§ 3.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
The House has not had an opportunity of a general foreign affairs debate for some considerable time now, and during that interval there has been the momentous Geneva Conference, which the then Foreign Secretary attended, and, of course, the Washington talks, which the Prime Minister and the present Foreign Secretary attended. There is, therefore, no doubt that during the course of the debate interest will roam world-wide and will cover every facet of our foreign affairs, including disarmament.
For myself, I shall want to keep to one central theme, and that is the problem of the Communist and the non-Communist world and the way in which we can find agreement to live together in peace. Before I turn to that theme, however, I should like to say something about two matters which are engaging the attention of all of us at the present time.
The first is in relation to Cyprus, and I am glad, as I am sure we all are, that the Secretary of State for the Colonies has evidently found that the negotiations have now reached a stage when he himself should be personally present in Cyprus and—I hope—complete them. We hope he will be successful in the 838 negotiations, because all of us want peace in Cyprus and a fair settlement with the Cypriots. As far as we on this side are concerned, we stand by the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) last Thursday, in which he indicated quite clearly the views of this party. It would not, perhaps, be a good thing for me now to engage in a long recital of events in Cyprus, in view of the fact that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is there. Therefore, I merely remind the House that our position has been made perfectly clear, and that a reference to the OFFICIAL REPORT for last Thursday makes the situation clear beyond doubt, as far as this party is concerned.
With regard to the Washington talks, which is the second matter to which I want to make a brief reference, I would only say that the declaration which emanated from the talks was an admirable document. It expressed wonderful sentiments and views of a general character, with which one could not disagree, but it gave us very little detail, and I hope that the Government will today give us some answers to some specific questions.
We should like to know, for example, what happened in the talks and what agreements were arrived at in relation to the problem of the Middle East. Here, we should like to know what formula was arrived at in deciding exactly what the balance of arms should be as an interpretation of the Tripartite Agreement. We really ought to know, because in view of the further deliveries of arms to the Middle East, it is a little difficult for us to follow what is deciding the Government and their colleagues in the Tripartite Agreement on the level of arms.
The other thing we should like to know arises from the Washington talks, and it concerns what took place in relation to discussions on China. What about the recognition of China? Is there still some disagreement existing between the United States and ourselves, or have we come closer together on that very important problem? Another topic about which we should like to know something is whether the right hon. Gentleman discussed with President Eisenhower the problem of Indo-China with particular reference to the elections, and other problems in that part of the world.
839 Finally, I should like to ask about the Disarmament Sub-Committee. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will give us some information about what is going on, and, particularly, tell us whether the question of controls is bedevilling that situation at the present time. We are well aware that the Soviet Union has firmly turned its back on international inspection, and, on behalf of this side of the House, I should like to know whether we ourselves are not being a little "cagey" about controls and inspection, and just how far we are prepared to go in relation to inspection and controls. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would tell us what the precise position is. In the Disarmament Sub-Committee, what is the sticking point? Is it really the question of controls and inspection?
There are many problems facing the world today, but I believe that the overriding problem must be that of the relations of the Soviet Union and the Communist countries to what are loosely described as the Western democracies, because it is in this field, and not in any other, that the real danger of a third world war arises. Failure to be able to live together—to co-exist, if we like—despite our differing ideologies, means that it is quite impossible for mankind to live in a peaceful atmosphere. It means the continuation of a sense of insecurity, and also the straining of our respective economies, not only here but in other countries, to such an extent that there is a grave danger to our standard of living, and a consequent inability to do as much as we know we ought to be doing in economic aid which is so desperately needed throughout the world.
All the high hopes that were entertained in the closing months of the war, that after the unconditional surrender of Germany the Great Powers—the U.S.S.R., the United States, China, France and ourselves—would be able to co-operate together and build up a peaceful world, have been shattered by events. What we have seen emerge are two Power blocs with enormous military strength, and, in addition, of course, a number of uncommitted nations. I think myself that to argue today who is responsible for this state of affairs does not really carry us much further. What we have to do is to recognise the facts for what they are, to apply our minds to the present situation 840 and try to determine our policy for the future.
At the moment, the two great military alliances are gazing at one another across a divided Germany, and we meet today in vastly different circumstances than was the case when those military alliances were originally created, because today we are discussing these matters in a different military situation. We are discussing them under the lengthening shadow of the H-bomb, and we are faced by the portentous fact that man's destructive power has at last outstripped his capacity to survive. This, I believe, is a tremendous, and indeed, a decisive factor. It is a turning point in human history, and it will either close the last chapter in that history or begin a new volume.
I believe it was in March of last year that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) pointed out that the H-bomb had created an entirely novel situation in the world for which there is no precedent and to which, he said, the old precedents do not apply. He said, also:There is an immense gulf between the atomic and the hydrogen bomb. The atomic bomb, with all its terrors, did not carry us outside the scope of human control or manageable events in thought or action, in peace or war. But with the advent of the hydrogen bomb, the entire foundation of human affairs was revolutionised, and mankind placed in a situation both measureless and laden with doom.Although I have used the right hon. Gentleman's words, I am unable to put upon them the great emphasis and into them the emotion of which he is a master, and which only he can do. The right hon. Gentleman was speaking of the H-bomb in February, 1954, but since that time the bomb has become cheaper, quicker and easier to make. Its destructive power has been multiplied, and the means of delivering it have been improved and increased to the point where there is no defence and we are in sight of the "ultimate weapon," the inter-continental rocket with an H-bomb warhead and a range of 5,000 miles. Indeed, it has been reported that both the U.S.A. and the Russians are now engaGed in a race to produce such a weapon, and that it might well be a possibility within the next 12 or 18 months.
So humanity lives in fear. But man is so constituted that he cannot live in constant fear. Either he takes steps to remove the cause of fear or he gives up the 841 attempt and becomes blind and indifferent to the things that make him afraid. Fear of the hydrogen bomb ought to be the beginning of wisdom in pursuit of peace. It ought to bring home to us the need in this new and changed situation of discarding the old ways and of trying new ideas and a fresh approach to peace. Above all, the H-bomb ought to make us realise the life and death urgency and importance of ending the cold war and the arms race before it is too late.
Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, not long ago, said this:At any moment either side, in trying to win the cold war, may without meaning to, touch off a world war that neither side wants.That is a terrifying thought. It means that every day we go on with the cold war and the arms race we are in constant danger of annihilation by accident. How great that danger has been and how narrowly we have escaped it on several occasions was dramatically illustrated by the famous remark of Mr. Dulles, that in order to preserve peace it is necessary to master the art of going to the verge of war without getting into war.
Pending that consummation—and consummation is the right word in this context—the financial and the economic burdens imposed by defence and the cold war are a major cause of the mounting cost of living and the widening trade gap. The people of this country—indeed, the people of all countries—engaged in this cannot indefinitely bear that burden. It is a fatal illusion to believe that we can go on for years and years as we are now, because this is the third arms race within living memory. The first two ended in world war. The third may do so, and will end the human race unless we make peace in time.
That is the background, and it is the perspective in which we must see the problem of peace. Those are the reasons why we must realise that the question of effecting a general solution of the issues dividing the Communist and non-Communist worlds has become literally a matter of life and death. It brooks no delay. It is a problem that we must tackle with the same sense of urgency and the same readiness to employ the new and the untried, to take risks and make sacrifices, bending the same will and energy, intelligence and courage to 842 the task of making the peace that we put into winning the war.
At this stage we are faced with two challenges, with two different types of problems. First, there are those which deadlocked at Geneva and for which no solution has yet been put forward. Secondly, we are faced with the challenge of the uncommitted and under-developed areas, where the Communists have now started a new and, up to date, successful offensive.
The first one—that is the problems deadlocked at Geneva—is the more important and more difficult of the two. There is a general and real fear that problems may be shelved, that interest in the reunification of Germany and security may be lost, with a resulting feeling of resignation, of inability to do anything. In my view, there is the danger of apathy, or indeed of extremism growing out of it. Such problems cannot be put into cold storage. We cannot say that because Geneva has failed there is nothing more we can do. We have to face up to this, and we have to try once again to find a solution to the deadlock of Geneva.
Last July, at the Summit Conference which the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister attended, it looked for a moment as though the assembled heads of Government were aware of the revolutionary implications of the H-bomb and ready to draw the necessary conclusion. The then Foreign Secretary, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, summed up that lesson which appeared to have been learned at that conference at the El Alamein dinner in October, at which the right hon. Gentleman said that…it was recognised that, however great in theory were the ideological differences between the Communists and the free world, somehow or another we had got to learn to live together in practice.How did that come about? He thought it was due to two factors. First, he said, it had become clear that the Western Powers were not to be bullied, blackmailed or paralysed into submission. Secondly, in modern war or in nuclear war, there could be no victory. The Foreign Secretary's reference to war as meaning universal destruction was really an echo of the words of the Prime 843 Minister at the Geneva Conference, when the right hon. Gentleman said:There was a time when the aggressor in war might hope to win an advantage and to realise political gain for his country by military action…Nothing of the kind is possible now. No war can bring the victor spoils; it can only bring him and his victims utter annihilation. Neutrals would suffer equally with combatants.I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. That is not only a new fact but a new datum line, a new point of departure in human history.
It has now been recognised by both sides that the Soviet Union and the Western Powers cannot fight each other because war between them would hold out no hope of victory to either, but only the certainty of destruction to both and to the rest of mankind as well. It follows—and I think that, too, was recognised—that threats of force are futile and resort to force suicidal.
The Prime Minister and his French and Soviet colleagues drew the necessary political conclusions in their proposals for organising European security. While these proposals differed widely, the three Governments agreed upon some vital points. They agreed that they must accept joint obligations to settle their differences peacefully, not to help an aggressor, and to aid each other in maintaining and, if necessary, restoring peace.
The French and Soviet Governments proposed security treaties covering the whole of Europe as well as including the United States and the Soviet Union. The Prime Minister described the British proposals in this way:We would be prepared to be parties to a security pact of which those round this table and a united Germany might be members. By its terms each country could declare itself ready to go to the assistance of the victim of aggression, whoever it might be…We would propose to inscribe any such agreement under the authority of the United Nations.Next, the three Powers agreed on the necessity for joint control of the level of armaments of Germany and her neighbours. Such an agreement could, in practice, and would, in practice, facilitate the work of the United Nations at a general disarmament convention. The Prime Minister put the British proposals in this way:…we would be ready to discuss and try to reach an agreement, as to the total of forces 844 and armaments on each side in Germany and the countries neighbouring Germany. To do this it would be necessary to join in a system of reciprocal control to supervise the arrangement effectively. All those represented here would we hope be partners in this (together with a united Germany.Where the two sides disagreed was on the relation of a European collective security treaty to the rival alliance in Europe and to a unified Germany. They also disagreed on how Germany should be unified. I shall want to say more about these disagreements in a moment or so.
At this point I want to draw attention to the fact that the British, French and Soviet Prime Ministers agreed at Geneva last July that the three Governments must accept joint obligations to settle their differences by peaceful means and refrain from force or the threat of force as a means of settling them; they agreed to give each other assistance in keeping the peace; and they agreed that a united Germany was to be a party to these obligations.
All these obligations are contained in the Charter of the United Nations where they combine into a sort of peace-keeping, dispute-settling and armaments-controlling system under the general responsibility and direction of the Security Council of which the Powers who met at Geneva are permanent members. In fact, just before they met at Geneva they had all very solemnly, at the United Nations' tenth anniversary celebrations, held at San Francisco, said that they regarded the Charter of the United Nations as the sheet-anchor of world peace and the foundation of their respective foreign policies.
If the four Powers really meant what they said at Geneva last July about the necessity to base their mutual relations upon what are, in effect, the obligations of the Charter, they must then accept the basic assumption of the Charter, which is that there shall be agreement among the permanent members of the Security Council upon major issues, and the fact that the Charter gave the right of veto to each of the permanent members imposes upon all of them an obligation to seek agreement among themselves.
This is the very assumption which the four Powers recognised at Geneva that they must make because the hydrogen bomb had left them with no alternative 845 They have admitted that they must live together in the same world in spite of ideological differences because to fight would be to destroy not only each other but also mankind. They have also recognised that they cannot bully, blackmail or paralyse each other into submission by means of force. After that, there is nothing left for them to do except seek agreement between themselves, and, I might add, not to give up their efforts until such agreements have been reached.
If the Prime Minister had meant what he said at Geneva, if he had taken his own July proposals seriously, he would surely have sent the Foreign Secretary to Geneva in October with a plan for bridging the gap between the Soviet and Western positions, based upon the common membership of the United Nations. But he did nothing of the kind. Instead, the Anglo-Franco-American proposals were of such a character that the Manchester Guardian said:They are too obviously a gamesman's move. They are cynical and hypocritical. …Our diplomacy can achieve nothing but a deadlock by this approach.How right the Manchester Guardian was! There was a deadlock, and there it remains.
My view is that the October proposals went back on what the Prime Minister had recognised last July to be necessary. They receded from the United Nations Charter to the balance of power, which in my view the hydrogen bomb had made futile. Having agreed that we must join with the Russians in organising the whole of Europe for peace, we insisted in these proposals that a European security organisation would be completed only when a united Germany decided to enter N.A.T.O. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is what was said about the treaty in the White Paper in which were published documents relating to the meeting of Foreign Ministers at Geneva in October, Command Paper 9633. In page 100 it sets out:Outline of terms of treaty of assurance on the reunification of Germany.It there says:The final stage would become effective when a reunified Germany decides to enter N.A.T.O. and the Western European Union.All I would say about that is that I think it was plainly quite impossible for the Russians to swallow. I do not think that the Russians are going to give up 846 Eastern Germany—that is what free elections mean; let us be quite plain about this—without getting, in return, the security which she feels she has by reason of her possession of it at the present time. What I am saying is not new. Three years ago, at the Margate Labour Party Conference, the General Secretary of the party, speaking for the National Executive, said:Clearly, the Russians will not release their hold on East Germany without some return. What can we offer? A German peace treaty that in the general framework of European co-operation, must provide guarantees for Germany against other powers and, equally important, guarantees for other powers against Germany.In any security pact for the whole of Europe, disarmament must inevitably play a very important rôle. Indeed, if there is not disarmament and proper control and inspection, there is really not much hope of a security pact which is of any value. In my comparatively short lifetime I have seen treaty after treaty, with the most solemn assurances, torn up and wars start. Indeed, it was not very long ago that the Treaty of 20 years' friendship between the Soviets and ourselves was unilaterally destroyed by them. I do not think that treaties are worth the paper on which they are printed, unless they are backed with the certainty of guarantees, which, in these days, means international control and inspection of armaments.
After all, what was the reason for our embarking on N.A.T.O.? When the war was over, in 1945, it was in no one's mind to set up N.A.T.O., or any other military alliance. There was a reason for it. What was the reason? It was the inability of the United Nations, by reason of the fact that the great Powers were members of the Security Council and by reason of the veto, to ensure the peace of Europe. It was also the attitude of the Soviet Union in forcing one neighbouring country after another into its orbit. Finally, it was due to the efforts of the Soviet Union to expel its wartime allies from Berlin by the blockade.
The argument for N.A.T.O. was that we must have a military organisation for mutual protection. N.A.T.O. was also designed to give the West an opportunity to bargain from strength with the Soviet Union. Indeed, the main case was to be able to argue from strength. Today, we have in N.A.T.O. a massive military 847 organisation. Western Germany is in process of being rearmed, both sides have the hydrogen bomb, which, we are told, is a strong deterrent to war. In that case, in view of the reason for building up alliances, surely Geneva was the place at which to argue, at which to do the bargaining from strength. Instead of that, although I admit they had to work out their plans and ideas along with those of the U.S.A. and France, the Government have shown their complete inability to be in the slightest degree realistic about this matter, and the high hopes of Geneva—the right hon. Lady the Member for Manchester, Moss Side (Dame Florence Horsbrugh) laughs, but I do not think this is a laughing matter.
§ Mr. Robens
The high hopes of Geneva in July were thrown away in October, because of the lack of initiative and the failure to back proposals that had some hope of acceptance.
There can be no guarantee of peace in Europe while Germany remains divided. Recent events affecting the German Government have underlined the tremendous, intense and natural desire of the German people for German reunification. Indeed, I regard a divided Germany as a menace to the West, because the day may come when the overwhelming desire of the German people, backed by the requirements of German industrialists for additional markets for their rapidly expanding industries, may cause them to "go it alone" and to get Germany united by a direct approach to the Soviet Union.
Nothing is lost by making new and far-reaching proposals which would remove the threat of aggression which both sides fear, for until new arrangements are made, the existing position of the military alliances remains. We are not asked to give up the position of bargaining from strength, we are not asked to give up the military alliances, N.A.T.O. on one side and Warsaw on the other, while we discuss new proposals. But we are in a position to discuss new proposals while these alliances remain, so there is nothing lost, whichever way one looks at it.
848 Failure at Geneva should not be the reason for deciding that further talks are useless. It should be the spur to try again with proposals that have some chance of success. I do not believe the choice before Germany should be neutrality or continued division. Nor do I think that the choice before Germany should be to join one bloc or the other. I should like to see a unified Germany, as a result of free elections, admitted to the United Nations and becoming a party to a European regional agreement with the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Robens
The Prime Minister says that that is exactly what was offered. I do not quite see that in the terms which have been given to the House and, when the Prime Minister replies, perhaps he will add to the White Paper. We can debate this matter only on the information given to us by the Government, and the White Paper is the only information we have.
Such a European agreement must be conditional upon control, limitation and inspection of arms, and that would be a stimulant to the disarmament proposals which are now being discussed and about which I have asked some questions. Only by an efficient system of inspection and control will it be possible to create confidence and to eliminate fear. That would be a practical way to give effect to and find common ground between the proposals made at Geneva last July both by the Western Powers and the Soviet Union. In the content of such an agreement on European security it would, perhaps, not be so difficult to devise a mutually acceptable compromise between Western and Soviet views on how to unite Germany through free elections—and we must always insist on free elections.
Instead of following up what was begun a: Geneva by a fresh United Nations approach to the conjoint problem of German unification and European security, the Government made deadlock certain in October by insisting on the inclusion of a united Germany in the Western military alliance as an end in itself. [Interruption.] I can only again refer the Prime Minister to the White Paper which, as it has been published by 849 the Government, he must now find time to read. What the Government did after that insistence was to precipitate a major danger to peace in the Middle East by going ahead with the policy of a military alliance in the Bagdad Pact. That provoked, as might have been expected, the equally mischievous and dangerous Soviet intervention in the Middle East.
I believe that peace and a final settlement in the Middle East will come ultimately only through the United Nations. Recently, the Soviet Government have indicated that they will insist on the need to act through the United Nations. In the United States itself there is another ally for the view that the Middle East problem should be dealt with through the Middle East, and a very powerful ally it is, because it is the Council of the new united A.F. of L. and the C.O.I., which are the labour organisations in the United States representing 15 million trade unionists. Because they are not in politics as such, they are a very powerful political force, courted by both sides in the presidential elections. They have just come out with a declaration demanding that the Powers should deal with the Middle East crisis through the United Nations Security Council, and should also use the United Nations Social and Economic Council and the International Labour Office for policies of economic co-operation in that area.
Indeed, this is the real challenge to Communism: the real challenge to Communism is the degree by which the Western Powers can relieve the dreadful poverty, ignorance and disease that afflict so many millions of our fellow men in what are termed the under-developed countries of the world. To be successful, economic aid will have to be given without strings. We are rapidly losing our influence in India and Asia because we are giving the impression—I am not saying that it is right, but it is the impression—that economic aid is only part of the Western military strategy. Our influence in India and elsewhere is declining because of that fact. People living in those countries have no desire to join in the quarrel between East and West. Recent events in Jordan, when the Government tried to force acceptance of the Bagdad Pact on the people there, were an indication of the unwillingness of the people to make a choice between West 850 and East—between Russia and the Western Powers.
There are, therefore, these great land areas inhabited by hundreds of millions of people which, as Mr. Krushchev reported to the recent Communist Congress in Moscow, have proclaimed a policy of non-participation as a principle of their foreign policy.
Does this mean, in view of the recent congress in Moscow, that in the light of this new development of Soviet foreign policy there is the possibility of finding some common ground between the two camps? These uncommitted States which refuse to join either bloc are members of the United Nations. They want their relations with each other and with both East and West to be based upon the Charter of the United Nations, so that the West and Russia meet the uncommitted States and each other on this common ground. It may well be that we could work out solutions for Europe, the Middle East and the Far East by implementing the obligations and institutions of the United Nations. If that were the case, the United Nations would then become the paramount reality in world affairs, the cardinal fact and the highest common factor in the foreign policy of every country.
The Prime Minister cannot entirely reject this proposal out of hand, because he himself proposed at Geneva the possibility of a demilitarised zone between West and East. This suggestion, unfortunately, came to nought in October, because the dividing line was, in the words of the Manchester Guardian, "calmly shifted" from today's frontier—that is the East-West frontier—to the future—that would be the unified German frontier—specifying the Eastern frontier of a re-united Germany as the new line. "In other words," the Manchester Guardian said,it asks the Russians to get out not only of Eastern Germany but also most of Poland as well, while N.A.T.O.'s Forces stay where they are now.I note that hon. Gentlemen opposite agree. I am quoting what the Manchester Guardian said about this. When there is an argument between two people it is well sometimes to place oneself in the position of the other, and then one can really discover how one's own arguments fall.
851 I hope the Prime Minister will forget this unsuccessful attempt of the three Powers in the matter and will seize the opportunity he now has of expanding the original proposal for a demilitarised area between East and West into something much greater. I admit that the area occupied by the uncommitted nations would not be described as demilitarised—they are not demilitarised—but they would be zones, because they are uncommitted, in which international relations would be based upon the obligations of the United Nations. It seems to me that there is the path to peace and international understanding.
But this is not the path which the Government have been treading since the fiasco at Geneva for which they bear so large a share of responsibility. On the contrary, the disquieting truth is that, in the matter of seeking peace and ensuring it, the Government have neither displayed determination nor a sense of purpose. After being frightened by the H-bomb and prodded by the General Election into a flurry of activity, the Government have slipped back into the ancient rule of tradition. They have sunk complacently and fatuously into the old ways and old habits of thought, as though the hydrogen bomb had not changed the world. It is amazing what a General Election can do in relation to the policy of hon. Members opposite. Instead of acquiring the wisdom to remove the constant threat of annihilation by accident that hangs over our lives, the Government have become apathetic to the peril of an arms race in nuclear weapons.
I almost detected a sigh of relief in the Prime Minister's remarks at Cambridge in January, when he said:The failure of the Geneva Conference has been no surprise. The free countries"—he continued briskly—should now persevere in their own policies, build up their own defensive associations and alliances, and maintain their present plans.To do that as a policy seems to be an admission of failure and a policy of defeat, because the most that alliances can do—and all history shows this—is to buy time. That is all—to buy time. It buys us the time to go on ceaselessly and with infinite patience to try to bridge the gulf that divides East and West. But if we are to take the view that after the failure at Geneva nothing more can now be done 852 except concentrate on building up military strength, then civilisation will one day pay the price.
I urge the Prime Minister to make the assumptions and take the initiative in proposing settlements in Europe and Asia which would make common membership of the United Nations the real and effective basis for the relations between the Communist and non-Communist world. What is the risk? Where is the risk? If the Soviet Union reject our terms as a basis of settlement, we shall know where we are and we shall be no worse off than today. If they were to accept, the nightmare fear that has darkened the lives of men in all lands would be lifted and vanish, and the world would rejoice.
I say that the Prime Minister should take his courage in both hands and heed the words of President Roosevelt, "The only thing we need to fear after the war is—fear." He should break with the past and act boldly in the light of the conditions and needs of a world which has been changed by the hydrogen bomb and which has pinned its hope of peace on the United Nations. The man who does that will not only unite the people of this country behind him but rally millions of supporters in Europe, Asia and America. He will find that he is speaking not only for Britain but for humanity, and humanity desperately needs a spokesman today.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) covered a very wide field, and I confess that I am surprised at some of the things he said. I would say with respect that some of them, particularly some of his closing remarks, were more appropriate to the hustings he was describing. When his speech is studied I think that it will give a certain amount of anxiety to people who may have contemplated the possibility that at some time the party opposite may have some responsibility for foreign affairs.
Regarding the wider background, the right hon. Gentleman said that the point was how could we live at peace together with the Soviet Union, with the Soviet world. He said there were two problems—to end the cold war and to end the arms race. I agree, and Her Majesty's Government have done as much as any other 853 Government today to try to do both those things. But it requires two to make an agreement and I propose to deal with what the Soviet Union have done towards ending the cold war and the arms race. We realise the horrors of war just as much as right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and we shall continue our quest for a settlement. The record of this country in the past four years is not quite so bad as the right hon. Gentleman would have us believe.
The Korean Armistice owed a good deal to the part we played. The Indo-China settlement owed a very great deal to the part played by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and there are other specific issues—Trieste, the situation in Iran, the Austrian Treaty—in which we have played our part. Over disarmament and Germany, I think that we have taken valuable initiatives. But the background against which we have to look at these matters is, as Mr. Kruschev himself put it, that of competitive co-existence between the Communists and the Western way of life. That is how he defined it—"competitive co-existence."
The tactics of the Communist world have changed in recent months, but the struggle in which the British Commonwealth, the United Kingdom and our friends throughout the world are still engaged, is, I believe, the same. It is the preservation of freedom in as large a portion of the world as possible. On that, we have to consider the nature of the threat. I quite agree that we have from time to time to adjust ourselves to the nature of the threat to our free institutions; whether it has diminished, where and how the next blow will be struck. I also agree that we have to ask ourselves whether we are adequately equipped to meet the new threat, to wage the new struggle; whether we have the right weapons and whether we are using them in the right way. But I think that the majority of hon. Members would agree that this struggle continues and that the course adopted by the Government of the day must be judged by whether they are waging the struggle effectively. It is in that context that I wish to look at a number of points raised by the right hon. Gentleman.
I know that the Prime Minister will deal later with some of the wider aspects 854 of the relationship between the free world and the Communist world. May I say a word, however, about the Washington Conference, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred? I think that there are three elements in any visit such as that paid by my right hon. Friend and myself. First, there are the agreements which can be set out in the communiqué. Then there are the private discussions, and thirdly, there is the impact of the visit upon the peoples of the United States and Canada as a result of speeches to Congress and Parliament and addresses to Press conferences, etc.
Concerning the announcements in the communiqué, the Prime Minister dealt with that aspect of the matter in his recent statement, and the communiqué speaks for itself. The private discussions, I believe, were most valuable but, by their nature as private discussions, they cannot be revealed publicly. But one of the elements of this visit which I think has not been stressed before, and which I believe to have been wholly satisfactory, is the impact of the visit upon the peoples of the United States and Canada. The closing portion of the speech of my right hon. Friend to the American Senate will long be remembered in the United States: it constituted a great personal triumph which was generously recognised in the American and Canadian newspapers.
So far as the Far East is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman asked whether I could add anything to what is in the communiqué. We admitted differences of opinion, and with regard to recognition, the position is that both sides have retained the point of view which they held towards the proposals put forward.
§ Mr. Charles Royle (Salford, West)
Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give the House any real indication as to what are the Government's commitments, say, in the event of China attacking the off-shore islands? Where do we stand under those circumstances?
§ Mr. Lloyd
—and it certainly is not a matter which can be dealt with in answer to an interruption.
Regarding Indo-China, about which the right hon. Gentleman asked, discussions are now proceeding between the signatories to the Agreements. We stand by the Agreements. Whether or not the conference should be reconvened at the present time is a matter which we are now discussing. But we shall certainly take the course which we think is in the interests of the preservation of these Agreements and the operation of them in the spirit in which they were entered upon.
Regarding South-East Asia, as the House knows, I am about to go to the meeting in Karachi, of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. The House will recall that the Prime Minister attended the first council meeting at Bangkok in February of last year. That meeting was chiefly concerned with working out a programme for tackling the 'defence policies and economic problems of the member countries and the setting up of the necessary machinery. Military advisers were appointed and permanent 'representatives, with a headquarters in Bangkok, under whom ad hoc committees, of experts in economic, information and security matters would work.
At Karachi, we shall review the achievements of the organisation in its first year; but the work has been proceeding steadily. The economic experts have carried out useful studies relating to problems of development and defence expenditure and I wish to make this point clear again. As the House has been told, we do not want or intend that S.E.A.T.O. 'shall cut across other organisations like the Colombo Plan or other international agencies. Security experts have exchanged views on what is perhaps the greatest menace in the Treaty area, internal subversion, and we shall consider how to carry that work forward.
We do not want to force the pace, but we regard S.E.A.T.O. as a valuable part of the answer to the Communist States in that part of the world. It is not a conclusive answer, but it provides the means of warning a potential aggressor that he will meet with the united resistance of the, countries that feel themselves threatened, and an assurance that they can pursue their presesing problems of development in comparative security. When there is 856 criticism of these pacts, I ask those who criticise to remember the fact that it makes all the difference to the prospects of development in stability and security, if there is some organisation which gives an element of strength to the countries of the area. We cannot have orderly development in security and stability without the knowledge that international law and order will be preserved. That is the purpose of these organisations, and they are within the terms of the Charter and always conceived of as being so.
The same applies to Bagdad. The right hon. Gentleman attributed to the Bagdad Pact the fact that the Soviet Union have intervened in the Middle East. I do not believe that. I think that that intervention has long been prepared and that it would have happened quite irrespective of the Bagdad Pact. One of the more welcome sides of the Washington visit was the reaffirmation by the United States Government of their intention to give the Pact solid support. Any idea that there are differences between the United States and ourselves about the value of the Pact are completely wrong.
This Pact also is defensive and it has the same importance to the development and economic welfare of the countries concerned. Any idea that this Pact is offensive is quite ridiculous in view of the geographical and other conditions of the area. The suggestion is made that the Pact tends to split the peoples in that particular area. Unless people can feel that international law and order can be achieved, they have not the necesesary stability for their peaceful development. What is more natural than that countries geographically linked should combine together, particularly when they live so close to the great Empire of the Soviet, that great empire embracing so much of Asia and of Eastern Europe? After all, I think it was Edmund Burke who said that, in certain circumstances,good men must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.One or two other points have been mentioned in the field of the Middle East, and the right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of arms control. I understand that there is a feeling in some quarters that we ought to extend an invitation to the Soviet Union to join in some form of control of arms supplies to the Middle Eastern countries. 857 I consider the simplicity of hon. Members who suggest that is surprising, because the Soviet Union have already shown, as the right hon. Gentleman agrees, that their incursion into this field is purely mischievous. It would be an illusion to believe that the presence of the Soviet Union on an arms control would facilitate arms for Israel. It may be said by the critics that they do not ask for arms control but simply want us to talk to the Soviet Union about this matter. We have talked to them. The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke to Mr. Molotov in New York and Geneva about arms deliveries and there have been other communications; with no result. I have no doubt that the matter will be raised again.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is it the Government's case that the Soviet Union have no legitimate interests in this area? If that is not their case, and if they believe that the Soviet Union have legitimate interest in the area, as legitimate as America's or this country's, is it not foolish to let the competing legitimate interests go on in conflict with one another without attempting to reconcile them?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The action of the Soviet Union over these particular transactions has shown quite clearly that they have forfeited a good deal of their right to expect to be regarded as having a legitimate interest. We have said that they have the same legitimate interest as other members of the United Nations in the preservation of peace. I have dealt with the question of discussing the matter with the Soviet Union.
Is it suggested that we ought to make our views known publicly? We have done that again and again. The action of the Soviet Union in this respect has greatly added to tension in the area. I do not know whether that is disputed. In my view, since the invasion of South Korea no other single action has done more to bring nearer the danger of war.
We, the three Western Powers—this meets to some extent the spirit of the intervention by the hon Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)—have, over the last five years, tried to control the supply of arms to the Middle East as far as possible. It has been a difficult and a thankless task. We have received constant complaints from both sides. No one on either side has ever thought that what we have done was right 858 at any particular time. I claim that that has been the measure of our success, because comparatively small quantities of arms have gone to the Middle East; the Western arms supplies have not been on such a scale as to constitute an arms race or to increase the risk of war. That has been the measure of the success of the control that we have exercised.
There was always the danger that one side or the other would seek supplies elsewhere. I am not rebuking the purchasers for that, although those who accept arms from the Soviet Union are playing a dangerous game which may end in their suffering the fate of the satellites. The action of the Soviet Government in supplying arms to the Middle East in this quantity and of this nature is a hard fact, and a deliberate act of policy which is completely contrary to their professions or a desire to lessen tensions.
On the question of a settlement between the Arab States and Israel, I know that the right hon. Gentleman is pessimistic about the possibilities in the immediate future. I do not altogether share his pessimism, because I believe there are other factors in the situation, perhaps even some which may lead wise people on both sides to feel that the time has come for a settlement to be made. We will certainly go on directly and indirectly trying to contribute—
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
So far as I can understand, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's discussions with the Russians on the question of arms delivery have been on the basis of the national delivery of arms to the different nations in the area. Has he discussed with the Russian representative anything of the suggestion that the right hon. and learned Gentleman appeared to be putting forward in the last debate, of some form of international force directly under the control of the Security Council? If so, what was the reaction?
§ Mr. Lloyd
That was the next point to which I was coming. In addition to our work directly and indirectly towards the attaining of a settlement, we have always emphasised the necessity to keep the peace. That is really the primary consideration.
With regard to the question just asked by the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick), Her Majesty's Government still 859 think that those concerned have not yet fully realised the practical advantages of strengthening the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation. Quite frankly, we have not thought in terms of sending national contingents to keep the contending parties apart by force. I do not think that that would be a contribution to the lessening of tension. I still believe firmly that the strengthening of the existing organisation would have practical advantages. The difficulty is that I am not certain that those at present concerned with the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation hold the same view. When I meet the Prime Minister of Egypt and the leaders of Israel I propose to pursue that matter myself.
§ Mr. Lloyd
The matter has not been discussed with the Russians because it is a United Nations matter. It has not been discussed outside the context of the United Nations. It is a matter for the Secretary-General and for General Burns. One cannot force upon people who have a certain responsibility resources which they do not want. The matter has been slightly complicated by the fact that the Secretary-General was away for over a month. He is now back. I still believe that this is a practical way to do something useful. Her Majesty's Government intend to pursue it.
Perhaps I can define our Middle East policy generally in these terms: we think that the first task, apart from the keeping of the peace, is to assist in a settlement between Israel and her Arab neighbours. The second point in our policy is to maintain our position in the Persian Gulf; thirdly, to support our friends; fourthly, to be loyal to our alliances; fifthly, to persuade those who might succumb to Soviet blandishments of the dangers to their political freedom as well as to their religious life; and finally, to do what we can within the limits of our capacity to help those countries in the development of their resources and the raising of their standard of living. That is the policy to which we will seek to adhere in the Middle East.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman, but I do not think he made any reference to the tripartite 860 arrangement in the list of objectives. Perhaps they were covered by some other statement. Nor has he made any reference to the point put by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) on the balance of arms. He very rightly claimed that in the last five years the efforts of the three powers to control the supply of arms have been not unsuccessful, but does not that lead to the conclusion that it is desirable to continue to maintain the balance?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I said precisely the same thing in the debate in January last, before the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary went to Washington.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman if the tribute has escaped me. I hope that it will carry authority with his own party on the matter.
With regard to the future, the questions of the balance of arms and of the arms race raise rather different problems. That is the whole difficulty about them. People who think that the answer is at once an equivalent quantity of arms for Israel should remember that in that way we would get a considerable and dangerous arms race. I do not believe that the security of Israel depends upon the development of that sort of arms race. As I said before, the end of that would be that Israel would be ringed around by a series of Arab States who had in turn been armed to the teeth by the Soviet Union. I do not believe that that would mean security for Israel, so we have to find a rather different approach to the problem. I still do not believe that Israel's security would follow from the delivery of large quantities of Western arms at the present time.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I must pursue this for a moment longer. The right hon. and learned Gentleman may recall that in the debate which took place before the Washington visit, my right hon. Friend and I both drew attention to the qualitative balance of arms. The Foreign Secretary then said that he took that point and that it would be pursued in Washington. No one is suggesting that vast quantities of arms should be delivered—the economic resources of the 861 countries concerned prevent that in any case. What we worry about is the complete lack of balance qualitatively, about which we have heard a great deal.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I think that if the right hon. Gentleman will look again at the statement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made on the Washington talks he will see how the matter was dealt with. The position is that at present, in our belief, there is still a balance but, as I have said repeatedly, that situation will not last and is one which must be dealt with. The best solution of all is, of course, a settlement between the two parties, and that is a matter which we shall continue to press.
We did discuss the situation with the Government of the United States, and our view was that, apart from the question of arms supplies, the most effective contribution to deter aggression by either side was to stick by the Tripartite Declaration. We had useful discussions. As those discussions were private it would not be right for me to reveal them, but we did find ourselves in agreement with the United States upon that matter. As the Prime Minister has said before, we intend to honour our obligations under that Declaration in the spirit and the letter.
I turn now to Germany. The right hon. Gentleman was very critical of the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the reunification of Germany and, as far as I understand, was very critical of what took place at the second Geneva Conference of last year. I think that that is rather a novel criticism. I was not aware that that was the feeling of right hon. Gentlemen opposite about that Conference. Perhaps I may just recount the facts, because I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is quite straight on some of them.
In Berlin, two years ago, we put forward our plan for the reunification of Germany. We made it absolutely clear—and we have never withdrawn from this—that a reunited Germany would be free to decide its foreign policy and international associations. Everything else we have ever said has been subject to that qualification.
§ Mr. Lloyd
May I just conclude what I have to say about Germany? Then, if I have not covered some point, I shall gladly give way to the hon. Gentleman.
It was pointed out at that time that it was a risky thing to give that freedom to Germany, but I do not believe that the new Germany can develop relations uninhibited by former enmities unless it is accepted as an equal partner. Our conception of that freedom of choice was rejected by the Soviet Union. The Berlin Conference of two years ago did not achieve very much more than a clarification of the views of the two sides. Those who attended it came away, I think, very depressed in particular by the linking of the future of Austria to the German problem, and the feeling of pessimism about an Austrian Treaty. But the advantage of perseverance in negotiation—which I claim has been shown by Her Majesty's Government—was shown in that case. The Austrian Treaty was signed last May. Let me remind the House that that happened just after Germany had entered N.A.T.O.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
But is not the real difficulty not Germany's freedom of choice but the fact that she is allowed to choose a military alliance? Is not the real point that we have to get rid of the rival alliances and absorb them in the United Nations if we are to have peace? Why should Germany be free to join a military alliance any more than that she should be free to rearm without limit?
§ Mr. Lloyd
That has been debated frequently and I think the terms in which it has been put are that if we are to have a Germany neutral and disarmed, who is to keep her disarmed; and if she is to be neutral and armed, who is to keep her neutral? We have to concede this freedom of choice to the Germans willingly and freely, otherwise no satisfactory arrangements can be made with her.
The reunification of Germany was next discussed with the Soviet at the high-level Geneva Conference last year, and a directive was given to the Foreign Ministers to pursue—and I quote the words used:the settlement of the German question and the reunification of Germany by means of free elections.Accordingly, that was the first item for the Geneva Conference of October, 1955. At that Conference Mr. Molotov really 863 declared the Soviet position, definitely—and almost brusquely. He said that they would not permit free elections throughout Germany. He talked of elections with a single list of candidates—that is another illustration of their conception of elections and is, as has been pointed out, very similar to the Nazi system.
Then he spoke of reunification being permissible only if it did not interfere with the social system which at present exists in the German Democratic Republic. The Russians meant, in fact, that there could be neither free elections nor any real reunification of Germany at all until the whole of Germany became Communist. That is the present position and it is no fault of ours.
The right hon. Gentleman suggests that we should start further negotiations with the Russians. We are, of course, willing to negotiate with them at any suitable time. I am sure that it will be discussed with them again, and we shall do it, as before, in close association with the United States of America, with the French, and with the German Federal Republic. In the Washington Declaration we reaffirmed the importance which we attach to that, and we still hope and will continue to hope that just as the Austrian problem was almost unexpectedly settled so we shall reach a settlement with regard to Germany.
§ Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)
Will the Foreign Secretary just understand that the principle of free elections is just as much a cardinal principle on this side of the House as on that?
§ Mr. Robens
I am sure that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was listening to what I was saying. I emphasised on more than one occasion that we stood absolutely by free elections, as we understand free elections.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I, of course, believe that the right hon. Gentleman believes in free elections—I have never suggested anything else—but what he said was that we bore a large share of the blame for the failure of the Geneva Conference, which, I believe, is completely contrary to what 864 has hitherto been more or less a bipartisan attitude to this point.
The right hon. Gentleman made a reference to a paragraph in some guarantee being conditional upon Germany entering N.A.T.O. That was a document drawn up specifically to provide for the contingency of the Soviet Union requiring a guarantee, and the only contingency in which the Soviet Government would require a guarantee would be if a united Germany were to enter N.A.T.O. It was meant to deal with that contingency and that contingency only. That is why is was drafted in that way. But, as I say, in all the documents put forward relating to the reunification of Germany our prevailing principle has been freedom of choice of a reunited Germany.
I apologise for the time I am taking, but there have been certain interventions. If I may, I wish now to speak about disarmament. During the last week or two I have been questioned on several occasions about the Government's position at the meetings of the Disarmament Sub-Committee which are to take place in the near future. I still think that it would be wrong for me to describe in great detail the proposals which we shall put forward, but I should like to say something about them, nevertheless, in a general way.
The House will remember that in June, 1954, when I, myself, was the British representative at the first series of meetings of the Disarmament Sub-Committee, M. Moch and I put forward an Anglo-French plan. The context in which that plan was put forward was that I had asked the Soviet representative to agree a list of the weapons to be prohibited and a list of those to be limited. I had suggested that as soon as that had been done we could enter into negotiations about the levels of the armaments to be limited. Mr. Malik's reply was that it would be a waste of time unless we had first accepted the paper prohibition of nuclear weapons.
We then went on to discuss the question of control against the background of a very far-reaching paper by the United States delegation. Mr. Malik again refused to examine that paper in detail, using the same argument. The Anglo-French plan was, therefore, put forward to see whether it would not be possible, 865 leaving out of account the agreement on levels and the agreement on control, for us to agree on the outlines of a phased plan to achieve the ultimate objective of a comprehensive disarmament scheme. That plan was rejected at the time by the Soviet Union. We asked them to think it over, and in September at the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Soviet Union indicated a change of view and said that they would accept our proposals as a basis for discussion. That was an improvement.
The essence of the Anglo-French plan was effective control at all stages. Unfortunately, the late Mr. Vyshinsky soon made it clear that even when the control organ was set up—and he was not in accord with us on that matter—its effective operation was to be subject to the veto of the Security Council, which was a position quite unsatisfactory if there was to be effective control.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
It has often been said—and will not the right hon. and learned Eentleman agree?—that the proposals put forward by the United States for a system of control are also to be contained within the framework of the Security Council and are expressly stated as such.
§ Mr. Lloyd
It depends entirely on what the functions of the control are going to be. I have always conceded that the ultimate sanctions—the use of armed force against a recalcitrant country—must obviously be within the framework of the Security Council. I think that is common ground. But what I feel is intolerable is to say that every administrative act by way of enforcement should be subject to the veto of the Security Council. Every Soviet plan for control that I have ever seen has said that the agents of the control can only make recommendations and that nothing can happen without the Security Council having the right to impose a veto. I say that control run on that basis is not effective control. There will be months of argument before anything ever happens.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The Prime Minister proposed at Geneva that there should be joint control of armaments by the Soviet Union, Germany and her neighbours. Did he expect that that would be on the basis of a majority vote?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I am coming to that point. I shall try to cover the whole of this field.
It was agreed that the Disarmament Sub-Committee should be reconvened. When that happened at about this time last year the Anglo-French Plan was to some extent amended to try to meet the Soviet objections. In particular, we offered to begin the abolition of nuclear weapons when three-quarters of the measures of conventional disarmament had taken place, and the United Kingdom and French Governments also indicated the eventual levels to which the forces of the five major Powers should, in their view, be reduced. Both these proposals were to be subject to agreement on all sides on effective control machinery.
On 10th May the Soviet Union came a step nearer to accepting our position on the measures of disarmament and on their timing, but not—I repeat not—on our proposals for control. Although every effort has been made subsequently in the Sub-Committee and in the United Nations to get the Soviet Union to accept effective control, they would not agree to do so. After protracted discussion in the General Assembly a resolution was passed on 16th December requesting the Sub-Committee to investigate further the possibilities of a comprehensive disarmament agreement.
In addition—and I wish to emphasise this—the Sub-Committee was asked to give priority to the search for agreement on two subjects—first, President Eisenhower's open skies plan and Marshal Bulganin's plan to establish control posts; and, secondly, on such measures of adequately safeguarded disarmament as are now feasible. That was the remit given by the Assembly to the Sub-Committee. We have been making preparations since then with a view to putting forward the proposals in March. It seems to me that there must be the following elements in any disarmament plan. First of all, there must be agreement as to control and agreement as to the timing of the institution of that control. In that connection, President Eisenhower's open skies plan and Marshal Bulganin's plan for controls at strategic points would seem to be valuable. Secondly, there must be agreement about the levels of forces and the levels of armaments to be limited, and the achievement of those levels has to take place by stages. Thirdly—and this is where so much of the complication 867 comes in nowadays—we must not abandon our efforts to discover possible means of controlling nuclear materials and detecting nuclear weapons, because upon the efficacy of that will depend the possibility of ever putting into effect the final objective of a comprehensive scheme, including the prohibition and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
The House is aware of the difficulties, which have been admitted by both sides, about the control of nuclear materials, and all one can say is that those difficulties must be diligently studied between us. New ideas on certain aspects of the matter may be thrown up in the course of the work of such bodies as the International Agency for Peaceful Uses of the Atom which, we hope, will be set up. But we are confronted by difficult scientific problems, and that is the fact.
But even though that is the case, and even though there are these other tensions in the world, I do not think that is any reason why we should not seek to reach agreement, at any rate upon the first stage along the path to something more far-reaching in the way of disarmament. It is on proposals for that first stage that we are working at present, although we still think that even those proposals in the first stage should be within the framework of a larger scheme.
I was glad to welcome to London last week an old friend and colleague, M. Jules Moch, and to have a valuable exchange of views with him. It fell to my lot when I was Minister of State to take a particular interest in this question of disarmament, and I want to say that I have not lost faith in the possibility of progress. I still believe that although the fulfilment of a comprehensive disarmament programme will not, in fact, come until other causes of tension have been eliminated, nevertheless, to attain agreement about a plan for disarmament would of itself contribute in no small measure to the lessening of tensions and the solution of other problems. It is in that spirit that we shall seek to go forward.
I now want to return to the point which the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) mentioned and I also want to refer here to Western European Union. As I have indicated, we believe that control is the essence of any disarmament 868 plan. I have said so again and again. I want in that context to draw attention to the control of armaments within Western European Union, because that is a practical plan for the limitation and control of armaments to which, I think, nothing like sufficient attention has been paid. The agreements entered into take note of the undertaking by the Government of the Federal Republic not to manufacture atomic, biological and chemical weapons, and those weapons are listed in the agreement.
Then there is the undertaking not to manufacture certain armaments in Western Germany without a recommendation of the Supreme Commander of N.A.T.O., accepted by the German Government, and passed by a two-thirds majority in W.E.U. Those armaments are long-range missiles, guided missiles and influence mines. They are set out in detail in the agreement. There is an agreement about the level of stocks of certain armaments on the mainland of Europe, and this agreement applies to all the member countries.
Protocol 4 sets up the agency for control and defines its functions. The agency's first official control year started on 1st January last. Its powers are set out in detail, and they include the very important provision—and this is the point—that decisions of the Council with regard to the enforcement of control shall be taken by a majority vote, which is a very different approach to this question of enforcing control from any previous one. I believe this is a practical attempt at the limitation and control of armaments which is worth more than all the most eloquent speeches ever made on the topic.
We intend to do everything we can to maintain the impetus behind the work of the control agency and to support it, and we believe that the experience gained in this work will be of great value when we come to a more universal scheme. If we remember the history of events over the last hundred years and the destructive wars in Europe, we will recognise that it will be a most notable step forward, particularly in relations between France and Germany, if this plan of armament control in Western Europe can be made to work.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
While I share the right hon. and learned Gentleman's views on this question, may 869 I ask him what steps the Government are taking to ensure that it is "in" on the industrial development of atomic energy from the start in Europe, in view of the fact that he has many times stated that the control of nuclear weapons is possible only through control of the atomic process right from the start?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I take it that the hon. Member is asking me what our approach would be to the development of the Euratom plan. We have so far said that we wish that plan to be presented in the context of what has already been done by O.E.E.C. We will examine the plan sympathetically. It is not yet certain whether it will be a supra-national plan or not. We must see the plan; certainly we propose to examine it sympathetically, and we do not rule out a particular relationship between us and the Euratom Powers if the plan goes forward. If I may say so, I think the hon. Gentleman is on a sound point—the association of this country in some form with the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes on the Continent of Europe.
I must conclude, but I want to come back to the rather wider field. Obviously, everyone in the House must have read with interest the statements at the Soviet Party Congress and the suggestions of a change of approach. But it will be deeds and not words which will prove whether or not there has been any change in fact. So far all I can say is that I do not think the deeds have been particularly reassuring.
Our position is quite clear. We want to live in peace, we have no quarrel with the great mass of the Soviet people and still less have we any quarrel with the peoples of the satellites. With many of the latter we had close and intimate relations when that was permitted.
If it is to be a battle of ideas, fairly waged, then we have nothing to fear and we fear nothing; but when I say "fairly waged," fairness would mean that the Russians would allow access for our ideas to their people equivalent to the access which we allow for their ideas to our people.
We believe Communism in fact to be abhorrent to people who are free and who desire to be free, with uniformity enforced from the top, with pressures applied to those who do not conform, 870 whether they be the labour camp or political execution, as recently happened to the leaders in Georgia who were at odds with the régime. We detest the single list of candidates at elections, the denial of the right of opposition and the domination imposed upon the satellites. Who has ever seen a satellite representative at an international gathering differ upon any issue from the Soviet Union?
Contrast the action, for example, of the members of the British Commonwealth in the United Nations, where the free and equal partners in that Commonwealth differ and vote as they please. What mockery it is to talk about British imperialism in face of the facts on the Communist side. We are proud of our freedoms to dissent, to vote, to criticise and to write and speak as we like. We believe in the rule of law, impartially administered, and the Communist Police State is singularly unattractive to our people. I think their whole materialist conception is repellant.
I repeat, if it is to be a battle of ideas, fairly waged, we fear nothing, and it is deeds and not soft words which will persuade us that the battle of ideas is to be fairly waged. We must not be thought to be unfriendly if we defend ourselves when we are attacked. We are as anxious as anyone for peace. The burden of great defence expenditure and the use of scarce materials for weapons—all these things are not done because we like them. We should like the moneys, which we pour out, for more popular purposes and for the development of underdeveloped countries in the world. It is because we have learned in the hard school the lesson of trying to negotiate from weakness.
Since last summer, our hopes of the end of the cold war through a settlement of outstanding issues have had a set back. In October, at Geneva, the Russians refused free elections in Germany and even declined to lift restrictions on the exchange of ideas and the visits of ordinary people. In the last four months they have brought war closer in the Middle East by initiating an arms race and by deliberately stirring up animosities in Asia, for example, over Kashmir and Afghanistan.
Moreover, conscious that Russia is the one great colonial Power still left which has no intention of letting her subject 871 races proceed towards self-government, the Soviet leaders have sought to distract attention from the situation in their Empire by levelling false and reckless charges against this country. It is a melancholy reflection that the assurances given to the Russians at the Summit Conference seem to have encouraged them to believe that they could safely indulge in these deliberate incursions. In my view Russian deeds so far do not produce any evidence that the present rulers of Russia are set on a path to reduce tension.
Nevertheless, we propose to do everything we can to bring about an improvement and to test whether co-existence, competitive or otherwise, can be something more than just a negative avoidance of global war. In particular, the invitation to Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev stands and Her Majesty's Government are resolved to make another effort to persuade the Soviet leaders to follow policies which will indeed lead to a peaceful world.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
I am quite sure that the hard words which the Foreign Secretary has used about the Russians this afternoon should not be taken amiss in Moscow. After all, in recent weeks monstrous statements have been made about this country by the Russian leaders, and I do not think it is for them to take exception if, as the Foreign Secretary has said, we seek to defend ourselves.
On the other hand, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said in his speech, we have to try to work out a way of living with that country of 200 million people; and, whether it be peaceful co-existence or competitive existence, it is to be hoped that we shall not resign ourselves to a final and permanent deadlock over the problems which at present divide us.
I thought the Foreign Secretary was rather hard upon my right hon. Friend, who was, after all, emphasising—and I should have thought quite rightly—that the Geneva Conference in July of last year of heads of Governments failed in the sense that it failed to break the deadlock which still exists over the problems of German reunification, disarmament and the European system of security. I do not believe my right hon. Friend would deny, 872 nor would I deny for one moment, that the Geneva Conference of heads of Governments brought about an easing of international tension.
While the Conference of Foreign Ministers at Geneva also failed to break that deadlock, after a very careful study of the published documents I have come to the conclusion that if there is a desire on both sides to secure agreement there is nothing which suggests that any of these three problems is unbridgeable. I am glad to know, from what the Foreign Secretary has just said, that during the forthcoming visit to London of Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Krushchev he will seize the opportunity to have further discussions with the Russian leaders in order to remove possible Russian misunderstandings of the Western proposals.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth was, I think, quite right, in the interests of clarification and the avoidance of misunderstanding, to draw attention to the contradictions which are contained in the White Paper. The Foreign Secretary has stated that Her Majesty's Government take the view that a reunified German Government will have complete freedom to enter into international engagements. But in the preamble to the draft treaty of assurance, it was stated that:The final stage would become effective when a reunified Germany decides to enter N.A.T.O. and the Western European Union.I hope that the Prime Minister will see his way to endorse what the Foreign Secretary said—I hope that the Prime Minister will pay attention to what I am suggesting, because I think that this is in the interests of the Government as well as everyone else. It is of great importance that we should seek to remove any possible misunderstanding which may exist—it may not exist—in Russian minds as to what is involved if they agree on proper terms—terms such as both sides of this House would seek, namely, free elections—that a reunified Germany will have complete freedom to enter into any international engagements, whether it be to join the United Nations or even to join the proposed European system of security.
I want the Prime Minister to clarify this. He rather took exception to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend that Her 873 Majesty's Government had never made it clear that they stood for a general all-in European system of security. If we look at the background—the Eden Plan—which, I thought, went a long way to meet the requirements of the Russian point of view, it does indicate that it is an outline of terms of a treaty of assurance on the reunification of Germany. It is quite true that it had to be concurrent with the acquiring by Germany of reunification, but it does not make clear that it is open to adherence by other European countries. It is based on signature by Russia, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France.
What I want the Prime Minister to make clear, if it is the policy of the Government, is that their proposed treaty of assurance is to be open to every European country, including a reunified Germany, so that we should have a comprehensive system of security for Europe, justified, as we know it is, by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. I ask the Prime Minister to clarify both those points in the course of his speech later.
I want to say something about the vexed problem of disarmament. I think that the Foreign Secretary indicated he would agree that there is a great deal of frustration and disappointment in many quarters at the failure to attain a disarmament agreement after the interminable discussions which have taken place in the last ten years. What is the background? While those discussions have been taking place there has started a vast armaments race, which has never been equalled in the history of mankind in times of peace. Both in conventional and nuclear spheres the great Powers are engaged in an armaments race which is costing them and the rest of the world £40,000 million a year and involves the retention of 20 million men under arms.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth suggested that within twelve or eighteen months we would have the intercontinental ballistic rocket. He might have information which is not open to me, but I would go this far: I believe that within five years from now we shall have inter-continental ballistic rockets capable of a range of 5,000 miles and a speed of 3,000 miles per hour.
874 I do not need to repeat that in the last few years we have seen the advent of the atomic and hydrogen bombs. If the Manchester Guardian is to be believed, the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom already have great stockpiles of nuclear explosives. We are told that the United Kingdom itself has enough nuclear explosives to destroy every large city in the world, and probably most of the large towns. We are told that the stockpiles of the United States and Russia are much larger than that of the United Kingdom. What is more, leaders both of Russia and the United States have recently made it clear—General Zhukov, the Russian Minister of Defence last week, and Mr. Quarles, the United States Secretary for Air, yesterday—that in the event of another war—the Americans, even in what is called a little war—the nuclear weapon will be used. The talk about graduated retaliation as distinct from massive retaliation is, in my view, a quite unpractical appreciation of the possibilities of a third world war.
The choice today before mankind is nuclear war or no war. It is because disarmament is related to ensuring no war that so many of us attach to it the greatest importance. I think that anyone who tries to be fair-minded cannot but be influenced to some extent by the recital we had from the Foreign Secretary today by the course of the talks in the United Nations Sub-Committee of the Disarmament Commission. I remember the debate we had in July, 1954, and how much we were impressed by the frankness of the right hon. and learned Gentleman and by the optimism he expressed on that day. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said:We have produced a blue-print for disarmament which, in spite of all its incredible difficulties, is workable and could be made effective.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th July, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 901.]It is quite true that one has to read the documents to realise that the Russian Government were not forthcoming until 11th May last year. I cannot believe that the memorandum of the Russian Government, of 11th May, makes it obvious to any reader that there is no possibility of agreement between East and West. The emphasis in the Russian memorandum was on the control organ not having full powers until phase two was in operation. 875 In the case of the Anglo-French memorandum, the emphasis by the three Western Powers was that from the very beginning of phase one the control organ should have full powers of enforcing the provisions of the treaty from the outset. That may be unbridgeable. I do not know. It is a matter for the Russian mind to indicate. Apart from this, I should have thought that in both those blueprints, the Anglo-French plan and the Russian plan, there was a great deal of common ground in support of real material disarmament.
Perhaps I am wrong, but the Foreign Secretary rather emphasises a different standpoint from that of the Minister of State. We ought to know on which footing they rest. The Minister of State has indicated previously that the reason why we cannot stand by the Anglo-French plan for the time being is because there has not been a solution of the political problems, one of which the right hon. Gentleman cited as the German problem. Secondly, there is the technical problem that it is now discovered to be impossible to devise means of detecting stockpiles of nuclear material. The Foreign Secretary this afternoon said that the reason why we had not been able to get an agreement with the Russians is because they will not face up to a fully effective international control organ with powers of enforcing the terms of a disarmament treaty.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
I do not think there is any difference between myself and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary. If any has been suggested, I should like to clear it up. What I have said is not that we cannot stick to the Anglo-French plan because of the political problems that have not been settled, but that we could not be expected to carry out the degree of comprehensive disarmament envisaged in the Anglo-French plan until some, at any rate, of those political problems had been settled.
§ Mr. Henderson
I am glad to hear that, but the Minister of State will at least agree that, in reply to a supplementary question, he made the statement to which I have referred.
I am sure there would be common agreement between the Government and the Opposition that we cannot get very 876 far if we simply have a post-mortem on the causes of the failure to get a comprehensive disarmament agreement at this stage. The United Nations General Assembly has in its wisdom accepted the inevitability of a partial disarmament agreement as a prelude to a general disarmament agreement. Even Mr. Krushchev has himself made the same statement, that pending a general disarmament agreement we must seek a partial disarmament agreement. It is true that the three suggestions he made may not be acceptable to the Western Governments, but none the less, apparently, we have to face up to the present position, looking at it from the point of view of reality and not of sentiment, that the most we can expect for the time being is a partial disarmament agreement.
The Foreign Secretary gave one or two indications of what he would like to have in a partial disarmament agreement. I hope he will forgive me if, speaking for myself, I make one or two suggestions. I consider that the three main obstacles to a comprehensive disarmament agreement are, first, psychological; secondly, technical nuclear difficulties; and, thirdly, political difficulties.
Consider the technical difficulties first. I realise that it would not be satisfactory if either side could have hidden stockpiles of nuclear explosives and there was no possibility of detecting them, but, surely, we may have to accept that. We may have to accept it as a permanent element in the world of nuclear physics that it is not possible for the scientists to produce any method of detection.
Are we to hold up a general comprehensive disarmament agreement ad infinitum on that ground? if we accept the view that the possession of nuclear weapons is a common deterrent, they would not be used by either side because they were in the view of either side a common deterrent. Can we not accept that as the position, possibly for years to come at any rate, until the scientists can achieve success, and base upon it not only our partial early agreement, as it is called in the resolution, but the more comprehensive disarmament agreement, in the context of which the Foreign Secretary said he would like to see the earlier agreement itself placed, and see whether we cannot get a wide measure of agreement on everything else?
877 Take the question of the political difficulties. I do not expect the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to achieve miracles, but I am quite sure that they will do what they can to emphasise and to make clear to Mr. Krushchev and Marshal Bulganin that this country, our nation and our Government, in spite of all ideological differences, is genuinely desirous of seeing justice to the people of Germany through a reunified nation, that we are prepared to play our full part in a European system of security, and that once we achieve those two objectives the question of the psychological aspect can be faced up to.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister will consider as outrageous the suggestion I am about to make; at any rate, I make it. I suggest that it could be made clear to the Russians that once we have a reunified Germany, once we have a European system of security covering the whole of Europe, we shall then be prepared to face up to the question of liquidating all the foreign military bases that exist in Europe, and even in these islands. In other words, it is not the permanent policy of our Government to be associated with foreign military bases for the rest of time.
We have always justified—in my view, rightly—the retention of American military bases in this country so long as the situation in Europe was one that endangered the peace of Europe and of the world. But if we ever get to the position when we can have a reunified Germany and a collective system for the whole of Europe, I am asking the Prime Minister to say that once we get to that point, we are not shutting our minds on the question of the military bases, to the liquidation of which the Russians, for one reason or other—we need not go into that now—attach considerable importance.
This is one other suggestion. Why should we not have an agreement to ban nuclear tests? I am not saying when it should be put into effect. I merely ask the Prime Minister not to close his mind to discussions, either with the Russian leaders or in the Sub-Committee next month, on the question of banning nuclear tests. If we could get that agreement, together with the declaration which, I understand, is part of the policy 878 of Her Majesty's Government—I believe that the Government would still agree to a declaration that the hydrogen or nuclear weapons should not be used except in resistance against aggression—that would make a considerable difference.
The Foreign Secretary said that we want to get agreement on the level of conventional arms. I am not sure what he meant by that. Whether it is in the case of an early agreement or the more comprehensive agreement, it seems to me to be futile to talk about it as disarmament unless there is some reduction, not only in expenditure, but in manpower and in armaments. I am not saying what the size of the reduction should be, but I hope the Prime Minister will make it clear to us that the Government are not opposed to an agreement to lower to some extent, as far as possible, expenditure and manpower and armaments. If we do this, I believe that the problem of the control organ may be a little easier to resolve.
I believe that the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs will agree with me that an effective control organisation under the partial disarmament agreement might well be supervisory. I agree with the view of the Government that the control organisation for the comprehensive disarmament agreement will be useless unless it has powers of enforceability, but I wonder if the Government would, pending the general disarmament agreements, consider the establishment within the ambit of what is called the early or partial disarmament agreement, of a control organisation having supervisory powers, instead of enforcing powers, which would report to the signatories of the disarmament treaty or the United Nations Security Council.
One word about the situation in the Middle East. I do not know whether the Government have any information which suggests that the statement made by King Hussein last week is anything more than propaganda and whether it has any basis to it. He said that "Israel intends to attack." The Egyptian spokesman has talked about a "war of nerves." The Israeli spokesman has referred to the possibility "of Arab attacks." I ask the Government, is this propaganda, or have they any information suggesting that a conflict is imminent?
879 There is the question kf the Tripartite Declaration. The Washington declaration referred to the initiation of discussions in Washington, with regard to the implementation of the Tripartite Declaration. There have been Press reports that these discussions may take weeks or months. Is that the view of the Government?
I, for one, wish the Foreign Secretary a very successful journey on the journey he is about to undertake. I hope that in the talks he has in Israel and Egypt he will be able to advance a little the cause of peace and a practical solution to what is almost an insoluble problem at the moment. Pending these efforts of the Foreign Secretary in his forthcoming tour, or the mediation which the Prime Minister and others are seeking to carry out at the present time, the important thing at the moment is to keep the peace on the borders of Israel with her Arab neighbours.
I hope that the signatories to the Tripartite Declaration will consider not only reaffirming their obligations under the Tripartite Agreement, but will make it clear that, if necessary, they are in a position to carry them out. I believe that it would have a considerable effect if they could make it clear that they are in a position to deploy the forces available to the three Governments. Let us face it: if the Tripartite Declaration means anything it means that in the event of aggression by one country against another in the Middle East the forces of those three Governments will be used to support the country attacked. It would help a great deal if it were made clear that we were in a position to do that.
After all, this is really a question for the United Nations. The United Nations have the major responsibility. The major responsibility does not rest upon the three Governments who issued the Tripartite Declaration. I believe it is because the United Nations have been by-passed in this way—perhaps, unavoidably in the circumstances—that Russia has exploited the situation in the Middle East for her own purposes.
I hope the Foreign Secretary was not telling us politely that there is nothing doing so far as the United Nations police force is concerned. I do not mind whether it is a police force or an increase in the number of observers. Despite the fact that he suggests that those concerned 880 are not agreeable to the idea, it is still in my view a matter of major policy for the United Nations to decide, according to their responsibility under the Charter, whether or not certain actions can be taken to maintain the peace, and, with great respect to those to whom the Foreign Secretary was referring, I hope that that will still be decided at the level of the Security Council. I believe, therefore, that the United Nations should play their part in keeping the peace on the borders in the Middle East, and, if necessary, invoking Article 12 of the Armistice Agreement, which gives the Secretary-General of the United Nations the power to call a conference of both sides. There is still time, but not much time, to begin a new chapter in the relations between Jew and Arab based on peace and co-operation.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Sir Victor Raikes (Liverpool, Garston)
I am sure we are bound to agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) that anything that can be done to avoid misunderstandings with the Soviets should be done, but one cannot forget that the real trouble today between the Soviets and the Western Powers is not based on misunderstanding. It is not even based on fear, although maybe fear does play some part in the East. It is based, mainly, on the fact that at present, unchallenged and unchecked, the Soviet Powers believe that Western social democracy is on the way out and that they are determined to do everything they can to speed that process by fair means or by foul. If we are not prepared to realise that, we shall lose sight of the wood because of the trees when talking about conferences and methods of improving conferences here and there, vital though they may be.
I want to talk on the Middle East. In Europe, I believe the position as between Russia and the Western Powers will probably remain unchanged for a period of time. In the Middle East, however, we have seen a steady increase of Russia's efforts to promote her influence. The reasons are various. It may be that Russia feels that she may become almost a satellite of her ally, China, unless she is able to extend her influence from Afghanistan to North Africa.
881 Be that as it may, we are perfectly entitled to take every legitimate step to increase our alliances and strengthen our ties with any countries prepared to work fairly with us in the Middle East, and, far from regarding the event of the Bagdad Pact as a mistake, I regard it as a step forward, and I still hope that the time will come when Jordan will add her hand to that Pact.
I know that there are still some people in the country who believe that the very existence of the State of Israel is a bar to Anglo-Arab co-operation. I do not take that view. The Israel State, which came in 1948 of the Jews' great struggle for very existence, is a State which, in my view, in one form or another has come to stay. I am convinced that today the State of Israel would face the most hopeless of wars rather than return to the position of 1947. I am not arguing whether that is a good or bad thing, but, having bee, there, I believe it is a fact, and I think it is our duty to consider our position in the light of that fact. I shall venture one or two suggestions about the steps we can take in these circumstances.
First of all, supposing that in some concatenation of circumstances Israel were dislodged by the Arab League with Russian aid, far from that assisting the prestige of the West, it would merely mean that Russia would gain prestige for having supplied the Arab cause. The West would be despised for weakness in preventing what might be one of the worst massacres of modern times. It is only fair that one should say that.
What are the main dangers? Questions have been raised about the balance of arms. I am convinced that only with the appearance of the Czech arms deal has the balance in arms become in any way a danger. I do not think it is a great danger yet, but supposing that in the course of six, nine, twelve or eighteen months Egypt gets her arms and learns how to use the fast Ilyushin bombers and the modern M.I.G.s and, in the meantime, over that period Israel is left with no modern planes—and planes are far more important than tanks to counteract attack. Two dangers are bound to arise. One is a temptation for Egypt, having for the time being a complete superiority in the air when her people are trained—they are not yet trained—to launch an attack on an enemy who, whatever Colonel 882 Nasser may say privately, time and time again have been publicly described as people who ought to be driven into the sea.
The other danger is that if the balance continues to dip we might have the possibility of Israel trying to launch a preventive war. I do not believe that Israel has the least intention at the moment of launching a war, which to my mind would be her ruin, but on the frontiers tension is getting stronger. It is very easy to be objective in this House. Perhaps we are too objective here, but when people feel that perhaps in a year's time the great modern city of Tel Aviv might be destroyed from the air in half an hour, they can reach such a state of nerves that things might be done which would upset the whole apple-cart in the Middle East.
I believe that the Israelis are inclined to exaggerate considerably the amount of arms which they would need. I do not want to see a situation in which the balance would be tilted in such a way that Israel, which has the best army in the Middle East, became so well armed with attacking planes and tanks that the Israelis might say that at that moment the balance of arms was very attractive. I hope, however, that the Prime Minister, the British Government and, indeed, the United States Government will bear in mind that a certain number of the best fighter defensive planes will not launch Israel into war but might produce a feeling of security in Israel, on the one hand, and a feeling in Egypt on the other that, after all, settlement would be better than continued tension. In my view, fighter planes are the key to that matter.
I do not regard the danger of war as immediate, and it may be that this year, if the great Powers make it plain that any aggression by one side or the other would lead to their intervention, we might get a settlement. It might be easier to get a settlement this year than next year but if we do not secure a settlement very shortly, something will have to be done to restore a balance which otherwise will dip down bady by the time the year is out.
I believe that the refugee problem is not impossible to solve between the two qides, though, of course, it is not so easy. The Israelis over-simplify the problem. They say that the 800,000 refugees are 883 merely being kept in the camps for Arab propaganda. There may be some truth in that, though the point can be exaggerated. After all, a great many of the refugees go out from the camps to work outside and return to the same camps at night, often after long journeys, and they utterly refuse to emigrate to Syria and elsewhere where their labour is needed.
There are many men in the camps who say, "If I do not allow myself to be emigrated I shall have a chance to go back to Israel, or perhaps have my compensation. That is a problem which, to some extent, has been exaggerated on both sides. In the event of a general settlement, the two sides will have to accept that good compensation will have to be paid to enable many Arabs to settle outside, although many will wish to return to Israel. We cannot expect Israel, with her ever-growing population, to accept the return of huge numbers of Arabs. After all, the Arabs left of their own accord, whatever reason is given far their leaving.
Israel has been extraordinarily unwise over the frontier incidents. I understand the military reasons. I understand that it is not news if a few Jews get killed by infiltration over the border in each week, while it is news if 70 Syrians are destroyed at once; but every incident does harm internationally and raises great prejudice against those involved. I am glad that steps were taken by the United Nations after the Syrian episode, and I think it far more likely that these episodes will become fewer in thd future.
On the territorial side, in my view the Prime Minister's speech at Guildhall has been terribly misunderstood in Israel. I can appreciate the reason. A small country is always nervous that the great Powers might decide to impose a settlement unfavourable to itself, but, in fact, all that my right hon. Friend ever advocated, not only in the Guildhall speech but in his later speech in the House, was, to put it in another phrase, that if people are to meet at a conference table there must be sufficient give and take to ensure that all parties to the conference can go back and justify the settlement to their own people.
Israel cannot afford to be truncated and lose the port of Elath, which will be of considerable importance to her if peace 884 ever comes, if a settlement can be arrived at between Israel and Jordan over territory, arrangements made for proper transport facilities between Egypt and Jordan, and the refugee problem solved. I am convinced that all that would be possible with a little give and take. This is where my sympathy with Israel comes in. Israel is more anxious for peace than is the other side, but it cannot be and will not be a peace at any price.
When some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are inclined to be rather over-hopeful in regard to Russia and in regard to the Russian agreement with us and the wonderful results that may come when Bulganin and Krushchev come over here—a visit which, I am bound to say, I myself welcome with a singular lack of enthusiasm—
§ Sir V. Raikes
No; I am glad it is not singular. I realise than when my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) is close by, however we may differ on various other questions, we have both been realistic in regard to the Soviet Union over a considerable period of years. Not only have we been realistic, but also some hon. Gentlemen on the other side; and I wish there were more.
Realising that a settlement is possible between Israel and the Arab States, probably because the economic blockade is injurious to the whole Middle East at this moment, Soviet Russia has chosen to take steps which I will not say make that settlement impossible, but which make it far more difficult, and why? Is it because the Soviet Union has misunderstood our policy in Germany? Is it because the Soviet Union is afraid that, if tension is not stirred up, we shall be doing something dreadfully wicked in Iraq, or Syria or anywhere else? We know that it is not. We know that it is part of a struggle to do vast harm to the West, a struggle that will be resolved only when there is a change of heart on the other side.
Time after time we go forward, eager to find a fair way out, but we should not go forward too often with offers that may be rejected, or we may have the danger that countries looking to find which is the stronger side, and finding us always seeking peace, may suspect that we are afraid 885 of Russia. If, when Bulganin and Krushchev come over next month, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and others make it plain to these men, as I am sure they will, that they are not over here because we are afraid of Russia, but that while they are here we shall see that they learn of the inflexibility and determination of this country to stand by its pledges for peace and justice in the Western world—if they do that, the visit may do no harm. It may even drive a little sense into heads into which sense is hard to drive.
Having said that, I would merely close by expressing my view that, in spite of all the difficulties in the Middle East, a reasonable settlement between Israel and her neighbours is not impossible, but if that settlement is to be achieved, we must have a sufficiently fair balance to ensure that, from both points of view, it is worth their while to come to the conference table and seek peace rather than hatred.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Miss Jennie Lee (Cannock)
I listened to the earlier part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) with the utmost sympathy. Therefore, I am doubly sorry that, before he resumed his seat, he should once again have got on to the old, dead, familiar cold war tramlines. I should like to say why I agree with the right hon. Member at the beginning and why I feel so depressed 'by his conclusion.
In the earlier part of his speech, the hon. Gentleman showed a protective spirit towards the little country of Israel. Very many of us in all parts of the House share that spirit. When we remember the Second World War, with Hitler's camps and gas chambers, and think of the gathering in of this great race into one modest little corner of the world, we must all feel that we have a responsibility to see that there is no incident causing war involving Israel. So far, the right hon. Gentleman and myself are in agreement, but then he went on to the familiar story that Soviet Russia has given arms to the Arabs, and that if we give a few more planes to Israel it would level things up, and that somehow or other from that we are going to get a better atmosphere in the Middle East or even the hope of peace.
I do not agree. So long as we continue this blind business of assuming that Russia has no legitimate interests in the Middle East, or Mediterranean, we are 886 perpetuating the danger to Israel and the danger of war to the Arab States as well. Those of us who have been in those parts of the world have to accept the fact that the Arabs genuinely believe that Israel may attack them, and that, conversely, the Israelis genuinely believe that the Arabs may attack them. Therefore, our problem is how we can give both sides a feeling of security.
No one in this House, and certainly no one in the Middle East, considers that the present frontiers there are satisfactory, but they are there, and while we are waiting for more satisfactory frontiers, it seems to me to make far more sense to ask the Soviet Union to join with Britain, France and America to ensure that if there is a move on either side, the side which is attacked will come under the protective wing of the great Powers. I should like to see the United Nations playing that part. I agree with a great deal of what was said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) in opening the debate, particularly about building up the responsibility of the United Nations; but the United Nations does not have an army. Therefore, I regret that once again towards the end of his speech the right hon. Member for Garston dragged out what I consider to be the barren, dreary, self-defeating anti-Soviet arguments.
§ Sir V. Raikes
The hon. Lady very kindly keeps on referring to me as a right hon. Gentleman, but, so far, the Government have not been wise enough to make me a Privy Councillor.
§ Miss Lee
That would probably not be the least wise thing which the present Government could do, but we will not go into that, as there are other matters to discuss.
The world is not listening to the British House of Commons debating foreign affairs today. We are talking to ourselves. Neither do I think the world will worry very much or pay much attention to what Britain's Foreign Secretary says when he goes to Karachi later this week, for we have lost our power to surprise and our power to have new points of departure. Scathing things have been said today about the satellite countries attached to Soviet Russia, but it is a good thing sometimes to see ourselves, not just through our own eyes, but as the rest of the world sees us. There is 887 a growing area in the world which is no more interested in Britain's point of view than it is in the point of view of Poland or Czechoslovakia. India is typical of that growing part of the world, which includes the Middle East and the Far East. Indeed, we had a distinguished member of the Burmese Government saying the other day, that he would put aside the language of diplomacy and say bluntly that Burma was bored with Great Britain and that Great Britain was getting bored with Burma.
Far worse for the prestige of this country than hostility from other nations is the fact that they are simply bored with us. They say, "Why should we bother listening to what"—I will not say a satellite State; let us be kind to ourselves—"the junior partner is going to say, when we know that Big Boss Dulles will come along, and although he may be a bit rough and tough, though we may not like what he says or the way he says it, at least he represents an independent Power acting in the first person singular; he stands for something definite and positive in power politics today." The world is interested in what America has to say and in what Russia has to say, but the world is also interested, and growingly interested, in a country like India and what it has to say.
We are getting strangely old-fashioned in this island if we imagine that all the emerging peoples and races, large and small, who are developing their independence, consider themselves either Soviet satellites or American satellites. There is nothing which strikes many of us more forcibly when we are away from our own country, than how one nation after another is saying that it is bored with talk, couched interminably in terms of being either anti-American or anti-Soviet.
Every speech made so far in this debate has been couched in terms of the cold war. We belong to a Commonwealth embracing many diverse points of view. Why cannot we pluck up our courage and adopt an independent point of view in international affairs? Our Foreign Secretary is going to Karachi, to that miserable collection of S.E.A.T.O. Powers. I hope that before he does so he will read carefully the Press not only of this island, because he will get very little from that, but the Press of the world, and particu 888 larly the Press of the Middle East and the Far East, which are areas primarily concerned with S.E.A.T.O.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman does so he will find the most scathing ridicule of the recent S.E.A.T.O. military manoeuvres. They were a farce, and everyone knows that they were a farce. S.E.A.T.O. comprises the Philippines, Pakistan and one or two other bits of countries which have had the dollar ticket branded upon them. But the great nations of Asia are either excluded, like China, or are standing apart, like India. So it is nonsense for us to pretend that we are contributing to world peace, that we are contributing to anything, other than contempt or indifference to our own point of view, if we continue in this association.
§ Mr. Nutting
I really cannot allow the hon. Lady to make those remarks about the position in which this country is held without giving some answer. If she would go to the United Nations, now comprising 76 nations, she will see, and, I hope, understand, and, I hope, also welcome, that this country's position and prestige has never been held in greater respect in the history of that organisation.
§ Miss Lee
But the right hon. Gentleman and his Government are not looking at the facts if they do not realise that this country's reputation is sagging, although it has still great assets that could be used. Even in the countries with which we have had an old Imperial relationship there is great goodwill—there is the memory of our Civil Service as having been competent, honourable and incorrupt. There is also a liking for the gentler manners of this country as compared with those of some other countries, which hon. Members can guess for themselves.
We have still great assets. We have old relationships. We have qualities that would entitle us to a position in which we could be listened to, in which we could influence affairs. I would be happy 889 this afternoon if I thought that our Foreign Secretary would go to the S.E.A.T.O. Powers and tell them to stop all this nonsense. There is no disgrace, if you make a mistake, in correcting it. The sooner we stop squandering resources in this foolish way and conserve them for the real jobs that have to be done in the Far East and Middle East, the sooner we shall contribute to peace and to the good reputation of our country.
I hope that our Foreign Secretary will go to the United Nations and not merely say that, so far as Great Britain is concerned, we would like to see China included. I hope that, instead, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will say to our American friends with perfect courtesy—and when I say "perfect courtesy," I mean it—that the problems of the world today are far too serious for Britain's views to be muted or distorted and for us to be pulled along by America. America has great qualities, but lacks both in manner and content what is necessary to win the confidence of world opinion. We should point out that we have inside the Commonwealth a country like Australia, which is in favour of S.E.A.T.O., and that we also have within it India, which is adamantly opposed to S.E.A.T.O. Nevertheless, we do not make that a reason for abandoning the Commonwealth. We do not consider that we are attacking one side or the other because we cannot agree with both.
Why cannot that same logic be applied to our relations with the United States of America and in the councils of the world at the United Nations? Nobody knows how some countries will vote in the future. They wait until issues arise and then judge them on their merits. However, our views are discounted even before issues arise, because it is said, "Poor Old Britain has to have its dole, its dollars." I am not saying that that is our motivation, but we have to face up to how the world sees us. There are far too many people in the American Congress who stress again and again that there is a dollar basis to everything that is done. The Prime Minister of Ceylon was insulted, at the very time when America was giving Ceylon further aid, because someone in Washington said, "Of course, he talked up for our side in the cold war at the Bandoeng Conference. He has earned his corn."
890 Our Press does not carry many of those wounding statements; but other countries do. I do not care how small a nation is or how poor it is. If it is worth while, it has pride and dignity, and resents these jibes. We have now moved into the kind of world politics where it is not necessary to be bound hand and foot to America. to Soviet Russia, or to any other country.
I hope that we shall consider our worsening relations with Burma, our not too good relations with Pakistan and Ceylon, our relations with India which could be a great deal better. In saying "worsening relations," I am not including relations that have got so bad that we cannot put them right. But we must face up to the logical consequences of our own arguments. We cannot compete in the arms race. No one cuts an impressive figure, either personally or as a nation, by pretending to be richer than he is, or trying to do more than he is able to do. This country is distorting its economy by spending far too much on defence. By such behaviour we have reduced our contribution to world peace. We have reduced, not enhanced, our prestige in the world affairs.
I want to see money, personnel and resources, which at present are going into the bottomless pit of defence, devoted, instead, to helping the hungry millions in underdeveloped countries who desperately need our help, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth said in opening the debate. I feel proud when I am taken to the great steel works, such as those in Calcutta and the Tata steel town in another part of India, and see the stamp of good British workmanship on much of the machinery used. I am proud when I visit a great State farm and see deep wells changing the life of the area that are also the best British workmanship. Soviet Russia is very much in the market now not only with armaments for Arab nations, but with steelworks for India and agricultural machinery which is now finding its way all over the Far and Middle East. I do not mind that kind of competition with Soviet Russia.
I conclude by asking the Government—or if the Government are past hoping and praying for, then I ask my Labour colleagues—whether the time has not come when, during a debate on foreign affairs in this House, or in our dealings with the Middle East, the Far 891 East, Washington, or the United Nations, Great Britain should stand up with perfect courtesy and with complete good will towards every nation, not letting negotiations degenerate into a squabbling match with the United States, Soviet Russia or any other country, but, above all, making the independent contribution we could make to peace, instead of behaving as we are now doing, in a manner which makes the debates in this House matters of practically no interest or concern to the rest of the world. That is deeply to be deplored.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Brooman-White (Rutherglen)
The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) has been pleading for a novel approach, a new and sensational approach, to foreign policy. She says specifically that the Foreign Secretary should go to Karachi and hit the headlines by proposing the liquidation of S.E.A.T.O. I do not know how far west she wishes to extend that principle, whether the Foreign Secretary should then go to the Middle East and propose the liquidation of the Bagdad Pact, whether he should continue his peregrinations in Europe by proposing the liquidation of W.E.U., and then move back to London to contract out of N.A.T.O. That would certainly have the merit of novelty and would create some headlines, but I do not know what other merits it would have.
The hon. Lady wants to make a new start in foreign policy, and she appears to wish to do this by setting out on a reverse journey along the path of development first trod by Ernest Bevin after the war and consecutively and diligently pursued by all responsible statesmen in this country since that time.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
The hon. Lady deplores the weakness of our position. She says we are a country to which nobody pays any attention. She spoke about logic at the end of her argument, but at the beginning of her agument she was speaking with great warmth and feeling about the protection of the small State of Israel. I was rather struck by that. I know that the United States and France are also signatories to the tripartite guarantee to that country, but I think that if one spoke to the statesmen of Israel today about the question of immediate 892 assistance in the event of an unprovoked attack upon them, it is to Britain that they would look for the most effective aid in the critical early days. I do not think the people of Israel, about whom the hon. Lady was so eloquent, would under-estimate the importance of Britain's weight in the world and Britain's influence in the Middle East, and the position which, I trust, Britain will continue to maintain.
May I turn to a slightly wider view of the various issues which will confront the Foreign Secretary in the extremely testing, searching and difficult tour of problems upon which he will shortly be setting out. The hon. Lady rightly spoke—it was one of the few points on which I agreed with her—about the influence which this country still holds, and, I believe, will continue to hold, in those territories which have attained their liberty but over which we have in the past exercised authority, responsibility and guidance for a long period of time. That is specifically mentioned in the starting point for this debate, the Washington Declaration, which refers to the 600 million men and women in a score of lands who have attained nationhood since the war. I think the hon. Lady would be the first to acclaim this act of progress in creating nationhood.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
Many of the hon. Member's friends opposed the granting of freedom and independence to the 600 million men and women of whom he is speaking.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I would say to the hon. Member that none of the great movements forward in history has been of unqualified benefit. Such movements are necessarily inevitable as the tide of events moves on. We do not seek to arrest or impede them. However, it is an over-simplification—it is one of the over-simplifications in our present thinking—not to see the difficulties which arise from the very progress which has been made. I am not going to delve back into history. It is for the historians to say whether India might have been given her freedom in different circumstances without the appalling communal massacres which took place. Let the historians say whether our mandate in Palestine could have been withdrawn without the battle between the Israelis and the Arabs. That is a matter for the historians to dispute.
893 I am not talking about that now. I am talking about the fact that these 600 million people are moving forward into new responsibilities of nationhood without very much experience. They are facing entirely novel problems. There is bound to be for a period of time unrest, difficulty and ferment in these nations which are trying, in their political experience, to telescope time to a degree unprecedented in the whole of human experience. They are trying to operate a system of government for which we have given them the taste, but which took us centuries to evolve and led to great difficulties and civil wars and strife in our own country as we evolved it. They are trying to live in cohesion with other groups, which we are managing to do here, but England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales did not combine easily over a period of centuries.
These peoples are trying to learn to live with their neighbours in peace and operate a full system of democratic government within a period of decades or, at the most, generations where we took centuries to learn how to do it. There is bound to be friction and difficulty. This is obvious. I only say this now because the unavoidable instability of certain of these situations is sometimes lightly brushed aside in this House. To take a specific example, the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), in our last debate, spoke of what he was pleased to call our action in propping up corrupt and tottering Governments in the Arab world. The implication of that remark is that behind the present Governments of the Arab world there is a beautiful social democratic set-up ready to step into the breach, with some sort of Professor Balogh and a board of the New Statesmen and Nation to advise it what to do, and, of course, a highly-trained, incorruptible Civil Service to take over the practical problems of administration.
We know that that is not so. Yet why do some hon. Members opposite persist in speaking as though it were so? I have heard Nuri Said criticised in this House, but surely his Government are devoting a very considerable proportion of their revenue to economic development and social progress in that land and are not trying to overcome great internal difficulties by focussing eyes upon external aggrandisement abroad. Is that 894 not what one should wish for? One hopes that Colonel Nasser will turn to the same path and will see the hope of establishing Egyptian leadership and authority in the Middle East through the weight and merit of Egyptian achievement, and not through intriguing for political hegemony, in that part of the world and perhaps exploiting Saudi money and all the old jealousies of dynastic disputes and tribal feuds.
I stress these points, obvious though they may be, because I am following on the hon. Lady's argument that we need some novelty. In these circumstances, in the Middle and Far East progress is bound to be slow and bound to be difficult. If we meet with setbacks, as we have done, must do, and will continue to do, that is not an argument for changing direction. It is an argument for continuing skilfully and patiently to work for the policies which we believe are in the interests of our own nation and of other parts of the world. We do not need any radical change of direction.
I believe that the same sort of criticisms were made against Mr. Ernest Bevin when he was working slowly and with difficulty towards the elaboration of ideas which led to N.A.T.O. I fortify myself with a quotation from my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), who said, on 12th May, 1949:It has been said that democracy suffers from the weakness of chopping and changing, that it can never pursue any course for any length of time…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 12th May, 1949; Vol. 464, c. 2026.]We must rise above that weakness. I am sorry to see the hon. Lady falling into that weakness.
Among the steps that have led to difficulties in recent months was the Guildhall speech, but that has been admirably dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes). That speech was an absolutely accurate statement of what ought to be achieved. It is criticised by Israeli opinion as having said that the Israelis must make concessions. It is criticised by Arab opinion as having implied something less than a return to the 1947 frontiers. But surely that was bound to follow on a speech whose aim was to bring both sides to see that a settlement means concessions by both sides. We can only persist in our efforts to bring that about.
895 Then there has been the recent difficulty about the Bagdad Pact and Jordan's accession to it. I was extremely surprised to hear the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) say that we tried to force acceptance on Jordan and that as a result Jordan showed that she was not prepared to choose between the East and the West. To begin with, the initiative came from Jordan, and, secondly, if there was any difficulty about choosing between East and West in the Bagdad Pact, it was a difficulty of choosing between the east bank and the west bank of Jordan. We may have made a wrong calculation there. The Pact is resented by the west bankers whose eyes are focussed exclusively on Israel, more acceptable on the east bank, and we appear to have underestimated the potential opposition to it. But that is a very different picture from that painted by the right hon. Gentleman.
The Jordan Government came to us and said that they were prepared to consider the Pact and General Templer was sent out there. It is perfectly legitimate to argue that that was a rather dramatic gesture and focussed too much attention on the matter. However, if we had not sent out someone of that calibre and something had gone wrong and the opportunity had been let slip, it would have been perfectly legitimate to say that we had wasted a great opportunity and legitimate to ask why we had been so pusillanimous.
§ Mr. Robens
If the initiative to join the Bagdad Pact came from Jordan, why was it necessary to send anyone?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
As I understand it, they wished to discuss the full implications and the commitments and to find out with accuracy, both militarily and economically, the advantages and the responsibilities which would accrue from joining that Pact. A group of politicians were in favour of joining it, and I have no doubt that a considerable number of people in Jordan still wish to follow that course. I hope that in time they will do so, because it will be of benefit to Jordan. It will also be an advantage to the world in increasing the stability of the Middle East as a whole and in easing tension between the Arab States and Israel, because only as wider horizons are opened and bigger fields of co-operation developed in the area can the internecine 896 bitterness in the Arab-Israeli dispute be assuaged.
What else can be done? The hon. Lady wishes to look for novelty in the Middle East. What further steps can we take, what positive alternatives, apart from those of the hon. Lady, who did not seem to command very wide support in the House, can we suggest? What other steps have been proposed? It has been suggested that we should move towards a pact with Israel, because we have a pact with the Arabs. I should like to comment on that idea. Any agreement which covers economic aid and defence, if it is to be of lasting value, must be based on reality, and on genuine interests affecting our own country. We should not go in as an act of grace, but should go into these things because they are to our own advantage, Why should we be ashamed if they are to our advantage? For practical people like the Israelis and the Arabs the fact that we gain advantage ourselves as well as conferring it on them can be a guarantee of our enduring interest. And it is more in keeping with their dignity that we should work in partnership for mutual benefit rather than give them a sort of large scale economic "backsheesh."
Our practical and immediate interest in the Arab lands, apart from our historic associations, is oil and why should we hesitate to mention it? I know that in the past it has been regarded politically as a naughty word. That it ranks with "plutocrats," "moneylenders" and "monarcho-fascist beasts", and the rest of them. But we are interested in Middle East oil and will remain so interested. If we had to buy from dollar sources the oil we get from the Middle East—in addition to importing coal and steel—it would ruin us—even if sufficient were available. And if we did not get it, the factories of this country would stop and there would be mass unemployment. We want the prosperity of this Middle Eastern area because, among other reasons, the prosperity of our own people depends on it. We have an interest in the area much more legitimate than have the Soviets, because the Soviets do not need that oil for their industries. They can get oil from Baku. Perhaps they would like to deny us oil; that might be a very great interest to them—but I should not rate it as a legitimate interest.
897 On the question of a military agreement with Israel similar to those we have with the Arab States, I believe we could move towards such an agreement after a settlement in the area but not before it. I do not see any sound basis for such a military agreement before a settlement, and I will give my reasons. Let us take the specific case of Haifa. What use would a base in Haifa be in existing circumstances? How would such a base help us in our defence against what the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) called "fire raising"—not total war; we cannot discuss total war in this context, but rather the dangers of a local incursion like Korea or insurrection such as that which took place in Greece. These pacts are designed to protect us against such troubles and not against a hydrogen war, although such local wars might develop into a hydrogen war.
One does not defend the Middle East from Haifa. One defends it from areas up towards the Rowanduz Pass. But if a settlement were reached, the base in Haifa would be of great benefit to us, to the Arab lands and to everybody else concerned. We could move forward from it. But at present a base in Israel would be a base for Israel and not for Britain. Our support for Israel is another matter and that is set out in the Tripartite Declaration.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
It is not a question of a base in Haifa or in any other place. There are pacts with all the Arab countries—either pacts with this country or with other countries—and if there are not similar pacts with Israel, Israel will consider that we are not serious in our guarantees.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
That is precisely why I was putting this argument. I can see that there is a psychological argument. I can see that the Israelis would like to have our forces there for the defence of Israel. The whole tenor of my argument is that after an agreement between Israel and the Arabs, such a base would be of lasting benefit to everybody, and in particular, to Israel and the Arab States themselves. But during the present dispute it would be of no benefit to anybody but the Israelis. That is one of the many urgent reasons why we want the dispute to end.
I know that it is difficult to sound objective on these lines. I have visited 898 both sides of that frontier, and on both sides one finds the view that those who are not for us are against us. That is one of the reasons I have been laying so much emphasis on what is clearly and obviously to our own advantage. That seems to offer a test of objectivity which no one can question.
There is one practical point which I should like to put to the Foreign Secretary—a point, I am sure, that has been considered. In discussing the possibility of an agreement, and the advantages of an agreement, we may have tended to slip into the over-simplification of talking about military arrangements and economic aid as though they were necessarily quite separate. They are not necessarily quite distinct. They may be two sides of the same penny. The development, for instance, of the Haifa base would necessarily lead on to the development of strategic communication lines running east towards the strategic areas we would wish to defend. Now, strategic or not, a road is a road. People in Israel and the Arab lands can look northward and see the roads which have been made with American aid in Turkey. They are primarily strategic, but are also of inestimable benefit in opening up a rich agricultural area. Why should not these other lands benefit in precisely the same way, if only they can reach agreement on their outstanding dispute.
There was one other point in the hon. Lady's speech with which I tend to agree. She said that we should not try to do too much. All right; let us by all means be selective. If there is a project which is to our own advantage for military stability and security of the area and also to the economic advantage to the area, let us set that fairly high in priority. Why not? If a thing can serve two purposes—economic aid and military stability—let us advocate it. The pure logistics of Middle East defence can undoubtedly be of great economic benefit to the Middle East. That is not, of course, the end of the stay as far as aid is concerned, but it is an aspect of it which we may have tended to overlook or underestimate. I do not know the Far East well enough to say that the same argument applies there, but it may be so.
There are only two other points with which I should like to deal. The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) 899 stressed emphatically the advantages to us in fuller frontier supervision on the Israeli border and in pressing forward with such arrangements. I know the difficulties of the United Nations set-up and responsibility does not lie simply with us, but I should like to join my voice with those who have urged that we should do everything possible to try to set up some form of cordon sanitaire round the Israel Frontier. I know that when negotiations seemed to be reaching a point of fruitfulness there have time and again been incidents and raids from one side or the other and things have been set back again. But if we could get a cordon sanitaire established the resulting tranquillity might make negotiation far 'easier. Perhaps also the same high emotional state might not exist over arms.
I agree that the immediate Israeli need is for defence aircraft. For the rest, they probably still have the advantage over the Arabs. The hon. Member for Coventry, East in a previous debate talked about the Israeli army cutting through to Bagdad and Damascus. I have here the Saturday Evening Post, which I imagine is not a paper entirely hostile to the Israeli point of view, which points out very cogently that they could put 250,000 men in the field against the Arabs 160,000.
§ Mr. Janner
They could put men in the field. They are courageous people, but it is no good putting courageous people up against Centurian tanks. What is the weapon with which to meet Centurian tanks if they come?
§ Mr. Brooman-White
If I may, I will quote rather than give my own views. The writer mentions 220 Sherman tanks and is placing a great deal of faith on the very effective light French AMX 130 tank destroyers. I do not want to argue the exact degrees of force—
§ Mr. Brooman-White
The Israeli forces are probably superior at the moment. Their great fear at present is the development of air power—MiGs—and the defence air armament against them is their greatest need. An easing of frontier tension following on some cordon sanitaire development might make it easier to meet this requirement for them. It is difficult, for example, to 900 consider their demands on top of an incident such as the Sea of Galilee shootings. Tranquility on the frontier is surely the first essential, from which much could follow.
The only other point with which I want to deal is an attitude to Soviet "competitive co-existence", which falls under three heads. They have been throwing everything they've got into the Middle East. They have been buying cotton, selling arms, unleashing Armenian archbishops, and doing all they can to stir up the area. I will not say more on the side of Soviet armament deals, because I think I have already dealt with that in what I have been saying about the Israeli situation.
The second line of action which they have been taking has been the purchase of cotton from Egypt, just as they have in the Far East been taking the surplus rice from Burma. We must accept the fact that they will probably continue to make economic purchases for political ends as and when they can, and it is not within our economic capacity to compete with them in that. As the United States has a surplus they may or not compete. I think that that is a risk which we have to accept. We can only hope that the countries concerned may benefit slightly from a study of what happened to those who fell for similar tactics by Dr. Schacht before the war.
There is also the question of actual material aid. The hon. Lady said that the Soviets were competing in things such as selling up steel mills. All right, let them. They may get some goodwill, but I am not unduly perturbed about that. We have spent millions in these countries, and we are not being carried away by a great blaze of goodwill. The United States have spent millions on economic aid, but according to the speech of the hon. Lady not everyone in this country has been won over to unthinking admiration of the American system as a result of that benevolence. I think Maria Theresa's remark about "astonishing the world with ingratitude" applies particularly to recipients of economic aid.
Let the Soviets help if they will, because I agree that prosperity in these areas means stability. I do not believe that we have supplied or should supply aid in the expectation that people will be grateful 901 and accept our political guidance because we have given them certain help. I think that that is a naïve view. The fact is that aid will add to social welfare and political stability, and our interest in these areas is the provision of prosperity and political stability. The Soviet interest may well be to the contrary. But if their efforts result in prosperity and economic stability, let us welcome it. It is for the good of the area, but I for one shall be pleasantly surprised if we find the Soviets going very far in that line.
Finally, one of the things which has played the biggest rôle in maintaining our influence in these areas has been the influence of individual men. We have had people who have worked there all their lives and who have a natural aptitude for exercising personal influence. These are areas where the weight of industrialists is not so great, and it may be that life there has not reached the pitch and tempo that it has here where, except in the case of most outstanding individuals, the impact of a single man does not mean very much. In those areas it can mean a great deal. We have been lucky in the men we have been able to send. We have in the past drawn these men very largely from fields which no longer exist—the Indian political service, the Levant consular and others.
I ask my hon. Friends seriously to consider now and in the future what may be done in the way of education, training facilities and openings for careers so that we may continue to offer possibilities to people of that type who wish to pursue that sort of life. In the past we have been able to send out such men whenever we needed them, and I hope that in the future we shall continue to find men of equal calibre whenever we need them.
§ 6.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I wish to refer to a portion of a speech made by the Foreign Secretary and to underline a statement which seemed to me a reaffirmation of the very important statement made at the Treasury Box by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was Minister of Defence. The statement was made nearly a year ago, on 2nd March of last year, that in spite of disappointments, and particularly in 902 spite of the disappointment of the Minister of State who has worked so hard, the legitimate object that the Government have in mind is to get complete disarmament under a complete international control so that the rule of law may prevail. I am glad to hear that that is the continuing policy of Her Majesty's Government as it was of the Government of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill).
The best news that I have heard from the Foreign Office is the statement that the Foreign Secretary proposes to visit Israel. I think that this is the first time that such a visit has been paid by a Foreign Secretary while occupying that great office. When he was Foreign Secretary the present Prime Minister made a mistake, in my opinion, when he went to the Middle East and visited many places except Israel. People are sensitive about these things and it would have been much better had he called on the Israeli Government as he did on the Arab States.
We all want to know what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government which, I take it, is to be discussed by the Foreign Secretary with the Arab countries and with Israel. We know that this matter must have been discussed by the Prime Minister and President Eisenhower but, very rightly, we are not entitled to know exactly what was said by them in their private conversations. I wish to refer to a statement made this weekend by the United States Secretary of State. I should have thought that a similarly strong statement would have been made in this House by the Foreign Secretary.
In my opinion, a great deal too much value has been attached to the Tripartite Declaration. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) seems to regard it almost as sacrosanct and keeps asking that we still adhere to the terms of that agreement. It is very loyal of him to do so, because it was made by the Labour Government when the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) was Foreign Secretary. Frankly, I have never thought much of it, because, obviously, it was not an agreement which we could carry out. That point has been made perfectly apparent by the action of Russia.
I have always felt that the emphasis was put at the wrong end. It was put on arms and the main talk in it is about arms. I brought with me a copy in case 903 that statement is challenged. The agreement begins with a statement that arms are necessary for all and that they will be supplied. The second paragraph says that, of course, undertakings must be obtained from the countries to whom the arms are supplied that they will not use them against other countries, but only in self defence.
Then, in the last paragraph—at long last—reference is made to what surely ought to have been the main point; to emphasise the desire of everyone for peace and stability. In the last sentence of all we come to the thing which I should have thought mattered most, that the three Governments, should they find any of these States preparing to violate frontiers or armament lines, would, consistently, with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action, both within and without the United Nations, to prevent such violation.
I believe that a great deal of harm has been done by not emphasising that first, instead of talking about arms and the desire of the three great countries to try to keep a balance of arms between them all, which is an impossibility. What is more, I do not think that the three countries have any right to say to anyone, "We will forbid you to deal with any one of these countries." That was realised the moment that Russia sent arms to Egypt, but all along, in my opinion, we had no right to talk to anyone in that way.
Suppose, for example, any small nation who manufactures or could manufacture arms—Luxembourg, for instance, as an example of the smallest nations—had said, "We desire to make these arms, to export them and to make money out of them." What right has this country, France or the United States to say, "You shall not do so"? I am merely making the point that the wrong approach was made in this matter. The right approach is contained in the last sentence of the agreement, namely, the guaranteeing of frontiers. Had that been done, there would have been less trouble than there has been from the date of the Tripartite Declaration until today.
What ought to have been made perfectly clear to these countries was that they might have as many arms as they liked to spend money on. But they ought 904 to have been told, "If you want, you can have the arms, but you will never be able to use them. If you use them for aggressive purposes, you will have to deal with we three, and you will have to deal with the whole of the United Nations, because you are an aggressor. Therefore, it is a useless way in which to spend money, because your independence is guaranteed, and your frontiers are guaranteed, so that you are wasting money in buying these useless arms."
Apparently, that is now the attitude of the United States. I quote from a telegram from Washington which appeared in The Times on Saturday:On guaranteeing borders, Mr. Dulles said: ' Given a solution to other related problems, the President has further indicated his willingness to recommend that the United States join in formal treaty engagements to prevent or thwart any effort by either side to alter by force the boundaries between Israel and its Arab neighbours '.I hope that when the Prime Minister speaks tonight he will say that that is exactly the line we now propose to take.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)
I can say so now. I can tell the right hon. and learned Gentleman that we are in complete agreement with that statement.
§ Mr. Davies
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. That seems to me the right and proper approach to this question, and I hope that there will be less talk about—
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
I have not the text from which the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted, but am I wrong in understanding that it refers to guaranteeing frontiers after agreement? If that be so it does not cover what we thought was covered by the Tripartite Declaration, namely, that there would be aid to anybody in the event of aggression against existing provisional frontiers.
§ Mr. Davies
I understand that the present frontiers will be guaranteed. Anybody crossing those frontiers is guilty of an act of aggression.
§ Mr. Davies
Any country crossing any frontier is guilty of an act of aggression and, therefore, will have to deal with the three guaranteeing Powers who will either deal with it themselves, or—certainly so far as we are concerned—will, by their 905 adherence to the United Nations, say that they also will deal with it.
They go further. They say, "Once we have got the parties into that position surely they will see that there is no use in their arming against one another." Am I right in saying that then will follow this: if we can once get them to realise that it is useless their arming against one another, there is a better chance of their coming round a table and settling their differences in that way, and that we do not interfere in it but leave them to settle it amongst themselves? That is all I wanted to say on that point.
I have heard too little about Europe. One would like to hear a great deal more of what is happening. I was one of those who deeply regretted the breaking down of the proposals for the European Defence Community and the fact that the Government of this country were not prepared to join the Schuman Plan. I do not attach much value today to treaties of mutual defence such as were made in the old days, one country saying to another, "If you are attacked I will come to your assistance and if I am attacked you will come to my assistance," while, in the meantime, they went on doing as much damage economically, socially and politically to one another as they possibly could.
That is why we welcomed in the Brussels Treaty the clauses which laid emphasis upon the desirability of the French, Belgians, Luxembourgers and ourselves doing all we could to assist one another and to co-operate economically and socially. That provision appears again in N.A.T.O. Unfortunately, all that was done originally under N.A.T.O. was to set up S.H.A.P.E. in Paris; nothing was done about economic cooperation. Fortunately, in July last year there was a meeting of the parliamentarians of the N.A.T.O. countries.
What is happening with regard to that? Are we standing on one side and not co-operating with those countries, who have so much at stake? It would ease their position very much if we helped one another economically and had better communications. What is of even greater importance is that what I still call the "Schuman Plan" works. Unfortunately, we have stood outside. Even the present Government, whose members were urging the Labour 906 Government to join in the plan when it was first proposed, have, since they became the Government, only sent an observer and taken a little more interest.
I have seen almost the end of one age in industry—the steam age. I saw the rise and development, the very rapid development when war came, of the internal combustion engine. Now, apparently, we are about to see the end of that and the coming of the nuclear-energy age. I should have thought it was vital that we should co-operate with those who are prepared to co-operate with us in the defence of the liberties which matter to us. Why cannot we enter into a closer relationship with every one of the N.A.T.O. countries in the peaceful use of atomic energy so that we can build up our strength, not merely for war against Russia but to assist one another in time of peace? We should thus be better able to defend our liberties whenever they are attacked.
For many years most of our debates on foreign affairs have seemed more concerned with defence. The talk all the time is of impending war or threatened war. I wish these debates could take another line and there were much greater talk of ways of achieving peace by better communications with one another, by breaking down barriers and putting more emphasis upon trade and inter-communication. I should say that fitted in best with the true foreign policy of this country, which is still that of Her Majesty's Government today, of doing all we can for the peace of the world.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Wentworth Schofield (Rochdale)
I shall confine my remarks to the Middle East. As recently as two months ago, I paid a visit to that part of the world, where I was given an opportunity of meeting and speaking with the heads of State of Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt.
It is no exaggeration to say that wherever one goes in the Middle East the question which transcends every other question is the Arab-Israeli situation. I shall endeavour to resist the temptation to dwell at any great length on that aspect of the Middle East situation, not because I have any desire to minimise the gravity of it but because I do not wish to take up the time of the House in covering ground which has been covered most 907 adequately by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary.
I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister say, on his return from Washington, that the observer force on the Arab-Israeli frontier is to be reinforced. I do not know what the increased strength of the observer force will be or how fully it will be able to keep check on the frontier, but I cannot help feeling that unless it is fairly strong it will not be able to meet the needs of the situation. As long as these opposing armies are facing each other along that frontier, there is always a great danger that incidents may occur. Every time there is an incident it puts back the clock further than ever and makes the resolving of the difficult situation by peaceful means harder.
While I was there, the Syrian incident was on the lips of every Arab whom I met. Eact of them told me that from the moment that that incident occurred the political atmosphere in Arab countries became electrified and charged with danger. It should be clear to anyone that incidents can quite easily touch off a war which might be localised at first but could easily grow into a world war. The best way to avoid incidents is to separate the opposing armies by widening the space between them and, if necessary, sticking something in between them, whether it be an observer force or some other force. It should be of sufficient strength and adequately equipped in order to be able to keep both sides under observation. From conversations which I had, I came to the conclusion that many Arab leaders, particularly the more moderate, would welcome a move of that sort.
I admit that with the exception of Egypt, where I had talks with Colonel Nasser, the other countries where I spent most of my time are rather more remote from the Arab-Israeli frontier, but, even so, all Arab countries are bound together on this question of Israel. In Iraq, I formed part of the British Parliamentary delegation which was there at the invitation of the Iraqi Parliament. In consequence, we were given every facility to see a great deal of the country. Although we were centred on Bagdad, our travels extended as far south as Basra and as far north as Kirkup and Mosul.
908 When I was in Iraq what impressed me most was the obvious feeling of good will which exists in that country towards this country. I submit that that spirit of good will is probably our most precious asset in Iraq and one which we should strive to retain. It was always important, but I submit that it is even more important in this ever-changing world today.
Iraq is undergoing vast changes, made possible by large revenue-producing concessions from the oil drawn from oilfields which rank among the richest in the world. Where poverty reigned for hundreds of years, great wealth is now being extracted from below the sands of the desert, and I submit that it is right that those whose home has been the desert should participate in that wealth. The money which Iraq receives from oil concessions is her main source of revenue. It is growing yearly. By the end of this year it is expected to reach £100 million a year. When we consider that the total population of Iraq is only about five million, it is easy to see the effect which such revenue can have if it is wisely spent.
Fortunately, the Iraqi Government is acting wisely in putting the wealth which it derives from oil to good purpose; 70 per cent. of the oil revenue is allocated to the development and harnessing of Iraq's other natural resources, from which even greater prosperity may spring in the future. There is also great activity in the building of roads, bridges, schools and houses. There is a great demand for labour, and in this way much of the oil revenue is finding its way into the pockets of the people. No effort should be spared to retain the good will of which I spoke earlier in a country which is so obviously going ahead.
Although Arabic is the national language, English is the chief foreign language spoken in Iraq; it is a compulsory foreign language in secondary and higher education in Iraq. One of the difficulties with which the country is faced is the lack of teachers able and qualified to teach English. I spoke to some of those teachers, who told me of their difficulties. They liked the life out there but were having great difficulty in making ends meet because of the inadequacy of their pay. Their pay is approximately 90 dinars a month, or an English equivalent of £90 a month, and on the face of it that may seem to be fairly good. Food is very dear out there, 909 however, and unfurnished housing accommodation invariably costs £500 to £600 a year, payable in advance. It is, therefore, easy to see how difficult it is for those teachers to make ends meet.
Can we in Britain afford to let the teaching of English lapse in a country which wants to speak English and understand English, simply for the sake of the few pounds which will be needed? After all, it is only when people speak and understand English that they can begin to think English. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will bear this point in mind and will see in what way the lot of English teachers out there can be improved.
The only other point I want to make concerns Egypt. Whether we like it or not, we must face the fact that Egypt has drawn closer to Russia. Russia's decision to supply arms to Egypt nullified at one stroke the Anglo-American policy of preserving a balance of arms between the Arabs and the Israelis. Much as we may regret it, I do not think that anyone should be surprised. Egypt is afraid of Israel. She has crossed swords with her once and is not only still smarting from her defeat but is afraid that it might happen again.
Let us be realists. While I deplore the fact that Russia is supplying these arms, I cannot honestly blame the Egyptians for taking them. If Britain found herself in a similar position, unable to obtain arms which she sorely needed, would she refrain from getting them from wherever she could? Of course not. We should buy arms from the devil himself rather than take the risk of being defeated by invaders.
There was a time in Germany when the popular cry was, "Guns before butter." I hope that for her own sake Egypt will not think of guns before cotton. My hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White) referred to Russia buying cotton from Egypt as a "political purchase." Egypt specialises in the growing of long staple cotton, from which the finer types of cotton goods are made. Her whole economy is based on cotton, which is her main source of revenue. Her prosperity depends on the amount of money which she obtains each year from the sale of her cotton.
910 It has been reported that recently she has sold large quantities of cotton to Russia. Anyone with a knowledge of cotton might reasonably wonder what kind of game Russia is playing in buying these large quantities of Egyptian cotton. Russia herself grows cotton; she is, in fact, an exporter of cotton. When I see reports of large Russian purchases of Egyptian cotton I naturally wonder for what purpose she is buying it, because Russia never has been a producer of the finer quality goods which are made mostly from Egyptian cotton.
I doubt whether Russia has the ability to spin large quantities of Egyptian cotton. I may be unduly suspicious, but I can see that there may be a little more mischief-making by Russia in Egypt on this question. It seems to me that by holding a large stock of Egyptian cotton which can be thrown on to the market at any time, and thus completely disrupt the market and knock down the price of Egyptian cotton, Russia would be in a position to exert considerable pressure on Egypt, whose economy depends almost entirely on cotton. I submit that Egypt would be well advised to satisfy herself on this point or she may find that cotton in Russia will be a far greater threat to her economy than guns in Israel.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I listened with very great interest and hope to the speech of the Foreign Secretary. I listened in the hope—as it turned out, a mistaken hope—that he would deal with some of the problems we in Britain are likely to face in the next ten or fifteen years.
We all recognised that the Geneva Conference last summer, whether it justified the hopes raised in the minds of some people or not, was something of a turning point in that never before in history had two great Powers possessing great weapons agreed that it would be impossible for those weapons to be used. I hoped the Foreign Secretary today would deal with some of the consequent problems which would be likely to be raised in Communist and non-Communist countries and with the policy he anticipated it would be necessary for us to pursue. But I found his speech a dated speech. It could have been delivered at any time in the last five years, and I think it might best have been delivered five years ago.
911 It offered to the House—certainly to me, and I was listening sympathetically—absolutely no guidance as to the way in which he, the Foreign Secretary representing the Government, expected international events to go. The weaknesses in British and Western policy which many of us detected, even when the cold war was at its height, seem now to have emerged much more clearly from the new and short period of détente.
Several hon. Members have referred to the Geneva Conference. The previous Foreign Secretary was always making great play with the hopes which have been raised and dashed by that Conference, but surely what happened there was quite simply that the H-bomb weapon was so dangerous that both sides said they would not use it. There was no written agreement, but that, in effect, was the case. In fact, military men now planning in the West do not believe that the Soviet Union are planning the major world war which, in 1950, many thought was a possibility. I see that in the United States now there is a fresh analysis of the meaning of local war in which it is understood—the Defence White Paper says so as well—that in the event of local war we might have to use tactical atomic weapons as part of our defence. In my view, local war by atomic weapons is likely to be so dangerous as to make world war almost inevitable. I think it is unlikely that there could be only a limited war if it were conducted with atomic weapons.
The world seems likely to be in for an uneasy period, but a period in which major aggression is unlikely. We have to consider what our policy should be in that period. There seemed to be three weaknesses in our policy even at the height of the cold war. First, there has been an over-emphasis, which we can now see in looking back—even if we did not see it at the time—of the military defence again Communism. That is becoming increasingly apparent since the last Geneva meeting. When one contemplates the defence budget which we are asked to undertake and, at the same time, considers the relatively slight chance of these weapons ever being used, one realises what a great burden this is to carry.
The second and much more important weakness is that the cold war, in its military sense, is a problem which does not 912 come to the forefront of the minds of people in Asia or the Middle East. The spirit in Asia today is what one might call the Bandung spirit; the effort to reach an agreement by which countries can develop each on their own lines. By pursuing the S.E.A.T.O. idea I think we have taken ourselves very much out of the line of Asian thinking on foreign policy.
It is, of course, much more important that we should see what has happened in the Middle East. One of the worst features of the cold war at its height was that it submerged all other conflicts which were going on all the time. We were always thinking in terms of whether Mr. A or Mr. B, or country A or B, were fighting the battle against Communism. In Europe, where we have a high level of civilisation and a high standard of living and free institutions to defend, the Communist and anti-Communist analysis is quite real. But in the Middle East, when arms were given to the Arabs to fight the Russians, or to defend their order against the Russians, they were thinking more of their local conflict with the State of Israel. Pakistan has received aid from the United States ostensibly to protect themselves against the Russians, but they were glad to get them mainly because it put them in a more advantageous position vis-à-vis India.
As the danger of war with Russia recedes, all these other conflicts rise up, and that is why in the Middle East we have seen the complete collapse of Western policy. It is no good the Minister of State saying that the name of Britain never stood higher in the councils of the world, because we know that just is not true. Hon. Members opposite judge only by traditional methods. They judge success in foreign policy on the question of prestige, but they must surely see that our influence in the Middle East is at a very low ebb. That does not give me any satisfaction, but I do not judge British foreign policy by this criterion alone.
In a period when a world war is not likely, successful foreign policy must be based on the facts. If one is very strong militarily, one can afford to ignore the facts, for a time; but, if one is not very strong militarily, and is living in a period when considerations other than military considerations are going to be decisive, it is the facts which must determine 913 policy. One has only to look at the conflict between ourselves and the Soviet bloc to see how far we fall below what is required.
What possible hope have we of a settlement in Asia if we do not negotiate direct with the Chinese Government? What sense is there in talking about Far Eastern policy if we are excluding China, which not only has a 600 million population, but which is in close collaboration with India? I charge the Government with having failed year after year at the United Nations to make an issue of Chinese admission to the United Nations. That is not because I have any particular fondness for the Chinese method of development. I should be happy to see other countries choosing other methods of doing it, but China is a fact.
We have just learned—some older people may not yet have learned—that America is more powerful than Britain. It may take some years to realise that Russia is growing more powerful industrially than the United States and before some of us in this House are dead, China will be stronger even than the Soviet Union. By cutting ourselves off from trade with China we cut ourselves off completely from being called into council on matters which might lead to conflict in the Far East. Similarly—this is where I charge the Government again with ignoring the facts—in the Middle East they will not face the fact that the Russians are there. They pretend they are not there. It would be all very well if the Government had the means at their disposal to make their dream world a reality, but they have not. The Russians have leapt over the Bagdad Pact into an area which for years has been part and parcel of our Imperial domain. I do not mind the Government saying that they are upset about this, but I get very angry when we hear a lot of what I believe to be sheer humbug about the moral aspects of it.
We did exactly the same when Tito broke with the Cominform, the other side of the Iron Curtain. We stepped in to help Tito, not because we liked his régime, but because it represented a way of strengthening ourselves indirectly against the Communist world. Now, the Russians do the same thing in the Middle East and, frankly, I do not blame them 914 but whether one blames them or not, it is quite useless to pretend that we can have a foreign policy in the Middle East that is not based on that realisation. That is why any policy that is to make sense must be based on co-operation with the Russians.
It must be based on negotiation with the Russians, because the worst of all things has happened: there is now a conflict between East and West operating through another and more urgent and violent conflict, the Arab and Israel conflict. If one looks at the world, one finds that most of the danger spots since the war have arisen when the conflict between the great Powers has been expressed through other conflicts. We have seen the Greek civil war, the Tito-Greek situation, the Korean war and the Indo-China war. It could be that if the Government persist in trying to ignore the facts in the Middle East, the war between Israel and the Arab States could become as critical and as dangerous, and that quite soon.
Finally, in Europe we have reached the complete deadlock, because neither side so far has been willing to meet the requirements for a settlement which is likely to endure. I wish I had time to say more of this, but I gave an undertaking that I would not detain the House very long.
I believe that this country will be judged in the future in her relations, particularly with the important non-committed areas of the world, by things that we do and especially by our attitude to the question of colonialism. I believe that Mr. Krushchev and Mr. Bulganin did a certain amount of damage to us in their trip to India. I believe, however, that Mr. Dulles's joint statement with the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Dr. Cunha, about Goa did more damage than Mr. Krushchev and Mr. Bulganin, because it confirmed what they had been saying. I believe, in fact, that the State visit of the Portuguese President to this country—if one may speak about State visits as being of political importance, as they are intended to be—was singularly ill-timed. It gave the impression to people in India that we were lining up with Portugal against her.
These are the things which will decide whether Britain has any moral leadership of the world. The questions of what happens in Cyprus or in British Colonial 915 Territories and whether, in the United Nations, we support the attitude of France on North Africa will decide whether the people in the Far East and in the Middle East will come round to support our way of life. We shall be judged not only by what we do, but by what we say.
I very much hope that, if not in this debate, on some occasion soon, we shall have a statement from the Government in which they give to the House an indication of the way in which they see British policy shaping in this new period which is so very different from that of the cold war and the pre-war years. In the end we shall take our true place in the world not according to our military strength, but according to the contribution that we are prepared, willing and able to make to the settlement of the really outstanding problems of poverty, national in dependence and human dignity which are still the main problems of the vast majority of the population of the world.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) did not leave himself sufficient time to conclude his passage about the Middle East, because he might then have propounded a positive solution. Does he want the Russians to arrive in the Middle East and to share with us the duties of policing the frontiers, together with the Americans and the French—a sort of quadripartite play of "The Four Colonels"? Is that the hon. Member's idea? That, at least, would have been a positive suggestion, but we did not get even that from him.
I thought that the hon. Member was wrong in blaming my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary for not expatiating fully on all these great international themes. How can he do so when he is just about to depart on a visit to seven or eight different countries of the world, presumably with a vast range of proposals of his own to make? Should he declare all his proposals to the House of Commons and to the world before he leaves?
I often feed that it would be wise if, in these debates, the Foreign Secretary attended but did not speak. It is very often the duty of hon. Members to give their advice on foreign policy, but if foreign policy is to be ably conducted it 916 must be conducted largely in secret. If a Foreign Secretary, in answer to a debate, discloses to the world exactly what he will do, he will achieve nothing. We all wish my right hon. and learned Friend well on his journey throughout the world. I very much hope that when he returns he will sit for a time in the Foreign Office, master the processes and the personalities and take counsel with us as frequently as he has been able to do in the past on all these issues as they arise.
One sometimes gets a little bit jittery when one hears of these frantic and repeated travels by Foreign Secretaries and Prime Ministers. I am not thinking of my own country alone, but of many other countries, also. I sometimes feel that foreign policy would be better conducted if the master of these events remained at home.
I listened with great interest to the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee). I do not often find myself in agreement with her, but tonight I very largely did. Her plea for Britain to develop an independent foreign policy and to be practical rather than ideological for a change was one that this House and the country should note. That is, in fact, the theme of my own speech this evening.
First, let us look at Russia's diplomatic aggrandisement. In the last year or two, there has been a tremendous resurgence of Russian political and diplomatic power. I personally never thought that there was any danger of Russian military aggression, and I still hold that view, but we cannot tolerate in this country, nor in the United States and France, a continuance of this process. If we maintain our present methods we shall inevitably lose the race.
The Russians gained from the Geneva failure. East Germany became more independent and has been strengthened. Today, we read of the Leipzig Fair and the great renewal of activity that is taking place from the point of view of trade in that country. Russia, too, has gained by the establishment of her embassy in West Germany and the West German appointment of an ambassador in Moscow. She has gained by the realisation of a neutralised and friendly Austria. She has been playing about all along the North African littoral. To use a phrase of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, which was also my own, she has leapt over 917 the Bagdad Treaty States with her Czech arms deal to Egypt. She is intriguing with Libya and Saudi-Arabia, she is pressing into Afghanistan and, as has been mentioned already in this debate, her statesmen wander though India and Burma stamping on the vestigial remains of Empire and Commonwealth. Behind them, much more significantly, come the merchants with their bulging pocket books and the industrialists with their latest blueprints.
I give this necessarily brief account of the growth of Russian diplomatic and political power in recent years, and it is very formidable. In comparison, we have to record with profound regret a static, unimaginative and enigmatic West. There has been no forward and successful move in Western policy in recent months. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has got itself thoroughly bogged down. France is withdrawing her troops for use elsewhere, and no one else is contributing anything. The United Kingdom is contributing her four divisions in Germany, and there they remain, locked in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation except in so far as we can say that for dire military needs we must withdraw them for other purposes. The Balkan Alliance is collapsing due to the quarrels between Greece and Turkey. The United States is thoroughly disinterested in the Bagdad Pact, and Jordan is actively hostile to it.
Then there is the situation in Israel and the Arab States, where the Western Powers have given international guarantees, though nobody knows—and it has been debated today—whether or not they will be surely and effectively implemented. I noted my right hon. Friend's words on the subject, but he did not say exactly in what circumstances those guarantees would be implemented.
If Jordan were invaded by Israel, would the Arab Legion counter-attack? Would that be regarded as an implementation of the guarantee? Does it work the other way? If the Arab Legion broke loose and attacked through to Haifa, do we go to the aid of Israel? We could go to Israel's aid much more faithfully and favourably if we had a small naval and military garrison in Haifa to give Israel the same guarantee that we 918 give to Jordan through our presence in Jordan in the Arab Legion.
As I see it—it is scarcely an exaggeration to say so—a vast cloud of doubt, anxiety and failure hangs over that part of the world which is subordinate to international guarantee by the West, while a strong sense of purpose, dynamism and drive is given to the Power or Powers which are free of it to act. By that I mean that Russia, who acts singly and alone and who is the master of her satellite States, can lead policy into the direction she wants. I mean also the United States in so far as she is responsible directly for overseas territories; and ourselves—in spite of difficulties of colonial growth and development—ourselves throughout our own Colonial Empire; and to a less degree, France.
The point I am making is that where we are active throughout the world in an endeavour to keep peace through the medium of international guarantees and international arrangements we are failing and there is a growing sense of vacuum, but that where States operate singly in their own interests they are successful. So we return to the old questions. Can committees of statesmen make successful diplomacy? Is collective security a meaningless symbol? Is Britain gaining anything for herself and for her cause throughout the world as a junior partner in these international arrangements?
With those thoughts in mind, I want briefly to examine the problem of Germany. I have a very strong affection for Germany. I received some of my education there in my youth. I travel through that country very frequently. I was there last autumn. I have many friends in Germany, and, as other hon. Members do, I know and respect many of their political leaders and statesmen. However, the Federal Republic is not the only Germany that exists. It is not the only Germany which is friendly, which works hard and whose institutions should be respected. There is another Germany, too, which too few of us know anything about. I had the advantage of going there also for a few days within the last year.
However, I feel bound to say, even with my respect for what Western Germany has done for herself since the war, that she is today fitting much too snugly and much too selfishly into the post-war 919 rôle that has been devised for her. It may be our fault. It may be the Americans' fault. We have prepared a kind of glasshouse State, whence a beacon light shines out to the world of freedom, private enterprise, democracy, the competitive process, and all that, and from West Berlin that beacon flares out on the world in the most extraordinary and blinding way. But it is all very artificial. It is true the Germans work very hard; it is true that they are sending exports overseas, but they are taking a very great deal in and they are giving very little out. They are walking into easy markets in the world and skirting the difficult battlegrounds.
I wonder very much whether that is how we thought this ally would behave when we gave her her freedom and brought her into Western European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. We expected that she would make some move herself, that in becoming rich and powerful she would capture by friendly ties of freedom and democracy and the rule of law those satellite States, those benighted and barbaric countries, that lie behind the Iron Curtain. She makes no move in that direction at all. On the contrary, she enters straight into relationship with Moscow. And the Russians gain out of it. There is established a large Soviet Embassy in Bonn, with much propaganda material. This is not going to work very effectively the other way. I cannot see West Germany influencing Moscow to a very great extent, the controls of the people's activities there being what they are.
What about the support costs? It was a very great shock to our people to learn from what Dr. Schaffer said the other day, in a crude and brutal way, that it was expected that we should pay the whole of them for this year. Many of my constituents have written to me in very pained surprise, and some in alarm, and I think it is a little disappointing that the Government have allowed in their current Estimates £50 million for the payment of our troops in Germany before the negotiations have begun. How has this £50 million grown up? A year or two ago it did not exist.
We were told negotiations would begin in 1955 or 1956. We understand that 920 they are beginning now. We believed that until now the Germans were paying for their support costs, and that it was reasonable that, as the German army mounted, those costs should be reduced by the proportion diverted to it. Suddenly, we are told that £50 million has been taken in the Estimates. We hope that from that figure it will be possible to negotiate something, but we do not know. I hope that the Government will stand very firm indeed and will insist that the Germans shall pay what is reasonably to be expected of them, that is to say, the amount that they have paid in the past less what they produce by their own military activity, until we have comparative equality. But we have no sanctions for this situation now. We are no longer an occupying Power.
We have four divisions in Germany, but they are far from being occupation troops. They cannot be used to exact any kind of tribute from the German people at this time. They are there to defend the Germans as much as to defend ourselves and I do not see how they can be a factor in this matter. What methods can we use? Will the Government tell us how we are to tell the West Germans to behave like decent allies? I do not believe that the West can wait for these situations to develop. I do not believe that the British people can wait because, now, this is more a matter of ourselves and our own political and diplomatic activities than that of bringing slow-acting allies into concert.
When I was a boy, I played a game called "Tom Tiddler's ground." If one stepped over the line one was at risk and if the enemy stepped over one's line he was at risk, but now the Russians have stepped over into our Tom Tiddler's ground. They are having a very happy time in West Germany, and Dr. Adenauer says that it would be an insult if the British people were to recognise East Germany in return. He will have a big embassy in Bonn and he will send a big delegation to Moscow, but if any of the Western Powers on whom, in the long run, his position really depends, attempts to have any relations with the other Germans, who are equally agreeable and equally industrious, then that is deemed to be an insult.
We should play a little on the Tom Tiddler's ground of the Soviet Union. We should recognise East Germany formally 921 and diplomatically. If it cannot be done at once, why cannot we send a consul to Leipzig? I see that the Rolls Royce Company and other great industrialists are exhibiting there. They must need a little diplomatic help, or will do next year. It would be very nice to have an Englishman sitting there with a small staff, and when he gets there perhaps he could do a little work. For example, he could examine the electoral system which is in operation in East Germany.
The Foreign Secretary spoke about free elections. He said that he hated the idea of the single list, but the actual document that was prepared at the time of the Geneva Conference last autumn contained this among its provisions:(A.) The electoral law.—This should be prepared by France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, in consultation with German experts, taking into consideration the electoral laws already drafted for this purpose by the Bundestag and the Volkskamtner. When approved by the four Powers, it should be published throughout Germany. Elections should take place as soon as possible thereafter.The method of election in operation in East Germany is the single list method. We cannot say that we hate it, we must look at it. This document says that we must look at it. We must look also at the methods in West Germany. The method in West Germany is that each party has its own list. These are not British methods.
We cannot adopt any high, wide and handsome attitude about free elections as a kind of touchstone or totem pole by which all diplomacy must be gauged and tested. These two parts of Germany have different electoral systems. We should look at them and see whether they can be matched. If we were in East Germany and were looking at it from that point of view, we might find East Germany very friendly to the idea of a compromise system between East and West, and we might find the Russians beginning to get rather hostile to the idea that elections should take place on the basis of what was agreed by East Germans.
Cannot we get as far as that in our diplomacy? Does not that mean making an effort to try to recapture for the Western world some of these benighted people? If we do not move beyond Geneva and West Berlin for our conferences and proposals, and if we always put up a barrage of propaganda and break off 922 conferences as a useless exercise, where shall we get as a world Power? Unification is supposed to be British policy, or is it an awful hypocrisy and do we not mean it all? From Geneva twice and from West Berlin once we have failed to pull East Germany into unification.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
The noble Lord has referred to two conferences in West Berlin. The last conference was in East Berlin.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am sorry, I should have said in West Berlin and in Pankau. The point that I am trying to make is that if we continued these activities ideologically and politically more from the Pankau aspect and less from the Western aspect, we might in the end get a greater advantage for the West.
Is there not, therefore, an independent and useful rôle for Britain to play in the development of the modern world? If collective security has failed, can we stand, as we are, singly and alone? Can we organise our foreign policy alone, or possibly with one partner, as it suits us from place to place and from time to time and on a basis of developing strong points created militarily, politically and economically by the British and their immediate friends—militarily, for example, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Aden, Jordan, Iraq, Cyprus and Haifa, and diplomatically in Cairo. Delhi, Pekin and Pankau?
I think that we should be more successful in this line of activity than we should be by continuing in our participation in these international agreements, whether inside or outside the United Nations. it would also come out very much cheaper in the long run. The more we look at the United Nations in its activities, its ramifications and its committees, the more we must regard it as the most active agent of inflation for Britain that it is possible to imagine.
Taking the Korean war, taking the projected safeguarding of the existing boundaries in Palestine, taking the Colombo Plan and the Point Four Plan, none of these serve British interests, all are inflationary. Unless we control the course of activities of the United Nations, we have to adopt a secondary rôle and surrender to it; and when somebody more powerful than ourselves uses it as a cover for their diplomacy then, perforce, it draws upon our reserve of man-power and of money.
923 I should like to see Britain, from now on, endeavour to use the decisions of the United Nations as instruments of our own policy, not for selfish reasons but because I am absolutely convinced that British policy injected into the world is the best hope of salvation for the world. But if we are to see ourselves dragged into another war which does not aid British interests, does not help to keep our friends together, and does not help to keep the Commonwealth and Empire concerted and active, then I think the moment has come to decide whether it is worth while from every point of view withdrawing from the United Nations. We would serve the cause of humanity and peace better outside it.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is always entertaining and very often refreshing, and I must say that I found myself listening to him this evening and saying how much I agreed with this point, and then suddenly being brought up against some other point which caused me to think exactly the opposite.
He certainly said things in regard to the Middle East which would have my entire approval, and I should imagine that the present Foreign Secretary might be very nearly his ideal Foreign Secretary in one sense. The noble Lord said that a Foreign Secretary should speak as little as possible; indeed, I think he said that he should not speak at all in this House. The Foreign Secretary came here today, and although he spoke, he said nothing, and I should imagine that he must be very nearly what the noble Lord would like a Foreign Secretary to be.
I wonder if we on this side of the House are not entitled to raise our eyebrows mildly in surprise that we have heard so little about the Washington talks, especially from the other side of the House. Was the reason for this that the Washington talks really achieved nothing at all, as some of us have always thought? I submit that the measure of the failure of those conversations was the extent to which the Prime Minister found it necessary to come back and crack them up, after having praised his own work over there.
924 Nothing concrete seems to have emerged from these conversations. Of course, there may have been some secret arrangement arrived at, but as far as we poor outsiders are concerned, there was nothing concrete at all, not even in regard to that trouble spot the Middle East, which, after all, is a series of interconnected volcanoes. These may at any moment pour their lava right up to the walls of the Kremlin, and may produce shocks which may make even the sleek walls of the White House tremble.
We ought not to be too surprised that so little came out of it in election year in the United States of America. The United States constitution may be a venerable institution viewed from inside the boundaries of the United States. At least, it keeps together the Union in a miraculous manner with its checks and balances. But, viewed from outside, it takes on rather the character of a menace, for here we have every four years, especially since the United States became so powerful, the machinery of the world virtually coming to a standstill, the largest cog being taken out, with the risk of course that the whole machine will stop. Indeed, stop it may well, unless somebody else takes a really direct and decisive line at the critical time when the United States is more or less out of existence.
I am not by any means satisfied that a lead, at any rate in this particular trouble spot of the Middle East, could not be taken by this country at the present time, even though the United States is more or less out of the picture for a time. I think there is a very great deal of defeatism, especially in the Government, about what we might be able to do in the Middle East. I admit entirely that it behoves somebody Who has not all the information which is available to the Government to speak with considerable modesty and to walk warily; but I think, nevertheless, even though an outsider lacking the full knowledge which the Government possess must be at a disadvantage, that it is surely to the advantage of the Government themselves to have ideas put forward even by outsiders in such a matter as this. They might conceivably be helpful.
The most striking feature of this vast area of the Middle East, stretching from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian 925 Gulf, as I suppose we would all agree, is the extraordinary rise—though perhaps it is not altogether extraordinary—of Arab nationalism. The meaning of that term I take to be the surge inside people of the idea that they must be rid of external domination. I think that is the form that it takes. Having regard to that feeling, that urge in the mind of everybody in this vast area, that they must be rid of external domination, I find it very easy to understand the Arab point of view when they are irritated almost beyond comprehension by the introduction into the very heart of their territory of that irritant the State of Israel, which they regard as an outpost of the West.
They regard it, very naturally, I believe, as an act of aggression, largely by us, that that State was ever introduced, and, therefore, of course, we have a responsibility to the Arabs, who should be our friends, to do something about that situation. Having regard to the fact that we were the people who made possible the foundation of the national home in Israel, from the Balfour Declaration onwards and by the policy of the mandatory Government, we owe a duty now that that State is there—and I think rightly there—also to look at the other side of the picture, to the Israelis, in order to ensure that they also have a fair deal.
What are we doing at present with regard to this area? I believe—and this has frequently been stated from this side of the House—that the present Government did attempt to maintain some sort of balance of the arms programme, but that this has been completely offset by the Iron Curtain arms which have since gone to Egypt. If it has not already been completely upset, there is every prospect of it being completely upset in the not too far distant future. It is all very well for us to say, in a calm way since we are far away, that the Israelis are quite capable of dealing with any military threat which may come. They are, after all, the people who will have to judge that military threat from very near at hand. It very well may be, and probably is, the case that the balance at present is in favour of the Israelis; but who can say that it will not have changed in a year's time?
This is one of the biggest dangers in this, perhaps, most dangerous part of the world. Here are a people surrounded by far greater numbers than they can ever 926 hope to muster. If the surrounding people are now to be armed adequately—to put it no better than that—to deal with Israel at some time in the near future, whereas at present they cannot deal with Israel and Israel could probably defeat them, if we were in the place of Israel, should not we be very seriously tempted to beat them before it is too late? That seems to me to be perhaps the greatest danger at present which the Government, standing on one side and allowing the arms race to go against Israel, have incurred. I feel that the Government will have to do some very serious thinking quickly on that point if disaster is to be averted.
There are other ways in which at present we appear to be taking sides in this matter and favouring the Arabs against the Israelis. I need not go into it, since it has been mentioned many times, but there is the way in which we are allowing this infringement of international law to operate to the great detriment of Israel by the blockade of ships in the Port of Elath by the Egyptians at the other end of the Gulf of Aqaba. We also know that, in addition to this arms race and the blockade of Israeli ports, we are doing something which, though in itself very right, in this particular context may have a sinister aspect. We are giving aid, economic and otherwise, to Arab States without ensuring that such aid is not going to be improperly used. I know that at present we are thinking of giving some sort of assistance with regard to the Aswan Dam, but are we not at the same time to give some counterpoise to the other side in the dispute which will render a highly beneficial operation that economic aid given in this instance to Egypt?
I feel that at the same time we should give that counterpoise. Why are we allowing—in these three ways, and perhaps others—the balance to be tipped in favour of the Arab States against the Israeli side? I do not think there can be any doubt of the real reason, although I have no doubt that we would not use the expression. It is really that we are trying to appease the Arabs because we know that they have something we want very much, and that is oil.
In the old days one just went into a territory and took something from that territory if one wanted it. Thank goodness we do not do that now. We have to pay a price, and the price includes not 927 only the money value which we give for a thing in someone else's territory, but also winning the confidence of those peoples so that they are prepared to come to an agreement with us on price, and maybe something more, such as allowing our troops to be there to protect the area from external invasion, to secure it internally too.
That confidence has to be won, and it can only be won provided we win the respect of the peoples and then their friendship. Therefore, I submit that we ought to direct two beams of policy on to this area. One of them would be military and the other would be economic. I can deal with the military side shortly. Ought we not to come off the fence in this Israeli business? When I say, "come off the fence" I do not mean to jump down on the Israeli or the Arab side, but to get out into the open and be honest about what is going on.
My submission is that the way in which we could be honest and do a morally correct thing which would in the end redound to our credit, would be to say, "We have an alliance with Jordan. Very well, we will have an alliance with Israel, too." Then we should ask Israel to allow us to have in her territory a base from which we could make the alliance effective. We have heard a great deal about the Tripartite Declaration and, as far as it goes, it is all right; but neither the Israelis nor the Egyptians—nor anyone else in the Middle East—believe that it can be effective. I have some sympathy with people who think like that when one has regard to the base from which we should be likely to operate, namely, Cyprus.
I believe that, if we were to have an alliance with Israel on the same lines as we have with Jordan, the Israelis would allow us to use their territory for this purpose, and they probably would not mind if we made it plain in going there that if they were to make an aggression against the Arabs we would thwart that aggression from inside Israel. I say that because I believe they have not the slightest intention of making an aggression against any Arab country.
Then we should be above-board and fair to both sides. Having done that, we should say to the Arabs that we will go to the maximum extent of our ability to 928 help them economically, and with technical assistance, to do the thing which is really necessary in their countries, namely, to develop their lands and raise the standards of living of their peoples. To any extent that we can afford it, and that they want, we should make it plain that we will act.
If we did direct those two parallel beams at the area, I believe there would be real hope that we might win the respect of those people. I know it seems odd to suggest this, as a way of winning the friendship of the Arabs—to say we want an alliance with the Israelis—but, at the same time, if we did so we should be making it plain that it is no use their turning their minds always towards this second round against Israel. Then I believe that they would direct their attentions to the much more important matter of developing their territories. It may be that, if that took place, even the refugee problem would fade into the background after a time.
I believe that this is the way to win the respect of the Arabs, without whose respect and friendship the whole object of our policy in the Middle East, namely, to obtain oil on fair terms, would be thwarted. Therefore, it is with a view to obtaining that respect and friendship that I suggest those two beams of policy. In that way not only should we obtain our oil on a permanently satisfactory basis, but we should help the Arabs to derive the benefit from that oil which every one of us would hope for them in the very near future.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)
I do not want to follow the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) in great detail, except to say that some of the proposals he put forward have been mooted before and, unfortunately, have had reactions which have been violent and hostile.
The main thing I want to talk about at not too great a length is the international situation in Africa. It is of importance to this House especially that we hear, and sometimes anticipate, the problems that may come upon us, and take action before they do. It has been the misfortune of all Governments since the war that Ministers have not have had time, have been too pressed, have at times almost been overwhelmed, and so there 929 has developed a tendency since 1945 for negotiation often to be regarded as a substitute for policy. I believe that it is only possible to achieve a policy when events are anticipated and steps are taken before the problems emerge.
As hon. Members on both sides of the House have said, one of our great needs today to counter the Communist moves is to build up a sufficiency in the standard of living of the people of the undeveloped areas. There is no area where such a standard of living is more urgently required than in many parts of Africa, and it is still in the belief that events are controllable that I would ask the Government to concentrate part of their minds on the problems of the waters of the River Nile. The 4,000 miles of those waters, rising in British territory and flowing into the delta, fertilise large areas of the Sudan and of Abyssinia. I ask the Government to anticipate now the troubles which may arise in that Nile basin, to lay the first tracks for economic progress, and to take the necessary action.
It is no exaggeration to say that in the hotter parts of Africa a river is the lifeblood of the nation, and a great lake the father of a people. For over 10,000 years in Egypt the Nile has not just spelt livelihood. it has spelt life. But what has happened to Egypt is now happening also to the Sudan, to parts of Abyssinia, and soon will be a vital matter for the peoples of Kenya. Tanganyika and Uganda who surround the great lakes of the Nile river.
In all these countries of the Nile basin populations are rising far faster than the river itself, and almost as fast as its own stupendous evaporation. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) well knows, the rate of evaporation of the waters of the Nile is the highest of any river in the world. Also, as hon. Members well know, this is the longest and the most powerful river in the world.
Unless present arrangements can be reviewed, and international agreement reached, I believe there is every danger that in the next few years we shall see a deterioration of relations in the whole Nile basin. There is, first, the serious danger of a breakdown in Sudanese-Egyptian relations over the water question and over the new High Dam at Aswan which this Government are helping, I believe rightly, to construct. Should 930 there be such a breakdown in relations, I believe that it will lead to an attempt by Egypt to re-occupy the Sudan by intrigue or force, which would have a most unfortunate effect—I know the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me here—on not only Abyssinia but Southern Sudan and our Colonies and Protectorates further south.
Secondly, unless the matter of the proper use of the Nile waters is dealt with soon, I believe that British subjects in East Africa will, on the one hand, be deprived of agricultural land by flooding because of previous agreements, with which I will deal in a moment, and, on the other hand, be deprived of the use of water which is properly theirs.
Thirdly, unless something is done, I believe that there is a possibility and, indeed, a probability of disagreement between the Abyssinian Government and the Egyptian and Sudanese Governments.
Fourthly, unless we can reach an agreement now, grandiose projects for the control of the Nile in Abyssinia, Southern Sudan and parts of Northern Sudan will be vitiated by a narrow nationalism which will put out of court the wide spirit of internationalism which alone can produce the finance needed for the giant projects. If they are abandoned and new techniques and new finance cannot be applied, there will inevitably be a hold-up in the improvement of living standards for the people in the whole of the Nile Basin.
I believe it is no exaggeration to say that, unless action can be taken now and matters are put right down the length of the river, this vast river could within a short time become a torrent of contention from the great lakes all the way to Alexandria. I believe it is not impossible that "Aut Nilus, aut nihil"—"The Nile or nothing "—may become once more the rallying cry of legions—Egyptian, Sudanese or East African.
The urgent problems of the Nile and the weakness of the present situation are, believe, generally twofold. First of all, the Nile Basin Powers, and not Egypt alone, needing more and more water for their agricultural and irrigational projects, will put demands on the Nile waters which, short of further major schemes—dams, barrages, etc.—cannot possibly be met. The only means by which such barrages and so on can be erected is by finance provided at an international level.
931 Secondly, there is the grave problem which emerges from the fact that the use of the Nile waters is governed today by a set of out-of-date and unco-ordinated treaties. The number of treaties is very considerable. The treaties date back to the 1890s. I will not weary the House with them, except for two, the treaty of 1902 between Abyssinia and Great Britain acting for Egypt at that date, and the famous Lord Lloyd treaty of 1929 between Egypt, this country and the British Empire.
These two treaties were typical because through them ran what is today an out-of-date conception, that Egypt alone needed the waters of the Nile and that Egypt automatically must have preference in any schemes which were put up. I think it was the Lloyd Agreement of 1929 which aimed at the political object—which, when we look back on it, shows how fruitless have been the attempts of the most skilful politicians—of wedding for ever the interests of Great Britain and Egypt.
There were two points in the Agreement. First, it gave the Egyptian hydrologists and other experts permission almost automatically to go into the furthest parts of British territory to carry out their investigations. There was no special harm in that, but it also gave Egypt a veto on…irrigation or power works on the river Nile or its branches, or on the lakes from which it flows"—Lake Victoria, Lake Albert, and so an—…so far as all these are in the Sudan or in countries under British administration, should such works in any way either reduce the quantity of water arriving in Egypt or modify the date of its arrival or lower its level.That is a very tough veto indeed, and the Egyptians, naturally, have used it and will use it again.
Today, any attempt by the Kenya Government to carry out an important project for the irrigation of 30,000–40,000 acres of land on the edge of Lake Victoria could be stopped unless the Egyptians were prepared to give permission. Any attempt by the Tanganyika Governments to revive its grand project, which the Germans thought out in 1911, for using some part of the 70,000 square miles of water of Lake Victoria for flooding some of the 932 barren areas of Tanganyika could, of course, be vetoed immediately by the Egyptian Government.
No one would advocate such a scheme today without other things first being done to conserve water elsewhere. But what one can object to, and what I find objectionable, is that such a scheme cannot even be considered or surveyed because of the Egyptian veto. Indeed, it is little short of intolerable that East Africa, whose chief shortage today is water, is unable to use a cupful of its 100,000 square miles of lakes and rivers without the permission of the Egyptian Cabinet. That may not matter at the moment, but it will become increasingly important as we go on developing East Africa in the way we are doing, and when large irrigation schemes become necessary.
It is not my belief that any treaty—however much the Egyptians may have abrogated treaties in the past—should be abrogated unilaterally by us. I believe that that would be wrong. Far from advocating that there should be no water treaties on the Nile, I believe that the Nile's water usage should be properly controlled. In fact, it must be properly controlled. I believe—I hope the Government will reply to the point tonight—that the moment has now come, when we are providing money for the building of the new Aswan Dam, for the whole matter to be gone into again and for the Lloyd Agreement to be looked at again. That Agreement could have been looked at in 1949 at the time of the Owen Falls scheme, but at that time the Government of the day decided to accept compensation and to allow the level of Lake Victoria to be raised. That may have been right or it may have been wrong.
However, the moment has certainly come now, when we and the United States Government are in a position to be of assistance to the Egyptian Government, for us to invoke the Nile Commission agreement which was the basis of the 1929 Treaty and said that from time to time the whole of the water usage established and water needs should be looked at and reviewed. I believe that at the minimum we should see that a rewriting of the 1929 Agreement is now achieved and a rewriting or clarification of the Agreement between Abyssinia and Egypt is achieved. There 933 will otherwise be a state of treaty confusion in this area which could become extremely difficult indeed. The minimum is a rewriting of the 1929 Treaty in terms of the new, 1952 Agreement between Egypt and the Sudan, and, at the best, a rewriting of the whole thing.
I would go even further than that. I would say that this is a great opportunity for setting up a permanent international water authority for the whole of the Nile basin. I believe that it is only through such an authority that the amount of international credit can be attracted. I believe that it is only through such an authority that one can see that proper use is made of this water for irrigation. Above all, I believe that such an authority would do two things: it would help to give some political stability to a huge region—and the region which the Nile basin contains is much more than 1 million square miles—and it would ensure the best and fairest use of the fructifying waters of the river.
Planning alone, at this stage, can make certain that there is no future conflict between established water users and the projected water users in time to come. For Great Britain and her Colonies such harmony of development is essential, but it is also in the best interests of Egypt, the Sudan and Abyssinia. An international authority is a bold project, but only within such a context can the present conflict on these matters between Egypt and the Sudan over the actual water to be used in the proposed Aswan High Dam be resolved.
Here is a chance for the Government to show British statesmanship which would capture the imagination of Africa and, perhaps, the imagination of the world. This river's history is older than that of any nation; here is a chance not only to control its force for mankind, but to guard its bounty from the marauding hand of rival nations.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I congratulate the hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. H. Fraser) on two counts, first, because he is the only speaker from the benches opposite who has shown any sign whatever of realising that the job of the Foreign Secretary is to anticipate problems and not to run after them, and, secondly, because he has put one of 934 our main criticisms of the Government's foreign policy in a nutshell in saying that in the last few years the Government have seemed to imagine that negotiation was a substitute for policy.
I was not in the least surprised at the failure of the Washington Conference, because it was quite obvious that the Government's representatives had gone to Washington without any policy in mind and simply in the hope that at the negotiations with the Americans something might emerge. It is not in the least surprising that they were disappointed, in view of the fact that the American representatives were paralysed through the onset of their presidential election campaign.
One thing which should terrify the House more than anything else in the debate is the total poverty of constructive thought from the Government side and, above all, from the Foreign Secretary himself. He gave us a very dispiriting recital of the incoherent expedients which he has adopted in order to meet Soviet initiatives from time to time. His speech was disfigured by some rather cheap, lawyers' debating points, not at all appropriate to the office he now holds. There was no sense of purpose or design in anything he said. In this, as in so many other spheres, the Government's behaviour may be characterised as long periods of drift punctuated by panic improvisation. That is a terrifying contrast to what is going on in other parts of the world.
I should like to start by referring to an event which has not so far been mentioned, but which is possibly one of the most important events of the post war period, the Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which has just ended. If one contrasts the tone of the speakers at that Congress with the weary mish mash we get from the representatives of the British Government in this debate, one must be appalled. I apologise in advance if some of the things I say about the Communist Party Congress appear to some Members to be rather dreary, but I believe that the facts which I shall recount are true and, if true, they are very relevant indeed to the policy which we must adopt in present world affairs.
I should say that, above all, the dominant tone of the Communist Party Congress in Moscow was confidence, confidence of a rather new type in Russia since the war. All the speakers showed 935 tremendous confidence in the power of the Soviet Union as a State, and, above all, in the new military power which it has acquired through the fact that it now has its own thermo-nuclear weapons.
It has been far too little noticed, I think, in Britain and other countries that Marshal Zhukov, speaking last week, advocated the policy of massive retaliation which was so much criticised, particularly from these benches, when put forward by Mr. Dulles in the United States two years ago. Marshal Zhukov threatened to respond to fighting anywhere by dropping H-bombs on American cities, and, certainly, in the light of the speeches made in Moscow last week, it would be quite unrealistic to imagine that fear is a dominant factor in Soviet foreign policy any longer. If it ever was, it has now gone.
In the second place, I think that all the Soviet spokesmen showed a quite sincere and genuine confidence in the growing economic strength of the Soviet State. They were able to point out that the Soviet Union is now producing more coal and more electricity than Western Germany and Britain put together. It is worth reminding ourselves that the economic power of the Soviet Union is totally at the disposal of the Soviet State for any purpose of domestic or foreign policy for which it likes to use it.
That is, of course, the answer to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Rochdale (Lieut.-Colonel Schofield) about the Soviet Union now using trade deliberately as a political weapon without any respect to its commercial advantages for them.
Confidence in the growing strength of the Soviet Union as a State was, I suggest, the dominant theme of the proceedings, but there was a secondary theme which has gone largely unremarked, and that was the revival of dynamic Leninism as a guiding principle in Soviet foreign policy. No one who reads in detail the speeches of Mr. Krushchev, Marshal Bulganin, Mr. Molotov and Mr. Mikoyan could fail to notice the confidence which these men feel in the dogmas which guided the Soviet State in the early 'twenties, and the feeling that by stripping away some of the deformations introduced by Stalin's personal rule they have 936 begun to make Communism a revolutionary movement such as it has not been for the last generation.
A great deal of attention has been given to some minor modifications of Soviet doctrines announced at the Congress, but much more important is the restatement by the Soviet leaders in the strongest possible terms of the basic element in Communist doctrine which has always constituted the most serious obstacle to good relations with Russia since the Revolution—the conviction that with the existence of a Communist State in Russia the world is finally and irrevocably divided into two separate camps—the Socialist and the capitalist camps, as they call them, that is, all States which do not accept Communist within their meaning of the word.
The emphasis that Socialism, which is their system, is now a world system covering one-third of the world, and not simply a State system underlay nearly all the speeches. When the Russian leaders talk about competitive co-existence, they mean competition and not co-operation with the non-Communist countries. A certain amount has been said in the United Nations about co-operating with the Soviet Union, but I have looked through the reports of all the speeches which I could get, and I could not find one reference to the United Nations either in the speech of Mr. Krushchev or in the resolution with which the Congress terminated its proceedings a few days ago.
We must accept the fact which is fully emphasised by the proceedings of the Congress that the Russians really believe that the world is divided finally into two quite incompatible camps, that co-existence means, as it says, simply existing in the same world with non-Communist countries, but not, as we would hope, co-operating with non-Communist countries to try to build a democratic world community in which Communists and non-Communists could develop an increasing intimacy as time went on.
Another theme which I believe of great importance in the Communist Party Congress was the quite new emphasis on the rôle of foreign Communist parties as instruments of Soviet policy and as instruments for the increased expansion of what they call the socialist camp of the world. I believe that what the Russians said in 937 this respect has been gravely misunderstood by many Western commentators. What the Russians said when they rejected some of Stalin's ideas was that Stalin introduced a too rigid uniformity among the Communist parties, and they now believe they must accept the fact that different Communist parties will use different techniques in different countries.
This recognition has, of course, been forced upon them by the existence of an independent Communist Party controlling 600 million people to their east, in China, and also by the existence of an independent Communist Party in Yugoslavia. It is interesting also that they have rehabilitated the Polish Communist Party, which Stalin totally dissolved in 1938, and Bela Kun, the Hungarian Communist leader, who was mainly conspicuous for the fact that he was one of the leading agents of the Commintern for nearly twenty years.
When the Russians say that they believe that there is more than one road to Socialism, they are not giving approval to the road which hon. Members on these benches travel. They define Socialism not as a vague utopian goal, but as the specific form of government which they now have in Russia. It is worth remembering that Mr. Molotov's apologia was precisely over this point. He had to say that he was wrong in claiming that the Soviet Union was moving towards Socialism, that, in fact, Socialism is a particular form of society which now exists in Russia.
Similarly, when the Russians talk about different roads to their system, they are talking purely about Communist Party roads, because they say again and again in their speeches, and in the final resolution, that all roads to Socialism must lead to a dictatorship of the prolatariat and must be taken under the leadership of the working classes and its revolutionary vanguard which, of course, in the Communist jargon is the Communist Party. Therefore, I think that those outside the Soviet orbit who imagine there may now be some understanding in Russia that democratic Socialist parties are trying to produce a better form of society in their own way are likely to be very definitely undeceived before long.
It is true that the Communist parties now, as in earlier periods of coexistence, are pressing very hard for 938 Popular Fronts, for friendship with Socialist parties and non-Communist labour movements. But we have to remember that when they describe themselves as Leninists, they are supporting the attitude of the man, Lenin, who said he believed in supporting Socialists—and Mr. Arthur Henderson was the Socialist to whom he was referring—"as the rope supports the hanged man." I hope there will be no democratic Socialist so misguided as to believe that anything which happened at the Congress in Russia last week justifies any relaxation of caution in approaches which may be made to them from time to time by the Communist Party, either of the Soviet Union or of Britain.
The main grounds for this tremendous access of confidence in the Soviet Union, confidence not only in the Soviet Union as a State, but in its own peculiar system of dogma, is the fact that the non-Communist countries are, unfortunately, going far to verify the sort of prediction which the Communists have made about their behaviour. As the contrast to the growing strength and unity of the Communist bloc in the world, the non-Communist countries have shown an appalling tendency towards disintegration and conflict in the last few years. Mr. Krushchev in particular, listed all the conflicts quite accurately when he spoke last week: conflicts between Britain and America, between the victors of the last war and Germany and Japan, and so on and so forth.
One has only to look around the series of problems now facing the British Foreign Secretary to see how far we have failed to solve the problems in our own parts of the world, like Cyprus and the Middle East; or to look, indeed, at what happened in Geneva last week at the International Wheat Conference. Millions of men, women and children are starving in Asia because they cannot buy food, yet we are told in the Press that the British Government representative at Geneva said that he would not go into a Wheat Agreement unless the producers agreed deliberately to curtail their production. I want the Under-Secretary of State, the Minister of State, or whoever is to reply to tell us whether this appalling report is true. Are we really getting back to the situation in which we ourselves, in face of millions of people in hunger, ask the people who can produce the stuff to 939 feed them to cut their production, rather than to provide the people who need the food with the means by which to buy it?
§ Mr. Healey
I am indeed aware of it, and of the fact that these surpluses are a confession of the failure of the Foreign Secretary and his Government to meet the needs of the time. My hon. and right hon. Friends believe that there can be no surpluses in the world so long as one-third of the people of the world have not enough to live on and while the average length of life in Asia and Africa is only thirty years. I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to think before he interrupts me a second time whether for him to refer to surpluses in the face of hunger in the Far East is not a confession of his failure to understand the attitude of the very Governments whom he proposes to meet on his tour during the next few weeks.
My main complaint about the Foreign Secretary and the Government, and of the Governments with which they are cooperating, is that they are doing everything to justify the confidence of the Communists in their predictions about the failure of what they call the "capitalist" world to solve its own internal contradictions.
§ Mr. Healey
No, I am attacking them for suggesting that the answer to surpluses is to cut production rather than to increare purchasing power in those parts of the world which desperately need the food which is produced.
§ Mr. Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman has now completely changed his ground. He knows quite well that we are in favour of increasing purchasing power and of developing the under-developed areas. We have played our full part, according to our economic circumstances, on both sides of the House in trying to do that.
§ Mr. Healey
That is precisely the point at issue between us. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary is slowly coming round 940 to understanding the real point at issue. The Foreign Secretary's failure to see that this was the point I was making—which was not in any way obscure to any of my colleagues—is a condemnation of his capacity for the job he now holds.
Let me pass to two examples of how the Western World and Her Majesty's Government are totally failing to meet the needs of the day. The first is the problem of defence inside the Atlantic Alliance. The Atlantic Alliance is an essential deterrent to war. It is very good indeed that sixteen countries on both sides of the Atlantic should have banded together for their common defence.
I must say that the Defence White Paper, which we shall be debating in the next two days, is a monument to the failure of the alliance to fulfil the purpose for which it was set up, because although we have paid lip service to the idea of interdependence in defence, the fact is that the main deterrent—our thermo-nuclear striking power—is the monopoly of one country in the alliance and we are now seeking to share that monopoly without, however, distributing it among other members of the alliance.
Secondly, the defensive power which the Atlantic Alliance is supposed to build up is not being built up at all because our European allies are in this respect failing to make a contribution of land forces which in any way matches the contribution which we and the United States are making. Those are the problems with which the Foreign Secretary should be dealing—problems at the very heart of our own Western alliance.
I pass, finally, to a word or two about the problems which the Foreign Secretary will face on his tour in the next few weeks. I believe that one of the most acute observations of the Communist leaders in Moscow last week was the fact that the political liberation of most of Southern Asia and part of Africa from Colonial rule has not yet of itself changed the psychological relationship between the peoples of Southern Asia and the rich white peoples on either side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Communists therefore hope that, contrary to their earlier expectation, they may be able to exploit what they call the colonial tensions, even where the peoples concerned are no longer Colonies.
941 I am afraid that the success of Mr. Krushchev's and Mr. Bulganin's visit to India and other Asian countries is an indication that there is a grave danger that they may be right in this expectation. I believe that the failure here is not so much a failure of action as a failure of attitude. We have, in fact, provided infinitely more economic aid to the countries of Asia, the Middle East and Africa than the Soviet Union is ever likely to provide, but the giving of that aid has not brought the political advantages which it should have brought in terms of mutual respect and confidence, because too often it has been given in the wrong way—accompanied with lectures about the Communist danger and demands for commitments in fields which did not interest the countries concerned. The result has been that, despite a tremendous expenditure—and I agree with the Foreign Secretary that this country has done a great deal in this respect, even if it has not done enough—we do not seem to understand their problems or respect them as genuine equals in the world.
Mr. Krushchev did an extremely clever thing when he attacked British imperialism in India, because he put the British Government into the position of defending imperialism, rather than attacking it, in their attempt to answer him. This, indeed, is one of the basic handicaps of the Conservative Party in dealing with this problem. They cannot attack imperialism with a good conscience because, fundamentally, they believe in it. We attack imperialism because we have always attacked it and because we do not believe that it is a good thing.
I must here take issue with the hon. Member for Rutherglen (Mr. Brooman-White), who suggested, as I believe Mr. Dulles recently suggested, that our economic aid to these countries should be directly related to some particular advantage which we can get out of it, such as the building of military facilities. This attitude, I believe, is precisely the attitude which has robbed our activities of so much of their value in these countries, and unless we can produce a situation in which we can convince the peoples of Asia that we are helping them because we think it is a good thing that they should increase their standard of living and lead more decent lives, as we are able to do in this country, they will 942 treat even the help which they receive from us with great suspicion.
§ Mr. Brooman-White
I agree that it is a matter of emphasis and presentation, but it seems to me that in the dignity of those countries and their development there is much to be said for sharing with us in economic effort and mutual effort rather than in handing out economic "baksheesh."
§ Mr. Healey
That may be so, but it is difficult for those countries which have a long history of imperialism in their background to feel that they are associated with us as equals. I believe we can only win the confidence of these countries if we accept, at least for a time, that they must remain uncommitted. By trying to turn them into committed countries, we are bound to undermine any advantage we may have.
I believe that the secret of success in dealing with the tremendous pressures which are going to be exercised against us by the Communist bloc in the generations to come will depend very largely on our ability to master the real conflicts which exist in our own part of the world—conflicts between powerful countries in the Western world, the conflicts between the rich white countries of the Atlantic basin and the coloured peoples of Africa and Asia. Only if we can disprove Soviet doctrines about the inevitable disintegration of non-Communist countries, have we any chance of bringing the Russian leaders round to a view of relations with us which will permit them to pass from co-existence to co-operation, and that, I believe, will always be our final aim.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
What I have to say follows very naturally on the concluding remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), but before I come to that I should like to pick up one or two specific matters which arose out of the speech of the Foreign Secretary.
The question of disarmament was dealt with at some length by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). I will not go into that in any detail. I think that the House will have welcomed the 943 feeling of determination which the Foreign Secretary gave—at any rate, to me—when he described his attitude towards this extremely important but very frustrating problem.
Among the difficulties which the right hon. and learned Gentleman said must be overcome before we can have a comprehensive agreement, was the acknowledged technical difficulty of achieving control over already existing nuclear stockpiles. I think we all recognise that, but I wonder whether the failure to solve that technical problem should be accepted as a bar to a comprehensive agreement on everything else. I rather doubt whether that is so. It seems to me that we could contemplate an agreement on the future production of nuclear weapons, coupled with an agreement on conventional armaments, even if the technical problem regarding existing stockpiles still remained unsolved. Who knows how long it will, in fact, remain scientifically unsolved?
The other matter I want to pursue relates to the Middle East. I ask the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary whether they realise just how much they are asking the House and the public to take them on trust in this matter. We all appreciate that there are many things which can better be done privately by diplomatic negotiation than by speeches in the market place, but there are very many unanswered questions regarding British and American policy in the Middle East. We are told that the top priority in the policy of the Government is to achieve a peace settlement between the Arab States and Israel.
No one will object to that. Her Majesty's Ministers, however, have consistently shown optimism about this, and the Foreign Secretary repeated it today. He said he was not pessimistic about a reasonably early settlement, which, frankly, many of us feel, flies in the face of the public evidence. We can go on for a certain time, hoping that there are secret things unknown to us to justify this Government optimism, but we have had no clue as to the basis upon which the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary think that such a peace could be secured, and we have had little enough in the newspapers to make us believe that a basis is readily available.
944 Equally, we all want to avoid an arms race, but how? The main aggravating factor has been the intervention in the arms race of the Soviet Union. We are told that the Government are not prepared to talk any further. We understand that there have been informal talks, but they are not prepared to talk any further to the Russians about this. Presumably, this means that the Soviet side of the arms race goes on unchecked. At the same time, it has been suggested to us that the question would also not be solved by the supply of equal amounts of arms to those who are not getting them from Soviet or Czech sources. If neither of these courses is to be pursued, what course is to be taken?
We are at the moment, perhaps, interested rather more in the quality than in the quantity of arms, as my right hon. Friend said, together with one hon. Member opposite. I think it was the hon. Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) who said that he was most interested in the latest type of fighter plane being supplied to Israel. He thought that that was far more important than tanks, partly because it was essentially a defensive weapon. We on this side, however, feel that we require something more than merely hope from the Government on these matters.
Thirdly, there is the question of "putting teeth" into the Tripartite Declaration. The Government constantly say that they stand by it but they keep making the, to me, rather curious distinction between guaranteeing, on the one hand, the provisional frontiers and the armistice lines—that is a phrase from the Tripartite Declaration—and guaranteeing frontiers after a final agreement, on the other hand. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) read an extract from The Times which, if I did not misunderstand it, seemed to suggest that Mr. Dulles was saying that he would be quite prepared to guarantee frontiers after an agreement; and the Prime Minister indicated at the time that he fully shared that view. So far so good, but it is not far enough.
It is rather unfortunate that the Prime Minister should so constantly be asked to say again what he always claims he has said before, but it shows the measure of anxiety that exists. I hope that we will get a reiteration of his statement that the terms of the Tripartite Declaration, 945 whereby we undertake to take immediate action, both within and outside the United Nations, to prevent a violation, applies not only to agreed frontiers but to the present armistice lines too. Those are the points I wanted to make arising directly from the Foreign Secretary's speech.
The main point of having this general debate at this juncture is that we should discuss the general orientation of our foreign policy in the changed circumstances which have followed Geneva. I hope it is agreed that we are in a new phase of world affairs and that there is no need for me to argue that. In particular, I think we are agreed that whatever we may think about great power rivalry today, it will probably be carried on in rather less crude forms than it was during the period to which we refer as the cold war.
In recent months, we have seen a new Soviet technique. Neither the visit of the Soviet leaders to Asia nor the proceedings of the recent Congress in Moscow had any parallel in the days of the late and, I suppose we must now say, unlamented Joseph Stalin. We have also seen an indication of what the Chinese attitude will be from their attitude last year at Bandoeng. We have seen changes in attitudes among many other countries—in Egypt, for instance, and in so good a friend of ours as Yugoslavia. We see both of them, as it were, beginning to edge themselves into a sort of central position and being encouraged to do so by one of the most important members of the British Commonwealth—India.
Even in a country which is supposed to be within the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance—Western Germany—we see opinion undergoing a rather uncertain kind of evolution. I do not propose to talk about Europe tonight, but I would say to the Foreign Secretary that it would be better not to be too rigid in our views about what the ultimate solution of the German problem may be lest we find ourselves out of step with, among others, the Germans, whose opinions may well be decisive in this matter.
What can we show on our side to match this development? By "our side" I mean the Western side, the side of the Western Powers as a whole. Frankly, I think we can see nothing but frozen immobility. The pre-Geneva policies have 946 broadly been carried on, but they are inevitably losing impetus, and, in some cases, are grinding to a standstill. One can find no trace of post-Geneva policies at all.
The Foreign Secretary, a moment or two ago, in an intervention in the speech of my hon. Friend, seemed to take it a little amiss that he was being criticised for not having dealt with surpluses which other people had accumulated. I appreciate his feelings, but if we are to claim that we have a joint policy with our Allies the Government must be expected to be pressed by the Opposition about the policies as joint policies. None of us really believes that the Government can "go it alone" today, and we must press the Government about joint policies even if in some cases we are inclined to think that, perhaps, it is not so much they who are faulty in their thinking as our Allies whom they have failed to persuade. Our responsibility remains, nevertheless. Indeed, I think that the failure of Anglo-American co-operation to produce joint initiatives is one of the most worrying things in the world today. I am not saying that that co-operation has broken down. We are co-operating, but it seems to me to very little purpose at the moment.
Let me give some examples. Let us consider the decision of Britain to make the H-bomb, which, no doubt, we shall discuss more fully tomorrow and the next day. I agreed with that decision, and I still agree with it, but I do not think it should have been necessary, if our cooperation with the United States had reached the point where we were able to rely on a proper division of labour in such matters between Allies. The fact is that it has not reached that point.
Let us take the question of the Far East, on which the Foreign Secretary was asked a question but did not say much. We all know that American policy, for obvious reasons, has been the dominating policy in the Far East as between the Americans and us for some years past. What has been achieved, for instance, over our attitude to China and over our attitude to the Formosa Straits and the Islands of Quemoy and Matsu? I understood the Foreign Secretary to say that we had a statement from the Prime Minister after his return from Washington, an up-to-date statement of what our liabilities and obligations were in 947 respect of the off-shore islands. It may be that I misunderstood that. I have since looked it up, and I cannot find it. I hope that the Prime Minister will be able to tell us something a little more precise on those topics than we have so far heard.
I turn now to the Washington statement and communiqué, illustrating the theme which I have already outlined. Most of us did not disagree, I think, with either of those documents, but we felt that they were without impact. I think they showed that the United States and Britain were in the fullest agreement about almost nothing at all. The Prime Minister probably knows that this situation was carried to its ultimate absurdity by a brilliant Punch cartoon, which he may not much have liked—although I hope that he felt able to laugh at it—because there was some truth in it.
The statement started with a recital of certain achievements of the Western Powers, but I could not help being struck by the fact that they were nearly all a long way back in the past—the Atlantic Charter, signed in the war; the U.N. Charter, signed in 1945; freedom given to 600 million dependent peoples, nearly all given between 1945 and 1948 or 1949; the Colombo Plan, launched in 1950. Almost the only recent things referred to were the Potomac Charter and the Pacific Charter. If we were to have a quiz in this House, how many people would be able to say what the Potomac Charter is about? I was a little inaccurate in my memory of it. I have looked it up. I shall not weary the House with it. It cannot be claimed for either the Potomac Charter or the Pacific Charter that it was a positive achievement as such. They were at best pious, admirable, but ineffective restatements of what had been said before. While we could take credit for a long time for such things as the independence of many millions of people in Asia, we can no longer draw any further credit except by announcing some new phase, in scale or in kind, of policies then launched, and in their implementation.
In fact, I found no trace in the Washington communiqué of any new development of these policies to which reference is made. Even in the sphere of collective defence, where, I think, frankly 948 the North Atlantic Treaty is the only really impressive monument to our collective defence efforts, it is not in its recent developments that we can take very much pride. There has not been any real progress in the co-ordination of our efforts in the last three years, and the last time that I saw a document emanating from N.A.T.O. and discussing its strategy in nuclear conditions, it was lagging seriously behind the conceptions in our own White Papers of last year and this year.
The South-East Asia Treaty and the Bagdad Treaty, which are in a sense in the same category as N.A.T.O., are militarily of doubtful value and politically serious liabilities in a large part of the world, as the Soviet leaders clearly understand very well. In that connection, I was surprised that in the South-East Asia part of the Washington communiqué the South-East Asia Treaty was placed in the foreground and no reference was made in that section to the 1954 Geneva Agreement, which many of us regard as one of the Prime Minister's best recent achievements as Foreign Secretary. There was no reference to it. It seemed much more realistic and corresponding to the facts of South-East Asia, however unpleasant, than the South-East Asia Treaty.
I should like to know what has happened to the Geneva Agreement. I was glad that the Foreign Secretary said that he still stood by it. Has it foundered? There is a very general impression that there are going to be no elections, and that provision is clearly a major part of the agreement. If not, what is to come after? Have we any policy? Can the Prime Minister give any indication of what he expects?
If I may sum up the rather gloomy things which I have been saying about Western policy, I would put them this way. In the early post-war years, perhaps up to 1949 or 1950, the Western Powers made some fairly good beginnings in organising peace. There were the early days of the United Nations, the programmes of aid starting with U.N.R.R.A. and going on through the Marshall Plan to the Colombo Plan. Then, about 1945–50, the cold war came upon us and up to 1953 or 1954 we had to adopt policies which very few of us liked, particularly in the military field; but I think that we can claim that the 949 Western Powers faced what, rightly or wrongly, they saw as the real challenge and produced a dogged, virile reaction to unpleasant events. There was the Berlin airlift, the formation of N.A.T.O., the resistance to aggression in Korea and so on. But in the last three years, the challenge has changed again, and this time it has remained unanswered.
The hon. Member for Rutherglen seemed to suggest that he did not think any change was called for. He took pride in the fact of the continuity of our policy. There is plenty of room for continuity, but there is also the necessity for change when the climate of world opinion has changed and the turn of world events has so notably changed around us. I am not pretending that the answer to the problem is an easy one. I do not claim that I can satisfy the House tonight, or satisfy myself, but I should like to make one or two suggestions.
I believe that the answer should be sought in the idea that the threat to the world policies of the Western Powers today is no longer mainly a threat from outside, whether military or not, but is rather a threat arising from defects in ourselves, from certain obsolescent habits of thought, which most of us share, and from lack of united purpose to do anything which is relevant to the present situation. This was discussed at some length by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East, who pointed out that these are the things that the Communists say about us.
They were said in quite fantastically exaggerated form in Mr. Krushchev's speech to the Moscow Congress, but although the speech was exaggerated, I suggest to the Government that it did contain an important grain of truth. The big difference between us and the Communists in this matter is that, whereas they think that we are subject to inevitable contradictions under which we are bound to stagger to our doom, we think that something can be done about it if imagination and determination are shown.
The first field in which I believe something can be done is the field of Western colonial policy. I believe that for all the Western Powers who have colonial responsibilities to put their colonial houses in order is perhaps the top priority 950 in their international and world policy. At present, it is perhaps France and Portugal in addition to ourselves who are most involved, but no colonial Power in the long run can be exempt from the duty of facing the problem.
As far as we ourselves are concerned, if we look at our colonial policy overall throughout the last decade, we may be able to claim that it is fairly creditable, and that has been widely recognised in countries outside these shores. In that I include the most recent advances or promised advances in Malaya and the West Indies. Nevertheless, it remains true, as was said by Mr. Sulzberger in the New York Times of 22nd February, that quite small deficiencies can undo all the good that has been done. He said:Britain's embarrassing attitude on Cyprus erases from popular memory her deeds in India, Burma and Ceylon.I am not going to discuss Cyprus, because we all trust that the problem is on the point of settlement, but I think we should realise that colonial problems, which may be small in their territorial extent, can nevertheless be of immense symbolic importance for our prestige throughout the world. I acknowledge the difficulties of the French in North Africa, and particularly in Algeria. They are very real, but the damage done to the Western cause by what has happened in North Africa is none the less great, because the difficulties are also great. I think we must impress upon the French the serious international implications of what has been happening, and the great obligation which they have, not only to themselves but to all their allies and associates, to try to settle this problem reasonably quickly.
I know that all colonial Powers, including ourselves, are apt to say that this is a matter between themselves and their dependencies. So was Indo-China for many years a matter between France and Indo-China, but in the long run almost the whole world had to take a hand in settling the problem and the whole world almost became involved in war as a result. We cannot, therefore, either for ourselves or for others, say that colonial problems today are matters of domestic interest to ourselves alone.
As for Goa, seldom can such heavy losses have been needlessly incurred to so little purpose. We ought to say to our 951 Portuguese Allies—and I acknowledge that they have been our Allies for a very long time and that they have always stood by us—quite frankly that by their policy in Goa they are doing more damage to the Western cause in Asia than can be made up by the contribution which they are making to N.A.T.O. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nonsense."] I really do not think it is nonsense, and I stand by that to the last full stop.
The truth is that, when we left India, in fact, whether we meant it or not, we sealed the fate of all the other Western colonial footholds in that area, and the story can have, historically, only one end now. That is what makes it so surprising to note the extraordinary tactlessness of Mr. Dulles in the statement which he made about Goa at a rather critical moment last August, thus giving to the Soviet leaders perhaps the best talking point on their Asian tour they had in the whole of that tour. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman is saying something. Is the Prime Minister objecting because of the fact that I am criticising someone not sitting in this House? I do not think the Prime Minister can have been listening when I pointed out that we are all interdependent. I was saying that it makes no sense to talk of British policy as if it were a "go it alone" policy.
We regard the Government as having a responsibility for persuading the Americans to co-operate with us in the policies we think right, and they cannot be exempted from our remarks in this House. Nothing could be more relevant to the future of the British position in the world than the conduct of her American Allies, and I must say that our tactlessness a year before, in August, 1954, over Goa was only a little less when we seemed, as it were, to be neutral on this matter. I believe that we must recognise in this colonial problem, as clearly as do the peoples of Asia and Africa, that on the question of continuing Western political domination of Asian peoples there can be no neutrality.
The only remaining problem, and it is a difficult one, is how this obsolete relationship can be peacefully and constructively transformed. It is not in issue whether it can be continued, and this attitude should be reflected by British spokesmen in the United Nations, even though I 952 know the technical difficulties about the wording of the United Nations Charter in this respect.
The second point I want to make briefly relates to the very difficult question of the proper balance of military and economic policies. I shall start with a quotation from a respected former Member of this House, Mr. Vernon Bartlett, now writing as a journalist in Singapore. He was reported in the Manchester Guardian a week ago as saying:To those of us living on this side of the world"—that is, in South-East Asia—the change of the balance of power since the Bandoeng Conference last April calls for a re-examination of Western policy, in comparison with which Mr. Dulles's agonising reappraisal of a few weeks ago was an infantile exercise.Later, he wrote:The reason why the Western Powers are losing ground is, I believe, that they still think and talk in terms of war. The Communists are gaining because they talk of peace.Now, this is not a question of whether they are sincere or insincere. It is a question of the effect produced. It is not only a question of the precise material level at which we should fix the balance between our defence and economic programmes here at home. It is also a question of the balance of our thinking.
Let me give an example of that in relation to the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development. We and the Americans have always said that we are in favour of it in principle, but that we cannot do anything about it until we can get rid of some of the burden of our armaments. That means, in other words, that the priority goes to arms and that the economic development is thought of as secondary.
We all make allowance for the need to be solvent in our national economy at home. We all know that this sets a limit to our military expenditure, but we make far too little allowance for the need to allocate resources for the purposes of our international policy. It is as though we were overlooking the decisive rôle which economics will play in the whole balance of power, particularly in Asia, in the next ten or twenty years, and especially in the development of India's plans.
There was an interesting leader in the Observer last Sunday, showing the effects on our ability to provide capital for our 953 overseas territories of the proposals made by the Chancellor, and it was suggested that we were altogether too parochial, too little international in our economic thinking. There was also a leader in The Times two days earlier pointing out the tremendous use which the Communist Powers make of trade and of their economic resources as a weapon of international policy. We cannot necessarily match, we would not necessarily wish to match, everything they do in the way of political trade, but if we are not prepared to use their methods then we must reach the same end by our own.
It is no good remaining unwilling to take awkward decisions about the priorities in the use of our resources at home, for that leaves us fewer resources with which to operate in the world at large. We cannot afford to maintain the prejudice which says that we must rely on free market techniques throughout the world. We cannot go on blindly insisting that private enterprise will do enough to develop the backward territories. This is some of the bric-à-brac that we have to get out of our minds if we are to have any kind of effective foreign policy.
I must not cut short the time of the Prime Minister. I do not claim that the ideas that I have been putting before the House in any way constitute an all-round foreign policy. Of course they do not. Of course much of what we have been doing must go on. At the same time, without adjustments of this kind in our thinking, we risk getting left behind by the rapid march of ideas which is steadily gathering momentum, especially among the hundreds of millions of Asians and Africans to whose weight in world affairs we have not yet, I believe, learned to give full importance.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)
The debate has ranged very widely over a number of topics, and I hope the House will not ask me to cover them all in my concluding remarks. The Foreign Secretary dealt to a considerable extent with the Middle East, and, though I shall have some other remarks to make about that I should like the concluding half of my speech, if it is agreeable to the House, to be concentrated entirely on Anglo-SOviet relations, about which the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. 954 Robens) very rightly said something in his speech. If so, I will try now, within the time limit at my disposal, to answer as many as I possibly can of the questions which have been raised.
I want, first, to say something about the question of the attitude of the Western Powers to Germany and N.A.T.O., a matter which was raised by the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members. I have looked up the document to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I think I understand how the position to which he drew attention arose. I want hon. Members to be quite clear in their minds about this. The Western Powers have never made any condition about Germany joining N.A.T.O.—never. I did not do so at Berlin more than two years ago—that was my own responsibility; I have the clearest recollection about it—and we have never done so since.
In the so-called plan which bears my name, the Western Federal Republic is left free to make its own choice to join N.A.T.O., or to join another organisation, or to join no organisation at all. Nothing in the proposals limited its choice. That was made clear, I think, in the October Conference—I have looked up the minutes—by Mr. Dulles, M. Pinay and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Of course, it is true—and this is where, I think, the misunderstanding arose—that certain of our proposals were intended to deal with the situation which would arise if Germany should join N.A.T.O. Russia had always said that in those circumstances there would be for her—that is acceptable—a different set of problems from what there would otherwise be, and the paper to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, dealt with that—Germany having joined N.A.T.O., what counter-assurances could we give Soviet Russia in our own plan?
I repeat that we have admitted under our proposals, and have continued to admit, that Germany has a right to do as she pleases, to enter N.A.T.O. or not to enter it. All that we have insisted upon, and that we insist upon tonight, is that Germany should have the right to choose her own freely-elected Government and make her own decision. It is in that issue that our fundamental difference with Soviet Russia really lies.
955 The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) asked me whether other countries could join the proposed arrangement which I had suggested for a mutual security arrangement in Europe. He was right in saying that it was originally limited to the four Powers at the Summit Conference at Geneva. The answer to his question is "Yes." We fully recognise that other Powers in Europe might wish to join, and should join, if it can be so agreed, and I think that that was explained at Geneva by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. At any rate, it represents our position, and we would be ready to discuss that, if other matters could be agreed.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) was distinctly gloomy about what we had achieved at Washington. He said that the President and I had agreed all right but that we had agreed on nothing. That, of course, is an attitude which he can hold, and I would admit that it is not extremely easy to find new words in which to express old thoughts. But the old thoughts may, none the less, be valuable. Earlier, at Question Time, the right hon. Gentleman was complaining that we tried to make the whole world Christian, as at one time the United Nations had tried to make the Jews and Arabs.
We are not trying to do that. It is true that the word "God" appeared in the document. The word "God" is not unknown in the Middle East. The Arabs are very familiar with it, although they use the word "Allah" and not "God." I do not think because we refer to God that our document should necessarily be treated as proselytising, because I am quite sure that it would not have been translated into Arabic by any word other than "Allah." It is not reasonable for the right hon. Gentleman to complain in that strain.
I have this week-end asked for some note of the reaction to the document to which the President and I agreed in Washington—I mean reaction in Europe, not in this country.
§ The Prime Minister
No, but I am. The right hon. Gentleman was talking about the Middle East, and particularly 956 Egypt. I thought it would be interesting to see what Europeans thought, because the right hon. Gentleman thought so little of it, as, I repeat, he is entitled to do. The reactions were interesting. Perhaps the most friendly reaction was from the Benelux and Scandinavian countries. That was rather to be expected, for they are more closely like us. Next to that comes Turkey; more cautious, as the right hon. Gentleman will expect, Yugoslavia; only two quarters have been really hostile or really critical—the right hon. Gentleman and General Franco's Press in Spain, which has been described as acrid on the subject of our declaration. I wish the right hon. Gentleman all happiness in the new company he is now keeping.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked me about Indo-China. He asked me whether we were bound by the Agreement we reached in Indo-China; or whether it had all been washed away. It is not washed away because, happily, there is no fighting in Indo-China now, as there was when the Agreement was reached. As my right hon. and learned Friend explained, discussions between the Powers at the Geneva Conference are going on about what should be the next step to be taken. It was not mentioned in the document which the President and I signed, but, after all, it is no secret to the world that the United States was not a party to that settlement and we were. Surely we are sufficiently friendly with the Americans to know that when we are parties to something and they are not, we can leave it out of a document without the whole world thinking that there is something sinister about it.
§ Mr. Younger
The Americans were not parties to the Bagdad Pact, but they were prepared to mention in in the Communiqué.
§ The Prime Minister
They felt differently about the Bagdad Pact from what they thought about Indo-China. It is quite possible. Powers have different views from time to time, and, although our relations with the Americans are as friendly as ever, it does not lie with us to tell them how to express themselves about every international document to which they are not parties. If that is how the right hon. Gentleman would conduct Anglo-American relations. he is not likely to have marked success.
957 The next comment I want to make is about the Middle East, with which my right hon. Friend dealt at some length. I think that the whole House will wish him good fortune on the journey which he is going to make. It is not an easy task which he has to fulfil in the various capitals which he will visit, and I am grateful for the good' wishes which right hon. Gentlemen opposite have expressed in that connection.
We have been told several times, and lectured rather severely in this debate, about the Government's inability to show to the lands of the Middle East—the right hon. Gentleman particularly mentioned India, what help we can bring them in contrast to what the Russians are able to do. We have done, in fact, a very great deal and we are doing a very great deal, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman was on a fair point when he said—he did not say it, but I will say it for him—that we have not, in fact, talked loudly enough about what we have done and are doing.
I think that is true. When I say, "We have not" I am not talking about our country only; I am talking particularly about our Commonwealth partners and the considerable contributions which countries like Canada and even small New Zealand have made to these Middle Eastern lands, none of which gets written up in the way in which the Russians seem able to do. There, I think, the right hon. Gentleman has an absolutely fair point.
Before I say what the Government are doing, I should like to say a little about the Middle Eastern position so far as commerce is concerned because, after all, trade stands higher than aid, if I may slightly adapt a famous slogan. We had some setbacks in the past. We had the Persian oil trouble, but I will not go into that because I have no wish to make party capital at all. We are recovering from it.
§ The Prime Minister
That is the most original thing I have ever heard, that the Anglo-Persian oil trouble was started by the Americans. If the right hon. Gentleman can believe that, he has a very far-reaching imagination. We need not discuss who started it; the great thing is that it is finished.
958 The point which I wish to leave with the House is that whereas, three years ago, our exports to Persia were worth £4½million—a rather pitiful sum—last year they were worth £.17½ million, which, in three years, is a very considerable growth. I only mention it as an example of what can be done when countries begin to work together. In return for these exports—very considerable exports—we are taking increasing quantities of Persian oil. In Iraq, too, we have helped in development which will result in that country having living conditions far above anything else which is known in the Middle East.
I look forward to the day when some of the critics of the Bagdad Pact and of the help which we have given each other will, if no troubles break out, see a better standard of life there than anywhere else in the Middle East. At this moment, four of our commercial officers from these areas are touring our great cities to discuss what further can be done. That is the trade side. Our private investments in India—I will come to Government investment in a minute—since the war have increased by £100 million. That is a very great deal when we consider the finances of our country since the war.
In the last few days, the House will surely have seen—and both right hon. Gentlemen completely ignored it—the news of the erection of a great new steel plant by a British consortium in India. It is a vast scheme. It is a very welcome scheme, and I am glad that the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) sustained me in this, because neither of her right hon. leaders—if one may call them so—even mentioned the matter at all when complaining of what we had failed to do in India. The foreign exchange cost of this scheme, I am told, will be something like £50 million. It is a very big scheme indeed which has been negotiated at considerable length, and Her Majesty's Government have played their part in trying to bring it about.
In addition to that, as the House knows, we have given a great deal of technical help. I will not go into it in any detail, but in Baghdad, as part of the work under the Pact, we have begun to establish an atomic energy plant at which member countries can have the chance to train their people in the nuclear field. These are steps in the right direction, though I 959 admit that they have not been advertised as much as they should be. That indicates that we are not being so completely idle and utterly negative as some of our critics have suggested today.
If I may say a word to the critics in return about the Middle East—not the right hon. Gentleman, but one or two other hon. Members—there is one point of view which I admit that to me is quite inexplicable. I cannot see how one can be in the same breath pro-Israeli and an apologist for Soviet intervention in the Middle East at the present time. But there has been a tendency—certainly in interruptions which have been made, if not in the speeches—to contrive to combine those two parts.
I wish to deal with the Russian approach as rapidly as possible and I will attempt to deal with the points made by the right hon. Gentleman and referred to by his right hon. Friend. There are three things which we are trying to do. The first, and obviously the most important of all, if we can get it, is a settlement. We have no particular illusions about the difficulty of that, but all the same that effort has to continue because it is the only final answer to the present situation. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) was perfectly correct. It was that settlement to which Mr. Dulles referred and I agreed with the right hon. and learned Gentleman about our position.
In the meanwhile, there is the Tripartite Agreement by which again, I say, we stand and in respect of the execution of which certain phases were put into the communiqué at Washington which are, I think, of some importance. That is the other sphere of our activities. The third relates to the neutral zones and whether it is possible in the neutral zones to increase the forces which are now there to reduce the risk of incident. I know that my right hon. and learned Friend will discuss that during the tour on which he is shortly to engage. I share his view that if we can increase those numbers—I think this is also the view of the right hon. Gentleman—we should reduce the risk of conflict while the search is being made for a settlement. These are the three lines on which a policy is being developed.
The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) asked why we did not 960 bring Russia into consultation on the Middle East. If one may be blunt about this, I think that we must have some confidence between Powers before we come to discuss problems of this kind of intricacy with any real hope of making progress. If we are not to make progress, it is better not to sit down to discuss them, because in the end the pesult is likely to be worse rather than better. After the last meeting at Geneva, and the exchanges we have had, that is the view to which we have come in respect of that matter.
I wish to join the right hon. Gentleman in what I think an extremely good exercise for us all, that is, to look at the recent developments in the Soviet Union and where we are in relation to discussions which are to take place between our two countries in due course. I have spent my weekend, or a large part of it, studying the speeches made at the recent Moscow Conference: I am not asking anybody else to do the same, not because I want to be impolite about these speeches, but merely on the grounds of their length. One of those speeches takes up seventy-five pages of quite close type.
Studying these speeches has put some thoughts into my mind, and I hope that the House will forgive me if I state those thoughts—I am not sure that hon. Members are going to like them all that much—as plainly as the Soviet leaders have stated theirs in these documents. The fact that two of these leaders are to be our guests here this spring, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Garston (Sir V. Raikes) referred earlier in his interesting speech, seems to put a special duty on us to do this.
I know that they, like us, wish for serious discussions when the meetings take place. Mr. Krushchev said that he thought that the risk of war had decreased, and that is probably true. The House as a whole feels that. There is in existence an all-powerful, mutual deterrent, the hydrogen bomb, and everyone understands the immensely destructive power of this weapon. Those who own it know that they can always receive it back and are not likely, therefore, to want to use it. I observe that the Soviet leaders sometimes say that the use of the hydrogen bomb would mean the end of capitalism but not of Communism. That is a fantastic illusion. If the world ever used such weapons in war over large 961 areas there would be wholesale destruction, obliteration, oblivion, and whether a town were capitalist or Communist would not affect its fate one jot.
I refer to it because I have read this illusion many times repeated in the speeches—Mr. Mikoyan's, for example. It may be that these are just thoughts intended only for internal consumption and such comfort as they may bring, if so, we cannot complain. They would certainly be dangerous if they were to lure any Power to believe that it could survive a hydrogen war while another could not. That is not so. Whatever the new engines of destruction—the right hon. Member for Blyth mentioned rockets and guided missiles—that would still be true. Aeroplanes could disappear tomorrow or a year or two hence, but mankind could still shoot itself to destruction at long range, and no country could escape that.
Mr. Krushchev reassured his audience at Moscow the other day by pointing out that we in the West admit that there can be no victory in a nuclear war. Certainly, we do. That is quite true, but when he went on to claim that this was an admission that the Communist camp was invincible he misunderstood our observations entirely. No camp is invincible in modern war. This, I am sure, must be understood at least by all the great Powers today.
Now I would like to make one or two reflections on some of the popular ideas which occurred in the speeches at the conference. One of the themes was that there is more than one road to the Soviet conception of Socialism. No doubt that is true. I am not sure whether it would be for me to say, because I would not exactly know; but it might well be true.
§ The Prime Minister
The trouble is, who comes back? The worrying thing about all this is that, although there may be several Socialist roads up to a point, there is, after that, only one road to Communism. There is no mention of any road back. This is just what the British people and all free people abominate; there is no choice, no alternative, no road back.
Therefore, we speak, and we ought to understand that we speak, different languages. That is not a reason for not 962 meeting and discussing, but it is a reason for accepting that our philosophies are, in that respect, poles apart. They have one party, one trend of thought and one speech with many variants. That is all that is ever allowed and it is all that many can even imagine, and yet that is the antithesis to what we believe in.
I want to give the House just one example taken from this same speech. I think it is interesting for us to hear it. Earlier today the right hon. Gentleman—quite rightly, and I am in entire agreement—gave an account of the years immediately after the war. I took his words down, I think correctly. He said,. "When the war was over it was in nobody's mind to set up N.A.T.O." That is perfectly true. He went on, "The attitude of the Soviet Union in forcing one neighbouring country after another into her orbit compelled the creation of N.A.T.O., and then came the Berlin blockade." I believe that is as fair and accurate an account as any which any Western statesman could give, but let us hear Mr. Krushchev on exactly the same subject so that we may see what the problems are. He dealt with the point in this same speech:Soon after the Second World War had ended, the influence of reactionary and militarist groups began to be increasingly evident in the policy of the United States, Britain and France.At that time, the United States had not a soldier in Europe, Britain was reducing her Forces as fast as she could—and nobody thinks France is an aggressive power. Mr. Krushchev said:Their desire to enforce their will on other countries by economic and political pressure, threats and military provocation became dominant.Nobody in the West can recognise that description of what happened when the Labour Government were in power immediately after the war. This is supposed to be a description of a Europe which had completely disarmed, as we know, and of Soviet Russia which has never disarmed at all.
Later in the same speech he said:A bloody war was launched in Korea.We are not told by whom. I mention these contentions because they prove many things, and I think the House should study them. I hope many hon. Members will study the speech; I think these speeches should be made available 963 in the Library of the House so that hon. Members can study them. They prove many things, not least that we have need to talk together. If all these statements were just for internal Soviet consumption—well, we might not like it but it would hardly have any international significance at all; but it is not quite like that.
In the same speech I read of Mr. Krushchev's faithful adherence to the five principles. They are known to many hon. Members—the five principles which I think were first enunciated by Mr. Nehru. One of these, as we are reminded by the Russians and as Mr. Krushchev himself reminds us, is non-interference in each other's domestic affairs. Yet in this very same speech the warmest praise is handed out to Communist parties—not behind the Iron Curtain; we could not object to that—beyond the Iron Curtain. It was said:They have endured many hardships.I did not know that it was so in this country, I am bound to say.They have proved the most consistent fighters against war dangers and reaction. They are acclaimed as having been in the thick of the struggle to uphold peace.I do not see how encouragement to Communists in other lands is consistent with non-interference in each other's domestic affairs.
I must remind the House that no theme was worked harder at the Conference than the denunciation of what is called Colonialism. Everyone joined in, including Mr. Molotov. He had a turn—the first time for quite a while. Clearly, the Soviets did not realise that in many lands of the free world today there are people who sincerely believe that there is only one colonial Power left, and that is Soviet Russia. No Communist can hope to understand the progress towards self-government which is going on in our Commonwealth at this very hour in a great many lands and has been going on for some time past. Of course he cannot understand it, because the end result is something which no Communist Power could ever accept.
The end result is that many of these countries will in due course, we hope, take their place in the Commonwealth, 964 but if they do so, it will be by their own free choice and their own decision. How can we possibly expect the Soviets to understand that? Can we conceive of the Kremlin willingly agreeing that the Baltic States, to take one example, should be free self-governing entities, or, for that matter, any of the other greater and more ancient States behind the Iron Curtain? Mr. Mikoyan told us in his speech that revolution in Czechoslovakia was carried out by peaceful means. The memory of the Masaryk family is too deeply respected in this country for that to be accepted here.
I am not being provocative at all. I am saying a great deal less than is said about us in the seventy pages—a very great deal less—but I am saying it because I think it is desirable. I do it of deliberate purpose, so that the House and newspapers, which cannot print a document of this kind. should know some of the things which have been said. I have missed out many which I thought would be unduly provocative. There is talk of how much the West suffers by unemployment, and Western Germany is mentioned. Every hon. Member knows where unemployment in Western Germany has come from—people who do not want to live under Communist rule in the East. There are many other things on which it would not be wise to comment, but I think it is wise to tell the House of these things so that the House may see the reality of these differences before there is the occasion to discuss them.
To gloss over the attitude which the twentieth Congress revealed would be no service to peace. To argue, to seek to find some common language where there is admittedly little enough today is the task of statesmanship. That will be the object of our meeting and that object, I hope, we shall succeed in serving when our guests come to us in April next.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £1,015,637,000, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil and Revenue Departments and for the Ministry of Defence for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1957.