§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)
I am grateful for this early opportunity of giving the House some account of our proceedings at Berlin. For those who took part in it that conference was frustrating, disappointing and at times near tragedy, but it was, I am convinced, none the less well worth while. We set out to make some progress with the problems of Germany and Austria, and in this we failed. But we did agree to call a Far East conference on Korea, the preparations for which had 'been deadlocked for many weary months at Panmunjon. The conference also made possible a discussion on Indo-China. These were modest gains.
The problems of Germany and Austria are the crux of our European difficulties. They have been the subject of endless conferences—in which hon. Members in all parts of the House have taken part— and of numerous exchanges of Notes— all equally—not equally, but all in some degree, unfruitful. If our divergences on these matters at the end of this conference were both wide and deep—and they were—they were also clearly defined, I believe, for all to see and none can now mistake their nature nor why they cannot be resolved in the conditions of today. It is, however, an encouraging reflection that despite our differences— which were always firmly, and sometimes sharply, expressed—the conference certainly has not heightened international tension.
With all the past history of these earlier conferences in mind, it was clear to me that we must make a special effort to bring order and purpose into our proceedings from the outset. If the conference was not just to last indefinitely, or to meander aimlessly, it must have not only a policy but a plan. So it was that, some months ago, the Western Powers worked out the general lines of policy which we 'hoped to see realised in Germany. Later, before our delegation actually left for Berlin we shaped the substance of this policy into a plan, with 402 certain clearly defined stages. We were confident that if this plan could be discussed at the conference, and accepted even in broad outline, it could lead to a solution of the German problem.
It was, therefore, my main purpose during the early days of the conference to try to get this plan tabled and to ensure a serious discussion upon it. I was only partially successful. We were early in conflict about the agenda, the West maintaining—if I may quote my own words—that this was a conference in Europe and about Europe and that, therefore, we should concentrate upon Germany and Austria. Mr. Molotov, on the other hand, wished to discuss international tension in general terms, and the calling of a five-Power conference including, of course, China.
My Western colleagues and I felt strongly the danger of a prolonged wrangle about the agenda. The last thing we wanted was to be involved in 16 weeks of sterile argument such as took place on this particular topic of the agenda at the Palais Rose. So, after consultation, we decided to accept Mr. Molotov's agenda as our own order of business.
I must just recall to the House that agenda's terms, because it is important in connection with what I have to say later. The Soviet agenda had three items. First,measures for reducing tension in international relations and the convening of a meeting of Foreign Ministers of France, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Soviet Union, and the Chinese People's Republic.Second,The German question, and the problem of ensuring European security.Third,The Austrian State Treaty.About the first item—the five-Power conference in the Far East, and the terms in which it is there set out—I need only say that I did not feel it possible to agree to any arrangement for a conference which would either exclude any of those nations which had participated in the fighting in Korea, or raise the five Powers to some special position of authority in the Far East. Therefore, after some days of discussion this topic was removed into the restricted session and we began to discuss Germany.
403 At once we became involved in an argument as to the representation of the Germans at this conference in Berlin. Mr. Molotov advocated representation for the East German regime on the same terms as for the freely-elected West German Federal Government. We knew that this could not be accepted, and I felt, after a day or two of this, that these proceedings were getting us nowhere.
Eventually, the opportunity offered to table our own proposals for Germany in full, and to give a brief account of them to the conference. This plan, as the House will have seen, was laid out in five stages. The first dealt with free elections throughout all Germany, and that included questions such as the electoral law which, as is shown in the White Paper, guarantees free elections and supervision of elections. Then there was provision for a national assembly, the drafting of the constitution, its adoption and the formation of a free German Government which would have the authority to conclude a peace treaty. Those were the stages of the plan.
When we came to discuss them, it was soon very clear where the real divergence lay, and this has been the cause, of course, of the separation of our views. We were convinced that it was only by means of free elections throughout all Germany— which would have to be supervised in some way—that an all-German Government could be brought into being which would have the necessary authority to negotiate and sign a peace treaty. Such a Government—and we made it clear— would be free to accept or free to reject the international engagements either of the Federal Republic or of the East German Government—either.
The Soviet delegation took the diametrically opposite view. It maintained that the first step must be to bring into being an all-German Government, which would be a coalition between the Government of the Federal Republic in the West and of the Communist authorities in the East. It argued that any form of supervision of elections by foreigners —even by neutral foreigners—was interference with German sovereignty, and that it was possible at the moment the conference was sitting—even before the 404 elections took place—to start the discussion of a peace treaty.
Certainly, it would have been possible, but it would have been a completely sterile endeavour. They also maintained that free elections could not be held in the presence of occupation troops, hence the argument that all foreign troops should be withdrawn. We could not accept that argument, which was not borne out by the evidence of the free elections—as everybody admits them to be—which have been held in Austria, Western Germany and other countries since 1945, when occupation troops were there.
The House will see that the points of view could not have been more widely divergent. There was no possibility of a successful negotiation to bridge them. There was the Western point of view— the point of view of those who believe in free elections—and the Communist view, which does not really understand what we mean by free elections. Any form of election is satisfactory to the Communists provided that they can be sure of the final result. No forms of election are satisfactory to the Communists without that assurance before the elections begin. In other words, a one-party State is the foundation of their political practice. To us, a two- or more-party State is a necessary guarantee of freedom.
Those were the differences between us. I assure the House that, at times, it was embarrasing to try to deal with what I believe is called this "double talk "— the same terms being used on either side with entirely different meanings. No amount of work resolved those differences, because one cannot paper over a chasm. The attempt to create an amalgam between the Federal Republic in the West and the Communist Government in the East was a political impossibility, and is still so today. Nobody should be surprised at that who recalls that the elections in the West—whether or not their result is liked—were free, and that the Government were elected by popular vote.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am not defending what happened in the East, but I would ask the Foreign Secretary whether he is aware that the elections by which Dr. Adenauer got into power were entirely different from ours; that he had an unlimited amount of money and, if it had been in this country, he would have been disqualified for spending too much money?
§ Mr. Eden
I have no responsibility for those details, but I know that some friends of the hon. Member took part in those elections and they are probably better informed than I am. I was just contrasting what the hon. Member does not deny—the different methods of conducting these elections. There is no dispute by anybody—certainly not by the Socialist Party in Germany—that the elections in the West were fairly conducted.
§ Mr. Eden
If there have been protests, the hon. Member will be able to quote them if he is called upon. I have never heard, from Mr. Ollenhauer downwards, any protest about the methods of conducting elections in Western Germany. In the East, there is no question of conducting a free election; the voters go to the poll, and when they get there they are presented with a list of candidates.
§ Mr. Eden
The more people of this country who know about it the better. The hon. Member may possibly know, too, that when they are presented with this list they are not allowed to mark it in any way; they are not allowed to say "yes" or "no" or to make a cross or any mark of assent or dissent. All they have is a list of names, some of which they are seeing for the first time, and they put it in an urn. I am not attacking this method; I am only explaining it.
§ Mr. Eden
I notice that the hon. Member is most anxious to blur it. The West consider that they are a freely-elected Government, and they will not, therefore, meet in common council with a dictated Government which are the puppets of a Communist overlord.
406 Having got that clear, I will pass to the next point in that connection. It is not only Dr. Adenauer who would not accept a coalition with the Government in the East; nor would Mr. Oilenbauer or the S.P.D. Party. They made that quite clear to me many times in discussions with their representatives. There can be no question of their sitting down in a coalition with the Communists in the East. How can anybody expect them to who knows the fatal consequences which have followed in the experience of every other political party which has tried to sit down in a coalition with the Communists?
As it turned out, the Soviet delegation were not prepared to discuss our proposals. They did not even want to adopt them as a basis for our work together. I think the reasons are clear enough. The Communists dare not accept free elections in the East because they know that their régime is entirely without popular support.
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Member was good enough to make a contribution of that kind during the Berlin Conference. It did not do me the slightest harm, but it was not calculated to help the conclusions of the conference.
While I was in Berlin I was much impressed by the growing number of letters which I received day by day from the Eastern zone. I shall have a selection of those letters put into the Library. They show the very remarkable courage of their writers, who were risking a good deal in posting those letters at all, and who warned me not to be misled by the signed manifestos which reached me from the East. I should like to quote one or two extracts which might interest the House. One came from a large industrial town in the Soviet Zone and it said:We, colleagues and comrades of the Socialist Unity Party and the Municipal Council, were forced on Saturday to give our signatures to a statement which said that our so-called Government had come to power by lawful means. That is not true"—The words "that is not true" are underlined—They have only achieved their aims by terror. If we had not given our signatures we would today be in the streets.Another letter from the Soviet Zone claims that of the 9 million signatures 407 which were given to this document to impress us with the view of the Eastern zone, 92 per cent, to 95 per cent, were obtained through open or implied threats to the Socialist Unity Party and party leaders and numbers of signatures of very small children and school children. They were all entered on to these lists.
Finally, a writer whose address should not arouse any antipathy from hon. Members below the Gangway opposite— because he wrote from the new Communist Karl Marx Strasse—sent an S.O.S. on behalf of the City of Berlin. He said:I wish for the success of the Conference and the reunification of Germany. May the Western Foreign Ministers overcome all the difficulties in the way of freedom and democracy. For the efforts you have already made to free us from slavery I thank you heartily in the name of my working comrades.I received hundreds of these letters after the first week of the conference, and I have no doubt that they represent—though who can tell for sure?—the wide and general feeling among the population in the East.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydvil)
Could not they have emerged from the forgery market of one of the Western zones, as so many documents do these days?
§ Mr. Eden
We have taken considerable trouble to examine these letters and they have been seen by many people. They can be seen by many more if the House so desires.
I have told the House briefly of our plan which we submitted and which we regard as the best way of bringing a united Germany back into the European family. Now I want to say a few words to the House on what I regard as the worst way, and that is the so-called neutralisation of Germany. I am convinced that German neutralisation is both 408 a dangerous and an unrealistic concept, and I will say why.
A united Germany will be a country of about 70 million people, with wide and rich industrial resources. Does anybody seriously suggest that in this modern world such a country could remain neutral and completely isolated from her neighbours?
Mr. Sydney Silvennan (Nelson and Colne)
§ Mr. Eden
I always give way to the hon. Gentleman, but I want to develop this thought while it is in the mind of the House.
In my view, such a Germany would be bound to gravitate to one side or the other and, as a result, she would inevitably find herself playing off the East against the West to the danger of us all and, most of all, to the danger of the German people themselves. Such a solution, I think, would encourage, indeed make inevitable, the rebirth of German militarism and repeat the tragic story of the between-the-wars years.
If the right hon. Gentleman is right and the neutralisation of a unified Germany is so obviously dangerous and unrealistic, can he say why he was a party to that very proposal in the Potsdam Agreement?
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Gentleman is misinformed. What we agreed was an interim period of four-Power control of Germany, but it was always interim. I have not the Potsdam Declaration under my hand, but I have it in my head. It is one of the matters which we discussed with the Russians. It was an interim arrangement, and it was never contemplated in the Potsdam Agreement that it would be an enduring arrangement.
This is a most important point. I hope I am not mistaken. Surely the truth is that the interim period under four-Power control was intended to be temporary but was intended to endure until a unified, demilitarised, neutralised Germany could be organised.
§ Mr. Eden
Never in that sense. I am perfectly certain that I am right, although I am speaking from memory. The Potsdam Agreement was a temporary arrangement until a free Germany was created with a German Government which could sign a peace treaty. I would almost wager on that, although it would be wrong to do so in the House. The word "neutralised" does not occur there.
§ Mr. Eden
I will look up the text. The whole point of the argument is that the Potsdam Agreement was an interim arrangement. What I am dealing with now is with those who say that Germany should be permanently neutralised. That is the argument with which I want to deal. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that solution—
§ Mr. David Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)
Would the hon. Gentleman say the same about a neutralised Russia?
§ Mr. Eden
I shall be quite embarrassed if I have to intervene much more in the debate.
We must face this argument; it is worth while thoroughly to thrash it out. If Germany is to be neutralised, if she is to have national forces of her own—and that is what the Soviet proposal is, that she should have national forces; that is what the Soviet draft treaty says—how are these forces to be controlled? What safeguards are to be created against their misuse?
Again, there is only one answer: it is the answer of Potsdam, for the interim period as I have said—a system of control imposed on Germany from the outside. It is the only way it could be done. I therefore repeat that a policy of the permanent disarmament and neutralisation of Germany is not a practical proposition and it abounds in the gravest danger.
Can it be said that the Soviet Union do not see these dangers? Of course they see them. But the truth is that though they appear to be proposing a neutralised Germany, that is not what they really want to achieve. If we look at their general proposals as a whole, the plan becomes very clear. Their hope is to isolate Germany from Western Europe as a means of extending the present Communist régime in Eastern Germany, through the country as a whole. Then 410 like that, they would incorporate a united Germany into the Soviet system.
They hope to accomplish this aim in due course by elections on the Soviet model, which they understand so well, from which so-called militarists, capitalists, monopolists and other "ists," except Communists, would be excluded. The triumph for what Mr. Molotov calls "peaceful and democratic forces" would have been assured in advance. That is what the Soviet mean when they talk about an "appropriate" German Government.
All the arguments advanced by the Soviet representative on Germany were really only a means to this end—to force Germany into the Soviet embrace. No one ought to have any illusions about that. We can have German reunification now—the House can have it—provided we accept a solution designed to ensure the emergence of a Communist Germany. If we are not prepared to accept that, if the House is not prepared to accept it, then we cannot have the reunification of Germany in present conditions.
This explains, again, Mr. Molotov's draft treaty about the collective security of Europe. This was to include all the European states. There are 32 of them, according to Mr. Molotov, although he never explained how this figure was reached and we were never able to add them up that way. But, of course, the treaty was not to include the United States of America. They, with the People's Government of China, were relegated to the status of observers. Later, when we protested at this, Mr. Molotov proposed an amendment that they need not, after all, be observers.
Let us look for a moment at the purpose behind all this. It has been clear for some little time that the principal aim of Soviet Foreign policy is to secure the withdrawal of the United States from Europe. It would be easy, so the argument runs, to solve our European problems if only the States of Europe were left to themselves. Europe for the Europeans—including, of course, Soviet Russia among the Europeans. This line of thought runs all through Mr. Molotov's draft treaty. In simple terms it means that the whole Continent of Europe and not only its Eastern half would be dominated by the most powerful military force which is in it—the Soviet Union—and at the mercy of the Red Army.
411 But, of course, the Soviet Union is very much more than a European Power. It would control the whole Eurasian land bloc with China as an ally. Such a treaty could, of course, be called collective security for Europe but the only country which would be secure under it would be the Soviet Union. For the rest of us would no doubt end by enjoying the same kind of liberty and security as is the lot of Czechoslovakia and Hungary today. We have to face these things. If the House looks at Article 7 of the Soviet draft—that is, the draft treaty, which is in the White Paper—they will find these words:The Parties to the Treaty undertake not to participate in any coalition or alliance not to conclude agreements the objectives of which are contrary to the purposes of the Treaty on Collective Security in Europe.M. Bidault and I asked Mr. Molotov more than once—in fact, many times— whether his treaty, with this article in it, would be compatible with our own North Atlantic Treaty Alliance.
§ Mr. Eden
I really cannot give way. The hon. Gentleman will have his opportunity, no doubt, to speak later. We never received a clear answer, but I never had any doubt what the answer was. Mr. Molotov said his treaty was directed against E.D.C. and that it was an alternative to the E.D.C. However, its real aim was directed not at E.D.C. but at the existing power behind it, N.A.T.O., and the aim of the treaty, I have no doubt, was to break the links between North America and Western Europe, destroy N.A.T.O. and with it our whole Western defensive security system.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
Order. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, sat down because he saw me standing up. If the right hon. Gentleman, who has the Floor, does not give way, other hon. Members must resume their seats.
§ Mr. Warbey
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I am trying to establish the facts of this matter, for the exchanges on this question are not dealt with, as far as I can see, in the White Paper, because they do not form 412 part of the main set speeches in the conference. I gather, however, from newspaper reports that Mr. Molotov, replying to challenges to him on this question, said that where his European security plan was incompatible with N.A.T.O. he was prepared to study the question. He thought it might be compatible if there were certain modifications made in N.A.T.O. I should like to know whether that was so.
§ Mr. Eden
It is certainly true that Mr. Molotov was good enough to say that the N.A.T.O. Treaty might be remodelled, but he also said—I quote from the White Paper, and the hon. Gentleman can see these words for himself in page 108—The North Atlantic Pact has many similarities with the Anti-Comintern Pact which led to the outbreak of the Second World War. There is no doubt that the North Atlantic Pact will meet the same fate as the Anti-Comintern Pact.Hardly what the hon. Gentleman himself would regard as a very friendly reference to our treaty arrangements with our allies.
I think the House must remember that we for our part have never challenged or sought to challenge the Soviet right to require assurances for her security or to make arrangements in the East in respect of her own security. We did all we could at the conference to convince the Soviet delegation of the defensive purposes of N.A.T.O. and to reaffirm the obligation which is on us as members of the United Nations not to permit aggression against the Soviet Union or any other country. We explained as clearly as we could our conviction—mine, at any rate—that E.D.C. within N.A.T.O. could not be used for aggressive purposes by any one Power even if it wanted to do so.
In addition, I offered an extension of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty. Mr. Molotov would have none of it. He said he did not see how the United Kingdom, as a party to N.A.T.O., could give an undertaking of that kind—like the extension of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty—while we were still a party to N.A.T.O. In other words—I am not quarrelling with this; I am only explaining what the position was—he did not accept the defensive character of N.A.T.O.
In face of that there are only two alternatives. One is to abandon N.A.T.O,. which we do not propose to do. The other is to continue to prove by 413 word and deed that what we said at Berlin is true, and that we stand by our obligation, and that we stand by our offer, and that we shall never permit our North Atlantic alliance to be used for aggressive purposes—never; any more than we will abandon it. That is the clear position, and I have no doubt the Soviet Government understand it.
There are one or two thoughts I must leave with the House on the position of Germany in all this. It is very important. In a few months' time, the House will recall, it will be two years since we signed the Bonn Agreements. By those Agreements Germany was to have her special position in close association with her Western neighbours. There is, I believe, danger in delay if it becomes further protracted. The House knows, I believe, that the E.D.C. arrangements within N.A.T.O. offer the best method which is now available to us to handle this vexed problem of the security of the West, the partnership of Germany, and her rearmament in accordance with agreed conditions.
I shall not repeat those arguments today. I think they have been underlined by every single 'thing that happened at the Berlin Conference, but to those who say how keen German competition in the export trade is becoming I reply, of course it is. It is going to become a great deal keener. Germany has not got to carry the burden of rearmament under which her Western rivals stagger. Nor does she have to suffer the loss of manpower entailed in the two years' National Service. To (those who say there is danger in German rearmament, I agree entirely. Of course there is danger in German rearmament. Nobody will deny it. Least of all will the Germans themselves deny it.
However, I do not believe that that is the real question. I believe that the real question is not whether Germany will rearm, but how she will rearm, and we are quite convinced that E.D.C, within N.A.T.O. offers the surest method yet devised for the security of Germany, the security of Europe, and even for the security of Soviet Russia. We therefore look forward to the early establishment of the European Defence Community. We regard this as of the utmost importance and urgency.
414 I would now say a word about our own association with it. We have assured the member Governments of E.D.C. that the United Kingdom will have the closest possible political and military association with it. Discussions have been going on for some months about the form of this association, and much ground has been found to be common. As a result of the talks I had with M. Bidault in Berlin, those discussions will shortly be renewed in Paris with France and the other E.D.C. countries and also the United States. We shall do our best to ensure that their outcome will result in a still closer partnership, and thus create the necessary confidence among the Western Powers. I shall, of course, submit the results of those discussions to the House as soon as they are concluded.
The question in all this that we have to measure in this debate is a simple one. Are we to build a Europe with Germany or are we to tell Germany that her place is in a vacuum? Are we to tell the German people that they may have a part in association with the West through E.D.C. or by some other method, or are we to order Germany to be neutral? And, if so, how are we to enforce that neutrality? Surely, German association with the West is the course which both wisdom and experience dictate.
I must say one word about the tragic Austrian scene. Many hon. Members of the House will recall that during the war, in October, 1943, we signed in Moscow the Anglo-American-Soviet Declaration that Austria should be free and independent. That proposal, taken on British initiative, was, in fact, signed by Mr. Cordell Hull, Mr. Molotov and myself. Eleven years have passed; there have been endless negotiations; 260 meetings of the deputies have been held about Austria; and no agreement has been reached on a treaty.
Finally, there were just five Articles outstanding, and so it was that when we got to debating the treaty in Berlin we decided to accept the Soviet text on all the five outstanding Articles on condition that the treaty was signed then and there during the Berlin meeting. We thought we ought to make that offer, even though it placed some heavy burdens on the Austrians.
415 I have no doubt that that would have been acceptable if the Soviets had been willing to agree to any treaty which included an allied withdrawal from Austria; but they were not. So they put forward two conditions. One, they wanted to amend Article 4 in a way which would have restricted Austria's right to choose her friends, and the other, in Article 33, perhaps even more important, to add a proviso which allowed foreign troops to remain in Austria until the German Treaty was signed. In putting forward this last proposal the Soviets added, as part of it, that all foreign troops should be withdrawn from Vienna.
As hon. Members will be aware, the Austrian capital is entirely surrounded by the Soviet Zone; so they can draw their own conclusions as to how disinterested that particular offer was. All these proposals were unacceptable to the Austrian Government, but they were so anxious to reach an agreement that they offered a further concession—the date of the withdrawal to be delayed until the summer of next year, June, 1955.
Despite the most moving appeal by Dr. Figl, who bravely represented his country's cause, the Austrian request was rejected and the occupation continues. I believe that there is not an hon. Member of this House who will not feel deeply moved at Austria's harsh and unjust fate. The position now is, therefore, that Mr. Molotov has rejected our offer, which was to sign the treaty in exactly those terms which his Government had been demanding up to the time of the meeting in Berlin. The concessions which were offered then are, therefore, now withdrawn, but we are prepared—the three Western Governments—at any time to instruct our Ambassador in Vienna to conclude a treaty as soon as we are informed by the Soviet Government that they are ready to propose a definite and early date for the withdrawal of the troops. Until then, there will be no further discussion on the Austrian Treaty.
What are the conclusions which I have to ask the House to draw from all this? It is clear, first, that we must continue in the West to make joint provision for the defences upon which our survival depends. Broadly speaking, it seems to 416 me that we have reached a certain rigidity in our European affairs. The Soviet Government, for whatever reason—it is not my business to find reasons today— are unwilling to relax their heavy hand at any one point. It may be that they fear the consequences within a Communist empire of any sign of weakness or withdrawal at any point. It may be that; I cannot tell. But it is, of course, discouraging to those of us in the West who look for progress towards more normal conditions of unity and freedom in Europe; and certainly most bitter for the Austrians and for the Germans in the Eastern part of their country.
But when we consider the widespread anxiety and fear of aggression in which Europe lay a few years ago, ought we not to be thankful that we have come so far? Must we not recognise that the growing strength and unity of the North Atlantic Alliance has brought us a measure of security which we had hardly dared to hope for. The tension has not been increased. If the gaps at Berlin were not closed, they have certainly not been widened. We have gained much in clarity. We each know beyond a per-adventure where the other stands, as anyone can see who came from the Berlin Conference, or read through this White Paper.
There is another matter more important still. The Western Powers were at all times, and without strain, in close accord. This was not a forced alliance; it was perfectly natural. We worked freely and readily together to an extent that may have surprised the Soviet delegates. It is easier for one man to work together than for three. I owe a message of thanks to each one of my colleagues, despite the blunt and often harsh things said—and in saying all my colleagues, I mean all my colleagues, including the Soviet representative. Despite the blunt and harsh things said, we seemed able to the last to keep our talks to an even temper. I look forward to meting them and others in a few weeks at Geneva. What will the outcome be?—I cannot tell. I know only that Her Majesty's Government will go to that conference, as it went to Berlin, determined to miss no occasion to unravel the tangled skein and to secure the cause of peace.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
The House will be in agreement with me, I am sure, when I say that we are indebted to the Foreign Secretary for the clear exposition he has given of the proceedings at Berlin, and the clearness with which he has stated his own conclusions. I think that will be accepted by hon. Members on all sides, whether they agree with everything which the Foreign Secretary has said or not.
I do not propose to follow in detail what the Foreign Secretary has said, because I think that it would be more convenient if I did my best to expound the views of the Opposition on this matter. It is by now well known, owing to the extraordinarily efficient intelligence service of the Lobby correspondents of this House, that there was and is a division of opinion in the Parliamentary Labour Party. I dare say that there is some difference of opinion on the other side, though the Lobby men are not as successful with the other side as they are with us.
I would say to hon. Members opposite that these are sincere differences of opinion. It would not be wise for them to be the subject of political exploitation, because this is a matter upon which everybody is seeking to walk, or to grope, towards what they genuinely believe to be in the interests of the world and of our country. It is to be expected that in this matter, with history behind us, there will be differences of opinion. Therefore, I think that it is in the public interest for all of us to assume that differences of opinion about this matter, at any rate among those who are not Communists, are sincerely held and are convictions that we must fairly discuss and mutually respect.
I have not the slightest doubt that the minority, for such I must call it—at any rate, I am statistically accurate—in the Parliamentary Labour Party is a minority which has deeply-held and sincere views upon this subject. They have grave apprehensions of the consequences of the Germany military contribution to collective security, and it must be admitted that they have many sympathisers with that point of view outside Parliament. Nothing is lost by admitting that that is the case. It is certainly no part of my case to scorn the sincerely-held opinions of 418 people, but which opinions I do not accept on this matter.
When one deals with Communists, of course, it is a different matter. They must follow the policy of the Soviet Union. That is the condition of membership of the Communist Party, and if they did not follow it they would be excluded on the grounds of political unreliability. Therefore, one cannot take Communist opinions on this matter seriously, because they are ordered opinions, they are required opinions, and they must be held whether or not the inner light of the individual conscience of the Communist sincerely holds to them.
I am dealing with the large number of people, both inside and outside Parliament, who have genuine and sincere apprehensions upon the point. First of all, they instinctively fear that a German military contribution may involve a revival of German militarism, that is to say, German militarism of the Prussian variety, with which our generation has been familiar, and later the marriage between Prussian militarism and the political doctrines of the Nazi Party, at any rate to the extent that the generals of Prussian training were willing to be the accomplices and loyal servants of Hiltler and of the Nazi Government.
They are genuinely apprehensive about the consequences, and are afraid of a re-emergence of the old type of general staff which was not only Prussian, but which was, and which regarded itself as being, above the State, outside the effective control of Government, and, therefore, a menace not only to the peace of the world, but to the liberties and the rights of the German people themselves. Some of my hon. Friends are apprehensivee that it might be possible for a Germany so-equipped to engage in another Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, and that, of course, is an apprehension regarding the policy of the Soviet Union as well as of Germany, though, so far as I know, there is no Ribbentrop today to do business.
There is a fear that Germany might go Nazi again. Moreover, there is a feeling that we have not come to the end of talks with the Soviet Union. Indeed, there is to be another conference at Geneva, and though it is fair to point out that it is intended to deal with Far Eastern affairs, I must say that it would 419 be curious if China—and it is important that this Chinese contact is to be made— were to be an effective negotiating party with regard to European affairs, though I think she has a perfect right to be a negotiating party in the matter of Far Eastern affairs. There will be these further talks, and it is held by some of my hon. Friends that there can be other further talks out of which it is possible that agreement might come.
There is another point in the minds of many of my hon. Friends, namely, that Germany may be tempted to resort to force for the regaining of what are known as the "lost provinces." That is an apprehension which is very lively in their minds. Speeches about it are made from time to time by German statesmen. I think it would be utterly wrong if Germany were to resort to force for the regaining of the lost provinces, and I gather that that is the view of Dr. Adenauer and Herr Ollenhauer, the Leader of the Opposition in the West German Parliament.
It must never be forgotten that at the peace conference Germany has the right to argue about the lost provinces. We must not assume that the Germans are not entitled to opinions, to argue their case and to advance their point of view. Whatever may be thought about the arrangement whereby a part of Poland was taken by the Soviet Union and Poland was compensated by receiving a part of Germany—which, if we had done it, would, I am quite sure, have been denounced by some people as shocking imperialism—it is not something about which to go to war, and that must be insisted upon. But it is a matter which people, including ourselves, have a right to discuss and argue at the peace conference when that conference vis-à-vis Germany takes place.
It is not only here that these apprehensions are felt by many of my hon. Friends and by friends of mine outside Parliament, and others. We must remember that these apprehensions extensively exist in France as well—
§ Mr. Morrison
All right, I am trying to help my hon. Friend all I can. I am seeking to work up to the point where I shall get a vote of thanks at the next party meeting.
These apprehensions have been revealed in France, as we can see from an article contributed to the "News Chronicle" this morning, following one by myself. I think it is important that France should make up her mind about these matters and should come to conclusions. I think it is important that all of us, whatever our politics may be, including the Labour and Socialist parties of Britain, France and Germany, should make up our minds about these things.
Having stated the apprehensions of a substantial number of my hon. Friends and of people outside, I beg the German Government and the German people not to forget them and to see that their own conduct is of such a character that they show, by practice and by administration, that the fears are not as well-founded as some of my hon. Friends think they are. I think I can say for the whole of the Opposition that all of us, irrespective of our opinions on this matter, will be pleased if that should be proved to be the case.
I would impress upon the German Government, the Social Democratic Opposition in Germany, and all the other political parties in Germany to be judicious in their policy and the expression and the exposition of their policy in order that they may convince the rest of the world that the Germany of today is a new and democratic Germany that seeks to pursue policies of genuine parliamentary democracy and to co-operate with all the other nations of the world for the peace and security of mankind, including cooperation with the United Nations.
But as soon as any German Government or any responsible political leaders in Germany give expression to policies or make statements which tend to substantiate the fears of many of my hon. Friends, they will be doing damage to their own cause and to the well-being of the world, and will make it more difficult for those of us who seek to give Germany a proper co-operative place among the nations of the world. If they do that, 421 they will make our task more difficult than it would otherwise be.
As the House will know, last night the Parliamentary Labour Party carried the following resolution:This meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party recognises that the conditions laid down by the Labour Party for a German contribution to Western defence have now been met; we should, therefore, accept the inclusion of Western Germany in the collective organisation of Western defence within which German forces could serve without danger to their neighbours.Since then, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party has met and has made its own independent pronouncement, because we do not control the National Executive, and the National Executive, as the Prime Minister was taught at a General Election, does not control the Parliamentary Labour Party. There was some argument about it between the right hon. Gentleman and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. It has come to its own independent conclusions about it, and I am able to read to the House this declaration of the National Executive Committee, which was decided upon this morning.The National Executive Committee, after careful consideration of the proceedings of the Berlin Conference, has reached the conclusion that the Soviet Union has shown no sign of willingness to consent to the reunification of Germany through free elections or to the restoration of Austria's independenceThe National Executive Committee condemns this denial of liberty by the Soviet Union, and re-affirms that the Labour Party will persevere in its efforts to secure the conclusion of the Austrian State Treaty, the peaceful reunification of Germany on the oasis of free elections, and a German peace treaty, concluded with a freely elected German Government, providing effective guarantees for Germany's territorial integrity and independence and against any forcible attempt by Germany at territorial revision.The Margate Conference of the Labour Party urged that there should be no German rearmament before further efforts have been made to secure the peaceful reunification of Germany.' In the light of the Berlin Conference, the National Executive Committee considers that further efforts have been made and have been frustrated by the Soviet Union.The National Executive Committee accordingly declares the support of the Labour Party for a West German contribution to European defence, subject to the condition laid down by the Leader of the Labour Party in February, 1951, that the arrangements must be such that German units are integrated in the defence forces in a way which would preclude the emergence again of a German military menace.'
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
Would my right hon. Friend think it proper to indicate whether this was a unanimous decision taken by the Executive of the Labour Party? Would he think it proper to do, with reference to this meeting, what he has done in his reference to the private meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party?
§ Mr. Morrison
I should like to oblige my hon. Friend, but the proceedings of the National Executive, as she will know, are private and I should be committing an offence if I were to reveal particulars. I did not reveal the proceedings of the Parliamentary Labour Party last night. I merely referred to the Press reports, and I have not even confirmed them. There it is. I do not think that it will be right for me to reveal particulars of private proceedings of the Executive Committee.
I now have the duty to put what I think is the majority opinion of the Parliamentary Labour Party as the official Opposition. The Berlin Conference was not without its good points, as the Foreign Secretary has agreed. It was a more expeditious conference than has ordinarily been the case. Certainly, it was infinitely more expeditious than was the Conference at the Palais Rose, which was attended by my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) when I was Foreign Secretary. That was a conference about what the agenda should be. The agenda was never settled, let alone anything on the agenda.
This conference was a conference without an agenda, which is rather encouraging. There is a lot to be said for a conference without an agenda and I think that it can be said that nobody engaged in wilful obstruction at the Berlin Conference. It was reasonably businesslike and reasonably expeditious. Moreover, judged by the precedence of common form, there was infinitely less spitefulness than there is on some of these occasions. There was, as the Foreign Secretary has said, some plain speaking but, on the whole, there was reasonable courtesy between the participants in the conference.
Moreover, the conference came to a conclusion which I am sure the House regards as a matter of considerable importance, namely, that there would be a meeting on Far Eastern matters at which the Communist Government of 423 China would be present. This is an advance not so much for us as for the United States Government and, in particular, for Mr. Dulles, and we should welcome it as a good thing. We hope very much that that further conference will be good.
On the other hand, weighing up the Berlin Conference, I cannot avoid the conclusion, first, that the Western representatives made a genuine attempt to get agreement about a unified Germany and about Austria. I cannot resist the conclusion that there was an unwillingness on the part of the U.S.S.R. to accept the idea of a unified and united Germany, except on political conditions that would imperil free elections. I do not think that it can be said that the Foreign Secretary did not go a long way, with the assent of his two Western colleagues, to meet the Russians so far as he could about the procedure for these elections and the constitution of the constituent assembly.
In fact, the procedure was of sufficient elaboration to leave me in some doubt about whether it did not leave too many avenues open for mischievous obstruction that might frustrate and endanger the success of the scheme. I think that the Foreign Secretary ran a considerable risk in that direction, but let the House remember that the Foreign Secretary, at any rate, had the motive of meeting Russian susceptibilities and objections as far as he could, and, therefore, that must count in favour of the British attitude.
But the Russians were not willing to accept a unified Germany, except upon the basis of political conditions which, I do not think it can be denied, would have imperilled the conduct of secret, free and fair elections. We have had enough experience both of Nazi electioneering methods and constitutional procedures, and Communist elections and constitutional processes, to attach importance to the fact that whenever Germany elects a Government for the whole of Germany the elections ought to be genuinely free and secret elections, in which the German people can freely and secretly express their opinions and elect the Government and Parliament of their choice.
That was the first difficulty. It was clear that the Russians wanted a condition that there should be no E.D.C., and 424 it is a fair conclusion that they also sought the condition of the virtual breakup of N.A.T.O. It was not only that Mr. Molotov said the things that he did about N.A.T.O., but that the Russians clearly wanted the exclusion of the United States forces from Europe. If that were to happen, N.A.T.O. could not function with the participation of the United States, or, presumably, Canada. Therefore, that is an impossible condition whereas, on the other hand, a united Germany, if and when it comes about, as the Foreign Secretary has said, must be free to pursue such foreign policy as it thinks right.
We ourselves have been reasonable, as have the other Western Powers, in saying that although we have made agreements with Germany, even if Germany at the time should be part of E.D.C. or N.A.T.O. as the case may be, a Parliament of the whole of Germany, presumably the Reichstag of the whole of Germany, must be free with its Government to come to such conclusions as it likes about foreign policy. We are not seeking to bind Germany to the West in advance of a united Germany, but if we do not seek to bind all Germany in advance, surely the Soviet Union ought not to seek to bind Germany in advance either negatively or positively before the event.
On the other hand, no offer was made by the Soviet Union as to the military alliances, the military integration and the economic integration which they have as a vast continental State with all the satellite or colonial countries bordering on the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe. Surely, if they ask that the United States bases shall be removed, that N.A.T.O. should become ineffective or dissolved, and that E.D.C. should not be established, it ought logically to follow that the Russian coalition of the satellite States in Eastern Europe ought similarly to be broken up, and that the Russian bases in satellite countries ought to be liquidated in the same way as the American bases. But that is not the Russian proposal. It is for us to do the retirement and for the Russians and the satellite States to stand firmly where they are.
What is the conclusion to be drawn from all this? The conclusion seems to me to be irresistible. All of this is part 425 of a continuing—even if it is understandable, and I think I understand it— Soviet policy of seeking to keep themselves as strong as ever they can, and seeking that the West shall be weak in its defence and in its economic life.
I do not think that is a policy which I, as, I hope, a good British citizen, can accept; nor do I think it is a policy that we ought to accept in the interests of the peace of the world and of the collective security of the world. If there is a situation in which one group of nations is exceptionally powerful and another group of nations is not—we must face the fact that the military situation in Western Europe is certainly not pronouncedly in our favour at the present time—then it is not calculated to make the best contribution to the peace of the world and it is not fair to our country that we should be landed in a situation of that kind.
The Communist Parties throughout the Western democracies have consistently acted in accordance with this Russian point of view. They have opposed all rearmament in the Western democratic countries, even while the Soviet Union was rearming. They have opposed Western Germany's European defence contribution, denouncing it as a wicked thing that there should be any German rearmament whatever, notwithstanding the fact that there is a substantial degree of some sort of rearmament going on in Eastern Germany under Soviet auspices. That seems to me to be unreasonable. They have sought, further, to weaken the West economically by provoking strikes and by other means.
I do not say that one should approach this picture of things in a spirit of blind indignation and intolerance. I understand it. If we were running the Soviet Union in the conditions of the Soviet Union perhaps we should be tempted to take very much the same line. I understand the Russian point of view. It is natural that they should want to be strong and should want the other countries to be weak. But 1 am a British subject, I am a citizen of this country, and we, in turn, are colleagues, fellow citizens and friends, in an international sense, of the other Western democracies, who want to preserve the democratic way of life and who want the world to be free. So, while it is understandable from the Soviet 426 point of view, the question is whether it is reasonable from our point of view, and I think the answer is in the negative.
I think that the failure of the Russians to come forward at all about poor little Austria is a wicked state of affairs on the ground of strategical military considerations vis-a-vis possibly Germany and Czechoslovakia. That I understand, but who in the world would suggest that Austria is a military menace to anybody? They are a pretty nice people, on the whole. I always think that they have the better qualities both of the French and the Germans, a sort of combination of the two—
§ Mr. Morrison
There are minorities everywhere, as my hon. Friend will appreciate. As he knows, he and I do not always share a common opinion but we like each other, and in the Tea Room we can exchange jokes and can argue with each other; but why does he want to argue with me now?
§ Mr. Morrison
It is all right.
All this is unfair to Austria, which, on the whole, is making a success of its democracy, and in parliamentary conditions of greater difficulty than the Government at Bonn, because they were driven to have a coalition against their will. Really, it is time this was settled, especially when the Russians have been offered everything they wanted, I think unjustly to the Austrians. It is awful that they should not be able to agree about that.
We have a right as a nation—and the other Western democracies have a right— and a duty to promote our own security and the general peace of the world. That is an aspect which I do not feel able to ignore. The Russians know, and we should know, that relative military strength has two aspects. First, if there is a preponderance of power in one field and a weakness somewhere else, that is not particularly conducive to the peace of the world. It offers temptations.
I am not alleging that the Soviet Union intend to promote a third world war— I very much doubt whether they seek to do so. If it comes, it may well come as an 427 accident, as a result of some other "sideshow." But if we should get a situation of utter military predominance, it would be tempting for them to go in for foreign policy risks that might lead to trouble, and it is not healthy from the point of view of the protection of the peace of the world.
Moreover, it is bound to be a factor in diplomacy. If a Foreign Secretary on one side is meeting a Foreign Secretary on the other, and the strength of the first country is hopelessly weak while the other is very strong, it is difficult to believe that they are negotiating as equals. It is not a healthy situation.
If the state of the world is, as I think it is, a little better than it was; if the edge and the acuteness of international relations has been somewhat reduced, as, indeed, I think it has, do let us remember that the increased strength of the West has something to do with it, and that if weakness had remained it might well have been that this better situation would not have arisen.
Now let us consider the next point: Is Western Europe secure? I do not think it is; I think the balance, at any rate of the ground forces, is heavily against us. Air may be another matter, but I do not know that we can be fully dogmatic about it. I cannot forget that in the late war, when I was a Member of the war Government, as Home Secretary and Minister of Home Security, I had a job which was beset with many anxieties and difficulties. I cannot forget the anxiety and the worry of the new weapons, the V.1s and the V.2s being fired at us from across the Channel. They did a lot of harm; they were a real menace.
If they had gone on, not only would great suffering have come to our people, but it is conceivable that it might have cost us our success in the war—might. At any rate, it was a very dangerous situation and believe me, holding that office, I was very glad when we got to the other side of the Channel and this business was stopped.
Consider the situation now. It is worse than that. We shall not have merely the V.1 and V.2; we shall have the V.3, the V.4, the V.5 and perhaps the V.6. They will be more powerful. They will have a wider range and they will probably have greater accuracy. It is true 428 that we are busily engaged on guided missiles with a view to catching these instruments and bringing them down; but I had enough experience of these matters in the last war to know that one cannot be sure until one does it.
It would be a horrible menace to this country if any hostile Power got on to the coasts of France, or anywhere near us, to fire those things at us again. Consequently, we must, as a nation, take the view that if there is trouble—and I am not asserting that there will be—the further east the trouble is kept the better it is for Europe and the better it is for us. As the Prime Minister reminds me, there is the possibility of paratroops as. well. They have not been fully developed. They can be more fully developed as time goes on.
In these circumstances, what is the attraction of a neutral Germany? Germany is a great nation which has made an extraordinary economic recovery. Indeed, it is an apprehension as to whether she will not be a very bitter competitor with us in the commercial field. She is already, I agree. The Germans are working hard. There is this busy people, and we have a neutral space. If there were war it is a positive invitation for somebody to get in there quick —with the raw materials, with the manufactures and with the great possibilities of resources, not to mention other possibilities.
I must say that I think that the idea of trying to keep Germany neutral is foolish, first, from the point of view of the peace and security of Europe. Secondly, I think that it is an utterly impracticable thing to do.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be absolutely specific. He is now talking about neutralism in a different sense from the Foreign Secretary. Does he really mean demilitarised?
§ Mr. Morrison
Yes—unarmed and neutral. I think that it is impracticable. Here is this great nation with considerable economic resources. I do not think that it is practicable for us to insist for all time that there shall be a neutral unarmed Germany.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
The view my right hon. Friend is now expressing 429 was not shared by the Prime Minister at Teheran where he said that our duty was to make the world safe for 50 years by German disarmament, by preventing German rearmament, by the supervision of German factories, by forbidding all aviation, and so on. That was in 1943 at Teheran.
§ Mr. Morrison
I am open to the possible criticism that there is a good deal of agreement between myself and the Government on the general issue of German rearmament. I should not like my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) to drive me into still further agreement with everything that the Prime Minister says. I do not want to get too close to the Prime Minister.
There will have to be a peace treaty. Germany will be a sovereign State. It would be a quaint idea to say that a sovereign State cannot be armed. It would be very difficult to enforce without the risk of going to war about it, and we have to consider whether it is worth while. So it will come that Germany will have arms. I agree with the Foreign Secretary. The question of principle is not arms or no arms at some time in the not distant future. The question is how best is it to be done from the point of view of the peace and security of the neighbours of this great country which surround her.
The sort of Germany that we want, and the Germans ought to want, too, is a Germany that is democratic, where the civil power is predominant and where genuine parliamentary democracy is developing. Let us not forget, we who have evolved a great system of parliamentary democracy, that it has taken us 700 years to do it. I am not suggesting that everybody else should take 700 years; but it is to be understood if other countries cannot do it in five minutes. One of my hon. Friends mentions the Russians. At any rate, the Russians have this excuse for dictatorship, that they have never had experience of parliamentary democracy; but, if they ever face it, my advice to the Russians is to go steady and let it be an evolutionary process, otherwise they might make a mess of it. However, that is by the way. It is an electoral constitutional theory. I am tempted to mention a publication that is coming out soon.
430 I want Germany to be a genuine democracy, a developing democracy. I want their politics to be such that they can combine healthy and vigorous fights between Government and Opposition with the possibility of having a talk behind the Chair now and again to settle something which is of urgent national importance. The trouble with the old German parliamentary parties was that they were not on speaking terms with each other— not even the Whips.
That is a very good reason for Whips not making speeches in the House. When the whole of the rest of us have had such quarrels and disputes that we are no longer on speaking terms, it is absolutely vital that somebody should be on speaking terms. With the Government Chief Whip and my right hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip, we have always somebody to talk. This capacity to talk is important in parliamentary business. It is one of the things in which the old German Reichstag, under the Kaiser, was deficient. They actually had separate dining rooms, I am told, because they could not bring themselves to eat in the same place.
The second thing we want- from Germany is participation in the United Nations. I hope that there will not be any veto about that. We want peaceful co-operation—a constructive positive part for the peace of the world and the security of all countries including their own. I have been to Germany two or three times since the war. I have seen the damage that the British Air Force and the American Air Force did. It was worse than anything we had, and we had enough.
I cannot see why Germany should want a third world war. They may. I admit that in all these things one runs risks, but I really cannot see why they should. One can look at Cologne and see the way in which it was almost flattened out.
§ Mr. Morrison
Dresden and other cities as well. They were terrible sights. Germany should be ready peacefully to co-operate. It is in her interest as well as in the interests of the other countries of the world. There is argument among the experts as to whether it should be 431 E.D.C. or N.A.T.O. I am not authorised to pronounce upon this controversial, highly technical question, but either way it is necessary that there should be a reasonable protection against German militarism or indeed militarism from any other country, and that this thing should be planned internationally and the ceilings should be understood internationally.
The alternative to Germany becoming a partner among the nations of the world is such that it seems to me that we would be treating Germany—or at any rate they would think we were treating them—as outcasts and what may be called untouchables. I do not believe that this will pay us or the world. If a nation is treated as permanently outside the comity of nations, as outcasts or untouchables, that nation will develop a strong sense of grievance which, in the case of Germany, will develop and stimulate the very nationalism that we want to avoid, the very anarchy in international relations that we want to avoid, and, possibly, the very Nazism that we want to avoid. It would be a mistaken policy.
The decisions on any foreign policy— especially all great decisions—are risks. He is a lucky Foreign Secretary if he knows that what he is doing is absolutely right, that it cannot be wrong and that it will work well. On a balance of consideration this is the best line for the peace of the world and for Germany coming in to a co-operative affair.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
May I ask my right hon. Friend a question which has been bothering me throughout the whole of the speeches of the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend and for some months? We believe in German democracy, we believe in a unified Ger many and we believe in Germany having, when it is democratised, a foreign policy of her own. Suppose Germany decides not to rearm and continues with her prosperous life, which we all hear about now—
§ Mr. Bowles
No—and, therefore, remains a vacuum, which is abhorred by the Government of the day. Is it proposed forcibly to rearm Germany?
§ Mr. Morrison
That is a fair question and I will give what I think is the fair and logical answer. If Germany is a supreme sovereign Power and can do what it likes about foreign policy, we must concede the Germans the right to rearm. We have equally to concede Germany the right not to rearm if it does not wish to do so, although I should be surpised if that happened.
§ Mr. Morrison
No, not at all.
My last words are these. We belong to the United Nations. This country believes in the United Nations. The Western democracies believe in the United Nations. The happiest and greatest thing would be if all the countries that were part of the United Nations would genuinely co-operate for the peace of the world. There could be no war if all the countries in the United Nations would genuinely co-operate to that end.
I say it in no sense of spite or attack, but with deep sorrow, that the Soviet Union has not, in the United Nations, played the part, which all of us in the war hoped she would do, of being an active and a powerful influence to protect the peace of the world. A universal United Nations, all of us playing the game to protect the peace of the world— that is the ideal. It is better than N.A.T.O. It is better than E.D.C. Well, we have not got it.
§ Mr. Morrison
It may come yet, as my hon. Friend says, and I join with him in hoping that it may. Let us not give up hope.
If we cannot get that—and for the time being we cannot—what are the principles of the United Nations? They are that the nations should join together collectively to protect the peace of the world; to let any possible aggressors know that if they aggress, the rest of the world will resist them, by military force if need be —not because we want war, but because the whole idea is the best way to prevent war breaking out. Unhappily, we cannot get that. In these circumstances, we must get every country we possibly can to act upon the basis of the principles of the United Nations and to protect the peace 433 of the world. The more countries there are and the more effective they are, the more likely they are to protect the peace of the world.
It is from that point of view also that I want a democratic and peaceful Germany to be part of this co-operation. And as men get wiser and, it may be, the Soviet Union evolves new policies, which is always possible, it may be then that we can revert to the full principles of cooperation in the United Nations and that all the nations of the world will be protecting the peace. In the meantime, it is my sincere belief that we have to get as many countries as we can to observe the principles of collective security and to co-operate for the active protection of peace and for the material progress of mankind.
§ 5.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
In rising to address the House for the first time, I know that I can depend on the courtesy and tolerance for which the House is famous. I feel very privileged to be allowed to make my maiden speech in a debate of such importance.
I think we all have in our minds the sense of tragedy that exists compared with the high hopes we had when the war finished in 1945. At that time we all believed and hoped that Russia would co-operate in bringing about a real United Nations, a real co-operation of friendship and peace and understanding throughout the world. But all of us, whatever our political views, must now have the feeling that Russia has determined on a certain course of action.
As the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) also has said, I should not be the one to criticise that that view of the Russians may not seem to them wise and far-seeing; but to the remainder of the world, I am sure all hon. Members will agree, it is an attitude which, we feel, leads to tension and unrest. If I might play on words, the one thing that seems to me to have come out of the Berlin Conference is that when the Russians say "No," they mean "Niet must fall on Germany."
In the few minutes for which I shall detain the House, I am going to speak about German rearmament. In case hon. Members should think I am a starry-eyed idealist who imagines that there is no 434 danger in such a move, I should make it clear that in 1945 my last actions in hostilities were to disarm an S.S. division. My feelings about the Germans when I went into the area of occupation were so anti-German that I did not speak or deal with any German direct, but only through a third person. Therefore, nobody at that time could say that I was pro-German.
Since then, however, I have given the problem of Germany a great deal of thought, as, I know, all hon. Members have done. The question is whether we can keep a great and proud people as a vacuum in the centre of Europe; and the answer, without any shadow of doubt, is "No." As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said this afternoon, the problem is that if we do not welcome German as a friend, the thing we fear— German rearmament—will still take place; but it will take place by the Germans acting unilaterally and not in accordance with the great mutual concept of Western defence.
Therefore, in trying to clear my mind of this fear and problem, I thought I might get guidance by going back into history. When one does that, it is amazing how the history of France and of Germany is akin. We all remember the Kaiser's war, very similar in essence to the wars of Louis XIV, when France under Louis XIV threatened Europe Both of them had delusions of grandeur. That was followed, in France, by the attempt of Napoleon to conquer the whole of Europe and, in Germany, by Hitler, who had the same desires and ambitions.
After that had happened in France, it took the British people a century to realise that the balance of power had altered for all time in Europe and that France was no longer a danger to world peace, but that another great Power had grown up, and was growing, which from then onwards, until the situation changed again, was the danger that we in this country had to guard against.
I believe that our fears about Germany are in exactly the same position as the fears of the people of this country in the 19th Century about France. I believe it is true that up to 1850 or 1860, every nursemaid frightened her charges into good behaviour by saying that if they were not good, "Boney" would come and deal with them. He was the bogy that 435 existed not for five or 10 years, but for the greater part of the 19th century. I believe we are now faced with the bogy of Germany, and in my view Germany will never again be a threat to the peace of the world.
What is the situation? Here we have Russia and her satellites with a population of 300 million people, and Western Germany with a population of approximately 60 million people. The difference in numbers is far too great, but if we do not offer to bring Germany into the orbit of Western democracy, then Germany will be pulled towards the Eastern totalitarian form of government.
Therefore I say to the House with all sincerity yet humbly, realising that my opinions will not carry very much weight, that we have seen at Berlin the Russians deciding on their course of action, and that our correct action now would be to offer the hand of friendship to Western Germany as an equal, with no conditions, because there can be no real friendship between friends if there are conditions on which that friendship is based. I believe if we do that we shall draw Western Germany into the Western orbit; we shall strengthen them as a freedom-loving people and we shall strengthen the military, moral and industrial resources of the Western world. No one in Western Europe has any aggressive intentions.
It will be an insurance, because if Germany is once integrated into Western Europe—and I believe with so many other hon. Members that at the moment we are watching the gradual breaking down of national boundaries—then we shall be taking a great step towards the breaking down of those national boundaries, and towards the co-operation, industrially, commercially, artistically and morally, of all these peoples. At the same time, we shall remove the fear of the danger of Western Germany being dragged into the Russian orbit, and Western Germany will be given the chance to build a truly democratic State.
Therefore, I hope that the step will be taken as speedily as possible, because I believe that every day that goes by makes the invitation or welcome more unreal and less warm in the eyes of the German people. We want them to come as friends, and we believe that if they come under those conditions they can make a 436 great contribution towards the future well being and the freedom and peace of the world.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
It is with sincerity—and I am speaking for all Members in the House—that I congratulate the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover) upon an extremely impressive maiden speech. He spoke without notes, which is more than I can do, and I congratulate him upon that. He spoke not only with great assurance but with sincerity, and he can congratulate himself on having at once caught the manner of the House, which likes a speech based on personal knowledge. As was proper in a maiden speech, the hon. Member avoided a controversial tone, but yet managed to say things of importance in which he sincerely believes. He has made a very important contribution to what is not only an important but a very difficult debate.
This debate brings us right up against this vital and extremely difficult issue of German rearmament, which arouses great emotions and much searching of heart among hon. Members in all parts of the House. Nobody can feel at all enthusiastic about German rearmament. It is something which no one can positively want, but it is an issue that we must face without too much emotion and with as much reason as we can, having regard to our own national security and to the peace of the world.
The beginning of any judgment on this matter must, it seems to me, come from an assessment of the consequences of the Berlin Conference. I cannot find it at all easy to be optimistic about the conference. The best that the Foreign Secretary could say—and he was quite right —was that it had not heightened international tension. It is a grim comment upon the state of affairs today that the best that can be said of a meeting of world statesmen is that it has not positively worsened things. It is something that it has not worsened things, but it is very low praise to give to a meeting of that sort.
On the other hand, I do not think one should go to the opposite extreme and take a view of despair about the conference. It is not a final end, it is not a full stop. There clearly will be, and must be further negotiations, and they 437 must have as their ultimate aim a settlement of the problems of the world. Bat if the Berlin Conference is not the end of a book, it is the end of a chapter, and it is a very important turning point because it shows that there is no future in negotiations carried on under the present state of affairs in Western Europe.
By present state of affairs 1 mean those in which Eastern Germany is armed and Western Germany is not: in which Eastern Germany is integrated fully into the Soviet orbit and Western Germany makes no contribution to Western defence. It was quite clear from the Berlin Conference that Mr. Molotov was quite happy about the present state of affairs in the West, and that is why he made not the slightest effort to reach agreement at all, because if he is nappy with the situation why should ho give way on free elections for Germany or anything of that sort?
Those who are against the principle of a German contribution to Western defence say, in effect, that the right policy is to stay exactly as we are now and to leave things in the West in their present state. It seems to me that they overlook the conclusions that must be drawn from that. The present stats of affairs has produced a Berlin, and if we go on with the present state of affairs we must logically produce eternally a whole series of Berlins one after the other. To make no attempt to alter the present situation, which is really the policy advocated by those who do not want a German contribution to Western defence, does—
§ Mr. Warbey
I feel that my right hon. Friend is not fairly representing the point of view at least of some of us on this side of the House, which is certainly not that things should stay as they are, but that we should, in fact, achieve the unification of Germany and then have free elections throughout the whole of Germany. I rather disagree with the manner in which my right hon. Friend is [...]utting this point of view.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I was not intending to represent the views of my hon. Friend, but there are a lot of people in 438 this country and Members on both sides of the House who say that we ought to leave things as they are.
There are other views on this matter, I know, but the view of the majority of those against German rearmament is as I have stated it. This policy opens out an appalling prospect before the world, because it means that we shall continue as now, with a precarious balance of power, it means that we shall rely for the preservation of peace upon the mutual fear of the letting off of an atom war. The prospect before the world, if we cannot alter things, is a peace—if that is the right word—through mutual and equal terror.
That would keep fear in the world at a high pitch and, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said, there is always the danger in those circumstances of a miscalculation, and particularly a miscalculation by a dictatorship, which is more likely to make such a miscalculation than is a democracy. We have somehow to find an escape from this appalling prospect of peace through balanced terror.
The Berlin Conference showed us, it seems to me, that there is no short cut to such a peace. There have been hopes. —the Prime Minister held out hopes— that a short cut to peace might be found, but the real lesson of Berlin seems to be that there is no short cut to peace. We have to follow a long, arduous and patient policy to get away from the appalling prospect of an atomic peace.
The only hope I see of achieving peace is in the long job of convincing Russia of two things. One is that the West is strong and the other is that the West will never use its strength for aggression. We have to convince Russia of both those things if we are to work our way slowly through to a settlement of our differences. We must, in particular, try to solve the German problem in the light of that objective.
The doubts and complexities involved in the problem of German rearmament seem to me really to arise from the fact that there are two different aspects of the dangers that would result from German rearming or the failure to rearm Germany. The first is the danger of Russian aggression. We think of German rearmament and of integrating German 439 defence in the West as a means of getting a better balance against the danger of Russian aggression. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South said, the Russians have a great balance of superiority of land forces over ours and certainly do maintain a very large armed force in the heart of Europe. That is a danger which we cannot avoid taking into account.
The second aspect is that if we try to meet that danger by having a German contribution to Western defence we run into the danger that a rearmed Germany may be a danger to its neighbours, possibly to France. But, if we are measuring the dangers, the greater danger would be an attack eastwards and an attempt to regain the lost provinces. Both seem to be real dangers and we must try to construct a policy which as far as possible meets both those dangers. If we are to do that we have to formulate the problem properly.
Many of my hon. Friends who do not hold my view are ready on the one hand to accept that the Berlin Conference was really a failure and a turning point because genuine efforts were made to come to an agreement and failed: that we cannot go on on the present basis. But they are very reluctant to draw the conclusion which I would draw about incorporating a German contribution in Western defence because, they ask, "Why should we rearm Germany?" They are in doubt between these two positions and we all find it difficult to make up our minds on this problem.
But to ask, "Why should we rearm Germany?" seems to be posing the problem on a completely false assumption. It is the assumption that we can rearm Germany or that if we do nothing at all we stop Germany being rearmed. That is the assumption made by many who ask why we should rearm Germany. But, of course, it is not we but the Germans who will rearm Germany, and that is a problem that we cannot get away from.
It seems to me absolutely essential that we cannot now stop German rearmament. We can refuse to acknowledge it, but we cannot stop it. There are no means of enforcing disarmament, as was shown clearly at the end of the first war. Apart 440 from the mechanical means of enforcing disarmament, no democracy can be relied upon to have the continuing will to stop a great country from exercising its sovereign powers. A democracy will sooner or later refuse to allow its Government to conduct a preventive war, and the only way disarmament could be enforced would be by a cold-blooded preventive war for which a democracy would not stand. Ours would not stand for that.
If we were to go on with the policy of trying to stay the same and do nothing about it, we should find German rearmament coming quicker than many hon. Members think. The purpose of those who say that we should stay as we are and do nothing is, of course, the honourable purpose of trying to check and end German militarism, an end with which we all agree. But, if we try to stop German rearmament by means which must be ineffective—'because they will not work—we actually increase the danger of German militarism instead of decreasing that danger.
We must not repeat in any form, even in the most civilised form, the fundamental error of the Treaty of Versailles. The fundamental error of the Treaty of Versailles was to recognise Germany's national identity and then to try to deny it the normal rights of a nation. If we do that we are giving the militarists in any country a tremendously powerful argument—they have a national grievance which may be remedied by their being tough and defying the West. Therefore, it is putting a premium upon militarism in a country if we try to treat that country, on the one hand, as a nation and at the same time, without force behind us, deny it its full national and equal rights.
The only real hope of solving all the problems connected with Germany is to find a way to encourage German democracy and to discourage German militarism. Here I fully agree with my right hon. Friend. The only way to weaken militarisim is to incorporate Germany in the West and to abandon the policy of an aloof isolation of Germany and the treating of Germany as if it were a country out of which no good could ever come. That is not the basis on which we could possibly conduct relations with what is already a very great country and is bound to be a very great country. If 441 one pushes the point to that extent we see that it is a policy of utter despair to say that we should leave things alone now because it is too difficult to accept the principle of a German contribution to Western defence.
At the same time, a German contribution to Western defence is the best safeguard we can devise against the danger of German aggression against its neighbours, especially for the recovery of lost provinces in the East. When we are discussing this problem of the danger of Germany committing aggression against its neighbours, we are apt to overlook the fact that any future German Government which might feel inclined to risk war for this kind of thing would be deterred by fear of atomic counter-attack. The danger of any future Germany becoming aggressive in the East is greatly reduced because it would have to count on instantaneous atomic attack from the East.
It would be stupid, however, to rely solely on that and the principle must be, if we accept German rearmament, to make it as safe as possible. I do not think that safety can be absolutely guaranteed. There are no guarantees in these things, and the policy of staying as we are and doing nothing would certainly be no guarantee because that would give us German rearmament in the worst and most dangerous circumstances of all. Germany would arise armed, wholly unintegrated in the West, wholly uncontrolled. If we were trying to sit on Germany's head without the weight with which to do that, Germany would also be in an ugly and resentful mood.
From this point of view that the best policy—not a perfect policy, for there is no such thing—is to integrate a German military contribution into Western defence. From that it would follow that it becomes an urgent need for the West—I hope that something will be said about it from the Government Benches during the debate—to set about developing N.A.T.O. in such a way that it makes as great as possible the interdependence of its members one upon the other. The extent to which that can be done increases the extent to which German rearmament becomes a safer instead of a more dangerous step.
This would be necessary whether we had the E.D.C. or the N.A.T.O. solution 442 of the German problem, because E.D.C. will itself be a part of N.A.T.O., if it comes into being. So the real security would be provided by the development of N.A.T.O. in such a way as to maximise the inter-dependence of its members upon one another so that none of them— Germany or any other—could act with ease against the views and consent of the other members.
But the immediate and prior problem with which we are faced in this debate is the simple one whether, following upon the result of the Berlin Conference, we are now agreed that there is no alternative but to accept a German contribution to Western defence. For the reasons which I have given, I feel that there is no alternative to it. It is the only way of meeting the twin dangers of Russian aggression against the West and of an armed Germany becoming a danger to its neighbours.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir (Aberdeen, South)
I am sure that all of us on these benches listened to the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) with considerable sympathy in view of the difficult task which he had before him. I believe my colleagues will agree with me when I say that we watched with admiration the way he dealt with a most delicate matter, using his famed political skill, a skill which we have often seen used in less worthy causes than it was today. He dealt very fairly with some genuine disquiets which are evidenced among his hon. Friends.
However, I cannot understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite who previously supported the official Opposition view should have these doubts at this moment. All of us in the House had very genuine and deep fears about the position of Germany directly after the war. That was the time when all of us searched our hearts to determine what was to be our responsibility in the great task with which we were charged. It was at that time, after a great deal of discussion and debate, that a definite view was taken, and we who were in Opposition at that time were very glad to support the Government in the attitude which they took.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South and the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) have dealt very fairly and in great detail with 443 the various apprehensions which have been put forward but I consider that the time is now long past when we could look at this grave matter merely from the point of view of emotion. I read the article in the "Daily Herald" this morning. I believe that it accurately sums up the views of many on either side of the House who have doubts about rearming Germany. I wish that the second article, which, I understand, is to be on the question of the facts as they are, had been published this morning, before the debate began.
We must face the realism of the position, and if we are consistent we must realise that right from the start there have really been only two courses open for us to take. First, it is held by some people that Germany should be permanently occupied, and, therefore, permanently disarmed and permanently neutral. The other course is that to which, as I understand it everyone—in Parliament at any rate—has given assent, that we should press forward with all the means in our power to create a Germany united as a result of free elections, and with her own sovereign Government. Once we have reached that stage of the proceedings and have a sovereign Power in Germany, we must give that Government full authority over their own affairs.
It is because the Government of the day, and the Government which succeeded it, realised that the first course was impossible that we are today more—or less —agreed on the second course at this time. We are trying by the best means open to us to give Western Germany a chance to learn how to live with the West and, at the same time, take her responsibility of bearing the burden of her own defence, with all that it means in the impact on her own economy.
To hon. Members opposite who have doubts now, I would say that if they look back over the years in Parliament since the end of the war they will realise that all these arguments have been fully gone into. There is no new situation which can make them change their minds now. What we have to consider is the result of the Berlin Conference, whether we feel we have progressed and whether we feel that we are on the right road.
The first thing we must ask ourselves is, what did Russia really think she would achieve for herself by going to Berlin? 444 It is my view that the real problem which exercises Russia's mind more than anything else is Germany. It is not the Far East, it is Germany. I believe that Russia went to Berlin with certain ideas in her mind. She wished, first of all, to keep the status quo from a physical point of view. She wished also to try to postpone any decision on the European Defence Community. I believe that she also had in her mind the thought that she might be able to divide the allies.
The reason why I do not think that she is worried about Korea, despite the calling of the Geneva Conference, is that she is not threatened on her Eastern flank. The one great fear of Russia is that she should have an actual enemy on her flank. She is not threatened by China at this moment. It is rather like someone who can dismiss his bank account, usually overdrawn, by saying, "It isn't overdrawn just at this moment, so I need not worry about it."
As Russia is not worried about Korea, what is the reason for her trying to postpone any decision upon Germany at this time? We have to ask ourselves: Has Russia got the initiative after Berlin, or is the initiative with the allies? I am not at all sure that in some ways Russia has not still got the initiative despite the very great skill of the united allies and the long hours which they spent on the problem.
I say that particularly because of the position of E.D.C. I am going on the assumption that tomorrow night the House will agree that we are right in our policy and right to press forward with a European Defence Community. We now understand that the French Cabinet have by no means made up their minds about the date for the discussion of ratification of E.D.C. The view is strongly held that they will try to postpone the debate until after the Geneva Conference, because the great subject of Indo-China will be brought up there.
I feel that the Geneva Conference may last a very long time indeed. It is not a matter merely of having four Powers brought together for a limited talk, as at Berlin. As we see from the White Paper, it is suggested in the Soviet communique that all the nations who took arms against Germany should have the right to attend at Geneva, if they think fit. Therefore, 445 we see that we might have a very long conference, and we might also find after it that a decision may be postponed for another reason or for some other excuse. Of course, we have to seize every chance that is presented to us for discussion of these matters.
It is not unreasonable to assume that it may be high summer before the French Chamber comes to discuss the ratification of E.D.C. Then it will be exactly a year since I had the temerity to suggest in this House that we ought to have a time limit for the ratification of the European Defence Community Treaty. For well over three years now the whole question of the wider security of the West has hung in the balance. I cannot possibly judge what should be the right time limit, but, after I spoke in July, I was assured by a most distinguished Frenchman that France would ratify the Treaty by November, and yet nothing happened. I feel that, if we go on in this fashion, as we are at this moment, we shall never get a decision of the kind that is vital for the future of the West.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
I am coming to that. I know that my hon. Friend is most anxious to catch the eye of Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I am getting on as fast as I can. I will try to amplify my remarks, and try to reassure my hon. Friend.
I think it is very difficult to have a time limit for the ratification of the E.D.C. Treaty if we are going to impose one. But I think we can say that, if there is no ratification of the Treaty by a certain date, we must suggest a change of policy. We could try to suggest to France that, if she cannot agree to the E.D.C. Treaty, she might at any rate agree to the admission of Germany into the wider framework of N.A.T.O.
I know that hon. Gentleman opposite do not think that that is likely, and we all know the fears in France, but we have got to do something about it, because Western Germany is gaining in strength and in the knowledge of her own power, and the time may come when she will wonder if she wants to come in with the West at all. If France realises that Britain herself will not go beyond a certain time limit in awaiting a decision 446 on the ratification of E.D.C., perhaps this fact might encourage those in France who doubt the wisdom of this course.
If we feel that Russia has perhaps got the initiative at the moment, how do we think that we can regain it? That is a very difficult problem. In a speech which I made some time ago in the House, I said that if an opportunity presented itself the Prime Minister should seek a personal interview with Mr. Malenkov, and at that time I genuinely and sincerely believed it. At this moment, I do not, because I think the situation has changed. At the time I made that suggestion, there was no prospect of a Foreign Ministers' Conference, and we had recently had the death of Stalin. Further, after the great speech which the Prime Minister made on 11th May, there was a different atmosphere in the world, which was suspecting some change of heart in Moscow.
I do not believe that there has been that change. I believe that Mr. Molotov is Moscow, and that we are now seeing not the authority of the single-man regime of Stalin but the traditional authority of the Committee regime, under which Communism was always designed to function. Therefore, I do not think that this is a moment to favour such a meeting, although I do not rule it out, because such a moment may still arise in the many years of public office still left to the Prime Minister.
The only thing we can do, therefore, is to carry on with what can only be described as a holding operation. We have to meet the Russians where we can, and we must never weaken in our determination to rebuild our strength, whether by means of N.A.T.O. or E.D.C., or both. Above all, we should not be afraid to seek peace, because it is very different to seek peace from a position of strength than it is from a position of weakness.
I think it was "The Times" which said that Britain should always be ready "to treat but not to retreat." For the strong to offer peace is the mark of greatness.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
The Foreign Secretary, in beginning his very lucid exposition this afternoon, for which we are all grateful, said that, in spite of disappointments and frustrations 447 this conference was worth while. I think I prefer the very simple phrase used by "The Times" this morning in its leader, in which it said that the conference was "a good thing." Of course it was a good thing.
If I may follow the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) in her last words, we should certainly use every opportunity and spare no endeavour to bring about talks, meetings and conferences which may perchance lead to an ultimate understanding and a just and fair permanent peace. Not only is it right that we should do so, but it is the only way in which we can bring about that peace which we all desire with-out the use of armed force, and we should continue to do so however dark the prospect and however many may be the frustrations and disappointments. In other words, again to adapt some words used by "The Times," we should at all times be ready to treat.
At the same time, I would say that we have no right whatever to retreat from the principle of our belief in democracy and freedom, but the conference has achieved something. First of all, it has made clear beyond any doubt and beyond peradventure what are the views of East and West, and they are now published for all the world, at any rate, for all the free world, to read, study and understand. In the second place, there was shown throughout the conference a complete understanding between the representatives of the three Powers in the West, an understanding not only with regard to ultimate aims, but an understanding with regard to the way in which it was hoped that these aims might be achieved.
Finally, and I think this was the best that came out of it, there was an agreement by all four parties to meet once again in Geneva in April, and, on this occasion, that they should be accompanied by the representatives of China. That is indeed a tremendous step forward, especially on the part of the United States.
Then, one asks why it was that no great success was achieved. I have read, as I am sure every hon. and right hon. Gentleman has read, the speeches published in the White Paper with great care. Failure to reach agreement on Germany and on Austria was not due to 448 any lack of effort on the part of the Foreign Ministers. It was due to a funamental difference between the views of the East and the West.
We of the democratic countries believe that it is right and that it is in the best interests of everybody, as well as being the safest policy, to allow men and women to give full and free expression to their views, and genuine freedom to choose and elect their representatives and so to appoint the Government they desire. That is our view, but the East do not believe in that. The East fears freedom. The security of Moscow depends not on the free will of the people, or the belief of the people in their Constitution, or their willingness to adhere to that Constitution, but entirely upon power and the preponderance of power. Our security depends upon free will and the desire of people to co-operate together for the benefit of all.
We see this position not only throughout the Soviet Union itself but in all the "satellite" countries, as they are now called. These countries were invaded by the use of this preponderating power when they were helpless to defend themselves, like the little Baltic States of Lithuania, Esthonia, and Latvia, and like Poland, Czechoslovakia. Rumania and Hungary. It is by force that they are today kept attached to the Russians. It is obvious that it is by force alone that the people of East Germany are prevented from joining freely with the people of West Germany. There must be a keen desire among people of the same race, speaking the same language and having the same traditions, to keep together.
What keeps them apart today? Merely the force and power exercised by the Soviet Republic. The Foreign Ministers of the West did all they could to bring about a free and united Germany, with a freely elected Parliament and a freely appointed Government, free to establish its own Constitution and to take whatever part it desired in the framing of a peace treaty. Throughout the speeches of the Foreign Ministers of the West there was an obviously genuine desire, expressed on behalf of the millions whom they represent, for a free, united Germany and a free Austria. Once that had been achieved there would have been a clear chance of achieving a genuine and lasting peace in Europe, and that would have been the prelude, of course, to peace 449 throughout the world. A free, united Germany in the free world is necessary, not only for the peace of Europe, but for the peace of the world itself.
I take this opportunity to pay a sincere tribute to the Foreign Secretary not only for the work he did but for his speech, which revealed throughout the true ring of real sincerity. The failure was not due to any lack of effort on his part or on the part of his colleagues. It can also be said that the failure was not due entirely to Mr. Molotov. He was also doing his best, within the limitations imposed upon him. The failure was due to the Russian attitude, which seems at the moment to toe deep and rigid. From Mr. Molotov's speeches it seemed that he could not give way and allow a completely free Germany. I agree with the noble Lady, who took the same view on reading what Mr. Molotov had to say.
Once they had granted a completely free Germany, and the right of the Germans to elect their own Parliament, and to choose, criticise, and even overthrow their own Government, the Russians could not have denied it to Poland, which is adjacent, or to the Baltic States. What is more, I do not think that it could have been denied to another part of the Soviet Union which throughout has desired its own freedom, namely, the Ukraine, which has done all it can to achieve freedom.
Moscow, therefore, cannot risk free elections. What, then, is the position in East Germany? There are at present 140,000 men under arms in East Germany, apart from the Russian forces. There are seven organised divisions, of which three are mechanised and there are some 60 jet fighters with some 5,000 trained airmen, commanded by ex-Nazi officers. In addition, there are about 100,000 armed police. In West Germany, there are about 120,000 unarmed police. That is the difference between them.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
If East Germany has such a preponderance of Russian forces, how does the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain that none of those troops came into Berlin on 17th January, with the Russian army?
§ Mr. Davies
Because at present there are American, French and our own forces there, and so long as they remain the 450 Russians are not prepared to strike, and bring about what we all wish to avoid, a horrible third world war.
Consider what might be the position if our forces were withdrawn. If we withdrew all our people from the West, as Russia seemed to desire, when she said, "We will also, for our part, withdraw from the East," what would be the position in West Germany with those trained forces already there, with mechanised units and with arms? We should have a repetition of what happened in Korea. The American troops were withdrawn in 1949 from South Korea and the aggression from North Korea came immediately afterwards, in 1950. That is a position which no one would dare to contemplate without the deepest anxiety.
What of the Germans themselves? They are undoubtedly ruthless and have been cruel in an indescribable way. In the last 84 years, since 1870—
§ Mr. Davies
Yes, and also in 1866—they have caused untold suffering and misery to millions. It is no good taking up the position or the attitude that they can be ostracised and shunned and that they can be regarded, as the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) mentioned, as untouchables and subject to perpetual control from the West. Even if that control were desirable, it could not be exercised. Some of us remember the criticisms that we were making in 1919–20, immediately after the Versailles Treaty, that an effort was needed which it was impossible to carry out, and that we were trying to do too much.
It is no use trying to keep a nation of that size, a people who have held a dominating position, disarmed in an armed world. It could not be done. What is so extraordinary is that while arms are being denied to West Germany arms are not being denied to East Germany. What is more, Mr. Molotov in his very proposals for a new, united Germany, which would be brought about by some agreement that could be made between the East German Government and the West German Government—an almost impossible position, but accepting that—was quite prepared to see Germany armed anew on land, air and sea, sufficiently he 451 says, for her defence, but a separate, national German force. That, I agree was subject to certain limitations; but limitations were also very important at Versailles yet did not stop Hitler and the Second World War. It is impossible to impose limitations of that kind.
That being so, one is driven inevitably to the conclusion that the only way is to bring a free, united Germany, with its own free Government into the fellowship of the free nations and to ask her to join in a free European community. Under those conditions her armed forces would be like the armed forces of the allies—they would not be German forces. The right hon. Gentleman emphasised time and time again that the German forces would not be national but European forces. They would not be under German, but under supranational control. They could not be used —as the Foreign Secretary again emphasised today—except with the full assent of a supranational body controlled by the assembly and formed by the free nations.
That is exactly what I would like to see. My hope for the future of the world is that if there have to be armed forces they shall be international and not national forces. That would be the best and only guarantee against any nation going berserk, running amuck and starting another world war. Our experience has been that the two world wars were not only caused by one nation but by one man giving his particular orders—in 1914, the Kaiser, and in 1939, Hitler. If no nation can call singly on armed forces we shall have gone a long way to abolishing war altogether, which is what we all desire.
The conference having failed to achieve what we think is the only solution, what, in the meantime, is to happen? If we are to have a free united Germany is it right to arm the West? I answer that with another question. If it is not right to arm the West, is it right that the East should be armed? We know the East is already armed. Why should not the West Germans be admitted straightaway into the fellowship, as I call it, of the free nations? She has a freely elected Parliament and a freely chosen government. What is more, the West Germans are running at least the same, if not greater 452 risks from Communist aggression than either ourselves or France. If Russia would allow East Germany to have her own forces, why should it be wrong for the West Germans to have their own forces to defend their freedom?
No one except the Russians has proposed a distinct national German army with no obligations to the Western countries. The only suggestion has been that such a force, once having been set up, should be part of the European Defence Community. The position there is exactly the same for the Germans as for ourselves and the other nations of Europe; if it is right in principle for those nations it is right in principle for West Germany. The doubt arises only because of the Germans themselves—their past history, their acts, their betrayals and the suffering which they have caused.
The nation which has the most to fear at present is France. She has already suffered three times from German aggression and is afraid that there may be a fourth betrayal. I am delighted to know that, following further discussions between M. Bidault and the Foreign Secretary, still further talks are to be held in Paris. I do not know why, so far, we have not come completely in with the other nations; why we have said, "We will stand aside. We will be with you but not of you. We will have armed forces in Europe certainly as long as America and will stand by you." It has always to be remembered that on both occasions, when the threat came to France, we stood by her until she was free once more, but I am prepared now to go further.
In the past, we have said that because we are under so many obligations to the Commonwealth and the Empire. We must retain our liberty of action to aid them at the quickest possible moment. But is that right today? If we have to go to the assistance of any one of them it will because it is threatened by an aggressor. It is inconceivable that the countries of the Commonwealth or the Empire—or any one of them—would themselves start an aggressive war. If, therefore, they were to be the subject of an aggressive attack, not only ourselves but all the free nations would be called upon to go to their assistant. The whole of the forces of freedom would be called upon and liable to go to the assistance of any one who was attacked.
453 If that is the true position—and I think that it is—is there any reason why we should not now go further than we have? If we are calling upon the countries of Europe to join together and assume certain obligations, is there any reason why we ourselves should not assume those selfsame obligations? A threat to them is a threat to us. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South was quite right. A fortiori, if today there is an attack upon France it is an attack upon us; if it is an attack upon little Belgium or Holland it is an attack upon us. It is an attack upon freedom everywhere. If we are asking them to undertake certain obligations, why cannot we undertake the same obligations?
I would ask the Foreign Secretary to give serious consideration to that. Why cannot we ask France, which has suffered so badly, "What is the minimum you require to feel safe so that you can join in the European defence plan? Tell us your minimum?" If, by that, we can satisfy her, all well and good. I would like to see it. I agree with the noble Lady the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South that the time for decision is here. We should do our utmost to help the other countries of Europe to arrive at a position in which we can all stand together. None can stand alone.
I want to end, as I began, on this note. The mere fact that there has been frustration and disappointment should not prevent us trying again. We have seen the advantage in the Foreign Secretary and his colleagues saying, "Do not bother about an agenda. We accept your agenda." Cannot the Prime Minister, following his great speech of 11th May, say, "Cannot we come together, the heads of the United States and the Soviet Union, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain—speaking not only on behalf of Great Britain, but of the Commonwealth—to see whether we cannot put on one side all the discussions and disagreements of the past—forget Berlin and Yalta and the rest—and try to bring about what we all desire?"
If political efforts fail there is still something else which I would endeavour to push forward. If we cannot achieve our objects through the Governments, politically, let us try to do so through trade. Let the people get in touch with each other. If it is possible, let us 454 encourage our own people to trade more than they have done with the countries behind the Iron Curtain. I know that there are difficulties.
I congratulate the Foreign Secretary for one of the last things he did before he left Berlin, when he asked for the removal of the barriers which separated the East from the West and prevented trade from passing. I ask him and his colleagues in the Government to encourage our people to continue trading through, under, or over the Iron Curtain. It is astonishing how quickly an understanding can be reached when people trade with each other. Further efforts should be made to arrive at that understanding and that peace which all countries in the world desire.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
In his reply to an observation which I made in the course of his speech, the Foreign Secretary made a remark to the effect that, in some way or other, I had embarrassed him in Berlin. It is true that I was in Berlin during the great four-Power Conference, but, far from embarrassing the Foreign Secretary, I thought I gave him a great deal of moral support.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
May I say, just to get the record straight, that my right hon. Friend said that the hon. Member had not embarrassed him?
§ Mr. Hughes
I am very glad to know that. Now we know where we are. I thought that the remark of the Foreign Secretary was not quite so enthusiastic. I addressed a meeting organised by a group of peace societies in Berlin, during which I was asked to explain the British Constitution, and what I thought of free elections. I replied that I was enthusiastically in favour of the Eden Plan. I was a 150 per cent, supporter of it. Not only did I advocate this great idea of free elections and democracy in Eastern and Western Germany, but I wanted to extend it to British Guiana, Central Africa and South Africa.
I hope that the great fight for free elections which has been put up by the Foreign Secretary will not embarrass him if ever he applies for a visa to South Africa. Dr. Malan might ask. "Is this 455 the statesman who has been advocating free elections? Is he the one who wants every black man and Indian in South Africa to have a vote? He must be a Communist. He has become contaminated through having been associated with Mr. Molotov."
I deny that I said anything derogatory or anti-British at this meeting. When I was asked a question about the Prime Minister, I said that nothing would make me say anything derogatory about the Prime Minister in a foreign capital. But when we came to examine the question of what free elections meant I pointed out that when the Foreign Secretary talked about our British free elections he was not describing exactly the same thing as operated when Dr. Adenauer came into power in Western Germany. The mechanics of the polling booths were immaculate. It was possible to vote without a policeman standing at the door and without interference from the authorities.
I do not see why I should be called upon to defend the electoral system which prevails in the Soviet Union. I am a democrat. I believe in free elections in a free democracy, and I want nothing to do with the system which prevails in the Soviet Union, but when we talk about free elections we must think not only of the mechanism which operates on the day of the poll. We must look at the background.
For three weeks I studied the elections in Western Germany as a journalist. I travelled from Frankfurt to Munich, and back to Nuremberg. I went on to the Ruhr and the Rhine, and I gained a fairly accurate idea of what was going on. It is no use the Foreign Secretary saying that the German Socialists were satisfied with these elections. They knew that all the power and wealth of international capitalism was behind Dr. Adenauer and was doing everything it could to bring him into power.
If we are to have free elections we must have some kind of equality between the political parties. The overwhelming majority of the Press was against the Social Democrats, who were vilified and libelled as spokesmen of Moscow. The Social Democrats are strongly anti-Moscow, but that did not prevent their being vilified in every poster and newspaper. I remember one large, vivid 456 poster, showing a great red monster and indicating that every vote for the Social Democrats led to the Kremlin.
It was the "Zinoviev Letter" on a huge scale. The result was that the Social Democrats were overwhelmingly defeated. Not only all the power and wealth of vested interests but the international pressure of America were on the side of Dr. Adenauer. Only two or three days before the poll a message from Mr. Foster Dulles was flagrantly spread all over Germany, saying that if Dr. Adenauer were defeated and the Social Democrats were returned it would mean the end of aid from America.
I remember sitting in the park in Dusseldorf when a number of people came along distributing literature. It was not ordinary election literature. It consisted of expensively printed and elaborate magazines, which were given to everybody, for the simple reason that there was no limitation on election expenses. All the power of publicity was on the side of Dr. Adenauer. We must take these so-called free elections into account in considering what we mean by real democracy. We have to judge these issues not merely by the apparatus of democracy. We have to ask ourselves whether this is the way which leads to economic justice and international peace.
What has followed as a result of the Adenauer victory? What do the Russians fear? I do not share the Russian point of view at all, but the Russians ask themselves the question which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) argued in his speech this afternoon. I had a great deal of sympathy with the right hon. Gentleman because it was obvious that he was walking on a tightrope rather than making a speech, and certain allowances have to made for him. But the right hon. Gentleman spoke about guided missiles and the danger of being bombed. What are the fears in the minds of the Russians? The Russians look at it this way: if there were free elections on the Adenauer lines there might be a big sweep over to Dr. Adenauer's party—that is very likely— and Eastern Germany would then be incorporated in the new Germany.
What would happen then? The Russians argue that the immediate result would be to establish half-a-dozen more 457 American bases, this time in East Germany. That is exactly the fear which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South expressed. He spoke of the danger of this country being bombed by missiles from bases in Germany, but I want him to remember this: it could not happen if there were a neutral Germany, because in the Russian plan all bases are to be evacuated and all foreign armies are to be withdrawn.
If the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South is thinking of the defence of the ordinary civil population of this country, he should look at the proposal for a neutral Germany a little more closely. I am in favour of a neutral Germany. I have had the opportunity during the last eight or nine years to spend a considerable time in Berlin. I have been there not as a member of any political delegation; I have been to Berlin to live with ordinary German citizens. I co-operate with people who are almost Quakers and who represent the Society of Friends in Berlin, and I understand perfectly well the point of view of refugees from Eastern Germany. Further, I know very well people who run missions for refugees in Berlin. I know people whose relatives are in concentration camps. Indeed, I know all the black side of the regime in East Germany.
But I want to ask this question: what about the people in Berlin themselves? I stood on the pavement in Berlin and watched the different Foreign Ministers go past. One car came whizzing past in one direction, and the people said, "That was Eden." Another car came in the other direction, and they said, "That was Molotov." I stood on the pavement and basked in the reflected glory of the Foreign Secretary.
But the man of whom I thought and from whom I bought my newspapers regularly every day was a man who sat in an invalid chair and who had lost two legs in the Russian war. He was not against neutrality; he was in favour of neutrality. There is a big public opinion in Germany, perhaps not yet expressed, which is definitely in favour of neutrality and which is saying, "Never again will we stand for Germany going to war, either against Russia or against the West."
It has been said that if we have a neutralised Germany we have a vacuum. 458 But Sweden is a foreign country. It is a country which has a large army, but it is pledged to neutrality and it has the highest standard of living in Europe because it has had this policy of neutrality and has kept out of the insane wars of Europe for the last 150 years. The Swedes have big armaments but they keep out of war. Switzerland is neutral and Ireland is neutral. People say that Ireland does not matter, but, of course, Ireland had the sense to keep out of the last war and she is safer today, as a result of the policy of neutrality, than we are, with all our armaments and all our preparations for war in the atomic age.
When people say we must not leave a vacuum, they mean by a vacuum a country which is not insane enough to spend a huge proportion of its wealth on atom weapons which will, in fact, make the country less safe; for the less safe it becomes the more it possesses the dangerous atomic weapons of the next war. When I hear talk of neutrality being a vacuum and when we have that glib phrase repeated over and over again, I think the vacuum is in the minds of those people who have not looked more closely at the situation.
When I was in Berlin I was asked, what about armaments from Britain? For three years we have been hearing in the House that we must build up huge armaments in order to negotiate with the Russians from strength. I have here an extract from the speech of a Minister who defended the Estimates a few years ago. His argument was, "Build up our armaments, our armies, our navies and our air forces, and in 1954 we shall be able to argue with the Russians from strength." But Mr. Molotov has been saying that, too, and by 1954 we do not seem to have made much impression upon him.
In the newspapers in Berlin Mr. Molotov's proposal was described as "Back to Potsdam." That is after three years of our enormous expenditure on armaments. If, after three years of rearmament, the slogan is, "Back to Potsdam," in another five years of rearmament the slogan will possibly be "Back to Versailles." We have moved no further towards a solution of this problem of Europe as a result of all our expenditure on armaments. The Prime Minister has very eloquently told the House that, with all the piling up of weapons, we are less 459 safe and less secure today then we were before we started the rearmament programme.
I am not anti-German, I remember getting into a lot of trouble because I was regarded as pro-German. Moreover I believe that Germany is a great nation and I believe that the Germans have a great contribution to make to the civilisation of Europe and the world. But the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, who spoke about "Poor little Austria" and went on to say, "What lovely people the Austrians are," or something like that, should remember that Hitler was an Austrian. We are too inclined to dismiss Hitler as a phenomenon which passed out of the history of Europe and can never arise again.
In Berlin I saw a very disquieting film. It showed the background to how Hitler came, how he arose as a result of the economic problems of the time. The Prime Minister himself, in his history, has stressed that fact. What is the position today? One was struck with the complete absence from the rather superficial survey of the Foreign Secretary of willingness to face the economic problems of Europe. He did not deal today, nor did he deal in Berlin, with the fundamental economic problems which are arising as a result of the recovery of Europe.
I had the opportunity that I do not think any other hon. Member has had of a peep behind the Iron Curtain, of visiting Eastern Germany. It has been suggested that I had some association with Mr. Molotov. All I can say about that is that it took me years to get a visa to enter Eastern Germany, and I succeeded in getting a visa to enter Eastern Germany only after waiting a long time and, finally, saying, "If you do not give me a visa I shall claim the Stalin prize for patience." To my surprise they let me have a visa, and I had the opportunity of seeing East Germany.
We tend to look at East Germany through the spectacles of the Western Press in Berlin. We have to find the realities behind the caricature. I had the opportunity of going to Dresden, for example, and to Leipzig, and to other ancient cities of Europe which we have almost forgotten exist. I saw Eastern Germany. I had a good look at it. When they discovered that I was not an agent 460 of the British War Office and not an American spy, they let me go nearly everywhere I asked to go.
I believe that the people of East Germany are longing for the day when they will be united with the rest of Germany again. I believe that the Russians are unpopular in East Germany. Of course, conquerors are always unpopular. I criticise as much as any hon. Member of the House the harshness of the Russian regime. However, the remarkable signs of recovery that one sees in Western Germany one also sees in Eastern Germany. We ought to work for the day when Western Germany and Eastern Germany are reunited and the occupying forces go out.
People as anxious to go out of Germany as anyone else are the Russian soldiers. I spoke to two Russian soldiers who came from Siberia, and, strangely enough, they thought that Siberia was a better country than Germany. I do not think that the Russians want to remain in Germany just for the fun of the thing. The reason they are in Germany is that they fear the West. That is not absolutely astonishing when one reads the sort of preamble (here was to the Berlin Conference. One read that two atom bomb squadrons were sent with new weapons into Western Germany. That was not exactly the best sort of hopeful preamble to a conference that it was hoped would be a success.
We have to take all this into consideration when we talk about arming Germany. They are definitely afraid of the resurgence of a Hitler regime, and we should not lightly ignore that. We say there will be only a small token force under the auspices of N.A.T.O., playing a minor part in E.D.C. I do not believe that. If the Germans come into E.D.C. and N.A.T.O. they will, in five years, dominate the whole show. Why, the militarists are in evidence there already. They have been standing as parliamentary candidates. Kesselring is one of the leaders of the new regime. If we give the German military machine the opportunity to develop it will equip itself with the most modern weapons. There will follow the political effects, and we shall soon have the Gestapo again, and the same old infernal machinery.
In the interests of the German people themselves, I am against any programme 461 likely to lead to German rearmament. We are at the cross-roads. If great military forces are built up in Germany, if Germany goes the way of militarism, we shall inevitably have all the after effects, the suppression of the Communists first, and then the suppression of the Social Democrats, and the way will be open to the whole system of Nazi tyranny once again. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South is taking this too lightly.
I can see that the wonderful energy, the wonderful resources, the wonderful technical skill of the Germans could be used for the good of Europe as a whole if we substituted for E.D.C. a five-year plan for the revival of European industry in which Germany and the U.S.S.R. and all the other countries could take their part.
The people in Berlin want to see the Russians out, but what they do not want to see in Germany is another Korea, and there are prospects that, if we have this powerful military force built up again, it will want to alter the Oder-Neisse line, and then, inevitably, history will repeat itself. I can see the possibility of the Germans playing a part in building up a useful peace economy for the whole of Europe. My right hon. Friend spoke about Dresden. I happen to be, perhaps, the only Member of the House who has been in Dresden since the war.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am very glad that my hon. Friend will be able to corroborate what I am going to say.
Dresden was bombed in February, 1945. In two days and nights we razed one of the most beautiful and famous cities in southern Europe to the ground. I saw the people there painfully taking away the rubble and building up, slowly and hopefully, the ruins of that old city.
§ Mr. Hughes
There were women working, too. I do not see why a woman should not make a useful contribution to building up peace again.
If there is militarism in Germany, if there are the German forces, there will be no free election on the part of German youth to vote whether or not they will go into the army. They will be taken 462 into the army, and taken away from working on bombed sites, from the work of reconstruction, and they will be engaged once more in military enterprise.
§ Mr. Hughes
That is an interpretation of the old words, "If you do not labour, neither shall you eat." [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] They were bringing them up to date. The German people should not rearm. Their genius and constructive enterprise should be devoted to building up their towns If the Foreign Secretary saw Berlin during his stay there, he must have seen enough to make him realise that Berlin does not need a militarised population to build itself again.
There is a mass of hopeful people throughout the world longing for statesmen to evolve a new foreign policy, and we did not get it at Berlin. We got constitutional negation. I do not think that the Socialists of this country will be satisfied if we are to line up behind the Foreign Secretary in this superficial attitude of negation. The people of Britain and of Europe want a bold, constructive, urgent step towards peace. They want it expressed in terms of foreign policy. So —I am speaking for myself and I represent my constituents, because I fought this issue at the last Election—I am against German rearmament.
If necessary, I am prepared to vote against my party on this issue. I am prepared to speak in the country against it, because I know that, although the National Executive of the Labour Party may pass its resolution, it will not be able to damp down the discontent and the tremendous feeling of frustration that 463 will come if the Loader of the Labour Party allows our great party to line up behind German rearmament and Tory rearmament.
§ 6.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The speech of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), which we have just heard, was directed chiefly to the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), and it would be impertinence on my part to seek to reply for him. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire said that he did not share the Russian point of view. He then proceeded to support some of the attacks on the system of free elections as we know them in West Germany and as we know them in this country, which were precisely those that Mr. Molotov used at the Berlin Conference.
Mr. Molotov's objections to the Eden Plan were that there were no "preventative measures "—as the words are translated—in any of the five stages of the Foreign Secretary's plan for free elections. That appears in the White Paper, which the hon. Gentleman has no doubt read. "Preventative measures "are not particularised in any way, but presumably Mr. Molotov meant much what the hon. Gentleman meant—that there was no way in the Foreign Secretary's plan of preventing people from being elected who other people did not want elected.
He went on to say that there could be no free elections if the bulk of the Press was against any particular party, and no free elections if members of foreign Governments advised those who were going to elect how they should elect. As to the latter point, he used the famous example of Mr. Foster Dulles and his advice two days before the elections in Western Germany. He forgets that the same sort of advice was given to the Italians by the American Ambassador in Italy, with precisely the opposite result. It is unwise for him to pay too much attention to advice given from abroad, because more often than not it has exactly the opposite effect to that intended.
It is the same with the Press. Is the hon. Member going to say that there can be no free elections in this country unless the Press are equally balanced on each side? If that is so, there have never yet 464 been free elections in this country, and he, presumably, is not freely elected.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I tried to point out the background on which these free elections were formed. The power and wealth were enormously on one side.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
That may well be, but surely the hon. Member will admit—he probably boasts of the fact that power and wealth have been on one side in this country when his party has been fighting—that in 1945 his party won the Election hand over fist. It is absurd to say that elections cannot be free because there are discrepances in the economic system. If that is his objection to the Eden Plan, then it is a very feeble string at which to grasp.
Until the hon. Member spoke there had been complete unanimity in this Chamber today, and, therefore, there is very little for hon. Members on this side to say as yet. One does not merely wish to repeat the arguments already used.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Although some hon. Members opposite disagree with the line that the majority of their party take, I think we should today examine the situation in another country which is divided, although I do not think as evenly as the party opposite, but nevertheless divided, and that, of course, is France. If the Foreign Secretary of France with all his experience of the Germans, German rearmament and what militarism can do, can take the commonsense and progressive line that he took at this conference with such bravery and courage, it seems to me that some hon. Members opposite are more French than the French when they seek to deny what he said.
I suggest that the statement that M. Bidault made on page 44 of the White Paper is really the key to the whole affair. He said this:Does not the Soviet Delegation realise that restrictions imposed from outside on a great country such as Germany must necessarily be ephemeral? That is the insoluble problem of coercive control to which I have already alluded. The same is true of diplomatic restriction as of military restrictions or of armament limitation.That was not Mr. John Foster Dulles, but M. Bidault. M. Bidault knows all about this because his country tried to 465 do exactly what he is now saying is impossible, after the First World War. Is there any hon. Member who denies the truth of what M. Bidault said? If there is no alternative to this, much as we dislike it, it is beating our wings and burying our heads to deny the necessary consequences of M. Bidault's diagnosis.
Another observation by him which I suggest is true is that, commenting on Mr. Molotov's attempt to woo France by saying that Europe should be for the Europeans, M. Bidault said:Every attempt to isolate Europe is for the purpose of dominating Europe.We have discovered that in our own history. It was a predecessor of my right hon. Friend who called in the New World to redress the balance of the Old, and it is true that every time some European power seeks to exclude non-European powers from the business of Europe it is for the purpose not of doing Europe a good turn but of dominating Europe.
It is a wonderful thing for the Foreign Secretary of France, with all France behind him at the moment, to give this strong lead at this time. In that connection, so far as France is concerned, I join in the plea of the Leader of the Liberal Party that now is the time to give France the maximum assurance that we can, in all conscience, give. I was always one who thought that we ought to have gone a little bit further earlier. Now we really have a chance. The timing is perfect. If we can do that for France now, then France will no longer feel that she is being told to do something that we are not prepared to do. I know that there is a logical case to make out against that, but if we can go so far along that line as possible, I think that the good work that the Foreign Secretary did in Berlin will be carried through to completion and fruition.
We must try to prevent the argument that may be used that because there is to be another conference at Geneva in April that is a reason for further delay. After all, the connection between overseas France and the troubles of overseas France in Indo-China can have no logical connection with this problem in Europe.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that there is no connection between the fact that a very large proportion of the 466 French Army is tied down in Indo-China and the fact that the French are feeling extremely apprehensive about the possibility of German rearmament in the West?
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
When France entered into the Paris and Bonn Agreements, she knew what her imperial commitments, whether "cold" or "hot," were likely to be. There has been no change in the situation since then. She knew that she had overseas France to consider, and in that consideration she took that into account. The fact that there is still, unfortunately, fighting in Indo-China can have no logical connection with the constitution of the European Defence Community. Although one can understand France making this excuse, it is not a logical excuse and I hope she will not be misunderstood in it.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I am not giving way further on that. The hon. Member is keen on interrupting, but the time comes when one must draw the line.
Apart from our own assurances to France in our association with the European Defence Community, one other matter is the question of the Saar. It is in the news that almost immediately after the termination of the Berlin Conference, France and Germany are to reopen talks on this prickly point of difference. I do not know whether my hon. Friend who is to wind up the debate this evening can give us any news. If this obstacle can be removed—I am sure it is really only a minor obstacle—it seems to me that the two real reasons for delay have at last gone.
We have had recently the figures about Russian and Russian satellite strength. I shall repeat these figures, because when one contrasts them with the state of defence of the West, even in its rearmed state today, the discrepancy is appalling. Since 1951, the armed forces of the Soviet Union have increased to nearly five million and those of the East European satellites to nearly two million. The Red Navy is increasing its strength by leaps and bounds. There are now something like 20,000 aircraft, and the Soviet tanks number something like 50,000. I do not believe that even with the addition of the 467 German contribution to E.D.C. we shall have anything like parity with these enormous figures; and I ask hon. Members opposite, who, I am sure, wish to see this country and the free world protected, to think twice before they advocate a line of policy by which that disparity will be increased, because that must be the case if there is to be no German contribution.
Not only will our disparity be reduced by the West German contribution, but, otherwise, there will be in Western Germany a potential which, as has been said before—I make no apology for the argument—will be used against the interests of the other countries of the free world because all that potential would be available to be used to compete, particularly in the metal-using industries, in common export markets. That is an argument which some hon. Members regard as very unworthy in a high-minded debate of this sort, but it is one which affects all our lives deeply and I make no excuse for stating it.
Of course, the Eastern Germans are rearmed already to a large extent; 100,000 of them, and perhaps more, are at present living in barracks. But if the West Germans are not to be allowed to rearm, there is there undoubtedly a vacuum. The hon. Member for South Ayrshire deplores the use of the word "vacuum," but that does not make it less of a fact. I suggest to him that to impose a permanent neutralisation upon the West Germans is quite a different matter from the experiences of Sweden and Switzerland.
Many people would like to be neutral; many people can be neutral, but apart from the differences in size, history, shape, wealth and everything else, there is the great difference that Sweden and Switzerland have chosen to be neutral whereas the Opposition policy—the policy advocated by the hon. Member for South Ayrshire and, certainly, by some of his hon. Friends—is that neutralisation should not be chosen, but should be imposed; that the West Germans should not be allowed to choose to be neutral. That is a totally different matter and one which no great Power would ever tolerate. M. Bidault has recognised that and has said so, and the hon. Member so far has given no argument to contradict what M. Bidault has said.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
I echo the appeal of the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) that every possible consideration should be given to French fears and that we should go as far as we can to this end. I am one of those who think that we have been dashing down to Folkestone, dipping our toes in the water, and scurrying back to London for far too long. I have a good deal of sympathy with France. In the First World War, France carried a burden out of all proportion to her strength, and it is this from which she suffers today. I therefore want to be patient with France, and to deprecate the suggestion that was made earlier from the benches opposite that she should be "pressurised." The purposes of Western defence need French ports and French air bases, but we cannot get them at the point of a gun. They can only come on a basis of consent and good will.
I readily understand the apprehension that all feel about the contemplated measure of German rearmament. My first experience of German military prowess was acquired at a very early age and in conditions of considerable hazard and acute discomfort. And, of course, there has been the recent second experience, in which I was busy one night in Birmingham shovelling incendiary bombs about while 500 people in another part of the city were being killed. That experience I share with many in the House—I am not unique; but I make the point that nobody comes to the stage of supporting a measure of German rearmament without very grave misgivings and a full understanding of German military potentialities.
There are, however, two aspects which seem to me to be of paramount importance. I do not think there can be any reality to Western defence without a German contribution. It is not a very substantial contribution that is suggested. Lisbon proposed 50 divisions, of which the Germans were to find 12. That is what we are being asked to support. Fifty divisions might be adequate to a defence of the Rhine—they might be; they would certainly be ludicrous in terms of an invasion of Russia. Nobody knows this better than Zhukov and the Soviet generals.
469 The question is whether the West needs to defend itself. Sometimes the suggestion is made that the Russians present no menace; but that is not what the record says. On the record there is, first, the Berlin lockout, when an attempt was made to starve two million people. Then there was the ex-communication of Tito, because he was a nonconformist. I am a bit of a nonconformist myself. Then there was the rape of Czechoslovakia. and, last of all, there was Korea.
Everybody knows what Korea was. Korea was designed to achieve two Russian ambitions: one, an old Czarist ambition to dominate the Korean Straits, and the other, a new Bolshevik ambition to dominate Tokyo from Korean airfields. I suggest that there is ample evidence that it is very important that we should take such steps as are necessary to safeguard our position.
I distrust the Russians and I make no bones about it. I distrust all totalitarians. The world has suffered far too much from totalitarians. They are, by their very nature, predatory, aggressive and expansionist. Whether they call themselves Fascists or Communists seems to me to make no difference at all. Therefore, having had experiences over many years with totalitarianism, I am not prepared to see the expansion of this pernicious doctrine. I support a measure of German rearmament for the purpose of the Germans playing their proper part in the defence of the West.
There is also the question of what is to happen to the 70 million virile, vigorous and gifted people who live in Western Germany. If anybody thinks that they will remain in the heart of Europe unarmed, that person wants his head examined. Nobody is going to wage a preventive war to stop them rearming. The moral conscience of the world would not permit it.
What pleases me most about this debate is that it puts an end to my fear that there might be a repetition of that palsy that affected this country from 1933 to 1939. We sat here like petrified rabbits. Every- body who opened his mouth with a view to putting a brake on German rearmament and an end to what had become Hitler's obvious ambition was told, "Be quiet, do not irritate the monster. If you irritate him you will precipitate that which we are trying to avoid." That was the 470 governing philosophy in this country during those discreditable, disgraceful years which I have been trying to forget ever since.
§ Mr. Evans
I make no distinction between these totalitarians. It is very convenient to pretend that there is some sort of difference between Communism and Fascism, but in the actions, in the tactics and in the aims they pursue they are both precisely the same—predatory, aggressive and expansionist.
There is something else which I regard as being the most important consideration of all in what I agree to be a very serious and worrying problem. It is not a matter only of divisions, battalions, jet planes and atom bombs. It is a struggle of ideas. What I find the hardest to forgive the Kremlin for is that wherever they go they create a moral and intellectual desert. In that respect they are no different from the Nazis, who preceded them. I want to know whether social democracy believes in itself or not, and is a philosophy worth defending; or is it that the Russians have a philosophy which would, in the last resort, be better for mankind than social democracy?
On the economic plane it does not seem to me that they have a lot to show us, because after 37 years of Communism, Russia is still the poorest country in Europe. It is they who want to buy 50 million lbs. of butter from America and not vice versa.
But it is on the political level that there is this fundamental difference between the two systems, and it is to preserve this that I am prepared to agree to a measure of German rearmament. When my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition walked out of No. 10, Downing Street, it was not to the gallows. It was to the honoured, honourable and dignified position of Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. Not so with Mr. Beria, not so with Mr. Slansky in Czechoslovakia, not so with Mr. Rajk in Hungary, not so with Mr. Kostov in Bulgaria, and Mr. Bukharin before them. Here is the fundamental difference between the two systems, the right to oppose, the right to get up in Hyde Park or at the street corner and criticise everyone from the Prime Minister downwards.
471 This is social democracy, and it is this that the Communists destroy first wherever they go. They would do it in Western Germany if a vacuum were left, and if Western Germany went France would not last five minues. What is at stake here is civil liberty, toleration and the rights of the individual. Let us make no mistake about it, that is the issue at stake and that is the only justification that we can have for our own rearmament and for a measure of rearmament in Western Germany.
It was on this matter of the conflicting philosophies that I wanted to speak, but let me say this. I do not want to hurt a hair on the head of a Russian. I will never support action designed to launch an attack on Russia, but the rest of Europe must be allowed to live its own life, too. I know why the Russians do not want free elections. I was in Hungary just after the elections there, when there were 400,000 Russian soldiers in the country. The Social Democrats scored an overwhelming victory, and so they would tomorrow in Hungary, in Czechoslovakia and in other countries dominated by the Red Army. That is why the Russians will not get out of Austria.
Social democracy would score an overwhelming success in Eastern Germany if free elections were held tomorrow? Why? Because the people are sick to death of the tyranny of totalitarianism. Having had a bellyfull of Hitlerism, they want to see the back of these people.
§ Mr. Warbey
My hon. Friend says that social democracy would score a victory in Eastern Germany. Does he mean the German Social Democratic Party or the party of Dr. Adenauer, or does social democracy, in his view, include both?
§ Mr. S. Silverman
When my hon. Friend talks about social democracy, does he merely mean democracy in social matters or in the restricted technical sense, which we have always understood up to now—a Socialist Party based upon democratic principles?
§ Mr. Evans
Of course not; it cannot be confined to that. I do not know 472 whether my hon. Friend is getting a bit stupid in his old age. I mean political democracy. While I am not prepared to subscribe to a war of liberation, as it were, I do not think we should agree, as we were asked to agree at Berlin, to the canonisation or the crucifixion of social or political democracy in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, because that was what was being asked for, plus an open door for an advance of the same kind of philosophy and tactics in Western Germany. We are not going to have it.
§ Mr. Evans
I have just said that I am not.
I repeat, I am not in favour of a war of liberation. Peace will be the end product of a long period of patient diplomacy and military preparedness. The "Abominable No Man" will not live for ever. I am hoping that we shall get from this new and rising generation of Russians a new look.
Meanwhile, social democracy, political democracy, must hold on to what it has. We have here in Western Europe practically all that is left of Athens and Rome. During the last 400 years we have created in Western Europe a civilisation based on Christianity which can provide the foundation for a better, more peaceful world than mankind has hitherto known. For myself, I am prepared to pay the full price for the preservation of those foundations.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I do not think that anybody on this side of the House, and few on the other side, will have anything but the greatest admiration for the way in which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) has put his arguments; and certainly we on these benches fully agree with everything he said. I have never heard a more accurate dissection of Communist technique and Communist ideals.
We also heard a full account earlier this afternoon from my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary of the course of events in Berlin, followed by the speech of the right hon. Member for Lewishairu South (Mr. H. Morrison). There again. 473 I do not think the right hon. Gentleman said anything with which we on these benches disagreed, though whether it was entirely palatable to all his colleagues is another matter.
It is wrong to regard the Berlin Conference as a failure. First, the Foreign Ministers of the three Western Powers showed great solidarity. That is the first credit. Second, they succeeded in getting agreement to hold a conference in April at Geneva to deal with the Far East. It is too early yet to guess what will happen about that, but it was certainly a move in the right direction. Third, Berlin at least cleared the air, which I believe is a good thing in itself.
My right hon. Friend and his two colleagues, Mr. Dulles and M. Bidault, took the temperature of the Soviet Union to see whether or not the thermometer registered the same as or lower than when Marshal Stalin was still alive. The result was that the thermometer read exactly the same.
I have always been a little doubtful about whether the Soviet Union really wishes to reduce world tension. I have a horrible feeling at the back of my mind that the maintenance of world tension represents the bricks and mortar of the police State. The entire structure of the police State, indeed of any Communist State, depends upon telling everybody inside the territory that everybody outside is their enemy.
Once world tension is reduced they would have to admit that the threat is less than they said it was, or that it does not exist at all. Once that is admitted, there is no valid excuse for preventing their own nationals from going outside the Iron Curtain and preventing people from outside the Iron Curtain coming in to look around. With this kind of two-way traffic, which we would like, the entire structure of the police State begins to crumble.
Of course, the Soviet plan for Germany was quite unacceptable. As my right hon. Friend said, it would leave free Europe just as defenceless as it was before N.A.T.O. came into existence. Indeed, were we to accept the Soviet plan, we should go back to the very conditions which created the necessity for N.A.T.O. originally. And, of course, the Soviet Government would not agree to free 474 elections because, as the hon. Member for Wednesbury said, there has never been a Communist Government returned on a free vote anywhere. But surely, most significant of all, the supreme test, was the refusal of Mr. Molotov to agree to an Austrian treaty. I think all our sympathies, indeed our admiration, go out to the Austrians for the way in which they have borne the occupation with courage, fortitude and with much patience.
There were the five unagreed clauses which, during the 260 or so meetings held over the past years, have held up the treaty. Those clauses were handed to the Soviet Union on a plate. It was as though the fence which the horse would not jump originally was lowered until it was taken away altogether, and the horse was asked to run through the wings. Still Mr. Molotov would not move. He would not agree and, being completely cornered, he introduced all kinds of other conditions which, by their very nature, were completely unacceptable. So it is quite clear, from the Russian attitude towards both Germany and Austria, that there is "nothing doing" in the West. We are exactly where we were before, but we have cleared the air and that is one very good result of the Berlin Conference.
Next I wish to say a word about E.D.C. As has been said already, the object of the Soviet Union for many months, indeed years, has been to wreck E.D.C. or postpone it as long as possible. I could not help agreeing with the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) when she said that the delay in ratifying E.D.C. and corning to a decision is becoming rather serious. It is very serious indeed. The delay is bad for N.A.T.O. It is bad for the Federal Republic. It is very bad psychologically for the French. The uncertainty is contagious. It irritates the Americans, and incidentally it is exactly the sort of game that the Russians like to play in the war of nerves.
The only possible fly in the ointment about the forthcoming conference at Geneva is that it may well be one more excuse for putting off the evil day when the French have to take a decision one way or the other about E.D.C. It is rather like climbing a mountain. When one thinks that one has got to the top 475 there is always another peak a little higher up that one has to surmount.
We all understand French susceptibilities. If we had been invaded in 1870, in 1914 and in 1939 we should not take a very favourable view of the Germans. Two world wars leave great scars, but the scars must not be left to suppurate indefinitely. Of course we understand French susceptibilities. They would be less than human if they did not have certain fears about German rearmament. Incidentally, I sometimes wonder whether we really appreciate the immense effort which the French have put into the war in Indo-China and the tremendous casualties they have suffered, which have borne particularly heavily on their regular officers and N.C.O.s. The total casualties suffered by the French expeditionary force in Indo-China have been about 32,000 killed and missing and another 30,000 wounded.
But, having said that, I think that the French, and also certain hon. Gentlemen opposite, really must face the practical issues about Western German rearmament and the practical alternatives. You cannot go on doing nothing about Germany. The real question is not whether Germany is to be rearmed, because Eastern Germany is already armed. That is often conveniently forgotten by the antagonists of Western German rearmament.
Broadly speaking, there are three courses of action open—three possible choices—with regard to Germany. We can have a neutral Germany as a kind of recumbent animal between the Iron Curtain and the West, over whose virile body everybody squabbles and scrambles. That, I believe, is the most dangerous and the worst of all possible solutions. We should get the worst of all possible worlds in that idea of a neutral Germany.
Secondly, we can have a Western Germany unarmed while Eastern Germany remains armed, but that means throwing an extra burden upon the N.A.T.O. forces—an extra burden in men, matériel and money because, for strategic reasons, whether we like it or not, we have to defend Europe as far east as possible.
The third solution is a Western German contribution inside E.D.C., in its turn inside N.A.T.O. Of course, I would not 476 pretend, nobody would, that that solution is foolproof. It is not. But it contains as many safeguards as human ingenuity can devise, and I believe that it is the most likely solution to heal the suppurating scars which have bedevilled Europe for the last 50 years or more.
The forthcoming Geneva Conference will certainly show two things. First, it will show to what extent China and the Soviet Union are running in double harness. That will at least enlighten us a great deal. Second, it will show, and this will be equally enlightening, to what extent the United States can control President Syngman Rhee. That may be very interesting as well.
If we look back into the long history of Russia throughout the ages, under the Czars and since, and if we study the theory and practice, in more recent years, of Communism from the days of Karl Marx to Lenin, Stalin and Malenkov, what do we expect the strategy to be in the circumstances of today? I think we should expect Soviet strategy to be a holding operation in Europe while they make full use of the many opportunities offered to them in the Far East.
Communists, wherever they may be, are still dominated by the theory that what they call the capitalist system, but what we call the free world, must sooner or later collapse. That is a matter of doctrine from which they will not depart. Happily, there is no sign of the free world collapsing. But if the Soviet Union, either directly or through her satellites, were to deny to the free world the rice and the rubber of the Far East and the oil of the Middle East, and, in the process, to create chaos in those areas, not only would the economy of the free world look considerably less strong than it does now, but the whole of our strategic plan for defence would be immeasurably shaken.
We ought to ask ourselves, what are the lessons of Berlin? The first lesson is that there is no new look about Russian policy in Europe. We must, therefore, acclimatise ourselves to a continuation of the cold war. That being so, we must continue to strengthen N.A.T.O. as much as we can without at the same time putting an impossible economic burden on the N.A.T.O. countries themselves. That will not always be easy, but incidentally 477 it is an additional argument for having a Western German contribution.
Next, we should make a stupendous effort this year, in conjunction with the United States, to try to settle the rift between Israel and the Arab States. Without such a settlement, I do not believe that we can have a proper Middle East policy. Lastly, we should avoid, if possible, being outmanaeuvred by the Kremlin into dealing with Far Eastern matters in a piecemeal way. What happens in Korea has a direct bearing on Indo-China. What happens in Indo-China has a direct bearing on Indonesia, with repercussions in Siam and in Malaya and Burma. All the bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fit into a pattern. Above all, we must maintain the solidarity with our allies that was so magnificently shown in the Berlin Conference.
§ 7.29 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
I thought I detected in the remarks of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. MottRadclyffe), when he paid a tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), for his frank and courageous speech, a derogatory reference to the differences which exist in the Opposition on this subject which are patent for the whole world to see. Indeed, my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) referred to them in his opening remarks. I urge on hon. Gentlemen opposite the suggestion that it would not help them if they used those differences in a manner calculated to secure some electoral advantage.
The differences which exist spring from perfectly honest and sincere motives, though perhaps some may say that they are misguided. The fact remains that one way or another there is a reluctance in the Labour Party to enter into military preparations, even though the issue has become clear, as I think it has, and as I think the Foreign Secretary made perfectly plain in his speech today.
Many of us, of course, have read the voluminous White Paper, in part or in whole, but it is always useful to have, as it were, an eye-witness account of the minds behind the words of the leading exponents of these matters in Berlin. The Foreign Secretary was quite clear about where the real differences lie between 478 Mr. Molotov, representing the Russians, and the Western Powers. In my opinion, the differences are insuperable. I believe that we cannot resolve them any way at the present moment. So what are we forced to do? The conclusion arrived at by the majority of the Opposition is that, having accepted N.A.T.O., and having undertaken great burdens and sacrifices ourselves, we must go further.
Inevitably, this debate and the debate in the newspapers is turning largely on the question of the rearmament of Germany, the militarisation of Germany and so forth. That is only part of the problem, however, and I have no doubt that some of my hon. Friends will emphasise that part of it at very great length. It is quite easy to raise passions and emotions by talking about the German general staff, Nazi militarism, and so on, but it is interesting to note that Mr. Molotov, in the plan which he put before the conference, asked that all former members of the Germany army, including officers and generals and all ex-Nazis with the exception of those serving criminal sentences, shall be granted civil and political rights on an equal footing with all other German citizens.
I have long wondered why Mr. Molotov insists upon that. May it not be because Mr. Molotov and the Russians could do a deal with those people more easily than they could with any democratic Germany, whether a C.D.U. or S.P.D. Germany. My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury talked about the records. It is on the record that it was these people, the Nazis and the generals, who did a deal with Russia first of all after the First World War, when they evaded the provisions of the Versailles Treaty which prohibited Germany from having aircraft or a General Staff.
They went to Russia with the connivance of the Bolsheviks and secured their training there; and later, in 1939, they made their famous agreement with Ribbentrop which precipitated the Second World War. No wonder Mr. Molotov wants civil rights restored to all generals and ex-Nazis, in contrast to what was laid down at Nuremberg, when these people were excluded from all civil rights by virtue of the fact that they were Nazis.
More attention should be paid to the order of priority which the Foreign Secretary laid down in his proposals in Berlin. 479 The first subject in his order of precedence was preparation for a peace treaty. After all, we have secured unconditional surrender from Germany. We asked for and insisted upon it, and therefore the onus is on us. The first step in inviting any country to enter into the comity of nations is to make a peace treaty with that country. So the Foreign Secretary and his French and American colleagues insisted upon that coming first. In other words, they put the horse in front of the cart and not, as Mr. Molotov will have it, the cart before the horse.
It is no use speculating upon peace treaties or their provisions unless one has somebody with whom to negotiate a treaty, or at least unless, as we did at Versailles, one insists that somebody from the conquered nation shall sign it. Some of the things which Mr. Molotov has put in his peace treaty are such that no elected German Government would think of signing, for if they did they would be signing their death warrant.
I am sure that some hon. Members remember what happened after the German Government acquiesced in the dictated Peace Treaty of Versailles after the First World War. They were murdered. Hon. Members know what happened to some of those who signed the peace arrangements with Britain after the civil war in Ireland. Therefore, it is not the slightest use Mr. Molotov laying down in advance of the election of an all-German Government the terms of the peace treaty that that Government must sign.
It would be in the interests of all of us if this time we allowed Germany to negotiate in the same way as we allowed Austria to be present in Berlin to put her case. It is significant that Dr. Figl, in Berlin by invitation, accepted for his Government and his nation what the three Foreign Ministers offered to Mr. Molotov, that is a complete surrender on the five disputed articles. Dr. Figl is on record, and therefore the Austrian people cannot get away from those conditions after the Russians agree to the signing of such a treaty.
I do not think it necessary to waste much time on Mr. Molotov's proposals that the East-West Governments should form a provisional Government. Anybody who knows anything about 480 Germany knows that the West Government, with all its faults and imperfections, is a Government elected by the people, and that is democracy. We have the same system here. We do not always get the Government we want, or even the Government we deserve, nevertheless in our democratic system we accept that once the people have recorded their votes and returned a party with a majority that party is the Government of the day and is entitled to rule this nation. So long as that majority party rule it in the proper democratic forms Her Majesty's Opposition will never enter into any revolutionary tactics to throw out the Government.
What is Russia's position? Quite clearly and succinctly—it appears in the Foreign Secretary's report in the White Paper—Russia does not want any agreement with the West that will prejudice her present position. Let us be quite frank about it. However many conferences we attend we shall not be able to come to any negotiated terms with Russia. The conclusion to be drawn from that is that we must at least make ourselves strong enough for Russia not to be able to impose upon us the conditions that she has imposed on Eastern Germany and on all the satellites behind the Iron Curtain.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) talked, and I should not be at all surprised if others of my hon. Friends who catch Mr. Speaker's eye will talk, a great deal about neutrality. There is a great deal of confused thinking about neutrality. Switzerland and Sweden have been neutral for many years but both protect their neutrality with very considerable armed forces. If it were possible to get neutrality for Germany she would have to have sufficient armed forces to protect that neutrality against all comers.
It is quite obvious, whatever military force Germany could amass, she would not be able to protect her neutrality against the Russian forces in the East. They are too strong for her. Therefore, if we accept the possibility of Germany being neutral, we must bring Germany into a combination that will assist her in maintaining her neutrality if ever that neutrality is attacked.
There is not much difference between both sides of the House on the North 481 Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Even in my party there is complete agreement on the rightness and necessity of N.A.T.O. If that be so and if it is possible to bring Germany into that organisation, surely that ought to be a sufficient guarantee to any hon. Member on either side of the House that Germany will not be able to be an aggressor. If Germany is not an aggressor, what is wrong about her defending her democracy any more than there is anything wrong about us or the French defending ours? There remains the fear of the French that if Germany is rearmed in any combination she may turn against the French at some time or other.
One may say what one likes about Dr. Adenauer and his electoral tactics. I do not want to say too much in this House about some of them. I note, in passing, that he had to apologise recently to his Social Democratic Opposition for what amounted to slander against two or three Democratic Members during the Election. Nevertheless, happenings such as these occur in other countries. Some who remember the 1945 General Election here will remember quite clearly that it was not exactly fought with kid gloves on either side. But, so long as elections are reasonably fought, as Western Germany's Election was fought last year—I was there part of the time and saw something of what was happening—we cannot say to the German people, "You shall not have Dr. Adenauer if you want him." It is their pigeon if they want him, and it is the same if they want the Social Democratic Party.
Let us be clear, however, that there is very little difference between the Opposition and the Government in Germany about certain essential principles. There is disagreement between the S.P.D. and the C.D.U. or the Coalition parties on the form that a German contribution should take. Herr Ollenhauer, the Leader of the Opposition in Western Germany, stated quite clearly in the debate on the ratification:We do not contest two elementary facts. The German people in its entirety holds to Western freedom and Western civilization…What could be more definite than that? What greater rejection could be made of Communism and Soviet Russia than that statement of Herr Ollenhauer, the leader 482 of the second largest party in Germany? He went on to say:The maintenance of these values is the pre- supposition of a meaningful existence for us. When these freedoms are in danger we must attempt to protect and defend them. We intend to do so.It is quite clear from these words that the Social Democratic Party in Germany is prepared to support a military contribution for Western defence to maintain itself against the possibility of Eastern aggresion.
I would say to my hon. Friends who perhaps have not followed some of the observations of the Social Democratic Party in Germany—it is not always easy to get translations of their speeches—that there is very little difference in that respect between the Opposition and the Government in Western Germany. Some of my hon. Friends may say—indeed, some do say—that by the action we are taking today and tomorrow in supporting Her Majesty's Government in trying to get a military contribution from Western Germany in western defence we are following a bi-partisan policy. Perhaps we are; we did so in the war. We followed a bi-partisan policy—why? It was because we were in great danger from Hitler and Nazism.
I believe that today we are in just as serious a danger from Russian Communism. Their purpose is quite clear. The only justification I can see for the Berlin Conference was to make it clear to the world, as indeed it has made itself quite clear to a majority in Her Majesty's Opposition, that Russia is not prepared to talk on level terms with the Western Powers.
§ Mr. A. J. Irvine (Liverpool, Edge Hill)
Did I hear my right hon. Friend aright in saying that the only purpose of the Berlin Conference was to demonstrate that? Surely he does not mean that? It may be the only result.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I thank my hon. Friend. What I should have said is not "the- purpose" but "the conclusion" that the Berlin Conference has shown is that they are not prepared to talk on the same terms as we in the West are.
As to the necessity for a German contribution to Western defence, I do not think we can do better than pay attention to the communiqué issued quite recently by the N.A.T.O. Ministers after the Paris 483 Conference. This was contained in their communiqué:The Soviet Government … has yet to show that it genuinely desires to reach agreement on any of the outstanding points of difference throughout the world.Therefore, they declared that the N.A.T.O. Ministersare continually mindful of the political links which bind them in an alliance which is not solely military in character …and thatwithin the continuously developing framework of the Atlantic Community the institution of the European Defence Community remains an essential objective for the reinforcement of the defensive strength of the alliance.I would go so far as to say, with some little knowledge of military matters, that Western defence is incomplete without Germany, for two reasons. Germany lies in the centre of Europe. One cannot ignore that geographical fact, whatever else one ignores. Secondly, Germany is a virile nation whose activities can be directed, as we know only too well, into evil channels, and as we hope—after all, it is a risk—into good channels, into democratic channels.
Surely for one reason alone, and that reason ought to appeal to France very strongly, it is vital that German military effort, when it comes, by whatever means it comes, should be integrated into Western defence. That, in my opinion, is the safeguard against Germany turning either east of west, as she has done twice within our lifetime.
I desire disarmament, as I am sure most hon. Members do. Those of us who remember the days after the First World War, when it was said that we had fought to make the world safe for democracy, will remember that we then believed that the Covenant of the League of Nations offered us something worth while. This time we have the United Nations Charter. Why is it that so many young people are cynical of both the Covenant of the League of Nations and the United Nations Charter It is because neither has ever been properly implemented. It was due to the cowardice of Governments—not only our Government; other Governments as well—that Hitler ever got as far as he did. He could have been stopped earlier if only we had attempted to implement the Covenant of the League of Nations, which 484 we had signed, and the principles of collective security.
I urge upon my hon. Friends who differ from the point of view which I have just put that this may be a chance of preserving peace. It sounds impossible to preserve peace by means of military force, but we can at least be sure that if we have military forces there is less likelihood of our being attacked. I look upon it as an insurance policy. If we take out an insurance policy, we have to pay the premium. Britain and France are today paying the premium. Why should not Germany also pay it?
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) is right about the Berlin Conference. There were no real negotiations about Europe, for the very good reason that there was no conceivable basis for negotiation. The two sides were far too wide apart.
The Eden Plan, which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary put forward on behalf of the Western Powers, left the door wide open. The Russians could have had an agreement on the basis of free elections—and, consequently, an indefinite postponement of E.D.C., which would have had to await a treaty with a united Germany—had they wanted it; but I do not think that the Russian's did want it.
§ Sir R. Boothby
I cannot give way to the hon. Gentleman, and I am not misreading the facts. I was at Berlin. It is obvious that the plan put forward by my right hon. Friend left 20 openings for Mr. Molotov to take if he had wished for an agreement. The truth of the matter is that Mr. Molotov did not wish for an agreement.
§ Sir R. Boothby
I cannot give way to the hon. Member. I was at Berlin, and the hon. Gentleman was not.
Mr. Molotov was not interested in an agreement. There was, of course, the difficulty of free elections. The Russian conception of a free election is diametrically opposed to ours. The Russians believe that to have an election which is free 485 one must fix the side which will win. We think that for an election to be free it must be possible for the wrong side to win, because one cannot help it. That is the only difference; but it is wide, and definite.
Many hon. Members would have laughed had they heard the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) and me trying to explain this difference about free elections to the editor of "Pravda." After about 25 minutes of the happiest kind of talk—there was great cordiality on both sides—we gave up the attempt. It was no good our trying to do any more, so we let it go at that.
The real reason for the failure—if one can call it" failure"; shall we say "negation"?—of the Berlin Conference so far as Europe is concerned cuts deeper than the free election issue. It is, I am convinced, that at the present time the Russians dare not risk a withdrawal anywhere because they do not know quite what might happen elsewhere. They are therefore determined to stay put at present.
That is what Mr. Molotov went to Berlin determined to do. It was a military rather than a political decision. I am sure that it was approved by the Russian general staff before the Berlin conference ever began. I am sure that Mr. Molotov was definitely told, "You can do quite a lot of things if you like, but there is one thing that you are not going to do. You are not going to allow one Red soldier to be moved from anywhere in any circumstances." And that was what happened.
We have to face the fact that at present the gulf between East and West is too wide for any political bridges to be thrown across it. The Soviets still reject the theory—I regret it—that it is possible or desirable to create an international society based on effective co-operation between the totalitarian world on the one hand and the free world on the other. In those circumstances the best we can hope for is coexistence. Co- existence is the alternative to co-operation. It is not as agreeable; but it is better than war.
At the risk of being fulsome, I want to pay a very brief tribute to my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. One really had to go to Berlin to realise the superb diplomatic skill with which he 486 conducted the negotiations there and generally handled this very difficult conference. But for his sagacity, wisdom and patience, it might have been quite a dangerous conference, in view of the fact that there was so very little agreement to be found in any quarter. My right hon. Friend was infinitely patient; and he was also the lynch-pin of Western solidarity which, remarkably, emerged from the conference not only unshaken but actually strengthened.
The Russian objectives were obviously twofold. The first objective was to get the whole of Germany, as a prelude to getting the whole of Europe. That has been their objective for many years now. Unless and until they are masters of Germany, they cannot hope to be masters of Europe. I do not say that they entertained any great hopes of achieving that objective; but, obviously, their plan for a divided and neutralised Germany was designed for that end—to get Germany.
Their second objective was to divide the Western Powers. What with France and the difficulties over E.D.C. and one thing and another, they might have had a good opportunity.
My right hon. Friend made quite sure that they failed in both objectives. In his efforts he had noble support from both Mr. Foster Dulles and M. Bidault; and it is a remarkable achievement that the Western Powers have emerged from the conference more solid than they went into it. I also think it is a remarkable achievement that, on the whole, as a result of the conference there has been some relaxation of tension between East and West.
There remain two other possibilities. There is, first of all, the possibility of an extension of East-West trade, and I really think that this is imperative. Things are beginning to move. I agree with other hon. Members who have said that if we are to have for some time to come—we are going to have it; we had better face it—a complete political freeze-up, the direction in which we can best look for a thaw is trade. I had a hand in the trade in herrings not so long ago, and it went well. I hope we shall now move on from herrings, not to better things but perhaps to bigger things.
Finally, there is the Geneva Conference to deal with the problems of the Far 487 East. Until just before the finish of the Berlin Conference it did not look likely that we should get such a conference. Again, it is a remarkable diplomatic feat on the part of my right hon. Friend, Mr. Dulles and M. Bidault, and this time we can perhaps throw in Mr. Molotov for good measure. At any rate, a conference is to be held. We cannot tell what will happen, but these Powers are to meet again, which is something; and all the nations who fought in Korea will be in it as well.
There is another side to the picture. The failure to reach any diplomatic-political agreement in Europe is hard on the satellite countries who had hoped for liberation. It is particularly hard on the East Germans. Whatever their politics, they are united in wanting to get the Russians out of their country. Who shall blame them? Above all, it is hard on the Austrians who had good reason to hope that by the concession of every one of the Russian demands they would at last be set free. Now they are not going to be set free.
This brings me, for a moment or two, to a consideration of the problem which has been dominating the debate, the problem of Germany. I have never regarded the neutralisation of Germany in any shape or form as possible. I now regard the rearmament of Germany as inevitable, and I want to be quite clear about that. There is unfortunately no relaxation of tension in Germany at the present time. We hear quite a lot of talk about the "new" Germany—about this fresh Germany which is supposed to have emerged since the war. I think we are apt to delude ourselves a little when we talk like that. I doubt it, because I doubt whether any great nation ever changed its basic characteristics. What matters is the environment in which they are exercised, and the purposes to which they are put.
I was reading in bed last night a very good essay by George Orwell, in which he says:In whatever shape England emerges from the war, it will be deeply tinged with the characteristics that I have spoken of earlier. The intellectuals who hope to see it Russianised or Germanised will be disappointed. The gentleness, the hypocrisy, the thoughtlessness, the reverence for law and the hatred of uniforms will remain, along with the suet puddings and 488 the misty skies. … England will still be England, an everlasting animal stretching into the future and the past, and, like all living things, having the power to change out of recognition and yet remain the same.I think that that goes for Germany, too.
Dr. Adenauer is a great statesman, greater than Bismarck, who never did any good, as far as I can see, either to his own country or to Europe. All he did was to break up the concert of Europe which had kept the peace for a century, and divide Europe into two armed camps, which led inevitably to the First World War. I think Dr. Adenauer is more constructive than that.
I knew the Germany of Rathenau and of Stresemann, who were also very considerable statesmen in their day, and I do not think that this Germany is so very different from that one. I think they may still come along one road or the other, along the right road or the wrong one, just as they could have done before—and ultimately went on the wrong road. With all their tremendous qualities, which arouse our almost breathless admiration, and their tremendous defects, which rightly cause considerable apprehension, the Germans themselves remain much the same people. What we have got to do is to handle them better and understand them better than we have ever done before.
Their underlying neurosis is, if anything, greater; and with good reason, for, this time, they have a genuine and colossal grievance. I have always thought that the one great mistake Keynes made was to elevate the Treaty of Versailles into a grievance which enabled Hitler to represent it as the "Diktat" of Versailles. They had no real grievance after the First World War, whereas, this time they have a very real grievance.
Our objective must be to bring them right into the community—or, as the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said, the fellowship—of the free nations of the West; but we shall only do this by trying to understand them, and not by pulling wool over our own eyes, as we did too frequently before the war. I have had a lot of wool pulled over my eyes in this House by various right hon. Gentlemen during the last 30 years—
§ Mr. Frederick Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)
The hon. Gentleman talks 489 of the grievance of the German people, but is there any other people in Europe without a grievance? Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that, by fostering that sense of grievance in this House we are not helping the Germans to face their responsibilities in the future?
§ Sir R. Boothby
I think it is rather silly to pretend, if your country is absolutely split in two separate halves, as undoubtedly their country is, that you have not got a sense of grievance. If we in Scotland were cut off from England, I should not mind so much; but I can quite understand that the English would have a genuine sense of grievance.
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) mentioned the German film "Five Minutes Past Midnight." I think it should be compulsory viewing for hon. Members of this House, and that John Wheeler-Bennett's book "The Nemesis of Power" should be compulsory reading for all hon. Members. Not because I am anti-German. I am not; I am pro-German, but we must see them straight if we are to reach any real understanding with them, and not come to grief again.
It is against this background that 1 want to say a word or two about E.D.C. —and they will be very carefully chosen words, I would hasten to assure my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, who may otherwise be feeling rather apprehensive. What are we asking of France? We are asking her to hand over a considerable part of her forces to a European army, and to enter some kind of a political union, both of which, sooner or later, must be dominated by Germany. There is no doubt about that, because Germany is the more powerful, both potentially and actually. What is France asking of us? She is asking us to under-write the risk; and I submit to the House that we have not yet given her any fair answer.
The Prime Minister has said that we shall be "with them, but not of them," and that we shall keep our troops on the Continent of Europe" at least as long as the Americans." I submit, in all sincerity, that that is not enough. I am on the record as having consistently urged in this House that this country should join the European army on our own terms, as I claim we could have done at any time during the last three 490 years. I regret that we did not do it, and 1 am inclined to think that there must be moments when the Foreign Secretary himself has regretted that we did not do it before he came into office, because I am sure that if we had his task would 'have been greatly simplified.
I see the enormous difficulties of starting all over again these tremendous, intricate and complicated negotiations; beginning again at the beginning, with all the inevitable delay. But I would rather do that than have a show-down, perhaps with a French refusal to ratify E.D.C, and nothing at all to put in its place. Of course, we do not want to encourage the French not to ratify; but we are at the same time running a grave risk by having no alternative. There are alternatives, in which we could play a part.
I submit that a reconciliation between France and Germany is more important than any military organisation, even than E.D.C. itself; and I am convinced that it cannot be achieved by driving the French into a shot-gun wedding. If they are forced to ratify and are genuinely unhappy about it, what security will that bring us? What good will it do to Europe as a whole? I do not want either to see it rejected, or to see the French come into it feeling really unhappy about it.
What, then, can we do? We have, I think, to satisfy the French that in no circumstances will they be left alone in Europe with a superior German army smarting under great and legitimate political grievances—for that is what bothers them. And the best way of doing it is to accept our responsibilities, and assume the active leadership of Western Europe. They are all looking to us to do it; and I am sure that this is now the best course for this country, because the truth is that we cannot keep out. In relation to Europe, the United States now occupies the position which we occupied prior to the war. If Western Europe falls into enemy hands they will be in grave danger, as we were in 1940.
We are no longer in that position. Our interest in the defence of the Continent of Western Europe is no whit less than that of Federal Germany or of France. There cannot be any more Dunkirks for us. Against an enemy in occupation of the eastern shores of the North Sea and 491 the Channel, with modern guided missiles, we could not hope to survive. No fighting on the beaches, or even in the hills, could save us then. To threaten, or even to contemplate, a withdrawal of troops from the Continent of Europe, is, in these circumstances, and to revive a phrase which, in another connection, may arouse an echo in the memory of some hon. Gentlemen, "very midsummer madness."
We cannot keep out of Europe. We can never even think of keeping out of Europe; and, if we cannot do that, the sooner we define with clarity and precision the terms on which we are prepared to keep our troops in Europe the better. My mind goes back to the Strasbourg debates of 1950, and to the perfervid oratory of some of Her Majesty's present Ministers who then urged the setting up of a European army, in which we should participate, upon the Council of Europe.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was not there, but I can tell him what it was like. It was lyrical. The larks were singing, and the sun was rising. The only person here who was unaffected by it all was the right hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Glenvil Hall). He would not swallow it, and he stayed away some of the time fortifying himself in some way, because it was hard to stand up to the tremendous flood of oratory. Then the right hon. Gentleman voted against it.
I was dubious about it myself, because the French were dubious; but almost everybody else seemed to be swept off their feet by the dazzling eloquence of all those Ministers —and I am not going to upset them now by quoting from their speeches. I will make only one exception—the very relevant observations of the present Minister of Housing and Local Government. He said on that occasion:Perhaps there is a suspicion that Britain may be so blind as not to see the danger through European eyes, and that she may, in a mood of despair, of weariness, seek safety in isolation.… There is a single answer to that. … Britain's frontier is not on the Channel; it is not even on the Rhine; it is at least the Elbe.That is certainly not less true today. If it be the case, then my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will not find it difficult to understand why the French keep asking us why we go on urging them 492 to join an army to defend the Elbe which we are not willing to join ourselves; especially as they are now being called upon to fight a war in Indo-China which has involved them in a heavier overseas commitment than any we have to meet.
§ Sir R. Boothby
I know; but that, again, puzzles the French. I am only putting myself in their shoes. They ask, if we attach so much importance to this matter, why we do not come into the show ourselves. What is keeping us out? That is what the ordinary Frenchman asks, and sometimes I scratch my own head and wonder.
I am not going to suggest any practical action tonight. I know that my right hon. Friend lives with this problem day and night, and that he is in continuous touch with the French. All I want to say is that I am quite sure that the House would support him if he went a very long way to meet the French point of view. I believe that the House would now go much further than it would have done two years, or even a year ago, in order to get the whole thing going and to establish what we want: reconciliation between France and Germany, followed by a genuine partnership between them and us, for our common defence. That is the objective, and I believe that both sides of the House would back my right hon. Friend to the hilt if he found it advisable to go a long way further than he has done already; because failure is unthinkable. For my part, I confess that I still cannot see why we should not join the European army with a limited commitment, and have done with it.
We have been talking almost exclusively in terms of Europe, and Germany, and of the E.D.C. I want to say a word now about an organisation that is much more important than any other, and that is N.A.T.O. A long-term objective of our policy should be to strengthen N.A.T.O., not only on the military side but also in the political and economic fields. We have entered upon what may be a prolonged period of cold peace, following upon this Berlin Conference. This may well involve some reappraisal of our military strategy, but the political struggle will continue. It is a struggle for the 493 minds of men, a struggle of ideas. That is going on, and we are at present con- ducting it without any central organ of decision to direct political policy on a global scale.
I should like to quote the "New York Times" of 7th February, because I always like to quote responsible opinion in the United States:It is generally agreed here that the Allied world is passing fairly rapidly into a new phase of political and economic relationship without adequate discussion of the new policies that are to replace the old. The political paralysis of France and Italy is alarming. Indo-China is in a sad stale, with the Vietnamese unconvinced that the Allies are going lo exert enough power to win. And the prospect of no aid and very little trade with the United States is not helped by the fact that there is very little sustained and effective discussion among the Allies on any of these serious problems.There is truth in that criticism. I would remind the House that several hon. Members visited N.A.T.O. and S.H.A.P.E. the other day and were told that there was a definite lack of co-ordination on the political side at the summit of affairs, and that the organisation could and should be developed far more on the economic side.
I am not pessimistic, and I do not want to end my speech on a note of pessimism. I have not the same sick feeling in my stomach that I used to have during those dreadful years 1937 and 1938, when it became apparent that war was inevitable. I do not believe that a third world war will take place. I believe that N.A.T.O. has restored a balance of power in the world without, may I add, the aid of German troops. It has achieved its primary purpose, and now it remains for us to stick it out. We may have to stick it out for a long time, and that will involve the exercise of great qualities of fortitude and patience. I believe we can do it. It seems to me that the task of paramount importance is to build N.A.T.O. into an organisation that is strong enough and active enough to discharge the task which the United Nations Organisation has failed to discharge. That task is nothing less than to secure the peace of the world.
§ 8.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
The speech of the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby), has been like a breath of fresh air in the 494 rather dreary dirge this afternoon, and the fact that I disagree profoundly with some of the hon. Member's remarks is neither here nor there. At least, he devoted his attention to the relevant issues in the debate and not to a good deal of the newspaper talk that we have been reading in the last few days.
Anybody listening to some of the earlier speeches one would have assumed that the House was being asked to ratify the Bonn contractual arrangement. Anyone reading the newspapers today would have assumed that the debate was only on German rearmament. The truth is that German rearmament was decided in principle by a vote of this House nearly two summers ago, and nothing that can be said or done will detract from the actual responsibility which rests on the shoulders of right hon. Gentlemen on the Government Front Bench. They shoulder the full burden of having rushed this House into agreement with the contractual arrangement that took place at Bonn and will have to answer for it at the bar of history.
The basis of the debate is the question: "What are we to do about Germany, and what is going to follow the Berlin Conference?" Many people have been discussing the issue of German rearmament in its narrow context, so perhaps for one minute I might be allowed to say a word about that, although it is not relevant to the wider issues that are concerned.
The fact that the party on the Opposition side of the House has taken its stand against the general ratification of the Bonn Agreement of 1952 had a profound influence subsequently on the course of events. The fact that E.D.C. is not ratified now in Europe by every country is due to the initiative that we on these benches took, and, secondly, to the fact that that lead has been followed by many of our comrades in the European Socialist Parties. I would like to say to them, speaking from this debate today, that, in view of the division that exists on this side of the House, there are many of us here who salute those who are still opposed to the placing of arms in the hands of the West Germans and that we are watching with interest what they are doing. We feel for their future with apprehension and we wish them good luck in the difficult months that lie ahead.
495 That does not mean that I, personally, am opposed to the general principle of German rearmament. To make myself absolutely clear, what I am opposed to is the rearmament of Western Germany in the context of the present position. It will ossify the whole European situation and I believe that that is the view of many people in this country. I am prepared at once to admit that we cannot expect a great nation like Germany permanently to be disarmed, but I am opposed to the armament of one side against the other while there is any hope of a solution to the problem.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I am not defening East German rearmament either —and it is no good trying to imagine that any of us are seeking to justify everything that goes on behind the Iron Curtain. What we wish is to be sure that we have an independent point of view. I am sick of this sort of "fellow-travelling" charge.
A second condition on which I and many others would be prepared to support German rearmament is the unity of Germany and integration of the German army in a defence community. What my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in 1951 goes for me today. I entirely support the so-called "Attlee conditions." We must try as long as is humanly possible to negotiate, and not to admit defeat until it is absolutely clear there is no possible solution. I am then prepared to say that West German rearmament is necessary.
I do not accept that the Berlin Conference is the final effort. With the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire, I think that we are at the beginning of a long series of negotiations, and that the Berlin Conference is the beginning, and not the end of discussions on the whole future of Germany. It is wrong for us at this stage to rush in and say, "It is absolutely impossible. There is nothing else we can do. We must insist on the rearmament of West Germany."
I am opposed to the present proposals, because they make for that hardening of the division in Germany which I seek to avoid. They leave us with no bargaining power, and impose conditions of such rigidity as to make it extremely difficult for us to negotiate at future conferences. 496 I urge all hon. Members to bear in mind the fateful consequences of creating a situation from which we cannot possibly extricate ourselves. This pigheaded parrot cry of exhortation for everyone to ratify E.D.C. has about it all the obstinacy of weak men.
I look at the problem against the wider canvas of world events and against the wider issues of the cold war. Germany is symptomatic of conditions in the world. We must not accept that we are beaten at the beginning. We must look at the wider canvas with greater reality and perspicacity than some hon. Gentlemen have been doing this afternoon. In this country and in the West there is a widespread impression that the Soviet Union industrially is a great deal weaker than we are and that time is on our side. The Foreign Secretary rejoiced this afternoon in the growing strength of the West. I should like to address a few words to the Under-Secretary of State which, I hope, he will convey to his right hon. Friend. Time is not on our side.
When I visited the Soviet Union 18 months ago I was profoundly impressed by the power and pace of the industrial revolution —one of the greatest in modern times. I saw places like Omsk, Irkutsk, and so on —great industrial towns on the scale of Manchester in the days of Robert Owen, or the boom towns of the Middle West at the turn of the century. There is vast industrial growth in the Soviet Union. I have tried to find out, as near as possible with all the difficulties that are there, the actual extent of this expansion as measured against the West.
Taking the statistics of national income and expenditure quoted in the United Nations Statistical Papers series, with 1948 as a standard of 100, the figure in the United States had gone to 119 by the end of 1952; in the Soviet Union it was 175, and we in the United Kingdom had gone to 109.8. The average rate of industrial growth in the Soviet Union was 15 per cent, and in the United States, 4½per cent.
§ Sir R. Boothby
I am sorry to interrupt, but if my hon. Friend were in charge of Russia would he think he was doing a good turn to the inhabitants by erecting a whole series of Manchesters? I think that the picture he has outlined is one of the most appalling I have known.
§ Mr. Donnelly
If Manchester is an awful place so is London. For myself, I like the green fields of Pembroke and East Aberdeen—and I support fish as well, so the hon. Gentleman and I are close to agreement. The real point at issue is not whether we like Manchester or not, but whether it actually exists and is an efficient industrial entity.
The Soviet Union's expansion is enormous. The United Nations statistical figures, as I say show its rate of expansion as 15 per cent, against the American rate of 4½per cent, per year, on an average. I admit that it is extremely difficult to get accurate figures. Those I have quoted may be an optimistic assessment, but accepting it as an actual assessment the Soviet Union's industrial capacity will equal that of the United States of America in 1963. It is a staggering revelation.
In the "Economist" the other day there was a review of a symposium of a conference of 31 American professors and students of the Soviet Union seeking to arrive at the figures of industrial development in the Union. They did not accept the United Nations' figures. Instead, they sought to subtract everything possible, and by the time they had subtracted almost everything—including the day of the week—they agreed that the minimum figure was 8 per cent, per annum, so that the Soviet economy doubles itself in less than 10 years even on their basis. We are, therefore, considering the matter in a context where the Soviet industrial development may equal that of the United States in 1963 at the earliest on U.N. figures or, at the very latest by 1974 or 1975.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) says "China," but the point that I am making is that time is not on our side. I have taken no account of the enormous changes taking place in China. That country is only at the beginning of her industrial revolution. The population of China is about 500 million and is increasing by 10 million a year. If we ally to the Soviet industrial expansion that enormous expansion of manpower in China—and the Chinese industrial revolution which is just beginning—we realise the full magnitude of the enormous preponderance there will be on the other side of the Iron Curtain in another 15 498 or 20 years, if nothing happens to change the line-up.
The Foreign Secretary used this afternoon, when he said that he rejoiced in the growing strength of the Western Powers, an assinine phrase. It is absurd to say that we can view the present situation with that complacency. It is a very grave situation. If we go on in the present state of the cold war, the world's future will be decided by the shifting balance of power against us and by those other factors.
First, by what happens to the great uncommitted areas of the world. There are 450 million people in India and Pakistan; there are 200 million in Africa; there are millions in the Middle East, and there are 84 million in Japan, whose future is very problematical. Many people believe that she may be the next to go Communist. I warn hon. Members opposite that we are now living in the presence of a great watershed in the history of the balance of power in the world. The events in those uncommitted areas will decide the fate of mankind for many generations to come.
Secondly, what happens to those areas depends on our attitude to them. If we continue in a world situation with two halves of mankind divided, and we are forced to retain vast armies on our side, we shall not be able to render as much aid as we would wish to these areas. It has been said that an army marches en its stomach. Communism marches on an empty stomach. The final arbiter of the question whether or not we are able to meet the battle of ideas in Asia—about which the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire spoke—is our ability to transfer the expenditure of a large part of our treasure from armaments to aid schemes for the underdeveloped areas. This is the war of ideas—and stomachs. We cannot build entirely military barriers against them. There is no hope of retaining a purely military defensive alliance in the expectation that time is on our side and that something will turn up to improve the situation.
In these uncommitted areas there are stirring social forces which cannot be checked. Many of their people do not know where they are going, but they are quite sure where they are coming from. The choice which faces us is whether we meet them on the basis of the approach made to India by my right hon. Friend 499 the Leader of the Opposition in 1946, or the approach of the Colonial Secretary to Kenya, in 1953. That will be the decisive factor in the question of what happens to these areas.
Thirdly, the decisive factor in the amount of aid which we can give them is what happens at the conference table—whether it is possible to reduce tension to the extent of reducing armaments and transferring a great deal of our industrial capacity to the giving of aid to these areas. This applies more to the United States of America than to us, but we cannot devolve all our responsibility on to the United States.
In my view, the beginning of developments at the conference table may well be the events at the Geneva Conference. I urge the Government to bear in mind the fact that they shoulder a special responsibility at that conference. Because of our recognition of Communist China by the late Ernest Bevin. in 1950. we have a special position as a bridge between East and West, in the case of China, and a special responsibility to see that the same mistakes are not made in relation to China as were made in relation to the Soviet Union in the 1920s.
We also have a special responsibility to use our experience of dealing with underdeveloped areas, and the natural nationalist aspirations of the countries concerned, in order to impress upon our American friends the exact nature of the changes which have been taking place in Asia. That fact makes today's debate of profound importance. We are not only the bridge between East and West; we are the final arbiter of Western policy, if we care to use our position, our experience and the inherent leadership that lies in this nation if only it is given the opportunity.
I remember talking to the visiting Foreign Secretary of an Asian country some months ago. We were having tea in the Tea Room of this House. He said, "The final issues of the cold war will not be decided in Washington; they will not be decided in Moscow or Peking; they will be decided in this building, in London." It is because of that and because of my belief in what he said that 1 urge upon the Government that they should take a much more positive line than that which they took in Berlin.
500 I do not accept that the Eden Plan was a satisfactory attempt. I do not accept the view of the lion. Member for East Aberdeenshire, that it was possible to get agreement on the Eden Plan. I agree with those who said in the first instance that the Berlin Conference was a very limited conference out of which very little was likely to come. It is a very good sign that we have been able to progress with the arrangements for an Eastern conference, and also I draw particular attention to that part of the final communiqué which referred to the fact that the four Foreign Ministers were to explore proposals for disarmament in the future.
I urge the Government to go to Geneva with a fresh mind and a determination to act as a negotiating body instead of as a body which enters the conference with a rigid plan. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire paid great tribute to the Foreign Secretary's diplomatic skill at Berlin and said what a wonderful attempt he had made. I did not call the Berlin Conference a conference; it was a game of football. No, it was a game of blow football, with three people blowing from one side.
What we want is a positive policy at Geneva, one which takes cognisance of what happens in China. I warn the Foreign Secretary that in the last analysis the British nation will expect him to take an independent line and not to act as a kind of coat hanger for the strait-jacket of an American policy.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
If 1 understood him aright, the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) claimed that Russian production would equal that of the United States by 1963. I am in no position to challenge those figures, but from my own brief impressions of the Soviet Union, gathered, I confess, before the war, I should say that it would be a very long time before the production per head in the Soviet Union equalled that of the United States.
From a number of figures, likewise given in official statistics, I believe I am right in saying that production of essential materials in the United States, such as steel, wheat and oil, is far ahead of that in the Soviet Union. But if the hon. Gentleman was right in his calculations, it is the most convincing argument 501 I have heard in the debate for the inclusion of Germany inside Western Europe.
Earlier in the debate, the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) used a phrase which caught my attention. He said we wanted to avoid, if I understood him aright, "peace through balanced terror." For a few minutes I should like to centre my remarks around this theme. I am not one of those who are in a pessimistic mood as a result of the Berlin Conference. In my opinion, we have gained several things. First, we have an accurate plan of the Russian mind, of its policy, of its objectives and perhaps even of its fears.
We now know, if we did not know well before, that neither personalities nor events ever seriously alter Russian political strategy and, far less, Russian political tactics. Neither the death of Stalin nor the alleged difficulties of the collective farms, nor indeed the supposed desire of the new governing class for an ampler mode of living, has altered Russian policy in the slightest degree. We know that the leaders in the Kremlin are the high priests of a Communist religion, convinced in their own minds that the Western form of society will collapse and waiting eagerly for the glorious red dawn of the Communist era.
That being the case, we can understand that Russian political strategy made neither gains nor concessions at the Berlin Conference. What were their political objectives, as outlined by my right hon. Friend? First and foremost, Mr. Molotov proposed a European security pact which would exclude United States and British troops from the soil of Europe. The object of this move was quite obvious—to delay the formation of E.D.C., to encourage the eventual disintegration of N.A.T.O., and thereby, in a very short time, to ensure Russian domination of the European Continent.
It was subtly applied to that neutralist section of European opinion which vaguely hopes that by a policy of neutrality, Europe may escape a war between two powerful opponents placed on either side of her. It was also applied with a certain amount of sublety to that section of European opinion which believes in Europe for the Europeans, and to the kind of mind which induces people to score on the walls of villages in 502 France and Italy the slogan, "Yanks, go home."
I believe that the second Russian purpose had exactly the same object, the neutralisation of Germany. As hon. Members have pointed out, if Germany remains in a vacuum sooner or later the great Russian power will draw Germany, as a magnet, into the Soviet camp. These two purposes have been defeated. Mr. Molotov, as hon. Members have emphasised, was obeying the demand of the Russian military clique in his determination to put as many kilometres as he could between the sacred soil of Russia and any potential enemies. He was observing the policy of defence in depth.
Let me for a moment look at the picture from our point of view. Although a stalemate appears to exist in the political sense, expressed in terms of balance of power, the situation is gradually moving in our favour. First and foremost, since the end of the Berlin blockade and the end of the war in Korea the Russians know that they cannot make a move without the danger of involving themselves. Secondly, I believe that the failure of the Berlin Conference will now hasten the formation of the European Defence Community and the consolidation of Europe.
In the meantime, in the Balkans the alliance between Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece forms a potential bastion along the eastern Mediterranean, and now the alliance between Turkey and Pakistan extends the security system further.
§ Mr. Warbey
Is there not still something of a power vacuum in the Middle East? Has it not been so since 1945? May not this great pressure of which the hon. Gentleman is speaking break out into the Middle East?
§ Mr. Kerr
There is certainly still a power vacuum in Iraq and Iran, and I presume that the object of United States and British policy is to try to include those States in a military or security pact.
However, I do not want to emphasise the military side too much, for I want o come to what I consider to be the more important aspect. We have been very wise, in the conduct of our military and political policy, to retain our rearmament at a defensive level and at the same time to build up war potential which in 503 case of emergency could be rapidly increased.
I come to the main point of my argument. While the political and balance-of-power factors stand in stalemate at the present moment, the war of ideas, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) said, is still fluid, and it is here that we still have a great deal to do. In Europe, in the crowded cities of Italy and France, we find great Communist populations. In those fields of misery many converts are harvested. We find in the intense nationalism in the Far East another opportunity for Communist agitators to extend their doctrine and obtain followers. We find the same in Africa, where society, formerly in tribal patterns, is moving into the new industrial civilisation.
Do not let us forget, however, that it is not only on our side of the Iron Curtain that this sort of difficulty exists. I was fascinated to read an article in the "' Observer" only two weeks ago describing the new groups in Russia, the believers who have returned to the Bible and the Christian faith as the solution of our political and social difficulties. There are in Russia, in the prison camps, in the mines and the factories, men and women who are returning to the old values which were discarded after the Industrial Revolution.
I believe that what we lack, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire said, is an adequate organisation to express the ideas in which we believe. We need some political organisation, attached to N.A.T.O. or to some other super-structure of the free world, that can co-ordinate the expression of the ideals in which we believe. I believe that it is no use merely saying that Russia is wrong, or pointing out that Russia is telling lies. We need to shift the emphasis to positive and constructive ideas.
For that reason, I should like to suggest that this new organisation emphasizes five or six points—first and foremost, that the people of the free world are not against the Russian people. We do not want an inch of their territory, a yard of their ground. We wish them well if only they will remain at peace with us.
§ Mr. Kerr
If we were not jammed continually by the Russian radio it might be possible to put forward that idea.
Secondly, we should continue to emphasise that in a free world every nation is a partner and not a satellite, as in the Soviet Empire. Every nation should be a free and willing partner in the comity of free nations. Thirdly, we should emphasise that in our relations with the so-called backward nations, the policy of trusteeship is continually maintained. We are the trustees of these people for their future political and economic de- velopment. I believe that we should emphasise that political development must walk side by side with economic development, and that it is our duty to develop these parts of the world.
Finally, I come back to this point. I believe that people all over the world, whether behind the Iron Curtain in Europe, in Africa or Asia are heartily sick of the so-called philosophy of materialism which has dominated the world from the Industrial Revolution onwards. I believe that one of the reactions to the excessive materialism of the 19th century, call it capitalist materialism if you like, was Marxist materialism. More and more people are coming back to the realisation that if the world is to survive, it is not better machines which we want or even, per- haps, a better political system—it is better men and women.
In Europe today we are finding great men, such as the Abbe Pierre, and men and women in Germany and France going round the industrial areas preaching the necessity of reconciliation between those people. We are going to see, I believe, a revival of an age of faith, and in these cities, among these men and women, there is going to be a true revival of faith in a new world. Let us give them an organisation so that they can tell their belief and their message to people of all parts of the globe.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
I have listened to every word of the debate today with a tremendous amount of interest, and I have heard the speeches described as a dirge. To be quite candid, one will agree that there has not been much said that is new to the House in regard to the world position.
505 I suppose that people will be looking to this side of the House to see what particular Members have in common on foreign affairs. The reason I rise to speak is to secure for every citizen of this world exactly what I myself am now enjoying—the right of free speech, to express my opinions freely in a democratic assembly, freely elected by the people of the country in which that assembly exists. That is what I believe the Berlin Conference in essence was after. I believe that the nations of the world were called together to try to evolve a system which gives what I have already enumerated; but we do not seem to be getting very far.
This is not a party matter. It is a matter of what is best for the world and particularly for Britain. I am not ashamed to say that I put my country even before my party in these matters. Without the continuance of our democratic way of life, there would be no parties in this country; the rights of assembly such as we have here would have gone, and gone for ever. It is that which we are trying to avoid.
I listened to what the Foreign Secretary had to say. He can be given credit for saying it coolly, calmly and dispassionately. He gave the House the facts. Facts, whether we like them or not, are very ugly things and they have to be faced. There has been a lot of talk today about what Bismarck said. I am not concerned about how things used to be or how they ought to be. I am concerned with things as they are, and the position is that not one shred of evidence has been produced here today, and I do not think it will be produced tomorrow, to prove that Communism as such has moved one little finger to give to the world what I ask for myself.
I know a little about Germany. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), whom I admire, was rather surprised hen he learned that I had visited Dresden since the war, and not only once. I have been privileged to be in Germany quite a lot but I have not talked about it. I have gone quietly and done my visiting. I have got around and have mixed with the trade unionists. I have gone behind the Iron Curtain and done quite a lot of useful interviewing and finding out the facts for myself. My hon. Friend, I fancy, was 506 rather astonished when I made my interjections about what I had seen in the Eastern Zone of Germany.
I was glad when my hon. Friend made it clear to the House that he found that the German people had one desire in common: that was, "Let us have the Russians out." That applies also to the Western Germans in regard to the British and American troops. The question is, how we can best get what we want? What is the way to set about it?
I am not pro-German in any sense. I am absolutely anti-Nazi. I fought—I want no credit for it—like my colleagues in the House did, in the 1914–18 war. Five of my six young children—the youngest was still at school and was too young— fought in the last job from start to finish. I am completely anti-Nazi and anti-Communist. The question is how to find that useful line between the two and to bring about what we on this side of the House, at any rate, understand as Socialist democracy, and the right of the people to express their opinions freely.
The facts as history records them are stubborn, but they are there. The facts are that Communism since the war has done things which I never thought Communism ever intended or wanted to do. The rape of Czechoslovakia, for example. The Berlin blockade was a shocking thing. There we saw a shuttle service of thousands of aircraft going in and out of Berlin—with what? They were taking milk for half-starved children, and coal for people of pensionable age—all the things that were necessary and essential to life. The barest necessities were flown in because the way in and out was blocked by those people who, we are told by some of our colleagues, are out to give the world a better deal. I do not believe the idea that the Communists are out to give the world a better deal.
I had the privilege of seeing something of what went on in Persia. I know something of the ramifications of the so- called trade union Tudeh Party there. My dear departed friend, the late Ernest Bevin, sent me out to look at it primarily because I speak Arabic fairly well, and I found things disquieting. But one has no need to go to Persia, East Germany, West Germany or France. One can look into the docks, workshops and elsewhere in our own country. Communism has a lot to answer for and a lot to face up to.
507 I do not agree altogether with some of the things that capitalism has done. I have no time for American hysteria about Communism. I have no time whatever for either McCarthy or MacArthur, and I believe that that hysterical approach towards the problem is all wrong. We have to get down to the solid, basic facts. The facts are that without any question the Russians are out not to Communise but to Russianise—if I may use that word—the world, and this Berlin Conference has been a grievous disappointment to those who wanted to see progress made towards that ordered society that Almighty God intended all men to enjoy.
The results have been negative, because of what? Because of the approach of the Foreign Secretary, because of the approach of a Labour Foreign Secretary, because of the intolerance of our people, or because of the failure to put our point of view fairly and squarely? I think not. There have been 261 meetings about Austria. I visited that country and saw how things were. What is the position? The Russians control the oil and steel industries and most of the economic necessities of that little nation. After these 261 meetings Austria is still under the yoke and dominance of the Red Army, and it is no use blinding ourselves to the fact.
I recognise the viewpoint of those who say that the Russians are afraid. Russia suffered badly because of Nazism in the last war, and I can quite see their point of view. But within a few weeks of the end of the war they set about arming tens of thousands of so-called police in Eastern Germany. I have seen the schools in Eastern Germany where the so-called police were trained. Whereas in Britain we are satisfied to give them a decent uniform, a fairly decent wage—it is not as good as it could be—and a truncheon, in Eastern Germany they want something more. Within a few weeks of the war finishing they were arming not hundreds but thousands of ex-Nazi forces who were willing to "play ball" with them. Overnight they could call on something like a million men in Eastern Germany.
§ Mr. Warbey
Could my hon. Friend tell how he did it by personal contact? He finds that there are one million armed Germans in Eastern Germany. Has he counted each one of them individually, or has he asked the Government whether they have any information on the subject to confirm what he has said?
§ Mr. Jones
The hon. Gentleman says that I said there were a million armed Germans in Eastern Germany. I said nothing of the kind. I said they were in a position to call on armed forces to the number of one million.
The hon. Member wanted to know where 1 got my information from. Let him come along with me and speak to some of the elderly refugees from Eastern Germany. They are not the younger Germans, because they are not allowed to leave Eastern Germany. The old people are. They are a strain on the East German economy, so there is no let or hindrance put on their departure to Western Germany. But the able-bodied, who are fit to work and able to contribute to the economy and the military power there if need be, are kept within the bounds of Eastern Germany. The facts are there to get if one takes the trouble to seek them out.
I want to dwell for a moment on this question of E.D.C. I do not want to speak too long about it, because there are other hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. I was one of the very few Members of this House and of my own party who refused to support my hon. Friends when they wanted to delay the ratification of E.D.C. I was taken to task by some of my rather Left-wing inclined friends in my own constituency. That does not worry me. I read that they were going to discuss this matter in my constituency and try to lay down what their Member should support in the House today. On the other hand, those level-headed, shrewd steelworkers in my constituency, by substantial majorities, last night agreed with the stand that I am taking.
E.D.C. is a vexed question. If I am asked, as I may be, "Would you be prepared to support a German army with its own high command?" my answer is 509 definitely no, a thousand times no. If, on the other hand, I am asked the question, "Would you be prepared to support a limited number of divisions under the control of the overall set-up that we have in Korea, within the orbit of a unified force consisting of the Belgians, the French, ourselves and others?" my answer will be yes, because I believe that to be the solution of the problem. I believe that contact by the new generation of Germans with as many of our people as possible will be all to the good, even though it be contact through military commitments.
Now I wish to turn to the economic value to the Germans of the present situation. As everybody in this House knows, I was a steelworker, and I know that lion. Members will agree with me when I claim to know a little about the industry. Also, I know quite a lot about what is going on in Germany inside the steel industry. The Germans are a virile, hardworking nation. However we may think of them as militarists and ex-Nazis, we cannot but pay tribute to the way they work. They work from the moment the whistle blows in the morning to when the buzzer goes at five o'clock at night. They are are making great strides. Their overall production per man hour is increasing month by month and their steel and coal potential is enormous.
That situation has an economic bearing upon this country. I am not advocating that the Germans should produce steel to go into armaments in order to make things easier for us. What I am saying is that until they are given the opportunity of taking part in the defence of the free nations of the world, they will enjoy economic advantages to which they are not entitled. If they do not take their share of responsibility within E.D.C. or even N.A.T.O. by contributing manpower and steel to the overall set-up, who will contribute it?
Last night I heard the answer given by one of my younger and virile friends within my own party who has studied the steel industry. His answer was that Britain will contribute it. Well, Britain cannot even find what is necessary today to bring about its own economic recovery as I should like to see it, either in the way of manpower, steel production or even coal production.
The decision taken by my party when we were in power was a wise decision, 510 and I see no reason to alter that decision one iota, or anything that would lead me to believe that I should support any other decision. When I see some sign which will lead me to believe that Communism has seen the error of its ways, and when it gives tangible proof of that, I shall change my mind. Until then I shall support the decision of my own party, and I shall support the decision of Her Majesty's Government to take part in whatever is necessary to defend what we prize most, our heritage, our constitutional way of life, which I believe is the nearest to the way of life that Almighty God intended all nations should have.
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. A. C. M. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
I know that the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) has a great knowledge of what has happened in Germany since the war, and I found myself in complete agreement with all he said. However, I think he can hardly have found himself in any more agreement than I did with the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes).
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire has such an engaging way of talking that we cannot dislike him, however much we may dislike his views. I suppose that is good democracy. The hon. Gentleman seemed to be saying that we should trust the Communists and cut down our Army. I suppose he would then say that the fact that the Communists have the greatest armed forces that any country has had in time of peace is due to the suspicions which we and others have aroused in them.
Listening to him reminded me of the last talks that I had with the late Jan Masaryk, almost 10 years ago, in Church House, where this House was then meeting. He was about to return to Czechoslovakia as Foreign Secretary. I asked him, "Are you not anxious about going back to your country, with huge responsibilities, to a place where you will be threatened by the Communists?" He said, "Oh, no. I am not anxious at all. They are certainly sometimes rather difficult to deal with, but that is because they are suspicious. But provided that they are met half-way and are treated well and reasonably there will be no difficulties at all."
511 He ended by saying, "I go back with complete confidence" It might almost have been the hon. Member for South Ayrshire and his friends talking. Yet within a few months we know what happened to his country, and we know that that man was murdered.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Would the hon. Member try to imagine what Masaryk would think of German rearmament?
§ Mr. Spearman
What that wretched man would think if he came here tonight I do not know, but I think that he would have wonderful lessons to give to the hon. Member.
Those who are responsible for other people's lives are not justified today in ignoring all the warnings that the Communists have given us by word and by deed. Her Majesty's Government have great responsibilities for many millions of lives. The right hon. Gentleman the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition has had very great responsibilities for other people's lives and it is conceivable, however unlikely, that he may have them again. But the hon. Member for South Ayrshire never has had and never will have responsibility for other people's lives. I think that that is the real difference between his attitude and theirs.
§ Mr. Spearman
I have a little common sense and I am using it.
It seems to me that the lesson that we have learned from the Berlin Conference is that the need is emphasised and, I hope, the prospects are improved for E.D.C. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) told us how essential it was to have Germany in Western defence because, as he said, Germany is the centre of Europe. I believe that the military advisers of the French Government will all agree that if there is an invasion from the east it cannot be held without the co-operation of the Germans, fighting on German soil. I believe that the Americans take the view that unless we can fight from 512 Germany, if necessary, all that they can hope for is to be forced back to a bridgehead and to keep that bridgehead to which to return. That, to say the least, would be disagreeable for them and for us, but for the rest of Europe it would be completely disastrous.
The easder it is for the Communists to strike the more likely they are to do so. In proportion as we can make an effective defence, so does it become infinitely more remote that another war will come. Therefore, I urge that it is imperative now to bring Germany into western defence. I know many of my hon. Friends think it could be done best by N.A.T.O., but if we did that could we rely on France to stay in?
If we need Germany so, also, we vitally need France. We know that Europe has been torn for a thousand years by the French and German feud. Is it not a possibility, that, through E.D.C, a new unity might be started between those countries, that the integration of their armed forces might create a quite different atmosphere from that in which we had those two armies glaring one at the other?
I know that Germany, like a difficult horse, is very hard to bridle and to harness, but there is an effective section of public opinion in Germany today, inspired by Chancellor Adenauer—and, like the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), believe him to be one of the great Europeans of his time—which is willing that Germany should be bridled and is anxious that her forces should be harnessed in the cause of peace. How long that will last we do not know. For that reason speed is vital today.
That would, of course, meet with opposition in France and whether that opposition is 40 per cent., 50 per cent, or 60 per cent., I suppose none of us knows. But the opposition in France, we should always remember, is itself very divided. There are those who are passionately pro-Russian and to them no arguments apply. There are those who are fanatically and understandably frightened of Germany, although I feel that this excessive fear of Germany is very unfortunate. I do not think that Germans, as a race, respond at all happily to people being frightened of them. And then there is a 513 section of industrialists who are frightened that E.D.C. might bring about a lessening of protection, thereby affecting their business interests.
Nothing can be done for the first of these sections, but we can encourage the others. I agree with the hon. Member for Wednesbury that we must not drive France at this stage, but surely we can do a great deal to cajole here. It is vital to our interests so to do. I should like to see us coming into E.D.C. much more substantially. When I have talked to French people time and again they have said to me, "If E.D.C. is so good, why does not Great Britain come in? We should not be so frightened of being bossed about by the Germans if the British were represented on the Committee of Ministers and if British Forces were involved."
I suppose there are two objections. One is that it would mean tying up some of our Forces, but surely we should not be expected to put in divisions on the scale of the French and Germans because our main contribution would be largely in the form of air and sea forces. Moreover, I should like to ask the Government whether, under present conditions, in which aeroplanes can fly at 600 m.p.h., 12 miles high, it is not a vital part of our defence to be able to have airfields 300 miles east of the Channel, if we are to defend ourselves against air attack? Is it not as vital today that these airfields should be protected by us and be in friendly hands as it is to protect our own lands? If that is so, we must have those troops there. Consequently, it seems to me that we should be giving away very little if we took the plunge.
Secondly, it may be said that the Dominions will object to it. It might be that there could be some escape clause by which some of the few divisions which we should put into E.D.C. could be withdrawn if required elsewhere. I will not ask the Government what discussions have taken place with the Dominions, because the Government would, naturally, not want to answer the question, but I should like to know whether there have been any discussions upon the point with the Dominions. From all that I hear, none of the Dominions would object to it. The view which I have met is that if Great Britain is safe, that contributes to 514 their safety and they would support us in every way if we took the plunge.
To summarise, I believe that it is of the very first importance in the cause of peace that E.D.C. should come into being as soon as possible, and it is far more likely to come into being of Great Britain is prepared to enter it. I believe that this is a time, as there often is, when it is safer to take some risks and that we should be prepared to abate to some degree our previous ideas about national sovereignty.
§ 9.17 p.m.
§ Mr. J. McGovern (Glasgow, Shettleston)
I have listened to the debate, read the papers in connection with the Berlin Conference and heard the discussions that took place within my own party on the subject, and I wholeheartedly support the approach which the Government are making in the proposals before the House.
I can understand the attitude of those who are deeply disturbed by the thought of German rearmament—to say that any thinking man or woman is not disturbed at the prospect of the dangers which might arise would be unnatural—and I can also understand why those who suffered very greatly at the hands of the Nais are afraid to entrust any form of rearmament to the Germans.
But we live in a world where we have to make practical proposals and deal in a practical manner with matters as they come along. I cannot see how we can prevent German rearmament. If Germany is to be a sovereign State and to control her own destiny, she must have the right to rearm to a large extent if she so desires. If she is to rearm, surely it will be better if we can get her integrated into the Western forces and use those forces in an intelligent manner.
I often hear people talking about biding our time and waiting, but I have never heard of a precise limit being put to the time that we should wait. The two great successes of the West were the stand which was made in Korea and the decision to go ahead with Western rearmament. In the language of the boxers, these two events put the Russians "back on their heels." The Russians intended, 'because of weakness in the West, to obtain all the achievements of war without going to war. They did not intend 515 to have a third world war, but they wanted to frighten the West and use the whole power of the Communist machine in every country to terrify and blackmail people into submission so that Russia could achieve her aims and objects.
To those who in our own party have made some study of the Marxist or Communist philosophy, I would say this. The Communists, if you get them off the leash, so to speak, will tell you that, from the end of the Second World War, their only line was, "We have got the West on the run now." At the time of the war in Greece, they said, "If we win in Greece, we could gradually win back the raw materials from the West, and so put the ordinary capitalist countries into such grave difficulties that they would gradually surrender." Thus, they planned to overcome all these different parts of the world.
I put this to any Marxist. The philosophy of Marxism is to capture world power. That is the philosophy. Let no man dispute it. They say, "If we want to achieve world power and domination, we do not intend to move an inch from any territory which we occupy." That is sound common sense, and, if I were in the Kremlin and I accepted that philosophy, that would be my attitude—not to move. They say, "We have driven a tremendous wedge into the democratic philosophy; we must drive that wedge further and further in, and we must try to upset the whole capitalist machine in every part of the world and achieve final victory by that means."
Let us examine the kind of pressure that takes place. Glasgow Members of Parliament have had it in the last few weeks and months, because, sometimes from Saturday night to Monday noon, pressure groups come into the corridors of the trains and into the sleeping compartments, waking up Members of Parliament who have already gone to bed before the trains start. They are Communist pressure groups demanding that we should accept Molotov's terms, that we should stand for world peace—by accepting world surrender, of course. These pressure groups are not Communist Parties, but branches of the Russian Government, subsidised for the purpose of undermining, morally and politically, 516 the people of this country and of all the rest of the world.
Some time ago, I was in Australia, and I went to Sydney. I found the same old technique, but at that time the special event behind the pressure groups was the execution of the Rosenbergs. All the Communists were then collecting money for the Rosenbergs. They said that American terrorists were murdering poor, innocent people. All that sort of thing goes on, and I found the same pattern in Brisbane, Melbourne and everywhere I went. Everywhere we met the same kind of groups.
I remember being with my old colleague Mr. Campbell Stephen, when we went to Palestine, I think in 1937. At that time, the attitude of Russia was to back all the countries that were throwing up a national struggle against any form of what is called imperialism. The Communist groups came to us, and their line then was directed to the Arabs—I have the leaflets in the House—with the slogan "Throw the Jews into the sea." Shortly after that, the line took a change, and they went over to "Drive the Arabs into the sea." The line changes from time to time, just as it changed with Molotov. They only knew one policy, and that was that people were either Communists or Fascists. If one did not agree with the Communists, then one must be a Fascist.
Coming to the Berlin Conference. I was delighted that there was complete unison of the West behind the proposals that were put forward. If the West had taken up the line that Mr. Molotov took over Austria, and if we had said that we must keep our occupying troops in the territory for an indefinite period, what a howl of rage there would have been from certain elements in our own party in this House.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
My hon. Friend is now 100 per cent, in favour of the Government's policy in Berlin. A fortnight ago he was against the Government on the issue of conscription. Is he now in favour of conscription as part of the Government's policy?
§ Mr. McGovern
Of course. I am always able to reason out any action that I take. It was because I thought there was a proposal for the review of conscription in five years' time that I said 517 at that time in the House, if my hon. Friend had listened, that I favoured a reduction in the time; although I believe in conscription as the best and most honourable form of National Service that we could devise. If we did not have National Service it would enable every "spiv" to get out of the forces instead of being compelled to serve for a period in the forces.
§ Mr. Hughes
If my hon. Friend's Amendment had been carried, and enough Members had gone into the Division Lobby, is it not a fact that there would have been no conscription at all?
§ Mr. McGovern
No, no. My hon. Friend must reason things out properly. I wanted reconsideration of the review of the period—but I suspect that my hon. Friend wants to keep me away from getting to the real crux of my case.
I want to bring the Germans into the general line of defence so that we shall not have to bear an extraordinary share of the defence of the West. I want them to bear part of the expense, and not have advantages over us in the commercial field because of the fact that they have not to bear the cost of part of their own defence.
Mr. Molotov showed clearly that he never intended to accept any proposals that were put before him. That is one of the stark realities of the conference. The Foreign Secretary and his colleagues have done a great job by unmasking Mr. Molotov and the Russians in the most direct way that has ever been done. It has shown that they have no desire to move one inch from the territories occupied. As my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) said, if the Russians moved out of any territory, whether it was Austria or elsewhere, all the other lads would say, "When are you going to move out of ours?" and the pressure would begin internally in those countries.
I see no alternative at all. After the First World War the Germans were treated in a shocking manner. We drove them right into the hands of the Nazis and gave Hitler power. At that time we had not the world organisation that we have today. Now we have the United Nations operating. It operated in Korea in a very successful manner and showed 518 Russia plainly that if she intended any other form of overlordship or pressure she could gain territory only by risking a world war. Russia certainly did not want to risk that world war.
I did not believe that we should achieve anything by the Berlin Conference—I never believed that we would get anything—but in spite of that I welcome the suggestion to meet again at Geneva. I would say, "Go on discussing it, and trading," because, from one point of view time is on our side. I cannot see young people in every country being cut off from the rest of the world and not being able to settle down without applying internal pressures in those countries. There is no doubt that Russia has troubles behind the Iron Curtain. Every time she beheads someone or shoots or imprisons a section of the community she arouses the antagonism of all the relatives, friends and associates of the victims. There is aroused not just hostility, but a bitter hostility, which continues to grow, to the Russians in those areas.
I realise that nothing definite has been accomplished, and that Molotov would like most of all to separate the countries of the West. That is the reason for some of the world-wide propaganda that has been carried on. It is amazing how that propaganda goes on. The anti-America propaganda was started by the Communists, and then those wishing to look advanced came on the platform shouting the same things. Politicians are very often afraid to stand up to pressure groups. Intellectuals think that they will appear more intellectual if they talk the same language. They are always disclaiming putting over Communist theories, but the more they shout the more one can realise what is in their minds.
I was glad to see the unity which prevailed among the Western nations at Berlin. Molotov and the Russians were bound to be disturbed by the results of the conference, when they were compelled to show themselves up over the Austrian treaty. It was astonishing when the West—even from the tactical position—conceded everything the Russians had asked, until, in despair, the Russians had to think of other points and to say that they were not disposed to leave the country. They have seized the country, they had expanded; they do not want to contract.
519 I believe in bringing the Germans into this re-armament policy and allowing them to play their part. I hate to hear it put forward that there is no hope that Germany can take a new line. I believe that is completely untrue. Behind the Iron Curtain we could trust the people if they were free from the Soviet terror; and I do not regard the working class or the citizens of any country as being hopeless. Germany went on a disastrous course, to which many things contributed, but surely we are capable today of rising to new heights in our efforts to try to improve the foundations on which mankind may be able to build a road out.
While we talk, while we trade, let us go on incessantly with propaganda and exposures of the fundamental fallacies of the Soviet beliefs. If we present the problem in an intelligent form, our people will give 100 per cent, support to the Government to carry out their policy as enunciated at Berlin. While hoping for the maintenance of world peace, at this time the greatest contributing factor to that world peace is to present a solid united front to the Soviet rulers; to give every aid we can to those who are their victims, and, at the same time, to build up united strength and say that in no circumstances shall we be terrorised and blackmailed into surrender to the brutal way of life which is coming from the East.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
I apologise for inflicting myself upon the House of Commons after the tonic of robust common sense which the whole House has just enjoyed from the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern). After this morning's news this has indeed been a remarkable debate. The right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) said that he hoped there would be a bi-partisan policy in this House on this critical issue, faced as we are by the threat of Communism. Save for two speeches there has been a remarkable amount of agreement and a remarkable lack of division, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is as glad as I am at the way our debate has run its course today.
520 There has been no serious challenge, in any speech, to the position taken up by the Western Powers at Berlin. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) in a most helpful and constructive speech—if I may humbly say so—made it plain that in his view there was no suggestion that the three Western Foreign Ministers failed to make a positive effort to reach a settlement of the German and Austrian questions, or that we did not try to meet seriously any genuine Soviet anxieties about security.
Ever since we took office we have striven to get a settlement of these questions, as did our predecessors, and, after a long exchange of Notes, lasting over 21 months, we eventually got the Russians to the conference table. When, in their final Note of 26th November, the Russians dropped the pre-condition about the elimination of N.A.T.O. bases, we all hoped that they would come to Berlin ready to discuss these questions in a serious mood, but only too early it became apparent that what had previously been a pre-condition for having a conference at all had merely been transferred, and was now firmly fixed as a pre-condition to agreeing to a settlement.
In all our discussions of European questions it was made brutally clear that the Soviet condition for a European settlement was that we should abandon our security arrangements while they kept all theirs intact. How else are we to interpret articles 7 and 10 of Mr. Molotov's European security treaty? I seriously invite hon. Members to study these two articles—and, indeed, the whole treaty—very closely.
My right hon. Friend has read article 7 to the House, and it will have noticed that the Russians said:The Parties to the Treaty undertake not to participate in any coalition or alliance … contrary to the purposes of the Treaty on Collective Security.….The word "participate" is particularly interesting in that connection, for this clearly precludes any party to the treaty belonging to any existing as well as any future organisation.
Let us look at article 10, which says:The present Treaty shall not impair in any way the obligations of European States under international treaties and agreements to which they are party, provided the principles and purposes of such agreements are in conformity with those of the present Treaty.521 What does all this mean? My right hon. Friend has quoted Mr. Molotov's comparison of the North Atlantic Pact with the anti-Comintern Pact before the war, but this was by no means Mr. Molotov's only attack on N.A.T.O. Indeed, on the very same day Mr. Molotov said it was true that the Soviet Union could not support N.A.T.O. It sufficed to say that this organisation was directed against the Soviet Union itself and against the people's democracies.
He went on to say that for the same reason the U.S.S.R. could not support E.D.C. Again, on page 106 of the White Paper, Mr. Molotov is reported as saying that the E.D.C. was the spearhead against Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R., and that it wasnothing but an instrument of the North Atlantic military alignment.Time and time he referred to the N.A.T.O. bases in Europe as threatening the Soviet Union.
It is quite clear from all this that Mr. Molotov's intention in article 7 of his security treaty was to break up N.A.T.O., whereas in article 10 he would allow himself to keep all the network of Soviet alliances in Eastern Europe in existence. This same proposal was to be found in all Mr. Molotov's principal texts. It crept into his draft peace treaty for Germany and his proposal for a provisional all-German Government, as well as into his addendum to article 4 of the Austrian peace treaty.
But if Mr. Molotov's own words and accusations against N.A.T.O. are not enough to reveal the purpose behind his texts, his proposal in his security treaty to relegate the United States to the role of observers removes all possible measure of doubt. What he demands is that we should give up N.A.T.O. and the Americans should abandon Europe, in exchange for the benefits and the protection of being members of the Soviet defence community of Europe or, as the hon. Member for Shettleston put it very succinctly, we can have world peace by world surrender.
In no speech made by any of the three Western Foreign Ministers at Berlin was any demand made that Russia should abandon her own security. On the contrary, we offered continually to examine ways and means of ensuring, and indeed 522 increasing, Russia's sense of security. My right hon. Friend offered to prolong the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, but he got no thanks for the offer and barely an acknowledgment. When it had been repeated after the second round of speeches on this issue, Mr. Molotov was forced to comment upon it. He coldly remarked that as long as we remained members of N.A.T.O. such an offer to prolong the Anglo-Soviet Treaty was incomprehensible to the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) has some strange friends, stranger even than some of us had imagined.
§ Mr. Nutting
May I deal now with the question of German re-unification? My right hon. Friend explained the plan which he put forward for a re-unified Germany by means of free elections, but Mr. Molotov's tactics throughout that discussion made it perfectly plain that his whole aim and object was to boost the East German Communist régime; and to keep it in being for as long as possible. In no circumstances was he willing to allow the German people freely to choose their own elected representatives, for he knew perfectly well that once such freedom of choice had been conceded no power on earth could prevent the East German régime from being swept away.
Of course, as my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, Mr. Molotov talked of reunification and of free elections, but how did he propose to set about it? By a provisional Government set up by an amalgam of the East and West German régimes, apparently on a basis of equal representation. This Government were to work out a peace treaty and free elections. At best that is putting the cart before the horse, because only an all-German Government resulting from free elections could have the necessary authority to negotiate and sign a peace treaty on behalf of the German people.
Even if one could get the Pankow and Bonn régimes to work together in a provisional Government, such a Government could never carry the necessary authority to negotiate such a settlement. But of course the Soviet Government knew, when they made the proposal, that it could 523 never work. All the parties in the West German Parliament, including the Social Democrats, were united, have been united and still remain united, in refusing to countenance any such contrivance. The Soviet Government knew perfectly well that this plan would in effect involve endless delays in bringing about German re-unification, and, what is more, that it would be the very negation of the principle of German re-unification in freedom.
It proved impossible to bring about any serious discussion of those all-German elections. Mr. Molotov bluntly dismissed my right hon. Friend's plan as "Formal constitutionalism, procedural questions of elections, and the like." He said:The basic conclusion to be drawn from this is the following: we must not be carried away by parliamentary formalities and the organisational and technical aspect of this matter.He went even further on another occasion and said that before one holds elections one must have some idea of what the results will be.
To say the least that is a fairly candid expression of the view held by the Soviet Union on free elections. The basic conclusion which I should think this House would draw from all this is that the Russians are not prepared to allow free elections in Eastern Germany because they know perfectly well what the result would be. Of course, the essential drawback to free elections, as, I think, we feel sometimes on both sides of this House, is that they tend to get rid of the existing régime. One cannot be sure of getting the result one wants. However, I was brought up to believe that this was the essence of democracy, that the people should choose. Surely all our experience of German history, in particular in the last two decades, tells us that the only safe course for Germany is to strengthen and not to subdue the democratic element.
Certainly no safe or practical alternative was produced at Berlin. Nor have I seen in any responsible commentary upon our Berlin proceedings any suggestion that my right hon. Friend's plan for free elections was in any sense unfair. The hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) rightly observed that in this plan we were only seeking for the 524 Germans what we sought, what we demanded, what we had for ourselves.
The question of neutralisation has come up in this debate. Several hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have made the point that, quite apart from the impracticability of trying to enforce neutralisation on Germany, any such policy would merely play into the hands of all the worst elements and defeat the efforts of those many Germans—I emphasise many Germans—who are trying to build a democratic State. I entirely agree.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover), in an excellent maiden speech, dealt with this point. So did the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South and the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). Surely the only safe and prudent course either for West Germany, or, if we could have got it—but we have not—a reunited Germany, is to bring her into the European fold where she can contribute her vast energy and resources to defending instead of to destroying Western civilisation.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne interrupted my right hon. Friend when he was dealing with this question of neutralisation. He asked how my right hon. Friend could now be opposed to the neutralisation of Germany when Potsdam laid down that Germany should be completely disarmed and demilitarised. [Interruption.] It was not quite clear to me exactly what the hon. Gentleman said, whether he said neutralised or disarmed and demilitarised. First, let me make it quite plain that the Potsdam Protocol says nothing about neutralisation. It says "disarmed and demilitarised." I have looked it up, and it is very far from being as the hon. Gentleman described it. The Protocol he had in mind dealt specifically and only with the initial control period.
§ Mr. Nutting
I have the Protocol here.
We maintain that the initial control period has long since passed, for it is nearly nine years since the Potsdam Agreement.
§ Mr. Nutting
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head and disagrees that the initial period has passed. If Potsdam 525 laid down that Germany should be completely disarmed and demilitarised, then presumably the Russians agree that the initial control period is passed because they have gone in for, as the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery said, a substantial element of rearmament in Eastern Germany.
§ Mr. Silverman
I think that the hon. Gentleman has mistaken the point which I tried to make. I can understand the argument, although I would not agree with it, that what was believed in 1945 may be quite wrong in the conditions of 1954, but what the Foreign Secretary was saying was that permanent demilitarisation of Germany was always an unthinkable and impossible thing. I said that Potsdam did not say so. With regard to the hon. Gentleman's point, it is quite true that this appears in the section of the Protocol which is headed, "Initial period of control," or something like that, but if he will look lower down in that section he will see the purpose for which the occupation is to be used, and demilitarisation, which is referred to specifically and in great detail in the lower paragraphs, is stated to be final and absolute.
§ Mr. Nutting
I anticipated that the hon. Gentleman would invite me to look a little further into the Protocol, and that is precisely what I did. If he will look a little further into the Protocol he will see that there another duty was laid on the four occupying Powers by the Potsdam Agreement. I will tell him what that duty was. It was in the words of the ProtocolTo prepare for the eventual reconstruction of German political life on a democratic basis and for eventual peaceful co-operation in international life by Germany.That is precisely what the three Western Powers are seeking to do and sought to do, and sought to get Russian agreement on in Berlin. That is, to allow an all-German Parliament, when it is elected, the right to undertake freely, and of its own free choice, peaceful co-operation in international life. That is what the Russians would not have. That is what Mr. Molotov turned down.
There is a further point upon which we, I think, all agree in this House, and the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South himself made this point today— that a reunited Germany should become 526 a member of the United Nations. Indeed, Mr. Molotov agrees about this because his own draft peace treaty tabled at Berlin included that provision. Let me recall that Article 51 of the United Nations Charter specified that nothing shall impair the inherent right of collective or individual self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations.
Is it suggested by the hon. Member that Germany should be admitted to the United Nations but under the disability of not being able to enjoy one of the essential rights of membership—that is, to associate with peaceful nations for collective self-defence? We cannot agree with that form of restricted and limited membership.
I now turn to the question of German rearmament. It has been said in the past by some hon. Members that we cannot expect the Soviet Government to agree that an all-German Government should be free to choose for or against the E.D.C. It has been said that that would be a threat to their security. We devoted many hours of discussion to this problem at Berlin. My right hon. Friend and his two Western colleagues pointed out the safeguards which E.D.C. provided against a re-birth of German nationalism and militarisation. It was clear from our discussion that the Russians were not interested in these explanations for, indeed, all we got in reply was an endless repetition of what we had already answered.
Let us look a little further into Russian policy. They propose—and this is nothing new, for they proposed it in one of their earliest Notes in March, 1952— that a reunited Germany should have national armed forces, which were to be limited by the peace treaty. But it was never made clear what action they would take in the event of Germany exceeding these limits. Would they, for instance, reoccupy Germany, or would they content themselves with sending a note of protest to the German Foreign Office? This was never explained, though in his proposals for European security Mr. Molotov reserved the right to reoccupy Eastern Germany on almost any pretext.
As the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) said today, and, I think, rightly, that no democracy would agree to something which involved a preventive war in order to enforce a 527 provision of this kind in a peace treaty. It is quite clear, therefore, that the issue between the Soviet Union and the West is not whether Germany should be rearmed—they have agreed to that; indeed, they have rearmed Eastern Germany already. The issue is whether Germany should have the right to associate herself with the defensive arrangements of the free world or whether she should be forced into an armed and neutralised vacuum in the middle of Europe, with all the pressing danger of her being sucked into the Soviet system. Surely, there can be no question—there certainly has been very little questioning in the House today—of the menace which such a neutralised Germany would present.
Once again, therefore, we ask ourselves, what is the safest solution? The answer, to my mind, is clearly the E.D.C., in which Germany will accept voluntarily all the restraints and safeguards against national adventure, and all the obligations for international co-operation in defence, which are inherent in this conception.
As the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South said, the most tragic of all our discussions was that on Austria. Here the Soviet attitude was stripped of all veneer of specious reasoning. Here was brutal power politics. The free world may well ask what more the Austrian Government could do, what more the Western Powers could do, than agree to sign all the Soviet texts of all those articles that were unagreed up to the time of Berlin; to sign the treaty that Mr. Molotov himself brought to Berlin.
That was the proposition. It seemed almost impossible that the Soviet Union should ask for more. Yet when they realised that we had removed all the existing obstacles to the treaty, they had to devise fresh excuses to delay its signature. They bluntly insisted that Austria 528 be bound to permanent neutralisation and that occupation troops should stay on until we had agreed to a German peace treaty. They, and the whole world, knew perfectly well, from our earlier discussion of the German item, that such a demand meant in effect the maintenance of foreign troops on Austrian territory for an indefinite period. In other words, at one stroke the Soviet Union deliberately and wantonly vitiated the main purpose of the treaty—that is, to get rid of occupation troops. By demanding as the price of agreement that Austria accept an indefinite bondage, they deliberately dishonoured their pledge, given at Moscow in 1943, to give Austria her freedom and independence.
I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery that the failures at Berlin were indeed due to fundamental differences between East and West, but, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, Berlin was far from being without its achievements and advantages. Above all, for the guidance of the free world's future policy it has clarified beyond all doubt the position of the four Powers in regard to the European situation, and it has shown to all the world the absolute unity and solidarity of the three Western Powers. These are important gains. They offer to us all both a reassurance and a challenge, for if we can maintain this unity and go forward to complete our European defence plans within N.A.T.O. we shall not only secure ourselves against attack but, as we grow stronger, perhaps gradually open up the prospect of bridging the gulf which now divides the world.
§ It being Ten o'Clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Kaberry.]