§ 6.52 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Anthony Eden)
I beg to move:That this House approves the policy of Her Majesty's Government in South-East Asia as expressed in the Agreements reached at Geneva and in the Manila Treaty.I find it a little difficult to adjust myself to the rapidly changing atmosphere of our debate. We have moved from one form of road safety to a slightly more complicated form of international safety with more rapidity than smoothness. But I will do my best, with the help of the House, to transfer our attention to the sterner matters—perhaps I ought not to call them that, but to me they are sterner matters—of South-East Asia.
The House may remember that at the end of July, when we had a debate, I gave a brief outline of the terms of the Geneva settlement. I could not then give the House a full account of all the conditions of the armistice, because they had not yet come into force. Owing to the scattered nature of the country where the cease-fire was to operate, it was not possible for the information to reach the fronts except by stages. When we last discussed these matters the full terms and conditions of the armistice were not available to the House, but since then all of them have been published in the White Paper, Command 9239, which the House has now had an opportunity to consider.
Hon. Members who have studied those armistice proposals will, I think, agree that in view of the hideous complexity of the situation, both in the field and, may I add, at times at the conference table, they represent a remarkable technical achievement. In the wider political sphere their significance is equally clear. They involved a grievous sacrifice for our ally. France, which we must all deplore, and a gain in manpower and in resources to the Vietminh.
Against this, eight years of bitter fighting were brought to an end; a very real danger of a wider conflict was averted; the independence and sovereignty of Laos and Cambodia were clearly recognised and an arrangement which could not, in the existing military circumstances, be 927 described as unsatisfactory was made in respect of Viet Nam.
This at least is certain; the terms of the Geneva Agreements were infinitely more satisfactory to France and to the three Associated States than the results of a continuation of the fighting must have proved. It cannot be hoped, by diplomacy, to bring a war to an end without any regard to the military course which it has run, and in all this I agree fully with the remarks made by General Bedell Smith on his return to Washington from Geneva.
The war in Indo-China having been brought to an end by the Geneva Agreements, the next stage is their execution, and this has been a matter of constant concern to Her Majesty's Government. International supervisory commissions, composed of Indians, Canadians and Poles, were soon established in Indo-China, and they have already installed most of the inspection teams, provided for in the agreements. Under conditions of considerable physical difficulty and discomfort they have made an encouraging start in most areas. Our thanks are due to the Governments who have agreed to provide these commissions—a thankless task for them—and to the men who have undertaken this exacting and important work.
The value of the settlement which was achieved at Geneva depends, however—as I said at the time of its conclusion—on the spirit in which the agreements are carried out by the parties to them. So far they have displayed in general a willingness to adhere to the terms agreed. There have been a few incidents, but both in Viet Nam and in Cambodia the withdrawal of controls, the transfer of administration and the movements of population—sometimes on a considerable scale—have proceeded remarkably smoothly.
The House should recall that in Viet Nam not only had arrangements to be made to move tens of thousands of the population from the region of Hanoi to the south, but also a considerable transfer had to be arranged from the south to the North; the Vietminh having in fact had control for several years of considerable territories in the south which under the armistice they are now giving up. This is not always remembered.
928 In Laos the picture has caused us more concern. Admittedly the task of the international commission there is more formidable on account of the very difficult nature of the country, poorer communications and the sparse population. The commission has been able to settle some of its initial problems, but it is still confronted with a critical task in arranging for the administration in accordance with the terms of the agreement of the two northern provinces of Phong Saly and Sam Neua—I do not guarantee my pronunciation—which the Vietminh had overrun.
I must make it clear to the House that the independence and intergrity of those two States of Laos and Cambodia, are matters of the first importance to us all. They are indeed the test by which these agreements will be judged by public opinion in many countries, and not least in those three countries of South-East Asia.
What information can I give to the House about them? I think I should state first that the military arrangements made in the armistice agreements in respect of these two countries, Laos and Cambodia were, on the whole, fair and reasonable. They allow the French authorities to keep 1,500 officers and N.C.Os. in Laos to train the Laotian Army and sanction the retention by the French of a garrison of 3,500 men over and above this figure.
I do not think any of us thought at the time it was an unreasonable arrangement, but on seeking to re-assert their administrative control in the two northern provinces the Laotian Government base themselves, and in our view base themselves rightly, upon their declaration which formed an integral part of our Geneva Agreement. The Communists in Laos have hitherto refused to recognise the validity of this declaration and they have claimed political as well as military control of the provinces.
However, a few days ago, on 28th October, their representative on the joint armistice Commission in Laos is reported to have declared that the so-called Pathet Lao forces, that is the Communist forces, recognised the Royal Government and that in principle their administration in the two northern provinces was placed under the supreme authority of the Royal Government. Her Majesty's Government 929 trust that these words represent a modification of policy. But we shall judge of this by the action which follows from the word. In the meanwhile we shall continue to be closely watchful of what happens in Northern Laos.
So much for the execution of the agreements up to date. But that is not the only factor this House has to consider. When we survey the position in South-East Asia, we must remember that the agreements reached in Geneva have in no way diminished the formidable military power of Vietminh, to say nothing of that of their Chinese allies. On the contrary, since the Geneva settlement there has been considerable reorganisation and rapid expansion of the Vietminh regular army. By the end of this year this will probably mean that the Vietminh will have twice as many regular field formations as at the time of the Geneva settlements.
From the relatively small population which they control—some 14 million in all—the Vietminh have already raised more regular troops than either Pakistan or Indonesia, each with a population of over 70 million. I suggest to the House that these figures give emphasis to the comments I made on 23rd June last about the need to provide some kind of guarantee of these Geneva settlements.
I come to the point raised by the hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) at Question time. At that time we envisaged a dual arrangement in respect of these guarantees, a reciprocal international gurantee that would cover the settlement itself, and then a South-East Asian collective defence treaty to balance the existing Sino-Soviet Treaty and the close relationship which, as we know, exists between Vietminh, China, and the Soviet Union.
I hope that nobody is going to say to me "You ought not to organise yourselves in like manner to China and Soviet Russia because everybody knows their treaty is directed only against Japan." I hope that nobody is going to use that argument. In case they should be moved to use it I should like to answer in advance. This is the same problem the previous Government had to face in respect of N.A.T.O.—a Russian alliance with all its satellites, directed against Germany, did not diminish the need for setting up the N.A.T.O. organisation. If 930 that is a good argument in Europe, it is a perfectly good argument, to me, in Asia.
Unfortunately, it proved impossible to obtain the kind of reciprocal guarantees which we had in mind. This was due to the insistence at Geneva of the Soviet, Chinese and Vietminh delegations that any guarantee given to these agreements must be what they called "collective" and by this, of course, they meant that the guarantee could only work if there were unanimous agreement that it should be put into force—a not very probable contingency. In other words, this introduced the principle of the veto once again and any such arrangement was completely unacceptable to us.
That is why that form of guarantee lapsed and instead of a reciprocal guarantee we now have the final Declaration of the Geneva Conference. In this each member undertakes to respect the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of these countries, that is Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and to refrain from any interference in their internal affairs.
At the same time, the United States, in another declaration gave a like undertaking to refrain from the threat of force to disturb the Geneva settlement. Shortly afterwards, statements of approval and support of the settlement were made by Australia and New Zealand and by all the Colombo Powers. We attach great importance to this. I think it is fair to say we worked quite hard to try to bring it about.
§ Sir A. Eden
Canada knew everything about this at every stage of the proceedings. They were fully informed at every stage and expressed themselves in terms of warmest approval.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman has quite answered the Question I put this afternoon. Would he say whether any attempt has been made since the conclusion of the Geneva Conference to pursue the idea of a reciprocal guarantee system in regard to South-East Asia?
§ Sir A. Eden
Not since; because at Geneva our proposal was a reciprocal agreement and we were met by the 931 answer—I am not complaining about it —that they believe in what they call collective guarantees, which means nothing happens unless every one of their people is in agreement.
In view of that being so it is no use asking me once more, having failed at Geneva, to try once again to bring that about. I see no signs of it but if of course they have changed their view and would like a reciprocal guarantee that would be most interesting, and we could do something about the Geneva aspect. But so far I have not seen any great signs.
As a result, after many months of efforts, all Powers with interests in Asia declared themselves in support of the Geneva arrangements. That much we did achieve and it is something to be thankful for. That was the first part of the work we had to do. But the second part—and no less important in our view —was to frame some collective safeguard against any act of aggression in South-East Asia or in the South-West Pacific.
I want to put this to the House: there are many hon. Members sitting here who have had bitter experience of the lack of any clearly stated purpose on the part of ourselves and other countries in the past as to where we stood on vexed international issues. So far as lays in our power we must see to it that no new adventures are begun on a miscalculation which could lead to war. If it were for that alone I think these Manila agreements would be infinitely worth while.
Let us have a look at the terms of the agreement. The treaty is purely defensive. It is fully in accord with the terms of the United Nations Charter and with the Geneva Agreement. It is essentially a regional instrument to give effect to our existing obligations as members of the United Nations. It does make possible—there is no reason why it should not make possible—preparation of joint arrangements to do this.
We should, of course, have liked to see more Asian States join us at the outset in this essential and pacific task. As I have many times made clear the Asian countries were all closely informed and consulted at every stage of the deliberations, both during the Geneva Conference and in the weeks preceding the 932 signature of the treaty. We understand, even if we do not fully agree with, the reasons for which some of them have so far felt unable to join with us in signing this treaty.
There is, however, provision for other countries in the area to come into the agreement when they feel able to do so. We hope that once they get a chance to study the terms of the Treaty and to see how it works in practice, some of our Asian friends may change their minds. At the same time, we are resolved that it shall not be merely a paper treaty, or just a statement of principle, however admirable. We hope that when the treaty has been ratified and enters into force it will mark the beginning of a period of real co-operation between the parties to it.
After ratification, the next step, as we visualise it, will be the first meeting of the Treaty Council. At that meeting, arrangements for military and economic planning will be discussed. We have suggested that Singapore might be the site of the Council meeting. We hope that it may prove the desire of the parties to meet there.
I must now refer very briefly to the more important Articles of the treaty, but I will not detain the House long. There is Article III, by whichthe parties undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operatein economic measures,designed both to promote economic progress and social well-being.There is Article IV, which we might describe as the real political core of the treaty. Here I must quote from the treaty. Paragraph 1 of Article IVrecognises that aggression by means of armed attack in the Treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety.Each party further agrees that it will, in that event,act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.Many hon. Members who are familiar with the language of the N.A.T.O. agreements will observe that we have borrowed much from the actual N.A.T.O. language for this agreement.
933 Paragraph 2 of Article IV is directed against the threat of subversive activities, short of actual aggression or armed attack. Here we are on much more difficult and more controversial ground. This Article provides for immediate consultation between the parties in order to agree upon measures for common defence. This paragraph does not, of course, authorise intervention in the day-to-day internal affairs of any country.
Paragraph 3 of this same Article IV is one to which Her Majesty's Government attach particular importance. It was inserted at our instance and I hope that its terms have been closely studied by those countries which have so far held aloof from the treaty. It was, in our view, essential that any country designated under paragraph 1 should be assured that its territory shall not be turned into a battlefield against its will. This paragraph achieves that purpose by providing that action shall only be takenat the invitation or with the consent of the Government concerned.Finally, Article VIII defines the treaty area and also contains power to extend it or alter it if circumstances so require.
§ Mr. Warbey
Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the reply given by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in regard to Article IV applies to all the paragraphs of it? The reply was:The nature of the action to be taken by Her Majesty's Government would entirely depend on the circumstances in which Article 4 of the Treaty was invoked and on the general situation prevailing at the time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1954; Vol. 532, c. 28.]I should like to know whether that statement applies to the whole of the treaty?
§ Sir A. Eden
I should like to read the statement made by the Minister of State rather than deal with one question out of it.
What I have said is quite clear. It is that paragraph 1 of Article IV implies action in the event of some act of aggression. The second paragraph deals with the more difficult matter of subversion, and implies consultation and no more. The third paragraph implies quite clearly that anybody concerned who is not a member of the treaty shall be consulted. Those are the broad conclusions of the scheme. I should not like to give any further interpretation. If the hon. Member will put a Question down on the 934 point he raised I will do my best to answer it.
§ Mr. Warbey
I am sorry, but the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs made that statement in answer to a Question. I have read what he said. The essence of it was that the nature of the action to be taken by Her Majesty's Government would depend upon circumstances prevailing at the time. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman agrees that that is the view taken by Her Majesty's Government in applying this Article. It is a very important point.
§ Sir A. Eden
It is very important, but I have had to deal with a good many international "essences" in my time, and I do not want to deal with this matter by essences. I will look up what the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said and see whether it confirms the essence which the hon. Gentleman described, as I am sure it does. I cannot undertake to reply to interjections on matters of international interpretation in this way. It is stated quite clearly in the terms of the treaty.
I turn to the military part of the arrangement which has to be made, the defensive side of our policy in South-East Asia. The treaty deals with what we may call the disagreeable but essential task of providing for defence. Military measures alone can, in a situation like this, never be enough.
Now we transfer our thought to the economic side of our problem. The House will have noticed the emphasis of the treaty, to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite referred earlier, on the importance of economic measures, including technical assistance. Here is a problem which the House and the treaty powers will have to meet. It arises from the importance of carefully co-ordinating the various economic efforts which are now being made. I want to say a word or two about the Colombo Plan in this connection.
The Consultative Committee of the Colombo Plan countries has just met in Ottawa. Its report has not yet been published, but it will be very soon. My noble Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, who represented us at that meeting, tells me that it was the most important and the most encouraging by far that he has yet attended. Siam, the 935 Philippines and Japan all signified their desire to join. They were unanimously welcomed. This means that now all the countries of South and South-East Asia, perhaps stretching a little beyond, co-operate within the Colombo Plan. That is immensely important because it steps over all the political barriers or whatever other inhibitions there may be.
I cannot anticipate the publication of the Consultative Committee's Report, but there are one or two details which I can give, and which will interest the House. These countries have set themselves an immense task in trying to meet and fulfil their economic needs, and economic conditions have not always been favourable to them. It is, therefore, encouraging to record that during the past year the members of the Colombo Plan have found it possible to devote no less than £550 million to economic development in this area. That is 27 per cent. more than they were able to do in the previous year.
They received a great deal of help. They received about £100 million in external grant aid. They have also received loans from the International Bank and from other Government sources which total over £22 million. All the same, allowing for all the help given, that is a very remarkable achievement by these countries and a step forward in the economic work.
As we see it, when the Council of the Manila Treaty meets, it will no doubt wish to take account of the work which has already been done in the economic sphere in that part of the world by a number of organisations, the principal being the Colombo Plan. We must take account also of the United Nations Technical Assistance, which is very important, and of United States help under Point 4. That is three different sets of organisations.
I can only say tonight that, in our approach to these discussions under the Manila Treaty, we shall be moved by the same considerations as have actuated us in our desire to help to make a success of the Colombo Plan, to do all we can, technical and otherwise, within the limit of our power to make a success of this treaty. We are absolutely convinced that for the Manila Treaty to be successful it has to do two things: it has to give 936 the assurance of military security and the positive encouragement of economic help.
This treaty covers South-East Asia. It also covers the South-West Pacific, of which I have said very little. I will only add about that that, so far as the South-West Pacific is concerned, we are always happy in this country about any arrangements which bring us nearer to Australia and New Zealand or bring them nearer to us. As for South-East Asia, there are a number of countries in varying stages of development. This is a part of the world whose future is still in doubt. We have an opportunity to help these countries to develop their own way of life in freedom and in peace. That is all that we seek to do—nothing else at all.
The best, indeed the only way, to do this is by economic help and by treaties which make these countries feel protected and secure. This is what I claim the Manila Treaty does.
§ Mr. C. R. Attlee (Walthamstow, West)
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman said anything about the American reservation about Communism.
§ Sir A. Eden
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. In its original form the treaty referred to "Communist" aggression. We ourselves, and I think most other countries, thought it undesirable to express "aggression" in that way. Whatever one may think about Communism, my own view is that treaties should deal with aggression and an aggressor, whatever his particular colour happens to be. So, as a result of what I think was a general expression of that view, the word "Communist" was taken out of the text at the request of a number of countries.
The United States position is slightly different. I think that I am right, I will have this checked, and if it is not correct I will have it put right by my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary later in the debate. The United States position was that they had certain powers from Congress covering Communist aggression. While they agreed to the elimination of the term from the treaty, to conform with what everybody else wished, they made a statement saying that so far as they were concerned this dealt with Communist aggression. There was a special reason for that. The United States, I think alone of all the States, had not any actual territorial position inside the area.
§ 7.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
The House will be grateful to the Foreign Secretary for the broad statement that he has just given us, not only about the Manila Treaty, but also about the last stages at Geneva and the implementation, so far as it has gone, of the Geneva settlement. I do not propose to say very much about the Geneva settlement, partly because, at the pace at which events move, it already seems a very long time ago and there is very little that I could say that would interest the House, whereas, of course, the Foreign Secretary was able to give us his up-to-date assessment of the extent to which the parties at the Geneva Conference have appeared to be willing to carry out the terms of the agreement.
On the whole, I thought that the right hon. Gentleman's account was fairly encouraging. Moreover, the Foreign Secretary will know, without my having to repeat it at any length, that what he and his colleagues were able to achieve at Geneva has, broadly, had the support of all quarters of the House. We were glad that he was able to play the important part that he did in reaching that settlement.
I want principally to spend my time upon the events which have followed, particularly the Manila Treaty. Frankly, I do not really feel that everything which the Foreign Secretary said corresponded closely to the impression one gets when one looks at the treaty in rather more detail. We agreed a number of months ago in the summer that the Foreign Secretary was right in postponing discussions on a South-East Asian security organisation until the result of the Geneva Conference could be known. He did that, and I am sure that he was right. After Geneva he was able to go ahead, and he has told us something of what happened.
We watched these events with a certain amount of misgiving because we knew—we thought that we knew, and we have turned out to be right—what was the likely reaction among all the Asian Powers in this area to a South-East Asian treaty. We thought, as the Foreign Secretary did, and as he said, that without general Asian support a treaty of this kind could at best be of little value. It might or might not be harmful, but at least it could not be of very much positive 938 value. The Foreign Secretary himself said that in the debate in July.
Moreover, we feared after the end of the Geneva Conference that the American wish to retrieve what had undoubtedly been a diplomatic setback for them in the area might result in something being put together which did not really correspond to the needs of the area and might even have some unfortunate features. In the past, the possibility of a security pact for South-East Asia has often been discussed, but it has never been realised. It was frequently discussed when we were in office, which is now three years ago.
It was never realised, partly because the countries in the area were never willing to go ahead with it, and in those days also because the United States were not willing to take on the necessary obligations. Now the United States have changed their mind, but we can see from the result that, broadly speaking, the countries of South-East Asia have not changed theirs. The situation is very much the same today as it was three or four years ago.
It is not altogether surprising that the result which we now have is a treaty which, to say the least of it, is rather unconvincing and is, as I would argue, in some respects anomalous.
I start my approach to the problem of security in South-East Asia by recognising, quite squarely, that the security of the area is an extremely important matter which cannot be overlooked and that Britain, in particular, cannot possibly escape from her share of responsibility for it. What has to be done to ensure the security of the area at any given time must depend on one's estimate of the threat. Fears of aggression have fluctuated over recent years, and there have been times, perhaps this is one of them, when many people have felt that after the relative slackening of tension, such as at the end of the Geneva Conference, the immediate threat, though perhaps not the long-term danger, of aggression is somewhat less.
The Foreign Secretary himself recognised that there were various ways of dealing with the problem. He referred obliquely to that in his speech tonight, but I should like to quote the words which he used when the Geneva Conference was still in progress on 23rd June. He said:…we could have a reciprocal arrangement in which both sides take part, such as Locarno. 939 We could also have a defensive alliance such as N.A.T.O. is in Europe, and, let me add, such as the existing Chinese-Soviet Treaty provides for the Far East so far as the Communist Powers are concerned.A little later he said:These two systems, I admit, are quite different, but they need be in no way inconsistent…by refraining from any precipitate move towards the formation of a N.A.T.O. system in South-East Asia, we have helped to create the necessary conditions in which both systems can possibly be brought into being."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1954; Vol. 529, c. 433.]Those comments were made when the outcome of the Geneva Conference was still in the balance; when it was still perfectly possible that it would end not in slackening but increasing the tension, and when it was presumably expected that if a N.A.T.O. type of treaty were entered into it would include the majority of the most important nations of South-East Asia. Now tension has lowered rather than increased—I would not put it higher than that—and, no doubt partly for that reason, some leading South-East Asian States have not been willing to join a N.A.T.O. type of treaty.
I should have thought that those two facts, which have intervened since the Foreign Secretary's statement, would have strengthened the case against moving very rapidly towards a N.A.T.O. type of treaty. I should like to ask the Government why it is that they felt it necessary to enter into this agreement so rapidly, especially in view of the fact that the Commonwealth was split upon it. We have heard from the Prime Minister that we are about to have a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Many of us feel that a Commonwealth meeting before this step was taken would have been more appropriate. It is, to put it at its lowest, unfortunate that we should find ourselves taking part in a treaty which, admittedly, includes three other members of the Commonwealth, but to which yet other members are either lukewarm or, to judge from their statements, positively hostile.
Hon. Members on this side of the House are faced with a fait accompli in the sense that we have here a concluded treaty which, as far as I can judge, is likely to be ratified and to come into force. I shall not be advising my right hon. and hon. Friends to vote against it, despite some of the defects to which I 940 propose to call attention. I shall not call for a Division for three main reasons. First, even if some of the most important Asian countries have stayed out of the treaty, it is nevertheless true that some have joined in, and it would be rather hard to deny participation in such a defensive treaty to any country which desired to join in. That is particularly the case when three of the countries are Commonwealth colleagues.
Secondly, if there is to be an agreement for possible action, for consultation, and for military and other planning in an area where the United Kingdom is so deeply involved, it is better that we should be a party to it. Perhaps that is even more the case if we have certain anxieties or misgivings about the way in which some of these ambiguously worded Articles might conceivably be used.
Thirdly, even if we do not think that a treaty of this kind, which is based upon an assumption that there may be aggression—and let us be frank; it could really only be Chinese aggression—and which proclaims solidarity in face of it, is the most useful contribution to peace at this moment, nevertheless we do not want to give the impression, which might be given by a negative vote tonight, that if there were aggression we should fail in our obligations—because that is most definitely and certainly not the case.
While, for those reasons, it would be somewhat irresponsible to repudiate the treaty now, it would be equally irresponsible—and this is a fault into which the Foreign Secretary did not fall—to assume that it had achieved anything important; or that it amounts to a policy for South-East Asia. It is rather an extraordinary document. First, there is the important aspect which I shall not labour because it is so well known—the crippling gaps in the Asian membership. Nobody who sets out to read a document entitled "The South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty" would imagine that it was not signed by India, Ceylon, Burma or Indonesia. It is not the sort of thing which its title suggests it should be.
Moreover, if one is to act upon the assumption that there is a real danger of aggression in this area, Siam is really the only one of the most dangerous points which is fully covered by the treaty. The others are all either omitted from it or 941 are on the periphery, while Indo-China surely occupies as odd a position as any territory can ever have occupied in an international document, namely, that although it is not a party to the treaty it is unanimously designated by the participants for certain collective attentions on their part which, as far as I know, were never solicited.
Therefore, even if one regards this merely as a military bloc, it is noticeably unimpressive. It brings us no real accession of Asian strength and if the objective is to set up some kind of planning machinery among the Western members, who are the only ones who can really make a big military contribution—and I include among them Australia and New Zealand—and to clarify the circumstances in which the Western members might eventually intervene to meet aggression, I do not think it required this treaty; nor do I think that the terms of the treaty make the conditions of Western intervention very clear.
The military protection offered by the treaty being, as I think, so flimsy, I shall press the Government a little further about the Foreign Secretary's other alternative—the Locarno type of treaty. He said that at Geneva he tried and failed to get the sort of reciprocal treaty which he had in mind. In the weeks that have passed since then Mr. Nehru has been taking the lead in talking about the possibility of something upon those lines. His statements have been very general, but he clearly envisages something upon those lines, rather than upon the lines of the Manila Treaty, as a first line of defence.
It is clear that he feels anxieties about the security of this area. One does not need to read between the lines of Mr. Nehru's statements to see that, on his visit to China, he has been pressing for assurances upon every conceivable point which is related to the security of South-East Asia, and one does not go on pressing and reiterating one's requests unless one feels that there might otherwise be some danger of the thing slipping. His attitude is clearly not dictated by complacency, but he envisages the possibility of something different from the Manila type of treaty. I hope that, at the least, this is a matter which the Foreign Secretary will feel can be discussed at the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers' 942 Conference, because, on present evidence, not only are we unsatisfied that this is an impossible thing to achieve, but in any case we do not think that the Manila Treaty is a satisfactory alternative. I do not believe that anyone in South-East Asia sleeps very much easier in his bed as a result of the treaty signed at Manila.
I now turn to Article II, dealing with subversive activities directed from without. The same matter is dealt with in somewhat different terms in the second paragraph of Article IV. As the Foreign Secretary said, Article IV commits us only to consultation in the event of something less than a military attack taking place, and it may therefore be suggested that one does not need to worry because, in fact, consultations can take place on the merits as each instance crops up. What I should like to know from the Government is whether they think that this provision is something new or not. Is it really an addition to the sort of undertakings which we have all already given, particularly in the United Nations Charter?
I think these provisions are open to somewhat dangerous interpretations. When I was abroad recently I noticed an article by Mr. Walter Lippmann, whose views on international affairs I very much respect, on the Manila Treaty. It appeared in the European edition of the "New York Herald Tribune" of 17th September. I want to make a few quotations from it because I think this view, coming from so sober a commentator as Mr. Walter Lippmann is of some interest.Our latest treaty which was signed in Manila last week is not just one more in the series of collective pacts. It marks a new venture.So he thinks that there is something new in this treaty. A little later on he says:It is the first formal instrument in modern times"—and I call attention to this phrase—which is designed to license international intervention in internal affairs.He clarified that in relation to this particular area by going on to say:The reality is that without committing aggression under any old style pact, much of South-East Asia might by internal revolution be carried into the Chinese sphere of influence.If that means anything, I suggest it means that this part of the treaty is 943 intended to deal with acts that would not amount to aggression under the United Nations Charter. I do not know what else can be meant by "committing aggression under any old style pact." If it does not mean that, let use have it straight from the Government. On the face of it, according to Mr. Lippmann's interpretation, it looks as if some people believe that we are here defining a new type of aggression which would not exist under the Charter. He goes on to say:The treaty establishes a strong legal presumption that if a threatened Government asks for intervention it would be contrary to the spirit of the treaty to refuse it. In the Manila Treaty we"—he is speaking of the United States—have acquired an undefined right and an implied obligation to intervene under certain conditions in South-East Asia.I think that is a very dangerous doctrine. Coming from some people, I would not be worried about it, but, when I see that doctrine propounded by somebody like Mr. Walter Lippmann, I wonder what the interpretation is in some other circles.
The difficulty of defining aggression in such a way as to catch all the indirect methods that can be used to get possession of a country has been well known in both the League of Nations and the United Nations. I think I can summarise the conclusion most people have come to by saying that one must not so much define the innumerable borderline cases which may arise as recognise them when they occur. The international body to recognise them is the United Nations, whether it is the Security Council or the General Assembly. It is not two or three gathered together in some corner of the world picking and choosing which particular type of action they are going to regard as aggression. This, I believe, is the dangerous aspect of this Article.
I should like the Foreign Secretary to note that, unlike Article II, the second paragraph of Article IV does not appear to be limited to subversion directed from without. If one looks at it legalistically, one can get it to cover almost any form of internal revolution, and if one looks at that alongside Mr. Walter Lippmann's comments, the position is disquieting.
This is something on which the British attitude must be clarified. With the recent case of Guatemala in our minds, 944 where the United Nations was by-passed and proved to be impotent, I think our anxieties cannot be treated as wholly academic, and it is up to the Government to make sure that these Articles are not abused, as it seems to me they might be. Our fears are somewhat reinforced by this extraordinary paragraph about which the Leader of the Opposition asked, the "Understanding of the United States of America," where this distinction is made between Communist aggression and aggression generally.
I dare say that the Foreign Secretary's explanation, relating to the authority given by Congress to United States' representatives, may be perfectly correct. I myself have had experience of the difficulties of reconciling some American constitutional practices with the international requirements of the Charter and other things. It may well be true, but I do suggest that this distinction between different kinds of aggression so clearly infringes the spirit of the Charter that any attempt which may be made at reconciling it with the text of the Charter would be a lawyer's point and nothing more. I hope that there is no significance in the fact that this American reservation appears above our signature and not below it. I should like an assurance at any rate that the United Kingdom on her part sticks to the definition of aggression in the Charter, and does not herself seek to make a distinction of this kind.
I have said enough to show that we on this side find the treaty unimpressive militarily, open to certain abuses in the Articles relating to intervention for the prevention of subversion, and positively improper so far as this American reservation is concerned. The Foreign Secretary said that he hoped or intended that this should be not merely a paper treaty. I do not know. I do not believe myself that very much that is significant can be done under the treaty, and the final point I want to make, to which I attach very great importance, is that since, in my view, this does not represent an effective South-East Asian policy, and not much will be done under it, it must not be allowed to divert us from other and more constructive policies.
Mr. Nehru has said it does not help peace-making in the area. I think he may be right in so far as a positive contribution to peace-making is concerned, 945 but I think he exaggerates when he suggests, as he has done, that it is a positive hindrance to peace-making policies. I believe peace-making policies are just as much open to us now as they were before the treaty was signed, and that we must concentrate on them. A peace-making policy might mean reciprocal guarantees, which might include China. It certainly means normalising relations between China and her neighbours in the Far East, and that general phrase includes within it such diverse problems as a settlement of Formosa, international recognition of the Peking Government, and the introduction of the Peoples Government of China into the United Nations. It also includes, in my view, the intensification of Western economic aid to South-East Asia.
On that point, I was not much reassured by what the Foreign Secretary said. There are many schemes, as he said, operating in South-East Asia. There is a number of United Nations schemes, and there is the Colombo Plan. The right hon. Gentleman referred to it as the principal plan. We, of course, have a special interest in it because we are, to some extent, the joint parents of it, but I doubt whether he would be right in saying it is the principal scheme, because the United Nations schemes are much more considerable in scope and are spending more money in the area than the Colombo Plan. There are also other potential United Nations schemes, as we heard at Questions today, such as the Special Fund, that have not been brought to life, and that, in our view, should be brought to life.
I do not think that any money we are prepared to make available for economic development in the area ought to be diverted from those schemes to be applied under Article III of the Manila Treaty, because if it is applied under the Manila Treaty, presumably there must be discrimination between members and nonmembers. I myself cannot see that there was any real need for any new machinery for economic aid to this area at all, and I very much hope that the all too limited resources are not diverted in some way to become a mere adjunct to the Manila Treaty.
Apart from the question of diverting funds from one channel to another, we on this side of the House believe that a far larger scale of international aid is needed. 946 I was very glad to see that the United States Foreign Aid Administrator, Mr. Stassen, announced that the United States was prepared to do more in relation to the Colombo Plan. That seemed to me to be a step in the right direction. I have been alarmed, on the other hand, to note that certain commentators in our weekend Press say that in Britain the Chancellor of the Exchequer is, as they call it, "applying a squeeze" to all his colleagues. That would presumably include those colleagues who are asking him to maintain or increase our contribution to international organisations. They suggest that he is "applying a squeeze" so that he may be enabled to give tax reliefs, which have a more direct bearing on a forthcoming election.
This may be good vote-catching or it may not, but it is lamentable statesmanship for which the British people and taxpayers may well have to pay very dearly a little later. There could be nothing more short-sighted than a policy in South-East Asia of building up military alliances like the Manila pact, unbuttressed by widespread support in the region, while starving schemes which could build up the economic and political defences of the area.
If we thought that this treaty precluded the development of such schemes or that it precluded co-operation with India and others for restoring normal relations between China and her neighbours, we should have to vote against it. We are not doing so because in our view the treaty need not have that effect. The broad effect of the Geneva settlement was undoubtedly to open up certain paths which might lead to peace in the Far East, and it is upon those paths, rather than upon this digression to Manila, that we on this side of the House continue to have our minds fixed.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Sir Walter Fletcher (Bury and Radcliffe)
The speech of the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger), following that of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, has clarified certain points in the situation but has confused it in other ways. We are so accustomed to the clarity with which my right hon. Friend exposes what occurs at various meetings that we always take it for granted that we shall have available 947 this admirable method of showing what has occurred, step by step.
I must admit—and I speak with a certain particular knowledge of Far Eastern questions—that for a long time I was perturbed by Geneva. On reflection, I came to the conclusion that we had drawn then a very valuable lesson. Geneva was the end of rather a sorry chapter, of a tragedy—the essence of tragedy being that it is something which is avoidable but which nevertheless occurs.
For nine years in this House many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen and myself pointed out, with some knowledge of the question, what was likely to occur in the Red River Delta of Indo-China, but we could not break through the extreme difficulty which arose because the French were in charge and it was "their" area. In fact, the whole time it was an international question and one which affected America, ourselves and the whole of South-East Asia equally.
Had we taken action in time, the power which Vietminh achieved and the support which it received a good deal later from Communist China need never have occurred. I speak with particular knowledge of this question, having spent nearly two years on that border, and I have not the slightest doubt that we could have brought about a situation as a result of which the southern provinces of Indo-China, which have never been at one with the North, would not have been so easily open to Communism and Communism there would not have given the aggressive support to Vietminh which was subsequently afforded.
I think Geneva was an admission that we had learned that lesson, and that is why I believe that Manila, incomplete, as it is, in many ways, is the best possible arrangement and the best possible recovery from the dangers brought so prominently into notice at Geneva. I do not say for a moment that the Manila arrangement is perfect; it is far from perfect.
The Foreign Secretary made two comments about it to which I think I ought to refer. He said it had two functions, one military and the other economic. But if we are clear-eyed about it, we must ask, who will supply the military power? Who will put the teeth into it, as we used to 948 ask years ago when we were discussing German affairs? We cannot do it. We are at present very heavily mortgaged by a realistic policy in Europe which recognises de jure what was always de facto the case. We have no power of any sort in the Manila area. The ex-A.N.Z.U.S. Powers have a certain amount, but they are not likely to be able to use them to any considerable extent in order to stop aggression by military means, if aggression of the open order occurs.
The truth is—and it is well to bring it into the open—that there is only one Power which can possibly do it, and that is the United States of America; and that is why, although I am far from agreeing with the American policy on every possible occasion—and I will touch on that a little later—I believe that we have to accept the Manila agreement and the U.S.A. reservation which was criticised by the right hon. Member for Grimsby from the clear point of view that there is one and only one means by which the military strength of the Manila agreement can be made a real and a proper visible deterrent. That is why it is so important that everything said here, outside the House and in China, should be said against the background of its effect in America.
There is a tendency, on the economic side, to say that we must raise the standard of living in these Far Eastern countries and that when we have done so we shall have gone a long way towards solving the problem. Let me put it in this way: in China there is a minimum of 500 million people. That is a low figure. If we were to raise their standard of living by £1 per head per annum, and this country spent £10 per head on their social services outside the indirect services, it would mean an expenditure in one form or another of £500 million a year.
It might be in the form—as I have seen in the backward parts of China—of enabling the Chinese to get away from the wooden plough, which is still the instrument by which agriculture, the main industry of China, is carried on, and to change to the iron or steel plough; or it might be in the form of taking the wooden wheel out of the cart, which is drawn by man rather than by beast, and substituting the rubber-tyred cart, which was the greatest piece of progress which has taken place in China for many years; 949 or it might be in the form of hydroelectric schemes, or the many other developments which meet first-priority needs in China. Whatever the form, the financial implication of the above policy must be faced. China is not a rich exporting country, as we must bear in mind when East-West trade is discussed; but I will not go deeply into that subject, because this may not be the right time to do so.
We must not be blind to the fact that the process of raising their standard of living will be slow and very gradual. We must not be carried away, as all too frequently we are carried away, by the easy catch-phrase of "raising the standard of living." What we are paying at present towards the Colombo Plan is already a very considerable strain on this country. If the terms of trade alter against us to a certain extent when the competition we shall feel from Japan and Germany is felt even more, it will make it very difficult to maintain the huge sums that are involved in raising the standard of an area where about 800 million people are involved. We have to watch that very carefully.
What we are really considering this afternoon is this: Is this instrument of Manila the best one for the purpose, and has anything occurred since it was initiated which may make it less so? In that connection, I would remind the House that, before we broke up in July, I asked the Foreign Secretary whether he thought that it would not be wise—this was just after the plane had been shot down outside Hainan—that the journey of the Leader of the Opposition and his friends should be postponed. I think that the answer he gave me, with which I disagreed at the time, was, nevertheless, the right one. I think it would have been in a way worse to have tried, probably unsuccessfully, to have stopped that journey than to have allowed it to take place.
I am going to make certain comments on it from the reports I have received about it. First of all, the great handicap which the right hon. Gentleman and his friends suffered was that they went to Peking. Peking is no more typical of China than is Washington of the U.S.A.; it is the worst possible place from which to form a judgment on what is happening in the rest of China. I was very 950 surprised and rather shocked by some of the remarks which the right hon. Gentleman is supposed to have made. The measure of the extent to which he was forced to make these statements I think lies in two things: the very factual report of Mr. Sam Watson, who has no political difficulties to deal with, and the remarks which had been made recently by Lord Lindsay of Birker as to the extent to which a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman and his friends saw was prefabricated and prepared. He is a very experienced observer.
§ Mr, Attlee
He referred to a particular village as having been specially prepared, and we have all agreed that we did not think that typical. We knew that that was so, and we said so. The hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in suggesting that we did draw very large conclusions from Peking. On the contrary, in every statement I have made I pointed out the limited amount we were able to see.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
Where did the right hon. Gentleman get the basis for his statement? By some very curious gift which he seems to possess he was able to assess an increase in commercial probity in the 95 per cent. of China which he did not visit.
§ Mr. Attlee
The fact was, with regard to Peking, that we stated that flies had disappeared there and in some other towns. We also visited Shanghai, and the evidence on which we based ourselves in particular were the statements from about 170 Europeans there who agreed on that point.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
I have travelled through many provinces of China, and I will come to the question of Shanghai in a minute. I should like to say this. The recognition of China, of which I was one of the few on this side to approve, we always said did not mean approval. The right hon. Gentleman has certainly given the impression in China, if one reads the vernacular Press and reports in the U.S.A., that recognition of China is condonation.
§ Mr. Attlee
The hon. Gentleman is entirely misrepresenting me. Over and over again I have pointed out to the Americans that the recognition of a Government does not mean approval. I recognise the hon. Gentleman; I do not necessarily approve of him.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
I am going a bit further than that, because I condemn the right hon. Gentleman for the line he took. One useful lesson which he appears to have missed is that there is in China a magnificent and well-developed system for the removal, not always painlessly, of political rivals, and that he might have taken advantage of but certainly did not.
§ Mr. Attlee
If instead of that very cheap retort with which the hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to cover his retreat he will acknowledge that he has grossly misrepresented me, he will be living up to the reputation which he used to have in this House.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
I have not grossly misrepresented the right hon. Gentleman. The impression he has left, and if he reads the American Press—[Interruption] —the American Press has its impressions and is entitled to them—and if he reads a good deal of the Press in China and here, he will see that the impression he undoubtedly gave was that he had, without having the opportunity of getting first-hand knowledge, on hearsay, taken the line which could locally, at any rate, only have one effect, and that is to put heart into a country which has been an aggressor of the worst possible kind.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman and the House all the way through should recognise this: there has been a major change of policy in China recently. From time immemorial, at least 500 years—this book is Marco Polo's first edition, and his comments were printed in 1485—going back quite a long way—from that time onwards the policy of China has always been an exclusive one to keep out the foreigner. Now there is a new policy, and it is vital that that should be recognised. I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman did recognise it, because whilst exclusivity still reigns as a policy, there has been grafted on to it an almost rabid colonial expansionist policy with completely unjustified targets from every point of view. Any attempt made, or which could be interpreted in that sense, to give countenance to that and in any way agree with it must be condemned.
Turning to the question of Tibet, was there any possible justification for the 952 taking of Tibet? Was there any possible justification for the incitement, the continuance and the expansion of the Korean war, or for the similar attempt in Indo-China by aid to Vietnamh? None at all.
I cannot help feeling that the sort of thread that ran through what the right hon. Gentleman said of let bygones be bygones was intensely dangerous. When does a bygone become a bygone? Is it when the corpse is still warm? Is it from the American point of view, America having expended such a colossal amount of life, and the French point of view, too, really the time for this? I cannot believe that for a single moment. That is why I think that the right hon. Gentleman was wrong in the impression that he gave.
He talks about his visit to Shanghai. It is very important to realise what happened. I do not believe, from what I hear—and I have considerable connections—that the impression he tries to bring back now is a very correct one. In Shanghai there was the most open blackmail and holding under duress of British nationals and other nationals there, and yet there is talk now of opening up East-West trade and giving enormous credit to a country that had brought about anything as shameful as the treatment there. What was the sin of these people? They developed in China, shipbuilding and repairs, electricity, electrical plants, all the things for the development of China, and China has scooped the lot for nothing.
§ Mr. Davies
The hon. Member is making a most scurrilous attack on my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
It is fully justified by the impression that the right hon. Gentleman has conveyed and the facts as they stand. The right hon. Gentleman knows, and we all know, what is the real trouble. The middle-of-the-road leader of the left-wing party is always in very grave 953 danger in having to give hostages to fortune, to the left wing of his party. He is in a dangerous position, and the amount that he said and gave way on this occasion and the impression which exists throughout China, deny it as he may, and which exists in America, is a serious handicap to the working of the Manila agreement.
I ask the Leader of the Opposition one final thing in regard to Formosa. He is on record—I do not wish to do him an injustice by misquoting him—as making a remark that it would be wiser to hand Formosa over to the Communists. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out—in this I agree with him entirely—that Chiang Kai-shek had sacrificed and lost for good and all the support of the Chinese, but I do not think the right hon. Gentleman realises why he lost it. It was not that he robbed China, which he did, but that he robbed immoderately. He and the Soong dynasty, who were attached to him, committed the one sin in Chinese eyes which must not be committed: that is, the people who are essentially behaviourist to rob without measure barefacedly.
But be that as it may, the fate of Formosa surely cannot be settled on the lines that the right hon. Gentleman expressed. We have heard from him and his hon. Friends on his side of the House recently in regard to Cyprus very strong calls for a plebiscite to be taken. Would he abide by a plebiscite properly arranged and carried out by the people of Formosa? What right have we in any way to settle the fate of Formosa without asking the people of Formosa, who are not typically Chinese?
§ Mr. Attlee
As the hon. Member is now asking me a question, perhaps I can answer him. The suggestion that I made was that Formosa should be put under a trusteeship of the United Nations for a period of years in order, under proper conditions, to find out what the people themselves want. That is precisely what I recommended.
§ Mr. Attlee
The hon. Gentleman surely has attended Press conferences and has some acquaintance with the Press, and surely he understands that the Press do not report fully? I am not prepared to have my statements judged by what appears in the American Press.
§ Sir W. Fletcher
Certainly that is a step in the right direction. We now know, which is vitally important, that Formosa will in the end abide by what the people of Formosa want. But it is equally important that that should be true in Indo-China, in Siam and in Burma. I wish to pay a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman on Burma, because it was his Government that initiated the policy—I was one of those who supported what he said at the time—which has proved very successful. It is one of the few spots in the area where there is very considerable help.
Let me turn, however, to the question of the Manila agreement. I am disquieted by it, but not exactly for the same reason as the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger). I do not believe that it will be sterile. I think I have support on both sides of the House in saying that the undermining by underground means that is going on in Siam in particular calls for immediate attention. I believe that paragraph 2 of Article IV, which was explained to us by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, which provides for consultations to begin with, will not allow the necessary action to be taken.
The whole history of the Far East, of the collapse there—we forget the "Amethyst" very easily—the whole question of stopping Communism and the new policy of colonial aggressiveness, quite irrespective of ethnological questions, must be one of timing. I hope that the Minister who replies will be able to give some assurance, at any rate, that if today a member nation—I gather that all members have the right to do so—were to notify the signatories to the agreement that there was reason to believe that subversive warfare was going on very strongly in Siam, some action would be taken immediately. Unless that is so, the possibility of getting more members will to some extent be hindered, which is, of course, a matter of grave concern.
But let us think quite clearly on the main proposition. This new instrument is far from perfect. Like all such instruments and international bodies and meetings, it only provides an opportunity. Will it be seized upon by those most concerned, ourselves as well as others?
We heard from the Foreign Secretary today of the vast increase in the forces 955 of Vietminh. We know what is happening in China. What are these forces to be used for? No country acquires and maintains forces like that without reason for doing so, and the grave disquiet that exists, not only all through Indo-China, but in these other countries, as to what will happen in the next year or two must in the end be centred on one thing and on one thing alone. That is whether we will be able to have aid in time from the only Power that we can possibly hope to make the agreement work from the military point of view: that is, the United States of America.
On many points I do not agree with the policy of the United States of America, but let anybody read the Marshall Report and the Weddermeyer Report that were made during the war in China. Let us remember that during the war we and America promoted China to being a great Power when, in fact, she was not. Now that America sees the extent of success of Communism—and it would be unwise not to count on its permanence and to say to ourselves that it might possibly change—she is quite realistically appraising what may happen. It is most unwise that so much is said and done in criticism of the one country that can provide adequate military power in the area and which in the end must contribute so very largely to the economic policy which has been adumbrated by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
There is no doubt that in the final issue the agreement is not a strong beginning. It is a good recovery from a difficult and bad situation, but it is all the more urgent and necessary that the bi-partisan policy which we have managed to pursue up to date should continue. For that reason, at any rate, I was glad that the right hon. Member for Grimsby, speaking from the opposite side, pointed out that the House could not be divided upon this. Nevertheless, there stands out clearly the problem of how to get at one with the United States of America to provide this organisation as the one deterrent to further aggression. There is the other point of view of what we can do to increase such aid as we can give in this area where the problem of an increasing population, which is going on the whole time, provides the certainty 956 that the standard of living is likely to go back rather than advance because the increase in population is so enormous. Let us devote ourselves to these problems instead of thinking of the possible electoral effects of anything that may be done or said in this area, which is still by a long way the most dangerous part of the whole world.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I must say that I admired the nerve of the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher) when he ended up his speech with an appeal for a bi-partisan policy when prior to that he had made such cheap and unworthy attacks upon my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. He said late in his speech that he was going to turn to the Manila Treaty, but it would have been much better if he had turned to the subject somewhat earlier. Then his speech would not have been sullied with remarks which are unworthy of him and which, I think, are below the standard that hon. Gentlemen maintain in this House. To refuse to accept the assurances of my right hon. Friend about what he said because of reports which have appeared in the American newspapers seems to me an extraordinary position for any hon. Member in this House to adopt.
I want to make three points about the debate this evening. One concerns what the Foreign Secretary said about the Colombo Plan. I was not altogether happy about it. The right hon. Gentleman said what a fine plan it was and how well it was working. With that I agree, but then he went on to say that the economic provisions of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty must be developed, and that leaves open the question whether or not the Colombo Plan will be drawn somehow or other into the S.E.A.T.O. arrangements. The right hon. Gentleman was not at all clear on that point. He seemed to be speaking with some ambiguity.
As I understand it, it is vitally important that the Colombo Plan shall not be drawn into the S.E.A.T.O. organisation until at least the S.E.A.T.O. organisation has as large a membership as the Colombo Plan. That Plan includes every single one of the nations of South and South-East Asia, whereas the S.E.A.T.O. organisation does not include 957 them all. Therefore, it would tend to upset the universality of the Colombo Plan in that part of the world if it were drawn into S.E.A.T.O.
Also I must say that, except as an example of ingenuity, I was not impressed by the right hon. Gentleman's defence of the American reservation about Communist aggression. I can understand America for their own reasons wishing to do such a thing, but we should make it clear to them that we are not making these distinctions.
We are against aggression. That is the purpose of the Manila Treaty, that it is opposed to aggression from any quarter. To start making distinctions between Communist aggression and other aggression is to weaken morally the position of the democracies in the West. I hope whoever replies to this debate for the Government will be a little more clear.
But my main point is that I support this Treaty for reasons somewhat stronger than those given by my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger). Nobody could pretend that this is an ideal treaty. It could be stronger, have more teeth in it; it could be more comprehensive, and it could have in it India and Ceylon. None the less, I think it would be wrong to regard it as of no value, as something just along a side-road, something to which we need not pay attention.
This treaty tries to draw a line in a part of the world where it is very important to draw a line. I agree with the Foreign Secretary when he speaks about it being very important for us to make clear to the world where we would draw the line. The great error that was made before two world wars was that we did not draw such a line; and, therefore, it is very important to make our position clear now. This new treaty goes a considerable way towards doing that, and that seems to me to be a positive advantage.
There is a danger of aggression in that part of the world. I do not agree with those who say there is a certainty of aggression, as some Americans do. That to me is stupid, but that there is danger of aggression is beyond doubt. It has been proved and supported by things that have happened in the last year or two. This treaty does something to build up some 958 sort of an organisation against aggression and to give notice that aggression will have very dangerous and very grave consequences. That seems to me to be a positive advantage.
I think that this treaty may well give us time; it will serve to deter aggression that might otherwise occur if this treaty were not in existence. And time is what we need above all because we cannot develop our plans to try to attract other democratic Asian Powers unless we have time. We cannot develop economic aid and assistance in various forms unless we have time, and this Treaty has the great merit that it may win us time in which we can develop these more positive policies in the Far East.
I do not agree with the view that S.E.A.T.O. is of no importance. It seems to me an integral part of the policy of winning time in order to achieve the things that my right hon. Friend said have got to be done if we are to have reasonable international amity, peace and prosperity in that area of the world.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Sir Harold Roper (Cornwall, North)
There are in this House varying views on many of the subjects concerning South-East Asia but, as I understand it, we are having this debate not in order to air those differences but to reaffirm our united concern with the countries of South-East Asia in stemming the advance of Communism. I find myself in close agreement with the general trend of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) in regard to the value of the Manila Treaty.
The fundamental issue is that of the ultimate intentions of China. Is her policy one of expansion, perhaps aimed at enveloping ultimately all the countries of South-East Asia, or will she be content merely to revolutionise the social, political and economic conditions within her own boundaries? We all deplore much that has happened in China, the lack of individual liberty, the suppression of individual thought and the shocking treatment of British interests in Shanghai, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher) referred, but which in my view is less relevant to our debate today.
As my hon. Friend reminded the House, the aggressive policy pursued by 959 China in Tibet and in Korea, and in supporting Vietminh, in Indo-China, certainly suggests expansion. At the same time there are various subversive movements in the South-East Asian countries. On the other hand, the desire for territorial expansion is not a characteristic of the Chinese, and it may be that in this respect Chinese Communism is different from Russian Communism, because Russia has always had a desire for expansion. My hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe, however, rejects this view and is convinced that China is expansionist.
It would be a mistake to take that view prematurely, and it is significant that amongst those who take the opposite view is Mr. Nehru. He appears to believe that there is still reason to hope that history will repeat itself as regards China, and that she will confine her activities to within her own boundaries. We can only hope that he will prove right in his judgment. The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) took the view that Mr. Nehru's complaint was with the terms of the treaty, but my reading of his many speeches on this subject has been rather different. It is not so much that Mr. Nehru objects to the terms of the treaty, as that he is not ready to accede to it at the present time, but, as time passes, his views may change.
While, therefore, we must hope for the best, and believe that China's intentions are peaceful, it would be a great mistake not to be ready for the worst or to depart one iota from our policy of attaining peace through strength. So we must support this treaty, which aims not only at the development of economic strength in that quarter of the world but also at military strength within the framework of defence.
As has been said, there is no sign that strength in decisive measure will come from any source other than America. Surely, therefore we must rejoice that America is in the Manila Treaty with us and perhaps it is a little ungracious and unwise to look the gift horse in the mouth, and to criticise the reservation made by America in the treaty with regard to aggression being only from Communist sources.
It has been also said with much truth that for the defence of South-East Asia 960 to be effective we must have the co-operation of the countries of South-East Asia. It is disappointing that more of the Colombo Plan countries have not subscribed to the treaty but I am not discouraged by that.
For better or worse Mr. Nehru has made his five-point "gentlemen's agreement" with Chou En-lai, involving peaceful co-existence, and has followed it up with his visit to Peking. It is greatly to be hoped that the terms of that "gentlemen's agreement" will be observed in spirit as well as in letter, and also that they will be applied to the other countries of South-East Asia, because quite clearly any further encroachment of Communism in the South-East Asian countries would be of very great concern to us all, including India.
Whether Mr. Nehru's policy succeeds or not, I am convinced that the signing of this treaty has created in South-East Asia an atmosphere in which that policy has the best chance of succeeding. I believe that the sense of peace with strength which lies at the back of it must have that effect in the countries of South-East Asia.
I should like to say a few words about Burma, a country which is well-known to me, and which I was fortunate enough to be able to revisit earlier this year as a member of the Parliamentary Delegation, Burma, of course, and perhaps not unnaturally, leans very heavily towards India as towards a big brother. The tide of war swept over Burma twice before the Japanese were finally defeated. Since then Burma has had to cope with seven years of internal rebellion and has had no opportunity to settle down properly. The last thing that Burma wants is another war. That is why she cannot subscribe immediately to the treaty, and she is not likely to do so until India does.
Nevertheless, Burma borders on China and on Indo-China, and she is very conscious of the danger. She needs something more than messages of mutual good will to sustain her sense of security. Even though Burma is not a member of it, the existence of the Manila Treaty will strengthen her confidence to resist aggressive Communism. Many of us, including myself, have very warm feelings for Burma. I believe that those feelings are reciprocated; I believe there is in Burma greater good will towards us than there 961 has ever been. I have faith—it is a faith —that in some way that good will will ultimately react to the benefit both of ourselves and of Burma, and will help towards a happy solution.
We also went to Indonesia. Indonesia is important for its strategic position, for its size—sprawling over 3,000 miles of ocean—and for its population, which exceeds the total population of our British Colonial Territories, a fact very little realised in our country. It is important also through the very uncertainty of its political future.
It is significant that in Indonesia there are three million Chinese living their own lives, not particularly interested in politics, but, like Chinese elsewhere, their tendency in regard to party politics in their own country is to side with those in power at the moment. The Communists have a strong hold in the trade unions and are also helping to sustain the present Government in power.
Nevertheless, I believe that the strength of the Moslem faith and a generally prosperous countryside are countervailing factors which should operate against the spread of Communism. I have some confidence in President Sukarno to counteract the threat of Communism. He has shown firmness in the past in dealing with it. In his speeches also he has shown a full realisation that in the world today a country like Indonesia cannot stand alone, but must have friends. Like Mr. Nehru and U. Nu in Burma, he realises the necessity for co-operation with his neighbours.
Although none of these three countries, India, Burma, and Indonesia, has yet found itself able to subscribe to it, I regard it as one of the greatest merits of the treaty that, should circumstances arise which cause those countries to have second thoughts, there is nothing in its terms to which real exception can be taken. It is a treaty of mutual aid for defensive purposes, and there is nothing in it even remotely resembling anything else.
In all these three countries at the present a strict neutralism is the order of the day but, if Mr. Nehru's hopes are not realised, if the countries of South-East Asia continue to find Communism still active in their midst—active with propaganda, active in infiltration of the trade 962 unions, active in the teaching of Communism in Chinese schools in those countries, I refer particularly in that respect to Burma, and if China continues to devote heavy expenditure to the fighting forces even though active hostilities have ceased—then I do not despair that all the free countries of South-East Asia may yet find themselves coming in as parties with us to the Manila Treaty.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Mr. J. A. Sparks (Acton)
It is not very often that I have the privilege of making a contribution in a debate on foreign policy, but I am very pleased to follow the hon. baronet the Member for Cornwall, North (Sir H. Roper), because he and I were members of a Parliamentary Delegation which visited Burma and Indonesia in the early part of the year. We were therefore to some extent able to come in close contact with the problem which the House is debating tonight, and I feel, no doubt like the hon. baronet, that our impressions may be of some value.
§ Mr. Sparks
Well, the hon. Gentleman.
I do not believe that we can regard the Manila Treaty as an attempt to circle China, as some of my hon. Friends would seem to infer. If we take a look at the map of Asia we find that China, together with her ally the Soviet Union, account for about 75 per cent. of the land mass of the Continent. Between them they account for something like 1,000 million of the population. They possess overwhelming natural resources awaiting development and between them they have a well-equipped standing army of something like 9 million.
When we look at the map and pinpoint the other countries in South-East Asia, apart perhaps from India, their populations, relatively speaking, are small. They are weak and backward countries. Illiteracy is predominant throughout. India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Burma and Indonesia are young countries. They are experimenting with this great idea of social democracy. They have received their freedom in these post-war years, and are endeavouring, perhaps in different ways, to apply the principles of social democracy within their own borders. They look to us for guidance in this respect. The respect which they have 963 for our Parliamentary institutions is a matter of great thankfulness so far as we are concerned, because they think that there is something in our democratic system worthy of emulation.
What is the position in those countries? They are mostly defenceless. Were there an act of aggression in that part of the world, I doubt whether any of them could resist for very long. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North referred to Burma. It is a small country of 18 million people. Parts of it are occupied by Communist insurgent forces. Fortunately the Government has well established itself and is gradually overcoming this element. Nevertheless, it is having to spend much of its resources on maintaining internal security, and there is no doubt that if there were an act of aggression against her by China, Burma is in no position to resist.
This history of Indonesia is very similar in many respects to that of Burma. When Burma gained her independence in 1947 it was the signal for the Communist Party to attempt a coup d'état to overthrow the Government, and that movement has not yet been suppressed. The Communist Party attempted to do precisely the same thing in 1948 when Indonesia was on the point of receiving her independence.
§ Mr. Sparks
Guatemala has nothing to do with this. We are talking about South-East Asia at the moment. Both Burma and Indonesia have been grappling not only with the problem of internal security, not only with the problem of illiteracy, not only with the absence of a competent and efficient civil service, but with an attempt to reconstruct and redevelop their countries in order to give a fuller life to their own people.
Both Burma and Indonesia were occupied by the Japanese for many years, and they battened upon the resources of both countries. When the Japanese went, Burma was able to receive independence within a very short period of time. But Indonesia had to struggle for many years to secure independence. Therefore I do not despair, 964 neither would anybody who has had contact with Burma and Indonesia despair, at the fact that these countries are not able at the moment to adhere to the principles of the Manila Treaty. But, and make no mistake about it, at the backs of their minds—and I spoke to many of them—if there were an act of aggression upon either of these countries, is the belief that Britain and the United States would help to defend them. Therefore, although we may criticise, and my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) may laugh at it——
§ Mr. Sparks
My hon. Friend asked why the people of Burma do not want S.E.A.T.O. One reason why at the moment they are unable to adhere to it is that if they adhere to a treaty of that description it places upon them a military obligation which economically they are not in a position to withstand at the present time. The same applies to other nations at the moment outside the Manila Treaty. They must be expected to provide sufficient forces to make the treaty effective. It means they would have to increase their expenditure on armaments and military forces which they can ill-afford to do at the present time.
§ Mr. Sparks
They have an internal problem of great magnitude with which to cope. Whether or not the Manila Treaty will secure additional adherence in the years ahead must depend to a great extent, not only upon the internal conditions in these countries that are now outside, but very largely upon the reactions from Communist China. The South-East Asian countries know there is very little evidence in the poet-war years to prove that the intention of Communist foreign policy is peaceful. Indeed, it is very far from it.
§ Mr. Warbey rose——
§ Mr. Sparks
I have given way quite enough. Let me get on. They have sufficient evidence in Korea, not to mention any other parts of the world, and if there has been a change of attitude on 965 the part of the great Communist powers of Asia. I am sure we shall all welcome that change. At the moment there is not very much evidence of that.
Therefore, the Manila Treaty, with all its ambiguities and weaknesses, and in spite of all the criticisms that can be levelled against it, may yet prove to be a source of strength. If what has been said from the Front Benches on either side today is correct, there is nothing for China, Soviet Russia or anybody else to fear in the Manila Treaty. It is a warning light, and it will give encouragement to all the countries in South-East Asia to realise that peace and security are something for which they must work together.
I should like to refer to the speech by the Indonesian Ambassador, which is reported in the journal "Indonesian Information," for October, 1954, and to quote it, because the Ambassador put into better words than I or most hon. Members could, the problems which face his own country and all the Colombo Powers. He spoke of the Colombo Powers and the preservation of peace in Asia, and said:Since the end of the second world war saw the emergence of new independent States throughout Asia, all of whom face the enormous task of rebuilding their countries, there can be no doubt that the outstanding problem is the preservation of peace in Asia.When we talk of peace, I think it is most important that we always bear in mind the fact that peace is not static, but is essentially dynamic. All too often, man has considered peace in a negative light, defining it as the absence of war, an interlude between battles, a hiatus in the cycle of world-shattering events. Because we Asian Powers are undertaking to match with performance the promise of our revolution, we may be able to prove that to dream of, to plan for and to build a successful social system, at peace with its neighbours, can be just as thrilling and demand just as much courage and foresight as the planning of a military operation. Probably we in Asia have a better opportunity to prove this point since our struggle for an improved standard of living must of necessity assume all the proportions of a major campaign, for we are confronting the forces of Nature, which for centuries have robbed us of our chance to live and yet which hold the key to our future prosperity. We must fight disease and famine with the same tenacity as we withstood human adversaries, and our pioneers of medicine and engineering will require the endurance of front line troops when grappling with the overwhelming odds which they are required to face…Our common aim is positive construction and to achieve our end 966 we need peace and time. …Our able-bodied men are desperately needed, not to shoulder rifles but to carry the materials and tools of reconstruction…As I have said, we need time and we need peace, and for this reason Indonesia and others have no wish to become aligned with any military bloc. We want no commitments which may plunge us into war before we have time to lay the foundations of our new way of life. As you know, we have carried our policy of non-alignment right through to the point of not participating in S.E.A.T.O. We maintain an independent foreign policy.That does not prove what some of my hon. Friends seek to infer. There is no great hostility to the Manila Treaty, for reasons of which we are all aware. These countries are apprehensive of what has been taking place in Korea and Viet Nam. They are under no illusions as to the danger of Communist foreign policy.
I think that time will prove as the Colombo Plan gathers force and develops its strength and the economic problems of these countries are brought nearer solution, that if the countries can overcome the poverty, disease and malnutrition and improve the education and knowledge of their people, they will be better able to organise and develop their resources. That is an important consideration. Therefore, I would say that we must give the new treaty a chance to prove itself. I believe that in course of time it will be found that additional nations will be prepared to adhere to it.
I am sure that in those countries which I was privileged to visit the people, although at the moment they cannot see their way to undertake the military commitments involved in membership of the treaty, have in their minds the clear faith that, if danger threatens, their best friends are Britain and the United States.
§ 9.2 p.m.
§ Mr. William Teeling (Brighton, Pavilion)
I listened with the greatest interest to what was said by the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks). I got the impression that there is just a possibility that we may eventually find ourselves with too many military commitments in too many parts of the world. It would seem from what the hon. Gentleman said that at present, and possibly for quite a long time, the countries to which he referred have no intention whatever of trying to do anything to pull their weight militarily. I do not say that this must not be, but it is something about 967 which we ought to be careful. I will come back to that later.
I should like to ask two questions which perhaps the Joint Under-Secretary may be able to answer. One is not so much a question of my own as one which has been asked by a large number of Britishers in the Far East. When my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was not able to go himself to take part in the conference why—although everybody knows that Lord Reading is a very great expert on the subject—was not advantage taken of the services of Mr. Malcolm MacDonald and the organisation at Singapore?
It would be useful if my hon. Friend could give some reason for that. We know that Mr. MacDonald went away on holiday at about that time, but he has been in Singapore for many years now, with a very expensive organisation. I believe that it is right to say that he has become a great expert on that part of the world. That being so, it would be of interest to know just why he was not able to go.
I should also like to know why Hong Kong and Formosa have been left out of this treaty. It may be that Formosa has been left out because of the problems that would be involved if she were included, but if anything were to happen to Formosa it would cause the greatest alarm in the Philippines, who feel that Formosa is their northern bulwark.
The Philippines extend right down to the border of North Borneo and if they fell, that would endanger our Colony. I sometimes think that we know far too little about the Philippines and that we see far too little of their people when they visit us. With regard to Hong Kong being left out, it would be very alarming if there were any suggestion that we were not taking the defence and protection of Hong Kong completely seriously and I should like to be reassured on this point.
As far as I can see from the treaty, we are determined from now onwards to stop the advance of Communism and Communist propaganda, but I should like to know exactly in what way we are to do so. It is so very simple for Communism to be taught as it is being taught today in Indo-China.
968 As far as one can gather, what happens is that the Communists send experts who know the patois of the local districts, and who ask the people, "Are you against the absentee landowner?" to which the people inevitably reply in the affirmative. Then they are asked, "Are you also against the userer or moneylender?" to which again the reply is, "Yes." They are then told that that is all that Communism is. That is the kind of teaching that the people in the Laos and Cambodia areas are getting. Are we making any serious efforts to resist that?
I know that we have recently sent out a very live and vital youngish new minister to Laos, but, we must do more. We have in Hong Kong a perfect shop window, showing the East what can be done. Mr. Malcolm MacDonald has recently told us that he feels absolutely certain that the best form of propaganda against Communism is to increase the standard of living and to increase employment. If that is so, we should be able to show the people of Indo-China the tremendous advances which have been made in Hong Kong, what a wonderful experiment it has been, and the way in which, since the war, we have been able to put it back on its feet.
We may get the answer that Indo-China is still so closely connected with France that it is not for us to do anything like that, but from what I have heard in Paris during the last few weeks the business people connected with Indo-China are considerably perturbed at the lack of interest in Indo-China which is now being shown by the present French Premier and Government. They give the impression that they are immensely relieved to be rid of the problem and can now put themselves, because of this, in a position of greater strength in Europe. They give the impression that they are not worrying very much what happens in that part of the world. That is rather unfair to us.
Not only should we give publicity to what we have achieved in Hong Kong, but we ought to be taking a little more trouble about other areas, such as Formosa. There, too, the West is building up a better standard of living. At the present time we have a consul there, but Australia, New Zealand and Canada have ambassadors. Trade in that country is flourishing, and I do not think that it would indicate any failure of our policy 969 of pushing trade with China if we were to increase our trade interests and connections in Formosa.
It has recently been stated that the United States are now slowly coming round to the idea of making Formosa a neutral country, if possible, and proving that Formosa has not belonged to China for a long time. That is true. Formosa was under the Japanese from 1900. Before that the Chinese had no real control over it, and at many times in many periods Chinese who were persecuted by the then Chinese Government used to escape to Formosa. Formosa may become important again in the not far distant future for the following reason.
I personally do not believe that China, that land of such vast area, and with a population of between 500 million and 600 million, will hold together indefinitely, The biggest worries the Chinese Government have now are economic worries, and the screw will eventually have to be turned on the farmers, and then the Government will have trouble, especially in the southern parts of China. If there is trouble in the Canton area it may well be that many of the southern Chinese will seek to link up, not necessarily with Chiang Kai-shek, but certainly with elements in Formosa.
I hope that other countries not mentioned in the treaty may enter the treaty as time goes on, and I hope that Japan will not be forgotten. Mr. Yoshida, who has just been here, has in the last few weeks made it abundantly clear that South-East Asia is an area with which Japan wants to trade and must trade. Just as we are bringing Germany into N.A.T.O., I hope we shall see no reason why we cannot bring Japan into a share of the responsibility for the protection, if protection should be needed, of South-East Asia.
We must not forget we have immense possibilities there, but unless we use the right type of propaganda, which is close to hand, in the more backward parts of South-East Asia things will go by default and the Communists will inevitably get control. If, on the other hand, we use the sort of propaganda Hong Kong itself provides, and if we do something for the refugees who are now pouring out of northern Viet Nam down to the south, and if generally, whenever possible, the Government show they are really 970 interested in what is going on in South-East Asia, as they will have an opportunity of doing at the forthcoming meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers, we can stop Communism from spreading out there. But we must start immediately.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I sympathise with the Foreign Secretary. He did a magnificent job of work for Britain at Geneva. I remember distinctly the speech he made when he came back from Geneva, when he said that he believed that the Geneva Conference was unique in that at it there were Chinese, Russian and British representatives. When they did not sulk, and when Mr. Foster Dulles and others did not wander away, we had some representatives from America there, too. A really constructive job of work for world peace was then done by a Conservative Foreign Secretary, and it would be churlish of any party or any man not to recognise that. I recognise the work the right hon. Gentleman did, and I pay tribute to him for it.
But what has happened since? We have had this Manila Treaty. The right hon. Gentleman pretends that it has emanated from Geneva. We have only to consider the speeches made in this House by the Foreign Secretary and his deputies to see that they have been bewitched and bewildered by American foreign policy in the Pacific Ocean. Nothing worries them more than the kind of foreign policy that America is foisting on us.
§ Mr. Davies
I am quite prepared to pay tribute to a good job of work done by anybody for the peace of the world, whoever does it, but the flattering terms in which on both sides of the House the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation has been described tonight betray a complete misunderstanding of the poverty and the wretchedness of the Asiatic peoples.
First, I am sick to death of the word "Communism" being made an excuse for all kinds of events. I have never had a Communist Party card in my life, but I maintain the right to say when I think they are right and when I think they are 971 wrong. The connotation of the word "Communist" depends on circumstances. If the Communist is Tito, he can dine with the Queen.
§ Mr. Davies
But if the same Communist, at a certain moment, does not suit, up we go in arms, and then we hear high-powered speeches from both sides of the House defending our struggle against Communism. Nobody wants to struggle against Communism—and Conservatism —more than I do.
It is suggested that the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation will cure the world, but this treaty is not defending China or defending South-East Asia; it is offending South-East Asia. We do not cure gangrene by pouring lavender water on it. While the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation may smell sweet, it does not cover the hunger, the wretchedness and the poverty which underlies the struggle of the Asiatic people for their liberation.
The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher) posed as an authority on South-East Asia. He is ill, and I am a kindly individual; and I therefore refrained from interrupting him. Further, I was wise enough to realise that if I had interrupted him I should have spoiled my chance of being called in the debate. The hon. Gentleman spoke of what we had given to China. He mentioned Hong Kong. Has the House forgotten that when the war broke out in the Far East the water supply of Hong Kong was cut off on Christmas Day and from that moment Hong Kong was finished? One can have all kinds of guns, but they are useless if there is no water. The lives of 2 million people were at stake.
The truth is that we are building up military treaties and commitments all over the world while we are investing less per head in this country than America and Germany are investing at home, while we are consuming only about the same amount as we consumed in 1938, while we are falling behind our future competitors and falling more and more into debt.
If hon. Members would like to check these facts, they should go into the Library and look at this month's Colonial 972 Digest. Consider how the sterling assets of Hong Kong have grown while our treaties of peace through strength have spread over the Pacific Ocean, with its now radioactive atmosphere. Radioactive ash now falls on Singapore. There was a case the other day in which it was found that the gloves of a crew of a Japanese boat, a thousand miles from the South Pole, were radioactive.
People are living in a dream world when they talk about the strength of conventional weapons. Could the Manila Treaty Powers get a navy into those waters? Could we move it through radioactive seas? If we have 20 hydrogen bombs and Russia has one hydrogen bomb, it is still the boy who delivers the first bomb who finishes the war. It is not the quantity that we have which counts in the modern world.
In 1950, the sterling assets of Hong Kong were £94 million; in 1951, they were £116 million; in 1952, £120 million; and in 1953, £132 million. That is Hong Kong—with the British public heavily in debt to the hungry and backward peoples of the Far East.
In 1950, the sterling assets of Malaya were £164 million—debts which should have been paid. In 1951, they were £252 million; in 1952, our debts to Malaya were £283 million; and on 30th June, 1953, they were £289 million. The graph of debt is rising while we are talking in grand phrases of extending military commitments in the Pacific. We should be working off these debts by giving tractors, ploughs, and fertilisers. We ought to be paying off the debt which we owe these people in South-East Asia.
I believe that much more attention to the Colombo Plan, much more attention to the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, and much more attention to Mr. Truman's Point Four would have provided the peace-breeding atmosphere in the Pacific Ocean, rather than the setting up of a treaty to please the U.S.A. which had a diplomatic defeat because the British Foreign Secretary was sensible enough to insist upon talks with Russia and China, whatever America may have thought at that particular period of history.
It is time that we asserted our diplomatic knowledge of the life and ways of the people of South-East Asia. I am not being unkind to the American people. 973 The American people want peace just as much as the British or the Russians. I had the pleasure of lecturing in America and to the Russians. The ordinary people wherever we go, the American mother as well as the Russian mother, want peace, and so does South-East Asia. Do we think that they are pleased with this treaty? Of course, they are not. It is undermining the Charter of the United Nations.
The more commitments we get, the more sub-treaties that we build up, the more bedraggled becomes the original sparkling declaration of San Francisco. I believe that had the Conservative Government, or had we in this House, the courage, we could even now demand that there should be no ratification until we have an all-round conference with the Commonwealth Powers.
I very quietly interrupted the Foreign Secretary, who is always very courteous, while he was making his speech, and I asked: Was Canada invited and consulted? Dear old Canada is furthest away of all and does not want to be consulted and drawn into this problem. She does not want to be drawn into the problem of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. Where, then, is the Conservative Party going, and where are we going on this side of the House?
People talk of realism. I am surrounded at the present moment by bewildered realists. [Laughter.] Oh yes, every 10 years or so we advocate peace through strength very strongly, and four years of war and 30 million tombstones in Europe and Asia are testimony to that realism. Do hon. Members mean to tell me that we can bring in India? I heard someone talking about Burma, and then reading a speech by the Prime Minister of Indonesia defending the constructive effort for peace. Do we think that India is coming into this racket? Of course not. This is really a treaty to please the Nolan-Dulles-Radford axis, so far as America is concerned.
I am not going into the Lobby to vote against this treaty, but the tragedy of this pact is that (a) it undermines the good work at Geneva, and (b) it undermines the good work for unity which is going on in India.
I have been studying this weekend the economics of the Pakistan problem. I 974 have also had the opportunity of travelling a little in Pakistan. Here we have East Pakistan on one side and West Pakistan on the other completely bewildered and split. Do we think that support by Pakistan for our policy will add strength to South-East Asia? Of course not. Every one on this side of the House and no doubt on the other side knows the truth of the statement I am making.
Why should these people be drawn into this set-up? They have been hastened into it—I am not being anti-American, but I am telling the Americans the truth—by over-anxious American diplomacy which refuses to take the steadying hand of the British Foreign Office and of the British Foreign Secretary, whichever party he may belong to, and it is time that the British people asserted very strongly their knowledge so far as the Pacific and Asian diplomacy is concerned.
If there were any terrific fight in South-East Asia against Communism, would all these countries be united? Can anybody or any Member of the House really define what is meant by Communism? Do not forget that for 30 years before the struggle in Indio-China came to a head there were revolutionary movements in French Indo-China, but they were not called Communism then. We are using the word "Communism" now to describe every legitimate effort of hungry subject people to get freedom of speech and the right of self-government. Whatever may happen, I am not subscribing to that kind of approach to world problems.
Somebody has referred to the thousand million people of Asia. How many of them have heard of Karl Marx? In our own country, the Bible has made more Socialists than has Karl Marx. How many people in Korea have heard of Marx, or even Stalin? One moment we are told that the people there can neither read nor write, but the very next moment, by contradictory logic, the same speaker asserts that they are being indoctrinated with Communism. One cannot have it both ways.
And so we have to ask ourselves to whom we can look for guidance. Speakers on both sides of the House have appealed to us to notice what Nehru says about events in the Far East. The 975 Prime Minister has claimed that the appeal for co-existence was first uttered by the Foreign Secretary. During the speeches in June and July at the Geneva Conference, there was a ray of hope in the Foreign Secretary's approach to China. He mentioned a Locarno approach. Locarno took place on 16th November, 1925, but it was not a treaty except to defend mutual frontiers in Western Europe. It allowed the East to be wide open.
We want something different from Locarno; we want something with a different Objective. I believe that there can only be a security system in the Far East when the Foreign Secretary insists upon striving once again for a Commonwealth conference and a conference with China, Russia, the U.S.A. and Britain at Geneva to discuss the whole gamut of security in South-East Asia.
Let us face the reality of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. We are putting our boys on the Continent of Europe for the next 50 or 60 years with conscription.
§ Mr. Davies
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says, "Hear, hear" Are the Colonies and the Dominions to have conscription? Is Australia to introduce conscription because it is in the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. [Interruption.] I withdraw what I said in case I have given the impression that the hon. and gallant Gentleman said "Hear, hear" by way of supporting conscription. He was supporting the Nine-Power Treaty. New Zealand, Australia and Canada are not to have conscription, but this country has it.
I was told by one of my friends that Burma, Indonesia, and Malaya were looking to us—everybody is looking to us. It is time that we looked to ourselves a little and saved ourselves from some of these silly military commitments in the hydrogen bomb age, because the entire logistics and art of strategy are completely altered. Generals are always prepared to win the last war but not the next. They never catch up with the scientific progress made between one war and another, and in the end it is the poor old civilian who has to step in.
976 I have made my point. I believe this pact is dangerous. I was pleased to find the Leader of the Opposition pinpointing our understanding of the pact. The United States says that it would consult under the provisions of Article 4 (2), but is this then the position, that if the United States thinks the aggression is Communist then it can take action before consultation? I hope that I shall be corrected if I am wrong, because this is important and it must not be misinterpreted. May I repeat, if the United States thinks that aggression is Communist according to its own interpretation, it can move in today and consult tomorrow, as, in fact, was done in Korea. Do not let us misunderstand the position. Any hon. Member can go into the Library and get the book called "The Cold War and Defence" produced by Chatham House, and I think he will find on page 110 it is stated that even now information has not been given to the world to reveal the exact position about aggression by North or South Korea.
I do not want any cheap remarks about it, because, although it hurt me, I went into the Lobby with my party in the belief that aggression was committed in Korea by the North Korean Army. But when our boys are committed all over the earth we want the right of consultation instead of being pulled in quickly behind another nation, be it the United States or any other. It has been said that this pact is like A.N.Z.U.S., but nothing could be further from We truth. This pact is humbug. It does not compare with A.N.Z.U.S. at all. It only includes a few nations which are satellites of the Western Powers. I am using the word "satellite" purposely, because this is the kind of propaganda going on at the present time—if a Power is the friend of Russia it is a satellite, but if it is a friend of America it is an ally. Is it not a farce?
§ Mr. Davies
Both the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Worthing say that that is the difference between the two words, but that reveals their subconscious mind. [Interruption.] I know 977 that the hon. and gallant Gentleman does not like what I am saying, but I am entitled to make my point. We are living in an age where words are using men—[Interruption.] I know it may hurt hon. Members opposite when I say these things.
§ Mr. Davies
The hon. and gallant Gentleman says "ludicrous," but it was not ludicrous when he was offering his life for his country because of his beliefs. When other people have to give their lives, some of us consider it is our duty to get underneath the polished, suave surface of international diplomacy, and that is what I have been trying to do tonight. I do not believe that armaments are the solution for South-East Asia but that we should be removing hunger and trying to advance the standard of life of the people in those areas.
This is not the time to put the emphasis on military pacts. That is following a barren policy. I have spoken of the debts being piled up in the sterling area by South-East Asia, and every Britisher ought to be ashamed of those debts. We should be trying to wipe them out instead of increasing them. I warn this House that if we take on further commitments, then these people in South-East Asia will have to live like Spartans. In the end, it was not Sparta which prevailed, but it was the cultural and democratic portions of Greece which spread their philosophy throughout the world and gave us the basis of our civilisation. Let us try to build up a democratic system which will permit in South-East Asia freedom of speech and true co-existence.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
If I do not follow the rather erratic arguments of the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies), I hope he will forgive me. I welcome the collective defence treaty made in the light of the successive Chinese and Communist moves in Tibet, in Indo-China and in Korea. I look upon this treaty as a great encouragement to our friends in Asia, who, in the light of the withdrawals since 1945, must wonder whether the day of the white man in the East is not drawing to a close.
The hon. Gentleman spoke about America. I welcome particularly the 978 association of the United States of America with South-East Asia because, whenever we have moved out of step with the Americans in the Far East, it has usually led utimately to trouble. I recall the Manchuria incident of 1931, I recall the fateful summer of 1941, and also I recall the time in 1950 when we moved out of step with the Americans, when we were considering whether or not to recognise Communist China.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) said that it was the wrong time to conclude this treaty, that he would have waited to consult India. I wonder if one fault of the Opposition when they were in power was not that they were always tending to consult someone and not having the courage to do what they thought was right at the time. I was most interested to hear the encouraging speeches of the hon. Members on both sides of the House who have visited Indonesia and Burma, whose words, I am sure, have justified the decision of the Government in concluding this treaty when they did.
What we are concerned about now, however, are the immediate dangers facing us in the Far East. I take the view that the Communist offensive has changed from the military to the political sphere. I believe that we shall be faced shortly with a carefully planned campaign to detach India and Japan from their Western connections, accompanied by the offer—to Japan—of a benevolent peace treaty and more generous guarantees of increased trade in the future than have hitherto been extended from Peking. We must realise before it is too late that the balance of world power has passed from Europe and the Middle East to Asia. If Asia is closed to us, I am sure that both economically and militarily it will have grave strategic consequences.
Does S.E.A.T.O. go far enough economically in helping South-East Asia? I must say that I regard with foreboding nationalism of the type which is now rearing its ugly head in many distant countries which, for want of a better ideal, are putting their chances of a long period of peace in jeopardy.
In Asia at present there seems to me to be no practical constructive ideal. The ideal that I would give to Asia is the ideal of freer trade based on individual liberty under the rule of law, as is 979 described in the preamble of this treaty. I should like to see established the ability to trade freely, unrestricted by the State and ruled only by honour to abide by certain rules of conduct in international trade, with safeguards against dumping and unfair trade practices.
Over and above that I should like to see established an economic system fortified by the ability of countries and individuals to live within their income and to pay their debts. We seek an expansion of world trade, especially in Asia, but to do it we must rescue ourselves from economic nationalism and restrictions which seem to be increasing in Asia as each month passes. I wish to see trade sought out by individuals and private companies, and not by States seeking further State agreements. Surely it is the task of the State to protect such individuals and companies and not to take part in such trading?
If S.E.A.T.O. can be used in an economic sense to assist in further trade, I welcome it as a step in the right direction, but it is only the first step in a very long journey to bring back confidence to a very troubled world. I should like to draw the attention of the House to the very able speech by Albert Schweitzer which was reported in the "Sunday Times" yesterday. That great authority on the East said:Confidence is, in all things, the supreme capital, without which nothing of real use can be done.I welcome this treaty because it is a step in the right direction to bring back confidence in Asia, confidence which is so lacking at the present time. I am sure that if we carry out the spirit of the policies which we and the Americans and our other allies are trying to follow, in the end we shall achieve what we want in the East—peace and stability.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I intervene for a short while because, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), I have a feeling that the case that some of us on this side of the House see in support of these treaties is in fact being put a little lower than is required. I think there is a case for supporting the Manila Treaty and supporting this agreement a great 980 deal more strongly than that which has been put.
I do not really follow the hon. Member for Harwich (Mr. Ridsdale) who, I think, spoke as though the Colombo Plan was not already in existence and as though what we were really going to do in South-East Asia was to find a base for British trade and traders. I cannot think that that would commend this or any other treaty in that part of the world, or anywhere else. I think he was making a speech which was harking back to a time and spirit which have long since gone. The case for accepting this treaty rests rather better on something which the Foreign Secretary mentioned in his speech, something which has worried me for a long time.
Let us be quite clear that in that area of the world, as elsewhere, a long series of aggressions has been going on. Some of them have come from outside the countries against which there has been aggression, and some have been started by aggression from within the countries affected. It it no use talking as though the technique of aggression was something continuing always in the same pattern, for indeed it is not. Would-be aggressors from time to time choose an altogether new pattern, and recently the pattern has been not so much an overt, direct and open attack from without, but rather to secure from within the existence of large fifthcolumns—if I may use that term—maybe of the nationals of the aggressor State, or maybe of those on whom the doctrine and dogma have worked to provide the force for the aggression from within.
I have heard my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger), for whose judgment on these things one necessarily has great respect, objecting to Article II of this treaty. I was not clear whether he actually thought it was contrary to the Charter of the United Nations, but he certainly thought it was difficult to fit it in with the Charter. I have not the Charter with me and do not carry these details in my head, as some hon. Members are able to, but I see nothing in Article II which is contrary to the Charter. It sets out that every country shall be free from this kind of attack, either from within or from without. I am bound to say to hon. Friends on these benches that there have been many occasions since the 981 early 1930s when we have felt particularly strongly on these benches against a failure to take united action to come to the help of a legitimate government attacked from within.
§ Mr. Brown
We will go back a little beyond Guatemala.
My hon. Friend must remember the indignation which was engendered on the Opposition benches nearly 20 years ago when we felt very strongly that the friends of the right hon. Gentleman did not allow him to come to the aid of a legitimate Government attacked from within. That could happen again, and has been happening recently.
There is a great tendency to quote Mr. Nehru these days as though he were the absolute answer to every single problem. I must say that I have not all that faith in Mr. Nehru, although he is a very considerable man who, fortunately perhaps, is in the position which he occupies at the moment. What is Mr. Nehru worried about? He is very worried about the existence of large numbers of Chinese whom the Chinese Government, he thinks, persist in regarding as Chinese nationals.
He is obviously very concerned about the fact that they may be used as a fifth column to open the door from within. He has gone to all the trouble to go to Peking to raise this question and ask for assurances about it, and has given great publicity to the assurances which he thinks he has got. I do not know how many Chinese there are in the countries of the area about which we are speaking. I think it is tens of millions—more than 10 million at least; there are as many as three million, I believe, in one of the countries. Some of the countries have vast numbers of Chinese nationals.
I think it fair to say that in the context of this treaty which, after all, comes into operation by unanimous decision of the areas designated and does not import action to the area of any non-party unless it is sought and consented to by that Government, there is nothing contrary to the spirit of the Charter or to the treaties we have held to and asked for for a very long time, or to say that international united aid by the democracies should not be available to a Government or country 982 defending itself in those circumstances. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend is not present to hear me say this, but I felt that his criticism of Article II fell rather short of the strength needed to make a really effective case.
I welcome the treaty because it does what some of us have for a long time felt should be done. I have said this outside the House and I think it only fair to say it in this Chamber. In the circumstances in which the world is now, I consider that a line has to be drawn, both for the benefit of those on our side of the line and for possible aggressors. Again and again we have found ourselves at war with aggressive men and nations. That has not happened because they deliberately sought a war. Indeed there has hardly ever been an aggressive or dictatorial power which deliberately sought the war which in the end resulted. But again and again aggressive Powers get into a war because they find it impossible to ascertain the point beyond which they cannot go without a war resulting.
Many of us thought that Hitler should have had made clear to him the point which we regarded as sacred and beyond which any step would result in united action. It is well to say to potential aggressors in Europe and in Asia that a line is being drawn, and to tell them, in the good old trade union parlance, "Thus far, brother, and no farther" I regret that in Europe they got so far before we took action to stabilise the position. When N.A.T.O. got going and the line was drawn the position was stabilised extraordinarily well.
No one who has been beyond the Iron Curtain recently, as I have been, can be very happy at the nearness of the line which has now been stabilised, or about the obvious preparations being made immediately behind that line, and the obvious ability to cross it whenever it is decided to do so. But at any rate, to cross that line now in Europe would mean a deliberate act. There can be no question of drifting into a war because no one knows what is involved.
In Asia, we have seen successive acts of aggression and I should like to see the cultivation of any slight hope of peace that there may be. But it is no use blinding oneself to the fact that aggression 983 has been going on. Before a hope for peace can be cultivated ground for such hope must be provided by Russia. We have had a series of aggressions in Asia. When the last occurred we had to acquiesce—for reasons which are not germane and which need not be discussed this evening—in the loss of a large part of Indo-China. But I think that the reaction of most of us concerned for an acceptable state of peace in the world was, "For heaven's sake we must now quickly draw a line and make clear that what has gone has gone, and that there is to be no more."
§ Mr. Warbey
Can my right hon. Friend explain why he categorises Chinese assistance to Vietminh in Indo-China as an act of aggression, while he is apparently prepared to categorise the offer of greater American assistance to the forces putting down the rebellion against colonial rule in Indo-China as assistance to the free world?
§ Mr. Brown
This may or may not please him and it may or may not be right, but that was the risk he took when he asked the question. First, I do not accept his definition and, second, nobody, no matter how he feels about Mr. Dulles or particular acts of American statesmen, could feel that America is pursuing in any of these matters a policy which is likely to prevent a country being assisted from being independent afterwards. That seems to be completely missing what is going on. The whole point about China's support in Indo-China was that it was to enable an area to be taken over, to be turned into a satellite, to be turned into 984 something under the control of the countries behind the Iron Curtain.
With great respect—and I get angry about it too—I am bound to say I see no example anywhere in the world where America has done anything which turned a country into a satellite of the American nation, with its foreign policy and defence policy controlled from America. Although Guatemala is not included in the treaty, I would defend that proposition in relation to Guatemala even though I think the Americans behaved there in a way very difficult for the rest of us to defend. Nevertheless, I think this particular doctrine will stand up there.
It is all very well to say that the proper place to resist aggression is through the United Nations. We all know the weaknesses of the United Nations, and we all know why we have to organise regional security arrangements—in order to avoid the essential difficulty of the veto in the Security Council. However much we regret it—and I do not know that I particularly regret it, because I see nothing wrong in regional organisation, and there is no reason why resistance to aggression should be done only in a great global fashion—we must not delude ourselves: we must recognise there are weaknesses at United Nations, and since our purpose is to organise the effective defence of the free world, then if we cannot do it at United Nations we must have some other way. That justifies the regional security pact approach.
My next point, and I apologise for being so long, is on the question of peaceful co-existence. If we are to have peaceful co-existence we really must each of us understand that it involves not interfering with the other's way of life. I am as puzzled as are some of my hon. Friends who have been to other countries behind the Iron Curtain at the way we are expected not to assist the opponents of the regime—some of them very brave men—but we are apparently not to do anything to discourage Communists from doing exactly that very thing in all these other countries. "Peaceful co-existence" means nothing; it is the terms on which you have it. The lamb can always have a peaceful co-existence by lying down with the lion.
I come to my last point. Many people have talked about economic aid and 985 about the importance of economic aid and have rather imported into that argument a definite suggestion or implication that this kind of military organisation, this kind of defence organisation is perhaps, for that reason not all that important. What is the use of organising economic aid for those countries, if their independence is not to be protected? What is the use of our organising hundreds of millions of pounds of economic aid, expressed in materials and technical know-how—of which we ourselves are very short—if when we have done it, it is all to be poured into the lap of someone else who is allowed to come in and take over?
Let us remember that there is a Socialist Government in Burma, which is having a great deal of trouble with the Communist organisations inside Burma. I know that Burma has not signed this agreement, and we can all make our own guesses why. My guess is that Burma, in her difficult position, would be very happy indeed to have some treaty organisation effective in that area. That is my unsupported and unsubstantiated view. If my hon. Friend says that nobody will sleep better and easier in his bed in South-East Asia because this treaty has been signed, I would say that my own feeling is that all of us on the democratic side of the Iron Curtain can indeed be rather happier that a line has been drawn and that there are some arrangements to do something about future aggression. It may be that it might have been stronger or more all inclusive, although I am not sure, when I hear some of my hon. Friends demanding the two things at the same time, that their outlook is very realistic.
As to whether it might have been, and whether it would have been better if we on this side of the House had been handling Britain's part in the negotiations or not, I would say I do not think that great political foreign affairs issues are decided quite like that. My own view is that this treaty is more than we have had before. The aggressor knows the line over which he ought not to tread, and if anything happens there is an arrangement for us to meet and consult, and, we hope, do something about it. That makes me feel that much happier.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Reading, North)
I am sure I voice the thoughts of every hon. Member when I congratulate the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) on his speech. I felt, irrespective of party—I know he will not think I am seeking to embarrass him with his hon. Friends—as I believe many of us felt, that the right hon. Gentleman was voicing the average, decent Englishman's appreciation of the real issues in international affairs, as they face us today, without regard to particular party lines.
I do not pretend to have the experience of the Far East which some of my colleagues who have addressed us have. I am impelled only to let hon. Members know some of the reactions which I obtained from Commonwealth Asian delegates at the recent Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Nairobi, which I was fortunate enough to attend last September.
We have heard a good deal today about the treaty for South-East Asia, that it has no substantial South-East Asian membership, but I thought that the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger), who opened for the Opposition, was being a little unfair to Pakistan, when he said at one stage of his speech that the only useful military aid that could give effect to this treaty, other than from ourselves and the United States of America, was from New Zealand and Australia. Pakistan is not a small, stooge country but one with a population of some 76 millions. She is devoting 80 per cent. of her budget to military defence measures and her people have a great record of military prowess. I do not think that the hon. Member would want it to go out that the position is any different from that.
§ Mr. Younger
I do not accept what the hon. Member says about a stooge country, which was not in my mind at all. I do not want to elaborate this point, but if the hon. Member considers the military expenditure of Pakistan, he will see that it does not relate to South-East Asia.
§ Mr. Bennett
That is a point which I shall touch on in a moment. I was taking the right hon. Gentleman's own remarks, which were that only from the 987 Western countries could there be any effective military aid under the treaty.
My next remark, which flows from the reactions which I gained from the Pakistan delegates who came to Nairobi, rather confutes what the right hon. Gentleman said. I went there expecting that when we discussed international defence we should find lukewarm support from Pakistan and Ceylon, the only two sovereign Asian countries represented there after India had decided not to attend. In fact, the contrary was the case. The Pakistan delegates were more forthright and outspoken in their condemnation of Communism and in their enthusiasm for the treaty than any other Dominion. Such criticism that Britain incurred was, if anything, that we might show appeasement towards Communism in South-East Asia.
It is true that Pakistan has other fears than Communism, and for this reason she maintains substantial armed forces, but if that threat which she fears from her stronger neighbour, especially with regard to Kashmir, were withdrawn, that would not mean that Pakistan would not stay alongside us as she is now under S.E.A.T.O. It is significant in that context that Pakistan has signed the treaty and has accepted the position that the strongest military member, the United States, will not regard the treaty as being invoked by any other attack than a Communist attack. In other words, any dispute with India would not under the United States reservation be regarded as necessarily one which invoked the treaty. That still did not stop Pakistan from coming in lock, stock and barrel, and entering into all its obligations.
It is a fair interpretation of the views of the delegates from Ceylon who were in Nairobi to say that they were a little surprised that their Government had not accepted the invitation to go to Manila. Such speeches as were made indicated an attitude not of any hostility to the treaty or unwillingness that it should be concluded. Rather, they felt that, as their Government had felt unable to join in any agreement at this stage, they could at least rely on British support through the military agreement that we already have with Ceylon.
There were also in Nairobi, although not representing self-governing territories 988 but nevertheless representing Asian and not Western peoples, delegates from Malaya and Singapore. It is a warming fact that they also came out wholeheartedly in support of the conclusion of such a treaty.
It really is not true to suggest that there is not substantial Asian support for the treaty. Of the nations that have been omitted, I thought that the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) was accurate and fair when he said that although Burma and Ceylon and one or two others were not members of the organisation and felt that they could not now be, nevertheless they were extremely grateful for the thought that if they did get into a situation in which they were seriously threatened from outside they could rely on British help. In fact, I believe that both Burma and Ceylon have got agreements with this country which, in certain circumstances, mean that this merely psychological reliance is already backed by more effective protection.
The only great Power in the area which has expressed its open hostility to the treaty is India. That is not at all surprising. We all understand her position, if we do not agree with her attitude. India has been openly neutralist for some time past. Mr. Nehru has never suggested that he considers himself entirely linked with the Western bloc against the Communist bloc. In fact, he has persisted at all times in using the old term "a third force" in the Asiatic conception. I do not think any of us should be surprised if he does not join a treaty which links India with one group in this world, when he has so persistently and consistently made it clear that his country refuses to be drawn into conflict on one side or the other.
Turning to the treaty itself, I should like the Joint Under-Secretary to answer one question. As I see it, the territories to be guaranteed under S.E.A.T.O. outside the signatory Powers include the southern half of Indo-China, or Viet Nam as it is now called. We know that in a few years' time there will be elections, not just for the future of southern Indo-China but for the whole country. Can my hon. Friend tell the House what arrangements are then envisaged, under this treaty, for the future of southern Indo-China? We should have that question clarified, because we must face the eventual risk that after the elections 989 southern Indo-China may no longer be regarded as within the Western democratic bloc, over which we can expect to exert some degree of protection.
In these few minutes I have sought to put forward my belief that this is not, as has been alleged, just a South-East Asian treaty without Asian support. If we add up the total populations of the Philippines, Pakistan and Thailand, who have signed the treaty, they amount to no fewer than 113 million natural Asians. That excludes too the people of Singapore and the Malayan Federation, who come in under our wing. A treaty for an area which includes millions to the extent I have mentioned cannot possibly be regarded as a Western-imposed treaty without the support of the people in the areas affected.
If we were to say that because India, with the influence she can exert upon her smaller and weaker neighbours, would not join any security organisation, none could ever be drawn up, there would be no hope of bringing into being any form of international security organisation in the Far East. Therefore, like the right hon. Member for Belper—for the reasons which he so eloquently expressed and for those which I have sought to add—I welcome wholeheartedly the South-East Asian Treaty Organisation, which I am confident will lead to greater stability in what is probably up to now still the most threatened area of international tension in the world today.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
The hon. Member for Reading, North (Mr. F. M. Bennett) is undoubtedly right in saying that this treaty has been signed by the representatives of a very substantial number of Asians. It is nevertheless fair comment to point out that the most important countries in the area to which the treaty applies are not signatories. Although many millions of Asians will be affected, a far greater number will not be.
I quite agree that Ceylon, India, perhaps—and certainly Burma—are probably glad that this treaty has been signed, and they will probably look to us to defend them. I suggest, however, that they would look to us to defend them in any case. One of the most important things we must consider is the question of troops 990 to put on the ground to do what is necessary to implement this treaty.
The Foreign Secretary, the hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Sir W. Fletcher) and the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) have all stressed the importance of drawing a line. I entirely agree with that. They have pointed out the disasters which have occurred in the past through a failure on the part of other countries to understand our position. They have also pointed out the very alarming increase in the Vietminh forces, and they have pointed to the very alarmingly large army of Chinese that still exists.
The nodal point of the whole matter is in Indo-China and Siam, and should it become necessary, as everybody prays it will not, to implement this treaty, then that is the area in which it will be implemented, and that is an area in which only land forces are likely to be required, apart from any action that could, perhaps, be taken by air or by sea against the coasts of China or against Northern Viet Nam, which would raise very wide issues and surely is not contemplated.
I noticed that during the earlier part of the debate the Minister of Defence was in attendance on the Government Front Bench, and I think that others must have been, as I was, glad to see him there, because there is no doubt that the treaty will add seriously to the military commitments of this country. It has been pointed out that we are barely able to support our present commitments, far less undertake these extra obligations of defending, if necessary, countries such as Siam, Laos or Cambodia.
The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe was honest enough to say that the whole of the obligation would really rest on the Americans. That is the truth of the matter, and certainly one of the most satisfactory features of the treaty is that it appears to be the end of America's rather anti-colonial outlook, and that at any rate there does not appear to be at the moment any danger of a relapse of America into isolation. I have always felt that the far greater danger was that America would become isolationist, rather than that she would become engaged in some ill-fated adventure in foreign parts.
She is the linch-pin of the whole defence system of the world, and the most serious thing that could happen is that 991 she should withdraw. The matter seriously to be considered by this country is, what forces we can place at the disposal of the associated Powers and what forces, if any, can be supplied by the Asian signatories.
This treaty has been criticised as being too weak and criticised as being too strong. It is said on the one hand, that it will not add very much to the defence system of Asia, and that Asians will not sleep any better in their beds because of it. It is said, on the other hand, that it will alarm the Chinese. We must all regret certainly that India, Ceylon and Burma are out of the treaty, but for my part I think there is something to be said for ceasing to paper over disagreements in the world, and for frankly facing them if they exist, and there is no doubt that there is a disagreement in policy between India and ourselves. It is possibly better to face that in a perfectly calm and friendly spirit rather than to attempt what would, in fact, be a false facade of agreement. I personally think that Mr. Nehru may have a better role outside this agreement than he could have in it. Therefore, I do not particularly regret the absence of India.
I do think it is extremely important not only that a line has been drawn but that there is now a basis of co-operation among the European nations. The hon. Member for Bury and Radcliffe suggested that had there been that co-operation in the early days of the attack on Indo-China a very different story might have been written, and I am sure he is right, and I am sure it was because of the failure on the part of the free nations to have any common policy that things turned out as they did.
I believe also that the weakness in the treaty may in some ways prove an advantage because surely we must hope that in the long run China will be detached from Marxism and indeed Russia. I would make no excuse for the attack by China in Korea or in Veit Nam, but, nevertheless, I think it is possible that China has been genuinely frightened of attack by foreign Powers.
China has suffered a great deal in her history from such attacks. Not long ago she was overrun by the Japanese. We have to remember, in the light of this history, that the continued support of 992 Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa can be interpreted by the Chinese Government in Peking only as a threat to their security. It is therefore possible that the Chinese are alarmed. It may be quite a false alarm; it may be ridiculous for a nation of her size to feel that she is being encircled, but a nation which has suffered so much before now from invasion has some right to feel that she must watch carefully what takes place on her borders.
One of the most encouraging remarks of Mr. Nehru when he came back from China was to the effect that Indo-China had an Indian tradition and was inside the Indian sphere of influence. As this is one of the crisis points, to my mind, in Asia today, it is encouraging that Mr. Nehru regards it as being outside China's sphere. I believe that we have to take a rather old-fashioned view of what can be done in this area and accept the fact that there are certain spheres of influence. I believe that we have to leave China her sphere of influence and hope, as it were, that she will stay out of ours. We have made it clear that ours includes Cambodia, Laos and Siam.
As I have said, we should be in great difficulty in providing forces in that area. The problem is how to prevent insurrection in that area or open attack upon those countries, and one of the most useful steps which could be taken, coupled with this treaty, would be for us to endeavour to persuade the United States to put Formosa under some sort of international guarantee. I am sure that will not be easy and I am sure the Foreign Secretary cannot be expected to deal with the problem without American agreement, but if we are to have spheres of influence, then I should have thought that Formosa was clearly a Chinese sphere; and if we want her to leave our sphere alone, then we have to make every effort to keep clear of hers.
I sometimes think that we expect an immediate solution of too many of the world's problems. There are some problems, like the Israel-Arab dispute, like the problem of Eastern Germany, Which we could have solved at this moment only by war. I do not believe that any efforts by the Foreign Secretary, or any sleight of hand on the part of any new economic or international organisation, or even economic aid, will solve the problem of Asia at the moment. Our interest is to avoid 993 war at all costs, to keep the peace, to keep nations in contact with one another and gradually to try to relieve the tension and produce a better atmosphere and good will.
People who want quick results must face the fact that they can have them only with extreme danger. They must realise that there may be times when it is no good attempting to solve many of the world's problems. We have to resign oursleves, I believe, to a long and extremely irritating period of co-existence in the Russian meaning of the term—a term which means that if we put a foot wrong, they may well take advantage of it; a term which means that we have to continue on the look-out for minor aggression, for insurrections and for the difficulties caused by the growing pains of new, rising nationalisms all over the world.
It was suggested earlier that great stress should be laid on the technical and economic side of the treaty, but I side with those who feel that the articles which deal with economic development do not add very much to the existing machinery under the Colombo Plan. I entirely sympathise with those who feel that it would be a great pity if it were made an instrument of discrimination between certain Asiatic nations.
But this treaty provides a base for cooperation amongst European nations and I believe that those nations can do a great deal more useful work if they are united than if they are disunited. They can offer technical aid and education. There is a great deal which we can do among ourselves in Europe to evolve new political techniques suitable for countries dependent on us. It seems to me that we behave towards the nations of Asia and Africa for which we bear some responsibility as though we could still practise the very agreeable Liberal doctrines of the last century. We talk about self-determination and feel that once these countries have a parliament, a speaker and a mace their problems are solved. They have no civil service and no machinery for running their countries, and in the state of the world today self-determination is very largely a meaningless phrase because, whether we like it or not, the future of many nations is not going to be entirely in their own hands.
994 I personally rather regret, which may seem strange coming from a Liberal, the remarks in the earlier part of the treaty concerning equal rights and self-determination of peoples. I regret it because we do not believe any longer in self-determination of the old-fashioned sort. We are not prepared to allow it in Cyprus or British Guiana.
It will be extremely difficult for this country to see some of the nations affected by this treaty determining themselves into Communism. The object of this treaty is to stop that. It is slightly foolish to use these particular phrases when later on we may have to take part in interfering in the internal affairs of a country should they be threatened with Communist insurrection.
The right hon. Member for Belper was very pleased with Article IV. He thought that it was very realistic of the treaty to make provision for infiltration, and, of course, it is, because that is the way in which Communism would advance. But how exactly are we to deal with it? That appears to be the difficulty. We should all like to stop it if Communists are using unfair means. But when does fair become unfair and propaganda something unfair and not merely a political argument? I do not know, and I do not think that the Foreign Secretary knows. I do not believe that anyone in this House really knows. All we can say is that at some point the treaty powers are prepared to interfere very forcibly in the affairs of sovereign countries, but only if it is done "in accordance with their constitutional processes" I feel that where necessary that we shall wriggle out under that device. I believe that we have not really faced the problem of infiltration.
I personally, like other hon. Members, am prepared to support this treaty while making every sort of criticism of it. I do not think that the Foreign Secretary has great enthusiasm for it, and the hon. Member who spoke for the Opposition devoted the whole of his speech to criticising it, and then said that he would support it. But I do not think that we could have got anything else, and I think that without it the structure of Geneva might have been incomplete. I think that it is a price well worth paying, because I believe that Geneva was a great success, because had that disastrous war 995 in Indo-China gone on there would have been suffering on a scale which would not have been forgotten in our generation.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)
I am glad to have waited so long in this debate, because I have at least heard one hon. Member in this House make some honest remarks instead of double-talk and evasion. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has told us that one purpose of this treaty is to prevent people from self-determining themselves into Communism That is a more honest statement than we have had from some other hon. Members, including the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown).
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imagine that the purpose of this treaty is to defend the free world in the light of democracy. It is, of course, nothing of the sort. It is given away by this American understanding which, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) pointed out, has been incorporated in the body of the treaty and above the signatures. I think that we should hear from the Government why this has been done, and why this has not appeared as a separate addendum or protocol. We ought to hear whether the Government associate themselves with that understanding or not.
The Foreign Secretary used some very evasive words when challenged on this point. He objected to putting an adjective in front of "aggression," because somehow it was not in good taste in an international document. In fact, he clearly implied that the only kind of aggression that he had in mind and as being affected by the treaty would be Communist aggression. He clearly had not in mind, for example, the possibility of aggression by some other non-Communist State in the treaty area. He clearly did not have in mind that the treaty would come into action if there were aggression by Siam against Laos or Cambodia—[Laughter]—which the Foreign Secretary thinks amusing, but which took place at the end of the last war in 1945. The right hon. Gentleman has apparently forgotten that now.
996 I should like to ask the Foreign Secretry whether the treaty will come into operation in the event of an act of aggression by one of the three or four private armies which exist in Southern Viet Nam. We have all read, in "The Times" and elsewhere, that Southern Viet Nam is in a state of political chaos and that there are three or four private armies, one of them sustained by a gambling concession, which is a very happy way of sustaining an army. At the same time, again according to "The Times" correspondent, the general opinion about Southern Viet Nam is that if free elections took place tomorrow, eight out of 10 people would vote Communist. I ask the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland and my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper to note that. I wonder whether the information of the Foreign Secretary or his hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary is different from that. If so, perhaps they will tell us.
If the Foreign Secretary's information is not different, what conclusions can one draw from that? They are, first, that free elections under the Geneva Agreement were deliberately postponed as long as possible in order to prevent the people from declaring themselves in favour of a Communist regime. Second, that some people inside and outside Southern Viet Nam will have a vested interest in preventing those free elections from ever taking place and, therefore, that there is a strong possibility now that what I suggested might take place: namely, a provocative action by one of these private armies which does not want free elections to take place in Southern Viet Nam.
According to the American understanding, however, that will not be an act of Communist aggression; and so we do nothing. But what happens when the Southern Viet Nam Army has marched north and the North counter-attacks? That will then be Communist aggression, and then, of course, we will be called in to act under the treaty. So once again, as has happened in other cases and throughout the whole history of Indo-China, we condemn Chinese assistance to Vietminh as aggression, but the American assistance, far greater, to the French forces in Indo-China we uphold as a demonstration on behalf, and in defence, of the free world.
997 What hypocrisy! It really is utter hypocrisy and humbug. This treaty does something, at least, to strip the pretence away, because it does say that we are not really concerned about aggression in general but are only concerned about Communist aggression and nothing else.
I should be worried about this if I thought there were any military teeth in the treaty, but I understand that there are not and that we need not worry very much about the treaty at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who is 'we'?"] Nehru need not worry, U Nu need not worry, the Prime Minister of Indonesia need not worry, but all of them, apparently, are very worried at the moment, and that is why they will not come into the treaty. They are worried for the reason which Nehru has explained. I will quote Nehru's words; everyone else has been talking about what Nehru said but very few people have quoted him. I will read what Mr. Nehru said according to the "Manchester Guardian." He said that it was his considered view that an area of peace in South-East Asia had been converted by S.E.A.T.O. into a potential area of war. When I say that there is now no need for Nehru to worry or U Nu or Sukarno either, it is because I am——
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North) rose——
§ Mr. Warbey
I was saying that I do not think we need worry very much. When I say "we," I am speaking on behalf of those in all parts of the House who are concerned to see a genuine application of the principle of peaceful coexistence in Asia, by which I mean a settlement of disputes by peaceful negotiations involving mutual concessions, which is the way to reach agreement if we genuinely want to reach agreement, as the right hon. Gentleman so well knows. He did it at Geneva, and that is why he succeeded.
998 If I may I should like to return to the meaning of Article IV, paragraph 1. It is not good enough for the right hon. Gentleman to say that he does not know what the Minister of State said the other day in reply to my Question, because notice was given of the Question and, therefore, a considered reply was given. I am sure the Joint Under-Secretary of State will confirm that a reply was given and it applies to all the paragraphs of Article IV of the treaty.
I am sorry to read the answer again, but it is important, even though the right hon. Gentleman tries to brush it aside, because his friends in America do not like being told that there are no teeth in the treaty. Here is the answer:The nature of the action to be taken by Her Majesty's Government would entirely depend on the circumstances in which Article 4 of the Treaty was invoked and on the general situation prevailing at the time"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st Nov., 1954; Vol. 532, c. 28.]I understand that to mean that this Government preserve a completely free hand in what action they shall take, including any action at all, if the treaty is imposed.
The action might take the form of a protest, sending a diplomatic note, or appealing to the United Nations. It need not take the form of military action, and we are not bound under this treaty to take any form of military action whatsoever. Any Government—including a future Labour Government, I am glad to say—will be free to decide for themselves in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time whether or not they take military action or any form of action under this treaty, and if I am wrong I hope I shall be corrected.
I hope I am right and, if I am right, I will say once again that those of us who believe in trying to create an area of peace in South-East Asia, as Nehru does, will be glad to know that this treaty is only a gesture to enable Mr. Dulles to try not to lose the American elections too badly. And now that it has served its purpose not very well, it might just as well be put quietly into the pigeon-hole while we get on with the proper job of trying, in association with the Asian members of the Commonwealth and with Burma and Indonesia, to build up a genuine area of peace in South-East Asia, and also to develop what is the only effective antidote 999 to Communism in that area, or indeed anywhere in the world, and that is real economic and social advance for the masses of the people in those areas.
§ 10.41 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. H. Turton)
I fear that I have a very short time in which to answer this important debate, and therefore I intend to concentrate on the major points that have been raised. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen will permit me, I will leave the more minor points to be dealt with by personal correspondence afterwards.
Let me first try to put this matter in perspective. Any successful attempt to establish a peaceful order in the world must be based not only on strength but also, as Dr. Albert Schweitzer said in his address last Thursday, on compassion. The history of events from the Geneva Conference until the conclusion of the Manila Conference must, therefore, be viewed in the light of how far we and the other signatories have provided for the strength of the free peoples in this area—South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific—and what provision has been made for measures of compassion to relieve distress in that area.
What this House must remember is that these two aspects of the solution are inseparable. Defensive strength is incomplete without measures towards raising the standard of living in the region, and humanitarian effort to relieve distress is likely to fail unless the peoples of that area can be protected against aggression and subversive activities directed from without their frontiers. The speeches this evening have been directed to both these problems and, if I may, I will deal with those two problems separately.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger), who opened for the Opposition, started by asking, why have this treaty at all? If there were no reciprocal international guarantee possible then it was absolutely vital that there should be the final declaration at the Geneva Conference and some collective safeguard; otherwise there would have been a very dangerous gap in this part of the world at that time. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Oh, not all the Commonwealth countries are in it" He must remember that, in fact, there are 1000 three important Commonwealth countries in it—Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan——
§ Mr. Turton
—and those countries were urging us to have some collective treaty at that time. Therefore, this Government must support the will and wish of those three Commonwealth countries.
§ Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
Has not my hon. Friend forgotten the most important member of the Commonwealth —Great Britain?
§ Mr. Turton
I was talking of the treaty which Her Majesty's Government have made.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby then said that he regarded this treaty as of no significance. He was corrected later in the debate by the right hon. Gentleman file Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker), who pointed out that in his view this treaty was not a side-line. I think one of the most extraordinary parts of this debate has been the different attitude to this treaty of Members on the opposite side of the House——
§ Mr. Turton
The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies), who has just interrupted, described this treaty as a tragedy, a racket and then a humbug. The hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks) described it far the most fairly when he said that it would create an atmosphere in which peace was likely to succeed. The hon. Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Warbey) of course said that "we" do not fear this treaty, that "we" need not worry about it at all.
My hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Teeling) asked why it was that my noble Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs was present at this conference and not Mr. Malcolm MacDonald. Surely the answer is that my noble Friend is a Minister of this Government and Mr. MacDonald is not, and that if my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary was not able to get to the Manila Conference it was vital that my noble Friend should go to represent this country.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby said that in his view the treaty was militarily ineffective. Is that really the case 1001 when in the signatories to the treaty there is the whole weight of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, all pledged to hold the ring and to enable the small countries of South-East Asia to develop in peace, and outside the ring the military potential of the non-signing Powers is small? Surely that is the answer to the right hon. Gentleman. During the whole of his speech the right hon. Gentleman was trying to damn the treaty with faint praise, and his praise was so faint that nobody in the House could hear it.
The right hon. Gentleman asked whether Articles II and IV of the treaty were something new. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who certainly made the best contribution to the debate from that side of the House, in a most statesmanlike and thoughtful speech, destroyed his right hon. Friend's criticism. The right hon. Member for Grimsby asked if the Articles were a departure from the United Nations Charter definition of aggression. There is no definition of aggression in that Charter. This treaty, like the North Atlantic Treaty, is founded on Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. The answer to the question of the right hon. Member for Grimsby about the powers in Article II of this treaty is to refer him to the North Atlantic Treaty. He will see that when Articles 3 and 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty are combined they are very nearly word for word the same as Article II of this treaty. That is the legal justification for that Article. But I would not rest my support of that Article merely on a legal definition.
§ Mr. Younger
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that there are similar provisions in the North Atlantic Treaty dealing with types of aggression other than military aggression, corresponding to the second paragraph of Article IV of this treaty?
§ Mr. Turton
I am dealing with Article II and the question which the right hon. Gentleman asked as to whether that is a new provision. Article II states:In order more effectively to achieve the objectives of this Treaty, the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack "—1002 That is the same as Article 3 of the North Atlantic Treaty—and to prevent and counter subversive activities directed from without against their territorial integrity and political stability.That is the spirit of Article IV of the North Atlantic Treaty, which reads:The parties will consult together where-ever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.That seems to me to be the answer. But quite apart from any legal foundation, as the right hon. Member for Belper said, a line must be drawn, and because the line is drawn there is, therefore, more hope of peace in that part of the world.
I will deal quickly with the query about Article IV of the treaty put by the hon. Member for Broxtowe. He quoted an answer to a Parliamentary Question given on 1st November by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. That answer correctly sets out the position under Article IV. Article IV says that when the aggression arises each party will act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes. That leaves it open to each party, as my right hon. Friend said, to take action. The action will entirely depend on the circumstances in which Article IV of the treaty is invoked and the general circumstances prevailing at the time. That is exactly as in N.A.T.O.
§ Mr. Turton
There is one point in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion with which I want to deal. He asked why were Hong Kong and Formosa left out? The answer is that because the geographical limit in this treaty is South-East Asia, and the South-West Pacific and those countries are without that geographical limit. May I make it absolutely clear that it is the intention of H.M. Government to protect Hong Kong and that remains firm and unchallenged.
I turn for a moment to the economic measures in this treaty. The right hon. Member for Grimsby and the right hon. Member for Smethwick asked that Article III should not detract from our participation in the Colombo Plan. My right hon. Friend gave that assurance in 1003 his speech. We will not see the Colombo Plan impaired by any commitments which may arise under Article III, which can only arise when the Treaty Council has been established. It would be helpful if I remind the House of what is actually happening and what help is already being given to South-East Asia under the Colombo Plan and otherwise.
In the Colombo Plan the total amount of grants and loans in external aid made available during 1954 was about £ 110 million. In addition, International Bank loans totalled £ 12 million, and from United Kingdom sources an amount of about £ 60 million, including sterling balances released, was available to the area. In addition, under the Technical Co-operation Scheme we had, by June, 1954, agreed to supply about £ 840,000 worth of equipment and had under consideration requests estimated to cost £ 600,000, and were spending considerable sums on training and the provision of experts.
The United Nations has approved as aid from its side for that area projects to the value of just over five million dollars. As far the United States, provision for economic aid, leaving out of account the very large sums originally intended for the support of forces in Indo-China and Point Four aid, for the whole area of the Far East and the Pacific will this year amount to 140 million dollars.
The House will recognise that a great deal is being done in this area already, and we mean to continue the help. I remember in the debate on 23rd June, to which reference has been made, the right 1004 hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) described the enterprise of the Government as the designing and building;——…of the permanent Temple of Peace." —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd June, 1954; Vol. 529, c. 447.]At Geneva and at Manila, the Government have laid the foundation of a part of that Temple of Peace in South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific.
Many men of all parties and in other countries have shared in the architecture of that peaceful edifice, determined that this region of the world that suffered so much misery in the last war should not again become the victim of totalitarian aggression. Last summer the world stood in peril of a conflagration spreading from this region. It is to the good fortune of the world that the statemanship displayed by my right hon. Friend and the other Foreign Ministers of the leading Powers rose to the occasion and averted that danger. This House and the country have, I think, good cause for sober satisfaction.
Our policy is to plant in the disorder of South-East Asia a measure of the stability we have succeeded in establishing in the North Atlantic. Our policy threatens no one who wishes well for this important region but seeks to give to it the blessings of security and economic progress. For those reasons, with confidence, I commend this policy to the approval of the House.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
That this House approves the policy of Her Majesty's Government in South-East Asia as expressed in the Agreements reached at Geneva and in the Manila Treaty.