§ 3.51 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Attlee (Walthamstow, West)
We read the communiqués with regard to the conference at Washington, and we listened with great interest on Monday to the Prime Minister's statement. I think the latter part was more interesting; he seemed to give more his personal impressions, and after all it was the personal contacts which made up the principal value of this visit. For the rest, as is generally the case, the statement was rather uninformative, and, as the Prime Minister has said, almost inevitably platitudinous.
Agreement on general principles is a very excellent thing, but the difficulty sometimes arises in their application. We on this side of the Committee believe that it is essential that the two great Western democracies should march together; that we should have unity of principle and unity of action. We fully acknowledge the services that have been rendered to the world in these difficult postwar years by the United States of America.
The United States of America, by force of circumstance, have assumed the 483 leadership of the free world. We recognise the difficulties that that has imposed on the United States of America, but I do not think it is really useful to accept general statements and disregard differences of approach. If there are differences they should be stated. It is right that we should know what people are thinking in the United States and that they should know what people are thinking in this country. That is really the object of the debate.
I wish to express this afternoon some anxieties that are felt in this country over certain tendencies in the United States of America, particularly because those tendencies or opinions seem to be strongly held in responsible quarters. We find them in the Senate: I do not think that they are entirely absent from the Administration. In expressing what I feel about these differences, I shall try to do so with moderation and in a spirit of friendliness.
The sheet-anchor of our policy is the United Nations, and we stand on those principles. The United Nations are composed of States of varying ideological conceptions. There seems to be a body in the United States, and a fairly influential body, which seems to regard the United Nations as primarily an instrument in a war of ideologies, as primarily a taking part in an attempt to combat everywhere the theory of Communism. The Prime Minister expressed it very well in his statement. He said:What a vast ideological gulf there is between the idea of peaceful co-existence vigilantly safeguarded, and the mood of forcibly extirpating the Communist fallacy and heresy."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1954; Vol. 530, c. 45.]The trouble is that there seem to be a large number of people across the Atlantic who hold that second view.
We are as anti-Communist as the United States of America, and we have opposed and will continue successfully to oppose what we believe to be the Communists' misguided doctrines. We are also against aggression, and we are not in the least apologists for the Communists. We recognise their dangers and their errors; but we believe, as the Prime Minister has said, in "peaceful co-existence." We oppose aggression, we oppose Communist infiltration tactics; we recog- 484 nise the need for adequate strength but we stand for peaceful co-existence, and I think that the test here is the attitude towards China.
We all hope that the South-East Asia Conference at Geneva may succeed and in doing so settle the question of Indo-China. We fully recognise the dangers in that situation, and we, have paid our tribute in this House to the efforts of the Foreign Secretary. I am bound to say that I think it is regrettable that the American Secretary of State left that Conference. I think it is regrettable that that very wise statesman General Bedell Smith also seems to have withdrawn; and although Mr. Dulles has got back as far as Paris, he still seems to be holding off the Geneva Conference. That plays right into the hands of the Communists, who all allege that it is the object of Mr. Dulles to smash the Geneva Conference. It is unfortunate to give a handle like that to the Communists.
We hope there may be a settlement, but we must recognise that if we can get a standstill or an armistice in Indo-China it is only one step. There remains the difficult question of Korea. I believe that the settlement of these questions is intimately bound up with the problem of the seat of China in the Security Council, and with the problem of Formosa.
I was a little disturbed when the Prime Minister said that this arose rather out of the blue—the phrase he used was thatit played no notable part in our discussions,…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1954; Vol. 530, c. 47.]I should have thought that in any approach to the problems of South-East Asia that matter should have been all the time in the minds of those taking part. I recall discussing these matters in 1950 with President Truman. We had long discussions, and, as we stated in our communiqué, we took different views on certain matters; but I do not think for a moment that we thought that this matter was not vitally important to a settlement. That really turns on what one's attitude is towards China and the People's Government of China.
It is one thing to say that the Chinese Government cannot be admitted to her seat in the Security Council as long as she engaged in aggression. "Engaged in aggression" does not mean until there is an entire peace settlement in Korea. It 485 is quite another to say that because the People's Government in China is Communist, she cannot be admitted. Yet one finds that urged on the other side of the Atlantic. We hold that this is wrong, that it is unwise, and that it is contrary to the principles of the United Nations.
I think we have all to recognise that there is in this matter quite naturally a very great deal of emotion on the other side of the Atlantic. They have had many heavy losses in Korea. I think there is a good deal of apprehension about Communist aggression—I think rather more than there is here. One of the troubles in the world today is the mutual fear both of the people behind the Iron Curtain of those outside and of the people outside of those behind the Iron Curtain. But fear is a very bad counsellor.
There are some hotheads undoubtedly—I hope not many—who still think of a war against Communist China and the putting back on his throne of Chiang Kai-shek. I think that is militarily foolish and politically it ignores all the lessons of history. The history of all revolutions shows that revolutions are consolidated and made more extreme by external attack. The outstanding examples, of course, are revolutionary France and Communist Russia. But if one rules out the idea of an all-out war against Communism, then one comes back, as the Prime Minister did, to peaceful coexistence and the hope that, if peace can be preserved over the years, intercourse may gradually modify ideological fanaticism. That is what we want in respect of Russia and China.
I give full weight to emotional feelings with regard to China, but I think we here ought to try to look at the matter as the Chinese themselves look at it. I claim no special knowledge of China—I hope to gain a little shortly—and I have only the knowledge we all have from books and from certain intercourse with China. I can understand perfectly the American fear of militant Communism and of possible Chinese aggression throughout Asia, but it is worth while looking at it from the other point of view.
§ Sir Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
Would the right hon. Gentleman give his assessment of the active part that China has played in prolonging and increasing the war in Indo-China'? Until 486 we get his assessment of that, we cannot really understand what he is talking about.
§ Mr. Attlee
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who is so quick-witted that he has anticipated the points I was about to make. We are seeking peace in Indo-China. I was saying that we recognise fully the losses which America has sustained and we hope, by a peaceful settlement, to avoid any further losses there. I was saying that there is a Chinese point of view. Here there is a revolutionary Government which is undoubtedly supported by the mass of the people, and the reason for that is clear. First, there is the immense force of Chinese nationalism; and Chinese nationalism is not exactly the same as Chinese Communism. It may be exploited by the Communists, but the reality of the rise of nationalism in Asia cannot be doubted.
Secondly, they have taken steps to bring to an end certain evils of feudalism and landlordism. They have, in fact, delivered some of the goods to the peasantry, who are the great mass in China. As a parallel we must remember that the success of Lenin in Russia was not really due to the ideological views of Communism but because he offered them peace and bread. Now the Communists have offered China nationalism and the land. That has undoubtedly made an enormous appeal, and perhaps it is worth while in considering that to remember that if we want to counteract the spread of Communism in the less developed lands, we have also to consider the position of the peasantry and of the people in those undeveloped lands.
Therefore, there is that view to be taken and also, one must remember, there is a very strong anti-colonialism. I do not say that we all subscribe to the Chinese view of what the West has done in China, but there is that view. Incidentally, it is a view that was very strongly supported, in their attacks on the British Empire, by the Americans through the years. Anti-colonialism did not spring entirely from the Asiatic continent.
The Chinese, therefore, regard themselves as expressing Chinese nationalism and also Communist ideology. They wanted nationalism and they needed the practical steps they took about the land. They defeated Chiang Kai-shek and he 487 was driven to the island of Formosa, where undoubtedly, without external aid, his rule would have been brought to an end.
At this point there was the intervention of the United States of America, and Formosa—which the Chinese regard as part of China, though for 50 years it was under Japanese rule, but for centuries it was part of China and it is their view that it is part of China—is now held against them. What is more, the person who is supported there is given the seat which they think belongs to themselves on the Security Council.
It is worth while thinking of a parallel there. Supposing, when the American revolution happened, General Burgoyne, instead of surrendering at Saratoga, had been thrust into Long Island. Suppose also that some king in Europe, who objected strongly to republicanism, had supplied him with arms and a fleet and had prevented the Americans getting at him. I do not think that Washington and its friends would have regarded that as a very friendly act. It may be said that this is far-fetched but one must try to look at it from the other point of view. I suggest, therefore, that the two things which stand in the way of a settlement are precisely these—Formosa and the seat at U.N.O.
When one expects to get a settlement of, let us say, Korea—I am not suggesting for a moment that I approve of the aggression in Korea—or the question is asked, "Why does it take so long to stop the war in Indo-China?" I think the answer is that at the back of their minds the Chinese regard it as an imperialistic attack upon them.
I know of the difficulties with regard to getting that seat for China, and I know how strongly the Americans feel on the matter. There is no doubt an obligation to Chiang Kai-shek. However, he is getting an old man now and he commands ageing forces. I think it is time that they, the leaders, were pensioned off, and I believe that the mass of the rank and file would be glad to return to China.
I understand that the Americans fear the occupation of Formosa. We have thrown out the suggestion that for a period of years Formosa should be held in trusteeship by the United Nations. It 488 is said, "Let us settle the immediate questions of Indo-China and Korea and disregard these long-term matters." The point that I am putting is that we shall not get a settlement easily, if at all, of these immediate matters unless we have in contemplation a long-term policy towards China. Therefore, I think that we must work, if we can, to try to obtain this all-round settlement. I think, too, that here a very important part can be played by the Colombo Powers, the majority of whom are in the British Commonwealth. I know that the Foreign Secretary has kept in close touch with them.
I am convinced that it is vitally important in all these matters that we should carry the opinion of Asiatic countries with us, and I would stress again the fact that part of the Chinese movement is not Communist but nationalist and as nationalist it draws the sympathy of the immense mass of the people of Asia. The suggestion is made that China is a mere tool in the hands of Soviet Russia. I am not in a position to judge. It is true that China has sought the aid of Soviet Russia, but when one is in a difficulty like that one is apt to seek the nearest help. The United States, in revolution, were very glad of the help of Republican France, though no one suggests that Washington and Jefferson approved of the Terror in Paris. I am putting that as a parallel because it is necessary to step outside one's own particular background and take an objective view of this matter.
I say that the success of the Communists is not their ideological doctrines—I hope that they will disappear—but what they are doing in raising the standard of living and giving hope to the peasantry for the first time. It seems that they have managed to unite the peasantry and the Chinese intelligentsia, and our method of opposing Communism must not be all-out war but trying to do far better what the Communists are professing to do for the under-privileged.
I should like to say a word here on the Security Pact. I do not know how far that has gone in conversations. I am quite sure that it is vitally important that one should secure the approval and support of our Asian comrades in the Commonwealth.
The next point that I should like to raise is again one rather of complaint 489 and refers to Europe. We all know how vital the support of the United States is to Western Europe. We recognise both the strength and the generosity of the United States, but there are some matters that cause disquiet. We object very strongly where States are threatened by force, but I think that we object also where they are threatened with financial loss. I am aware that this is done by an irresponsible Senator, but the point is that Senators in the United States are not irresponsible. The Senate has its power in foreign affairs and these ideas have been supported by influential circles.
It was once suggested that if the rest of the world thought that China should come into the United Nations, the United States should leave and cut off the money. The suggestion has also been put forward that if certain States do not sign up with the E.D.C., American aid should be cut off. That is not a good thing to say. It rather suggests to me the old-fashioned heavy father who said to his boy, "Unless you marry the girl of my choice, I will cut off your allowance." It does not make for good relationships between father and son, or even between someone and Uncle Sam. It is quite clear that that kind of thing provokes very great irritation among people on this side of the Atlantic, and indeed everywhere.
I will not say much today on the subject of the E.D.C. The matter is still in balance as to what the French do. I hope that the French will ratify. I do not think that it is a good plan to try to bring all kinds of pressure to bear. We have to build up the strength of the West on good feeling. I myself think that the position is dangerous and, although it may not have been tactful, I am afraid that there is truth in what Adenauer said—that the alternative to some form of Germany taking part in collective defence will sooner or later be a German, unrestrained, national army.
I should like to comment on one or two other matters. One is Guatemala. There was a very balanced article in "The Times" today. I do not suppose that many of us know very much about Guatemala. I certainly did not, but here one had the case of a small State with which we had no particular reason to be friendly because it has always claimed British Honduras. This small State was warned that an attack was imminent 490 from neighbouring States. It sought to get arms. Those arms were denied it. Arms went into the neighbouring States. It turned out that its apprehension was correct. It was attacked from neighbouring States, it was overrun, and a new Government was installed.
I hold no brief for the Guatemalan Government. I do not know whether it was Communist or partly-Communist. I know that one of the complaints made against it was that it was taking 200,000 acres of land for the peasants from a wealthy corporation without compensation. That may or may not be right. The fact is that this was a plain matter of aggression, and one cannot take one line on aggression in Asia and another line in Central America. I confess that I was rather shocked at the joy and approval of the American Secretary of State at the success of this putsch. It is quite easy to say that these were Communists, but our laws do not allow one to assault a person because one does not like his opinion. One has to remember that the rule of law has sometimes been vindicated by people who were not always respectable clients. There was John Wilkes, who is generally held to have stood on two occasions for liberty, although otherwise I do not think that he was regarded as a very respectable person.
It is serious because we cannot pass this off as just a Central American squabble, of which there are so many. There was a principle involved and that principle was the responsibility of the United Nations. I think it was a mistake in those circumstances to try to hand it over to a regional body. We might also have talk of handing something over to a regional body in other parts of the world, and I do not think we would like the results very much. Therefore, I am afraid that Guatemala has left a rather unpleasant taste in one's mouth because, to illustrate the theme I was putting, it seems in some instances that the acceptance of the principles of the United Nations is subordinated to a hatred of Communism.
Another word I wanted to say was in regard to Egypt. I am sorry we had not more information. Are negotiations to begin again? Is it not time that we got a settlement there? I believe the troops long to come out of Egypt. I believe that 491 military opinion now does not think it awfully good to have a base in a country that does not want us there. I know there are difficulties. I know there are apprehensions in other countries, in Palestine and the rest. We want a settlement in the Middle East. I know how difficult these Egyptian negotiations are; we had them for many years in our Government. We were held up very largely because we were not prepared to hand over the Sudan as a pawn in the negotiations. That has now been dealt with and there is an urgent need to get a settlement here. I do not know whether the Prime Minister discussed this matter of Egypt and the Middle East at all. If so, perhaps he will be able to say something about it.
Finally, I come to the question—which I am afraid I shall tire the House by mentioning often—of the hydrogen bomb. It does still remain the outstanding menace hanging over all civilisation. I am sure the Prime Minister discussed that with the President. I think it is time, if he can possibly arrange it, that he should discuss it with Mr. Malenkov. I am quite sure it is no good putting this thing off. We had a Disarmament Conference. I thought the plan put forward by the Minister of State and the French was an admirable plan. I believe that a practical plan can be worked out with good will, but we shall not get it unless we get a more overall understanding. I do not think the thing is insuperable; I do not think we must despair of getting it, and I am sure it is a matter that we must keep in our minds all the time, as people the world over are worried at this menace to our civilisation.
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Winston Churchill)
We have all listened with interest and attention to the calm speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has delivered upon the subject of the statement which I was called upon to make last Monday and also on the general field of foreign affairs. I must say that when listening to the right hon. Gentleman, while paying every tribute to his moderation and desire to mention any fact which he thought fairness required, my general impression of his speech was that it was one long whine of criticism against the United States—
§ The Prime Minister
We are still allowed to debate and not merely to yelp from below the Gangway. It was one long criticism against the United States—[HON. MEMBERS "Nonsensel—and, of course, of advancing the importance, if not the virtues, of Communist China. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the entry of China into the United Nations organisation. I thought the statement I made on Monday covered that matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, in principle one cannot conceive that China would be forever excluded from the United Nations, but, on the other hand, one really does not see why this particular moment would be well chosen for its admission when it is still technically at war with the United Nations—technically, I say—and when it is at this moment going to achieve a resounding triumph by the success of the stimulated war in Indo-China, in which it has played so great a part.
I am sure that to choose such a moment as this to try to force the entry of Communist China into the United Nations would be to complicate altogether the very grave affairs we have to deal with in so many other questions and would be regarded as a most harsh and uncalled-for act of unfriendliness by the mighty people of the United States, to whom we all owe much and from whom no Government ever received more than the Government of the party opposite.
§ Mr. Attlee
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman quite caught the import of my remarks. The point was that a large number of people say they will never have China in the United Nations and they will never do anything in regard to Formosa. My point was that unless we held out the prospect that when these things are settled that will happen, there will be no immediate settlement. I never suggested that at this very moment it could be done.
§ The Prime Minister
I am glad to hear that, because in any case it would be very difficult to deal with the matter at this very moment, there being no session of the United Nations—unless one were specially called—until the third week in September. Even then I do not think we could form our view clearly without a 493 proper study of the circumstances as they existed at the time.
As I was listening to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, I felt it was all for consideration for China and, very moderately expressed, but none the less very notable, criticisms of the United States. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the word "Korea." I think I must ask him to look back a little on his own past—the good parts in it as well as the other parts. It is only a little while ago that he joined the United States in repelling Communist aggression in Korea. Although our country and the United States have made great sacrifices—our sacrifices have been such that many families in this country feel their pangs—there are 20 times as many casualties which fell on the Americans. And when a country has recently lost 20,000 killed and 80,000 or something like that—wounded, and poured out vast sums of money, it is natural that they feel certain emotions—I think that is the right word—certain emotional manifestations, about what happens in the country for which these sacrifices were made, and made with the full agreement and active support of the right hon. Gentleman.
It is surely not a moment, the present moment, when the situation is what it is in Indo-China; and when all these memories of Korea are still lively in the United States; and when no cessation of the technical war with U.N.O. has been achieved, for us to raise such a matter in a strenuous fashion with the United States on a visit which was intended to clear up misunderstandings, and not to aggravate by sharp expression any of the necessary and natural differences which exist between great free communities working together.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke also about Chiang Kai-shek and Formosa. Chiang Kai-shek used to be very popular in this country. I remember his being thought to be the future leader of the new Asia. And, of course, his views about India and its connection with the British Crown caused no obstacles to the admiration with which he was regarded by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends on that side of the House. But I was rather astonished at the attempt which the right hon. Gentleman made to compare Chiang Kai-shek with General 494 Burgoyne. I must say, you could hardly pick two figures more different.
And also I thought it rather odd that, speaking of Guatemala, of what had happened in Guatemala, this should raise in his mind the memory and story of the life of John Wilkes. These are very farfetched comparisons to bring together. Personally, I cannot see that if General Burgoyne had been established on Long Island, and had set up an independent State there, he would in any way have resembled what is the position of Chiang Kai-shek who, having for a very long time fought on our side, or on the American side, with American aid and support, was driven out of his country by a Communist revolution—which incidentally killed, I believe in cold blood, something which is estimated to be between. 2 million and 3 million persons—and who took refuge upon Formosa, where he still remains. I certainly do not see anything in the conduct of China which has yet happened which should lead the American Government to deliver Formosa to Communist China.
Nor do I see any reason why at some subsequent date Formosa should not be treated in the manner which the right hon Gentleman described, and placed in the custody of the United Nations. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to harm our relations with the United States; but I can assure him that the speech he has made, although so temperately expressed, will undoubtedly make a bad impression—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—and more difficult the settlement of the many awkward questions which we have to deal with in common with the United States. That is what I have to say about that.
We are not going to raise this question of the entry of Communist China into the United Nations at present. We think that September is the first time that it can be raised, and we believe that it might be better for all concerned, and for all the interests represented, that it should be postponed until a later period. I must point out to the Committee—before you start shouting with anger at me who has done you no harm—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—we keep some of our indignation for the quarters to which it really belongs—
§ The Prime Minister
We follow the policy outlined by the former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs which I described on Monday, and which, as far as I know, still continues to be the policy of the British Government, and which has commanded a very considerable measure of acceptance, if not of agreement, in the United States.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
I quite agree that the timing and the moment for the raising of this is a matter for careful consideration; but the right hon. Gentleman ought to appreciate that the statement which I made, and to which I adhere, was made while hostilities were proceeding; and it should not be assumed from that that in the very different circumstances—though I wish they were still better—that now obtain, there is not such a change of circumstances as may well warrant a revision of the judgment then made in conditions of hostility.
§ The Prime Minister
I am quite sure that if at the present moment an agitation were set on foot to bring Communist China into the United Nations, the American feeling would be that they were succeeding in shooting their way in. Not only has there been no settlement in Korea, but there has been very grave aggravation of all our anxieties by what has happened, and is happening, in Indo-China. We all hope that better results may be achieved in Indo-China, and that more peaceful arrangements, bringing at any rate the fighting to an end, may be gained. If so, no one would deserve more praise for his extraordinary perseverance and skill than the Foreign Secretary, who, even at this moment, is tirelessly continuing his efforts with the utmost patience. I only hope that nothing that has been said, or will be said, in this debate will, by rousing American feeling, make his task and the prospect of success more difficult.
The right hon. Gentleman finished by saying something about the hydrogen bomb and about a possible meeting with Mr. Malenkov. If today I have nothing to add to or subtract from anything which I have previously said upon this subject, and ask the Committee not to press me upon the matter, I can assure hon. Members that it is not because it does not hold a lively place in my mind. I certainly feel that it is extraordinary that 496 the noble theme, as I called it, which President Eisenhower put forward to the United Nations has not received more acceptance from the Soviet, and it seems to me that it might well be a subject on which at a certain stage, and when the right time comes, there might be a meeting on the highest level; but all this must depend, as I said, not only upon the timing but also upon the course of events.
While I in no way diminish or recede from what I have said in the past, I could not refer to the topic without warning anyone who is sympathetic to the idea of the great risks which are run that not merely false hopes would be raised and broken but that the situation itself might be rendered more severe if such top-level meetings took place without any satisfactory effect.
I made a statement last Monday which was criticised in some quarters as having something in it of the nature of a speech. I certainly have no desire to detain the Committee for any length of time this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the question of Egypt and I was asked whether I would answer the Question of the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) to the Foreign Secretary.
§ The Prime Minister
I beg the right hon. and learned Gentleman's pardon. That is something to look forward to.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked whether we would make a further statement on the resumption of negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and the Egyptian Government over the Canal Zone. Discussions with the Egyptian Government have been resumed but no point has been reached at which any statement could be made at present.
§ The Prime Minister
That is quite untrue. The hon. Member is never lucky in the coincidence of his facts with the truth. No question of the terms which are being discussed or may be discussed 497 was involved; there was no question of stating them to a party committee. If ever they were stated at all, it would in the first instance be in the House of Commons, but I am very doubtful whether it would be a good thing to begin negotiations by a categorical statement of terms which would almost invest them with an air of an ultimatum, because one thing plays in with another and has to be balanced against another, and in these conversations it is a good thing to keep little things open at the same time and then probably find agreement among them. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the 1922 Committee?"]
The committee which I addressed last night was not the 1922 Committee. It was the military sub-committee of the Defence Committee, not the 1922 Committee, and it was in fact attended by practically the same Members. I hope that when I make inquiries about any of the very numerous similar committees and consultations which take place on the other side of the House, I shall be given an equally exact and suitable reply.
§ The Prime Minister
This has nothing to do with the right hon. Gentleman. I am not prepared to give way. I raised the question of Egypt with the President when I was in Washington.
§ The Prime Minister
I am afraid that if I were to give way on such a point as this the right hon. Gentleman might think there was some truth in that allegation.
I raised the question of Egypt with the President. I have for some time been of opinion that the United States have a strategic interest in Egypt as well as their interest in the international waterway of the Suez Canal and that the responsibility for both these matters should no longer be allowed to rest exclusively with Great Britain. Although, of course, the strategic importance of Egypt and the Canal has been enormously reduced by modern developments of war, it cannot be wholly excluded from American thoughts where the recent extension of N.A.T.O.'s southern flank to Turkey is concerned.
498 I have dealt with the suggestion which has been made in the papers that some announcement was made to Conservative Members of Parliament about the terms and negotiations with Egypt and I can give the Committee the assurance that nothing of that kind took place. We had discussions and arguments among ourselves, as I believe is not by any means confined to this party.
I have only a few points to add to the statement which I made on Monday. I am sometimes reproached with having led France to expect that Britain would be a full member of the European Defence Community. When in 1950 I proposed at Strasbourg the creation of a European army, I had in mind—and it is clear from my speech—the formation of a long-term grand alliance under which national armies would operate under a unified allied command. The policy of the alliance would, I assumed, be decided jointly by the Governments of the participating countries. My conception involved no supranational institutions and I saw no difficulty in Britain playing her full part in a scheme of that kind.
However, the French approached this question from a constitutional rather than a purely military point of view. The result was that when they and the other five Continental nations worked out a detailed scheme, it took the form of a complete merger of national forces under federal supranational control. The late Government, in a joint declaration made at Washington in 1951, gave their support to this E.D.C. plan, but they made it clear that Britain, whilst ready to associate herself closely with the new organisation, would not be a full member. I agreed with this. That was the situation when we became responsible for the Government, and we have persevered in that policy ever since.
I still regret, looking back on the past, that the late Government did not accept the French invitation to take part in the framing of the plan of E.D.C. If they had, it might have been possible to obtain an agreement on a scheme of a less federalistic nature in which Britain could have played a fuller part. But regrets about the past and theoretical differences should not lead us to under-estimate the practical value in terms of defence which the E.D.C. scheme offers, and for that 499 reason I have no doubt whatsoever that the Government and the official Opposition are right in giving E.D.C. their support and encouraging France to ratify the Treaty. But I do hope that disputes about the form of things will not be allowed to bulk too large.
A few months ago we agreed to dedicate a British division to the E.D.C., and this gave much satisfaction to our French friends. But, after all, what difference did it make in fact? The division was still composed of the same men; it wore the same uniform; it stood in the same place in the line of battle where it was intended by General Gruenther, the Supreme Commander, to place it. It could be moved about by him in peace or war. All that happened was that it was dedicated by us to the French conception of E.D.C., and this gave a good deal of pleasure.
But, after all, what counts in matters of defence are the physical facts. We must not lose our sense of proportion or allow theoretical differences to dim our vision of the outstanding realities on which our life and safety depend. What are these realities? By the combined working of the E.D.C. scheme with N.A.T.O., the British, Canadian and United States forces would be brought into the Continental line of defence together with all their European comrades. All will stand together on the same front. All will be under a single commander, by whom all can be disposed and moved about in national homogeneous divisions. Surely, this giant fact should not be overlooked for the sake of complicated and almost metaphysical argument, however intricate or exciting it may be.
In the Washington statement to which I referred when I spoke on Monday, the President and I declared that we wereagreed that the German Federal Republic should take its place as an equal partner in the community of Western nations where it can make its proper contribution to the defence of the free world. We are determined to achieve this goal, convinced that the Bonn and Paris treaties provide the best way.We also said that wewelcomed the recent statement by the French Prime Minister that an end must be put to the present uncertainties,500 and expressedour conviction that further delay in the entry into force of the E.D.C. and Bonn Treaties would damage the solidarity of the Atlantic nations.Her Majesty's Government, like its predecessor, support wholeheartedly the policy of the European Defence Community. We are sure that this is the best and the safest way in which Germany can be rearmed and enabled to play its necessary and vital part in the scheme of European unity and reconciliation. There is a wider measure of agreement for E.D.C. than for any other plan that has been conceived or proclaimed, and certainly the scheme for German participation in an international army with a force of 12 divisions cannot be regarded as excessive when we remember the strength of the Soviet armies.
These comprise an immediate strength in the forward areas of Europe of 30 active divisions, mostly armoured and mechanised, which could be increased to a total of considerably over 100 divisions at what is called in military parlance D plus 30. Moreover, N.A.T.O. have already stated publicly that the Soviet world strength on the 30th day of mobilisation would, including the European satellite countries, amount to 400 divisions. I do not feel that the question of 12 German divisions ought to bulk out of all proportion when we consider the general situation.
We cannot tell, however, whether the French Assembly will ratify the E.D.C. Treaty during their present session, which will probably end in August. This Treaty was signed by the French Government more than two years ago. If it does not come into force in the very near future, a most difficult situation will arise. The Bonn Conventions which bring the occupation of the German Federal Republic to an end cannot, as they at present stand, enter into force unless the E.D.C. Treaty enters into force at the same time.
In this situation the German Federal Republic is still denied the political benefits of the Bonn Conventions signed by all the Governments concerned more than two years ago. Confronted by this problem, the British and United States Governments have come to the conclusion that in the unhappy event of the failure to ratify E.D.C., their aim could best 501 be achieved by dissociating the Bonn Conventions in simultaneity from the passing of the E.D.C. Treaty, and if possible this should be done by agreement between the four Powers which signed those Conventions. Any other course in the face of these long and indefinite delays would be contrary to the standards of good faith and fair play which we desire to maintain towards all nations, including those with whom we have been at war.
§ Mr. Attlee
This is a very important statement. This would seem to give a great accession of sovereignty to Germany without the integration of German defence forces into a European Army. There is then a danger that Germany will rearm on her own. There may be provisions for control, but they become more and more difficult with each accession of sovereignty. I would ask, before this is definitely approved, that the House should he called together.
§ The Prime Minister
We have not gone away yet. We must consider all these matters when circumstances are before us.
I shall not attempt this afternoon to forecast what arrangements would be needed to secure the agreement of Germany to confine the use of her restored sovereign rights within standard limits of safety comparable to that which has been effected by E.D.C. It is clear, however, that discussions of these matters would entail the deferment of German rearmament for the time being, with the necessary provision of continued financial support for the Allied Forces in Germany during this period. I understand that some announcement in this sense is going to be made in the United States today.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I have been endeavouring to follow what the right hon. Gentleman said, especially in the last paragraph of his statement. I am sure the Committee would be obliged if he would repeat it, because he says that a similar statement is to be made by the United States, and we should like to know what it is.
§ The Prime Minister
The statement to which I have referred is this: It is clear that the discussion on what is to happen to Germany if E.D.C. fails, and on what would happen in the course of restoring her liberties under the Bonn Conventions, 502 would entail a deferment of German rearmament for the time being, with the necessary provision for the continued financial support for the Allied Forces in Germany, during this period.
The French Government have been informed of our intention to proceed along the lines I have indicated. Should the French Chamber fail to ratify the E.D.C. Treaty, we still hope that we shall not be forced to separate the two Treaties and to make other arrangements to replace in some form or other the satisfactory plan of German rearmament set forth in E.D.C. If these difficulties are solved and if the E.D.C. Treaty entered into force shortly, the problems to which I have referred would not confront us.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)
This is an extremely important matter upon which the Committee desire eludication. Can the Prime Minister say whether any time-limit has been set by Her Majesty's Government and the United States Government for the ratification of E.D.C. by the French Parliament; and secondly, what would be the juridical position of the West German Government in relation to the creation of national armed forces in the event of the Bonn Conventions being brought into force?
§ The Prime Minister
No time-limit has been definitely fixed, yet at the same time we cannot go on keeping all this matter hanging in the air indefinitely. There must be a moment when, in justice and fair play to Germany, some relief similar to that which was signed in the Treaties of two years ago should be accorded. That would require other rearrangements in the military sphere. I should have thought there was very general agreement upon this being the way to proceed.
We are showing no impatience at all and are giving every opportunity to the French, but we recognise that we have to be fair with the Germans. If they were cut out of what they had been promised by all of us two years ago, it would be a very bad thing, and if we, so to speak, felt that we had been guilty of breaking faith with them or with Dr. Adenauer.
I have had handed to me a communiqué issued in Paris at 4.30 p.m. today. Perhaps I might read it in conclusion to the Committee, as it is relevant to the matters which are in all our minds. It 503 says that General Bedell Smith is going back to Geneva. The communiqué is as follows:We have had intimate and frank discussions. These have resulted in a clear understanding of our respective positions in relation to Indo-China. The United States Secretary of State, Mr. Foster Dulles, explained fully the attitude of his Government towards the Indo-China phase of the Geneva Conference and the limitations which that Government desired to observe as not itself having primary responsibility for the Indo-Chinese war.The French Premier and Foreign Minister, Mr. Mendes-France, expressed the view, with which Mr. Eden, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for the United Kingdom, associated himself, that it would nevertheless serve the interests of France and of the Associated States, and of the peace and freedom of the area, if the United States, without departing from the principles that Mr. Dulles expressed, were once again to be represented at Geneva at the ministerial level.Accordingly, President Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles are requesting the United States Under-Secretary of State, General Bedell Smith, to return to Geneva at an early date.This is as good a moment to sit down as I am likely to find.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr, John Strachey (Dundee, West)
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has once again laid not only this Committee but the whole country, and indeed the world, under a debt of gratitude to him, for the speech which he made this afternoon. It was one of his most notable pronouncements on foreign affairs. He said things which had to be said; which were unpleasant to say, but he said them in the most temperate and reasonable way that they could be said, as the Prime Minister himself admitted.
These things had to be said not merely for the sake of expressing opinions held in this country, but also to give expression to much opinion in the United States of America which seldom gets any expression in the United States Press or in any other form of publication. Unfortunately, in the United States there is today a sort of voluntary totalitarianism in which minority opinion, if it is minority opinion, gets very little chance of expression at all. I am not saying that it would be persecuted if it were expressed, but it seems difficult in the United States for what may be unpopular opinions, with powerful sections, to find any expression. I remember speaking to 504 a very experienced old Washington correspondent the very first time I visited the United States of America, 25 years ago. He said, "This is a unanimous country. There is little expression of any opinion contrary to that of the official section."
It is, therefore, doubly important that what I believe is the underlying view in many American circles should find expression—if it cannot find expression in the United States—in this Chamber. While no doubt the Prime Minister is correct in saying that many leaders in Congress and in the United States Press may be irritated by what my right hon. Friend said, I believe that there are many millions of private citizens in the United States who will actually find sanity, comfort and support in the temperate views which my right hon. Friend has expressed in this Committee today.
I want to take up only one theme on which he spoke and to enlarge a little upon it. That is the theme of the hydrogen bomb. He spoke of it, and it also seemed the most interesting and important part of the statement which we had from the Prime Minister two days ago.
The first few remarks of that statement contained some real meat. It was shown that the thing which had originally taken the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary over to the United States was not the Far Eastern crisis, but the statement by Representative Sterling Cole on the hydrogen bomb. In that statement Mr. Cole gave particulars of the effect of the explosion, and said that a cavity about a mile in diameter had been torn in the bed of the ocean, into which an atoll had disappeared. As the Prime Minister said, that statement profoundly affected our defence policy.
It is from the defence angle that I want to consider the question for a few minutes. When one's defence policy is profoundly affected one's whole world policy is also profoundly affected. I do not agree that the existence of the hydrogen bomb makes this country impotent. No hon. Member who took part in or listened to the debate on civil defence the other day—and I wish that more hon. Members had done so—can deny that we are terribly vulnerable to the hydrogen bomb. But the real factor which will emerge is that not only we but everybody else is almost equally vulnerable. It may 505 even emerge, in the end, that our relative position in regard to the hydrogen bomb is an improvement as compared to what it was when the atom bomb was the supreme weapon.
During the period of the atom bomb there was some truth in the view that a small, densely populated country like ours could be overwhelmed by an atomic attack, while vast countries like the United States and Russia were relatively much less vulnerable. That is much less true today, in the epoch of the hydrogen bomb. We are now all very much in the same boat. The only difference now is that it would take a few more bombs to knock out Russia or America than it would to knock out this country—and there will be plenty of hydrogen bombs available on all sides. One of the most formidable facts that have emerged is that scientists, with what I can only call devilish ingenuity—I do not wish to offend them by saying that—have made it possible to produce hydrogen bombs far more easily than anyone anticipated.
I wish to pay a tribute to the Prime Minister for his imaginative realisation of the profound effect which the hydrogen bomb has upon this country. He is already aware of something which the leading statesmen of America, Russia and every other country will realise in due course. That is, at any rate, the view taken by very able and authoritative American opinion. I do not know whether any hon. Members saw the account given by the American commentators, the Allsop brothers, who are very closely in touch with the defence authorities in the United States of America. After commenting on the fact that the existence of the hydrogen bomb had profound consequences for British defence policy they added that, sooner rather than later, it would be realised that it had almost equally profound consequences for the United States itself.
In their article of 3rd July they said:In 12 or 18 or 24 months some other episode can be expected to arouse the people and the policy makers of this country to the peril of America, and we shall then react to our total peril, for it will be total by then, in just about the same way that the British have reacted. We sleep now as the British slept until this winter, and it will be a nightmare to awake.In other words, they said that the United States would awaken to her vulnerability 506 to the hydrogen bomb just as the United Kingdom has already awakened to it.
Not only the United Kingdom and the United States are vulnerable; Russia is equally, and, in some respects, more vulnerable still. Every country is appallingly exposed to the hydrogen bomb. In those circumstances, I do not believe that the existence of the hydrogen bomb imposes any special impotence upon this country. But it does impose a new conception of defence policy and, consequently world policy, on the part of all countries. First and foremost, it imposes the conception that Britain can fight only, in the very last resort, against the threat of actual conquest and enslavement. For any other purposes war, as an instrument of policy, is something which no leader certainly in the democracies, and, I believe, in the other countries also, will face when it comes to the point; because it would mean annihilation.
The Prime Minister was one of the first people to realise what it really means to live in the world of the hydrogen bomb. The consequences of the existence of the hydrogen bomb upon that Far Eastern policy which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has outlined today and on other occasions are that, whereas, in the past, we have considered it the proper policy to pursue, we now have to realise that it is the only conceivable policy to pursue.
In the world of the hydrogen bomb any attempt by this country to follow what has been the Far Eastern policy to which the American Administration has sometimes lent its support, and which the more extreme sections of the American Congress and the American Press have constantly supported—the policy of attempting forcibly to reverse the Chinese revolution and overthrow the present Government in China—becomes something which no British Government can even contemplate. We need no longer argue whether such a policy is right or wrong: it is simply out of the question.
The visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to America was worth while for it does seem to have impressed this fact upon the imagination and intelligence of the American public. It was worth while if only it made the Americans realise the simple fact that no British Government, whatever its political com- 507 plexion, will contemplate war in the Far East. And if we do not contemplate war we must make peace. The American Government seems quite unwilling to face that alternative.
I am glad to notice that America has reversed her policy of virtually boycotting the Geneva Conference. But it is quite obvious that she is totally unwilling to take that series of steps—of which a negotiated settlement in Indo-China is only one; the inclusion of China in United Nations being another—which would indicate that she has a sane Far Eastern policy. It may be that for the time being the United States can afford to have no policy in the Far East but this country certainly cannot. We must have a policy. As a nation, we cannot afford to refuse to put forward a sane and reasonable policy, such as outlined by my right hon. Friend on this and other occasions, simply because it will effect—as, of course, it will—certain American susceptibilities.
We must have a negotiated settlement in Indo-China. We cannot allow the prejudices—and they are prejudices—of the United States Government to prevent that. Behind that, as my right hon. Friend said, there looms all the time the question of the admission of China to the United Nations. That has become the symbol of the acceptance by the free world generally of the Chinese revolution as a fait accompli. Whether we like it or not is totally irrelevant. It is something which there is no possibility of attempting to alter by force. It does not mean that there may not be acts of Chinese aggression, or that we should not take the best steps we can to control or limit those acts. It does mean a reversal of the present policy of the free world generally, and America in particular, in regard to China.
That, to us, is the nub of the issue; the crux of the problem. We were, therefore, profoundly disturbed by what the Prime Minister said two days ago about the seating of China. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to quote the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) on the subject. As that right hon. Gentleman himself pointed out, those words were spoken in the middle of the Korean war when Chinese armies were actually fighting in the field.
508 Circumstances are different today. An armistice has been concluded in Korea. If we are told that we cannot advocate the seating of China in the Security Council until there has been a full peace settlement in Korea, that may put the matter off to the Greek Kalends, because how can we possibly think that there is a chance of an immediate peace settlement in Korea except on terms quite unacceptable to us? That, therefore, is the last thing we want. After all, there has not been a general peace settlement in Germany so far and we shall be very lucky if that comes about within the next few years. Therefore, to put it on Korea seems to us the very last thing that we should do.
We notice a falling back in the policy of the Government in this matter. About 10 days ago the Minister of State made an excellent speech at Bridgwater, in which he put forward very well indeed, if I may say so, the reasons why Her Majesty's Government support the principle of the seating of China in the Security Council and in the United Nations. Since then, however, the Prime Minister has made a statement in which he recedes very much from that. He repeated it this afternoon. He said that he had now come to the conclusion that this is not the time to advocate that. What has changed between the time of the speech of the Minister of State and the speech of the Prime Minister today? How can we resist the impression that all that has changed is the outbreak of Senator Knowland in the United States Senate, and other expressions of Congressional opinion, which, the Prime Minister told us, astounded him when they were made?
It is really ignominious for this country to recede from a position which we all, irrespective of party, know to be right, and which a responsible British Minister has only the week before put forward, simply because of an outbreak of emotion in the United States. Of course, we cannot impose the membership of the present Government of China on the United Nations. We do not control the United Nations. But is there any reason why we should not adhere to a policy put forward so recently by the Minister of State at Bridgwater, stating it steadfastly but moderately, and standing by it.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I think that he will agree that I never said that the moment had now come for the seating of China.
§ Mr. Strachey
No, I am not suggesting that the Minister of State did say that, but I could not possibly help getting the impression from both the Prime Minister's statements that he now thinks it untimely to advocate that China should be seated in the United Nations.
What we should do in September, I readily admit, must be partly governed by what happens at Geneva. Obviously, if a satisfactory settlement is reached at Geneva on Indo-China, and if the Chinese Government shows itself reasonable and flexible in these matters, that is bound to affect our position. If the Chinese Government shows itself the reverse, that, equally, is bound to affect our position. I would entirely agree that how our representative should cast his vote, whether he should abstain from voting, or take an active part in pushing for China to be seated, depends on such factors. There must be that kind of give and take in diplomacy. I do believe, however, that now, and in September and thereafter we should not recede from the position put forward by successive British Governments—and as lately as the Bridgwater speech of the right hon. Gentleman—that it is really a necessity for the world that the Chinese Republic should take her place in the United Nations.
That will cause great American irritation, but it has caused great American irritation before and if we go on saying it quietly and calmly they will gradually get used to it. If, on the other hand, as I am sorry to say I think he has, the Prime Minister recedes from that position then, of course, the most extreme section of American opinion will think they have only to have an outbreak to make the British Government drop what it knows to be the right policy. I very much hope that the Minister of State, or whoever replies for the Government at the end of this debate, will be able to reassure us on this matter.
Just as the seating of the Chinese Government on the Security Council lies behind the Indo-China settlement, so behind all this lies the broad issue of peaceful co-existence which the Prime 510 Minister rightly stressed in his peroration. He was claiming, as I think he could claim, that it was very important that the President paid his tribute to that principle—that President Eisenhower said that he was a supporter of peaceful coexistence. At the same time, peaceful co-existence has its own logic.
It is a logic which to me does not seem compatible with American policy in the Far East, as put forward by the Congressional leaders and, above all, by Senator Knowland. That is surely why my right hon. Friend had to do what he did this afternoon—to say, so quietly, but so firmly, that we could not possibly support such a policy because, to return in my final words to the theme on which I started, in the age of the hydrogen bomb the alternative to peaceful co-existence is not victory or defeat in war—it is annihilation. But it is not annihilation more for this country than for others. Every other country is almost as vulnerable as we are today. That is the overwhelming reason why a policy of peaceful co-existence, involving the logic of a coherent peace policy is the only course which any British Government can follow today.
We all owe the Prime Minister a debt of gratitude, for he is one of the first people—one of the first national leaders—to realise what it means to live in the world of the hydrogen bomb. He has a great imagination, especially in military matters, and he has realised the necessity for a reassessment of our defence policy and, consequently, of all our other policies. In due course the hydrogen bomb will necessitate a reassessment of the policies of all other countries, too. I believe that this country has a great opportunity to show what is and what is not possible in the new and formidable world in which we live.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
I am not going to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) in what he has been saying about China, because when I hear these pleas put up for the inclusion of China in the world councils it seems to me that far the easier way to get China in would be if the world councils had rather different names. The Chinese Government in the United Nations organisation is rather incongruous, but if the word were "universal" 511 instead of "united" it would be far easier. To put that country on to the Security Council seems more far-fetched still. It would be better to call it the Insecurity Council if China had the right of entry there.
§ Mr. Strachey
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman must remember that Soviet Russia is a member of both bodies.
§ Captain Waterhouse
She got in at the door early, when she had not fully disclosed her hand. All sorts of people get into all sorts of clubs before they are sufficiently known to the other members.
It is to the subject on which I feel very strongly that I want to devote my remarks this afternoon. On 22nd March the Foreign Secretary told us that negotiations with the Egyptian Government had been suspended. He gave the reason for it that the outrages had become so many and so frequent that it was no longer within our dignity to continue to negotiate. I must say that I think my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State ought to have made a statement to this House when, in due course, it was decided that the time had come to reopen these negotiations. If the original statement, stating that we had suspended the negotiations, had not been made then things might have been different, but as we had that statement, then I think it would have been much more courteous to the House had he told us about their resumption.
The House today is in the usual difficulty about these negotiations, as, indeed, it must be about practically all treaty negotiations, in that, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, it is quite impossible for him, when starting negotiations, to disclose their terms. But he is very often saved the trouble, because if there is one thing which is fairly free in Cairo it is talk and information. I do not think it is very long after Sir Ralph Stevenson delivers a Note before the contents of it are reasonably and accurately reported in the Press.
We are told—and I think we must believe it—that the terms today are the evacuation of all our troops in a very short while; the handing over of the great base, on which such enormous importance has been placed, to the care of contractors; and an assurance that we 512 will be allowed re-entry to the base in the case of attack on Turkey or on other Arab countries. I do not know whether those are the terms, but it is very strongly reported that they are, and I think that we have to assume that they are a very close approximation to the terms.
Therefore, I would remind the House that when these negotiations were broken off there were other terms before the Egyptian Government and we were told that those terms were the minima. But they were a great deal more stringent than the proposals which are now being made. Under them we were to keep about 4,000 technicians at the base and these technicians must be in uniform. There was to be a gradual removal of the garrison, but there were to be conditions for reentry in the event of Turkey and other countries in the Far East being attacked.
We must ask the Government whether those were the correct terms, and, if so, what has altered the views of Her Majesty's Government. Why did they think that those terms were essential then and do not think that they are essential now? Looking further back to 12 to 18 months ago, we were led to understand that the terms then suggested were even more stringent.
Those terms were on offer in March, but negotiations were broken off because the Egyptians started a campaign of murder. The Egyptians said they were not responsible for it and could not control it. For some time it went on and then began to ease off, but it has not eased off completely. Crimes in Egypt fall into two categories. There are the crimes of the thieves, the pilferers and the robbers, and there are the crimes inspired by the Government to attain political ends. The first go on, and will always go on in Egypt. The second have been reduced to a point at which the British Foreign Secretary is able to say, "We should recommence our negotiations." We are doing that and we are offering better terms.
What is the moral of all this? The moral from the point of view of the Egyptians is, "Stop murdering, wait, and Britain will give you better terms. Do not bother to accept what is offered now. You must refrain from taking extreme measures and wait. You will find the terms are whittled down and you will be able to get practically anything you like."
513 But there are some other factors in the situation, too. Only a week ago Major Saleh Salem made a remarkable speech in which he said:We cannot fight Palestine with the British lurking behind our backs.I am quite sure that the Prime Minister was never a man to spoil sport. I do, not know whether he thought it was frightfully mean to be lurking behind the backs of the Egyptians and stopping them from their bit of sport in Palestine. [Laughter]. Seriously, it is a most remarkable time to reopen the negotiations when the Minister of Public Relations in Egypt makes a threat such as that.
We have the right to ask the Government whether they intend to hand over the base, as is reported. Are these stores to be handed to the Egyptians, or where are the stores and property to be put? May they use those stores against Palestine and, if they cannot, who is to stop them when all troops have been removed?
At present, there is pilfering on a large scale. Lorries drive in and take a lot of stuff. We have 47,000 troops watching that place, and when they all move there will only be 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000 contractors' men about the place. Who is to stop more lorries coming in and taking out ammunition and other valuable stores and delivering them to the barracks of the Egyptians for use against Palestine? These are questions on which we ought to be answered, but we cannot get an answer. But can we be assured that the Government have these points in mind, or must we judge by the past and take it for granted that if Egypt waits and pushes and does not murder, she will be able to get virtually any terms she likes?
The main reason that is given is the formation of a strategic reserve. Everybody in the House knows that we are stretched to the utmost. Everybody knows that it is vitally important that from some place or other we should be able to get a force which is under the hand of the general staff. The presence of a reserve is necessary for any defensive operation anywhere. But would we really get a very large reserve if we get out of Egypt altogether?
Eighty thousand men is the figure which is usually spoken of; 72,000 is, I 514 believe, a more correct figure. Out of this some 15,000 are African troops, and a further number is represented by the Air Force. The actual fighting soldiers on the job number something under 50,000. The suggestion is that we should have a garrison in Libya, a garrison in Cyprus—I am quoting from what the newspapers say—and, possibly, another garrison in Jordan. How much is to be left out of these 47,000 men when these various places are garrisoned? I do not believe that there would be appreciably more than a division left.
What about these new garrisons? Will we have an easy ride in Cyprus or in Libya? I am told that there is a tremendous movement of the Egyptian civil servant type of clerk into Libya, not that Libya likes him very much but he is about the only man in those parts who can read and write, so the Libyans must have him in their offices. These people are not very agreeably disposed towards us. Are not all the dangers and attacks to which we are subjected in the Canal Zone likely to be reflected in Transjordan? It is a serious point that must be given consideration.
It is said that there will be economy. Will there really be economy? The figure of £50 million has been mentioned in the Press as the cost of keeping, and therefore this potential saving on, a garrison in the Canal Zone. I venture to say that that is a rather dishonest figure. If those men are moved away, they still have to be equipped, fed and transported. They have still to be sent on leave, although, perhaps, not so far; but if they are moved to these new bases there must be a completely new set-up for them.
We propose to hand over £200 million worth of stores. I suppose that some of that has to be replaced or moved. I am perfectly certain that however hard the Chancellor of the Exchequer tries, he is extremely unlikely to get any economy out of this proposal in the first two or three years. Even over a long period the economy is likely to be very small indeed.
We need to look at this redeployment from another angle. It is said that our men are going to Cyprus, to Greece and, possibly, to Jordan. It has been suggested in the debate this afternoon, and in the Press, that the existence of the nuclear weapon has completely altered our strategy. I do not know that 515 Cyprus would be any more pleasant under a hydrogen bomb than would be the Canal Zone. We have heard of the disappearing atoll. There might be just another large hole in the sea—"That was Cyprus; that was the Middle East base." I do not think that that is a very strong argument.
All these places—this is perhaps my most important point, and I will deal with it at some length later—are to the north of the Suez Canal. The Canal alone is able to reinforce to the south and to the north. The Canal alone is able to draw its stores from the Mediterranean and through the Persian Gulf. It seems to me that Her Majesty's Government, in making the proposals that I have read in the newspapers—because we have not been told what they are—have almost forgotten all about Africa. It seems to me too that the whole basis of our approach to this matter has been far too much on the strategy of war rather than on the strategy of peace. It is said that we are in a cold war, but if because we fear that a hot war will come we lose the cold war now, I do not believe that we are doing ourselves or our Commonwealth very much service.
I should like to know from my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State what consultations have taken place over this move. The Prime Minister said today that there had been some consultations with the United States of America and that the United States had expressed an interest in this part of the world. It is very good of them to express such an interest considering the scores of millions of dollars that they draw from it in oil every year.
What has been happening about consultation with our Commonwealth countries? Has New Zealand been consulted? Has Australia been consulted recently? Last year, Mr. Casey wrote a fairly strong letter in "The Times" to the effect that Australia was watching the position of the Suez Canal with anxiety. Has South Africa been consulted?
I wonder whether this has ever occurred to the Minister of Defence. I wonder whether it has ever been suggested to any of these great Dominions, who are so vitally interested in this matter, that they might come and help, 516 that they might send a brigade for reinforcement or even, perhaps, take over the guardianship of the Canal. Then, we might get some real strategic reserve, for we all believe that to keep 47,000 troops there is wrong and that a far smaller force would meet the case satisfactorily. If these Commonwealth countries have not been asked for a contingent, I should like to know why, and I wonder whether my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State will deal with this point when he replies to the debate and say why they have not been asked.
What does Turkey think about this proposal? Is she quite happy about our removing our troops from the Canal? What is Palestine saying about it? What does Pakistan say about it? Has her agreement been asked? When we are going to give up what we have believed to be one of the pillars on which our Commonwealth has rested for three-quarters of a century, we deserve and need to be told with precision just what steps have been taken to consult other members of the Commonwealth in order to ensure that our policy is generally agreed.
Those are very important matters, but they are as nothing in importance to the Sudan. The Sudan and the rest of Africa are by far the most important factor in this issue. We guaranteed the Sudan independence. We guaranteed to the Sudan freedom of choice. What freedom of choice have we secured for them? What freedom of choice do they get under the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement of February, 1953? They get wholesale bribery, fierce propaganda, misleading arguments, and great pressure.
Many of the inhabitants of the Southern Sudan are in about the same state as the people in these islands 2,000 years years ago. They are just as primitive as were the ancient Britons. They relied on our guidance. They looked to the Governor as almost a god. They looked to his inspectors when they went round as men whom they could trust. Suddenly, as this moment of crisis in their lives and in the life of their country, they have had that guidance taken away. There were elections taking place. We could not influence the elections. We say to the Sudanese, "Listen to what the Egyptians say. You must use your own judgment." But they have not got any 517 judgment. What is the result? It is that they have now been handed over to a Government elected by a very few thousand people who are to govern a population of about eight million. What has happened since the elections? Her Majesty's Government have agreed that one of the comparatively independent-minded Sudanese on the Governor's Council should be removed and replaced by a strong pro-Egyptian. It is true that in the first place, the matter came up for decision by the Sudanese Parliament, but we had to agree to it. Why did we agree to it?
Six weeks ago we were told that 23 or 24 senior officers of the Sudanese Defence Force were being summarily dismissed. They were given a month's notice, like a farm worker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."] I was expecting that outcry, and I made the remark for the reason that a farm worker can work just as well on this, that or any other farm. One can engage a farm worker to come in that way, or even a Member of Parliament for that matter. But the point is that these 23 men were the key men of the Sudanese Defence Force which had been one of the prides of the British Raj in that part of Africa. Some of them have gone already. All of them will be out within the next two or three months, and we have had to stand by and accept it.
§ Mr. Crossman
Is the argument of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that the whole policy of granting self-determination to the Sudan is wrong, that it was totally unfit to hold elections, and that we should now dishonour the pledge which we gave some years ago that it should be allowed to hold elections?
§ Captain Waterhouse
If the hon. Gentleman will be patient, he will hear my next remark, which is that we stand four-square behind the independence which we promised. Whether we were wise or not to promise that independence is not the issue. We made the promise, and we have to stand by it. We have to see that it is a real chance and not a bogus chance of giving independence. What we are giving them today is a bogus chance. We are denying them the true chance. I submit that we cannot quit the Canal and leave the pro-independence party without any moral support at all in the Sudan. They have a right to look 518 to us to ensure that they will get the fair play which we promised them.
My only other remark under that head is to ask hon. Members to consider what will be the effect of this move on the rest of Africa. If we remove our Armed Forces, it will be said by all literate natives who read the newspapers, "These were the friends of Britain. Look where they are now. These people relied on the British word. Look where they are now." I believe that it will make the task of every Government throughout the great Continent of Africa infinitely more difficult.
What can be done? Those with whom we have been considering the matter still believe that it is possible to hold a small force in the Canal Zone. We realise that it is not a perfect arrangement, but we also realise that it must be of some use, for, otherwise, we should not have taken the prodigious trouble to arrive at the Agreement of 1936. It must be of some use to have a force there.
We realise the difficulty about the line of demarcation, but, after all, the Canal is supposed to be free for all trade. Are we to suppose that the Egyptian Government will break the International Convention concerning the freedom of the Canal?
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
What does the right hon. and gallant Gentlemen mean by a "small force"?
§ Captain Waterhouse
A force consisting of one or two brigades, but, obviously, it is not for me to try to lay down any figure at all. Such a force could be reinforced and it would have its access both to the north and the south. It is, indeed, something still to have a British force in a British garrison on a great strategic waterway.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Surely the right hon. and gallant Gentleman realises that there is a difference between the effectiveness of a force which is there by the consent of the population and one which is there contrary to that consent. A brigade may be quite sufficient when it is there by consent, but when there is no consent, there has to be a very much larger force in order to maintain it. There is no alternative between a large force and no force.
§ Captain Waterhouse
Of course, if we could be there by consent, that would be infinitely more desirable. But because it is desirable to be there by consent, that does not mean that one should never be anywhere without consent. If one takes the hon. and learned Gentleman's view, why have an Army at all? If we could be there by consent, it would be a very great advantage, and I would not despair of being there by consent again if once we took a firm and clear line, and if once we let it be understood that we intended to stay and said, "Now, gentlemen, shout your heads off and do what you like. Here we stay. We will make ourselves as agreeable to you as we can, and will accommodate you in any way we can. If you do not like our great area for training, we will move it to the other side of the Canal. If you want financial help, we will do what we can. If you are in difficulty about your cotton, we will do everything possible to market it for you. We will deliver your water from the Nile." We can do a very great deal for the Egyptians, and I do not for one moment despair of coming to an agreement with them if once we make it clear that we are prepared to stick to our position.
I now wish to draw a most remarkable parallel—which hon. Members can check for themselves if they like—between the happenings of today and those of about 15 years ago when we gave up the Irish ports. Almost precisely the same arguments were then adduced. It was the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. Neville Chamberlain who, like the hon. Member opposite, talked about friendliness. He said:I must point out to the House that when the treaty was signed that provision was based on the assumption of a friendly Ireland, and that, if you had an unfriendly Ireland, the situation would be completely changed…He went on:After most careful consideration of all the circumstances, and after due consultation with the Chiefs of Staff, we came to the conclusion that a friendly Ireland was worth far more to us both in peace and in war…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1938; Vol. 335, c. 1076–77.]How many thousands of merchant seamen lost their lives because of that decision? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, before he was Prime Minister, made a most powerful speech that I heard myself and that I dare say 520 other Members here heard, too. I should like to read the whole speech to the Committee, for I am sure hon. and right hon. Gentlemen would enjoy it much more than mine, but I shall content myself with quoting one or two parts. He started by apologising for striking a jarring note—and I and those working with me, can understand his feeling. He referred to the "broken" Treaty with Ireland. He said that he confessed he was wholly unprepared to read in the newspapers that we had abandoned all our contentions about repudiation of the Treaty, and, above all, our contentions about the strategic ports.
Then he said:We are to give them up…to an Irish Government led by men—I do not want to use hard words—whose rise to power has been proportionate to the animosity with which they have acted against this country…and whose present position in power is based upon the violation of solemn Treaty engagements.The words could not have been more appropriate then than they are today in respect of another country. My right hon. Friend went on:In all my experience nothing has surprised me more than that I should have to stand here today and plead this argument against a National Government and the Conservative party. Well was it said that the 'vicissitudes of politics are inexhaustible'.Then my right hon. Friend came to what I think is a very good passage:We have been told that this was settled after consultation with the Chiefs of Staff. If it is true that they have recommended this course…then I must say that they are advising contrary to the whole weight of the expert opinion placed before the Government which made the Irish Free State Treaty. We do not know, of course, how the questions were put to these experts, and it is evident that in these matters politics and Defence are inextricably mingled together."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th May, 1938: Vol. 335, c. 1099–1100.]Those last words make me fearful about the present decision and about the value of the expert opinions that we have had placed before us. It is the duty of the Government to dictate policy, and it is the duty of the Chiefs of Staff to follow that policy. Once they have been given a clear line they have to adapt themselves wholeheartedly to it, just as civil servants adopt wholeheartedly policies put forward by any Minister. Thereafter, it is extremely hard to say what was initiated by the politicians and what was the real view of the soldiers.
521 I have kept the Committee long enough—[HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."]—and I want to finish by summarising much of what I have said in the form of five brief points: first, that the policy should be dictated not by the needs of the Fighting Services, but by the needs of the country as a whole; that attention is directed too much to war and the strategy of war and too little to peace and the strategy of peace; that the interest and the welfare of the Sudan and all the rest of Africa appear to have been largely disregarded; that a far better plan is needed than the present proposals for what I call the lopsided redeployment which is to replace our position on the Canal; and that until such time as a far better plan is produced than we have yet seen Britain should retain on the Canal a force adequate to fulfil our responsibilities.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
It is evident that whatever information the Prime Minister gave upstairs in a Committee Room it was not information to satisfy the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester. South-East (Captain Waterhouse), because it seems to me that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is still on the attack.
Mr. Percy Daises (East Ham, North)
On a point of order. Can you help us, Sir Rhys, who wish to take part in the debate, and who are back benchers and not Privy Councillors, for the debate seems to be run exclusively by Privy Councillors?
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Further to that point of order, Sir Rhys. It is a custom in the House to allow Privy Councillors priority in the calling of Members, but in view of the tremendous number of Privy Councillors in the Committee today, are they to have exclusive priority over other Members, because if so, it seems that the debate will be held only by them, and that back benchers will have no further interest in the debate?
§ Mr. Bellenger
It is a little unfair—[HON. MEMBERS: "Unfair?"]—that some of my hon. Friends who speak more often and at far greater length than I do should attempt to prevent me, also a back bencher, from stating my point of view today. It is very infrequently that I trouble the Committee, although I have been many years in the House, and I have the same rights as any other Member if I catch the eye of the Chair. I wish to speak only briefly. I shall not attempt to speak at any great length, but merely put one or two points, and ask the Government to consider and answer them.
I was on the point of saying that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East has put a point of view today that seems to me to bear a great resemblance to the point of view that the Prime Minister put on Indian independence many years ago. Everybody must realise now, not least the Prime Minister, that the opinion he put forward then is not tenable in the circumstances of today. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman insisted that we should keep troops in the Canal Zone, and seemed quite oblivious to the fact that the Middle East is not the same strategic area for Britain alone today as it was when the Treaty was signed in 1936.
If I understood the hint of the Prime Minister aright, America is prepared to take part in guaranteeing security arrangements in the Middle East. If so, it would be well worth while for this country, which for so long has borne the onerous burden of policing that strategic area, to withdraw its troops. It should be allowed to do so, and I hope that, as a result of such an agreement, it will be found possible to reduce the period of conscription.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman's real frame of mind was exposed when he used the illustration of a month's notice to farm workers. His point of view is that of the old, out-moded idea of the overlord and the feudal system. The system in Egypt today was based on the feudal idea, the old notion of the conquest of people assumed to be ignorant and unable to look after themselves or to defend 523 themselves. Today the Egyptians are waking up to the fact that this is their country. Egyptians and others want to be masters in their own countries. Why should not they?
I agree with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that this area is so important in peace and it would be so important in war that we cannot simply walk out and take away our troops. Obviously there must be some negotiated settlement with Egypt. I view with alarm the possibility of a war between the Arab States and Palestine breaking out again if British troops are withdrawn; but does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman say that for that reason we should keep British troops in Egypt—merely to keep the peace between those peoples? It should not be solely our duty. We are no longer able to police the troubled areas of the world. World peace must be settled with world nations. America, who has now superseded us in many ways as a world nation, must play her part.
§ Captain Waterhouse
The right hon. Gentleman asked a question and my answer is that quite definitely one of the reasons it is desirable that we should maintain forces in the area is that it would have a quietening effect on the whole of the Middle East. That is not only our job, but what is everybody's job is nobody's job, and a war in that part of the world would be a disaster for us as well as for others.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I am not at all sure that the two brigades which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman mentioned would be sufficient to maintain peace in that area. If they would be sufficient why have we kept so many thousands of troops in the Canal Zone for so long? I have no more information than I presume the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has—namely, from the newspapers—but I do not think that it is worth while to refuse a settlement with Egypt merely on the question whether the 4,000 technicians left there to look after the place should be in uniform or not. If the Egyptians are prepared to accept the presence of such a large number, does it matter whether they wear uniform or civilian clothes? So far as that vast installation can be protected by 4,000 British technicians, it would be well worth while to get an agreement with 524 Egypt if the result is that we can move out our forces and also perhaps dispel some of the bitterness between the two countries.
There is only one point on which I agree with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. He complained of the lack of information from the Government, or the paucity of information from which we suffer. I listened on Monday to the Prime Minister making a statement, as he called it, which lasted for 40 minutes. We understood that it would be a statement on the results of his conference with President Eisenhower in America, but I think that most hon. Members will agree that a large part of the speech was concerned with his opinion on matters which have more or less already been settled.
There was mention of the E.D.C. That has been settled by Parliament. Hon. Members are well aware of the views of the Government on that matter. Why should the Prime Minister take advantage of that opportunity merely to expand his opinions? We want information. I imagine that the Committee wants some information from the Prime Minister about what practical results emerged from his conference with President Eisenhower. I recognise that it is not possible for the Prime Minister to give the Committee complete information, but here we are about to adjourn for the Summer Recess in a few days' time, and there are important matters of which we are still in ignorance and which may have to be decided while we are in recess.
For example, we are completely in the dark about what agreement, if any, was reached between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister on the question of regional defence in South-East Asia. To judge from what the Government have said, it would appear that the matter is held in abeyance until the result of the Geneva Conference is known. It is not a bad guess that that result must be reached by 20th July when the French Prime Minister has offered to resign if he has not reached agreement with Vietminh. If no agreement is reached, have the Government any plans? What will be our commitments in that area?
The Government have said that military staff conversations are taking place 525 between America and this country. That bears some resemblance to the conversations which took place earlier in the century between France and this country over Germany. We all know now that those conversations were only known in part to the Cabinet and that the country knew nothing about them. Eventually we came to war. I maintain that the House of Commons should be told a little more about the conclusions of the staff conversations on which, presumably, will be based any policy which the Government are able to formulate in co-operation with America for the defence of this area.
There is another feature on which the Prime Minister touched today. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, he made a most important statement in passing, as it were. He said that agreement had been reached 'between the United States and Great Britain over Germany, to the effect that if France does not ratify the Bonn Conventions and the E.D.C. Treaty, Germany would be granted her sovereignty. He did not place a time-limit on that, although we can form our own conclusions, because he mentioned that the French Parliament would be rising at the end of August.
My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) put a question to the Prime Minister which he was not able to answer. My hon. Friend asked whether, in the event of Germany being given her sovereignty under the Bonn Conventions, the Prime Minister could say what would be the legal position of Germany in relation to the formation of her own national defence forces. I am not sure what the answer is. I have a suspicion that there was something in the Bonn Conventions which prohibited Ger- many from recovering full sovereignty. Perhaps the Minister who replies to the debate will answer the question.
The fact clearly emerges that if the E.D.C. Treaty is not ratified by France and if the Bonn Conventions are put into force by the three nations—the United States, ourselves and Germany—it follows that at some time Germany will be able to create some defence forces quite separate from any influences which we are able to bring to bear, as we should be able to do under the E.D.C. plan.
Although I have supported E.D.C. publicly in the House and outside now 526 for a long time, I think the Government should give us more precise information, before we rise for the Summer Recess, [...] to what will happen if France does not ratify. It is not an ultimatum to France. She must know by now—she has had such a lot said to her by different people of importance and lesser importance in both the countries—that at least that part of the world which signed these conventions, as France did, looks to her to implement what she has already put her hand to.
I have been listening in the House now for 19 years to a recital of events similar to those with which we are faced today. History has a habit of repeating itself. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East who is, as it were, the Prime Minister's ghost of the past, has today repeated what the Prime Minister said on previous occasions. Looking back on them, we can see how they were out-of-date almost before the present Prime Minister expressed the words which have been quoted today.
We have to be realistic in these times. This fact is clear to me, as it must be to the Service Ministers who know more about these things than many of us, that Britain is no longer in the position of being able to control events, to police areas and to maintain peace by herself or by her own troops and military efforts as she used to be. We can only do that in association with other countries. It is galling to have to associate with those who have been aggressors, but if it is possible to keep the peace by entering into negotiations with countries who have been aggressors, in the interests of our own people that effort will be well worth while.
I warn my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee that they need not gloat so much over the fact that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised the standard of revolt in the Tory Party. They will have to make up their minds at some time whether they will support his efforts to induce the Government to keep our troops in Egypt or whether they will pursue a more sane policy of trying to arrive at a peaceful conclusion by negotiations with Egypt, China and other nations involved in the troubles today.
I am clear as to what I prefer. I do not like to climb down, but surely two wars in which we have been engaged in 527 the last 25 years ought to have convinced us of the facts. The facts today are not the so-called little wars of years ago to which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was referring when he spoke of past events in Egypt and elsewhere, when people looked up to the British sahib. Those days have gone for ever. Those two world wars have reduced our prestige to a certain extent and certainly they have lessened our influence in different parts of the world. In business, when one cannot get the bargain that is desired, there must be negotiation to see whether any bargain can be obtained at all. The same applies in this case. If the right hon. and gallant Gentleman is able to persuade his Government to accept his point of view, it would be detrimental to British interests and, in the long run, it would be detrimental to peace.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) will forgive me if I do not follow him closely into all the points of his speech, because there are a large number of other Members who wish to speak. I shall confine my remarks, therefore, to the Suez issue. I must confess from the outset that I approach this problem from a slightly different angle from that of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse), though I fully sympathise with the emotion with which he put his case.
We must look at the problem of the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations against a background of our heavy defence commitments in the rest of the world, under N.A.T.O. in Europe, in Kenya, in Malaya, in Korea and in South-East Asia where, for all we know, there may be a big question mark before long. Against that background we have to assess the value of having the whole of our strategic reserve numbering 80,000 men locked up in the Canal Zone.
The troops there are not really looking after the base, which is disintegrating monthly before their eyes. They are not guarding the Canal, which everybody knows could be sabotaged at any minute if the Egyptians liked to do so—though they would not be so foolish. They have no amenities, and few are with their 528 wives and families. The lucky ones are doing guard duty one night in three, the unlucky ones, one night in two. They are doing no training. All they are doing is to guard each other, and I do not think that is a very edifying spectacle. This cannot be the right way, in my view, to employ the bulk of our strategic reserve, though this may be a matter of opinion. However, what I am about to say now will, I think, be endorsed by all the Committee, namely, that no other troops in the world could show such discipline and restraint in the face of such provocation as the British troops in the Canal Zone have shown month in and month out, over the last two or three years.
I hope that the Committee will bear with me if I say a word or two about the base itself, which is the biggest base in the world. The trouble is that it was not sited tactically against guerrilla warfare or sabotage. It just spread, like emptying a bottle of ink on to blotting paper. It grew after the last war in the life of the late Government—I make no particular party point about that.
Into this base was poured the backlog from Palestine, East Africa, India and all over the place. The biggest single dump is Tel-el-Kebir, which contains the heaviest and most valuable equipment, 80 miles from Suez, 90 miles from Port Said, 35 miles from Ismailia. It has a barbed wire perimeter of 17½ miles. It is broken into regularly. It is guarded by one brigade and, even if it were guarded by one division, it would still be broken into because there is no method of stopping it. Every vehicle that comes into Tel-el-Kebir and every vehicle that goes out has to be escorted and convoyed. The value of the base is greatly diminished by the fact that we are not at the moment able to employ any local labour. Indeed, if these circumstances were translated back to 1940; in other words, if there had been a hostile civil population then, we could not have mounted the offensive in the Western desert.
If the C.I.G.S. or the N.A.T.O. Chiefs of Staff were to say that the present base was indispensable for the defence of the free world, I agree that it would have to be maintained no matter what the Egyptians thought about it or what was the cost in men, money or materials, but in that event Britain could not con- 529 ceivably carry the burden alone. However, to the best of my knowledge they have not said so. They have said that a base in that part of the world is desirable but not absolutely essential, and largely useless without local labour available.
As the Prime Minister stated, the entry of Turkey into N.A.T.O. has altered the strategic needs, and with the advent of the atomic and hydrogen bomb it becomes highly questionable, even with a base in that area, whether we really want all our eggs in one basket. I think that there is an overwhelming argument for dispersal. I would also have thought that in these circumstances there was an overwhelming argument for trying to get agreement with the Egyptians by which certain features and certain installations in the base were maintained on something like a care-and-maintenance basis: and that we should have the right to reoccupy these installations and that portion of the base considered necessary, in the event of a threat to the Middle East. So far as I know, the Pakistanis, Iraqis, Turks and Jordanians and most of the other Middle East countries, are in agreement about this objective.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
How much faith can we put in a Government which is already in breach of three treaties?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I am coming to that point. The other point which I want to stress to the Committee is that to maintain a base without Egyptian agreement means, at best, a civil population which is unfriendly and, at worst, a civil population which is actively hostile, and this inevitably results in locking up a disproportionate number of troops to look after the installations, and to look after each other.
My hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) has just asked how we can negotiate with a Government which is already in breach of three treaties. I agree that the attitude and behaviour of the present Egyptian Government in respect of the Sudan has been disgraceful. I think, however, that we have to face facts. Unless we do not want any negotiations at all with any Egyptian Government, we have no alternative but to negotiate with the present one. It is a fact that Colonel Nasser is now in control. For how long, I do not know. But 530 I know that he is very anxious to get an agreement. I think that if he got an agreement with us, there might be a chance—I would not put it higher than that—of a reasonably stable Government in Egypt for some time to come. If we do not want to negotiate with Colonel Nasser, with whom do we negotiate? The alternative might well be chaos.
Chaos in Cairo might start with anti-British riots and end with anti-European riots and the whole place might well go up in flames. The unfortunate troops in the Canal Zone would have to do a rescue operation, which would be extremely unpleasant, a semi-military, semi-police operation on a very large scale. We could not stand by and do nothing if the lives of a large number of British subjects, including Cypriots and Maltese, were in danger. We should have to go in to Cairo and Alexandria to rescue them; and I do not know what the next move would then be.
May I say a word about the Egyptian Government's attitude? When Colonel Nasser says that he wants agreement with us, I think that he himself has to fulfil certain conditions. In the first place, as my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East has said, there must be a cessation of deliberately-planned, murderous attacks on British troops in the Canal Zone. These must stop.
Secondly, where there is merely spontaneous banditry and robbery with violence there must be better co-operation between the Egyptian police and the British military authorities. It is a well-known fact, as anyone who has been to the Canal Zone will confirm, that Egyptian police co-operation with the British military authorities is turned on and off like a bath tap. It is good one week and non-existent the next. At any given moment, the Egyptian police, if they so wished, could arrest almost all the criminals known to be lurking in villages in the Canal Zone. Thirdly, the nauseating flow of anti-British propaganda which now emanates from the State-controlled radio station at Cairo must come to an end.
To sum up, I think that there are three courses open to us in our relations with Egypt. First, we can redeploy our force with an agreement, if we can get one; 531 secondly, we can redeploy our force without an agreement, though if we redeploy without an agreement, we have to face the fact that this will entail heavy commitments in terms of guard duties while we do so. In addition EX million would have to be spent on urgent maintenance work, on certain installations at the base until alternative plans for redeployment were completed.
The third alternative is to continue as we are at present, which means, in fact, asking 80,000 troops to carry out a police operation in an enormous area without giving them any of the powers which a police force would normally have. Of these three alternatives, I infinitely prefer the first, provided that we can get a good agreement.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East thinks there is a fourth alternative. He said that he would like to reduce the 80,000 troops to a brigade or two. I do not think that is a practical proposition. I will tell him why. We have to face the fact that there is not the slightest chance of any Egyptian Government agreeing to our keeping any fighting troops in the Canal Zone. That may be regrettable, unwise or short-sighted, but it is a fact, and one has to face up to it. Those who wish to keep a certain number of fighting troops in the Canal Zone have to face the issue that these troops will be there without agreement. They will, therefore, be living among a hostile civil population, and incidents will increase accordingly. There will be more hand-made bombs, more sniping, and more guard duties will be necessary. Nor do I know what these 10,000 troops would be doing. They would not be guarding the Canal and they would not be guarding the base. I do not think that the alternative of reducing the garrison to 10,000 is a practical proposition at all.
In conclusion, I ask my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee, whose attitude I fully understand but do not agree with—those of my hon. Friends who do not like the idea of negotiating with the Egyptians and who do not wish us to leave no fighting troops in the Canal Zone—not only to face the alternatives of not negotiating, but to face the full implications of those alternatives.
§ 6.40 p.m.
Mr. Percy Daises (East Ham, North)
I do not intend to take up much time on the question of Egypt, not because I think the problem unimportant, but because I think it would have been better and in the interests of the Committee if the problem of the Anglo-Egyptian negotiations had been separated from the general question of foreign affairs and we had had a separate debate upon it. What I propose to do is to get back to what I think are the essentials underlying the major question which we are discussing this afternoon, and if I can—and I say this, I hope, without any sense of presumption—to try to restore some sense of perspective in regard to the major problems with which we are faced.
I may say at the outset that there will be hon. Members of the Committee who will disagree violently with what I shall say, including some hon. Members on my own side of the Committee, but I want also to say this. There was a time, in the early and late '30s, when there was growing up in this country an atmosphere in which one could not say anything critical about Hitler in case we provoked him, and therefore I utter this warning before I commence what I want to say.
Listening to some of the speeches which have been made today, as well as noting some of those made in the country, the idea seems to be abroad that the major offender in the situation which we face in the world today is America. I do not accept that. Let me say at once where I stand. I believe that only with the closest understanding between ourselves and the United States and the joint deployment of our power are we likely to maintain the peace of the world. I hope we are not going to revert to the atmosphere of the '30s and those loose phrases and pious hopes of which even my own party was guilty in regard to the League of Nations. I respect the United Nations, and I work for it, as I hope every other hon. Member does, but we are really fooling ourselves if we do not recognise quite clearly that policy is determined by power or potential power, and to divorce ourselves from the United States would not only be major folly, but would ensure that a third world war would follow.
We have to take the world as it is, and it is a nasty, dangerous world. I say to my right hon. Friend the Member 533 for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) that, of course, we recognise that the hydrogen bomb is a menace and we recognise what it can do, but do not let us allow this menace so to cloud our political thinking that we cannot face the realities of other problems of which it is a part.
I am now about to indulge in some reiteration. I do not mind a little reiteration, and I think it is just as well that we should reiterate certain things. I remember that, on the only other occasion on which I made a speech on foreign policy, which was the occasion on which the Prime Minister made a speech to which I shall shortly refer, when I took a very definite line so far as America was concerned, I then said—and I now repeat—that if it had not been for the fact that President Roosevelt fell over backwards to appease the Russians, we would not have been in the position in which we are today in Europe.
Let us take another aspect of the matter. It is a fact that in this country we cut our armed forces from 5 million to short of 1 million between 1945 and 1948, while the United States of America cut their armed forces from 11½ million to just over 1¼ million. Russia retained forces of 4 million, and today has armed forces of 4¾ million, plus satellite troops of near enough another 2 million.
May I also say—and I do not say this in any desire to provoke hon. Members, but it is just as well that we should have plain speaking—that I do not accept what has happened in Russia as Socialism? I approach it from the basis of what has evolved out of the counter-revolution that started with the purges in Russia and is now State capitalism. I go further and say that what we are now seeing in the counter-revolutionary stage is a reversion to the old imperialist policies of Russia. We cannot run away from historical facts, and the fact that there has been a revolution, however far-reaching its effects, does not mean that the people have changed overnight, or that the policies which have dominated them for centuries have been changed.
I now wish to quote Lord Palmerston, who, speaking in the House of Commons in 1860, said this:It has always been the policy of the Russian Government to extend its frontiers as far as the apathy and the timidity of neighbouring States would permit, but usually to halt and frequently recoil when confronted by determined opposition.534 Hon. Members may say that, after all, that is arguable, but let us now go again into the field of quotation and bring out this one, so that it may be more widely read. This is Karl Marx himself, writing in 1867, and we must remember that he knew Russia well:The policy of Russia is changeless. Its methods, its tactics and its manoeuvres may change, but the polar star of its policy—world domination—is a fixed star.I make that as a present to those hon. Members who claim an association or even a nodding acquaintance with the philosophy of Marx. [Interruption.] May I take it a little further, in order that those hon. Gentlemen who smiled may also read and learn, and so understand the main factors behind Russian policy? There is basic strategy, and there are tactics. I do not believe for a moment that the fundamental and basic policy of Russia has changed one whit during the last 10 or 15 years. The basic policy is exactly the same. We may have a redeployment in tactics, but the object is still the same.
Let us look a little further at the prime factors in the shaping of Russian policy which Stalin carried out. There was the Cominform, then the rape of Czechoslovakia, the Berlin blockade and then—Korea. What was the result of that? The Marshall Plan, N.A.T.O., Western rearmament, the Yugoslav revolt, the Berlin airlift, and so on. The idea that there is something infallible and omniscient about Russian policy is a complete contravention of historical facts.
I repeat that I do not believe—and I say this emphatically and boldly—that the fundamental policy of Russia has shifted one inch. They believe, and it will be the determining factor in who eventually is to rule in Russia, that the Communist State is threatened by world capitalism, and that they must safeguard their frontiers wherever then can and try to stave off the inevitable war which they know will come.
That policy is still the same as far as Russia is concerned, and Lenin himself said:The existence of the Soviet Republic side by side with imperialist States for a long time is unthinkable. One or the other must triumph in the end, and, before that end comes, a series of frightful clashes between the Soviet Republic and the bourgeois States will be inevitable.535 The fundamental basis of Russian policy is the interpretation of that doctrine, which was promulgated by Lenin and carried through by Stalin.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
Let us get this right. Was not Lenin quite right when he said that revolutionary Russia would be attacked?
§ Mr. Daines
I do not want to indulge in any argument about history with my hon. Friend, and I intend to resume what I have to say.
Let us go back to the question I put a moment ago. I say these things with the deepest conviction, as the Committee know. Let us take another policy into which we seem to be slipping, that the fundamental change in Russian policy came with the death of Stalin. I do not accept that at all. The fact of the matter was that the policy of change tactics was adopted before Stalin died. If we go back to an article he wrote in "Pravda" in October, 1952, we will see that he said that war would not come to Russia but that the imperial Powers would fight it out. Why was that article written? It was an indication not only of a change of tactics but also an indication of the fear propaganda that was being put abroad among the Russian people. Therefore, some measure of security had to be given to the Russian people. I repeat that the basic dogma and the basic position remain the same.
Let us take a look at East-West trade while we are on this subject of tactics. What is the solid substance behind it? Is it another question of tactics or the matter of a few brides who ought to have been with their husbands years ago, or a few delegations of business men or a peace conference? If there is one thing that hon. Members ought to understand by now, it is the contortion of that "double-think." When the Russian says democracy, he means exactly the opposite of what we mean. If he talks about a peace conference, he means exactly the opposite of what we mean. In fact, the "double-think" policy is so much at work that we cannot see what is clearly before our eyes.
May I say how much I welcome in the Washington statement—which I thought was the chief subject of our debate today—the statement by the Prime Minister and the President of the United States about 536 the enslaved peoples of Europe? I believe there can be no peace in Europe until the Czechs, the Poles, the Hungarians and even the Roumanians regain their national freedom and the right to run their lives in their own way.
§ Mr. Daines
I think I have got enough on hand in putting my own point of view without engaging in Irish politics.
One of the most shameful things in the history of Europe was the way the Czechs were enslaved before the war by the Germans and then after the war how we allowed them to be enslaved by the Russians, through the stupidity of international politics or through the lack of assistance for them. I know that we cannot send armies to release that State, but I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) that because a murder has been committed that does not mean we should condone it and say it is right.
I say the Czechs have a right to their freedom, a right to a parliament if they want it, and the right to say their piece without fear of the slave camp and the whip of the party boss, as is operating in Czechoslovakia now. I believe it is realistic politics to say these things and to send a message of hope to the people of Central Europe, telling them that we are with them in spirit and that when the time comes, if it does come, we shall certainly try to help them.
I appreciate the logic of what has been said about the Baltic States, and I quite agree that as economic units and sovereign states it would be extremely difficult to resurrect them, but it was not so before the Russians took over. What has happened is the decimation of all their potential leaders. Their intellectuals have been murdered or spread across Siberia so that they cannot rise again. That is a policy or a philosophy which I do not condone. I accuse and I condemn. I admit it may be difficult to resurrect those States as we once knew them, but that does not mean we condone the crime that was done to them. We should certainly send a message to the small nucleus of Estonians, Lithuanians and Latvians that their murder was one of the most shameful crimes committed in Europe.
537 I believe that what is behind these tactics is a policy which I am afraid is succeeding only too well, a splitting up of the West. Look how it is succeeding. We are even spending all the time in this debate quarrelling with the Americans instead of trying to understand what is happening in Russia. Let us contrast even our enormous economic strength with the tight integration of the Russian system. I do not know whether hon. Members follow closely the vast amount of authoritative books and factual information that is coming out about Russia. It is authoritative stuff which shows how the integrated system works. It tells how a few men at the centre order—at least they are efficient in that—and it is carried out right the way down.
Until we can evolve not only understanding between ourselves and the free nations of the world but build up machinery of control that can give us equality with the Russians, there cannot really be an easing of the tension and we will not get anything like a peaceful world. I think it would be false and untrue to everything in which we believe if we dodged these fundamental questions.
I go further and say that I believe that in trying to understand the Russian system we have got to try to understand its internal workings as well. Their position is quite simple. They believe—and they state it quite openly in their materialist philosophy—that the end justifies the means. What does it mean in actual practice? I ask the House to consider that in the light of the recent purges. In Russia it is a ruthless struggle for power, and if one loses, then one's life is forfeited. We do not know yet who is going to come out as leader in the present struggle. My personal view is that it is extremely doubtful whether it will be Malenkov, but the point I am making is simple. That is the way they live. It is a ruthless struggle for power without any law and without any morality behind it, and where one's life is forfeited if the game is lost.
We should be warned by these facts and by what has happened in the past. We should appreciate that Russia's international policy is exactly the same as its internal policy. I do not believe in the great illusion that by three men gathering round a table we are going to solve problems like the H-bomb. Let me be quite frank about this. The H-bomb cannot 538 be treated in isolation, and the only way in which it can be considered is when one considers also the political conditions in the world today. I can speak more freely as a back bencher than can members of my own front bench. Let us look at this problem broadly.
Can any hon. Member say—and I hope that no one is going to say that I am anti-American—that President Eisenhower could sit at a table and be in a position to speak authoritatively for the American people when there is the unresolved struggle between himself and the American Senate as to who shall control foreign policy? He can go as far as the Senate will allow him in the lunatic emotional atmosphere that already exists in the States, and no further.
Consider the Russian situation. Could anybody argue with any sense of authority that Malenkov is in a position to sit at the table in the same way that Stalin was? To suggest that he is in that position is unrealistic. Stalin could have done it; Malenkov cannot. The struggle for power is still going on inside Russia and has not yet been resolved.
There is another factor which we must take into the closest consideration in trying to understand the situation. I am terribly afraid of this steady slip in our public attitude on these great questions. How easy it is to criticise the Americans—so easy because the question arouses all the resentments in the hearts of so many hon. Members on both sides of the House. None of us likes to know that we are No. 3 today and not No. 1. There is that form of inverted jingoism which is so often seen. Of course, I do not like to see American soldiers in uniform in the streets of this country. The suggestion is sometimes put to working-class audiences of a great big capitalist bogey on the one side and a great big brotherly type on the other side trying to help them. Men and women who do that are men and women devoid of responsibility. They are creating the same kind of feeling as that which dragged us into the last war.
I hope I do not see this out of proportion; perhaps it is not as bad as I see it, but we see the same sort of undertones in the Beaverbrook Press as we had in the '30s—the same decrying of the United Nations, the same sort of half-suggestions that the Russians are 539 really not as they are, the same foolish idea of playing up to Beaverbrook's idiosyncrasies about his out-of-date sense of empire. They have to play it up and to play down the Americans. I see all these things repeating themselves again. We are deliberately fooling ourselves and landing ourselves in a false position.
It is not easy to say these things and to say them with a deep sense of responsibility, even as a humble back bencher. I know the old adage says, "History does not repeat itself." Pray God that is true.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Ralph Assheton (Blackburn, West)
I am sure the whole Committee listened with the greatest interest to the robust and remarkable speech of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Dames). I expected to hear these views on Anglo-American unity which, of course, I entirely and wholeheartedly endorse. Without Anglo-American unity there is no hope for the future peace of the world.
I very seldom intervene in a debate on foreign affairs and I do so this evening only because I feel it my duty and because I have something to say. In managing the affairs of a great nation it is essential to look a long way ahead, and the inevitable tendency of all Governments is always to look at the immediate future, the dangers of which naturally loom like black clouds in front of us.
I have a feeling that the Government's present foreign and defence policy is based largely on the assumption of a probable atomic war with Communism in the not-too-far-distant future. We have heard, however, the Prime Minister tell us that he hopes for peaceful co-existence. Whatever the future may hold for us, I am pretty sure of this: that we shall have a considerable period ahead of cold war or, if you like, cold peace. I believe that the sort of war for which we are preparing may not be the sort of war which we may face.
I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that the world-wide fear of the consequences of the hydrogen bomb are likely to restrain war more than to cause it, and I suggest that the Communist plan in the near future will be one of constant pressure on the Western Powers, pushing first at one point and then another, in this 540 great struggle which, as the hon. Member for East Ham, North said, is partly ideological and partly imperial.
This conviction strengthens me in my opinion that what the Government are reported to be doing about Egypt is a mistake. I listened with the greatest possible interest to the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse), which I am sure impressed the Committee very much with its sincerity and strength of argument. My right hon. and gallant Friend set out the reasons why many hon. Members of both sides of the Committee cannot but view the prospect with very great anxiety. All are agreed that it is desirable to reduce the number of troops in the occupation of the Suez Canal Zone. My right hon. and gallant Friend takes the view, which I share, that it is feasible to have a smaller garrison in the Suez Canal area. He was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) what would be the object of having such a garrison. It would be twofold; for one reason, it would be a bridgehead, and for another reason, it would help to maintain our prestige in Africa and the Middle East.
I quite understand the military attractions of removing our forces from the Canal Zone. First of all, the conditions there are disagreeable. Moreover, the military authorities are most anxious to add to our military reserves, and they think that if the Suez Canal Zone were evacuated, an additional division or perhaps even more would be available as a reserve. It would be a very comfortable thing for us to have some additional reserves.
I cannot doubt—and here hon. Members opposite may not agree with me—that the total withdrawal of fighting troops from Egypt will be taken all over the world as a sign of weakness, with the inevitable result of further pressure at every point. When the West withdraws, a vacuum is created, and into that vacuum Communism goes and will go in the future. There is no doubt about that. The Communists have fairly substantial and organised influence in the Egyptian Army today, especially in the artillery and in the armoured units. I do not think that can be challenged. They expect that there will be a steady disintegration of the present regime in Egypt, which they 541 would do their best to encourage, as soon as Colonel Nasser's Government has succeeded in its desire to make us abandon our Treaty rights in the Canal Zone; as soon as he has done his work for them, they will do with him what they like. This Communist progress may be slow but I am convinced that it will be steady.
It is true that this withdrawal would bring some temporary gain to our military reserves at home, which may give some comfort to the War Office—a gain both from the evacuation and from some possible advantages of the redeployment, although the expense of that redeployment will be great. But the weakness shown and the concession to pressure by terrorists is bound to lead to more pressure in other places, and especially in those places where our redeployment takes place, for example, in Cyprus and Libya. That is where the heat will be turned on. I have no doubt that the reserves gained—this division or a little more—will be much more than absorbed by the additional demands which will be made upon our forces by the pressures exerted everywhere else. That is bound to happen.
What will be the effect on our prestige, for example, throughout Africa? What will the position be in the Sudan, in East Africa, in West Africa and our Far Eastern possessions? What will be the feelings in Cyprus, in Israel, in the Persian Gulf? What will be the effect on our ability to guard our overseas interests? I do not know what the French and the Belgians will think about it with their African interests. Above all, as my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East asked, what will be the feelings of our fellow citizens in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, the three British Commonwealth countries who are most interested in this problem and to whom Commonwealth communications are as vital as they are to us? I should very much like to know what their feelings will be.
The Communists have had a victory in Indo-China, and whatever settlement is made we must face the fact that many millions more human beings will now be ringed behind the Iron Curtain. In connection with that, I should like to ask the Government a question and I hope that whoever replies to this debate will be good enough to consider it. On Monday 542 the Prime Minister spoke of a guarantee of any settlement which might be arrived at in Geneva and he spoke of getting the countries which participated in Geneva and perhaps some Asian countries also to under-write that agreement. I ask the Government whether this proposed guarantee means, first, that we should be pledged to fight any advance by the Communists beyond that agreed line, and second, whether we should be pledged to guarantee the domination of many more million human beings by the Communist regime. If it means that, I would doubt whether that is likely to commend itself to the conscience of the world.
The people of this country have been much moved by the great and gallant efforts by the Prime Minister to secure peace, and opinion all over the world has been much moved by it and by his great efforts to save the world from the destruction by hydrogen bombing which seems to loom ahead. All of us on all sides of the Committee wish him well in that. I know that he will forgive those who feel, nevertheless, that it is our duty to express our sincere doubts and anxieties on matters which concern us all so deeply.
§ 7.13 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn, East)
One of the ironical consequences of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington is that he has been obviously told by the United States Government that he has to stop siding over Suez with his own band of diehard rebels, including the right hon. Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton), and help his own Foreign Secretary to conclude an agreement with Egypt which he could have obtained a long time ago.
That is one piece of American pressure to which I am glad the right hon. Gentleman has capitulated and in which he will have the support of this side of the Committee. If the Prime Minister had made it his only concession to United States pressure I might have been able to join with the right hon. Member for Blackburn, West in congratulating him on the results of the Washington talks, but, unfortunately, this was quite a minor capitulation compared with others that have been made.
In the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon we had a most unhappy retreat from the position which was taken by the Foreign Secretary in our last debate 543 on foreign affairs, and I am afraid that the post-Washington performance has been a sorry shadow of the pre-Washington promise. When the Foreign Secretary last addressed the House he had unanimous support for what he said. At least, I thought that it was unanimous until I heard the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) who now, apparently, has formed a little war party of his own.
The rest of us welcomed the wise words of the Foreign Secretary when he assured the House that in the view of Her Majesty's Government peaceful coexistence between Communist and non-Communist States was possible and that it had been his experience at Geneva that the Chinese had made…a real contribution to peaceful co- existence.I remember the great effect of his words when he said—and we hoped he was speaking to America, as well as to this House:…negotiation in itself does not weaken us,…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1954; c. 442–550.]Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman went to Washington with the unanimous blessing and encouragement of the House because we felt that there was urgent need for those words to be stated quite frankly to America by a friendly ally and that by stating them clearly he would help President Eisenhower to fight a battle against his own war party in his own Senate.
Now, in the Prime Minister's speech today and in the statement made on Monday, we have some idea of what has been achieved in Washington. We awaited the right hon. Gentleman's return with anxiety because we wanted to know whether "the lady of Riga" was still "sitting pretty" but unfortunately, as a result of what has happened since the Prime Minister left the United States and as a result of what he has said in the House of Commons, we are beginning to doubt that. The right hon. Gentleman had a great reception in the United States. We know that he has great personal charm. We can imagine how persuasive he would be and how effective in putting over his own personality.
That was all right while he was in America, but the moment he left howls broke out from the "ultimatum" school 544 in the United States and we began to get from President Eisenhower a series of qualifications and definitions of the words which we have been bandying about so happily, such as "peaceful co-existence." "The Times," paraphrasing President Eisenhower, reported him as saying thatHe hoped peaceful co-existence would be possible because our side did not expect to be eliminated and it would be silly to suggest that the other side could be eliminated immediately.Now we not only have that very strange definition of peaceful coexistence, not exactly an encouraging basis for negotiation between East and West, but we have also had President Eisenhower's statement on the question of the admission of China into the United Nations. I agree completely with everything that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said in his superb speech on how essential the admission of China is to the whole of the negotiations which are now going on for peace in the Far East. It is really alarming when President Eisenhower rules out all possibility of bringing the people of China into the United Nations, partly on the ground that China had "not shown a conciliatory attitude in Geneva." That is the direct opposite of what the Foreign Secretary told us in his last speech to the House, when he thanked the Chinese for the co-operation that he had had from them.
What have we had from the Washington talks? Who converted whom there? The "Manchester Guardian" said in a leading article yesterday thatSenator Knowland at present is setting the pace of American foreign policy.Far from the hands of President Eisenhower having been strengthened by this visit to resist a policy quite unacceptable to this country, a policy, as enunciated by Senator Knowland, of disintegrating Communist China and not coexisting with it, unfortunately we had the victory of Senator Knowland's attitude over our Government Front Bench. We sent the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister to America in an attempt to close this gap between the two points of view and this is the moment when the Prime Minister comes back and informs the House, in so many words, that he has completely capitulated on the basic issue of the entry of China to the United Nations.
§ Mr. Paget
Is that quite a fair representation of what has taken place? We have been told today that Bedell Smith is going back to Geneva. That means that the Americans are to be committed to the Geneva settlement. That is something real and concrete. Is not that worth a certain amount of verbal fodder for the dinosaurs?
§ Mrs. Castle
I understand that my hon. and learned Friend is challenging my interpretation of what the Prime Minister told us on China today. I very much hope that I have misinterpreted what the Prime Minister said. I believe, with the Leader of the Opposition, that this issue is part of our whole machinery of negotiation and the basis of negotiation. As I understood the Prime Minister—I shall be delighted to be corrected if I am wrong—he has retreated from previous British policy on this matter by saying that whatever China does at Geneva, whatever good will is shown in the negotiations over Indo-China, the British representative at the United Nations General Assembly this September will not support the admission of Communist China to the United Nations.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker)
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Lady too much, but if she looks at what my right hon. Friend said earlier she will find that that is a complete misrepresentation.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am delighted to have that assurance. I hope it means that if we get a settlement in Indo-China the British representative in the General Assembly will support the admission of China to the United Nations.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I suggest that the hon. Lady reads what my right hon. Friend said, so that there may be no misunderstanding.
§ Mrs. Castle
I remember what the Prime Minister said. He accused the Leader of the Opposition of "whining" because he pressed for the admission of China and the Prime Minister said that this was not the time, if I remember his words. As the "Manchester Guardian" pointed out yesterday, we have had an armistice in Korea for a year and, as the right hon. Gentleman said, we look like getting a settlement in Indo-China but none the less he said that this was not 546 the time to press for China's admission to the United Nations.
That is a most serious retreat from the policy we were conducting before the Washington talks. As the "Manchester Guardian" pointed out yesterday, the Americans too are retreating from the more moderate line they were taking a few months' ago, when Mr. Dulles was ready to consider taking a neutral attitude on this question and not forcing the position by using the veto. Now he has become more intransigent and what the Prime Minister tells us today is that Britain too has a new policy on China.
We on this side of the Committee believed that when open warfare stopped and when there was no fighting between China and the United Nations the case for her admission became absolutely overwhelming as part of the political settlement following an armistice. We have the armistice in Korea and if we get an agreed settlement in Indo-China, as we hope we shall, and then the British representative at the United Nations Assembly this September uses all his influence to stop the admission of China to the United Nations, I say that he will, in fact, be subscribing to the sort of attitude taken by Senator Knowland. If the conditions for China's admission are not fulfilled in those circumstances, when would they be fulfilled?
What are the other testimonies of good faith for which we ask? I warn the Government that the uncommitted nations of Asia, in those circumstances, will believe that Britain is subscribing to the attitude of America which was attacked by my right hon. Friend this afternoon—namely, the objection to China is not that she is an aggressor, but merely that she is a Communist nation. It is, therefore, a matter which we on this side of the Committee will watch very closely.
This House will not be in session when the United Nations meets. We shall not have any chance of checking up on the actions of our representatives. I hope that in this Committee this evening we shall have an assurance from the Government that if a peace is achieved in Indo-China which we consider reasonable and which we are prepared to guarantee, perhaps in company with China herself, Britain will take the line in the United Nations we have always accepted in this House.
547 It was a rather interesting comment on the Prime Minister's whole idea of leadership for peace that in the Washington talks the important question of China was, on his own admission, pushed in the background but the rearmament of Germany was in the foreground. I must say I have been very surprised at the behaviour of the Prime Minister towards France over this issue. It really is intolerable that the right hon. Gentleman, whom we all remember offering the French people joint citizenship with us in this country at the time when we were united in the fight against Hitler, should have lent himself to the bullying and blackmailing of France which has been going on in the last few months.
Pressures have been brought to bear on France which are quite intolerable as treatment of an ally of such long standing and with such great ties as she has with us. She has been threatened with unilateral action to rearm Germany without her approval; she has been threatened with the cutting off of aid; she has been lectured; she has been told she is really not a fit member of the Atlantic Community. I am delighted to see that France is now reasserting her leadership in world affairs, and I think that she deserves the full support of this House in doing so. She is giving a lead for peace in Indo-China which looks like being successful and in Europe France has for a long time given leadership in calling for the reconsideration of the European Defence Community.
This afternoon, we had rather thrown at us in a way in which it was difficult for us to digest, a most important statement by the Prime Minister on Germany. I listened to it very attentively and tried to understand what it meant. I have discussed it with hon. Friends, but no one understands quite what it means. I think it a pity that we had a three-quarters of an hour statement of platitudes on Monday to prepare us for this debate but the really concrete, new, fact which has revolutionised the situation was thrown into the speech of the Prime Minister today.
Here we have an entirely new situation on the question of German rearmament and we are all arguing as to exactly what the situation is. One fact emerged clearly from what the right hon. Gentleman said. That is that German rearmament has to 548 be postponed. I think that what the statement implied was that the United States Government and the British Government have at last awakened to the fact that all the bullying and blackmailing will not dragoon the French Assembly into ratifying E.D.C. this session.
The more we have bullied France, the more the Prime Minister has sent sycophantic telegrams to Dr. Adenauer, the more alarmed France has become. Over the months, as the argument has gone on, it has become clear—as some of us on this side of the Committee have been saying for a long time—that all attempts to impose E.D.C. on France have not brought France and Germany closer together, but have exacerbated their relationship, and, in fact, divided them. It is obvious that the Prime Minister would not have put to us this afternoon the alternatives to E.D.C. which are having to be considered were he not convinced that E.D.C. will not be ratified in the present Session of the French Assembly.
What does that mean? It is an extremely important statement, and one which merits a full-scale debate on its own, not mixed up with Suez, and the hydrogen bomb, and everything else. It means that in Europe we have a breathing space in which we can, and must, think out again our whole policy in relation to Germany. As I have said, the relationship between Germany and France has become more bitter with each week that has gone by, and the increasing intransigence of Dr. Adenauer has widened the breach. E.D.C. without Franco-German friendship is an empty shell, and many independent newspapers in Germany have recognised it more fully than have some hon. Members of this House. They were the ones who rebuked Dr. Adenauer for that last broadcast of his which had such an ominous ring about it, when he said that Germany's patience was beginning to run out.
If we have this stalemate over E.D.C., if the proposal now is that German sovereignty shall be restored as a separate concession—no longer linked with E.D.C. of which it was originally an integral part—then a new situation is created in which the policy of hon. Members on both sides of the Committee has to be reconsidered. My hon. Friends who have supported E.D.C. all this time, and who supported a German contribution to 549 Western defence—in the belief that E.D.C. would give them the safeguards they wanted—have a duty to think this out again. So has the National Executive of the Labour Party, because all our thinking is now based on false premises. The situation has changed, and it is intolerable that the House of Commons should rise for the Summer Recess with this new situation, pregnant with new developments which have never been accepted by this House, growing more and more prominent during the months of our absence.
I agreed with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he put his question to the Prime Minister, "Do you really propose, therefore, to restore sovereignty to the West German Government, with all the rights implicit in that—that she can have the power to rearm when she thinks fit?" Cannot we in this country decide to use this breathing space—given to us by the decision to postpone German rearmament while this new problem is thought over—to try to get a constructive alternative to German rearmament? Surely we all realise now, as I think that the French have always realised, that we cannot settle the German problem peacefully in Europe without agreement with Russia. Thanks to France, we have been jerked back from the precipice: from a situation which would divide Europe in such a dangerous way as to make a third world war almost inevitable.
From the Foreign Secretary we have had very fine words about the policy of peaceful co-existence with Communist States. He has been working for that policy in the Far East. When he went to Geneva he said that he was ready and determined to negotiate, and he secured a response from Molotov and from the Chinese. But the trouble is that we have never negotiated with the Russians about the German question. We have only to compare the Berlin Conference and the Geneva Conference to realise the truth of what I am saying; because neither the British nor the Americans went to the Berlin Conference with the intention of negotiating. We went to Berlin to prove that a settlement of the German question by agreement with the Russians was impossible. The Berlin Conference was a silencer for people like myself and some of my hon. Friends, who had always 550 pressed for a postponement of German rearmament until further talks had been held with Russia. So we were given talks, but talks on such a basis that they were bound to fail.
Naturally, they failed. In the same way, the Americans went to Geneva determined not to negotiate. The Americans went to Geneva with one purpose only, to save the face of a Government in France that was pro-E.D.C. As Nora Beloff said in the "Observer" the other day, the policy bore the results that were bound to happen. During the first weeks of the Conference, she pointed out, M. Bidault, the intransigent spokesman at that moment, never began to discuss the sort of terms on which peace was possible.
The Geneva Conference was saved by two things. One was the fall of the Laniel Government and the changed attitude of the Government of France towards a negotiated settlement. The second thing was the fact that the Foreign Secretary, to his eternal credit, worked like a beaver to keep open the door for negotiation. I pay that tribute to him. I believe that he wanted agreement; that he went there determined to get agreement and to prove that it was possible.
§ Mrs. Castle
Why, in heaven's name, do not we try for the same thing in Europe? Why do not we bring to the settlement of the German problem the same passionate desire to achieve results that we exhibited at Geneva over the settlement of the Indio-China question? Everyone knows that the demand for a West German contribution to European defence was raised by the Americans in a moment of panic in Europe, when the Americans believed that, following the Korean war, the Russians would march into Europe, and that we had to have 12 divisions to "close the gap in the line. "No one believes that today. No one believes that even if there were the danger of Russia marching, 12 divisions would make a great difference, in the face of the hydrogen bomb.
This is no longer a policy of military realism. The Prime Minister has said in the House more than once in recent months that the international tension in Europe has lessened. He has himself suggested that there is now a breathing 551 space in which we might reconsider the whole possibility of a four-Power settlement. But surely, if we look at the political realities of Europe, and not merely at military expediency, one thing stands out clearly, that the most urgent need in Europe is not for 12 divisions to close the gap, but for a settlement of the problem of a divided Germany. Anyone who is working for peace in Europe must work for one thing first and foremost—the peaceful reunification of Germany.
§ Mrs. Castle
It is a little unfair to me that, in the middle of developing a policy, I should be interrupted just as I am coming to a point at which I could answer that clearly. I repeat the remark I have heard made in the House many times, "Perhaps I may be allowed to make my own speech in my own way."
§ Mrs. Castle
I shall make my own speech in my own way, whether hon. Gentlemen like it or not.
Everybody knows that at Berlin no serious attempt was made to get agreement with the Soviet Union over the reunification of Germany. The offer made to the Soviet Union was derisory. It is not only some of us on this side who think that and not only the German Social Democrats. So does Dr. Bruning, who spoke at Dusseldorf the other day. I advise hon. Members who think that this is a wild idea of mine to turn up the report in the "Manchester Guardian" of his speech last month. Dr. Bruning said that it was ludicrous for us to imagine that we could have Germany reunited by agreement with Russia if the reunited Germany was then to be incorporated in Western defence. Dr. Bruning, said:No treaty partner can be expected to commit political suicide.It is not only politicians who say that, either. I wonder how many hon. Members have read the book "Strategy in the West," by Air Marshal Sir John Slessor. The last chapter, which deals with air power and the problem of Europe, is 552 interesting. There a shrewd military mind is applied to the question and we are asked whether we really imagine that we can expect the Russians to accept the offer made at Berlin.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
Perhaps I might help the hon. Lady with her facts. The offer which was made to the Russians at Berlin by the three allied Powers was that the all-German Government and Parliament, when set up by free elections, should be free to accept or reject E.D.C.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman is not really as innocent as he pretends. He knows perfectly well that before the Berlin Conference Dr. Adenauer had already made it clear that West Germany would use that freedom to join the West. That was the political reality of the situation, which the Russians knew. Sir John Slessor said in his book that he found it hard to visualise the Russians accepting a situation of that kind, giving up one of their satellites with its national resources and seeing the N.A.T.O. forward line, reinforced by German units, move forward at one bound to the Oder-Neisse line.
Everybody knew that what we were really saying to the Russians at Berlin was, "Let us have free elections in Germany. Those elections will go our way. Then there will be an Adenauer Germany which will be free to come over to our side." Does anybody in the House really believe that the Russians could accept that? Any Russion negotiator who accepted terms like that ought to be liquidated.
We know that the alternative policy to agreement with the Russians, one which has always been at the back of Dr. Adenauer's mind—it may not be explicit and it may not be very clearly thought out, but it really is the alternative policy—is to frighten the Russians by a show of strength into evacuating Eastern Germany. Dr. Adenauer made that clear only the other day in an interview which he gave to one of his own supporting newspapers. It was fully reported in the "Manchester Guardian," in 11th July. Dr. Adenauer said that concessions and weaknesses were no use in dealing with the Soviet Union and that the West Germans should go ahead with their policy, put armed strength behind it and 553 frighten the Russians out of Eastern Europe. As Sir John Slessor pointed out, that is a very dangerous attitude to adopt. If anybody imagines that the Russians will scuttle out of Europe, he is being completely unrealistic. The more they are afraid, the more likely are the Russians to dig in their heels and stay.
The Geneva Conference has shown us one thing, that if we want peace in the world we should not aim at objectives which can be obtained only by war. We have recognised that in the Far East, but we refuse to recognise it in Europe. Surely the new situation with which we are now faced in Germany makes imperative the calling of another four-Power Conference on Germany to try to achieve the union of Germany without a threat to the military security of either side.
I have been asked whether the unified Germany should have the power to arm. No, certainly not.
§ Mrs. Castle
There are various ways. We find no difficulty when it comes to guaranteeing the status quo or guaranteeing frontiers in the Far East. Plenty of proposals are made in this House as to how both sides could agree on guarantees there. But the moment we seek to do the same thing in Europe we are told that it is impossible. I suggest that this is the only feasible policy left to this country to press. The alternative of restoring sovereignty to Germany without any safeguards and without the reassurances that we have been promised is completely unacceptable to our people.
§ Mr. Peter Roberts (Sheffield, Heeley)
Is the hon. Lady really suggesting that my constituents and her constituents should remain in Germany indefinitely in order to keep the Germans unarmed?
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman's constituents and my constituents are not likely to be pleased when told that Germany is to be given back her national sovereignty without safeguards of any kind.
We were told that the only reason why E.D.C. must be accepted was that it gave safeguards against German militarism which we should not otherwise get, but those safeguards have gone. If we get a divided Germany rearmed on both sides, with the nationalist spirit of Germany 554 pressing for reunion, the people of this country will feel very much less safe than they do now. If we have such a situation, we shall want more arms and not fewer in this country.
Every student of Germany knows that the unity of Germany is the key political issue in their country. No politician can survive there if he does not constantly give voice to the great national desire to reunite. The question that we have to face is on what basis and how Germany is to be reunited. We have been given no answer except one of force.
§ Mrs. Castle
We now have a second chance of avoiding that catastrophe. I am very glad that we again have a breathing space. I ask the Government to be consistent in the principles which they claim to be applying in foreign policy. Let us try some negotiation in Europe, let us try peaceful coexistence, and let us remove this potent danger of war.
§ 7.49 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
At the end of her speech the hon. Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle) asked whether we could not try a little peaceful co-existence. All of us here would be delighted at the thought of peacefully co-existing with everybody else in the world if we could be quite sure that certain Powers would not exercise peaceful co-destruction instead of peaceful co-existence. The terrifying problem that we have to face today is to decide whether to trust and peacefully co-exist with those whom we consider to be our most dangerous potential enemies or whether permanently to live on the assumption that they would gnaw our vitals away quite gladly whatever they might be superficially pretending to the world at large.
When the hon. Lady seemed to deride Dr. Adenauer's choice—that if he was given a reunited Germany, free to do what it liked—he would go to the West—I say to her that during her speech this evening, at any rate, there were moments when I began to wonder whether she herself would join the West sooner or later or was permanently fixed in the East. I can think of no arguments adduced in this debate, which has ranged widely enough, which could have been more satisfactory to the Soviet Union than the arguments which the hon. Lady has been using.
555 I only hope that one day she realises that simply because some of us are not always able to believe everything that the Soviet Union says does not mean that we all want to go out and fight the Soviet Union. The last thing that anyone in the Committee wants to do is to engage in war, and every speech which has been made in this debate since the very restrained and well-balanced speech by the Leader of the Opposition has emphasised how appalling are the prospects of a world war.
I am not afraid, but am rather glad that I am one of those people who takes the view that the advent of the hydrogen bomb is perhaps the best deterrent of war that has yet existed in the history of mankind. It may well be that now no one will ever dare to launch war again, although I believe that not so many weeks ago we were terribly near it, for the very simple reason that not enough people today realise the consequences of unleashing hydrogen warfare.
The duty of all Governments throughout the world today is to make all their people better informed as to what the prospects of warfare on that scale would be. If any Government thereafter deliberately ran the risk of engaging its country in war, its life in office would be very short-lived. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Loughborough (Mr. Follick) wants to say something, I will give way.
§ Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)
I was agreeing with what the hon. and gallant Member was saying, because I am of the opinion that the hydrogen bomb today is a mere toy compared with what we are likely to have in 25 years' time.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I do not suppose anybody would dispute that. At least, we can be agreed on something this evening.
However atrocious future wars may be, and however realistically we must face up to the possible consequences of precipitate action leading to world war, all of us must, at the same time, remember that the world has to carry on in the meantime; and it would be quite wrong for us to assume automatically that everything that the world does from now on must presuppose that hydrogen warfare is likely at any time. If that were so, the great house-building programme 556 which is going on today ought to be stopped at once and we ought to start burrowing underground. If we were to assume that hydrogen warfare was inevitable, a great many of the things that we are doing today would be completely nonsensical, and, furthermore, extremely dangerous, too. Therefore, we must have a balanced sense of proportion about the hydrogen bomb.
We have to realise that there will probably be bigger bombs as the years go by, but let us, in honest faith, behave as though there was not going to be a hydrogen war. Let us go on in the assumption that the majority of human beings in the world want to live peacefully with each other, and at the same time take what measures lie within our power to safeguard our people against all the eventualities that we can envisage. That seems to me to be the only way to approach these problems, and it is in that context that I wish particularly to address the Committee tonight, if only to explain to those who have not already quite comprehended it why I felt obliged to take the step that I took this morning.
It is never very easy for anybody to decide to dissociate himself in any way from those for whom he has had a great respect and affection. But when that sort of moment arrives, one has to be very clear in mind as to why one feels obliged to do it and as to the consequences that one would wish to flow from his action. So far as Her Majesty's Government today are concerned, I have no quarrel with them so far as domestic politics are concerned—I regard the achievements of this Government since they have been in power as truly magnificent; but where I am in considerable disagreement, not only with the Government but with many hon. Members who sit on this side, is in their approach to the foreign policy of this country, with particular emphasis upon where they stand in relation to the need for, or the abrogation of, national sovereignty.
In the first foreign affairs debate in this Parliament, I was so bold as to say to the Foreign Secretary that any Foreign Secretary of this country had one object above all others which he should keep paramount in mind; that was, to achieve for his country during his tenure of office the greatest possible measure of national sovereignty.
557 So far as hon. Members opposite are concerned, I well understand the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn, East and her hon. Friends being extremely concerned at the thought of any country, and particularly Germany, having national sovereignty. But so far as I am concerned and so far as, I believe, the Conservative Party historically is concerned, we believe that there is nothing to be ashamed of in this country having the greatest possible measure of national sovereignty, because we regard ourselves as a country which will not abuse that sovereignty and which will try to do its best by its own people and by the world.
We cannot at one and the same moment say that we believe in the increase or the maintenance of national sovereignty and at the same time say that we believe in pooling our national sovereignty in some such organisation as the United Nations. It is here that the Conservative Party in particular, and, I believe, the country at large, must do a great deal of thinking if it is to steer this country through in the future. [Interruption.] Hon. Members may very well disagree with me; I do not mind that at all. All that I beg the country as a whole to wake up to is that it cannot go on pursuing as its foreign policy a contradiction in terms. National sovereignty and the pooling of national sovereignty are a contradiction in terms.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
The hon. Member cannot remain standing unless the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) gives way.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
How is it that, on the subject of Egypt, I should feel obliged to take the action I have? It is very simply that I believe that ever since the United Nations was formed this country in particular has been under immense pressure, particularly from the United States of America, to surrender more and more its national sovereignty. Let it be quite clearly understood that I have quite a number of friends among the Americans and that I regard America as one of the most remarkable countries that the world has ever known. It is of absolute and paramount importance that we in this country and the people of the 558 United States should remain in as close a liaison as possible. I will not dispute that for a moment.
Nevertheless, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The Americans have as great a national sovereignty at present as any country. I would only ask them not to make us surrender what is left to us at the end of the Second World War.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I shall come to that in a moment. On this Egyptian issue it is very stupid of all of us and very stupid of the Americans to disguise the fact that Mr. Caffery in Cairo has not been at all helpful to British interests. We are merely putting our heads in the sand if we pretend that he has, or if we do not tell the Americans what we think. In fact, he has continually undermined our case for remaining in Egypt at all.
So far as the detailed proposals are concerned, I assure the Committee that I have no more information than other hon. Members have, or any more knowledge of the terms offered. Some of the Questions asked of the Prime Minister today may have been caused by the statement which I handed out to the Press, and particularly the passage which said:Though my resignation has been precipitated by the Government decision to reopen negotiations with Egypt on terms which include the total evacuation of British troops from Egyptian territory, my disagreement with the present Conservative Party lies deeper than this.That passage may have caused hon. Members, particularly those on the Opposition side of the Committee, to think I possess information which they have not got. I said "terms which include the total evacuation of British troops from Egyptian territory." When I wrote that passage last night, I put "apparently include." It was only upon reading the report this morning in "The Times" that I left the word "apparently" out. Hon. Members who have been working with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) will agree with me that when I read out this statement last night I had in it the word "apparently."
I may inadvertently have caused embarrassment to the Government on this 559 matter, in giving rise to the impression that they had disclosed the terms of the agreement, which they should not have done before they were known to Members of the House of Commons. I assure hon. Members that that has not happened. I take full responsibility for what I said in my statement issued to the Press.
I agree absolutely with the views of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East and my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, West (Mr. Assheton) in regard to what we can learn of the proposals. The need for our leaving something in Egypt has been so well put by them that I do not propose to repeat it, but I should like to make observations about military opinion in matters of this kind.
One of the advantages—some hon. Members may think that it is one of the disadvantages—of having been a soldier before coming into this Chamber is that one realises only too well in this place that military considerations are not always the only ones to be taken into account. Hon. Members who were in the Regular Army just before the last war will remember all too well that whilst military opinion was quite firm on this, that or the other having to be done, the politicians did not seem to see matters quite that way. On the Egyptian issue it appears to me from every piece of information I have that the soldiers have carte blanche and that the politicians have not had a look in at all. The political consequences of the course proposed appear to have been completely overlooked. How has that come about, if that be so?
Probably it is very largely due to what usually happens. When a Government require to take a decision they call for the most expert opinion they can get. I suspect that the opinion which was given by the soldiers was as good as the soldiers could possibly make it. When soldiers give a good opinion they do so extremely well. I expect for that the opinion which the Government got of the political consequences they relied on the Middle East section of the Foreign Office. If my guess is anywhere right, that opinion was defeatist from beginning to end. Everything that has happened in the Middle East recently indicates that the Foreign Office, and especially its Middle East section, has been utterly defeatist about our retaining our position in the Arab world 560 and in Africa. I know that Ministers have to take responsibility for what their Departments do, and I have no doubt that the Government will rush to the defence of the Middle East section of the Foreign Office. I assure hon. Members that I shall not believe a word they say.
I have come to the conclusion that there are certain elements in the Foreign Office that honestly believe we have to abandon the whole of our interests in Africa. I respect their honest opinion but I cannot say that I share it. Whether there has been an arbiter, and whether it has been the Foreign Secretary himself, or the Prime Minister or the Cabinet as a whole I do not know—I think what has happened is that the military case has been allowed to predominate too much and that the political consequences of the proposed action have not been given nearly enough weight.
I shall detain the Committee but a very little longer. Before I sit down, I must say that every argument against our retaining any troops in Egypt could have been used just as forcefully before sending the B.E.F. to Europe in the Second World War. All the dangers of keeping troops in Egypt exist quite as much in Cyprus, and Libya, and in any other country in the Middle East. I have seen some of these countries and I have lived in some of them. One of the lessons taught me by actually living in Cyprus was that islands are no longer good places for things of vital importance. We are living in one here, and we have to face that fact, which it is very difficult to do. Why we have to go and build up a G.H.Q. in another island in the Middle East is quite beyond me.
Let no one forget the probable political consequences in Libya and in any of the Arab countries, and upon the Arab League. Let us and the country face the issue that if we go from Egypt our departure will be interpreted throughout the Arab world—whatever the Arabs may be saying to the Foreign Office—as a sign of weakness, as the result of Egyptian pressure and a result of terrorism. They will say, "You have only to frighten the British enough, and they will go." Right throughout the Middle East and the Levant that cry will gain weight.
We want to get our forces home. Some of my relations are serving there 561 now, and I know the conditions in which they are living. I also know how much we need a strategic reserve. That case is proved. The case which is not proved, is the case for our withdrawing completely from a place where we have treaty obligations to fulfil. That is the answer to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas), who interrupted me just now. As I say, we have treaty obligations to fulfil in Egypt, and if we go from Egypt there is no assurance that we shall be able to fulfil them any more. We have not been absolved from doing so.
Therefore, I say with the greatest regret that, much as I respect everything which the Government have done in their domestic policy, much as I respect the sincerity and experience of the Foreign Secretary, and much as I respect the Government as a whole for the assiduity with which they have applied themselves to the problems which faced them when they came to power, I do not think it would be honest for me to continue to support them when I disagree so fundamentally with them on this matter.
We have gone from Palestine—when in opposition I disagreed with the Front Bench on this—from Burma, from India, from the Sudan and now from Egypt. Where next are we going to be pushed out? Are we going to be pushed from Iraq and Cyprus? I think that far too much emphasis has been placed on Enosis. I believe that Communism is by far the greater danger. Are we going to be pushed from Libya? We have no more right to be in Libya than we have to be in Egypt. We are there by the Egyptian Government's agreement which they have torn up without having any right to do so. Any Government which, in the face of all that, is prepared to walk out of Egypt completely seems to me to be a Government which has no right whatever to call itself Conservative.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)
I do not propose to get myself caught up between the hammer and anvil of Tory Bevanism and the Administration, though I am sorry that the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) has taken the course he has. It seems to me that if one wants to play a part in British politics, one must belong to either of the two parties. Therefore, 562 I hope that the hon. and gallant Gentleman will quickly rejoin his party in which he can play an effective part, because he will not be able to play much of a part outside the two political parties.
Despite what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle)—who, I see, has gone out for understandable reasons—I hope that the Government will continue to try to persuade the French to ratify the E.D.C. Agreement, because I see E.D.C. as only one facet of a many-sided diamond. I very much doubt whether Europe was ever more prosperous or united than in the days of the Roman Empire. I believe that today, not by force, as in the days of Caesar, but by the consent and willingness of all the contracting parties, we shall see a getting together once again into some sort of an economic and political unit such as existed in those days. I think that is a good thing, because, unless it happens, I do not believe that Europe will be able to exercise on world affairs that influence which is so desirable.
We see all around us—in the European Payments Union, in the European Committee for Economic Co-operation, in the Schuman Plan and in the Council of Europe—evidence of all these tentative steps towards a restoration of that political and economic unit which did so much for Europe in days gone by. As I say, I see E.D.C. as only one facet of a many-sided diamond, and as something that should be encouraged, and to which this Government should give every possible assistance.
It would be tragic if we again made the mistakes that led to the destruction of the Weimar Republic, of social democracy in Germany between the wars, and to the advent of Hitler. It would be tragic if we did not benefit from the lessons of that period, but that, I fear, is what will happen if we insist on treating the Germans as a nation of untouchables, if we fail to welcome them into the Western family of nations on terms of full, free and equal partnership. In that event, we shall get another Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Germany, driven to despair by such treatment, will turn East, and then the greatest of all problems will face this nation and all the other free peoples of the world.
This is an extremely important subject, and one which really should not be the 563 football of party political warfare. I know that the ecstasy of irresponsibility is one of the cherished consolations of a British Opposition, and I think that it is especially dear to an Opposition within an Opposition, but this, I repeat, is a very important subject and one which we must all view with great concern.
I wish to talk about the question of Anglo-American relations, and I start off in the belief and with the profound conviction that the Anglo-American partnership must remain the bedrock of British foreign policy for as far ahead as one can see. I believe that the Anglo-American partnership is the one rock against which the tides of totalitarian tyranny beat in vain. If that partnership were ever sundered, I believe that Europe would become the graveyard of ethical values and an intellectual dust bowl.
None of the great issues of international relationships which are causing tension today can be looked at in isolation, because Western defence, Korea, Indo-China, Trieste and German unification are all cards out of the same pack, and whichever one of these problems is settled will have its effect on the remaining problems. Once or twice this afternoon, I thought that I detected the lyrics and music of Munich once more, and that caused me some alarm and despondency. I believe that the free world must be prepared to defend its boundaries, and that Britain no longer has the power decisively to influence the course of events except in association with others. But which others? The United Nations perhaps. But, within that organisation, the Anglo-American partnership.
Much has been said today about the desirability of admitting China to the United Nations. On that I do not differ, but, clearly, it is largely a question of timing and this is a matter of some delicacy. Britain has a very delicate rôle to fulfil. We have to maintain the Anglo-American partnership in all its frank and full understanding and harmony, and we have also to play a part in bringing China into U.N.O. That is an operation of very great delicacy indeed.
I would ask for patience in this matter. The real cause of the high emotional content that this issue carries in the 564 United States is the 140,000 casualties sustained by the Americans in Korea, including 30,000 dead. This is a fact. In America, 140,000 families have been struck with grief, and, in some cases, bereaved, for the part played by their sons, husbands and fathers not in protecting American interests but in a common enterprise designed to uphold the principle of collective security and the sanctity of international agreement.
The Americans cannot understand why they are being subjected to so much criticism just now when they say that the moment is not timely for the admission of China into the United Nations organisation. I wonder what our attitude would have been had we lost 140,000 men, had they lost a comparative handful, and had they been dictating to us the date at which those who were responsible for those casualties should be admitted to this international organisation? I wonder what the attitude of Britain would have been had the situation been reversed?
§ Mr. George Wigg (Dudley)
I have the deepest sympathy with the argument of my hon. Friend, but would he pause to think of the effect on France, who, in the First World War, time and time again lost 140,000 casualties in one day? Would he stop to think of what French opinion must be when the Americans who, thank goodness, had only 140,000 casualties altogether, are pressing them to rearm Germany?
§ Mr. Evans
I cannot travel all over the world, or I shall get into trouble with the Chair. I have little left to learn about the First World War, and the sacrifices France then made. I do not think that I should be sidetracked but, in all friendliness to my hon. Friend, I think I had better stick to my argument because this is perhaps the most important aspect of the debate.
I know that Mao Tse-tung is to the Americans what Franco is to Britain. I know that the very mention of the name Mao Tse-tung excites wrath and emotion amounting almost to hysteria—but does not the name of Franco do that in this country, and have not they much more reason to be hostile to Mao Tse-tung than we have to be hostile to Franco? When emotion flies in at the window logic bangs the front door. I 565 would, therefore, plead for patience with our American friends, because time and the whirligig of politics brings many strange and rapid changes.
Who would have thought that the great warmonger of 1951 would be today's great white hope of peace? Who would have thought that Chiang Kaishek—not so many years ago applauded for his resistance to Fascist aggression—would so soon be anathema to all? And who would have thought that those—some on these benches—who were the first to urge the carve-up of Czechoslovakia to placate Hitler would be today the most insistent on a democratic Germany being denied her full rights?
But all these things came to pass. Sophisticated Left-wing politicians and journalists in this country take these things in their stride—these somersaults of history present no problem at all. No surprise should be felt, however, if 160 million Americans, new to the game, need just a little more time. I would plead for a little patience with our friends, and for heaven's sake—and despite what the British "Mrs. TimeLife-Fortune-Luce," my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, East, said—I hope that we shall not bring up in September the question of China's entering into U.N.O. It will not do. After all, we are politicians. We are "hard-boiled," we know the strength, we know the game—the ducking and diving just before an election.
In November, there is an American election of immense importance. Let nobody think that any American politician would have any chance of election if he said that he stood for China's admission to U.N.O. at this time. Good gracious me, he would not stand a dog's chance. The United States Senate and Congress is said to be reactionary. It is not for me to express an opinion, but if that is said—as it is—surely we should not do anything or say anything which reduces the chances of getting a more intelligent and less reactionary and more libertarian Senate and Congress. That seems to me to be good sense.
I know that Chiang Kai-shek is the "Bonny Prince Charlie" of American diplomacy—the king over the water—but Chiang Kai-shek is as dead as a doornail. There is nothing that President Eisenhower or Senator Knowland can do 566 —and, incidentally, Senator Knowland is a very honest man—and nothing that anybody else can do on the American Continent, here or anywhere else, to put Chiang Kai-shek back on his throne, but for the moment, as I have said, he is the Bonnie Prince Charlie of American diplomacy.
But the Americans are learning all the time, and, in the last resort, they are the best friends we have. Do not let us forget that since the war they have given away £16,000 million in aid of one kind or another to help to get this war-stricken world back on its feet. They are the most generous people in the world. There has never been anything of this kind before in history, so let us, therefore, be generous to them.
I know that at times they confuse me and make me a little angry; but do not let us be misled by the bellicose and sometimes conflicting statements of American Senators and Congressmen. It is true that diplomacy is a game for chess players—and professional chess players at that—rather than amateur blacksmiths; but in a democracy all kinds of people speak up. That is one of the features of democracy, and we must not be surprised by it because the same sort of thing happens here.
Let us not forget the ideological aspect of the struggle in which we are engaged. I am all for co-existence, but it remains to be seen how co-existence is interpreted on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Do not let us forget that E.D.C. and the American bases and N.A.T.O. and the hydrogen bomb are not the causes of international tension; they are the end product, the inevitable consequence of Stalin's post-war madman's dream of a new Communist Roman Empire, with himself as Caesar.
Now, they say, Stalin is dead. I do not know whether his policy is dead, nor does my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), the former President of the Board of Trade, who wrote, in an article in the "Daily Herald," on Monday, that the ideological aspects of Soviet policy have not changed. It remains to be seen whether any other aspects of it have changed. I hope they have, because I am all in favour of coexistence. Quite clearly, half the world cannot wipe out the other half. We must learn to live together.
567 But do not let us forget, in the last resort, who are our friends—and the best friends we have are the Americans. Without American military and industrial strength and without those 140,000 casualties to which I referred, there would be no truce in Korea, the United Nations organisation would be dead, there would be no Geneva negotiations and there would be little hope of peace anywhere in the world. The plain fact is that without American strength there is little hope of maintaining the kind of world in which I want to live and which I want for those who will follow me.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
I shall not detain the Committee for very long, but I want to follow the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) in his appeal for Anglo-American understanding. I have been very shocked during the last 12 months by the rapid growth of facile criticism of America which is growing up in this country, and I believe that we have a very important job to do in breeding American and British understanding at least in these islands and throughout the Commonwealth. I therefore support the hon. Member for Wednesbury in what he said.
In reinforcing his plea, I want to refer to McCarthyism and the witch-hunt in America. Nobody in this country likes or approves of McCarthyism in America. Yet if we appreciate that the American people and ourselves are the bedrock of world peace, then I think that it is also our duty to try to understand McCarthyism on this side of the Atlantic. It is not quite as simple, in my view, as we like to think it is.
We have to remember that, although the United States is now the world's leader of Western democracy, it is also a nation of 140 million people, many of whom are first and second generation Americans, whose grandfathers or fathers came from Czechoslovakia, Poland and other countries in Eastern Europe, including Russia. Therefore, when there are, as there have been, actual cases of subversion in America, each American looks at his opponent or competitor with the eyes of suspicion. He thinks: Does he owe his allegiance to his present country or does he still owe allegiance to the 568 country from which he came behind the Iron Curtain?
I think that we have to look at it in that way, and realise that the Americans are under much more temptation for witch-hunts than we are in our closely-knit community with 1,000 years of history behind us, where we look at things always on the basis that, whether it is a political opponent or a business opponent, at least his motives are sincere and British to the core. That position does not at this moment apply in America. That is why I was so interested in the speech of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans). If there is to be any future for the Western world, we must remain in close and tight friendship with the United States.
May I reinforce the argument about China? Apart from the fact that America incurred 140,000 casualties in Korea, we must also remember that the United States Government official policy was to back Chiang Kai-shek, and poured money into China to support his regime against the advent of Communism. That means that the ordinary reaction of the United States to China, whether it is right or whether it is wrong—and we in this country think that it is wrong—is that the force they support has suffered a major reverse and has been thrown back on to the island of Formosa, in the same way as we were thrown back on to the island of Britain in 1940. Although it may seem to us a far-fetched view, many Americans still look upon Chiang Kai-shek as representing the properly-elected Government of China which has been driven out of the mainland on to the Island of Formosa.
Although we do not agree with this view—and I think that our view is right—we must accept it that that view is very strongly held by many millions of people in America. Time, I believe, will bring a change. We must give them time for that change to be brought about. Indeed when some say that China today should be immediately admitted to the United Nations, do they not realise that at this moment there is only an armistice in Korea and that the aggressors and murderers of hundreds of thousands of people in that peninsula are in a state of war, facing United Nations troops across the demarcation line, with no firm peace established in that country.
569 That is the nation which people say should be admitted to the United Nations. At the same time, today that nation is supplying, equipping and helping forces at war against France and Viet Nam in Indo-China. If and when the favourable result of a Korean peace treaty and a cease-fire in Indo-China comes out of the Geneva Conference—and let us be quite clear that it has not come out today, though it may come out tomorrow or next week—unless something towards the establishment of peace in Korea and Indo-China does come out of the Geneva Conference, then I say that those who have said that the Chinese have given a useful contribution are being rather optimistic.
Until that result does come out of the conference, in my view China is not a fit nation to be admitted to the United Nations at this time, particularly as we know that all hope of the defence of Western Europe comes from our remaining friends with America. If we look at the matter from the American point of view, there is no doubt that we shall come to the conclusion that patience is a virtue which should be observed by the British people in regard to this problem.
I now want to say a word or two on the question of Western Germany. The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn, East (Mrs. Castle), who is not now in her place, made a most interesting, but in my view completely unbalanced, speech on the subject of Germany. She said, with regard to the conference that took place on Germany, that the Russians would not agree to a reunited Germany which was pledged to come over to the West. What does the hon. Lady really mean? Does she mean that a Germany in which the majority of the people live in Western Germany, who would, if given a free vote, vote for the establishment of a government favourable to the West, shall in any treaty be forbidden to form an alliance or association with the Western nations?
If that means anything at all, what the hon. Lady really means is that any negotiations with the Russians for the reunification of Germany shall be carried out on the basis that, once reunification is complete, the whole of Germany shall go into the Eastern zone. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, that is the hon. Lady's serious argument.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
The Russian proposals at Berlin were that the armed forces should be withdrawn both from the East and West and free elections held in a united Germany.
§ Mr. Glover
I quite agree about the proposal, but the Adenauer Government in Western Germany, which is by far the largest part, have said they would come in with the West after Germany was reunited. That was the proposal which the Russians would not accept. We were prepared to take a chance, because we knew that we might get Germany into Western Europe, but the Russians were not prepared to take that chance, for that very reason. Therefore, in practice, it is their demand that the whole of Germany should be placed inside the Russian orbit.
From the point of view of German rearmament, I believe that the issue today is whether we are to have Western Germany rearming under the European Defence Community, or whether, during the next five years, Western Germany will be rearming in defiance of the European Defence Community. I am not certain that it is a real solution that Germany should come into E.D.C. I have my own fears, as everybody has, about German militarism, but we have to face the facts today, and the fact is that today we have two major world blocs, and if there is to be another war, that war will involve those two world blocs. We are not likely to get a war between Germany and France or between Italy and France. If war comes, it will be between the major blocs representing the two halves of the world—East and West.
In these conditions, I believe that the danger of Germany to world peace becomes very different from that which existed in 1914 or in 1939. It has always been the policy of British diplomacy to try to maintain the balance of power. Our balance of power in 1914 and 1939 meant that we should support France, but do not let us forget that in the 17th and 18th Centuries it meant that we should support Germany.
Today, to weight the scales on our side in this matter of the balance of power, it is essential in my view that we should keep Germany in the Western orbit. I am of the opinion that if we cannot get Germany into E.D.C., then the correct policy for the Western nations to follow is at the earliest opportunity to incorporate Germany into N.A.T.O. I believe that 571 by so doing we shall become a very much stronger bulwark in Europe in what is looked upon as the vital area, and if that vital area is stronger, then the danger to world peace is reduced.
If that is done in Europe, we shall be creating an area in the great periphery of defence which we look upon more or less as our centre of strength. That will mean that the Western nations can deal with South-East Asia and other trouble spots of the world on a very much firmer basis than they can at present.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Cahir Healy (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)
As an Irish Member I intervene very briefly this evening to put the Irish point of view. We heard with great interest the speech of the Prime Minister today and read with equal interest the statement that he made the other day. Especially were we interested in paragraph 3 of the statement made by him and the President of the United States which reads:We uphold the principles of self-government…and will readily strive through free elections supervised by the United Nations to ensure that they are conducted fairly.Unless we can convince the world of our sincerity in matters of this kind at home, how can we expect it to believe in the bona fides of statements and undertakings that we make abroad?
This matter concerns us very much in Northern Ireland, and anything I intend to say this evening will be within the terms of paragraph 3. It is perfectly true that in Northern Ireland we have a franchise which is equal to the franchise here, or is supposed to be. But, believe it or not, to govern Northern Ireland we have three forms of franchise while one suffices for this great country. We have one for the Imperial Parliament, under which I am elected, we have one for the Northern Ireland Parliament which gives a majority to the Tory Party, and we have one for the local authorities which brings in the property holders, giving some gentlemen and ladies as many as six additional votes to their original one.
The statement goes on:In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue to seek their unity through free elections…That applies particularly to Irish nation because nobody can contend that it has voted itself into partition. None of the 572 representatives of Northern Ireland in this House voted for the partition of Ireland. I therefore remind the Prime Minister, who made a statement on the subject yesterday, saying that he thought the question had been already decided, that it is not decided and it is not finished. So long as Ireland remains divided, the issue will always be very much unsettled.
I suppose I shall be reminded that we accepted partition in so far as we voted for two partition Parliaments. Since 1920 that has been true, but the Treaty was accepted under duress, and had it not been for the statement by Mr. Lloyd George of a resumption of terrible war, the delegates from the Dail would never have signed the 1920 Treaty. It can hardly be claimed, even in the House of Commons, that certain democratic principles ought to apply to nations abroad but ought not to be applied to nations at home. If that were so, it would merely show the agreement to be a shifty window-dressing performance, the device of two clever politicians rather than of statesmen.
The last time the will of the Irish people as a whole was ascertained was in 1919. The British Army was in occupation of the country and the election was held under rules that were framed in Parliament here. What was the result? The only issue that was put to the people was to ask whether they were in favour of a free Ireland or otherwise. The voting was 78 Members for and 23 Members against.
The minority consisted mainly of people from the north-east corner, now known as Northern Ireland, but two of the six counties showed large majorities for Irish unity and still show them. It was, unfortunately, not the wish of the majority of 70 or 80 per cent. that determined the issue, but it was the voice of the 20 per cent.: namely, the Northern Tories.
No minority in any country has a right to dictate and determine the policy of the majority. The county of Lancashire would be as well entitled to a Parliament of its own and to separation from the British nation as would Northern Ireland, because Lancashire has a far bigger population than the whole of Northern Ireland. When Mr. Lloyd George passed the 1920 Act, he actually 573 provided for an all-Ireland Parliament. He included as a temporary measure a Council of Ireland. I repeat that even the Ulster Unionists in this House of Commons refused to vote for the partition of the country.
We are, therefore, neither unreasonable nor unusual in making a request of this kind. We merely ask that the whole of the Irish people should be in a position to decide their own future. I remind those hon. Members here who have been talking this evening so much about America of the case in which a minority in the United States attempted to enforce its will upon the majority. That resulted in the war of 1861, which lasted until 1865, and was fought to assert the right of the majority.
Abraham Lincoln, on 18th February, 1861, in a very notable speech defended the nation against the coercion of the minority. Ireland has always been coerced by a privileged minority within its own borders and that position remains very much the same today. Benjamin Franklin said that if we did not stand together we should hang together. I think that most hon. Members believe in Anglo-American friendship, but there is a very strong feeling in the United States against linking up with this country, particularly in some of its Eastern policies.
A writer in the "Observer" on Sunday last said that relations between this country and America were now suffering the severest strain since the end of the war. The "New York Times," a newspaper which has been an advocate of this country, said on 11th July:There is a deep split between the United States and Britain on how to deal with Communist China…The United States position is that Communist China must purge itself of the Korean aggression…Its refusal to conclude peace in Korea is not in the United States view a very good augury for peaceful intent.We have also the views of Senator Knowland who, despite the way he spells his name. is an Irishman. He says:On the day that Communist China is admitted to membership of the United Nations shall resign my majority leadership and devote my full efforts to terminating United States membership of that organisation.I quote these things to show that the position of this country in relation to the United States is a very shaky one and 574 that we should do everything to cultivate the good graces of the one race there which, above all others, dominates the situation, namely, the Irish.
The Irish people have a very strong and important influence in the United States. I may be told that the Irish there are not as aggressive as they were in the days of Parnell. They may not be taking as active an interest in purely American political concerns as formerly, but they are the people in the main who strayed from the Democrats to the Republicans and made victory for that party certain last year. It was their 2 million votes which assured victory for the Republicans.
I know that many hon. Members are very much opposed to Senator McCarthy. I hardly hear a good word spoken about him, particularly from this side of the Committee. I know that hon. Members have been pressing President Eisenhower and the Press to put the closure on the Senator, but I suggest that if both the President and outside influence has failed to stop him it is because of the public belief that he is doing a job for the nation, however unpopular it may be. That is the reason why Eisenhower has not intervened and one of the greatest sources of the Senator's strength in America is the Irish feeling. That, largely, has been fostered in recent years by the dividing of the Irish nation against the will of the people.
If hon. Members think that the Irish are not as potent a force in America as they used to be, I would invite any of them to go to New York on St. Patrick's Day and witness one of the greatest processions of all time. The people in that procession are not all Irish Catholics and a great proportion are Irish Protestants. They also include people who differ on political matters, but they are united on one thing, the unity of their country. They march down Broadway bearing banners saying, "England, get out of Ireland," "We want a united and not a partitioned Ireland," and so on. The Vice-President of the United States, Mr. Nixon, on two or three occasions recently, has declared himself in favour of Irish unity. He is as much opposed to the partition of Ireland as any of us could possibly be.
For a long time the Prime Minister was in favour of Irish unity. I shall conclude 575 by quoting from a speech he made in 1912:Whatever Ulster's right may be, she cannot stand in the way of the whole of Ireland…half a province cannot obstruct forever the reconcilement between the British and Irish democracies.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Professor Sir Douglas Savory (Antrim, South)
I have promised to be extremely brief and I think I can answer the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy) in a very few words. He demanded free elections in accordance with the clause of the agreement come to in the United States between the Prime Minister and President Eisenhower. Will anyone in this Chamber contend that the elections of the 12 representatives of Northern Ireland here in this House are not free elections?
§ Sir D. Savory
The boundaries were fixed by an independent boundary commission—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—consisting of civil servants and presided over by the Speaker of this House of Commons. Only a few weeks ago the Boundary Commission for Northern Ireland inserted an advertisement in the newspapers asking anyone who had any suggestion to make for alteration of the boundaries to do so, but no letter, no demand, no request of any kind was received.
§ Sir D. Savory
I admit that at the last Election we lost Belfast, West by 25 votes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—but we shall get it back at the next General Election. But the hon. Members for Antrim, North and South, were returned unopposed. Hon. Members were also returned unopposed for Derry and Armagh and we had overwhelming majorities in Belfast, East, Belfast, North and Belfast, South. In the only two constituencies where there was a slight nationalist majority, Mid-Ulster and the constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the combined majorities 576 amounted to a little over 6,000. Compare that with the majority of 32,955 which I had in the contested election in South Antrim in February, 1950. Or compare it with the election in 1951 in North Down, where there was a majority of over 33,000.
Northern Ireland is, by overwhelming majorities, in favour of the existing Constitution, and when the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone talks about the Irish nation I would remind him that there are two Irish nations; the Irish nation in the North and the Irish nation in the South. In the North we are determined to remain part and parcel of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. No power on earth will throw us into an alien Republic.
By their Ireland Act hon. Members opposite gave us, in Section 2, a wonderful charter. They have said, and the whole Labour Party is committed to it, that there shall be no change made in the Constitution of Northern Ireland without the consent of the Parliament of Northern Ireland. That is the pledge which the members of the Labour Party have given to us. We adhere to it, and we demand that we be left alone in our present position, which we shall maintain against all comers.
§ The Chairman (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
The hon. Member has had his opportunity. He asked to speak for seven minutes, but, in fact, spoke for 16.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Healy) and the hon. Member for Antrim, South (Sir D. Savory) will forgive me if I do not follow them in their fascinating commentary on the Prime Minister's journey to Washington. I hope that the Suez rebels will forgive me if I do not spend very long on their explanation of their views. I would only say that we hope the Government will go forward with what they now propose and will make an early settlement with Egypt on terms which I am satisfied, if the Government sign them, the nation will approve.
The Government will have the great majority of hon. Members behind them; 577 almost every section of the Press; their military and diplomatic advisers, and, beyond any question, they will have the backing of the troops. It would be a travesty of democratic practice if a small minority of hon. Members could prevent the Government from doing what they have now concluded is clearly right. I would only ask that they should reaffirm their tripartite declaration, and make it plain that if Egypt were ever to attack Palestine, or anyone else, they would forthwith call on the members of the United Nations to resist aggression, as they did in Korea four years ago.
As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition recalled earlier, the Prime Minister, at the end of his statement on Monday, spoke of what he called the fundamental and far-reaching conception of the peaceful co-existence of the Communist and non-Communist nations. He told us how glad he was that President Eisenhower had said that "the hope of the world lay in peaceful co-existence," adding the "warning that this doctrine must not lead to appeasement which compels any nation to submit to foreign domination."
Clearly, we all agree with that policy and with the proviso which the President made. It is only a restatement of an earlier pledge. Every member of the United Nations is pledged by the Charter to refrain in their international relations from the use or threat of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State. They are pledged to settle all their international disputes by peaceful means. That undertaking was the very foundation of the United Nations and the basic principle of its law. Unless it is faithfully upheld, the whole structure of the United Nations is bound to fall.
In 1945 the present Foreign Secretary said that the United Nations was humanity's last hope. It is my belief that the United States and Britain have been the main pillars of the United Nations from then till now. I want to begin by paying my tribute to the wisdom, the courage and the generosity of America's support of the United Nations since 1945: in Europe through the magnificent reconstruction work of U.N.R.R.A., largely on the territory of Russia and her allies; through O.E.E.C. and the vast material aid which was given; through 578 N.A.T.O., with General Eisenhower's personal leadership; in Asia through their spontaneous and instant resistance to aggression in Korea; through their work in getting Chiang Kai-shek's troops out of Burma in fulfilment of a United Nations Assembly Resolution; through their support of the United Nations Reconstruction Agency in Korea, which is already obtaining very notable results; through the United Nations Technical Assistance in under-developed countries, which is becoming one of the most hopeful parts of world policy today.
All that is not only admirable in itself; it is also absolutely vital to us, for loyal adherence to the Charter is the only possible long-term basis for Anglo-American co-operation. Nothing but the Charter could have brought the American people out of isolation. Nothing but the Charter could have made it possible to build up N.A.T.O., with America, Canada, Norway and Denmark all coming in. The old principle, "My ally, right or wrong," would have had—would still have—the effect of bringing quick disaster. That is why so many people have felt anxious about some recent events.
At the last Assembly nine months ago, Mr. Dulles restated to the United Nations the principle of peaceful co-existence in the following words:No peace can be enduring which repudiates the concept that government should rest on free consent…But our creed does not call for exporting revolution and inciting others to violence. Let me make that emphatic. We believe that violent change usually destroys what it would gain. We put our hopes in the vast possibilities of peaceful change.That is the philosophy behind the Charter pledge, for the renunciation of force means that all disputes shall be settled, and that all changes in the status quo shall be effected, by peaceful means alone.
How does that square with recent events in Guatemala? If I may borrow language from the past, Guatemala is "a far-away country" where there has been "a quarrel between people of whom we know nothing." But it is precisely in such countries that the vital tests of international principles may come. Think of Manchuria, Abyssinia, Czechoslovakia and Korea. Many hon. Members opposite were no more worried about Abyssinia in 1936 than they are about Guatemala now.
579 Let me try to explain—without exaggeration, I hope—what our anxieties are. I shall not repeat the history which my right hon. Friend described. We have seen no real evidence that the late Guatemalan Government was Communist-controlled. But even if it were, was it a danger to America—3½ million people 700 miles from the Panama Canal? And what about "exporting revolution" to change the status quo?
Sixteen months ago the Guatemalan Government circulated a memorandum to the members of the United Nations warning them that an intervention in Guatemala was being prepared. In February of this year, and again in April, they repeated the warning, and named Colonel Armas as the leader. A month ago everything happened as they predicted. "The Times" printed a photograph of the colleagues of Colonel Armas at their headquarters on Honduran soil. "The Times" reported that there was no rising of the people to support the rebels; and, when all was over, their correspondent said that, after eight days,it had looked as though the rebel cause was doomed. But with the aid of a number of foreign aircraft the insurgents won the day.A few days before the invasion began, the United States made their strange request to search foreign ships for arms. A few days after it was over, the American Ambassador in Guatemala, Mr. Puerifoy, gave a party at which Colonel Armas was a specially honoured guest. On 5th July "The Times" Guatemalan correspondent said that Mr. Puerifoy "had done much behind the scenes to overthrow the Arbenz régime."
Directly the invasion started, the Guatemalan Government appealed to the Security Council under Articles 34, 35 and 39 of the Charter. The Council met at once—on Sunday. At Question time the Minister of State has made a lot of play with the fact that the Soviet delegate vetoed a reference to the Organisation of American States. But the Guatemalan delegate opposed it too.
I shall repeat some questions which I have put already to the Minister at Question time, so he has been fully warned. Had not the Guatemalan Government an absolute right to have the case dealt with by the Council itself under Article 35? Had not the Council the absolute duty under Article 39 to determine whether 580 aggression, whether the Charter-breaking furnishing of arms, supplies and bases for a rebel invasion of Guatemala had, in fact, occurred? If that is so, why did Her Majesty's delegate abstain instead of voting with New Zealand against the reference to the O.A.S.?
If the Minister argues that the Council was entitled to entrust the task of fact-finding to the O.A.S., why did the fact-finding committee wait five days after the second meeting of the Security Council before it left Washington? Why did it never go to Honduras or Guatemala? If its report does not give full information, will the Government urge that such information shall be obtained? In particular, will they verify what were the foreign aircraft which did so much to decide the war? Who bought them for the rebels? What Government gave the licence for their purchase?
I do not want to exaggerate the matter. I hope the Security Council may yet clear it up. But it cannot be buried by a fait accompli. The "Hindustan Times," a Delhi paper of high standing, said this of the Prime Minister's Washington declaration:The invocation of the United Nations and the Atlantic Charter has a hollow ring after the Anglo-American voting on the Guatemalan appeal.The "New York Times" reported that delegates to the United Nations in New York from Latin-America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East were gravely concerned, not with Guatemala, but with the possible effect of the Guatemalan case on the United Nations.
Of course this precedent will not be fatal; but it may be singularly difficult to live down. If this precedent turns out to be what we fear, it will be the more serious because it was precisely against the export of revolution, against invasion by rebels trained, armed, supplied and advised by a foreign Power, that we fought in Korea for three years. Let us not forget that at first the invading troops were all Koreans. We said that to let them change the status quo by force and install their Government would destroy the Charter.
The Americans have said the same about the massive help in bases, arms, supplies, transport and advisers, given by China to Ho Chi Minh. It is because of Indo-China that I have spent so long on 581 Guatemala, and that I shall watch with such anxiety the further action of Her Majesty's delegate in the Council at New York. I shall not go over the events in Indo-China again. Many people, including many Frenchmen, regret that France did not do in 1946 what we did in India in 1947. Many people regret that Ho Chi Minh, when he was already named by France as Prime Minister in a Government of Viet Nam with extensive powers, did not do what Pandit Nehru did in India—stick to peaceful methods of winning the fuller independence which he desired. Many people regret that Russia vetoed membership in the United Nations for Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia two years ago. That would have brought them the full nationhood which Canada and India today enjoy.
These mistakes are history. All rational men must hope today that M. Mendés-France's magnificently gallant effort for an honourable truce shall now succeed. It would be extremely grave if the lure of conquest caused the Communists to make these efforts fail. The purpose behind the truce must be in line with the declaration of the five Asian Prime Ministers in Colombo in April last: full independence for the three nations, Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam; the free choice of their Governments for themselves without the intervention of any outside Power. This was put into words in the Joint Declaration of Pandit Nehru and Mr. Chou en-Lai. I quote it:The settlement should aim at the creation of free, democratic, unified and independent States which should not be used for aggressive purposes or be subject to foreign intervention.If that is the genuine aim, and if these States are admitted to the United Nations without delay, then, as the Colombo Powers proposed, the United Nations could be used to help them, and the great Powers could give guarantees to do their utmost to prevent the fighting breaking out again.
None of that is inconsistent with the provisional partition of Viet Nam which M. Mendés-France has had the courage to accept. It would be more likely to succeed, if the truce were supervised by a commission of the five Colombo Powers. I have never understood how any Asian could resist that proposal; its acceptance proves, at least, beyond all doubt, the good faith of France and her 582 allies. I have never understood how anybody could reasonably demand that the commission should be hamstrung by a veto. If the Communists insist on that condition, and reject the offer of a truce, on these most reasonable and honourable terms, and if they strive instead for conquest, it is very certain that they will provoke fear, suspicion and hostility among other Asian Powers.
The most significant statement of recent times was Pandit Nehru's declaration at Colombo that he "would not support a demand for the withdrawal of the French troops from Indo-China," because, he said, "if they were withdrawn, that would only leave a vacuum which would be filled by another Power." In the last debate in the Indian Parliament, he said that the French troops "could not be withdrawn from Indo-China before a lasting settlement had been reached."
At the conference of Asian Socialists in Burma a month or two ago, the acting Burmese Foreign Secretary, himself a Socialist, said that he thought Soviet imperialism was more dangerous than the imperialism of the West. If the Russians and the Chinese in Geneva forget the fears and apprehensions which events in Korea, in Tibet and in Indo-China have aroused in the rest of Asia, if they intensify those fears by refusing the truce which the five Prime Ministers demanded as an urgent necessity at Colombo three months ago, they will do irreparable damage to their name and standing in the East.
Fortunately, it seems that Mr. MendésFrance has a good chance of an early and acceptable truce in Indo-China. The Foreign Secretary told us on 23rd June that, if such a truce should come about, the Colombo Powers would be willing to take part in supervising and guaranteeing the settlement. If those Asian countries guarantee the settlement, then surely Britain, France, America, Russia and China can do the same.
It is my belief that behind the guarantees there might well be a South-East Asian pact, that is to say, if the Asian nations desire to join it, and if it is founded, like N.A.T.O. on the Charter, and is backed by the British Commonwealth and other nations of the West. Three weeks ago the Foreign Secretary said that "such a defence organisation would not be fully effective without the understanding and support of the 583 Colombo Powers." But why should it not have their understanding and support? Since 1945, the Western Powers have helped 600 million Asians to full national independence; all those nations specifically endorsed the resistance to exported revolution in Korea four years ago. Is it not common sense to reach comprehensive defensive understandings which would make such exported revolutions less likely in times to come? Would it be common sense to throw away what we fought for in Korea at such heavy cost?
All this has a bearing on another vital issue about which my right hon. Friend spoke this afternoon. Four years ago a book was written in which the following words appear:We ought to be willing that all the nations should be members of the U.N. without attempting to appraise closely those which are good or those which are bad. If the Communist Government of China in fact proves its ability to govern China without serious domestic resistance, then it, too, should be admitted to the U.N.The writer of those words was Mr. Dulles. Of course, as he said the other day, a lot has happened since 1950. There has been the Chinese aggression in Korea; the long procrastination at Panmunjom, while for two years bitter fighting went on; the strange, disloyal treatment of the Neutral Commission in North Korea since the truce; the long delay in agreeing to the political conference for which the truce provided; and the large-scale switch of military aid to Indo-China. That is a record which the Americans remember, and which we ought not to forget.
But the fighting stopped in Korea a year ago. No one would now renew it to unite Korea. If a truce comes in Indo-China, the same will be true there. Meanwhile all the arguments in Mr. Dulles' book still hold good. Once the Chinese are seated in the United Nations, they will by their entry, for the first time, have recognised the restraints and obligations of the Charter. All their Asian neighbours want them in. All will feel safer once they are in. That may be of real importance in Geneva in the next few days, and in Asia in the next few crucial months. That is why the prospect of a truly peaceful co-existence in the United Nations must be kept alive today.
Peace in Asia, security in Asia, still depend on security in Europe. I confess 584 that I hope that a truce in Indo-China will help to bring the E.D.C. Convention into force. I am afraid that I did not understand what the Prime Minister said about it this afternoon. I hope that the Minister of State will tell us that any new arrangements to replace E.D.C. would control Germany's contribution to defence, and that nothing will be done without the full consent of France.
But I hope that the need for the separation of the Bonn and the E.D.C. Treaties will remain academic. I still want E.D.C. because I think that it might be the instrument of Franco-German reconciliation; because the Germans prefer it to a national army and national general staff; because I do not want us to repeat the tragic errors of the interwar years. I want it because I believe in the future greatness of France, and I believe that France may some day help us to transform it into the international Police Force which, when we get a world-wide system of disarmament, we shall have to have.
I say "when" we get a system of disarmament, and not "if," because, as Lord Grey said after the First World War, "It is very plain that we must disarm or perish." No one who heard the speeches of the Home Secretary and his predecessor on civil defence last week can doubt that that is true.
I welcome the paragraph in the Washington statement about armament reduction. I welcome the Anglo-French memorandum in this U.N. report to which my right hon. Friend referred. I am glad that the Minister of State is to give us in a White Paper a full record of what the members of his U.N. sub-committee said. I hope that when we receive that record we may debate it, and hear from the Government what they mean to do about this matter in the Assembly in September next. Would-be clever people, self-styled realists—General Eisenhower is not among them—still call internationally-controlled disarmament Utopian. The truth is that they are the Utopians themselves. They, by wishful thinking, close their eyes to nightmare horrors that are very near.
Science has made a revolution in human society which nothing can undo. Wendell Wilkie and Litvinov will live in history for five words which they first used. We do live in one world, on both 585 sides of the Iron Curtain. Peace is indivisible. Only the rule of law through the United Nations can save mankind. Guatemala, Korea, Indo-China, Chinese admission to the United Nations, the atomic bomb, are all parts of one problem—how to substitute the rule of law for the rule of force. Unless we can adjust our thinking, our policies and our institutions to the scientists' revolution, unless we can mobilise the opinion of the world behind the rule of law, unless in East and West we can bring the nations to a great new effort of spiritual regeneration, our doom is near. And we believe that now, as always, it is for the British Commonwealth to lead.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Minister of State (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
Perhaps I may begin by dealing with what was said by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. Noel-Baker) about Guatemala. Her Majesty's Government have throughout done their best to see that the United Nations should be seized of the problem and the original complaint of Guatemala of 19th June was dealt with as expeditiously as possible.
We have to face the fact that in the United States and among the Latin American States there is a belief that the Organisation of American States has a right, under Article 52 of the Charter, to deal with these matters first. We constantly say in the United Nations that we should not have signed the Charter had it not been for Article 2 (7), dealing with domestic jurisdiction. We always say that when they are trying to debate the political development of our own Colonies. I believe that the Americans feel just the same about Article 52 and the Organisation of American States.
Had it not been for the Soviet veto of 20th June, the Organisation of American States could and would have taken immediate steps to look into the Guatemalan complaint. As it was, I quite agree that there was delay, owing to the Soviet veto; and the Committee did not reach Mexico City, en route for Guatemala, until 29th June. By that time the fighting was nearly at an end and a new regime had taken the place of the Government of President Arbenz.
I will be quite frank with hon. Members; I think it was a matter for regret 586 that the Fact-Finding Committee did not visit the three countries concerned. They did not do so because the authorities of the three countries informed them on 2nd July that the dispute which was the cause of the committee's journey had ceased to exist. Personally, I think that the committee should, nevertheless, have visited the three countries concerned.
We still have not seen the text of the final report of the Peace Committee, but our view is that the Security Council should consider that report. I am bound to say this: that the way in which this matter has been handled by the organisation of American States will, of course, guide us in future as to whether or not Article 52 should be dealt with in the way in which it has been dealt with in the past. I do not want to say more about it except that I think that some of the matters of fact have been rather exaggerated.
I turn next to the question of the admission of Communist China to the United Nations. One difficulty about this matter is that by recognition of Communist China we usually mean the exchange of diplomatic representatives, and our view upon that is well known: we think it is a question of the de facto, effective Government. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has himself said, the worse one's relations are with a country, on the whole the more reason there is to have the normal diplomatic methods of intercourse with them.
In using the phrase "recognition," we usually mean it in that sense; and when things were said about recognition here, we were referring to the exchange of normal diplomatic representatives. In the United States, however, recognition of Communist China means the admission of Communist China to the United Nations and their taking the Chinese seat in the United Nations. I believe that very often criticism of things which are said here arises because that distinction is not always appreciated.
Perhaps I may remind the Committee of the history of the admission of Communist China to the United Nations and to the Chinese seat in the United Nations. The Labour Government recognised the Peking Government on 6th January, 1950. They abstained on votes relating to the seating of the Peking Government in the United Nations up to 587 September, 1950. They then voted in favour of seating on six occasions up to February, 1951. In February, 1951, by a resolution of the General Assembly, passed by 44 votes to seven, with nine abstentions, Communist China was condemned for aggression in Korea.
On 27th June, 1951, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), then Foreign Secretary, made the statement to which the Prime Minister referred, saying that in view of the Peking Government's persistence in behaviour inconsistent with the purpose and principles of the Charter, it was inappropriate that they should take the Chinese seat in the United Nations. That statement was reaffirmed by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 18th June, 1952, and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 30th July, 1953. On that occasion, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that we hoped that the armistice in Korea was a step towards the seating of the Peking Government in the Chinese seat. But we know all the difficulties about the political conference, and the result of the discussions in the United Nations were very disappointing.
The Geneva Conference, so far as it related to Korea, has also been disappointing. The Communists, in the talks on Korea, have repudiated the authority of the United Nations and have, in fact, described the United Nations as the tool of aggression, That was not very promising language when one bears in mind this other matter of their taking China's seat in the Security Council. The fact is that there is as yet no peace treaty. As the right hon. Gentleman said, the present arrangements for supervising the truce are unsatisfactory. We have the question of the Swiss and Swedish membership of that Commission still to consider, and all that one can say is that the situation in Korea has not developed as we hoped that it would a year ago.
Then we come to Indo-China. I am sure that we are all glad that Mr. Bedell Smith is to go back to the Geneva Conference. It must be clear from what the right hon. Gentleman himself has just said that any arrangements for a cease-fire and settlement in China will be extremely 588 complicated and very difficult indeed to carry out, and their successful carrying out must depend upon good faith. Therefore, there is a strong view held that before the question of the Peking Government taking the China seat is considered, good faith should be shown by deeds and not just by words.
I think that is the view which the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) has expressed in the Committee today. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) was wrong in saying that there has been a change in the Government's attitude on this matter. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said at the end of his statement:In these circumstances, although Her Majesty's Government still believe that the Central People's Government should represent China in the United Nations, they certainly do not consider that this is the moment for the matter to be reconsidered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th July, 1954; Vol. 530, c. 46.]On every opportunity I have for speaking to an American audience, either in public or privately, I put our point of view with regard to this matter, and I seek to point out that, far from it being a disadvantage to the free world to have the Peking Government take the China seat in the United Nations, it may well be an advantage. I do not think that we have suffered in any way at all from the debates in the United Nations in which the Russians have participated. They have showed very clearly their attitude and, in very many cases, their continued negative attitude.
§ Mr. Strachey
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that there had been no change in his attitude, but so far as the published report of his Bridgwater speech goes, he put in no proviso as to this being an untimely moment for us maintaining our view that China should be seated in the United Nations. That is the change to which I referred.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I said nothing in the speech which I made at Bridgwater about this being a timely moment. I say that this is not the appropriate moment. The plain fact is that although we believe and we seek to persuade and put forward our point of view, surely it is complete folly to suggest that at this moment we should seek to force this through against the view 589 of our American allies. That is what would have to be done. It would be a question of forcing this matter through against the wishes of the American Government.
If I may turn from Chinese representation to Egypt, and address what I have to say to perhaps a rather different part of the Committee—varying points of view have been put forward. I think that predominantly the opinion in the Committee is that agreement should be made on suitable terms. I am quite certain that we shall not get an agreement—I do not believe that anyone thinks we shall get an agreement—on any terms by which the fighting formations have to stay for a substantial time in Egypt.
Allegations have been made that Her Majesty's Government have been guilty of discourtesy to the House in not informing the House of the opening of the negotiations, although we have repeatedly indicated our willingness to negotiate and our desire for agreement. The negotiations broke down because of incidents in the Canal Zone, but since then a substantial improvement has taken place, so new discussions started on Saturday evening.
It is impossible to discuss this matter and disclose the terms which had been put forward. I think my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said in December, when he was faced with a somewhat similar point, that if one did disclose the terms put forward at the commencement of negotiations, it gave the Power with whom one was negotiating both an advantage and a grievance, and I think that is very true. Either it appears as an ultimatum, or else they are able or are in a position to demand concessions.
I assure the Committee that, although we cannot reveal the terms that have been put forward, we are certainly aware of the factors which have to be considered. The new development of the hydrogen bomb, the need for the effective deployment of our forces, the disagreeable conditions for our forces, the bad relations between the Arab States and Israel and the importance of our prestige and influence in Arab and African countries—these are the factors in the situation and all have been taken into account in formulating the new proposals.
590 In reply to one particular question, may I say that we have kept closely in touch with the Commonwealth countries on these matters. I myself have not met an Arab leader or a Pakistani leader who has failed to say that a settlement of this problem would improve our relations with the Arab world and stability in the Middle East.
The alternative proposal to seeking agreement on reasonable terms is that we should stay on with a small force in a hostile land. I really cannot believe that this is a practicable proposition, and I think the arguments which my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) advanced were really fully conclusive. Therefore, we have put forward a reasonable proposal and we hope for agreement, but, of course, if it proves impossible to reach a reasonable agreement—and we think that the terms we have put forward are reasonable—we may have to sit it out and await with patience and strength whatever may befall us. However, I think that both the Egyptian Government and Her Majesty's Government desire to come to a reasonable agreement, and I believe that it is possible to do so.
May I now say a word or two about the Sudan? We shall continue to do all we can to secure genuine freedom of choice for the people of the Sudan. The forces of Sudanese nationalism and patriotism must be allowed a free chance of expression we have agreed to self-government, to be followed by self-determination, and we shall continue to try to keep our word.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) raised the question of the change in the Governor-General's Commission. We thought, and said so, that it was a great pity that the sectarian balance and the balance between Government and Opposition on that Commission should have been disturbed, but there is no doubt that the matter was one which had to be left to the Sudanese Parliament.
The Sudanese are a proud and very likeable people. There is genuine good feeling between our two races. We have done a great deal to deserve it by the record of our administration there, and I would advise my hon. Friends to read the rather remarkable speech of the Sudanese Prime Minister in moving the Bill for 591 compensation—a satisfactory Bill—in the Sudanese Parliament the other day. Considering that he was elected as a member of an anti-British party, it really was quite a notable speech, and I myself do not take so gloomy a view of the future of Anglo-Sudanese relations as do some of my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
My right hon. and learned Friend has told us that a satisfactory agreement with Egypt must allow for the eventual departure of British forces. Can he tell us whether that is a view in which the Commonwealth countries concur or whether it is not so?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I said that this is a matter where we have kept in close touch with Commonwealth Governments, and we certainly have no reason to believe that that is not their view.
If I may, I should like now to come to Germany and E.D.C. The basic point which the Committee should keep constantly in mind is the fact stated in a recent Labour Party pamphlet on the Defence of Europe and which says:If the Treaty"—that is, referring to E.D.C.—is not ratified, an alternative method of providing a West German defence contribution will have to be sought.That is the basic factor behind this particular controversy. We think that E.D.C. is by far the most satisfactory method for a German defence contribution, and I am amazed that a contrary view should be held by anyone in France, in Britain or even in the Soviet Union, because it seems to me that the whole conception of E.D.C. prescribes limitations on national power which should be supremely reassuring to those who have suffered from Germany in the past.
592 France has now to come to a decision, so we are told, and in passing, I must say that we welcome the desire for a decision expressed by M. Mendés-France. If that does not happen, or if the decision is delayed, time cannot be allowed to run on without anything happening. It is now over two years since the occupation Powers agreed to the removal of the Occupation Statute. To delay still further the fulfilment of this undertaking would be to discourage most dangerously the movement and development of the democratic processes in Western Germany. It would undo much of the progress which has been made during the periods of office of successive Governments in this country towards fostering free institutions in a land where failure of such free institutions in the past has led to dangerous and devastating consequences to Europe and to the world.
Therefore, something must be done. We shall, of course, consult the French and seek agreement at every stage. The best thing to do, it seems to us, will be to bring into force the Bonn Conventions as agreed upon two years ago. The Bonn Conventions do not deal with a defence contribution. That is dealt with under the E.D.C. Treaty. Therefore, if the Bonn Conventions come into effect separately the question of a German defence contribution must be reserved for the time being. What I have said is to give an indication of what may happen in hypothetical circumstances which we hope may not arise, for there is still time and opportunity for E.D.C. to be passed.
One word, in passing, about the reference in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to threats to the French and to Europe. He said, I think, that the Americans were like a Victorian parent cutting off his allowance to his child. In fairness to the United States, it should be pointed out that the Mutual Security Act, 1953, provides that 50 per cent. of the military aid to Europe must be supplied to the European Defence Community. That is not a question of uttering threats, but a definite matter of United States legislation and they must try to keep within its terms.
If I may end on a general word, I should say that in some areas and on some matters international tension has decreased, but on the other hand, the problems with which we are faced have 593 never been more baffling. On the credit side we can regard the close co-operation in the Commonwealth, the growing strength and unity of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and the warm friendship and agreement upon so much between the United States and the United Kingdom, re-emphasised by the recent visit of my right hon. Friends. We can take note of the good work—I do not suggest that it is sufficient—that is being done to raise standards in underdeveloped countries, and we have seen some indications from the other side of the Iron Curtain of the desire for peaceful coexistence.
On the debit side, however, there is the fact that it is deeds and not words that matter, and we have not yet had very much by way of deeds. The speech of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) was like a breath of fresh air, and I hope that everyone who was not here will take the trouble to read it. It might be a very good companion and guide for the travellers.
The difficulty is that the verbal aspirations and expressions of benevolent intention have to be translated into action before we can be confident about the future. I have spent some time at the 19 meetings of the United Nations Disarmament Sub-Committee in London, hearing the Soviet Union professing a desire to ban atomic weapons, but every time that one tried to get down to practical details whereby there would be an effective international supervision of such a ban, the action taken by them was completely evasive.
§ Mr. Lloyd
There are still many anxious days ahead, and we shall remain resolute in our determination to preserve at the cost of heavy sacrifices the strength and so the influence of this country. At the same time, we shall seek any and every means of reaching agreements which will make a practical factual reality of peaceful co-existence and with the passage of time lead on to a real fellowship between the peoples of the world.
Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again,"—[Mr. Kaberry]—put, and agreed to.
Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.