§ 3.31 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 towards Western Europe as expressed in the Agreement reached in London on 3rd October, 1954, and in Paris on 23rd October, 1954.Last month, on two occasions, I gave the House an account of the discussions which had taken place, first in London and then in Paris, and the outcome of those discussions is now available to the House in the form of a White Paper.
I do not propose this afternoon to weary the House by going through the details of the very full and very important documents. I shall, later, have to make a few comments on some of the salient factors in them to which I should like to draw the attention of the House, but I should prefer at the outset to ask the House to consider for a moment what are the broad aspects of the proposals that we have to examine this afternoon, because it seems to me that these are more important than detailed provisions, however significant, in this or that Article of one or other of the documents.
It seems to me that we are here engaged upon what has been for many of us, certainly for my generation in the House, a continuing task virtually all our lives. It is an effort to build an effective deterrent in Europe to any aggression. That was attempted before the 1914 war by the Entente, an act of statesmanship which, however, failed to prevent the First World War, perhaps in part because it was neither sufficiently explicit nor sufficiently emphatic.
Again, after the First World War, first by the efforts of the League of Nations and, later, by what I suppose it would be right to describe as a revival of the Franco-German alliance—[HON. MEMBERS: "Anglo-French alliance."]—yes, the Anglo-French alliance, without the full support of either the United States or Soviet Russia, we tried again to create a deterrent, and once again we failed.
This is yet another attempt to bring about the same result, and it is an attempt with which, I submit to the House, for reasons which I will give in 398 a moment or two, it should be possible to succeed. We all pray that there will be no war, but it seems to us that we have also an obligation to take any deterrent action in our power to ensure that there shall be no war. We must all have learnt by now that empty incantations without action are hardly effective in the kind of world in which we now live. If that be so, and by those tests, what can we make of the existing Agreement, how ought we to try to build the deterrent, and what kind of contribution should we make?
If we have Armed Forces at all, and if among those Armed Forces is the most effective armoured formation in free Europe, respected as such, I think, by all the nations, and if that is backed by a formidable Tactical Air Force, is it not important and even essential that those forces should not only be existent but should also be placed in the best position to act as a deterrent and to stay there for as long as is necessary to make the deterrent effective? That is the first consideration that I put to the House.
In the last 50 years Europe has twice been ravaged by world wars. On both occasions we have seen precisely the same phenomenon—British forces rushing to the Continent after the event to take part, and a gallant part, in the subsequent carnage. Would it not be rather better to try to avoid that a third time, if by action in advance of the event we can deter the aggression itself?
I remember, and so do other hon. Members, that in each of those wars not only was blood shed but millions of pounds were spent every day. Again, will it not be worth while, as part of a scheme to deter aggression, to spend, if need be, a little more to ensure that our forces are rightly placed to make the maximum deterrent effect on their part?
What was it that we tried to achieve by the offer which my colleagues authorised me to make here at the London Conference one evening a few weeks ago? I suggest that we tried by that offer to do two things. The first was to enable France and Germany to work together in the confidence that can breed peace instead of in the suspicion that breeds war. Without the certainty of our presence, that confidence has never grown. The second was to show to any potential 399 aggressor that our forces are, and will be, where they can provide the maximum deterrent and that they will stay there as long as it is necessary to provide that deterrent.
Here I come to the psychological part of the business. What is it that we have done in the London and Paris Agreements that we have never done before? It is not merely to station forces on the Continent of Europe in advance of the event to act as a deterrent; the late Government did that, and we respect them for it. Neither is it to say that we will keep those forces on the Continent of Europe as long as we think fit; we ourselves said that last summer. It is to say that within this century they shall stay there as long as our Western European Union so determines. It may be that the difference in terms of years between these two periods will not be great; it may not even exist at all. No one can possibly tell at this moment of time, because it is inconceivable that any Government of this country would withdraw its forces while the peril lasts.
Psychologically, in the minds of our European friends, to all of them, the difference is as between conviction and hope, In France, Germany, Italy, in the Low Countries and among all our N.A.T.O friends, in Yugoslavia—I ask some hon. Members to note—in every country of the Commonwealth, everywhere the reaction has been the same. This action has been saluted as historic, not as a provocation that makes for war, but as a deterrent which can build the peace.
§ Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Birmingham, Aston)
Since this offer of the British Government, in the view of the right hon. Gentleman, has had a good psychological effect, why did the right hon. Gentleman not make it before, when it could have saved E.D.C., which, I suppose, was this Government's policy, instead of waiting until after the French Parliament refused to ratify it, when it was too late to save it?
§ Sir A. Eden
I am quite ready to debate that on any occasion if the hon. Gentleman so desires, but I am sure that he is aware, as the whole House is aware, that the conception of E.D.C. was entirely different. If the hon. Gentleman 400 does not know about this difference, then he is less well-informed than I thought he was.
The whole essence of E.D.C. lay in its supranational character, leading to a federal structure for Europe. That might be a good thing or it might not; I am not prepared to argue that. Some people were all for it and some were against it, but, so far, no party in this country has been willing to subscribe to that conception for ourselves. Therefore, it was not possible for Britain to make the kind of contribution towards a federal structure which we can make to this present arrangement.
May I add that I think E.D.C. was a very courageous and bold step to take. It is only fair that I should add this. As the hon. Gentleman knows, one of the reasons why E.D.C. was rejected in the French Chamber was precisely because of its supranational character. Even had we been in E.D.C., I believe that the French objections to its supranational character would have come out all the same; but that is anybody's guess.
I am sorry that I was led aside, but it is an interesting topic to debate. The main issue which I want to put before the House, and which confronted us when E.D.C. collapsed or was rejected by the French Chamber—and the same problem which even the late Government had to face in a different form—was the problem of Germany and how that problem could be handled in any context other than E.D.C., which the Germans themselves had accepted.
I do not think that in recent years anybody has seriously proposed that Germany shall be kept indefinitely in a state of subjection and occupation by Soviet and allied armies. I think such a proposal would be morally repugnant to the attitude of the whole House, as well as politically impossible, and the real choice lies between anchoring Germany to the West or leaving her to drift in the centre of Europe with the certainty that she would be sucked into the Soviet system sooner or later, and almost certainly sooner.
The conception of a neutral and unarmed Germany in the centre of Europe has never made any practical sense——
§ Sir A. Eden
—because it would expose Germany to the full weight of Soviet influence.
There were four-Power agreements which could not, unfortunately, be carried out, which laid down terms for the creation of a free and democratic Germany, which Russia consistently refused to allow. The blame for the failure of Potsdam lies squarely on the shoulders of the Soviet Government, and was rightly placed there by the late Mr. Bevin, when Foreign Secretary.
§ Mr. Silverman
I made my interruption not for the purpose of discussing who was or was not to blame for the breakdown, but because the night hon. Gentleman said that this idea never made sense. I pointed out to him that it made sense to him at Potsdam.
§ Sir A. Eden
No, that is not so. The hon. Gentleman is misquoting Potsdam. The Potsdam Agreement was an immediate post-war agreement for the demobilising of Germany. If the hon. Gentleman will read the Agreement, he will see that it visualises a free democratic Germany, and there has not been a free democratic Germany, because Soviet Russia has made that impossible.
§ Mr. Silverman
Although it contemplated a free democratic Germany, and although it is absolutely true that at this moment, no matter whose fault it is, there is no such thing, nevertheless, the Potsdam Agreement provided that a free democratic Germany should be neutral and disarmed.
§ Sir A. Eden
I am sorry to contest that again with the hon. Gentleman. We could go on arguing about the Potsdam Agreement. What I cannot accept from him is that it does not matter who prevented the Potsdam Agreement from functioning. The whole reason why we are here today is because the late Mr. Bevin and the late Government found it impossible to work with the Soviet Government in any respect about Germany. Let us not chop logic; let us face realities. Russia has brought us to this position, and her apologists in this House must face the fact.
§ Several Hon. Members rose——402
§ Mr. Silverman
The right hon. Gentleman did give way to me. I never said for a moment that-the general question of where the blame lies did not matter. Of course, it matters. [Hon. MEMBERS: "You did.] What I said was that the question that matters for the purpose of our discussion is whether the idea of a free democratic Germany, disarmed and neutral, ever made sense.
§ Sir A. Eden
I think I have explained my point, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is convinced that he has made his. Perhaps we may now go forward.
§ Sir A. Eden
I was only saying that I wish I could withdraw all that the late Mr. Bevin had to undergo. If I have spoken warmly about this, it is because I truly believe that Soviet responsibility in this matter is something which we cannot allow to be overlooked.
I go back to my argument about a neutral Germany. What I was trying to submit to the House was that this conception, as we saw it ten years after the war, made no practical sense because, how could that neutrality survive? No doubt, Germany could obtain unity of a kind in this way, but I think the House has to admit that we know from our experience what use the German Communists would make of such a situation. To be fair to them, they did not conceal it. Only the other day, Herr Ulbricht, who leads the German Communist Party in Eastern Germany, made it quite plain what he meant by free elections, and it is not at all surprising. He said this quite openly:The setting up of joint lists of candidates for the National Front is a preparation for what we wish to extend to the whole of Germany later.It is clear enough that it would be a Germany dominated by Communists, and this is the strange thing which some hon. Members seem so often to forget. The anti-democratic forces are the people who would then be lifted into power once again. They are the people with whom, in Eastern Germany, the Communists are already at work. We would be betraying the very people in Germany who most deserve our confidence and we would make certain of the exclusion of Germany from the Western family to which she properly belongs.
403 I have said all this to the House, because I believe it to be infinitely more important than the question of a German military contribution, grave though that is. That issue was settled very long ago, in the autumn of 1950 at a meeting of N.A.T.O., when it was agreed that a German defence contribution was essential. There is no less need for it today.
These were the two chief requirements, political and military, which we, the Western Powers, had to meet as the result of the failure of E.D.C. I want to come to the position which E.D.C. should have created. What we had to try to do was to meet the vacuum created by the defeat of E.D.C. I gave the House in October an account of what we had done in the London Conference and the steps we took when the French Assembly rejected E.D.C. I described my visit to the Western European capitals, the contribution which we were able to make at the London Conference, and the agreements of principle which resulted from the meeting in London and which became formal instruments at the conference in Paris.
When E.D.C. was defeated we had one difficulty, which I would like for a moment to discuss with the House because it is the heart of our technical problem as it lies at present. The European Defence Community had provided for a far-reaching system of control within E.D.C. which, if it could have been put into effect, would have had the effect of abolishing national armies and the national control of armaments production. This was its great virtue in the eyes of its supporters. It appeared to offer, and in a measure certainly did offer, the best possible guarantee that a rearmed Germany would not abuse its military strength. E.D.C. only made this possible because it was a supra-national structure in which a number of countries met as a result of a major surrender of sovereignty.
The alternative we had to find in our new situation after E.D.C. was rejected had, therefore, to be something less rigid, demanding less of the member States but yet offering as nearly as possible an equally adequate system of control. That was the most difficult task we had to fulfil technically if we were to keep the confidence of the Governments. I claim that we have succeeded in doing this. I 404 will briefly explain to the House how. Broadly speaking, the system of controls which we set up and which is devised under this Agreement, will operate by two complementary methods, one under N.A.T.O. and one under the Western European Union. I would like to say something about the methods under N.A.T.O.
It has been agreed now that except for forces intended for overseas defence or recognised by N.A.T.O. as suitable to remain under national command, all the forces on the Continent shall be under the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, and that he shall have wider powers than he has ever enjoyed before over these forces. If right hon. and hon. Members will be good enough to look at pages 52–54 of the White Paper they will see set out there in detail what these powers of the Commander-in-Chief are to be and how they will be exercised. These arrangements will apply to German forces as and when they are raised. By a resolution of the North Atlantic Council the authority of SACEUR is now extended to include effective control over the location, deployment, and logistical support of his forces.
It is thus established that no country will be able to use its forces operationally, or even to move them about in the area of SACEUR's command, in a manner inconsistent with the strategy laid down by N.A.T.O. The importance of this hardly needs any emphasis. Equally important is control over logistics, which, I understand, is the modern word for what we used to call "Q" when I was in the Army. No modern army can, it seems, hope to operate without an exceedingly complicated system of supply, which grows slightly more complicated with every year that follows and has a few more staff officers to operate it. SACEUR's new responsibilities and powers in these matters will make not only for efficiency, but will also limit the possibilities of independent action by any one country within his system of command. For example—to take a simple example—without petrol supplies, no modern army can move; and SACEUR can turn off the tap.
Quite an important factor in the London and Paris Agreements is that we have not merely tried to devise controls for control's sake. These new arrangements we believe respond to military as 405 well as to political needs. Some hon. Members of the House have experience—the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) is one—of attempting before now to get a logical extension of the obligations assumed under N.A.T.O. It has always been his aim, and it has been our aim, to build up an integrated force, as far as possible under SACEUR's command. Now it has been resolved that integration at Army level will be the rule, and at a lower level wherever military efficiency permits.
We have an annual review in N.A.T.O., a procedure by which the size and scope of national defence efforts are subject to regular scrutiny. Each country is compelled to submit to the criticism of its partners the proposed allocation and employment of its national resources for defence. A great deal of information about the Armed Forces, their equipment and the production of armaments in each country is thereby made available to all the member States.
The Federal Republic, as a member of N.A.T.O., will undergo precisely the same examination. The build-up of German forces and the whole development of the German defence effort will be watched over by the North Atlantic Council. SACEUR will inspect the German forces and their logistics in the same way as he will other N.A.T.O. forces, and he will report both to the N.A.T.O. Council and to the Council of the Western European Union. That is the N.A.T.O chapter of arrangements in respect of control, and they are of the greatest importance. I regard them as infinitely more important than any number of paper guarantees.
Now I turn to the other part of these arrangements which we would have called the "Brussels Treaty" arrangement, but now call the "Western European Union" arrangement. It is there that we lay down the maximum level for the armed forces which each member of the organisation contributes to SACEUR. These levels, as the House understands, are ceilings, not commitments. For Germany, they are precisely the same as they would have been under E.D.C. They are shown on page 37 of the White Paper. Under the terms of the Brussels Treaty—our second protocol—these figures cannot be increased except by the unanimous agreement of all the parties to the Brussels Treaty.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Broxtowe)
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that, although the size of these forces is contained so far in a protocol, it has never yet been published, and that the only information in the White Paper about the size is in a footnote attributing figures to German sources. Will the right hon. Gentleman specifically confirm that those figures are the actual ones?
§ Sir A. Eden
I think the position is clear. Article I, in page 37, lays down the commitment, which is that the forces shall not exceed what all these countries agreed to under E.D.C. That was not an agreement to which we were party. They made that agreement among themselves. That, of course, has never been published, but I thought that the House would be keenly interested to know what the German ceiling was and to see that information put down. As a result, there is this footnote explaining in detail the German ceiling. That is of course, the figure which the German Chancellor, himself, has given. That is in the footnote.
§ Mr. Warbey
I take it that the right hon. Gentleman is confirming that that is the actual figure so far as Germany is concerned.
§ Sir A. Eden
Certainly. That is the figure agreed to by the E.D.C. Powers. It is now here in this footnote—one and the same figure. I promise the hon. Gentleman that there is no catch in it—unless I have missed it.
As I said, those figures cannot be increased except by unanimous agreement and—and this is another point to remember—apart from these front line forces, the strength of the internal defence and police forces of each of these countries on the Continent—and their armaments—will be determined by agreement between the members of the Western European Union. Furthermore, the level of stocks of certain essential weapons which the member countries may hold on the mainland of Europe will be controlled by an armaments agency.
It will be the agency's task to verify that the appropriate levels are not exceeded, and to satisfy itself that the undertakings of the German Federal Government, for instance, not to manufacture certain weapons, including atomic weapons, is being observed. That is the 407 sense of Protocols II, III and IV to this amended Brussels Treaty, which are set out in the White Paper.
These elaborate, new control arrangements are not directed against any one country. In fact, they apply to all the countries on the Continent of Europe. They are designed to ensure that all national forces in the area of the Allied Command in Europe can be welded into one organisation capable, in case of need, of operating as an effective fighting unit. Their effect, none the less, is to make it just as difficult for Germany to pursue an independent military policy as it would have been if E.D.C. had come into force.
On the question of atomic energy, I have something further to say. It will be remembered that the German Federal Government renounced, of its own volition, any question of manufacturing atomic weapons. On the question of atomic energy, I asked for, and now have received, a further assurance from the German Chancellor in so far as the use of nuclear fuel for civilian purposes is concerned. I thought that the House would wish to know about this. The effect of this is that, for the next two years, German production and import of nuclear fuel will be restricted to what, I am advised, is no more than necessary for research and experiment for civilian purposes. This will consist in building a nuclear reactor, the capacity of which would not exceed 10 megawatts. I am not an expert, but I understand that that is a very modest dimension.
In his letter to me the Chancellor has affirmed his intention of keeping in close touch with us and consulting us on the development of the German programme for civilian purposes. I thought that the text of the letter might be of sufficient interest to hon. Members to be made available, and I have arranged that it shall be made available as a White Paper this evening.
I must say something about the four-Power Agreements. I need not go into any detail about these, because most hon. Members are already familiar with the Bonn Conventions, as originally drafted. There have been a number of Amendments and they are listed in Part I of this White Paper. There is in preparation a new, revised text which merely embodies these Amendments. It is being carried 408 out by the four Powers. It will be available in the next few weeks, and I shall see that hon. Members have copies as soon as it is ready. It does not, of course, materially alter the previous arrangements except in one respect which I now want to mention to the House, because it is important and I do not want there to be any misunderstanding.
Hon. Members will, perhaps, have noticed that there is a newConvention on the presence of foreign forces in the Federal Republic of Germany.That is in page 30 of the White Paper. This takes the place of a document which was previously in the Bonn Convention. In the original main Bonn Convention we reserved the powers, exercised by us up to now, of stationing armed forces in Germany. Under Article 4 of this amended convention we still retain these powers, but during the recent negotiations we all agreed that it would hardly be in accordance with the Federal Republic's new independent status if other countries were able to send large bodies of troops into Federal territory without the consent of the Federal Government. We therefore decided that, although we retained our right, we should only exercise it in agreement with the Federal Government. Agreement to maintain forces at their present level, which is, of course, the point that matters now, is already given in Article I of the new convention, in page 30 of the White Paper.
The House has also shown some interest in the financial aspect of the four-Power Agreements concluded in Paris. The detailed arrangements are set out in the White Paper—they are very complicated—and they are also summarised in the note appearing at the end of the White Paper, as we undertook to do. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will explain the position more fully tomorrow, but there are one or two comments on the question of finance that I would like to make now.
Troops cost money wherever they may be stationed. Apart from some marginal expenditure on travel, the cost of a division or an air squadron is much the same whether it happens to be stationed in Germany or in the United Kingdom. For recent years what have been called the local expenses of our forces in Germany have been met in full by the 409 German Federal Government. Apart from capital expenditure on construction, which, I am advised, will not be a serious burden—what are these local expenses? They arise under a number of headings. They are, first, the wages of German citizens providing essential services for our forces in Germany, notably for our armoured divisions and the tactical Air Force, for whom they work in workshops and provide repair facilities. That is one considerable chapter of these costs.
Another is the cost of movement of troops, whether for training or other purposes, and the cost of the movement of supplies. Thirdly, they cover communications. My right hon. Friend will give more details tomorrow, but I wanted to mention those because I wish the House to understand that, in the main, these local costs, as they are called, are for facilities which would have to be provided for our forces wherever they were stationed unless, of course, it was the intention to get rid of them altogether.
Clearly, we cannot expect that all these expenses will be borne indefinitely by the German Federal Government. When the occupation ends and Germany begins to raise her own defence forces, the support costs which she contributes to the maintenance of other forces must diminish. This holds good whatever the precise form of these agreements might happen to be. It would have applied under E.D.C. just as it applies under these arrangements.
As a matter of fact, if E.D.C. had been ratified as well as signed in the summer of 1952, the change-over would have started then, and by now the German contribution would have been reduced. As it is, this is a problem which we have not so far had to face and which we shall not have to face, so far as the major portion of the burden is concerned, until the financial year 1956–57.
Now I must deal with the opportunities for working together in Europe for which the extension of the Brussels Treaty provides.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is now leaving the question of cost. Before he does so, I should like to ask a question on a matter of principle and not on a matter of figures. Under the original exercise, under which we agreed 410 to provide £4,700 million, there was an understanding with the United States that if each country's part of that general programme proved to be insupportable the whole programme would be reconsidered with a view to bringing each part of it within the economic capacity of member countries. I understand that we are saying now, with respect to this additional financial commitment, that if we find it insupportable we shall ask for a reallocation. Does that mean a reallocation of our physical burden, or merely an application for financial assistance to carry it?
§ Sir A. Eden
I think the reference which the right hon. Gentleman is making is to the general burden of our overall expenditure on the Continent, in respect of which some assurances were secured. It is now a fact, as I explained earlier, that N.A.T.O. reviews every year the burden of each one of the countries, and it is not only open to us but, if I may say so, up to us to make plain our case if in any way we are shouldering a burden which we can claim is out of comparison with those of others.
There is another point which I think the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. There is the further important consideration, with which my right hon. Friend will deal tomorrow, of the balance of payments which might conceivably be affected later by this charge, by the fact that payments have to be made in Deutschmarks. That is a real case which has to be met, and it is because of that that we have put in the White Paper this special provision, that in the case of that part of our problem creating difficulties we claim the right to raise that aspect of the problem later.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman has been kind enough to give way on several occasions, and I apologise for interrupting his speech. I think, however, that the House will agree that this is a very important matter indeed. What some of us are anxious to do is to avoid entering into a physical commitment which is financially too difficult for us to carry and which we can only be able to carry by appropriations-in-aid from the United States. We shall be all the time keeping arms and men on the Continent of Europe out of annual appropriations by Congress. Would it not be much better to keep our physical obligations within our financial compass?
§ Sir A. Eden
We certainly would not have entered upon these obligations if we did not feel that they were within our financial compass, except for the proviso which we have put down, namely, that in respect of the balance of payments problem.
Take, for instance, the general level of our armament expenditure. We are spending this year about £1,600 million. Suppose for the sake of argument that the additional cost amounted in a year to one-twentieth part of that sum. I am not dealing with the balance of payments problem; I am dealing with the expenditure. Then it would certainly be for the Government, in the face of those conditions, to decide what other economies they should make or what other arrangements were open to them.
But that is not a new problem. It is a problem which every Cabinet always has to face every year when it has its defence review. It has to decide what things shall be kept and what economies should be made. The right hon. Gentleman, no doubt knows that we are now actually working within a total figure very much below the one which the late Government put forward. So to that extent he must be pleased that we have got something which we can call upon to help us. I am very glad now to have him on our side in this matter.
§ Sir A. Eden
Let me come back to the question of the Western European Union, because there are some hon. Members who are deeply interested in this matter. I have kept the House for rather a long time, and I will make my comments shorter. What we hope to see—here I am speaking for the moment mainly for this country because there are many details to be worked out—is the maximum possible use of what I might call the Strasbourg organisation in respect of the new Western European Union. I hope there will not be a lot of unnecessary duplication. I hope, for instance, that the delegates of the seven countries which are represented here, and also the Saar, which is now to be included—which is a good thing, I think—will normally be the same delegates as those who attend the other meetings, so that there will be continuity and the maximum effectiveness.
412 It will be our duty to make to that Assembly a report on the work of the Western European Union, and, in particular, on the arms control arrangements which I have mentioned. I must emphasise that in all our discussions—I think I can speak for the other representatives—we were agreed that the last thing we want to do is to build this Western European Union into some kind of rival to N.A.T.O On the contrary, we are all agreed that N.A.T.O. must continue to be responsible for Western strategic defence.
All the same, I think it is a good plan that we should not be asking N.A.T.O. both to encourage everybody to produce the maximum forces as rapidly as they can, and, at the same time, to limit the forces of any one particular country in N.A.T.O. That would be a very difficult exercise for any international organisation to carry out. We think it is better that the arrangement should be in this way, N.A.T.O.'s task being to do what it can to encourage the countries in the annual review to do their share of what has to be done, the Western European Union keeping control and seeing that the proceedings are not duplicated.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
The Foreign Secretary has referred to the control of arms, the German contribution, and so on. Will he tell us what is the political control over this Western European organisation? Suppose there is an incident. Suppose a Russian starts something. Can this organisation suddenly go into action, or is there any reference to the political leaders and the heads of Western Europe?
§ Sir A. Eden
All the Foreign Ministers will be members of the Western European Union. They are representatives of their countries. An action of the kind such as the hon. Gentleman has in mind would affect us all as members of N.A.T.O. It would be N.A.T.O. which would deal with that. A military event of that kind affecting Europe would be one which we, as members of N.A.T.O., and all the Western European members who are members of N.A.T.O., would deal with. It is the organisation which would deal with it.
What I hope the Western European Union will do is to pick up the very useful work which is now being done by the Brussels Treaty organisation, of which 413 not very much is known by the general public, on the political side rather than the military side of the work which has to be done.
§ Mr. Bowles
So they cannot take any action without the right hon. Gentleman's agreement and that of other Foreign Secretaries?
§ Sir A. Eden
It is not an organisation to take military action in the sense of moving because there has been an attack. It is an organisation, so far as it is military, to see to certain controls. A report would be made to the Council of Ministers and it would be for them to take decisions. There are provisions laid down in this White Paper to show where decisions could be taken by a majority and where by unanimity.
I must try to come with rather more rapidity to another matter that I want to mention to the House. I ought to say that N.A.T.O. is in complete agreement with what I have said about the arrangements. Its staff will keep in contact with Western European Union on all the military aspects and we shall work through them.
Before I come to the last thing I want to discuss, I should like, too, to express our recognition of the help we have had throughout these negotiations from the Commonwealth Governments and of the encouragement which they gave us at every turn and for their generous welcome to the outcome of the London and Paris Conferences.
Let me try to sum up the position as it now is, because these things are important in themselves but yet more important in the context of the future of Europe. What are the alternatives that now face Europe? In the main, there are only three. Either the cold war will continue; if so, we shall have a continuation of the heavy financial burdens, to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) referred, over a period of years with all the strains and stresses, internal and external, that that brings with it.
The second possibility is that the cold war will become a hot war. If that happens, I do not think, with all respect, that the calculations of any of the treasuries of the world will become very important one way or the other. There 414 is a third alternative which is that out of these arrangements which we have so carefully built up, it may be possible for negotiations to be developed in Europe which may lead to ultimate success and agreement.
It is for this third possibility that we are now working. We think that the Paris Agreements have taken us some steps towards that. Not for a moment do I accept the proposition that if these Agreements are recognised, we have to give up hope of solving any of the issues of Europe today which affect Soviet Russia, such as the peaceful reunification of Germany. I do not believe it for a minute. On the contrary, the fact that they are now in such a hurry to summon a conference that could not possibly meet in the time allotted is an indication of the fact that, if we proceed calmly and steadily with these proposals we shall have better opportunities for negotiation than we have had for a very long time.
After all, the argument we have had put to us that we cannot solve issues like the peaceful reunification of Germany if we ratify the Agreements, is an argument we have had for two years against E.D.C. That was repeated in this last Note. But the Soviet Government have never come forward with any proposals that could possibly form a basis for a settlement in Germany. In their last Note they said that the peaceful unification of Germany would be sacrificed if the Paris Agreements entered into force.
When I read that in a telegram from our Ambassador in Moscow, I thought something was coming after it. Not at all. What came after it was that the Soviet Government, quite evidently, are still unwilling to agree to the reunification of Germany in any conditions of freedom as we understand the word. That is the fundamental position. So we cannot agree that the choice which faces the House this afternoon is between the Paris Agreements, on the one hand, and some miraculous settlement of the East-West problem on the other. No such choice is before us. The only real alternative to accepting the Paris Agreements would be to plunge the West into confusion and despair.
Is anybody seriously going to contend we should better be able to negotiate with Soviet Russia if we were in that particular condition? I cannot believe that to 415 be so. We feel that before any conference can be held we must consolidate our own position and establish the unity of the West on a firm and enduring basis. Then we shall be ready to look to the future with greater confidence than we have been able to command at any time in our generation.
I must conclude, as I began, with the heart of the problem, which is Germany. I have no doubt there are some hon. Members who have considered these Agreements, who have hopes about the future of Germany. If so, then there are full opportunities in these Agreements for German co-operation on terms of equality with all the other free Western nations. It may be that there are others who have fears about the future of Germany. If so, there are in these Agreements all the safeguards it has been possible for human ingenuity to devise in N.A.T.O. and the Western European Union. Or there may be hon. Members—perhaps the majority of the Members of the House—who have both hopes and fears about the future of Germany. If so, we contend that in these arrangements there are both opportunity and precaution.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
Irrespective of opinions which may be held by individual hon. Members of the merits of the proposals now before the House, I think it would be the general wish that I should express our appreciation of the clear exposition of the treaties, and the policy behind them, which has been given by the right hon. Gentleman and to thank him for the way in which he has been frank with the House—so far as I can tell—and told us all there is to tell—at any rate for the time being; it may be that further facts and developments will emerge.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to a little history, namely, that there have been previous efforts to secure the peace of Europe. I think that this proposal is new in principle, in nature and in character to previous efforts. As the House knows, I was in a minority about the First World War; I opposed it. I opposed the foreign policy that preceded that war. I did not think that the entente between us and France, linked with Czarist Russia, was a good thing. That was in 416 the days when foreign offices were not as communicative as they now are. I thought the two triple alliances of France, ourselves and Czarist Russia, and of Germany, Austria and Hungary, and Italy, was the kind of development of policy that would inevitably lead to a war in Europe.
The distinction between this proposal and that—whatever may be said for the other, and I do not think a great deal can be said for it—is that this is a purely collective arrangement for collective security over as wide an area of Europe as is practicable at the moment. Its purpose is not to prepare for a war, or assume the inevitability of a war. Indeed, its purpose is the opposite. It is to prevent war from breaking out.
There was also the Anglo-French alliance between the wars. The right hon. Gentleman said that it did not have the full support of the Soviet Union, and there is something in that. On the other hand, it is only fair to state that the British Government—and probably the French Government—did not treat the Soviet Government as well as they might have done at that time, and they themselves were contributory to Soviet suspicions and the marked diminution of Soviet desire to co-operate with the West, which had been a marked feature of Soviet foreign policy when M. Litvinov was Soviet Foreign Minister. I am afraid that the West made its contribution to the weakening and deterioration of Russian foreign policy from our point of view.
As a Labour Party, we have accepted the principle of the collective security of the West and a German contribution to Western European defence ever since 1950, when Mr. Bevin went to New York and Mr. Bevin and my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) went to Brussels—and when I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington and, I think, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) went to Washington in September, 1951, we again accepted the principle. It is true that there were some reservations and some points which we insisted should be carefully examined, but there was no doubt about our acceptance of the principle. In all these cases, there was a general Government authority behind our point of view.
417 I know that politicians sometimes find it a little difficult, when in opposition, always meticulously to live up to what they have done as members of a Government or to a policy which they have previously advocated. I know that the Prime Minister will understand that; he has had his own rather full share of experience in that difficulty of political life. I suppose that we can all, now and again, have quoted against us something we did or said some time ago. But I am bound to say that upon these large matters which concern the peace of Europe, the well-being of the world and the possibility of countries living with each other, I do not and would not find it easy to say in opposition the opposite of what I have said as a representative of the Government.
At the Washington consultations in 1951, the Americans, the French and ourselves were represented. M. Schuman was there for France. At previous consultations, E.D.C. had been proposed by the French Government—by M. Pleven, M. Schuman and M. Mach. It so happened that, at a later stage, there became evident a nervousness on the part of the British about a supra-national authority—an idea which had been warmly advocated by France in this respect and in respect of the Coal and Steel Community. Later still, France became less keen about E.D.C. Of course, France had a right to change her mind. At any rate, now things have turned out better than they were, we can say that. She changed her mind and found the idea of a supranational authority the stickiest element in E.D.C.—at a time when it looked as if the British were more disposed to accept it in principle.
Anyway, there is the story, and in principle, at any rate, the Government are carrying on along the line pursued by the Labour Government. I think it can fairly be said now that the conditions which were stipulated by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, when he was Prime Minister, have been fulfilled. It may be that in one or two minor particulars they are not applicable to modern conditions, but they have substantially been fulfilled, including the stipulation which we have always made and which my right hon. Friend, in particular, has always insisted upon, namely, that Germany shall not be able to reemerge as a military menace. The attrac- 418 tion about many of the proposals in these Agreements and arrangements is that it has somehow been fixed, subject to what may be said subsequently in the debate, that Germany is restricted in the sense that she cannot easily become a military menace again unless these Agreements are completely defied, which would be a most serious matter.
This has been secured partly by mutual agreement between the nine Powers and partly by the forthcoming and co-operative attitude of the German Chancellor, who has voluntarily offered certain things which, I believe, he was very wise to offer voluntarily. Combined with these restrictions are some special restrictions upon the manufacture of certain weapons, which particularly apply to Germany. Those restrictions are in the Agreements because of an offer by Dr. Adenauer. On the other hand, the Agreements embody the principle that, in general, the restrictions apply to everybody, and so the business of equality has been substantially achieved. I remember that the late Dr. Schumacher, the leader of the German Social Democratic Party, always argued that Germany should not be treated as an inferior and subjected to more restrictions than other Powers, and I always felt that that argument was not an easy one to counter. Together with my hon. Friends in general, I find that there is a good deal to be said for these proposals.
In these international arrangements, two things are essential. First, it is desirable that there should be co-operation for peace and not co-operation for the making of war or for the fighting of an inevitable war. Any Foreign Secretary who assumes that war is inevitable, except when it gets sufficiently near, is not really doing his job. His job is not to make war inevitable, but to avoid it if he possibly can. There must therefore be co-operation for peace, which means more than merely hoping for peace. It means more than wishing for peace or making speeches declaring for peace, which we all do and should do. It means that we have to do something positive for peace, in co-operation with the organisation that will protect the peace, and it means a willingness at all times to talk in a friendly way to other Powers with which there are differences for the time being, with a view to coming to agreement with them and remedying the differences which exist.
419 Secondly, this co-operation is necessary for the protection of democracy. We have to consider the two things together. First, democracy without peace is itself in danger, because war can endanger it. Secondly, peace without democracy is death. We could have had peace with Hitler at a certain point in the war. As the Prime Minister knows, various efforts were made from enemy quarters, and they were considered. It looked as if we could have had peace with Hitler, possibly on fairly reasonable terms from a British point of view, for the time being; but it would have meant that we were no longer going to be Britain. It would have meant that we were going to be subordinated and that our liberty would at least have been in danger and might even have been destroyed. Right through all that business, including the air raids, from which the people of our country suffered a lot, when the women had many worries, they stuck it out to the end, because I believe that they told themselves quietly that they would sooner run the risk of death and injury than they would run the certainty of slavery and serfdom.
This peace of a kind, which, without freedom and democracy, is a living death, was the experience of Germany under the Nazis, as it was of the Czechs and Austrians under the Nazis, and—let us make no nonsense about it—as it is also of the Communist totalitarian dictatorships today. So there comes a point, as there did on the eve of the war, when nations have to choose between the risk of injury and death and the certainty of slavery. If and when the British are ready to accept serfdom and slavery, to lose their political and civil liberties because we are no longer willing to promote or to take our part in policies for collective peace, democracy and the prevention of war, we shall no longer be British; we shall belong to the peoples of submission and of surrender.
The ideal, of course, is obvious. The right thing is the universal application, the genuine, universal acceptance, of the Charter and the principles of the United Nations. It could all be so easy if they were universally accepted and applied. We must do our best to promote their universal acceptance and application. We must never give up hope of getting that 420 done. We must never feel it is hopeless. We must always be trying to look for opportunities of securing that that is done. We want the United Nations to be universal so that peace can be secured and economic well-being and progress can be promoted. Economic and social wellbeing is a part of the business of the United Nations, and it is also part of the business of preventing the outbreak of war, which can be started by nations that are economically in a bad way and are desperate.
This is also one of the reasons we on this side of the House want the United Nations to be universal, irrespective of the internal systems and policies of individual countries. The United Nations should be a comprehensive club and not a narrow club. We welcome the fact, therefore, that the Soviet Union is a part of the United Nations. We also urge and shall continue to urge that, as soon as ever it is possible, the People's Government of China should be admitted to the United Nations and to their rightful place on the Security Council, for exclusion from the United Nations in itself must entail some right not to be bound by United Nations principles and decisions. We cannot have it both ways. For that reason alone, it is desirable that China should be inside. Of course, Chinese conduct as a member of the community of nations is a relevant consideration.
It is unhappily the case that the United Nations' system is not working fully or with complete good will. U.N.O. is valuable as a universal forum, and some of its Special Agencies are doing good work. However, the fact has to be faced that, in Europe and elsewhere—we are mainly concerned with Europe today—there have been some aggressions, some of them military, some of them political, and some of them fifth column in nature.
We have to face the fact that, geographically and militarily, there is a great bloc of countries in Eastern Europe, a great military and economic combination built up not by free collective security agreements but by conquest, and all controlled by communist dictatorships. It is a large and powerful military combination of a magnitude which cannot be accepted. Therefore, it seems to us in these circumstances that it is legitimate, natural and proper that the Western 421 European Nations should promote collective security for defence, and for defence only, in association with the United States of America and Canada and N.A.T.O., and in accordance with the principles of the United Nations.
There were fears at the time when N.A.T.O. was formed that it might cause war because the Soviet Union was so apprehensive, and that the peace of Europe might thereby be disturbed. It was not so. On the contrary, if anything, it has had the opposite effect, and the willingness of Russia to talk—and we must not lose the opportunity of talking whenever beneficial effects are likely to result—is a proof that that is so. N.A.T.O. is now generally accepted, and nobody is particularly frightened about it.
This Nine-Power Agreement, therefore, seems to us to be an arrangement within N.A.T.O. It is in harmony with the principles of N.A.T.O.; it is in harmony with the principles of the United Nations organisation itself; and it seems to us in general to be legitimate and reasonable in the circumstances. We, therefore, do not propose to divide the House on the question of approving the Agreement. That is our position today, as it will be tomorrow.
Many of us would have preferred E.D.C., but this Agreement does appear to be the next best thing attainable. Of course, it would be far better, as I say, if we could get the United Nations to be universal, and if we could get disarmament. As to that, it seems to me that the Western Powers have done their best. Let us hope there will be co-operation forthcoming of a positive character from the Soviet Union on that matter.
I turn now to some of the considerations to which we wish to draw the attention of the House. Our first point is that we should seek as soon as ever we can further negotiations with the Soviet Union for the reunification of Germany on conditions as laid down by the annual conference of the Labour Party at Scarborough. What was declared was this, in the first paragraph of the conference resolution:In the situation created by the failure of the French Parliament to ratify the European Defence Community Treaty, Conference reaffirms Labour's aim of the reunification of Germany in peace and freedom and declares that the Western Powers must be ready to resume negotiations whenever the 422 Soviet Union may be willing to permit free elections in Eastern Germany.I do not think there is much disputation about that, but I would urge that the Government should not only be willing to respond, as I am sure they would, to Soviet declarations accepting the principle of free elections in Eastern Germany, but that they themselves will not hesitate to take the initiative with the aim of getting sensible talks going with the Soviet Union. That might provide us with opportunities for talking not only about free elections and German reunification, but also possibly about disarmament as well.
In addition, we think that the Government should give sympathetic consideration to the French proposals for a European arms pool. The Agreement goes a long way towards the control of the supply of arms, but we are inclined to think that the French have a case for its possible improvement as time goes on.
Thirdly, we would wish to press that an examination should be made of all the financial costs of the new arrangements with a view to greater equality and sharing the burden of defence between the countries concerned. That matter was left open as a possibility in the speech of the Foreign Secretary. These arguments can be pursued, but it does seem to us that it will need to be watched as we go along to see that we get reasonably fair treatment about the finances in this matter. It must be remembered that, assuming we have four divisions, or even more, somewhere in the world—as we look like having—they have got to be paid for somehow, whether they are in Germany or somewhere else, whether they are in Europe or somewhere else.
A new complication which comes about is the capital equipment for installations and so on, and particularly this foreign currency business, which can land us into difficulties with balance of payments and currency. It is very important that we should protect ourselves to the maximum extent on that point. I read what was the principal point of the declaration of the Labour Party Conference. They wished, quite rightly, for further discussions among our Continental friends about how to get discussions with the Soviet Union going again and other things. Of course, it must be admitted that there was a large minority at the 423 Scarborough Conference. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am not likely to forget it, I wound up the debate.
§ Mr. Morrison
I certainly do not remember that, but I fully recognise that many sincere views were held against the views of the National Executive of the party, as there were in the previous debate in the House of Commons on this matter, in which I had the honour to participate. That debate was after there had been a majority—as the Press reported at the time; I do not know here anything about it, and I am not admitting anything—which was even tighter than the majority at Scarborough, as a result of a meeting which was supposed to have been held upstairs.
There are these differences of opinion, and I am not going to argue that other opinions are not sincerely held, but I would hope any of my hon. Friends who do not quite accept my point of view would agree that my opinions are sincerely and genuinely held. [Laughter.]
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth)
Does the right hon. Gentleman interpret the laughter coming from below the Gangway as meaning that hon. Members there do not believe in his sincerity?
§ Mr. Morrison
I did not so interpret it. I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) for his interest. If I should ever get into trouble with my hon. Friends, he might leave it to me, as usually I can manage them by the end of the day.
There is another point to which I wish to refer. I am not sure about the present position in regard to the Western European Union vis-à-vis the Council of Europe. I thought it was proposed, indeed it appeared to be the case from the documents, that what we may call the Parliamentary element of this organisation would be the Strasbourg Parliamentary representatives of the countries and States of the nine Powers or countries concerned. I heard a rumour that there had been a change recently and that it was proposed that there should be a special Parliamentary assembly for Western European Union. If I am wrong or have been misinformed about that, I should be glad to know, because I think 424 that the more we can tie up these various agencies with the Consultative Assembly, which is liable to be frustrated a little, the better it is.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
It is more than a rumour, surely? There has been a basic change between London and Paris. According to the Paris Agreement, there has been a special assembly set up—Article V. It is monstrous.
§ Sir A. Eden
I do not think it is monstrous. There is a special assembly and the members of the special assembly can also be those who are members of the other Assembly. There must be a different Assembly from the Council of Europe, because it consists of different countries. We are limited to eight. The special assembly means that we are not limited to the other Assembly, whether it is eight or not, but it is certainly hoped that the eight will be the same people who attend the larger Council of Europe.
§ Mr. Morrison
Confirming the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), although I would not stand up to cross-examination about the text, I did hear of it from another quarter—not on this side of the House. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is very genuine apprehension about the possibility of the Parliamentary element of Western European Union being separated—completely cut off—from the organisation of the Council of Europe Consultative Assembly. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that if that can be avoided it will be to the good, because, although we cannot do it entirely, the more we can weave these things together with the Council of Europe Assembly—not that I am asking for control by the members of the Assembly, but the right of argument and observation—the more we can centre all these things on to the Assembly for discussion, the better I would like it. If my hon. Friend and I are wrong, we can be proved wrong in a later speech. In any case, we should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman will look into the matter, because I, at any rate, had heard that there was a difference between London and Paris.
425 I come to the question of Germany. One can take the view that Germany and Germans can never be trusted with any explosive weapons and that the only thing to be done is to sit on their heads and keep them disarmed, either for ever or for as long as it is practicable to do so. We have kept them disarmed since 1945, which is a fairly long period. The question now arises as a practical issue as to whether we can go on doing that or whether Western Germany will or may decide that she cannot put up with that after a given point. It may be that one would say she cannot if we remain there in sufficient military strength, but, if it is put to the British people as to whether we are going in for pretty substantial war in order to prevent a State, which has become very nearly a sovereign State, from having any armaments at all, I am not sure that the British people are going to be very enthusiastic about that.
Particularly is it the case that in Eastern Germany they have substantial rearmament already. Of all the sniveling hyprocrisy I have ever seen, the Communist literature which says, "No arms for the Germans" when they have given arms to Eastern Germany, is pretty terrible and about the limit. But it is the case, and it really is not reasonable or practicable to say, "Arms for Eastern Germany, but no arms for Western Germany." If we come to the conclusion that she is to be a sovereign State, that we have to concede arms, then the question is what is the best form in which that military equipment may be organised, in what relations to the other Western democratic Powers it can proceed and what are the safest conditions under which it can be done?
History does not indicate that peace and democracy are best preserved by sitting on the heads of nations. We tried it in Germany after the First World War; it was not a success. It was tried on Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, and that was not a success either. If we had gone on trying to sit on India, it would not have been a success. There comes a point when one has to concede the rights of a country and try to fit them in with the co-operative wishes arid the peace of Europe as a whole; to fit them 426 in with the policies of other countries that are also living democratic lives and wish to pursue policies of peace.
It cannot be said that since the last war democracy has not been a reality in Western Germany. It has succeeded up to now, and it is profoundly important that it should continue to succeed; but I doubt whether it would continue to succeed if we continued to hold Germany rigidly under control. Sooner or later there would be trouble, and we should find emerging those national and antidemocratic elements which we were wishing to keep under control and underneath.
Nevertheless, I admit that on a great foreign policy decision such as this risks are involved, and no one can say with truth 100 per cent. one way or the other. There cannot be complete certainty. But we can do our best in the circumstances and not lay down policies which will be more likely to create trouble than otherwise. I do not myself believe that permanent occupation and permanent disarmament of Germany is possible. There may be a revolution against it. What do we do then?
It is not only the British Labour Party which is accepting the principle of this Nine-Power Treaty. There are other Socialist parties and countries which have accepted it, and which had even a rougher time than we did in the last war.
§ Mr. Morrison
I have talked to a number at Strasbourg from time to time. There were some things which Herr 011enhauer said which I found very acceptable and other things which he said which I did not find so acceptable.
§ Mr. Silvermanrose——
§ Mr. Morrison
My hon. Friend is a little bit frequent in his interruptions of other people.
I have read about them but I cannot find a very clear line. That is all I say. I am not condemning or criticising; I am not too clear about it.
As to the argument which my hon. Friend is making—and I am sorry to be 427 landed in the situation of having a first-class debate among ourselves, because I did not start it—[An HON. MEMBER: "Oh, yes, the right hon. Member did."] Are we now to argue that the policy of the German Social Democratic Party is to determine the policy of the British Labour Party? Are we not to take account of Belgium, which was not only bombed but occupied for years, with the Gestapo running around? Are we not to consider that? Are we not to consider Holland, which was in a similar position, Norway, Denmark and other nations which were also in a similar position; and, indeed, France, which now, so far as the Socialist Party is concerned, appears to have accepted these things?
Therefore, I say with very great respect to my hon. Friends, on the argument about the views of the German Social Democratic Party, which I must say I did not find too clear, that sometimes I think that they want much more autonomous rearmament than other people do. But I admit that it is an arguable point. I am not too clear about it, and, in any case, I do not see that it is necessary to put the views of the German Social Democratic Party in front of all the other political parties in Europe and of the Governments and peoples concerned.
In particular, it seems to me that there is a hope—it can be no more than that—that Germany will be a good democracy and a good neighbour in Europe, and it is most desirable that should be so. Moreover, here is a possibility of Franco-German friendship—possibly the greatest element in framing the peace of Europe—and that is desirable.
It is vital that Germany should live up to the principles of the Treaty and the principles which we have been advocating this afternoon. It must be kept in mind that Western Germany has given an undertaking accepting restrictions on the army and the manufacture of weapons, as set out in the final act on page 6, paragraph 15. She has undertaken not to use force for the reunification of Germany, nor for the changing of West Germany boundaries, and to resolve any dispute by peaceful means. That is in the Final Act. In these circumstances, it seems to me that there is, at any rate, hope in these Treaties of Europe and Germany moving in the right direction.
428 It is also the case that the three Powers retain certain rights in association with Germany. It is sometimes assumed that Germany can go away and make a separate agreement or treaty with the Soviet Union about unification and about these Treaties and so on, but on page 3 of the Documents, the new Article 2 says:In view of the international situation, which has so far prevented the re-unification of Germany and the conclusion of a peace settlement, the Three Powers retain the rights and responsibilities, heretofore exercised or held by them, relating to Berlin and to Germany as a whole, including the re-unification of Germany and a peace settlement.It is, therefore, the case that Germany cannot unilaterally make an agreement with the Soviet Union about unification and settlement, as I understand that paragraph in the Documents.
I hope, therefore, that in these circumstances Germany will live up to the principle embodied in this Treaty. I hope that the Soviet Union will find it possible to change its policy, particularly with regard to free elections in Germany, which will enable discussions to be renewed, and which I hope no one will wish to delay a moment longer than can be avoided. I hope that the U.S.A. will take a similar attitude and a similar view and also France.
It is the duty of all nations to look out for possibilities of peace, and it is the duty of all nations to seize opportunities for the advancement of peace. It is also the duty of all nations not to have such political prejudices as may make international discussions difficult or impossible. So let us hope that, with the passing of this Treaty, the situation will be improved and that the possibility of a wider peace and a wider friendship in Europe may come about.
§ 5.9 p.m.
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) will forgive me, I am sure, if I do not attempt to follow him in the interesting speculation as to whether the harmony of the Security Council would be enhanced by the inclusion of China. In this two days' debate we are really discussing the future pattern of Europe. The problem of Europe is really concerned with, and centres round, the problem of Germany more than anything else. Germany, like Europe, is divided, and above all there 429 is the relationship between Germany and France which matters so much.
It is not surprising that when one discusses the question of German rearmament and what form of contribution she can best make to European defence emotions are aroused. It would be very surprising if it were not so. After all, the dates 1914 and 1939 have made deep scars in many hearts and homes. It would be foolish to pretend that all those scars have yet healed, but it would be much more foolish to pretend that in the long run, unless those scars do heal, there is much future for Western Europe.
It is said that time is the great healer. That may be so, but in this case I believe it will not be time so much as the force of circumstances, and the force of circumstances is the need for European defence. Everybody in France, here and in Germany knows that Western Europe cannot he defended without including West German territory; and if we include West German territory, it only makes sense to defend the West German territory with, instead of without, the assistance of the West Germans. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South were clearly in agreement about that.
The question is, what sort of contribution Western Germany can make. We have had our trials and tribulations over E.D.C., and that sad story is now over. We have to begin a new chapter in which we harness the Brussels Treaty to N.A.T.O., with the ultimate control in safeguards vested in N.A.T.O., although the actual decision as to how to use the British and other forces is vested in the majority decisions of the Brussels Treaty Powers.
I think there is no doubt that there would be no Final Act, no Command Paper 9289, upon which to build a new structure of Western European defence, had it not been for the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in convening the London Conference, and had it not been for the Government's offer to maintain on the Continent of Europe four divisions, together with a Tactical Air Force. If this new solution, the Brussels Treaty plus N.A.T.O. arrangement, fails to allay suspicions and to heal scars, I do not know what other solution would so so.
430 Western defence has been much delayed over the arguments on E.D.C. Of course, it is much better to arrive late than not to arrive at all. At the same time, while all the delay has continued nobody has benefited but the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union has had a wonderful diplomatic hand to play. Month in, month out, for the last two-and-a-half or three years, its entire diplomatic resources have been focused on postponing, at all costs, West German rearmament. Although, I think, the Soviet Union knows by now that it is playing a losing game, I am certain that right until the last minute and until the eve of ratification it will still continue to try to postpone ratification and the bringing into being of a West German force.
In company with several other hon. Members, from both sides of the House, I recently had the good fortune to enjoy Soviet hospitality as a member of the British Parliamentary delegation to the Soviet Union. We were treated with a great deal of kindness, courtesy and friendliness on all sides; we are all deeply grateful for that. I should like to give to the House one or two impressions, although I would be the first to admit that impressions of a country of the size of the Soviet Union, when one spends only 16 days there, are bound to be extremely superficial.
I want to give the House one or two impressions of the Soviet attitude towards Western Europe, towards co-existence and towards the problems which we are discussing in this debate. The Russians, it seems to me, have a complex about security. It is quite natural that they should wish to feel secure, but so long as they are satisfied with nothing less than 100 per cent. security for themselves, nothing is left for anybody else. That is very nice for the side which has 100 per cent., but not for the neighbours who have none.
The Soviet Union sees—at least, it pretends to see—every justification for maintaining its troops in Austria, Roumania, Hungary and elsewhere in the satellite countries, but the moment that there are American bases in Turkey, by agreement with N.A.T.O., that in itself constitutes a tremendous threat. That is the position. I repeat that if the Russians demand security which leaves 431 everybody else completely naked, it is not a very helpful attitude.
I now want to say a word about co-existence. I frankly confess that the meaning of "co-existence" in Moscow is quite different from what is meant by the word here, in Washington, or in Paris. We are not seeking to impose upon the Soviet Union our own or anybody's else's form of Parliamentary Government. If the Russians like the Communist system, that is their affair. All that we ask in return is that the Russians, in their turn, should not seek to impose Communism upon other countries who do not wish to experience it.
In other words, by co-existence we in the Western world mean to live and to let live. In the Kremlin, co-existence means something quite different. They still believe that Communism must ultimately envelop the whole of the capitalist world. That aim is still in the Communist bible, so to speak, and is still the course which the Communists think events must inevitably take. It is rather like a great river that gradually overflows its banks, and all the land below is flooded to an increasing extent. The Communists see that as an inevitable process.
Because Communism is not merely a political philosophy but also a religion, there is an evangelistic element in it. If the Russians see an opportunity of undermining their next-door neighbour, so that the river flows a little faster than would otherwise be the case, that is regarded as the fair thing to do, because those who believe in Communism as a religion feel that wherever possible they must make converts to that religion. To the Kremlin, therefore, co-existence is not to live and to let live, but is in one degree or another, the cold war. We do no service to the cause of peace if we pretend that this difference of interpretation of "co-existence" does not exist.
I do not for a moment think that the Soviet Union wants a hot war. Why should she? She knows perfectly well that in an atomic war, Russia could not be the gainer, with America on the other side; and that all her beautiful 10-year-plans for Leningrad, Stalingrad and everywhere else would be blown sky high. The Russians are not starting a hot war.
The only kind of hot war that the Russians allow is a hot war by proxy, on 432 two conditions. One is that they could control the proxy and the other is that the hot war does not become too dangerous. An example of the one is Korea, and of the other, Indo-China; I could think of other instances too.
These are two other factors I would mention. One is what I call less hopeful, and the more hopeful. All with whom we talked to expressed the hope that there would be better contacts between Russia and the rest of Europe. One agrees with that hope, but when one begins to consider it more closely I am wondering how effective these extra contacts can be.
Unless I am very much mistaken, the bricks and the mortar which bind the whole system of the Soviet Union together contain two essential elements. One is the fear of invasion from outside, whether real or imaginary. I do not know to what extent the Russians have become the victims of their own propaganda. I do not know whether the men in the Kremlin really believe that they are living under a threat from outside. I doubt if they do. What is clear is that the ordinary man in the street, whether he works in a factory or drives a tractor on a farm, thinks that at any moment the third world war is going to be let loose.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
When the hon. Gentleman was having these interesting conversations, did he put it to the Russians that the American bases and the defensive system which we have built up came as a result of the territorial acquisitions of the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
Oh, yes. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that that point was made on every occasion.
What I want to explain to the House is that the ordinary Soviet citizen lives in fear of another world war breaking out. The phrase that is on everybody's lips—and I think the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) will bear this out—is "Fighting for peace." One has only got to be in the Soviet Union for a week to feel that the Soviet Union is the only country in the world that is fighting for peace and that every other country is crouching, ready to attack. I can assure the hon. Gentleman the Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) that on every possible occasion we pointed out that nobody in 433 the world wanted to start a war, and it was not only the Soviet Union that was fighting for peace.
What I want to explain is that if there is, on the one hand, this perpetual fear of invasion, and, on the other hand, the other element in the bricks and mortar, namely, that their own achievements, however good, are far in excess of anybody else's, then I think that the Kremlin have got to be careful not to let out into the rest of the world too many Soviet citizens to see what is going on, and they have to be equally careful whom they let in.
If there were to be unlimited two-way traffic of the kind which we should like to see, with a large number of Soviet citizens going out to the rest of the world and seeing for themselves what the rest of the world achievements are like, and a lot of other people from the rest of the world going into the Soviet Union, it may be that that would dispel the mirage. The Soviet citizens would discover that nobody wanted to attack their country, and that many of their achievements, however good, are in some respects no better and in other respects are behind some of the achievements of certain other countries in the world. Would the regime survive that discovery?
A more hopeful factor is this. Just as the Russians have always recoiled from a hot war, so I think there is a chance that they will think again when they start really to lose the cold war. I am sure our urgent task is to forge ahead with these new Agreements, because when they are ratified and the Western German contribution comes into being, there will be something really firm in Western Europe, a firm basis which is not merely military but psychological. Once there is that firm basis but not before, then there is just a chance that there will be a really new look in the Soviet Union, and that conversations with them might be worth considering.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
No doubt the House was as interested as I was in the reactions of the hon. Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe) to his visit to the Soviet Union and his contacts with Russian citizens and statesmen. I have never been to Russia, but I have a pretty shrewd idea of what Russian Communism is, and, unfortunately, so 434 have a good many other people by practical experience. When I hear hon. Members just back from Russia telling us about their talks with Russian statesmen or Russian generals, I take with a huge grain of salt some of the impressions that they have got or some of the impressions that were conveyed to them.
The reason is that actions speak much louder than words. We have consistently been told—and nobody knows this better than Social Democrats everywhere, who have been the subject of the foulest abuse from Communism ever since the Russian Revolution—that Communism knows no frontiers. All this talk about co-existence may be very fine talk, but we all know that fine words butter no parsnips.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to misinterpret what I have said. I made no reference in my speech to Russian statesmen or Russian generals, but I gave the House an impression made on me by talking through interpreters to the ordinary man in the street who is the victim of propaganda.
§ Mr. Bellenger
All I was saying was that the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were much feted in Russia, and I am sure they did not escape having talks with Russian statesmen and generals, at least I hope not, because it would have been an act of gross discourtesy for our delegation to go there and then ignore those people who are the real rulers of Russia and talk just to the ordinary people with whom the hon. Gentleman says he talked and who are under the domination of Russian Communists.
But I do not want to deal with that issue. I have my own views on it. They are consistent and unalterable, whatever the Russians say. Russia and Russian Communism will only act when forced to act. As Stalin once conveyed quite clearly to the Prime Minister, Russian Communists will act or react definitely in a way which they understand, namely, the material way. Hence the question which Stalin is reported to have asked the Prime Minister who, I believe, has included it in one of his books. The question was, how many divisions has the Pope got? I myself am not an adherent to Roman Catholicism, but I know that the spiritual force which the Pope animates all over the world, and even 435 among some of the Russian population, is of more moment to me than Mr. Stalin's material question, how many divisions has the Pope got?
It is inevitable that in our debate today and tomorrow we should concentrate on the question of German rearmament, but I would warn hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that that is not the only problem we are discussing in these nine-Power Agreements. German rearmament, if it is considered as such, is taken out of its context. What is the ambit within which German rearmament is to operate? We all know that it is in defence of principles which I have always understood the people of this country and, I am glad to say, every democratic country holds true and of more value than life itself. Otherwise, I am quite certain that our young men, American young men, French young men and other young men from the democratic nations would not have fought as they did against Hitler's forces and conquered them.
There is no doubt that there is anxiety in the minds of many of us who support these Agreements. As the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said, there is anxiety in the minds of many of us who have experienced two world wars, in which we were involved whether we liked it or not and we know the potential danger of German aggression just as we know the real danger of the possibility of Russian aggression.
How are we to cope with such a situation? The answer has been given by France and, notably by the French Socialist Party. That party has decided by numbers, which I consider to be overwhelming, that it will support these Nine Power Agreements. Can the British Labour Party do less than the French Socialist Party? What is our contribution to be towards what we believe will make for peace? My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) referred to Holland, Belgium, Norway and other countries which have known what German aggression amounted to in their own lands and homes. All those countries are unanimous on one point, that we must create a Western system of defence which will include Germany in order that we can resist aggression from the quarters where it seems most likely to occur.
436 To put it on its lowest plane, is it not in Britain's own interest that we should support these Agreements? As the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary reminded the House today, British Expeditionary Forces have been sent on the Continent of Europe, once in 1914 in connection with treaty obligations and, secondly, because we had to go into France in support of our treaty arrangements with Poland and, of all countries, Roumania. Therefore I can see no reason why any hon. Member should complain of the provision in these Agreements that British Forces are to be stationed on the Continent of Europe. That is the place where they should be, because that is the place, if recent history is right, where aggression is likely to take place.
I do not suppose that, if war should break out, the first act of war would be one of aggression on our cities. How could that come about? Fortunately, we are surrounded by the sea and so it could only come from the air. If such an act of aggression took place, the response would be so immediate and so disastrous for the aggressors that I think they would hesitate to make such an attack. All military authorities are agreed on one point, that what would happen would be a land force attack on the Continent, perhaps between Eastern and Western Germany.
Therefore there is every reason why we should keep our forces stationed in the front line. In other words, the British Expeditionary Force of today—by a remarkable coincidence of the same size as far as divisions are concerned as in 1914 and 1939, namely, four—is being kept in Germany, and can even be removed from Germany and placed somewhere else on the orders of the Supreme Commander.
I would go further and say to the House, and especially to those hon. Gentlemen who may query the advisability and cost, and who say that it matters not whether a British Expeditionary Force is here or in Germany, that one small Expeditionary Force of 1914 was able to hold up the encircling movement of von Kluck's armies when he tried to capture Paris, and practically stabilised the war for four years. Therefore, let us not query too much the advisability of keeping four armoured divisions in Germany.
437 There is a matter, with which perhaps the Minister of Defence can deal tomorrow, that I want to mention now. If we had those four divisions back here and the tactical Air Force plus all the troops coining home from Egypt, we would create an insupportable situation in this country as regards training and barracks. We simply have not got either the training grounds or the barrack accommodation to accommodate all those forces. Those who have seen the German training centres know that, as far as military considerations go, those areas are far better for the training of our forces than anything we can get in this country.
If we are to have armies, presumably we must train them up to the highest pitch of efficiency. So I ask the representative of the Government now sitting on the Treasury bench, the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, to try to induce his colleague the Minister of Defence to tell us tomorrow something about the additional cost of keeping these forces on the Continent under the new arrangements. An estimate has been made, I think it was in "The Observer" two or three Sundays ago, by Mr. Menken. He put the extra cost on the balance of payments arrangements as no more than £15 million or £20 million. I hope the Government will tell us whether he is right or not. I hope, indeed, that the Government will tell the House their estimate of the extra cost, for we are entitled to know it. If the cost is not much more than that, it is a small premium to pay for a policy which will yield tremendous dividends as far as peace is concerned.
Others may say that the 12 German divisions envisaged in the White Paper, in addition to the N.A.T.O. forces which we have at present, are not sufficient to balance the great Russian and Russian-controlled forces on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain. If we discuss these matters as mathematical proportions I do not suppose they are, but what are the figures?
N.A.T.O. envisages at some time or other 50 divisions, according to the Lisbon Agreement, and I do not believe that all those are first-line divisions. Add 12 German divisions and we get 62. What are the figures on the opposite side of the fence? We are told that there are 20 Russian divisions in Eastern Germany, 438 and I understand that nearly all of them are mechanised or armoured, already poised there for some purpose or other. They may say it is for the defence of their own interests. We can consider that in a different context in a moment or two. Some 60 more are lined up farther back in Eastern Europe, and there are 70 satellite divisions in the satellite countries.
Russia and her statesmen are supposed to be realistic. They cannot really think that re-arming Germany within the ambit of N.A.T.O. will be a threat to her own inviolability. If figures mean anything—and they must mean something at S.H.A.P.E. headquarters—because, as Field Marshal Montgomery and General Gruenther have said, if an act of aggression occurred, atomic weapons would be used immediately owing to this unbalance of forces, thereby indicating not only to Russia but to everybody else that, even with the German contribution, Western defence will still be much weaker than the forces controlled by Soviet Russia.
Therefore, it is true to say that what is being done in this Agreement is merely to strengthen Western defence, nothing less and nothing more. Others would argue, and have argued, that in re-arming Germany one cannot be sure of Germany's intentions. Dr. Adenauer is the Chancellor of Western Germany, he is elderly and people ask, "How long can he last and if he goes who replaces him, and what will replace the present democratic system of German government later on?" There is a democratic system in Germany, with a secret ballot as we know it here, quite different from those elections the other day in the Eastern part of Germany, where voters were mobilised and marched to the polling booths, and woe betide them if they did not vote. They, of course, voted from very carefully chosen lists.
Some hon. Members ask how one can be sure that these democratic forces will remain. They have to admit that they exist in Germany, because there is a very strong democratic element forming the real Oposition there. They ask how we can be sure that somehow or other Germany will not turn eastwards and do a deal with the Russians. I agree that that is always a possibility. We know 439 that Mr. Ribbentrop, the Foreign Minister of Hitler's Germany, made a deal with Mr. Molotov, who is still there in Russia in his old position. We know about that too well, because that gave the green light to Germany to march, which she did pretty quickly after that agreement was signed.
Others of my hon. Friends ask, "Is it not possible that we may get a Herr Schmidt or a Mr. Ribbentrop No. 2 and perhaps a Mr. Molotov"—though perhaps they do not always mention Mr. Molotov—"or his successor doing a similar deal in the future?" They ask, "What are you going to say then when Germany's armed forces are united? Won't you be in a pretty pickle?" It is a possibility, of course. It is like the permutation system in football pools. One can think of all sorts of problems to set and all sorts of answers to them, but let us in the House be realists. We cannot guarantee what will happen when we are all gone. We can only legislate for the time that we can reasonably see ahead.
We know—and by "we" I mean those hon. Members who have been to Germany and seen things with their own eyes—that so long as they have the power, and they have it now, the German people will not agree to any such arrangement with Russia. As the Social Democrats themselves have said—whatever they have said about this Agreement and the E.D.C.—"Our future lies with the West and not with the East." Well it might. There are thousands of homes in Germany, missing members of whose families are known to be still held in Russian hands. There are 9 million Germans who have come out of their own free will, or at any rate have been forced out, of Eastern territories which are controlled by Russia. As long as we have these people living we have a guarantee against any horse deals, such as Mr. Ribbentrop made with Mr. Molotov in 1939.
I come now to an issue which has not been raised so far, which I do not think the Foreign Secretary mentioned and which is not part of the Nine-Power Agreement. Nevertheless it is bound up with it. I refer to the agreement between the French and the Germans about the Saar. We know only too well that that 440 and similar issues have caused bitterness and enmity between Germany and France for years. Up to the First World War, it was Alsace-Lorraine. We who lived through those times remember only too well the "war of revenge" which was so often talked of in France to recover lost provinces.
There are still lost provinces on the Eastern side of Germany, but on the Western side the statesmen of France and Germany have come to an agreement. It is not an agreement that will satisfy both countries, and the German Chancellor may have difficulty in getting his own Parliament to approve it. But like all agreements, whether in business or in politics, one cannot always obtain 100 per cent. of what one is asking for and inevitably one has to come to a compromise. The French and the Germans have come to a compromise over the Saar.
Should we in Britain, who have nothing to do with it, who have no territorial, political or economic interest at stake, do anything to stop that agreement going forward? It is an agreement which may pave the way to some sort of understanding between France and Germany, which will replace that bitterness which has existed since at least 1870, when France was first invaded. It would be on the conscience of any hon. Gentleman who attempted to vote against the ratification of this agreement that he was trying to stop something—whatever he thinks about German rearmament—which at any rate will contribute to the peace of Western Europe for many years to come.
We have tried out all sorts of diplomatic arrangements, as the Foreign Secretary said. We have had Locarno and the League of Nations and so forth. This time, so long as we can keep the democratic nations united, vigilant and strong, the more likely we are to ensure the reasonable co-existence about which we all talk. Included in the democratic nations, of course, is America who, although she has not committed herself so deeply as Britain in this Agreement, nevertheless has pledged her word through her Foreign Secretary that she has a very considerable interest in this matter.
If this comes about then one day perhaps even Russia may find that the maintenance of large military forces is too 441 onerous a burden for her people to bear. There is some evidence that even now the Russian people are finding, as other peoples are finding, that the maintenance of large armies means a reduced standard of living. Perhaps that is why the present rulers of Russia have had to promise a better life for the Russian people. Perhaps then we may proceed to disarm throughout the world. That is the real hope of mankind. That is far beyond the subject which we are discussing today, but before we realise that hope we must understand that peace does not come alone through high ideals or slogans. It must be worked and paid for, and no less has it to be paid for by the German people themselves.
Those who say in Germany, as do the German trade unions and the Social Democrats, that they can keep out of all this are living in a fool's paradise of their own making. They are on record as having said that their interests lie with the West. If that be true, they must pay part of the insurance premium which the West has been paying for so long.
This Agreement, is the first step on the road towards that goal of disarmament, paradoxical though that may seem, and full credit is due to all those statesment who have played a part in negotiating it. I include, not least of all, the Foreign Secretary. Let us ratify this Agreement without delay and get on with the next business.
§ 5.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Sharples (Sutton and Cheam)
It is with some trepidation that I rise to make my maiden speech in a debate on this vast subject. It has been a great experience for me to listen to the speeches from both sides of the House.
I know that there are many hon. Members who have far more experience and knowledge of the vast issues which confront us than I have, but my reason for wishing to take part in the debate is the five years which I spent from 1948 on the staff of Field Marshal Montgomery in the Western Union organisation and, later, in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
I remember how we started in Dover House, in October, 1948, with a very small military staff, to plan the beginnings of the defence organisation which was set up under the Brussels Treaty. From 442 within that organisation I watched it grow from its very small beginnings, first to Fontainebleau and later into the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, covering the vast area of the Western world, as it does today. It has always seemed to me—and perhaps there is no need for me to remind hon. Members of this—that the beginning of our defence effort in the West came from the Brussels Treaty, and I believe that, for that Treaty and for the defence organisation which we see today, we owe very much to the efforts, the foresight and perseverance of a very great Foreign Secretary, who is not now with us.
From the earliest days, when we started our plans, the problem which faced us was that of Germany. I am going right back to 1948, for we knew even then that there could be no effective defence organisation in the West without the help, in some form or another, of Western Germany. That became all the more evident to us when we knew that the rearmament of Eastern Germany had taken place. To the military planners, Western Germany lay in the forefront of any battle which was likely to take place in a future war. It was unthinkable to us that the West Germans should not play their part in some way.
That was from the military point of view. I know the political considerations which have entered into the delay which has arisen in procuring that help but from my experience, I do not believe that the progress of science or the advent of atomic weapons, either tactical or strategical, has in any way altered the need for that West German contribution to Western defence. It is as true today as it was in 1948 that we need that contribution.
I am dealing largely with the military aspect of the problem because my experience is mostly concerned with that. Before I leave the military aspect, I want to remind the House that in Western Europe there was always a doubt about our intentions. I believe it to have been completely groundless, but it is no use blinding ourselves to the fact that it existed. It was a doubt of our clear intentions to fight on the Continent of Europe in the event of war. I know that that doubt was quite groundless, but none the less it existed.
On many occasions, when I was in Paris, I talked to my French, Dutch and 443 Belgian colleagues about that problem, particularly when the negotiations were taking place about the European Defence Community. On those occasions I would point out to them the very good reasons for which it was not possible for us to take part as in that organisation an active member—for instance, its supranational character and our other commitments of various kinds; but I do not believe I ever fully removed that doubt from their minds. Possibly I was not very good at persuading them, but in any event the doubt remained. In taking the step which I hope we shall now take, I believe that we shall remove the last remaining doubt from the minds of our European partners in defence.
So far I have dealt only with the military considerations which are involved, and I should like to turn for a moment to the wider issues. One thing is quite clear to me, as I am sure it is clear to all hon. Members: the issue of peace or war in our time depends upon a solution of the problem of Germany. I do not think there is any doubt about that. The answer depends upon our getting the right solution, and I believe there is no shadow of doubt that the solution which we are considering today is the right solution, and, what is more, is a realistic solution to the problem. It is no good tackling these problems unless we tackle them with reality.
The commitment which we are undertaking is heavy. There is no disguising that fact. It means that we shall have forces on the Continent of Europe for an indefinite period. It certainly means that we shall have some period of National Service as far as we can see into the future, and it also means a financial commitment which may or may not be as heavy as some of us fear. But, despite all those burdens, one point stands out: that it is worth while putting up with them if the measures which we are taking today add up to the prevention of a third world war. From that point of view the burden is worth while.
I am very glad that this Agreement seems likely to have the general approval of the House. It is my earnest belief that it is the best solution we can have at present. I referred at the beginning of my speech to the Brussels Treaty, to that great gesture which we made and for 444 which Britain is giving the lead in 1948. To me it is a matter of the greatest pride that once again, at a time of decision, Britain gave the lead to the world. It is my most earnest hope that these Agreements will be ratified in the Parliaments of the other countries concerned with the very least possible delay, and that we do not once again allow the chance of a solution to slip through our fingers.
§ 6.1 p.m.
§ Mr. C. R. Hobson (Keighley)
It falls to me to convey the congratulations of the House to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples) on his maiden speech. I think that he has shown a great knowledge of the Agreements, and he has made his speech with a confidence which at the moment I envy. I do not think I can pay him a better tribute than to recall the words of the late Mr. James Maxton, who said that it was better to make a big speech on a wee day than a wee speech on a big day. The hon. Member has made a big speech on a big day.
As I see it, we should not be discussing these Agreements and this defence alliance were it not for territorial acquisitions on the part of Russia which have taken place since the end of hostilities, and Russia's general intransigence which has been demonstrated repeatedly at conferences since 1945. These Agreements have a great advantage over other treaties, in that they make perfectly clear to any would-be aggressor that, unlike 1939—as the Foreign Secretary has stated—we have British troops serving on the Continent of Europe and that we would defend the free world.
One of the faults of the free world since 1945 has been the paralysis of indecision which at times seemed to afflict the West. For example, would Czechoslovakia have been raped if N.A.T.O. had been in existence? I do not think so. Would the Korean war have occurred if S.E.A.T.O. had been in existence? I do not think so. Likewise there is the corollary that West Berlin is free today because of the airlift.
These are the facts of the situation, ugly as they may seem; and I think that the evidence, particularly in the last two years, is that when the free world is strong the Russians are tamer.
445 For example, at this moment they are asking for talks. If they want talks, by all means let us have them. But when we talk to them through strength we are in a position to get concessions from Russia. In my submission, they have demonstrated that in the past.
If the Russians are alarmed at the Paris Agreement, there are a lot of things they could do at no cost to themselves. We could have the Austrian treaty. There is nothing to prevent that little country from being given its freedom. We could have free elections in Germany and the reunification of Germany. Russia could call off her agents in other countries.
She could stop meddling in British trade union policy and in the policies of trade unions in the free world. Russia could liquidate the Cominform, and there are no people more experienced in liquidation than the Russians. All these are steps which Russia could take if she is alarmed at the actions we are taking for defence.
These Agreements give sovereignty to Germany. It will be agreed that Western Germany must be incorporated into the West. As has been pointed out, the Agreements have the merit of limiting German armaments and the making of modern munitions of war. How do opponents of these Agreements hope to prevent Germany from rearming? That question has not been answered.
Are we in the last analysis to use force? That is the only way to prevent Germany from rearming. If such a thing happened as a conflict between East and West Germany, are British and United States conscripts to continue to be responsible for the policing and defence of Western Germany? That seems to me thoroughly unfair, and is one of the main reasons I welcome the Treaty.
Had we not had the Paris and London Agreements, we would have found ourselves faced with the fact of Washington and Bonn literally controlling the defence of Europe and the policy to be pursued in Europe. We would have been going out of Europe and putting ourselves in a position of complete diplomatic and military isolation. As Europeans, I think that is something we could not possibly face.
Another point which worries me, and which is apparent in the thinking of 446 many people—not only in Britain but in France as well—is this general retreat into neutralism. That is a line of thought which is frequently heard and in my opinion it is deadly. It was neutralism that brought down France in 1940. It sapped their will to resist. Neutralism made the League of Nations ineffective. All the evidence, regrettable as it may be, seems to point to the fact that today neutralism does not make for peace; indeed, in the last analysis it makes for war.
There are people who argue that the position in Russia has changed, but I submit that such people are basing their judgment on false premises. It took Stalin 15 years to gain complete control. How long will it take Malenkov to gain control? Will the triumvirate who govern Russia—Malenkov, Molotoff and Krusche—always have the same form of cabinet? I doubt it. Already we have seen, at the beginning of the Malenkov régime, what happened to Beria. The trouble is that a totalitarian régime is built up from the base of the pyramid to the apex, and it is the person at the apex who becomes the dictator and controller. That is quite likely to happen in the present set-up in Russia.
What has happened in Russia is a change of tactics. Soviet tactics now are far more intelligent than they were. One recalls the half-dozen Soviet wives who have been released; the visits of the football teams; the invitation to delegates to visit Russia and other Eastern countries; the changed attitude towards Yugoslavia; the accommodating of China by conceding Port Arthur to the Chinese. The Russians have also got rid of certain irritations at home. There has been the reinstatement of the doctors who were purged. But so far as the overall strategy is concerned, I see no change whatsoever. When these Agreements are ratified, it will be for the Russians the "Tannenberg" of present diplomatic tactics. There will be a reorientation. What form it will take we do not know.
Another argument is often used, that the Germans are the key to the present situation. I do not think that they are. In my opinion, and singularly enough, the country with the key to the situation in Europe today is France. The French have the ports and the territory, should there be need for action against a future 447 aggressor. The French know that and largely because of it they were a little awkward about E.D.C.
These Agreements have been forced on the free world. It is regrettable, but there was absolutely no alternative before us, We cannot do anything but give the fullest possible support to the defensive action which has been taken. After 1945, we relied on Russian benevolence. Our forces and those of the Americans were demobilised. There were very few forces in Germany. What happened? We had the series of aggressions by proxy, by the Trojan horse method, in many European countries. The peoples of those countries were prevented from enjoying the elementary rights of freedom, free association and the freedom of religion. That was what happened when we relied on benevolence. The result is that as these attacks and aggressions came nearer it became essential to form the defensive alliances, the first of which was N.A.T.O.
Now we have Europe in the present formation through the various Agreements. I think that it will show the Russians that we are prepared to defend our country and to fight for those values and ideals that the free world holds dear. The Russians are realists. Their creed is one of materialism, and they know full well that a European Army of 50 divisions may be quite sufficient to defend the Rhine but it is not adequate for any attack which may take place against the countries which are under the domination of the Soviet Union today. The Russians hold the key to world disarmament. They know that we have no territorial aspirations but that we are prepared to meet any attacks made upon us.
For these reasons I welcome the London Agreement. It is a good one. It is the final stroke in the work started by the late Mr. Ernest Bevin. It has sealed any gap which may have existed in our defences. Therefore, the House will be well advised to approve the Agreement and to demonstrate to the world our determination to defend our ideals of freedom.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Captain J. A. L. Duncan (South Angus)
There was hardly anything in the speech of the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Hobson) with which I 448 would disagree. Indeed, I applaud his speech and welcome his support for the Agreements which have been made in London and Paris recently. I have spoken on this matter before on one or two occasions, especially when the E.D.C. Treaty was before us.
We are now at another crossroads on this cold, grey, dark road towards peace. The E.D.C. treaty was in the nature of a false dawn appearing beyond the crossroads. Let us hope that the recent Agreements represent the real dawn of future peace. I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. Without him, without his initiative when he flew to the capitals of Europe when we were all holidaying, this settlement could not have been brought about. On behalf of everyone, I congratulate my right hon. Friend most warmly on the tremendous effort which he made, almost at the last minute, to produce an alternative which seems to be even better than the E.D.C. Treaty.
It is not right, however, that we should ignore the cost. We must face the fact that there are certain burdens which we in this country will have to bear. As Mr. Dulles said in his television broadcast in America on 26th October, for the first time for 100 years Britain has committed herself to maintaining permanently troops on the Continent of Europe and has, therefore, become part of Europe; also, being unable to withdraw the troops on her own authority, there has been a surrender of sovereignty which we must recognise.
Nevertheless, I do not disagree with it. The financial cost does not worry me too much, but it must also be taken into account. The advantages are enormous. Here we have Germany anchored to Western European Union. What would have happened if these treaties had not been made? What could have happened to Germany, floating unarmed in a vacuum in Europe? If she had armed, where would she have gone? It seems to me that there is no alternative to what my right hon. Friend has done.
I wish to ask one question. In the Agreement there is provision for the integration of the German army. In the E.D.C. Treaty the integration was at divisional level, which means that there could not be a German national army and that if there were German troops they would 449 be in a N.A.T.O. corps, and so on, up to army group level. The White Paper tells us now that the integration is to be at army group level. Does that mean that there could be a German army, or is it still the intention that there should be integration well below army level, for preference down to divisional level?
This brings me to a further point. What is to be the position of the German general staff? I can well understand that in the German War Office there must be staff officers to deal with the supply of clothing and training and matters of that kind, but is there to be once again a German operational general staff; or is it, as I hope, to be integrated at N.A.T.O. level? If that is so, I believe that it will relieve the doubts and anxieties of many of us who have had to fight these Germans twice in a lifetime, and who look with a little misgiving on any revival of any of the old German general staff spirit.
I warmly welcome the Agreements. I congratulate my right hon. Friend and I hope that France and Germany will quickly ratify them in the confidence that it will save the world for the future.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Mr. James Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
There has been a great deal of unanimity in the debate so far, but I regret that I cannot see eye to eye with most of the speakers, though I do not doubt their sincerity. The Foreign Secretary's speech was based upon the idea of developing world peace and sovereignty for Germany, but I cannot see that the Agreement will do anything other than aggravate the situation. Some of my hon. Friends have been more aggressive than any hon. Member opposite and have been satisfied that under no circumstances could there be any agreement with the Russian Government.
I could understand that if the situation today were more tense than it was four years ago. I realise that when N A.T.O. came into operation there were some grounds for that attitude. There were signs of aggression. I remember the Berlin airlift, and I have no doubt that if we had not stepped in at that time the situation might have become very serious. However, no one will argue with me today that there is greater tension than there was four years ago. Almost every statesman in Europe realises that the tension has much eased today.
450 Russia has already indicated her desire to have another meeting of the four Powers. All the other meetings have been more or less failures. I cannot better the words used in another place by Viscount Samuel. He said:Let us not assume that when Russia and China make advances they are necessarily insincere and their proposals are a trap. Perhaps they, too, may realise that the welfare of their own people is at stake. Perhaps they, too, care for humanity at large. So whoever it may be who offers the hand of friendship, let us not spurn it; let us not hesitate or falter, but grasp it quickly."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 10th November, 1954; Vol. 189, c. 1270.]I am satisfied that already in many ways we have had agreements in international matters with the Russians.
The situation today is that the Western nations are anxious to have a Western bloc for the purpose of saving democratic government. I should have thought that if we were intending to include the German people we might have tried to understand their attitude. I gather from speeches at Bonn and at the German trades union congress that the German people are very chary about it. They are rightly afraid that there may be an upsurge of militarism in Germany.
It is a very strange thing that nine years after the war in which we defeated the Germans, our only hope of saving democracy at this perilous hour is by bringing a German army into being. There is no doubt that if a German army comes into being now it will be in charge of the men who ran the Nazi army. There are a number of dangers. For example, it is bad for a country to have two armies, one against the other. Already, it has been admitted in the debate that there is already an army in Eastern Germany. I do not think it is equipped like most modern armies, but the fact that it is proposed to have an army of 12 divisions in Western Germany will mean a tendency in Eastern Germany further to equip its own army.
It has been said with all sincerity by the Foreign Secretary, and I accept it, that he has no desire for aggression of any kind; but the simplest incident in a country can start a civil war, and if there should be a civil war in Germany, either Russia would back Eastern Germany or the Western nations would back Western Germany, and we should again be 451 engaged in war. That is a very grave danger.
There is another danger. I have read the Agreement very carefully, and I find that it contains many necessary safeguards, but there is nothing in it to prevent the Germans making an agreement with Russia after they have established their own Western army. Also the Germans are allowed only 12 divisions, but it would be the easiest thing in the world—it is dealt with in the Agreement—for the Germans to tell the Western Powers that they do not agree that they have sufficient divisions and that they propose to add to them. How could we stop that? There is only one way to stop it, by going to war. Whatever be the text of the Agreement, the only way to stop an army from building up would be to go to war with it. That is a very grave danger.
What matters most in Germany today is the building up of the economy and the social advancement of the people. The only people capable of exercising authority in that respect are the democrats in the democratic Government and the trades union congress. In earlier days we might not have argued the case for a trades union congress, but whatever Government is in power in Great Britain today notes the comments and takes heed on many occasions of the attitude of the British Trades Union Congress.
A resolution passed at a conference of the German trades union congress at Frankfurt in October stated:For the internal development of the Federal German Republic the re-armament and organisation of a German army as laid down by the London Agreement would bring the danger of the creation of a militarist authoritarian State. This would in turn defeat the efforts of the German workers' movement to erect a political, social and economic democracy.I am amazed at my own party. My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said today that for five years we had accepted the idea of German rearmament. I have read all the party documents, and there is no clear statement in them that it had at any time been decided to rearm the Germans. I feel that we are now in very grave danger of worsening the possibility 452 of an agreement with the Russian Government. The Government have not got the pulse of the people of this country. I am satisfied that if a plebiscite were taken the people would vote against German rearmament.
One of the real dangers clearly shown to the people of this country arising from the divisions that are to be kept in Germany is that conscription must permanently become a part of our legislation in this country. There is no chance of conscription being abolished——
§ Mr. Carmichael
We fought a war betwen 1939 and 1945 to save the world for democracy, and yet, as a result of this situation, a little island community like ours is to make conscription a permanent part of our life. Already one of my hon. Friends on this side of the House has asked, "Why the 12 divisions, as they will make no difference?" Well, why all the hurry? Why the need for upsetting the internal political and economic expansion of Germany?
If we build a German army today, many of Germany's economic and social efforts will break down. There are thousands of people in Germany still living in cellars. If we build a German army, we shall be compelling the Germans to stop all economic and social progress. Therefore, I say, why the 12 divisions? Already, Viscount Montgomery has made the statement that the Russians could put 400 divisions in the field. If such is the case, we are only being foolish.
The real trouble is that we are upsetting the possibility of political agreement in the world today. I can remember a very serious debate in this House, although I do not know why it was regarded as serious, when every hon. Member on both sides of the House received a three-line Whip to debate the question of the Belgian rifle in relation to modern affairs. Lord Montgomery has already admitted that if there is an act of aggression we shall use the atom bomb. That in itself should make the politicians consider more seriously before entering into further military commitments.
I entirely disagree with these Agreements at this time, and I feel very annoyed about the attitude of my own party. 453 I say again quite frankly that I have looked through the records of the party since the end of the war and that I have seen no evidence that justifies it in taking this step at this time. I regret its action. I have said I do not deny the party's sincerity, but I feel that it is taking a very serious step in international affairs. The party took such a step last week in connection with South-East Asia, and is doing so again this week. What is the good of the United Nations if we have all these separate pacts? I regret the decision of my party, and I feel very reluctant about the attitude I should take in the Division Lobby.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. William Shepherd (Cheadle)
I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) with astonishment. It did not surprise me that he disagreed with his party, but not for one moment did he follow the logical line of the argument with which he started. He told the House that there was a great deal less tension in the world today than there was a few years ago, but he did not follow that up with the obvious statement that that lessening of tension was related entirely to the lessening of the disparity between the forces of the East and the West, which is the real reason there is a lessening of tension.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Plymouth, Devonport)
Does the hon. Gentleman think that the lessening of the disparity between forces has been contributed to by the fact that the Russians have developed the hydrogen bomb during this period?
§ Mr. Shepherd
As far as the forces in Europe are concerned, there has been a lessening of the disparity, and that clearly has had an effect on the Russian attitude. If we had enormous forces at our disposal and the Russians had a very little force, they would be inclined to fear us, and, if there was much disparity between the forces of two great blocs, inevitably great tension would result. All of us here who try to view this situation as realists know that the narrowing of the margin of disparity is in the interests of world peace.
I welcome these Agreements with perhaps more enthusiasm than some hon. Gentlemen, not because I am unaware of the dangers, but because I never had any real faith in E.D.C. I did not at the time try to voice these sentiments be- 454 cause of the difficult situation in which the Government found themselves, but I did not consider that E.D.C. was a very wise policy. I had no hope that it would prove workable. Sovereignty is much more easily surrendered on paper than it is in practice, and I was quite confident that, when we came to the real implementation of E.D.C., we should have had an organisation that would have failed in practice.
I am particularly glad that, by a process of events, we have now arrived at a situation in which E.D.C. is being supplanted by something else. I should like to add that I hope that Europe will now learn the lesson of the last 30 years, showing that we cannot attempt to erect an organisational superstructure without sound foundations. The whole process of trying to bridge a series of disagreements by building on them a superstructure is quite hopeless. We must first start on the basis of understanding and build our superstructure on that understanding. I am quite convinced that nothing has been more damning to the prospect of accord in Europe than the headlong pace at which some people have tried to drive European unity.
Turning to the actual terms of the Agreements, I admit right away that the Agreements are to some extent expedients and are not an ideal arrangement. I am quite sure, however, that control through N.A.T.O. is a more effective and practicable proposition than the idea of E.D.C., and I am sure that it will have the effect of encouraging a proper relationship between France and Germany. Let us remember that for the whole of this century relations in the West have been damaged and fouled by the bad feeling existing between France and Germany. Now, for the first time in this century, we see the prospect of a working arrangement.
I want to examine the arguments which the hon. Member for Bridgeton put against these Agreements. I think there are two arguments of substance, or which appear to have substance. The first is that if we rearm Germany it will increase the danger of war, and the other is that the rearming of Germany will interfere with the achievement of unity in Europe. To deal first with the idea that rearming Germany will lead to war, I do not for a moment——
§ Mr. Carmichael
I never made a comment of that kind. I did not say that it would lead to war, but that it would create a grave political situation.
§ Mr. Shepherd
If the hon. Gentleman will read his own speech, he will find it quite clear that he said that the situation would lead to civil war, and that war would then be likely on a national scale.
§ Mr. Shepherd
If the hon. Gentleman is not certain, it shows at least that he has been thinking about the matter rather more clearly than before he made his speech. We must regard the situation as a choice of alternatives. I agree that the rearming of Germany is dangerous. If we could have an ideal state of affairs, we would not rearm Germany. If we did not, what would happen? We would have a repetition of the situation that existed under the Weimar Republic which led to the advent of Hitler, or perhaps even more quickly to some sort of military alliance with Russia. Either of those alternatives would mean the end of Western civilisation as we know it. It is not a question of comparing a neutral and unarmed Germany with rearmament, but of facing those alternatives. When the House contrasts the alternatives with what we are now proposing, I believe that it will come to the conclusion that this is the way and the time to do it.
Indeed, perhaps this is past the time and the rearming of Germany ought already to have taken place. Perhaps it is even now a little too late to rearm Germany and that, ideally, it should have been done two or three years ago. There are arising in Germany—and they obviously will increase as Germany continues to recover, as we hope she will—forces which are not in accord with what we conceive to be democratic ideals. We shall have an advantage if we can impose upon German rearmament the conditions that we desire, but we shall not be in a position to do it if we postpone these arrangements indefinitely.
When some hon. Members are trying to assess what the dangers are, there is constant ignoring of certain facts. Hon. Members who oppose rearmament always speak as if the Germany and the Europe of today are like those of 1939; vast changes have taken place in this interval of time. In 1939, the German Army 456 was dominant in Europe, but since then the changes have been startling. Now the Russians have a vast army and there is a conscript British Army in Europe. There is also a French Army, although not as large as we would like. These facts alter the whole balance. There is also an enormous military contribution by the United States of America. I urge hon. Gentlemen to realise that it is no longer possible to consider the German menace as though we were in the 1939 position, because the situation has changed almost entirely.
None the less, the rearming of Germany is an act of faith, in which I join. This is a matter of personal belief. I believe that, by and large, there is a genuine desire in Germany today to operate a democratic form of Government. I believe that the lessons of the last two years have been learned, at any rate by the present-day Germans. I went many times to Germany in the years following the war, and I remember how difficult the conditions were, and how firmly they have been implanted in the minds of the people. Perhaps some of the Germans know more than we do about these things. They realise the value of democracy, which is often not as weak as it appears to be, while dictatorship is not as strong as it seems to be. They know the spiritual resources of democracy. I am satisfied that there is a strong desire in Germany to make democracy work.
The hon. Member's second point was that the rearmament of Germany would set back the reunification of Germany. I cannot understand that argument. It passes my comprehension. Rearming cannot stand in the way of the reunification of Germany, unless we accept the idea that reunification is possible only on a Communist basis. If we think that it should be on a democratic basis, rearming is a step in the right direction. We must realise that the division of Germany into two parts, is not merely a question of the mechanics of government. It is a reflection of the fundamental cleavage in society since the end of the war. The situation will not be resolved and unity will not be achieved unless there is some approach between these two divisions.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Why does the hon. Member want a united Germany? We have only had it for a century, and it has been a pest to Europe.
§ Mr. Shepherd
The hon. and learned Gentleman is considering only what he would wish to have. It is no good thinking about these matters from that standpoint. We have to consider the wishes of the Germany people. There is no doubt that the rearming of Germany will tend towards a condition in which we shall have a chance of getting reunification.
§ Mr. Shepherd
While we have no German contribution for military purposes, the Russians will show no desire to discuss matters in a realistic way. We have had years and years of unrealistic discussions. If we have a realistic approach to the German problem, the Russians will talk with us. They are showing some sign of doing so now that we are taking resolute action.
§ Mr. Warbey
How would the hon. Gentleman propose to get Soviet troops and the Communist régime from Germany without either war or a switch from Western Germany to the East?
§ Mr. Shepherd
One simple method would be free elections. I do not suppose that that method will commend itself to the hon. Gentleman. History may well assess this agreement as of even greater importance than we today conceive it to be. Franco-German understanding is at last a possibility. From it may arise a state of affairs which could transform conditions in Europe. We all know that, apart from the possibility of trouble with the Soviet Union, there is a brighter future for the world today than ever before.
There is a rich prospect for the whole of mankind if we can resolve the difficulties between the two ideologies. This agreement will put us in a position where we can talk on equal terms with those who stand against it, and it will bring us somewhere nearer to realising the ideals of mankind.
§ 6 50 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
We have had a very lucid exposition of the Agreement from the Foreign Secretary, and I think that everyone in this House will agree that the right hon. Gentleman has rendered a great service, both to this country and to the world, by the fidelity with which he has served the cause for which he has worked so long.
458 We have listened to many interesting speeches this afternoon, but I am afraid that the digressions made by some of my hon. Friends on what is happening in the world were based on the fear that war is inevitable. At the end of this debate we shall make a momentous decision, which, for good or ill, will, I believe, determine the fate of Europe and of the world.
I wish to urge, even at this late hour, that the only sure road to keeping open the road to German unity and of reaching an essential agreement with the Soviet Union is not to ratify the Nine-Power Agreement until further efforts to negotiate have been made. In my view, there is yet time for sanity to return to this distracted world. None of us can deny that civilisation today stands at the cross roads; yet, in spite of the effects of the last great war, so diabolical in their consequences, the nations and their representatives have not learned the rudiments of international behaviour.
We stand today on the brink of irretrievable disaster in this atomic and hydrogen-bomb age. We are being asked to take a decision of supreme importance, but why the haste? I presume the assumption to be that war is likely to come at the will of this or that nation, and that we must prepare our armed strength to meet that situation if and when it should arise. I believe that to be an entirely mistaken analysis of what is happening in the world today. I do not believe that all the problems of the world are military. I believe that they are economic, social, and—I do not use the term lightly—partly spiritual.
I wish now to deal with an aspect that is causing some measure of concern. The Russians are presumed to be the bogy men. We have had evidence of that in some of the speeches delivered in this debate. I am not suggesting that the Russians are angels. They are not. Indeed, some of us can never forget what has happened to many of our Social Democratic friends behind the Iron Curtain. But, having said that, I believe that there is tangible evidence today of a change of attitude on the part of the Russian Government.
If we are to move intelligently in the new world that is being built around us, we must put ourselves in sympathetic accord with what is happening in that 459 world. We in this House are in the habit of making special pleadings for a change of attitude on the part of the Soviet Union. I think that we also need to make special pleadings with regard to some other great Powers. For example, I think that we might ask for a change of attitude on the part of our American friends. I do not deny that the Americans are a peaceful nation, but I would suggest that, though they have the power, power and wisdom do not always go together.
American co-operation and friendship are to be desired and are essential in the free world, but ought we to close our eyes to what has been happening in the past few years? Not satisfied with establishing bases in Franco Spain, the Americans seek to embroil Pakistan in the cold war. India is affronted, and there is also the problem of Formosa. If ever we are involved in the problem of Formosa, I sincerely hope that not one British soldier will have his life put in jeopardy in an effort to restore the corrupt régime of Chiang Kai-shek.
The Americans are inflexible and the Russians are insistent. Therefore, if either of them seeks to achieve an absolute victory, failure will result. The German Social Democrats object to the proposed plan because, in their view, it makes negotiation with the Soviet Union impossible. There is also the opposition of the German trade union movement and of the German youth movement. This attitude of mind could end disastrously for all of us.
Therefore, I would urge tonight that we should not take any precipitate action, but that we should make a further attempt along the lines of negotiation before ratifying the Agreement. I believe that there is yet time for mankind to be saved from the horrors of war. Some of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, whose views I respect, have indicated quite clearly in this debate that they believe that we have talked for long enough. That may be true, but my reply to them is that I would rather talk for the next decade than have to face the terrible consequences of the atom and hydrogen bombs.
There appears to be a mania for military power. In my view, militarism is the common foe of America, of Russia and of all other nations which rely upon it. Military minds are dividing the world 460 at a time when it most needs uniting. Armaments and strategic bases, it is assumed, will cow enemies into doing what they are told. Nothing could be more foolish than to suppose that. Precisely the opposite is brought about.
I propose to quote some significant words spoken by Earl Grey in 1914, because I think they are germane to a debate in which we are dealing with rival military strengths. He said:Every measure taken by one nation is noted and leads to counter-measures by others. The enormous growth of armaments in Europe, the sense of insecurity and the fear caused by them made war inevitable.I submit to the House that there was never a greater truism.
Linked with this Agreement is the problem of conscription. Britain carries the heaviest burden in this respect. No European country has so long a period of conscription as we have. I recall very vividly that a number of my hon. Friends voted against conscription, and then, at the next opportunity, voted for the arms programme. That, to me, seemed a strange paradox. We were to produce arms, but there was to be no one to use them.
In 1939, the Labour Party agreed to the limitation of the period of conscription to six months. I agree that that was needed to rebut the diabolical machinations of Hitler and of his Nazi gangsters and to defend our cherished institutions, but I cannot understand why, in peacetime, we on this side of the House have accepted a period of National Service four times as long.
The Nine-Power Agreement involves unprecedented concessions on Britain's part. A preponderance of strength on one side or the other will never bring security to anyone. An ex-Member of this House summed up the common tragedy in these simple terms, "The nations are insane." Let us, then, resolve to make a further effort, or at least attempt to start negotiations forthwith; suspend the ratification of the Agreement, if necessary, on a time basis. If there are no satisfactory conclusions we can then review the situation.
In the interests of ourselves and of generations yet unborn, we might at least examine this situation dispassionately and with due regard to all that is involved for human kind. We may fail to reach 461 an agreement but then it may be possible to say of us that we have made a genuine attempt to give moral leadership to the world. It is an effort which would be worthy of the great movement of which I am a member.
§ 7.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
If I understood him aright, the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) pleaded for a further extension of time so that we could seek further negotiations with the Soviet before ratifying these Agreements. There has, of course, been a long, and to some extent involuntary, extension of time over the last three years. Three years have gone by, and there have been numerous contacts with the Soviet leaders which have given them every opportunity either to accept the proposals that we have made or to propound new proposals that might be acceptable to us.
I cannot help thinking that the hon. Member misconceives what is in the minds of the Soviet Government. As I understand the situation, the German people would like to come into the system of the free world, but the Soviet Union is prepared to consider German unification only under conditions which preclude the whole of Germany from ever joining the democratic community of the West. That is a position which I do not think we can accept.
Once we have ratified these Agreements, once Western Germany is included in the free world, the ground is ready for large negotiations with the Soviets over all outstanding problems. The one problem which we cannot discuss is whether or not Germany should be in the Western world.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I take it that, as the hon. Member is saying that we are not prepared to consider German unification, he means that, on the whole, this will keep Germany successfully divided? Is he there holding the same view as does the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget)?
§ Mr. Amery
I do not know where the hon. Member got the impression that I said we were not prepared to accept unification. I said that we were not prepared to consider unification on terms that excluded Germany from the free 462 nations. That is a very different kettle of fish.
Of course, we cannot expect the Soviet Government to welcome these Agreements, but I should have thought that they were a good deal more reassuring to Russia than other forms of German re-armament might have been. E.D.C. might have led to German domination of the Continent. The Soviets might have thought that Germany in N.A.T.O. would have led to a Washington-Bonn axis. But now, under these arrangements, Germany is to be fitted into a system with Britain and France—the two countries in the world which by their inclinations and their interests have most reason to work for peace.
There will be a wide measure of agreement that the Foreign Secretary's initiative in the summer rescued the whole of the free world from disruption and possible disaster. But I think that we carried out more than a rescue operation. His action has made good the promise which we held out, when still in Opposition, that we would work for the creation of a united Europe, in which Britain would play a full part.
I am bound to say that I have always felt proud of the part that leaders of this party played in the early days of the movement towards European union. That has often been an uphill struggle, and those of us who worked at Strasbourg and in the European Movement have experienced moments of frustration. There was frustration when the Labour Government failed to take the opportunities of European leadership that were open to them. There was frustration when Continental statesmen tried to impose on Europe a federal structure which was bound to exclude us.
There was frustration at the time when this Government seemed to turn theirback on the European system, which their Members had done so much to launch. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the European Army?"] What these Agreements do contain is a realisation of the plan which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister first put forward at Strasbourg in 1950. Here is the European Army. There was a time when that European policy was under a cloud, when a mere handful on either side of the 463 House supported it, but now it has come to pass, and the period of frustration is over.
The Government have recognised that we must accept commitments on equal terms with Continental nations, and that we must accept commitments greater than those accepted by the United States. Continental statesmen, on their side, have recognised that it is no use trying to build a united Europe on a federal basis, because there is no possibility of Britain accepting it.
I have sometimes argued in this House that it would have been well had these proposals been put forward sooner. I think that had we done so we might have gained time and found the Germans, in some ways, in an easier mood. But there are, I freely admit, advantages in these Agreements which may well outweigh the time that has been lost. If, while E.D.C. was still on the table, we had put forward these proposals as a rival plan, we might have carried the day, but in doing so we would have alienated some of the best elements in Europe.
As it is, no one can feel that we have sabotaged the federal conception of Europe or in any way tried to press our plans on the Continent. Quite the contrary. As I see it, we defended and supported the idea of E.D.C. further than our strict national interest would have inclined us to do. It was only when France, the leading exponent of E.D.C., itself rejected the idea that we came forward with our alternative plan.
In these circumstances we have a right to hope that we shall command a wide measure of support, both from those who formerly supported E.D.C. and from a great many of those who opposed it. I see in the newspapers that there is some talk that in France the former supporters of E.D.C. feel inclined to oppose these Agreements. I hope that they will not do so, and that they will be influenced by the fact that such staunch federalists as Dr. Adenauer and M. Spaak regard this as the furthest practical step that can at present be taken towards the realisation of their ideals.
Both in his own country and across the Atlantic there has been a good deal of fill-intentioned criticism and innuendos against M. Mendès-France; and I 464 should like to pay a tribute to the part he has played in these arrangements. He saved Europe from an indecision to which his predecessors had brought us. But he has done something more important. He has restored the old alignment between British and French foreign policies which, I think, it is the first interest of both countries to pursue.
When we were celebrating the Entente Cordiale anniversary earlier this year it looked as though Anglo-French relationships were deteriorating pretty sharply. I believe that they have now been restored and trust that we shall guard them well. Anglo-French co-operation is the only stable foundation for any European system, just as the only solid foundation for a peaceful world in the conjunction of Europe, the Commonwealth and the United States.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) spoke of the French conception of an armaments pool, and expressed some sympathy for it. I have no settled view on that point, but I am convinced that it is difficult to work out a satisfactory system of arms control independent of the organisation of Europe's heavy industries. This raises two problems—the question of the Saar and the question of the Coal and Steel Community.
There has been some criticism of M. Mendès-France for having pressed the German Government on the question of the Saar. But we have to remember that for the French Government and for France the Saar represents an essential element in the maintenace of a balance between the heavy industries of the two countries. It rather plays the part which the Liberal Party has played at various times in this House and in some of our constituencies. If the Saar is with France, the balance of industrial strength is not too unequal. If, on the other hand, the Saar were to be with Germany—counting two on a division against the French, as it were—the position of the French would be such that they would naturally become apprehensive.
We hope that this new agreement about the Saar will go through, but how far French anxieties at the predominance of German industry will be permanently relieved depends in great measure on what we do. I have always been very 465 sorry that we did not go into the preliminary talks about the Schuman Plan in 1950, and I have always felt that the whole British position was admirably summed up in what my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said at the time. At the end of the debate, summing up the position far better than I ever could, he said:If the Schuman proposals were not to succeed, nobody denies that this would be a calamity for peace. If they were to succeed without us there would be real dangers for us, I think, political as well as economic."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th June, 1950; Vol. 476, c. 1923–4.]I recognise that the Labour Government in their time were not greatly encouraged to come into the talks by the Continental Governments concerned. It is true that the Continental Governments proposed preliminary conditions which were, no doubt, embarrassing to the Government of the day. But, of course, the situation has greatly changed since then. The rejection of E.D.C. and the implicit abandonment of the European political community means that the whole trend towards a strict federation on the Continent has gone; and that cannot fail to have some effect on the Coal and Steel Community.
I see from the newspapers that M. Monnet, the President of the High Authority, is to retire from his post at the end of the year. I have great respect for M. Monnet, but nobody can deny that he represented in its most extreme form the supranational principle to which we took exception. His withdrawal will reduce the influence of the High Authority—the supranational element in the Coal and Steel Community—and the other institutions of the community will tend to become more important, including probably the inter-governmental ones, the Committee of Ministers most of all.
There have been negotiations between the Government and the Coal and Steel Community, and we have been told that the aim is one of closer association. But I wonder whether closer association is really enough, whether it does not belong to the time when the Continent was going cowards federation. I wonder whether we ought not now to be thinking of a rather larger operation—to bring the Coal and Steel Community more into line with the new Western European Union, to limit the supranational side of 466 it and to enable us to come in more freely and join in it.
The conversations that took place in Paris at the time of the signing of these Agreements were paralleled by Franco-German negotiations which considered the possibility of increased German investment in the French Union. I wonder whether these ideas, which are really an extension or application of what was called the Strasbourg economic plan, might not be extended to all the countries of the Western Union and sterling area.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has often spoken of the importance of increasing investment in the Commonwealth, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) made a powerful speech at our party conference on the shortage of capital available for Commonwealth investment. I wonder whether it would not be possible to harness some of the heavy industry of the Rhine Valley complex to the development of Commonwealth resources. Perhaps membership of a modified coal and steel pool might be a first step in this direction.
Consideration of armaments control leads to consideration of heavy industries, and this in turn leads on to problems of investment, trade and payment. This is not the occasion to discuss economic policies in detail. I could say a great deal about the speech which my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade made at Geneva; and not all of it would be entirely complimentary. But I want to limit what I have to say now simply to the question of economic institutions. I do not believe that this is the time for strengthening G.A.T.T. and the International Monetary Fund. Surely it would be wiser to concentrate on O.E.E.C. and the European Payments Union, and bring our economic policy into conformity with the military and diplomatic developments embodied in these agreements.
I was interested to note that the French Finance Minister spoke at Geneva rather in these terms. I cannot help feeling that there was a certain contradiction between the Foreign Secretary's policy of membership of Western European Union and the policy which the President of the Board of Trade had been advocating at Geneva. I hope that when that contradiction is resolved, it will be resolved in a European sense.
467 There must, of course, be political control of international co-operation, military or economic. I am very glad to see that these Agreements do provide for such political control, both at the Ministerial level and by an assembly designed to create public opinion in favour of policies which are to be pursued.
I hope that the Committee of Ministers will not limit its consultations simply to the formal meetings which have to take place. I hope that it will try to build up the same kind of continuous consultation which we have evolved inside the Commonwealth. This kind of consultation sometimes means taking risks on questions of security, but I think this is one of the cases in which frankness generally pays.
Having sat some four years in the Consultative Assembly at Strasbourg, I should like to say a word about the assembly contemplated in the Paris Treaty. I think it is good that it should be composed of the delegates to the Consultative Assembly, and I hope it will meet at the seat of the Consultative Assembly. I hope, too, that those who have to study and develop procedure will pay some attention to the ideas that governed the so-called Eden Plan of 1952.
The guiding principle of the Eden Plan was that the delegates from countries which were not members of E.D.C. and the Schuman Communities, which were the ones under consideration at the time, should be entitled to attend certain of the debates of the E.D.C. or of the Coal and Steel Assembly, with the right to speak, though not to vote. The idea behind this was that it was very important that the more limited six-Power communities should grow up within the broader framework of the wider Council of Europe. It seems to me that that aim is no less important now that we have extended the six-Power communities to the seven or eight-Power Western European Union. I also think that the method advocated in 1952 still holds good.
All this raises the question of how large a Western European Union we wish to see. A good deal of interest has been aroused in Norway and Denmark on the one hand, and in Turkey, Greece and even Yugoslavia on the other, at the idea that they too might join the Brussels Pact. Probably, it will be wise to move 468 slowly in the early stages. We have to be careful to avoid duplication of the functions of the Western European Union and N.A.T.O.
But, once these Agreements have been ratified, I hope that in principle these new arrangements will be open to all members of the Council of Europe who apply to join. Human loyalty is not given to initials, or even to telegraphic addresses like Western Union, but there is a loyalty to the idea of Europe. These arrangements will only bear their full fruit if they are made, and seen to be made, representative of that European idea.
I know that the idea that Western European Union might be extended has aroused anxiety in certain quarters. There are some who fear that a larger and strengthened Europe might become a neutralist third force. I have never believed that this danger was at all real. To begin with, this country and the Commonwealth as a whole are so closely bound by their interests to the United States, that no system in which we participate is ever likely to move in a neutralist direction. Nor would such adherents to the Atlantic community as Norway and Denmark, or the anti-Communist States of Greece or Turkey be likely to impel Western Union towards neutralism.
§ Mr. Amery
I was speaking of the other two.
There is another view that if Europe were to become stronger and more united, that might incline the United States to withdraw support from Europe and feel that we could stand on our own feet and that the United States would not need to help us. Those who hold that view have not looked carefully enough at the extent of Europe's dependence on the United States at the present time, particularly in the realm of defence. We should have to grow much stronger in the realm of defence before the Americans would be at all likely to take that view. Nor do I believe that the Administration in Washington, of whatever party, would withdraw its forces from Europe so long as the Red Army was this side of the Curzon line.
It is possible that there are some elements in the United States who would 469 view the emergence of a more united Europe as a possible threat to American leadership. But I cannot believe that this view is shared by the leaders of either of the American parties. In all their efforts since the war, they have wanted only to put the countries of Europe on their own feet. They do not want satellites, they want allies.
I see only one danger in all these matters to our relations with the United States. That might arise if we did not go far enough in building up a strong Europe. Then, and only then, would the danger arise that the Americans might be tempted to order us about, or to withdraw, in disgust to peripheral strategy.
I think these Agreements will be generally accepted in the House and in the country as right. We hope that they will be accepted by the Parliaments of the other countries concerned. But, there is still one question which hangs over them. Do they mark the end of a policy or the beginning? If they are just a means of persuading the French Parliament to swallow German rearmament, I do not think we shall go very far. But, if, on the other hand, this is a first step towards the building of a new Europe, linked through Britain with the whole Commonwealth, and all this within the orbit of the free world, then I think that we shall be advancing in a direction which has good prospects of increasing prosperity and a better chance of peace.
We did not seek the leadership of Europe. It was thrust upon us, but that is no reason why we should not rise to this new responsibility.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
As I see it, the question that is posed before the House and the country is a very simple one. It is: shall we, as a democracy, seek to join with our friends in the defence of that democracy? That is the simple issue before us. I know that around me are many colleagues who may take a different point of view. That is the essence of democracy. We have had an illustration in this House of two conflicting parties and two conflicting points of view within a party. Possibly, that will be extended as this debate goes on. That is the essence of what we seek to defend—the right of free men in a freely elected assembly freely to express their opinions.
470 I stand before the House as one—wanting no credit for it—who from the start fought against the rotten, evil Nazi system in the 1914–18 war. I am proud to tell the House that five of my six children fought through the last war to the same end—seeking to restrain those who would destroy our way of life. I am told that Germany will always be the Germany it used to be. I am one of those people who does not believe that. Cain slew his brother Abel, but all the descendants of Cain have not been proved to be slayers.
§ Mr. S. Silvermanrose——
§ Mr. Jones
Well, that is all right. This is the essence of democracy. Two of my colleagues below the Gangway have different points of view. I respect their point of view. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will get his opportunity, as he usually does on these occasions. He is a master of interjection and of getting his point of view. He is one of the experts, if he is not called, of making his speech in a different way. We will leave it at that.
I had the honour of serving under Lord Pakenham in Germany for a long time shortly after the war. Part of my very simple duties was to make contacts with the potential trade unionists in Germany, with the ordinary man in the street, in the sports fields and in his garden. I believe with all sincerity that, given the right leadership and the right opportunity, these hard-working Germans can be as good democrats as anybody else in the world. The question which poses itself is what leadership they are to have. Is it to be leadership from this nation or from a nation—and everybody knows the one to which I refer—which has, without question, sought to impose anti-democracy upon the world.
§ Mr. Crossman
Would my hon. Friend think it possible for a German democracy to be lad by a German and not by a Russian or an Englishman?
§ Mr. Jones
I believe in free elections. If the Germans had the opportunity to express themselves, they would have a democracy similar to our own. Why has that opportunity been denied to them? That is the question. Who is it that seeks to deny the opportunity? The unification of Germany is a paramount essential in the minds of the Germans. It is the thing for which they live and for which they hope most.
I listened with interest to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow), who said that we ought to continue to talk. We have talked 352 times over this question of the Austrian Treaty—I think that is the figure—352 meetings over a simple issue that they could settle tomorrow if they wished to do so. They could walk out of Austria tomorrow, if they wanted. There is nothing on God's earth to stop them clearing out of Eastern Germany tomorrow if they so wished. But they do not intend to. We are prepared to do so, subject to safeguards.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)rose——
§ Mr. Jones
The hon. Member will persist in trying to interject. He will only succeed in making me talk longer. Therefore, he is merely working against his own interests. I come from the great steel industry, and I claim to know the men of that industry. They would feel far happier if they were producing manganese steel which could go into tractors pulling agricultural machinery manned by Russian peasants, instead of into the production of war weapons.
If Germany wants to be part of the Western democracies, she should play her part in helping economically. At the moment we are beset with grave economic difficulties, the biggest of which is that of finding engineering export markets. I can say with authority that not one industrialist in this House will deny that he is experiencing ever greater difficulty in finding export markets, day by day and week by week. Why is it? What is the basic essential of our great engineering industry? It is steel which is cheap and of a good quality. Today we find that, as a result of not having to spend part of her wealth in defending her own interests and Western democracy, Germany is in a position to undercut and make things very difficult for us in world markets. Anybody 472 who wants to enjoy the privileges and benefits of democracy should pay for it and play his part in producing it and helping to defend it.
Our way of life is the finest in the world. I put my country before my party or any other party. I have always said that, and I shall say it till I die. Without the preservation of our constitutional way of life, there would be no parties. These Agreements form the best alternative to many potential worries, trials and tribulations. I am not saying that I am not concerned at the possibility of Germany again becoming a menace, given the opportunity, but if these Agreements are correctly implemented, I do not think there is much risk of that. Let us consider what all this talk of arming Western Germany means. What it amounts to is a military contribution by Western Germany, within the framework of N.A.T.O. I should be the last person in the world to cast a vote in support of the resurgence of German Nazism, but I should also be the last person to prevent Germany being given the opportunity to enjoy what I enjoy—a Christian democratic way of life.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. A. C. M. Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
We have had a robust speech from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones)—as we always expect from him in these debates. First, I want to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael), who appeared to be so frightened about German rearmament. He ignored the fact that in any case, whether or not we arm Western Germany, in time Germany will inevitably rearm. In fact, as the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) told us, East Germany is already armed.
I am thankful that arrangements have been made to rearm Germany at a time when Dr. Adenauer is there to enforce his moderating and restrictive influence. In my opinion, the hon. Member for Bridgeton altogether underestimates the safeguards which are provided in these Agreements, by which the control of the German forces will be in the hands of N.A.T.O., the rearmament industry will operate under international supervision, and all atomic weapons will be banned by a voluntary decision of the Germans themselves.
473 It is interesting to note that so far only two Members have not warmly supported these proposals. The hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow) appeared to think that they might adversely affect and endanger our relations with the Soviet Union, and might make it more difficult to come to terms with them. If the rulers of the Kremlin were a warmhearted people who would respond generously to any gesture and, at the same time, were a reckless people who could easily be provoked into a war contrary to their own interests, I could understand his point of view, but it seems to me to be an altogether wrong diagnosis. I suggest that everything they have said and done has shown that they are set upon world domination. Unlike the Western Powers, they believe in the inevitability of a world conflict. I suggest that they are realistic people who, in a cold-blooded way, will engage in war when it suits them, but, whatever else they may do, will not engage in war when it does not suit them, however much they may be provoked.
I well remember the speech made in this House three or four years ago by the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition, and I should like to quote one or two sentences from it, because it was a most vigorous speech and I do not think that anything that the Russians have said or done since then should have caused him to modify one word of it. He said:Indeed, everything goes to show that the purpose of that Governmentthat is, the U.S.S.R.—has been not to promote peace, but to cause trouble everywhere in the world. We have to face the grim facts of the situation. They maintain immense armaments, they carry on a hostile and subversive propaganda against all non-Communist States. …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th February, 1951; Vol. 484, c. 58.]Unlike the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness, I would say that the more united the West is the more forthcoming the Soviet Union will be. It is my profound hope that, for that reason, there will be no further talks with them until these Agreements are ratified. We had a very strong speech from the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) last week. I agree with him that the more clear we make it that we shall resist the Communists the less fear there is that we shall be faced with the appalling choice which 474 it must be our first aim to avoid, namely, the choice between submitting to Communism and fighting.
Some hon. Members opposite seem to be frightened at our Continental commitments under these arrangements. Emotionally, I can sympathise with their dislike of entanglements on the Continent, but with my reason I can see no objection to these. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, we have already, in this century, twice had to send our troops abroad and to commit ourselves in France; under these Agreements we in no way increase the danger but they bring us great advantages. When Friar Schwarz, a German, invented gunpowder in the 14th century——
§ Mr. Spearman
That may be, but that invention entirely changed the situation. Any realistic person then could have seen that the independence of the barons, who had been living in fortified castles and had been able to live independent lives, was over. So I think it is clear that the new weapons of this age have entirely altered our international relations. I should like to quote what the Foreign Secretary said as long ago as 1945. Ever since, I think, he has consistently held this view:I have been unable to see and am still unable to see, any final solution which will make the world safe for atomic power, save that we all abate ideas of sovereignty."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd November, 1945; Vol. 416, c. 612.]I believe that today we have to have an entirely different outlook between one nation and another. As in the time of war we considered our allies' interests as much as our own, so I think we have to do the same in peace. I believe that what the Foreign Secretary has been doing in foreign affairs is completely in line with what the President of the Board of Trade has been doing at Geneva. There, of course, I shall find myself in conflict, not for the first time, with my hon. Friend 475 the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery). I have not talked with my right hon. Friend since be came back from Geneva, and I speak without any knowledge of his negotiations other than what I have gained from reading the papers, but it seems to me that what he has been doing is not so much trying to cut for us a big slice of the cake of world trade but trying to make a very big cake—and after all, what is the good of getting a big slice of a minute cake? I, therefore, do feel that with the present fearful weapons there are in the world it will pay us to have a very different outlook, and to consider all the time the interests of our friends as much as our own. It is enlightened self-interest so to do.
I suggest that the contribution we can make to our own well-being and the safety of the world lies not only in the arms we can produce, tragically necessary as they are, but in the respect in which our Government is held. I hope that hon. Members opposite will not think me officious when I say that I think that the restraint with which the official Opposition has acted in this matter of foreign affairs has entitled it to share with us on this side of the House the satisfaction we can have in the great achievements of my right hon. Friend, who is not only the Deputy-Leader of the Conservative Party but is, I believe, a Foreign Secretary whose actions in foreign affairs are warmly supported today by the vast majority of the people in this country, whether they be Conservatives, Socialists or Liberals.
§ 7.44 p.m.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
I am afraid that the placid bipartisan character of the debate, so well maintained by the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Spearman). will be jarred by what I have to say. I notice that foreign affairs debates do now tend to take an L-shaped pattern. The whole of one side of the House and the top half of the other are both on one side in a debate, while the lower half below the Gangway on one side of the House is on the opposite side in the debate. It may be hon. Members below the Gangway opposite or my hon. Friends below the Gangway on this side, but one group or the other comprises the militant opposition.
476 If I compare this debate with that on Suez, it is in order to illustrate what is at stake. I can appreciate the state of mind of hon. Members opposite below the Gangway on that former occasion. In their struggle over the Sudan and Suez they had followed their leaders. They had believed what their leaders had said when they were in Opposition. Then their leader said, "Sudan and Suez are the heart of the Empire: the British bold on them cannot possibly be betrayed." They believed him. When their leaders adopted the Socialist policy of dismantling the Empire, of which I wholly approve, they found themselves discarded. I have some respect for politicians who stand by their principles when they are betrayed by their leaders.
I observe that in the case of German rearmament the policy was first proposed by the Conservative Leader of the then Opposition. At the time he proposed it, it was opposed unanimously by every member of the Labour Government of that day. It was opposed long after the rape of Czechoslovakia, long after the building of N.A.T.O., long after the Berlin airlift, long after the menace of Russia had appeared. The Labour Government in May, 1950, unanimously opposed it, and the present Prime Minister was called irresponsible—a word usually allocated only by the leaders of the Labour Party to members of their own party when the latter are in disagreement with the leadership. The right hon. Gentleman was called irresponsible for wanting to rearm the Germans.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) rebuked the Prime Minister for saying one thing in Opposition and another thing in the Government, but my right hon. Friend is even more remarkable. He said two completely opposite things while being in one and the same Government. Having passionately opposed German rearmament in April, he turned right round in September and accepted the American ultimatum, and he did exactly what he had denounced as irresponsible five months before.
All I would say is that leaders who do that must not be surprised if some members of their party remember what they used to say on this subject, remember 477 what they said about N.A.T.O., remember what they said about the Tories when the Tories first proposed this. Some of us remember; and there were enough of us at Scarborough remembering to have a very large vote there. Since then, I agree, certain pressures have been used, and principles worn away by the methods which members of all parties well appreciate are always used on such occasions.
A word about tomorrow. If some of us whose convictions and principles would take us into the Lobby to vote against this Agreement tomorrow yet do not vote, the reason will not be any change of conviction, but the fact that if one wants to survive in our party to fight another day one has to accept a majority decision, however unpleasant it may be. Those who are used to being in a majority and ruthlessly imposing their will on the minority—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nonsense."] Oh, yes.
Let us be clear what we are about. We passionately oppose this Agreement, and we are threatened with expulsion if we vote against it. I am putting this on the record so that the general public shall be allowed to know that this is the fact. If we do not vote against the Motion, and accept the majority decision, it is because we want to remain in the party to try to persuade our colleagues in the majority that they are in the wrong.
What we want to get clear is the issue which we have to face on this side of the House—for there is no issue on the other side of the House. Are we, on our side of the House, opposed to any German soldier ever being in arms again? Apart from our pacifist friends, who want everybody out of uniform, the answer is, "No." Are we opposed to a German State ever being given a limited sovereignty? The answer is, "No." But it is not a question of whether we are in favour of Germany being rearmed or of Germany being a sovereign State, but a question of how the Germans shall be given their arms and what sort of German sovereign State it shall be.
I would make this point to my right hon. and hon. Friends: they talk about Germany as though the Federal Republic were Germany. Unfortunately, the Federal Republic is only a section of Germany; it is one rival German State against which is set another German 478 State—the East German Republic—which also claims to represent the will of the whole German people. [Laughter.] My hon. Friends had better not laugh about the possibilities of East Germany, because when the Russians hold their conference on 29th November, as they certainly will, and when they match West German rearmament by doubling their own, we shall find a very serious rivalry between East Germany and West Germany, starting on the basis of the Nine-Power Agreement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am merely telling my hon. Friends that we have to remember the facts.
§ Sir Anthony Eden
The hon. Gentleman has said this before and I am sure he cannot have meant it. He told us, first, that already there is an army in East Germany, and then he said that all this will start from the wicked treaties of the West.
§ Mr. Crossman
That army will be doubled and the armament race will start from the fact that, in signing the Nine-Power Agreement, we have settled only one thing—which is that there will never be a Four-Power Treaty which unifies Germany. That solution is ruled out by the Nine-Power Agreement. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] My hon. Friends say, "No," and I believe that they must be under a genuine illusion on this subject.
I will take up the point which was made by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), who let the cat out of the bag. The one thing which we cannot possibly ever concede to the Russians, he said, is that a united Germany should not be fully part of the West. I want to say this to the Foreign Secretary: it may be that neutralisation is impracticable in the sense that we could not get either side to play, but equally the demand of either side for the whole of Germany is totally impracticable and would, in fact, be achieved only by war.
If the Russians claim to communise the whole of Germany, we say that is impossible. If we claim to take East Germany into our alliance, too, the Russians say that is impossible. They will fight to hold East Germany once the Nine-Power Agreement has been signed, and all we shall have achieved is 479 that the last hope of ever reaching agreement, if there was hope, will have been removed.
We have heard a great deal this afternoon about how totally intransigent the Russians were. Of course they were. But what has not been added is that we have been equally intransigent. That was the case at Berlin. Let us get quite clear what my hon. Friends have said—and here I give them credit for being consistent: they have said, "We are willing to have a conference with the Russians after they have agreed on the main subject of dispute. After they have agreed to free elections, after they have agreed to let East Germany be integrated into West Germany and to let the American armies advance to the Oder-Neisse line, we will have a nice little conference about Germany." If hon. Members think that is serious diplomacy or negotiation, I do not.
Let us be quite clear about it: up to now the Americans and the Russians have shown a blank intransigence, because each great Power hopes to win the whole of German military strength to its side.
Mr. Percy Dailies (East Ham, North)
My hon. Friend should come quite clean on this point. Is he in favour of free democratic elections for the East Germans?
It seems to me—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Even to colleagues, there is no reason for my hon. Friends to say rude things. I have been asked whether I am in favour of free elections in East Germany. The answer is that I am.
What I argue is that it is useless to imagine that the Russians would agree to free elections except in return for a concession from the West. Why on earth should they? Why should they get out of East Germany unless, thereby, they see a chance of preventing German rearmament? When my hon. Friends get so angry, I would remind them that this was the policy proposed on their behalf oat the Labour Party Conference at Margate—that we should offer to postpone German rearmament in exchange for free elections in the East.
One of the reasons—indeed, the first reason—that I oppose the ratification of 480 the Agreement is that I believe we had no right to take the enormous risks involved in this Nine-Power Agreement before the Western Powers, or at least Britain, had made one compromise proposal which could conceivably have been accepted by the other side. It is dishonest to say that it is the Russians who have turned the proposals down when we ought to know that up to now both sides have shown no signs of compromise.
Hon. Members may ask, "What is the good of trying?" But if both sides show no signs of compromise, that is exactly when mediation is required. That is exactly what happened over Indo-China; both sides were intransigent and somebody had to try to make them agree to concessions. I believe that the role of this country in Germany could have been that which we had in Indo-China—the role of mediator between extremely intransigent parties. Let us be honest: that chance is now being removed from us by the ratification of this Agreement. Once we have given sovereignty to West Germany, once we have solemnly integrated West Germany into N.A.T.O., how in the world can anybody believe that the Russians will ever be prepared to leave East Germany?
§ Mr. Wyatt
Will my hon. Friend not agree that all the time the Russians have linked the questions of Austria and Germany? He has said that we have never made a concession to the Russians. Is it not the case that we have agreed to accept their version of every disputed clause in the Austrian Treaty and yet they still have refused to sign it?
§ Mr. Crossman
I will not give way again. My hon. Friend is talking about Austria. But I said that we have made no offer on Germany. My hon. Friends are very simple-minded if they believe that the Russians will leave Austria unless they achieve some arrangement in Germany. They do not seem to realise that the Russians are quite good at negotiation and do not give something for nothing.
What we have to ensure is that we do not give them more than we can afford to give, and my view was that we could have afforded to give up the 12 German divisions in the West in order to obtain free elections in Eastern Germany. I do not know whether the Russians would 481 have accepted that; all I say is that it was an offer which we ought to have made before we accepted the risk of taking this irrevocable step.
I now come to the question of why the step is irrevocable. Once we have taken it, the Russians will take the other line and do the same thing the other way. [HON. MEMBERS: "They have already done it."] I am sorry; that is not true. If somebody is asked where people believe their own propaganda, apparently the answer is "In the House of Commons."
It is true that there is a large German "police force" organised in Eastern Germany but it is not true that the Russians have yet built up Eastern Germany as an eastern "bomb" and made it a so-called sovereign State in order to bid for German unity. It is not true that the Russians have raised anything like the size of army which they will raise when the rearmament race between the two sides is on. If hon. Members believe that after the Nine-Power Agreement has been ratified we shall have anything except a Korean situation in Europe, but infinitely more dangerous, they are blinding themselves to the facts.
§ Mr. Pagetrose——
§ Mr. Crossman
I will not give way.
I want to turn to the question of the occupation costs. I intended to raise this subject with my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaits-kell). We have once again had the useless type of "say nothing" statement about it from the Foreign Secretary, which carried us no further in the problem. He will be followed by the Minister of Defence. We hope to get some further information tomorrow.
I was struck by an article on Sunday in the "Sunday Pictorial" by the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. [Interruption] No. I did not write the articles for him. In that article he was calculating the cost to us and in doing so he reached a figure, which most of us are trying to guess, that the maintenance of British troops over there would cost over £70 million.
He said that this could be cut down in two ways. One by the Treasury axe and the other by our European allies paying £40 million, so that we would 482 have only £30 million to pay for our troops. Had he been here, I should have liked to ask him to look at what happened in Suez. If we ruthlessly economise on our Army in foreign countries, our Regular recruiting will be totally disrupted. This German commitment cannot be done on the cheap. If we are to have troops in Germany, with Americans and Canadians there as well as Germans, we cannot do it on the cheap.
It is also very misleading for Members of the Opposition to suggest that we can save money on the troops by going to the French and Germans and saying, "We will provide the bodies, but we cannot pay for them." That is rather like treating our men as mercenaries. I think that we ought to go the people of this country and frankly tell them that we cannot do this cheaply. We have to keep these divisions as first-rate divisions and give them decent conditions which compare favourably with those of our allies and ex-enemies. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman should have written an article which implied that one could financially gel out of the full weight of these commitments.
There are three things which I think this House has to discuss in weighing up this Agreement. The first question is: will it strengthen democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany? When we were discussing the merits of the Agreement, I think that the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South said that it would strengthen German democracy. He is an expert on British Parliamentary tactics, but I would say that, as an expert on strengthening German democracy, I would rather have the German trade-union movement. On this subject I say that the British Socialists and trade-unions come second to their German comrades in their knowledge of what will and what will not affect German democracy.
It is an extraordinary situation that the Labour Opposition, despite the fact that the German T.U.C. voted with only four dissentients against the Nine-Power Treaty on the precise grounds that it introduced a grave danger of militarism, should have regarded that lightly. Our international comrades are only quoted when they are on the side of the majority in our party. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about the Danes and Belgians?"] I 483 think that it would be reasonable to say that each Labour movement knows more about the dangers to democracy in its own country than in other countries.
I would say that the evidence which we ought to consider shows that on the whole there is a grave danger to the internal democracy of the Federal Republic as soon as Germany is rearmed, and if we do not believe the German T.U.C. one may perhaps believe Dr. Adenauer. Why did Dr. Adenauer think that E.D.C. was important? Because he is a genuinely anti-militarist and genuinely knows the danger of German militarism. He wanted a supranational machine to prevent the danger of a German national army.
It is a striking fact that Dr. Adenauer is in a sense the greatest witness against the present arrangements because he knows that under the present arrangements many of the safeguards which would have been provided by a supranational body are not there. He is a witness to the danger to German democracy of recreating German militarism under this Agreement.
The second question is: will it be a step towards unification? Dr. Adenauer used to say, "Get Western integration and we roll the Russians out of Eastern Germany." With great respect to hon. Members in the great majority here today, I say that those who believe that we can roll the Russians out of Eastern Germany by building military strength defy every law of strategy, because the more menacing we are on the ground, the more determined the Russians must be to keep their front line as far west as they can.
It would be absolute nonsense to believe that this Agreement would help us to achieve German unification. I am not for that reason saying that we will not get a four-Power conference when this Agreement is signed. After this Agreement comes into force, we can have a four-Power conference on every subject—except German unity. We should not delude ourselves and least of all delude the Germans that this Agreement will help unification. If we tell the Germans that sort of lie, and it is blatantly untrue, then German reaction against the West, which is already starting in Western Germany, will greatly intensify month by month.
484 If we go to them with a specious promise and say, "Come into this treaty and we will give you unification," and that blatantly is not true, then we get to the third of my questions. It is this: who will actually gain in power of diplomatic manoeuvres by the Nine-Power Agreement? Who actually gain in the struggle for Germany? We have played our last ace in giving them sovereignty, but there are three or four aces which the Russians will have up their sleeve. They will have a lot of cards to play; we shall have played all ours.
There are some here who believe that the Germans have become simple-minded. The Germans are the most ruthlessly patriotic people I know. They always serve the interests of their own country. And they will do this first by taking the Western ideologies and then the Russian ideologies at whichever stage of power politics they think will best suit them at the moment.
At present it suits them to be democratic, and they are good democrats, but wait until it pays them to work with Russia—and they will be pro-Bolshevik. This has always happened in Germany. I ask myself the question—and none of us can be certain of the answer—having signed the Nine-Power Treaty and having promised that we will give them unity, what will happen after the passing of, say, 10 years, if they do not get it, and face constant Russian pressure and constant temptation. Why should I believe that we shall have integrated them safely in this way?
I only hope that I am wrong. The vast complacent majority here thinks that everything is fine and that we have only to hold on and Bonn will be a peaceful place and the Germans will be democratic. I only hope that they are right in their complacency, but some of us have to get up and say if we think that they are actually wrong. None of us can be certain about this.
My case about this Agreement is that the optimistic, complacent people are making a desperate mistake. They are underestimating the Russians, underestimating the old German character and overestimating the attraction of the Western World to Germans, who are watching steadily the growing power of Russia and China and 485 watching for their opportunity. The German is asking himself why he should want to stay fragmented and divided, a useful military position for Britain and America.
That is a very dangerous supposition to make about Germany. I do not make the supposition, and that is why I oppose the ratification of the Agreement, That is why I say that even at the last moment this country would be sane if it were to propose a plan for neutralising Germany, and see if it worked. To neutralise Germany by agreement would, of course, be a risk but I maintain it would be a far smaller risk than the enterprise which we are now undertaking of keeping Germany permanently divided and trying to use her troops to defend ourselves while underestimating the Russian bid for German popularity.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
We have listened to a powerful speech, as always, by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), who, I think, proves too much. The only answer to his speech is, "So what?" Is Russian pressure going to get any less if the course he suggests is adopted? Is the Russian attraction going to get any less as the Russians build up with China——
§ Mr. Elliot
That is the answer of the hon. Gentleman whose answer to fear is "Cast away all your arms in every direction." That is not an argument.
§ Mr. Elliot
We will discuss that in a moment. We are now discussing the powerful speech made by the hon. Member for Coventry, East. I hope I may have his attention, because I think he will be interested in the arguments against it. First of all, it seemed to us on this side of the House that he proved too much. Secondly, he omitted altogether the point that, by the action which we are taking of permanently stationing troops on the Continent, we are putting a real gage into the situation which otherwise would be very much weakened by the proposal he suggests we should adopt.
486 I am a realist, as he himself ought to be. So I ask him, is the danger of Germany becoming militarist increased or diminished by having powerful Allied forces standing on the Continent? It is obviously diminished, because these are real people and real things. The British divisions on the Continent mean far more to the anti-militarist Germans than any amount of pledges from this House. I do not think the hon. Gentleman can deny that, at least if he is the realist that he says he is.
§ Mr. Crossman
But the anti-German militarists do not agree with that. The presence of foreign troops in any country, as we ought to know by now, does not decrease Chauvinism; it increases Chauvinism against the foreign troops.
§ Mr. Elliot
We on this side know as much about the anti-militarist Germans as hon. Members opposite, and I tell the hon. Member that that is not what they told me. As to the question of foreign troops in a country, if we are going to make any move at all we must surely get away from his conception of foreign troops stationed in a country which is narrow, insular, provincial, nationalistic and out-of-date in this modern world.
The so-called foreign troops stationed on the Continent were demanded. There was a powerful plea from Europe for a British contingent to be stationed in Europe, and that cannot be denied. It is one thing for which we have been continually asked. The French asked us for it before the war. They said, "Where are your men? What is the use of promises? Send us the chaps." It was not until they saw the chaps that they believed we were in earnest.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East was most eloquent in denunciation of his leaders. We do not attempt to compete with him in that. He was also very eloquent in a sort of self-righteous attitude that he, at any rate, never changed his views, that he was always consistent, and that he always held to the same views. We all remember that he was put upon a Commission to investigate the problem of Israel and that he signed the Report that recommended that Palestine should be neither Jewish nor Arab. In a week he had changed his mind and stated it should be Jewish. We all remember that. We all recall his change of mind inside a week.
§ Mr. Elliot
It is above the hon. Member's signature. I remember it well, and it was a shock to all his friends.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)
The hon. Member is not allowed to use that word. We do not use it here, and he must withdraw.
§ Mr. Crossman
I am willing to withdraw the word, but I must substitute that it is a deliberate misrepresentation of what I said, and the right hon. Gentleman knows. I stood by the Report and I got into trouble with Ernest Bevin for standing by it.
§ Mr. Elliot
I am going to accept the hon. Member's assurance. I should like his attention for a moment, because I am going to accept his assurance.
§ Mr. Elliot
Because that is my very definite recollection. If the hon. Gentleman will show me I am wrong in my recollection, I will certainly withdraw, but I remember, as we all remember, the hon. Gentleman signing the Report.
§ Mr. Crossman
The Report is there to read, and there is a book of my own on this Commission which is there if the right hon. Gentleman wants to look at it, as he should have done before he began throwing these allegations about the Chamber.
§ Mr. Elliot
There is nothing unfair in saying that the hon. Member signed the Report which recommended that Palestine should be neither Jew nor Arab. There is nothing unfair in saying that he changed his views. He says he did not change his views, and I accept that.
§ Mr. Elliot
But that seems to me very different from the attitude which he has taken up in the hearing of the House on more than one occasion since, but still I 488 accept his assurance. If I am wrong, I withdraw. Nevertheless, I say that the hon. Gentleman on more than one occasion has adopted views in the House that were not always the views he subsequently took up. But he says on this matter of Germany he is being perfectly consistent. Is he really asking us to believe that the advantage to this country of a Western Union is not also an advantage to the whole of Europe, including Germany?
§ Mr. Elliot
We shall see what his solution is. His solution is to postpone the problem to the Greek Kalends. He brought forward no alternative solution. His only suggestion was, "Let these things remain as they are and do not try to have free democratic elections in Eastern Germany."
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Gentleman does not realise when he is being inconsistent. He said, "Do not try to have free democratic elections in Eastern Germany." I do not suppose he was speaking with his tongue in his cheek, but he assured the House in the same speech that the Russians would never allow them to take place.
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Gentleman must admit that free democratic elections in Eastern Germany involve the possibility of that country joining the West. He does not deny that, does he?
§ Mr. Crossman
I mean that we could have a united Germany whose neutral sovereignty would be no more limited than we propose to limit the sovereignty of Federal Germany under the Nine-Power Agreements. There could be agreement that a united Germany would not be the ally of either side.
§ Mr. Elliot
I do not think that the hon. Member has made a case. Certainly 489 that was not what we understood by the argument he used. The hon. Member said that free democratic elections in Germany would be impossible if the Russian views were to be deferred to at all; and that a great limitation of German sovereignty had to take place. Apparently we agree on that. That is not a free, democratic election.
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Member would be the first to deny that a colonial regime was the same thing as a free sovereign democratic state. The hon. Member is well enough acquainted with the subject under discussion to realise that if we were to go now to Germany and offer the Germans a British colonial régime we should not be offering them free democratic elections.
§ Mr. Elliot
The progress of the Colonial Empire is a progress towards free self-governing democracy. The word progress means that it is not at present fully self-governing. However, I do not wish to be led away, because many other hon. Members wish to speak.
I am merely anxious to say that I do not think that the hon. Member for Coventry, East led us anywhere in the contribution which he made. I do not think that those who support him lead us anywhere in the contributions they make. I do not think that they face the realities of the situation in the contributions they make, because they do not agree that the presence of British forces on the Continent is a cardinal fact and an absolutely indispensable item in the make-up of a Western Europe, which we believe will subsequently be able to spread through the rest of Europe and bring all Europe into a proper democratic control and a proper democratic economy.
Again, the hon. Member in the argument he put forward neglected altogether the danger of concentrating on the present state of affairs and ignoring the future. We have before us the development of great new weapons. Surely the whole of the armed future of the two blocs 490 depends on technical developments which are now going on. If we can maintain the peace of Europe for a limited length of time, the dangers of the new weapons will be so enormous that all the arguments which we are discussing now will fall into a second place.
Eventually—sooner rather than later—the new weapons will dwarf completely the arguments which we are conducting today. But what we have to do is to try to bring about an arrangement in Europe which will give Europe confidence at the present time that Britain in particular is willing to play its part in the new Europe. That is the assurance Europe wanted, and that is the assurance Europe gets from the Nine-Power Agreement. When the hon. Member for Coventry, East tries to denigrate that by saying that it will cost money, he falls below his usual level.
§ Mr. Crossman
Far from denigrating, I begged the House that if it took this commitment on it should do it fully and in a non-niggling way and not try to welsh out of it.
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends repeated time and again the fact that we are thinking that we shall save money on this, whereas we are not. He was using the financial argument, the most sordid of arguments, and he did it in a very undignified way when he said that there was a danger that we should become mercenaries. Surely the argument that Germany should not have soldiers of her own but should pay for our soldiers is the mercenary argument pushed to its most extreme point. And that was the argument the hon. Gentleman put forward—that the Germans should have no soldiers because it would be cheaper for them, and no doubt the present position under which a contribution is made by Germany could continue. That was his argument, that British soldiers should be used as mercenaries to defend Germany. It is the most sordid argument which could be used in a debate of this type.
I agree that we are now at a watershed. We are crossing in this two days of debate a great and important bridge in our affairs. That bridge is British participation in European affairs, backed by forces which we will not withdraw except by a majority vote—a vote which 491 might go against us. This is a very important day and I do not think we should diminish the importance of it. We should not diminish its importance by talking either of the fact that our expenses may go up in the circumstances or that, if we embark upon this course, it will annoy the Russians.
There are few people in the House who were in the Cabinets before the war. I happen to be one of them, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is another. There was a danger before the war—and that is the danger that we hear tonight—of people saying, "Don't arm, it will annoy the Germans; don't arm, it will annoy our old opponents; don't bring your frontier up to that of the enemy because it will make them angry and irritated." Had not our disarmament that effect? We disarmed. Did that ease the position vis-à-vis our opponents? It made them more resolute, stronger, more determined and more aggressive.
We did our utmost by every kind of concession to arrange a Europe in which we could live together in peace. It did not have that effect at all. The situation became more and more tense. The only thing we can reproach ourselves for in this country was for not having armed more and not having armed quicker. We know that now; it is a common form on both sides of the House.
Many of those who attacked us at that time for arming at all are now the people who attack us for not having armed enough. They are asking us tonight to repeat that mistake. We have in the past heard such arguments. "Do not put any arms into the hands of the Germans," "Do not put any British Forces on the Continent; with a commitment, as in the Nine-Power Treaty, that if the vote runs against us, we will leave them on the Continent," because "This will annoy the Russians," and, "This will weaken our negotiating power vis-à-vis the Russians." Those arguments were wrong in the past. They are wrong tonight.
§ 8.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I am very sorry that the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) marred an otherwise well argued speech by an unjustifiable attack on my hon. Friend 492 the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). It was a most unhappy and most improper attack to make, and it was wholly irrelevant to what the right hon. Gentleman was trying to prove by his argument.
I am among those who regard the new arrangements as a very great improvement on E.D.C. In an earlier speech on this general subject in the House, I once said that my objections to E.D.C. were that it was too small a cage to contain a rearmed Germany and that it would leave Germany balanced only by France. Under the new arrangements, we have the immense advantage that the United Kingdom and the United States come in to help balance a rearmed Germany, and this guards against or prevents the dangers that there would have been in E.D.C. of a German military dominance of Europe.
A very great departure in policy of this sort is bound to rouse very real and genuine doubts on both sides of the House and in the country. It appears to me that the doubts centre primarily on the question of how a sovereign, rearmed Western Germany is likely to behave in future. The doubts take two forms which appear to be inconsistent but are not really inconsistent, because there are two ways in which Germany might try to achieve the same single objective.
One fear is that a rearmed Western Germany might make war on Russia to regain the Eastern Provinces. The second is that, to the same end, a rearmed Western Germany might do a deal with Russia and sell out the West; that was the fear underlying the argument of my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East.
It seems to me that both doubts, however genuinely felt, are ill-founded and can be shown to be ill-founded. The fear of a rearmed Western Germany making war on Russia leaves out of account the new factor of the hydrogen bomb. Germany is terribly exposed to counter attack by hydrogen bombs from Russia if she started a war. It would be an invitation to instant and almost total destruction of the German cities. No matter how much Western Germany might want the lost provinces returned, no one can imagine that the Germans would run so great a risk.
493 The possibility of Western Germany making a deal with Russia is a much more widespread fear in many circles in this country. That can also be demonstrated not to be a danger. It ignores some of the cardinal facts about post-war Europe. It takes two to make a deal, and I believe that neither party in this case could make this deal. In Germany there is a great and deep-rooted hatred and fear of Russia and Communism, and that was shown by the rising of the workers in East Germany and in the routing of the Communists in the West German elections.
These are facts about public opinion. What my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East got wrong was the assumption that politicians are completely free agents in these matters. German politicians, like any other politicians, are not altogether free agents; they are bound by the facts of public opinion which circumscribe and determine the field in which they are free to act. This very deep-rooted and long-lasting—it will last a very long time—fear and dislike of Communism on the part of the Germans is one of the great facts of post-war Europe which must be taken into account.
Leaving that aside for the moment, let us look at the possibility of such a deal from the Russian point of view. Any deal by Russia with Western Germany for a re-unified Germany would inevitably gravely endanger Russia's European empire, because Russia would be faced with two fundamental dilemmas. The first would be whether or not the re-unified Germany which would emerge from the deal should or should not include the Oder-Neisse Provinces which are now part of Poland. If the answer was that the re-unified Western Germany should include the Oder-Neisse Provinces, that would destroy the new Poland and would gravely undermine Russia's position in all the satellite countries. If the answer was "No," then Germany would not be satisfied with the deal and Russia would not have achieved her end because she would have withheld the one thing which Germany will still want for the deal to be of any advantage to Russia at all.
The other great dilemma that Russia would be facing, if thinking of a deal like that, is whether a re-unified Germany 494 should be armed and sovereign, or completely under control or in some way limited in sovereignty. If German sovereignty were to be limited, again; Germany would not be satisfied and the deal would not have achieved its first purpose of bringing Germany over to Russia, because there would still be a barrier between them. On the other hand, if a re-unified Germany is to be armed and sovereign, that will destroy all that there is of reality in the support that Russia now has in the satellite countries, because there is this touch of reality in the support which Russia has from the satellite countries—they have a common fear of Germany. If Russia were able to recreate this Germany which her satellites fear, it would undermine Russia's empire in Europe.
I think the fact is that Russia cannot both disengage herself from Germany and hold the rest of her empire in Europe. She must either have a general disengagement or stay put, and that seems to me one of the important facts of the post-war European situation. I believe myself that Russia will one day disengage, and that is why I believe in the policy of peace through strength. I think this is an achieveable end and that the achievement of a settlement with Russia can be envisaged, even though I do not think it will happen in the near future. I think that those who think it will are over-optimistic.
Moscow at this moment is setting out to create a new economic plan that will treat the whole of Russia and the satellite countries as a single economic unit, and Russia would not be doing that if she had any thought in the near future of withdrawing. None the less I think that there is a very considerable chance that in due course Russia will disengage as she has done on previous occasions in her history after a sudden roll or lurch, westwards. These things have happened before; they have lurched westwards and then withdrawn again.
Of course, there are disadvantages as well as advantages to Russia in holding down the satellite countries—great costs, great unpopularity and difficulties with lines of communication—and Russia will no doubt want to pay more attention to China and the Far East. It is very difficult for her to deploy her full influence in both directions at once. Then, 495 of course, there will be an increasing demand from the Russian people for an improvement in their conditions of living, which will weaken Russia's capacity to put such a high percentage of her economy into armaments.
When Russian disengagement from the West comes about, it could not take the form of a deal with Germany; it would open the doors to the settlement that we all long for and for which we must all work. Only in the form of a general disengagement by Russia could Russia and Germany come to terms, and, of course, the need for Russia and Germany to come to terms is vital if we are to have a settlement in Europe in the end.
There is one aspect of the Agreements owe are discussing which I do not think has been mentioned, except in passing by the Foreign Secretary, and to which not enough thought has been given, but which should be thought out much more carefully. That is the effect of these Agreements upon Commonwealth strategy. The Foreign Secretary told us, as we all knew, that the Commonwealth Governments have been kept fully informed and have supported and indeed encouraged this country to make this new commitment of four divisions and an air force. That is very good, and it would have been impossible to have gone forward without such support and understanding, but that is not enough.
It will now be necessary to think out again the whole basis and principles of Commonwealth strategy. I think that all these Agreements which the Foreign Secretary has made may well come to be regarded in due course, as being historically important because they mark the final equality in military affairs between the United Kingdom and other members of the Commonwealth. That may well be regarded as their real, historic importance.
The United Kingdom is the most powerful country in the Commonwealth, but it is now much more equal with the other countries because, like them, it has committed the greater part of its effective forces to its own regional defence. There is much greater equality in the forces available to the various Commonwealth countries outside their own immediate region. It is right that we should have 496 done this. It is not against the principles of the Commonwealth. One of the principles upon which Commonwealth strategy must be based is that every member of it, including ourselves, has a prior duty to look after the peace and security of its own part of the world.
Now that we have committed so vast a proportion of our forces to looking after our own part of the world, we come up against the second principle which underlies Commonwealth strategy, which is that all the members of the Commonwealth who are willing to do so must make common plans for the defence of areas of the world that are of strategic importance to the Commonwealth as a whole, like the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, which do not fall within the sphere of any Commonwealth country but are vital to the whole Commonwealth and must therefore be defended by a common plan.
If Commonwealth strategy is to be not just a phrase but something real, it is essential that other Commonwealth countries should now be prepared to play a much more equal part with Britain in the defence of those areas of common, vital, strategic concern. That means that they must be prepared to take upon themselves a burden of defence expenditure and of conscription which is much more nearly equal to the burden borne in both those respects by Britain. I hope that we shall hear something from the Government about this aspect of this agreement, that we can be told that it will form an important part of the discussion in the forthcoming meeting of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and that real thought is being given to the impact of these agreements upon the deployment of the forces of the Commonwealth for Commonwealth defence and strategy.
The general agreements that we are talking about tonight have my wholehearted support, but they constitute a very great departure in policy both for Britain and for the Commonwealth. It is extremely important that we should make the necessary mental, physical and material adjustments to fit that fact. I hope that we can get some assurances that this is being properly thought out by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, and by the other countries of the Commonwealth, before the Prime Ministers' meeting.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I should be very glad to follow the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) on the subject of Commonwealth strategy and the consequences upon it of the Nine-Power Agreement. I may have time to touch upon that subject before I sit down.
The last time I had the privilege of addressing the House was on 14th July this year when, regretfully and with some difficulty, I had to part company with my hon. Friends who sit on this side of the House. Although in that speech I stated that the issue of Suez had precipitated my resignation, I did make clear one point which is singularly relevant to this debate. If hon. Members will look at that debate, they will see that I said:Where I am in considerable disagreement, not only with the Government but with many hon. Members who sit on this side, is in their approach to the foreign policy of this country, with particular emphasis upon where they stand in relation to the need for, or the abrogation of, national sovereignty."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th July, 1954; Vol. 530, c. 556.]One of the objections which I have always had to the E.D.C. proposals, and one of the objections which I had when we were in Opposition to the Schuman Plan proposals, was the fact that both of them involved a considerable surrender of national sovereignty. In fact, it may be remembered that five of my hon. Friends and I did not follow the party on that occasion.
I felt all along that so little national sovereignty was left to us at the end of the war, while other nations had such an enormous amount of it, that we should be wise not to surrender any more than we had already lost. It is perhaps somewhat paradoxical that it is the London Agreement and this Nine-Power Agreement which more than anything else have brought me back into the party, because, as one of my hon. Friends said earlier today, a very considerable surrender of sovereignty is involved in this proposal so far as our Armed Forces are concerned.
At the same time, what has happened is that as many of my hon. Friends and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary himself have emphasised, we have dropped the idea of a supra-national structure in Europe and of a Federation 498 of Europe, and have got on to a basis which seems to me to make for more security and to be of far more interest to this country. In other words, we are having what amounts to a straight military alliance with those who think as we do, and we are doing it under a unified Command and are putting troops on the ground so as to be ready in the event of war. I believe that that is a sensible thing to do.
Several hon. Members, particularly the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), have expressed doubt about the wisdom of this Agreement in the light of its military consequences upon the Soviet Union, and all the rest of it. I think that they have overlooked the fact that had we had troops on the ground in Europe in 1939, the war might never have started, and that, even if it had, we should certainly have been able to make a better job of it than we did in 1940.
I do not know whether all hon. Members have received a copy of the Journal of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Study published in October this year, the President of which is no less a person than the Prime Minister. In it there is an article on the subject of science and politics, the concluding paragraph of which states:Perhaps one step "—that is, in the direction of solving the great difficulty that exists in the world today between the control of science and its link with politics—might be to transfer the energies of those who have hitherto concentrated on the education of 'good internationalists' into the production of' good nationalists.' Might it not be possible, with our awakening sense of our international responsibilities, to turn patriotism from ' the last refuge of the scoundrel' into a form of noblesse oblige? If the behaviour of nations were expected to conform to the standards set for the individual in his civic life, we would have achieved a very great step forward in the improvement of international relations.I have felt all along that the one hope for the world would be to persuade those whose natural inclinations are patriotic to be patriotic in such a way that it promoted good feeling among the nations rather than antagonised them. We should then serve far more purpose than many of the international organisations set up today.
In this new proposal for Europe we have something which carries out that 499 principle. It is perfectly true that, as several hon. Members have said, we have surrendered something of our right to move our troops as we should like. At the same time, does any one honestly suppose that today there is a more perilous danger spot for this country, should her affairs be mishandled, than Europe? That being the case, does any one seriously suggest that we could sleep safely in our beds each night if we had not troops in Europe?
It seems to me that where hon. Members who are worried about having troops in Europe go wrong is in this respect. Surely it is best to have our troops as far from this country as possible so as to deny it to the enemy, than to have them bottled up in Aldershot and Shorncliffe. In the words of the old song, the frontiers of Britain today are "Beyond the Blue Horizon."
§ Major Legge-Bourke
As the hon. Member says, perhaps on the Volga; but in any case the Iron Curtain is too near. The only frontiers this country can regard as safe are those so far from us that no launching site or airfield could be used to project an attack against us.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
The hon. Member suggests the Great Wall of China. Let us leave it beyond the blue, or the red, horizon—whichever he likes.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Coventry, East is not here, because I should like to comment on an observation he made. He disclosed a rather astonishing state of affairs inside the Labour Party. He told us that, in order to live to fight another day, he, and some of his friends who think like him, had been told that, unless they accepted the decision of the majority, they would be expelled from the party.
I make quite clear that this is the first speech which I have made since coming back into the Conservative Party. I would say to hon. Members opposite—and I hope that some people outside that House will take notice of this—that, from the moment when I expressed disagreement 500 with my party on certain issues—the preservation of our national sovereignty, and particularly the Suez issue—not one single effort was made to make me do anything which was contrary to my conscience—not a single thing.
Not once during the whole of that time—a period of six or seven weeks—was pressure put upon me. Neither the Patronage Secretary, the members of the Government who are most directly concerned, nor any member of the Conservative Party, either here or in my constituency, has expected me at any time—at any time—to do anything which conflicted with my conscience.
I should have thought that any party that was prepared to offer itself as an alternative Government to this country ought to go the same way about these things. Certainly I feel that it is a sad day in the history of the party opposite that any hon. Member in that party should have to say what the hon. Member for Coventry, East said this evening. I think the Conservative Party can at least take credit for the fact that it was no pressure upon me personally that made me resign.
I would say to the Member for Coventry, East and his friends that if they really feel as they say they do, and if the rules of their party are what they say they are, they had better think whether in honour they ought to remain in that party. I felt that there were certain limits of latitude which one ought to allow oneself, and when I felt that I could not in honour abide by those limits I thought it was more honourable to resign from the party. Perhaps some hon. Members opposite who take the same view as the hon. Member for Coventry, East will think that over. I am grateful for the attitude which has been adopted by the Conservative Party towards the action which I took, and I am also grateful for the way in which the party received me back.
§ Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas (The Wrekin)
I am not concerned with the way in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman absolved his conscience. My question relates to the mechanics of his resignation and the observance of the party Whip. Is it not a fact that if he becomes an independent, he no longer observed the party Whip and the party did not expect him to observe it?
§ Major Legge-Bourke
That is true. The point that I tried to make was that long before I did that, there was no pressure whatever put upon me to do anything which was contrary to my conscience. My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) and others who worked with him will remember that they were put under no unfair pressure of the sort to which the hon. Member for Coventry, East referred.
Now may I return to the subject of Europe? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I would not have expatiated on that theme as I did if it had not been for what the hon. Member for Coventry, East said. It so happened that on 29th August, when the French National Assembly finally rejected E.D.C., I was in Rheims, and there was no sign there that the French people regarded the decision of the National Assembly as a disaster. In fact, the impression that I got was that M. Mendès-France re-echoed the words that the late Bernard Shaw put into the mouth of St. Joan in his famous play, when she said:Am I a heretic because I wish to escape from prison?When one reads what M. Mendès-France said in that debate, one can see that he was concerned about the effect of the E.D.C. arrangements on the economic set-up. M. Mendès-France made quite clear that Parliamentary control over public expenses was an essential attribute of Parliaments. Under the old E.D.C. arrangements, the power which the commissariat had over orders for iron and steel and textiles might very well have caused unemployment in France and have had other effects detrimental to the best interests of France.
In other words, it seems that M. Mendès-France was proclaiming what I have tried to proclaim—the right of a country to have as much national sovereignty as possible for its own best interests. In a reference to the unsuccessful attempt by the French to remove the effects of Article 38 of the E.D.C. Agreement dealing with the approach to the political community, M. Mendès-France said:It is essential … not to enter into commitments as far as the political community is concerned.That is why this change in this Nine-Power Agreement, which is based on a 502 confederation rather than a federation, is so much for the better.
Some concern has been expressed that the Government should commit to Europe on a permanent basis four and a half divisions and a tactical air force. But, on reflection, I wonder whether the effect of that pledge is as great a change of policy as some hon. Members seem to fear. Does anybody seriously believe that the Americans, or ourselves, can safely withdraw our troops from Europe in the foreseeable future? I have never quite understood why the French thought there was the slightest danger of our doing so.
Even Mr. Dulles's remarks at the London Conference about the advice he might have had to offer to President Eisenhower regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Europe would not, I hope, lead any American citizens to assume that the United States could safely withdraw into so-called "Fortress America." United States troops are in Europe as much in the interests of America as in the interests of Europe.
In conclusion, I want to voice only two points for the future. I am sometimes a little suspicious of organisations which are set up with the handle "International" attached to them, and which are then housed in the United States. I believe it is the duty of American citizens to put America first, just as it is the duty of our statesmen to put this country first. There are times when I feel that international organisations which live in the United States become rather more American than anything else. I do not wish to stand in the way of the United States being as strong in her own might as I hope we shall be in our own might. But, I shall fight until Kingdom come to prevent America denying us the right to do the same for ourselves.
It is unfortunate, when we have so many interests in common, that some people in the United States—and they are too often those with the "highest ear" in the land—sometimes believe there is something antagonistic between the British Empire and Commonwealth and the United States of America.
What ought now to flow from this Agreement is an arrangement between the Commonwealth and the French Union in particular to see if we cannot get reciprocal arrangements—at present 503 forbidden under the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade—by which we can try to look to the future so that when the terms of trade change a little we shall have some safeguard. We are friends whose interests are mutual, and we should be able to take protective action to preserve each other.
The opportunity that confronts us is greater than the opportunity which was missed—but which never should have been missed—by right hon. Gentlemen opposite when they were in power, of giving a lead to Europe which is going to take us far beyond our defence. But, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick said, it is essential that we go forward, not merely confining our activities to the military set-up in Europe, but seeing what we can do in new confederation towards making reciprocal economic arrangements between the British Commonwealth as a whole and the French Union.
I thank the House for the courtesy it has shown in allowing me to say what I have had to say tonight. I sincerely congratulate my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for the part he has played in bringing about these Agreements. I only wish that we had never tried to bring about E.D.C. and had, from the beginning, concentrated on respecting national sovereignty, as I hope we shall in the future.
§ 9.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, South-East)
The House is now approaching the very last stage of an argument which has lasted for nearly four years, and the flaccidity of the debate at some stages has shown how tired we all are of the arguments which have been used by one side or the other. Although we may be tired of the arguments, however, there is still very deep feeling upon the issues involved. The issue which we are called upon to decide when we rise tomorrow evening is one which divides both parties and, I think, divides most individuals inside themselves.
The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), in one of those speeches with which he so often enlivens our proceedings, had a good deal to say about the way in which opinions have changed. Indeed they have; his own has also 504 changed. I remember very well the time when Mr. Bevin was expressing the sort of view which the hon. Member for Coventry, East quoted this evening. At that time the hon. Member was saying that it was important that we should keep Germany permanently divided, and that in order to secure this we should offer the Russians Berlin, in exchange for an Austrian peace treaty.
There is nothing wrong in anybody changing his mind upon an important issue if the situation changes, and the situation in regard to Germany has changed profoundly in the last four years. In 1949, when most of us on both sides of the House were strongly opposed to the idea of rearming Germany, that country was still at the foot of the hill of recovery; at the beginning of the long climb out of ruin which it started after the currency reform. But let us look at the situation today. Germany is now producing industrially almost double what she was in 1938–193 per cent, of her 1938 production.
We are now face to face with a problem which cannot be avoided, and which our enemies in the world have long counted upon to disrupt whatever unity we have managed to achieve since the war. The problem we are now discussing is not simply whether or not Germany is to be rearmed, but whether or not we can fit a resurgent Germany—a great Power in Europe, with 50 million people of unexampled energy, intelligence and skill—into the framework of Western unity which we developed in the years following the war. That is the question to which the Paris and London Agreements offer a solution.
I think that Russia believed that the resurgence of Western Germany would completely destroy the form of co-operation which had been built up in the Western world from 1945 to 1950. Indeed, this was one of the main themes of Stalin's testament just before he died, and indeed it did look for one terrible moment only two months ago as if the Russians might be right.
The collapse of the E.D.C. idea, which was the original framework conceived to solve this problem, threatened completely to disrupt the whole fabric of Western unity, and I think that it is very greatly to the credit of all concerned that at that terribly dangerous moment the Western 505 world was saved from catastrophe by the unanimity which was reached at the meetings in London and Paris. All concerned in achieving that unanimity deserve very great credit, not least our own Foreign Secretary, whose speed and urgency in dealing with the matter was probably the decisive factor in reaching agreement.
I think we must also pay tribute to each of the other Foreign Ministers concerned; to Dr. Adenauer, who took great risks with his own position in Germany by making an agreement on the Saar and, above all—though I can well believe that the Foreign Secretary will greet this with a rather wry face—to M. Mendès-France, whose dogged obstinacy succeeded in wringing out of his two allies the essential conditions without which he could not persuade the French Assembly to ratify any agreement. I am sure that after this experience of M. Mendès-France's skill in diplomacy the Foreign Secretary cannot wait to see him in action against the Russians.
The great difficulty, it seems to me after listening to the debate today, is that although many criticisms can rightly be made of the Agreements reached in Paris, no alternative whatever has been put forward. I must qualify that statement by admitting that my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East did put forward an alternative plan, a plan which involves the neutralisation of Germany and also involves the forced diminution of Germany's sovereignty by agreement between the non-German Powers.
That is certainly an alternative solution, a very ingenious and systematic one, but it has one great defect, a defect which Hilaire Belloc found in his own conception of distributism. The great defect of my hon. Friend's plan for the solution of the German problem is that it demands that the waters of Niagara shall flow up instead of down, because the simple fact is that not one single country concerned in solving the German problem would be prepared to consider for one moment either of the elements in his solution.
The idea of a neutral vacuum in the middle of Europe is not acceptable to any of the Western Governments, nor to the Soviet Union, nor to the majority of the German people themselves; and the idea of the forced diminution of Germany's sovereignty is not acceptable to 506 any of the Western Powers, nor to the German people of either side, although, no doubt, it would be acceptable to the Soviet Union.
The plain fact is that if this Agreement reached at Paris is not carried into effect it is impossible to conceive of any alternative whatever, and, therefore, we have to face the fact that the various Agreements represent at least the last chance of solving the German problem, if not the best chance. My own feeling, as hon. Members will know, is that they do in many ways turn out better than the E.D.C. solution. I believe that in the military sphere they are very much easier to operate than the E.D.C. solution, and personally I have always shared the misgivings which finally led France to reject the treaty, that it was too supranational, and that any organisation which excludes Britain is bound to be dominated by Germany. However that may be, there are many sincere misgivings on all sides, certainly in my own party, about some of the consequences of the Agreements.
Three major issues were raised, mainly in speeches from this side of the House—three issues concerning Germany. First, what will be the impact of the Agreements on German democracy? Second, will they give us adequate guarantees against Germany misusing the military power which she receives under them? In other words, will they allow her to draw us into war against Russia? The third question, with which my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) dealt at some length, was, will they enable a future German Government to misuse the diplomatic opportunities they receive under the Agreements? In other words, will they allow a future German Government to make a deal with Russia at our expense?
I believe that these are very serious misgivings which need answering. The first question is the impact of these Agreements on German democracy. Certainly all my colleagues must feel very concerned at the fact that the Social Democrat Party in Western Germany and also the trade unions in Western Germany are opposing the Agreements. That must give us grounds for very careful thought. But it is not fair to go on from that and to say that the majority 507 of Germans oppose the Agreements because the fact is that the general framework of these new Agreements was put before the German people at the German General Election last year and, whether we like it or not, the Government supporting this policy was given an overwhelming majority while my own colleagues were heavily defeated.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I was in Germany during that election and I studied it very carefully. My impression was that all this international business was carefully relegated to the background by Dr. Adenauer in his attack on the Socialist Party.
§ Mr. Healey
Many people will have different views about that.
We must apply in Germany the same principles of democratic Parliamentary Government as those which we apply in this country. The fact is that German foreign policy was a major issue in the election and that our own colleagues in the German Social Democratic Party were heavily defeated. When a party is heavily defeated and is in opposition, it sometimes does odd things. I remember how my party, after the great defeat of 1931, committed itself at its next annual conference to a policy of total pacifism, although I am glad to say that the following year it preferred a policy of collective security, which, had it been rightly applied, could have prevented the Second World War.
§ Mr. Healey
I am quite confident that my colleagues in Germany will change their minds on this issue when they have had time for further reflection. We should all be greatly heartened by the fact that every single Socialist Party in Europe which is in office and in power strongly supports these Agreements and is doing its utmost to see that they are ratified. We are justified, as Socialists, I think, in putting that fact into the other pan of the balance.
I hope that my comrades in Germany, when they have had second thoughts on this matter, will play an active part in setting up the new German defence contribution, because I do not believe that its democratic content can be fully 508 secured unless they are prepared to play an active and responsible role in supervising it. I hope there will be no pressure by any of their allies on the German Government to rush this issue. Once the Agreements have been ratified, there must be time for a very careful screening of the new German forces so that the dangerous elements may be removed at the source to the maximum possible extent.
The second big question is, do the new Agreements adequately limit Germany's power to abuse her new military strength? The Foreign Secretary dealt with this at length, and I think there is no doubt whatever that if there is any way of controlling arms by international agreement, this is the way. The limitation on arms, on operations, on level of troops, the function of the new arms control agency under a Western European Union—all this is the first project in human history in an attempt at the international control of armaments.
I believe that all hon. Members on this side of the House should give full support to this attempt to control arms throughout one major continent which has been the main source of wars in past history. I am always surprised to find that the people who attack these new arms control proposals as mere scraps of paper are precisely the people who put forward international disarmament as an alternative. The fact is that if this system will not work there is certainly no chance whatever of making an international system, which includes Russia and all the other countries of the world, work.
I support very strongly what my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said earlier, that we should give very sympathetic consideration to the French proposals for supplementing the arms control agency with a European arms pool. It is difficult to elaborate on this subject, because the French proposals have not been published, but in so far as any news of them has leaked out it seems that they provide a basis for very serious discussion, and the suggestions made by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) deserve special consideration in this respect.
The third question is, do the Agreements give us any guarantee against 509 Germany abusing her diplomatic freedom? Is there any danger that Germany will make a deal with Russia over our heads and against us? In the immediate future there is no question that the clauses of the Agreement which provide for a joint approach to Russia on the issue of German unification, which were quoted earlier by my right hon. Friend, are adequate protection.
It may be said, "May we not get a future Germany which will ignore these obligations?" That is a danger, but here the type of military integration which will tie Germany to the West, and to which I have already referred in dealing with the second question, will be the strongest possible guarantee against a German breakaway and a deal with Russia. A country which has not got independent armed forces cannot have an independent foreign policy.
There is great force in the remark of my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick that probably our greatest protection of all is history. The fact that in 1941 Russia was attacked by Germany, contrary to a formal agreement, makes it pretty sure that the Russians are not going to make any deal with Germany without being certain that they control Germany hand and foot; and the Germans, after their experiences in 1944 and 1945, are certainly not going to make that sort of deal with Russia.
In fact, I think that the danger of a complete German breakaway from the West is very much less than is often thought, and certainly the Paris Agreement gives us the greatest possible guarantee that if there are to be talks with Russia they will be joint talks and one country will not be able to make a deal at the expense of another. It seems to me that these three major questions which have been raised by many of my hon. Friends can receive adequate answers by quotation from the various clauses of the Paris Agreement.
However, two other great questions emerge which were not fully discussed by the Foreign Secretary. The first is, what influence will these Agreements have on the pattern of unity which has already developed in the West? How will they affect our relations with the Commonwealth? How will they affect our relations with the United States, and so on?
510 I still feel rather uneasy at the fact that we have accepted a major definitive commitment on the Continent of Europe without getting anything very solid out of the United States at the same time. There is always a great danger that America will take a British commitment as an excuse for reducing her own and that she will seek to withdraw from the position of being a partner inside the club to being an arbiter outside the club.
If I understand the policy of Her Majesty's Government correctly, I think they have been wise in dissuading other European countries from showing an interest in joining the Brussels Treaty at the moment. I think it would be a great mistake to include in a major new organisation all the N.A.T.O. Powers in Europe but to exclude Canada or the United States. I should like to reinforce the plea of my right hon. Friend that we should now take the opportunity of approaching America to see if we cannot stiffen its financial and military commitments a little more than it has been prepared to do. It is only fair to add that these Agreements do include an important increase in the powers of the N.A.T.O. Supreme Commander in Europe, which may be of great value in this respect.
A question which has not been discussed at all except by the hon. Member for Preston, North is, what precisely this new pattern means for our relations with the Continent of Europe. What, in fact, does Western European Union mean? Is it simply to remain a kind of mechanism for arms control or nothing more than a convenient formula for avoiding a dangerous catastrophe, or does it really mean that Britain is going to have some new sort of economic and political relationship with the Continent of Europe? I hope at some stage in the debate the Government will give us some idea as to what are their feelings on this issue.
So far as I can tell, by reading the newspapers and from other sources, the Government have no very clear idea of what they want in this respect. I remember reading the Foreign Secretary's report on his first trip round the Continent, and he suggested that the Brussels Treaty should be used for political and economic co-operation. I should like to know what his ideas are 511 about political and economic cooperation. I always thought that when the Foreign Secretary suggests economic co-operation with another country it is just a general idea and the Foreign Secretary sends a letter to the Treasury asking for its support, and then the Treasury replies, "I am afraid there is nothing possible in that at all." Certainly I think that is the feeling of the Treasury at the moment.
The whole trend of the Government's economic policy which the hon. Member for Preston, North mentioned is against exclusive economic co-operation in Europe and in favour of a trend towards convertibility, G.A.T.T. and so on. I think it is the Government's duty to make their intentions a great deal clearer here, because I think it would be a tragedy if the Government were to repeat the shabby episode of hyprocrisy and deceit to which I am afraid the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Housing and Local Government contributed when they were in Opposition, and they gave the Continental Powers at Strasbourg a completely false impression of their real approach to the European problem. Consequently, they carry a very heavy responsibility indeed for the three years which we have wasted in searching for an E.D.C. solution, to which Britain was prepared to make no contribution whatsoever.
I hope that the Government are not going to do in office what they did m Opposition, and I must compliment the Foreign Secretary on the conspicuous distaste with which he regarded those activities at the time. If the Continental Powers are allowed to get a completely false impression of our real intentions towards them by all sorts of attractive and intelligent speeches of minor members of the Government back benches and by all sorts of vague, Victorian oratory from major members of the Government Front Bench, which have absolutely no real content behind them, that would be a tragedy, and I think it is the job of the Government to give a clear lead on this very quickly, so that we do not get involved in a repetitive and unhappy story.
The last question which I think we must consider is the most important to all of us, and that is, what effect will these 512 new Agreements have on our relations with the Communist bloc. Will they help or hinder a relaxation of tension or even a settlement in the cold war? I must say I am absolutely convinced that they will do nothing but good in this respect, because if anything is clear from the history of the Soviet Union over the last 30 years it is that they only respect and treat with unity and strength. If they think there is any chance of weakening and dividing the opposition they will do so and will not treat with them.
I think that we have a striking example of this during the last few months. Over the first nine months of this year, Soviet propaganda was furiously attacking the projected idea of a Balkan pact. Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia were bombarded with threats as to what would happen if they formed a pact. They ignored those threats and formed a pact in August, and since then there has been an astonishing improvement in the Soviet attitude towards them. In fact, relations between Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union are better now than at any time since 1948.
I should like to refer for a moment to the question of German re-unification. If anyone thought that there was possibly a way of unifying Germany on terms acceptable to Germany and ourselves, we should jump at it, rather than launch on this other course. There is no evidence of that whatever. Even the speakers m this debate who suggested that possibility have not been able to produce any evidence whatever that the Soviet Union is prepared to consider the sort of suggestion which they have made.
The main aim of the Soviet policy in the last few years has been to prevent the inclusion of Western Germany into Western unity, and so long as there were people in the West trying to prevent that, there was not the slightest reason why Russia should make concessions to prevent it. On the other hand, once Germany is included in Western unity, Russia has a strong incentive to make serious concessions, because the only way in which she can change the pattern of affairs is to produce a united Germany.
There is a question which I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary. It was always said at the Berlin Conference that agreements envisaged under E.D.C. would be required to be negotiated and reintroduced if Germany was reunited; a united 513 Germany would not be automatically bound by them, although we always considered that she should be free to enter into them voluntarily. I hope that the Government will make it clear if this is also the case in regard to the Paris Treaty. I am not aware of any statement being made by any Government spokesman of the nine countries concerned with this question.
If this is so, then Russia has a very strong incentive indeed for making concessions on German unity because this is the only way she can change the pattern which she so much dislikes, and I believe that we shall see, in the early months of next year, the first real attempt since the war by Russia to negotiate a general settlement in Europe with the West. Whether the attempts will be wholly satisfactory and whether they will lead to agreement is a very difficult question to answer.
§ Mr. Henry Usborne (Birmingham, Yardley)
Is it not conceivable that Russia may delay this tempting offer until there is something more to win—in other words, until the armies of the West go into a neutralised Germany?
§ Mr. Healey
I do not think so. I think that the German disincentive to terms which will change the pattern will steadily increase as the Paris Treaty takes effect over the years, and I think that that is a great guarantee of peace for Europe and the world.
I should like to suggest that two conditions should actuate our approach to the Russians on this issue. The first is that any conference which we have with them must be fully prepared diplomatically before it starts in public. We have had too many conferences since the war in which there has been no attempt to reach common ground before the meetings, and which consequently have simply been propaganda stunts, with everyone playing to the gallery.
I should like to suggest that high-level meetings are not likely to play a very useful part at this stage of the game. If the Russians are going to make serious concessions, they will make this very clear through secret, diplomatic processes, and we have to be assured that we have a basis upon which we can hope to make agreements before we enter into the dangers of a new conference.
514 I do not know whether it will be possible for any Government spokesman to confirm or deny reports which have appeared recently in both the American and the British Press that at recent contacts in Moscow between the American and British Ambassadors and Mr. Malenkov, Mr. Malenkov definitely said that he did not want to meet the British Prime Minister for the time being and that he felt that it would be very much better for contacts to be made through normal diplomatic channels. If that is so, it would be very useful for us to know.
I want to conclude with a word about the broad context within which the Agreements fit. The real importance of the Agreements is that we have met the first great challenge of the second period in post-war world politics. I suggest that the first essential in the modern world, with the power of nations so much increased and their distances from each other so much reduced by scientific development, is to try to produce some new sort of international community which limits the power of nations at least sufficiently to prevent a new world war.
We made magnificent progress in this direction in the first few years after the war because it was then simply a question of allies working together against a very obvious threat from the Soviet Union. During the last few years the problem has seemed very different. The threat from the Soviet Union has seemed to diminish and we have had to face the problem of fitting into the framework an ex-enemy country which had recovered her strength.
It is something of which we can be proud as human beings and not just as politicians that we have met the second challenge and that, despite the tremendous psychological handicaps, we have succeeded in bringing this great ex-enemy country into the existing framework of the Western community. We have, in fact, already produced throughout the whole of the North Atlantic area an international community of the sort that the world desperately needs in the years to come. The next great challenge will be to try to broaden that community so that it receives the association of the coloured peoples in Asia and Africa.
I suggest that this general vision must guide our policy whatever the Soviet Union does. The problems of power politics did not begin in 1917 when the 515 Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace. I believe we must do this for our own sake, but I also believe that if we succeed in doing this we shall profoundly modify the attitude of the Soviet rulers towards the outside world, and shall produce the first real conditions for a general settlement of the cold war.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. H. Turton)
The debate has been remarkable for the very high level of all the contributions. It has been especially distinguished by the maiden speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Sharples). Foreign Secretaries make agreements and hon. Members in this House discuss agreements, but very seldom do we hear contributions from those who actually have to work out the agreements that we make. The value of the contribution of my hon. Friend to me was his experience in working out the North Atlantic Treaty. It was a refreshing speech for us to hear.
Another speech which has distinguished the debate was that to which we have just listened from the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. D. Healey). I believe that this is the first time that he has wound up a debate for his party. If that is so, I am certain that there will be many other occasions when he will be taking a similar part but from a different part of the House.
§ Mr. D. Healey
I take it that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the situation after the next General Election.
§ Mr. Turton
I hope it will not be so long delayed. I was expecting the hon. Member to move down two benches; that is all.
The debate today has recorded a considerable measure of agreement fox the steps taken by my right hon. Friend at the London and Paris conferences to create unity of purpose in Western Europe. The unanimity was well started by a very sound speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). I feel that, in the realm of foreign policy, it is of paramount importance that this House should lift itself above the welter of party politics and speak, not as representatives of one, two 516 or three parties, but as representatives of the nation. This does not involve the suggestion that there should be no criticism and no questions, and I shall be attempting very shortly to deal with that criticism and those questions.
I should like to address this preliminary argument to the House. On the aim of our foreign policy, and also in the methods we employ, there is a good deal of unanimity amongst people of all parties in this country. We seek in Europe a peaceful order in which the spirit of man may flourish in freedom. We are certain that that goal cannot be reached by a display of weakness by the free democracies. Therefore, we are resolved that these democracies must be adequately defended against any threat of aggression from any quarter. So long as old hatreds and suspicions are harboured, the establishment of a peaceful order will be hindered, and therefore, successive Foreign Secretaries, with that end in view, have sought to break down animosities and establish unity in Western Europe in the hope that such unity will in itself lead to a greater understanding between the countries on each side of the Iron Curtain.
It has been the good fortune of my right hon. Friend that, in the space of three months of his Foreign Secretaryship, agreement has been reached on Trieste, a very long-standing sore in Southern Europe, and, by the London and Paris conferences on the future of Germany, the age-long suspicions between France and Germany have been largely resolved.
This chapter of our foreign policy, which I hope tomorrow will be brought to a successful conclusion, began long ago, and I think it would be doing a disservice, or less than justice, to a very great statesman if I did not remind the House and pay tribute to the work of the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, who began the chapter which we are now hoping to close. Nearly four years ago, he expressed this opinion on this subject. If I may quote his own words from 29th November, 1950, they were these:… and if Western Germany is to be defended, it seems to us only fair and reasonable that the people of Western Germany should help in their own defence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th (November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South who succeeded to 517 his office, pursued that same path during his Foreign Secretaryship, and, by his participation in the Washington Conference in 1951, helped us to reach our present success.
When one reads the Declaration of 14th September, 1951, I believe that the unanimity between the two political parties stands out very clearly. The Declaration reads:The three Foreign Ministers declare that their Governments aim at the inclusion of a democratic Germany on a basis of equality in a continental European community, which itself will form part of a constantly developing Atlantic community.That phrasing is remarkable in the light of today's debate, and shows how our foreign policy has developed successfully and successively on those lines.
There was a time, a very short while ago, when all our hopes appeared to be dashed to the ground through the rejection by the French Assembly of the plan for a European Defence Community. What would have been the consequences of complete failure at that time to make any progress towards a peaceful order in Western Europe? Such failure would have stultified eight years' work by successive Foreign Ministers and would have left the countries of Western Europe in complete despair for their future.
It was at that time that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary set out on his journey round the capitals of Western Europe, resolved to find a basis on which those countries could agree. His; genius saw in the Brussels Treaty the stock on which he could engraft Germany and Italy, and so establish the Continental European Community that was mentioned in the earlier document. Whilst we claim chief credit for the inclusion of Germany and Italy in the Brussels Treaty and the North Atlantic Treaty, all parties in this House have made a great contribution to this achievement.
Now I should like to deal with specific points that were put, and first with questions put forward by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South. I have not a great deal of time. I intend to deal with many of the specific points put to me, but I will leave out all questions dealing with finance and defence because my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will deal with them tomorrow. I shall also leave all the questions of high policy 518 which were put by the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East to my right hon. Friend to deal with when he sums up the debate tomorrow.
The first question by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South was whether we should seek as soon as we could further negotiations with Soviet Russia on the reunification of Germany in peace and freedom, when the Soviet were ready to have free elections in Eastern Germany. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary had made that abundantly clear in his speech this afternoon, when he used these words:I do not for a moment accept the proposition that if the Paris Agreements are ratified we must give up hope of solving such issues as the peaceful reunification of Germany.My right hon. Friend pointed out that all the evidence we at present possessed led us to the conclusion that the Soviet Government were unwilling to agree to reunification in any conditions of genuine freedom.
It is our view that the first task of this nation and of other nations is to ratify the London and Paris Agreements, and that we should not be deflected from that task by offers of a conference of which the prospects of success do not seem any rosier than of those which we have previously attended. We can give the right hon. Member the assurance that, when the Agreements are ratified, and when there are prospects of agreement on really free elections in Germany, Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to play their full part.
The second question put to me by the right hon. Gentleman, and also by the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East, was our attitude towards the French proposals for an armaments pool. The answer to that question is that those proposals are indefinite, but I would refer both the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentleman to page 51 of the White Paper on which they will find that this matter is covered by the resolution appearing on that page.
The proposals put forward by the French delegation at the London Conference were not rejected, but it was felt that they raised complicated issues on which decisions could not be taken in the time available, and it was therefore provided that they should be studied by a working group set up under the Brussels Council. Under the resolution adopted 519 at the Paris Conference, the working group will be convened in Paris on 17th January, 1955. Of course, when one is talking, as did the right hon. Gentleman, of the armaments pool, one must remember that it is a continental armaments pool which is envisaged in that proposal.
The last of the four questions put by the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South was the important one of the position of the Western European Union and the Council of Europe. The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) also made an intervention on this point, which I will try to pick up at the same time.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South stressed the need for close links between the Western European Union and the Council of Europe, and the hon. Member for Lincoln suggested that the London and Paris Agreements differed on this point. He was quite right. There is indeed a difference between the two Agreements on the point.
The London Agreement only spoke of a report on armaments control, whereas the Paris Agreement provides that the Council of the Western European Union will make an annual report on all its activities. In this respect, therefore, there is, I think, an improvement, but no change has been made in the composition of the body to which the annual report is to be made.
This body is to consist of parliamentary representatives of the seven Powers, and those representatives are to be the representatives of the seven Powers to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe. The report of the Western European Union could not appropriately be made to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe itself for two reasons. The first is that the Consultative Assembly consists of members of 15 countries, several of whom are not members of the Western European Union, and the second is that the report will cover defence questions.
As hon. Members know, matters of defence do not fall within the scope of the Council of Europe. The body to which the Council of the Western European Union makes its report must, therefore, be a separate assembly, but in order precisely to establish the closest relationship between that assembly and the Con- 520 sultative Assembly of the Council of Europe it is intended that the members of the former shall, in fact, be the members of the latter. This, it seems, will establish the closest possible link between the two assemblies.
The practical arrangements have still to be worked out. We shall try to ensure that these reinforce the close relationship between the two assemblies. It is our view—and here we agree entirely with the views expressed by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery)—that the assembly should hold its meetings in Strasbourg and make use of all the facilities afforded by the Council of Europe's headquarters there. It would, I think, be convenient for the meetings of the two assemblies to be consecutive. I hope that that assurance will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman on that point.
I should now like to deal with the view expressed by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael), by the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Monslow), and by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Grossman). That view was that these London and Paris Agreements are a mistake. As I understood the argument of the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness, he said "Well, these Agreements may be right, but the time is not yet." I understood the argument of the hon. Member for Bridgeton to be "These Agreements will lead to a Nazi Army." His argument is exactly the same as that of the" Daily Worker," which says, "The Eden plan means war; don't trust the Nazi generals." I believe that that argument of the "Daily Worker" is not sound.
Finally, the argument of the hon. Member for Coventry, East was that "This is the wrong policy. You should have a neutral Germany and a vacuum." That, I believe, is a wrong appreciation of the situation, and that the error in the hon. Member's appreciation was fully explained by the hon. Member for Leeds, South-East. What I find so hard to understand is that when the Bonn Convention was under discussion, those three hon. Members voted on the same ground as the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness takes—that it was untimely then to have that Convention; that there was a time coming when it would be all right.
I believe that that Fabian tactic, if adopted——
§ Mr. Turton
I mean the Roman general who first carried out those tactics. Those tactics would land this country and the world in very great disaster.
Let me say this in conclusion. We of this generation have suffered so much and sacrificed so many in the last 40 years, I believe that it must be our common endeavour to prevent history repeating itself in the future. In this century the division of Western Europe by suspicion and hatred, and uncertainty as to the intention and power of this country—and of other countries—to come to the aid of the victims of aggression, have been some of the main causes of two wars. By bringing the countries of Western Europe into one community of nations we seek to remove suspicion and hatred. By the commitments which we and our Allies have undertaken, and by the engagements by which the parties are bound by the North Atlantic Treaty, we have made clear our resolve that aggression will be met by force.
It is my belief that, by these means, we shall establish a peaceful order in Western Europe. It is our further hope that once these agreements are ratified we shall be able to proceed to the removal of some of the misunderstandings and suspicion that divide us from the countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. I think that it is fitting that the Parliament of the United Kingdom should be the first to debate, and I hope to approve, these Agreements.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. Kaberry.]
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.