Order read for resuming adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [5th December]:
That this House supports the policy of Her Majesty's Government as outlined by the Foreign Secretary on 3rd December, which has prevented hostilities in the Middle East from spreading, has resulted in a United Nations Force being introduced into the area, and has created conditions under which progress can be made towards the peaceful settlement of outstanding issues.
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:
recognising the disastrous consequences of Her Majesty's Government's policy in the Middle East, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take all possible steps to restore Commonwealth unity, recreate confidence between our allies and ourselves and strengthen the authority of the United Nations as the only way to achieve a lasting settlement in the Middle East.
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Mr. Speaker, I have said harsh things of the Prime Minister in the last few weeks. Today, I shall say none. Many of us hold him in personal affection. He showed me great personal kindness when I was overtaken by disaster a year ago, and I shall never forget it. This afternoon I must quote, and answer, his words, but, for him, I only say that we wish him a speedy and a complete return to health.
I will not repeat the arguments from this side about the Government's kaleidoscopic series of excuses for their Charter-breaking war. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), in his devastating analysis yesterday afternoon, completely demolished them—nothing remains.
I will not rehearse again the multifarious ways in which British interests have been damaged, and British honour tarnished, since 30th October last. Hon. Members opposite have told us that it is "a humiliating defeat," and we agree; and day by day our people are learning the heavy material cost—and so, alas, are the innocent peoples of Europe, who are our friends.
1454 I will not charge the Government-let me assure the Minister of Defence; I have read his speech of last night, and I also heard it with the greatest interest—with "undue insistence on moral rectitude," to which he so much objected. We do not think that that has been the error which the Government have made.
I will not add much to what both of my right hon. Friends have said about collusion. We have not been making accusations. We have been asking question, in order that the Government might give us answers that would clear the country's name. I asked ten questions in debate three weeks ago; so far, I have not had the semblance of an answer to any of them. Let me just say this to the Foreign Secretary. The world will read the careful, studied phrases which he used yesterday afternoon, and it will draw the clear conclusion that the charge is true; that the Government knew, before 29th October, that the Israeli attack on Egypt would be made, and that they laid their own plans with that in view.
Has the Foreign Secretary seen the first of a series of articles in the Paris newspaper Le Monde this morning? There it is. It is very damaging. Unless the Government can make a better answer than the Foreign Secretary made yesterday, what I have said is what the outside world will most certainly believe, and I hope that the Government will try again.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I think it important that we should use terms correctly. What does he understand by "collusion"? By that word I understand connivance with and encouragement of persons to do something, and doing it with them. It is quite different from prevision.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I said foreknowledge of the attack which was about to be made—which we called a forest fire and afterwards went to put out.
Faced with this very grim suspicion, and with a costly and egregious failure, it is natural enough that hon. Members opposite should try to find a scapegoat, as people always do when they have made a blunder for which they are themselves alone to blame. I confess that when I read the Order Paper a week ago, I remembered the motion debated, and defeated, by the Cambridge Union 1455 in 1949: "That, in the opinion of this House, Christopher Columbus went too far." It was members of the Communist Party who proposed that motion in 1949. It is hon. Members opposite who propose it now.
Of course, for several months, hon. Members opposite have made it plain that they share the view of Mr. Dulles's compatriot that Mr. Dulles is "America's unguided missile." Like other Foreign Secretaries, Mr. Dulles may have made mistakes. On our side, we never much admired his "brinksmanship" three years ago, but we much prefer it to the "over-the-brinksmanship" of our Government now. We believe that since Mr. Dulles flew the Atlantic, on 1st August, the world has owed him and his President a great debt of gratitude for the stand which they have made.
I thought the wisest words spoken from the Government benches came on Monday last, from the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), whose sacrifices for the country, and whose work for its ex-Service men, we honour in every quarter of the House. He said that the United Nations was on trial, and that we must all hope that it would succeed. Yes—and we must all strive to the limit of our power to make certain that it will.
We do not help by bitter attacks on the United States. Remembering the American record since 1945, their massive help in U.N.R.R.A., the Marshall Plan, their support to Europe ever since, their leadership in N.A.T.O., their heavy sacrifices in Korea—remembering all that, I find it hardly credible that hon. Members opposite should have put down a Motion alleging that American policy was endangering the North Atlantic alliance. With their five weeks of glory just behind them, is it possible that hon. Members opposite should really think like that—that it is America that is endangering the North Atlantic alliance?
Hon. Members opposite nod assent. Have they ever read the North Atlantic Treaty? Have they ever got as far as Article 1?The parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner 1456 that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.That is the alliance. Any nation that violates that basic obligation endangers the whole structure that has been built upon it in the last six years. That is the Article which convicts the authors of the Suez Motion of the very crime that they have imputed to the United States.
Why did President Eisenhower vote against us when we cast our veto on 30th October? Why did he lead the Council in summoning the Special Assembly which we opposed? Why did he lead the majority, first, of 64 to 2, and then, four weeks later, of 63 to 2? Unless we understand it, and accept it, we can never work with America again.
President Eisenhower has a deep personal conviction that the United Nations is, in bitter truth, what someone else once called it—"humanity's last hope". He was ready in 1946 to accept the post of Secretary-General, if the offer had been made. He accepted the command of N.A.T.O. and built up S.H.A.P.E., because he believed that they were the bulwark of the Charter. As modern armaments have grown more dangerous, he has said, with mounting passion, thatThere is no alternative to peace.It was that same passion which made him say, on 3rd November, five days after the Israeli attack, four days after our bombing began, at the very climax of the American Election, regardless of the votes which it might cost:We cannot and we will not condone aggression, no matter who the attacker, no matter who the victim.For that stand, President Eisenhower received the endorsement of the greatest electoral majority any man has ever had, and he received the endorsement of the nations of mankind, including the very great majority of ours. For every international purpose, President Eisenhower is America for years to come. That is why the Minister of Defence did infinite harm last night when he boasted that, if we could go back to 30th October, he would do it all again. To restore confidence and co-operation with the United States is the very first of all our tasks. We cannot begin to do it until we have convinced Americans that from now on the 1457 obligations of the Charter are for us the very tables of the law.
The same is true about the Commonwealth. There is a strange hostility among some hon. Members opposite towards the Commonwealth. They will have read an article by a Tory with a famous name, Lord Altrincham, in which he said:The very word 'Commonwealth' is odious to the average Suez Grouper. He much prefers 'Empire', with its over tones of material grandeur and racial domination.We could forgive the word "Empire" from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). If he will forgive my telling the story, I recall an occasion in Washington when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford had to address Senators and Congressmen, and our Ambassador, Lord Halifax, asked him not to speak of "Empire" but of "Commonwealth" instead. For 20 minutes, the right hon. Gentleman spoke solidly of the British Empire, until he caught the Ambassador's reproving eye, and then he said:The British Empire, or, if you prefer it, the British Commonwealth, We have trade labels to suit all tastes.The right hon. Gentleman, unlike the Suez Groupers, understands that in every international assembly or conference since the First World War the presence of the Commonwealth has been a vital asset in British hands.
Three weeks ago, the Colonial Secretary told us that the Government had done the Commonwealth no harm; there had been no breakdown in its system, no damage to its spirit, no failure in consultation; there had been more consultation than ever before. Let him listen to the words of Mr. Pearson, in the Canadian House of Commons, a week ago:We were anxious to do what we could to hold the Commonwealth together in this very severe test. It was badly and dangerously split. At one stage, after the fighting on land began, it was on the verge of dissolution, and that is not an exaggerated observation.Listen to these further words from Mr. Pearson:There was no consultation with other members of the Commonwealth and no advance information that this very important action was about to be taken. In that sense, consultation between London and Paris on the one hand, and the Commonwealth on the other …had broken down. Mr. Pearson described his Government's policy in this way: 1458Our attitude was that this question should be brought as quickly as possible to the United Nations.The difference between an Empire and a Commonwealth is in more than the label. In a Commonwealth, one must consult; one must strive to have a common policy on which all agree. Consultation does not mean presenting other members with a fait accompli, sending a telegram to tell them what one has already done. That is merely a waste of public money. They, like President Eisenhower, will learn it more quickly in the Press.
The Balfour Report of 1926—and I hope hon. Members opposite still respect the name of Balfour, as I do—laid it down that when any member of the Commonwealth contemplated any action which wouldinvolve the other Governments in any active obligations",itmust obtain their definite assent.It said that this wasparticularly important in relation to major matters of foreign affairs, where expedition is often essential and urgent decision necessary.People sometimes ask: how can such a system work? I would reply that it worked extremely well for thirty years, and it was eminently applicable to the Middle Eastern problems which arose this year. Every Government in the Commonwealth has a vital interest in the Canal, and all are members of the United Nations.
The system did, however, involve a genuine constitutional dilemma. The Lord Privy Seal will remember a book by Professor Alfred Zimmern, "The Third British Empire", published to explain the Balfour Report, in 1926. Zimmern described the constitutional dilemma: how could independent nations be bound together when each was free to shape its own international policy as it desired, even in vital matters of peace and war? Zimmern said:For this dilemma, the Covenant of the League of Nations provides a complete and adequate solution.Under the Covenant, as under the Charter, every member of the Commonwealth was bound by common obligations, fundamental legal duties, and in the honouring of those obligations a common policy emerged. That is more than ever 1459 true today. It is only on the Charter that the Commonwealth may be rebuilt. Genuine consultation, consultation of Lord Balfour's kind, is the life-blood by which it lives and works. The Government did not consult the others on their Egypt war precisely because they meant to break the Charter. The work of generations of British statesmen will be destroyed, if that should ever happen again.
When our troops are out of Egypt, the world will face a number of urgent questions—the future régime in the Suez Canal, a general settlement in the Middle East, the upheavals which have convulsed Eastern Europe in the last two months. All these questions must be dealt with in the United Nations. In none of them can Britain play a useful part until we have restored our moral standing there.
My right hon. Friends have dealt with the subject of the Canal. I will add only this, that on 26th July we had an overwhelming case against President Nasser for the international system of control which we desired to set up. If we had not threatened force, we should have gathered support from the five continents of the world, and we should have got a satisfactory solution many weeks ago. Now, if President Nasser is obstructive, it will be the other nations, the other members of the Commonwealth, the other members of the United Nations, who must convince him that he is wrong.
On the general settlement in the Middle East our present Ministers will not be listened to very gladly, either by the Arabs or by the Israelis. Again, it will be a task for all the Governments, at the highest level, in the United Nations, to seek to put out the fires of hatred and suspicion between the Arabs, the Israelis and the West; to settle permanent frontiers; to launch a great new plan of economic reconstruction with United Nations technical assistance; and to arrange for the large-scale irrigation of these desert lands.
That task is incomparably more difficult than it would have been four months ago. But I do not think that it is impossible. I say that because I was converted to Zionism in 1919 by Lawrence of Arabia and the Emir Feisal. I believe that Arabs and Jews may still live in peace, and that we should use our modest 1460 influence to ensure that, in the discussions, the United States, Canada, India and Pakistan shall play a leading part.
I now come to the East of Europe. There, our hopes of helping are even less, while our present Ministers remain in power. There is a deadly parallel in the time-table of events in Suez and the timetable of events in Eastern Europe. While the Government were telling the Tory Party conference that force was not excluded, while our troops, ships and aircraft were assembling in Malta and Cyprus, the forces of liberty were gathering strength in Poland.
Everyone remembers the sequence of events, Tito's support for Poland, demonstrations in every Iron Curtain country. By 19th October, the Kremlin had to face the prospect of using tanks to suppress armed revolution by nations numbering over 70 million, with the certain knowledge that such a war would have serious repercussions in the Russian Army, and among the Russian people, too. Faced by that dilemma, the Kremlin, like our Cabinet, was split. Molotov and Zhukov wanted to be tough, while Bulganin, Khrushchev and Mikoyan wanted to avoid the hideous consequences of war. On 19th October, they flew—a mixed team from both sides, with a lot of generals—to Warsaw. On 20th October the team flew back, leaving Gomulka triumphant, while Rokossovsky was relieved of his command.
That Polish victory brought immediate repercussions in Hungary. On 23rd October, there were massive demonstrations. The Russian Army fired. By the 24th, Budapest was in the hands of the rebels. Mr. Nagy became Prime Minister on 26th October, and he put forward a programme of 12 points, the chief of which was the withdrawal of Russian troops. On the 27th, the Kremlin admitted that Russian forces had been used. On the 28th, Britain, France and the United States summoned a meeting of the Security Council and, with the support of a majority of nine to one—Russia was alone—the Council indicted the Kremlin for violently repressing the Hungarians by force of arms. The United Nations had begun to mobilise world opinion in support of freedom.
Note what followed. Mikoyan flew to Budapest. On 30th October, Budapest Radio announced that Russian forces had 1461 started to withdraw. Mr. Nagy announced that there would be free elections and that he wasnegotiating for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Soviet troops.On that day—30th October—Moscow Radio made what might have been a declaration of momentous historical importance. This is the report of the declaration given by The Times:The Soviet Government last night declared its readiness to discuss with satellite countries the question of troops stationed in their territories…The statement referred to the' countries of the great "commonwealth" of Socialist nations' which, it said, could build their relations on the' principle of full equality, respect of territorial integrity, state independence and sovereignty, and non-interference in the domestice affairs of one another'…The statement admitted' downright mistakes' in relations between these States and spoke of' violations and mistakes which infringed the principles of equality in relations between Socialist States.' The Government said it considered it urgent now to examine, with other Socialist States, the question whether a further stay of Soviet advisers in the military and economic field was expedient.Does the House grasp what that meant? The statement admitted "mistakes" and spoke of the violations of "the principle of equality." It said twice over that the Kremlin was prepared to discuss the withdrawal of all Soviet troops and military advisers from all the satellite States. It spoke twice over of the "Commonwealth" of Socialist States—the first time that word had ever been used.
Were those empty Communist phrases, intended only to deceive? Let us remember the grim alternative that faced the Kremlin then. Let us remember the division in its ranks; the fact that the Hungarian Army and some Russian soldiers had helped the rebels. Let us remember the triumph of Gomulka. Surely there was at least a chance that, on the fateful day of 30th October, the Moscow Radio declaration might have marked a decisive crossroads in the history of men.
Let us suppose that on that day Britain had said that she understood that changes were happening in Eastern Europe; that the defence system on which Russia had relied for air bases, to give her air defence in depth against nuclear bombers, was crumbling, and that, understanding that, and desiring to give Russia the same security we wanted for ourselves, we, in Britain, would propose a new system of collective security for Europe as a whole—a new arrangement under the United 1462 Nations—and would take up again the question of armament reduction, on the basis of the proposals which we had been urging until 18 months ago, and which the Soviet Government, in great part, had since then agreed to.
Let us suppose that we had said that on 30th October. Might it have helped the then victorious Hungarians? Might it have offered the Kremlin a safe and dignified retreat? Might it have been the first step towards genuine co-existence and a peaceful, ordered world? Alas, on 30th October the Suez Group—and the Cabinet were then among its members—were thinking of other things. Their minds were not on Hungarian freedom—on the vast momentous transformation in the post-war world which we might hope to see. They were devoured by another passion—to drive out Nasser and seize the Suez Canal. So little did they care for Hungarian freedom—
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that there was a great similarity between the the action the Russians took in Hungary and the action the Russians took in Eastern Germany, where they went forward, and then withdrew, only to go forward again and with much greater severity?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman, but I think he has forgotten the events that have happened in Eastern Europe since 1st October. I agree that there was too much similarity between what happened in Hungary and what happened in Egypt.
§ Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)
I had hoped that we had finished with the attempt to relate the events in Hungary and the events in Egypt, but, since the right hon. Gentleman sees a connection between them, would he give us the candid opinion of those of his hon. Friends who attended the celebrations at the Russian Embassy while the Russians were attacking Hungary?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I repeat, so little did hon. and right hon. Members opposite care for Hungarian freedom—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that on 30th October, the very day when Moscow Radio spoke of a new commonwealth of equal and independent socialist nations, they launched their squalid and immoral ultimatum.
§ Mr. Grant-Ferris (Nantwich)
The right hon. Gentleman has made a most bitterly wounding accusation against this side of the House. I was accused of doing something of a similar character earlier in this series of debates. I had the decency to withdraw that remark of mine. Will the right hon. Gentleman withdraw—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that remark of his?
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I should like to confirm what my right hon. Friend says. I was in Eastern Europe at the end of October and the beginning of November, and spoke with leaders of Poland and Yugoslavia, and I can fully endorse that their view also is that our attack on Egypt turned the scale in Moscow; and that is also the view, according to the New York Herald Tribune, of the United States Administration.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
On 28th October the Government had summoned a meeting of the Security Council, on a Sunday, to denounce and to try to check the Russian aggression in Budapest. On 30th October they cast a veto to protect their own aggression. Suppose we had accepted on that day the Council's summons, dropped our ultimatum, bowed to the world authority of the United Nations. Would there not have been a chance that the Russians would have done the same? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members have followed what I have read from Moscow they will see they were very near it.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Alas, we cast our veto, and the next day, while Russian troops had started to withdraw from Hungary, our Government ordered the Royal Air Force to drop its bombs. Was it surprising that Molotov began at once to stage a comeback, that two days later new Russian tank divisions entered Hun gary, and that on 4th November—
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that in my last speech to the 1464 House on this matter I gave the intelligence that there was in our possession, that those Russian tanks entered Hungary at least by 23rd October? That is our official information.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker rose—
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) ought to be ashamed of himself.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
British Intelligence has reported a number of strange things in recent months. The Press of the world, who were on the spot, are unanimous that new tank divisions entered Hungary on 4th November.
Just to help the Russians to defy the Assembly's urgent summons to come out, our Government made those senseless landings at Port Said, in equal defiance with the Russians of the Assembly, and after the fighting in Egypt between Egypt and Israel had ceased. After that the die was cast. Molotov was promoted to a position of great personal power. The Red Army started reconquest, and the deportations and the nameless crimes it has committed ever since.
All Europe echoed what a Hungarian said to a British correspondent in Budapest, "Suez spoilt your chance of being our champion." The Prime Minister of Ceylon, fresh from his talk with President Eisenhower, was asked by a reporter whether he thought that there was a connection between the events in Hungary and in Egypt. "I do not think so," he said. "I know there is."
I am well aware of the Government answer, that we had to send our ultimatum, that we had to bomb, that we had to make our landings, to stop the Israeli war. The Foreign Secretary and the Minister of Defence both said that at great length in their speeches yesterday. They will forgive me if I say that there was not much else in their speeches that was fit for print.
I will make a double answer to the argument. The first and greatest weapon of the United Nations is world opinion. It stopped the Government's offensive at El Cap. It is bringing home our forces from Port Said. If we had not cast our veto on 30th October, if we had backed 1465 the Council, would Israel, with the world against her, have persisted in her reckless plan?
The United Nations have other weapons, all set out in the Charter in due order and progression: diplomatic sanctions, the severance of communications, financial sanctions, economic sanctions, and finally the use of force to check aggression.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman one question, so that we may be clear about this. Would he advocate the use of those sanctions, including the military sanction, against the Soviet in Hungary?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker rose—
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Of course I am going to answer. It was not possible for our delegate to propose any of them while our hands were red with Egyptian blood, but when our troops are out of Egypt I hope and I believe that the United Nations will propose all the action against Russia that they have so far taken against us. For my part, I would be ready to go a good deal further, provided that our Government were genuinely set on a United Nations course.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South) rose—
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I have given way a good deal. I do not want to detain the House.
Does any hon. Member seriously believe that Israel would have defied a warning by Britain, France and the United States that we would apply against her a financial sanction, if she went on? Suppose she did. What could the United Nations have done? The Prime Minister said. on 1st November, that there was one lesson from the events of the 1930s:… that we best avoid great wars by taking even physical action to stop small ones".He went on:Everybody knows that the United Nations is not in a position to do that. We and the French have the forces available. We must face the fact the United Nations is not yet the international equivalent of our own legal system and the rule of law."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1956; Vol. 558, c, 1652.]That was a most extraordinary statement from one of the authors of the Charter. 1466 Let the House consider the juxtaposition of the two key sentences—Everybody knows that the United Nations is not in a position to do that.that is, to take physical action, andWe and the French have the forces available.The United Nations, poor, frail, stumbling ghost, is nothing to do with us; we watch it from afar; we lament or we rejoice in its failures, according to what kind of grouper we may be; we have no interest, no duty, no obligation in the matter; we are cynical spectators of a tragic farce played out by Sir Pierson Dixon in New York.
But suppose the Government had said to President Eisenhower, when he summoned them to talk about the Tripartite Declaration on 28th October, "Of course, we will abide by the Tripartite Declaration. Let us go to the Security Council together. We will say there, 'We and the French have the forces available. The United States has ships of the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. They will all be used to back the Charter against any nation, Israel, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, that starts a war."
That was the Tripartite Declaration. It was our Charter duty. It is what another British Government did in Korea six years ago, and their action saved the free democracies of Asia from a hideous fate. Of course, if we had done that, the war would never have started. We could have saved the Canal, protected British citizens, prepared the way for a genuine settlement, without the loss of a single British, French, Egyptian or Israeli life and then, in far better conditions, we could have urged the creation of a United Nations international force. I beg the Government to drop the silly legend that they proposed the international force.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
On the question whether the Government ever proposed an international force, I refer the right hon. Gentleman to the statement which the Foreign Secretary made in the House on 19th March, in which he said that he had been trying to get an extension of the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation. He was interrupted by the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), who asked himNot to investigate aggression afterwards but to operate before aggression?1467 And my right hon. and learned Friend replied:
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I do not remember any senior British Minister going to New York and making any such proposal. Let the Government drop this foolish legend, which earns us only ridicule and contempt. The facts are all in HANSARD. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, hon. Members should listen and wait for it.
In January last the Labour Party proposed an international force for the Middle East. On 31st October, from this Dispatch Box, I begged the Government to propose the next day that a United Nations international force should be set up, composed of contingents from nations without a permanent seat on the Council. My proposal was received with shouts of laughter and derision—and Ministers joined in. It is all in HANSARD.
On 1st November, the Prime Minister said this, and I ask hon. Members whether this is the way to make a great international proposal:The first and urgent task is to separate these combatants and to stabilise the position.…If the United Nations were then willing to take over the physical task of maintaining peace in that area. no one would be better pleased than we."'—[OFFICIAI REPORT, 1st November, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 1653.]How did hon. Members opposite understand the Prime Minister when he said that? "British and French forces must first finish the job, occupy the Canal, break Egyptian resistance, and, if the United Nations will then take over, good—but what a hope." That is the true interpretation of the Prime Minister's sentence.
On 3rd November, Mr. Pearson, of Canada, made a genuine proposal in the Assembly for an international force, and the British delegate did not vote for it. On 5th November, before we decided to accept the demands of the United Nations that our forces should come out, the Foreign Secretary, in the House, poured cold water on the whole idea and said that it meant recruiting a few officers, although by then eight Governments had offered contingents to the force.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
I made the position quite clear then, that that first 1468 Canadian Resolution only involved the recruitment of a few officers. I made it quite clear that in our view that was inadequate. That is why we abstained, and on 7th November, when the substantive Resolution was put forward, we voted for it.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The Resolution proposed the creation of an international staff, but so much was it a proposal to have an international force that eight Governments had already promised to send their troops. It is not by repeating such ludicrous and empty legends that we can regain our standing in the United Nations. We must do other things.
We can give honest, genuine support to the building of a permanent United Nations Force. We can offer it a base in Cyprus. We can ask the Assembly of the United Nations to help us over self-determination for the Cypriot people. We can give larger help to United Nations economic action in the Middle East. We can send senior Ministers—it would be quite an important reform—instead of Foreign Office clerks to speak for Britain in all United Nations work.
Above all—and this is vital to the Commonwealth, vital to the United States, vital to Hungary, where the struggle is not finished and where the United Nations may still play a decisive part—we can give a binding pledge that we accept the Charter as law, that we shall never again use armed force without the authority of the United Nations, except and only for self-defence against armed attack under Article 51.
This is the only realistic programme for Britain today. Events have proved that the Charter, and the support of the nations for the Charter, are the greatest single fact in world affairs. The whole House hopes that some day, somehow, Britain may regain the greatness that once was ours. Some people hope to do it in terms of guided missiles and nuclear bombs. In those terms, we can never rise above the second rank. But if we found our action on the Charter, if we strive with all our power to uphold its law, if we bring the traditions of our democratic system, of our Civil Service, of our law courts and of our Parliament, to the conduct of international affairs, if, in this new world of aircraft and electronics and nuclear power, we pool the genius of British scientists, British medical 1469 research and British engineers for the common welfare of mankind, then, once more, we shall speak in the name of 600 million people from all the continents, and, with their trust and confidence, we shall be again the greatest of the leaders of mankind.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
This debate has gone on for so many days inside and outside the House—this matter has been debated day after day—that I think, we all find it somewhat difficult to add anything new to say. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] For my part, I feel that the House and the country are beginning to weary of this reiteration of argument and recrimination. [HON. MEMBERS: "Then resign."] At any rate, perhaps hon. Members will forgive me if I speak a little about the future as well as about the past.
I shall not shirk the points of the past, but I hope that I may be forgiven if I say something about the future, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) did. I think that it was Lord Lothian who said that all the great crises of history are, in reality, opportunities for a great advance. I would like to make some remarks on that theme a little later.
Meanwhile, I must reply to some of the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South. We all know, and recognise, his sincerity and his long association with the development of international institutions. I am grateful for the words that he said about the Prime Minister, which I am sure he meant and used sincerely.
There were certain of the right hon. Gentleman's arguments with which I found myself broadly in agreement. I agree with him about the necessity for close association between Britain and the Commonwealth and Western Europe and the United States, and I also agree with him about the importance of maintaining consultation and close co-operation with the Commonwealth. But I think that the right hon. Gentleman rather oversimplified this problem of consultation, especially in moments of urgent crisis. It was when he got into the history that he began to give what I am sure, on reflection, he will think was a somewhat biassed and even sometimes disingenuous 1470 story. I cannot accept at all his account of the connection between the affairs of Eastern Europe and the crisis in the Middle East.
On the point of consultation, I would, in passing, observe that what he would have the British Government do was suddenly to propose to Russia the complete abolition of all our system of organised defence without, apparently, consultation with India or with the Commonwealth or with the United States, which does not seem to be altogether in harmony with his views. When it comes to the question of date, I think that the short answer to his attack is this. Twenty-four hours before the Anglo-French ultimatum, Mr. Shepilov, the Russian Foreign Secretary, said:Russian troops will not be withdrawn from Hungary until the rebels have surrendered.That was 24 hours before the ultimatum, and that I got from the most admirable of all reports, the Daily Herald.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) seemed to me somewhat to over-simplify the problem with which the Government found themselves confronted. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale, in a very subtle and ingenious argument, accused the Government of shifting their ground. Sometimes, he said, it was the danger of the war in the Middle East; sometimes it was the Canal; sometimes it was the Russian intervention. But surely he must see that all these questions, although separate, are interlocked. [Laughter.] Of course they are. Of course we knew that to take action by ourselves would involve great risks. The point which the House has to settle, the country has to settle, and, eventually, history has to settle, is whether greater risks would have followed our inaction. Whatever hon. Members in all parts of the House may feel about this, they must realise that our action has done what Governments for years had failed to do.
There is now the opportunity of a great advance following a major crisis, it is now possible that the United States and the United Nations -particularly the United States—have begun to realise what the Middle East problem really means and the dangers involved not only to our country, but to the whole world. I say, 1471 therefore—and I say it sincerely; with the same sincerity with which I recognise the right hon. Gentleman spoke—that I believe that after the lancing of this wound and the draining of the poison the period of healing may well begin. At any rate, I do not see how we can gain very much after today—we have to have our debate through—by exacerbating the divisions between us at home.
I feel that that has been in the minds of some hon. Members opposite. I think that it will not have escaped the notice of the House that the terms of the Opposition Amendment to our Motion are rather milder than might have been expected in what amounts to a Motion of censure. Indeed, except for the first part, those sentiments might have been generally acceptable. I do not know how to account for this change. Perhaps it is a matter of personalities. I think that it is the rather more statesmanlike and philosophical approach of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale instead of the pure hysteria of the Leader of the Opposition. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]
It was my duty to make a statement to the House last Tuesday about the effect of the last four months on the British economy. These are the facts. Our difficulties are serious—[An HON. MEMBER: "Who made them?"]—but I am absolutely convinced that by the united efforts of all our people we shall be able to regain the ground that we have lost in the reserves —[HON. MEMBERS: "When?"]—and make good the injury to the balance of payments which must, to some extent, reflect the interruption of the Canal and the blockage of oil through the pipelines.
But, admitting that these results are serious—and I do not disguise that—what would have been the results had we not intervened? What would have happened had widespread war broken out throughout the Middle East, gradually bringing perhaps complete stoppage to the whole of the oil from the Middle East and even from the Gulf? Why, then there would have been an injury to our economy which no efforts would have enabled it to survive.
1472 I am speaking of a broad war in that area, not a global war. For global war would mean the end of us all. We need not worry about the economy after a global war. I am speaking of a long, bitterly contested and widespread war in that area, on the maintenance of which so much depends for us and the peoples of Europe. We must always have this in mind if we are to judge fairly all the temporary burdens which we may have to carry during this emergency. Let us compare them with what would have been the staggering burdens which might have followed from our inaction.
In the very brilliant speech which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale made, in a Parliamentary style which is all his own and worthy of the best of all predecessors, he made one curious lapse. [An HON. MEMBER: "Give him a gold medal."] I would not mind seeing the right hon. Gentleman over here one day—[HON. MEMBERS: "You will."]—but not with that lot opposite. In the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman made one curious lapse. He cited a passage about the Chamberlain Administration from the well-known volume of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), "The Second World War ". I should have thought that there was hardly any quotation less appropriate to his argument.
Indeed, it is a strange paradox that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, with whom I remember being in general agreement at the time of Munich, and other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, blamed the Government of the day—for what? For not acting, for choosing to follow the letter and not the spirit of their obligations. I think the phrase of the day was that had they "stood up to Hitler" in 1936, in 1937, in 1938—[An HON. MEMBER: "Be careful."] Yes, but let hon. Members opposite be careful, too. Had they done so, they would have been in clear breach of the Kellogg Pact, of the Locarno Treaty, of the League of Nations obligations, and all the rest. Yet, because they did not break those obligations, they were pilloried for twenty years as "guilty men".
w the accusation is that this Government have taken action. It is significant, 1473 at any rate, that the right hon. Member for Woodford, whose historical writings the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale called in aid, has shown himself a staunch supporter of the decision which the Government took.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred to me. I ask him what was it that we were in agreement about in 1936 and 1937? [An HON. MEMBER: "It was not war."] Were we not in agreement in favour of action to uphold the Covenant against aggressors, and are not the Government guilty of aggression against the Charter?
§ Mr. Macmillan
No, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that. If France and England had taken action in 1936 at the time of the march into the Rhine, we would have been in breach of all the three covenants I have talked about. If we had taken action at the time of the Anschluss we would have been in breach of the Kellogg Pact, the Locarno Pact, and the League of Nations obligations. If France and England had acted at the time of Munich they would have been equally in breach.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
If they had tried to declare a war as this Government declared war on Egypt they might have been in breach of obligations, but if they had gone to the League, and got its consent, everybody who understands anything of history knows that we could have got the whole world against the aggressors then.
§ Mr. Macmillan
The right hon. Gentleman has now changed his ground again. I am saying that we were then accused of appeasement for not breaking the letter of our obligations, and now we are being accused of having kept what I call the spirit of our duty. Having said all this, I will now turn for a few moments to one or two other points, mainly concerning the future. Before I do so, however, there is one announcement I want to make.
The Government have given further consideration, in consultation with the Anglo-Egyptian Aid Society and other voluntary organisations, to the question of affording assistance to the British subjects who come to this country as refugees from Egypt. The Government have decided to make an immediate grant of £100,000 to the Society to enable it to 1474 give prompt relief to those in need. It is understood that in addition the Society proposes to make a public appeal for funds, and the Society, as trustees of any funds so subscribed, will use them in such manner as it thinks fit for the benefit of those concerned.
Now, Sir, for the future. First, our own problems. I am persuaded that, though serious, they are and will be temporary, and the bigger the effort we are asked to make now, the shorter it will be. As I told the House on Tuesday, our fundamental trading position is sound, in spite of the inevitable dislocations, including those which may result from the shortage of oil. I believe that the basic industrial picture will remain unchanged. We must strive to keep our exports up and I believe that the trade gap will be manageable.
There is, of course, the problem of paying dollars for oil, but, whether we pay in cash or whether we borrow, the problem will not be permanent. And as the Canal is cleared and the pipelines, as we hope, are reopened, it will begin to take manageable form. But I say that we must set about these efforts in a spirit of determination, and I think it will make it easier for our people if they are persuaded, as we are persuaded, that this effort has been worth while to save them from greater troubles.
Nevertheless, there is one lesson that I think that we should learn and apply. Looking to the future, and trusting in the skill of our scientists and engineers, we may reasonably hope for a significant speeding up in the programme of nuclear energy development, something faster than anything which we were able to contemplate in the White Paper of 1955. As for the position of sterling and the sterling area, I am sure that the firm determination of both sides of the House will impress the world. I was grateful to the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) for the lead which he gave from his side of the House on Tuesday.
I should like to say a few words about the general problems of the Middle East. This is an area of great potential wealth, but, of course, it has been much handicapped by the unequal distribution of wealth as between the producing countries, the transit countries and the countries which have not benefited at all from 1475 these wonderful discoveries. The area has been equally handicapped by mutual hostility and political uncertainty. Some countries have managed better than others. For example, Iraq is already greatly benefiting from the wise development policy which it has followed, largely with the advice of distinguished British economists and technicians.
In many other countries, political troubles and fears have prevented development. For instance, the Anglo-American offer to Egypt on the High Aswan Dam, made in conjunction with the International Bank, was a sincere offer made in the expectation that it would bring happiness and prosperity to an impoverished people, but, of course, it was made on the assumption that the Egyptians would themselves conserve their resources to assist this project.
I remember very well—I was, as Foreign Secretary, in New York at the time—that, while all this was going on, there came the shock of the news that the Egyptian Government had suddenly mortgaged their resources in order to get great supplies of arms from Soviet Russia. Quite apart from the confidence factor, all this disturbed and practically wrecked any chance of real economic development.
Then there was the scheme for the Jordan waters. That foundered on political divisions and animosities. Those are only examples of the sort of difficulties—they were referred to by the righ hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) in a speech which, I think, much impressed the House; I did not agree with the beginning and the end of it, but the middle was very good—which have left the Middle East far behind other areas of the world in respect of economic co-operation.
In Europe, we have the O.E.E.C. In South-East Asia, as a result of a Commonwealth initiative, we have the Colombo Plan. In America, there is the Organisation of American States. In all these areas there are various agencies operating. However, in the Middle East, in all these years, there has really been no development of that kind. The Bagdad Pact was the first effort. I remember well, for I attended its first meeting, that the economic activities were regarded by all of us, by all the countries concerned, as almost equal to, if not of 1476 greater importance than, the military side of the Pact. I am certain that the strengthening of the Bagdad Pact in all directions will emerge from this crisis.
Broadly, from this area, as a result—
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
May I interrupt the right hon. Gentleman before he leaves that point? He is making a very important statement about the future in the Middle East. Does he suggest that the economic development of the Middle East must now be almost entirely canalised from the West through the medium of an alliance of that sort, or through an agency of the United Nations?
§ Mr. Macmillan
By a mutual and cooperative effort between the great resources which are at the disposal of those countries, and the bringing of help also from the West.
§ Mr. Bevan
Will the right hon. Gentleman please forgive me if I ask for a more precise answer, because what he has now said is that he looks towards the strengthening of the Bagdad Pact, especially on the economic side, as one of the ways of developing the economic position in the Middle East? As that might be regarded as a development, once more, of the cold war, would it not be better to create an agency of the United Nations for that purpose?
§ Mr. Macmillan
No, Sir. I was encouraged to see that the President of the United States and the Bagdad Pact Powers themselves laid great stress upon the importance of the economic side of the work. I am not saying that that covers the whole Middle East and that there are not other agencies which could operate in other areas, but I was giving that as an example of something which the people there could try to do for themselves with ourselves and the United States helping them.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the suspicions and difficulties have made it very hard in recent years to bring about even sensible and beneficial schemes with which everybody agrees. I can only hope that the resumption of a new responsibility by the United Nations and, above all, by the United States, which has such power, will give a fresh initiative in the economic field and that the same sort of co-operation will be developed as has taken place in other areas. I believe that this is a 1477 challenge to American and British statesmanship.
There is a third reflection that I would venture to put to the House. A series of groups seems to have emerged in the United Nations. Such groups have, of course, existed for a long time. There has been the Latin-American Group. There is the Afro-Asian group. [HON. MEMBERS: "There is also the Suez Group."] I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite would probably agree with me that, in a sense, such groups are inevitable, but they have their dangers as well as their advantages. However, I would say that the Commonwealth Group has always met and worked together through the United Nations.
I would ask another question: what about the countries of Europe? We have recently been discussing European co-operation in the field of trade, but I feel that in the years ahead the countries of Western Europe ought to work more closely together in the political field, both in the United Nations and in Europe itself, and that their policies should be brought more closely into harmony. Although it is more important to give a new impetus to co-operation in the field of trade, there is also a new reason for the development of European unity in its widest sense.
After all, the nations of the old world represent in knowledge, in skill, in power and in population no small part of the civilised world. While they may not be so great as either of the two Colossi, Russia and America, they can together make their influence felt. I believe also that our partnership with the United States will be more effective and more fruitful if Europe works more as a team and is more united.
We have to vote tonight upon—
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I believe the right hon. Gentleman will find a great deal of support for that statement, but would he tell us precisely what he means to do about it?
§ Mr. Macmillan
Yes, Sir; work and act towards that end during the two or three years that the Government will remain in power. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite must not take jokes too literally.
We have to vote tonight upon a Motion of censure on the one hand and of confidence, upon the other. Naturally, as in 1478 all these great debates, some violent and perhaps wounding observations are thrown from one side of the House to the other. However, I honestly feel—I believe it to be the mood and temper of the House and the country—that we are anxious to start upon a new phase of reconstruction rather than of recrimination.
Nothing, of course—I frankly admit it—will persuade hon. Members opposite that the Government did not act imprudently, if not wickedly; nothing will ever persuade us that our action was not both justified and timely. When the debate is over, no doubt history will eventually decide this issue. Whether our action was right or wrong, the future will decide. I believe that we shall do best to concentrate on securing that it should at least be fruitful.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Miss Elaine Burton (Coventry, South)
This is the first time that I have ventured to speak in a foreign affairs debate. While I am very glad to have caught your eye at this time, Mr. Speaker, it is rather a nerve-racking one for the first effort. I shall not detain the House long, and I do not propose to set myself up as an authority on this matter. I have just returned from a month in the Far East. When I returned to this country, I was amazed in the first place to read the various Gallup polls which had appeared in the Press and which seemed to indicate a large measure of support for the Government's action, and in the second place at the appalling ignorance of many people in this country in their failure to grasp what the world in general really thought of the Government's action.
Listening to the Foreign Secretary's statement on Monday, I thought that it was the job of every hon. Member, whether on the back benches or Front Benches, to try to put the issue before the country, because it seemed to me that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was setting up in rivalry to Enid Blyton in the writing of fairy stories for children at Christmas time. I cannot conceive how anybody listening to the Foreign Secretary on Monday could have thought that on Tuesday we should have had a statement from the Chancellor which was as grave as it was.
I arrived in Pakistan on 31st October, having gone out then because the time 1479 prior to the Queen's Speech is usually quiet and I erroneously thought that that would be the case this year. In the short time I was in Pakistan everybody wanted to know about the British action in Suez. Without arguing about the rights and wrongs of that matter, I want merely to put one or two facts. The first is that while the Pakistani people in general condemned us for what we had done, the British people to whom I talked, and whom I have no reason to think were on my side politically, said that never had British prestige in Pakistan sunk to so low an ebb. I am voicing, not my opinion about the action, but what was said to me. Some of my colleagues there at the time and later will remember the very serious public disturbances in Karachi around that time.
In India, the one question which everybody wanted to ask was framed in rather a different way from the way in which it had been framed in Pakistan. While I felt that the comments in Pakistan were based on a very strong condemnatory and critical attitude, in India—and I am speaking of the ordinary people of India—the feeling was one of wonderment. I was asked why Britain above all others had done this. That really was the great difference in the attitude. It was the more difficult question to answer, because here was regret and astonishment, based on good will for this country. The people there were our friends and could not make out why Britain had both flouted the United Nations and antagonised Asian opinion.
I have returned as an ordinary back bencher with no very great pretensions to a knowledge of foreign affairs or of the Far East, but I honestly believe that it will take us years to regain the moral stature which we have lost in the Far East and in all Asia because of this action. During that month—we were a Parliamentary Delegation and we had the opportunity of meeting delegations from other countries—it seemed to me that the Government had both thrown away our moral standing in the East and had made any reference to the United Nations purely derisory. It was very difficult for any Member of this House, in a conference overseas, to discuss the United Nations when throughout the feeling was that we had belittled the 1480 authority of the United Nations by our action.
The attitude was, "If you think that you have the right to take actions without the authority of the United Nations, why should you condemn others?" There was no doubt that we had strained the good will of the Commonwealth as never before. It was also apparent, even at that stage and at that long distance, that the Anglo-American alliance had been very gravely shaken. That would be bad enough if it were admitted. During the last three days the Press has been saying that we are all in this together and must unite to get out of our troubles.
I do not see how we can get out of what the Foreign Secretary calls a great success. I should have thought that a prerequisite to getting out of trouble and uniting together was an admission by the Government that their policy was in ruins. The condemnation of the Government today is that they claim that the policy has been a success. That is a statement which makes the Government look not only foolish but untrustworthy as well.
Opinion in the country today is changing. From what I have been told—and it seems to me very strange—a great many people—I would go so far as to say the majority—until ten days ago supported the Government's action. The Gallup polls indicate that. They had been completely misled by the statements of the Government and did not know the price that was to be paid.
It is alarming on top of that that hon. Members opposite, in their frenzy to find a scapegoat, seized on America. That has been regretted in all parts of the House. Whether we were right or wrong in what we did, there is no doubt that the result to British policy and British prestige in the whole world has been disastrous. That is a fact. That hon. Members opposite think that the position can be improved by screaming at America is incredible. Perhaps we can begin to do something constructive—I do not know what is amusing the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke).
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I was smiling sonly because the hon. Lady asked why something was so when it was not so. I have never believed that any of our problems would be solved by screaming at 1481 America. The best motto that the country as a whole and this House can adopt is that of Nurse Cavell, which is commemorated on her statue:Patriotism is not enough: I must have no bitterness or hatred in my heart.
§ Miss Burton
The hon. and gallant Member flatters himself. I was addressing myself not to him, but to the hundred or so Members opposite who have signed a Motion condemning America.
[That this House congratulates the Foreign Secretary on his efforts to secure international control of the Suez Canal. and deplores both the Resolution of the General Assembly calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British and French troops from Egypt, and the attitude of the United States of America which is gravely endangering the Atlantic alliance.]
If the hon. and gallant Member was not one of those hon. Members, he was wrong in taking my remarks as applying to himself.
It seems to be the general opinion now that we can do something constructive within the United Nations instead of outside it. On Tuesday the Chancellor gave an inkling of the economic reckoning to come. How do the Government feel that these burdens are to be shared? It has always been the jibe of the party opposite that the Opposition believes in sharing misery. There is a mighty lot of misery at the moment, and my constituency, I believe, has had an unfair share. I want to raise this topic, which I had thought Chancellor would raise this afternoon.
The Chancellor said on Tuesday, when speaking of the rise in the cost of petrol and other motor spirit, that the effect upon the cost of living was calculated to be less than one-third of one point. I am sorry that the Chancellor is not in his place, but I should be glad if we could have an answer to this question at the end of the debate. I assume that that remark is an isolated statistical calculation based upon the rise in the price of petrol and other spirits. Does the Chancellor stand by that statement, in view of all the rises which are consequential upon that rise in the price of petrol?
I brought with me yesterday, as I suspect other hon. Members probably 1482 brought, a copy of the front page of the News Chronicle, which states in its headlines:That 1s, 5d. on petrol brings these forecasts:Food, Fares, Houses up.Higher prices all round. Dearer transport will hit every family.I would like the Government's honest opinion of whether they feel that all these rises put together will be less than one-third of one point in the cost of living. That is an important question to the people of this country.
In his speech this afternoon, the Chancellor said that he felt our economic position and the trials that we should have to bear would be serious, though temporary. In my constituency, it is felt that within the next two weeks, as a result of the Government's action in the Middle East, nearly 20,000 car workers will be on short time in Coventry alone. That is our fear, and I do not think it is an unfounded one.
Up to the time of the Government's credit squeeze and other restrictions at the end of last year, the car industry was booming and record production levels were being established. Tribute has been been paid this afternoon to the export trade, to which motor vehicles have contributed as much as anything else. As a result of the Government's action with the credit squeeze, short-time working was introduced in many Coventry factories during the early part of this year, and we had substantial redundancies in the middle of the year.
My colleagues and I in Coventry little thought that this summer, in the great prosperity achieved under this Government, we should have to go there week after week to address meetings of the unemployed and even to lead a march of unemployed through the city. Since June, well over 6,000 car workers have been discharged after most of the works had been placed on a three or four-day working week.
The point that I am coming to now is directly attributable to the Middle East action by the Government. After the Motor Show in October, there was a slight improvement in the position in Coventry. We began to get back to a five-day working week, with, of course, a reduced labour force. Immediately petrol rationing was announced—and I 1483 think that the Government would agree that we have got petrol rationing as a result of their "success" in the Middle East—we had a serious deterioration in the position of the workers in Coventry. There were cancellations of car orders on a large scale.
Firms have had to readjust their production programmes, and I should like to state these points—they are facts and not matters of opinion—concerning firms in my constituency. Humber Limited, which had returned to working a five-day week after the Motor Show, has now gone on to a three-day working week since petrol rationing was announced. Short time working is being experienced at Morris Motors, Jaguar, Armstrong-Siddeley and in some sections of Standard Motors. Discussions on redundancy are now taking place at Humber's, and we expect that after Christmas further firms will be talking in that way.
We from Coventry want to ask whether it is expected that Coventry shall bear the brunt of the policies of the Government. It has already borne a very unfair share of those policies during the early part of the year. We should like to know whether the Government have any steps in mind to protect an industry which has been so vitally hit both by petrol rationing and by the shortage of oil which the Government have brought about. While I certainly agree that we should all now pull together to try to get the country out of this mess, the first prerequisite is that the Government should admit that it is in a mess and ask for the co-operation of us all.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
The House, which has now debated this matter over many days, is obviously beginning to draw towards a conclusion. It is clear that the main lines have been taken up on either side and I think that the great debate which we have heard is now more or less at an end and that it is time, as was said even by the hon. Lady the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), that we should begin to turn our attention to the new developments towards which we must all bend our attention if we are to deal with the situation in which we are.
1484 I do not think anyone would deny that the very argument that the hon. Lady has addressed to the House was an indication of the danger on which so much of the economy of the country is based. The motor industry of which she spoke was based entirely upon these fragile foundations of the transmission of oil through pipelines through potentially hostile countries, countries which stated without any reservation that they were bent on a war of extermination against a country which we had undertaken to defend. One of the main transit lines of our oil ran through a Canal which had been openly seized by a dictator who has been characterised in the most uncompromising terms by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the Leader of the Opposition himself.
The great development in our country of road transport of one kind or another is based on a very insecure foundation, one which in a short period was almost bound to come upon some heavy shock. My only complaint against the Government is that we did not take earlier steps to handle the problem of this enormous fuel dependence upon the oil wells and upon the oil transit lines of the Middle East.
This is not the first time I have mentioned it. I have spoken on this point more than once. I think it is a great pity that we should be dependent for giant tankers on Greek ships registered outwith the maritime register of this country and that the development of such things as our indigenous oil production, and, indeed, our atomic energy programme, should not have been more vigorously pursued. These are matters which, as I have said, would in any case have come to the fore before very long. What we are dealing with now is a situation which was always latent and has now become open and clear for us all to see.
The action which the Government took was, as the hon. Lady said, greatly to her surprise, welcomed by, she said, a majority of the people of the country. That is an interesting point. It is well worth noting that although the hon. Lady said that the action was universally condemned outside this country, she cannot have had any experience of,' say, European gatherings, where the support for the action of Her Majesty's Government and of the French Government was 1485 much more vocal and vivid than in this country and where the division of opinion against it was much less.
Today world opinion is swinging towards this country and not away from it. The opinion of some of our most vehsment critics is actually coming round to the exact position which has been put by Government spokesmen from the Front Bench.
It is a very odd thing indeed that the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), in what I must say was a very bitter speech indeed, bent all his attention on the position as it had been, and paid none of his attention whatever to the action, the recent action, of the Government, and the world situation developing out of that. How different it would have been if, instead of this and dissection of the past, the right hon. Gentleman had devoted more of his great talent to the position as it now emerges. After all, it is important also to know when world opinion is with one as when it is against one.
I will say no word quoted from our own country because that might be regarded as suspect; that might be regarded as Government propaganda. Let me quote from American papers not in the past our strongest champions. Take the current edition of the New York Herald. In a single paragraph it dismisses the whole speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South. What does it say?What a strong position such a course of self-denial now gives the British and French in the world situation of today! They have shown good judgment in yielding to the pressures of moral force. They have imposed no conditions on their withdrawal of their troops from Egypt. They have put it up to the United Nations in general, and the United States in particular, to find some way of making dictator Nasser behave. They have, by example, challenged the Soviet Union to withdraw its armed forces from other countries where they are not wanted.That is a contemporary verdict of a paper in a country which is certainly not at present subject to any vehement acceptance of British propaganda. Why did not the right hon. Member for Derby, South pay any attention to developments such as that, which surely are of great importance when we are discussing the situation as it is now and not as it was in the past?
§ Mr. H. Hynd (Accrington)
Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is an editorial comment, or whether it was written by a contributor?
§ Mr. Elliot
The hon. Member is as well acquainted with the American papers as I am. He knows the position of the great commentators. This is one of the great commentators. He knows as well as l do that in the United States the position of a commentator is often stronger than the position of an editorial writer. I can tell him that there are many other quotations—
§ Mr. Elliot
It is David Lawrence in the New York Herald of 4th December. After all, I have nothing to conceal about the matter. I simply tore this out of a paper which we all get and do our best to work through—though I admit that sometimes it is a difficult task.
§ Mr. Elliot
I could certainly quote from Lippmann who has something stronger to say than that. I wonder whether the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) heard the comments of Lippmann quoted by Alistair Cooke on the B.B.C., and the quotations which he gave against Nasser are as strong as anything which has ever been said in this House.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
But surely the right hon. Gentleman would not say that it was a fair comment that Lippmann supported the conduct of Britain and France?
§ Mr. Elliot
Well, Lippmann, like many other American commentators, and unlike so many commentators in this House—particularly the right hon. Member for Derby, South—watches the situation as it develops, and he evaluates the situation as it is at the moment. That is what I wish to do in the few moments during which I shall detain the House, and not simply carry out a dissection of past events such as has been stated, not by me, but by members of the Socialist movement abroad, to be more for the purpose of an election pamphlet than an attempt to improve the situation in the Middle East.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to be unfair and that he would agree that hon. Members on this side of the House have always condemned the Government under all circumstances. Would he not charge his recollection that when the Prime Minister announced that he was going to do right, and cease fire, it was hon. Members on this side of the House who cheered him, and there was dead silence among hon. Members opposite?
§ Mr. Elliot
I have only to ask the right hon. Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) to look at the speech of his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South today to see whether there was a scintilla of recognition that the Government have taken action, as a world commentator said, in accordance with world opinion as expressed in the United Nations and elsewhere.
The position is a new position. The world has come to Sinai. We have an international force stationed at the peat cross-roads between Africa and Asia; the great land mass, the great interruption, between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. We have an entirely new position which none of us has evaluated, certainly not the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) whose speech yesterday we listened to with great interest. The right hon. Gentleman used that lighter touch which seemed to indicate that he did not take the apocalyptic view of the position taken by some right hon. and hon. Members opposite. But he said without any hesitation that the United Nations Force has nothing whatever to do with the settlement of the Canal, that it was in no way bound up with the new developments which were going to take place in the Middle East. And he said, among other things:The United Nations Force was in Egypt as a result of a Resolution of the United Nations for the purposes of the Charter. All along, the United States and all the other nations attached to the United Nations resolutely refused to allow the future of the Canal to be tied up with the existence of the Force.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary. 1488wanted to bring from across the Atlantic an undertaking which would have destroyed the United Nations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1956; Vol. 561, c. 1278.]Well, there is a great danger that East and West may find themselves at loggerheads over this. All American opinion does not share that view. I have obtained another quotation, this time—if it is of interest to hon. Members opposite—from the editorial columns of that great New York paper, the New York Times. Without any hesitation it says that the condition isthat the United Nations must not merely restore the status quo before the hostilities and leave the Middle East a powder keg for the Soviets to explode. Termination of the military operations must be followed by a permanent settlement of the great issues of the Middle East—Israel and the Suez Canal. Such a settlement is now the primary responsibility of the United Nations, and it is on the understanding, if not the condition, that the United Nations will tackle this task that the British and French withdrawals have been ordered. Certainly the United Nations police force, which is the one positive result of the recent events, must remain in the area until the settlement has been achieved, irrespective of Egypt's contrary claim.It is clear that, at any rate, some very representative opinion in America does not by any means share the views expressed by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. That is why I say that we are at the beginning and not at the end of very far-reaching changes. One cannot bring the whole world to the Sinai Peninsula and then talk as if it were the backyard of the present dictator of Egypt. It is not so. Already the Arab neighbours themselves are beginning to take in all this and wonder whether, in fact, recent developments have been so entirely to the benefit of Col. Nasser as he says and tried to make out in recent propaganda statements.
We cannot bring the world to such a cross-roads and then expect the nations to walk away as if nothing had happened. There is a danger here that confusion may arise from the view of the West that the United Nations Force is something and the view of the East, expressed by President Nehru, that it is nothing. There is strong danger of a misunderstanding arising here, and it will take all the skill we can employ, both in this House and outside, to resolve these great differences, if they are to be resolved, without further misunderstanding.
1489 It seems to me that to solve these difficulties we must work very closely together both with the European Powers and with the United States of America. I have said before in this House that blaming other people is not worthy of a great Power such as ourselves. We are responsible for what happens in this House. We must act, and we must take the praise or blame which results from our actions.
We should not attempt to escape responsibility, and we do not desire to escape responsibility. We wish to continue to work with our fellows on the other side of the great highway of the Atlantic, and we wish to work with them closely. I believe that we can work with them closely. An occasional expression of ill-will, an occasional flurry of a quarrel, is not a thing to deplore if it is not persisted in. If I may quote Latin in this house, ira amantium redintigratio amoris—the wrath of lovers is the making up of love. [Interruption.] I bow to Winchester on certain things, but not on the pronunciation of Latin.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I was not correcting the pronunciation. I was making a comment, but I will reserve it until a little later on.
§ Mr. Elliot
I wish now to make a point specially to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He mentioned that we were about to ask for a waiver of the interest on the loan from the United States. That loan was none of our making. The money was borrowed in the first place by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is a responsibility of this country and I do not think that at this time and under these circumstances we should go to the United States now and ask for a waiver of the current share of the interest on that loan. It seems to me that we might well lose more in the support of sterling than we should gain by way of relief.
But, over and above that, a new Congress is about to meet in the United States, a new Congress is coming into being in January. That the first approach that this new Congress should have from Britain as a spokesman of the Commonwealth, as a great partner in world affairs, should be that of a mendicant, seems to me unworthy of our country. I think that we should strain every nerve to ensure that this is not the first proposal 1490 that we bring before the United States Congress arising out of the present situation.
We have enormous resources. The Commonwealth has mighty resources. I thought that one of the poorest things in the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South was to quote some attack by one section of a party against another section of a party as if somehow it described the whole of the Conservative Party. To say even in quotation that the name Commonwealth was anathema to any section of the Conservative Party was unworthy of a speaker of his character on an occasion such as this.
When it came to the right hon. Gentleman attacking anyone of the name of Amery, attacking Leo Amery's son for not having sufficient love and affection and respect for the Commonwealth, it was an attack which seemed to me to rebound on the head of the one who made it. Leo Amery gave his life to the development of the Commonwealth. He was a man for whose sake, quite apart from the outstanding qualities of my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), anyone bearing that name should be treated with the greatest respect whenever the word Commonwealth is mentioned in this House or outside.
We are the youngest and in some ways the least developed of the great Powers. It was in Jacobean times that the Russians marched to the Pacific. The great developments of the Empire have taken place after the developments of the United States. The reason for much of the delay in the development of the Empire and Commonwealth is, in fact, the enormous resources that we in this country poured out in the development of the United States. It was on capital from this country and from Europe that the great industrial development of the United States took place; and still we lag behind in the development of our own resources. But we have those resources and we can develop them.
To go now to the United States for 130 million dollars of relief seems to me undignified and unworthy of the importance, the scope, and the scale, of the events with which we are confronted. We are at the beginning of a great reshuffle, a great redistribution of world influence, not all to the disadvantage of Europe or the European nations. When my right 1491 hon. Friend spoke of working closely with the European nations it was said, "Tell us how we will do it." There is one very obvious way in which it can be done, and that is in the development of Africa, by capital investment in the enormous and undeveloped territories of Africa, including the undeveloped territories of French Africa in which there are oil resources which might well be able to relieve us altogether from this halter round our neck which will remain as long as our oil has to come from the Middle East at the will and whim of possibly hostile countries.
Enormous developments will have to be carried out, and the only great shortage is the capital necessary to carry them out. I should like a survey to be made of the capital resources available to the Western countries to see the scale of priorities which we shall have to apply in the immediate future, if these great developments elsewhere are to be carried out. Next week we are to have before us the Ghana Bill, a Bill for the creation of the first African State, the first of the black Dominions, which represents the fruition of one hundred years of work. One of the great projects within this territory which they wish to see carried out is the Volta River dam. I want to see that carried out. It was under our aegis that this country grew up, and it looks to us for support. This is a task worthy of a new and developing State.
Only last week in the United Nations there were compliments from all over the world, from some of those who have been our bitter critics in the weeks before, because of the great achievement in Togo-land and the United Nations renunciation of their trusteeship there in favour of a State within the British Commonwealth. That area depends on economic as well as physical developments. If we squander these developments on our bitter enemies who do their best first to hit us in the teeth and then to confiscate the things we have made available at the cost of so much sweat and effort in this country, we deprive our own people in the Commonwealth of the opportunities for development for which they are crying out.
These are the tasks to which we have to bend ourselves. I am sure that this difficulty in which we are now is a difficulty which, given good will, and if we look to the future and not the past, we 1492 can easily overcome. But we shall not overcome it easily if we spend the whole of our time fighting between ourselves and trying to apportion blame for past events. The difficulties before us are great enough. Many people have quoted my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). It was he who said—and it is with this I leave the House—that if we spend too much time quarrelling over the past we might easily lose the whole of the future.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
The theme of both the speeches that we have heard from the Government Benches this afternoon has been that we must stop recriminating about the past and must look to the future. Both right hon. Gentlemen have been groping for a silver lining among the dark clouds. The Chancellor of the Exchequer even assured us, with his usual bonhomie, that all great crises are an opportunity for great advances. I could not help wondering as I listened to him whether that was not the most charitable interpretation of the reason why the Government have led us into so many crises.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) that the time has come to look to the future. There is very little time to lose if the position of this country is not to deteriorate disastrously, politically and economically. It is essential, however, that another job be done first. We cannot look to the future unless we have first got our references right. It is no use trying, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer was doing this afternoon, to look up next year's policy in last year's Old Moore's Almanac. We have to decide what we are trying to do.
When the Chancellor of the Exchequer speaks of the opportunity of a great advance I want to ask Government supporters seriously whether they can tell me, the country, or anybody abroad, where we want to advance to in the Middle East. One of the most serious aspects of the present situation there is that the Government have had a divided psychology and a divided voice. The voice is still divided. Who can say what the policy of the Government is or what are their objectives in the crucial situation in the Middle East? The Chancellor said that it was most important that we 1493 should persuade our own people, in order that they might meet the difficulties which lie ahead, that the effort has been worth while but how can the Government persuade the people of that when they cannot persuade half the Members on their own benches in this House?
We cannot do anything until we know the aims of the Government and whether we are in fact facing a triumphant success or are trying to make the best of a calamitous defeat. We cannot make our voice clear in the world today and, most importantly, I assure Government supporters, we cannot make it clear in the Middle East until we do. We cannot say, "We can now begin to go forward, whatever the mistakes of the past, to ensure that our oil supplies are secure, that we build friendships instead of enmities and that we can satisfy our Allies that we have a constructive policy".
I ask the Government to resolve this fundamental dichotomy of policy in their minds. First, have we had a success or a failure? Have we been right, misunderstood and unfortunate, or wrong, and therefore are determined to retrace our steps? That is not just an academic question or one for party debate, but a most important, practical and immediate reality in our propaganda throughout the Middle East.
How do the Government propose to undo the damage which was done in the minds of the Arabs, not only by their private belief that our main purpose was not to stop the war but to overthrow Colonel Nasser, but by the actual propaganda statements to this effect which have been made in the name of the British Government from radio stations throughout the Middle East? This is a question that cannot be shirked. It is all very well for the Government, for electoral purposes in this country, to say that they had only one objective, to separate the combatants until a United Nations Police Force could come to their aid, and then they would negotiate with Colonel Nasser, "whom we regard as a person with rights equal with any other statesman of the world with whom we have to have relations". That is the story that the Government tell here, but it is not the story told to the Arab world.
The Foreign Secretary told us yesterday that the Government had been ready all along to negotiate and that they hoped 1494 to resume negotiations with Colonel Nasser. I would ask how they can find a basis to negotiate with Colonel Nasser until they withdraw their publicly avowed aim that he must be destroyed?
That brings me to a matter of great importance which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) on 9th November in the debate on the Adjournment Motion. He raised questions about the propaganda that was going out in the name of the British Government from the Sharq Al-Adna broadcasting station in Cyprus. Hon. Members will remember how shocked the House was when my hon. Friend read extracts from the bulletins being broadcast by the Allied High Command at the time of hostilities which, he pointed out, were not only "Haw-Haw" in tone but were also in direct conflict with statements that the Prime Minister was making in this House.
Let me remind hon. Gentlemen of some of the phrases which my hon. Friend quoted from the Allied High Command bulletins. This is one:O Egyptians, this is the first blow which has befallen you. Why has this befallen you? First because Abd Al-Nasir went mad and seized the Suez Canal…That was the official explanation given out on that radio station on 2nd November, when the Prime Minister was saying in this House that our intervention in the Israeli-Egyptian dispute had nothing whatever to do with the argument with Col. Nasser over the Canal. It is no good saying now, "Forget the past. Look to the future"; we must have a clear voice and we in this House must know the official voice and the policy of this country. There has been so much double-talk on these matters that we cannot assume that official protestations from the Government Front Bench here reflect what is being put out in our name by that powerful medium-wave transmitter, which penetrates into so many Arab homes in the Middle East.
That brings me to an allegation of great seriousness that I want to make against the Government. There has been a lot of talk about collusion, and yesterday the Foreign Secretary devoted a good deal of time to repudiating the suggestion that the British Government have foreknowledge of the intended Israeli 1495 attack upon Egypt. He pointed out that there had been certain alarming developments which might have led us to uneasiness about the developments between Israel and Egypt. The situation had been exacerbated by the Jordan elections on 21st and again on 24th October, when the joint Egyptian-Syrian-Jordanian Command was set up, but until Israeli mobilisation took place on 26th October we were not gravely disturbed about the possibility of an Israeli attack. I suggest, however, that there is sufficient evidence accumulating and still coming to light to make it absolutely obligatory on any Government which cherish their honour to hold a public inquiry.
I want to put forward another piece of evidence. My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East was told on 9th November by the Minister of Defence that the Sharq Al-Adna broadcasting station in Cyprus had previously been privately-owned and commercially run. The Under-Secretary of State for War told my hon. Friend:the facilities of the station were requisitioned for use by the Allied Commander-in-Chief in the present emergency."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1956; Vol. 560. cc. 521 and 525.]I ask the House to consider those words very carefully. The Under-Secretary was not referring to the emergency in Cyprus which, as we all know, has been going on for many bitter weeks and months.
§ Sir James Hutchison (Glasgow, Scotstoun)
I am much indebted to the hon. Lady for her courtesy in giving way. I wonder if it has occurred to her and others, in probing this question of collusion, that in fact if there were collusion, which would mean preknowledge and acting in concert, we were either too early or too late. A properly combined operation would have landed British troops there at the same time, or, if one adopted the view of the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) that we should have allowed the Israelis to go on and get to the Canal, we were too early. So all the prima facie evidence is that if the knowledge was there we acted wrongly either way.
§ Mrs. Castle
Surely the hon. Member is forgetting that one of the most important purposes of the Government was not to make collusion clear.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
The trouble was that the Israeli attack had been arranged for the 6th.
§ Mrs. Castle
With all this advice perhaps I may proceed to put before the House what I believe is a serious piece of evidence. I think that when the hon. Member for Scotstoun (Sir J. Hutchison) has heard it he will agree that I am right to bring it to the attention of the House. I remind hon. Members of the significant order of these events. The Israeli mobilisation took place on 26th October, the Israeli attack was launched on 29th October, but the plans for requisitioning this radio station, which had always been visualised as a possibility in case of war with an Arab State, were launched on 19th October.
On that day two B.B.C. officials landed in Cyprus for the purpose of discussing the taking over by the B.B.C. of the issue of news bulletins when the requisitioning took place. On 22nd October Brigadier Fergusson, head of the psychological warfare unit of the Allied High Command, started discussions with the station as to the timing and nature of the psychological warfare bulletins which would be issued by his Department when requisitioning began. That was on 22nd October. I would point out that that preceded the alarming move to which the Foreign Secretary referred yesterday. One of the events preceded the Jordan elections, the other preceded the setting up of the joint command of Egypt, Syria and Jordan which the right hon. and learned Gentleman said began to alert the Government to the danger. It certainly preceded the Israeli mobilisation by seven days.
I ask the Government spokesman who is to wind up the debate why requisitioning plans were worked out for taking over the Sharq Al-Adna station in Cyprus on 19th October for use in an Arab war which started on 30th October? I believe that unless and until the Government can answer that question it stands under the shadow of collusion, or at any rate of foreknowledge.
§ Mr. Eric Johnson (Manchester, Blackley)
Is it not the case that for a very long time on both sides of the House we have felt—General Glubb emphasised it—that our propaganda in the Middle East has been wholly inadequate? Is it not quite probable that the Government 1497 took over the broadcasting station for that purpose and not necessarily for war? I am afraid that the hon. Lady has a nasty suspicious mind.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am afraid that in this case the hon. Lady has a very nasty suspicious mind. The suggestion is very plausible, but the Government had those powers under the Cyprus Emergency Regulations and never used them for all the Cyprus emergency.
§ Mrs. Castle
It was always recognised that this was a private commercially-run station which was doing a very good job indeed in getting entertainment and British news and views to the whole of the Middle East over its high-powered transmitters. It had an increasing influence, but the station recognised that the Government had the right to requisition in case of a war with an Arab State. I suggest to hon. Members opposite that this co-ordination of dates is a little too significant for them to be able to brush it away with the sort of explanation given by the hon. Member for Blackley (Mr. E. Johnson).
§ Mrs. Castle
I do not want to occupy the whole day on this matter, and I do not wish to give way unless someone wants to challenge me on a point of fact.
I want to draw the attention of the House to a second point. This station was requisitioned at 3 p.m. G.M.T. on 30th October. That was one hour before the announcement in this House of the issue of our ultimatum. Everything was ready—remarkably ready—and the requisitioning took place like that before many of the commercial staff were even aware that it was to take place. The relaying of B.B.C. news started on the evening of 2nd November and on Saturday morning, 3rd November, again a B.B.C. news bulletin went out. On the afternoon of Saturday, 3rd November, B.B.C. relays were stopped. They were stopped for one reason; it was because they were giving reports of the case put from both sides of this House in the debate which went on on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of that vital week.
1498 I was invited by the Minister of Defence to go to the B.B.C. to study some of the bulletins which it was putting out in its Arabic Service. They were noteworthy for the balance and impartiality with which always the B.B.C. puts the news. That is why the B.B.C. news bulletins were stopped and instead we had the psychological warfare unit of the Army taking charge of the issue of the sort of bulletins which we have heard read in the House by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol. South-East, bulletins which said such things as "Oh Arabs you have sinned. You have followed Colonel Nasser the man who stole our Canal. We shall use all our force without ceasing until we have brought the Canal under international control."
If the B.B.C. relays had continued the Arab world would not only have heard the views of those on this side of the House, but would have known that the bulletins from the psychological warfare unit were contradicting what our own Prime Minister was saying in the House of Commons. Clearly, they had to be stopped.
As the result of the questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East, the scripts of the psychological warfare bulletins were placed in the Library. They were obtained from the monitoring service of the B.B.C. Having listened to the debate on that occasion, I later wondered what propaganda was being carried out in our name following the cease-fire. What are we saying to the Arab world now? It is a matter of very great importance to us, when we meet to discuss the future and mend the past, whether we have changed the tone of our broadcasts.
Have we now brought ourselves into conformity with the United Nations not merely in the letter but in the spirit? It is no use thinking that we can patch up things in the Middle East by being driven reluctantly to obey United Nations resolutions while we continue the same psychological approach which led us into the very disaster from which we are now trying to extricate ourselves.
I went to look at the scripts in the Library. I found, rather curiously, that the B.B.C. scripts were no longer placed in the Library after 13th November. I 1499 had inquiries made and was told that the B.B.C. was no longer monitoring the service. I asked why. I put a Question to the Foreign Secretary on Tuesday asking on whose instructions the B.B.C. had stopped monitoring the service. The answer which I got was that the B.B.C. does not normally monitor broadcasts from stations under British control.
But it had been monitoring broadcasts from the Sharq Al-Adna station. That was why my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East was able to get the scripts and stumble upon the truth. Perhaps it was because he stumbled upon this very inconvenient truth that somebody somewhere told the B.B.C. not to be such damned busybodies and to stop the monitoring.
Therefore, I put a Question to the Minister of Defence yesterday asking him whether, as the B.B.C. had stopped monitoring the service, he would arrange for scripts of the broadcasts going out from the Sharq Al-Adna station to be placed in the Library. The answer that I got was that the material now going out is being provided partly by the B.B.C. and partly by the Foreign Office. I was told that I could go to the B.B.C. for its scripts, which I have done. In the case of the scripts of the Foreign Office, I was told that it would be an awful lot of trouble to translate them all from Arabic, but if sufficient hon. Members applied pressure, the Minister would see what he could do. I have been trying for 24 hours, with no success yet, to get just one script translated by the Foreign Office—if it is not already translated—and placed in the Library.
If we are to do our job in the House properly in assessing the future policy of the Middle Eastern area, the Government must take steps at once to have these scripts placed in the Library. I would point out to the Government that the war is over. There is a cease-fire.
The Allied High Command psychological warfare unit has now moved out of the Sharq Al-Adna station, but the Foreign Office has moved in. Surely we have an unprecedented situation in having going out from one British station, the most important station in the Middle East, two voices, one the voice of the nation through the B.B.C. and the other the voice of the Government.
1500 Let us face the fact that those voices conflict badly. The voice of the Government to the Arab world has been very different from the voice of the House of Commons. I have seen the B.B.C. scripts, and they are models of balanced presentation of the point of view, not of a few people on the Government Front Bench, but of the British people as a whole. Everybody knows that the biggest asset that Britain has in the Middle East at the moment is the fact that the House of Commons was deeply divided over this unhappy venture and that the Opposition fought for the sort of policies which have now triumphed.
Is psychological warfare now continuing from that station? If so, that is disastrous. Not only must we see the scripts so that we know what is being said in this psychological warfare, but also the Government must turn their back on warfare of any kind, psychological or military, in this situation, and recognise that the voice of Britain going out over the ether is the one way in which we can restore British influence in the Middle East on the only basis which will be constructive for the future.
Let the B.B.C. take over the station. Let the Arab world hear the point of view of both sides in this country presented fairly, so that the Arabs can realise that a great democratic argument is going on in this country and that Britain is not trying to impose her own ideas either in a paternal or a dictatorial way, but is genuinely arguing about the problem of our future relationships in the Middle East. Let the Arabs realise that when they listen to the "Voice of Britain" from Sharq Al-Adna, it is a voice on which they can rely.
The great asset of the B.B.C, built up during the war and since the war in overseas broadcasts, is that those who listen to it know that it is a reliable voice and that it will speak the truth without fear or favour of any Government One cannot say that about the official propaganda of this country, which has twisted all the facts, from the civilian casualties in Port Said to the reasons why we carried out the venture in the first place. British influence cannot be rebuilt in the Middle East by the voice of this Government; it can be rebuilt by the 1501 voice of this nation. This must be presented in its most balanced form, and only the B.B.C. can do that.
I would tell the Government: do not tell us to look to the future until you have given us proof that you have turned your back on the past, have recognised the disastrous mistakes that you have made, and are going to try to build on an entirely new basis.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
I am very glad to have been called in this debate. I hope the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) will forgive me if I do not spend the valuable time available to me in dealing with the subject with which she dealt in her very interesting speech. I agree with her on the subject of B.B.C. broadcasts. Having said that, I do not want to become involved in that matter any further.
Dealing with the general situation that we are debating, after the recent shock—I admit that it was a shock—I have found myself fully able to support the Government on the various steps that they have taken. To go back to 1936 and the time when Hitler marched into the Rhineland, we may take it that if France had acted she would not have received the support of Britain and would have taken her action in the teeth of world opinion, but if France had then marched into the Rhineland, that would have prevented the Second World War and would have saved 20 million lives. I know that the situation in Egypt is not a complete parallel.
I have not quite agreed with the Government's fear—I think that is the right word—of the acceptance of the fact that the Middle East problem was one problem, and that when the Israelis invaded Egypt, the problems of the Canal and the whole resettlement of the Middle East were in the same cauldron at the same time. That cauldron, whether we like it or not, was being stoked by Russian influence, and I think that we were wise to act when we did.
I believe that we were right in thinking that the United Nations would not have operated. It was the fact that we took that action that revitalised the United Nations into taking action itself. But from the moment that it did take action, I believe that the Government have been 1502 right to go along with the United Nations. That is one of the great goods that will come from this operation, that it has brought into being the United Nations Force.
I should like to say this to my hon. Friends—because there are one or two, I know, who are not quite certain about the phasing of this operation—that, in my view, once we got two companies of United Nations troops in that area, any question of further advance or resolute action on our part was no longer necessary. Nor was it necessary then to be concerned about Israeli and Egyptian forces once more getting involved. What we have to remember, and what, in some cases, my hon. Friends are not fully seized of, is that any aggressive advance by the Egyptians or the Israelis towards each other is, if there are United Nations troops between them, aggression against the United Nations.
§ Mr. Patrick Maitland (Lanark)
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for giving way, because this is a vital matter. Would he not agree that the crux of the argument about the United Nations Force is whether, in fact, it is competent, within the terms of our cease-fire arrangements, to secure and supervise the attainment of two objectives laid down by the United Nations Assembly Resolution of 2nd November, namely, to start clearing the Canal and to restore freedom of transit?
§ Mr. Glover
I appreciate that, but if I am allowed to make my speech in my own way, I shall probably be able to deal with the point which my hon. Friend has made.
I believe that we were right to use the veto at the United Nations, and I was glad to see that that action was supported by the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) in his speech yesterday. To have allowed the Israelis to be branded as aggressors would have been a crime against humanity. Is a nation, condemned to death and striking out to preserve its life, to be branded as an aggressor? I am sure that we were right to use the veto, and that history will show us to have been right.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon said that great good can come from a crisis. I believe that in the Middle East we had a cauldron on the boil and that it boiled 1503 over. History, not right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on that side—[HON. MEMBERS: "Or that side."]—or even on this side—will prove that we were right to say that action must be taken. By taking that action we broke the log jam which was bedevilling the affairs and relations of the people in that area.
By our action we made the United States re-think her policy—and, let us be honest, we made ourselves re-think our policy. That is the sort of thing that happens when action is taken. I believe it will make even Colonel Nasser re-think his policy, and the Russians re-think theirs. We now have all the minds of the world turned on that area and determined to get a settlement. That is something that certainly did not exist six weeks ago. Six weeks ago we had a festering sore, rapidly poisoning not only that area, but the relationships of the Western nations. I believe that as a result we shall, as the months go by, get a settlement both of the Arab-Israeli problem and of the Canal problem.
I want now to refer to the speech made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), whom I am sorry to see is not at the moment in his place. That speech was brilliant. When he made it, I laughed and joked with him across the House. It was a brilliant Parliamentary performance, put across as, perhaps, at the present moment, only he could put it across. But this morning I read his speech in HANSARD in the cold light of dawn. The right hon. Gentleman has tried to put over many different lines. He has been the hard-working miner in South Wales, the forward-looking visionary of his party, and I was told that he was to be the Palmerston of the Left.
Yesterday, he made this brilliant speech, but when I read it this morning I saw that what he had done was to pinch Neville Chamberlain's clothes. He had put silk faces on the lapels, pressed the creases in the trousers, but what he was wearing, really, was a black homburg, and he was carrying an umbrella and waving a piece of paper. Every word of that speech was "appeasement" and "peace at any price." That is not the policy for this country.
He referred to John Bull and Marianne. According to his policy, they should have 1504 spent their time in illicit dalliance sitting in front of this fire whilst it spread; they should have watched the whole Middle East go up in flames, and seen both the wise and foolish virgins of Israel sold into bondage in Egypt or Russia. That is what he would have had. He would have had John Bull and Marianne warming their feet in front of this fire and taking no action at all while the area was being wrecked, and thinking it humorous. His policy was a policy of appeasement, and that is not a policy which either this country or the West can carry out.
He said that force solves nothing, but in the ultimate end, even today, force is still the thing that makes the world tick. We have only to look at the tragedy in Hungary, about which I shall speak in a moment. Let nobody tell me that it is not Russian force that is beating down the brave Hungarian bid for freedom. That Russian force is beating down Hungary's bid for freedom. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is failing."] It is not failing, though I sincerely hope it does. That Russian force being there, it ill behoves the Western world to say that no problem could be resolved by force and, therefore, that we should have no force to oppose that Russian force. That would, in fact, be the negation of a foreign policy for this country.
§ Mr. H. Hynd
Is the argument of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover) that we were entitled to use force in Egypt, but that Russia was not entitled to use force in Hungary?
§ Mr. Glover
We used force in Egypt, I believe, to stop a war and to see that the area was not enslaved. [Interruption.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite keep on interrupting, many of them will not make a speech tonight, because I am going to say what I have in my mind to say.
I turn now to the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), that disgraceful speech he made this afternoon saying that our case and the case of Hungary were the same. He knows perfectly well, but did not refer to it when he was attacking Britain in this House, that what really caused the change of attitude on the part of the Russian forces in Hungary was the statement of the Nagy Government that they wanted a policy of neutrality and did not wish to remain in alliance with or be a 1505 satellite of Russia. Russia could accept the policy of Poland, a policy of independence at home but of satellite dependence in foreign affairs and everything else. The one thing the Russians could not give to Hungary was freedom of action in foreign affairs.
Once the Nagy Government made that statement, it was doomed. From that time, the rape of Hungary really began. The one thing which the Russians cannot allow, if they are to keep any control over the nations of Eastern Europe, is the sort of freedom demanded by the Nagy Government. It ill behoves the right hon. Member for Derby, South, who is supposed to speak with such sincerity, that, knowing about that chain of events, he mentioned not one word of this in his speech this afternoon.
Passions have been aroused during these last six weeks. Nobody can say that our emotions have not been stirred in this House and in the country. Each of us has had to search his conscience to consider whether we were right. Many of us, on whichever side of the House we sit and whatever line we take in the country, have been anxiously searching our minds to decide whether we were right, whether the other side was right, whether this drastic course of action was or was not justified.
When such a time has passed and when the dust and outfall settles down, sometimes a change of leadership is, perhaps, needed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members do not realise that I am referring to their side of the House. If there is one person in this country who has, during these six weeks, shown that he put his own Socialist political ambitions above the interest of the nation, it is the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It is my sincere belief that the British people will never give supreme power to a man who puts a soulless calculating machine where his heart should be and counts electoral advantage when the country is suffering agony, as it was during the last few weeks. The nation will say that a man—and his party will agree—who has used such an occasion for his own personal political advantage is not worthy of his charge.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has, I believe, in the same circumstances shown a far greater capacity for leader- 1506 ship. His mind has worked on the problems affecting the nation, realising more nearly the true nature of them, and we must not forget that there was a grave problem which had to be tackled. [Interruption.] I am referring only to his behaviour during the last six weeks and the public statements he has made on this issue. I referred to his speech yesterday. Although its whole content was appeasement, yet it was given with a realisation of the weight of responsibility upon his shoulders. He was not concerned with whether it was to his advantage; what he had in mind was whether it was for the good of the nation.
All of us, on both sides of the House, are always ready to support the attitude of any individual Member speaking sincerely for what he believes to be the best for the nation as a whole, whether we agree with his point of view or not. The one thing which the nation feels at this time is that, in a great event, the Leader of the Opposition proved unworthy of his charge.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Glover) drew an analogy between what he believed should have happened when Hilter marched into the Rhineland and what happened when Britain and France intervened in Egypt. There is no analogy at all between a great, powerful, industrial, military country, with a military dictator, and a small, weak, Middle-Eastern State.
But let us assume for one moment that it is a valid analogy. Does it not falisfy the Government's whole case? Does it not let the cat out of the bag? The hon. Gentleman is, in effect, admitting that they went into Egypt to overthrow Nasser. That is the implication of what he is saying. If he draws a parallel between Hitler and Nasser, saying that intervention in the Rhineland would have prevented a war, it surely follows from that that he supports the action of his Government in intervening in Egypt to overthrow Nasser.
§ Mr. Glover
I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way.
If we had gone into the Rhineland, we should not have stopped a war, we should have had a war with Hitler. But, 1507 at that time, the Hitler army consisted of about 200,000 men. It was a very similar operation to that against the Egyptians, and it would have saved a world war.
§ Mr. Short
If he did not say that, I do not know what his words mean.
The hon. Member's second point related to Israel. He waxed eloquent about Israel and said that she was not an aggressor. But does he remember the speech of Sir Pierson Dixon, in New York, a few days before the Anglo-French intervention? Does he remember that Sir Pierson Dixon praised what he referred to as the restraint of our Jordanian allies? Does that not imply that the Government thought that Israel was an aggressor? Really, I get a bit "fed up" with this hypocrisy about Israel. The hon. Member for Ormskirk then spoke at some length on the connection between Hungary and Egypt, after which his speech degenerated into personal abuse, into which I will not follow him.
My first point relates to the connection between Hungary and the events in the Middle East. My right hon. Friend mentioned that, but I want to draw an additional conclusion. When the Second World War finished, everybody hoped and, indeed, believed that the wartime cooperation between Russia and the West would be projected into the post-war period. We very soon realised, however, that that was not to be. It became quite apparent, within a very short time after 1945, that Russia was withdrawing into her shell and was insulating herself from the West with a wall of satellite States who were held in a vice in absolute bondage. It became apparent also that Russia was going to wage an aggressive cold war, a cold war which, for years, vitiated all the bright hopes that we had during the war of post-war co-operation.
As year followed year, East-West relations seemed to become more insoluble. Indeed, we reached a point where the West accepted the insolubility of the problem and established N.A.T.O. and built 1508 the whole of its foreign policy for the time being on the premise that East-West relations could not be solved. We could not get even a modus vivendi, let alone a settlement of the problems between the East and the West.
Then, an event occurred in Russia which seemed as though it would deflect the whole post-war train of events. I refer, of course, to the death of Stalin. As soon as Stalin died, there was an obvious thaw in the freeze-up between Russia and the West. Things slackened and eased considerably. A number of difficult insoluble problems were solved—for example, Trieste, Indo-China, and Austria.
The Russian leaders visited other countries in a great effort to become respectable. They know, of course, what all of us in this country know, that anyone who wants to become respectable in Britain must join the Conservative Party. We had the amazing spectacle of Messrs. Bulganin and Khrushchev boasting about their identity of views with the party opposite in their efforts to become respectable in the eyes of the West.
The most obvious change in Russia was that the power in the Russian leadership was dispersed. Previously in the hands of one man, it was now, quite obviously, in the hands of a number of men. It became obvious, however, as time went on, and to all those who visited the Kremlin, that there was in the Kremlin, and, indeed, in Russian society, a conflict between people who wanted to adopt a more moderate policy and those who wanted to preserve the old rigid, hard Stalinist policy.
Among the Russian leadership there is, I think, no doubt, as my right hon. Friend said, that Bulganin, Khrushchev, Malenkov and Mikoyan wished to follow a more moderate policy but, on the other hand, there were Molotov, Kaganovich and, above all, Marshal Zhukov, who wished to carry on the old Stalinist line. I think that Marshal Zhukov was willing to tolerate a more moderate policy towards the satellite states so long as it did not appear to him to threaten Russia.
I think it is obvious that the more moderate attitude prevailed when Poland was in ferment a few weeks ago. After Gomulka was re-established in Poland, 1509 it appeared as though Russia was willing to substitute a wall of neutral States instead of a wall of satellites. Then, of course, we were confronted with the same sort of problem in Hungary and in the early days of the Hungarian problem it looked as though the same policy would prevail there.
In those last few days of October, Hungary hung in the balance. If ever any period could be described as the "hinge of fate" for a nation, or for a group of nations—it affected Bulgaria and Rumania, too—it was those last days in October. When the "hinge of fate" was poised between barbarism and moderation. between independence and serfdom, at that very moment Britain and France regressed into the unilateral arbitrary use of force to secure their own interests. That very moment, of all the moments in the eleven post-war years, was the most tragic and most disastrous to choose to descend into the jungle.
Dare anyone—dare any hon. Member opposite—suggest that there was no connection at all between the Anglo-French intervention in Egypt and the change in Russian attitude towards Hungary?
§ Mr. E. Johnson
I am following with great interest what the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Mr. Short) says. If that reasoning is true, is it not rather curious that at the time when we have let the United Nations come into Egypt, the Russians and the Hungarians refuse to allow the Secretary-General of the United Nations to go into Hungary?
§ Mr. Short
I am not condoning what the Russians have done. All I am trying to say is that I believe that Anglo-French aggression in Egypt tilted the balance in the Russian leadership in favour of Marshal Zhukov and Molotov. I believe that when these tragic events are seen in the perspective of history, that will be seen to be the most dire and most 1510 disastrous result of the Government's action in Egypt.
Now, we are probably back to the cold war, with all its devitalising influence on international relations, and all the tender and well-founded hopes of a change in Russia, which augured so well for the future of mankind, have been destroyed overnight by the Government.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. David Ormsby-Gore)
The hon. Member has not yet answered the point made by my right hon. Friend this afternoon, that the Soviet Foreign Minister had stated on 30th October that it was intended to crush the rebels in Hungary.
§ Mr. Short
If the hon. Gentleman reads my right hon. Friend's speech he will find the time-table carefully set out and a reply to the point he has just put. Her Majesty's Government destroyed overnight any hopes that we had that there would be a change in Russia, and it looks now as though the world is back into two snarling camps.
The change has been immediately shown in the frantic acceleration of Russian efforts to penetrate and control Syria. I believe that the Government's action in Egypt has made Syria the most strategically important area in the Middle East, for two reasons. First, about the only area in the whole Islamic world, which stretches from the Atlantic right across to the Indian Ocean, embracing 200 million people, where we have any real good will and influence left is in the four countries which form the Bagdad Pact.
The Arab part of Islam is solidly against us. The hatred towards Britain—I was there when all these events occurred—must be seen to be believed. I believe that the Prime Minister has had the greatest catalytic effect on Islam since Mohammed himself. The Government's action has enormously increased the importance of the four Bagdad Pact countries so far as the West is concerned, but what has happened?
Syria outflanks Turkey, the western end of the Bagdad Pact. Syria is south of Turkey. The Government have cleverly succeeded in making the Bagdad Pact area of vital importance to the West and, at the same time, they have done something which has endangered its whole 1511 existence. Look at the importance of Syria, apart from its position of outflanking Turkey. A quarter of N.A.T.O.'s oil supplies comes through Syria. Syria has a long frontier with Iraq. It dominates the Kirkuk oilfield. It is only a short hop from the oilfields along the Gulf. So far from turning the Russian flank, as the Lord Privy Seal said, or safeguarding the rich oilfields of the Middle East, the Government have put Russia into a position which gives her immediate control of a quarter of N.A.T.O.'s oil and enables her to threaten the rest.
How clever of the Government! When the enormity of the Government's folly percolates into the minds of people of this country these guilty men will be driven out of public life for ever.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that Russia has moved into Syria, or infiltrated into Syria, or has sold arms to Syria, and generally tried to gain control of Syria, only since the British intervention in Egypt?
§ Mr. Short
I did not say that. It is true that Russia was penetrating wherever she could, in Syria and Egypt and other Arab countries. What I said was that there has been a considerable acceleration of that process since we invaded Egypt. It appears that Russia is now trying to control Syria absolutely.
There is a further consideration. Our own accession to the Bagdad Pact is threatened. It will have been noted that the last two meetings of the Bagdad Pact signatories were held without us, with the four Asian countries attending alone. We are told, I do not know with what truth, but we have read it in the Press, that Iraq refuses to attend if Britain is present. Even so, our whole standing in the Middle East now depends on this one slender thread, on such good will and such influence as is left to us in those four countries.
At the same time—and this is the terrible dilemma we are in as a result of the Government's action—the Middle East oil is absolutely vital to Western Europe, and as far as I can see, though I am no expert on fuel matters, it will remain vital to us for at least another quarter of a century until replaced by 1512 antomic energy. For all practical purposes for the time being that oil, under the Arab lands, is the absolute No. I essential for the West. I need mention only that 94 million of our 116 million tons of oil a year comes from the Middle East, and that, of that, a quarter goes through Syria.
We cannot, in the foreseeable future, divest ourselves of that interest or of the need to preserve it. It is obvious now that the only hope we have of preserving and securing that interest is by seeking—now, immediately—an overall settlement in the Middle East. I turn now to what I think that that overall settlement in the Middle East should contain. I agree with what has been said, that we cannot be bogged down any longer in recrimination on one side and excuses on the other. The time has come to admit that a mistake has been made and to solve what is left and to rebuild with the United Nations on a better foundation.
The first observation I would make about a Middle East settlement is that it will fail if it is only a political settlement. There are, of course, one or two vital political questions which must be solved, but, basically, the malady in the Middle East is not politics but poverty, a poverty partly due to malnutrition in such countries as Saudi Arabia and due partly to underdevelopment in the whole great stretch of that territory.
On the political side I wish to make a number of points, very briefly. The first is that to get any stability at all in the Middle East we must first get some stability of the frontiers between Israel and the Arab States. I have never believed the Tripartite Declaration, which is sometimes called an agreement, but was a declaration merely, made in a paragraph in a document drawn up at a North Atlantic Treaty meeting, to be of any use. It is ambiguous. Neither the Arabs nor the Jews really knew what would happen under it.
The Declaration was ignored with impunity by both sides, and when the test came, with Israel's invasion of Egypt, it was not invoked. So I think we can assume that the Tripartite Declaration, at any rate that part of it which relates to action to be taken in the event of aggression, is dead. I suggest that what is needed to provide some stability to the 1513 area is an absolute, unambiguous, unequivocal guarantee of the frontiers between Israel and the rest of the countries around her.
It would be very unjust to return the Gaza Strip to Egypt. However, if we want a settlement, it would not be easy to give it to Israel. I suggest that the frontier can be guaranteed only by military force. Unfortunately, we have to take human nature as it is, not as we should like it to be, so I think that there must be a military force there to guarantee the frontier. We have now the nucleus of a United Nations Force there. That is one of the good things which has come out of this business. Could not that Force be stationed in the Gaza Strip, and could not the first United Nations base be in the Gaza Strip?
The hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman), in a Motion on the Notice Paper, suggests United Nations control in that region. I have not signed that Motion. It is, perhaps, in its present terms, not practical politics. But I think that it contains the germ of an idea which would be extremely useful. Could we not establish the first United Nations base in the Gaza Strip, putting it under international control, the United Nations Force to be charged with the task of keeping the frontier inviolate? I am quite sure of this, that if both Arabs and Jews knew that the United Nations would stand no nonsense about that frontier, the area would settle down.
The second political problem is, of course, the Suez Canal, and there must be a settlement of that. I think that the Government's stand about day-to-day international control can never be maintained. It is quite unrealistic. I am sorry to say so. However, we have to face the facts as they are. We have to be prepared to abandon that position. It is a great pity that the Prime Minister took it up on the first day the Canal was nationalised at the end of July. We have to be prepared now to give it up. If we can get a settlement on the lines of the Indian plan we shall be fortunate, I think.
If we are willing to forgo international day-to-day control, it would be reasonable to have in any settlement a definite, specified action to be taken in the event of default by Egypt. I do not know, I have not given much thought to it, but 1514 could not the international Force on the Gaza Strip, which I have suggested, be linked up with this and have some police duties there? Could it not be given the double duty of preserving the frontiers and preserving, also, an agreement about the Canal?
§ Mr. Short
I have not thought it out very carefully, but I put it forward as a suggestion.
Thirdly, I come to the question of the refugees, which should be faced by everybody concerned. The refugees are Arabs from Israel. They became refugees because of the war of liberation. Then-land in Israel has gone from them. Israel has been resettled. So the refugees can never return to Israel—not in large numbers, anyhow; not all the 900,000.
The Arabs talk about the Arab land which has been taken by the Jews, but we have to remember that a great many of the Jewish immigrants to Israel went from Arab lands. For instance, the whole of the Jewish Yemenite population emigrated. A large number of Jews went from Iraq and a large number from many other Arab countries, and from North Africa. I should think that if an estimate could be made of the Arab lands in Israel taken by the Jews on the one side, and of Jewish lands in Arab countries vacated by the Jews who went to Israel on the other, there would be seen to be an equation.
The refugee problem could be solved at once so far as land is concerned. This is a point that was made in the debate yesterday. In nearly all the Middle East countries, there is any amount of potentially fertile land. I was in Persia a few weeks ago, and I asked some of the Persian leaders why they did not take the initiative in solving the refugee problem by settling many of them on their land, because in the north of Persia there are tens of thousands of acres which would be fertile if irrigated. They said that they had prepared a plan to do so, but had been stopped by the Iraqis. All the land needs is technical assistance to bring the water to it.
I do not believe that the refugee problem is quite as big as we have been led to think. The refugees live in appalling 1515 camps. When deaths occur the bodies are buried quickly in the middle of the night, and many births are registered which, in fact, have never taken place, because families are treated for rationing purposes in family groups. The Israelis, when they occupied the Strip, found that there were not as many refugees as they had thought. I do not want to make too much of this, but I do not think that there are 900,000. I think that 750,000 would be nearer the mark.
A further point on the political side of the settlement is the question of Jerusalem which, like Berlin, is one of our great tragedies. Both are, perhaps, uppermost in my mind because I have been in both recently. They are two great cities which are divided, the one great in population, the other great in its associations for all of us, not only for Christians, but for Jews and Moslems as well, because it contains not only the Via Dolorosa, but Mount Zion and the Mosque of Omar.
I do not think that the Israelis would agree to the internationalisation of Jerusalem. When the United Nations passed a Resolution to that effect, the Israelis retaliated by moving their capital from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, but I do not know whether they would not agree to bi-national control, at any rate of the 1948 confines of the city between Jordan and themselves. In any overall settlement of the Middle East, Jerusalem means so much to all of us that some effort should be made to get rid of the tragic boundary which divides the city.
I should like to say a few words about the economic side which, I believe, is very important. The greatest need for the Middle East, of course, is for technical assistance. Everywhere one goes in the Middle East the need for technicians crops up. They are needed more than capital in most of the countries. They are needed for irrigation, for roads and for the basic industries. The need for technicians in all these countries is almost the predominant need. Present United Nations Agencies are doing a great deal, but they are quite inadequate to deal with the size of the problem in the Middle East. I am not in any way belittling their work, but they are only scratching the surface of the problem there.
1516 A vast, new Middle Eastern agency needs to be set up to canalise technical and social assistance to all these countries. This is the kind of thing on which all the developed Western nations and Russia could play their part. As a token of our good faith, I think that three great projects should go forward—the Aswan Dam, the Jordan Valley project and the great new pipeline from Qum, in Persia, to the Mediterranean. These are projects for each of the three Power blocs—Egypt, Israel and the Bagdad Pact Powers. They would have a tremendous economic effect.
The Aswan Dam would add one-sixth to the cultivable area of Egypt, apart from its great influence on the health of the people. The Jordan Valley project would make the Negev fertile, and perhaps enable some contribution to be made to solving the refugee problem. There is also the great Iranian pipeline about which so little has been said, and apparently little is known. A tremendous new oil well has been found near Teheran. Oil is being burned there now at the rate of 40,000 barrels a day because nothing can be done with it. There is the greatest pressure of oil ever found in the world. To develop it needs a £40 million pipeline over the mountains of Eastern Turkey to Alexandretta. This project would raise the standard of living in Northern Iraq, it would help Turkey. and it would be a tremendous strategic asset for the West. These three projects could form a part of the overall Middle Eastern settlement.
Finally, on the economic side, there is the assistance that private enterprise could give. Governments and United Nations agencies can do a great deal, but private enterprise has a part to play. I mention it because I want to make one suggestion. Investment can flow into these countries only if it is assured of some safety. If an overall Middle Eastern treaty can be obtained, a guarantee of the safety of the capital which flows into these countries should be written into such a treaty.
Let us not imagine that the Middle East can be stabilised by tidy political arrangements alone. In the long run, politics depend on how well man can provide for his physical wants. If he is unable to do so adequately, the best political solutions are quite worthless.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Sir David Campbell (Belfast, South)
I know that many of my colleagues and hon. Members opposite wish to take part in the debate, and, therefore, I will take only a few minutes of the time of the House.
The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) gave us some original and most helpful ideas about future policy and action in the Middle East. I will not follow him in the proposals he has put forward, but I will take up the points he raised about the position in Hungary and the effect of our action in Egypt on the Russian action in Hungary.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) is a man of the highest ideals, as we all realise, but if he were a centipede—and I am not suggesting that he is—and he had a hundred feet, not one of them would ever touch the ground. The right hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central suggested that our action in Egypt threw the weight on the scales which determined Russia to go ahead with the cruel and brutal suppression of the Hungarian people. The right hon. Member quoted an Hungarian whom a newspaper correspondent had met in Budapest who expressed that view.
I have met recently a number of Hungarians who have just come from Hungary after taking part in the fighting. I cannot, and would not, mention their names for very obvious reasons, but they hold no such view. They are well aware that the Russians pulled out, in the first instance, because they thought that they had come to some arrangements with the Nagy Government, and that one reason for pulling out was that the Russian troops then in Hungary, having lived among the Hungarians for time, refused to carry out the orders of their general to suppress the people with the brutal force that was necessary.
Further to that, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out, there is no question, when we go into the facts and the dates, that the Russians had already made up their minds, and the moment that Prime Minister Nagy came out with a statement that they were to be a neutral State and break away from the Warsaw Pact, the fate of Hungary was not in the balance.
1518 I do not propose to comment on recent events, but I should like to say that all that has been said by right hon. and hon. Members opposite—and I have either listened to or read with care their speeches—has not in any way shaken my belief—and I believe that I am also speaking for the great majority of the people of Northern Ireland—that the Government were right to intervene in Egypt. It has not shaken my belief that our intervention brought about the cessation of hostilities which otherwise might, and most probably would, have spread to all the countries in the Middle East and might easily have resulted in a world war.
That intervention, although hon. Members opposite jeer at this, has been a direct cause of the United Nations Force policing the troubled area. Hon. Members might say that at some time, if the war had gone on, the United Nations might have come in; but they are there now and the reason that they are there is because of our intervention. A further result of our intervention is that our American friends and our Commonwealth brothers are now fully alive to the dangers of Russian infiltration in that area. I also believe that they are fully alive to the urgent need for common action through the United Nations to arrive at a just and fair settlement of all the problems outstanding in the Middle East.
It is our duty to concentrate on the future and not on the past. One matter which I would ask my right hon. Friend to consider is the question of those British subjects at present interned in Egypt. May I urge on the Government that they should take every possible step to bring about their release at the earliest moment? I was very glad to hear that a fund is being set up to help those who have been sent from Egypt. I would also urge that the strongest pressure should be brought on the Egyptian Government, through the United Nations, to rescind at once their cruel decree banishing all British subjects from Egypt.
A very large number of British subjects of Maltese and Cypriot descent have lived there for one, two or three generations, and to thrust them out from their homes and livelihoods without compensation is a cruel and appalling decree which, I feel, our Government should 1519 take every possible step to prevent. Here I would pay tribute to the excellent work being carried out by the Swiss authorities in Cairo on behalf of the British internees.
I believe that there are other things upon which the Government should concentrate. The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) discussed at length our propaganda methods. I am not one of those who believe that the B.B.C. is not impartial or factual in its broadcasts, but I feel that the B.B.C. type of broadcast is not sufficient to deal with this problem. I have no doubt at all that we must stick to facts in broadcasting propaganda, but I have equally no doubt that in the Middle East today it is not only B.B.C. broadcasts that are required but we want the whole of our information service to concentrate on correcting the lying propaganda which is going out from the Cairo broadcasting system.
Lastly, I believe that it is the duty of all of us in this House to do all that we can to ensure a return to the most friendly relations with our friends in America and throughout the Commonwealth. I disagree with hon. Members opposite who think it wrong that one should criticise a friend. Criticism in this case was both necessary and wholesome and has already achieved the object which those who criticise had in mind. America and public opinion throughout the Commonwealth have, no doubt, already begun to appreciate the reasons for our actions in Egypt and also begun to appreciate that they, with us, must take immediate action finally to settle the problems of the Middle East.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I am grateful for the opportunity of saying a few words, but I feel that I should apologise because I think that my speech will be quite pedestrian and very narrowly limited as I wish to discuss in the main the fate of the refugees, both old and now newly-created, in the area under discussion. I feel that this is a great human problem, and if we can find some radical solution of this general problem of refugees in the area we shall have done a great deal to appease the conscience of the world, 1520 because I feel that the whole world is involved in this matter.
Before I do so, I would say that, having listened to the Minister of Defence last night and to the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon, I am not by any means certain that they are correct in their evaluation of the situation when they say, "What would have happened if we had not intervened?" Each made his case that there might well have been an extension of the conflagration and that war might have broken out on a wide scale in that sector and in the whole of the Middle East.
No one in the world can deny that that might have happened. It is certainly possible. None of us knows all the facts. But the other point of view is that if we and the French had not intervened, the action which Israel took might have been over within a day or two after it actually did cease, and the shock to the Egyptian population might have been such that there would have been a change of rule at the top level and perhaps General Neguib might have been brought back into power and a peace settlement might easily have been reached.
§ Mr. J. Eden
Would the hon. Gentleman not agree that had that happened and the Israeli advance had moved forward successfully, it would have resulted in a much greater loss of life to the Egyptians than has already taken place as a result of the short war which they have already experienced?
§ Dr. Stross
I am not certain about that because we do not know all the facts, but the hon. Member will remember that General Dayan, in charge of the Israeli force, was reported to have said that the action would have been completed in an extra day, because it is quite obvious that they did not want to go to the Suez Canal. They wanted a great spoiling action to seize armour and to defeat the divisions and brigades in the Sinai Peninsula and to force Egypt to a settlement to peace terms. I am not an expert on these matters but, as I have said, I do not think that any of us knows all the facts. But I say that it is probable, if I am right in my view, that it has not been very happy or very good for Israel that there has been our intervention.
1521 I wish to state briefly my reason for saying that. The future of Israel must be that of a State in the Middle East, with the gifts of technique and education received by 2,000 years of experience in the West. If there is to be peace and stability there it is as a nation of the Middle East that she must live, and she must orient herself towards her neighbours in the Arab lands. That the Israelis have always wanted to do, and it may well be that the French intervention and our own has in the eyes of simple Arab people—and they are the people who matter to me, all the simple people who live on the land and on the industries that exist in the Arab lands—robbed Israel of a victory, because we have given Nasser his alibi, and he is able to declare that the stab in the back meant that he did not have time to defeat Israel.
Everybody knows the quality of Egyptian propaganda. It is not very truthful or, put another way, it does not appear to resemble the propaganda of the B.B.C. Nor is it very factual, but it pays dividends for the moment with an illiterate people who do not know how to check what they are being told.
However there it is. Israel is an irritant and an irritating factor in the Middle East, without any doubt. She is so because this peculiar experimental social democracy in a sea of Arab feudalism must irritate those Arabs who own the land and the means of life. It is true to say that Arab feudalism must change or be destroyed if Israel is to exist; otherwise Israel has to be liquidated and utterly destroyed. That is the situation. Should the Arabian people, both workers and peasants, ever find out what the future can bring to them if they too can have education and science at their disposal, then the feudal ownership of land really becomes impossible. That, I think, we on all sides of the House can accept.
Now I come to the question of the refugees. A direct result of the events that have occurred is that we have a new group of refugees, those mentioned in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Government were giving £100,000 for the aid of these refugees and that there was to be a public appeal. Thus, at the moment when we are finding, quite rightly, as much money 1522 as possible to help Hungarian refugees, we are faced with the fact that Egypt's action has created a group of approximately 40,000 other refugees, all in Egypt itself. Of these, a small portion are our own folk, people born in Britain, and those not born here but who are naturalised British subjects. The rest are Egyptian Jews.
The fate of these people is anything but pleasant. Some have been imprisoned in concentration camps. Nearly all of them have now been stripped of any property they may have owned and they have been reduced to penury. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Swiss Minister has declared that such conduct is barbarous. Of course it is. I hope that the plea of the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) will have reached the ears of the Government. I am sure that it will have done so.
I hope that everything possible will be done to make the Egyptian Government change their minds and reverse their barbarous policy. It can do them no good. It is said that the Egyptian Government have helped themselves to about £150 million by seizing the property of their own Jewish nationals and those of the French, the British, the Maltese and the Cypriots. What good will that do them, either in the long run or in the short run? My view is, very little indeed.
I should be interested to know whether the Chancellor would agree to the following proposition. I believe that morally and ethically Britain would be justified in taking such action in respect of these sterling balances which we owe Egypt so that at least British nationals should be fully compensated for all that they have been robbed of in this matter. That is quite a reasonable attitude, and that is the only kind of attitude which Colonel Nasser would understand. We ought to be firm about it.
There has been action by other countries on the main problem of the Egyptian refugees. Probably the worst placed are the Jewish families, some of whom have, by ancestry, been there for nearly 2,000 years, long before any Arabs ever went into the country of Egypt. What they need most now is transport to get them out of the country. Haifa is not far away, and Israel would take them all through Haifa. Brazil has moved at once 1523 and has offered 1,000 visas. France has been generous and has declared that anybody coming from Egypt as a result of this action is welcome to come to her land.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will bear in mind that the main thing is transport to get these people out of Egypt and at least as far as Haifa. For they cannot get out. Many of them are on the streets, begging. Many of them have been thrown out of their homes. No one will take them in, and they have no money. The sooner those who are allowed to leave are off the streets and are taken as far as Haifa, the better. Then they can be sorted out and cared for in Israel, and those who wish to go elsewhere will have their opportunity.
The absolute contradiction of the Charter of Human Rights, as exposed by this action on the part of Egypt, also merits that the entire matter be brought before the United Nations. If the United Nations has proved itself so strong that it can move against two great Powers such as ourselves and France, it should be strong enough to remedy other wrongs too, wrongs which all of us agree cannot possibly be defended. The United Nations must be firm and must find a method by means of which retribution and justice can be done.
Turning from that new group of refugees to those who have suffered for eight years, I would say that I have been along the Gaza Strip but I was not able to penetrate into Gaza. Nevertheless I have discovered, through asking questions, what it is like to be a refugee living in that land, on what are alleged to be 1,650 calories per day, and on a diet which is pretty monotonous. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told me recently, in reply to a Question, that there are about 210,000 of these refugees, formerly Palestinian Arabs, who left their land in what is now Israel, plus 50,000 or so settled in Gaza who have always been there. From more recent figures which I have received this morning I understand that there are now about 90,000 settled people and about 214,000 others. So in all there are roughly 300,000 people there, of whom we can say that 200,000 need resettlement.
1524 Their diet consists of flour, beans, fats, sugar, rice and dates. As I have said, the calorie content of their food is on an average 1,650 per day compared with our 3,000 calories. It is true that it has been improved since the Israel Army took over, for out of its stores it has added very considerable amounts of flour, and now the daily amount of calories has risen to 1,800, but that is not really good enough.
I worked out from Foreign Office information given to me and from information which I received from Israeli sources that the cost to the United Nations, through W.U.N.R.W.A., of keeping these unhappy people is between 40 and 45 cents. per week, less than half a dollar, and that is inclusive of almost everything.
The cost to the United Nations can also be expressed by stating that the 210,000 people need an expenditure of 3 million dollars a year for food and an additional 2 million dollars for education, medical services, the buildings of a permanent nature which have been erected for them and every other kind of service that they require, including blankets, soap and kerosene—and they do not get much of any of those things. It is interesting to note that each year they are supplied with one blanket for three persons. I suppose that as the years go by, if the blankets are good enough, they can ultimately look forward to being warm on a winter's night. However, it is pathetic and degrading. All of us must accept some responsibility for the situation.
Egypt has been responsible in the main for refusing to allow these people to be resettled. The United Nations has had a plan. A considerable amount of education has been given to the children in the Gaza Strip. As a result of the provision of technical education by W.U.N.R.W.A., over 1,000 workers have been able to go to other Arabian lands as technical workers in the oil fields, and at a high level. However, when the United Nations a long time ago produced its plan for resettlement in the Sinai Desert near the Suez Canal, where there is good land, where 10,000 families could be taken and where water is available, it was refused by Egypt, and Egypt has maintained her refusal.
Now Egypt is not in possession, and I hope she will never go back there again. Between Israel and the United Nations, this problem must be solved. It will not 1525 mean that all the problems of all the refugees in the world will be solved, but here is a part of the problem upon which we can make a start at once. I am certain that it can be successfully solved.
The cost to date to the United Nations of keeping the people in that area has been 35 to 36 million dollars. The United Nations says that for 70 million dollars it could permanently and properly resettle most of the people. I am sure that Israel will play her part, although she will have plenty on her hands with the 30,000 folk from Egypt. Israel has resettled 750,000 people in eight years, all of them from Arabian lands, including 120,000 from Iraq. I have seen the process of that resettlement, as have many other hon. Members.
I should like to say a word about the technique used. Taking into account the cost of conveying families there by air, which is very expensive—there is no other way—it costs £2,000 to settle a family on the land. It is expensive, but the way in which it is done is magnificent. The people are taken straight to the homes which have been built for them in the co-operative villages. Each home, newly built, contains two bedrooms, a kitchen and a sitting room; they are very simple houses, and it is all that can be afforded. The houses are simply furnished, and on the shelves is food, in the form of iron rations, waiting for the family.
Agricultural implements are ready and barns are provided, and all the land in the area is laid out. If a hundred families are to be settled there, a hundred houses are provided and also the barns and the places for provender. Seed is available. Teachers are already there to teach them. The day after the family arrive the work starts. In the second year, families can keep themselves: they have enough food to sell in the market outside to help to keep other people as well as to maintain themselves on a reasonable standard of life. That is a good way of doing the work of resettlement.
As I said, Israel will, I am sure, play her part. She must do so, for she has her own responsibility there. She has gone back there after 2,000 years. She has many gifts to offer, if only the horrible hatred between Arab and Jew can cease. When we think of the glorious, historical associations between Arab and Jew in the past, when there was so much darkness in 1526 Western Europe and they kept the torch of learning alight, and of the association between Jew and Moor in Spain, of course they can become friends again, to their mutual benefit and for the peace of the world.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Sir Lancelot Joynson-Hicks (Chichester)
I am very glad to follow the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), because, although the line which he took was a rather specialised one for this debate—for that reason, I hope he will forgive me if I do not follow him along it—I agreed with a very great deal of what he said. He faced up to the problem of the refugees in the Middle East in a far more constructive and sensible manner than we have often heard. There will be few hon. Members on this side of the House who will not be in very considerable agreement with most of what he said.
I have not previously intervened in these debates during the past four months. Therefore, perhaps I ought to make it clear that, although I am interested, I am no expert in the subject. I do not belong to one group or another. I share the general body of opinion throughout the country. I do not think that most of my constituents, or the constituents of other hon. Members, are violently of one group or another. I believe that a great many reacted as I certainly did when we first heard of the action taken by the Government in delivering an ultimatum, and that was by having a considerable feeling of joy that Great Britain was still capable of taking action. We had a considerable feeling of joy that we were no longer permitting ourselves to be kicked about.
At the same time, I think that all of us shared with the Leader of the Opposition very considerable anxiety as to whether what we were doing was right and proper, because it was exceedingly unaccustomed, but, unlike the right hon. Gentleman, who somewhat jumped to a conclusion and, I think, lost his footing over it, most of us waited to consider the matter and form a considered judgment upon it. In so doing, I came to the conclusion that we were right and justified in what we did, not only on moral grounds but on every other sort of ground.
It is always difficult to look back and see correctly and in perspective what should or might have taken place. It is 1527 what the Americans call "hindsight" and what we generally call "being wise after the event." Almost invariably it leads to one believing that what has happened since the decision was made would have happened in any case. However, in this case, it is quite certain that that would not have occurred.
The right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) certainly did not share that view when he spoke yesterday. He recognised that the action which we had taken had stopped the war, and that, if we had not gone in, in all probability the Israeli army would have gone through to Cairo and would probably not have stopped, as anticipated by the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central, on the Canal or before reaching the Canal. As the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland said, once the Israeli army had reached Cairo, Colonel Nasser, dead or alive, would have been swept away in a cloud of dust.
The point which I want to make out of that is that the right hon. Gentleman did not take into account that action such as he contemplated would most assuredly have jeopardised the lives of all British citizens in Cairo, and there are many thousands of them. One effect which our action in going in to Port Said did have was indirectly, but definitely to avoid putting in jeopardy the lives of those of our own nationals who were in Cairo.
There is another thing which we cannot be sure about, but which is most relevant. People complain—I have heard hon. Gentlemen opposite say it—that one effect of our action has been the shortage of petrol and petrol rationing, but it is much more probable that had it not been for the action we took the whole of the oil distribution and refining systems in the Middle East would, by now, be in jeopardy if they had not been destroyed. It might not be a question of the oil coming round by the Cape and thereby being delayed; it is far more likely that it would have been a question of the oil not flowing at all, and a very long time having to elapse before it could have been made to flow again.
§ Sir L. Joynson-Hicks
When there is a major conflagration in an area like the 1528 Middle East, it is quite impossible to say who would do that, but the oil distribution system in that area is exceedingly vulnerable and very likely to be destroyed. I therefore feel that there is no doubt that our action in going in was right. Equally, I recognise, as I think every hon. Member recognises, that it is far easier to time the initiation of an expedition than to time the right moment to end an expedition. This expedition, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stressed when he first announced the possibility of it, was a temporary one, but the difficulty always is to know the right moment to stop.
In my judgment, the timing of the ending of the exercise has also been correct; because one thing which has run all through the debate is recognition of the peril in which we are situated in confusing the issues. There are two quite distinct issues. The objectives of the expedition itself have now been achieved.
§ Sir L. Joynson-Hicks
—to prevent the war spreading. The hon. Gentleman really cannot say that we started the war. Even he cannot be so ill-informed as not to know that there was a war there in regard to which we delivered an ultimatum.
§ Sir L. Joynson-Hicks
I will not give way. I was answering the hon. Gentleman.
I was saying that the objectives of the expedition were to stop the war spreading and to make it possible for a settlement to be undertaken in peaceful circumstances. In other words, we had made it safe for the United Nations to go in there. The job of the expedition has come to an end. Therefore, in my submission the timing of the ending of the expedition is correct, but the other jobs which remain to be done there are the jobs which have been left to the United Nations and for which that body has accepted responsibility—the clearance of the Canal, which was a United Nations responsibility 1529 accepted in its Resolution of 2nd November; the securing of the free and open transit of traffic on the Canal without discrimination, which was accepted by the Security Council's Resolution of 13th October; what has been referred to as the internationalisation of the Canal, which was interpreted by the Security Council in its Resolution of 13th October, which said that the operation was to be insulated from the politics of any country; and, finally, the maintenance of peace until a general settlement of Middle Eastern problems was negotiated.
All those matters are matters for the United Nations. I cannot myself see that they will be facilitated, any more than they would be handicapped, by the presence of our forces in Port Said. Therefore, on economic grounds alone, I should have said that this was the right time to bring our forces out.
There is only one question which I would ask my right hon. Friend, and I am sure that my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will pass the inquiry to him. I wish to ask whether my right hon. Friend is confident that in the light of the Resolutions which have been passed and the support which has been obtained for them, the remaining objectives, which have been set out from time to time by my right hon. Friends in the course of the statements which they have made, will, in fact, be achieved. Our diplomacy during this period, which has come under considerable fire from the Opposition, has not by any means been barren of achievement. It has, in fact, resulted in a considerable number of alterations taking place in the circumstances, and in what has gone on throughout the whole of the area.
For one thing, originally the proposal of the United Nations was to install observers from among its officers in the force which is already in the Middle Eastern area. At our instigation, that was changed to a military force. It was proposed that the United Nations officers should be stationed on the armistice line between Egypt and Israel. That, again, was changed to the Suez Canal line. There has been a growing appreciation of our point of view throughout the whole of the debates which have been taking place recently in the United Nations.
1530 Finally, I believe that the State Department Press release, which was referred to by the Foreign Secretary, is one of the most important contributions which has been made to this problem, and particularly to our own point of view, for a very long time. In passing, I cannot refrain from saying that it is most extraordinary that this statement from the American State Department appears to have passed unnoticed in this country except in this House. Certainly, I did not hear about it at the time on the B.B.C., nor did I see any substantial reference to it in such of the newspapers as I saw.
Even this morning, after my right hon. Friend had called attention to it yesterday, it was almost ignored in most of the newspapers, but surely there can be nothing more important at present than the President and the Secretary of State in America, through the State Department, saying that… the United States will continue fully to support the measures required to make the United Nations' Force adequate and effective for its mission.Its mission has most clearly been set out in the various Resolutions of the United Nations. The statement goes on:In carrying out his plans for this purpose the Secretary-General can count on the unstinting co-operation of the United States.I would remind the House that all these purposes have already been endorsed by this House in one way or another. Again, the statement repeats:The United States Government considers it essential that arrangements be worked out without delay to ensure the operation of the Canal in conformity with the six principles approved by the Resolution of the Security Council of 13th October.What more do we want than that? Again:The United States is—equally determined —to assist in bringing about a permanent settlement of the other persistent conflicts which have plagued the Middle East over recent years.Now we have got the United States committed to a policy through the United Nations for Middle East recovery. There can be no more vital contribution to a settlement than that.
I would refer briefly to what was said by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) about our relations with the United Nations. I do not believe that there is anything to worry 1531 about there. We are certainly not the first country to have difficulties with the United Nations. My hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) referred yesterday to the United States themselves and the difficult they had had in connection with Korea. If it had not been for the fortunate fact that Russia was not a member of the Security Council at the time their action in going into Korea would certainly not have been confirmed by the United Nations.
Again, there was the trouble over Quemoy and the Formosa Islands. There, the United States deliberately flouted the United Nations, but the United States is recognised now not only as a respectable but as a powerful member of the United Nations.
What about India? Nothing could have been more flouting of the United Nations than the action of India over Hyderabad and again over Kashmir. On upwards of twelve occasions India has rejected recommendations of the Security Council or of bodies which have been set up under it to carry out its will, yet India still claims to be a respectable member of the United Nations and to be able to preach pious platitudes to all and sundry who may not see eye to eye with the United Nations at any time.
What about Russia itself? Hardly ever did Russia find itself in conformity with the United Nations, yet she is still a member of, and, I understand, exercises considerable influence in, the United Nations from time to time.
I am not in the least anxious about our future relations with the United Nations, particularly as the action which we have taken has proved to have strengthened the United Nations and to have brought into life the military Force of the United Nations of which it has been so greatly in need for so long.
I do not believe that our difficulties with the United Nations will result in any lasting problem. I do not believe that the difficulties arose out of the Suez problem at all. The have been growing ever since the original American Loan. I may be biassed in this case, because I have never approved the Loan and I voted against it. Ever since then, America has, through her State Department—although not the American people 1532 —suffered from a growing "fairy-godmother" complex, showering her benefits upon all and sundry and expecting everybody to make friends with America in return. America has completely failed to understand that she could not buy friendship. The fact that there has been this recent difference, and that we have now come together again, will enable us to work together as friends in a far more healthy and realistic relationship than in the past.
One final word. The future of all these problems lies with the United Nations. The responsibility is on that organisation, and it has accepted the responsibility. Therefore, it is our duty as well as our privilege, to ensure that we give the United Nations the maximum possible support, to ensure that our representation there is not only the strongest that we can make it but is the most active as well. I ask my right hon. Friends to see that we strengthen our representation at the United Nations to the maximum possible degree and that we recognise that the real work is now about to begin.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Howell (Birmingham, All Saints)
I am glad of an opportunity of speaking for a few minutes in this foreign affairs debate, although I have never previously intervened on this subject. I do so because it is a great mistake to believe that those of us who spend all our time in the political hot-house necessarily represent the views of the ordinary people.
I have been talking to factory workers and ordinary people in Birmingham, part of which city I represent, and I have found a great deal of perplexity and doubt which cut right across party lines. I want to address my remarks to these matters this evening.
There are people who believe for two reasons that the Government were right. First, in the words of the hon. Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynson-Hicks) they believed it was right that we should stand up for ourselves and kick Nasser if we could. Of course, it is not true to suggest that we on this side of the house support Nasser. One of the discreditable things has been the attitude of Government supporters who, when we questioned what the Government were doing, 1533 yelled "Nasser, Nasser" across to these benches. I was delighted that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) made it clear yesterday that to say that Eden was wrong was not to suggest that Nasser was right. We believe that Nasser has to be dealt with, but in a proper manner, through the United Nations.
There is a fundamental decency in the ordinary people. The 50 million of them are not considering the over-sophisticated arguments of diplomacy which we often hear in this House. They believe that we ought to be loyal to institutions to which we have linked ourselves, in this case the United Nations. They think that this country suffered very much during the two big wars, and they cannot understand how we should be the first country to drop bombs upon another. There is a very great doubt about this among the people. As time goes on, the Government and their supporters will find that our action has brought down the British name in the United Nations. I believe that will be proved. They will realise that in the last resort peace can only be maintained by collective security.
The people of Birmingham are now realising the economic difficulties that have to be faced, because as the Minister of Labour told us this afternoon, 40,000 are already on short time and another 2,000 are unemployed. When they add those facts to the increasing cost of living, like 1s. 5d. per gallon on petrol, when they weigh up the economic price and realise just how much world opinion was massed against us, there will be growing anger against the Government and their supporters.
A most fantastic justification has been put out by the Government, although I can well understand it because the average Englishman does not like to think ill of his Government. He likes to think that his Government are doing the best they can in world affairs and behaving honestly and decently. Many people in this country think we took the action that we did because of a Russian plot, because Russia had captured the Egyptian Government and that the Russians were very much the niggers in the Middle Eastern woodpile.
We on these benches for a very long time have been asking for a balance of 1534 arms in the Middle East. I can remember my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), almost a year ago in a debate in the House, demanding to know the arms position in the Middle East. He got no answer. He asked that there should be parity of arms in the Middle East. During subsequent exchanges at Question Time during the last twelve months it has been pointed out time and again that Russian domination in the Middle East was something that we had to face.
I cannot believe that the intelligence services of this country did not know what Russia was doing in Egypt and the Middle East. Of course they knew. If they knew and the Government knew, as the Foreign Secretary told us on Monday, they have some very searching questions to answer—questions as to why, with the knowledge that Nasser was being armed by Russia, even if only in small quantities, this Government should continue to send British arms. Could there be a greater act of criminal lunacy than, at the time that Russia was arming them, we should do the same? We have had no answer to that serious charge, which sooner or later the Government will have to face.
If we and France really started to deal with this Russian plot irrespective of N.A.T.O., irrespective of U.N., I cannot think of anything more imbecile than that the French and British, on their own, without consultation with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world, should try to deal with the Russian threat in isolation. It is a fantastic suggestion, but it is one which the Government are trying to put out as a justification for their actions. When the people understand that they will realise that even this Government, with France, would not tackle the U.S.S.R. on their own.
One thing which appals ordinary people and certainly appals me more than anything else is the attitude of international immorality adopted by this Government. The people of this country believe in moral values. Even those who have supported the Government so far will not take easily the sort of nonsense talked by the Minister of Defence last night about moral rectitude. That sort of thing is rather disgraceful. In a world where the next war will be fought with hydrogen bombs, if it is fought at all, and in a world in which many of us 1535 believe that the advent of the hydrogen bomb will, paradoxically, probably save us from a third world war, international morality becomes more and more important. If morality goes out of the window what are we left with? We are left stripped naked in our dealings with international affairs.
Ordinary people, with their fundamental decency, believe in the United Nations and religious people who have written to us—irrespective of party—over the last two months, cannot find an answer to what the Government have done. They certainly got no reassurance from the Minister of Defence in his terrible words when he—a British Cabinet Minister, in 1956—suggested that there were things in the world more important than morality.
I noted that General Stockwell, Commander-in-Chief of our Suez Forces, was quoted in the News Chronicle yesterday. He is reported to have said:There are many who say, Why didn't we take Suez? Why didn't we take Cairo? It would have been bloody good fun and we should have enjoyed it. But that is not what we were told to do.At least it is a consolation to know that he was not told to do it, but that attitude of mind by a British commander-in-chief, addressing British forces on Egyptian soil, seems to be absolutely crazy and completely beyond belief.
Of course we must have oil and we have to protect the industrial machinery of this country. Anyone who represents an industrial constituency, as I do, knows that if oil ceases to flow there will be no future for us as an industrial nation. We all recognise that. But the great danger to the oil was the attitude of this Government, because when they dropped the first bomb on Egypt that was an attack on the whole Moslem world and the whole of the Arab States.
How could the Government think for a moment that when they started to make war on Egypt they could continue to get oil from the Middle East? As a man not experienced in foreign affairs it seems to me that that is a question which must be asked. Obviously the first thing which would happen would be that the pipelines would be stopped, the Canal blocked, and there would be considerable difficulty in obtaining oil 1536 at all from some of the Middle East countries. That is a point which the Government should have had in mind.
We must continue to get oil from the Middle East. I associate myself with hon. Friends who have said that we must now get America interested in the Middle East in order to replace some of our prestige. I know that that point of view is not popular with hon. Members opposite, but I do not hold the view that we can have a vacuum in any part of the world, certainly not in the Middle East. I am certain that as we cannot play the part in the Middle East which we have played hitherto we have to get the Americans to go in to take our place. I share some of the perturbations of hon. Members opposite about American oil interests and I am aware of the fighting for power of the Texas oil companies and so on, but that is traditional free enterprise having its play. That is what the party opposite stands for. It is no use hon. Members opposite complaining about private enterprise in the Middle East when that is what they are supposed to stand for and when that is a principle of their party.
We on this side of the House believe in the ordered development of things, the ordered flow of materials, the proper rationing of supplies and the proper utilisation of supplies of raw materials. I believe we have to try to make the United Nations effective economically as well as politically to ensure a fair distribution of oil from the Middle East and other oil centres.
If we are to try to get America to come in because of the Russian threat in the Middle East I do not believe that we can do so by putting down Motions on the Order Paper such as that which appears under the names of hon. Members opposite. One would have hoped that by now they would have had the decency to remove such a Motion from the Order Paper. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Why? Because they know as well as we do and as well as the ordinary people do that if it is our aim to get the Americans to play as fundamental a part in world affairs as they should we shall not get them to do so by putting such Motions on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
I was a signatory to that 1537 Motion. There is nothing denigatory of America in the Motion. It simply draws attention to what is a fact—that the attitude of the American Administration is endangering the Atlantic alliance. If the hon. Member had been on the Continent a week ago, as I was, he would understand that better.
§ Mr. Howell
I can only say that if the hon. Member thinks that the Atlantic alliance can carry on as it was before these events started, without any consultation between us and the Americans, and with this sort of Motion on the Order Paper, he is living in cloud-cuckoo land.
We must get back to first principles in this country. The people of the country expect us to get back to first principles. They expect us to put our faith in the United Nations, to respect its Charter and to respect Article 51, because if we take unto ourselves the right to drop bombs and to be judge and jury in our own house, then when other people take the same right unto themselves we in these over-populated islands and in our geographical position will be very much worse off than many of us would like to think.
What we must do is to try to build up again the Commonwealth, and that will not be done by the disgraceful things which I have witnessed in the last six months—the sneers of hon. Members opposite at members of the Commonwealth, particularly when India was mentioned, or Pakistan, where they had a "Hate Britain Sunday" not long ago because of the activities of this Government.
Neither of those countries was consulted before our action in Suez. Nor was Mr. Menzies, who did so much work in going to see Colonel Nasser to try to make the Users' Consultative Committee a success. We know that he has supported this Government out of loyalty but in view of all the work he did one would have thought that he was entitled to some consultation before the Government took their action.
The first step is to rebuild the Common-weath, because I believe the Commonwealth is the greatest power for good in the world today; and its power for good rests upon moral and social values which we in this country should all highly value. We certainly need to rebuild the Atlantic alliance. I could not agree more about that. It would be the worst possible thing 1538 if the Atlantic alliance were destroyed as a result of activities of hon. Members opposite, and I very much hope that the view which has been expressed—that we shall rebuild it—is true. Nevertheless, I saw on the tape this morning that one isolationist Senator in America said that he hoped we did not get the waiver on the Loan, he hoped we got no oil and he even talked about war criminals put in the dock in Germany and likened our present Government to them. We cannot feel very proud about that.
What we have done is to drag the good name of Britain down in the world, jeopardise the British economy and bolster up Britain's worst friends, even in America. That is the greatest charge which we can make against this Government. They have jeopardised the good name of this country and of the ordinary British people, 50 million of them, whose representatives do not reside on the benches opposite—the men and women who work in the factories, on the farms and in the offices of this country and who more and more since the last war have come sincerely to believe that in the days of the hydrogen bomb and all that it means we must have a standard of morality in world affairs which we expect our Government, whatever its political convictions, to support.
I hope that we shall try to rebuild the alliance which, unfortunately, has been crushed for the time being. I hope that in the future we shall put more and more emphasis on economic aid, without strings, through the various United Nations Agencies. We must try to settle the refugee problem; my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) made an eloquent plea earlier about that. I believe he was right. We must channel money into the Agencies in order to settle the question of the refugees in the Gaza Strip and the Middle East generally. At any rate for the next five or ten years, we have to do this economically, because as a political Power, unfortunately, we are not much respected at the moment.
Whenever we speak at the United Nations we should try to take not only a realistic but a moral point of view. It is no use the Foreign Secretary and hon. Members opposite continually repeating in the House that on 200 occasions the United Nations discussed this 1539 problem and that a Resolution was passed about five years ago on the subject of Israeli shipping but that nothing happened. We all regret that, but everyone knows that in the last five years during which we have had this Government not once has their Foreign Secretary gone to the United Nations and demanded positive action about free passage for the Israeli shipping through the Suez Canal.
The most important thought in the minds of most people today in this country concerns the crimes which have been committed in Hungary. The people of this country are disgusted about the murder of innocent people in Hungary. I do not say that the attitude and actions of the Government have caused these murders. I do not know. I do not think sufficient evidence is available for us to say.
§ Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
The right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) thought so.
§ Mr. Howell
My right hon. Friend must answer for himself. I thought he made a very formidable case on this matter. Personally I think there is not sufficient evidence to pass final judgment, and I would therefore not make the charge, but I say—and this is what the ordinary people of this country are saying—that if ever there was a time when this nation ought to have gone to the United Nations with clean hands, this was it.
The ordinary people of this country are saying that we cannot condemn the atrocities and the murders in Hungary because we ourselves have not clean hands over our attitude in Egypt. That is a sufficient charge to make against the Government at the moment without going any further—that at the very moment of history when brave men, after ten years of subjection to Communist totalitarianism, rose up against that totalitarianism to get their freedom and all that it meant, the British nation could not with a clear conscience condemn Russia in the United Nations.
I do not believe, therefore, that we can speak with a clear voice in the United Nations, that we can rebuild the Atlantic alliance and that we can rebuild the relationships in the Commonwealth while 1540 Her Majesty's present Government remain in office. The one decent thing left for them to do is to have an Election and to put this to the test of public opinion. Let the people of this country pass their judgment upon the events of the last six months. We should be happy to abide by the judgment which they would pass at the Election. It is the last piece of indecency if hon. Members opposite intend to cling to office and to hang together because they know that if they do not hang together now they will all hang separately at the next Election.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
The hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. D. Howell) demonstrated to us that he believes in international morality or moral values. He also told us that he does not like to see a vacuum in the Middle East. I think it is a very good thing indeed that our belief in international morality at least did not engender national sterility but enabled us to give birth to the United Nations emergency Force, which is partly to fill the vacuum in the Middle East which he deplores as much as I.
The right Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker)—I think I have his words correctly, for I noted them at the time—said, with reference to the United Nations Force, "I urge the Government to drop the silly legend that they proposed the international force." I want to read the following quotation:We do not seek to be masters of Egypt; we are there only as the servants and guardians of the commerce of the world. It would enormously aid us in our task if even token forces of the other partners in the four-Power proposal were stationed in the Canal Zone as a symbol of the unity of purpose which inspires us. And I believe it is no exaggeration to state that such token forces would probably bring into harmony all that movement by which the four-Power policy may be made to play a decisive part by peaceful measures, and bring to an end the wide disorders of the Middle East in which, let me assure you, there lurk dangers not less great than those which the United States stemmed in Korea.Those words were, of course, spoken by one who has been quoted very frequently throughout this debate—my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). He used them when he was addressing the Congress of the United States of America, as far back as 17th January, 1952. There, at any rate, if not the first, was certainly a very concrete and 1541 formidable proposal that such a police force in this area should come into being.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
May I ask the hon. Member, when did a senior Minister of Her Majesty's present Government go to the United Nations and make any such proposal?
§ Mr. Eden
I was referring to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford. It is not a novel proposal, but one which has long been thought out and put forward. That was just one of the occasions, and an occasion when it might have found considerable favour.
The right hon. Gentleman now seems to infer that it is purely fortuitous that this Force has come about. I do not agree with him. I think that had this action not taken place in the Middle East, the United Nations—or, if one likes, the United States—would not have been stimulated into proposing the formation of this Force.
I should like to make a few very short remarks on the general tenor of today's debate. Apart from one or two, hon. Members have rather taken the line of looking to the future or, as others like to call it, facing the realities. I should like, for a moment, to face some of the realities—not all of which are, necessarily, pleasant ones. I must admit that, having admired, encouraged and enthusiastically supported the action of the Government in going into Egypt in the first place, as a British subject I felt-even though I had prepared my mind to receive it—a great deal of humiliation on Monday during the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary.
I was extremely sad to have heard it, and saddened particularly, as I have been throughout the debate, by the attitude of right hon. and hon. Members opposite, who seem to take an inordinate delight in any setback to this country, and to go out of their way to strengthen the arms and words of our enemies. I hope that they will now recognise the great damage that they have done, not only in Egypt by giving false encouragement to Colonel Nasser himself, but, to a considerable extent, in the United States of America, where their speeches were widely quoted, and frequently used 1542 to give a completely wrong impression not only of the aims and ambitions of this Government, but of the position that they hold in the eyes of the country.
§ Mr. Percy Daines (East Ham, North)
Surely, the hon. Member will agree that if we are to survive, it is essential for us to have the closest possible contact with the United States. Under that heading, may I also submit that nothing could do more to create confidence between ourselves and the United States than a change of Government and, particularly, of Prime Minister?
§ Mr. Eden
It might certainly re-create confidence, if the hon. Gentleman wishes to put it that way, but I am quite certain, also, that that will not come about.
In facing some of the realities of the present situation I feel that there are at least three lessons which we have to learn from this episode. I agree with the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle)—it was about the only thing in her speech with which I did agree—that, to face the future, we have to look back, to some extent, to what has taken place in the past. We certainly should not close our minds completely to what has happened in the recent past, because many valuable lessons can be learned from it.
Three principal lessons seem to stand out clearly. The first is that, because of the grave threats to our economy, we are no longer able to carry on even a limited operation of this kind, particularly when our oil supplies are threatened. The second lesson is that our policy differs fundamentally from that of the United States of America on principles and on approach. The third lesson is, as the hon. Member for All Saints has already said, that there has been a power vacuum in the Middle East.
On the first point, the economic situation, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has already had something to say. That is the first unpalatable reality which we have to face. All of us, whatever our party and our political faith and convictions may be, must regret that the progress that was being made towards stabilising the country's economy has been interrupted. Regrets will not put that right. We have to recognise that it will not be an easy or a quick matter to pay the bill for this recent action.
1543 It will not be a pleasant matter, and now, more than ever, is it vitally necessary that we should produce as much as we can, that we keep down the costs of production as much as lies within our own individual capacity, both as employer and as employee, and that we should make every conceivable effort to resist placing an excessive demand upon State expenditure.
Whether we like it or not, that is something which, to some extent, we will have to do. This is not the occasion to go into details, but it is right, I think, to consider that, for some time to come, we cannot expect to have too lavish or generous a State expenditure, as we have been having in the recent past.
I turn next to the differences that have existed between ourselves and the United States of America. I certainly do not bear any hostility at all to the American people, and I do not wish to enter into any recriminations whatsoever, but to leave the matter without any comment at all is not my idea of frankness, or of the way in which a partnership should be conducted. I am quite certain that had differences not arisen between ourselves and the United States, this grave crisis would never have occurred. Had we, for example, had over the past few years a common policy in the Middle East, it is very likely indeed that the trouble in Egypt would not have taken place.
As I see them, these differences stem mainly from a different fundamental approach to Arab-Asian nationalism. The United States Administration has long been conscious, or at any rate, vocal in its consciousness, of what it terms anti-colonialism. It may well be that it had decided that the time had come to stop for a moment paying lip-service to what it called anti-colonialism and to demonstrate its good faith to the rising nationalistic elements in the Middle East by action in this particular instance. If that is so, it could not have chosen a more unfortunate time to do it or have done it in a more disastrous way.
The differences which have existed between us can, and must be, made good. I am certain that no friendship or alliance is of any value whatever if it is bought by one partner at the expense of the other or at the cost of humiliating the 1544 other. This should be recognised by the United States of America. Fortunately, the recent actions and the leadership that she as now showing demonstrate fully that she is trying, so to speak, to make up for what has passed.
I welcome particularly the further support the Americans are showing to the Bagdad Pact. I welcome it because they now fully recognise the menace to the Middle East, not only to the oil supplies but also to the countries and peoples themselves, of Russian infiltration.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short), I think it was, referred to the fact that Syria had now outflanked Turkey. Rather is it the case that Russia, by entering Syria in the manner she has and by influencing Syrian politics as she is, has not only outflanked Turkey but has outflanked the Bagdad Pact countries and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It is that fear which must have been predominant in the mind of Her Majesty's Government when, in intervening as they did in Egypt, they prevented the possibility of Russia further encircling our position in Europe by moving along the coast of North Africa.
Still more energetic action must now be taken by the United States of America and ourselves, particularly in the field of propaganda. We must take a much more active part ourselves in what is sometimes called psychological warfare, which other people call the "cold war," and which still others refer to as the "war of ideas." It is of the greatest importance, particularly in countries like those of the Middle East, where so many people are unable to read or write, that we should fully appreciate the tremendous influence of radio. We must by no means be backward or lacking in ensuring that our case and point of view in what we stand for in this country is put across to the Arab-speaking peoples through the medium of broadcasting.
Arab nations are, to all intents and purposes, bound together solely by their common hatred for the State of Israel and their common determination to destroy that State. Therefore, as I see it, the objective of our diplomacy for the future must be to try to bring a sense of proportion and realism into Arab 1545 thinking, and to encourage in the Israelis greater tolerance and understanding.
We must certainly not split the Arab world into a number of independent States, with conflicting interests and ambitions. We must try to work with the tide of nationalism, and, so far as their traditions and inhibitions will allow, mould them into one harmonious community of nations. Only in this way can they all be together and work together successfully, permanently improving the standards of their people. Moreover, they must together remain alert to the menace that threatens them all from the North.
We must go further. Through the medium of our diplomacy—and when I say "our diplomacy" I refer to the efforts of the United States and ourselves—we must try to form the States of the Middle East into a more defensive bloc, such as was originally envisaged in the Middle East defence organisation. Above all, whatever may happen, let us not drift back to the situation which existed before the Government took their precipitous action.
Britain and the United States have a vital and urgent part to play together. If this particular episode has shown nothing else, it has shown that in no part of the free world can we afford to relax our guard. The evidence which has come to us from Egypt, and which is now coming to us from Syria, quite clearly demonstrates this. It has shown, also, that on all occasions our motives and our actions, while not necessarily being agreed to, must, at any rate, be understood by our principle ally across the Atlantic.
The events of the past few weeks have shown that in a world threatened by the imminence of total destruction and demoralised to a great extent by the homilies and pious injunctions of international organisations, we must in the last resort, when we believe it to be right, never fail to act, as we have done on this occasion, for I am sure that in the long run only good can come out it.
§ 8.28 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
It is not surprising that people throughout the country and the world are bewildered as to what has been the Government's policy in all these events. When one listens to the speeches of hon. Gentle- 1546 men opposite one can readily understand the confusion which exists. Almost without exception—and the speech by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) was typical—we have had the situation represented on the one hand as a triumph of Government policy in which they have achieved all the objectives which they set out to achieve, while at the same time there is, on the other hand, an attack on the Opposition, blaming it for the damage which has been done to our reputation, to our economy, and to the West.
Hon. Gentlemen cannot have it both ways. Of course, we clearly understand why speakers from the benches opposite are having to speak in this fashion and indulge in double-talk. We could not expect them to come here as penitents and ask for forgiveness. Therefore, they had to try to justify themselves in some way or other, but some of the justifications which they have put forward are far beyond the possibility of deceiving anyone. The principal justification, which we have heard from the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West and others, and which is, repeated in the Government's Motion, is that one of the chief results of the action we have taken in Egypt is to get a United Nations Force into being in the area.
The hon. Member for Bournemouth, West thought that he had scored a very good point when he drew attention to the fact that this was not a new idea because the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) had actually mentioned the idea of a United Nations force as far back as 1951 or 1952. He did not answer the question why, when his own Government or party had that in mind, no member of the party and no responsible Minister had ever put that proposition to the United Nations.
Let me tell the hon. Member that not even the right hon. Member for Woodford had a sudden brainwave in mentioning the idea of an international police force. It is a subject which has been debated in political circles for at least forty or fifty years. Indeed, it was one of the subjects before the League of Nations, and one of the points upon which the League faltered. The attitude of my party is that it has always been one of the basic points towards international 1547 affairs that we should have an international force and that no military action should be taken by anyone except on the basis of collective security through an international organisation.
Even so, if the right hon. Member for Woodford was so convinced of the necessity, not of a United Nations police force, I gather, but of a four-Power force established in the Suez Canal area to look after the freedom of navigation through the Canal and generally to observe peaceful conditions in the area, it would be interesting to know why that same right hon. Gentleman's Government subsequently withdrew the only troops in the Canal area—the British troops—in the evacuation agreement which his Government made with Nasser, and handed over the whole control of the Canal and of Egypt to Nasser himself. We seem to have travelled a long way from the time when the right hon. Gentleman made that statement which has been quoted from his speech in 1951 or 1952.
It scarcely seems necessary again to take up the point, which, however, is still being repeated by hon. Members opposite, that the action or achievement of the Government in bringing the United Nations and the United States to realise the necessity of having a police force is something that justifies the action we took. as though we went into the Canal Zone, bombed Port Said, destroyed several hundreds of Egyptian lives and caused a tremendous amount of damage and dislocation, with all the tremendous effects which it has had on our own country, all for the purpose of giving the United Nations a lesson in the necessity for having a police force to stop that kind of thing.
It would seem that in the past we have done a grave injustice to Japan in her invasion of Manchuria, when probably she was only trying to demonstrate the need for collective security to prevent that kind of thing, or to Mussolini when he invaded Abyssinia; or perhaps Franco was only trying to draw the attention of the democratic world to the danger of Fascism. Or it may be that Khrushchev and his friends in their Hungarian action are only trying to show to the democratic world the danger of Communism. That is the crazy argument we get into, that because the Government can take action 1548 of this kind and the whole world reacts against it, that is the purpose of the action. It does no justice to hon. and right hon. Members opposite.
I took note of what the hon. Member for Chichester (Sir L. Joynson-Hicks) said when he stated that we had achieved all the objectives of the operation. When I asked what they were, he replied that I knew quite well what they were because they had been stated over and over again. I have, therefore, taken a note of the objectives of the operation, which were to stop the war, to prevent it from spreading and to make possible a settlement of the Canal.
As for stopping the war, we have done that. So did Hitler stop the war in 1945 by committing suicide. We prevented the war from spreading, because we bowed to world opinion and to the pressure of the United Nations. The Government bowed to the pressure of the Opposition and of public opinion in this country. We stopped the war from spreading further, to the great disappointment of many hon. Members opposite, who have repeatedly told us that we ought to have gone on with it.
The final claim about making a settlement of the Canal possible is fantastic. There was never any difficulty about a settlement of the Canal position. We had it offered to us in Nasser's own Egyptian plan and in the Indian plan, a copy of which I have with me, and which, for the benefit of anyone who has forgotten, provided, among other things, for thefree and uninterrupted navigation for all nations in accordance with the Convention of Constantinople of 1888.There was no question but that either that or a similar plan would certainly have been accepted by Col. Nasser, because for the first time in Egyptian history, Egypt had a supreme interest in keeping the Canal free.
Previously, of the £11 million profit per year drawn from the Canal, Egypt's share was less than £1 million. After the nationalisation act Egypt's share was 100 per cent. Therefore, for the first time, Egypt had a primary purpose in keeping the Canal open, and the Canal was kept open, and hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were very disappointed that the withdrawal of the British and French pilots did not succeed in closing the 1549 Canal. Nasser went out of his way to recruit pilots, and advertised in many countries, and got Russian and American pilots and others.
To find the real reason for the Government's operations we have to go back quite a long way. It is something that no one on either side of the House has mentioned so far during the debate. It dates back not only to the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. It has been clear from the beginning that the Government's action was the termination of a long series of events which raised the blood pressure of a certain section of the Tory Party to boiling point. The Suez Group in the Tory Party was not created at the time of the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. The history of the Suez Group goes back a long way. The Suez Group has for a long time been exerting pressure on the Government to take military action, or at any rate some strong action to demonstrate that Britain is still a great Power and is not to be pushed around.
There was a Tory candidate in the General Election which occurred at about the time of Abadan. That Tory candidate, Colonel Bilton, said:If the Persians do not stop, we must hit them on the jaw, even if it means war.That was the spirit of the Suez Group at the time of Abadan. It was inspired then not by the evacuation of the Canal base. It was inspired by the evacuation of the Sudan.
That Group was talking in the same terms at that time. It was talking in the same terms, and the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) was one of its chief spokesmen, when the Labour Government were in power. It was saying that we should not give India and Pakistan their freedom. The right hon. Member for Woodford, speaking from the Front Bench on this side of the House, for then he was in Opposition, said that if he had been elected Prime Minister and leading the Tory Party in 1945 he would have stayed in India at all costs. So the attitude of the Suez Group of the Tory Party goes right back to that time.
When Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal and the Tory Party could not get its own way the Government sent an ultimatum, but could not get the support of world opinion for that ultimatum. Then the Suez Group got sufficient 1550 support to be able to take charge of the Government for a little while, but it did not work for very long, because world opinion was against it, and world opinion happens to be very important in politics at the present time. International opinion began to work. It began to work on this side of the House, it began to work in the country, it began to work in America, and it began to work elsewhere.
So the Suez Group, after a little, temporary triumph, is now complaining that it is the Opposition who have taken over control of the policy of Parliament, and they complain that it is we who have been responsible for what some of them call the damage, what some of them call by other names. That is the charge made against us from the other side of the House.
If we have come to the point at which the Government have to change their policy, at which they have to admit complete defeat, at which it is said that it is the Opposition who have taken control of the country's policy, with the support of this country's allies all over the world, and the support of the League of Nations, and the support of the majority of the Commonwealth, is it not high time for the Government to realise that they are no longer fit to govern and are no longer entitled to govern, and to give way to others?
§ Mr. R. Brooman-White (Rutherglen)
I have listened to a great deal in the hon. Gentleman's speech with which I do not agree, but would he make it clear that he does not identify a large degree of opinion in this country over this matter or the matter of Hungary with the opinion of India as expressed in recent months?
§ Mr. Hynd
I am not very clear what opinion expressed in India the hon. Gentleman is talking about. It is not impossible that some opinion has been expressed in India with which I do not agree, and as I do not know about it I cannot answer his question.
It is clearly demonstrated not only that the Government have suffered a terrible defeat but also that they have brought the country's reputation humiliatingly low. That has been admitted time and time again even on the other side of the House. They have also brought the country's economy almost to catastrophe.
1551 We have it from the Tories' own Press that that is the position, and that economically the country is on the brink of catastrophe. For instance, I noticed in the Daily Mail this morning these words:If any further reason were needed for the decision to leave Suez. these figures"—that is, those given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—would provide it.Then The Times says:The Foreign Secretary evidently conveyed the impression to the meeting"—that is, a meeting of the Tories' foreign affairs committee—that the economic consequences of the crisis were very much in the Government's mind when the decision was taken on withdrawal from Egypt.In other words, even if it had not been for the fact that we were forced by political pressure to stop, we should either have been forced to withdraw for economic reasons or we should have plunged into final economic disaster. It is only the Opposition, with its pressure upon the Government, that has saved us from the ultimate political consequences of that folly and has saved at least the little economic opportunity that still remains to the country.
This is the result of the action which the Government leaders are so fond of calling, in their own language, courageous and brave. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of himself and his colleagues as brave men. The Prime Minister, in his television broadcast, spoke of courageous action, and the Minister of Transport used the same expression in his television broadcast.
What was the courageous action? We waited until Israel were chasing the Egyptians across the Sinai Desert and then we, together with the mighty arms of France, stabbed the Egyptians in the back when they were being defeated by the Israelis—and the Israelis are complaining that we stopped their getting a final victory. We sent bombers in against no opposition. Our pilots say that. There were practically no fighters against them and very little "flak," and they dropped their bombs.
The results of this "courageous" action was discussed in the House yesterday, 1552 on a report from the Paymaster-General, who came back with the astonishing statement that if the wounded numbered 574 the normal calculation would show that the deaths would be about 100 and therefore the figures given by the Minister of Defence were probably correct. The Paymaster-General could give no more information than that, after his special investigation. We still wonder what the Minister of Defence meant when he gave that figure and attacked us for daring to suggest that the information which he had obtained from the Commander-in-Chief could be doubted at all. The right hon. Gentleman said he was completely confident of the information given by the Commander-in-Chief.
What do the figures mean? If there were 100, 200, or 300 dead, what do they mean? Here is a report from the special correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, a paper which has certainly been very much in support of the Government. It reads:Port Said, Tuesday—Three plumes of smoke rising, 1,500 feet into a sunny sky today records the death agony of Port Said. As I write I am flying directly over the town looking down to where Royal Marine Commandos landed this morning. They are locked in a fierce house-to-house struggle with its Egyptian defenders. Women with babies, men dragging children, old people with robes flying—all pounding along to escape from the stricken town and the battle as we roared low over their heads. They were already so frightened they did not even see us. They just kept on running, anywhere to get away.That is the "courageous" action of the Government. They say that they stood up for the first time to a dictator. That is standing up to a dictator. Why do they not stand up to the real dictator? What are they doing about Hungary? One of Her Majesty's Ministers said that we could do nothing about that, but we would give a contribution to relieve the victims of the Russian attacks. But where is the courage and determination to stand up to dictators? There is the real test.
What do the Government do? The Prime Minister goes to Jamaica. I make no apologies for asking whoever is his representative in the House when was the last occasion when a British Prime Minister, having launched the country into war and got us into a mess like this, went off to sunny seas for a holiday. We are told he was not even ill, that he was just tired. There are many thousands of others who are tired. I have constituents 1553 who were sent to Port Said who had arranged to be married the same week. They were not allowed time to get married before going and have not been allowed to come back to get married, but the Prime Minister goes off. It is time that he came back if he is to carry on, but if he is so tired or so ill he had better resign and let somebody else take over.
I will curtail what I have to say because of the time. I want, however, to say briefly what I think we ought to do about the situation, such as it is. The Opposition has, I believe, to take credit for having stopped this madness. It has, I believe, to take credit for having saved something from the economic wreck, which may make it possible for us to recover some kind of economic stability in the future. Therefore, the Opposition has to play its part in an attempt to rebuild British prestige and bring forward policies for the United Nations to face the problems with which it has to deal in the Middle East and elsewhere.
There is one other proposition which I should like to put forward. I will not take up too much time because we shall have an opportunity of going into the details of it later. It is in regard to the question of oil. There have been many discussions about what we should do concerning Middle East oil. May I suggest to the Government that what we should consider is not what we should do about Middle East oil but about the world oil surplus in all countries, because one of the dangers of the policy which we have applied in the Middle East in the past is that we have tended to treat the Arab countries to some kind of colonial control to which other countries are not subjected. Suez as compared with the Panama Canal is an example.
After the world war we dealt with the wheat shortage of the world by the simple means of setting up a world wheat pool in America, where the exportable surpluses of all countries were brought together, a formula was worked out, and equitable distribution was made according to the requirements of each country. Why cannot the same be done with all the surplus oil in the Middle East and elsewhere? It may be said that the Russians would not play. That would be too bad. It would not be the first time that we have had to work out these problems in a democratic world alone and in anticipa- 1554 tion that at some time Russia would come in.
We cannot go on treating the Arab countries as though they were the only ones that should be subjected to international rule while all the rest go free—America and the others. We are all in this now. I suggest to the Government that, having caused all this economic damage which we are suffering and the chaos which is evident from every line in the newspapers today—oil shortage and unemployment growing—it is time that they began to think about the equitable distribution of the burden. They will not do that by forcing through Parliament a Bill for the decontrol of houses and the increase of rents, which was prepared when things were quite different.
We are now in a situation in which normally we would be considering a new rent control because we are in a war economy situation, and it is in those conditions that we begin to control things. The decontrol Bill was prepared before this situation was created, and I think that it is time that the Government as a part of their contribution to distributing the burden, withdrew that Bill for the period of the emergency.
There are a number of other things which they could also do. There is one more which I would suggest. It was announced today by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Government are granting £100,000 to assist the British nationals whom they set out to protect, and who are now in this awful plight because of the Government's attempt to protect them, and who were quite happy before. The Government are assisting them because they have lost their jobs and careers. I would ask whether the Government would consider extending that idea by compensating the motor workers and others who are again being thrown out of their jobs as the result of Government action.
Let us be fair all round and take responsibility as a Parliament for the victims of the policy for which the Government have been responsible. The Opposition is prepared, as my right hon. Friend said sometime ago, to play its part in making Parliament a Council of State to get through this difficulty. Obviously it cannot be done with the present Prime Minister in office, and it 1555 cannot be done with any confidence among our allies while this suspicion—and it is more than a suspicion—of collusion is still hanging about.
I add my voice to that of my hon. Friend who gave new evidence so strongly a few moments ago. He asked the Government if they did not realise that, for the sake of restoring Britain's name and prestige in the world, they should do the only possible thing, to abolish all these suspicions and rumours, namely, to establish a public inquiry so that the facts can be brought to light.
This is no longer a party question. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have asked us to forget the past and look to the future. If we are to do that, some conditions must be fulfilled. One is that we must have a leader of the Government and of Parliament who will be acceptable to our allies, a leader whose hands are clean of this affair. The other is that there must be an equitable distribution of the burden amongst all classes of the population. On those conditions the Government, or a Government, can have the united support of this party.
§ 8.51 p.m.
§ Air Commodore A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)
In the few moments available to me I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) will forgive me if I do not follow his remarks, because the Leader of the Opposition wants to speak about five minutes to nine.
I regret sincerely the accusations which the hon. Gentleman made about the illness of the Prime Minister. He does not know the facts. I am sure that my right hon. Friend is not lacking in courage. He has proved that more than once in his lifetime. So I am prepared to dismiss as mischief-making the remarks of the hon. Gentleman.
Having listened to almost every speech in this two-day debate I have come to the conclusion that we have lost sight of the reason for all that has happened. It was that Nasser seized the Suez Canal by military force. That fact has hardly been mentioned in the debate. Listening to hon. Gentlemen opposite, one would think that we seized the Canal—[An HON. MEMBER: "That is what it is all about."] As usual, there 1556 has been a double twist. I stand by the Government's action in this matter, completely. It did stop the war spreading.
Here, I quote from the Leader of the Opposition, who said in the House when Parliament was recalled:I would ask them, nevertheless, to look at the probable consequences of military action taken in these conditions. There can be not the slightest doubt that the other Arab States will rally wholeheartedly to the side of Egypt."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th September, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 22.]That did not happen. Not one country came to the aid of Nasser because we intervened with our French allies. What would have happened had we followed the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton)? I must say I was surprised at his speech yesterday. I was surprised at a Privy Councillor and an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer suggesting that we should have allowed the Israelis to "go to it," When questioned on the matter the right hon. Gentleman said that British lives would not have been lost in that case. It struck me as a most peculiar line for a statesman of his experience to take.
The American withdrawal of their aid to build the Aswan Dam was the beginning of this trouble. If they had wanted to get out of it, they could have done so differently. What they did was clumsy, just as every other American attitude in recent years has been clumsy and immature. [An HON. MEMBER: "We followed them."] We could not have carried on by ourselves. We had not got the resources to do it.
Listening to hon. Gentlemen during the last two days I have been struck by the self-righteous attitude they have adopted. For ten years the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and his colleagues have consistently criticised the Americans. I well remember the day when, sitting on these benches, he referred to the Americans as "shabby moneylenders." Yet they were the people who went to America and borrowed £1,000 million, for which we have to pay interest for forty-five years.
Let hon. Members opposite remember it. Let me tell them, too, that the Americans do not mind rough talk; they understand it, and they prefer it to a lot of sentimentality. My belief is that the 1557 alliance will be better without the sentimentality and if we get down to hard facts, which the Americans readily understand.
My time is up. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I know that hon. Gentlemen opposite never like hearing the truth. The Government have done one thing by their action; they have prevented the war spreading. They have also succeeded in getting a military force into Egypt, which would not have happened if we had not intervened. If we had not taken action, there would have been a war throughout the whole of the Middle East, and then it would have been a matter not of one pipeline being blown up or of the Canal being blocked but probably of no oil at all being obtainable by Britain
I stand by the Government. I believe the people of Britain think that we did the right thing, but that we have been let down by our American friends—and the Opposition. Let us make no mistake about it. In recent years the Americans have ignored the Middle East problem. It suited big business in the United States to do so, for it has been a wonderful opportunity for it. Let us say what we think about it, because it happens to be true. American big industry seized the opportunities left in the vacuum in the Middle East.
I believe that we have to get along with the Americans in the interests of the salvation of the world. They will understand the problem now. Let us build the alliance into something really worth while and make it work.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
The Chancellor of the Exchequer this afternoon, somewhat to my surprise, described our Amendment as unexpectedly mild. I have been thinking that over, and I suppose there is something in what he says. After all, when we consider the situation in which we find ourselves, "disastrous" is, possibly, not sufficiently severe.
The Suez Canal is blocked for many months, we are in great difficulties over oil supplies, we face financial and economic crises at home, we have lost any influence that we had in the Arab States. we have thrown the Arab States 1558 wide open to Russian influence, we have created very grave divisions in the Commonwelath, we have created a breach in the Anglo-American understanding which used to exist, and we have very seriously damaged our reputation abroad for fair-mindedness, honesty and support for the United Nations. It may well be that we should have used a stronger word—"catastrophic ". If that is a better word from the Chancellor's point of view, I do not think that my right hon. and hon. Friends would object to it.
There are hon. Members on the Government benches who, while not being entirely satisfied with what has happened, take the view that the real trouble was not so much that we began the operation but that we failed to carry it through. I realise that they may not seem to be a majority. Yet at various times during the past five weeks the point of view of that group seems to have influenced the Government very substantially, and maybe it will do so again. It also happens to coincide with the point of view of a great many people in France. Consequently, I hope that the House will bear with me if, at the outset, I say a few words about their attitude.
I do not propose to put to them any high-falutin' moral arguments—I know that most of them do not take very seriously either the United Nations Charter or the United Nations itself. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] I think that is true of a certain number of hon. Members opposite—but I do propose to put to them some practical arguments which may appeal to them more forcibly. They say that we should have gone on. that we should not have agreed to the cease-fire.
Supposing we had done that, what would the consequences have been? No doubt in a matter of days we could have occupied the whole of the Canal Zone, and I dare say that, if a decision had been taken then to carry on the action against the whole of Egypt, we might, after a rather more bitter struggle, have succeeded in subduing entirely the Egyptian forces. We have never heard from them whether, in fact, that was their intention, but I wonder, if that had happened, what the consequences would have been. Do they really feel that if we had pursued that line of action there would have been any settlement? 1559 Many hon. Members on the Government benches have, from time to time, expressed precisely these sentiments, and in particular, of course, the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse). [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is well known to all of us. I am a little surprised that hon. Gentlemen opposite should not concede that some of their party believed that we should, in fact, have disregarded the demand for a cease-fire and gone on with the operation. Many of them are on record as having said that.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If the hon. and gallant Gentleman is not concerned, then, perhaps, he would wait while I talk about his hon. Friends.
Supposing we had pursued that line of action, what possible kind of solution could there have been? We should have found ourselves back again in the same position as we were in before we withdrew from Egypt with a very large army pinned down there and facing continual guerilla attacks. Would we, as a result of such action, have won any kind of friendship from the Arab States? Would we have secured that the oil flow continued? Of course not. In fact, had we done that, we should still have been up against the threat from Soviet Russia that was made the night before the cease-fire was agreed upon.
We should then have been obliged to ask the American Government whether they were prepared to give us their support in the event of Russian intervention, and I am afraid that there is no doubt that, so long as we found ourselves in that position, the American answer would have been, "No." That is the simple straightforward answer to any hon. Members who claim that really we should have faced the thing out, carried it through, ignored the cease fire and dominated Egypt.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am not accusing the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne). I was talking about a number of hon. Members opposite who have certainly been very vocal on this matter in the last 1560 few weeks. I would simply say to them that one cannot ignore the facts of world power today, which are that we are not a match alone, or even with France, for the power of Russia; and we cannot move in these things if there is any risk of conflict with Russia without the full agreement and collaboration of the United States.
I would say, secondly, that hon. Members opposite ignore the enormous importance today of nationalist forces in the Middle East. They ignore the fact, which surely should be apparent to all of us, that merely to suppress these forces is no solution to the problem they present. They ignore something else, as well. They ignore the fact that, as a democracy, we cannot really carry out the same kind of ruthless policy as Soviet Russia in suppressing opposition to us. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), in that remarkable and brilliant speech of his yesterday, drew attention to the way in which the Hungarian people had risen against Russia. He argued very forcibly that even Russia could not subdue the Hungarian people and that, in time, she would be unable to hold down the other peoples in Eastern Europe. If that is true of Russia it is ten times as true of Great Britain, and that is not something of which we should be ashamed; it is something of which we should be extremely proud.
The official view, the view of the Government as apart from the minority in the party opposite, began very much on the same lines as that of their hon. Friends, but, as time went on, as has been repeatedly pointed out from this side of the House, one excuse different from another was put forward day by day. It was a sort of seven veils act in reverse. The veils were put on one after another.
Yesterday and today we saw the seven veils being torn off. It was not a case of the individual actor doing a strip tease himself or herself—whichever sex the Foreign Secretary likes to adopt for this purpose. He was, I am afraid, subject to a partner in my right hon. Friend who proceeded to do the strip tease for him, and very successfully, too. Indeed, there is not much left of the costume or the veils that have been put on which I can get hold of today. Scarcely a fig 1561 leaf is left on the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
Today, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), in a masterly speech, demolished completely what he described very accurately as the legend that the Government were responsible for creating the United Nations Force. There is, however, the other part of the Government's Motion, the claim that what they did stopped the war; and I should like to make a few comments upon that.
It cannot have been the landing of British and French forces which stopped the war, because the war had stopped before they landed. That at least becomes perfectly clear from the exchanges of these last two days between the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friends. Undoubtedly, the cease-fire was operating. It had been accepted, before our forces actually landed. We still have this question to put to the Government: why, in those circumstances, did they proceed with the invasion?
Apart from the more obvious consequences—casualties, the bitterness, the difficulty at United Nations—there was one other consequence of the decision to continue with the invasion to which I think no reference has so far been made, but to which I personally attach some importance. It gave the Soviet Government the time to threaten that if we went on with this they would intervene. It therefore made it possible for Soviet Russia to allege, and, I am afraid, convince the Arab peoples, that what stopped the invasion of Egypt was not the United Nations, not the pressure of public opinion, but simply the Russian threat to intervene.
I am asked whether it convinced me. I do not know, frankly, whether the Government's decision in this matter was taken as a result of the threat of Russian intervention, but if that was so then it is the more shame to them that they had to wait for the threat before obeying the United Nations. If it was, however, not the landing which stopped the war then perhaps right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite will say that it was the bombing that stopped the war. Undoubtedly, the bombing by French and British planes of Egyptian airfields destroyed a great deal of the Egyptian Air Force.
1562 Nobody would deny for a moment that this helped Israel to win the battles in Sinai more quickly. Does anybody challenge that? That is agreed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] The Israelis themselves say that this assistance which they received—I very much doubt whether they either asked for it or, indeed, knew that it was coming—[An HON. MEMBER: "No collusion?"] We will come to that, too. [Laughter.] Hon. Members had better restrain their laughter until we come to that subject.
The Israelis say that had we not bombed the Egyptian airfields and aircraft it would probably have taken them another week to complete the job of mopping up the Egyptian forces in the Sinai area. I do not know what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen feel about this achievement of bombing and destroying in large part the Egyptian Air Force. Certainly, there was nothing very difficult about it. If you attack a country which is, in any case, plainly losing a war, a country which is itself the subject of a surprise onslaught—here I make no comment on whether or not the Israeli invasion of Egypt was justified by provocation—with infinitely greater superiority in weapons, it is not surprising that you destroy its capacity to continue to fight.
In that sense, I used the word "premature" about the fighting—[Laughter.] About the fighting—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where are the Opposition cheers?"] Perhaps hon. Members had better wait. In that sense I used the word "premature" about the ending of the fighting in Sinai, meaning that it came to an end—[An HON. MEMBER: "Prematurely."]—earlier than it otherwise would have done. I do not think that that is very surprising.
In fact, there are many interesting historical parallels. One occurred quite recently, within our lifetime, in 1939. When Germany invaded Poland, Soviet Russia invaded Poland, too. No doubt on that occasion the fighting was brought to an end sooner than it otherwise would have been. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer that."] Is it claimed by the Government that they have achieved this wonderful result, similar to that achieved by Russia when it attacked Poland? It may strike them as surprising, in that case, that, apart from the three participating 1563 countries, France, Israel and ourselves, and two Commonwealth countries Australia and New Zealand, no other members of the United Nations seemed to think that this was a particularly noble act.
Perhaps Government supporters should ask themselves why this action in bringing the fighting to a conclusion in the Sinai desert, earlier than it might otherwise have been, was not received so well by the rest of the world. In the first place, this is not the way in which any act of aggression or the outbreak of a conflict should be dealt with under the Charter of the United Nations. The second reason why there was not the same enthusiasm for this action of ours as hon. Members seemed to expect was that there was a considerable risk of other countries joining in. Had they joined in, the consequences might have been very serious indeed.
The third reason why I think other countries and many people in this country did not share the enthusiasm of hon. Members opposite is that this action of the Government also happened to involve a number of other highly awkward consequences, consequences from which we in this country and Europe will suffer for a very long time to come.
The fourth reason why there was no enthusiasm in other countries for what we did is because most people believed that the war could have been stopped in another way. The argument of the Government is, of course, precisely that if we had not intervened there would have been a greater conflagration, but when the Government put that point of view they always seem to assume that it is our opinion that nothing else should have been done. That has never been the case. Our view has been repeatedly stated—it was repeated again by my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South this afternoon.
It is that we should have used the Tripartite Declaration, that we should at once have got together—got together in advance in the light of the knowledge we had—with the United States and France, given the most severe warning against any act of aggression, gone to the Security Council, supported the Resolution of the Security Council, which then would have been carried unanimously instead of 1564 vetoing it, and then, if we wished—which would have been a very sensible thing to do—proposed the initiation of an international force to carry out that Resolution. We might then have offered our services as part of that force and been accepted as such. We should not then have been involved in any act of aggression; we should have had the United Nations behind us and we would have stopped the war.
There is a further reason why we believe the claim of the Government is unjustified. It is that we do not think that the war should have been allowed to start at all. Here, I must make further reference to the question of collusion or, if hon. Members opposite prefer the word, connivance, or prior knowledge, or whatever they like. There is no doubt that there is a mass of circumstantial evidence indicating that the French, at any rate, had knowledge of the Israeli intentions and that there was active co-operation between France and Israel in the military field in preparation.
It is also well known that the idea of using force was not abandoned either by Britain or France since the beginning of August. It is further known that there were meetings, at which officials were not present, between French and British Ministers on 16th and 23rd October and we have not heard from any Minister what took place at those meetings. There is also the notable difference in the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to the threat of an Israeli attack on Jordan and the threat of an attack upon Egypt. There is the extraordinary defence of the failure to use the Tripartite Declaration that Egypt was apparently not supposed to get the benefit of it, although, only a few weeks before, we were told that it was a pillar of the Middle East policy of the Government.
I now wish to put once again to the Lord Privy Seal the crucial question in this vital matter. It is this. Is it or is it not true that before 29th October, and possibly on 16th or 23rd October. discussions took place with France about Anglo-French intervention when Israel attacked Egypt? That is the question to which we have not had a reply. The Foreign Secretary, again and again, has answered a question which has not been put by anybody. We are not saying that the Foreign Secretary incited Israel to 1565 this attack. What we want to know is whether plans were made with the French in the knowledge that the attack would take place some time—plans which involved an attack upon Egypt. The Government, this evening, have a last chance to clear their name in this matter and I hope that they will take it.
I turn now, in response to the appeal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the future situation. I should like to say a word or two about the home front. I will make these proposals to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. First, in the difficult situation which faces us because of the shortage of oil, will he please put full employment and industry first? Will he make sure that, if there is any choice in this matter, the less important things, such as private motoring, should be sacrificed to ensure that full employment prevails?
Secondly, will he give an undertaking that if, despite that, there is not enough fuel oil for all industry, he will introduce a proper allocation scheme discriminating in favour of the more essential industries? Thirdly, will he produce and put into effect plans for dealing with unemployment, which is almost certain to arise in particular districts and particular industries? Fourthly, will he please realise that the other danger in the situation is the danger of rising prices? This is now becoming extremely serious, as we can see from the newspapers every day.
Will he not pledge the Government—I make this appeal to him—to avoid any needless action which makes the situation worse? I would reinforce the question which was asked earlier, and to which I was sorry to hear the Lord Privy Seal give a rather brusque reply: are the Government wise, in this situation, in proceeding with the Rent Bill? We do not say that they should abandon it altogether. That is their policy and they are entitled to bring it in. But we say that at a dangerous time like the present it is extremely foolish deliberately to introduce a Measure which is bound to increase the cost of living and bound to create a good deal of trouble as far as wages are concerned.
Finally, I should like to make this suggestion to the Chancellor. He must make an effort to obtain better relations with the trade unions. I suppose that relations between the Government and 1566 the trade union movement have never been as bad in this country since the war as they are today. But if he is to have better relations with the unions he must not just make appeals to them, but must take note of their views on policy and try to meet them. Those are my proposals for what should be done in this difficult situation on the home front.
May I turn, next, to the Commonwealth? I do not imagine that anybody can question the gravity of the division in the Commonwealth. I do not propose to quote again what was said by Mr. St. Laurent, a most wise and moderate statesman, nor will I quote the strong language which the Prime Minister of India has used, even recently, but I say to the Lord Privy Seal that if we are interested in maintaining the Commonwealth we cannot go on with the sort of relationships which exist now.
Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer must surely understand that on the financial side co-operation in the Commonwealth is vital. The sterling area works on the basis of an agreement and an understanding. It will not work if there are grave political divisions in the Commonwealth. I should have thought that at least some hon. Members opposite were still interested in commercial relations in the Commonwealth. As for the political side, are we not agreed that in world affairs, and, above all, in the vital issue of East-West relationships, the Commonwealth has a great part to play; but it cannot play this part as long as it is divided, as it is now.
What, then, should be done? I repeat the proposal which we made a few weeks ago. There ought to be a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers, as well as of Finance Ministers, to thrash out an agreed policy for the future. I am not saying that they should rake over the past, but I am saying that it is vital that there should be a conference to discuss, first, future arrangements for consultation. What the Government have done has completely upset the normal understanding on this matter. It really is not enough for the Chancellor to say, "Well, consultation is so difficult in a crisis". It is precisely in a crisis that it is so important.
We really must have within the Commonwealth some understanding about 1567 foreign policy. I venture to say that we shall not reach that understanding except on the basis of at least two principles: the first is that we accept the United Nations Charter; and the second is, that, within the Commonwealth, we agree to oppose what is called "colonialism", in all its aspects. Without these two things, it is not possible, in my view, to maintain the Commonwealth in its present—or, rather, in its recent form.
We must repudiate the kind of thing that has been said by some hon. Members opposite. I know that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is not taken very seriously, but when he says, as he did recently:The Suez Canal and the area surrounding it are, in some essential sense, part of the United Kingdom. I refuse to allow the Government to throw it away.that is just the kind of sentiment which is most calculated to split the Commonwealth finally and completely. It would be as well if Ministers made it plain that they do not share these ridiculous views of their followers.
I turn, next, to relations with our allies. I do not think it necessary for me to make a case here, but I would say that when right hon. and hon. Members opposite talk about a little quarrel which we can make up quite easily, I do not think that they are really facing up to the situation. What has really happened here has been a loss of confidence, because we have deceived the United States. Again, it is the failure to consult that has caused all the trouble.
I beg the Government to remember that we need to influence the United States, as we have done on some other occasions. I pay my tribute, as I have done before, to the work of the Prime Minister at the Geneva Conference. But one must also say that at that time, when there appeared to be a grave danger of America "going it alone" in the Far East, the Americans did not "go it alone" in the Far East. They listened to us. They accepted our views. After what has happened, I wonder whether they will ever do such a thing again?
Here, again, what is necessary are talks, not to rake over the past but to plan for the future. Once again, we must have an understanding about consultation. Once 1568 again, we must have an understanding about our attitude to the United Nations. And, once again, we must really make it plain that we, like them, thoroughly disapprove of colonialism in all its aspects.
There are one or two other things that can be done. For example, the Government might stop the First Lord of the Admiralty making speeches. Then, I think that hon. Members opposite would be well advised to remove from the Order Paper the severe Motion criticising the United States.
As for the United Nations itself, I want to say only this. We must distinguish between the Charter of the United Nations and the functioning of the United Nations. The Charter is a code of conduct which, until five weeks ago, it was assumed that any British Government would observe. If we do not observe that, we are, of course, running tremendous risks with our alliances and with the Commonwealth. The essential point is that we must understand that that Charter forbids any use of armed force except in self-defence or in collective defence. That is not an accident. It is laid down in the Charter which we drafted. It is because we have departed from that principle that the Commonwealth is split and the Atlantic alliance is in danger.
As members of the United Nations, we must accept collective decisions when they are taken by overwhelming majorities. Some hon. Members opposite have spoken as though, because the United Nations was ineffective in dealing with Russian aggression in Hungary, we should have nothing more to do with it. and we should do the same. I beg them to consider this. Because Russia behaves badly, as she has always behaved badly in this matter, surely that is no reason for us to do the same. If there is a double standard—and in many ways I agree with the sense behind that phrase—we surely should not abandon standards altogether; we should continue to strive to make it a single standard.
Next, I will say something, if I may, about unity at home. There has been, during these last weeks, a good deal of bitterness on both sides of the House.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I was endeavouring to say something constructive on this. It is not very easy.
There has been a great deal of bitterness on this side of the House and on that. There has been this bitterness, I would suggest, because we both happen to feel extremely strongly on the subject we were discussing.
First, I would beg hon. Members opposite not to go on identifying the Government with the country. It is, in fact, the essence of democracy that there is a profound distinction between the State and the Government. I would say, further, that they should—[HON. MEMBERS: "Time."] Hon. Members are only prolonging matters. I would say-to them that, in disregarding the distinction between the two, they are betraying the essence of democracy.
Secondly I do not believe that it is right that any Government of any colour should lead this country into war without first making sure that it has the unity of the nation behind it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Time."] I am sorry, but I really must finish. That was—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I apologise to the Lord Privy Seal, but it is not my fault if his hon. Friends go on like this.
We have managed now to force the Government to cease fire. They have, after some weeks, and very reluctantly, agreed to the withdrawal of their troops from Egypt. The next stage must be a return to the principles from which they have departed, namely, Commonwealth unity, understanding with our allies, and obedience to the United Nations.
This is not very easy for the Government. It means eating a lot of words. It means admitting that wrong things have been done, and it means dealing firmly with their followers. But it is the 1570 only way if we are to get through—[HON. MEMBERS: "Time."] I must say this. [HON. MEMBERS: "We have heard all this."] It is the only way if we are to get through the grave difficulties which face this country at home as well as abroad, and to win back something of the reputation in the world which we have so disastrously lost.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I will do my best in the time remaining, after the forty minutes' speech of the Leader of the Opposition, to put the arguments for the Government as shortly as I can. I quite understand that the right hon. Gentleman should have been carried away by the eloquence of his own verbosity on this occasion.
It lies very ill in the right hon. Gentleman's mouth, after his utterances over the last few months, to appeal at this stage for national unity. On 2nd August, he started describing Nasser as a Mussolini or Hitler and when pressed by his own supporters he came to the rather homely illustration that Nasser was a householder who was being attacked by a burglar. That is the right hon. Gentleman's own record and it is, therefore, not surprising that some of us should be quoting the terms of the famous song, which comes from "Annie Get your Gun", thatAnything Hugh can do Nye can do better.The right hon. Gentleman taunted the British Government with colonialism.
§ Mr. Butler
Perhaps he would reflect that while some 100 million people in Europe have been penned savagely within their prisons by the Soviet system, nearly 500 million in Asia and Africa have, thanks to the efforts of more than one British Government, including hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, been led towards nationhood, and that our record in that sphere ranks in the history of the world equal to any and indeed superior to all. I am surprised that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are not ready to recognise that as well as I am.
The first matter I want to deal with is what I regarded as the utterly revolting speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). I 1571 have had to deal with the right hon. Gentleman, for whose personal character nobody has a higher regard than I have. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"], ever since I was Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and we used to exchange views about the League of Nations, and I know his adherence to these societies of international conduct to which he rightly attaches so much importance. However, I should like to remind him that there is no connection whatever between the Russian assault on Hungary and our own action in Egypt.
I have again checked the speech which I made in the House on this subject, and to which he made no allusion in his speech, and in which I gave our own information, which was that long before we decided on our action or took our action—[HON. MEMBERS: "Ah."]—the Soviets had themselves decided, by a statement of their Foreign Minister and by the moving of their own tanks, to subdue Hungary. I would tell the right hon. Gentleman that on 24th October the Soviet tanks intervened at 4.30 a.m. On 26th October Soviet tanks crossed the border from Russia—not from Rumania only but also from Russia.
I have checked from our own intelligence that during the following days, by 29th October, there were no fewer than four Soviet divisions in Hungary in addition to the two which we originally estimated. There is absolutely no doubt in our minds, from the information at our disposal, which, I suppose, is some of the best that can be obtained, that the Soviets had long since decided to invade Hungary and to master Hungary, regardless of any action which we might have taken.
§ Mr. Butler
I am sorry not to give the right hon. Gentleman the opportunity to speak, but I have been left so little time that if I am to answer the points made I must proceed.
§ Mr. Butler
I can take it if I am given time by hon. Gentlemen opposite.
1572 I reject, therefore, absolutely the charge made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South, which, I think, is entirely dishonourable.
Now I want to pass from this controversial matter to just four points of constructive intentions with regard to the Middle East. The position, as I see it, of the result of British action and British courage in the Middle East is that we have a priceless opportunity of building up the future of that area in a way that we have never been able to do before. I say this in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), whose intervention on Monday, I think, impressed us all. namely, that if we have a United Nations effort in international co-operation we have a real chance of constructive building in the Middle East.
I say to my hon. and right hon. Friends who have been looking back to the record not only of the last year but of the last four years that we have tried during these three or four years, and during the last ten years under more than one Government, to build up a system of collective security and economic betterment in the Middle East. We attempted to build up a system of a middle East treaty organisation which was to be the pendant of N.A.T.O. on the one hand and of S.E.A.T.O. in the Far East on the other. We have been unable to persuade America to join with us, and we have at frequent intervals invited Egypt to be an equal partner.
We have done that on purpose, but the ferment of nationalism, aggravated by the violent contrast of riches and poverty in that area and the definite difficulties that we have met have made our task virtually impossible. I would refer the House to the words of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), which I think we should remember at this late hour of the night, when he asked us all to have a proper sense of humility in the face of the intractability of this problem. It is a sense of humility which makes one feel that we can now build our future on four main lines.
I should like to say in passing that I remember when I used to take foreign affairs debates from the other side of the House in answer to the late Mr. Ernest Bevin, who spoke for the then Government, that I had many talks with him, 1573 and it was his view that this was the most intractable, human and difficult problem in the world. It is today, and remains so.
I appeal to my hon. and right hon. Friends and hon. and right hon. Members opposite to back us on four main lines. The first is that we should put real strength behind the United Nations. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] By real strength, I mean the declaration of the United States of America and of Mr. Menzies in Australia. Mr. Menzies has just spoken, and he has said that this gives us an opportunity to build the future in a constructive manner. That is the answer to the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger), who quoted him in another direction.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
I quoted him on the facts. His opinions are rubbish. He is an old Tory.
§ Mr. Butler
If the right hon. Gentleman regards Mr. Menzies' opinions as rubbish, all I can say is that I prefer Mr. Menzies' to the right hon. Gentleman.
We should accept the view of the President of the United States and of Mr. Dulles when they have made clear their willingness to contribute to the purpose of bringing stability and a just peace to this area. That statement of the United States Government, quoted by the Foreign Secretary, is of the utmost importance in building up the future in this area. [HON. MEMBERS: "We hope."] Perhaps hon. Members do not want hope, but T think that we need hope.
The second point is that I think we should cast our eyes even further east than Suez, and we should attempt to make the bridge between East and West one of reality and not one of miasma. It has been one of miasma, and if it is one of reality the world can be a better place and life a worthier thing.
The third point is that the area, instead of being, in the words of the Bible, the Armageddon, the place of the battles of the peoples, Palestine, the place which was always looked on—the plain of Esdraelon—as being the clashing place and warring place of nations, should become the focal centre for the collaboration of the world to meet the many and great dangers that lie ahead. In this respect, I should like to welcome the 1574 speech of the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton), and say that in so far as we can make a reality of the Gaza Strip, under the United Nations, and perhaps enlarge that idea, it is our object to do so. There are, therefore, grounds for hope.
The fourth point is the building up of economic partnership between the skill, the inventiveness and the capital of the West and the Arab possessors and owners of the oil under the ground in that area. I would say in answer to an intervention earlier by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale that it is not our intention to work solely under the Bagdad Pact. We have broader ideas. It is our idea to accept the buttressing of the Bagdad Pact by the United States, but it is also our idea to extend the general economic outlook in that area, so that there are no bounds to our idealism or the practical character of the results that we shall achieve.
I hope that it is not too much to think that out of this, and out of the huge commercial transactions which take place in that area, we may be able to derive the moneys necessary to give the peoples of those lands the standard of living which they deserve; and I hope that it will not be too much for the idealists in countries which have such things as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Damodar Valley Authority to invent schemes which will enable the Middle East to be a source of plenty and of peace and prosperity for the future. The aim of the Government in this respect is to achieve a reasonable degree of stability and the minimum possible Russian interference, and the aim politically is to realise that there is a real Russian danger in Syria and that without the strength of the Atlantic alliance we cannot ensure peace in that area.
It may seem odd—[An HON. MEMBER: "Pathetic."] Hon. Gentlemen are really not in disagreement with what I am saying—that in a winding-up speech on which clearly so much depends I should devote a great deal of my time to the constructive aims which we have in mind as a result of the singularly courageous action taken by the Government. I should just like to add the following remarks, because I believe that it is the constructive work, as Mr. Menzies has said, as the President of the 1575 United States has said, and as our own Prime Minister has said, which is the vital task for us in the future.
I should like to answer one or two points made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale. The right hon. Gentleman, referring to human life, said:If it is only one,"—that is one human lifewe had no business to take it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th December, 1956; Vol. 561, c. 1286.]Does he realise that between 10th September and 11th October this year no fewer than 160 men, women and children were killed on the Jordan-Israel border? Does he realise, as I do, and that is the reason why I have unhesitatingly supported the Government in this venture—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—that had it not been for our intervention I have absolutely no doubt, from the information in my possession, that there would have been a war, a conflagration in the Middle East, and does he realise that, thanks to the humane and singularly efficient conduct of our troops, casualties have been reduced to a minimum and we have avoided a major war and an Armageddon in that area? I believe that unless the British Government had taken this decision there would have been more lives lost and that we would not have the chance now for the reconstruction and peaceful settlement that may come.
As for the right hon. Gentleman's question as to why we have sent arms to Egypt, I would only say this to him and to the party opposite, that the Egyptian Government were constantly complaining that we had not delivered what was promised by him and his right hon. Friends when they were in Government, that we had not lived up to the promises which they made.
The right hon. Gentleman has been carried away by the flood of his own recollections. He forgets that he has been wrong before. He was wrong when in the winter of 1944 we intervened in Greece to save the country from the Communist intervention there, which led eventually to the Truman doctrine, to the intervention of America and to a general saving of Greece from the Communist menace. What did he say then? He said that we were 1576…trying to slaughter resistance movements now and make another war inevitable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th January, 1945; Vol. 407, c. 574.]What did we achieve? We achieved the avoidance of a major war and the saving of Greece from the Communist menace and the introduction of the American influence into that area. Had I time I could quote, just as he has done, from what my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) illustrated in his book "Triumph and Tragedy," that at that time everybody was against him. The House of Commons was against him, the State Department was against him, the Manhcester Guardian was against him. And every single one of those authorities came round and saw that he had been right.
Now I come to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell). He asked two specific questions. He asked why we proceeded to call off the invasion. I can tell him, because I was a member of the British Cabinet and I followed everything intimately. On the morning of Tuesday, 6th November, we held a Cabinet meeting at which we were informed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations that both sides had ceased fire. We therefore decided to cease hostilities. It was not till that date that we had authentic evidence that both the Israelis—[Interruption.]—I can undertake to tell the right hon. Gentleman that this represents the exact facts as coming before the British Government.
The right hon. Gentleman has been an expert at speaking abroad on the subject of his country's policy. He has just been to Copenhagen, where he has spoken, and I am glad to say that the French Socialists walked out on him. John Bull, if I may so describe the right hon. Gentleman, was jilted by Marianne, and I am not surprised. The point about the right hon. Gentleman's remarks on his visit to Copenhagen was this. He said it was a matter of ethics. Well I believe, with Gilbert Murray, who has given us the benefit of his advice, that it was a matter of ethics; that had we not decided that aggression could be stopped in this way, the world would have been landed in a major war. Ethics, I think, are a matter of deciding how one can best achieve the morality of peace. We have decided how we will. That is our case.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—1578
§ The House divided: Ayes 327, Noes 260.1581
|Division No. 20.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Agnew Cmdr. P. C.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwioh)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Duthie, W. S.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington S.)||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathooat (Tiverton)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Anstruther-Gray Major Sir William||Errington, Sir Eric||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Arbuthnot, John||Erroll, F. J.||Joseph, Sir Keith|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot|
|Ashton, H.||Fell, A.||Kaberry, D.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Finlay, Graeme||Keegan, D.|
|Atkins, H. E.||Fisher, Nigel||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Baidock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Kershaw, J. A.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Forrest, G.||Kimball, M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Fort, R.||Kirk, P. M.|
|Barber, Anthony||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lagden, G. W.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Fraser, Sir Ian (M' embe & Lonsdale)||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Barter, John||Freeth, D. K.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Cammans, Sir David||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Gibson-Watt, D.||Leavey, J. A.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Glover, D.||Leburn, W. C.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Godber, J. B.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Gough, C. F. H.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Gower, H. R.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Graham, Sir Fergus||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Black, C. W.||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Body, R. F.||Green, A.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G.(Sutton Coldfield)|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Gresham Cooke, R.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A,||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Longden, Gilbert|
|Braine, B. R.||Gurden, Harold||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.),|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt. Col. W. H.||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswiok)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||McCallum, Major Sir Duncan|
|Bryan, P.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macolesfd)||Mackeson, Brig, Sir Harry|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Harvle-Watt, Sir George||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Hay, John||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||McLean, Neil (Inverness)|
|Carr, Robert||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hesketh, R. F.||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)|
|Channon, H.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Macmillan. Rt. H n. Harold (Bromley)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Maopherson, Niall (Dumfries)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Maddan, Martin|
|Cole, Norman||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W.(Horncastle)|
|Conant, Mal, Sir Roger||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Maitland, Hon. Patriok (Lanark)|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hon. Sir R.|
|Cooper-Key. E, M.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hope, Lord John||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hornby, R. P.||Marples, A. E.|
|Craddock Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Marshall, Douglas|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Horobin, Sir Ian||Maude, Angus|
|Crouch, R. F.||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Crowder, Petre (Rulslip—Northwood)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Mawby, R. L.|
|Cunningham, Knox||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Currle, G. B. H.||Howard, John (Test)||Medlicott, Sir Frank|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|D' Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter|
|Deedes, W. F.||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hurd, A. R.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E 'b' gh, W.)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MoA.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Hyde, Montgomery||Neave, Airey|
|Drayson, G. B.||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Iremonger, T. L.||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn, Sir T. (Richmond)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Nieholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Nicolson, N. (B 'n' m' th, E. & Chr' oh)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Robson-Brown, W.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Roper, Sir Harold||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. p.|
|O' Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Russell, R, S.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Orr, Capt. L. p. s.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Schofleld, Lt.-Col. W.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Wetton-S,-Mare)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Osborne, C.||Sharples, R. C.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Page, R. G.||Shepherd, William||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Simon, J. E. s. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Partridge, E.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Peyton, J. W. W.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Piekthorn, K. W. M.||Soames, Capt. C.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M' lebone)|
|Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Pitman, I, J.||Speir, R. M.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Pitt, Miss E. M,||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Pott, H, P.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens' gt n, S.)||Waterhouse, Capt, Rt. Hon. C.|
|Powell, J. Enoch||Stanley, Capt, Hon. Richard||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Price, David (Eastleigh),||Stevens, Geoffrey||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Profumo, J. D.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Raikes, Sir Victor||Stoddart-Soott, Col. M.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Ramsden, J. E.||Storey, S.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Rawlinson, Peter||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Redmayne, M.||Studholme, Sir Henry||Woollam, John Victor|
|Rees-Davies, W. R.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Remnant, Hon. P.||Taylor, Sir (Charles (Eastbourne)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Renton, D. L. M.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)||Mr. Heath and Mr. T. D. G. Galbraith.|
|Ridsdale, J. E.||Teeling, W.|
|Rippon, A. G. F.||Temple, J. M.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Holman, P.|
|Albu, A. H.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Holmes, Horace|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Holt A. F.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield E.)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)|
|Anderson, Frank||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Deer, G.||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Baird, J.||Delargy, H. J.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Balfour, A.||Dodds, N. N.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Donnelly, D. L.||Hunter, A. E.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Dye, S.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Benson, c.||Edelman, M.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Beswick, F.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Irving, S. (Dartford)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Blackburn, F.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Boardman, H.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pnos, S.)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Bowles, F. G.||Fernyhough, E.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Boyd, T. C.||Fienburgh, W.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Finch, H. J.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Fletcher, Eric||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Forman, J. C.||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, s.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Burke, W. A.||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Kenyon, C.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Greenwood, Anthony||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Grey, C. F.||Lawson, G. M.|
|Carmichael, J.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Ledger, R. J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Champion, A. J.||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Chapman, W. D.||Grimond, J.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hale, Leslie||Lewis, Arthur|
|Clunie, J.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hamilton, W. W.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Hannan, W.||Logan, D. C.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hastings, S.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hayman, F. H.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Healey, Denis||McInnes, J.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Herbison, Miss M.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||McLeavy, Frank|
|Daines, P.||Hobson, C. R.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Popplewell, E.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Mahon, Simon||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Thomas lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Probert, A. R.||Thornton, E.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. w. (Huddersfd, E.)||Proctor, W. T.||Timmons, J.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Pryde, D. J.||Tomney, F.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Mason, Roy||Randall, H. E.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Rankin, John||Viant, S. P.|
|Mellish, n. J.||Redhead, E. C.||Wade, D. W.|
|Messer, Sir F.||Reeves, J.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Reid, William||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Rhodes, H.||Weitzman, D.|
|Monslow, W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Moody, A. S.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||West, D. G.|
|Mort, D. L.||Ross, William||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Moss, R.||Royle, C.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Moyle, A.||Short, E. W.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Mulley, F. W.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wigg, George|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wilcock, Group Capt, C. A. B.|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wllkins, W. A.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Willey, Frederick|
|O' Brien, Sir Thomas||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Oliver, G. H.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab' tillery)|
|Oram, A. E.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Williams, Ronald (Wlgan)|
|Orbach, M.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Oswald, T.||Snow, J. W.||Williams. W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Owen, W. J.||Sorensen, R. W,||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Padley, W. E,||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Paget, R. T.||Sparks, J. A.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Steele, T.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)||Woof, R. E.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Parker, J.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Parkin, B. T.||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Paton, John||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Peart, T. F.||Swingler, S. T.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Pentland, N.||Sylvester, G. O.||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
§ Main Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 312, Noes 260.1585
|Division No. 21.]||AYES||[10.11 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Doughty, C. J. A.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Dray son, G. B.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Brooman-White, R. C.||du cann, E. D. L.|
|Alport, G. J. M.||Browne, J. Nixon (Cralgton)||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Bryan, P.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major sir William||Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Duthie, W. S.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Burden, F. F. A.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)|
|Ashton, H.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Atkins, H. E.||Campbell, Sir David||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Carr, Robert||Erroll, F. J.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cary, Sir Robert||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Balniel, Lord||Channon, H.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Barber, Anthony||Chichester-Clark, R.||Fisher, Nigel|
|Barlow, Sir John||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Barter, John||Cole, Norman||Forrest, G.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Conant, Mal, Sir Roger||Fort, R.|
|Beamish, Mal, Tufton||Cooper, A. E.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M' ombe & Lonsdale)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Freeth, D. K.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Gammans, Sir David|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Crouch, R. F.||Gibson-Watt, D.|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Crowder, Petre (Ruisiip—Northwood)||Clover, D.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cunningham, Knox||Godber, J. B.|
|Black, C. W.||Currie, G. B. H.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan|
|Body, R. F.||Dance, J. C. G.||Cough, C. F. H.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Davidson, Viscountess||Gower, H. R.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||D' Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Deedes, W. F.||Grant, W. (Woodside)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R.(Nantwich)|
|Braine, B- R.||Dodds-Parker, A. D,||Green, A.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. MoA.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Ramsden, J. E.|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (West bury)||Llewellyn, D. T.||Rawlinson, Peter|
|Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Redmayne, M.|
|Gurden, Harold||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Lloyd-George, Mal. Rt. Hon. G.||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)||Longden, Gilbert||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Harris, Reader (Heston)||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswiok)||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macolesfd)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Robson-Brown, W.|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||MoAdden, S. J.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||McCallum, Major Sir Duncan||Roper, sir Harold|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Hay, John||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Russell, R. S.|
|Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||McKibbin, A. J.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Sohofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Henderson, John (Cathcart)||McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Hesketh, R. F.||Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Sharples, R. C.|
|Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain (Enfield, w.)||Shepherd, William|
|Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Hirst, Geoffrey||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Holland-Martin, C. J.||Maddan, Martin||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Hope, Lord John||Mattland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Speir, R. M.|
|Hornby, R. P.||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens' gt'n, S.)|
|Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Marples, A. E.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Howard, Hon. Greville (S. Ives)||Marshall, Douglas||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Howard, John (Test)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W)|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Mawby, R. L.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.||Stoddart-Soott, Col. M.|
|Hughes-Young, M. H. C.||Medlicott, Sir Frank||Storey, S.|
|Hulbert, Sir Norman||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b' gh, W.)||Monokton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Sumner, W. D, M. (Orpington)|
|Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Taylor, sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Temple, J. M.|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Nairn, D. L. S.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Neave, Alrey||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Nicholls, Harmar||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm' th, E.&Chr' ch)||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Johnson, Erlc (Blackley)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Nugent, G. R. H.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Oakshott, H. D.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||O' Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Kaberry, D.||Orr, Capt. L. P. s.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Keegan, D.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Kerby, Capt, H. B.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Vosper, D. F.|
|Kershaw, J. A.||Osborne, C.||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, w.)|
|Kimball, M.||Page, R. G.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M' lebone)|
|Kirk, P. M.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lagden, G. W.||Partridge, E.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pilkington, Capt, R. A.||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Pitman, I. J.||Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pott, H. P.||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Leburn, w. G.||Powell, J. Enoch||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Prioe, David (Eastleigh)||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. D. L.|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Profumo, J. D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Raikes, Sir Victor||Mr. Heath and Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth|
|Albu, A. H.||Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.)||Brockway, A. F.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Benson, G.||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Beswick, F.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Brown, Thomas (Ince)|
|Anderson, Frank||Blackburn, F.||Burke, W. A.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Boardman, H.||Burton, Miss F. E.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)|
|Baird, J.||Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)|
|Balfour, A.||Bowles, F. G.||Callaghan, L. J.|
|Sellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Boyd, T. C.||Carmichael, J.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jay, R. Hon. D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pnos, S)||Randall, H. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Rankin, John|
|Clunie, J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Reeves, J.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A, Creech (Wakefield)||Reid, William|
|Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Rhodes, H.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Ross, William|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Kenyon, C.||Royle, C.|
|Daines, P.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Short, E. W.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||King, Dr. H. M.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lawson, G. M.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery)||Ledger, R. J.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Davies, Stephen (Methyr)||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)|
|Deer, G.||Lewis, Arthur||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lindgren, G. S.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Snow, J. W.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Logan, D. G.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwoh)||MacColl, J. E.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Dye, S.||McGhee, H. G.||Steele, T.|
|Edelman, M.||McInnes, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||McLeavy, Frank||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Mahon, Simon||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mainwaring, W. H.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Fienburgh, W.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Finch, H. J.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Fletcher, Eric||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Forman, J. C.||Mason, Roy||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mayhew, C. P.||Thornton, E.|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Mellish, R. J.||Timmons, J.|
|Gooch, E, G.||Messer, Sir F.||Tomney, F.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Mikardo, Ian||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mitchison, G. R.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Grcnfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Monslow, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Grey, C. F.||Moody, A. S.||Wade, D. W.|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mort, D. L.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Moss, R.||Weitzman, D.|
|Grimond, J.||Moyle, A.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Hale, Leslie||Mulley, F. W.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||West, D. G.|
|Hamilton, W. W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Hannan, W.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||O' Brien, Sir Thomas||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Hastings, S.||Oliver, G. H.||Wigg, George|
|Hayman, F. H.||Oram, A. E.||Wilcock, Croup Capt. C. A. B.|
|Healey, Denis||Orbach, M.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Oswald, T.||Willey, Frederick|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Owen, W. J.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Padley, W. E.||Williams, Rev, Llywelyn (Ab' tillery)|
|Holman, P.||Paget, R. T.||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Holmes, Horace||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Holt, A. F.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Pargiter, G. A.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Parker, J.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Parkin, B. T.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Paton, John||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Peart, T. F.||Woof, R. E.|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pentland, N.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Hunter, A. E.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Popplewell, E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Atterollffe)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Price, Philips (Glouoestershire, W.)|
|Irving, S. (Dartford)||Probert, A. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Proctor, W. T.||Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
That this House supports the policy of Her Majesty's Government as outlined by the Foreign Secretary on 3rd December, which has prevented hostilities in the Middle East from
spreading, has resulted in a United Nations Force being introduced into the area, and has created conditions under which progress can be made towards the peaceful settlement of outstanding issues.