§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order. I apologise to my right hon. Friend and I hope not to delay him for long. I want to raise a point of order for the guidance of the House. I am sorry not to have been able to give you prior notice of it, Sir. I raise it for a twofold reason. The debate that we had yesterday was obviously listened to with very great interest not merely in this country but all over the world; and so will be today's debate.
You may remember, Mr. Speaker, that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, speaking for the Government at the end of the debate yesterday, said, at the beginning of his speech: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th February, 1954; Vol. 524, c. 523.]The way the debate ran its course yesterday and the way it will run its course today depends entirely, Sir, on your selection of speakers. It would be quite improper for me to make any comment upon that, and I am not proposing to make any comment upon that. But it is not universally understood, not even in our own country and certainly not in other countries, that the hon. Gentleman who made that remark was obviously inviting those who were here and those who may read what he had to say in other parts of the world to draw the inference, from what he said, that the balance of speakers in the debate represented the balance of opinion in the House.
There is no Motion before the House, so the balance of opinion cannot be registered in the normal way by those who are not fortunate enough to catch your eye, Sir. We know, from what my right hon. Friend said in opening the debate yesterday, that, although it is quite true there were only two speakers out of a dozen or so who spoke against the proposal that the Government were advocating, nevertheless, opinion is divided within this House, at any rate on this side of the House, almost evenly.
575 That division of opinion is not confined to this side of the House. What I am wondering today, in view of what has been said and the misconceptions that may arise from it, and the misunderstanding that may flow from it, is whether there is any way in which we can prevent people from supposing that the divisions of opinion in this House are so few and so circumscribed as the hon. Gentleman said.
§ Mr. Speaker
I cannot conceive the purpose of that point of order. It is either a reflection on the Chair and the impartial calling of speakers, or it is an instruction to the Chair as to what it should do to-day, both of which would be clearly out of order. I must say that I find it a very difficult task to choose Members properly so as to balance the debate, because there is such a diversity of opinion; but I shall have to do the best I can in the matter.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Attlee (Walthamstow, West)
Yesterday we began an interesting debate on the Berlin Conference, introduced by a factual statement from the Foreign Secretary, summing up the lessons to be learned from that conference. I do not think that I should be right in saying that I was disappointed at the result of the conference. Frankly, I did not expect very much success; I doubt whether anyone did. The fact is that, apart from the proposal for a further meeting at Geneva, the conference failed entirely in its objective of dealing with the problem either of Germany or Austria.
In my view, that failure was not due to the representatives of the Western Powers. They went a very long way and were extremely conciliatory. I must say that I think the Foreign Secretary showed a great deal of patience. I am not quite sure that I should have been so patient. I should certainly have felt inclined, probably wrongly, to intervene in some of Mr. Molotov's rather selective memorials in his disquisitions on history.
I should have been inclined to remind him that the resurgence of German militarism was due to the training afforded in Soviet Russia. I could not have helped reminding him, when he talked of the failure of democracy in the Weimer 'Republic, that the democratic Govern- 576 ment was brought down not only by the Fascists but by the Communists, whose policy has always been to try to destroy the democratic forces rather than to fight the Fascists.
I could not have helped reminding him, when he talked of the great suffering of the Russian people, with which we have every sympathy, that the war was launched in alliance with Soviet Russia and the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman showed a very wise restraint.
We have now to consider what is the actual position arising from that conference. I do not think that any of us wanted this conference to take place in the actual form in which it did. We had hoped earlier last year that there might have been a meeting of the heads of States. We were hoping that the change in the dictatorship in Russia might possibly have meant some change in policy. I am afraid that after reading carefully the Report on the conference, Cmd. 9080, one must say that there is no change of mind in Russia on this.
It seems that they are resolved to hold on to all their positions in Eastern Europe. I am inclined to think that that is largely due to the fact that they are occupying a very large part of Europe, and think that if they give up any part of it they may have to go further and give up other parts. There was really no reason whatever why, apart from strategic or power policy considerations, they should not have agreed to the very generous proposal made with regard to the Austrian Treaty.
I think that it is the fear that if they gave way on Austria that would encourage Czechoslovakia to want her freedom; that if they gave up in Eastern Germany that would encourage Poland. They are, I think, acting on military considerations. It is suggested that it is the fear of N.A.T.O. We need to remember that N.A.T.O. was the answer to aggressive action by Russia. We have to ask ourselves Whether a meeting of a different sort would have made any difference; whether a meeting with a wider context would have made a difference. I confess that I doubt it. I think their minds are fixed on this point. We all hope that something will come out of the meeting at Geneva.
577 That, again, will entirely depend on whether Russian policy thinks that some kind of a withdrawal in the East may be to their advantage. It may also be that China will have a different word to say. We ought here and now to assure the Chinese people, whose Government we recognise, that we have every desire to be friends with the Chinese, as we have with the Russian people, and that China has nothing whatever to fear from this country. We must all hope that something will come out of the meeting.
But these meetings go on and the position does not change. We have to make up our minds on the fact that we cannot at present get any great change. The position was well summed up by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) in his very able speech yesterday, in which he said:Peace will be the end product of a long period of patient diplomacy and military preparedness."—[official report, 24th February, 1954; Vol. 524, c. 476.]My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) set out very clearly the different currents of opinion that exist in this party on the question of rearmament in Germany. Those currents of opinion run right through the country. Indeed, they reflect the doubt and disquiet which are common to all of us.
I confess that I dislike the idea of rearming Germany as much as anybody does; anybody who has experienced the two world wars feels that. I noticed how, in his very interesting speech, the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover) explained clearly how his mind had been pulled both ways. But we have to look at the facts and to face squarely the position as we find it at the end of the conference.
By all means let us continue trying to get an agreement, but we now have to face the fact that we have a divided Germany and a divided Europe, and we have to consider what is the position of Germany in Europe today. I suggest that the crucial question that faces us is not whether Germany is to have rearmament. I do not think anyone imagines that Germany can be kept permanently disarmed. I do not think it is even the question of the exact method by which German rearmament or contribution to defence should be made. The real ques- 578 tion that faces us, I think, is what is to be the mind of the German people in this distressing position, in which, it may be, they will have to stay for some time? That is the position that we have to face: the mind of the German people.
We all hope to avoid another shooting war and we must continue to maintain in the West adequate forces to repel aggression. That, I think, is the common view of all of us. I am absolutely certain that we had to take the steps that led to the building up of N.A.T.O. One did not live through that time, culminating in the Berlin airlift, without learning something from it. There is no doubt whatever that the strengthening of the West has contributed to the better atmosphere that we have today.
I have come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that to that strengthening Western Germany should make a contribution, and that that contribution should be made to these forces as an integral part in the defence of Western civilisation. We can —I hope we will be able to—avoid a third world war. What I think we cannot avoid is facing the conflict of ideas which divides the world. On the one side there is totalitarianism, Fascism or Communism— merely two variants of the same thing— and on the other side democracy, standing, as has been said, on the heritage of Palestine, Greece and Rome, with its conception of the freedom of the human spirit manifested in various forms. There is a deep gulf between the two. They may exist without war, but there is that conflict in the field of ideas.
In this country we have differences of opinion. We are not ashamed of our differences of opinion in this House. I am not ashamed of the differences of opinion in my party on this issue. But, equally, I am not ashamed of the underlying unity on fundamentals which expressed itself in all the speeches that were made yesterday. Not one of those speeches could have been made with safety in a totalitarian State.
The question is, on which side will Germany be in this ideological struggle? We have examined—it has been spoken of often—the question of the neutrality of Germany. I do not believe it will be possible to have unarmed neutrality. Unarmed neutrality would bring up all the dangers of German militarism again. 579 But what I think today is quite impossible is an idea of neutrality. One has to be either on the side of freedom or on the side of servitude.
Western Germany has decided for the Western civilisation, for freedom and democracy. On this, Herr Adenauer and Herr Ollenhauer are in agreement. We know very well that there are dangerous elements in Germany. There are dangerous elements, both of the Left totalitarianism and the Right totalitarianism, in other countries. Even here, where we are remarkably free from it, we have had Sir Oswald Mosley and Harry Pollitt. But the fact remains that the vast majority of people in this country stand for freedom. I believe that the majority in Western Germany stand for freedom, and that the majority in Eastern Germany stand for freedom if they could express it.
It must be our policy to try to integrate Germany in the West. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) made interesting points on this. We have to consider, then, the question of a contribution to defence in the light of what kind of mentality there will be in Germany behind that contribution to defence. The fear in so many people's minds is that there might be an entry of the old reactionary forces in Germany, with their minds fixed on another world war and on revenge; that they might become too strong whatever association is made. But that depends on the mentality of Germany.
Here, I should like to take up a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), about the importance of integrating Germany into the defence of the West and into the service of the world. There is a terrible danger if Germany is isolated, and it would be very dangerous if she were just neutral. The German has a tendency towards introversion. I think he inclines to brood on the past, to think all the time of the past, and our efforts must be directed towards getting him to think not of the past, but of the future. That can only be done by trying to get Germany into the service of the world, and particularly the young generation of Germans to see that there is a wider idea than Germany to serve.
580 After all, this perversion of Germany, which has been alluded to in our debate is not a thing which has run all through her history. There was the rise of Prussianism under Frederick, then there was Bismarckianism and eventually there was Hitlerism. They all sprang from the same false idea of German dominance of the rest of the world, instead of a German partnership with the rest of the world.
If one carries one's mind back 100 years or so, there were international Germans who were making contributions in every field, in art, science and religion. Those values must come back to serve the whole world, and that is why I should like the Prime Minister to tell us the kind of attitude that we want to adopt towards Germany in the future.
I have never concealed the fact of the apprehensions that there might be renewed German militarism. We know the dangers. There is the danger from Russia, and there is the danger from Germany. We hope that in the course of time the Russians may change, but it is difficult to get at them. We can, however, make contact with German citizens. We ought to make that contact, and I believe there is a great opportunity because both here and in the United States as well as in other countries we are agreed that one of the great tasks of the world is to try to raise standards in the areas where standards are deplorably low.
We have in South-East Asia and in the southern parts of Asia democracies working on the same lines and on the same principles as we have in Europe. That is a great advantage. We have, too, the conditions that make possible Communist domination in low conditions. With the United States and other countries we can do what we can to raise standards of living. Germany has immense resources in science and in the capacity for educating people. I feel that the ideal which should be put before the Germans is service in a great partnership for raising standards throughout the world to combat Communism. Communism will not be defeated by war, but by getting rid of the conditions which enables this amazing creed to take hold of a people.
Therefore, though looking at this matter reluctantly, I have come to the conclusion that there must be this contribution to Western defence by Germany, 581 which means some arms for that country, but of profound importance is the spirit in which it is done. I do not say that I like entirely the arrangements that are being made about the European defence force, but we have got to remember that that was brought forward by the French. It was an effort to change the centuries old rivalry of Teuton and Frank. Can we not try in these days and in this difficult time, though we may not be able to made any spectacular progress, to build up a world civilisation and get Germany back into the fold, working with the democracies and with the civilised countries in a service to mankind?
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)
I am sure that the House will feel that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has made a concise, massive, statesmanlike contribution to a subject which has caused much widespread heart searchings among all parties and throughout all parts of the country. I have on several occasions paid my tribute to the action which was taken by Ernest Bevin, by the right hon. Gentleman and by other leaders of the Labour Party in the crisis which Russian ambition and aggression after the war produced. It has helped us to keep our heads above water.
If the present mood of the Socialist dissentients—I prefer to use that word than "rebels," being in a peaceful state of mind today—had ruled, between 1947 and 1951, the policy of the Government in power, it is very likely that the cause of the free nations might have been cast away. It does not follow either that peace would have been preserved.
In the main, we have carried forward the policy of the late Government, modifying it to suit the changing circumstances. But, in principle, there is nothing that we are now doing to which they are not committed and to which we were not committed by them and with them. That is why I think we can regard this matter—as, indeed, the atmosphere of the House proves—as one of national policy above the ordinary, healthy partisanship which exists.
Russia emerged from the war clad in the glory of the arms and the patriotism of her people. It was our hope 582 that she would play one of the leading parts in the United Nations, and that the sense of unity among the victorious powers would guide the world. The course which the Soviets followed in the last eight years of Stalin's rule produced several tremendous results. Russia gained the power to hold Europe and its capital cities up to what is now called the Iron Curtain line under her authority.
This line began by running from Stettin to the southern end of the Adriatic. Its southern section has been modified by events in Yugoslavia, but no one can suppose that what has happened to Poland and Czechoslovakia, to Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary will endure in permanence. I will speak about Austria, which is in a different category altogether, later on, but no solution is in sight at present for these subjugated States.
We have all rejected the use of aggressive force for this purpose. Time may find remedies that this generation cannot command. The forces of the human spirit and of national character alive in those countries cannot be speedily extinguished, even by large-scale movements of populations and mass education of children. Thought is fluid and pervasive, hope is enduring and inspiring. The vast territorial empire and multitudes of subjects, which the Soviets grasped for themselves in the hour of allied victory, constitutes the main cause of division now existing among civilised nations.
On the other hand, Stalin's use of his triumph has produced some other results which will live and last, and which certainly would not have been seen in our time but for the Soviet pressure and menace. No one but Stalin, nothing but the actions of Russia under his sway, could have made that alliance and brotherhood of the English-speaking peoples, on which the life of the free world depends, come so swiftly and firmly into being. Nothing but the dread of Stalinised Russia could have brought the conception of united Europe from dreamland into the forefront of modern thought.
Nothing but the policy of the Soviets and of Stalin could have laid the foundations of that deep and lasting association which now exists between Germany and the Western world, between Germany and the United States, between Germany and Britain and, I trust, between Germany and France. These are events which will 583 live and which will grow while the conquests and expansion achieved by military force and political machinery will surely dissolve or take new and other forms.
It is absolutely necessary that these facts, good or bad, should be realised by both sides, and that we should not fear to state them even to one another. I cannot bring myself to believe that men with such able minds as the Soviet rulers have not taken stock of the price they have paid, as well as of the possessions they have gained, by the Stalin policy. That, I am sure, exists in Russia; looking at the scene, they have become conscious that though they have gained much in worldly power they have lost much which would otherwise have been open to them. It was in this setting that the end of the Stalin regime and the arrival at the summit in the Kremlin of new men gave us all the hope that a new mood would rule in Russia and a new day would dawn for the people of the world, and also for the kindly, toiling, valiant people of Russia themselves.
The House will pardon me if I look back over the ground we have traversed since I addressed it on Foreign Affairs last May. I suggested a small meeting between the heads of Governments without agenda, without Press, without communiques, where full and frank talks could be indulged in and where the principals would not be oppressed by the ordeal—and it is an ordeal which few have experienced and no one should underrate—of playing on the world stage with every word studied, weighed and analysed, with every word liable to be misrepresented, torn from its context and used by vast, highly-organised machinery for propaganda purposes.
I thought that a simpler, more primitive meeting, at any rate as a preliminary, would be the best way of finding an answer to the question which everyone was then asking, but which few of us here are asking today: Has there been a significant change in Russian policy since the death of Stalin?
I was not able to go to the three-Power conference at Bermuda, planned last July, for reasons which I could not help, and, instead, there was a conference of the same Powers at Washington. It was there suggested that the Soviets should be invited to a meeting of Foreign 584 Secretaries to deal with the problems of Germany and Austria upon a somewhat rigid agenda. In the various Notes that were exchanged it gradually became apparent that more flexibility was desirable, and more flexibility was obtained. Anyone can see the magnitude of the obstacles to be surmounted. We certainly were not able to give up E.D.C. or N.A.T.O., or some variant between them without impairing our safety, and it did not seem that the Russians would be likely to give up their gains and conquests in Europe while they still held such an enormous superiority of military strength.
There is also a general point to be remembered here and elsewhere. When three or four great Powers are working together, no one of them can expect always to have his way, or often to have all of it. Each has to do what he can and not what he wishes. For my own part, I favoured the proposal sent to Russia for a conference for one overwhelming reason—I thought that any meeting with the Soviet Government under the new régime was better than no meeting at all. I still think so.
I do not regret this decision of the three Powers at Washington. I am sure it has been fully justified by the events which have now taken place at Berlin. Since the Washington meeting, seven months ago, several things have happened to make things easier. The agenda question and various matters of procedure were handled in a manner which prevented them from being an obstacle to discussion on the merits.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary prepared a very fair-minded plan for dealing with Germany on the basis of free elections as we understand them. The Locarno spirit, as I called it in May, was expressed in solid and solemn guarantees to Russia against any form of aggression. The only reason why these guarantees were not effective was because the military strength of Russia in what is called conventional warfare— a term which is coming into use—was so many times greater than that of the N.A.T.O. Powers that she did not feel she needed any guarantees in any period which can now be foreseen. Still, I am glad that they were offered, and they certainly stand, and I believe they have played their part in reducing tension.
585 When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary uses the word "disappointment" about the conference, it is, no doubt, a modest and natural reaction after the prolonged and intense efforts he has made with so much skill and experience. Even if there is much that has disappointed us, and if very little that is definite has been agreed, it is certain that some real advantages have been gained.
I must say, Sir, that I think that this was a very remarkable conference. It has restored the reputation of such meetings after some very unfortunate examples. It was a very remarkable conference, where all the arguments on so many difficult points were interchanged with skill and tenacity and yet no offence was given. And new contacts have been established at various levels between important men; indeed, I believe it to be true that personal relations and comprehension of each other's point of view were improved as the great debate proceeded.
So far from the conference having proved a failure or a disaster it has actually made the discussion of all these questions less delicate and less dangerous than it was. Further meetings between those concerned are in no way prevented. Nay, one meeting which seemed hopelessly barred has been fixed. At Geneva, on 26th April, all the Powers directly concerned in the Far East will meet together.
This will include the meeting in high-level conference of Communist China and the United States of America. I have always understood the strong feelings in the United States against Communist China being admitted to the Assembly of the United Nations at a time when she was, in fact, engaged in a war against the decision of that body, in which war the United States was bearing nine-tenths of the burden. It would have worn the aspect of condonation of what the Assembly had proclaimed to be an act of aggression, and it would have condoned it before peace had been made.
I do not think it surprising that the people of the United States, who have sacrificed so much of their blood and have a large army still dwelling under severe conditions far away from home, should have wished to delay the entry of Com- 586 munist China as a member of the Assembly until peace had been established. On the other hand, it seemed very unwise for the Allies not to meet the leaders of Communist China in negotiation for a peace.
There is nothing improper in belligerents meeting to discuss their affairs even while actual battles are going on, All history abounds in precedents. All the time that Napoleon was fighting his desperate campaigns in France in 1814 the International Council, composed of his representatives and those of the allies, were in constant conference at Chatillon-sur-Seine. I earnestly hoped that this, meeting between the Powers directly concerned in Korea and the Far East would take place. Now it has been arranged. It has been arranged by the conference at Berlin and it will be held in a few weeks, and it has a better chance of producing fruitful results than the one at Berlin had. Here, at any rate, is one outstanding hopeful result of their labours for which we are grateful.
The most obvious disappointment at Berlin was, of course, the failure to-secure the liberation of Austria by the signing of a treaty. No people have so little deserved their hard fate as the Austrians. I am sure that the Soviets would have (been wise in their own interests to make this gesture of humanity. From a military point of view they could easily afford to do so, especially in the light of the far-reaching guarantees of the Western world against a renewal of German aggression. At any rate, I do not think we need regard this door as finally closed. I certainly do not feel inclined to take "No" for an answer in this matter.
It would not be a case of making a bargain but a demonstration of moral strength on Russia's part which might be of enormous advantage to her. I always think that in these most difficult matters it is well to try to get into the mind of the other party and see the problem as they see it. It is that, I am bound to say, that gives me hope, though I hope that it will not be thought that I deceive myself or try to lead the House into foolish and vain ideas.
I feel a special responsibility about Austria because at the beginning of 1942, in a particularly bad moment for us, I gave a personal pledge. I made a speech 587 in Downing Street to a delegation of Austrians in Britain led by Sir George Franckenstein, whose memory is much respected here. In this, speaking with the full assent of a National Government and Parliament, I said:We remember the charm, beauty and historic splendour of Vienna, the grace of life, the dignity of the individual; all the links of past generations which are associated in our minds with Austria and with Vienna.… In the victory of the allies, Free Austria shall find her honoured place.That was in 1942. In 1943, as the Foreign Secretary reminded us, a Declaration affirming Austria's independence was signed by Britain, Russia and the United States. I am glad to be able to repeat that pledge on our part now. We still invite our allies of that perilous moment to join with us in making it good.
Let us make sure that we do not throw away any of the other advantages, minor though they be, which have been secured at Berlin. Patience and perseverance must never be grudged when the peace of the world is at stake. Even if we had to go through a decade of cold-war bickerings punctuated by vain parleys, that would be preferable to the catalogue of unspeakable and also unimaginable horrors which is the alternative. We must not shrink from continuing to use every channel that is open or that we can open any more than we should relax those defensive measures indispensable for our own strength and safety.
I do not feel that there is any incongruity between building up the strength of E.D.C. and N.A.T.O. and associating with it under the conditions which have been set forth a powerful German contribution, on the one hand, and faithfully striving for a workaday understanding with the Russian people and Government on the other.
There is one agency, at any rate, which everyone can see, through which helpful contacts and associations can be developed. The more trade there is through the Iron Curtain and between Great Britain and Soviet Russia and the satellites the better still will be the chances of our living together in increasing comfort.
When there is so much prosperity for everybody round the corner and within our peach it cannot do anything but good 588 to interchange merchandise and services on an increasing scale. The more the two great divisions of the world mingle in the healthy and fertile activities of commerce the greater is the counterpoise to purely military calculations. Other thoughts take up their place in the minds of men.
Friendly infiltration can do nothing but good. We have no reason to fear it and if Communist Russia does not fear it, that, in itself, is a good sign. I was, therefore, very glad to read of the measure of success which attended the recent visits by British business men to Moscow. I do not suggest that at the present time there should be any traffic in military equipment, including certain machine tools such as those capable only or mainly of making weapons and heavy weapons. But a substantial relaxation of the regulations affecting manufactured goods, raw materials and shipping, which, it must be remembered, were made three or four years ago in circumstances which we can all feel were different from those which now prevail—a substantial relaxation would undoubtedly be beneficial, and beneficial in its proper setting, bearing in mind the military and other arguments adduced. We are examining these lists and will discuss them with our American friends.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has been for some time very active in this matter. I am speaking so far, of course, only of trade with Russia. We cannot relax restrictions on trade with China until a Korean or, perhaps, a wider Far Eastern peace has been established. But that is the prospect to which we hope the conference at Geneva will open the road.
Now I come to the main issue of the debate. Should Germany rearm, and under what authority? The hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) spoke yesterday of this with force and clarity, and the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) made a speech which stirred the House deeply. In the First World War, Germany suffered little. Scarcely a yard of her territory was conquered in the battles. Her armies killed and wounded two or three times as many men as they lost themselves.
But this time she paid a terrible penalty. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) re- 589 minded us of this yesterday. Before the war ended the losses of Germany from bombing and other forms of warfare far exceeded ours, and the losses to her civilian population far exceeded ours. Her cities were shattered, great numbers of her civilian population were killed, and her soil was trampled mile by mile, her industries and shipping were destroyed.
For more than 40 years I have been living in relation to German power and watching the fearful drama from many varied and advantageous viewpoints. My deep feeling today is that the horrors of war have sunk deep into the German mind, and still deeper is the fear and hatred of Soviet domination.
Why, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary asked, should we try to make an outcast of 'this branch of the European family? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition spoke with force and understanding of this aspect, Like so many others, I have pondered over the proposal to create a united, neutralised, disarmed Germany, and it seems to me full of the gravest dangers.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has described in powerful terms how it is loaded with danger. It astonished me that anyone can imagine the mighty, buoyant German race being relegated to a kind of no-man's-land in Europe and a sort of leper status—
§ The Prime Minister
—at the mercy, and remaining all the time at the mercy, of Soviet invasion and always permeated by Communist designs. It has been said from every quarter of the House that either they would make a national army of their own or they would share on a gigantic scale the fate of Czechoslovakia.
There is another reason for not throwing over the arrangements we have so long been working at for association with Germany. I do not wonder that the public men on the Front Bench opposite, who have been concerned and responsible as Cabinet Ministers for so much of the work that has been done, should feel it a matter of honour not to break faith with Dr. Adenauer. Dr. Adenauer is, in my view, one of the greatest men Germany has produced since Bismarck. He is a sincere and convinced friend of 590 the Western democracies. He has gathered together the German people out of the pit of ruin and chaos into which they had fallen, and from which they might not have escaped.
He is a strong champion of the European idea, for the sake of which he has persuaded the bulk of the German people to reject those ultra-nationalist conceptions which so often spring from the agony of defeat. He has staked his political existence upon the cause of Germany in Europe. That we should desert him now would be not only an unfair blow to him, but it might react upon the whole future mind of the German people to an extent to which no one can set limits.
I earnestly and hopefully hope that this will not become a matter of party and electioneering strife in this country. It would indeed be a melancholy event if the Labour Party, or any important section of them, were to seek to perpetuate the quarrels with Germany by reviving the awful memories of a recent past. Risks attend every course in the world. There could be no more needless multiplication of risks than to use the tragedies of the past to breed bitter hatred for the future. I trust that we shall leave the past behind us and allow new healing ties to grow across the grievous wounds.
While there is close association between Germany and the United States, we are strangely respected in Germany. Perhaps we are respected most, both in France and Germany, for what we ourselves are most proud of, namely, that we fought on alone against what seemed to many hopeless odds.
When I spoke in May, I had in mind a meeting like we used to have in the war of the heads of States and Governments, with the Foreign Secretaries, and I still think that this procedure should not be ruled out. It must be remembered that in May we were not discussing the details of a settlement, but only the revival of contacts between ourselves and the leaders of the Soviet Union, at a time when they presented a new regime to the world and when many hopes were raised in many lands.
I trust that we shall always hold the resource of a meeting of the heads of States and Governments in reserve. I am 591 sure it is a good thing for people concerned in these great affairs to be on speaking terms. It would certainly be improvident to see that resource used lightly, and it would perhaps be disastrous to use it in vain.
Lastly, let me make it clear that there is no contradiction between our policy of building up the defensive strength of the free world against Communist pressure and against potential armed Soviet aggression and trying, at the same time, to create conditions under which Russia may dwell easily and peacefully side by side with us all.
On the contrary, I am sure that the British nation and our sister Commonwealths would find it difficult to go forward with the policy of increasing our military strength at such great sacrifices if they could not feel in their heart and conscience that everything in human power and prudence would be done, and was being done, to ward off the supreme catastrophe, and to try to build bridges and not barriers between Russia and the Western world.
It is in this two-fold policy of peace through strength—and also out of this policy—that wisdom and also honour reside. Peace is our aim, and strength is the only way of getting it. We need not be deterred by the taunt that we are trying to have it both ways at once. Indeed, it is only by having it both ways at once that we shall get a chance of getting anything of it at all.
§ 4.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
With many of the passages in the speech of the Prime Minister I am sure the whole House has been in agreement. With others I am sure that they will not have been in agreement. I was certainly very impressed with what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about trade, at any rate with the Soviet Union, because it is not very many months ago when views such as those that he has just expressed were regarded as almost treasonable in respectable quarters.
I for one, and I am sure the whole House, dislike the practice, whatever party is in opposition, of right hon. Gentlemen sometimes speaking on the Front Bench and sometimes going to the back benches to make a speech, and for my 592 part I certainly undertake not to make a habit of it. But I do feel that it is right that one of us, at any rate, if not more, should attempt to put the views of what my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was good enough yesterday to call a "substantial minority."
The fact that I am seeking to do that is no reflection on my right hon. Friend's speech yesterday, because he was most fair in expressing the anxieties of those on this side of the House and in the country who took a view different from that which he went on to develop. It would have been unreasonable to have expected my right hon. Friend to have put up a full reasoned case which many of us on this side would like to do.
My right hon. Friend did not apologise, nor did my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon, for the fact that there are two views in this party on this very important question. As my right hon. Friend said yesterday, we are a democratic party. We debate this issue because we know that it cuts right across party throughout the country, and that there are millions of people of all parties who take different views on the question of the rearmament of Germany.
We on this side of the House seek unity in these questions but we do not seek formal unity at any price, as on most occasions do the party opposite. I say to hon. Members opposite that in always attempting to present a facade of unity it should be remembered that formal unity is not of itself a virtue. Indeed, formal unity without a right sense of direction has been the prerogative not of statesmen but of the Gadarene swine throughout the ages.
It is not necessarily true that the party opposite always preserve complete unity on foreign policy questions. For months indeed the Foreign Secretary has found his foreign policy paralysed by the split in his own party on the subject of Egypt, and we know that the policy which the Foreign Secretary himself would like to pursue he has been unable to pursue because of the views of a somewhat turbulent minority on the opposite benches.
I think it would be unwise today for anyone on either side of the House to attempt to evaluate what is at present happening in Egypt. Nevertheless, it may 593 very well be that the best moment for securing the agreement that the Foreign Secretary wanted has passed, and if that is so a heavy responsibility rests on some hon. Members opposite. But we are not debating Egypt this afternoon.
We are debating the Berlin Conference, and I feel it right to quote again the view unanimously adopted at the Labour Party Conference at Margate last autumn, when the Conference urged that:there should be no German rearmament before further efforts have been made to secure the peaceful re-unification of Germany.The important phrase of that decision was "further efforts." The question to which many of us have been seeking an answer most deeply is the issue of whether the Berlin Conference does represent those further efforts that we had in mind, and whether the Berlin Conference finalises all the efforts that might be made on that issue. That is the real question that a lot of us have had to consider most deeply. I suggest that the Berlin Conference did not represent, or did not at any rate finalise, those further efforts that we had in mind last autumn. The first reason I want to give for saying that is that I very much doubt whether anyone in any part of the House had any real hopes that we would get at Berlin a definitive settlement of the German problem.
For instance, I remember reading only two or three weeks before the Conference began a statement in an American paper which, I think, represents a lot of powerful influential opinion there, "Time," which said:Western strategy, according to word in Washington and London, will be to expose Russia's unwillingness to make a settlement, trumpet it to the world, then adjourn the conference in the hope that Europe might thereupon unite in firm purpose. But"—went on "Time"—with the Russians, it has never been that easy.Then we had the statement of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in his speech last July, a speech which everyone on this side of the House united in applauding. In that speech he himself expressed the gravest doubts about the proposals which had emerged from the Washington conference for a conference on Germany undertaken by Foreign Ministers. This is what my right hon. Friend said: 594I am not at all happy about the proposed meeting … of the Foreign Secretaries. I quite agree … that if there is some specific point on which we can get agreement, it will be all to the good, but I cannot regard the future of Germany as one of those points. … To suggest that talk at high level on that particular crucial question is likely to be fruitful by itself seems an entire illusion.— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st July, 1953; Vol. 518, c. 229.]That was the view that was applauded by all of us on this side of the House last July. I think that view was shared by most hon. Members and by most people in the country. I doubt whether very many people expected a genuine and final settlement of this German problem at this one conference which was taking place in Berlin. Who did expect a settlement? The plain fact is that neither the Soviet Union nor the United States even wanted the conference to take place.
I believe they were both forced by world public opinion into attending this conference, which we would be ready to admit was—I will not say created but was certainly vastly encouraged—by the speech of the Prime Minister last May. It was that public opinion in the world which forced both America and Russia to attend a conference which neither of them wanted to attend. If that is so, could we really have expected at that conference a solution of the problem?
Secondly, did we negotiate in such a way as to make a settlement more likely? There has been considerable reference, especially in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary to the attitude of the Soviet Union at that conference, and I should like to say that a lot of us, whatever our opinion on the policy that should be pursued, will agree with a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday about the attitude of the Soviet Union at Berlin. Certainly none of us are trying in this House to act as apologists for the attitude of Mr. Molotov in Berlin, but one is bound to ask about the attitude of the Western Ministers at Berlin.
Were we, for instance, genuinely prepared to drop our prior commitments to Western German rearmament in return for agreement on free elections and a full settlement of the German problem? I agree, as I am sure we all do, with the words of the right hon. Gentleman yesterday about free elections. I also agree with his assessment of the probable 595 result of free elections if they were to take place in Eastern Germany.
I do not think there is any doubt about that, and I think the Russians were equally well aware, as was the right hon. Gentleman, of what the results were likely to be if elections had taken place in Eastern Germany. I am not quite certain that all the hon. Gentlemen opposite who cheered the Foreign Secretary yesterday would have cheered his support of free elections quite so enthusiastically if they had felt that there was a danger of the results of those elections going the other way. Nevertheless, I agree with the right hon. Gentleman in his assessment of what would have happened.
The Foreign Secretary put forward his constructive proposals for a German settlement in such a way, I think I am right in saying, that if he had been dealing with a Russian Minister who was passionately keen on getting a settlement of the German problem but who would not accept the proposals as they stood, the Russians could have moved amendments to them that might have led to a settlement. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman said, "We are not prepared at all to negotiate on the question of German rearmament." It is fair that that should be said.
It is true that Mr. Molotov did not take advantage of what I would call that very small loophole, that very narrow opportunity that was presented to the Russians of saying, "All right, we will have free elections if you will drop Western German rearmament." But if it is fair to say the Russians did not take advantage of the position that was open to them it is equally true to say that the Western Ministers did not make their position plain, and say, "If you will agree with our proposals about free elections and about other things in the scheme we for our part are prepared to drop our prior condition about the rearmament of Germany." That takes us back to the question with which I began, the resolution of this party at Margate last year. What, I think, the Labour Party had in mind at Margate was that we should aim at unity; have no prior commitments on German rearmament; but that, if unity proved impossible, we should have to think again about German rearmament. That is my inter- 596 pretation of what was decided at Margate. What I believe that the Western Ministers went to Berlin to say was that we must have German rearmament, and we would have unity if we could get it against the background of that insistence.
What we must ask now is whether we must take a pessimistic view of the world situation at the end of this Berlin Conference. The Prime Minister used some very encouraging phrases. He did not take a pessimistic view about the future of the world. Not at all. He drew attention, quite rightly, as did the Foreign Secretary yesterday, to the fact that this has been the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the East and West for about six years, and that it took place in a very much more cordial atmosphere than the previous meetings in 1947. That is of itself a reason for not being defeatist about the hopes held on both sides of the House of an ultimate solution of this German problem.
There has been much discussion about what is the Russian attitude to this point. I agree with the way the Prime Minister put it. Without any of us being identified with the Russian view it is the duty of every one of us to try to understand the Russian point of view and to look at the world through the Russians' eyes when trying to understand their approach to these problems. The Foreign Secretary yesterday put a military interpretation on the Russian attitude at the Berlin Conference. I think he was right. I think the Russians approached the Berlin Conference, and especially the proposals about Germany and Austria, from a military point of view. So did the West.
Indeed, that is inevitable, and until steps are taken to ease world tension I am afraid that both sides, East and West, will look at this primarily as a military problem, and neither side will take military risks about proposals, no matter whence they may come. That explains the Soviet attitude to Austria, which none of us seeks to defend on its own. The only point is that as long as the West insisted on having troops in Western Germany it was most unlikely that the Russians would move their troops out of Austria. One says that with a realistic appreciation of the problem that this creates for Austria.
Last year, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, when I was in Moscow and met 597 Mr. Molotov, I spoke to him at some length about this question, and I did suggest that he should agree to an Austrian settlement first, because it was easier, and I came back convinced that, however wrong I thought him, that that was one of the important points on which the Russians would insist.
The important thing is to get down to the real cause of world tension. I say world tension and not just German tension. The Soviet Union is a world power. It looks out on the Atlantic Ocean and on the Pacific Ocean. It is equally concerned in Asia and in Europe. That was why the Prime Minister was so right last May to insist on a conference to discuss at the highest level the whole field of world affairs, and not just certain specific problems.
Does Russia want a war? I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman thinks Russia wants a war. I think that the right hon. Gentleman feels as we do, that the danger of the world's blundering into a war lay in someone's overreaching himself, in some fool's letting off a rifle when he should not, or because the Soviet Union or someone else was responsible for some aggression thinking no one would resist it. I think these dangers have been very much diminished of recent years.
Too many commentators look at the Berlin Conference and say, "That proves it. There has been no change in Moscow since the death of Stalin." I believe that there has been a change. I do not believe that all the protocol, all the argument at Berlin, fully expresses that change, the desire of the Soviet Union, if not for a peaceful settlement of all these problems quickly, for at any rate peaceful co-existence with the West. I think that stood out from what the Prime Minister himself was saying today.
One has to remember that the Soviet Union is carrying through at the moment a tremendous programme of economic reconstruction. She got her priorities wrong, and she discovered it last year, and has got a very big job to put those priorities right. The Soviet Union is trying to carry through an industrial revolution that we had 200 years to carry through, and on top of that she has the economic responsibility at any rate for 598 assisting China to carry through an even bigger and more difficult revolution.
I am not suggesting that most of the questions that we are discussing today are susceptible to a Marxist interpretation: I believe that strategic factors lie at the bottom of most of them more than economic factors. But surely it is not fanciful to suggest that it is sometimes right to take a Marxist interpretation of the Russians themselves, and to recognise that they do sometimes do things for economic reasons. They are carrying through a tremendous task at the present time, a task so great that they can hardly want to have at the same time an aggressive world war on their hands.
We have the Geneva Conference to be held in April, one of the constructive results of the Berlin Conference. Are we to hope that the West and the East will approach that conference with a constructive attitude, hoping to solve problems, or are there to be as many sacred cows at Geneva as there were at Berlin? What is to be done about the recognition of China? I must say I was very disturbed this morning, as I am sure hon. Members on both sides of the House were, to read the official pronouncement of American policy in Asia as given by a gentleman called Mr. Robertson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, in answering questions by a Congressional Committee in Washington.
This, apparently, sets the policy for Geneva. The Assistant Secretary of State was asked whether the heart of the present State Department policy towards China and Formosais that there is to be kept alive a constant threat of military action vis-à-vis Red China in the hope that at some point there will be an internal breakdown?Mr. ROBERTSON: Yes, Sir, that is my conception.He was asked:In other words, a cold war waged under the leadership of the United States with constant threat of attack against Red China led by Formosa and other Far Eastern groups as militarily supported by the United States?Mr. ROBERTSON: Yes.Finally, he was asked:Fundamentally does that not mean that the United States is undertaking to maintain for an indefinite period of years, American dominance in the Far East?599Mr. ROBERTSON: Yes, exactly … That is the substance of it. But the reason for it is— I will ask you a question: Is it not the only justification for such a programme that it is necessary for American security?Then he dealt with the question of East-West trade in words different from the most encouraging words which the Prime Minister used this afternoon. Is that to be the attitude in which the West are to approach this Geneva conference? If it is we might as well say right away that it is not going to lead to any fruitful solution. If we have both East and West committed to policies which we know the other cannot accept there is very little hope of agreement.
Going back to the question of Germany, I believe the mistake which is being made at present is that there is far too much of a hurry to legislate for decades ahead and to create a situation which will prejudice the issue in Europe for a very long time to come. Surely the right policy—and here at any rate one takes a leaf out of the Prime Minister's book—is to ease tension first by attempts to look at the whole global problem and not just at specific issues. If we cannot do that—let us be frank—military pressures, both in the Soviet Union and in the West, will continue to dictate foreign policy. It is right to warn the right hon. Gentleman that the same problem will characterise any discussion of Korea as well as of Germany.
I submit that we can only look at these problems for a few years ahead, perhaps only for a few months ahead, because the situation is changing so rapidly. The Government are taking this Berlin breakdown, as it has been described, as a justification for a policy that may very well decide the fate of Europe for a whole generation ahead. They are doing this without any clear guidance to the House as to what the policy of this country is in relation to E.D.C. We are still not at all clear as to whether any talks are to take place and what is to be the attitude of this country to E.D.C.; whether we shall be in E.D.C. or not.
We are asked many times, "Is it not a fact that the Germans will rearm anyway? You cannot stop them rearming." If that is so and we cannot stop them rearming from scratch, what hopes has anyone in the House that we can limit their arms once they start?
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)
That is Mr. Molotov's proposal.
§ Mr. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman is in no danger of following Mr. Molotov's proposals, but equally he should not react so far in the opposite direction that he cannot have a constructive alternative. I suggest to the House that it will not be possible to limit German rearmament. Only today one has seen on the ticker-tape that Dr. Adenauer has used these words. He referred to what is being created as a result of the breakdown of the Berlin conference asa collective security system which may induce the Russians to surrender their hold on the Eastern Zone.What we are afraid is that the failure will bring irredentism into N.A.T.O., which began as a purely defensive alliance —a military alliance, but a defensive alliance—and there will be a new element which is bursting for revenge and which at the least is conscious of lost territories to the east; which will seek to get those territories back and will bring the rest of N.A.T.O. in. Suppose there is a rising in Eastern Germany. Is there not the greatest danger that Western Germany, incorporated through E.D.C. in N.A.T.O., will press very strongly to go to the relief of that rising and go to their help without waiting for the rest of N.A.T.O.? Does that not mean the immediate danger of World War Three?
One recognises the very difficult position with which the German Social Democrats are faced. They have issued a statement today in which they say that the position taken after Berlin is going to make the unification of Germany more difficult. That was the view of Dr. Reuther, one of the most heroic resisters against Communism—no Russian stooge he—who said that there could be rearmament or unity, but not both.
I wonder if there is not a fundamental error in a lot of our thinking. Far too many are thinking purely in terms of Germany and not enough in terms of France. France also is a world Power, but she is not able to play her part in Europe—that is the reason for her anxieties—because of that tragic and unnecessary war in Indo-China. I say "unnecessary" because, as my right hon. 601 Friend the Leader of the Opposition once said, if the French had done in Indo-China what we did in South-East Asia there would never have been the war in Indo-China.
We are often told that the dangers we are facing are from German industrial power—that is the economic problem— and militarily, the problem of Russian might. I wonder if we are not arming against the wrong danger and if, 10 years from now, hon. Members will be saying that the danger is not Russian military power but German military power, and not German industrial power but Russian industrial power. The Soviet Union is expanding her economic production at such a rate that it is a very real danger of which we in this House have to be aware. We have to be aware of weakening ourselves too much economically in order to meet the Russian military danger and then find in the end that we are defeated by the Russian economic potential, which has been rising all that time.
The whole House agreed with what the Prime Minister said, that there was a hope that with patience and perseverance these problems might yet be solved —these problems of Germany and others. Meanwhile, we should welcome any steps which led to easement of tension. That is what we all feel. There is the hope, and it is an appeal for that patience and perseverance, in order to create confidence on both sides of the Iron Curtain, that many of us on this side of the House are making to the Government and to representatives of the nations which will be taking part in the conference in Geneva.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Captain J. A. L. Duncan (South Angus)
The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) will be the first to agree that he has no cause for complaint at the hearing he has had in this House this afternoon. He has put the minority view of 'the Labour Party. He talked about the Governments; of the West being in too much of a hurry. I should like to point out to him that in the situation in Europe today—the Bonn Convention was signed over two years ago—and with the vacuum which exists in Germany we cannot sit down and do nothing. Something has to be done.
By taking decisions about the rearmament of Germany now, we are not in 602 any sense at all preventing the reconsideration of all these matters in the future if Russian policy should change. The Prime Minister has already said this afternoon that although for the moment the decision of the Russians seems to be final, they may change, and if a chink opens in their armour the West will be only too anxious to take advantage of it.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton also said that there was a danger of an irredentist movement in Germany. Surely the right hon. Gentleman has not considered the E.D.C. proposal carefully. If the proposal were simply to have a Germany Army free in Germany again, I should say that that would be a possibility, but the advantage of an E.D.C. German contribution is that the German military contribution to the armed forces of a European army will be so controlled and linked that there will be less danger of an irredentist movement being aided by German military power. The Germans agreed to this at Bonn, and Dr. Adenauer is only too willing to carry it out.
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary described the Berlin Conference as disappointing, but I suggest that it was not really so disappointing after all. The first decision that it reached was to continue the discussions on the reduction of armaments, a subject which has hardly been mentioned at all so far in the debate. The right hon. Member for Huyton referred to the great economic developments which are taking place in Soviet Russia. On top of that, the Russians have a very large armament programme. Might not the fact that Mr. Molotov is willing to continue to discuss disarmament, quite apart from the atom bomb aspect, be a sign that the Russians are feeling the strain and that they may well be willing to reopen discussions on that item, which, in turn, might make it possible once again to reopen discussions on other items, too, between the East and the West? I think that is a possibility, and I hope that the West will not sit still and do nothing but will follow it up.
I remember what happened at and after Versailles. It is not generally remembered that during the Versailles Conference it was stated by the allied and associated Powers that, in response to German disarmament, the allies would 603 themselves take steps to reduce their own armaments.
§ Captain Duncan
The allies did not achieve that. They made great attempts and nearly succeeded. If it had not been for the action of Hitler's envoys in walking out of the Disarmament Conference in 1934, we might have got a measure of reduction of armaments in the world. Do not let us get into the position in which the allies found themselves after the First World War. I believe that this is where a link between the East and the West may be forged once more.
The second achievement of the Conference is the agreement to meet again at Geneva next month. As an ordinary humble back bencher who studies affairs purely from a back bencher's point of view, I pay a warm tribute to Mr. Foster Dulles. He has troubles in his own country. He has not been Secretary of State very long. It took a great measure of courage on his part, with all the McCarthy business which is going on in the United States, to agree to sit down at a conference table with the North Koreans, the Chinese Communists and Soviet Russia to talk about the Far East. That tribute is due to him at this stage.
I hope that, as a result of the forthcoming conference, we may reach a peaceful solution to the Korean and Indo-Chinese problems, but even if we do not, we shall at any rate learn more about the relationship between China and Russia, and as a result of that, we may be able to get into their minds and thereby begin to understand what steps can be taken to meet their legitimate desires.
The third achievement of the Berlin Conference is the even greater unity, if that is possible, of the Western allies. Mr. Molotov used the most blatant blandishments to detach France from the allies. Hon. Members will see how blatant he was if they read paragraph 9 of the suggested General European Treaty on Collective Security in Europe on page 129 of the White Paper, which turns the United States out. In spite of those blandishments, French, American and British unity remains, and that is a great tribute to the Foreign Secretary and 604 the other chief delegates at the conference.
Having lived in a warlike atmosphere for many years, I consider that the fourth great achievement of the conference lies in the fact that the great men in this world are still talking. As long as they can keep talking, instead of shooting, then there is hope for the world. The fact that they will be talking again next month about another part of the world gives hope for the future. Therefore, I hope that the Foreign Secretry has not gained the impression from the vast amount of talking which went on in Berlin that the conference has been a disappointment. In my opinion, it has not. To the extent to which I have indicated, it has been a success.
Where has it failed? It has failed in respect of Germany and Austria. I shall say no more about Austria, because everything that I wanted to say has already been said. But it seems to me that we cannot leave a disarmed and neutral Germany in the middle of Europe any longer. The time for decision has come. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) will not object to my quoting a sentence from his famous article in the "News Chronicle." After referring to the Margate Conference, he says:Logically, therefore, the declarations, not only of the Labour Party, but the official declarations of the Labour Government m favour of the principle of a German military contribution to security, should now operate.That seems to be absolutely justified by what has happened.
§ Mr. William Warbey: (Broxtowe)
I think that the hon. and gallant Member would agree that my right hon. Friend wrote that at a time when he was unaware of the statement which has since been made by the Prime Minister, that before the Western Powers went into the conference we were not able to give up E.D.C. or some variant of it.
§ Captain Duncan
That is true, but I am looking at it after having visited Germany quite recently.
From my knowledge of the German people in two wars and by personal contact, it seems absolutely essential that we must make some advance on the present position. I am suggesting that we should call on the Germans to make a military 605 Contribution to the defence of the West. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has hold Mr. Molotov time and time again, not only at the conference but in public speeches and elsewhere, that N.A.T.O. is a defensive matter and has no offensive side in it at all.
A German military contribution, having regard to the methods by which N.A.T.O is being built up, seems not only justified, but in the interests of Germany herself. I disregard the economic aspect of the matter. If we are to have a neutral, disarmed Germany, with immense wealth being built up, that will be a great disadvantage to us, for we shall have a big arms bill to carry, while trying to compete in the markets of the world—but that is another matter. This German military contribution, linked up with N.A.T.O. and agreed to by the Germans is the right way to deal with this matter.
I hope and pray that the French will not delay the ratification of this Convention. If they delay, time is going on and the Germans may well take the view that Western Europe is not going to play its part and the Germans may think again and think differently. A neutral, disarmed Germany will be a magnet, and will be attracted by a magnet on one side or the other. If Germany remains neutral and disarmed she will be attracted to the East. If armed, and able to stand up for herself in combination with the West, Germany will, I believe, after having been defeated in two wars, and in view of the spirit that is abroad today in Germany, be friendly to us and will not be a danger to the peace of the world, at least for the next 25 years.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mrs. Lena Jeger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)
I hope that the House will extend to me the generosity with which it usually listens to Members who are speaking here for the first time. I am very sensible of the tremendous importance of this occasion, because the heart of the matter is not so much that it concerns the happiness of this generation but, in the long run, its survival. I hope that it will not be considered out of place for the most undistinguished and inexperienced among us to make a small contribution from the backmost bench. We cannot be reminded too often that it is 606 on the most ordinary people of this land and other lands that the failures of statesmen fall most heavily.
It is unavoidable that those of my generation who are listening to and following a debate like this should ask ourselves: "Is it inevitable that for us, too, there must be two wars in our lifetime, with all the consequences that they mean in terms of human suffering, and when there are unpaid bills still outstanding from other wars in the past?" I am sure that the House will bear with me in a personal note, when I say that the previous Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South died as a delayed casualty of the last war; and as I speak today for the first time in his place, these thoughts lie very heavily upon my consciousness.
My mind goes back to one occasion, one of a few occasions recently, when the hearts of us all were lifted. It was on 11th May, when the Prime Minister made one of his greatest speeches and when, in his own words, he said that he was trying to ensure that a gentler breeze should blow upon this weary earth. I think he did succeed in that, because he gave high hopes to us in this land, and other lands, of a new initiative.
As we know, it was no fault of the Prime Minister's that he was not able to call a conference on the high level which he had envisaged. I believe that the people of this country are still waiting for that conference, and that nothing that happened in Berlin has made it less necessary. It may even be, as some of us believe, that it has been made more necessary as a result of the steps forward that were taken in Berlin.
It may be that the Prime Minister should not be wearied with travel—I am sure we would all agree about that—but this is a situation which seems to call for unconventional and perhaps unprecedented action. I would like to ask the Prime Minister if he would not consider these possibilities again. He said this afternoon that he believed that meetings between heads of States should sometimes be kept in reserve because the risks of failure would be so terrible; but we are all mortal, and I am not sure that there is so much time for us to keep these cards up our sleeves indefinitely.
It would be a further contribution to the lessening of tension in the world if 607 this matter could be re-opened and if the Prime Minister could find it in his heart to invite Mr. Malenkov to come to this country. He might even ask him to stay at Chequers, where they could talk untrammelled. They might even paint a picture or play a game of chess in the meanwhile. One of the terrible difficulties that the Russians have made for themselves is that their people and ours have so little opportunity to spend time together—or to waste time together if we want to—in the ordinary contacts of civilised life. The House will recall the success—as I think it was—of the visit of Marshal Tito to this country, although there was a frank recognition of the ideological differences that separate us.
The important thing is that nothing should be left undone which might, even by the wildest chance, help us a fraction of the way towards the peace of the world. When the Prime Minister was talking about this proposal last May, he said:It might well be that no hard-faced agreements would be reached, but there might be a general feeling among those gathered together that they might do something better than tear the; human race, including themselves, into bits."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th May, 1953; Vol. 515, c. S97.]That is still true, and I hope that the Prune Minister will look again at that suggestion.
I represent a heavily-bombed constituency in Central London. It is a very interesting constituency, and though it used to be called "marginal" by the politicians I would not now change it for Ebbw Vale itself. We have all closely followed the reports from Berlin and will be following the debate in the House. Some of my constituents will have read too in the Report of Select Committee on Estimates on Civil Defence:It is estimated that an atomic bomb bursting over Central London at night would produce 30,000 deaths even though all the population were in houses and buildings and thus protected from heat-flash.It also states:A day-time attack on London without warning might produce as many as 10,000 flash-burn casualties.We have all read what the latest American bomb has done in tearing up the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It is against that unavoidable background that 608 we should listen to the news from Berlin. We are glad, of course, that the conference happened at all, and that our statesmen are still talking—because as long as they are talking we cannot be involved in a more murderous conflict. We listened, admiring the patience and tenacity of our statesmen. We are glad that another meeting has been arranged on a wider basis when, for the first time, the United States will sit down at the conference table with the People's Government of China. That is a tremendous achievement, but, at the same time we are disturbed at the intransigence which has prevented settlement of other issues.
The difficulty is that while our scientists are forging ahead into new and exciting worlds of high endeavour, the rest of us seem to be working on a lower key. We cannot claim that in the management of these new powers we have attained the same high standards of accomplishment and control as the scientists have achieved in their laboratories and power plants.
We shall not be able to stand with clear consciences as long as we are not putting as much positive effort into waging peace as we have put into waging war. We have to work on this same exciting level of new developments in the international sphere, of single-minded research in the realms of ideas, and put as much studious concentration and inspiration into the job of living together and using for the betterment of mankind the products of science as are now being put into more destructive policies.
Against that background Berlin takes its place. We hear, with some confusion and disappointment, talk of 12 German divisions. There seems a weariness and anachronism in this talk of a few divisions here and there when we try to understand something of the nature of another conflict. Were it seemly to be controversial in a maiden speech, I would have to say that I am one of those who do not support the rearming of Germany, because I do not think that 12 divisions is worth the surrender of this principle, and if there are to be more than 12 divisions, where are we going from there? We do not know enough about E.D.C., and I have no confidence as yet that the cage of E.D.C. will be strong enough to contain the new armed forces of Germany, 609 Today there is another job for Germany. We have to deal with the causes of war at their roots—the Prime Minister has said that often enough, and the Leader of the Opposition has said so today. I think that the Germans can show that they have a continuing contribution to make to civilisation in all these other spheres of activity. Let them do that first. Let them be our partners on the economic social development planes, and in all the tremendous jobs there are to be done in the world, which I do not believe will be done any more quickly or effectively because there are 12 German divisions.
There are many views about the behaviour of Russia, but I think we were all glad to hear the Prime Minister pay his generous tribute to her people. It does no harm for us to recall that behind the hard-faced, seemingly cynical and demanding men who are often seen at the conference table there are—as in America, China and all over the world—millions of ordinary people whom we described during the war as so brave and gallant. They are still the same people. There cannot have been some extraordinary metamorphosis which has made them any different from when we were proud to know them. I believe that there are many of them desperately anxious for peace in their own and their children's time.
Hating totalitarianism and Communism as I do all the more for having been very close to it, I yet found it impossible— when I was working and travelling in Russia on behalf of the British Foreign Office soon after the war—to go through the burnt and ravaged villages of the Ukraine without a tremendous feeling of compassion. Not, let it be said of despair, because the courage of the people as they tried to rebuild their homes was obvious.
The tragedy of the Russian people has been in the dissipation by their Government of a fund of good will more genuine and tremendous than any country has enjoyed in history. The tragedy is that they have no medium through which they can impinge their views on their Government, and tell Mr. Molotov what they think as freely as we can tell our representatives what we think of their actions. But I do not think that anything in that 610 regard can justify our ignoring them as human beings.
The political maturity of France and Britain puts on both countries perhaps the heaviest responsibility of all, and I hope that every opportunity will be taken to keep France and Britain close together. In spite of the penchant of the deputy Leader of the Opposition for Austria, it is in Britain and France that the spirit of liberal civilisation finds its life and being, and though it may be considered by some to be an old-fashioned view, we do stand together for real values. No policy which harms the understanding between France and Britain can be right or good.
As I look back on the time that I have been privileged to spend in America, Russia, Europe and latterly in Africa, there is borne in upon me the deep conviction that the things humanity has in common are far more numerous and important than those which divide it. I hope that the Government and the Opposition will pursue their efforts for peace with that thought constantly in mind, because that is what the ordinary peoples of the world are looking for with anxiety, but also with hope.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Smithers (Winchester)
It is my pleasure and privilege to congratulate the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mrs. Jeger) on her maiden speech. I am sure that she is glad it is over. At the same time, I can assure her that the House is not glad that it is over —and that cannot be said of all speeches made in this place—for it was a speech delivered with modesty, sincerity and charm. I am sure that we shall listen to the hon. Lady with pleasure in the future.
I remember with pleasure her predecessor, Dr. Santo Jeger, who sat in this House before her. I knew him slightly, and he was always modest, kind and courteous. Those are qualities which are very much valued in this place, and not universally to be found. Another reason why I am pleased to congratulate the hon. Lady is that her brother-in-law, the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger), had the good fortune to occupy the best constituency which any Member can occupy, that is to say, the Winchester 611 Division of Hampshire. By a happy coincidence, I succeeded him there without having to subject him to an electoral defeat.
I want to address one or two remarks to the speech of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). As he made clear, he rose to speak for a certain section of the party opposite which takes the view that Germany ought not to be rearmed. I do not want to exploit the party difference opposite, as the right, hon. Gentleman tried to exploit some of the slight differences which exist upon other issues among hon. Members on this side. It would be quite out of place to do so in this debate. I shall endeavour to address my remarks to the merits of some of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments.
He said that there are some fundamental errors in our way of thinking. Everything that he said subsequently revealed the truth of that proposition in his own case. He put forward the proposition that we had not negotiated at Berlin in such a way as to make a settlement likely. How anybody who has studied the Foreign Secretary's speech of yesterday, and who listened to the speech of the right hon. Member for Walthamstow, West (Mr. Attlee) today, could possibly imagine that any further concession could usefully have been made by the Western Powers defeats me.
He went on to nullify his argument by saying that the Soviet Government could have moved amendments which would have made our proposals acceptable, but that they evidently did not wish to do so. He then spoke of our making German rearmament a prior condition, and said that that was something which had spoiled the negotiations. That is a most topsy-turvy way of looking at our attitude. It would indeed have spoilt our negotiations if we had agreed to make German disarmament and permanent German neutrality of an artificial kind a prior condition. I take it that the right hon. Gentleman understands that the attitude of the Foreign Secretary at this conference—which is the attitude of the vast majority of people in this country —was that a Germany which was not a fully adult state—that is to say, a Germany artificially deprived of some of the rights of an independent and sovereign 612 state—would never be a healthy member of the European and world community of nations.
The right hon. Gentleman revealed the fundamental error in the thinking of all those who agree with him in this matter, when he said that, under the circumstances of these negotiations, military pressures, both in the East and West, dictated foreign policy and would continue to do so. I am inclined to agree with him in that. I have no doubt that military pressures are vital in this matter; but the choice between the right hon. Gentleman and those who think with him and the vast majority of this House is not a choice between military pressures and no military pressures; it is a choice between military pressures which are equally balanced on each side and a set of circumstances dictated unilaterally by military pressure only from the other side of the Iron Curtain. The latter choice is quite unacceptable to hon. Members on this side of the House, and, I believe, also to most of the right hon. Gentleman's colleagues.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that we must look at the world through Russian eyes. I understand what he means. We must try to apprehend and meet the fears, anxieties and aspirations of those who do not agree with us. But he went too far when he said that the Foreign Secretary, at Berlin, produced no constructive alternative to the proposal of Mr. Molotov for dealing with the problem of Germany. That seems to be looking at matters entirely through Russian eyes, and I cannot think that it is a wise and useful way to represent what has taken place.
I want to say a few words about the background to the talks which will take place before very long at Geneva. Everybody welcomes these talks, which will deal with the Far East. A Parliamentary Delegation, of which I had the honour to be a Member, recently visited Indonesia and Burma. Before saying anything else, I want to record the thanks of the four Members of this House—in case none other of them catches your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—for the very cordial welcome which we received from Parliamentarians of both countries. It was everywhere made clear to us that we were received in terms of confidence and friendship, and no political differences 613 which might exist on a variety of topics were allowed to spoil that welcome.
I was struck by the tremendous contribution which we can make to a world settlement by a wise, vigorous and constructive policy towards the new nations arising in South-East Asia. This matter was referred to by the right hon. Member for Walthamstow, West. The new nations which we visited—Burma and Indonesia—gave me every cause to hope that, as more and more peoples in Asia proceed to self-government a normal and natural political state of affairs will come about The monolithic hostility of the Asiatic towards the European, which many people have feared, may not become a reality. The wisest policy which we can pursue is to do everything. within our power to encourage and help these new nations to stand upon their own feet and to achieve a wise management of their own affairs.
I want to recount some of the lessons of our visit which point to the immense contribution which statecraft from this country can make in that connection. It is a striking fact that nearly all these nations are using English as their second language. They must have a second language to provide a vehicle of communication with the world's vast technical literature, without which no nation can progress. In Indonesia, for example, which previously used Dutch as its second language, English has now been substituted. That, therefore, places a special responsibility on this country.
In all these countries we are dealing not with primitive peoples; on the contrary, they are highly cultured peoples and, while education is something which a wealthy nation can readily buy, culture is something which can only be acquired over the centuries. I am therefore much more optimistic about the immediate political prospects in South-East Asia than I am, for example, about the immediate political prospects in parts of Africa, where we are dealing with very primitive peoples whom it is difficult to advance rapidly.
These countries also have plenty of resources. We are too apt to think of them as being all impoverished countries. They are not. Indonesia is a very wealthy country. Burma is a very wealthy country. Their people are well nourished and they are, on the whole, under-populated. 614 I do not say that there are no Asiatic countries which are over-populated, but many of them have a healthy economic situation. Furthermore, their needs are complementary to our own in that the things which they need we can provide, and the things which we need they can provide.
A further reason why I think we have a big contribution to make is that most of these countries have voluntarily chosen to manage their affairs on the basis of Parliamentary democracy. We should not forget how great a victory that is for the political ideas which we hold, over the political ideas held on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Within that concept of Parliamentary democracy, Burma and Indonesia left me in no doubt that they looked to Westminster as the Mecca, if I may so put it, in these matters.
There are thus innumerable ways in which we can make a contribution towards helping these people. First of all, we must try to help them to achieve control of their own territories. It is idle for us to think in terms of controlling the whole or any great part of the Far East by our own means, but it is very sensible for us to think of helping those people, who are trying to organise their own democratic Governments, themselves to establish that control. In Burma and Indonesia, the problem of local control is very difficult indeed, and I think we can assist them in many ways. In particular, we can assist them in the technical field. There is a great demand for technical assistance, on both the commercial and the scientific side, in both countries, and I have no doubt that such a demand exists throughout South-East Asia.
May I take this opportunity to say to the Foreign Office that in my opinion the contribution made by the British Council— the provision of books, lecturers and other means of linking these countries with technical resources in the English language—is invaluable politically to the West, and I hope everything possible will be done to enable the British Council and other similar organisations to carry on their good work, for it is most welcome wherever it is found.
It is, however, on the political side, that the best work can be done. It is a curious fact, perhaps not always accept- 615 able in diplomatic circles, that Members of Parliament can say to their colleagues in other countries things which diplomats cannot say to one another.
In both Burma and Indonesia we found the greatest possible anxiety on the part of the legislators whom we met to use our visit to the utmost extent in order that they might benefit from the experience which they know we have in this country—not individually, as Members of Parliament, but corporately as members of a great legislature. I have no doubt that in the political field, which is the most difficult and dangerous of the various spheres of activity in South-East Asia, we can make a big contribution.
I want, therefore, to say a few words on behalf of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I am quite sure that visits by Members of Parliament to those countries and return visits by their Members of Parliament to this country are of the greatest possible value. If we are fighting a cold war, do not let us forget to fight it with the weapons which are best suited to it. The people in this country who are trained to fight a political war are not the diplomats but the politicians, and I am convinced that the more interchange there is between politicians in the Far East and politicians in this country, the more likely we are to make our case that they are right in continuing along the path on which they have already embarked—the path of Parliamentary Government.
I will not detain the House longer but merely give it, if I may, my main conclusion from a visit to these two countries —and I think it is a conclusion which can be applied to other countries in the Far East and, in particular, to South-East Asia. It is that if we make manifest to these countries our obvious good-will and our genuine and sincere desire to help them to meet the problems which face young, independent nations beginning their careers, we shall find a remarkable response, and we shall not find an Orient which is monolithically opposed to the West, a situation which must some day come about unless we are able to convince them of our good-will. If we convince them of our good-will I am sure that we shall find normal and healthy development in those countries and shall always have many friends there.
616 I hope, therefore, that when the Government go to the Geneva Conference they will bear in mind that behind the arguments which will be heard at the Conference, behind the conflicts of military strength and the various manoeuvres of the cold war, there remains this great opportunity for good work to be done in bringing these nations to their full political maturity. If we should succeed in doing that, we shall have made a far greater contribution to winning the cold war than could be made by any negotiated settlement.
§ 5.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies (Enfield, East)
I am sure the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) will forgive me if I do not join him on his Far-Eastern journey. He travelled a long way from Berlin, and although we may share many of the sentiments which he expressed, I know he will not expect me to comment upon them.
I listened to the debate throughout yesterday, and the speeches, beginning with that of the Foreign Secretary, disappointed me in as much as there was so much stress on the negative results of the conference and very little consideration given to what should be the next step. Today there has been a change in the tone of many of the speeches. The Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister, in what were masterly and statesmanlike speeches, dwelt to a large extent upon what should be done now that the Berlin Conference has ended. I felt that the speech of the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Dulles' broadcast yesterday too readily accepted the impossibility of further progress being made in negotiations with the Soviet Union and too readily accepted that the cold war must continue indefinitely. Both the Foreign Secretary and Mr. Dulles seemed too easily resigned to the fact that the situation was more or less hopeless and that the only answer was the growing power of the West.
This growing power may be necessary, but the Deputy-Leader of the Opposition yesterday and my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger), who has just made a most moving maiden speech on which she deserves the congratulations of the whole House, reminded us of the horrors which past wars brought and which future wars 617 would bring. After all, the real matter to which the Prime Minister this afternoon brought us back is how we are to take advantage of the situation as it confronts us today, following the Berlin Conference, in order that we may make some further progress towards greater security.
The Foreign Secretary said yesterday that he was frustrated and disappointed with the results of the Berlin Conference. He does not know half of it. He only had four weeks of conference to the 16 I had at the Palais Rose; and during his four weeks he had the whole circus with him, whereas when we were incarcerated in the Palais Rose we were a very small circle, and after a hundred days we were surprised that we retained our sanity. But during that period and subsequently, in spite of the frustration and the disappointment, I must say that I never lost sight of the fact that we must continue to live in the same world as the Russians and that agreement one day must be reached with them if we are not to have world catastrophe.
I never lost hope that such an agreement would ultimately be possible. The Prime Minister this afternoon expressed the hope, which I had expected the Foreign Secretary to express yesterday, that further meetings with the Soviet would take place, and that no effort must be spared to follow up the contact established. I think that the House is generally agreed that the Western interpretation of the aims of Russian Communism in Europe has been correct, and that the Berlin conference showed that, generally speaking, the Russian policy has not changed.
The House would further agree. I think that the policy as outlined by the West at Berlin could not have been very different; further, that N.A.T.O. has proved to be a deterrent to further aggression and has brought some results already. Following that, whatever is our attitude towards German rearmament—and I will touch on that in a minute—the West must maintain its strength. So far, I think that here is general agreement in the House on these matters.
A large number are opposed to an unarmed, neutralised Germany as being an impracticable and dangerous proposition. But there is definite disagreement on the manner and timing of German 618 rearmament, both because of the fear of German militarism re-emerging and also because of the effect that would have on our relations with the Soviet Union. I think that whatever views one holds on the question of German rearmament today and the manner in which, if it is necessary, it should take place, there is going to be no possibility of agreement on the European situation and no solution of the European situation as it confronts us today so long as Germany is divided.
So long as Germany is divided, she is going to be a menace to European security for one main reason, and that is that Germany, whatever Government she has in power, will inevitably have two aims: one to bring about the unity of Germany, and the other to regain her lost provinces. Any adherence to Western policy which any Government followed would not be, in my view, necessarily to the democratic way of life and to its defence, but for expediency purposes and in order to achieve ultimately her aims. In other words, I would say that this ulcer of German discontent will inevitably cause insecurity until it is removed.
What confronts us is: what policy can now be followed after the Berlin Conference to satisfy German aspirations without creating a further military menace? How are we to bring about ultimately German unity, and whether the Berlin Conference makes that more or less easy to achieve: whether it has brought it nearer or sent it to limbo? On this I have one fear, and it is that if we press on with E.D.C. rapidly and endeavour to enforce its ratification and to sanction the speedy rearmament of Germany at the present time, we are far more likely to hinder than to help the ultimate unification of Germany because that will make any arrangement with the Russians even more difficult than it has proved so far. In other words, we must follow very cautiously our present policy in regard to the rearmament of Germany, because we must look at it in the light of what effect it is going to have on the future unification of Germany and our relations with the U.S.S.R.
Personally, I have always doubted the effectiveness of E.D.C. because, as other Members have pointed out, including the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire 619 (Sir R. Boothby), Germany will cither dominate E.D.C. or find a way of contracting out of it when she is sufficiently strong to exert her influence. E.D.C. will, in my view, either perpetuate disunity in Europe or only prove a temporary expedient. If it proves to be either it will not stop German militarisation from re-emerging.
Since this German problem cannot be solved in this way through rearmament and through E.D.C. because to attempt to do so would prejudice the chances of improving relations with the Soviet Union, we must seek some other way out of this situation and continue to search for a basis of negotiation with the Soviet Union. The reason I do not consider that to be completely hopeless is because of the difference between the results of the Berlin Conference and the Palais Rose meeting. The one at Berlin was really quite fruitful compared with the futility of the other. Comparison between the Berlin and the Paris meetings shows a great number of advantages of the one over the other.
After all, at Berlin the atmosphere was very different indeed. That the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have both made clear to the House. The Foreign Secretary did not have to come to the support of the Prime Minister, as I did when I was at the Palais Rose, because he was being accused of being a cannibal by Mr. Gromyko. Even I came to the defence of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) on that occasion.
The Berlin Conference did not engage in time wasting on procedure; it did not continuously argue over procedural matters. Consequently, the substance and merits of the issues before the conference was actually discussed. Mr. Molotov is an old enough hand at conferences to have stopped the Foreign Secretary's adroit manoeuvre to discuss the substance of his German plan. Had Molotov wanted to stop that discussion, it would have been very simple for him to do it by procedural methods.
The main achievement on the European front was that the positions of the respective countries were stated and the plans and policies were revealed. The greatest achievement of all was that continuity of contact was agreed upon and is to take 620 place. The Geneva Conference on the Far East is a tremendous achievement, and greatest of all because it means that the Americans will now sit down at the same table as representatives of the People's Government of China.
The achievements of the conference were very limited, and those of us on this side who know Austria so well, and particularly the Austrian Socialists, who have acted so responsibly in their country, regret above all that it was impossible to arrive at a treaty for Austria. I think, however, that the Geneva meeting might provide an opportunity for exploring further the possibility of continuing discussions with the Soviet Union, not only at that conference on the question of Far Eastern problems, but because the contact will be re-established between the four Foreign Ministers representing America and the three European countries. The opportunity should be taken to see whether a further meeting cannot be arranged. For this reason I welcome the Foreign Secretary's indication yesterday that he himself will attend the conference. I urge him to make use of it, not only for attempting to reach agreement on the Far East, but also to explore the possibility of further meetings on the highest possible level.
Meanwhile, the documents which have emerged from the Berlin Conference need the most careful study. They need to be gone through with a fine tooth comb to find out from this double talk, to which the Foreign Secretary referred, whether there is not at least some germ of possibility which would constitute a basis for further discussions. That is not a job either for the politicians or for the Ministers.
The Foreign Ministers have met at their level and achieved the little that they could at Berlin. I do not think the time is yet opportune for a meeting of the heads of States. Berlin has shown that that needs much more exploration and preparation of the ground before the meeting can take place. The opportunity for this was, unfortunately, missed, for reasons which are too well known to the House.
Therefore, I consider this to be a job for the officials of the respective Foreign Offices. Working parties might be set up —at the Quai d'Orsay, the Foreign Office 621 and the State Department—with the purpose of examining in the most minute detail the discussion which took place at Berlin, with the object of attempting to find a basis on which further discussions could take place. When that is done, it might be suggested that a meeting with the Russian officials at that level could take place in order that they might attempt to prepare the way for a resumption of the meeting of Foreign Ministers.
But any such meeting as that must be secret. The mistake made both at the Palais Rose and at Berlin was to give to the Press full reports of what took place. The Press do not attend the meetings, but after each meeting a Press officer reports to the members of the Press who are assembled exactly what takes place, from the viewpoint of the country which he represents. The Press might just as well attend the meetings. I am sure the Foreign Secretary would agree that when it is know that what transpires at the meeting will be reported in the Press and will appear next day in the world's newspapers, spokesmen are influenced thereby; their eyes must be kept on a propaganda angle and there cannot be that informal discussion which sometimes is more likely to achieve results.
If we are to bring about results from further meetings, we must get away some-what from the rigidity of our policies, to which the Foreign Secretary referred yesterday. He said that affairs in Europe had reached a state of rigidity. That rigidity must be broken down in some way. It may be that our own policies sometimes are a little too rigid; that we go into these matters refusing to be flexible and that on the question particularly of German rearmament, the determination to press on hard and steadily with the E.D.C. at this stage might be following a rigid line of thought which needs reconsideration.
If we are to avoid condemning Europe to a permanent division between East and West, and if we are not to perpetuate the cold war, with the heavy burden of armaments which that entails, further efforts must be made, and made continuously, to renew discussions with the Soviet Union. Whether any progress towards the unity of Europe and a lasting peace is to be made, the lifting of this burden of armaments which is so 622 essential to bring about the higher standard of living, to which reference was made in some of the speeches this afternoon, depends not only on what was achieved at Berlin, but upon the effectiveness of the next step. That is what now requires to be given urgent consideration, and it is that to which I ask the Foreign Secretary to give his closest attention.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Lord John Hope (Edinburgh, Pentlands)
The hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) seemed to be putting forward in the name of flexibility an argument for doing nothing whatever. That is not a difficult sort of thing to put forward, but at this point it is a dangerous one. I have given a sarcastic definition of what the hon. Member said, but I think nevertheless that there is something in it.
Flexibility is, of course, a great quality in the work which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has to do. At what point would the hon. Member for Enfield, East suggest that that flexibility should begin to develop into some sort of firmness of policy? He is now blaming the firmness of my right hon. Friend's policy for the lack of flexibility—a quite ingenious way out of an awkward dilemma.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
I am sorry if I did not make myself clear to the hon. Member. My view is that policies must not be so rigid that when circumstances change, when one finds different points of view expressed by those with whom one is negotiating, one's policies cannot then be adjusted to the changed circumstances.
§ Lord John Hope
I am not in the least convinced by that answer, although the hon. Gentleman may be, so I will continue my speech.
In yesterday's debate both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) urged us on this side of the House not to exploit for party advantage the split in the Labour Party on the issue of German rearmament. I dislike as strongly as anyone scoring party points to the danger of the nation. But my answer to this request is this. On 31st August, 1952, 623 260 members of the Labour Party voted in this House forthe principle, subject to proper safeguards and conditions, of a German armed contribution to an international system of collective security.Therefore, what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South is trying to do is not so much to get the Labour Party to support a Conservative Foreign policy, as to ask it not to repudiate its own. I maintain that it is not irresponsible exploitation to remind the country that this is the true state of affairs.
May I remind the House of a most interesting and relevant letter that was written to "The Times" by a much respected and liked Member of this House who has since passed on, Mr. Seymour Cocks. He wrote to "The Times" on 12th August, 1952, the debate of which I have spoken having taken place about 10 days before. He said this:I voted to postpone the ratification of the Bonn Treaty until the autumn because I hoped that by then it would be made clear to the German people that Russia had no intention of permitting free elections in east Germany, or of bringing about the unity of Germany except on her own terms, but I refused to vote against the principle of the Treaty. Un-forunately there are certain members of the Labour Party who do not want western Germany to be brought into the western defensive system on any terms, and who are now claiming, as I thought they might, that the vote of the Labour Party in the second division on 1st August was a vote for their policy—which it was not. These Members are now openly hoping that no German contingents can be embodied until the autumn of 1953. as they contend that, once western Germany joins the western defensive system, Europe will become another Korea
§ Lord John Hope
The answer to that applause from hon. Gentlemen opposite lies in the next sentence:But South Korea was invaded because North Korea had a strong army and South Korea had not. The policy of these Members would reproduce in Germany the very conditions that made the invasion of Korea possible.I do not, of course, impugn the patriotism of the Members (some of whom are my personal friends) any more than I doubted the patriotism of those who believed, almost to the last moment, in a policy of appeasing Hitler, but I feel that the logical outcome of their policy will be not to achieve peace but to insure that, should war come, the West will be insufficiently defended. Between such a policy, especially when combined with attacks on America, and the policy of the Communists there seems to me to be no perceptible difference624 I think those words are as true today as they were when our late colleague wrote them.
I have never made any secret of my strong feelings that it is greatly in the interests of our people and of the cause of peace itself that the Government and Opposition in this country should, where it is at all possible, agree upon foreign policy. I believe the Leader of the Opposition would agree to that, and that he has left behind him the doctrine which he wrote some time ago:There can be no general continuity or identity in the foreign policies of a Socialist and of a Conservative Government,I believe a realistic appraisal of the situation of Europe is not the simple question—although "simple" is not the word to use in this connection—of whether this German armed contribution should take place, but of how it should take place. In one moment I will say a word about that, but meanwhile I say that I believe that the advocacy of further delay in the ratification of E.D.C. ought to be seen for what it certainly is in some quarters, and that is the cover for a plan to stop it completely.
Those hon. Gentlemen opposite who want to stop it should bear in mind that the patience of which the Prime Minister spoke in his speech today is not the same thing as deliberately contrived delays, though some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite might wish that that were so.
I do not propose to say anything about the Conference itself, because everything that can be said has been said on both sides of the House. I want to add my tribute to the great patience and skill of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. 1 also want to do something which nobody else has done, and that is to make an apology, curiously enough, for Mr. Molotov. I think the House should realise the position Mr. Molotov was in. He was bound to find it difficult to give way at all, not for reasons of policy but for the following reason which I suggest to the House. The House should remember the fate which would await him in Russia if it should prove necessary for his colleagues in the Kremlin to account him a failure at any time in the future.
In the West, if a Minister is dismissed he can go back to his garden, but in Russia he probably goes to his grave. 625 There is a difference in status between the two destinations, which, to say the least of it, must somewhat limit the freedom of manoeuvre of Mr. Molotov. Here is what has happened to the great men since the Russian Revolution. I have read, and I have not seen it denied, that not counting Beria and his dead associates, the following high Soviet authorities—
§ Mr. S. Silverman
We are in the middle of perhaps the most serious political issue that any Parliament will be called upon to decide in this century. Has it really any relevance to introduce all the crimes against persons which have been committed in the Soviet Union?
§ Lord John Hope
I am much obliged for your support, Mr. Speaker. I will put the hon. Member out of his agony very quickly if he will bear with me. Here is the list of those who have been shot as spies and traitors since the Revolution, with or without trial:Not counting Beria and his dead associates, the following high Soviet authorities have been shot as spies and traitors, with or without trial, since the Revolution:Nine out of eleven Cabinet Ministers of the Soviet Government holding office in 1936.Five out of seven Presidents of the last Central Executive Committee of the Soviets.Forty-three out of the fifty-three Secretaries of the Central organisation of the Party.Nearly all Secretaries of the Party provincial organisations.Fifteen out of the twenty-seven leading Communists who had drafted the 1936 Soviet Constitution.Seventy out of the eighty members of the Soviet War Council.Three out of every five of the Marshals of the Soviet Army.About 60 per cent, of all Soviet Generals.Over 80 per cent, of the Secretaries of the government trade union organisations.All members of Lenin's first post-revolution Politburo (the Soviet Inner Cabinet in 1917), with the exception of Stalin.All members of the Party Politburo as constituted after Lenin's death, again with the exception of Stalin
§ Lord John Hope
With regard to the Germans, no one in this debate has pretended that there ought to be any illusions about the danger of these people. Cer- 626 tainly there are no illusions in my mind, and I do not believe there is anyone in the House of Commons who does not know of at least one case where a heart has been irreparably broken by what the Germans have done in two world wars.
§ Lord John Hope
The Germans will always be potentially a dangerous people. They will also always be potentially a dominant force, whatever the structure of Europe. I beg my hon. Friends to bear that fact in mind.
However, I do not believe there is any doubt that there is a need for a defensive system against possible agression by Soviet armies in the future, and the discrepancy of forces was clearly brought out by my hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) in an extremely clear speech last night. Even the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Grossman), who has left his place, admitted as much when he said in a most revealing passage in a speech in the debate from which I have just quoted that he would only rearm the Germans in an emergency.
On the question of whether it is to be E.D.C. or N.A.T.O., I want to put the real crux of this matter. Germany in N.A.T.O. means a self-contained wehrmacht, with its own services—which is importantX2014;and with its own general staff. Germany in a European army cannot mean that, whatever else it may mean. What is wanted is something which represents a chance for the good Germans and a cage for the bad and that, I maintain, is what E.D.C. essentially offers. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition evidently thought so once, because he said:The E.D.C. is, in my view, a way of integrating the German contribution of force without raising the danger of a German Army."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th May, 1952; Vol. 500, c. 1476].I wish he had been as definite today as he was then, because today I thought he was hedging on the question of E.D.C. I can see why, but it was a pity that he did so.
On the burning question of secession, whether from N.A.T.O. or E.D.C., I suppose the answer is that ultimately we cannot stop Germany from getting out of either. But there again, 627 why not choose the path which makes secession more difficult? Surely it would be far more difficult for members of the E.D.C. than for a country which was a member of N.A.T.O. alone?
With regard to the United States there is a widely felt fear that the formation and development of the E.D.C., perhaps followed by a completely federal system, will be followed, in turn, by the withdrawal of the Americans from Europe. I do not believe that will happen. It cannot happen so long as their membership of N.A.T.O. binds them but, for an even stronger reason than that, I do not believe it will happen, because the American people know perfectly well that isolationism is physically incompatible with the speed of modern communications.
Nevertheless, I think it wise that we should all continue to emphasise that no system of alliance in Europe, no system of federation even, can keep the peace of the world without American participation. The North Atlantic Treaty offers us a ready-made foundation upon which to build. Unswerving adherence to its spirit will mean a progressive lessening of hardship and burdens for ourselves. It will mean something much more; it will mean peace for our children. Surely such a prize is worth the struggle.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)
When the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs was speaking last night he referred to the fact that up to that point only two hon. Members taking part in the debate had expressed opposition to the Government point of view. Today we have begun to redress the balance, but I would invite the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend and right hon. and learned Friend not to look simply at the speeches made in this debate, and to count the number of heads of those who have caught the eye of Mr. Speaker, but rather to consider what lies behind the voices heard from this side of the House. I am sure that if they do so they will not be able to take any comfort from the attitude of this party towards the proposals and policy of the Government in this matter.
It is true that my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) yesterday handed across the 628 Table to the Government two resolutions. However, it was freely admitted in this House, it has unfortunately been disclosed in the Press, and everybody knows it is true, that those two resolutions do not carry with them the solid backing of the Labour Party either in this House or throughout the country. Not only that. I go further and say that if we could test the feeling of the rank and file members of the Labour Party throughout the constituency parties on this issue, it would be found that there was a majority against—
§ Mr. Warbey
Yes, that is a guess, but I would be prepared to test it by a conference of constituency parties.
The Foreign Secretary referred yesterday to all the letters and telegrams which he had received whilst in Berlin in support of his attitude and reporting the difficulties of those in the Soviet Zone who believe in freedom and democracy. I do not doubt the genuineness of those letters but we, too, in this country have received letters, and I have here a file of letters and telegrams which I have received from all over the country supporting the opposition of myself and my hon. Friends to German rearmament. There has not been one letter or telegram supporting the policy of the Government. I have not even had the usual letter from the crackpot Fascist who starts by saying: "You Kremlin stooge"
§ Mr. Jack Jones
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. With regard to the question of the constituency parties, as one who took part in the debate yesterday, may I say that this very question came up at a meeting of my own party last Monday and, by a substantial majority, the hard-headed, decent-thinking people supported my attitude towards this vexed problem?
§ Mr. Warbey
I am most interested to hear that the constituency party of the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) has discussed this question and reached a conclusion. No doubt other constituency parties will do the same. I can only say that I have received letters from three constituency parties expressing a point of view completely in opposition to the rearmament of Germany. I have 629 no doubt that others will come in. In the next few days I expect a flood of resolutions from constituency parties to pour in not only to Members' postbags but to the postbags of Transport House as well. Since the right hon. Gentleman offered to place his letters in the library of the House, I should like to say that, with the permission of the House, I am prepared to do the same with mine.
Though there is a deep division of opinion, there are some matters on which we all agree. We all agree upon the objective of achieving a liberated and independent Austria. I was one of the first to go to Austria at the end of the war in the first Parliamentary Delegation. I saw the state of that country and, along with my Austrian friends, I have hoped for Austria's liberation for all these years. Also, we are all in favour of a reunified and democratic Germany. We are all in favour of a Germany which comes in as a partner with the other nations of the world in peaceful endeavours.
§ Mr. Warbey
Nobody wants to see Germany as a pariah and outcast. Let Germany come in and join with us in peaceful endeavours. Let them build the ploughshares that are needed in India and throughout the under-developed areas.
One of the tragedies is that we have here a nation which was prepared after the war to turn its swords into ploughshares, and we have people here, and in America and elsewhere, who will turn round and tell them that they must beat their ploughshares back into swords. That is astonishing.
§ Mr. Warbey
I thought that what we were discussing today was the kind of matter which Members of Parliament ought to discuss rather than the technical question of one rifle compared with another.
We all agree on the need for genuinely free elections throughout the whole of Germany, including Eastern Germany. I do not mean the kind of fake elections held in Eastern Germany which resulted in the present totally unrepresentative 630 régime there, I mean elections a good deal freer 'than those which took place in Western Germany. I want to see elections where there is a limit on expenditure; and there was none in Western Germany. I want to see elections where the leader of a party, like Dr. Adenauer, is not free to make personal libels against his Social Democratic opponents and then, after he has won the election as a result, is able to go to the courts and make a complete retraction. Let us have genuinely free elections throughout Germany.
Finally, we all want to see a relaxation of international tension, a modus vivendi, a way of living together—I think the Prime Minister would accept the translation—between the Communist and the non-Communist world. We all agree on these matters
§ Mr. Warbey
All of us in this House agree on these objectives. But if one wills the end, one must will the means. Other hon. Members have already pointed out that one of the aims of Mr. Molotov in the Berlin Conference, perhaps his principal aim, was to seek to preserve a military and strategic status quo as far as the Soviet Union was concerned, and certainly not to give anything away.
Was not that also true of the Western Powers? Did we go into conference without any military and strategic aims? On the contrary, we went in with the military and strategic aim of adding Western Germany at least, and the whole of Germany if possible, to the Western military coalition. Was not that the objective? The Prime Minister confirmed it this afternoon when he said—and this was before 'the conference has started—that we were not able to give up E.D.C. or N.A.T.O. or some variant of it. I do not think I am misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman. I took it down as he said it.
§ Mr. Warbey
I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has confirmed that. I hope that all hon. Members on this side of the House heard his confirmation.
§ Mr. Warbey
It confirms that what was being suggested at Berlin was that the Soviet Union should make a military withdrawal from Austria, Hungary and Rumania, because that is consequent on the signing of an Austrian peace treaty— not only from Austria but also supporting troops from Hungary and Rumania—and that if possible she should also withdraw from the Eastern Zone of Germany to the Oder-Neisse line at least, and possibly beyond. While she was being invited to withdraw her strategic position in Europe we were at the same time seeking to advance our strategic line right up to the Elbe and if possible to the Oder.
§ Mr. Nutting
I should like just to correct an elementary fact of geography which it may be of some interest for the hon. Gentleman to know. N.A.T.O. does not extend up to the Elbe, still less to the Oder.
§ Mr. Warbey
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention, which enables me to make the point a little clearer.
What right hon. Members opposite were proposing was to add on to the N.A.T.O. system the E.D.C. system, and the E.D.C. system would extend the Western military coalition to the Elbe at least and, if they could get their way, to the Oder. Is that correct, or is it not?
§ Mr. Nutting
If the hon. Gentleman will only read the White Paper he will see that the British plan for the reunification of Germany left the all-German Parliament full freedom to assume or reject any of the obligations contracted by the Federal Republic of Germany or by the Soviet zone of Germany. Nothing could be clearer than that. The hon. Gentleman is completely traducing the whole plan for the reunification of Germany.
§ Mr. Warbey
I shall be dealing with that point in a moment. First, I want to make it clear that far from what was demanded in the Margate resolution of the Labour Party, namely, a suspension of efforts towards German 632 rearmament while we were attempting to get discussions on the reunification of Germany, the right hon. Gentleman has admitted that he had no intention of giving any consideration to the proposal in the Margate resolution and that he went into the conference committed up to the hilt to E.D.C. and German rearmament.
That was confirmed, of course, by the Bermuda Conference communique, by the N.A.T.O. Council communique, by the" "agonising re-appraisal" speech of Mr. Dulles, and by the broadcast speech of the Foreign Secretary made only 14 days before the conference opened.
§ Mr. Thomas Reid (Swindon)
The hon. Gentleman told us a moment ago about the attempts he made to free this unfortunate country, Austria, and yet he now objects to us trying to get Austria free.
§ Mr. Warbey
I did not say anything of the sort. I said that if we want to liberate Austria⤔and we all do—we must get the Soviet troops withdrawn from Austria and also from Hungary and Roumania. We cannot go into a conference and bargain to achieve that result if, at the same time, we advance our own strategic line from France to the Elbe and, possibly, to the Oder.
I have made the position clear up to the opening of the conference, and have shown that no attempt was made to take any notice of the Labour Party's Margate resolution, which, of course, disposes of the reasons given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South for supporting the Government.
Now I come to the famous Eden plan, which was supposed to leave to the free choice of the German people the issue of whether or not they should accept or reject E.D.C. If I had the time, I would like to examine this plan in detail. I notice, first of all, that it would have involved a considerable number of steps. No fewer than four main steps would have had to be taken before we got an all-German Government. I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister are paying attention to this, because it is the very thing to which the hon. Gentleman directed my attention. I am now examining it and giving him his answer.
633 The Eden plan necessitated a long and complicated series of stages before an all-German Government could be brought into existence. There would first have to be a four-Power commission to draw up an electoral law, and it would be expected to produce its law within six weeks. I should think that six months would be an optimistic estimate. After that, elections would have to be held for the purpose of electing a national assembly. When elected, the national assembly would have to draw up a constitution. How long does the hon. Gentleman think it would take the national assembly to draw up its constitution? A year, two years, or three years? We have seen constitutions drawn up elsewhere, and we know that they cannot be rushed. It would take at least a year, as the hon. Gentleman knows full well.
Only after all that would an all-German Government be created, arid that Government would then go into the complicated process of taking over the rights and obligations of the other part-German Governments which would remain in existence for all that time. In other words, for at least two years, and for possibly three, four or five years, the West-German Government would remain in existence carrying out the international obligations of that Government. That would give ample time for the whole of Western Germany to be incorporated into E.D.C.
What did Dr. Adenauer say when he was challenged about the freedom of choice of the German people to join or reject E.D.C? He said it wasan academic point of international law.He went on to say:When the European Army exists in fact it will no longer be a question of academic international lawIn order to complete it, I invite the attention of the hon. Gentleman, who, apparently, is not now so interested in what I am saying, to the statement made yesterday by M. Bidault to the French people, who are worried about this possibility of rejecting E.D.C. He said:The unification of Germany is in any case a long way off —so he agrees with me—and France would always retain the right not to sign a peace treaty with a unified Germany.634 In other words France, quite rightly, holds in her hand the sanction to say that if this all-German Government decide to reject E.D.C. and to come out of E.D.C., France will not sign the peace treaty with Germany. There we have a complete sanction.
This whole plan is a failure because, as Dr. Adenauer said, the whole thing is an academic point of international law. The European army would be a fact, and this alleged freedom of the German people to choose turns out to be nothing but a typical Communist or Fascist plebiscite. In other words, they are free to vote in favour of the European army, but, if they vote against it, France for one will not sign the peace treaty with Germany.
Therefore, I say that this Eden plan. which allegedly gives such freedom to the German people, was produced, not in order to convince anybody in Berlin, but simply to induce the British Labour Party to support the Government on the lines they are taking. I am sorry that some of my hon. and right hon. Friends have fallen into the trap which was so visibly spread.
The Berlin Conference failed because neither side was prepared to make any concessions in the field of military strategy, which was the decisive issue. All such conferences will fail until there is a willingness to compromise and a willingness to take up the points made by the other fellow in order to examine them to see if there is anything in them, in the same way that Mr. Molotov said that he would look to see if N.A.T.O. was incompatible with his European security pact.
Was that suggestion followed up? No, it was not, because those concerned were afraid to follow it up in case it might possibly lead to a compromise. They did not want a compromise. Mr. Dulles had said, even before the Conference opened," At all costs we have got to get German rearmament." Any success of the Berlin Conference would have torpedoed the plans of Mr. Dulles.
§ Mr. Nutting
Is the hon. Gentleman really suggesting that it is for the Western Foreign Ministers to follow up an offer made by the Soviet Foreign Minister to look into the question of N.A.T.O.?
§ Mr. Warbey
I should have thought so, because we should remember that Mr. Molotov tabled a plan, and if the 635 Joint Under-Secretary looks at the clauses in that plan he will find that there is not one which is incompatible with N.A.T.O., if N.A.T.O. is a purely defensive organisation, as it is said to be. Therefore, when Mr. Molotov showed that he might be prepared to strike a bargain on the basis of letting both N.A.T.O. and the Russian military system exist, with a German buffer between these two systems—a basis which seems to me not unreasonable—the right hon. Gentleman ran away completely from any offer of such a bargain.
Why was not Mr. Molotov's proposal for a joint four-Power investigation of police forces taken up? He was prepared to have a four-Power commission go into Eastern Germany, as I understood it, to examine the East German police forces, provided the same opportunities for investigation were provided in the West. I am sure we should all like to have more detailed information about that.
§ Mr. Nutting
Perhaps I may give the facts to help the hon. Gentleman. Mr. Molotov never proposed an investigation. He proposed an agreement, which is a very different thing.
§ Mr. Warbey
I am sorry I have not the text with me. Unfortunately, those matters are not included in the White Paper. These last-minute exchanges at the conference, in which there began to be thrown out some rather interesting suggestions if people wanted to bargain and negotiate at all, are not in the White Paper; they were not part of the main set speeches.
However, we do know that there are to be more conferences. There is not only the conference on the Far East; there are to be discussions on disarmament and on President Eisenhower's proposal for an atom pool. There are no fewer than three conferences and discussions to be held on major issues. As the Prime Minister said, that is not discouraging but rather hopeful.
Let us then take a hopeful attitude, and let us agree that there is a prospect of these two great Power systems not clashing with one another but somehow finding a modus vivendi. But of course, they will only do that on one condition—on the condition that somebody is prepared to take an independent initiative in order 636 to propose compromises or bargains, or real negotiations, to bridge the gap between them on specific issues.
The interesting thing is that the one really good and hopeful result of this Berlin Conference was produced as a result of the one independent British initiative in that conference, namely the conference on the Far East. It is well known that the Americans were not prepared to sit down with Communist China. It is well known that Mr. Molotov wanted this Far Eastern conference to deal with world questions and not simply on Korea and Indo-China. Both of them gave way and made compromises, and in this issue I am sure the Foreign Secretary played a part in achieving a compromise, because on this issue he happened to disagree with his American colleague and put an independent British point of view for a change. We shall get a relaxation of world tension and we shall get successful conferences only when in other fields we get a genuine British initiative in foreign policy.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
I enter this debate as a novice in the field of foreign affairs, and I hope I do not overstay my leave, as I feel the hon. Member for Broxstowe (Mr. Warbey) did to some extent. His case would have been better presented if he had left it as it was left by the deputy-Leader of the Opposition yesterday, because by overstating his case he tended to exaggerate and spoil it.
One of the things which have emerged from some of the speeches by hon. Members opposite is the desire to avoid a decision, that one should come to the point where a decision should be made but that one should avoid taking the final decision over E.D.C., N.A.T.O. and the rest. I suggest that we are faced with the need to take a decision on E.D.C.
I should like also to refer to the speech of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). He said that it was wrong that party political points should be made of the differences in the Labour Party. I thought it was rather cheap of him to make a party political point out of a difference which we on these benches have over the issue of Egypt, and should try to exonerate himself from criticism, and yet pour scorn on this side of the House over a parallel type of case.
637 What are some of the outcomes of the Berlin Conference? It seems to be generally agreed in the House that basically the Russians have not changed their attitude one iota. However it does appear that at the moment they are willing to co-exist with the West. Another thing which became apparent, and which is made more obvious in the White Paper, is Western unity, generosity and initiative. The unity has been remarked on throughout this debate. The generosity is found in the meeting of the Russian terms in relation to Austria, and the initiative in our acceptance of their agenda.
There is also the question of the future of East-West trade. We would all welcome an extension of this trade, but there must be certain reservations on such a development; there must be a reservation on the export of machine tools which can be used in the fashioning of weapons of war. We cannot in a surge of enthusiasm throw down all the restrictions on exports to Russia. We are willing to trade with them, but it would be wrong to throw away our defences at a moment like this when there are no apparent concessions coming from the Russians.
On the question of Austria, it is agreed that one of the tragedies of the conference is that no agreement has been reached, but was it ever possible for an agreement to be reached? If Russia had been willing to make any concession whatsoever to the Austrian Government to meet the needs for a peace treaty, the whole fabric of Communist imperialism would have disintegrated. If she had withdrawn there, it would inevitably have meant withdrawal all along the line.
I would read this lack of ability to withdraw over Austria as meaning that Russia feels insecure in her satellite countries. She feels insecure, not because of the aggressive intentions of the West, but because of the poverty of the regime and the antagonism of the people towards Communism. In other words, there is a deep fundamental and burning desire in Eastern Europe for liberation, freedom and democratic government which will never come while the Russian forces are there to suppress those countries.
Another impression which I have gained, in spite of the impression gained by certain hon. Members opposite, is of the ability of American statesmen to moderate opinions. Mr. Dulles has often 638 been attacked—Senator McCarthy rather more often—but, viewed against the background of internal American affairs, it is striking that Mr. Dulles could have manoeuvred in the way that he did. I think we should be thankful for it and should congratulate the Americans on their ability to manoeuvre and make concessions.
The Foreign Secretary has spoken about the war of ideas. We could interpret it as a war with God on one side and materialism on the other. My right hon. Friend told us of letters he had received and considered to be genuine from behind the Iron Curtain. We must go a little bit further in this war of ideas. We must hold out hope to those people in Eastern Europe that they will again one day be able to live in freedom, and be entitled to free elections, and be able to vote and speak and think as they wish. We can send that message of hope through a service that already exists, our service of broadcasts to Eastern Europe. If that service should be in any way curtailed, it would be a tragedy for the West in this battle of ideas.
I believe that we in this country need to give more tangible evidence of our support for the European Defence Community. We have given words and assurances in support of it, but we have not yet convinced the French that we are there to stay. It may be wrong of them to doubt us, and we may be irritated at their doubt, and we may become impatient and even be rude about them sometimes, but we need to go a little further in giving some guarantee about the stationing of our troops and of how closely allied we are to the Western army. Unless we do this, we shall not have the support and sympathy of the French nation that we need for our part.
Those who think that we can keep Germany disarmed indefinitely are those who consistently refuse to face the facts of life, and to refuse to face the facts of life in this, as in other spheres, will inevitably lead to difficulty. We must take a decision about the arming of Germany in the very near future. We cannot for ever go on stalling on this issue because, if we do, we shall lose the last chance of winning the heart and soul and support of Germany. We must gain the Germans' confidence. Of course, we have fears, deep, dividing, gnawing, terrible 639 fears, of what may happen if the Germans are rearmed, but let us remember the alternative. Unless we do win the heart and soul of Germany, our fears will be that much greater and the reality of what we fear that much worse.
Time on this issue is vital. We cannot afford to go on stalling, going on arguing whether we are to bring Germany merely into E.D.C. or merely into N.A.T.O., and so on. I think the general consensus of opinion now is that we should bring the Germans into the European Defence Community inside N.A.T.O. Inside E.D.C. are restrictions and liberty altogether, and inside E.D.C. we can bring Germany back into the Western comity of nations, and there we can help her to find those outlets she requires for her trade.
It seems to me, speaking very much as a novice in these matters, that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation lacks a certain sense of political direction, and that there is need for a political lead and dynamism at the top level of the Organisation, I should greatly like to see the development of some political head for this structure.
Thus we can help to contain Germany and yet give her her freedom, through E.D.C. and N.A.T.O., and although we have our fears about Germany, our deep apprehensions, yet unless we do extend the hand of friendship to her now and in the coming weeks we may lose the last chance of bringing Germany back along the road to freedom and prosperity for herself and for Europe.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Tomney (Hammersmith, North)
The House during the last two days has been holding the inquest on the Berlin Conference with due regard to the seriousness of the issues involved. It is rather regrettable, considering that it is a two days' debate, that the benches on the other side of the House are comparatively empty. I think the situation is as described by my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), who, in a brilliant speech, expressed some of the fears and hopes of the ordinary man.
Berlin is behind us now. We have to look to the future and future conferences. There are certain signposts in the 640 history of nations at which the ordinary man looks and of which he takes notice. I recall the bitter days of the appeasement period from 1936 onwards to the war, when claim after claim upon various lands was made by Hitler and when there was retreat after retreat by various Governments. The final breaking point came when the ordinary man said, "This is it. That is enough. No more." That kind of mood takes a long time to grow. It comes slowly to the British people, but when it comes it thoroughly takes possession of us.
In the series of events since 1945 Czechoslovakia was the signal of warning. Czechoslovakia was a democracy like ours, with opposition parties. What happened to Benes and Masaryk could happen to us, and will unless we call a halt to the system seeking to extend from Russia all the way to the Channel ports.
In this party there are various shades of opinion, and various convictions felt on this issue. This is an issue which concerns the whole nation. It has to be expressed in simple terms if the ordinary man in the street is to understand it. All this talk about E.D.C. and N.A.T.O. confuses him. To the ordinary man playing darts in the local or going to a football match E.D.C. may simply stand for Express Dairy Company. However, he understands certain things. He understands that he elects the Government upon a democratic basis, gives them a period of trial on trust, and then accounts for them at the next election. That is the democratic system.
Molotov has not that to contend with. He works in an autocracy—a small circle of rulers who speak with one voice. If any one is knocked out of the circle he does not have honourable retirement, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury said. Usually he goes to the Guillotine. That is the essential difference between the two systems.
§ Mr. Tomney
It was assumed that Stalin for years had an overriding lordship in Russian affairs and held in check a certain amount of more difficult opinion. The Berlin Conference has dispelled that illusion. Since Stalin's death there has been no change. That conference has been useful for one thing if for one 641 thing only, for it has demonstrated to the ordinary man in this country that there is no change in Moscow. Molotov had finally to show his hand on large issues.
When people like my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) advance arguments about giving something up, I want to ask who has got it all—Russia or ourselves? And how did they get it? By subtle fifth-column annexation. We are not just dealing with a set of circumstances but with ideas and an ideology foreign to the democracy we know. The result of the failure of the Berlin Conference is anyone's guess. It might be 25 years of cold war. These people are concerned not only with material things but with getting hold of the mind of the children growing up, and not until 25 years have passed will some of these things be felt.
On this occasion Molotov said "No" to every particular issue. At the Palais Rose Conference they did not even get an agenda. Ernest Bevin, a man with experience as a negotiator, failed to do business with the Russians and died a brokenhearted man as a result. There were to be no free elections for German unity and no unification unless the unelected Eastern Zone was made equal to the Bonn Government. There were to be no elections unless the Eastern zone Communists could have a determining voice in writing German electoral law. Moscow said "No" to any united German Government; it must not have complete sovereignty nor be free to join other nations in Western Europe in common defence. Moscow would not even accept its own treaty proposals from Austria unless there was a prior settlement on Germany on Soviet terms.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting a man who had escaped from Czechoslovakia. I asked what was happening in that country, and he told me with deep despair of small acts of sabotage in the workshops, but he also said something which pleased me as an Englishman. When I, "Why do you hold on?" he said "Because some day we know the British will do something." What a wonderful compliment, and at the same time what a tremendous responsibility. Last week we entertained to dinner in the House of Commons some 642 Austrian Socialists and, after the conference had finished, we spoke to them around the table. Although there was deep despair in their hearts there was still in their eyes the light of hope and the courage of battle. Even at this stage there was the hope of freedom for which they have hoped for this last nine years.
Let us see what Molotov did in fact propose—let the ordinary man get this into his mind. He proposed that France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands should create a common defence in which Russia should supplant the U.S.A. as guarantor of Western defence. He proposed that N.A.T.O. should be dismantled. The failure of Berlin is the culmination of events that have been going on for years. The Marshall Plan was a great American gesture. It is so easy at times to criticise the American people, but we should remember that the Marshall Plan was thrown open to every country in Europe. It was accepted by Czechoslovakia one day, but they had to retract the next. The same happened in regard to Poland. Let us know with what kind of people we are dealing.
The way we think about Berlin depends upon how much hope we have or how gullible we are. I contend that I am not gullible. I have been dealing with this type of people in industry for a very long time and I know what I am up against. When the war started I was in a large London factory manufacturing vital armaments for aircraft and ships—radio valves and equipment, the heart and brains of the Fighting Forces. Before Russia came into the war there were little acts of sabotage and disaffection—driving people into shelters and circulating the "Daily Worker" after it had been banned. I played a part in getting rid of some of those concerned and I was not particular what kind of methods I used.
As soon as Russia came into the war it was a different kettle of fish. We had fuel-watching committees and power committees to save electricity and light. One could not leave a lathe or bench without a Communist comrade shutting off the motor in order to save electricity. What a complete turn round there was; they were even taking lamps out of their sockets to save electricity because Russia was in the war. The same kind of thing 643 has gone on all along. One can trace it from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
To what is the stalemate on the Continent due? The frontiers are artificial and are not founded on the military balance of Soviet forces and non-Communist forces but on U.S.A. forces and bases of which the Communists bitterly complain every day. What is the alternative? What else would stop them coming to the Channel ports? An overwhelming preponderance of military strength lies behind the Iron Curtain. America demobilised her forces after the war, so did this country, France and Germany, but Russia did not.
Let us have a look at the silver thread which runs through all this. There is a continuity of policy as far back as the Casablanca Conference, when France was overrun. It was the Soviet delegation which prevented the French Fleet from going to play its part in the Pacific War; and when the war finished the war in Indo-China was a result, with Ho Chi Minh in the background. He was trained in Moscow and put there to do the job. That pattern can be followed all through. It is best to know what we are facing, and I face this problem with a certain amount of dubiety.
I am not one to kid myself that things are black when they are white or vice versa. There is to be a meeting of Foreign Ministers at Geneva. What do we expect to get out of it? We have all the conditions in Korea and Indo-China for stalemate. We know that in Japan there is an active Communist Party at work. Japan is enjoying a prosperity which is not real; she is largely subsidised by American dollars for political purposes. What is to be the result? If the conference at Geneva fails are we to sit down and do nothing, or are we to take the initiative and bring China in and leave Russia out? Things are not all that they should be between Russia and China.
One has only to look at the trade figures to see how much Russia is paying for Chinese products. She is getting them dirt cheap. We must remember that China is a new nation of 500 million people, with a new Government, and that she will work out her own destiny. Two years ago I appealed to the House for something to be done to drive a wedge between the two nations. I have never 644 believed that the Chinese people, as such, were Communists. They have too great a matriarchal background and too old and deep-seated a religion for it. I have appealed in the past for elbow room to be provided for British diplomacy. Now is the time.
There is also Manchuria, to which the Russians lay claim. The Russians have bled it of materials and goods. Manchuria is the legitimate industrial zone of China, and China will not always permit Russia to take a preponderance of goods and services from it.
The United States has her fears. She remembers her great responsibilities in the Pacific, in the islands of Hawaii, the Philippines and Aleutians, which constitute her first line of defence in that part of the world. We must bear in mind the situation concerning Formosa, which constitutes a defence or a menace according to whether it is held by someone for us or opposed to us.
Last year there was a day in the history of Germany which will not be forgotten—17th June. On that day trade union colleagues of ours lost their lives in a premature uprising. We could not offer them any hope of being freed from bondage. Let us remember the cynical attitude which was adopted at Warsaw when the patriots rose overnight against German domination and the Russians waited across the river while they were slaughtered, rather than go in and rescue them, which they could have done with scarcely any effort at all.
Against the background of those points, let us realise our destiny as the leaders of democratic thought in the world. We have come a long way. In years gone by we have shed a lot of blood. We have to think of our sons in the event of another world conflict occurring. It is the urgent desire of all of us that there shall be peace.
I say to Molotov now, "The British man-in-the-street is approaching a stubborn mood, and when he approaches that mood he can be a damned awkward animal. So be careful. It takes him a long time before he is fed up, but he is reaching that stage."
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
The difficulty about these debates is that the ideological and geographical canvases are so vast that it 645 is impossible to paint all over them. I should dearly like to follow the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) and put a few light pieces of brushwork in the dark corners which he explored. I was particularly struck by a phrase about Czechoslovakia that he used at the beginning of his speech. I made a note to refer to it, but I hope he will forgive me if I do not go further than that, because time is short and one must concentrate on what one has prepared to say.
The greatest and finest picture which has been painted in this debate was painted by the Prime Minister today. It was a speech which, I am sure, will rank among his greatest. It covered a vast canvas. Its title was "Peace through strength." For my part, I am willing to follow the Prime Minister or anybody else on that theme all over the world. I am sure that all over the world, except for one place, British rearmament, British enterprise and the clarion call of British freedom is the right course and the right policy for us.
But I cannot follow my right hon. Friend in relation to Germany. I believe that the situation in East Germany and West Germany at the present time is such that we have to contract out of his large philosophy for this geographical area. About 18 months ago I addressed the House on the themes of Communism and what should be done about the future of Germany. I invited the House to go with me on an ideological journey from the United States, through the N.A.T.O. countries to the Iron Curtain and into Russia. I ended in Russia, and shortly afterwards some of my constituent's thought I was still there and ought to come home.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I should like to begin today with a few observations about Russia. I really do not think that the confusion and speculation surrounding the dismissal of Beria last summer should eradicate from our minds the quite definite change in Russian policy since the death of Stalin. Stalin stood for the Russian equivalent of containment plus—plus the integration of the satellites, 646 plus the ideological war, plus the attacks on Zionism, plus the spoon feeding of external Communist communities.
We are not sure about the interregnum of Beria. Let us leave it aside. But let us take the present policy of Russia under Malenkov. It stands out in marked contrast. It seems to me to be a policy of static containment, great power orthodoxy, formal and correct diplomacy, and a decided improvement in international manners. Russia today is a country not on the march forward and certainly not backwards. She is a Russia like a Germany not of the Kaiser and not of Hitler but of Bismarck. She is a Russia like a United States not of Franklin Roosevelt, not of Dulles and not of McCarthy but of Eisenhower.
If that analysis is correct, Russia seems more secure, more prosperous, less frightened and less dangerous than at any time since the war. She is a power which will answer threats with threats and may respond to genuine good will by genuine good will. She is a nation neither to be trifled with nor alarmed by, a nation which has come to rest in the plentitude of her power, for as long as our policy can foresee.
This Russia is one of the nations which constitutes an electrode in the taut magnetic field which shakes the world. The other one—no less resilient and correct in her diplomacy, no less able if only agreement can be reached to discard a portion of her terrorising strength—is the United States of America.
So now we have a situation not unlike the period before the 1914–18 war, so well epitomised in that most magnificent of all pieces of writing by the Prime Minister:The Great Powers, marshalled on either side, preceded and protected by an elaborate retinue of diplomatic courtesies and formalities, present to each other their respective arrays.We all agree that the fires cannot be stoked up on either side without the sparks flying. That must be the view of the Prime Minister, since he has not called for all-out industrial mobilisation in the West to meet the menace of the Russian hydrogen bomb. In parenthesis, I think we should mark how extraordinary is the difference in international potential between the movement of a few North Korean battalions across the 647 frontier, which set the whole free world ablaze, and the discovery of the hydrogen bomb by Russia, which has produced an amazing state of international calm.
The great speech of 11th May, followed by the Berlin Conference, seemed to prepare the ground upon which these giant forces could meet. They must meet even now upon some ground, if rearmament is to be slowed down and if some state of mutual confidence is to be achieved. I hoped that Germany might be that ground, and I still hope so. I remember writing an article directly after the war for a Sunday newspaper. It was called "Germania Incognita." I pleaded in that article that the penance which Germany, that is to say Greater Germany, should undergo for initiating at least three wars in 100 years was that she should be stripped of her military sovereignty and obliged to act as a laboratory in international government.
I pleaded that the United Nations should be established not in New York but in the ruins of Berlin and that the population of Germany should subserve the cause of a new ideal of international government. It seemed to me also, on another plane, that the victorious Powers would have their war-time alliance consolidated by such a process, and that they would be held interlocked by the dire necessity of ruling and maintaining a resurgent population of 80 million persons. That concept, which was in part the concept of Potsdam, was destroyed by the ideological war which immediately rose up, brought about by the Berlin air-lift, the Czech revolution and, finally, the Korean aggression.
Everybody is agreed today that a four-Power administration of Germany is too novel, too adventurous and too idealistic —although one might say that there is a reflection of it at present in the Foreign Secretary's proposal for four-Power supervision of German elections. Any such administration would altogether disregard the growth of Germany, the changes, the friendships that have been formed, and the war-time alliance that were destroyed after Potsdam.
I want to show that somewhere we have to find a solution between the two; a solution between something which at that time might have been possible but 648 might be regarded now as unworkable and too idealistic, and the other solution which so many hon. Members on both sides of the House appear to think proper, of recoiling now from Berlin as from something which failed, which was ignominious, and of resorting to German rearmament and greater diplomatic drive.
I come now to the case which I want to make, and I ask the indulgence of the House in doing so. I am in a strong minority on this side, as many hon. Members already know, and whether my views are shared by any section of the Conservative Party in the country we have yet to determine. My case is that the West must be ready to concede more than they have yet conceded.
Here I come to the point made by the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North today and by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) yesterday. They painted this terrifying picture of Russia on the march, citing Czechoslovakia, the Berlin air-lift and the Korean aggression as evidence of it. It has always seemed to me that the evidence of a Russian military menace, constituted by the rape and conversion to Communism of Czechoslovakia was, from the historic point of view, poor evidence indeed. It was the Western Powers that, by the Treaty of Teheran, put the Russian soldiers on the line they now hold. Small wonder that the hinterland behind the line on which these soldiers stood was condemned to receive a barbaric and dastardly form of government, with stooges in power. The conversion of Czechoslovakia to Communism is not evidence of the Russian determination to use military force to conquer the West.
§ Mr. Attlee
The noble Lord speaks of the conversion of Czechoslovakia to Communism. He is not suggesting that the Czechs have been converted to Communism? He surely means the change of regime and not of the people.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
No. I speak about the Communist machinery of control. The Czechs had about 20 years' experience of democracy, and I am certain that they remember them and the close affiliation between them and this country at that time.
Thinking that way, I am the more inclined to make this suggestion that the 649 West must be ready to concede more. I believe that it is our turn, in all Christian humility and good faith. The Russians have made a move already in the field of 'high strategy. They have made a move from Stalinism to Malenkovism. They have moved from containment-plus to containment-simple. That is a concession in high strategy of very great consequence. There are very many, and I do not propose to differ from them, who attribute all this to N.A.T.O, They may fee right, but they ought to go on to say, with Admiral Radford and some others: "Let us force them further back. Let us step up the propaganda and atom potential, and get the Russians on to a containment-minus policy. Let us get them to release the satellites. Do it by diplomatic manoeuvres and threats of force.
I do not think that that policy will prevail. We have had one very strong hint that it would not, and that was the downfall of Beira, who was accused of indulging in bourgeois capitalist tendencies and playing too fast into the hands of the aggressive democracies. He was believed to be in league with the West Obviously by the move the Russians made to get rid of him they showed that any obvious or forceful move which the West may make will receive rough treatment from the Russians. We have to be very much more subtle. An hon. Member said opposite that it may take a whole lifetime to achieve something substantial.
Berlin was a disappointment to me because it did not make the concession which matches up to the change between Stalinism and Malenkovism. At Berlin we did not even make the concession which would have advanced the hour of delivery of the satellites. We held out for free elections before everything. I believe that to have been a profound mistake. We must have known that the Russians would not accept and we lost the chance at this time—whatever may come again—of getting democracy into East Germany at all. We would have been doubly fortunate in compromising with the Russians on that pant of their election plan—not the proposals to which the hon. Member for Hammersmith, North has referred, but on the election plan itself. We could have claimed acceptance of that part of the 650 Russian plan as a real concession, and in return could have required the Russians to give up something—such as the abandonment of their demand for an all European pact or even the abolition of N.A.T.O.
A second advantage would have derived from the intrinsic merits in the scheme itself. First it would have given the embryo democratic parties in East Germany a chance to establish. They are there now though they are strictly controlled by their Russian overlords. Those parties would have been put in immediate touch with their associate organisations in the West, they could have received a build-up, and when the time for elections finally came they would have been in a better position to put forward their philosophy and evidence their independence.
Next, by accepting that part of the Russian plan we would have avoided the insult to the West Germans embodied in our proposal of four-Power or neutral supervision. Supervision would have been a novel and disagreeable experience for the West Germans. Thirdly, it would have strictly followed our own precedent in West Germany where, ever since the war, a Government has first been formed provisionally before free elections have taken place.
Finally, it would have followed the overwhelming precedent of Austria where the November, 1945, election was organised, not by the four Powers but by Dr. Renner, head of the all-Austrian Provisional Government of May, 1945. As we all know, there are only three indirectly and one directly elected Communists in the whole Austrian Parliament. Under the very noses of the Russian General Staff they are democrats. Why could not we have had the same result in Germany if we had tried hard enough.
There does not seem to have been any genuine, positive peace-making at Berlin. Whatever may be said about the conference having witnessed an improvement in international manners, I think it achieved too little. It failed to push out the frontiers of democracy and the rule of law into East Germany. It failed to take a concrete step towards prising the East German satellite from the Russian complex.
651 I do not want the House to think that I am against German rearmament forever. I am only against it now, and still, after the Berlin Conference. It seems a false view to say that we have made all the attempts we can at Berlin and must now rearm the Germans, get on with E.D.C. and try a bit of armed build-up instead. If so, what is the meaning of the technical approach to German unification which has immediately taken place.
No sooner is the Berlin Conference over than these moves begin to establish greater freedom of communication, to remove the barriers between East and West, to get cultural relations established across the whole of Germany. Events move forward and hopefully. Another conference is soon to be held about China. A further conference may be held later about Germany. The Foreign Secretary says that toe looks forward to them. Berlin is not a Munich—not a terrifying failure followed by violent enemy moves, but rather a milestone to peace.
Why do we need to rearm the Western Germans now when the desire is to promote trade and cultural relations? The two do not fit together. It is said that we cannot have a vacuum in Western Germany. There is no vacuum—it is filled now with occupying troops—but to the extent that there is a vacuum from the lack of German troops that vacuum seems to be far less menacing than the vacuum of 1948 and the Berlin Airlift.
It is said that the Germans should bear the physical burden of their own defence, and that we should withdraw and use our resources elsewhere, but few suggest that the Germans are to rearm outside E.D.C.—the proposal is that they should rearm inside. The French will not agree to their doing so without a further British commitment. That means that the more Germans who appear in E.D.C., the more British troops are committed as a consequence.
I do not think that E.D.C. itself is a satisfactory organisation. It seems to me to be a politicians' nightmare, and some quite well known military men consider it to be a military nonsense. Where are these Germans going to 'be placed in E.D.C.? I presume that they are not 652 going to be sent to France or Italy, but will be used in Germany. There they will be facing their brothers in the East, while all around them businessmen, professors bound on cultural relations, traders, every sort of person will be moving into East Germany to make their ties and contacts.
But across the line West German troops will be facing East German troops. It seems to lack sense. What about the German reserves and staff? We cannot have German troops without reserves and staff. They will be sitting in Germany— they cannot be tied inside the E.D.C. complex. There will therefore be German troops on manoeuvres at Luneburg, German headquarters' garrisons in towns, reserves kitted out and trained in camps, and a general staff at Bonn—all facing East.
Will they glare at the East Germans, and make ready to fight them? If not, will they fraternise with them? Why should they not? Their very families may be moving across the frontier for their holidays. If they do fraternise, how shall we prevent a secret order of battle being written? How are we to prevent a secret network of communications being arranged between East and West to bypass E.D.C. altogether? When the West Germans are ready, and the communications barriers to the East have been removed, they may very well rip the whole thing out of the framework of E.D.C. and join up with the military formations in the East. Then, with the bickering and disagreement between ourselves and Russia—the Suzerain Powers who won the war and who cannot continue in friendship now—the Germans will be well away. They will say, "We are back to 1939," and the whole thing will begin again.
An hon. Member opposite said that we were the heirs of a liberal society, and that it was our duty to propagate it. We are more than that. We derive our whole philosophy from the Greeks. What happened to the Athenian democracy? It was destroyed not by the second Peleponnese War, but by the third, and the same thing may occur again. Let the West hold her diplomatic and military forces at bay. Let her go forward with cultural approaches, with trade and good 653 fellowship. Let there be a series of conferences, in which she registers facts of improvement and takes comfort from them. Let her, by so doing, bring East Germany into the Western world—a peaceful, democratic and prosperous new country. That, and not any other way, is the way to peace and salvation.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I hope to deal with some of the points which were raised by the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinching-brooke). Much as I am tempted to refer to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey), as he is not here at the moment I shall refrain from doing so. The noble Lord suggested that we should agree to some form of elections in Germany which would enable the Eastern zone to carry out its elections in its own way. He suggested that that would enable the political parties in the East which still have their contacts in the West to extend those contacts, and he said that we should then have something like the position in Austria.
That is not so. The Democratic Party is banned in Eastern Germany, and it would certainly not be permitted, in any conceivable scheme which the noble Lord might have in mind, to put up candidates in such elections. It is not right to compare the elections for the first Lander Governments in Western Germany—and even less the ejection for the first Government in Austria after the war—with such curious form of election. The first Lander Governments in Western Germany were appointed Governments, pending arrangements being made for elections, which were held as soon as possible and by which freely elected Governments were set up. Nothing else could be done in Germany, after the war, when there were no political parties or democratic organisations.
The conditions that existed in Austria are even less worthy of comparison with the situation as the noble Lord suggests it would be in the Eastern Zone of Germany. He agrees that although these elections were not run by the occupying powers but by Dr. Renner and his colleagues, they were run as free elections, on a democratic basis, in which all parties, including the Communists, were 654 allowed to participate. There was no restriction upon the political parties in Austria.
He finished by asking, "Why should we go on with E.D.C. now? "That is the whole burden of this debate. I would remind the House that the purposes of E.D.C. were not simply to strengthen the rearmament of the West. E.D.C. was first proposed in order to prevent the threat of which the noble Lord himself reminded us—a revival of German militarism which would become a threat to the peace of Europe and, particularly, to France. That is why E.D.C. emerged as a French condition for any kind of German rearmament. It is a safeguard against those very dangers of which we have heard so much tonight.
It was, further, a recognition of the facts. There was no concession to Germany. There was no request from Germany to make any concessions. The proposal for E.D.C. was no more or less, in essence, than the recognition of a series of facts which had developed since 1945, the most important of which was a divided Germany. That was not the creation of the West or of the West German Government. The other facts were that a West German Government had already come into existence, and that Government, if they were to become a democratic Government —as was our intention when we agreed to that Government being set up—must essentially have the rights of a democratic Government to conduct their own affairs, and to show their people that they were responsible for conducting their affairs, in order to gain their confidence and support in a democratic election. Otherwise, they would never have been a democratically elected Government.
It was recognised by the Western Powers that any independent Government —and the Western German Government became progressively more and more independent as they gained more and more power—must necessarily, at some stage, accept responsibility for internal order and the defence of their frontiers. We could see from the beginning, as France did, that, whether or not we liked it, there would inevitably arise, sooner or later, a development of German forces which must either be independent forces —with all the danger they would bring to the peace of Europe if they got into the wrong hands—or forces which we 655 could contain in the early stages, within a Western European community under a united command with integrated powers.
As the noble Lord said, it might be possible for a clique of German generals, plotting in Berlin or elsewhere, to withdraw and disintegrate their forces, but that could be done only with great difficulty, with all the risks of the plot being exposed and the tremendous imponderable difficulties about withdrawing supplies and the rest. At least E.D.C. provides the possibility of making it more difficult for that to happen, whereas, without E.D.C., any group of German generals could get together, with an independent German army, and carry on all the activities to which the noble Lord referred.
There are many good democrats in West Germany, both in the Government and in opposition. It is true that there are blocs here and there in one or other of the parties, and that they are not all above suspicion of being not exactly good democrats, but does not that apply to other political parties in other democratic countries? Can we be sure that in every democratic party in every democratic country every individual member is a good democrat, and is not following the design of some other Power? Do not let us throw stones at some odd people who may be under suspicion in the German Government.
They, too, are afraid of Nazi force, and afraid of domination by a group of Nazi generals. That is why the German Government are so anxious to bring this new democratic Western Germany within the ambit of the Western democratic community, where that danger, if not completely removed, will be made more remote than under other conditions. It was because of that that in November, 1950, the late Mr. Ernest Bevin introduced the idea of the European army, and he made it clear that one of the reasons was because this was the only condition under which France—who were always afraid of a revival of German militarism —would accept German militarism at all.
In 1951, when the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister, and laid down his famous conditions in the House of Commons, these conditions, again, were made because we were afraid that independent German forces might 656 arise at some time. The famous Attlee conditions, which have been invoked over and over again since that time, were, therefore, laid down. But many people have forgotten the importance of the third of the Attlee conditions, which was that any German forces must be integrated into a European community, in which they could be controlled. That has been the fundamental of the Labour party attitude ever since that time, and the reasons, of course, were those which I have mentioned—primarily, because we recognised that the only alternative would be the progressive development of independent German forces.
From 1950, when this plan was first mooted, through 1951, when the Attlee conditions were laid down, and in all the debates which we have had ever since and in all the decisions which have been taken at Labour Party Conferences, we have had overwhelming, and in some cases unanimous, support for the principle of a European defence community to which Germany would make a contribution. There have been conditions—reasonable conditions. They were the Attlee conditions—fresh elections in West Germany, and not a German constitution which was forced on the German people. Those elections have been held.
Then fresh efforts were to be made with the Russians before we considered bringing German units within the European community. At Margate, it was accepted that we must first make quite sure that there was no immediate possibility of agreement with the Russians, and it was agreed that we should seek fresh talks with them. We all accepted that. But apparently not now. There are new arguments now. One argument now is not that we should have E.D.C. on the condition that we wait until Geneva or until this or that condition has been fulfilled.
But the main argument which we have heard in the House today, and which I have read in the newspapers—the "Daily Worker" and others—was that E.D.C qua E.D.C. will be a menace to the civilisation and peace of Europe and the world. But what of all the support of E.D.C. which existed before? Did hon. Members not mean it? Was it not sincere? Was E.D.C. not a menace then, or would it not have been a menace?
657 Yet it has been suggested that we should wait until April and the Geneva Conference and then, if we fail at Geneva, we can consider the ratification of E.D.C. But would E.D.C. not then still be a menace to the peace of the world? In fact are not all these conditions, all these provisions and delays, just excuses, strategems, in order to prevent any form of E.D.C. coming into existence. Why? Perhaps I may refer here to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe. It seems that I am one of those who is a "victim of the trap set by the Tory Party.
I was a little bewildered when my hon. Friend denounced as disloyalty the failure of a Tory Government to carry out a Resolution of a Labour Party conference, and then to follow that by saying that he himself proposed to defy the latest Resolution of his own party. I do not quite understand. So as a victim of the "trap" set by the Eden plan, I am perhaps in some difficulty because I am not as free as those who put the other point of view, which happens, purely coincidentally, to correspond in every detail with the policies and declarations of the Communist Party.
I should like the public of this country to be aware of what are the alternatives to E.D.C. I should like the House and the country to be clear on this: we are not discussing and voting for or against German rearmament. I am afraid of unilateral German rearmament, and it is because I am afraid of it that I wholeheartedly support, as I have always supported, the conception of Germany being brought within E.D.C. and it is not primarily a question of the defence of the West but because German troops will at some time become inevitable and because E.D.C. is the only one part of the new conception of Europe which is calculated to remove all the old strains and tensions between France and Germany. The conception which it was intended to build up towards was the community of European nations which would end in federation.
We on this side of the House, and even some hon. Members opposite, have often argued that we do not like the conception of building a federation by, first of all, sitting down and drawing up a constitution in legalistic terms and saying, "There it is; let us start." We have always 658 argued that we should get togeher and try to meet on issues that we can see and feel, and build on, and by building these little unities we should build a structure from which federation would eventually evolve.
M. Schuman began with his steel and coal community. A European army was another step. I see in the development of this conception of bringing Western Germany and the other countries together in such communities the only hope of eliminating for ever all the tensions and dangers which have given rise to the situation which created the world wars of the past.
I now want to make what I think is an important point, one which, as far as I can remember, has been overlooked in the debate. We are now facing a new situation. The Bonn Agreements—the contractual agreements, as they are called —are in existence. They were contracted with the Western German Government, with America and with France. Why? Not, again, because we were making the great gift of more freedom and power to the West German Government, but because we recognised that the West German Government had established a position of power which must be recognised in formal documents and formal agreements.
But we were still afraid that if Germany were made entirely independent, without being bound at least on the military side with the West, that would be dangerous, and, therefore, we made the agreements conditional on ratification of E.D.C. That was the measure of our determination to ensure that there was no possibility of the unilateral German creation of forces under the newly-freed Western Government.
Those Bonn agreements exist, however, and we cannot untie them. Western Germany has ratified E.D.C. and has carried out the conditions. If, as is suggested now, France were to refuse ratification of E.D.C. and if Britain were to turn against E.D.C., what would be the position? America will certainly not drop it, and America will certainly not say to Germany, nor can we say to Germany, even if we wanted to, "You ratified E.D.C. but France will not do so and we are, therefore, going to drop it. You will be put back into the position of a third-rate occupied Power and will be 659 occupied for an indefinite number of years." It cannot be done.
What kind of situation would exist in Germany if America insisted on recognition of the agreements and we refused to do so? Are we to try to make a third division of Germany in the British Zone? Are we to say to Dr. Adenauer and his colleagues, "We are going to make a third division. We are going to stay here, and cancel altogether your writ in the British Zone "? Is that possible? And what would become of the unity in the West? That is a serious and important consideration which we must bear in mind.
What alternatives have been proposed? First, the alternative that Germany should be allowed into N.A.T.O. But I thought the feeling against E.D.C. was against German forces, and I consider that any independent German forces in N.A.T.O. would be much more dangerous than a German contingent in E.D.C. Next, it is suggested that Germany should become an independent member of U.N.O., with all the rights of membership of U.N.O. The Russians themselves have suggested that this would give all the necessary guarantees against German aggression. But Russia is a member of U.N.O. and China is a member of U.N.O.—and Korea is a member of U.N.O.; but these things have not prevented troubles from occurring in the Far East.
§ Mr. Hynd
Exactly, and all I am saying is that membership of U.N.O. as such is no guarantee against aggression. I therefore dismiss that suggestion as much less satisfactory than the suggestion of German membership of E.D.C.
I will not go into the question of the lost provinces, but I want to deal with the suggestion which has been made here and in Germany, particularly by the S.P.D., that ratification of E.D.C. would destroy all hopes of settlement. That view was repeated in the House today. I am convinced that the contrary is the case, for we have had eight or nine years without E.D.C. and we have had eight or nine years of German division. Yet there is no apparent hope of getting a settlement of Germany, on the basis of German unity, without E.D.C.
660 I ask myself what would have happened at the Berlin Conference if E.D.C. had been ratified before the conference, because the Russians would then have had something for which to bargain. As a matter of fact, in the question of N.A.T.O. did not the Russians at Berlin suggest that if we were prepared to wind up N.A.T.O. they might be prepared to talk about German elections? If E.D.C. had been in existence they might well have said, "If you are prepared to wind up E.D.C. we will be prepared to discuss German elections." But we had no E.D.C. with which to bargain.
The Russians themselves indeed are the only people in a position to bring an end to E.D.C. in its present concept, after its ratification, by agreeing to German elections, agreeing to a German peace treaty, because ipso facto the new German Government would immediately be freed from all commitments with the West and with the East. They would have to negotiate and they would be subject first of all to the conditions of a peace conference in which not only we, the Americans, France and Germany would have to agree but Russia as well. There can be no peace treaty without the signatures of all five. That would be the best guarantee, because then we should all have to start afresh. Everything else would be cleared out of the way, and we should have to get round a table to discuss the status and powers of the new German Government.
If we got to that stage, I think that in return for the unification of Germany and for the peace treaty we should be prepared to say to the German Government, "We will sign this treaty if you are prepared to give a solemn undertaking that over a period of five or seven years you will not undertake any military alliance with any other power." I think that would be a bargain worth considering with the Russians, the Germans and the others, for the sake of unity and a treaty.
But that cannot be done until we get the other things out of the way and get down to the question of a peace treaty. It is a pity we are in this situation, but as the Foreign Secretary and other hon. Members on both side of the House have made very clear, although the Berlin Conference may not be regarded as a failure it has made one thing pretty obvious, and 661 that is that we have got into a static condition.
Russia, apparently, is now satisfied that there is no danger of aggression from the West. We are satisfied that in strength, through N.A.T.O., there is little fear of aggression from the East, and, therefore, we can settle down and talk trade and cultural relations and all the rest of it; but that does not alter the fact that there is no apparent prospect of any change in the status of Germany.
What are we to do? We must set about ordering our own house and organising things to the best of our capacity in the area at our disposal until a better opportunity arises for a wider and better settlement which will cover the whole of Germany and, we hope, the whole of Europe. But the fact is that after all the troubles we have had with Germany, we have now got democracy in title saddle there temporarily; and primarily our responsibility is to see that that democracy is protected and encouraged to develop.
A democratic Germany has offered to come in and take its share of the burden; and this may assist me in my constituency when the mothers of soldiers come to me and say, "When are we going to have an end to this two years' National Service?" I may be able to say to them that the Germans are no longer exempt from service and perhaps that will help to bring about a reduction in the length of time of our National Service. Are we going to tell Germany that we do not want her? If we do not accept the offer which the Germans have made in good faith, I am fearful that they may look for allies somewhere else.
I hope that the Government will give careful consideration to any proposals for British association with E.D.C. and to any proposals for British membership. That is one 'thing that will convince France that they can safely agree to the E.D.C. E.D.C. was a French proposal. There are all the political difficulties which we know of in France. They know that they are taking a tremendous step and one from which possibly they can never return. They are abolishing the national French Army, as they are asking Germany to abolish her army. It is a tremendous step, and I can understand their difficulty.
662 Then we have the statement of Herr Ollenhauer, the leader of the German Social Democratic Party, who stated quite clearly yesterday that the German Socialist Party would be prepared to support membership of E.D.C. on condition that Britain is also a full member. Is it not possible for the Government to consider this? Is it impossible to ask them to remember that it was the Prime Minister himself who initiated this idea, and that one of the main reasons why France is afraid is because she realises —I do not want to use the word "betrayal"—that she has been let down by the British Prime Minister over his assurance that we would come in.
I say that, in view of the fear expressed and the hesitation that exists all over the country and in France, and in the interests of getting on with this job, no half-measures will be satisfactory. Let us do the thing properly. Let us give our assurance to France and to Germany and let us go in and play our part, because I am convinced that by that means only shall we be able to establish a really effective European Defence Community from which the fear of German aggression will be entirely removed.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
I followed the speech made by the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) with very great interest, and with most of it I entirely agree. I do not think that it is possible to overestimate the significance of the role that will be played by E.D.C. in the European structure. I am afraid that I do not go all the way with him in considering it essential for the success of E.D.C. that we should become members of it. I think that there are measures short of that which involve closer association with Europe, and are at the same time contributory to peace and stability.
This has been a memorable debate, memorable because every speech has been made with a heavy sense of the responsibility of this country towards Europe. Not for the first time in history we are the key to European peace and stability. Ever since the reign of Queen Anne we have been in that position. That is only partly due to our own intrinsic power. It is mainly due to our dual position as being a great seafaring and 663 imperial nation as well as being a European people.
I believe that every Member in this House has been asking himself the question, "Have we done all that we can; are there any new ideas or suggestions to which we should give consideration in order that we may make our full and proper contribution to European stability?
I wonder whether we are right in proceeding uniquely along the large-scale line. Are we right to pin our faith entirely to large-scale alliances and organisations like N.A.T.O. and E.D.C.? Is there not room for closer relationships between ourselves and individual countries that would contribute to stability? After all, the hon. Member for Attercliffe said that a federation could not be made in a night; it had to be built up bit by bit. I suggest we should consider whether a closer association between ourselves and individual Continental nations might not make a valuable contribution.
I really mean closer association with the Commonwealth, because we cannot divorce ourselves from the Commonwealth, even in Europe. I am thinking of the suggestion to offer membership of the Commonwealth to certain Continental nations. It would not be for this country or Government to extend the invitation; it would be for the whole Commonwealth to do so. It would, of course, be for the recipients of the invitation to accept or reject it. But the mere giving of the invitation itself would be a pledge of our interest in Europe and our determination never to dissociate ourselves from its fate, even if we could.
There is nothing inconsistent in the idea of the Commonwealth acquiring new members. After all, we have found that there is nothing inconsistent with the Commonwealth idea in having member States of different race, colour, and creed in various parts of the world, such as India, Pakistan and Ceylon. The Commonwealth is not necessarily an exclusively British club. I define the Commonwealth as being an association of nations with common ideals and common aims, and if there is room in the Commonwealth for India, Pakistan and Ceylon as well as the great white 664 Dominions, surely there is room in it for countries such as Holland, Denmark and Norway.
I am thinking particularly of Holland, a small nation, overcrowded, on the very edge of Europe, not frightened—no one would ever accuse the Dutch of being frightened—but uneasy, by being on the very edge of Europe, almost overlaid by the great German nation on her borders; uneasy about the prospects of joining E.D.C., which almost certainly she will join, although with misgivings. Why not Holland as a member of the British Commonwealth? Are there not mutual advantages to us both.
Holland is racially akin to ourselves, it is linked to us by many ties of peace and war, and it is a country for which we have great admiration, and for whose inhabitants we have great affection. Once before the idea of a union between Holland and this country was suggested, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, but Queen Elizabeth turned it down.
Holland has more than kinship, and geographical propinquity to ourselves. It has the same democratic ideals as we have. The Dutch nation is very similar to our own. It has different, but perhaps similar, colonial and imperial history. As an Englishman, I have always felt uneasy about the part played by this country in the loss of the Dutch Colonial Empire. If India can remain a completely independent republic within the Commonwealth, I cannot see why there should be a loss of independence or dignity if a Northern European kingdom joins the Commonwealth also.
The mutual advantages are obvious. But I am thinking particularly of the political advantages leading to increased stability in Europe. I agree with the hon. Member for Attercliffe in attaching supreme importance to E.D.C. I do not go as far as the hon. Member goes in thinking that E.D.C. will be more or less emasculated, and perhaps will never even come to birth unless we join it. At the moment, we are with it but not in it. I believe that we would give immense reassurance, not only to the Dutch, but to the whole E.D.C. structure, if we invited a member of the E.D.C.—namely, Holland —to become part of the British Commonwealth of nations. As I have said, whether that invitation is accepted or 665 rejected, it would be an earnest or pledge to Europe of our determination to stand by E.D.C. and to stand by the European peace structure.
The same arguments, but not E.D.C. arguments, apply to Denmark and Norway. I believe that in the last two years the idea of Norway joining the Commonwealth has been mooted. The idea of Denmark joining it has not, to my knowledge, been put forward in public.
I do not agree with those who say that the European situation is now static. I do not believe that any political situation remains static. It may appear static on the surface, but the undercurrents are always moving. There is no such thing as a static political situation any more than there is such a thing as a static friendship; it is either growing or waning, but it does not stand still. The European situation really is in a constant state of flux. Movements, feelings and aims are growing, and strengths waxing and waning. We do not want to regard it as something that is fixed and cannot be touched for fear of upsetting a delicate balance.
The way that I should suggest intervening in the situation at present is to consider whether public opinion in this country cannot be roused to the idea of extending the Commonwealth to the countries I have mentioned. They are countries for whom we have great admiration and affection, who have similar ideals, and with whom we are racially akin, with whose interests ours will not clash and whose interests do not clash with ours. As hon. Members have seen, I have been merely thinking aloud, but if these debates are not for the purpose of thinking aloud they serve little useful purpose at all.
I ask for no definite action on the part of the Government, but I think this idea should be put into circulation. When countries have an esteem and admiration for each other, union would riot only serve their joint interests but would be a genuine contribution to the peace and happiness of the world.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham, East)
Most of these speeches have radiated a moderately warm glow of optimism. The speeches put forward by the two right hon. Gentlemen who opened the debate 666 showed very forcibly what grounds there are for hope now that the Berlin Conference has finished. In particular, we have had the most persuasive speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), in which he showed a very generous regard for the feelings of those hon. Members who have the very greatest misgivings about the rearmament of Germany.
But it seems to me that the eloquence and charm of some of the speeches glossed over the extreme danger of what Western Europe now proposed to do. It is my conviction that this course of rearming Western Germany, to which we are, in effect, now committed, is one of extreme danger. By that, I do not mean that there is the imminent danger of an outbreak of war. That would be a wrong reading of the international situation: but what I am afraid of is that we are making this move in our policy, because, having reached the point where the road forks, we have begun to walk the wrong way, which will bring us to a number of dangers, the perils of which we cannot assess at the present time.
We have been put in this position because Eastern Germany was armed while Western Germany remained without arms. I believe it is most arrant humbug for anyone to condemn the rearmament of Western Germany and not condemn with equal severity, as I do, the measures, political and military, that have been taken by the Russians in Eastern Germany. We should say to any of the groups of people who come here lobbying hon. Members from time to time, urging us not to vote for German rearmament, "I am in hearty agreement with you, provided what you say applies to Eastern Germany as well.
That is the situation with which we are faced. Happily, for the peace of the world, these Eastern German forces are not as politically reliable as the Russians would wish. Even so, faced with this situation, we have to strive to get the whole of Germany united without arms, that is to say, undo the evil that has been done in Eastern Germany; or if that has been sincerely and thoroughly tried and cannot be achieved, then with heavy hearts but quite resolutely we shall have to proceed with the dangerous task of rearming Western Germany. It seems to me the choices are as simple as that.
667 The point to which I want to address my argument is that I believe we have not made a proper attempt to get a unified Germany without arms. Without proper striving after the better course, we have taken the worse. We have taken hastily and without proper consideration a course which should only have been taken, if at all, as a last resort; though I repeat, if the alternative which I now want to elaborate, were thoroughly tried and still failed, I would assent to the necessity for West German rearmament.
First, why do I so belabour this point of the danger of the course in which we are engaged? It is for this reason, because it means a Germany that is both divided and armed. As long as Germany is divided we cannot expect from her the behaviour of an adult, responsible peace-loving nation. A deep neurosis will be affecting the whole of German behaviour while that division persists. There will be only one item of policy of interest to any German statesman so long as that division persists, and that is to get Germany reunited. They will be prepared, both in East and West Germany, to ally themselves with either East or West or to betray either East or West if they think that will forward German unity.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney) described graphically the machinations, the ruthlessness, the determination of Communists. There is something else which will equal that, and that will be the ruthlessness, the single-mindedness, the determination of a German intent on getting his divided country reunited. That is the position we shall be in, and that country, with that neurosis affecting all its actions, we propose shall have arms poured into it, not only on one side by the Russians but by ourselves on the other.
In fact, a point which has been overlooked by so many hon. and right hon. Members who have spoken as if the present situation were a cause for optimism, is that what we are in effect doing—when I say "we" I blame all who are responsible, the Russians as much, indeed more, than anyone—what we and our Government are assenting to is a course which denies to Germany the things which even as a defeated aggressor 668 she could rightfully ask for—her unity— and gives her the one thing with which she can least be trusted—arms and the weapons of war. That seems to me a course the danger of which has been terribly overlooked throughout all this debate.
Could we have sought the other way to get a unified Germany but without arms? I think we have to recognise that united Germany must mean unification based on genuinely free elections. Nobody disputes that. Now we have to recognise that those free elections would be a serious blow to the prestige of the Soviet Government, and a great material loss to her as well, because they would completely discredit the East German regime and shake the morale of the satellite governments as well.
It is a scandalous thing that Russia should regard it as an immense concession to provide the East Germans with ordinary democratic and human rights, but that at the moment is the fact. And if we are determined to try to get free elections, we have to consider what we can offer the Russians in return. In fact we were offering them nothing at all. There was only one possibility and that was to say that, if we could get genuinely free elections, the resulting unified Germany should be without arms; that is to say, that we would not proceed with the rearmament of Germany.
What is there in our own Defence White Paper? N.A.T.O. Ministers stressed once again at their December meeting that the institution of the European Defence Community, including a German contribution, was essential for the reinforcement of N.A.T.O.; that is to say, before the conference began, even before its definite date was fixed, it was an unshakable item of the policy of the N.A.T.O. countries that there was to be a German contribution to E.D.C. as a necessary reinforcement of N.A.T.O. That made it frankly impossible to get any serious concession out of the Russians.
The hon. Gentleman has previously tried to suggest that the argument which I am putting forward can be countered by saying that when the free elections have been held and when step by step an all-German Government has been reached, that Government can throw off E.D.C. and the Bonn Agreements if they choose.
§ Mr. Nutting
There is one further point on that. Not only has that point been made against the hon. Gentleman, but it is also the fact that not only did we go to Berlin to uphold N.A.T.O., but that the Government of which the hon. Gentleman was a distinguished Member at the War Office also undertook, as long ago as July, 1950, to rearm Germany within a European Defence Community.
§ Mr. Stewart
On the last point, the hon. Gentleman knows very well that it always has been the policy of the Labour Government not to proceed with the rearmament of Germany until a genuine attempt has been made to reach agreement with the Russians. It may be a point of dispute whether the Berlin Conference was worth while, but no evidence will justify the hon. Gentleman suggesting that even before the conference began we were resolved to proceed with the rearmament of Germany. The point made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition on that point to the effect that we must make an attempt to get an agreement with the Russians before proceeding with the rearmament of Germany is perfectly clear.
On this question that the all-German Government—if the Foreign Secretary's plan had been adopted—could subsequently step out of E.D.C., what are the Government really saying in putting forward that argument? They are saying, presumably, that we could now go ahead and that while the elections are being held the E.D.C. arrangements would proceed. Some two, three or four years later, when German rearmament had advanced to a considerable stage, then they are saying in theory that the resulting German Government can step out of E.D.C. If it can, what becomes of the continued reassurance that E.D.C. is a cage within which the Germans can be kept safe.
The weakness of the Government's position is that, on the one hand, they are assuring those who are worried about the size of German rearmament that Germany will be safe inside the cage of E.D.C., and, on the other, they are saying that the door of that cage is open and that Germany will be free to move out.
On the question of a unified Germany without arms, I believe that at Berlin a 670 plain offer should have been made, the sort of offer that the Russians could reasonably call a proposal when they are in one mood and a horse deal when they are in the other mood. I do not particularly mind what it is called, but I believe that there was at any rate some possibility of reaching agreement on these lines. We could have asked the Soviet Union to agree to further elections in order to get the unification of Germany, and said that in return Germany should remain unified, neutral and disarmed for a period of 10 years.
§ Mr. Stewart
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. If he is right and if there was no possibility of that being accepted, then there was even less possibility of the Foreign Secretary's plan being accepted, because that plan required a concession from the Russians and gave them nothing in return. If that plan was put forward with any possibility of it being a success, then what I am suggesting would have at least an equal chance of success.
I know that a number of objections have been raised to the possibility of a Germany unified, neutral and disarmed for a period of 10 years. I say 10 years, because I believe that in 10 years' time whatever arrangements we now make will be old history. Therefore, it would be wrong to attempt to bind the future beyond that point. I think it was a workable proposition, because it does not require an intolerable concession on either side. For the Russians to go to a conference and say to the West, "You must abandon N.A.T.O." is asking for the moon, and for us to go to a conference and say to the Soviet Union, "You must walk out of your satellites in Eastern Europe" is also asking for the moon.
§ Mr. Stewart
I know. I am saying that attempts at holding a conference on gigantic proposals will not work. What I am suggesting requires from each a considerable concession, but a concession that the other will be glad to have, and one which both sides might reasonably be expected to make if they are really concerned to avoid the dangerous situation into which Europe and, indeed, all mankind are drifting.
671 Over and over again we have been told that it is impossible to have a neutralised disarmed Germany even for a period of years. I cannot imagine on what chain of reasoning that statement is based. What was the situation after the First World War? For 15 years after the end of the First World War Germany was militarily incapable of disturbing the peace of Europe, and a very good thing too. What ended that situation? Partly the unplanned economic system by which Europe lived then created so much social upheaval as to give the forces of violence and reaction in Germany their opportunity; and partly certain statesmen in the West began to play with the dangerous idea of a rearmed and powerful Germany as a possible set-off against the Soviet Union—the same dangerous idea which we are entertaining today. If we had used those 15 years to provide Europe with a saner economic order, the whole course of history could have been altered for the better.
Such a bargain would be a gain all round—an immense gain to the East Germans, a cause of rejoicing to the West Germans, and to the great Powers of East and West a realisation that for the first time they had both trusted each other, at any rate half the way, and that both evidently were prepared to make some real concession in the cause of peace. We should all of us be relieved from this uglier picture of the springing up again of German military power.
We are told that it is impossible to keep Germany disarmed even for a period, but every argument that has been advanced to prove that impossible is an argument that tells even more heavily against what is actually proposed. If it is impossible to prevent a Germany that is militarily quite helpless from arming herself, what is going to be the position of a Germany that is enabled under the present arrangements to equip herself with 12 divisions.
We may call the men in those divisions part of a European army, but they will be Germans concerned with German unity, with weapons in their hands, quartered in Germany, and in Germany also will be much of their provisions for the supply of their equipment. Does anyone suppose that a nation with the skill, resource, determination and 672 ingenuity of the Germans will not be able to turn that into a formidable and independent force when they judge the time is ripe to do so? If it is impossible to keep a Germany disarmed, it is even more impossible to make work the arrangements that are before us here.
I say, therefore, that an offer of the kind to which I have referred should have been made—indeed, should still be made, though with this conference past, the chances of success are infinitely reduced. Perhaps the only melancholy moral that we can draw is that we should not go to the conference at Geneva under the impression that we can expect the Communist Powers to make great concessions in Korea and Indo-China while we are not prepared to make any substantial return. If we go in that spirit the conference will end with as little advance as this conference ended.
I am sorry if I have taken more of the time of the House than I intended, but I do believe that I have expressed the doubts and misgivings of a great many people. We have embarked on a course which possibly we may have been driven to inevitably later, but on which we have now embarked unnecessarily, imprudently, and with very little regard for the risks involved. I say what I believe many people throughout the country will say, that that is a form of diplomacy to which I cannot give assent or approval.
§ 8.56 p.m
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I promised to sit down at Nine o'clock and I shall not break my promise. Having sat through the whole of this debate since it started yesterday, having heard all but two of the speeches in their entirety, I think I ought to be in a position to say something about the impression which the debate has made on my own mind. A realisation has been running throughout the debate that sooner or later we have to choose between the lesser of what we may consider two evils. That seems to be a necessity that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) did not face, but will soon face, I hope.
The Prime Minister today, in an ordinary English way, said something that had deep meaning in it. He said, "It is good to be on speaking terms with other people." How true that is. It seems to me that the triumph of Berlin 673 —for I believe there was a triumph in it—was that all parties went away at the end apparently still ready to talk to each other. I believe that to be no mean achievement, and to no small degree the credit of that achievement is the Foreign Secretary's. I think all hon. Members on both sides of the House feel he is entitled to considerable credit for what he has done.
There is one terrible question hanging over Europe that very few hon. Members have remarked on in this debate. How long can we go on holding out hope to the satellite States, and how long can we go on holding out hope to Germany that she will be re-united? I am afraid that one lesson of the Berlin Conference very forcibly impressed on me is that the chance of our realising those hopes is not very much closer than it was before the conference. I am convinced, however, that we have to go on keeping up the hopes of those satellite States and that we have got to go on keeping up the hope of Germany that one day that country will be re-united. No matter how long it may take to fulfil those hopes, we must keep them alive.
I think that hon. Members know me well enough by now to know that I have many reasons to mistrust German rearmament and even to feel a certain hatred of the Germans. I conclude by making a sort of confession to the House. During the last General Election the accusation made by the party opposite that many of us in this party wanted war and that we were warmongers hurt me, as it did a great many of my hon. Friends, very deeply. I resented that accusation so deeply that I vowed when I came into the House in the new Parliament in 1951 that I would not speak to any hon. Gentleman or hon. Lady opposite. Within four days I realised that that was making no difference to them whatever, and that it was doing a great deal of damage to my own soul.
I believe that hatred is not the way in which to run the world. I ask our great country to face the fact that vengeance, resentment and hatred are not the answer to the problem of Germany, but that the answer is to bring Germany into the comity of Western nations and try to make her understand what we have taken years to build up, and which I believe Germany has never yet had—a 674 true Parliamentary democracy which believes in the freedom of expression, freedom of minorities and the free expression of the views of the minority. I believe that the Berlin Conference was one step towards that.
I do not think that lectures on democracy can teach the Germans that. The only way to do it is to show them that we are good friends to have and to emulate. I believe that that is happening. Let us hope that we are now reaching the end of the journey and that the journey will be completed in peace.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
May I begin by joining in the congratulations which have been offered to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) on her very moving maiden speech. She comes to this House most admirably equipped to share its labours, and I know she will play a spendid part.
I am sure the whole House will ardently endorse the plea of the Prime Minister to Russia to think again about an Austrian Treaty. The whole House is very glad that the Foreign Secretary is himself going to the Far East Conference in Geneva in April next. Many of us wish that the Ministers who have spoken could have told us rather more about the talks on disarmament which they plan some day to have. I hope the Foreign Secretary will confirm tonight that those projected talks will not postpone the work of technical study and drafting with which the United Nations Disarmament Commission has been instructed by three Assemblies to proceed. The Commission has not met for 20 months. We shall never relax the tensions of world affairs while what the Prime Minister so movingly described as the unimaginable horrors of modern armaments hang over us and while the menace of those armaments increases as it is increasing year by year.
The Government must show that we mean business by the 'bold proposals for drastic reduction which we made 20 months ago and, whatever talks may come about, the drafting and studies of this Commission are the next indispensable and very urgent step. All-round disarmament by general treaty is very 675 relevant to the main subject on which we have been speaking in this debate. I start on the German problem by saying that there is no anxiety, no preoccupation, about German militarism which I do not share. No hon. Member hates war and armaments more than I do. Each of us has his own view, sincerely held, about the events which have led up to the present situation. My view starts from the First World War and from what followed. The troops in that first war—by 1918, all the troops of all the countries—'Wanted it to be what our then Prime Minister declared it was, "A war to end all wars.
When it was over, two events gave us a great hope that that might succeed: the overthrow of the German military autocracy and the establishment of the League of Nations. Some people argued then, and some argue now, that the German military autocracy was never really overthrown, that the German people love war and conquest, that they are quite different from other nations and that that is a basic fact from which our policy ought always to begin.
For a century at least there have been evil and dangerous men in Germany who have had far too great a power. I am sorry that the Prime Minister called Bismarck a great man again this afternoon. Bismarck's "blood and iron" was a barbaric and immoral creed. But it is my profound conviction that in 1919 the vast mass of the German people wanted to end war, as we did. There was ample and prolonged evidence that that was true. The German workers defeated a military putsch by a general strike. They helped our Disarmament Control Commission to do its job. Their ex-Service men joined in every demonstration for disarmament and the League of Nations. They elected big majorities of Democratic anti-war deputies to their Reichstag.
But the German Democrats were not given all the encouragement and help that they might have had. For too long they were treated as untouchables, as belonging to a pariah nation. For too long they were left outside the League of Nations, and pledges that other nations would follow the unilateral disarmament of Germany by a general treaty of armament reduction were left unfulfilled.
676 The economic restrictions on German trade; the occupation of the Ruhr; the reparation crises; the appalling misery that followed the world slump of 1929— one-third of the German people living for four years on half the inhuman unemployment pittance which we then had; the widely flaunted view of some people in our countries that Hitler would be a better bulwark against Communism than the Reichstag—all those things played a powerful part in smashing democracy and bringing the Nazis into power.
All through those years the Labour Party condemned those mistakes, as they condemned the courting and appeasement of Hitler and the betrayal of the League of Nations that followed when he destroyed the Reichstag and assumed command.
I recall these far-off unhappy things, not to bandy recriminations, but because I am haunted by the fear that we may make the same kind of mistakes again, that by fear and procrastination and by treating Germany as an unequal, inferior nation we may defeat the Democrats and bring the evil and dangerous men—the Communists or neo-Nazis—back to power.
These men—the Communists and the neo-Nazis—suffered a severe reverse in the last West German Federal elections. The Communists lost all their 15 seats, and no one suspected of being a neo-Nazi won a seat at all. I believe they failed because most Germans now believe that dictatorship would mean the risk of war and that war would mean the end of Germany.
It would be surprising if that were not true. The Prime Minister spoke this afternoon of the devastation of Germany in the last war. Frankfurt was not among the cities that were most heavily bombed; but when the bombing ended, Frankfurt had 30 million tons of rubble. By last year, after eight years, only 3 million tons—one-tenth—had been removed.
The Germans know that if they became a battlefield with atom bombs, not only their towns and cities, but their population would be wiped out. Even if it is only out of crude national self-interest, they are at present anti-war.
Will they remain so? That is the vital question. Can the Democrats stay on 677 top? Some of the things that are happening are like what happened last time, or even worse. It is nine years since the fighting ended. The Germans have not even been offered a peace treaty. Such a thing has never happened before in history.
The Germans care passionately about their national unity; that is a vital fact which we must never forget. But their country has been brutally divided. The barriers between East and West are far harsher, far more dividing, than the barriers between any normal national States. Ten million Germans have been driven as penniless refugees into the Western Zone, and on one-third of the nation an alien form of Government has been imposed, backed by police with tanks—many of them ex-Nazis—and dependent on the Russian Army for support.
These things, alas, have been done by Russia. Mr. Molotov, and Communists over here, sometimes talk as though the Russians had a right to divide Germany and to impose a Communist regime. They have no such right. Their whole policy is founded simply on the use, the illegal use, of military power. It is a plain violation of the Yalta and Potsdam Agreements, and of the United Nations Charter, by all of which they are bound. Of course, in the long run, this policy is a grave danger to Russia herself. This is a classical example of the political myopia which the blinkers of Marxist doctrine cause. The Russians are earning the bitter hatred of the Germans, whom they profess to fear. They have forgotten Trotsky's warning: '" He who wants to carry revolution abroad on the point of bayonets, it were far better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck and that he were cast into the sea.
This policy is a danger not only to Russia. It might, if it were long continued, menace the influence of the German democrats as well. This would quite certainly have happened if we and our Western partners had not had the wisdom to act on the principles laid down at Potsdam; but fortunately we have. We have united the three Western zones. We have let them create their own Federal Republic, and 48 million Germans now have their own freely elected Parliament. We have admitted them to the European institutions at Strasbourg 678 where they have played a modest, useful part.
So far this policy has succeeded and has served the cause of peace. The Germans have worked their Parliament better than any Parliament they have had before. They have settled millions of refugees in new lives and homes, and sent many to new homes overseas. They have demanded the re-unification of their country; but they have pledged themselves, all parties, never to seek it by force of arms. They have demanded—and this is the point to which I am coming—in a Parliamentay Motion to which both Government and Opposition agreed, that Germany shall be admitted to the United Nations and shall be free to make international arrangements for their security which are consistent with the Charter and which their free and equal membership of the U.N. would entitle them to make.
The question we have to face—and it may be the turning point to peace—is simply this: "Shall we deny them that equal right which the Charter would confer? Shall we say ' No, you cannot join in plans for collective defence against aggression, because history has proved that you are an inferior, an aggressive and a dangerous race" Might not that answer provoke the very nationalism which we fear? Might it not become the turning point away from peace—I would say this particularly to my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham, East (Mr. M. Stewart) just as the refusal of equality to Brüning was the turning point away from peace 20 years ago.
But the right answer may be the turning point to peace. The success of democracy in Germany is vital to our hopes for stability in Europe and the world. But can we hope that a German democratic Government will survive if we deny it the right granted by the charter of the U.N. to share in collective self-defence against aggression from abroad? Still more, can we hope that a democratic Government will survive if it depends on foreign bayonets to uphold it against neo-Nazis and Communists at home? We hoped in 1945 that the Potsdam process would give us a united and democratic Germany and that all nations could then combine to carry out the Charter obligations to reduce their armaments under U.N. control. If that had happened, this 679 question of a German defence contribution would never have arisen at all. It is still the right answer to our fears.
But in the world which Russian policy has created one thing is absolutely certain, and very few hon. Members would really deny it. Germany will not remain unilaterally disarmed. We tried it last time and, with all respect to my hon. Friend, it failed. Not even Russia believes in that. Her own proposals in her Notes, her own actions in the Eastern Zone and in the other ex-enemy countries, prove that she does not. Certainly no socialists of any country I know of believe in the unilateral disarmament or in the neutralisation of Germany or think that it could work.
So there remain two questions, and they cause us all very grave concern. How should Germany rearm—and when? How? Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), I fear German militarism enough to have a strong preference for the formula enunciated by the then Prime Minister three years ago and repeated by the National Executive of the Labour Party yesterday; "The arrangements must be such that German units are integrated in the Defence Forces in a way which would preclude the emergence of a German military menace.
Of course most soldiers prefer national armies. But I have always believed that in the 20th Century we ought to have an international army and an international air force to prevent aggression. I believe that in our generation we could get it, if we really wanted peace. People talk about the technical difficulties of an international army, but I believe that the noble Lord, the present Minister of Defence, largely solved the technical difficulties in his Italian campaign.
The first step may be a European army, and I confess that I should feel happier about a German contribution if it were integrated in the kind of plan which my right hon. Friend suggested three years ago. I add that for my part —I speak for myself, but I think that I speak for others as well as my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe—I should like this country to go very far in ensuring that such a project should now succeed.
680 When should we let Germany make a contribution? Can we do it now, or is that too risky? I believe that it is less risky to do it now than to delay; less risky to do it, to recognise Germany's equality, when there is no serious challenge to the democratic parties either in the Bundestag or in the Federal Republic outside. But shall we delay the unity of Germany, if we do it now? That is the gravest question we have to face, for the partition of Germany is a real danger, and it may be a growing danger, to the peace of the world.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) argued very cogently and persuasively that we shaft delay the unity of Germany, if we proceed with the German defence contribution now. I respect his view, but, with all respect, I think that he has misread the history of the last few years. Russia divided Germany, and tore up the Potsdam Agreement, and for six years no Russian ever mentioned the unity of Germany. Compare the dates: it was only as we made E.D.C. look like business that, as a counter-blast with the Germans, the Russians talked of a united Germany, free elections, and the rest.
But now, in Berlin, they have made it plain that they will not have free elections. I do not believe that any hon. Member, in any quarter of the House, would have gone further in compromise about free elections than the Foreign Ministers went in the Foreign Secretary's plan. They made great concessions to the Russians —some people think they were too great; at any rate, they went very far—but the Russians made it plain that they do not want free elections. They will not unite the German nation except under a Lublin Communist regime.
Four of their Memoranda, printed in the White Paper, formally proposed that Germany should remain indefinitely divided, and that this partition should be recognised and endorsed by us and by other nations. They even put that proposal into what they were pleased to call their European Security Plan. I believe that the Russians will discuss the unity of Germany in a serious way only when it is plain that their Lublin plan of communising Germany has no hope of success. Then they will see that their present policy is full of dangers, 681 without even the hope of an ultimate power-politics reward.
We need infinite patience and understanding with the Russians. We all agree with what the Prime Minister said this afternoon. We must strive, always, to show them in every way we can that they can have real security for Russia, real disarmament and real peace, just, as soon as they agree. I would just add this: the Germans must help us with the Russians if this defence plan is carried through. As my right hon. Friend said yesterday afternoon, we shall look to the Germans to belie the fears of those who think that they cannot be trusted. They have—and I say it as a friend—a very grave responsibility towards the world. They have a chance, today, to end their long and bloody feud with France. They have a chance to give their young men and women a new and a much nobler ideal— service and sacrifice for the peace and happiness of Europe and mankind.
Of course, to us on these benches—and, I believe, to the whole House—N.A.T.O. and E.D.C. are only stopgap measures. We will have to have a world security plan through the United Nations. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith), I believe that some day it will come. I should like to see what he called a new foreign policy, driving more swiftly and boldly towards that goal. In the meantime, I am grateful for each new accession of strength which our partial system of collective security can obtain, and I believe that when Germany, turning her back on the nightmare of her aggressions in the past, pledges her manhood to uphold the Charter, it will be a step to peace.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Eden)
I think the whole House will feel that we have had a debate of quite remarkable quality during the last two days. Almost all the speakers—I cannot say "all," because the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) did not quite approach the debate in that spirit—tried to make their contribution to the extremely difficult issues on an entirely non-party basis, and I do not think that in the whole course of the debate we have had a fairer or more constructive account of the problems which now confront us than that which has just been given by the right 682 hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker), to whom we listened with so much purpose.
If it is not inappropriate for the Foreign Secretary to say so, may I also say to the Leader of the Opposition that I have never heard from him, either, a more thoughtful analysis of the problems which confront us at every day and hour when we contemplate the European scene.
We have had some very notable maiden speeches, particularly that of the hon. Lady the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. L. Jeger), to which we listened this afternoon, and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover), yesterday. My hon. Friend not only made a remarkable speech but made it without a note, which made the Foreign Secretary extremely envious. As I have listened to this two-day debate I felt how very fortunate everybody is, except the Prime Minister and myself, in that respect. One has very little freedom when speaking on foreign affairs from the Government Front Bench, as even the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) will admit. I thought he was completely transformed when dealing with foreign affairs yesterday, not being handicapped by thinking that he was speaking for the Foreign Office. I hope he will not think me ungenerous if I say I hope he may continue in that happy state for quite a while.
I am grateful for the good wishes which have been extended from many parts of the House for the conference which we are to have at Geneva, and in that connection I can only say that we shall do all we can to be worthy of the good wishes which have been expressed.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South spoke of disarmament, and I should like to deal with that first. At the Berlin Conference we agreed on a resolution on disarmament. What happened was that Mr. Molotov originally proposed that the four Powers should this year convene a world conference on disarmament. To it, both Members of the United Nations and people who were not members of the United Nations were to be invited. That did not seem to me to be a very good way to proceed. Nobody will know why better than the right hon. Gentleman. 683 An unprepared conference on disarmament between Members and non-members of the United Nations is likely to lead to the widest possible measure of confusion which any international conference can conceivably produce—and that is saying quite a lot.
I and my fellow Foreign Ministers thought there was a better way to go about it, especially having in mind the difficulties of disarmament conferences between the wars, with which two right hon. Gentlemen opposite are very familiar. We thought that M. Bidault's alternative proposal was infinitely better and that we, the four Powers, should pledge ourselves to co-operate in the United Nations' Disarmament Commission, which already exists, and try to reach agreement on general principles on the work we are going to do.
If we can do that then a world disarmament conference can be called in some kind of conditions which may bring about a general agreement. We debated all this in our restricted sessions, and the House will have seen the result in the White Paper and the terms of the Resolution. I hope that the Disarmament Commission will meet shortly and set up this sub-committee, which should include all the four Powers who were represented, of course, at the Berlin talks.
There is one other preliminary matter which I want to deal with before I get down to the speeches on this subject, and that is the question raised by the hon. Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies) about the way in which matters of publicity and the reporting of this Conference were handled. I think it is rather hard that the hon. Gentleman should criticise us for these arrangements because I had nothing to do with them whatever. They were the arrangements which I inherited from him and the Government that preceded us. I say candidly to the House that I did not really know what the publicity arrangements were until I got to Berlin. I am sure that I ought to have thought of that before.
I thought of a lot of other things because there were quite a lot of things to think about, but I do not think that anyone could conceivably have thought of these publicity arrangements as they are now and have been for many years.
§ Mr. Ernest Davies
Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to suggest that it was not discussed before the meeting began whether it should be in secret or in public?
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Gentleman knows the peculiar arrangements. I am not blaming him but the arrangements which grew up in his beneficent shadow were already in existence and had been going on at all the various international conferences which had taken place. They are most peculiar, I agree. They consist of having a discussion which is not, so far as I know, recorded in shorthand, and only the publicity officers of the various countries can go out and give an account to the world. It is a curious arrangement, but it does not work at all badly.
I was quite horrified when I saw first of all how publicity had been handled on the spot; but the arrangement does not really work at all badly. What happens In the end is that the man who gives the fairest account, which is not the account which gives the most credit to his own Foreign Secretary, is the one who draws the journalists in the end; so, on the whole, the world does get a pretty clear impression of what is done.
What are the alternatives. I did not work this out but I will explain this thing which I inherited, and which, I think, on the whole, is not too bad. The alternative is to have the Press in during the whole of these conferences, and as a result they would get not only the published speeches handed out, and the comments, but a detailed verbatim record. I wonder if that would be a good thing. I wonder how we would agree on a verbatim record. We never had an agreed secretariat to run this conference. And that was another peculiar thing at Berlin in my experience of international conferences. I am beginning to learn this new post-war technique that has grown up.
We had a four-Power conference with a three-Power secretariat. I thought that rather odd and I thought that we should have a four-Power secretariat, but it was explained to me that that has never worked, and when I suggested it, I found that it was not well-received by the fourth Power. So we had a three-Power secretariat, and, in a measure, that worked, too. I think that there is nothing much to complain about in that, provided that 685 when a conference wants to discuss something in secret it can. That is what really matters in a restricted session, and that we did whenever we wanted to. And not only were there, of course, innumerable private meetings, luncheons and dinners, but also occasions for private discussions between us and the Soviets and all the other members. In addition, whenever there was a situation which seemed to call for a restricted meeting we could have one.
The House may say, "Why did not you have one about Germany?" For the simple reason that we were never near enough to agreement to have made a restricted meeting of the slightest value at all. I wonder whether on Germany the real value of the conference was not that the whole world saw what were the positions that all the Powers occupied. And so I say again that, strange though this method was, on the whole it did not serve this conference badly. I only say to the hon. Member for Enfield, East that I promise, before the next meeting, to look at the arrangements very carefully; but by and large, we might have done much worse than we did.
Now, I come to my critics and will try to deal with some of the criticisms that have been made. I am in slight difficulty because there seems to be a little conflict between the critics themselves. I apologise to the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) that I was not in the House when he spoke, but I understand he was good enough to refer to the proposals which I put before the conference as a fake. Then, the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot), while the conference was still going on, wrote in a weekly paper that, in shortthe Eden Plan was fraudulent from the start.That merited what it got, which was a special mention in "Pravda.
I felt a little worried when I first read that, until I read the opinion of the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Grossman). [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] They are all busy arguing about the debate. This is what the hon. Member wrote—and I am grateful, and I thank him:Mr. Eden's proposal for unifying Germany by free elections was a clever plan"—.I have never been called clever by the hon. Member before— 686which left plenty of room for compromise if Mr. Molotov wanted to compromise.I could not ask for a clearer, franker and, I hope, a more persistently maintained view of the situation. I hope there will never be a day—but perhaps it has come already—when the hon. Member for Coventry, East disagrees with what he wrote there.
I must now try to deal with the critics. The leader among them, I think it is fair to say, was the right hon. Member for Huyton. I tried to put down one or two of the comments that he made. If I have not got them correctly he will, no doubt, correct me. He gave us a full account of Soviet policy for Germany and then said that I had no constructive alternative policy. Is that really a fair way to state events at the conference at Berlin.
It is only a statement of fact that the first plan—and, indeed, the only plan— to be tabled at the conference, which could have resulted in free elections in Germany and in the election of an all-German Government, was our plan, the British plan, worked out with our allies in advance and put forward on our responsibility. In all seriousness I ask the right hon. Gentleman, or anybody else who has the feelings that he had, to read the speech last night of my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeen-shire (Sir R. Boothby), who was in Berlin.
There never was the slightest possibility of a compromise on this issue of free elections, for the very simple reason that the West Germans would never have agreed to come into any form of amalgamated Government or administration or temporary administration, whatever one likes to call it, with the East German Communist-dominated authority. Therefore, the Russian position, which was that these two must form an amalgamation before anything could happen, was a political impossibility. It is no use saying that we ought to have found some way of bringing those two points of view together. They were diametrically opposed and there was no room for manoeuvre on them.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
This afternoon I quite clearly said, as the right hon. Gentleman will recall, that I was not in any sense taking the Russian point of view on this 687 matter; that I agreed with his view about free elections; and I further said that his plan had room for compromise if it had been wanted by the Russians, but, in fact, there was no possibility of agreement between the two as long as the Russians took their view on free elections and the right hon. Gentleman and the Americans took their stand on their prior condition about rearmament.
§ Mr. Eden
I was coming to that. There was no prior condition about rearmament.
The hon. Gentleman's intervention carries me to that, because that was the next quotation that I intended to deal with. There was no prior commitment on rearmament, and if the right hon. Gentleman would be good enough to look at the White Paper he will find, on page 122, the terms, as amended by Mr. Dulles, of the proposal which we put forward about the German position. I will read them to the House:The all-German Government shall have authority to assume the international rights and obligations of the Federal Republic and the Soviet Zone ….Surely it is clear to everybody what that means. It means that the freely-elected German Government, when brought into being, would be absolutely entitled to accept or to refuse the engagements of the West German Republic in respect of E.D.C., the Bonn Treaty, or anything else.
What other offer could we possibly have made? If we believe in democracy and in nations having the right to take their decision through a freely-elected Government, what else can be put into a treaty except that, after they have had their free elections under the fairest conditions that can be devised, they themselves shall pronounce on their political future? The House must be clear on this vital point because this is where the clash of doctrines is. Russia does not believe that Germany should have the right to decide her future in any shape or form, nor does the right hon. Gentleman, if his doctrine of this afternoon is followed through.
I say that if we are carrying through a policy which is representative of free nations reaching free decisions the document I presented is the only one on which we could possibly work.
§ Mr. Eden
I want to follow up some of the remarks made by other hon. Gentlemen.
I think a fair criticism of our plan was made by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South, and that is that in certain respects it was too wide and too risky. Looking back on these events—and I take full responsibility for this—I think some of the criticism urged against it, particularly by the Socialist Party in Germany, has some justification, but the answer to it all is that we did want to make this plan such that if the Russians were serious in wanting free elections or wanting to come to any kind of international arrangement on Germany, they would have a fair reason for coming in and discussing it. That is why we leaned over backwards to make this document one upon which there could be a fair chance of negotiating. I will not say that if I had to do the whole thing again that I would put it forward exactly in those terms.
Now as to Austria. We have been told by the right hon. Member for Huyton this afternoon that we took no military risk either in respect of Germany or in respect of Austria. Is that true? We were quite willing, France was quite willing— after all, she has a great deal to say in this matter—that the new all-German Government should pronounce on its engagements, including the Bonn Treaty. Was not that a considerable risk for France to take? Is it not a considerable risk for us to take? Some hon. Gentlemen opposite assumed beyond a shadow of doubt that all Germany would endorse the verdict of the Bonn Government. I think it is likely that they will, but most of us have had experience of elections. How could there possibly be any kind of certainty in the matter at all? I think we took a military risk in leaving it to Germany to take a decision.
689 As for Austria, if we are to be told that Russia is to be defended—as the right hon. Gentleman made an apologia for her—by saying, "Well, after all, you could not expect this because Russia would be taking a military risk in withdrawing from Austria"—did we not take a military risk in offering to withdraw from Austria? If they are to be credited with the excuse that, for military reasons, they cannot withdraw from Austria, cannot we be credited with the fact that, military risk or not, we all three offered to withdraw from Austria on the terms which the Russians asked for themselves.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman must be fair. I condemned the Russian attitude in the strongest possible terms, and he heard me do so this afternoon.
§ Mr. Eden
I do not think I have in the least misrepresented the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, but if he thinks I have done so, I will gladly look it up in HANSARD tomorrow because I do not wish to do that. I am addressing myself to the right hon. Gentleman because his was the only pertinent argument I heard outside the policies which we have been following, so I hope he will not mind if I take one more item from his speech, and I hope I get it right this time.
Am I right that the right hon. Gentleman spoke of the danger of German irredentism being brought into N.A.T.O.? Let us look at that argument. Of course there is a danger of German irredentism. Who will challenge that? Who will pronounce on whether it will happen or whether it will not? I do not. But where is the danger the greater? If Germany is neutralised or with a German national army—as the Russians themselves prefer —or if Germany is in E.D.C. within N.A.T.O., to which the United States, ourselves, France and 12 other Powers belong.
Does the right hon. Gentleman really think, does the House really think, that there, within N.A.T.O., 12 German divisions are going to launch an offensive attack against Soviet Russia in a spirit of irredentism despite the marked disapproval of the United States, Great Britain and France? There are many dangers in the international scene but that particular one is the one I fear the 690 least. That is the least of all our problems and anxieties. Far more dangerous would be the position of a neutralised Germany where the irredentist spirit would have every encouragement to grow and prosper.
Now let us face for the final time this problem of the neutralisation of Germany. I want to put these simple questions to the House, as they seem to me. Is Germany to be neutral and disarmed? That is the first point I want to make. If so, who will keep Germany disarmed? Or is Germany to be neutral and armed? If so, who will keep Germany neutral? I wrote those questions down whilst listening to the debate last night, because it seemed to me to be the course of the problem as we were going along.
Let us face these questions and answer them. They are not very difficult to answer. The Western democracies will never intervene to do either of the things I have mentioned by force—never. They will never intervene to compel Germany by force to be neutral, and they will never intervene by force to compel Germany to disarm. That may be thought to be an extremely strong statement, but we remember the between-the-war years and we know the reactions of the democracies. They will never take action which in any sense smacks of a preventive war or of preventive military action.
If one commits oneself to that kind of engagement, one is deliberately underwriting something which one will not be able to carry through. Soviet Russia might have been prepared to do these things, but what would be the result of that? As I said yesterday, neutralisation is just the extension of Soviet control from Eastern Germany over the whole of Germany.
I wish to make one or two general observations before I close. I want to say something about the question of German opinion. My right hon. Friend gave the example of 1914 and the late war, and it is a true parallel. The Germans suffered comparatively little materially in the First World War, but they suffered very heavily in the late war, and I think that has seared their minds.
In that connection, I would like to say something else to the House. Many speeches have been made about our feelings regarding German rearmament 691 or a contribution by Germany. It has sometimes been suggested that the feeling on the benches opposite is particularly acute. It probably is, but I can assure hon. Gentlemen opposite that it is just as acute on this side of the House. We have just the same doubts and anxieties as have hon. Gentlemen opposite, and just the same memories.
There is one subaltern who will never forget going to a casualty clearing station during the first Battle of the Somme and searching among literally heaps of wounded for the riflemen of his own company. Those are the sort of experiences that are never forgotten, and it is no use thinking that they apply to one side of the House and not to the other. They apply to all hon. Members, and that is true of this policy.
I make another complaint. This policy was not invented by us. It really found its origin in the Brussels Conference of 1950. I have here the N.A.T.O. book which describes what happened, and how it was then suggested that some German contribution should be made. I only want to read one sentence which says:The Council"—that is in December, 1950, the year before we came to office—also unanimously agreed that German participation would strengthen the defence of Europe without in any way altering the purely defensive character of N.A.T.O.The Council invited the Governments of France, the United Kingdom and the United States to explore the matter with the Government of the German Federal Republic.
That was the beginning of the business, and it is no use hon. Gentlemen opposite or the right hon. Member for Huyton, who was a Member of the Labour Government at that time, or the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who has not graced us with his presence tonight, talking like detached spirits about this matter. They are the authors, and they are responsible. The fact that I think they were right only makes it worse for them.
Now to come back to the question of the Germans. I am sure that the members of the present German Government and the members of the present German Opposition, too, are absolutely genuine and sincere when they say that they want 692 to make the future of Germany a democratic and a Parliamentary future as we understand it.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition spoke very eloquently this afternoon about the difficulty that the Germans always had of looking forward rather than backward. I think he is absolutely right, but my hope is that out of these arrangements which we are discussing today something of that kind will happen.
It is no use talking of Sweden and Switzerland as parallels. They have no connection at all with the problem we are discussing today. Those two countries are neutral by choice, at very heavy cost and with large armed forces. I wonder what some hon. Members would feel if Germany had arms proportionately comparable with those of Sweden or Switzerland. This is a very much wider issue than all that.
Can we bring this Germany into some kind of lasting association with the free nations of the West? I wish some hon. Members had been with me in Berlin the other day when I went to address the members of the Berlin Technical University. There were, I suppose, 2,000 or more young men, nearly all of them speaking English—which was a great help to me—and all listening to the appeal that the new Germany should try to play her part, not in the sphere of force but, as so many Germans have done not so very long ago, in the realms, of thought, the spirit, science and industry. I believe that there is more than a chance that these young Germans want to do just that. It is that chance which seems to me to be at stake in this debate tonight.
We are all aware of the risks attendant on the course on which we are now embarked, but we also see the risks attendant on turning it down. I sincerely believe that if the House divided against it, and did not endorse what we tried to do at Berlin and what we must continue trying to do now with N.A.T.O. and E.D.C., it would be a catastrophe for the future of Europe. I believe that the perils which face us now are immense, but if we face the choice before us we may tonight be helping a new Germany to play her part, and a constructive part, in Europe, and by that to redeem some of the things that have gone before, and at last to make a real contribution to peace.