of this House. On the other hand, I thought that almost all the assumptions implicitly made by almost all the speakers in connection with the view-of-the-universe side of this have been too pessimistic. I hope I am not getting over-easily hopeful in my old age, and I hope that I am not getting priggish, self-satisfied, about great 675 matters, or at least perhaps not getting more self-satisfied than I was—for about oneself has not to be sure of these things: it is difficult to be sure about these matters in oneself.
On the whole, most of the speeches made today have failed to assume what I hope we can assume, that, in the end, the human spirit has spirit on its side. If that is so, then the assumptions made explicitly on both sides of the House about what is the greatest matter now before us—that assumption has been made by members of both parties—are dangerous and unwarrantable assumptions.
On the other hand, I feel more pessimistic than most of today's speakers have been—and this is another reason for my speech. Two speakers today have already said, "All history teaches us that…"; and a third speaker, the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery, although he did not use that infallible formula—which always warns one that a proposition is coming with which one will not agree—at any rate said something to the same effect.
I am, on the whole, inclined to think that if there is one thing which all history teaches us—or perhaps there are two things; one being that history teaches us that Governments are the greatest borrowers and therefore, the value of money tends to go down—if there is a second, it is, I should have thought, that attempts at disarmament have never been successful.
I do not say that to suggest that I do not think we ought to try them. That is another question. But I think it most important that we should get into our heads that no disarmament conference has ever been successful—as far as I know—and, indeed, I almost think one can fairly add that no disarmament conference has ever failed to do more harm than good. These things ought to be remembered.
As a second, or perhaps third, reason for pessimism in this connection—in connection with what may be called the concrete realities of this matter—I would explain that although I do not know what an atom is and have no very clear notion of what hydrogen is, I know a good many people who do know all about these things and I have talked to them 676 about such matters; and I think I can fairly say that I have talked about these matters by accident longer than anyone in the House, for I think that no hon. Member was aware of this subject as early as I was. And I believe that what I am about to say is true. I hope it is not true, but I believe it to be true.
It is that the technical difficulties of checking the manufacture and multiplication of what are called mass weapons are now very much greater than they were a very few years ago. I believe that, whereas the best technical experts then thought that the technical business of watching how many bombs there were, if any, and who had the material for them, was not so difficult that it should be regarded as impracticable, now they are inclined to think that it is perhaps impracticable.
I am always rather torn about the arguments which we had earlier on the subject that we should all know of the horrors which the next war will produce. I am torn about that for two reasons. I remember that the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) described the opening speech today as a typical pacifist speech—and perhaps there was nothing offensive about that. I thought it was, too, especially as I have heard the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) make it before.
The first time I heard him make that speech was as far back as 1910—with some changes in vocabulary, of course—and that is a very long time ago. I remember then thinking, and I think I then said in the debate, in a much inferior assembly, of course, "It is very dangerous to think that by dwelling upon the horrors of the next war you are likely to put it off. It is not at all certain that the psychological effect does not happen the other way round."
I am still inclined to think that that is true. We must not too much or too easily condemn Governments for not "displaying" their sense of the physical horrors involved in the next war. Although they ought to hide nothing, it is not very easy for them to draw the line between what is the proper way to make sure that the public understands and what, by the attempt to frighten the public out of a war, might more quickly get them into it.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
When the hon. Member says that I made a typical pacifist 677 speech, perhaps he does not recall that I have supported every rearmament programme, U.N.O., S.E.A.T.O., Western Union and all the rest, and that I said so specifically this afternoon I am in favour only of all-round disarmament by general agreement and not of unilateral disarmament.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
First, I did not say that it was a typical pacifist speech. I said that the hon. Member for Shettleston had said so. I added that there was perhaps nothing insulting or offensive about that.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Did I say I agreed with the hon. Member for Shettleston? If I said that I agreed with him, what I meant was that I agreed that I had heard that type of speech before. I did not mean that unkindly, either. We must all repeat these arguments over and over again, as circumstances often repeat or re-combine.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Perhaps the hon. Member will withdraw his statement that I made a typical pacifist speech.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I think that is too far off the possibility of material exactitude either to be asserted or withdrawn. I think that is pressing me too far. I do not think I said anything that was unfair; at any rate, I certainly have not tried to.
What I am certain of is that dwelling too much on the horrors of war is more likely to do harm than good, and we are a little too apt to do it. On the other hand, we are not apt enough to dwell upon the difficulties of policies—and that was what I got up to say; that I am sure we shall do ourselves and everybody else a great deal more harm than good if we too easily assume, as was assumed in several speeches today, that if this thing is wanted, there must be a way by which it can be got which will be technically watertight.
I do not think anybody ought properly to assume that for debating purposes at this stage and I think that any attempt to make any such assumption is far more likely to do harm than good. It is no use talking, as some hon. Members have, of good arrangements with absolute guarantees of all inspection and control. It is deceiving oneself to assume that the 678 technical conditions are now such that we can get absolute guarantees of all inspection and control. Possibly it might be so, but I am certain that it is not fair to arrange an argument upon the assumption that it is so. I am certain that would be a mistake.
§ Mr. Beswick
Has the hon. Member forgotten that a committee of scientists, representing over 20 nations of the world, considered this very point and, in their report, said that it was technically possible? Has not the Minister today said that it would be possible up to 95 per cent. to be certain that none of these weapons was outside control?
§ Mr. Pickthorn
My recollection is that the Minister put it the other way round, that he said he did not think it would be possible to promise it would be as much as 95 per cent.: I do not think he said he was sure it would be as much as 95 per cent. On the other point, we must all evaluate scientific opinion by the possibilities which each of us has. As far as I can evaluate it—and I have had a good deal of experience of discussing such matters with scientists and those intimately concerned with this subject—I hope that what I have said is perfectly fair.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
Having listened to the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn), I can understand why it has been necessary for us to put the Amendment on the Order Paper today. He devoted a considerable part of his speech to dealing with one or two pernickety points without getting to the heart of the matter at all. That is the very thing about which we complain in this Amendment. Not only have the Government treated the Resolution on 5th April more or less with complete indifference, but there has been a relapse into a complacency in the country as a whole and that must be dealt with immediately.
Every hon. Member in the House, I should think, has had more letters recently on questions such as a lotteries Bill, or the valuation for rating of shops, than on this topic, which is so vital to every one of us. It is because we feel that the matter has not been tackled with the urgency it deserves that we felt it 679 necessary to put down this Amendment today.
We wish to know what approach, if any, has been made during the last eight months to the United States and to the Soviet Union about a meeting at a high level—the highest level. Have approaches been made to the United States which have been turned down by the United States? Have approaches been made, through diplomatic channels or otherwise, to the Soviet Union which, also, have been rejected? My belief is that no serious attempt has been made to fulfil the obligations entered into by the Government when they accepted the Motion which was moved on 5th April.
Today, we had a speech from the Minister of Supply dealing in meticulous detail with the long and arduous work of the Disarmament Commission, but that did not turn on the Motion of 5th April. The Minister himself told us that that was decided upon before the Motion was debated in this House. Whether we had that Motion or not would have made not the slightest difference to the work going on in the Disarmament Commission.
We know that a little progress has been made in that Commission, but it would be fooling the House and the country if we were to believe that we were anywhere near a solution of these problems. There is still too great a divergence between the two sides on this issue of disarmament to hope for an immediate, spectacular response. I am sure the Government would agree with that.
What compelled the Government, last April, to accept the Motion? My belief at that time was that they did not really mean to accept it and did not really mean to act upon it. But, in the emotional atmosphere created by the hydrogen bomb tests, when radio-active substances had been rained down on peaceful Japanese fishermen in the Pacific, the Government could not afford to fly in the face of public opinion and reject the Motion. So, with considerable boggling over the interpretation of the word "immediate," they accepted it and did their best to forget all about it. We have let them go on for eight months before bringing the matter to their notice again and we ask them to take up two things, which we 680 think they should have done then, to try to bring about an easement in the position.
The reason we put forward the Motion last April was that we felt at that time Her Majesty's Government were in a strong position to take an initiative and the British Prime Minister was in a stronger position than anyone else in the world to start this project moving and to try to bring an end to the horrors piling up all round us. Although the Government could quibble and argue, as the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) did, that "immediate" really meant "as soon as possible" there is no doubt in the mind of anyone in the House that "immediate" at that time, in the context of what was happening in the Pacific, meant then "a very short time indeed."
We still want to know from the Government what approaches they have made in the intervening eight months to Russia or the United States to get high level talks in progress. We must also know how far the problems raised by the explosion of the hydrogen bomb, eight or nine months ago, have been settled in the meantime. What efforts have been made to try to allay the feeling of anxiety which exists although—it may be unexpressed—among the ordinary masses of the people? There was an upsurge of feeling at that time. Although to a large extent that has gone, we are still living in a state of anxiety. There is still a feeling that the hydrogen bomb is out of control and that man is in the grip of something greater than himself.
The questions in people's minds today show two conflicting feelings. First, there is a foreboding of inevitable doom. Then, there is the hope, expressed by one or two hon. Members, that the hydrogen bomb is so tremendous in its possibilities for destruction that no one would ever dare to start a war because of it. That feeling has brought about a kind of helplessness. That is why it is so important at this stage that, once more, we should proceed to take the initiative in this matter and go ahead as far as possible to try to get talks at a high level.
There are reasons for doing that now, particularly compared with the situation last April. It has been made quite clear by our evacuation of Egypt that we can 681 no longer rely on conventional arms for the defence of our bases throughout the world. Secondly, the German Government in the Paris and London Agreements have voluntarily renounced the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. It means at least that they can see what such weapons can do. If it is good enough for them by voluntary agreement to renounce the manufacture of these weapons there is every reason why we other peace-loving peoples should do the same. Thirdly, there are the words used by the Prime Minister in the House on 1st December:The advance of the hydrogen bomb has fundamentally altered the entire problems of defence, and considerations founded even upon the atom bomb have become obsolescent, almost old-fashioned.…This question of the nuclear weapons, therefore, remains the supreme issue."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 176–7.]It is the supreme issue which faces us in the country today.
The scientists have done more or less what they have been told to do. I was rather shocked by the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), who seemed to think that we could not separate the good and bad uses of atomic research one from the other. He seemed to think that we had to go on with the most appalling weapons because, perhaps at some stage, hundreds of years to come, when we have used up all our ordinary fuel, we shall need fuel produced by atomic devices.
I ask the Foreign Secretary, have the scientists really got this matter under control? Were the fears expressed when the bombs were exploded in the Pacific well founded? Do the scientists know what they are doing? In other words, is there any prospect of their experiments getting out of control entirely? People are considerably worried about this question. Jokes are made about it, but some people are convinced that the change in the weather has something to do with atomic experiments.
The matter is far more serious than that, however. If these experiments go on, is it possible to have a dangerous concentration of radio-active substances in the atmosphere? These are questions for the scientists, but the decisions must be made by the politicians. Whether we go on with experiments and the manufacture of hydrogen bombs is a matter for the politicians to decide. Although we 682 may gain something from atomic research for peaceful purposes, I cannot see what good we can get from hydrogen bomb experiments, nor from the production of hydrogen bombs. We hope that is a defensive matter, but it has very little application to peaceful pursuits.
What is the point of further experiment? Surely, we know enough from what has been taking place already. Surely, if what the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove said can be believed, that vast numbers of these bombs are available on both sides, we have enough without producing any bigger or better ones. The right hon. Member's cry that we should be stopping the march of progress by trying to ban the atom or hydrogen bomb is too farcical to be believed.
We come now to the other question which was raised last April, and which is still not answered. Is the possession of the hydrogen bomb a deterrent to war? Is the fact that both sides have it a deterrent to war? Is the fact that we have more bombs than have the Russians a deterrent to war? Is it that the hydrogen bomb is so horrible in application that it will deter war? There is extreme danger that if we embark on a conflict, however localised, in any part of the world, sooner or later, if things go badly, there will be an itch to use the hydrogen bomb to bring an end to the hostilities. That would lead to a policy of massive retaliation. I believe, therefore, that there is no safety in the possession of this allegedly deterrent weapon.
We come then to the position that the only possible way to prevent the use of the hydrogen bomb is to prevent war altogether. That leads us to all the problems of how we are to set about it. I believe that the phasing of the events can go in this way. It will not, of course, solve the problem. We cannot solve in a week or a fortnight what has been developing since the end of the last war. I believe that the first step of a meeting of heads of Governments can lead to betterment of the position and improvement in understanding. That, taken with other things and not by itself—with meetings of the United Nations, with the activities of the sub-committee of the Disarmament Commission and so on—can lead to an improvement in the atmosphere which will enable us to get ahead with solving this problem.
683 We should be doing something like this to recreate confidence and mutual trust among the peoples and the leaders of the world. First, we should have a postponement of further experiments. Secondly, we should ban further manufacture, keeping the bombs which we already have if it is felt that they are needed as deterrents. For goodness' sake do not let us produce any more. We must have an international authority, with full powers of inspection. Whether that comes first or simultaneously with the other two, we must insist upon it. I believe that it is a practicable possibility.
The record of negotiations so far has not been hopeful, but that should not deter us from going on. It should not be said that we have failed through want of effort. We can secure a lowering of world tension and the creation of confidence and I believe that that can stem from a meeting of the Big Three. The climate of world opinion is favourable to British initiative once more. If the statesman cannot solve the problem soon we must ask the scientists, who are citizens like ourselves, whether they are prepared to go on with their work with no guarantee of the peaceful application of the fruits of their labour.
We must have the will to solve the problem, because the question facing the world is not peace or war but peace or the extinction of civilisation as we know it. The time has arrived to apply all our efforts to stop this race to self-destruction. History might well be made tonight or in the immediate future in this matter but, unless we act with courage, history itself might well cease fairly soon.
The problem is raised again not by the dropping of the experimental hydrogen bomb in the Pacific, but by the dropping of the verbal bomb by the Prime Minister in the girls' school at Woodford a few days ago. It is not important at this stage to know whether the telegram was sent, whether Montgomery received it or not, whether he can find it on looking through his files, or whether it exists. It does not matter what were the exact terms of the telegram. What we really want to know is why the Prime Minister made that speech at this time. What was the purpose? No one has been able to give an adequate answer to that question.
684 How has it forwarded the cause of peace at this time? How can that kind of expression of views, be it right or wrong, contribute to the lessening of world tension? How could a meeting of the three heads of Governments succeed with that in the background? It may seem paradoxical that I should advocate a meeting, and then say it cannot succeed with this background, but we must work for a better climate of opinion.
I regret very much that there is little prospect of this with the present Prime Minister at the head of affairs. It would be much better for the prospects if my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was there, but, failing that, I believe that the present Foreign Secretary would stand a very much better chance of success than the Prime Minister. We must not be discouraged by previous failures. I believe that we can establish a little mutual confidence and trust which will lead to rapid success.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Squadron Leader A. E. Cooper (Ilford, South)
The speech of the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) contained a number of contradictions. I hope that when the hon. Member reads it tomorrow he will also read some of his party's propaganda at the time of the General Election. I believe that he will be somewhat astonished at the change that has taken place in the political climate within the Labour Party. The hon. Member said, for example, at the beginning of his speech that the present Prime Minister is in a strong position to negotiate for the banning of the hydrogen bomb, but at the conclusion of his speech he said that the Prime Minister was not the man to carry out these negotiations.
I would remind the hon. Member that at the time of the General Election the present Prime Minister was the "war monger." What a change of heart has come about in the Labour Party in the past three years, when they can now say that such is the prestige of Britain today that we can take the initiative in bringing about a solution of this appalling problem.
§ Squadron Leader Cooper
That is a hypothetical question. We are dealing with facts.
The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees also made some reference to the type of correspondence which hon. Members are receiving at present from their constituents. That is a very significant fact. The Labour Party, for all their efforts over the past few months, have not succeeded in frightening the British public. I should like hon. Members opposite to realise that the fount of all wisdom does not lie in Members of Parliament of any party, but that there is a very great deal of wisdom, understanding and proper sense of proportion among the electorate. Hon. Members opposite would do well to remember that.
§ Squadron Leader Cooper
That may be, but we are here on this side of the House, and there is a deal of difference in that.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) made a speech which, frankly, would not stand up to any detailed analysis whatsoever. I thought that it was Alice-in-Wonderland politics. In all the talk of hon. and right hon. Members opposite about the awful consequences of atomic and hydrogen weapons, is it recollected that it was the party opposite which, during their six years' in office, devoted greater sums for the development of atomic weapons than we on this side have ever considered? Hundreds of millions of pounds were spent on atomic energy and atomic weapons in the six years of the Labour Government. Is that denied by anybody? Of course it is not—
§ Squadron Leader Cooper
—and yet, having created this Frankenstein, in part the creation of the Labour Government, we are now told that as a party we are doing nothing whatsoever to limit the production and use. I am very surprised at the action of the Opposition in putting down this Amendment. No doubt the Leader of the Opposition is under some 686 pressure both from the Bevanites and from pacifists within the Labour Party. The pacifists see only evil in atomic weapons and atomic energy and, in calling for the banning of them, they offer no constructive proposals at all.
The Bevanites have very different motives altogether. Their sympathies are with the Soviet Union and in opposition to the United States of America. They try to make us believe that an agreement is possible with the Soviet Union, but they fail to say what sort of an agreement can be made or how such an agreement is to be enforced. The history of negotiations with the Soviet Union and the Western Powers on this and others matters since the end of the war is well known. Complete intransigence on the part of the Soviet Union, and on really vital matters no agreement of any sort whatsoever.
The Amendment that we are discussing is, in my opinion, both dishonest and unrealistic. It is dishonest because the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well that this Government, in concert with other Western Governments, has done everything possible to reach agreement. It is unrealistic because in his heart the Leader of the Opposition, who has been mellowed and matured by six years as Prime Minister, and has considerable experience of negotiating with the Soviet Union, knows that a true, permanent and worthwhile agreement is not possible with the Soviet Union, at least in the foreseeable future.
Their policy is to secure world domination for Communism, nothing more or less, and we fool ourselves if we imagine anything different. The whole story of the Communist Party throughout its history and in all parts of the world has been one of double dealing and deceit. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) has described the Communist Party as a conspiracy, and that is a correct appreciation of it. The Kremlin stooges exist in this country. They work sometimes in the open as Communists, but in other cases under cover. The Association of Scientific Workers is full of them. High offices in other trade unions are occupied by them and, whenever trouble starts in any industry, the Communists are to be found doing their dirty work.
§ Mr. Beswick
If the Communists are intransigent and if the possibility of agreement is so impossible, will the hon. and gallant Gentleman tell us why he voted for the Resolution, passed by this House last Session, calling for an agreement with the Russians on the hydrogen bomb?
§ Squadron Leader Cooper
If the hon. Gentleman would permit me to finish my speech, I think I can answer that.
The Labour Party and the trade union movement have a very great responsibility in this particular matter. The trade unions are affiliated to the Labour Party, and yet we find that in many trade unions members of the Communist Party have secured positions of great power. I believe that the Labour Party have a responsibility upon their shoulders to see to it that Communists no longer exist in positions of responsibility within the trade union movement.
The Communist Party have also sought sedulously to render inactive the Civil Defence of this country. Within my own division it has operated under the guise of the Ilford Movement for Peace, and, by other means, it has tried to prevent the Civil Defence organisation operating. If we get an agreement with the Soviet Union limiting nuclear weapons, we shall require an international authority to enforce it. This, in turn, demands that the signatory Powers of such an agreement will have to give up part of their sovereignty to permit of a supervisory authority investigating industrial aspects within the territory.
Nobody but a fool believes that the Soviet Union would permit any such organisation to operate in their territory now or at any time within the foreseeable future. If they did so, I believe that they could evade it very effectively and easily because the territory of the Soviet Union is so vast that adequate supervision would be virtually impossible. We are forced, therefore, into the position where we must rely upon the good faith particularly of Malenkov and his associates. The whole history of the Communist Party and of the rulers in the Kremlin since the end of the war, and long before the war, make it very difficult for us to believe in their word at all.
688 What do we have to do? I believe that we must not be afraid of the hydrogen or atomic bomb or any of these weapons of mass destruction. They are all horrible, and no one ever wants to see them used. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Yates), who tried to show us that history proves that arms only create war. What created the last three major wars, in 1870, in 1914 and in 1939, was really the action of a bully attacking a weaker person. If we look back in history, there has never been one really strong Power which has attacked another equally strong Power. In 1914 we were in a very weak position, and the history of the last war is so well-known that I need not repeat it.
The policy of this Government and the policy which was supported by the Labour Party of working together with the Western Powers and with the United States of America in building up a system of collective security is the one sure shield for our future security. If we weaken our efforts in any way, we shall hasten the day when we shall run into real difficulties with the Soviet Union.
I am equally sure that if we were to build up our strength and our industrial might and at the same time to devote a sufficient sum of money to social and economic improvements within the country, then we could go a long way towards stopping the onrush of Communism in our time.
We have got to continue talking to the Soviet Union and to those other countries behind the Iron Curtain for the reason that I do not believe that in any one of them the Government of the day represents the will of the people. It may come about, perhaps sooner than some of us think, that the Communist Governments of these countries are overthrown.
I am sure there is no desire in the heart of any man in any country to go to war. One of the reasons why I think we are not making a mistake in rearming Germany is that the German people now know what total war means. It is the first time in their history that they have really had a taste of it, and they do not like it. The distaste for war once people have experienced it is one of the factors which will enable us to secure peace.
689 I believe that the policies which have been pursued by the Government are the correct ones, and that the charge of negligence cannot be sustained. I hope that all right-thinking men and women in the House will support the Government in the Lobby tonight.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn, East)
I do not know whether the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) would call me a Bevanite or not—
§ Mrs. Castle
—but I am quite prepared to take up his challenge by saying why I think we have not yet managed to reach agreement with the Soviet Union.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has given the perfect answer in his speech, a speech which was a far fairer and more honest exposition of official Conservative policy than the dishonest acceptance by the the Government benches on 5th April of the Motion put forward by the Opposition. I should have given the hon. and gallant Member more credit for his views today if he had had the guts on that occasion to vote against our Motion, which he obviously believed to be nonsense, unrealistic and politically undesirable.
Throughout the debate today we have had a series of interesting revelations of the true mind of the Conservative Party on international politics. Through the speeches of the hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), the Minister of Supply and practically every other hon. Member opposite who has spoken there has run the theme that the sole cause of world tension today lies in the evil policies and machinations of the Soviet Union. That may be very flattering to us and very comforting to the Government, but as long as that is believed by the Government, and inspires their diplomacy, hope of reaching peaceful coexistence, disarmament or anything else is negligible.
The Minister of Supply gave us a very plausible account, in his usual pleasant and efficient manner, of the Government's actions in pursuit of disarmament and of the work that he had clone in the Disarmament Commission. He even called 690 in aid M. Jules Moch, a "sinister figure" of Socialism on his side of the argument. He put forward, more diplomatically than any of his backbenchers are capable of doing, the usual picture of the Government doggedly pursuing peace and light in the face of the villainy of the Soviet Union.
Some of us have also discussed the disarmament problem with M. Moch. If the Minister of Supply were present at the moment, I would point out to him that I got from M. Moch a very different slant on the picture from the one which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave us today. The trouble is that the Government's attitude is now so infused with prejudice against the Soviet Union that we never get an objective presentation of the facts in this House. It is all done with very gentlemanly skill and it is very pleasant anti-Soviet propaganda, but it is none the less deadly.
The biggest need in international politics today, for all of us who have to decide these important issues, is that we should be able to get at the facts. A lot of lip-service has been paid during the debate to the need to create confidence and the Government's desire to create it. It has been said that we shall not get disarmament or peace without creating mutual trust between nations. If we are to create confidence we cannot do it on the basis of hugging our prejudices to keep us warm. We can only do it by facing the facts as objectively as we can and sometimes recognising that we as well as other people may be wrong.
The Minister of Supply, in his account of the Disarmament Commission talks, was certainly not prepared to give as much credit to the Soviet Union as M. Moch is. M. Moch has taken an objective line on the problem. He has pointed out that both sides want disarmament but not the same disarmament, because both sides are pursuing security as they see it and their national needs as they see them. The consequence is that the debates in the Disarmament Commission began with two opposing viewpoints, the United States, on the one hand, wanting to cut down manpower and conventional arms because that is where the Soviet Union's superiority lies, and the Soviet Union, on the other hand, wanting to cut down thermo-nuclear weapons first because it is in those weapons that the United States is superior. There were 691 two opposing legitimate views on the part of those nations, and M. Moch worked very hard to bring the two points of view together.
I welcome the Anglo-French proposals of last June. Incidentally, this is an example of the way the whole picture is tinged in this House every time we discuss foreign affairs. I challenge the Minister of Supply on this; he did not give us a fair picture by saying that the United States welcomed those proposals. She accepted them only because she thought the Soviet Union would turn them down. She has now to think of something else because of the surprising change in the Soviet policy.
There are two lessons which we ought to learn from the progress so far made in disarmament. First, we ought to give credit where it is due. The Soviet Union has taken a most important step forward by accepting the Anglo-French proposals as a basis of discussion. Indeed, so dramatic has the step forward been that M. Moch was reported in the "Observer" some time ago as having, when he read the proposals, cabled M. Mendès-France begging him to put a suspensive clause in the German rearmament agreement because he thought that talks on German unity could be reopened with the Soviet Union with an enormous prospect of success.
I would ask the House to realise—it was, after all, the Minister of Supply who started to quote M. Moch as an authority because he thought he could put him on his side—that M. Moch provides useful evidence in support of a very different policy from that of the Government. It must be remembered that M. Moch has worked very intimately with the Russians for months and he is a man who is passionately opposed to the German rearmament proposals on the grounds that there ought to be talks first with the Soviet Union about the unification of Germany. He believes that the talks will succeed. Having worked intimately with the Russians, he does not believe that they have a closed mind and a monolithic hostility towards the West. He believes that they are as keen as we are for peace.
It is a matter of gradually and painstakingly building the confidence which would enable security to mature, but what kills confidence—it has killed it time 692 and time again—is the sudden leaking out, in rather more dramatic and official quarters than that of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South, but in the same tone and spirit, of speeches which reveal the profound hostility of the West towards the Soviet Union and a lack of trust on our side which, consequently, fails to evoke trust on the part of the Soviet Union.
The speech of General Gruenther at the Pilgrims' dinner, some months ago, nearly undid all the work that had been done in the Disarmament Commission by giving cause for dismay and resentment to the Soviet representative, Mr. Malik. He turned round and said, "That is proof that you talk fine words in the West, but do not mean them and that really you are planning military hostility to us.
It is all the more tragic, therefore, that we should have the Woodford speech in the last few days. I believe that that speech is very harmful and has not been treated with the seriousness or severity with which it should have been treated in this House. It is another example, at a crucial moment in international affairs, when we hoped we were making some progress, of a leakage in a particularly dramatic way of this undercurrent of hostility to the Soviet Union that has always coloured the thoughts of the right hon. Gentleman and the Members of his Government. It was an example of how very near the surface of his consciousness that hostility is, even at the moment he is talking about wanting the big Powers to meet to plan security.
I have been accused by many quarters of having taken an offensive personal action against the Prime Minister when I cancelled my subscription to his Birthday Fund. I deny that it was an offensive personal gesture. It was a political response to a political action by the right hon. Gentleman. He is the one who ought to apologise, because he abused his birthday week, at a time when we were all prepared to pay him personal tributes for his war leadership, by exploiting a non-political occasion and making a highly controversial political speech.
The trouble with the right hon. Gentleman is that he always assumes that whatever he says and does he is, somehow or other above party. He sees himself endowed with super-human prescience 693 and statesmanship which qualifies him to head a national coalition in peace or war. He believes that he is leading a coalition now: a coalition of hostility to the Soviet Union and that the wheel has come full circle and that we are all now belatedly following him in views which he, with his greater wisdom, has held for a long time.
Equally important to the paragraph in his speech about the telegram is the paragraph which preceded it which said:I believe I was the first well known person publicly to state we must have Germany on our side against Russian common aggression.If that paragraph means anything, taken together with the revelation about the telegram to Montgomery, then it means that the right hon. Gentleman was planning an alignment of Britain with Germany against Russia even before the war against Hitler ended.
I hold the view that to have continued to be associated with the right hon. Gentleman's birthday celebrations after that speech would have been to turn a personal tribute into the acceptance of a political claim, the claim of the right hon. Gentleman to be the natural head of an unofficial coalition behind a policy which I, for one, cannot accept.
I have been strengthened in my view by the reactions that I have received to my action. All those who have criticised me—and some have expressed support—have criticised me for discourtesy and have then gone on to say that, in any case, the Prime Minister was right. In the House last Wednesday we had a repetition of exactly that kind of reaction from the benches opposite; indeed, we had a repetition from the right hon. Gentleman himself.
When the Prime Minister came to the House last Wednesday and gave us that very disarming apology—and there is never anything more disarming than an apology made in this awesome establishment—it was not an apology for the timing of the revelation, still less for its content. It was merely an apology that he had failed to verify his quotations.
In fact, the right hon. Gentleman went on to justify the content of the telegram, and the timing of the revelation, by saying:Even if the telegram does not exist, in general spirit it is not contrary to my thoughts."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 174.]694 He did not even employ the past tense. He employed the present tense and in so doing he was cheered by his own back benchers as proof that they, too, agreed with the substance of the telegram. In this Woodford speech we are faced not with an indiscretion, not with a lapse, but with a deliberate statement of policy by which the right hon. Gentleman still stands, because that speech, if it was anything, was a boast that he had been right and others had been wrong.
The offence of which I accuse him is, as "The Times" said, not that he let the cat out of the bag; the accusation is that this particular cat should not have been in the bag at all.
§ Mrs. Castle
Certainly the public did not know it was in the bag. Now an attempt is being made to say that the Prime Minister was right, that he was right in his suspicions of the Russians and right to take precautions. There was, of course, anxiety in many quarters at the end of the war about Russian moves. I am not going to pretend for a moment that the actions of the Soviet Union in 1945 and subsequent years did not give ground for criticism and complaint. Obviously, the Soviet Union trusted the West no further than she could see it and some of her very distressing actions sprang from that as a consequence.
As, however, we have had so much talk on history tonight let us get the history of this correct. The history I read seems to me very different from the history read by the hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South, who talks of sinister Russian behaviour ever since the First World War.
The atmosphere of those inter-war years in relation to the Soviet Union originated from the policy of the right hon. Gentleman who is now Prime Minister. He was the one who set the tone of those years by his immediate and instinctive attack upon the Russian Revolution. He was the creator of the Bolshevist bogy. Whatever good he did fighting against Munich and against Chamberlain, we cannot forget the fact that he played his part, and must accept responsibility for it, in creating the atmosphere which made appeasement 695 possible, because it made impossible the one coalition which would have prevented the war against Hitler.
As soon as Hitler came to power there was only one thing that could have avoided the Second World War, and that was an immediate alliance between Britain, France and the Soviet Union to check this menace. The Russians were willing to enter it. Litvinov went to Geneva saying that peace was indivisible, but he was snubbed. Russia was profoundly alarmed by the Hitler régime which she knew was even more anti-Bolshevist than the Western Powers.
Even as late as 1938 Hitler might have been stopped without war, if the Russian offer at that time to fulfil her obligations under her treaty with Czechoslovakia and France had been accepted by the West. But when Dr. Benes wanted to resist he was told by Britain, and other Powers, that if he resisted he would resist alone with the Russians and that the West would not come to his help.
Having told him that, the Prime Ministers of Britain and France went into conference with Hitler, Munich was born and we came back talking about friendship with Hitler. From the anger and humiliation of the Soviet Union at its treatment at Munich sprang the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact and all the tragic consequences to the world. We all know that it was not until Hitler had double-crossed both East and West that we were forced into an alliance with the Soviet Union. Is it surprising that when we came out of the war these longstanding suspicions between the two sides were still alive?
With the fall of Hitler and the vacuum created in the centre of Europe by the collapse of Germany, there was clearly going to be tension between East and West, and a race to fill the vacuum. That is understandable. Russia played a game of power politics which was just as sordid as, but no more sinister than, that played by the Western Powers. If there is one thing which emerges from the records of that period it is the supreme lack of trust on the part of the Soviet Union about the intentions of the West. I believe that many of the Soviet actions which we deplored at that time arose from the fact that she was obsessed by her search for security.
696 Yet, with grim realism, Russia kept the bargain she made at Yalta. One of the interpretations she put upon it was that she was to have a free hand in Roumania while we had a free hand in Greece. She kept her bargain. In the right hon. Gentleman's account of this period, in the Sixth Volume of his War Memoirs, we always get a rosy picture of his attitude; Soviet suspicions are depicted as quite unnecessary and deplorable. He could not understand why she became so alarmed when General Wolf approached the Allies in March, 1945, suggesting a German capitulation in Northern Italy, and why she should so suspect our intentions.
Stalin knew that the Nazis were ready to surrender in large numbers in the West in order to tempt British and American forces to use the German Army against Russia. Those who were associated with this phase of the war know that this was the hope of the Nazis. They thought that by betraying Hitler they could salvage the Wehrmacht from the ruins. Doenitz and Himmler believed it. Himmler's overtures of 26th April were part of the conspiracy of the Nazis to suggest that Germany should surrender to the West to keep the Wehrmacht intact so that it could be turned against Russia.
In his Sixth Volume of War Memoirs the Prime Minister describes how all those overtures which were being made as late as 5th May were scrupulously rejected. He does not mention in his Memoirs the secret telegram sent to Field Marshal Montgomery, four days later, cutting across the official scrupulous policy of the allies and implying a willingness to rearm German forces against the Russians, at the very moment when all our propaganda machines were broadcasting the policy of unconditional surrender.
We should be told more about this telegram. Why was it omitted from the official account? If it cannot be found in official files, was it, perhaps, one of the many verbal instructions that were given by private line by the Prime Minister to Field Marshal Montgomery at that time? Was the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, ever informed of this instruction?—because it was completely contrary to the line which we were officially taking with the Russians, 697 namely, that under no circumstances would we consider accepting a German capitulation in order to use German forces against the East. There is a very unnerving proximity of dates, which implies that the right hon. Gentleman may have been conducting a little private war of his own.
It is nonsense to say that the revelation of this telegram makes no difference to the international situation. It profoundly affects our relations both with Germany and the Soviet Union. The Russians knew, of course, that we had been trying to drive as far east as possible; that we had been determined to beat them to Denmark, just as they were trying to prevent us from reaching Prague. The Russians can understand realistic rivalry for spheres of influence, but it is an entirely different matter to reveal that their deeper and darker suspicions that we were willing to trade with Germany and keep the Wehrmacht intact may, after all, have been justified. That those words should slip out at this moment is a revelation of the true nature of the right hon. Gentleman's mind which should cause us profound disquiet.
It is no good asking for four-Power talks, as though, in themselves, they are a magic formula to answer all the problems. Such talks will be worse than useless if they are used by the West merely as an organised attempt to put the Soviet Union always in the wrong, as they were used at Berlin. If they are to get us anywhere they must be based upon the recognition that both sides have a right to search for security—a recognition which we never gave at Berlin.
Time and time again this House is asked to take important decisions upon international and foreign policy without knowing all the facts. Earlier this afternoon the Foreign Secretary made a statement relating to British behaviour in the United Nations as a result of the action of the Peking Government in regard to the American airmen. That shows that we have once again reached decisions without knowing the facts. We have not had the evidence put before us upon the question of the 13 American airmen.
The Foreign Secretary says that they were shot down in the Korean war and were ordinary prisoners of war. How does he know? The "Manchester Guardian" reported one thing and "The 698 Times" another. When this incident was first revealed the "Manchester Guardian" stated categorically that these men were shot down over Manchuria in a Superfortress, while "The Times" Washington correspondent was saying that Washington did not know how the men got into Chinese hands.
I have searched every responsible newspaper for a detailed account of the evidence upon which we accepted the word of the Americans that these men were not spies, and that the Chinese have once again committed an outrage. It may be that they have, but I do not see why we should accept that as being a fact without evidence and without having the truth searched for and placed before us objectively.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, speaking in New York, said, "This is an outrage" and implied that it was proof that Communist China was not fit to be admitted to the United Nations. So we are back in a vicious circle, simply because we have given up an attempt to base our foreign policy upon the objective facts of the situation and keep prejudice out of our minds.
The trouble we face is that this Government are always acting in the role of dishonest broker. They present a front of reasonable objectivity to the British public—a desire for peace and good will among nations—but they are committed by every tie of diplomacy and prejudice to a policy which belies their words. As long as we have this Government and the Prime Minister in office we shall have no basis upon which to create the confidence upon which, alone, successful four-Power talks can be built. That is why we condemn the Government tonight.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
My reason for intervening in this debate is that I detect in the attitude of hon. Members opposite a dangerous similarity to that which they adopted in the years before the war. When the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) spoke this afternoon he said that it was armaments which caused wars. Surely the lesson of the 1930s was that it was the lack of strength upon our side which encouraged the Germans.
The hon. Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) has been speaking about the attitude of the Russians before the war. 699 I hope that hon. Members opposite will forgive me if I remind them of their attitude towards disarmament before the war. I do not wish to do so in an aggressive sense, but I detect in their attitude towards the disarmament problem a lack of reality. The 1929 Labour Party Conference declared that the best way to peace was by throwing down our arms. In 1933, we had a pacifist by-election in Fulham, East, when Mr. Wilmot was returned—
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
I happen to represent that constituency, and I took a considerable part in that by-election. The policy on which it was fought was the official Labour Party policy of collective security, and the story about the pacifists came out afterwards.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
That may be your de fence, but I have spoken in Fulham and I have said things to a number of your constituents—
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I apologise, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It is my feeling, and I am prepared to let other people judge, that that by-election in 1933 in Fulham, East was won on a pacifist vote.
§ Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)
Will not the hon. Gentle-man take the honourable course, in view of the categorical statement made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart), and withdraw what he has said?
§ Mr. Ridsdale
I do not think it is a case for withdrawing anything. I have expressed an opinion, which I am allowed to express.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
It may be that hon. Gentlemen opposite do not like to be reminded of their attitude before the war.
Another feature of those years before the war was that the United States was never on our side. I am certain that the leaders in the Government of the day were constantly looking over their shoulders and wondering what was to be 700 the attitude of the U.S.A. in those years, but now, in the face of what is probably one of the most critical international situations which we have ever had to face, let us be calm and not rush into doing things which we might afterwards regret. We have strength on our side today. The United States is on our side, and we are strong. The time has come when we can negotiate successfully, but do not let us rush into it, becauseFools step in where angels fear to tread.
§ Mr. Ridsdale
In my opinion, we are fortunate to have leading this country today two statesmen of the stature of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. Both bestride the world like a Colossus, or should I say Colossi, and those who criticise them on the benches opposite are mere petty men or petty ladies.
Let us continue with our policy of peace through strength. What have we achieved by it already? We have achieved peace in Korea, a settlement in the Middle East and unity in Europe. We have had rebuffs over our disarmament proposals from the Soviet Union, but no one who listened today to my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply could have helped being impressed by his sincerity and the urgency with which he has tackled this problem of disarmament when, as Minister of State, he carried out such difficult negotiations in the summer.
I, personally, take the view that we must negotiate with the Russians, but do not let us rush into it. Let us be aware in the meanwhile of the mounting danger in the East, for in my view it is in the East at the moment where the greatest danger lies. I welcome the great help which it seems is to be given to India and South-East Asia. For it is there that we may find the bridge which we have to construct in order to cross this great barrier between the Communist world and ours.
I am sure that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are trying to push the Government too quickly, whereas if they would only turn their attention more to ways of finding a settlement and building bridges for expanding trade in the East 701 and raising standards of living, as this Government are already doing, they would probably find a modus vivendi which will bring the peace which all of us want. It is the hope of all of us that eventually we shall achieve a state of disarmament, but I believe that we shall achieve it only through strength and by the expansion of world trade.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Proctor (Eccles)
We have had a very interesting debate, in which the principles of both sides of the House have been clearly revealed.
The hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South (Squadron Leader Cooper) made what I consider to be a most reactionary speech, in which he said that it was not possible within the foreseeable future to make any agreement with Russia. If that is the opinion of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, they should surrender the Government of this country as quickly as they can and allow those who have sufficient optimism to believe that it is possible to negotiate an arrangement for co-existence to take charge of the affairs of this country.
The hon. and gallant Member for Ilford, South seemed to miss one tremendous fact. He thought that this quarrel is one between Communism and anti-Communism, but he seamed completely to forget that, on the side of the free world in this matter, is one of the Communist Governments—that of Marshal Tito. I think it is a vital mistake to think that this is an ideological quarrel between Communism and anti-Communism in the world. There is a great element of Russian imperialism in it.
The charge against the Government is that they have done nothing to implement the Resolution of the House, and I think they have done nothing which has captivated the imagination of mankind at a moment in history when it was possible for them to do so. Though they have done nothing, the Prime Minister has certainly said something which captivated the imagination of mankind when he proposed a four-Power conference, but it seemed to me that he spoke for everyone in this House except the Members of his own party.
The right hon. Gentleman had enthusiastic support for the idea of a meeting between the heads of Governments. That 702 support was almost universal outside the inner circles of the Tory Party. I think that the right hon. Gentleman was prevented from carrying out his grand intention by opposition within his party and within the United States. We should have a Government big enough, strong enough and imaginative enough to get over that opposition, and, if necessary, allow the Prime Minister to go to see the Russian leaders.
In the last week or two the Prime Minister has also said something else of which a great deal of notice has been taken. It is not very clear what happened at the time that he is alleged to have sent his telegram to General Montgomery, but it is an extraordinary thing that in 1945 the right hon. Gentleman should be contemplating the storing of weapons for possible use by the German army almost immediately following the great victory over Nazism.
I think that that is a startling revelation. Of course, the Prime Minister is a great artist, and when great artists see something, they paint quite a different picture from that painted by ordinary people. It may be that when the war ended this great artist saw something entirely different from what the ordinary people of this country saw. It is due to the good sense of the British electorate that the historical truth was established.
Had the Prime Minister and his party been sent back to power after the war and had they been responsible for the affairs of this country, nothing on earth would ever have persuaded anyone that it was not their fault that the quarrel arose between Russia and ourselves. If that telegram had been revealed, and if the thought behind it had dominated the British Prime Minister, then Britain would have been blamed for everything that has happened since then between ourselves and the Soviet Union.
My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle), in a speech which does her great credit for the way in which she rendered it, though with some of its contents I do not agree, said that it was not surprising that suspicion and hostility existed between East and West at the end of the war. I say that it was a surprising thing that hostility between the Russian Communist Government and the British Socialist Government should have broken out after the war.
703 I was very reluctant to come to the conclusion that such hostility existed, and I had to decide whether to blame my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my late right hon. Friend Ernest Bevin or Stalin. Having given most careful consideration to the whole matter, I have no hesitation in saying that the blame rested with the Russian rulers. However, I do not wish to pursue the quarrel, especially as the chief actor is dead.
At the moment, our great duty is to see that even this bother about the telegram does not stand in the way of possible peace in the world. All of us can remember how reluctantly we recognised the hostility that was beginning to exist between East and West. The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) had the honour of being the first man in this House of Commons to warn us of the hostility of the Russian Government towards this country, and in his great speech of 18th November, 1946, he said:The other main cause of the present drift into two blocs—in my view the second main cause—was the diplomatic and propaganda offensive launched by the Russians against the (British Empire and She British Commonwealth. There has never been a more disastrous mistake. It was calculated by the Russians upon the baas that Great Britain was weak and that America was powerful and hated the British Empire, and that there might be a chance of disrupting the British Empire, and so securing Russian frontiers and Russian safety for ever."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1946; Vol. 430, c. 535–6.]That puts the blame on the Soviet leaders for having that evil intention towards a faithful ally which had made so many sacrifices for the joint victory. As I say, I do not think that we shall profit by going back through the history of these terrible events, because, in my view, the interests of Russia and the true interests of Europe and of the rest of the world do not conflict. It is possible that to make a peace which will be of inestimable benefit to all the peoples of the world and of danger to none. In my view, the day of the small sovereign State is over. Today it is impossible for sovereignty to be exercised over a small area. In defence and in economic planning, a small area is absolutely futile. We are now in the presence of three giants—one of which is just awakening—China, the Soviet Union and the United States of 704 America. It is imperative that we should seek a larger sovereign area in which to organise our life. The unity of Europe, plus the unity of the British Commonwealth, is essential. That should be our aim. Affairs on the Continent would appear to turn on it. The main thing at issue at present is the need for Russia to concede our right to unite the West, and to organise Europe economically and defensively as a single unit.
The 12 German divisions are neither here nor there. The question is whether the Soviet Union will deal with us on the basis of the unity of Europe. If they agree with that, it is possible for us to negotiate with them. On the highest authority, we believe that there are 300 Russian divisions, some mechanised and armoured. I would say to them, "How many are you willing that we should have for the defence of Europe?" If they said that we should have 30 divisions, I would say, "That is too many—make it 25; and retain your 300 divisions."
Today those divisions mean nothing in terms of military power. Atomic powers have reduced armies equipped with the ordinary old-fashioned weapons to the status of policemen. In the modern world it is quite foolish for the Russian people to continue their enormous industrial effort to maintain all those divisions. We should contrive some masterly effort to relieve the Russians of the enormous burden which, through fear and folly, they have assumed.
I do not believe in the complete restoration of German sovereignty. I am anxious to avoid the re-emergence of a united sovereign Germany as a possible future menace. A Europe organised as a single unit is one thing; a united Germany, with complete sovereignty, may mean great danger in the future. So anxious am I to avoid that, that I am ready to treat the Germans on the basis of equality. We cannot treat them on any other basis. I am willing for us to give up our own sovereignty. Let us pool sovereignties and have something greater and grander than E.D.C. would have been. The world would then see that we genuinely believe in establishing peace.
How can we set about this? The Prime Minister made a dramatic suggestion that he should see Malenkov, or that the heads of Governments should meet. I have often 705 pleaded with my own leaders to seek the unity of social democracy in Europe. I believe that the future is with the social democrats; it is either with them or with the Communists. The policy of the present Government offers no alternative whatever. They are busy trying to recreate the old world. If they succeed, the eventual triumph of Communism is certain here, as elsewhere.
Social democracy is the only alternative. I have pleaded with my leaders to make a dramatic gesture in Europe, and to attempt to build as great a social democracy in France and elsewhere as we ourselves have. We could then look forward to the day when we would, collectively, carry forward the banner of Socialism in Europe, and restore it to its ancient place as leader of the world.
There is a lot of talk about bipartisanship in foreign policy. The Government of the day have invited the leaders of the Opposition to meet them on the question of defence. I do not think it is worth while bothering with that suggestion. Of course, that is only my personal opinion and it does not pledge anyone else. I think that we should somehow or other find a way of testing whether there is a different spirit in Russia at the present time.
The death of Stalin occurred a long time ago, and new men have taken his place. At least nine doctors have found out that there is a change of spirit in Russia. I think that we, too, might investigate that matter. It is suggested that we should have the whole paraphernalia of civil servants, and so on, to find out whether such an idea is technically possible. I have no experience of international conferences, but my view is that that if one wants disagreement one should get a set of experts to decide on the basis of the disagreement.
We must first ascertain whether there is in Russia a spirit of peace, and the only way to do that is to go there and have a conference. If America says that it is not the right time to have a conference, we should say to them, "Are you willing to find out?" and I do not suggest that our actions should depend on their answer. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister and whomsoever the Government choose should go to see Mr. Malenkov. Let us find out whether 706 there is a possibility of securing a real basis for peace in the world today.
No vital interest of Russia conflicts with ours. Ideological interests may conflict, but no material interest conflicts. If we can only find the spirit of peace, we have the basis for the greatest peace conference that the world has ever seen. The Russians would be well advised to recognise that a united and peaceful Europe is less dangerous to them than a lot of little sovereign States set up once again. I plead with the House, and especially with my party, to push that idea of an approach to Russia in order to find out as quickly as possible what is the real state of Russian opinion.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor). While he was speaking I thought that I would read the Amendment to the Motion for the Address which we are supposed to be debating, and in that I find that hon. Members oppositehumbly regret that despite the Resolution passed by this House on 5th April of this year relating to instruments of mass destruction Her Majesty's Government have not displayed the necessary sense of urgency in seeking means to rid the world of this menace.The hon. Gentleman went on to say that the 300 divisions in Russia have no value. Those divisions would certainly have no value if there were an antidote to them. But as we all wish to outlaw the hydrogen and atomic bombs, does not the hon. Gentleman realise that from the moment a modus operandi is provided for the control of the hydrogen bomb, those 300 divisions automatically revert to their previous state of power?
§ Mr. Proctor
Did not the hon. Gentleman hear the opening speech of my right hon. Friend, who said that we were not advocating the abolition of any single weapon but that we were dealing with disarmament as a whole?
§ Mr. Glover
I appreciate that. I was replying to the hon. Gentleman's argument. The hon. Gentleman's argument was full of that sort of fallacy.
Everybody knows the difficulty there is in controlling the hydrogen bomb. There is not a Member in any part of the 707 House who would not like to see it outlawed, but there is no point in our outlawing the bomb if all that it means is that we put the power into the hands of those on the other side of the Iron Curtain. As everyone here knows, for years we have been trying to obtain proper supervision of all atomic energy plants—and that means supervision of those plants from the start of production to the end product.
§ Mr. Beswick
Since it has now been repeated at least five times that the Russians have never agreed to control, may I tell the House what Mr. Malik said? He said thatwhat they wanted was an international controlling body able to visit atomic energy plants, to weigh, measure and examine atomic material, to check the appropriate statistical data and carry out a full inspection, and that moreover they insist that this control should come simultaneously with prohibition.That has been repeated several times in the course of the discussion although it has been denied both by the Minister of Supply and by other speakers opposite.
§ Mr. Glover
I thank the hon. Member for his intervention. Perhaps Mr. Malik said that once, but I am sure that most hon. Members are by no means convinced that the Russian idea of control of atomic energy is that which we in the free world visualise as control. We are arguing today on that premise and—
§ Mr. Beswick rose—
§ Mr. Glover
I will not give way again.
We are arguing on that premise, and it is a perfectly sound premise on which to argue. We are dealing with a new, powerful, annihilating force, and until we are absolutely certain that that force is under control, we are unable to take action for the reduction of the ordinary type of armaments. In general, that is the view of all hon. Members.
Perhaps I may leave the main question to deal with that which the hon. Member for Eccles raised—the question of German sovereignty and German rearmament. This matter has been thrashed out 708 ad nauseam. The question of the Prime Minister's telegram has also received a good deal of publicity.
Without knowing anything of the rights and wrongs of the telegram, may I give my own reactions to it, as one who was a soldier in Germany in 1945, controlling a camp containing about 20,000 Russians and realising the attitude of those Russians and the obvious orders which they were receiving from their armed forces further East? I would say that it was only the right, sober action which any responsible person would have taken at that time so as to ensure that, if the Russian advance did not cease, the whole of Europe was not over-run.
In 1954, within the orbit of the Western European defence forces, we are discussing the rearmament of Germany. May I put it in this way to hon. Members opposite? If there were sound justification for the Prime Minister's action in 1945, then how much more justified, nine years afterwards, when Germany has shown by her efforts of rehabilitation, her development of democracy and her spirit of compromise that she wishes to become a member of the European defence force—how much more justified is the idea of incorporating Germany into Western European defence?
We should be begging the question today if we thought that we could go on in Europe by keeping Germany in a disarmed state. If we tried to do that we should be driving her straight into the hands of Russia on the other side of the Iron Curtain, Many hon. Members who perhaps do not go all the way with me take that same view, but they cannot overcome their prejudice and suspicion about Germany's actions in the future. Surely Germany's actions in the future will be very much safer if they are controlled by her incorporation in Western European defence than they would be if she were a completely independent nation, able to sell her services to the highest bidder.
I believe we have been wise in our generation in having taken the action that has been taken during the last three months. I hope that nothing will be said or done in this House to hinder the ratification of the London and Paris Agreements, because it will be when 709 those Agreements are ratified that we can talk to the Russians with a Western European defence organisation in being. All the acts which have taken place since 1945 lead me to believe that we are very much more likely to get an agreement with Russia when we are dealing with her on that basis than if we deal with her on the basis of "If you give us an inch now we will not ratify these Agreements," which would leave the whole of Western Europe in a state of chaos.
We have to remember Korea. It was not when the Western world was disorganised that the Russians sat round the table to negotiate a cease-fire. They sat round the table to negotiate the cease-fire because the Western nations had built up a force in Korea able to meet the Communists on equal ground. When we had achieved a balance of power the Russians were perfectly prepared to sit round the table and negotiate. The result is that we now have—and have had for 18 months—a cease-fire in that part of the world.
We are much more likely to get progress towards easing world tension when the Russians see that the Western Powers have built a really coherent effective defence organisation—I repeat the word "defence." It would, in my view, be weakness to try to negotiate an embargo on the hydrogen bomb, by using the non-ratification of the London and Paris Agreements as a bargaining weapon. If we enter into negotiation with Russia before those Agreements have been ratified, we shall be displaying weakness and not strength. I hope and believe that no action will be taken by this House to bring that about nor—what is equally important—to convey the impression that there is a large body of opinion desiring that action at present.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
One of the drawbacks to rising late in a debate is that all one's best points have already been taken. My only comfort is that I may yet deprive my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition of a good point he has in mind.
Before deploying the argument I want to deploy, I wish to comment on the behaviour of hon. Members opposite in the course of the debate. In the short time, 710 four years, that I have been in this House, I have never seen such a confused opposition to an Amendment to a Motion for an Address. Some hon. Members supported their Front Bench and said that this matter has been regarded as one of the utmost urgency. Others disagreed with us entirely that we can negotiate at all. Still others have told us that the Russians are preventing proper supervision because they will not accept it.
Another hon. Member said that he regarded Communism as a conspiracy, and, therefore, I presume that he would not toe over keen to have Russian inspectors in British factories where atomic weapons might be stored. Not one hon. Member opposite has given the House any satisfactory reason why he allowed the Motion of 5th April to go through without a Division except by saying that "immediate" meant as soon as possible. In that case, why did hon. Members opposite not allow the Motion on pensions in July to go through when that Motion also included the word "immediate"? It appears that they are perfectly ready to hoodwink people into believing that the Government are willing to do something about this weapon immediately.
The hydrogen weapon represents two distinct problems. The first is the danger of the weapon as a weapon. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles (Mr. Proctor), in that I believe that the hydrogen bomb as a weapon will compel the world to come together in my lifetime because we shall all be so menaced by that weapon. The immediate danger of the weapon, however, is not that it is dangerous in itself but that it is such an influence in the cold war that we might almost by accident use it against each other.
I want to deal with another aspect of the problem—the relationship of the feeling of security to the possibility of disarmament. I know that I may disagree with some of my hon. Friends who believe that if we bring about a measure of disarmament we create a feeling of security. That is quite true, but we will not have an effective acceptance of disarmament schemes unless there is a great feeling of security. It is the old argument of whether the chicken or the egg came first, but as long as we are all potential poultry farmers in this regard 711 it does not matter much which view we take, as long as we are anxious to have both security and disarmament.
It is interesting to see how hon. Members in different ways have come to recognise and accept that this last year has been the end of an era, which began in 1947 when the implacable hostility of the Soviet Union became apparent in the West. To me, the Geneva Conference brought to an end an era of fighting between the two sides and the final consolidation of the West. The London-Paris Agreements marked the end of that era of cold war, and we have now come to the stalemate. What we have to do now is to try by British initiative to convert the stalemate into some sort of settlement which has a chance of surviving.
There are hopeful signs if we look round the world in an optimistic mood. President Eisenhower has come out even more firmly than ever before in his statement in favour of co-existence. Many of us on this side of the House who are well disposed to the United States and have had anxiety over American policy in the past will be reassured by President Eisenhower's statement. Some people ask whether there is a change of heart in Moscow. I do not think that that makes any sense as a question. My own test of Soviet policy is not whether the Soviets have altered their theoretical belief, but whether it seems by what they are doing that they are ready to reach an accommodation with us.
It is a mistake to imagine that our opponents work from a rigid rule and we work from one expedient to another and that principle is only something that we bring out at Christmas time. I believe it is generally true that if any of us, in dealing with someone from abroad, were asked if British policy was based on some single rule, we should say that that was nonsense and that we tried to do the best we could from year to year to work out a policy which seemed satisfactory and as near to our ideas and principles as possible. The idea that the Soviet Union is working to a rule which we can all understand after we have studied their policy seems to be greatly mistaken.
When I look for encouraging signs, I see encouragement—and here I disagree with my hon. Friends—in the Prime Minister' desire to meet Mr. Malenkov. 712 I must say this because I believe it to be so. I believe that the Prime Minister for the last 18 months has shown a personal anxiety to get a meeting with the Russian leaders and, as such, has come into conflict, although privately and discreetly, as all Conservative conflicts are, with the general Foreign Office view, which is that it does not want—
§ Mr. Benn
I present it as my private opinion, and the House must accept it as a private opinion.
The initiative which the Prime Minister showed 18 months ago rapidly disappeared as soon as he became ill and Lord Salisbury went to Washington. When the noble Lord returned he would not even admit that he had pressed for top level talks, which was the object of the Washington meeting. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] After all, I am saying a kind word about the Prime Minister, and I am the only one on this side of the House who is saying that the Prime Minister has the imaginative grasp to support this idea of top level talks. I believe that if there were a secret ballot in this House on the subject of top level talks, my hon. Friends would support the idea and it would be opposed by the majority of hon. Members opposite.
§ Mr. Benn
And, for the benefit of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne), I present that as my personal opinion as well.
When we look round the world and find these optimistic signs, we also find grave dangers confronting us. Those dangers are the greatest when we get what is basically a civil war situation into which has been injected the security interests of the big Powers. We had it in Korea, which was essentially a civil war situation where the Chinese were on one side and America and ourselves on the other. I remember the moment of crisis quite well, because President Truman 713 gave his ill-advised Press conference on my polling day, and I could not understand Why everyone was depressed. At the moment of crisis we wondered whether the opinion of General McArthur would prevail or not.
We had the same thing in Indo-China, where there was basically a civil war at the time of Dien Bien Phu. There was talk of intervention by the United States, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary, because I believe he was responsible for preventing any precipitate action being taken by the United States at that time. Similarly, we have a civil war situation in Formosa between Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung. Again, there could be intervention by big Power interests on either side with the risk of a world war, because Chiang Kai-shek knows that has only hope of returning to power on the mainland is by trying to get America into a war with China. He would regard it as is greatest triumph if he could bring that about, and when the Foreign Secretary is talking to his American friends about this, I suggest that surely the best thing to do is to warn them against Chiang Kai-shek, whose interests are so obvious because he knows that his only hope of getting back to power in China is by the use of force and he has not got that force himself.
What we have got to do is to try to contribute the initiative, and I suggest there is an initiative we can contribute in converting this stalemate, in which no one dares to take any violent action against anyone lest it would precipitate a war, into a detente—some sort of settlement. All this talk about negotiation from strength seams in one way to be nonsense, because the hydrogen bomb equalises strength.
What we have got to do is to abandon any talk there might have been of liberation of the satellite countries. Mr. Dulles, with his eye on the Polish vote in New York City and the Eastern European vote in other parts of the United States, and with a view to raising the Republican banner high after 20 years in opposition, made unwise speeches at the Presidential election in 1952 when he said that liberation and not containment should be Western policy. Surely the hydrogen bomb must dispose of that sort of nonsense now. We know, and Mr. Dulles knows, that there is no such thing as an 714 active policy against one's opponents in the cold war, because they have equal power, the power of the hydrogen bomb.
If we once reject the idea that liberation is possible, three alternatives present themselves to is. One method is to do what the Americans are doing with the Chinese. They say, "We will not recognise you. We do not want to have anything to do with you. We will pretend as far as we can that you do not exist." We in Britain rightly believe that to be an absurd point of view. Whether we like it or not, and whatever our view on China may be, the Chinese Government now represents China in a very true and real sense.
Another alternative to that view is the alternative of acceptance. I give as an example the acceptance by the British Government of the Eastern European countries. We do little more than accept them. We broadcast hostile messages across the frontiers to them every day. We send over balloons encouraging the people to create trouble against their governments. We have merely formally recognised them. I wonder whether that policy is likely to be blessed with any success in the long run.
The third alternative—this is the one that I should urge the Government to follow—is to try to normalise relations with those with whom the pressure of events and circumstances forces one to live. If we have to live in a world with Eastern European Communist countries and we do not intend to try to get rid of them by force, the thing to do is to normalise our relations with them. I suggest that the Foreign Secretary himself might easily take initiative of this kind and try to establish those better relations.
What I have to say next may seem to some hon. Members to be very unimportant, but I do not believe it to be so. Those of us in this country who have tried over the last 18 months to interpret Soviet motives and Soviet policy have judged a great deal all the time by the things which they have said about us and said and done to us. If we are judged by the same criteria, as we must be, in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, I wonder whether we present to them such an inviting and attractive picture as they 715 have been trying to present to us. Certainly, a policy of friendship towards the Eastern European countries and the Soviet Union does not weaken our security in anyway. It has no adverse effect on our defence arrangements, whatever they may happen to be, and in the long run it as much more likely to have a beneficial effect on the rearrangement of a new Europe which has some chance of succeeding.
At any rate, I believe there is an opportunity even now, when the Paris Agreements have been ratified in this country and will, presumably, be ratified elsewhere, for this Government to try to add to the feeling of European security without having any adverse effect at all upon our own. Whatever one may think of their Governments now, the Poles and Czechs have suffered very greatly from the Germans in the past, and whatever the Russians may think of the Germans, I believe that the Poles and the Czechs are frightened of them and deserve a guarantee of their frontiers by this country. When the time comes—I hope it will be soon—when we can offer something in the nature of a permanent settlement in Europe, I believe that the first and greatest thing that we should offer is a guarantee of the territorial integrity which every European country deserves and should have.
§ Mr. Benn
The hon. Gentleman misses the point. The fact is that we have never committed ourselves to the eastern frontiers of Germany, and the Poles are very anxious lest the time should come when the Germans demand the return of their lost territory. If the hon. Gentleman missed that point, he has missed every important point in German affairs since 1945.
§ Mr. Osborne
We went to war in 1939 to guarantee the frontiers of Poland. How can we be sure that we can guarantee them today?
§ Mr. Benn
The hon. Gentleman missed my point. I do not blame him for that, because I fear it is getting close to the moment when I must sit down and I am having to abbreviate my remarks very greatly.
716 I should like an attempt made, when a general European, settlement is offered, to tackle disarmament in a new way, on a geographically limited basis rather than on the basis of limiting it to certain types of weapons. Europe, excluding the Soviet Union, excluding Britain, excluding the United States, presents an area which, despite its different forms of Government, has a common basic interest which would be amenable to a European security treaty within which inspection and control of disarmament could be arranged and organised.
I wish I had more time to develop that point, but I put it before the House for consideration, because fundamentally the interest of the European countries, excluding the big Powers, is to be allowed to develop their own affairs in peace and to be allowed to provide a framework which is big enough to hold Germany and provide security from the risk of attack by either East or West. I should like to see this country making such an offer and, as part of it, sponsoring the admission of every European country to the United Nations.
At any rate, the reason we want these top level talks is that we do not believe we can go much further with the present Western policy without so adversely affecting the security of others and so greatly heightening tension that in the long run we shall make the danger of a hydrogen war the greater.
I suppose that on this point I speak on behalf of all my hon. Friends. All of us who genuinely hoped for things from the Government on this point have been disappointed since April when we took them at their word and accepted their support of our Motion for high level talks. They have come to us and said that although they have done a lot of other things they did not think that there should be talks at that high level.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Attlee (Walthamstow, West)
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) has made a thoughtful contribution to this debate and has brought the discussion back to the real point which we have tried to embody in this Amendment. In this Amendment we have looked back to the debate of 5th April. That debate was not concerned just with the technicalities of disarmament. It was concerned with 717 the general dangerous drift to the destruction of civilisation owing to the possession of these weapons of mass destruction by sovereign States.
We then urged an approach at the highest level. In that discussion many speakers stressed the urgency of the whole matter, not because they expected a war to break out at any moment but because all the time these weapons of mass destruction are being increased in number and effectiveness—the process of invention goes on—and all the time, as long as there is international tension, there is a danger of incidents arising.
We have had an example of that this last fortnight in the question of the American airmen. The difficulty is that as long as we have this kind of tension in the world, incidents will constantly arise and at any time one of these incidents may become inflamed and more dangerous. It was said at the time in the discussion that the Government did not like the word "immediate." It seemed to them to be pressing them too much. They accepted it, but they accepted "immediate" as being "not just now." I was prepared to accept that, but eight months is a long time without anything happening.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Anthony Eden)
Without anything happening in international affairs?
§ Mr. Attlee
Without anything happening on the question of some kind of talks between the great Powers upon the major issues.
I am not deprecating in the slightest degree the work which the right hon. Gentleman has done at Geneva. I agree that it was most important. I agree with the importance of the Paris talks, and I agree fully with my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South-East (Mr. Noel-Baker), who paid a tribute to the work that has been done by the right hon. and learned Gentleman who is now the Minister of Supply in trying to bring about some kind of agreement upon the very difficult technical question of dealing with weapons of mass destruction, especially the hydrogen bomb, and disarmament. Those are all very valuable efforts, but they do not really meet the main point.
718 I look at the Gracious Speech and I see the recitation of a number of matters of very great importance, but I do not find any reference to the possibility of a four-Power meeting. There is a reference to our close and friendly relations with the United States of America, and to a future possibility of an eventual basis being established for an understanding with the Soviet Union, but that is postponed a very long way. Meanwhile, the danger increases.
We have to look at this matter in the light of present events, because it affects a great deal of Government policy. I was struck by the Prime Minister's speech of 1st December, when he said:Immense changes are taking place in military facts and in military thoughts. We have for some time past adopted the principle that safety and even survival must be sought in deterrents rather than defenceLater, he said:This question of nuclear weapons …remains the supreme issue."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 1st December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 176–177.]My contention is that the Gracious Speech contains no mention of this supreme issue. The Government will presently be producing a statement on defence, and then there will be the Service Estimates. We shall all have to look at them very carefully in the light of what the Prime Minister has said with regard to deterrents and defence.
I am not suggesting that we can immediately do away with all conventional armaments, but the Prime Minister has said that immense changes are taking place. Indeed, we have seen those changes taking place before our eyes. There was the complete change with regard to the position in the Suez Canal. That was quite a complete change of attitude from that which had existed only 12 months before. In a recent statement on defence which was made in this House reference was made to various changes, such as the scrapping of a number of newly-raised battalions and a good deal of anti-aircraft defence—all due, as the Prime Minister points out, to these great changes and developments.
When we were in office there were a great many changes and developments in international affairs, technical weapons and the rest—and we were always told that we were very bad if we did not stick exactly to the same line we had taken 719 the year before. The right hon. Gentleman now realises that these changes are taking place, but the Gracious Speech contains no indication that the Government are facing up to these major problems. Let us consider one point that has been put forward, that we really cannot do anything about main talks until we have the Paris Agreements ratified. I do not know how long that will take, but the suggestion has been made that if we get ratification we shall be given an increase of strength which will enable us to talk with Soviet Russia.
As a matter of fact, we have only potential strength, not actual strength. I believe that it will take a couple of years before we get the actual strength. Are we to wait for two years until that potential strength has become actual? I have suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that the real importance of the Paris Agreements is a union of wills in Europe and that strength follows on from that, and that we are, therefore, already in a position to make some soundings, which is M. Mendes-France's term, and, surprisingly, he is in agreement with General de Gaulle. I do not want to hamper this process of ratification, but this process should not delay the larger objective. Certainly, waiting until that ratification has produced the armed strength should not be the cause of delay, and I have never thought that it was necessary, or that it should be so.
I believe that there is an overwhelming case now for closer contacts between our Government and the Government of the Soviet Union. It is anybody's guess whether there have been real changes in the attitude of the Soviet Government. I do not pretend to know. I have been across there, and I have talked with Malenkov, Molotov and others, and I think it would be a good thing if some of Her Majesty's Ministers talked with them, too.
§ Mr. Attlee
I said Malenkov. I know that the right hon. Gentleman has talked with Molotov, but I do not think he has talked with Malenkov. Has the right hon. Gentleman talked to Malenkov as well?
§ Sir A. Eden
There is nothing to get upset about. I thought the right hon. Gentleman said that we ought to have conversations with Malenkov and Molotov, and I merely said that I had had many conversations with Molotov.
§ Mr. Attlee
I was dealing with Malenkov, who was regarded as a rather unknown factor. I think he is a very important factor. We have discussed matters with him, and we were on the basis of making a friendly contact, and we talked a great deal of co-existence. We have to find out what that means.
There have been most interesting articles showing definite changes in the attitude toward public discussion in the Soviet Union, and I think there is every reason why these contacts should be made. Today, I think we have made some contacts with the Government of China. The Foreign Secretary has made contact with Chou En-lai, and very important contacts they are indeed. I certainly believe, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree, that we want to encourage our friends in the United States to make such contacts, because it is no good thinking that this is purely a matter of getting in touch with the Soviet Union in Europe.
The Soviet Union is a European Power as well as an Asiatic Power, and, equally, the United States is looking here and also across the Pacific. Therefore, we are dealing with a matter on which it seems to me, we cannot hope to get very far in dealing with particular points. Contacts in regard to Indo-China or even Trieste are useful, but they do not really lessen the burden of stress and strain which is on the world, and all the time the weapons of mass destruction are building up. I have never suggested that these things can be settled by talks between experts or even by devising some machinery, important though it is to have machinery to that end. The machinery will be of no use unless we can get the will behind it.
It seems to me that at certain times there is an appreciation in the world of these dangers. I believe that at the time of the explosion of the Pacific bomb, and of the injury done to the Japanese fishermen, there was a realisation of this danger. But, unless some action is taken forthwith, people tend to forget all about it and to imagine that things are somehow going on all right again.
721 I do not want the Government of this country, of whatever colour, to miss the opportunity of giving a lead to the world in this matter, because, after all, we have a great experience. I think that we can give such a lead, and that it could have been given in April. I think that an opportunity was missed earlier, when the Prime Minister made his speech in March last year. We cannot afford to have very many missed opportunities. We cannot afford to let this thing run on.
We are to have a Commonwealth meeting, which as an excellent thing, and the matter should be discussed there. But supposing the Government say, "We are going to wait until after the Commonwealth meeting"? By that time it will be almost a year since the April debate. It seems that, as time goes on, some other matter—important, though not of the first importance—comes in the way of the high level talks which have so often been demanded.
I am not pinning my belief in the getting together of two or three heads of Governments, but I consider that there is a great danger of international affairs getting bogged down in committees and in routine of one kind or another. At times, there is need for something more dramatic. In this matter, particularly, there is need for some kind of feeling that the people who really have the chief power in the world are concerning themselves with this major matter.
I have said—and I do not in the least depart from it—that it is not just a question of stopping a war here or there. We have reached the stage when the world cannot afford to have any more wars, because the danger is that any war will lead to a hydrogen-bomb war and to the destruction of civilisation. I think that is felt widely by all people in responsible positions, by the rulers of Russia as well as by the President of the United States of America. I think it is also felt by the rulers of France, but, somehow or other, the thing does not get moving. We are looking for an initiative.
I know that when the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister replied to the debate on 5th April he suggested that though I had sketched the difficulties and dangers I had not made any very concrete suggestions for getting out of them. My own concrete suggestion was that the 722 facts ought to be laid before the world, that there ought to be a meeting of the most important people in Governmental positions in the world, and that a very full and frank discussion should take place in which people realised how high were the stakes for which they were playing.
One plays a game. One perhaps thinks it important to have won a comparatively small point, and then comes the realisation that one has not won the main point. One rather feels that the Gracious Speech lays stress on a number of important points but that the main point has been lost. That is why we have put down this Amendment. We feel that the urgency has been lost.
In particular, I think that the Prime Minister has rather lost his sense of urgency. He gave us that sense of urgency when he originally proposed a meeting of the Big Four. Somehow or other that seems to have faded out somewhat since. I would like that impetus to be given once more. We feel that it is not being given, that things are drifting dangerously, and that now is the time when action should be taken.
§ 9.31 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Anthony Eden)
I agree with the comments which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition made about the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). If I have any comment to make about that it is to try to bring the hon. Member a measure of comfort, because he said that he had been deeply distressed by the different points of view which had been expressed from this side. I can assure him that I have been equally astonished by the wide range of opinion from his side of the House. We have, indeed, had absolutely everything that the gamut of human intelligence could contrive; from the absolute pacifist who believes in having no weapons at any price, through the Moral Rearmament point of view most eloquently and powerfully put by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern), to those who wholly reject any form of unilateral disarmament.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the international situation. I took down his words. He spoke of the present dangerous drift to destruction, which drift, apparently, has been accelerated in the 723 eight months since the Resolution was passed by this House in April. He spoke of our being "bogged down in committees." I am bound to say that I do not think that any international statesman in the world could recognise the right hon. Gentleman's description of the last eight months as being bogged down in committees.
§ Mr. Attlee
I did not say that they had been. I said that there was always the danger of being bogged down in committee. I was making a plea for certain matters to be dealt with at the time, and said that there is a great danger if they are merely bogged down in committees.
§ Sir A. Eden
If the right hon. Gentleman means that we have not been bogged down in committees but there is only the danger that we might, I would gladly accept the correction. I must say that most hon. Members would consider that, in the last eight months, quite a number of difficult and dangerous matters have been settled.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the perils of war breaking out. Of course that is true. He might remember, and it is only fair to say, that, when we came to office, there were two wars raging. There was one in Korea on behalf of the United Nations. The other, in Indo-China, had been going on for eight years. It would not have been asking too much for the right hon. Gentleman to have said that Her Majesty's present advisers had played some part in bringing both those conflicts to an end. That is certainly what we have been engaged upon the last eight months.
He then said that it was important that we should have talks at the highest level on the widest issues, and that we should not get down too much into detail. The right hon. Gentleman says that we should have talks at the highest level on the matter of disarmament. I defy anyone who has tried to examine this topic to divorce disarmament from all the other questions. So what the right hon. Gentleman really asks is that, at the highest level, there should be talks on a detailed subject which is perhaps the most technical of all. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what the Resolution of 5th April asked for. It asks for talks on disarmament.
724 The complaint—we had it for the best part of 40 minutes from the right hon. Gentleman—was that we had not been getting on with the job. I have no complaint—indeed, nobody in the House can have the slightest complaint—against those who are pacifists by conviction and who come to this House and say, "We do not believe that there should be any rearmament. We think that all rearmament is wrong, and whatever the enemy does, we should not rearm. We should lead the world by not doing so."
That is a course of conduct with which, personally, I do not agree, but which I think most of us respect. But I would remind those hon. Members who hold that point of view that that was the course pursued, with our support, by the late Government immediately after the war. They did disarm very rapidly indeed; and what happened? As soon as they completed their disarmament, they had to rearm in a programme which was more extensive than any Government had ever embarked upon.
As I say, I understand those who believe that at no cost should we rearm, though I do not agree with that. What I simply cannot understand is the line taken by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) this afternoon. He accused us of lack of urgency. He criticised us for failing to reach an arms agreement in three years. He said that we ought to get back to 1874. I do not mind whether it is 1854 or 1324; I would be very glad to go back to any of those dates. He himself was a member of the Government which launched the greatest armaments programme in the history of this country in time of peace. How can he complain, when, in six years, his Government were not able to move an inch towards an arms agreement, that we were not able to do so in three years? It is completely nonsensical.
I am not criticising the right hon. Gentleman for having played his part in rearming this country when he did. I think that was inevitable in the circumstances, and I think that he and his right hon. and hon. Friends who did likewise were intensely courageous. We supported them in it. But what I cannot understand is how, after six years of no progress whatever towards a disarmament programme when hon. Members were in office, when they found apparently that 725 the Soviets were intransigent, they should complain about our lack of progress. We have been in office for three years. We have made what the right hon. Gentleman admits is an encouraging measure of progress. But, he says, we are lazy; we do not try and we have no sense of urgency.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
In the first years after the war it was quite plain that all disarmament turned on atomic bombs, as, in 1932, Mr. Baldwin said that all disarmament turned on the air. We did put up a plan. We prepared a plan, the United Nations plan, on atomic energy. Up to 1950 we were still hoping that it would be adopted. But the Government, in the last three years, have not really got near to any practical plan at all.
§ Sir A. Eden
I agree that the right hon. Gentleman prepared an excellent plan, and I endorse it completely. Unfortunately, it was not accepted. Otherwise, it was very good. It was the best plan ever produced—the 1948 Baruch Plan. Unfortunately, the Russians did not accept it. I shall explain shortly the plans that we have produced, all of which have not been accepted by the Russians afterwards. The point I am trying to bring home is that when the Russians reject the right hon. Gentleman's plan it is their fault, but when they reject our plan it is our fault.
We were asked this afternoon, "Why is the Government not more candid? Why do they not give an account to the world of the horrors of the hydrogen bomb?" I remember my right hon. Friend's speech last year and I thought it was candid, if anything could have been. But a reproach for lack of candour does not lie very well with hon. Members opposite who managed to spend £100 million on making an atomic bomb without telling anybody anything about it. I do not rebuke them at all for that, but I say that it does not lie with them to throw a charge of lack of candour at others in the difficult circumstances in which we all have to live in this modern world.
The right hon. Gentleman made one admission with which I cordially agree and which I entirely endorse. He said that it was much more difficult today than it was in 1946 to reach art arms agreement which deals with nuclear weapons. That, I cordially endorse. It is only too true.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply, in a speech of 726 masterly comprehension, if I may say so, gave the House some account of the plan which we have been following. The right hon. Gentleman has just asked us why we do not produce our proposals, put them before the Commonwealth conference when it meets and then before the world. I have no doubt that these matters will be discussed at the Commonwealth conference in some form or another. They are sure to be. In fact, they have been discussed with the Commonwealth Governments throughout this year and for much longer. We have tabled our proposals in considerable detail.
I know that the right hon. Member for Derby, South has a good deal of expert knowledge on this, and I ask him to consider this argument, which is very seriously put to him: if he will turn to the Annex of the Report with which he is-very familiar, the proceedings of the subcommittee of the United Nations Disarmament Commission, and if he will look at three of the Annexes—Annex 4, which deals with the control organs; Annex 3, which deals with the level, and Annex 9, which deals with timing—I think he will agree that all these are extremely important aspects of the Disarmament Commission.
These three elements of a pattern of disarmament supplement other papers which the Western Powers have tabled in the Disarmament Commission in previous years and which, if hon. Members are interested, are printed in Command Paper 8589. Taken together, I think it is fair to say, Her Majesty's Government, with their allies—and we have shared and shared alike in the presentation—have already, months ago, put a fair picture of a possible disarmament framework before the nations.
The right hon. Gentleman asked—and there is point in this—ought not we to present a full treaty, to work it out and put it together? There is an argument for that, but I want the House to consider an argument against it. The way we have been trying to proceed is to try to get agreement on these various aspects of the problem. I take responsibility for holding this view, which I know is shared by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply: there is a danger that in putting the details of a treaty in front of a meeting of this kind we may fix the position so that it is extremely 727 difficult for a country which does not agree with some part of the proposals to modify its attitude.
It is very much like the argument which I used earlier in connection with our negotiations over the Western Union. I said that we had not a plan when we began the negotiations, and that is true. Equally, now, in the difficult question of disarmament, we should make a mistake if we were too rigid in the proposals which we put forward and too detailed in the plan which we laid before the country. That would be my advice, based on my experience, for what it is worth.
The House is entitled to know what we propose to do in the immediate future. We have asked that there should shortly be another meeting of the Disarmament Commission sub-committee. We hope that it will meet in London in private and that we shall be able to see from the result of its work whether we, whether some Power or some group of Powers, should put forward a complete treaty. But I would prefer discussions to take place in private before we attempt anything of that kind, and I hope that in that I carry the right hon. Gentleman with me.
A number of other matters have been mentioned in the debate and I hope the House will forgive me if I refer to one or two of them, because they are important and, although, in the main, this has been a debate on disarmament, it affects any number of other political questions, because one cannot discuss disarmament in a vacuum without relation to anything else going on in the world.
The Far East has been mentioned, and I would say only this: we feel that in Indo-China there is a chance, now that the war has been brought to an end, that the arrangements made might become the basis of a wider settlement in the area. But I must admit that I agree, too, with something which Mr. Nehru said in Congress in Delhi on 25th August—that the Geneva Conference was the alternative or the deterrent to what threatened to lead to a third world war. If these settlements are fairly observed by all sides they can allay that danger and provide an assurance of lasting peace, but this is yet far from being assured and last April it was not more than a very slender possibility.
728 I must make a reference to Formosa, which has been mentioned by several hon. Members. I hope that it will be clear to all the world as they examine the treaty which the United States has made with Chiang Kai-shek that it is essentially defensive in character. It provides for closer consultation between the United States and the Formosa authorities. That should surely be welcome to all of those—and they very much include us—who want to see cautious policies pursued. Anybody who has read the President's statement and that of Mr. Dulles in the last weeks will see with what careful restraint they have spoken in what are really conditions of extreme provocation.
It is difficult always for members of any one country to transfer themselves into the thoughts of others, but the House ought not to underestimate the depth of feeling in the United States as a result of the cruel treatment—for it is cruel treatment—of these 11 young American airmen. I think that the only way in which we can hope to visualise it is to consider what we should be feeling if they were 11 young British airmen. It is right that this topic should now be considered by the United Nations itself, under whose responsibility and at whose orders these young men were engaged on their flight.
While progress has been made in some international spheres, the work on disarmament has been going on, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of Supply tried to explain. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will agree that we shall never achieve an arms reduction except in a world where there has been some reduction of international tension. It is equally true, and here I agree with the right hon. Member for Derby, South, that our arms agreements should be prepared as far as possible in advance to meet the happier day which we are all working to reach. It is with that in mind that we have taken the series of initiatives which was described by my eight hon. and learned Friend.
The question of how to handle this disarmament conference actually arose during the Berlin Conference and it was an agreement there to make another effort on the topic which was helpful to the London meeting. As I have said, in 729 the new year these discussions will be resumed, I hope here in London. If the result of this meeting and the detailed work are encouraging we shall certainly be ready to contemplate a meeting at a higher level on this subject.
It might be, for instance, that it could form part of the four-Power discussions which are visualised in our last Note on Germany and Austria, or it might be entirely separate and in some other form. As the right hon. Member will realise, it is not for us alone to pronounce on this subject. We must be ready, I repeat as I said in April, to use the method and timing which we think best. In the light of the work we have done in recent months, we think we are entitled to ask for the confidence of the House in doing that.
There is another disarmament topic which I am very much surprised no one has mentioned in this debate. It is that, quite apart from the work of the Disarmament Commission, when we were having our London discussions, and later in Paris, we did go into this question of arms inspection and arms control. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, our London and Paris Agreements contained rather wide provisions in that respect. It is important to notice that nothing of this kind has ever been attempted in any treaty before.
I admit that they have not yet been put into force, but, if they are put into force and are found workable, could they not provide a useful precedent? I think they might. It is the first time a scheme of this kind has ever been included in an international agreement. I thought the Opposition would have welcomed it. I am sorry that they could not vote for it. I am sorry because I know that many hon. Members opposite would have liked to vote for the Agreements a few days ago and, perhaps, are not so keen to vote for their Amendment tonight.
What are the possibilities of bringing about some relaxation of tension in Europe pari passu with these disarmament discussions? Last October we concluded the London and Paris Agreements. We hope that the whole process of ratification—all of it, and it is a long process for some countries—will be completed within the next two or three months. That is our hope, and upon this much 730 depends, for these Agreements rescued free Europe from a state of dangerous confusion the ultimate consequences of which could well have been disastrous. In our judgment, it will be perilous in the extreme—this is my answer to the right hon. Member—not to follow to its conclusion the course upon which we are now set. That is why we and our allies have rightly declared that there can be no conference until these Agreements are finally ratified by all concerned.
That has been made plain in the Note of the three Western Powers made public on 30th November. It may be that then a new vista may open up. This I can say in reply to both right hon. Members, that we shall certainly be ready to discuss through the diplomatic channel, at any time, any possibilities of fruitful negotiations that may offer. I cannot think that I can make a clearer or more candid statement than that. Full weight must be given to what can be done through diplomatic channels.
I suppose I have attended as many international conferences as most hon. Members of this House. That does not blind me to the fact that thorough preparation and the patient work of diplomacy through normal means is often the best way to proceed. There, I am in agreement with the very wise words of the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies).
I am also in agreement, I am glad to say, with the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) in something he said during our debate on the ratification of the Paris Agreements. I am not sure that this is not a very good answer to the Leader of the Opposition, although perhaps I had better not say so, or I shall get him into trouble. He welcomed the reference to diplomatic channels as the best hope and said:Indeed, when I read that Mr. Malenkov favoured that and had said that he was not sure we were quite ready for four-Power talks until we have had the ground properly prepared, I thought that that was one of the most hopeful signs that we have had for a long time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November, 1954; Vol. 533, c. 593.]I only comment that I do not dissent from the judgment of the right hon. Member.
§ Sir A. Eden
No, I am sure he does not.
I know that some critics say that the course we are now pursuing in these negotiations—this is a thought I want to leave with the House, a serious and important one—will result in the permanent division of Germany. I do not believe that. On the contrary, I am convinced that a strong Western alliance, which includes two-thirds of Germany under a freely elected Government, will eventually be a powerful magnet and perhaps an irresistible one. The freer and the more cordial the Federal Republic associations with the West, the greater will be the attraction of such an association for Germans in the East.
I just want to make one further reference to the general scene. It is very difficult for any of us in the constant flow of international events to stand back sufficiently to form a judgment as to what the opportunities are. I go back once again to my hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) and also to the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East. It may be that in the past the Soviet attitude in these matters, as the hon. Member suggested, was due to uncertainty or vacillation in their own policy. I do not go as far as that, but I would say that from time to time we perhaps attribute to the policies of the dictator Powers an absolute consistency in detail which is not, in fact, actually there.
§ The long-term purpose we know; the practice often varies. It may well be that if these documents are ratified—and I agree with what has been said about them—it will perhaps mark a climacteric in our post-war history. It is not that we may be powerful, but in order that our unity may be quite clear to the Communist Powers. It is not in order that our military strength is increased. That is really secondary. It is to show that we are absolutely united and at one.
§ When that is clearly demonstrated to them it may be that opportunities for negotiation will occur better than ever we have known before. If so, I want to assure the Leader of the Opposition and his right hon. Friend that they will have no need to prod us into an understanding of the urgency of the problem with which we are dealing. We have been working and watching for just that opportunity, and I hope that in the life of this Parliament it may yet occur. If it does, and can be seized, hon. Members in all parts of the House will rejoice if it results in a relaxation of tension, an arms agreement and peace in the world.
§ Question put, That those words be there added.
§ The House divided: Ayes 267, Noes 300.733
|Division No. 2.]||AYES||[9.59 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Adams, Richard||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)|
|Albu, A. H.||Burke, W. A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Burton, Miss F. E.||Edelman, M.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Carmichael, J.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Champion, A. J.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Chapman, W. D.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Baird, J.||Chetwynd, G. R.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Balfour, A.||Clunie, J.||Fienburgh, W.|
|Barnes, Rt, Hon. A. J.||Coldrick, W.||Finch, H. J.|
|Bartley, P.||Collick, P. H.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Collins, V. J.||Follick, M.|
|Bence, C. R.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Foot, M. M.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Cove, W. G.||Forman, J. C.|
|Benson, G.||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)|
|Beswick, F.||Crossman, R. H. S.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Daines, P.||Gibson, C. W.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Glanville, James|
|Blyton, W. R.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Gooch, E. G.|
|Boardman, H.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Deer, G.||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Brockway, A. F.||Delargy, H. J.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Dodds, N. N.||Grey, C. F.|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Donnelly, D. L.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Manuel, A. C.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Hale, Leslie||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mason, Roy||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Mayhew, C. P.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Mellish, R. J.||Snow, J. W.|
|Hannan, W.||Messer, Sir F.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hargreaves, A.||Mikardo, Ian||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Mitchison, G. R||Sparks, J. A.|
|Hayman, F. H.||Monslow, W.||Steele, T|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||Moody, A. S.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Stokes Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Morley, R.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Holman, P.||Mort, D. L.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E|
|Holmes, Horace||Moyle, A.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Houghton, Douglas||Mulley, F. W.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hoy, J. H.||Murray, J. D.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Nally, W.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||O'Brien, T.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oldfield, W. H.||Thornton, E.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Oliver, G. H.||Timmons, J.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Orbach, M.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Oswald, T.||Ungeed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Owen W. J.||Usborne, H. C|
|Janner, B.||Padley, W. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jay, Rt Hon. D. P. T.||Paget, R. T.||Wallace, H. W.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Pannell, Charles||Weitzman, D.|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Pargiter, G. A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech||Parker, J.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Parkin, B. T.||West, D. G.|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Paton, J.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Porter, G.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Kenyon, C.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Wigg, George|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Probert, A. R.||Wilcock, Group Capt C. A. B.|
|Kinley, J.||Proctor, W. T||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Lawson, G. M.||Pryde, D. J.||Willey, F. T.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Rankin, John||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Lee Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Reeves, J.||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Rhodes, H.||Williams, W. R. (Droyisden)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Richards, R.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Roberta, Albert (Normanton)||Willis, E. G.|
|Logan, D. G.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|MacColl, J. E.||Robison, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|McGhee, H. G.||Ross, William||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|McInnes, J.||Royle, C.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|McLeavy, F.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Yates, V. F.|
|MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Short, E. W.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Popplewell.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Channon, H.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Bennett, William (Woodside)||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Birch, Nigel||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bishop, F. P.||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.|
|Anstruther-Cray, Major W. J.||Black, C. W.||Cole, Norman|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bossom, Sir A. C.||Colegate, W. A.|
|Armstrong. C. W.||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Boyle, Sir Edward||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Braine, B. R.||Cooper-Key, E. M.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Crouch, R. F.|
|Barber, Anthony||Browne, Jack (Govan)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Bullard, D. G.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Burden, F. F. A.||Davidson, Viscountess|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Carr, Robert||De la Bère, Sir Rupert|
|Bennett, F. M (Reading, N.)||Cary, Sir Robert||Deedes, W. F|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Kerby, Capt. H. B||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Kerr, H. W||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA||Lambert, Hon. G.||Rayner, Brig. R.|
|Donner, Sir P. W.||Lambton, Viscount||Redmayne, M.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lancaster, Col. C. G||Rees-Davies, W. R|
|Drayson, G. B.||Langford-Holt, J. A||Remnant, Hon. P|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Leather, E. H. C.||Renton, D. L. M|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Legge-Bourke Maj. E. A. H.||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Robertson, Sir David|
|Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Wrwk & Lmgtn)||Lindsay, Martin||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Elliott, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Llewellyn, D T.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Russell, R. S.|
|Fell, A.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E)||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Finlay, Graeme||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Longden, Gilbert||Scott, R. Donald|
|Fletcher, Sir Walter (Bury)||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Sharples, Maj. R. C.|
|Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Shepherd, William|
|Fort, R.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Foster, John||McAdden, S. J.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||McCallum, Major D.||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||McKibbin, A. J.||Speir, R. M.|
|Gammans, L. D.||Mackie, J H. (Galloway)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Maclean, Fitzroy||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)|
|Glover, D.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Godber, J. B.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Storey, S.|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Grimond, J.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Marlowe, A. A. H||Studholme, H. G.|
|Grimston Sir Robert (Westbury)||Marples, A. E.||Summers, G. S.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Hare, Hon. J. H.||Maude, Angus||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N)||Maudling, R.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Teeling, W.|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||Mellor, Sir John||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Molson, A. H. E.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Hay, John||Moore, Sir Thomas||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Heath, Edward||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Tilney, John|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Neave, Airey||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Higgs, J. M. C.||Nicholls, Harmar||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Turton, R. H.|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Nugent, G. R. H.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Holland-Martin, C. J||Oakshott, H. D.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Odey, G. W.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||O'Niell, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Osborne, C.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Page, R. G.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Partridge, E.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Hurd, A R.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Wellwood, W.|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W)||Perkins, Sir Robert||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Wills, G.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Pitman, I. J.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Powell, J. Enoch||Woollam, John Victor|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kaberry, D.||Profumo, J. D.||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Sir Cedric Drewe.|
Question put and agreed to.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ It being after Ten o'Clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.