§ 3.41 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)
It is nearly six months since we held a foreign affairs debate in this House, and in the interval many events of importance have taken place. The Soviet leaders have paid their visit to London—the first occasion since the Revolution that any such contact has been made with a Western capital. Many discussions ensued between us, of which I shall wish to give some impressions later. Then there have been other significant but customary contacts. The most important of these has been the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth. We have also observed certain events behind the Iron Curtain.
This afternoon I want to stand back for a moment to try to survey the whole picture and to assess what modifications there have been and their consequences for ourselves and our Allies. It is with Europe, in particular, that I wish to deal. For, as it seems to me, the principal factor which is influencing opinion in all those lands is the growing understanding of the decisive character of the deterrent. Nobody now doubts the power of this, or its wholesale destructive capacity, and I suggest that no country would be prepared to launch an attack which would provoke its use. I am sure of this today. I cannot say that I could be equally sure of it for ever. But its significance for our immediate problems is there for all to understand.
I have heard it suggested that no one should place too much confidence in the power of the deterrent because, after all, much the same trust was at one time placed in the preventive horror of poison gas. The older Members of this House will recall that in the 'twenties many articles were written and speeches made to the effect that, with the development of such gases, war would become unthinkable. In fact, a Second World War took place and gas was not used. Cannot the same thing happen, so the argument runs, in respect of the hydrogen deterrent, even in a global war?
I do not think that the analogy is a true one, but it is worth examining, all the same. The hydrogen bomb is a 38 further development in destructive power of the atomic deterrent; infinitely greater in its effect, of course, than poison gas. It is in direct catastrophic descent—if I may so describe it—from gunpowder, through high explosives and the atom. It is the ultimate weapon of destructive power in the modern arsenal of war. I call it the ultimate weapon, since it has power enough to destroy the human race, and nobody, presumably, can see any advantage in trying to do more than that.
In the days when the atomic weapon was the most powerful which existed in the world it was generally recognised that if war came it would be used, not only because, as Lord Attlee, I believe, once said, there could not be a set of Queens-berry Rules in a warring world, but also because a great Power which possessed it was not likely to deprive itself of its decisive use. For the same reason I think it inconceivable that a modern global war could take place without the use of atomic and hydrogen weapons, with all their consequences. It is this knowledge which works so strongly for peace today. I agree with an article written some time ago by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) about that—although we do not always agree about everything.
I have seen it suggested that my growing conviction that a European war is unlikely is due to compliments paid to us by our Soviet visitors last April. Nothing could, in fact, be sillier. What, among other things, encouraged me and my right hon. and learned Friend about that Soviet visit was that the Soviet leaders accepted, as we accepted, the final destructive effect of nuclear power.
Where does all this lead us? I suggest that it has two consequences, the one military and the other political. The military consequences I will touch upon only briefly; they are to be debated later. But it is surely clear that the possession of this weapon by the two major world Powers—and, before long, also by ourselves—will compel some military rethinking upon both sides of the Iron Curtain; and I use "military" in the broadest sense of the word. At any rate, we have been engaged upon this for some time, and I have no doubt that others have been doing the same.
We have also begun to exchange views with our friends. Let me make this clear 39 beyond doubt: what we seek is a reappraisal of the strategic needs of today with our Allies and within our alliance. Our policy remains firmly based upon the closest possible relations with the Commonwealth, the United States and Western Europe. There has never been any question of our making a sudden or abrupt decision which would throw the whole military gear of our Western unity into confusion. We are not playing that game. But if our alliance is to remain vital and is to command the confidence of the peoples, it must constantly adapt itself to a changing world.
Meanwhile, let us examine this more teasing question, leaving the military aspect for next week. Has the destructive power of the deterrent any political consequences? I believe that it has, more particularly so in this age of rapid industrial transition. Imagine yourself, if you will, Mr. Speaker, as a director of national policy in a country which has no urgent need to heed the gusts of public opinion. It may be that at one time you had ideas that your system of government should rule the world. It may be that you have not abandoned them, but you might quite reasonably come to the conclusion that you could not obtain your objective by military means without the total destruction of everything you were seeking to create in your own land—and your own extinction, which is not always unimportant. You might then wisely decide that you would pursue a similar objective by other methods.
I do not suggest that this is the whole explanation of the developments which we have been witnessing in recent months; I do not think it is. Behind the Iron Curtain there is, I believe, a growing opinion which would not take kindly to a return to the condition of things which we and others now describe as "Stalinism." We in the West would make a mistake if we did not accept this and understand it. Here is, after all, quite a normal process in the history of revolution. The departure of Rakosi fits into it all, and so does the reaction to what has recently happened in Poland. They are not indications which we should ignore. I believe that behind the Iron Curtain there exists today an increasing desire at least for the 40 enjoyment of more of the material advantages which the West commands and at best for contacts which could cover wider fields, including the arts and humanities, which were once unchecked around the world.
So I say to the House that two factors seem to be exerting their influence on the internal situation in Russia. First, the condemnation of Stalin and the cult of personality have led to a ferment of debate in the Soviet Union and throughout the whole Communist world. That process is being carefully controlled. The structure of the Socialist bloc remains unchanged, but, all the same, what seems a departure from rigidity may yet lead the Communist world into some unexpected paths. Secondly, even the present limited shift of emphasis—because it is limited—from military to economic power means that the position of the scientists, technologists, managers and engineers becomes increasingly important in the Soviet hierarchy. Their views may not be the same as those of the men who exerted the same kind of influence before them. The Soviet people are undoubtedly becoming better educated, and this brings with it a wish to lead what we would call a more normal life.
Of course, it would be an exaggeration to say that the régime is being liberalised. A Communist State can never enjoy parliamentary government in our sense of the term, but the energies and initiative of the Soviet people are certainly being given a freer rein. All our reports indicate that. Its leaders may not find it easy to put back the clock completely, even if they wanted to. The statements of Soviet leaders are important, not only because of the power wielded by the men who utter them, but also because the policies which they are pursuing are based on and reflect changes in the attitude and wishes of the Soviet people.
Let me give some explanation, as I think that all these matters are of interest to the House if we are to assess the position in which we find ourselves. More and more men and women are appearing in Moscow openly, having been released from concentration camps. Greater respect is being paid to the independence of the courts, and certain summary procedures have been abolished. Confessions in court were once a grim part of the Soviet criminal procedure. We can all 41 remember that. Soviet lawyers can now argue that they cannot be accepted as evidence. Certain penal legislation dealing with labour offences has been revoked. A man can change his job without any punishment.
We must not exaggerate this process in Soviet Russia, but we must hope that it will continue and eventually find its expression not only in internal policy, but in foreign policy as well. After all, the practice of competitive co-existence opens the Soviet world to some new influences, but it involves the Soviet Government in an increasingly complex network of new relationships. Trade is one example of this. An important Soviet trade delegation is now in this country, seeking to place orders with our firms. We welcome this. The contacts and relationships which will flow from this can do nothing but good to both our countries.
Of course, all this has thrown the Communist Parties in other countries into a considerable state of confusion. That is nothing we need worry about particularly, I think, on either side of the House. The anomalous position of Communist parties in so many countries owing allegiance to a Power outside their own frontiers, has done nothing but harm. Whatever, in the past, Russian leaders may have thought of it, judged as a world policy it never did Soviet Russia any good at all. Subversion and internal interference with other countries are inconsistent with attempts to cultivate good relations abroad. It has always done injury to our relations with Soviet Russia when attempts are made to carry on any form of contacts between us through the Communist organisations here.
We have seen an improvement in this respect since the Soviet visit and I believe that the Soviet leaders now understand our feelings on these matters. We must hope that, as time goes on, the desire of the Soviet Government to work towards a more normal relationship will show itself increasingly in foreign policy; and that by persistent diplomacy we shall be able to edge towards solutions of the really big problems. We must always try to enlarge the area of agreement. Meanwhile, I much prefer what has been called the "menace" of Soviet competition to the threat of world war.
42 I have tried to analyse, as I see them, the developments which are taking place in the Communist world. If all this is accepted, with whatever reservations hon. Members may like to make—these assessments are difficult to arrive at—there are certain consequences, and I suggest three at least. First, the danger of war in Europe, or of a global war, has receded and is receding. Secondly, that there are influences at work which could result in giving aid to this relaxation of tension. Thirdly, that all this business requires great patience. It will not surprise the House that I should say this, because over many years it has been my view that, generally speaking, to be successful, diplomacy must proceed step by step.
Now I come, with the patience of the House, to the main political issue of Europe in the context in which I have spoken, which is Germany. Ever since the meeting at Berlin, more than two years ago, we have tried repeatedly to make clear two things which, I think, are generally accepted by hon. Members on both sides of the House and by the Western world. First, that we were in favour of the unification of Germany and that there could be no real security in Europe until this unity had been realised. Secondly, that all Germany should be allowed to come to conclusions about her own political future by means of free elections.
Recently, the representatives of the Communist Government of Eastern Germany, the D.D.R., have been to Moscow, in conference with the Soviet leaders. After that discussion, certain comments were made from the Soviet side to which I think I should refer. Notably, Mr. Khrushchev, after declaring his support for the unity of Germany, is reported as saying:The imperialists and monopolists want the unification of Germany on the basis of the Bonn constitution, that is, on a purely capitalist basis.There let me say once again that the imperialists and the monopolists, if that means us and the Western Allies, as I presume it does, have never asked for any such thing at any time. They have only asked that all the German people should be allowed to come to their own decision as to their own future by free elections. That is all they have asked in the past and that is all that we ask today. What is more, we specifically laid it down in Berlin—that is a point often 43 forgotten—more than two years ago, that the Germans were fully entitled to choose any constitution they liked, either Bonn, or a modification, or anything else. That is still our position.
Mr. Khrushchev went on to argue that the leaders of the D.D.R. wanted unification of Germany on the basis on which they are building their State, that is, of course, the Communist basis. If that were true of the majority of Germans, and if they were freely to vote for a Communist State, we would deeply deplore it, but we could not object. We could not object because of our own declarations, which all the Allies have made. On the other hand, it must be evident to a good many people that the Germans have no intention of doing any such thing at all. Not only is Western Germany overwhelmingly anti-Communist but, as far as one can judge, so are many of the German people now living in the Soviet zone. How else can one explain, I ask the House to consider, the stream of refugees from that area which has been continuous ever since the war? It has ebbed and flowed in numbers, but it has never ceased. At the present time, it is in full spate. About 22,000 a month are crossing the frontier from Communist-controlled Germany to the West, despite all the precautions that are taken.
We have always accepted that Russia like anyone else—like many hon. Members of this House—is entitled to feel concern at the part that a strongly rearmed Germany might play in the modern world. Therein surely lies the value of such arrangements as we have made and are making in the Western European Union, and in N.A.T.O., too, for our joint and several security. We have special arrangements for the integration of forces and we are beginning to develop, in the Western European Union, control of armaments among ourselves. This is a subject well worth further study by us all. It is something entirely new in the modern world.
As to security plans for Europe, we are not opposed to these. Last summer at Geneva, at what were called the "Summit Meetings" we put forward certain detailed proposals to give mutual guarantees to all of us against an attack in Europe. We call them "mutual" guarantees because that was the title 44 which everyone preferred. Indeed, the House may recall that the United States declared her willingness to take part, and in the light of history that was a very remarkable offer. Such an offer might have saved much bloodshed before 1914 and 1939.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
Would the Prime Minister make that point rather more clear? Was not the offer of the security pact conditional only upon a united Germany electing freely to join N.A.T.O.?
§ The Prime Minister
No, Sir; not on a united Germany electing freely to join N.A.T.O. It was connected with Germany holding her free elections and having expressed her will, but there was no condition as to what Germany should do. I am coming to this point in a very few minutes. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there was no kind of condition attached that these guarantees could come into force only if Western Germany had joined N.A.T.O.
§ Mr. Robens
That is the Prime Minister's point of view, but I did read the White Paper very carefully. After rereading it, I am bound to say that the conclusion anyone must come to is that the security arrangement was in case united Germany did, in fact, join the West.
§ The Prime Minister
I understand the point the right hon. Gentleman is making. It was not a condition. It was at no time a condition that Germany should join N.A.T.O. If Germany, after a free election, took the decision to join N.A.T.O., certain things would follow. If Germany, as a result of a free election, made some other move, something else would follow. [HON. MEMBERS: "What?"] There was no question at any time in our minds that it was a condition of any security guarantee that -Her Majesty's Government would give that Germany must join N.A.T.O. On the contrary, over and over again, at Berlin and since, we have said that Germany must be free to take her own decision. She is so free now, so far as we are concerned.
§ Mr. Robens
I am sorry to press the right hon. Gentleman, but this is a very important point, which was never really cleared up in our last debate by the right hon. Gentleman. We had words about 45 it from this Box. I agree entirely that the proposals were that Germany should be free to join Warsaw, N.A.T.O. or to remain neutral. The only point I am making is whether this security offer was offered only if, in fact, the united Germany did join N.A.T.O. There was no security offer if she did anything other than join N.A.T.O. The White Paper quite clearly shows that to be the case.
§ The Prime Minister
It is only right that the right hon. Gentleman should raise this matter. I can only repeat the views of Her Majesty's Government. I will look all this up carefully again and my right hon. and learned Friend will deal with it tomorrow. I am quite clear about what our minds were on the subject and what my mind now is, and that is that a security agreement in Europe would not be conditional in any circumstances upon Germany joining N.A.T.O. We should be willing and ready to try to work out a security arrangement whatever that decision might be. We have always said, and I repeat it, that Germany must be free to take her own decision, whichever way it is.
In part, this discussion arises from the fact that most of the opinion throughout the world knows quite well that if Germany were to take her decision she would join Western Europe. That has added to the feeling that we were making a condition. Here and there there has been the presumption of a probability. It was worth while trying to work that out. I come back to the position about what we might possibly do in the question of a security pact.
I hope, particularly in the light of what the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) has just said, that there will be further study of all these matters to which I have referred. I will say why. I would like all concerned, including the Soviet Government, to consider whether, in time, out of some of the practical arrangements that we have made—for instance, in the Western European Union and in the working of N.A.T.O.—some plans cannot be made to enable confidence between us to grow, and thus might be held free elections in Germany on terms which we could all accept.
Meanwhile, there are certain practical possibilities, shall we call them, in competitive coexistence in Europe now, as a consequence of the mutual fear of the 46 deterrent and its influence on traditional weapons. The forces in the West, even under the plans which we have already made—under existing plans—are very small. Can any great nation really feel today that a threat of aggression can come from a force of this size, still less from a smaller force? I hope that it may be possible in due course to discuss, East and West, what other mutual undertakings might be given further to reduce the tension in Europe and whether agreed limitation of forces in certain areas could be helpful to agreement. That is what I should like to see examined.
Any progress of this kind would, of course, have to be realised, and I think could intelligently be realised, step by step with like progress towards the reunification of Germany. They have to go together. Cannot we find in this the seeds of a solution?
Tomorrow, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary will deal fully with the disarmament question and with the problems of the Middle and Far East, but, if the House will bear with me further, I want to deal for a few moments with one aspect of disarmament which was the subject of Questions today and on which I think, here again, it may be possible for us to make some progress. At least, I think we can suggest the line which might be followed.
It is the question of the limitation of hydrogen tests. The Report which we received and to which the right hon. Lady the Member for Warrington (Dr. Summerskill) referred at Question Time, from the Medical Research Council, and that which was presented to the United States Government about the same time by a similar committee in America, were, I think she would agree, on the whole reassuring, at least for the present. I do not put it beyond that. None the less, we have still a problem to handle, and the Powers concerned must try to work out proposals to limit and control test explosions. I know that it will not be easy, but it would be wise to prepare now to avoid the risk that the multiplication of experiments, if extended over a long period of time, as the right hon. Lady said, could have an effect on human health.
As I said at Question Time, we should have preferred to deal with it in the context of a disarmament convention, but we all know, especially those who have 47 had anything to do with disarmament conventions, how excessively technical those animals can become. We should, therefore, like to make it clear that we are quite ready now to discuss that matter separately from the disarmament convention. If we are to attempt this, as I would wish that we should, it would clearly be necessary that each one of us should try to work out the best method of limitation and control that we can contrive for these tests. We propose to do this ourselves; in fact, we have already given much thought to the matter. We have no rigid ideas as to the extent of the limitation to which the Powers could agree, except that it should be reasonably fair to all concerned.
Many of the matters to which I have referred this afternoon, and others besides, were discussed at the Commonwealth Conference, in the light of the views and experiences of our respective Governments. Each Prime Minister will no doubt have drawn his own conclusions. Our agreed opinions have already been expressed.
I should now like to add, in conclusion, on my own account, this one further thought to leave with the House for this debate: I believe that there has been an essential change in the international outlook in the last two years, a change between the Berlin Conference and now. That change has been between rigidity and flexibility. All was rigid then. Much seems flexible now.
This is something gained. Of course, we have to uphold our guard, and we shall do so. We shall remain loyal to our friendships in other parts of the world. The recent visit of the King of Iraq was an opportunity for us to give expression to one of them. At the same time, in an atmosphere where the fear of war is less immediately oppressive, opportunities may come to build that greater confidence upon which peace depends. It is for this that British diplomacy must work in the months ahead.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
I have listened, as I am sure the whole House has listened, with very great attention and interest to what the Prime Minister has said this afternoon. I am glad that he 48 dealt in somewhat greater detail with the problem of Europe, because I share with him the view that the settlement of the European problem and the problem of Germany would probably produce such a completely different climate in the world that we should find that the problems which face us elsewhere in the world were much more easily solved. I agree with him entirely. What we have to do is to try to create confidence where confidence no longer exists, and, indeed, where there is fear. We must take every opportunity to make the best possible use of the changes which have taken place since we held this debate in February.
As the Prime Minister said, there have been a number of changes. There was the visit of Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Bulganin and there was Mr. Khrushchev's speech at the 20th Congress. While the right hon. Gentleman spent some time, in our last debate, in dealing with some of the speeches which were made at the 20th Congress, at that time he had not had an opportunity of reading the full text of the Khrushchev speech, because it was not available. It has since been published, and I am certain that he has read it with very great interest.
It shows a tremendous change—a change from which the Soviet Government and the Governments of the satellites, who followed them, cannot retract without a good deal of difficulty within their own countries. I have had the opportunity of visiting Prague and Warsaw since those changes. I formed a definite opinion that what the Communist Governments were looking for was a strange contradiction in terms; they were looking for some form of democracy within their dictatorships. But they remain Communist countries. We have to recognise that that is the case and to realise that we have to live with them in this one world.
It is true, too, that in all those countries, including Russia, more people are being released from prison. We welcome that very much. If I may say so, it indicates that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was not wrong when he made it one of the main questions which he asked Mr. Khrushchev on his visit to this country. Indeed, I would say that it was a justification of what my right hon. Friend said on that occasion, and I know that he will be glad that a consequence of the change has been a good deal more 49 freedom for those people who have not seen eye to eye with their Governments.
I want to say something about Germany later in my speech, but before I pass from commenting on what the Prime Minister said, may I say how much I was obliged to him for making a little more clear what was in his mind about a collective pact for Europe? I assure him that, to me, this is quite a change from what I had previously understood, for the reasons which I indicated in my intervention. It may well be that we are a little closer together, as I hope to show as I develop views on Germany on behalf of my party.
In addition to the changes which the Prime Minister has mentioned, there are other changes, and one of them is, of course, that unless there is some control of nuclear tests we are in danger of destroying humanity without having a war at all. It is a very big chance. At the same time, unless we reach a settlement of our international problems, we are in grave danger of using up all our resources, and financially crippling ourselves in building up these fantastic weapons of war which we hope, and, at the moment, believe, will never be used. Therefore, we want to get out of that position of either destroying ourselves accidently or using up too much of our resources on weapons which we are hoping, and which, at present, we believe, will not be used.
If the forces now engaged throughout the world in scientific research, if the highly-skilled engineering and the skill and the manpower that is involved in constructing weapons of war could be devoted to the elevation of mankind we should change the whole face of this world within a few decades. That really must be our prime objective, but the problem is: how do we bring it about?
First, I would say, Mr. Speaker, that we really cannot base a foreign policy on military groupings as an end in itself. They must surely be the means to the end, because world peace and the peaceful settlement of our international problems can never, in my view, be settled solely on the basis of military groupings on both sides but only by a world approach to all those problems.
That world approach, that instrument which we must use, is, of course, the United Nations. I remember that when I 50 was in my 'teens one of the things that made me so proud of being a member of the Labour Party was to sit in a hall and listen to the late Arthur Henderson developing the theme of collective security, in the days when he was trying to build up the League of Nations. I do not believe that that principle has weakened with the passing of the years, but that it is within collective security that our hopes must lie for the maintenance of the human race.
It seems to me, therefore, that we really must try to see whether we can have this world or United Nations approach to the settlement of our problems. I believe, also, that today, because of the change, we should switch the emphasis from the military to the economic aspect. That is vitally important. If we are to get the United Nations approach to world problems, it pre-supposes that the great Powers are in agreement. There cannot possibly be a United Nations settlement of any problem if, in point of fact, the great Powers do not agree.
Therefore, I am very glad indeed that the Prime Minister has accepted an invitation to go to Moscow next year. I believe that these private conversations, contacts, and the like, must inevitably be a good thing—they can settle the sort of problem that was troubling the Prime Minister and me. Many of the big problems which, at a distance, appear to be insoluble, begin to take on some shape in private conversations, and one sometimes gets agreement quite quickly. As I say, I am glad that the Prime Minister is to go to Moscow. Arising from that visit, I hope that it will be possible, when dealing with these bigger problems outside, to carry the Russians with us in the United Nations; to be ready to see their point of view—there may have been occasions when we have been wrong—and that we may be able to reach decent compromise between us.
If one reads again the terms of the Charter of the United Nations, there is no doubt that there is there set forth a whole series of principles which, of course, if every nation in the world lived up to, we should have peace. Is it a dream to suggest that we might try to live up to them? If it is a dream, what is the alternative? It seems to me that the alternative to not trying to carry out the Charter principles is a nightmare existence.
51 In a debate like this, the temptation is to go very wide. The Prime Minister wisely kept to one or two themes, but I must say something about the Far East and the Middle East, and I shall want, finally, to say something about Europe.
What would be the United Nations approach to the Far Eastern problem? I do not wish to deal with Korea except to say, in passing, that while there is no peace settlement at least there has been no fighting for some years. Nor do I wish to deal in detail with Indo-China, because at least there has been no fighting there since Geneva. I want, rather, to deal with the position of China, because China is obviously the key to the Far Eastern situation.
I must state quite clearly and categorically that we on this side believe most firmly that China should be admitted to the China seat in the United Nations. I know that the Government have said from time to time that they believe that to be the case. In fact, the Foreign Secretary, at Bridgwater in 1954, made a speech on this subject in which he showed that it was because he could not get the United States, for reasons which he indicated, to agree, that China had not been admitted.
All that I say to the Government about that is this. I feel that they have rather played down a bit the admittance of China—indeed, a bit too much—and that they might have taken the initiative, even at the risk of having the Americans vote against it or abstain. They might, at Geneva—and I hope that they will do so this autumn—have pressed really hard for the admittance of China to the seat in the United Nations. Failure to get China seated at the United Nations means that we cannot possibly ask her to observe the rules of the "international club" whilst we keep her outside. It is essential that that should be done, and with vigour; and that we use all our influence with the United States, and all our arguments, to show that it is in her interests, also, that China should be seated at the United Nations.
We have, of course, the problem there of Formosa and the off-shore islands. We do not depart from the view that was expressed by Lord Attlee, and to which we sometimes refer as the Attlee formula. What is the problem of Formosa? Two 52 countries have apprehensions about it. The Chinese are apprehensive that Formosa will be used as a spring-board for an attack upon her territory. That is a justifiable apprehension in view of speeches that are made by Chiang Kai-shek and others. Equally, the United States of America regard Formosa as one of the key points in her island chain of defences which, in the hands of an unfriendly nation, they might regard as being threatening to that defence.
Both nations have apprehensions. I admit, with the Prime Minister, that we never get all these problems solved at once, but have to go step by step in an endeavour finally to solve them. It would seem to me, therefore, that there could be no argument that the off-shore islands of Matsu and Quemoy should go to China. Further, the apprehensions of both Americans and Chinese could be put on one side if, under the auspices of the United Nations, Fomosa was neutralised, thus preventing it from being used as a springboard for attack upon the China mainland or, conversely, being used as any threat to the United States island defence chain.
Ultimately, it seems to me, the Formosans themselves should decide what they want to do with their own country, but I do regard that as something, again, that the Government will have to press, and constantly press, upon the United States. We all know their feelings about China. They think that if they agree to admit her to the United Nations, they are, in fact, approving of the Communist régime there. That, of course, is not true. After all, we accept Russia in the United Nations, and welcome her there, but it does not mean that we approve of the Communist philosophy. The United States, I say again, would lose nothing at all by agreeing to China taking the China seat at the United Nations.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
While I accept the whole of the case which my right hon. Friend has made up to now, will he bear in mind that the present Chinese Government do not want to be allowed to become members of the United Nations? What they want is to be allowed to take the seat which is legitimately theirs?
§ Mr. Robens
Yes. I am sorry if I did not make it clear, but I have tried 53 to say not that China should be admitted to the United Nations but that China should occupy the China seat.
Turning to the Middle East, the Government have from time to time said that the Bagdad Pact is the Government's policy, and I am bound to say that I cannot regard that as a very satisfactory way of looking at the Middle East. The Bagdad Pact is a collective security agreement. It ties up certain of our Allies in collective security, but it can never be regarded as the policy for the whole of the Middle East. The Tripartite Agreement which we signed with the French and with the Americans has, of course, been a most valuable instrument, in my view, for maintaining peace in that whole area-much more important than the Bagdad Pact. Indeed, I do not see that the Bagdad Pact has had any effect at all on the question of the problem which exists between the Arabs and the Jewish people.
The Tripartite Agreement has been most effective but, of course, it would be much more valuable if the great Powers as a whole were ready to give the same sort of guarantees as are given under the Tripartite Agreement—the great Powers as a whole. When it was suggested from this side of the House, some months ago, that Russia ought really to be consulted about the problem of the Middle East, we were told that it was not possible. I think that both the Foreign Secretary and, indeed, the Prime Minister did say that they had had some talks off the record, at Geneva and elsewhere, from which it was clear to them that nothing could be gained by talking to the Russians about coming in with us, the Americans and the French and trying to get a settlement in the Middle East. They have, in fact, been disproved.
The fact that it was referred to the United Nations did bring the Russians in, and quite rightly. It was a good thing that they were brought in. I believe, again looking at the Middle East—I am only repeating what we have said before from these benches—that the only real settlement which will be lasting and permanent is a United Nations settlement of the Middle East. I do not think that in this day and age we can go on thinking that the Middle East is a sort of British possession, the place where only our influence can be felt. We have to face up to the fact that if we want a real settlement 54 in the Middle East, then it must be through the United Nations and, to that extent, I am extremely glad that the Hammarskjold mission had been so successful.
At the same time all the Hammarskjold mission has done is to give us breathing space. It has not, at this stage—perhaps it was not so intended—settled all the outstanding problems that are there. The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a week or two ago, from the Dispatch Box, said that he thought that the balance of arms was in favour of the State of Israel. Today, his hon. Friend has had some questions and supplementary questions put to him on that matter. The right hon. and learned Gentleman invited me to table a Question in answer to which he said he would give reasons why he felt that the balance of arms was still in favour of the State of Israel, and I hope that tomorrow, when he opens the debate, the Foreign Secretary will very fully explain how he arrives at that particular judgment. I did not put the Question down because of this debate, and because I felt that in the course of five or ten minutes he could deal with it much more effectively than by supplementary questions.
We can only get information, in the main, from the newspaper correspondents; but when we look at the arms deliveries which have come to light over the last few months the list certainly does not add up to the State of Israel having the balance of arms in its favour. We are told, for example, that Egypt has about 150 Sherman tanks and about 200 Valentine tanks and that they received from us 40 Centurions, this tank being the latest and heaviest type that we have in the West. It is true that Israel has Sherman tanks, but she has no Centurions and I cannot conceive that anyone would believe for a moment that the Sherman was a real opponent for the Centurion.
There was the arms deal with Czechoslovakia. What happened there? Again, from reports, it looks as if Egypt has received 100 heavy Stalin-3 tanks, 200 Czechoslovak T-34 tanks, which, I understand, are lighter than the Stalin-3 or the Centurions. All the Israelis have had since then are, it seems, some rather lighter tanks from France, but no heavy tanks comparable to the Centurion or Stalin-3.
55 In the air, the situation looks even worse. The Czechoslovak-Egyptian arms deal provides for 200 jet fighter planes of the MiG type and 60 Ilyushin heavy bombers. So far as we know, the Israelis have nothing whatever to defend themselves with against the MiG except a small number of French fighters which they have received recently, and they certainly have nothing with which to attack the Ilyushin bombers. In addition, there were two destroyers which we supplied to Egypt—and we also supplied two to Israel—but recently Egypt has also received two destroyers of Russian make that come from Eastern Europe.
On top of that, there are the rumours of the Syrian arms deal. I do not know the truth of the Syrian arms deal at all. I asked the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia whether there had been delivery of arms to Syria. My understanding was that there had not, but that conversations were taking place. We had a conversation about that matter with which I will not weary the House. At the same time, there are reports that, whether arms have been delivered or not, the arms deal was settled on the basis of supply to Syria of heavy tanks, MiG fighters, artillery, armoured vehicles, and the like.
We broadly know what the Israelis have. If we were to balance all these arms with what we know the Israelis have, it would seem to us, even if one took into consideration perhaps the better training of the Israelis, that the balance of arms must have shifted, and we cannot understand how it is that the Foreign Secretary, only two weeks ago, could have stood at that Box and said, despite all that, that the balance of arms was in favour of Israel. Therefore, I hope that the Foreign Secretary will take the opportunity of explaining this in much greater detail to us tomorrow.
Whatever the balance of arms may be now, what is the final settlement? Here, I should say that our view is quite clear. When the balance of arms is fair, we take the view that, through the United Nations and through the concert of big Powers, there should be a total embargo on all arms to the Middle East. It seems inconceivable that we should just go on even balancing arms more and more. It does not seem to me a sound sort of way of maintaining peace by merely having both groups with more, and better, and 56 more dangerous arms. Therefore, there ought to be an arms embargo on the whole of the Middle East.
Once we have that balance and if it is done through the powers of the Security Council—and this is an additional argument for getting China into the United Nations to occupy the China seat—and we had such an embargo under proper control, we could be virtually sure that we were not building up vast arsenals in that very explosive area of the world. This still leaves the outstanding political problem of boundaries, refugees and economic aid. It is a great mistake—and the Government have been toying with this, and doing something about it—to channel economic aid through military pacts and alliances. We should aim at channelling economic aid through an international agency, the United Nations.
Here, in the Middle East, is a wonderful area in which to do this work. The sort of proposal we ought to make, as a help towards a settlement, is that we would look at the Middle East as a whole and produce internationally, through the United Nations, an economic plan for developing the Middle East as a whole, not merely because the countries in it happen to be members of the Bagdad Pact or something else.
That is of vital importance. We should think of the Middle East as we thought of the Colombo Plan. There are some Arab nations which are very rich and which will be very much more rich in the years ahead, because of their oil royalties. There is no reason why all Arab countries and Israel should not be in one economic plan, those who can make a contribution because of their fortunate oil situation making their contribution to the common good within the Middle East.
§ Major Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
I have listened with great interest to what the right hon. Gentleman has said. When he speaks of an arms embargo on all countries in the Middle East, does he mean an arms blockade?
§ Mr. Robens
I mean an arms embargo. I mean the Powers supplying no arms to anyone in the Middle East. [HON. MEMBERS: "How?"] This is where hon. Gentlemen make a great mistake; they cease to be politicians and they become detailed administrators. The 57 politicians' task is to lay down the broad policy. It is for the administrators and technical people to work out the problems. What I mean by an arms embargo is that quite solemnly the great Powers say, as an instruction to their administrators, that no arms are to go to the Middle East; and they then work out the details of embargo and control. If the great Powers agree among themselves not to supply arms, they can prevent anybody else from supplying them if they so desire.
There are many hon. Gentlemen who prefer to look at the size of the problem which such proposals bring and, as a result, throw the proposals on one side. We do not take that view. We say that, however difficult the problems may be to solve, it is our duty, as politicians, to try and solve them and show the way. If there was a genuine desire and agreement not to supply arms to the Middle East, it could be done, and done without any difficulty whatsoever.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The suggestion that the right hon. Gentleman has made is a very important one, and I want to know exactly where he stands. Supposing it were agreed, through the United Nations, that there should be an arms embargo, what is to happen if it is broken? Is he recommending that the sanction should be another Korea?
§ Mr. Robens
The hon. and gallant Gentleman falls into the same error. One could stand at this Dispatch Box and answer a thousand hypothetical questions. The real question is this. Is the desire to do this there? Is it possible to get the great Powers to do it? If the Powers say that it is, then it can be done. If somebody breaks it down, then we will deal with that as it arises.
The Prime Minister has said from time to time, in relation to Cyprus, that one of the great necessities for maintaining the position there was the need to deal with our commitments in the Middle East. If a proposal of this kind were accepted, it would relieve considerably the Government's problem in relation to Cyprus. If I might say so, we must do a great deal of new thinking about all these Imperial fortresses which have been part of our strategic defences. Malta, Cyprus, Aden, Ceylon and Singapore are examples of the places where we 58 have a strategic interest which is conflicting with the legitimate rights and interests of the citizens within those places. In this, the second half of the twentieth century, one cannot deal with those problems as though this were the second half of the last century. We must recognise that the wave of nationalism, better education, and so on, means that people want to run their own show. If we are friends with them, they will want to help us to run the show together.
It seems to us that we ought to have a new look at the Imperial fortresses, first, from the military angle, to consider whether, having regard to new weapons, it is really necessary to have all these fortresses; and secondly, as regards the fortresses which are essential for defence in relation to United Nations guarantees and international commitments freely arrived at, to consider whether these bases can be of any use if they are within a hostile population, or whether we ought to have our bases, obtained by treaty rights, among friendly peoples.
I urge the Government to give some consideration to the whole question of our Imperial fortresses. Otherwise, we shall have repeated time and again the sad story of Cyprus, which has not been finished yet. [Laughter.] Some hon. Gentlemen opposite seem to think that that is funny. It is not funny to have constituents shot in the back. I hope hon. Gentlemen do not really think this is funny, because to have a base which requires 20,000 soldiers to keep down 400 terrorists, and from that same base to think of defending the Middle East, is to place a burden upon one's shoulders which one will find oneself unable to bear.
We are indebted to the Prime Minister for saying so much about Europe and Germany. I myself have probably spent too much time on the German problem, but I really feel that this is the key to relations between Russia and ourselves. Solve this problem, and I am sure that that will help in the problems we face in other parts of the world.
I should like to say something now on this matter not purely on my own behalf, but on behalf of the party for which I speak. In West Germany, the Russians are waging psychological warfare on a scale which it is dangerous to underrate. Their aim today is, as it always 59 was, to convince the Germans that they can achieve unification only by breaking entirely with the West. In the short run, I do not myself fear the effects of those tactics; there are too many Germans now living in Western Germany who know from experience what Communist occupation means for me to take very seriously the threat which Mr. Khrushchev made when he said that, if we went on arming, he would successfully stage another "Hitler-Stalin pact."
The Western democracies have, over the years, stored up for themselves a genuine fund of good will in the Federal Republic, but I warn the Prime Minister that that fund of good will is not inexhaustible; and unfortunately, German memories have proved to be short. I am not suggesting that we should make a sudden and complete change in our German policy. I do not, for example, agree with those, whose views I respect, who propose that we can solve all our differences with the Russians by disbanding N.A.T.O and joining with the Kremlin in imposing neutrality on a united Germany. Such a policy, in my view, even if it were practicable, would not promote peaceful coexistence, but would, on the contrary, disrupt the unity of the West and so destroy the balance upon which any real peaceful coexistence depends.
What I do say is that, confronted with this dynamic Russia policy, we on our side cannot afford merely to maintain our cold war posture and behave as if the nuclear stalemate, the death of Stalin, and the other changes in the world situation had made no difference. If that is our attitude, the Russian psychological warfare in Western Germany may soon begin to achieve solid successes.
I suggest that what is now required are discussions between ourselves, the Americans, the French and the West Germans to try to work out a new Western approach to the German problem. While it would be unwise, and indeed difficult, to make any precise suggestions at this stage as to what the outcome of such talks could be, I believe that German reunification is only likely to be achieved in association with two other developments.
The first of those is the operation of international agreement and controlled 60 disarmament, which would cover Germany as well as other Powers and which, if we made a real effort, seems to be far more within our grasp now than it was a year or two ago. The second development is the conclusion of an all-inclusive European security pact on the lines of the Geneva Protocol of 1924, through which the United States of America, Russia, ourselves and both the Western and Eastern States of Europe guarantee one another against any possibility of German aggression, while, at the same time, Germany, in turn, undertakes to act against aggression by any other Power. I believe that a new initiative on those lines is required and that the Government ought to take immediate steps, with our Allies, to discuss proposals of this kind. Certainly, it is the case that the longer the reunification of Germany is put off, the more difficult it will be to achieve.
Europe needs help from Britain. At present, the European nations are going on their own through the Six in connection with the common market, coal and steel and other things. We have here a tremendous opportunity for some unification of European countries. I would say there was no greater achievement if it could be got than that we should have some form of European organisation for the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The French Assembly was discussing this the other day and the French Prime Minister's speech made it quite clear that they were not tied entirely to Euratom, but were prepared to consider with others any method by which there could be this general European approach to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. I hope that the Government will take up what was said in the French Assembly on 12th July on this question and see whether it is possible to achieve a common European organisation that can turn our scientific genius into a help for Europe and humanity as a whole.
I believe, as I said earlier, that the whole emphasis should be changed from the military aspect to the economic aspect. Britain's place in the world is not that of the giant power. The U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. hold that position. This country has a tremendous moral effect and influence in the world which we should not lose, and if Britain is to succeed in using her moral influence she 61 will have to be economically prosperous and powerful.
It would be very much better if we could get agreement by which we were able to secure substantial reductions in our armament programme and devote them to capital investment, both at home and abroad, and make our greater contribution through the United Nations to economic development in the underdeveloped areas of the world.
The Government should no longer wait for the conclusion of satisfactory disarmament agreements before they agree to do something about S.U.N.F.E.D. Let us make a start with this United Nations Fund for Economic Development now. Do not let us wait until we have begun to save some money. Countries are crying out for this help, and we ought to start. I beg the Government to think again about S.U.N.F.E.D. and not to remain outside until they have settled the political problems of the world.
We must make a start now, because we have got to match the new ideas of Mr. Khrushchev and the rapid industrialisation of States under Russian control, which has brought a good deal of human misery. We have got to match those ideas by helping countries towards industrialisation and the freedom and liberty of their people and human understanding. This cannot be done unless we ourselves are in a position financially to build up our economy, enabling us to do it as a result of our own endeavours and our own work.
We cannot accept under any circumstances the Communist philosophy. We believe in human freedom. At the same time, we have to live together in this one world and we shall be able to compete materially and spiritually with the Communist philosophy. We want to make our contribution to world prosperity with human freedom, and what we have to do is to prove, particularly to the uncommitted nations of the world, which embrace so many hundreds of millions of people, that our way of life is a good way of life, that we can build up human prosperity, that we can build up the standards of living of people and that we can do it with human liberty and personal freedom.
It seems to me that if we are prepared to approach these world problems from a 62 world basis, using world authority and the United Nations as the instrument, we can make such a contribution that when the balance sheet is reckoned up people will freely choose our way of life because we shall have proved it to be the best.
§ 4.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
I have no solutions to offer for any problem and, indeed, I have hardly any connected argument to offer, so I hope that I shall be short in the comments that I wish to make on the two speeches which have preceded mine.
The main argument, as I understood it, of the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens)—if I might have his attention—
§ Mr. Pickthorn
It is polite for speakers to follow other speeches if asked to do so. I understood the right hon. Gentleman's main arguments to be, first, for much more in the way of United Nations management of great affairs; secondly, for much more in the way of economic assistance to what are called the underdeveloped nations; and thirdly, that our first strategic consideration should be the preservation of our domestic prosperity, on the paradoxical argument that without that we should not be able to maintain our strategic power. I believe the third argument to be so paradoxical that really it is plainly mistaken. I believe the argument about getting either gratitude or peace in various territories in the world by doing economic and material good there is a mistake also.
I do not for a moment suggest that we ought not to do what we can in our interests and in the interests of distant populations so to behave that their prosperity shall advance along with ours. But, in fact, we have so behaved during the last 200 years that prosperity has advanced immensely, and what only 100 or 200 years ago would have been thought to be incredibly advanced in those portions of the globe where we had very much influence either by exercising administrative power or by commercial activities. Nobody thinks that what we have done in those parts has now assured us of their gratitude or assured the world 63 of peace in those parts, and I do not believe that any reasonable man would dare to assume, whatever may be going to happen with atomic science and electronics and all the rest of it, that anything we can now do is going to do more for material advance overseas than what we have done during the last 200 years. So I hope that we shall not too easily believe that argument.
I thought the right hon. Gentleman really gave away one of the fatal habits of mind of most of his friends when he told us on this side that we made the mistake of mixing up the duties of politicians and administrators. Apparently, all the politician needs to do is to express in familiar language something which he feels fairly sure everybody will cheer as desirable, and then he may leave it to the administrators to see that the thing happens. Really, I do not believe that that is at all the way that the thing can be done.
Nor do I think it is really very helpful to suggest that British authority should be used to compel the various Arab States to pool their financial resources. Perhaps that would be a very good thing, but I do not think we should very easily get more co-operation and peace in Europe by arranging that the influence of Argentina and Bolivia should be powerful enough to compel us to pool our financial resources and our raw materials. I do not think that the thing would happen that way.
Nor do I think it really fair, this continuous argument from almost everybody on the other side about the importance of defending the Zionist State, the assumption that the first, if not almost the sole, motive of British policy ought to be to make sure that it is defended. I do not think that that really is in the interest of anyone; certainly not of the Jews all over the world, nor, in the long run, in the interests of the Zionist State. I do not think that all the facts as they are at present justify the assumptions continually made upon the other side that the Zionist State has relatively lost power of defence recently.Time"—said Mr. Ben Gurion in the middle of June—is supposed to be on our enemies' side, but in this last eight years we have doubled our 64 material strength and we have much more than doubled our moral strength, which is the most important strength of all. With all their Mig 15s, I do not think Arab strength has doubled.He ought to know about that, and we, when it is continuously argued that we should provide more arms on Israel's side, ought to believe it possible that that may be mistaken.
I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman adopt the argument that the main line for defending our attitude in Cyprus is the necessity for remaining in the Middle East, but I thought he treated it with less than logic when he went on to argue that really we ought to get out of the Middle East, and that there should be an embargo on arms to the Middle East and that everybody would be on the embargo, Russia as well as the United States. Is it really believed that we shall get Russia to agree to an arrangement whereby there is no force in or near the Middle East except the British force in Cyprus? I think that that really is a quite useless line of approach to the difficulty of defending the Middle East.
Now I want to turn to what is the far more important speech—if it is not unkind to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth of me to say so—of the Prime Minister. [Laughter.] Obviously it is. I am not suggesting for a moment that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth is less important than anyone on earth; only that speeches made by a Prime Minister are necessarily more important than speeches of those not in office.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
Much the least important, I quite agree.
I thought great encouragement could be taken from the Prime Minister's rejection—so to speak, in advance—of the argument that the way for us to be strategically stronger is for us most of all to care about our internal wealth and comfort. There has been so much talk in the newspapers of all colours as if that were the obvious next line to take, that I am extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend for having made it quite clear that that is not the view he takes.
I am a little afraid that I must have said before what I am about to say, and 65 that is very hard on the right hon. Gentleman opposite who so much dislikes hearing me. It is that I do not know anything about the next war.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I know something about the last one, and something about the one before that, and indirectly some others, which is more than can be said for everyone.
The right hon. Gentleman advised us not to think that we can solve the problem in the terms of the mid-nineteenth century, and of course we cannot, but neither can we solve the problem in the terms of the mid-twenty-first century. We have to do the best we can with the light which comes in now, and some of it started coming in a long time ago; that is true historically as well as astronomically. I do not know a great deal about the next war, but I know one or two things. One is that the next war is never very much like the last war, and another is that it is never at all like what the most loquacious experts told us it was going to be like. Of those two things, I think, one can be reasonably certain.
I find, in my experience of those two facts, some reason for thinking my right hon. Friend on this matter a little optimistic. I want to ask one question, which is quite new—perhaps this is light from the twenty-first century—so new that hon. Gentlemen may think it quite childish and imbecile, and, perhaps, it is. I am not sure. It is this. Can anybody yet guess whether there is any possibility within a generation or two of atomic explosives being at the disposal of others than Governments?
A great political truth in the world's history which is generally forgotten is that when the sword—we still speak of "the sword" as if the sword were the weapon—when the sword ceased to be the weapon all the politics of the world were altered. In the old days any man with a long knife in his hand was about as well armed as any other man, and all the politics of the world were altered when that ceased to be true—not many generations ago. How certain can we be that atomic weapons will not be procurable by those who control great industrial power, without necessarily the consent, and, it may even be, without the knowledge, of Governments? How sure can 66 we be of that? Unless the answer to that is not only negative, but positively and certainly and convincingly negative, a great deal about the talk of the pacific effect of atomic developments becomes, to put it at the least, unreliable. I offer that suggestion to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen.
I suggest with the utmost diffidence to my right hon. Friend that it is possible to believe that he is being a little optimistic about the changes that have happened and are likely to happen in Russia. I well understand that upon such a matter he must be immensely better informed than I am, and that if he and I are inclined to disagree about it any sensible man would opt for his view and not for mine. I have done the best I can by reading the newspapers, Mr. Khrushchev's speech, German, Swiss, French and other newspapers, and so on, to see what is happening, and it seems to me that there is great risk of over-optimism in this matter.
My right hon. Friend spoke of the need for patience in diplomacy, and with that we all agree, especially of patience so that we may help to get more confidence from Russia, and then as a byproduct of that confidence to get agreement on a German election. I think that I am representing my right hon. Friend fairly. I find it impossible to believe, on the impression that I have got of what has happened and is happening in Russia, that that will happen. I find it impossible to believe that Russia would ever do anything that got her out of Eastern Germany or, for that matter the Baltic States, because she had come to trust us. Because she trusts her preponderance as compared with us sufficiently to think that whatever happens she can go back if she chooses—yes; but I find it difficult to believe that the Khrushchev Government or any other Government in Russia will think, "The British are not so bad, they will not attack us suddenly when they are not expected, and therefore, we can now afford to allow elections in Germany."
I should like to ask a question, if I may, of my right hon. Friend about the limitation of tests of hydrogen bombs, and so on. I quite understand that nothing very exact can possibly be said by him or anyone else at this stage, but if it is at all possible—and if it is at all 67 possible I hope that it will be possible today—I would ask my right hon. Friend to indicate what is meant by talking of being reasonably fair to all concerned. What is reasonably fair to us who are on the verge of having atomic weapons, to the two Powers who have them and to all the people who have not got them, when there is public, generalised, universal limitation of these tests? I have no idea at all, I say, not meaning to be derisive, but I shall be glad if anybody has any idea of the kind of principle by which we might get at something which might be, and might be thought to be, reasonably fair. It would very much help if we had some indication of these principles as they are conceived.
Lastly, I return to something which I have said once already, to assert it once more. It is that I understand, for what that is worth, and I am sure that the House of Commons and the country are extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend for having made it quite plain in his speech, that he does not believe, that he is not even tempted by the argument, that to protect our people against foreigners is too expensive and therefore we must do something else.
Everybody knows that we can starve ourselves to death or break our backs by overloading ourselves with arms, and we can make it easier to use our money for other purposes by not having any arms. The second may be pleasant for the short run. The first may contain some grains of heroism. What politicians have to do is to find some line somewhere in between; I do not prescribe where: but anyone who looks at this country, at its resources or its habits of consumption compared with any other country in the world, with one possible exception, anyone who is conscious and especially those who are regretful of the fact that the power of this country, taken all over the world, is very much less than it has been—anyone with those things in mind must believe that at this moment for a British Government to do less than they can, or to ask for less sacrifices than they could reasonably ask for, for the defence of their own people, to do that at this moment would be to pile on imbecility of intention the most ignoble unworthiness to succeed, the most ignoble defeatism.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I will confine my remarks exclusively to the Middle East. We are dealing with a very wide subject today and we have to some extent to limit ourselves to certain parts of the vast sphere of foreign affairs. I notice that The Times today, in a rather unusually acid leader, said that the Government was composed of men… slow to make up their mind and quick to change it.It seems to me that that is particularly true in the Middle East. We have suffered for some time from a policy which is trying to make friends with everybody without being clear who our friends are.
I suggest that we have two friends in the Middle East. The first is quite obviously Israel, for three reasons. She is our friend, first, because we have played a large part in the creation of the State of Israel; and, secondly, because she is a democracy and democracies are exceedingly rare flowers in the Middle East. Thirdly, she is our friend because she happens to like us. Those seem to me to be good reasons for saying that Israel is a friend.
If she is a friend, what shall we do to help her? My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) referred to the arms embargo and to the need to see that Israel had a fair share of the arms. He said all that it is necessary to say. All of us on this side of the House would support him in the line he took as to the need for Israel to have the weapons she needs, which are obviously entirely defensive, such as antiaircraft weapons.
I want to deal in particular with another manner in which Israel has been attacked by the Arab States—the economic boycott. In September, 1952, the Arab League made certain regulations which stated that foreign firms are liable to be boycotted if they own an assembly plant in Israel, if they maintain a general agency in Israel, if they concede to Israeli firms the right to use their name, or if they invest in an Israeli firm. That has never before been said to a British firm, and I do not think that any other country has issued an ultimatum of that kind to the firms of another country.
A firm in England may receive, and firms very often do receive, a telephone 69 message saying, "Will you give us the name of your agent in Israel?" The firm naturally gives it and it then receives the reply, "We are the so-and-so Embassy" —naming an Arab Embassy— "We have noted that you have an agency in Israel, and we will act accordingly." Is that the kind of thing the existence of which the Government think is desirable? It is having an effect on our trade in different directions. To take an example from the sale of cigarettes, the powerful British firm, the British-American Tobacco Company, which might provide a useful export trade today to counterbalance our enormous import of tobacco, was constrained to refuse to supply cigarettes for export to Israel. Apparently this refusal is to continue indefinitely, until such time as the Arab countries give permission for cigarettes to be exported to Israel.
It is not only a matter of private traders. B.O.A.C. is today being faced with this economic blockade. It previously flew planes through the airport of Lydda. Now it has stopped flying planes there and has said, apparently, that for economic reasons they do not wish to have a service operating through Lydda and Tel-Aviv. Yet strangely enough, they have increased the service to Beirut, which is only a comparatively few miles away. Other countries have not been so frightened. The Belgians, the Swiss and the Americans all send planes to Tel-Aviv, disregarding the warning given them by the Arab countries.
Why is it that Britain alone is afraid of the warning? Why is it that Britain alone is cutting her trade with Israel while other countries are not being intimidated, in particular Germany? Germany has said plainly that she refuses to be intimidated by those methods, and that she will continue to trade with Israel just as much as she wishes.
We have done something, however, in the face of this threat. On 28th February last Lord Reading said in another place that Her Majesty's Government had "protested". When asked whether the Government would appeal to U.N.O., he said that he would continue to bear it in mind. It is good to know that the noble Marquis will bear these things in mind. I hope that will impress the Israeli Government. I hope it will impress the British firms which are suffering as a result of that action. I hope that the 70 noble Marquis will live for many years but, when the time comes for him to go across to the other side, if he should at any time meet Lord Palmerston, there might be an interesting conversation between the two noble Lords.
I should like to see us take a stronger line with the Egyptian delegation now in this country. Can we not tell them that, if they continue to intimidate British firms, we will refuse to buy, for instance, Egyptian onions or dates? There are many things we could refuse to buy, and that would warn the Arab peoples that we do not stand for intimidation.
§ Mr. Dugdale
Oil is another question. We might buy more oil from other places if we could, but the most useful and sensible thing to do would be to refuse to buy the things which are least necessary to us.
I said that we could have two friends. It is often the case that one's friends do not like each other. The second friend I suggest we could have in the Middle East certainly does not like Israel. I am referring to Iraq. If, however, we are to have a friend in the Arab countries, let us make up our minds that it is Iraq and not have a side bet on Egypt.
I know that there have been great developments in strengthening our relations with Iraq, but all the time that country must feel that we have not finally made up our minds that she is our friend and that we want to help Colonel Nasser to build himself up as a rival force in the Arab world against Iraq. Until we make it quite clear that it is Iraq and not Egypt which we support among the Arab countries, we cannot have a firm and definite foreign policy in the Middle East.
The Government were right in their Bagdad Pact. They were right in that conception, but they were painfully wrong in their method of execution. I cannot imagine anything more stupid than to send to negotiate this pact with Jordan a general who made his name in putting down a colonial revolt. The Government seem to find it impossible to discover any of their own number to send out on these negotiations, and they continue to rely in Jordan, as in Cyprus, on one general after another carrying out their policy. We think that generals are not the best people 71 to carry out these policies, and that this work should be done by the politicians responsible, or at least by ordinary civil servants.
I welcome the change of front which has taken place in the last few days. It is a good thing that the Government have decided not to pour out millions on the Aswan Dam project. However, it would have been better if we had been the first to suggest that, or if not the first, that at least the statement had coincided with the American statement rather than that it should have followed twenty-four hours afterwards, making it appear as if we had not intended to make that decision but had been forced into it by the Americans. The Americans may well have done this for the wrong reason and at the wrong time but I am glad that it has been done, because there are many better ways of spending our slender financial resources than by giving them to Egypt. T hope that this is one aspect of Government policy which will be adhered to, and that the Government will not reverse it and decide that, after all, some money will be given for the project.
As a result of this decision, coupled with various other factors, we may find that the balance of power in the Middle East is gradually shifting from Colonel Nasser and from Egypt. After all, Egypt is fundamentally a much poorer and weaker country than Iraq. If the balance of power shifts to Iraq, we shall find that instead of having, in Egypt, a friend which spends its time blackguarding us day after day, we shall have, in Iraq, a friend who really is a friend. Although as I have said, Iraq and Israel do not see eye to eye, we shall be able to build upon them a basis of friendship which up to date has been sadly lacking in the Middle East.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
If I followed the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) in all he said, I fear that I should come under the censure of the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) for having dealt with detail, rather as an administrator, instead of, as a politician, with broad principles of policy. However, I should like to express my agreement with the right hon. Gentleman that this country is right to pursue a firm policy in its dealings with 72 the revolutionary junta in Cairo and I add my congratulations to Her Majesty's Government for the decision which they have taken over the Aswan Dam project.
I shall address myself to questions of European policy, to which the right hon. Member for Blyth referred in the latter part of his speech. As he said, this country possessed great moral influence, and I agree with him that moral influence should be based on economic power. I also agree with the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members that of late the power of this country in many theatres of the world has declined, but Europe, I believe, remains a theatre in which the power and influence of Britain can still be, and should be, decisive.
There are two likely leaders of Europe, and one of them is Germany. Europeans whom Britain inspired during the war looked to London when the war was over for leadership, for leadership in withstanding with American help the further advance of Russia, leadership in staving off economic collapse and in regaining economic independence. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite were then in power. They deserve credit for the prominent part which their Administration played in the various inter-governmental organs of European recovery and Western defence. It was in their day that the countries of O.E.E.C. became linked through London to the sterling area. We owe to their Administration the European Payments Union. We owe to them the Brussels Treaty upon which the Prime Minister was able to build the edifice of Western European Union when E.D.C. collapsed. Western European Union is something which I hope will be more greatly used in the future and perhaps, in due time, extended to other members of the Council of Europe as well.
After the signing of the Brussels Treaty, Mr. Bevin made a speech in this House in which he spoke not only of metropolitan Europe but of the Europe beyond the seas, that Europe beyond the seas without which metropolitan Europe cannot prosper. Mr. Bevin made it perfectly clear in that speech that he knew and believed that the solvency and integrity of Europe was an interest not only of the United Kingdom but of the whole Commonwealth as well. Mr. Bevin referred in particular to Africa, Africa which gives depth to our defence and 73 strength to our economy, so that to Europe the Mediterranean is an inland sea.
Mr. Bevin said this:If Western Europe is to achieve its balance of payments and to get a world equilibrum, it is essential that those resources "—those of the overseas territoriesshould be developed "—in many ways.We intend to develop the economic cooperation between Western European countries step by step, to develop the resources of the territories with which we are associated, to build (hem up a system of priorities which will produce the quickest, most effective and most lasting results for the whole world. We hope that other countries with dependent territories will do the same in association with us. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd January, 1948; Vol. 446, c. 398–9.]That was a fine plan, but it remained a plan. In the day of that Labour Administration, Great Britain, which would have marked out the course for Europe to follow towards unity, surrendered her moral leadership to continental politicians in France and elsewhere, who proceeded to make their plans in rigid federal terms. I am afraid that right hon. Gentlemen opposite at that time were the captives of ideology and insularity. I am not going to suggest that insularity has been confined to that side of the House. It was, I believe, in the time of a Conservative Administration that the Post Office used to stamp upon letters the reminder that postage to Europe is 4d., thus assuming that Great Britain is not a part of Europe. However, the tendency began in the Labour Governments after the war always to damn the aspirations of continental Europe with faint praise.
The Labour Party was perfectly right to make clear that Great Britain could not join a European federation because of her first duty to the Commonwealth. On this there is no difference between us. Britain is the centre of a society of sovereignties which have forsworn for themselves any idea of a federal super Government. We cannot enter into a closer relationship with the continent than with our Commonwealth partners, because our partnership is in not one continent but all the continents.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) told the American Congress in January, 1952: 74The British Commonwealth of Nations, spread all over the world, is not prepared to become a group of States in any continental federal system on either side of the Atlantic.I believe that Europe resembles the Commonwealth in that it also is a society of nations. I notice that The Times, in its very interesting leading article today, suggests that:… the old dreams of early federation …have faded, and that:… the greatest barrier to Britain's participation in plans for closer economic and fiscal partnership …in Europe have thus faded. The article puts this question:How far are the Government ready to go?I am not so sure that all those old dreams have faded. I think that they remain in the minds of some of the continental statesmen who have been making their proposals for a European common market and for Euratom. I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) who has placed upon the Order Paper an Amendment to a Motion in which he draws upon the wisdom and prescience of Disraeli to point out that there is a federal aspect of this present plan for a common market upon which the Government and the House are called upon to make up their minds.
§ [That this House regrets the repeated attempts made since 1940 to federate Europe by economic means, and so to tie the United Kingdom to a system as alien as it would be dangerous to the individual traditions of the States concerned; and calls to mind the words of Benjamin Disraeli, to the effect that it was very desirable that the people of England should arrive at some conclusions as to the conditions on which the government of Europe could be carried on: that they would, perhaps, after due reflection, discover that ancient communities like the European must be governed either by traditionary influences or by military force; that those who, in the ardour of renovation, imagined that there was a third mode and that our societies could be reconstituted on the great transatlantic model, would find that when they had destroyed the traditionary influences there would be peculiar features in their body politic which did not obtain in the social standard which they imitated, and that these might be described as elements of 75 disturbance; that, in this state of affairs, after a due course of paroxysms, for the sake of maintaining order and securing the rights of industry, the State quitted the Senate and took refuge in the camp.]
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rippon (Norwich, South)
Is my hon. Friend aware that my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) distorts Disraeli in his Amendment in so far as Disraeli, in the passage quoted, meant to refer only to British intervention in the internal affairs of other countries, and that in fact Disraeli, as much as anyone else, believed that Britain should play a part in European affairs?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not propose to enter into that discussion, but if it is of any comfort to my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Rippon), I have another quotation from Disraeli which I propose to use before I sit down.
The foreign policy of the United States, is, I suppose, in a state of hibernation, but I believe that it remains one of the settled principles of American foreign policy to further by many means the formation of a European federation as an element in a future Atlantic Empire or union. I think that it is a tendency of the United States, and, indeed, of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, to imagine that their type of constitutional arrangements have universal applicability. I sometimes wonder also—I hope I am not being unduly suspicious—whether there is not a school of thought in the State Department or elsewhere which has learned a great deal from the European policies of past British Governments and with the aim of making Europe more manageable has recommended a form of union which would inevitably exclude Great Britain from membership even though that form of union might in time become a new German Empire and further divide Europe in the name of European unity.
As recently as 25th May this year President Eisenhower spoke of the "United States of Europe". He spoke of the great prospect of "250 million highly civilised people" as… a mighty pillar of free strength in the modern world".He spoke also of… the great pride of each nation in separate existence76 as an obstacle to European union on the trans-Atlantic model. I think that the great pride of each European nation in its separate existence is indeed an obstacle to federal union in Europe, but it can be a source of strength to union of another kind.
It is true that nationalism has revived, but nationalism is not always a destructive force. The whole sad story of E.D.C. is evidence of that. The President went on to say:We of course appreciate the weight of such considerations and are therefore fortunate even though the history of this the largest of our States"—he was speaking at Baylor University in Texas—refutes the fears that seem to loom so large in Europe.I do not think that the status of Texas is one which commends itself to either Germany or France.
On the other hand, there is a laudable determination on the Continent of Europe to form an independent system and an economic area which can stand erect. I was recently at a conference in Brussels of the European League for Economic Co-operation. Members from both sides of the House were present. We were addressed by the Belgian Minister of Economic Affairs, who said that the British would be sorry if the common market failed and would be very embarrassed if it succeeded.
I hope that Britain will be neither sorry nor embarrassed. It is quite true that the common market could lead to German predominance. It could lead to the exclusion of British exports from important Continental markets. It could produce very formidable competition in overseas markets, but it would be wrong for us to be destructive. It is for us to propose the sort of conditions under which we could associate ourselves with so constructive and imaginative a proposal. Those of us who were at Brussels found that many of the Continental statesmen who are behind this plan are anxious—and we should be anxious—to reconcile the desire and the need for closer economic unity with Imperial Preference and Great Britain's Commonwealth position.
Proposals were worked out in the Council of Europe several years ago 77 under which that reconciliation could have taken place. It is true that the proposals of the Strasbourg Plan, involving a system of secondary preferences, called in question the whole most-favoured-nation principle contained in G.A.T.T. and other agreements, but the time has come when people of all sorts are willing to reconsider those agreements.
I understand that the Board of Trade was in some difficulty at a recent meeting of O.E.E.C. because it saw the disadvantage of lowering tariffs within a European group when the unconditional mostfavoured-nation principle, upon which our international trading policy is supposed to be based, means that a concession made within the group, must also be extended to outside countries.
I think that those Continental politicians whom we met in Brussels were anxious that the common market should be made flexible enough to receive countries other than the six founder members. I am sure that the common market must be viewed in the wider framework of our European policy. We must have regard to the problem of German reunification. We must not forget the imprisoned peoples of the Warsaw Pact. Remembering what happened at Poznan, we must not lose sight of the aim of re-establishing the frontiers of Western Christendom. But when the knout of Soviet control is lifted from the backs of the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe we need not suppose that they will rush to embrace Western liberal principles of free trade and free enterprise.
Some may wish to retain special economic relations with the rouble area. After all, Canada has special relations with the dollar area while being a member of the Ottawa system of Commonwealth preference. The controlled economies of the East attach particular importance to an almost meticulous balance of payments and for that reason a common market, or system of preferential arrangements, rather than a customs union, or common market of too hard and fast a kind, is more likely to attract those countries of Central and Eastern Europe to our European system.
Before I sit down I must disburden myself of another quotation from Disraeli. This is from the speech which he made at the Guildhall in 1879. It is the speech in which he inscribed upon the 78 banners of the Tory Party the motto of Imperium et Libertas. It is just as well for me to say that in order that, in expressing my devotion to the cause of European unity, I should not be accused of luke-warmness towards the Empire and the Commonwealth. He said:If there be a country, for example, one of the most extensive and wealthiest empires in the world—if that country, from a perverse interpretation of its insular geographical position, turns an indifferent ear to the feelings and the fortunes of Continental Europe, such a course would, I believe, only end in its becoming an object of general plunder.Lord Beaconsfield went on to say:So long as the power and advice of England are felt in the councils of Europe, peace, I believe, will be maintained, and maintained for a long period.
§ Mr. Rippon
Before my hon. Friend sits down, will he bear in mind, when discussing Disraeli's view, what he said to the effect that:… I am far from wishing to enforce a pedantic adherence to that passive policy which, in the barbarous dialect of the day, is called 'non-intervention.' On the contrary, I am persuaded that, in the settlement of the great affairs of Europe, the presence of England is the best guarantee of peace.On page 186 of Vol. III of Monypenny and Buckle's Life of Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, there is a warning against:a very superficial reading of his speeches…which have led some people to misinterpret them and to call him a non-interventionist in Europe.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) and the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Rippon) must forgive me if I do not follow them by adding my own interpretation of these sacred texts of Disraeli. I can only say that, having listened carefully to the rival interpretations, both seemed to me to have similar characteristics, namely, of starting from inadmissible premises and arguing rather illogically to surprisingly harmless and platitudinous conclusions. That is probably the best that can be said of Disraeli's words as a guide to Britain's problems in the years we live in today.
Turning to the Prime Minister's speech, I would say that it seemed to me that, 79 within the narrow limits which he set himself, his statement was an admirable one. Upon the question of nuclear tests, his statement cleared up a thoroughly unsatisfactory situation which had existed up till then. In connection with Germany, I am glad that he mentioned the importance of the possibility of thinning out the troops, with the consequent contribution towards creating conditions of German unity by agreement with the Soviet Union. That always seemed to me to be an excellent approach, which I believe the Prime Minister himself put forward originally, and which was dropped without good cause in the Geneva discussions last year.
With regard to the interpretation of the changes in the Communist world, I imagine that it will be generally agreed by hon. Members on both sides of the House that one thing that follows plainly is the fact that the House is entitled to expect an announcement of very substantial cuts in our defence in the debate which takes place next week. The interpretation which the Prime Minister gave seems consistent with that and not with any other attitude towards defence. I think that he is quite right. Most hon. Members probably agree that there is a relaxation of military rivalry between East and West, thanks to the H-bomb deadlock, to the death of Stalin and other factors of that kind. I should imagine that hon. Members on both sides of the House also agree that the nature of power in world affairs is changing, and that political and economic factors are becoming of much greater importance relative to military factors.
As a result of all this, we have to reassess the scale of N.A.T.O.'s military strength, which at present seems to be rather anomalous. It is neither big enough to give us a chance of repulsing any Soviet attack, and yet too big to act in any trip-wire rôle and too big to allow the West to deploy its full strength in the new and ever-increasingly important fields of economics and politics. One has only to look at the division of our own efforts in the defence of freedom, between our military and economic effort, and our effort in the war of ideas, to see that there is a fantastic disproportion at the present time. Nearly £1,500 million is spent upon armed defence, about £120 million upon long-term lending overseas, and £11 million to cover our whole effort in the 80 war of ideas. What might have been a proper allocation of effort in Stalin's day looks antediluvian today in the changed circumstances in which we find ourselves.
I thought that the Prime Minister, having made those points, would have gone on to emphasise the danger—which seems to me to be an important one—that the improved situation may cause not only a revised military effort over N.A.T.O., which is desirable, but political disunity and the breaking up of N.A.T.O.—which might be premature and very dangerous. There are already certain signs of this. The last meeting of the North Atlantic Council was a failure, for political reasons.
Cyprus, which is a dispute between members of N.A.T.O., has now reached the stage where, according to what I read, British and Turkish military attachés are being excluded from the N.A.T.O. exercises in Greece, while military attachés from countries outside N.A.T.O., including, ironically, the Saudi-Arabian military attaché, are invited. We know that the Algerian troubles have weakened France's contribution to N.A.T.O., and we see unilateral decisions constantly being taken in the military and political field by members of N.A.T.O., which, if we are not careful, will lead to a general political break-up in N.A.T.O.
We must draw a clear distinction between cutting the scale of N.A.T.O.'s military effort on the one hand, and undermining the political front which N.A.T.O. must keep up as a defence of freedom. There is a need for more political unity in N.A.T.O. rather than less; more economic unity between the members of N.A.T.O. rather than less, and more standardisation and integration of the lower level of arms which we are proposing to maintain in the future.
We must recognise that, although the nature of the East-West struggle has changed, the struggle itself has not disappeared. It is important that we should distinguish what has changed and what has not upon the other side of the Iron Curtain. What has obviously changed is the Soviet method of seeking power in world affairs. Stalin's methods, which he used in Korea and Berlin, of violence and the threat of violence, are no longer acceptable to the Soviet leaders. No one can doubt that. Moreover, the tempo 81 and urgency with which the Soviet Union is seeking world power has quite plainly relaxed since Stalin's day.
In the old days, just after the war, it was possible to read speeches and propaganda by Soviet leaders and in Soviet journals which indicated that they expected that Europe as a whole would go Communist within a matter of years after the end of the war. Today, when we study their speeches, and talk to them—which is much easier than it used to be—we can see that the Communist millennium has, in their minds, been considerably postponed. We are now considered by them likely to remain non-Communist for decades at least, which was not the case a short time ago.
Other changes of a very hopeful nature have clearly taken place. Actions in Austria, in connection with disarmament; in relation to Yugoslavia and in South Viet-nam—where the Soviet Union has taken up a surprisingly moderate position in recent months—cannot be denied to have contributed to peace. There is also the difference that the Soviet Union is making some effort to break down the crippling isolation in which it was placed by Stalin. Today, for two hours each day, B.B.C. transmissions are received quite clearly, without jamming, in the Soviet Union—and there is plenty of evidence that the people are taking advantage of that fact.
Those are changes which we must recognise as having happened, and we must adapt ourselves to them. But other things are continuing just as they were before. The Soviet leaders are still thinking of acting in terms of a power struggle between East and West. They are still thinking of the East as a single bloc, struggling for power with the West, and with a certainty of Communist victory in the future. As a result, the Communist countries have a complete unity in foreign policy, which is unthinkable among the Western Powers. They act as a single unit at the United Nations and upon such problems as Germany, China, Israel and Egypt. Their propaganda is co-ordinated, not only in what they say but as to the very words and phrases which they use. Except for Yugoslavia, which is a special case, they indulge in no open criticism of each other. There is far less difference of view 82 between them. It is impossible to conceive, as between Poland and Czechoslovakia, that there could be a bitter quarrel such as exists between Turkey and Greece over Cyprus.
In practice, it is quite plain that one thing which has not changed has been the fact that Communist countries are still working as an integrated bloc struggling for power with the West. They are united in a political and economic drive for power. We wish it were not so. We hope that it will change. But these are the assumptions that we must bear in mind in framing our policy. It is not only a question of their practice but their theory. Last month, Mr. Khrushchev made a full-dress speech, of which I should like to quote an extract. It is important to remember it as a check upon the improvements that we have seen in Soviet thinking. Mr. Khrushchev said:There exists today a world of Socialist States in which the working class, the working peasantry and intellectuals are building Socialism under the guidance of Communist Workers' and Socialist Parties. This world is growing stronger…. There also exists a world of capitalist States, whose economy is developing in the interests of the further enrichment of capitalist monopolies through mounting exploitation of the working peoplethis is the point—The existence of two social and political systems, opposed to each other, is an undeniable fact. To refuse to recognise it is to ignore realities.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
That I believe is a statement from the "Dynamo speech" in which Mr. Khrushchev also spoke of the existence of a third group of ex-colonial States and said that it was the desire of the Soviet Union to base their relations with all States on the principles of the Baudoeng Conference.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Yes, I think that is quite consistent. Mr. Khrushchev has frequently made that kind of statement. But, if we may exchange sacred texts, the text of Pravda on Saturday bore out exactly what I am saying, that the thinking of Soviet leaders is still essentially Marxist. If one is a Marxist or a Leninist, one cannot interpret the world otherwise than an inevitable struggle between forces which one calls "Socialism" and "Capitalism". It is important for us to remember that that 83 is still the basic thinking of Communist leaders. We can argue about what they call a "Socialist" country. I do not know whether Marx would call a country like Poland "Socialist", where the workers have just and bitter grievances and are shot for expressing them. But it is unfortunately true that the Soviet leaders are still thinking in those terms and we must base our policy on that assumption.
I would say that the time for the West to disarm politically—I am not talking about military disarmament—will be when the Soviet leaders abandon some of these—to my mind—idiotic and dangerous ideas. In the meantime, the line should be to work for better relations between the Western bloc and the Eastern bloc, as blocs, and not to allow the political disarmament of the Western bloc at this time.
At the moment both sides continue military disarmament unilaterally, and we can welcome that within limits, although it would be better if it were organised. But only the West is disarming in the political field, and that is a great danger. We all hope that the improvements which we have seen in the Communist countries will continue, and there will be more freedom inside the Soviet Union and between the Soviet Union and the satellite countries. But it has not happened yet and we must not assume that it is happening in timing our policy changes.
Indeed, it might go the other way. No doubt the "debunking" of Stalin has been wholehearted. I do not think that anyone who has recently met Russians would question that there is a genuine wish to avoid the recurrence of the horrors of the Stalin régime. But equally it is true that when one meets these people, one discovers that they have no real idea about why Stalinism happened in the first place, and no idea about how to prevent it from happening in the future. They are not seriously questioning the real causes at all—the one-party system, the dictatorship of the proletariat and "democratic centralism."
All these ideas are not even up for discussion in the Soviet Union at the present time. We must face the fact that the same political structure exists in the Soviet Union today as produced Stalin 84 in the past. As I say, things have improved. I do not want to paint too black a picture but I cannot feel confident that the present Soviet leaders may not become corrupted by power in the same way as Stalin did. We cannot rely on the Soviet constitution, the Supreme Soviet or the Communist Parties of the Soviet Union to restrain them, be cause they have shown their incapacity.
The changes and trends are at present in the right direction. But I would say that while we need a cut in defence, and should adapt ourselves to the new and improved situation, the future is still obscure in the Communist world, and I can see no hurry whatever about weakening the general principle of N.A.T.O. and the general economic and political unity of its members. We should make our military provisions in concert with our Allies in N.A.T.O. In our East-West relations we should seek to disarm on the helpful lines suggested by the Prime Minister and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), and to follow up the idea of the Prime Minister about Germany, which is constructive, and the ideas of my right hon. Friend.
We shall also continue to normalise relations between East and West. In my opinion that part is going best, and it may be that the changes in that field may prove the most important. The Russians are beginning to spread out and see what the West is really like. There is a long way to go. They are still far behind in free communications with their neighbours; but let us do all we can to remove that isolation and destroy the mysteries between East and West and the unhealthy emotionalism of the past.
While I have the opportunity, as there are now three Ministers on the Government Front Bench, may I put this point, as I am engaged in some of this work myself? It would be most regrettable if the policy of this Government to foster these exchanges became impossible because the Treasury was not brought into line. This is a practical point which I hope the Prime Minister will examine. I am not taking it up violently at the moment, but I do not promise not to do so later if I am not given satisfaction.
I think that the general import of what I am saying is clear. I wish to avoid unilateral political disarmament. I think 85 it would be disastrous, if, while the Communists stick together on the assumption that the East-West struggle continues, the countries of the West assume that the East-West struggle is over, and fall apart.
§ 6.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
I wish to congratulate the Prime Minister on the substance of his speech and sincerely to thank him for its tone and approach to world conditions. It was the most momentous statement that we have heard from the Government Dispatch Box for many years; perhaps the most momentous since the statement which had to be made from that Box that tension in the world was so great that a new organisation was to be formed, namely, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and that we were to be a party to it.
On that occasion there was a statement about the tension and the danger. On this occasion the Prime Minister has announced definitely to the world at large, from the House of Commons, his view that the tension has lessened and is continuing to lessen, and that the danger of a third world war is now disappearing. I hope that the whole world will give the closest attention to everything said by the right hon. Gentleman. May I also thank him for his statement about nuclear tests. A matter which has been worrying not only hon. Members, but people everywhere, is the tremendous danger to which people think they may be exposed.
Hitherto, scientists have been able to tell us what are the actual dangers resulting from the use of weapons. But they cannot tell us what results may flow from nuclear tests and it is only right that these tests should stop. The proposal of the Prime Minister is right. We should get together to see what can be done, first, to control the tests, and ultimately to stop them.
The right hon. Gentleman has done a great deal of good by reiterating, with more emphasis, our view about the future of Germany, which is that her destiny is in her hands without any interference whatever or pressure from us. All that we desire is that she shall be put into a position to determine her future, and with her decision we shall not interfere. For all these things we are grateful, and, in particular, for the Prime Minister's statement about the disappearance of the clouds of war.
86 That may mean that many things will follow. I understand that we shall have a debate next week about the amount of defence that is required. The Prime Minister has led us to think that it is bound to lead to a great diminution in the amount of expenditure that we shall incur in the defence of this country.
§ The Prime Minister
I do not think that I said anything that could lead to that conclusion. I am grateful for the generous things which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said, but I was very careful in my language on the defence problem. I agree with many of the things that were said by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). I made it absolutely clear that defence problems can only be settled in N.A.T.O., by agreement with all our Allies. I feel that very strongly. I am sure that it would be absolutely wrong for us to attempt to do anything else. I am sure, also, that the right hon. and learned Member does not want to give a wrong impression.
§ Mr. Davies
Let me come to what was said by the hon. Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn). There is no sacrifice that this country, this amazing people, is not prepared to make in defence of its freedom and independence, or even to assist other people, as we did in two world wars, to maintain their freedom and independence; but it wants to be satisfied that what it is incurring is necessary and that it gets full value for its money.
A point about N.A.T.O. has just been made again by the Prime Minister. When N.A.T.O. was formed, every one of the free countries had to admit that it was not in a strong enough position to stand alone, not even the United States with all its tremendous power. They decided that they would pool their military resources and assist one another as best they could. That system cannot be ended by anybody overnight. Naturally, everything has to be done in conjunction with the other countries who, with us, formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It is obvious—I think I am right in saying this—that the Prime Minister visualises that there will be a reduction in the amount of expenditure, certainly upon conventional weapons. It is obvious from his statement that he has carried the Commonwealth with him in every part; one 87 hopes that he will also carry N.A.T.O. with him.
If tension is lessening, and it is obviously so, and if the prospect of a third world war is disappearing—the Prime Minister himself is going to Moscow and is now rightly saying that what is desirable and necessary is greater understanding with Russia and her satellites and a reopening of trade with them—I suggest that what we want to see is not only closer relations and more trade with Russia but the same development towards China. The two obviously go together.
I emphasise once again that the better way is not the belligerent way but the more peaceful way of trade with one another. If this leads to a lessening in our expenditure, as I hope it will, think of the relief which will follow. Not only shall we be able to give more assistance in many directions in this country, but what we shall save upon armaments can be used for greater investment. This will lead to what we all desire, the conquest of inflation.
I believe there will now be not military war but very hot economic war between Russia and ourselves and the other free countries. If N.A.T.O. is not to be so hard pressed by the military situation as it has been, during past years there will be much more need for the N.A.T.O. countries to work together on the economic, social and political side. That is why one must welcome the appointment of Mr. Lester Pearson, Signor Martino and Dr. Lange, and the work that they are doing. We sincerely hope that much good will follow from it.
I would refer to the matter which was so well dealt with by the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison). I recommend to the Prime Minister a careful study of that excellent speech about the position in Europe. I hope that the Government will not follow the bad example of the past about what I still prefer to know as the "Schuman Plan". That example was isolationism; the doctrine of isolationism is very dangerous for this country, which depends upon trade more than does any other country in the world. We have a better standard of life than any other country, not even excepting the United States of America, although it may spend more money individually. I believe 88 this is due to the ability of this country to trade.
For us to isolate ourselves on the excuse that we are cut away from Europe and the Commonwealth is bad. The Commonwealth has always desired a closer relationship between us and Europe. That has ever been shown by speeches made from either side of this House. So many people in the Commonwealth originated from European countries that they would like nothing better than closer co-operation between ourselves and European countries. In view of this strong movement in the Commonwealth and the strong movement on the Continent in favour of Euratom, and all the experience of the Schuman Plan, we shall run very great risks if we stand on one side and isolate ourselves.
I would say a few words about the Middle East. The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens), who led for the Opposition this afternoon, called attention to certain figures which, I believe, have been put out by the Government of Israel. They show a tremendous disparity between the military position of Israel and that of Egypt. What is the purpose of Egypt in acquiring that enormous armament? It is either against us or against Israel. It can have no other purpose.
The disparity is very great. Yet we, the United States and France are parties to the Tripartite Declaration, under which we said that we would try to keep the balance. Do we still regard ourselves as bound by that Declaration? If so, what do we intend to do to carry out the word which we solemnly gave? I agree that perhaps the best thing of all would be to deny further arms once the balance had been reached; that would possibly be the best course in the future. But I want to know why, having solemnly entered into an agreement, we do not carry it out and maintain the balance as we said we would.
§ 6.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
I am sure that the House listened with pleasure to the tributes paid by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and, in particular, to the two points which my right hon. Friend stressed in his speech this 89 afternoon—first, that international tension is lessening and, secondly and I believe more important still, that we should do nothing without agreement with our Allies.
Within the context of these two assertions I should like, if I may, to strike a cautious note. I am sufficiently antique in wind and limb now to indulge in the luxury of reminiscence. I remember so vivdly the debates in the House before the war, when people said that butter was better than guns. I remember so vividly the resignation of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the time of the Spanish Civil War and the resignation of my own chief, Mr. Duff Cooper, later Lord Norwich, who saw so clearly the danger which lay ahead of us.
While we feel that international tension is lessening, may I, nevertheless, refer to the facts of the situation at present? I know that it is argued by many people that the power of the hydrogen and atomic bomb is so great that there can be no victor in any war, that all main cities and military concentrations can be wiped out by it, that even those areas not bombed can be infected by clouds of radioactive dust, and that it would be impossible for a nation, even if it were a victor, to occupy the territory of a conquered nation, much less to administer it.
We are told, likewise, at present, that a situation is developing inside Russia aptly described in the latest novel of Ilya Ehrenburg as "The Thaw". We are told that freedom of discussion is now permitted in Russia. We are told, as my right hon. Friend said in his speech, that more and more men and women are now being released from prison and that the wind of freedom blowing though the prison bars is, at the same time, encouraging the desire for better relations with countries overseas.
All this may be to the good, but may I draw attention to the facts of the balance of power between the two blocs at present? I have tried to obtain the official figures as last issued—namely, 1st April. If we take the story of Soviet power we find that the Russians have altogether about 215 divisions, of which 22 are in Eastern Europe. There are 80 satellite divisions, including seven Eastern German divisions, making a 90 rough total of about 300 divisions. On our side there are about 100 divisions in various stages of readiness and preparation, including five American divisions in Europe and four British divisions in Europe. Computed in terms of relative manpower, these figures show that the Russians have about 4,600,000 men under arms, the satellites have about 1,600,000, the Americans have about 2,900,000 and we have about 765,000.
At the same time, we have been told that the Russians possess a powerful submarine fleet, about 300 strong, equipped with long-range submarines able to strike deadly blows at the North and South Atlantic trade routes and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. We therefore see that the balance of power is still potentially very much against us.
I would also draw attention to the various difficulties now existing inside the N.A.T.O. countries. Our great and powerful ally, the United States, will be occupied during the next few months in all the excitements and the rigours of a Presidential election. We have seen the difficulty which President Eisenhower has had in trying to obtain a vote from Congress for foreign aid. We see continually the evidence of a danger of return to that form of isolationism which speaks of "Fortress America" as its first principle.
Our French allies are finding innumerable difficulties in their struggle in Algeria to maintain order in that part of Metropolitan France. In Germany, we see as yet no armed forces in operation, and Dr. Adenauer is seriously disquieted by the talk of a reduction of our military forces. After all, he lives at the very door of the bear's cave.
We ourselves are faced with our two perpetual problems—the necessity to maintain a strategic reserve in this country and, at the same time, to maintain a police force to carry out duties in the many parts of the world in which we are interested.
I fully recognise that the situation may be changing and that economic, social and moral factors may be becoming more important, but I lay it down as a fundamental principle that a nation can be great only if it maintains a balance of economic and of military power at the same time. To neglect one or the other is to ask for almost certain disaster
91 In conclusion, I turn to the main theme of my speech. I welcome the two statements of the Prime Minister about a lessening of tension and about the necessity to consult our Allies before we make any move. I believe that, perhaps even more than in the long cold days of the cold war, in these times of apparent lessening tension, the themes of vigilance and unity are important. They are as important as ever. It is to this country, therefore, that the moment of leadership will come, with some of our Allies distracted and with our position here between Europe and the United States.
Mr. Khrushchev quite wrongly said that this country is no longer a great Power. I think he forgets that when we fought the Spain of Philip II, the France of Louis XIV and Napoleon and the Germany of William II and Hitler, we were never superior in numbers. We always won through the quality of our contribution and our moral leadership. That is as true today as it ever was in the past.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. M. Philips Price (Gloucestershire, West)
The hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr) will, I am sure, forgive me if I do not follow him very closely in what he said. I think that the House was interested—certainly, I was—in the figures which he gave of the military forces of the two camps into which the world is unfortunately divided, although we hope that the division will become less. We should not forget that these two camps still exist and we cannot altogether ignore the immediate past.
I want to say a few words about what I conceive to be the reason some changes have taken place in Russia which have, I think, been very largely the cause of the decrease in tension throughout the world. The question we have to decide is whether these changes are permanent or are only temporary.
It seems to me that two factors of great importance have had an effect upon the Russian mentality. First, there is, I think, no question that there has been a change in the internal situation in Russia. A large section of the population, particularly in the towns, has been yearning for better economic conditions. There is no doubt that the Stalin period of intense international tension and threatening war on an international scale caused 92 shortages at home. Because of the armaments drive, there was a shortage of consumable goods which resulted in general depression and lack of enthusiasm.
It is true that there have been no strikes in Russia similar to those in Poland and no crisis of that kind. I believe that, fundamentally, the régime in Russia represents the interests of the people of Russia. It has the backing of the bulk of the people, although they may grumble at, and dislike certain phases as they come about.
One of the most important things that has happened there has happened in the agricultural world. I understand—unless things have changed very recently—that the head of livestock in Russia today is less than it was in the days of the Czars, and although agricultural production has gone up it has gone up in nothing like the proportion necessary to stand the enormous increase in industrialisation, and particularly in armament production, that has gone on. There is no doubt that that has caused a lowering of morale and a general feeling of despondency. The rulers in the Kremlin are sensitive to this sort of change, and I think that that is one factor that has brought about this new line which is helping to lower international tension.
The second factor is one for which we, and the United States particularly, have been very much responsible. It is that the Western Powers, led by the United States and ourselves, have organised resistance to any attempt to force the Communist régime on other parts of the world outside Russia. A very good example of that is what happened in Korea; and there has been the creation of N.A.T.O., and later, in the Middle East, there has been the Bagdad Pact. Then, again, the general fear of the hydrogen bomb and the stalemate that has resulted from it have been other factors which have helped to bring this about.
On the other hand, we must never forget this. I once heard a diplomat say that the Russians used speech to hide their thoughts and not to convey them.
§ Mr. Price
It is not true about us. It is not true about the Turks, or about any people who have not been under foreign domination for a long time. The Russians have been, for two centruies, and it tends to create that kind of mentality. It makes them more difficult to understand and to deal with.
Another factor in the Russian mentality is that for a long time in their history they have been a people who have looked for some sort of world salvation by a big event such as a revolution. That idea has been prevalent throughout the last century and a half—and Communism is only the twentieth century form of this kind of idea coming out in the modern world. One cannot, therefore, expect the Russians to give up their idea that the Communist system must spread throughout the world.
The point on which I think we can rely is that when faced with opposition either at home or abroad the rulers of Russia have always, in the past—and, I think, in the present—been ready to alter their tactics, to retire and wait for a new situation to arise. I believe that we are now in one of these waiting periods and the question is: how can we best utilise this breathing space to strengthen the West and the free world without, at the same time, making the Russians thinks that we are trying to undermine or encircle them?
That is not an easy thing to do, but it is something that we must try. I entirely agree with hon. Members on both sides who today have said that we must stand firm in the organisation of the free world. That does not mean, of course, that we should continue to maintain armaments in Europe at the same level as we have done in the immediate past. What has happened in regard to atomic warfare and the like is making conventional weapons less important, and I am very glad that next week we are to consider fully how far modifications in that respect can be brought about.
Although it may be possible to relax on the armaments side there can be no question of relaxing the political and diplomatic policy which we take up in dealing with the Russians and the Communist world. For instance, there is no sign whatever that the U.S.S.R will give up her hold on Germany. For her, 94 German reunification means the maintenance of the Communist régime in Eastern Germany. On this, however, we cannot possibly give way, and we must support Dr. Adenauer in every possible way in his determination that if there is any reunification possible it must be only on the basis of free elections and a free way of life in both parts of Germany.
As to whether Germany shall remain a member of N.A.T.O. and provide conventional forces for the defence of Europe, that is a matter she must decide for herself. I entirely agree with the Prime Minister, and it was very well said, that that rests entirely with Germany. She is now a free and sovereign nation, and while we believe that she will come with us, at the same time, she is free. It is well that we should state that publicly, and keep it clear in our minds all the time.
My feeling is that Russia will remain quite adamant over Germany for a long time; that we shall be faced with stalemate there for some time to come. But the Russians are never adamant on more than one front in the world at the same time. If they are adamant in Europe, I think that there are indications of relaxation in some respects in the Middle East—at least, in regard to military matters. Russian influence is going to be directed much more to the line of political drive, and an all-out attempt to extend her influence economically both in Southern Asia and the Middle East.
Politically, there are also indications of certain other tendencies there. It is obvious that Mr. Shepilov is not encouraging intransigeance in the Arab world in regard to Israel. It looks as if he is giving a hint to the Arab world that it had better regard Israel as something which is here to stay. On the other hand, the economic drive is going on. They have offered, though whether they will continue that offer now in view of further investigations made into the economic position of Egypt remains to be seen, to build the Aswan Dam and to help Eyptian industrialisation. Even if Russia does not seek to replace the Western Powers over the Aswan Dam she may very well go all out to make a big drive to increase her economic influence in Egypt.
As long as the Bagdad Pact exists and here I wish to state again that I feel 95 that the Government are right for basing at least a portion of their policy on the Bagdad Pact—as long as Turkey is sound internally, and her Army has the backing of air forces from the West, I do not think that there is any fear, especially in view of the new developments in Russia, of military complications in the Middle East. If Russia tries to exert influence, it is not likely to be by means of force, nor do I think it is likely that there will be an attempt to subvert the tribal areas between Turkey, Persia and Iraq, which she was working at a few years ago, namely, the Kurds of the upper Tigris Valley.
I believe that it is much more likely that Russia will try to influence the main towns and the developing urban centres of the Arab world, more particularly among the professional and middle classes of Iraq, Persia, Syria and Jordan and, not least, of course, the university students, aiming at getting rid of the existing Governments some of which are friendly to the West, by means of rioting and bazaar upheavals, and so on, and replacing them by Governments which are pro-Russian, because the Communist movement has always, from the very earliest days in Russia, tried to use Asian nationalism as the next step towards the Communist régime. I think that it is in this kind of way that they will try to get influence there.
What can the Western Powers do? I think that our answer is to give economic assistance to those countries as far as we possibly can. We have to remember, however, that some of these Middle Eastern countries are financially fairly well off. They have oil resources and oil royalties, particularly Iraq. Persia, of course, has resources, but has not made the good use of them that Iraq has. What all these countries need particularly, of course, is technical assistance, because they are technically weak and they have not the administrators.
My belief is that half a dozen sound and able administrators in a country like Iraq would put that country on the map in a short time; perhaps less so in Egypt, although they are needed there as well. Therefore, it seems to me that in some form or other, whether it is by technical assistance to the countries which have oil royalties or by direct investment of capital in those countries which have no 96 resources, like Egypt, Jordan and others in that neighbourhood, that could be an answer which we could make in the West towards the subversive activities which I think the Russians will still try and carry on in the Middle East.
It is important that the Bagdad Pact should develop the economic side which is even more important than the military side today. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will tell us what is being done in this connection by those of us who are members of the Bagdad Pact and able to give assistance to the countries who are members of it. In regard to countries like Egypt, which are not able to get resources from oil royalties, a very big question arises as to how best to give assistance. I am very glad that it looks as if the Aswan Dam project is to be dropped. A very big complication would arise if that dam were built as proposed today.
There is the whole question of the countries of the Upper Nile Valley, the rights of Sudan and the rights of those countries even higher up at the source, Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika which also have some rights in connection with the Nile waters. It seems to me that this is a matter which Egypt has no right to try to solve herself. The Nile Valley waters must be treated as a whole, and if they are to be treated in that way I think that it will be seen that the help to Egypt in dealing with her large and increasing population could best come, not necessarily by concentrating everything on one enormous scheme like the Aswan Dam, but on a number of schemes, such as dealing with the waters coming out of Victoria-Nyanza and using Lake Albert as a storage reservoir, building the Jonglei Canal through the great Sudd swamps and saving thereby large amounts of Nile water which now goes in evaporation.
All these are problems which I think we can deal with in the years to come. If they are successfully dealt with, I think that it will be possible for those countries in the Middle East to look to the West rather than to the countries behind the Iron Curtain for their salvation. This struggle is on. It is, fortunately a peaceful struggle. We must fight it with technical skill, administrative efficiency and our reputation for honesty, fair play and justice to secure these great 97 territories of Southern Asia and the Middle East for the free world and the free way of life.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
It would be difficult to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) in the full tour of the horizon which he has just given. I am sure, however that the House will be grateful to him for pointing out some of the more stubborn facts of the situation which face us today, particularly that this country cannot permanently acquiesce in a situation whereby East Germany is kept in political subjugation, and that unless some agreement is reached whereby both parts of Germany are united in freedom we are bound to maintain our present position.
I am sure that the House will also be grateful to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Hamilton Kerr) who, in his eloquent speech, pointed out the enormous military preponderance which Russia and her satellites still enjoy. I would be the first to wish to join the clamour that our military expenditure should be cut down, but after hearing those two speeches I feel that anyone approaching the matter in a fair-minded way will agree that any question of cutting down our military expenditure must be approached with the greatest possible caution.
I am quite certain that the military expenditure which this country has, and which, we know, bears hardly upon our economy, can be borne by it. The will power and determination of this country can easily sustain the expenditure if it is necessary, and if it is shown to be necessary I am quite sure that the people will continue to bear it with the best will that they can.
The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) pointed to some lightening of the horizon in the change of character of the régime in Russia, but he also added later—and I thoroughly agree with this—that the integrated bloc, as he called it, of Russia and its satellites, while it has advantages to them at the present time in order to make their policy homogenous and provide no differences between them, offers the danger to us that that policy can very suddenly be reversed, and we none of us know if the new look, although we are grateful for it, which is coming over the foreign policy of Russia, 98 is likely to be permanent or whether some sudden change may not take place.
I do not advocate that the expenditure of our Armed Forces should necessarily be cut down if it is shown that it is necessary, but following the general policy and speeches which we have heard this afternoon I venture particularly to ask whether we are absolutely clear about the object at present of keeping military forces in Germany. Obviously, they were put there originally for military reasons, but nobody, I think, would now contend that our military forces in Germany would be satisfactory to cope with a conventional war. On the other hand, nobody contends that a conventional war is the sort of war that would happen in Europe. Surely, if any war happened in Europe, it would be a nuclear war, and it is difficult to see exactly what would be the rôle of our four divisions and the Tactical Air Force in Germany after a nuclear explosion.
There must, therefore, be other reasons why we continue to keep our forces there. Perhaps it is to convince our friends that we will defend ourselves. At one time that may well have been true, and it has some validity at the moment, but surely our friends ought to reflect that in a nuclear war, which is the only kind of war which might break out in Europe, we could no more decline to defend ourselves or stay out of that war than could anyone else. That is one kind of war out of which we could not contract. Certainly, we would all be involved and it would be a question of defending ourselves.
Perhaps at one time, and it may still be the case, those forces were some reassurance to France that Germany would not be militarily resurgent. If that was so, I rather doubt whether they achieve that object. They are not occupation troops legally or in fact. Even if they were, the number of troops maintained in Germany could not permanently keep Germany out of action as regards France. I do not think that the French, if they think that one over, if it is present in their minds, would think that it was a valid reason for our maintaining our forces there.
It may be that the Germans want them there. They wanted them there at one time, but they do not seem to want them there very much now because they refuse 99 to pay for them. It is possible that the Germans would wish to go it alone a little bit more than they have done so far, and at one time there was a very great danger that West Germany might embrace the eastern bloc to obtain the object, dear to its heart, of the reunification of Germany. But I do not myself reckon that danger very high.
After all, Russia has what Germany wants. Before the war it was the other way round—we had what Germany then wanted and, therefore, we were the object of attack. Now we have nothing that Germany wants. Who wants Colonies nowadays? Certainly, a place in the sun turns out to provide more sunburn than anything else.
Perhaps, therefore, we ought to examine whether our own interests would benefit by any movement of those troops. Clearly, to some extent financially we would be helped. It may be that the presence there of those troops, as the hon. Member for Woolwich, East suggested, rather stiffens the attitude of the Eastern bloc towards us—I am not sure about that; but we ought to be quite clear why those troops remain there. We had good reason for sending them there once and it may be that the reasons have altered and we ought to re-examine the situation.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
Before the hon. Member disposes of all the reasons for keeping these four divisions in Germany, would he examine the one which he seems to have missed out, namely, that this country made a solemn pledge to retain those forces, or their equivalent, in Germany until the end of the century, and did so to persuade the French Assembly to ratify the Paris Agreements?
§ Mr. Kershaw
I do not dispute the immediate considerations which made us put the troops there. Our actions, of course, were motivated by pressures at the time. As in all human things, if the reason should change we must squarely face it. We must face that, and so must our Allies on the Continent. It would do no service to them or to ourselves if, the situation having changed, we obstinately persisted in policies which now have no further relevance.
100 I am not suggesting that we should reduce in any way our military expenditure or the support which we give to N.A.T.O., but if we can give that support in other ways and in other places we ought to examine how it should be done. I am not entirely sure that it is necessary or now even desirable to confine our help to N.A.T.O. to military help. As has been said this afternoon more ably than I can say it, economically and, perhaps, consultatively, by exchange of ideas in assembly, and so on, we might do more for N.A.T.O. than in the past we have been able to do militarily. However valuable it was at the time, it may be that the situation has altered.
I believe that we could perhaps be of more help to Germany by helping her to rearm and perhaps be of more help to France by enabling her to carry on the battle in Algeria, which, after all, is to some extent our battle as well as hers. We could help the Commonwealth by having a little more money to invest in it, and we might give more help to the United States by being stronger financially than we are now if we did not have so great a burden to bear. By examination of the common market and other devices to increase the amount of trade in Europe, we might well strengthen Europe; and, as one of my hon. Friends has said, we need not necessarily in any way go across the interests of the Commonwealth by so doing.
I turn to the problem of Euratom. I hope that we manage to give whatever help is in our power to the project of Euratom but I hope it is realised on all sides what a great sacrifice it will be to this country if we go into Euratom lock, stock and barrel.
In the first place, we are far more industrialised and depend far more upon sources of power than any other country which is likely to participate in it. Therefore, if any sacrifice is asked of us by way of energy in the future, that sacrifice will strike us harder than ever it would hit any of the other participating countries.
It seems, secondly, that the power which is likely to be available for industrialisation in Europe during the next fifty years will everywhere be quite inadequate and will, certainly on the Continent of Europe, be very much less than here. If the nuclear energy which is available in Europe is distributed per 101 capita amongst the countries of Europe, including our own, our sacrifice will be much greater than the sacrifices of the other countries concerned. I imagine and I hope that we have been able to make provision for acquiring nuclear fuel to work our atomic power stations. If so, if we join Euratom it will be necessary for us to give up part of it to the other participating countries. That also would impose a large sacrifice upon us.
Finally, I am not sure that we do not have to consider the arrangements we have made with countries outside Europe—Canada and the United States—in relation to nuclear energy, and to consider whether they would be willing to join with us in future arrangements if we in turn went into Euratom and promised to give all information in our possession to other members of Euratom.
I do not believe that by associating ourselves very closely with some of these European organisations, by federalism and by such negotiations, we necessarily advance the causes of peace and prosperity in Europe which we have at heart. I wish to call attention to some of the difficulties there in Euratom, but I join wholeheartedly in the view that unless we can change the nature of N.A.T.O. to bolster it up economically and politically in the way that we have done militarily, N.A.T.O. may well be running into difficulties in the very near future.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I should very much have liked to have followed the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Kershaw) in a number of his reflections, particularly about our military commitments in Germany and about Euratom and the common market, but I have not time to do so. However, I must make one or two short comments on those matters.
I would ask the hon. Member to reflect why we have our troops in Germany and what would happen if they were withdrawn. He says that the number of troops that we have in Germany certainly could not fight a Continental war on a conventional basis and that they would be of no use in an atomic war. That argument applies even more to the handful of troops we have in Berlin, but the handful of Western allied troops in Berlin 102 have prevented Berlin from being overrun by the Russians, as would certainly happen if we were to withdraw them. They are there, first, under the Paris Agreements for the purpose of trying to control the rearmament of Germany at a comparatively low level. We undertook the commitment of supplementing the small German forces by retaining our troops in Germany. That should be sufficient explanation of that.
I should dearly love to have the time to debate with the hon. Member the question of Euratom and the common market. He spoke about our having to make greater sacrifices if we were to enter into those arrangements. I would ask him to consider what will happen if we do not. If we do not it is most probable that the Six will go ahead on their own and consolidate still further the development towards the small Six federation in Europe.
I think that our country will be in a dangerous situation in the matter of atomic energy if we are not in those arrangements, because atomic energy in Western Europe will be developed by the small Six, and that inevitably must mean the development of that community, running its own atomic power and under the domination of Germany. The hon. Gentleman said that Britain should consider the sacrifice she would make if she were to participate in those arrangements. I would say we should think of our entering them, not as a sacrifice, but as a contribution to the controlled development of the European community.
However, as I said, I have not the time to follow all the observations of the hon. Member for Stroud, for I should like to spend the short time I propose to speak tonight dealing with the main question which is agitating the House, the country, and the world, and that is Germany.
I welcome the observations made by the Prime Minister about the Russian new look, and I think that everyone on this side of the House welcomes the very clear statement which he made of his appreciation of the possibility behind that new look. I think there is a great deal in the new look of Russia. I am not finally satisfied that there is a complete change, but the evidence which was given by the Prime Minister today is sufficient to make us consider seriously whether or 103 not there is something going on in Russia which can be to our advantage and to the advantage of world peace.
I have long held the view that in Russia, despite whatever may have happened during the Stalin régime, Stalin was not able to liquidate all the old Bolsheviks. The old Bolsheviks were genuinely democratic Communists—a term which it is difficult to understand nowadays, but which at the time of the Russian Revolution was very easily understood. They began with the conception of overthrowing the Tsarist régime and with establishing what they called the dictatorship of the proletariat in its place in the first instance: then, through Lenin's "New Constitution" the building up of a Communist democracy.
Stalin set about eliminating those old Bolsheviks, but I am not quite sure he eliminated them all. I think there are still many left. Some of them were pretty tough old boys, and I am sure many of them have been awaiting their chance to exert their influence on the development of Russian Communism. It may be that something of the kind has happened in the recent development of Russian policy.
What is quite certain is that the unrest in the satellite countries, which exploded in the first place in Eastern Germany, and then more recently in Poland, is making the Russians begin to realise that they cannot for ever control them, and they are gradually making concessions. Every time a new explosion takes place, they make more concessions. What we are seeing today happen rather rapidly there is what has always happened in the history of the world when there has been repression of the masses of the people in any community. It inevitably leads to revolt and the extraction of concessions from the oppressors. In the history of the world, that has generally taken a long period, and has been the inevitable development of the democratic forces of the world. That is what, I believe, has been happening in the Russian dominated territories, and it has happened rather more quickly there because the establishment of dictatorship in Russia was super imposed upon conditions of at least semi-democracy.
104 Therefore, with the Prime Minister I say we should watch for and welcome any gesture made from Russia or from her satellite countries towards the making of more and closer contacts with others, and the loosening of the ties and bonds under which the people of those territories are forced at the present time to live. Indeed, if we do not seek to encourage every such gesture, if we try to repel such gestures, if, as we have sometimes heard less responsible American statesmen suggest, we repel them and say we shall never discuss anything with a Russian Communist Government, we shall drive into desperation any elements there which may be trying to find an accommodation with us. That we should seek to avoid if possible. If anyone there is trying to loosen ties, is trying to find an accommodation, is trying to get nearer to the democratic concepts of the West, let us encourage him and not discourage him.
In the meantime what I should like to see is as follows. This is the main point I wish to make, and I may not receive the unanimous support of everyone, even on this side of the House, in saying this, though I am sure I shall find a great deal of support. While we are encouraging those gestures, while we are looking for every opportunity to develop freedom in the world and to take positive steps towards disarmament and all the other things we are seeking to achieve, the unity of Germany, and the West, it would, I think, be a fatal mistake just at this moment, when there are signs that the rigidity of Russia, to which the Prime Minister referred, is softening, just at this moment when, as it were, the enemy is in retreat in some respects, to jettison some of our own bastions, one of which is Germany.
I agree that in the development of modern weapons, in the development of the great deterrent of the hydrogen bomb, which make conventional conceptions of military defence out of date, there is every reason why we should seek adjustments, and that even in Germany itself we should be looking for possibilities of reducing our ground troops, where that can be done effectively, without upsetting any of the general strategical considerations. I agree that all that is possible and that all that can be done, but I think it would be disastrous if, because we see the beginning of signs of an opportunity of getting a little nearer to an understanding with 105 Russia on the matter of German unity and other questions, we would start by withdrawing our troops from Germany.
We ought not to propose that Germany, if unified, should be a neutralised Germany, that she should not be allowed to join the Western countries if she should want to. I think it would be a serious mistake if we were to jettison the bastion of Western Germany when we are possibly on the point of making some progress. The first thing to seek here is the reunification of Germany. I think there is general agreement in all parts of the House about that. All I am saying is that while we are trying to bring that about we should not cede everything in advance of the negotiations.
We have to wait before we really begin to discuss how neutral Germany should be, what kind of security arrangements for Europe there are to be when German reunification has been achieved, what the final frontiers of Germany are to be. For decisions on all those matters we have to wait until we have a German Government with whom we can negotiate. We have to wait until there is a peace conference with Russia, at which the new all-German Government can be present.
It is there that we can discuss the final frontiers of Germany. It is there that we can discuss what kind of European security scheme will take the place of N.A.T.O. in Europe or the Warsaw Pact, if such a scheme is possible. But it is no use just assuming that there will be such a European security scheme, which has not yet been defined and in respect of which we have no assurance as to what kind of security will be provided under it or what kind of guarantees will surround it, until we have the basis of such a scheme, that is, an agreement on the Germany that will take part in it: in other words, until we have an agreement on the reunification of Germany.
When we talk about German reunification and the part that Germany will play in a future security scheme and what kind of forces Germany will have after reunification, we must keep in mind, first, what we mean by a free, equal and united Germany. When we talk about reunification, everybody uses such terms and talks about Germany being free, equal and sovereign. Even Mr. Molotov used such expressions freely at the Geneva and Berlin Conferences and elsewhere.
106 If Germany is to be free, equal and sovereign it means that she must be as free as other partners in the European set-up, otherwise she is not free and equal, and if she is not free and equal obviously she will not be in a position to allow a really democratic society to develop. No nation that is not free, equal and sovereign can claim the full confidence of its people and become completely democratic. If Germany, therefore, is to be free, equal and sovereign when she is reunited she must be free either to arm herself unilaterally, if that is to be the rule and we are all going to do that, or she must be free to play an equal part in whatever scheme may emerge for mutual security, whether within the N.A.T.O. pact or within some new all-European security pact.
It is obviously to the advantage of everyone concerned, including the Western democratic countries and Germany, that there should be some mutual security organisation in which Germany, as in the Paris Agreements, is contained in the number of troops and the amount of weapons she will have, just as every other partner in the pact must accept such a limitation. I cannot see any satisfactory arrangement in which Germany alone must have restrictions placed upon her, because if those are to be the conditions they are not conditions in which democracy and European security can develop.
As I have been talking freely about German reunification, I want to examine what the prospects of that reunification may be at present. I believe—and I have done so for a long time, even before the new look in Russia—that there was a prospect and I believe there remains a prospect that Russia is prepared to quit Eastern Germany. But, as I have often said, she wants a price. I believe that that price is fairly obvious. What she wants in the long run is a guarantee of the Oder-Neisse line. Russia needs to reassure Poland that having lost the Ukraine in the East she will be guaranteed her present territories in the West, that is, Pomerania and Silesia. Until she gets this assurance she can never be confident of the acceptance by the Poles of the loss of their Ukrainian territory.
If I may, I should like to bring forward evidence on that point. I visited most of the major cities of Poland about two years 107 ago. I found that every one of those cities was well ahead with reconstruction after war damage, with the exception of Stettin, which happens to be on the left bank of the Oder. When I asked various Polish Ministers why it had not been reconstructed, I received no satisfactory answer, but a cynical smile. I could not help thinking that this had something to do with the reservation which the Poles had in mind about the finality of the position of Stettin in any settlement with Germany.
It is true that all parties in Germany reject the conception of conceding the Oder-Neisse line to Poland. They must do so. I hear people criticising Dr. Adenauer or the Social Democrats because they reject any consideration at all of giving up Pomerania or Silesia, but they must do that. We, too, have rejected any proclamation on these territories until there is a peace treaty. It is specifically excluded in the Potsdam Agreement. Any responsible person in Germany would be foolish to say prior to a peace conference that Germany was giving up all that she is likely to be asked to give up in return for whatever concession she might be given at the conference. Therefore, we cannot expect the Germans to take up any other attitude. I believe, however, that inevitably that is what will happen. I believe that that is what the Russians want, and that that is where the settlement will be made.
Let us consider the gains to Germany that would arise from such a settlement. A leading Social Democrat, Mr. Erler, has pointed out in a recent pamphlet that by a reunited Germany the Germans mean at present the four zones, British, French, American and Russian. They have reservations as to what might happen afterwards, but for the purposes of considering free elections in Germany towards establishing a free German Government to negotiate a peace treaty, we cannot go further than the four zones. No party in Germany has suggested that any free elections or any free, provisional Government set up to draw up a constitution will include Pomerania, East Silesia and East Prussia.
They are looking at the question from the point of view of free elections in the four zones as they exist at present. That must be so, because whatever hope there 108 may be of our securing agreement for reunification of Germany out of these four zones, there is no hope of getting free German elections now to cover Pomerania, Silesia and North and East Prussia prior to any peace conference. That must be settled at the peace conference, after free elections have taken place in the four zones, and after an all-German Government to participate in the peace conference has been elected.
If that is a fair conclusion, it is rather nonsense to talk about the future of Pomerania, Silesia, East Prussia and the rest at present. It is still more nonsense, and dangerous nonsense, to talk about the liberation of those and other territories before we get a settlement in Europe, because if we can get even that limited agreement, which is what all German parties are looking for at present, that is up to the Oder-Neisse line, with free elections, an all-German Government and a peace conference which will consider what will happen to Pomerania, Silesia, East Prussia and the rest, that is worth while. We should go for that, without any diversion into these other less certain possibilities.
We should concentrate on free elections and a peace conference on that basis. I believe that if we did that—
§ Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
May I interrupt to ask a question? The hon. Gentleman speaks with great authority on Germany, and he said just now that the acceptance by the Russians of the Oder-Neisse line was conditional on their agreement to any form of German reunification. If that is the case, would it not be better for us—not the Germans—to accept that line?
§ Mr. Hynd
I am not so sure that it would be the best tactics to say before a conference that we wanted to discuss German frontiers within the Oder-Neisse line. What we ought to do is to concentrate on getting free elections within the four zones of Germany in order to establish a German Government and subsequently, on a peace conference to discuss the future frontiers of Germany. If there were free elections in the four zones and a German Government established within them, a peace conference could be held, but there is little likelihood that anyone would consider for a moment that such a conference would cede 109 Pomerania, Silesia and the rest to Germany. In the first place the Russians would not do it and, in the second place, the Poles would not do it.
§ Mr. David Ormsby-Gore (Oswestry)
If I understood the hon. Gentleman aright, he said earlier that the Russians would not agree to free elections unless they had a clear statement on the Oder-Neisse line. I do not see how his two statements tie up.
§ Mr. Hynd
I did not say that they would not agree to free elections unless they had a clear statement. I said that they would be more ready to agree to free elections up to the Oder-Neisse line if they understood pretty clearly what would be the outcome of the subsequent peace conference. It is one thing to make a declaration from this place in the House of Commons and another to talk between ambassadors before conferences are held. That is all I say about that point. I believe that the constant harping on the liberation of those territories and on the regaining of the 1937 frontiers for Germany is one of the things which makes Russia and Poland and other countries hesitate to go into any commitments which might lead to the re-opening of these questions.
If such a settlement were reached, the gains to all would be immense. So far as the Western democracies are concerned, we should have extended democracy up to the Polish frontier. There would be a united Germany up to the Oder-Neisse line. There would be a reunited Berlin, and the curious situation in which Berlin is now an island in the Russian Zone of Germany, one of the most dangerous points in the world, would have been eliminated,
Russia would gain too, because Russia would have some assurance that she was going to get a final settlement of the German frontiers, leaving her with East Prussia and North-East Prussia. She would be more assured of the position of the Ukraine if Poland could be assured of her western frontiers. Poland would gain because she would be more likely to have a viable territory or, at the least, one she could recognise and which would be recognised by the world as hers. At the present time she does not know where her frontiers are to be and precisely what she can do.
110 One may ask, what about the refugees from those territories? I am not sure that many of the refugees from Pomerania or Silesia want to go back. I say this after many discussions that I have had with these refugees. It is true that there are individuals, such as the absentee landlords, the people who had big investments in these territories, who would like to get back the right of recovering those territories and collecting rents or collecting their incomes from investments. However, the ordinary working people who have been driven out of those territories more than once, most of whom are now settled in Western Germany, with better jobs and conditions than they have had before, are not interested in going back, partly for economic reasons and partly because they do not want to be thrown about the world again, as they have been so much in the past.
Nevertheless, in any agreement regarding the future of those territories, we should try to insist that the refugees from, or previous settlers in, those territories should have the right of repatriation, if they so desire. I believe that few would want to exercise that right, particularly if the conditions to which they were returning were left to the Polish Government. By this I mean that the ordinary industrial worker would not be particularly keen on leaving his better job in Western Germany and the ex-landlord in Pomerania or Silesia would realise that if he went back to Poland today, he would not get much profit out of his previous investments.
Therefore, I say that there is a possibility of getting somewhere now on the question of the reunification of Germany. I do not believe that it is realistic to think in terms of a liberation, which I take to mean the reversal of all the territorial readjustments that have been made in Europe since 1945. I do not think that is possible. I do not think we can contemplate the possibility of a situation arising in which millions of people are re-migrated back to territories from which they were forced in 1945 or subsequently.
We have to look at the world as it is today. We have to look at Europe as it is today. We have to look at Pomerania and East Silesia and East Prussia as they are today, and we have to look at what will give us the maximum advantage in 111 our fight for the expansion of world peace and world democracy.
How is that to start? One hon. Member suggested today that it should be started by America, Britain and France opening discussions with the West German Government. I think that would be a fatal mistake. I do not think that that would create the best amosphere for new negotiations with Russia. After all, it is the four occupying Powers who are responsible. Therefore the right thing to do is for Britain, America and France to invite Russia to have talks on the position in Germany and on the possibility of reunification. After there was general agreement in principle then we could all go to our respective parts of Germany and say, "We have reached an agreement. We invite you to take part in consultations with the four of us on this matter to see where we can get."
The German political parties, the C.D.U. and the S.P.D., have both rejected any possibility of discussions with the East German authorities. That is not our business. If they feel that way about it, they are entitled to refuse to recognise those authorities. They happen nevertheless to be the authorities, even if they are pulled by the strings of Russia. I could see some advantages in negotiations between East and West Germany which might assist the four great Powers in reaching an agreement when they come together, because if the East and West German Governments reach no agreement in any unofficial or informal discussions, we would have lost nothing.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
May I interrupt my hon. Friend? Is it not a fact that the S.P.D. is prepared to enter into discussions on a de facto basis with the East German authorities on the practical question of how to run the elections?
§ Mr. Hynd
It is true that they are prepared to enter into discussions on detailed matters of, for instance, trade and the exchange of personnel, but I did not know that they were yet willing to do so on the details of elections. They have certainly said categorically that they are not prepared to recognise the East German authorities on the question of the reunification of Germany.
I was saying that if they entered into discussions and got nowhere, at least we 112 should be no further back. We could still have our four-Power discussions. On the other hand, if the East German authorities agreed to something with West Germany, there would at least be a strong probability of the four Powers reaching an agreement also, because clearly both those sections of Germany would have had discussions with their senior partners before they reached any agreement at all.
As I say, that is a matter for the German people themselves, for the German Government, and I would not seek to interfere. I merely utter these reflections on the point. I feel that the four occupying Powers who have directed the policy for Germany who have the fate of Germany in their hands, should get together now to try to settle the question, because I believe it is possible.
To sum up, I believe that the Russian change is a real one, and that we should encourage every gesture that is made. I believe there is some hope now of reunification of the four zones of Germany, if there is—I scarcely know how to put this—a general understanding in advance that we are not making any condition in relation to Germany's 1947 frontiers; in other words, that we are prepared to consider a practical solution of the problem of the new German frontiers. I believe we should try. I do not think it is impossible that we should get somewhere, because I have not forgotten what happened in Austria. We should rule out a "general post" of the territories redistributed after the war, for that would be fatal and disastrous, and it would not be practicable.
We should seek by our efforts now to extend the democratic world as far as we possibly can. If it is up to the Oder-Neisse line, I believe that will be a tremendous gain to us. It will be a tremendous gain to Germany, to Russia and to Poland. It will also be a great gain to the satellite peoples who still remain under Russian domination, because they will at least have the gain of a nearer proximity to the democratic world and better possibilities of communication. Everybody would gain from the settlement. That is what makes it so attractive.
We should admit the possibility of some kind of new mutual security scheme for Europe. Within that scheme, whatever it may be. if Germany is to be a 113 real democratic factor in the European world of the future, Germany must be equal to the others. I would rule out completely any suggestion that the four Powers, or any other Powers, or any other collection of European or other States, should try to dictate to Germany conditions which are not applicable to any single one of the others. The Paris Agreements have shown that it is possible to contain German rearmament, that it is possible to achieve a level of disarmament throughout the participating countries, and that it is possible to eliminate any danger of future German aggression by keeping all the partners in the pact on an equal basis. I believe that is the only way in which it can be done.
With all these hopes and prospects, I feel it would be a great mistake to jettison anything now, such as to talk about German neutrality as a special condition for Germany, or to talk about dismantling N.A.T.O. to encourage the Russians to do something which I believe they are prepared in any case to do. I believe that there may even be something more significant behind the Russian position than the Prime Minister expressed in his hopes today. It is possible that we may be much nearer the final settlement of many world problems than we think.
If there is anything substantial in the Russian attitude, surely it is obvious that an agreement between Russia and the West to settle down even to competitive co-existence would mean that the countries which have the threat of the hydrogen bomb hanging over them and are anxious to establish world peace could make the United Nations work and could make possible of achievement the original purposes of the Security Council. Once that was done, all the other problems—Israel, Formosa, Indo-China and the rest—should present no difficulty at all, because it is only the division of the world into these two great camps which makes it possible for all the little festering sores in the world to continue.
If there is something in this, and if we can persuade Russia we mean to co-operate and can get her to co-operate through the United Nations—I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) that this can be done, if it is to be done effectively, only 114 through the United Nations—we may then be much nearer the millennium in world affairs than we have dreamt.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. G. B. Drayson (Skipton)
The hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) has made a most interesting speech on the subject of Germany and German unification, and has pointed out some of the many difficulties involved in that problem. I am not as hopeful as he was that the ideas which he put forward would result in a speedy solution.
The Prime Minister, in his message of progress to the House this afternoon, also had a good deal to say about the German problem and the question of unification. I have studied the matter in a small way, and perhaps I have an approach to the problem rather different from that of hon. Members opposite. I think back to the time when the four zones came into operation, and particularly to the occasion when Lord Attlee and the late Mr. Ernest Bevin went to Potsdam to settle the final agreement after the 1945 General Election. Had my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and the present Prime Minister returned to Potsdam after that General Election, the map of Europe would look very different today and many of the present problems would never have arisen. However, that was not to be so.
What happened? We then had Germany divided into zones. The occupation armies of America, France and Britain set about teaching the Germans the virtues of our Western democracy.
§ Mr. Warbey
Is the hon. Gentleman seriously suggesting that the division of Germany into four zones was arranged by the Labour Government? Surely he knows that that was arranged well in advance.
§ Mr. Drayson
Of course it was, but I was saying that my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford would not have agreed to the state of affairs which has come about. I know that the zones were agreed at Yalta, but my right hon. Friend would not have agreed to a state of affairs in Europe after the end of hostilities which would have led to the present situation. We have been reminded that there is still no peace treaty with a united Germany eleven 115 years after the war. The Labour Party has a very large measure of responsibility for that, because it was the Labour Government which was responsible for these matters from 1945 onwards.
As to what happened immediately after the war, we felt it our duty, having had such bitter experience of the Nazi régime, to impress upon the defeated Germans the method of government that we thought it would be in their interest and the interests of the world for them to adopt. Various organs of the Forces, such as A.B.C.A.—the Army Bureau of Current Affairs—were used to teach the Germans the art of Western democracy. After a number of years, when we thought they had learnt their lesson sufficiently well, they were allowed to take part in local elections, and this led to their own general elections and ultimate complete independence.
I always remember my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford saying that in these matters we should sometimes look at things from the other side's point of view. In this case, the other side is Russia. In the Russian Zone the Russians set about bringing in their own instructors and teaching people in the Eastern Zone of Germany something of their ideas of how a country should be run, so we should not be surprised at the difficulties which we are now facing.
Many suggestions have been put forward this afternoon, and there will no doubt be many more, for dealing with that situation. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said that the longer we delayed the longer we would have to wait for unification. I am certainly not as optimistic as some hon. Members opposite. This afternoon the Prime Minister talked about free elections on terms that all could accept, after which the Germans could have any constitution they liked. We immediately come up against the difficulty of reaching terms for elections which are acceptable to all.
Looking at the problem as a purely political or electoral one, and without going into details of party policies, and so forth, in Western Germany at the present time, merely by counting the heads of electors one can see an immediate obstacle. It is my assessment of the situation that if the population of Eastern Germany was to be added to that of Western Germany—18 million East 116 Germans to 45 million in the West—we might well find an electorate with a predominantly Left-wing attitude.
That is because the Germans in the Eastern Zone have suffered very bitterly at the hands of the Russians and have paid considerable reparations to the Russians. They have been the only Germans to pay reparations. The Allies have had to pay vast sums of money into Western Germany to build up its economic strength so that it is now one of our fiercest competitors in world markets. In Eastern Germany, 18 million Germans have been paying reparations for the whole German nation and they do not feel that they have had all the encouragement from Western Germany that they would have liked.
They have seen Western German build herself into a state of considerable prosperity and they may feel that the Western Germans are happy with the situation as it is and do not want to change it just yet until they are ready—I do not know what "until they are ready" means, nor who it is who wants to be ready. I have spoken to industrialists from the Ruhr and others from Western Germany and I find it difficult to get answers to these problems. Others may know what the answers are.
The Eastern Germans are now the have-nots and if a political party comes forward in Western Germany in these all-German elections and says, "If you, the Eastern Germans, vote for us, we will see that the wealth acquired by our nation in the last eleven years is equally divided ", it will receive considerable support. There may be some in the West who do not like the idea of dividing wealth, but the fact remains that the 18 million East Germans would tend towards the Left in order to share in the division of the wealth from the West.
Later, after the elections and when equilibrium between East and West had been reached—and I say this especially, knowing the German characteristics and our experience of the Germans before the war—the pendulum might swing to the Right again and when the Eastern Germans had reached parity with those in the West there might be a Right-wing Government. There would, however, be difficulties with a Left-wing Government in the near future. Those may be matters of which we should not take account and 117 certainly not seek to influence, but in the world of politics today all such matters have to be seriously considered.
I had intended to refer to those people who come from the Eastern Zone into Western Germany and to the sort of treatment which they then receive. However, all I shall say is that it is my impression that they do not get that care and consideration which we give to our fellow citizens from Jamaica and the West Indies who come to this country to earn their living. There is room for improvement in the system which operates for those who come from the Eastern Zone to work and live in the West.
I am convinced, as are other hon. Members, that unification is the key to the entire European problem. People sometimes cynically ask me what is the advantage of German reunification to Great Britain and to the West and I am sometimes inclined to ask myself that very question, but I try as speedily as possible to dismiss those unworthy thoughts from my mind.
Reference has been made to direct talks between the West German Government and the East German Government, which, for the first time, was spoken of as the D.D.R. by the Prime Minister. To hear the use of those three initials after so many years of reference to the Soviet Zone indicates that we are making some progress towards recognising that 18 million Germans need special consideration. I do not know what advantages would come from direct negotiations between East and West Germany.
I have a shrewd suspicion that there are some very direct negotiations about trade already, and that trade is taking place between the Eastern and Western Zones of Germany to the detriment of British manufacturers and on a basis which places us at a disadvantage. I should like the Government to give special consideration to that point, because if we make progress economically and increase the prosperity of Eastern Germany, we must, at the same time, in some way benefit the 18 million Germans who are endeavouring, against many obstacles, to earn their livings and bring up their families in that part of Europe. We should look more closely at any possible obstacles to proper and normal trade with the Eastern Zone.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
I am following the hon. Member's argument 118 with very great interest. Will he agree that it would also be an advantage if Her Majesty's Government were sufficiently sensible to recognise the D.D.R. to such an extent that they could arrange with it for British European Airways to have its through air service to Moscow via East Berlin?
§ Mr. Drayson
I have followed that matter quite closely, but, not being an expert on airlines, as is the hon. Member, I have not sought to enter that controversy. No doubt he will refer to it if he speaks later.
I am told that East German trading concerns who acquire sterling as a result of transactions with Great Britain or the Empire, see their sterling go into an account which is the equivalent of Russian sterling account. To have it released on a transferable basis the East Germans are forced to seek the permission of the Soviet monetary authorities to use the sterling which they have acquired in normal trading. Things of that sort have the effect of driving East Germany deeper into the arms of the Soviet Union. We should take what steps we can to reduce that influence.
East Germany is a factor in a much larger game being played by the Soviet Union, but there are a number of instances in relation to which we could at least demonstrate our interest in those 18 million Germans who, to use an American phrase, are "on the wrong side of the track". Through no fault of their own, but through the fortunes of war, they have not enjoyed the same benefits as have been enjoyed by those in West Germany since 1945.
I should like to repeat a phrase used by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the recent debate on Cyprus. That is, that it is a mistake to take up too rigid a position. I feel that it would be a mistake to do so in this matter. I hope that, with the more encouraging expressions of opinion which we have had today, progress will continue. I have ventured to submit these few ideas to the House. I am fully aware of the immense responsibility resting upon the shoulders of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, but I confidently hope that when we next discuss these matters still further progress will have been made.
§ 7.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I have listened to all the speeches made this afternoon. I certainly believe that the Prime Minister has clarified the position in regard to Germany, N.A.T.O., and a rapprochement with the U.S.S.R. I will return to that point later. I assure my colleagues that if I am not interrupted I shall be brief, in order to leave time for a few more speeches to be made.
The hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Drayson) is quite a progressive Conservative. He came with me to Moscow in 1952 or 1953, when we tried to increase East-West trade. At that time we were liable to be called fellow-travellers or Communists, but the hon. Gentleman had the courage to come to Moscow with us. He can be quite assured that we are no longer called fellow-travellers. Even some trade unions which voted against East-West trade are now finding that they want to sell tractors and cars wherever they can.
What I resented about the hon. Member's speech was his accusation that my party had drawn the map of Europe. If anybody wants to know who should be accused of intensifying the cold war, I can tell him where to search. I was in the United States of America on 5th March, 1946, when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) made his Fulton speech, which started the deterioration of East-West relations and the intensification of the cold war. The trouble in Germany and Berlin did not begin with the intensification of the differences between East and West Berlin; it began with financial jugglery. I telephoned Berlin on the day that the American Government altered the value of the deutschmark. If that alteration had had the effect of altering the rate in East Berlin it would have completely upset the economy in the East. Any student who has studied this matter can trace the deterioration of the position to that action.
The Berlin airlift need never have been necessary, because goods could have gone over the frontier quite easily. Far from there being an Iron Curtain, thousands of people move across the frontier each day, working in one area and living in the other. Is it not time that we started trying to co-exist and co-operate with the East, in view of the changes that have 120 taken place in the U.S.S.R., instead of perpetuating the myth that there is some demarcation line over which people cannot move? People in East and West Berlin have been moving across the frontier throughout the cold war.
I now want to speak for myself. During the weekend I took the trouble to read two documents to which I had the honour to contribute a little. One is called "Keep Left", and the other "Keeping Left". I also took the trouble to read a very erudite document produced by the Institute of International Affairs, called "Defence in the Cold War". This document tells us how we can rearm without tears, and how we can afford to spend 10 per cent. of our national income upon rearmament in the cold war. It also tells us that the atom bomb is a myth, and that we must not create fear of it.
But it had the courage to state what the world did not know at that time—when that document was written and Chatham House was investigating its allegations—namely, who started the trouble in North Korea. The reality of the matter is that the world was swung into the war in North Korea before the United Nations had a chance to make a full investigation. Chatham House admitted that. These are some of the general principles of the cold war that we should be able to discuss now without calling each other Communists or fellow-travellers.
We were given a better definition of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation today. The Prime Minister said that the hydrogen bomb compels military rethinking. Not so very long ago not even that was admitted. We now have it officially from the most important speech made today—the most important because it was made by the Prime Minister and is now part of British policy, and we, as an Opposition, must accept some responsibility for that policy.
The hydrogen bomb now compels military rethinking. The Soviet Union accepts this as a fact, and so do we. In those circumstances, let our rethinking be courageous. A categorical statement has been made that no condition was laid down that Germany must joint N.A.T.O. before there could be the development of a free Germany. My right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said that that was not made so clear in the 121 White Paper as it has been today. This is a new fulcrum, from which we can move into a completely new position vis-à-vis the U.S.S.R. The Prime Minister's statement was one of the most important in today's debate in connection with our relations with the U.S.S.R.
I do not want to go into detail by quoting from bits of paper and statistics and making up the map of Europe in little packets. For ten years we have been compiling statistics and adding up figures, forgetting that we are dealing with human souls.
We have been given two principles by the Prime Minister. We have been told categorically that we are compelled to rethink our military position. Let us, therefore, tell our fighting Services that we want co-ordination, and that we shall ultimately have to cut down and reorganise our entire forces. Secondly, we have been told that there is no precondition for a united Germany, and that it is not necessary that Germany should join N.A.T.O.
We now accept the principle of coexistence; in plain English that means living together. We must live together or we shall die together. East-West trade is essential if we are to live together, and I agree with that part of the speech of the hon. Member for Skipton. We should say to the United States that we must co-operate together to move goods from one part of the world to the other. This ridiculous business of the Battle Act and the movement of British goods is partly responsible for the strikes in Britain today.
Have we the courage to tell the United States, after the November elections, where we stand regarding East-West trade? The Presidential elections will be over in November. After that, within about twelve months, the position in the United States may have improved vastly, and we should try to hasten the rapprochement between the United States and the U.S.S.R. We could achieve that by retaining the present Anglo-American alliance as a bridge.
I have just come back from France. The pathetic belief in the efficacy of N.A.T.O. worries me. One can walk about streets in France and see the slogans, "Once again another Indo-China". Last week, prices went up by 10 to 15 per cent., and the country cannot 122 stand the strain. Yet hon. Gentlemen are saying that we must help France all we can. Do they mean that we should send troops into Algiers? Is the Prime Minister prepared to put British troops into Algiers to help France? Of course not. Were we prepared to put troops into French Indo-China? But the position in French Indo-China was similar to that in Algeria. This country should be acting as a mediator and encouraging the French to adopt the same brave solution about Algeria as the Labour Government adopted over Burma, Ceylon and India.
Hon. Members on this side of the House are united about what should be our policy in the Far East, and I think that our view is shared by most of the hon. Members opposite. We should be working to bring China into her rightful position in the United Nations organisation. Once that is achieved, most of the difficulties in the Pacific and over Asia will not disappear, but will be easier of solution. I do not want to appear to be critical of America, but she is mainly responsible for the situation at Taiwan or Formosa. It frightens me that a nation like America should pretend to recognise a "rump" like Chiang Kai-shek. That is sheer idiocy in international affairs, and the sort of thing which will plunge us into a world war.
We have heard too much of the "realists" in the last ten years. We were told that rearmament was the solution, and that we could afford 10 per cent. of our national income on it and still be strong. Now we find that we have bread lines in Birmingham. We cannot afford such a policy of rearmament. The realists said that it would bring peace, but all that it has brought is the present position of unease. America is not entirely to blame for the present position in Formosa or French Indo-China. As much as anything, it is the responsibility of the Allies.
I cannot understand the attitude of the realists in international affairs. They looked to Bao-Dai to rescue French Indo-China. But look at the history of this puppet. When France was being torn limb from limb and eventually collapsed, Bao-Dai went to the Japanese and was selected as emperor, while the leader, Ho Chi-Minh was fighting against the Japanese to the last man. But we chose 123 to disrespect him and it is Bao-Dai, the casino gambler, the playboy of the Far East, whom we, in this House of Commons, claimed to have recognised. I raised my voice against that recognition at the time. If we recognised China and gave her her rightful place, I believe that Chou En-lai could proceed with his third policy which he is trying to implement. I believe that there is a peaceful solution to the Taiwan position. The Chinese army on Taiwan is growing older, and if the Chinese were told that it would still come to China, I believe that in such a transition a peaceful solution could be found. We should encourage America to adopt that peaceful solution.
There are two other points which I consider to be of fundamental importance. Last year I came back from the Far East, and I am not concerned with what other people tell me because I can see things for myself. China is not a Utopia, but those people believe in something. Since the Revolution, I have been to Russia ten times. I am not saying that we should agree with the system, but there the people believe in something. Unless we in the West can have as great a belief in the principles of democracy, and are prepared to make sacrifices like the Chinese and the Russians, the Western world will lose the struggle for leadership. This is the real factor in the world today, and here we sit "waffling" about little frontiers in Europe while we neglect a great area where volcanic things have taken place which will have a dynamic effect upon the world.
What about S.E.A.T.O.? If ever a treaty was signed which was nothing but a shadow, it is that. I am convinced that at the Commonwealth Conference, Nehru said he had no faith in that treaty. Why do not the Government give America a chance to change her views? Why do we not call a conference of Pacific Powers anywhere in the Far East, in order to promote a sense of dignity among Asiatic men? We should invite China, Russia and all the Pacific Powers. Let us have a new lead in the Pacific. Have this Government the courage to do that? I do not think so. As far as the international scene is concerned, the quicker we get rid of the present Government the better it will be for world peace.
124 The new cliché is "economic aid". Everyone says that all we have to do is to cut armaments and move in with economic aid and then we shall have the new Utopia. The United States and Britain have poured billions of dollars into China and South-East Asia and all over the Far East during the last ten years, and what has happened? The puppet figures who got hold of the money never raised the standard of life of the people. It depends on where the economic aid goes.
It is possible to give economic aid without improving the standard of life of the people. In his famous book on the economics of Burma, Furnival showed how between 1870 and 1940, despite the £1 million Britain put into Burma Railways, the standard of life dropped 20 per cent. Why? Because imperialism drove its railways and roads for the production of raw materials for Western man. Economic aid must do more than that. It must guarantee dignity and social stability.
As Professor W. MacMahon Ball said in his book "Communism and Nationalism in East Asia," stability of prices for Asia's raw materials is worth more than five Colombo Plans. What plans have the Government for achieving stability of prices of primary products like rubber, tin and the other raw materials of Asia? That would be more important than economic aid. We should be using the United Nations for that at the moment, and getting back to a civilised world.
I beg the Government to consider some of the suggestions which I have made. So long as Western man uses the Pacific Ocean as a lake in which to explode his hydrogen bombs and so destroy the health of the South Sea Islanders, destroy fish and make others radio-active and poisonous to everybody, whether to Russians or to capitalists, so long will Eastern man not think much of Western man's civilisation. No wonder Asia is cynical when it hears all this talk about the "free world" while we still test our hydrogen bombs in his territory, and not in ours.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) said that he had some part in writing "Keep Left" and "Keeping 125 Left". Tonight he has shown the House that he is well and truly jammed left.
There was, however, one gleam I caught from towards the end of his speech, when he pointed out the ease with which great advances of money from the United States and the British Commonwealth could be misused, and the very little results we saw from the spending of vast millions of dollars. I am in almost complete agreement with that part of his speech. It is important that we should see results when these vast sums are spent.
This picks up a point which was made by the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) earlier today. If it is true that the backward areas need a great deal of money—I do not dispute it—it is very important to make sure that the machinery is there first so that the money is properly spent. Ever since I came into this House I have said that the job in which the United Nations could show results was welfare work rather than political work. We are apt, when we talk about the needs of the backward areas, to forget the enormous sums of money which have been poured out by this country into Commonwealth countries since the war.
We are apt to lose sight of the enormous contribution that Britain has made to the Commonwealth and to assume that because our contributions to funds promoted by the United Nations and other such organisations are not as great as the contributions of other nations, we have not been doing all we ought. I cannot remember the sum, but I know that over the years we have spent thousands of millions of pounds. It is important not to forget that fact.
I will now leave the speech of the hon. Member for Leek and come back to the speech made by the Prime Minister. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have thanked him and paid tribute to the quality of that speech and to what the Prime Minister was able to clarify by it. One of the most significant phrases in the whole of the speech was when the Prime Minister referred to the enormous effect of the deterrent. He said that he would not say that it was necessarily the final deterrent for all time. We all have to consider this most serious problem of how long the supreme deterrent of the moment will remain 126 supreme. Most of us, whatever our party, will agree that the effect of the deterrent, since the discovery of the hydrogen bomb and probably since the discovery of the atom bomb, has been enormous.
Whether or not these facts have been responsible for bringing about the change of attitude in the Kremlin, none would deny that the hydrogen weapon is the supreme deterrent of war today. The world knows that to use the hydrogen bomb would make it highly probable that even those who never actually saw it drop would rot away because of the effect of strontium on the marrow in their bones, and so forth. I do not profess to be a nuclear physicist, and it would be out of place to talk about nuclear physics in a foreign affairs debate, but I suggest that there is a great deal of misinformation on the subject of atomic energy and nuclear fission.
As politicians, we should bear in mind the whole time that although nuclear fission has led to the production of a deterrent so appalling that we can almost say that it is the absolute deterrent, we can still ask whether it will be a deterrent when there is nuclear parity. There may come a time when the Soviet Union is equally strong and has as many hydrogen bombs as we have.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I have no idea. I am not an expert in nuclear fission. I do not know how many of these bombs make a deterrent. I know that because one Power today is preponderant in the possession of the nuclear-fission deterrent it is preventing any likelihood of a third world war.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I think it was the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) who said on 1st March, 1955, that saturation point in the hydrogen bomb was the point not of equality, but where either side had enough to destroy the other. The Minister of State said last autumn that in his view we had already reached saturation point.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
It may be that we have. I shall not quibble about the definition of "saturation" or "equality". It may be that the two things are the 127 same in this context. If we have reached saturation point, and if the nations are now beginning to realise that if that weapon were used at all, as the Prime Minister said today, we might very well destroy mankind, is there not the risk, over the years, of our getting back to a state such as we were in before the days of bows and arrows, before the days of the atomic bomb, as distinct from those of the hydrogen bomb?
§ Mr. Maurice Orbach (Willesden, East)
Surely it is wrong to talk of going back. At the time we conceived the idea of using rifles or guns, it would have been ridiculous to have considered going back to bows and arrows.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I see the force of the hon. Member's argument, but I cannot help recalling what the Prime Minister said about gas in the First World War, the threat of its use in the Second World War and what would happen if it were used—and the fact that it never was used.
I am not suggesting for a moment that this is the only weapon to take into consideration. I am suggesting that however distasteful the prospect may be, it may well be that we are approaching the testing time in which we must look to our defences. Such a testing time occurred after the First World War, roughly between 1920 and 1936. Such a time may well now be approaching us after the Second World War. One of my main objects when entering the House in 1945 was that I might be able to play some part in preventnig the country from making the ass of itself which it made after the First World War through imagining that the First World War was a war to end all wars.
I congratulated Lord Attlee, when he was Prime Minister, on his very courageous decision about rearmament. I have done so previously in my constituency and have no objection to doing it here. In my opinion, the Labour Government of that time deserved great credit. They had the support of the Opposition of that time, of which I was a Member. They deserved credit for their courage in introducing conscription and all the other unpleasantnesses involved in a rearmament programme in peace-time. They earned the gratitude of the country.
128 There is now a great danger, however, that we are moving into a phrase in which, if we want to secure world peace, Britain will have to remember the whole time that just because there is one appalling weapon which, as the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) said may have reached saturation point, it does not follow that there are not other weapons which might also be used against us.
I do not want to turn the debate into a defence debate for the remainder of the evening, but the Prime Minister said that the fact that the hydrogen bomb was the deterrent now did not mean that it would be the deterrent for all time; and it may be that as one of the consequences we shall have seriously to consider what we are to do to provide ourselves with more conventional weapons. I have suggested on other occasions that we may have not merely to rethink our strategy but also to rethink the methods by which we preserve peace in other parts of the world from those under discussion today. The time may well come when we shall have to have a colonial police force rather than an Army to do it, but I cannot go into the details of that today.
I want to emphasise a point which has been made in different ways by several hon. Members during the debate—the importance of remembering that however good one's foreign policy and strategy may be in theory, unless one has the economic wherewithal to carry it out, one will not succeed. This is the crux. As my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State knows, I have tried to stress on previous occasions that in my opinion, for a country in the position in which we found ourselves after the war, only two courses are open: either we keep a rigid machinery, operated by the State, to control our economy, or we have the right to discriminate in our trade policy overseas. This, I believe, lies at the heart of the solution of our problems, particularly the European problems.
My hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) spoke of the possibility of a common market in Europe. Some play has been made of Disraeli's name and my use of some of his words. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said that he thought Disraeli was out of date and had very little relevance today. Perhaps I might remind 129 the House of one thing which Disraeli said which is very true today. He said that if Europe ever, through her shortsightedness, fell into a state of exhaustion, for England there would remain an illustrious future because England was associated as closely with the New World as with the Old. I do not think that anyone will regard that as out of date in the present context.
The problem of how European countries are to carry the burden which they must carry if they are to be safe in the world, not only militarily but economically, is, I believe, Europe's key problem. I believe that at the moment we are attempting the impossible. One of the reasons I have always opposed any form of federation in Europe is that, in my view, if it were to take place it would be dominated by one of two countries—either Germany or the United States. I do not want to see it dominated by either. I would much sooner see the development of a system which has been so successful in our Commonwealth—an association of sovereignties, as it was described earlier today, rather than a form of federation. I despair because there seem to be so few people of any party in the House who are prepared to offer an alternative to these ideas of federation which Europe is putting forward—an alternative which would be better than federation could possibly be.
The answer, I believe, is for the debtor nations in Europe—and we must not forget that we are debtor nations—to come together, and to say, "We will discriminate in trade, one with another, whatever America says". After all, America discriminates in her own trading policy. She may have reduced her tariffs, but where did she start from, com pared with us? Simply on the argument that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander—and, heaven knows, we need the sauce more than they do—
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I do not want to turn the debate into a civil aviation debate, although I see the force of the hon. Member's interjection.
I know that all the trade experts and economists say that if we adopted such a policy there would automatically be vicious retaliation against us. The sort of Europe which I want to see and the sort of trade policy for this country is 130 one in which our old associations and tariff arrangements are brought up to date. In other words, I want us to review the Ottawa Agreements and to cut out G.A.T.T. Let us have a second tier of preferences and tariffs with the other debtor countries of Europe. That is the only hope for the economy of this country in the end. As long as we refuse to face up to the issue of running the risk of American unpopularity, we shall have to muddle along and we shall find the task of carrying the defence programme extremely burdensome.
We need to develop our industries and to continue to improve the standard of living of our people. At the moment, we are in a completely false position. Our economy is in a perilous state. Since the war we have proved that we did not do very much better with State controls so long as we denied ourselves the right to discriminate in trade. We have tried to carry on with out-of-date agreements of 1932. Our position is still perilous.
More than anything else the problem we have to face is a foreign affairs problem. The Foreign Office has its Economic Department. What is it doing? Is it trying to persuade the Americans to see our point of view? Is it working as closely as it should with the Board of Trade? Do not let it be assumed that this is purely an Imperial matter, purely a Commonwealth matter, purely a matter for the Colonial Secretary and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. This is a matter in which the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain should say to the United States, "If you want us to withstand totalitarianism and not to have to adopt the same system because, otherwise, we shall be ruined, if you want us to be a free nation trading with free nations, you must allow us the right to discriminate in our trade policy." That is what should be said every day to Washington.
In my view, there are two sorts of Americans. There are the Americans who are splendid military Allies, whom, during the war, we all learned to love and respect. There is another type of American that I do not like nearly so much; the type that really does want to smash the British Empire as a trading organisation. I do not believe that those people are Allies at all, and we should have no hesitation in saying so. We 131 should stand up boldly and say to the Americans "We mean to make through, but we cannot for very much longer try to meet all your demands. We are grateful to you for all the money you spent to help Europe after the war, but for heaven's sake realise that if you want the British Empire to be with you in this military alliance, this containment of the spread of Communism, you must ensure that the British economy is allowed to survive." At the moment, what we are heading for, I believe, is its complete and utter destruction.
Those may be strong words, but they are certainly not spoken in any form of criticism of my right hon. Friends. I say this simply because I believe that over many years they have been badly advised by certain people who ought to know better. I believe that it is because they are so beset with the idea that we must not say anything to annoy the Americans that we have not been tougher with them so far. I do not believe that my right hon. Friends can be expected to be tough unless we who support them urge them to be so, and even if I am the only one in this debate to say it I think that it is worth saying.
I admire the Americans enormously. I am far more interested in being friends with the Americans than with the Germans. My feelings about all the talk of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) on the subject of being friends with Germany is this. The Germans put a bullet through my father's head. They did their best to drop a bomb on me and on many of whom I am extremely fond, and I do not believe that a series of lectures on demokratismus at Wilton Park will transform them into democrats overnight. I forgive them all the iniquities they have committed in this world, but I do not trust them. I think that one of the best things that ever came out of the Second World War was that Germany was divided. I hope that she will be divided for the rest of my life, because as long as she is divided I do not think she can be as great a danger as she has been.
I do not believe that the Americans want to fight another European war, and if they do not want to fight another European war they must ensure that the British economy is allowed to survive. 132 That is why I hope that my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary will realise that it is by the Foreign Office that the problem must be solved, and that he will not wait for the Commonwealth or the Colonial Territories to come in on this. It is British policy from the British Foreign Office and it should be the British Ambassador saying so in Washington.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. A. E. Hunter (Feltham)
I am very pleased to have an opportunity to speak in this debate, not because I claim to be an expert on foreign affairs, as many hon. Members on both sides of the House are, but because I feel that, to some extent, a lay person should state his opinion on international affairs. I am glad to say that I do not share the pessimism of the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke). He seems to believe that there must be another world war—at least that is the impression that I got from his speech. I do not believe that it is nuclear weapons only that are stopping the Third World War today. I believe in mankind, and that people in every country are more kindly, more tolerant than they were centuries ago.
I do not believe that the ordinary people in any land believe in the old story that the sword can win glittering prizes or settle international disputes. I do not believe that the ordinary people of any land want another world war. I do not believe that there is any fundamental quarrel between the people of Britain and America, the people of Britain and Germany or the people of Britain and Russia. I have always taken my stand on peace in the belief that there is no fundamental quarrel between the peoples of the world.
I want to speak for a few minutes on Anglo-Russian relations. I made my first speech in the House just over twelve months ago, when I supported the Foreign Secretary's policy regarding the four-Power Conference at Geneva. I urged the Foreign Secretary to go on with those four-Power talks, because in this age of nuclear weapons, and H-bombs it would be better to have years of four-Power talks without success than one day of war. Therefore, I am very pleased that those four-Power talks were held last summer and that we can say today that Anglo-Russian relations are far better than they have been since 1945.
133 I believe that the question of peace is far above party policy, and that if we can get better relations between Britain and Russia it will be a basis on which we can build world peace. I remember the late Mr. Ernest Bevin saying, during his period as Foreign Secretary, that if he could get one sign from Russia, the lifting of a little finger in friendship, he would seize it with both hands. I believe that today there is a far better relationship between Britain and the Soviet Union.
I think that the visit here of the Soviet leaders in April has led to a better understanding. The policy of peaceful co-existence which they advocate and which this Government, I am certain, advocate is a policy which this whole House should support. The Prime Minister is paying a return visit in May. I am quite certain that hon. Members on both sides of the House wish him success in improving Anglo-Soviet relations.
There are three points with which I want to deal very briefly. One good sign is the visits of people from Russia to this country and the visits of people from this country to the Soviet Union. I am certain that the more that we can get Russian people to visit this country and British people to visit Russia the greater will be the improvement in Anglo-Soviet relations. The ordinary people of the Soviet Union are visiting this country. We are getting their industrial workers, their transport workers, and their shop workers, and we are also getting their sportsmen, football teams, athletes and artists. We have a Russian ballet coming here in October and people from other cultural centres. We have our own delegates going to Russia. We have our industrial workers, our footballers, our boxers and also our artists going there, and I am certain that the greater the exchange between the two countries the better it will be for both. I hope very much that the Government will encourage these exchanges. May they roll on like the River Thames, the Mississippi and the Don. I am quite certain that the effect of the exchanges will be all to the good.
I express my pleasure at the Prime Minister's statement about the acceptance of the offer of the Soviet Foreign Secretary to hold a conference on the banning of the hydrogen bomb tests and 134 nuclear weapons. That is a big step forward. If we can get international control of the tests I believe that it will be possible to go forward to an even greater stage of general disarmament.
The third point I wish to stress is general disarmament. Russia has definitely made a token to the Western world by reducing her armed forces by over 1 million men, and I understand that the United States of America is now considering large reductions. I trust that we shall not lag behind. If we can secure some general policy on disarmament, that will bring relief not only in respect of international tension but in the great strain caused by the burden of armaments on our economic situation.
Such a move nearly succeeded in 1931, when there was the Disarmament Conference called by the League of Nations. The late Mr. Arthur Henderson took a leading part as chairman. The plan nearly succeeded before the rise to power of Hitler. Now, in 1956, the world has another chance. It is not necessary for me to dwell upon the horror of the hydrogen bomb or nuclear weapons. We know that with these weapons whole cities, whole nations, may be wiped out overnight. I believe that in the latter part of the twentieth century mankind has another chance, a chance to save our Christian civilisation and our culture. I ask the Government not only to ban the nuclear tests but to go forward with a general policy of disarmament so that our Christian civilisation can lead the world to a new era for mankind.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Godfrey Nicholson (Farnham)
The last time I followed the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Hunter) was when he made his maiden speech, which I still recall as a very good maiden speech. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not comment on what he said tonight. These debates tend to become rather desultory and very far-ranging. We survey mankind from China to Peru. The particular corner of the world which I propose to discuss is Palestine.
In common with many other hon. Members, I have visited Israel and Jordan recently. I was there in April. It was a moving and impressive experience, from the point of view of politics today, of ancient history, religion, and 135 natural beauty. But it was more than moving or impressive: it was exceedingly unsettling, much more unsettling than I expected.
We have a habit in this country of getting used to critical situations. I am afraid that we have got used to the Israel-Arab problem. We think that because it has drifted on for eight years it will go on drifting on. It is like any other irritant. We live with it, and we get used to it. Things are not just as bad as they were; they are much worse than they were.
My theme tonight is to beg the House and the Government to treat this problem as one not only of urgency, but of growing urgency. We regularly pay tribute to General Burns, to the Armistice Commission and to Mr. Hammarskjold and the successful ameliorating work which he has recently undertaken; but they are only propping up the crumbling front of peace, and with every day that goes by, failing an international attempt to arrive at a settlement, the danger of war grows. It is not simply the danger of war between Israel and the Arab States. It is the danger of world war, of war that will drag us in, through the Tripartite Declaration, and of complications that may spread all round the globe.
My first appeal to the House is not to take sides. I know it is difficult for people in this House who have Jewish blood in them not to take sides. They feel the call of that blood, and they feel bound to stand up for their kin. Nevertheless, I beg all in this House who have Jewish blood or connections not to take sides. Personally, I found it very easy not to take sides. I felt that there was so very much to be said against each side and for them. It is far too complex and perilous a situation for it to be safe to take up a partisan attitude. It is so easy to do it, but it is far too dangerous.
Who can fail to admire the Jewish endeavour in Israel? Who can fail to admire their courage and their industry? Who can say that they are not entitled to at least one small corner of the world that they can call their own—and that their historic homeland? Taking the other side, who, if he is honest with himself, can excuse the Jewish treatment of the Arabs? Who can fail to grieve at the sad irony that a nation which is, par excellence, the nation of refugees has 136 itself caused 1¼ million Arab refugees? These are facts. There are many explanations—
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Is the hon. Member not putting it wrongly when he says that that was caused by anyone other than the Arabs themselves? He should be fair. The fact is that the Arabs told these people to come out.
§ Mr. Nicholson
That shows the extreme danger of indulging in partisan argument. There are many arguments. The plain fact is that Israel is littered with the ruins of Arab villages to which Arabs are not permitted to return.
If I were a Jew, I hope and trust that I should be the most fervent Israeli patriot. I hope I should have fought to the death in the war of liberation. I give full credit to the Jews for their courage and their patriotism. It is perfectly easy to put oneself in their place, and I do so with humble admiration. As a friend of both sides, however, I do not intend to gloss over the failings and the sins of either side. Friends of Jewry must recognise that the Jews have done a great injury to 1¼ million Arabs in not letting them come back after the war. I put it that way not to cause offence.
The fact that there are unanswerable arguments each way from the point of view of the Jews does not make the problem any easier, or make it any wiser to indulge in partisan sentiment. Who can blame the Arabs for resentment? Who can fail to feel for the expatriates, but who can excuse the Arabs for failing to try to reach a settlement? Who can excuse them for keeping 1¼ million refugees in a living death in refugee camps purely as a political instrument? Who can fail to pity both sides for their justifiable causes of complaint? Who can fail to pity them for the criminal errors into which they have both fallen? I feel deeply for the Arabs, as I do for the Jews. But I deplore the failure of the Arabs to face reality and to face facts.
I only bring out these opposing arguments to show that the situation is not a simple one. It is not a situation in which all the right is on one side and all the wrong, is on the other side. It is like most human and historic problems, where it is easy to see oneself acting as a Jew, had one been a Jew, and as an 137 Arab, if one had been an Arab. It is a situation for compassion and not for blame. It is not my purpose to indulge in a partisan argument, or to allocate blame, or to trace the cause of what is one of the most tragic pages of recent history. It is my object tonight to try to face reality, to try to face the facts. If we trace back any political argument to the past, we only become bogged down.
We are faced with this fact, that this is almost a case of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Neither of the two sides will budge an inch. It is proposed that there should be negotiations, but we shall never persuade these two sides to meet in the same conference room or even in adjoining conference rooms. This is a first-class problem of first-class difficulty. Yet if we funk it, if we become used to the situation, if we let it alone, if we tell ourselves that it will work itself out, if we say, "They will find a way out, they will find a modus vivendi," we delude ourselves. It is vain to hope that a situation so fraught with peril, so exceedingly explosive, can ever settle down by itself.
But there is indeed room for a reasonable settlement, if we approach it in the right way. The prerequisite condition is that the settlement must be an imposed settlement, a settlement imposed from outside, and equally disliked by each side.
I do not want it to be thought that I am forgetting the question of Egypt. That is a separate question. I do not believe that Egypt is in the cold war against the Jews from the same motives as Jordan and the other Arab States. If we want an explanation of the Egyptian attitude we must seek it in the fact that in Egypt there is a dictator who has risen to power on the back of the army, and who must go on playing up to the army. So I leave Egypt out.
I return to the point that the settlement must be an imposed settlement, imposed from outside, and one which is equally disliked by both sides. It is very easy to devise a settlement which is disliked by both sides, but it is difficult to make one which is equally disliked by both sides. That settlement must be made by the United Nations. It cannot be imposed by us. It cannot be imposed by the Americans. It certainly will not be imposed by France. It cannot be 138 imposed by the Tripartite signatories. It must be proposed by the United Nations, and the purpose of my speech tonight is to get it on record that at least one hon. Member of this House feels that first among, or at least equal with the many important objects facing the Government is the need to sponsor as soon as possible a move to obtain a settlement of this issue by the United Nations.
Now for the conditions. I will take the Jewish side first. I think the Jews must admit that they have caused grave injury to many Arabs. I do not mean to say that they have done equal injury to all the Arabs. The refugees who had farms in Palestine have, perhaps, suffered the most, but between 80 per cent. and 90 per cent. of the Arab refugees were landless labourers, who will be as happy in any Arab country as they were in the Arab villages in Palestine.
The Jews must be brought to admit that there have been faults on both sides and that their fault has been towards the Arab refugees. They must compensate for it, I think, by consenting to accept 100,000 or 150,000 Arabs back into Palestine. A short time ago the Israeli Government offered to take 100,000 Arabs back. That offer was not accepted, and the offer has now been withdrawn. That offer must be renewed. I certainly received the impression, and I have heard nothing to contradict it, that the Arab citizens of Palestine lead their own lives and benefit from the whole structure of the Israeli State, are well-treated, and are loyal citizens.
As to the refugees who are not taken back, that problem will mean a great deal of hard cash. I do not know how it will be raised, whether by a Jewish loan in America or by a loan through the United Nations. I am sure that the Western Powers can find the money when they realise that a settlement of the Palestine problem may well save them from another world war. The cost will run at least to £200 million or £300 million. Much of that must go towards the settlement of the refugees and the development of the land in which they are settled.
The Arabs must face facts. It is no good saying, "We, the Arabs, will never rest until we have driven the Israelis into the sea." That is not a grown-up attitude. The Arabs must "be their age". They must recognise the existence of 139 Israel as a nation and that, rightly or wrongly, that nation has come to stay. No nation in the world has not had to recognise the right of another nation to a place by conquest and occupation. The Arabs must accept the compensation offered and they must co-operate with the United Nations and with the Israelis to resettle the Arab refugees. There are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of square miles in that part of the world where, if the money is spent and there is the will to labour, conditions of prosperity can be created.
The Arabs have it in them to make the desert blossom as the rose, just as much as have the Jews. Nothing is more striking than to see in those countries what resurgent Arab nationhood means. It is possible to hope that good may come out of evil and that the gospel of peace may once more be preached where it was originally preached, and where, today, the gospel of hatred is supreme.
I do not despair, but I shall despair if this House and the Western world are content to let matters drift and to say, "Bravo, Mr. Hammarskjold, and bravo, General Burns. You have staved off another war for a week, or a year, or more." This problem is acute. I ask the House to face it in that spirit and, above all, not to let natural partisan spirit prevail. Let us knock their heads together and try to knock some sense into both sides.
§ Mr. Janner
Has the hon. Member at any time attempted to read any of the speeches made on both sides in relation to this matter? Is he not aware that time after time the Prime Minister of Israel has called upon the Arabs to stop all this kind of thing and try to come together with a view to a settlement? Will the hon. Member read those speeches before making another speech of the kind that he has just delivered?
§ Mr. Nicholson
I have certainly read all that. I am not taking sides for or against anyone, but I have never read a speech in which the Israelis have recognised the reason why the Arabs have their natural resentment.
§ Mr. Nicholson
If the hon. Member asks me a question, he might at least listen to my answer. The hon. Gentleman 140 does not like it. No Israeli likes to be told that his nation has created 1¼ million refugees. It may have been inevitable. If I had been a Jew I frankly admit that I should have done the same, but until these bitter facts are faced there is no prospect of a settlement.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I do not intend any discourtesy to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) if I do not follow him into a discussion of the affairs of Palestine. I agree that those are important, but the theme that must dominate this debate is the opening speech by the Prime Minister. I, for one, welcomed very much the tone of that speech, and I agree with all the tributes that have been paid to the right hon. Gentleman for the initiative he has taken during the last two years in trying to bring about some understanding between ourselves and the Soviet Union. We have had Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Bulganin here and the Prime Minister is to go to Moscow. That is a good thing, and I can hardly think that we shall go back into the frigidity and hostility of the cold war.
I have had the interesting experience of hearing the National Anthem sung exquisitely in London by the Soviet Army. This taught me for the first time that there was music in the National Anthem. We have had the Archbishop of York engaged in theological combat with his counterpart in Moscow, and so the interchange of courtesies goes on. I hope that this will continue until we have it reflected in diplomatic success and the assurance that we are not to have a war in the H-bomb age.
Of course, there was a certain amount of self-righteousness in the speech of the Prime Minister, which I am prepared to forgive the right hon. Gentleman because of his other activities. He welcomed the liberalisation of Russia—with a small "I"—and so do I. I always welcome the news that anybody has been released from gaol. Unfortunately, I was there so long myself that, whatever may be the political complexion of a released prisoner, I always welcome the news that one has been released from gaol.
It is good to release prisoners from gaol, but there are other things in the world besides people being in gaol. I 141 hope that when the Prime Minister meets Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Bulganin the former will not ask, "Why did you sack that fellow Lang?" Equally, I hope that if the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary happen to go to the United States they will say, "Is it not time you had a little liberalisation over there and let Mr. Paul Robeson come over to sing to the Scottish miners?" I do not think that we should be so self-righteous as to imagine that this is the free world; that all the conglomeration of nations in N.A.T.O., from Turkey and indirectly Fascist Spain, represent the free, liberal world and that the other people are in outer darkness.
One thing which came out of the speech of the Prime Minister was that the discovery of the H-bomb has made pacifism popular. All the preachings and arguments of pacifists like myself during the years have counted for nothing compared with the arrival of the H-bomb. Of course, the argument about the H-bomb works both ways. After all the piling up of armaments since 1951 we are not negotiating with Russia from a position of strength. We are in just the same dilemma as Russia is in because, if war starts, presumably we shall be annihilated in just about the same time as the Russians, and there is not much satisfaction about that. Therefore, for the sheer sake of self-preservation, we have all to rethink our ideas about foreign policy, and, if we are to live together in a world where nations can be wiped out in a few days, we must all do our best to take the initiative to make a world in which an H-bomb war would be impossible.
There is one thing I do not like about the new Russian line of thought. I like most of it. I think the Russians are showing commendable initiative in foreign affairs. However, I do not like the words "competitive co-existence". If we are to substitute economic war for political and military war, we shall dissipate the energies of mankind in such a way that the result may be a tremendous waste of human endeavour on both sides of the Iron Curtain in pursuing economic war in order to obtain markets for our respective countries.
I suggest that it should be put to the Russians that if we are to talk in terms of disarmament we should endeavour to arrange an economic conference of the 142 United Nations to face the economic problems which will inevitably come to the world if we are all to disarm. I remember going on a very unpopular mission to Moscow, in 1953, when the Russians held an economic conference at which as many people as would go there discussed the future economic problems of the world.
Now that there is almost general agreement about the need for military disarmament, I believe that we should take the initiative in calling a special conference of the United Nations to discuss the whole economic future of the world, to outline a ten- or twenty-year project for the economic planning of the world which will aim at the raising of the standard of life of the people whether they be on this side or the other side of the Iron Curtain, whether they live in Asia, Africa or any other part of the world.
If we took that line, we should make an immense impact upon Russian public opinion. Russia believes in five-year or ten-year plans; she believes in planning ahead. Instead of talking about competitive co-existence, as though we have to fight economically if not politically or militarily, we should put to the world in which we are living in the H-bomb age the idea that every intelligent statesman in the world realises the futility of a war which can lead only to universal suicide.
I should like this country to say to Russia, "We are not keen on competitive co-existence. The time has come when we should try to abolish competition in the world. The West and the East, with their industrial resources, can work together as humanity and not as the West and the East. The time has come when it is economically possible to have a ten-year or twenty-year peace plan for raising the standard of life of all the peoples of the world". That is a challenge which the Russians would not hesitate to accept. If we can think in terms of the abolition of economic war as well as political war, we can take the initiative in moving forward to a greater development of the life of human beings throughout the world.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
In rising to wind up today's debate for the Opposition, I do not propose to deal with the many matters of 143 world-wide importance to which hon. Members have referred in the various interesting speeches which have been made tonight. It is my purpose to concentrate on the recent disarmament discussions in New York which have just concluded. I will remind the House of the background of those discussions.
We are now eleven years from the termination of the Second World War, and yet today the world remains a vast armed camp. It has been estimated that £40,000 million a year are spent on armaments and that about 15 million men are under arms. That expenditure of manpower and money not only imposes a crushing burden on the world, but diverts immense sums which might be better utilised for improving the standards of living throughout the world and in particular in the less developed countries.
Looming up are even greater dangers to which reference has been made by various speakers today, including the Prime Minister. The atom bomb and the hydrogen bomb constitute weapons of human destruction never before equalled in the history of mankind. More than a year ago the Manchester Guardian published an estimate that the United States then already possessed a stockpile of more than 4,000 atomic bombs and estimated that more than 1,000 were in the possession of the Soviet Union.
Those stockpiles have steadily increased since then, and undoubtedly the numbers must be much greater. The number of hydrogen bombs already stockpiled by the United States and Russia is not known, but is believed by those who make a study of these matters to be substantial. Again, the numbers are being steadily increased. What is clear is that the present stockpiles of both atomic and hydrogen bombs are sufficient, as the Prime Minister indicated earlier, to destroy mankind.
Indeed, to quote the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the right hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Nutting)The world has now reached a point of infinite devastation.Moreover there are good reasons for the view that by 1960, or thereabouts, intercontinental ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, and with speeds exceeding that of sound and of a range of 3,000 to 5,000 miles will be in quantity production. The 144 American representative at the Disarmament Commission recently stated that countries would then receive less than fifteen minutes' notice of imminent nuclear attack.
Who would deny, in those circumstances, that disarmament is necessary and urgent? yet this problem, which the political leaders of all countries have stated to be the most important facing the world today, after years of discussion has reached a deadlock. During the last five years the United Nations Disarmament Commission and its Sub-Committee have held more than a hundred meetings and have considered various plans and proposals set out in 32 memoranda and working papers. Plan and counter-plan, proposal and counter-proposal have followed one another with monotonous regularity.
It is difficult to appreciate that inconsistencies and manœuvrings which have characterised their deliberations concern a problem upon the solution of which the future of mankind depends. Since the high-level conference at Geneva last year international tension has lessened considerably. The Prime Minister indicated that this afternoon and I think that we will all agree. The great improvement in the international climate should have helped considerably towards a solution of the disarmament problem. Moreover, the unilateral reduction of their conventional forces by the Governments of the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom is a further indication of the improved international situation.
In spite of those reductions, however, the levels of conventional forces for both the Soviet Union and the United States of America remain today at approximately 2,800,000. These unilateral reductions are to be welcomed, and are a step in the right direction, but they are no substitute for the agreed and controlled limitation of armaments—because what is reduced unilaterally can be raised unilaterally. Further, in the nuclear age such reductions of manpower may leave quite unaffected the striking power of a nation equipped with atomic and hydrogon weapons and the means of delivering them. This will be even more the case once the inter-continental ballistic missile becomes operational.
145 We have recently had actual experience of the uncertainty and unreliability of unilateral disarmament. Between 1945 and 1950 the United States of America reduced their conventional forces from 14 million to 1,400,000; the United Kingdom from 5 million to 680,000, and the Soviet Union from 14 million to about 4½ million. But the tense international situation which followed the Berlin blockade and the outbreak of the Korean War compelled the Western nations to reverse their policy and to embark upon a considerable build-up of their defence forces. If this sort of situation is not to arise again it is essential to achieve disarmament under the effective control of a general disarmament convention.
A great deal of criticism has been levelled against the Soviet Union on the ground of their inconsistency, but in my view Her Majesty's Government have been equally guilty of inconsistency. In May, 1952, the Western Governments proposed a ceiling of between 1 million and 1.5 million for the United States, the Soviet Union and China, and 750,000 for France and Britain. In the Anglo-French plan of June, 1954, the French and British Governments proposed major reductions in conventional forces. In March, 1955, the British and French Governments jointly repeated the 1952 numerical proposals, except that the ceiling of between 700,000 and 800,000 for Britain and France was to be reduced to 650,000.
In April of this year, in the revised Anglo-French plan, however, there was no reference whatsoever to numerical limitations. Her Majesty's Government now say that that matter can be left over and that in the final stage they will be ready to negotiate a final figure. I find it difficult to understand why, in 1952, when the international situation was tense, they were prepared to suggest a specific ceiling and then, in 1956, when it is admitted by hon. Members on both sides of the House that tension has been greatly eased, they want to leave the position so vague and indefinite, although the Soviet Union accepted the ceiling of between 1 million and 1.5 million more than a year ago.
In my view the Government were wrong in going back on their original proposals. Incidentally, on none of the 146 occasions to which I have referred did they attach any conditions about political settlements. It was not until April, 1956, that the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs indicated that these ceilings were conditional on settlements in Germany and in the Far East. The omission of these ceilings of 1½ million and 650,000 was a serious weakness in the otherwise admirable revised plan which the British and French Governments put forward in March this year. I hope, therefore, that the Government will restore those ceilings as the target to be reached in the third year of the Anglo-French plan, when and if that comes to be put into operation.
The Government's second inconsistency relates to nuclear disarmament. At the conference of Foreign Ministers at Geneva on 10th November last year the then Foreign Secretary, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, put forward on behalf of the Western Governments a draft four-Power declaration which contained no mention of nuclear disarmament but called for an early agreement on conventional armaments, to quote the words of the right hon. Gentleman, "as a first instalment." At the recent meeting of the Sub-Committee at Lancaster House criticism was again levelled against the Soviet Union for basing their own main proposals on conventional disarmament although, as I have just indicated, this is what the Western Governments had themselves suggested in November of last year at Geneva.
These shifts of position on the part of the Government must, I think, have greatly embarrassed both the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs as well as M. Jules Moch, the French delegate, all of whom have worked assiduously and zealously for disarmament agreement. May I here express my regret at the indisposition of the Minister of State, because I believe that he has worked very hard in these various meetings of the Disarmament Commission and the Sub-Committee?
The present deadlock is difficult to understand when we look at the General Assembly Resolution last December. On 16th December the General Assembly adopted a Resolution which requested the Disarmament Commission to continue its efforts—I think this is the crux of the present situation—for a comprehensive disarmament agreement but, as a first 147 step, to give priority to an early agreement on and implementation of first:such confidence-building measures as President Eisenhower's plan for exchanging military blueprints and mutual aerial inspection, and Marshal Bulganin's plan for the establishment of control posts at strategic centres";and, secondly,all such measures of adequately safeguarded disarmament as are now feasible.It is difficult to understand why the early or partial agreement referred to by the General Assembly should prove so difficult in view of the substantial agreement already reached on a number of proposals.
Let me give to the House the proposals on which there is now substantial agreement between Western Governments and the Soviet Union, and which, in my view at any rate, represent a considerable advance. First, I take conventional manpower ceilings. The Soviet Union has now agreed, as a first step, to a conventional manpower ceiling of 2½ million for the Soviet Union, the United States and China, and 750,000 for Britain and France.
Second, there is the proposal for a corresponding reduction in armament expenditure.
Third, there is the proposal for a control and inspection system. In this connection, I want to anticipate any suggestion, it may be by the Foreign Secretary, that there is not complete agreement upon a control and inspection system. In this connection, Mr. Stassen, the United States representative, speaking in London on 7th May, said that the Russians and the West were closer on the form and nature of the control organ and its relationship to the Security Council of the United Nations.
The fourth proposal relates to ground control at strategic points. Fifth, there is the proposal for the cession of production of nuclear weapons. Strange as it may seem, each of the five Governments represented in the Disarmament Sub-Committee expressed their willingness to agree to the cessation of the production of nuclear weapons.
These are five substantial proposals upon which we may say there is complete agreement. Where are the differences? There are two main ones. The first is on the power of enforcement of the 148 control organ. There can be no doubt that an effective control system is essential. The benefits of control are reciprocal. It will be in the interests of the East as much as of the West that international control should be effective in operation. Partial disarmament agreement should provide an opportunity of testing the effectiveness of the proposed control organ.
On the second difference, aerial inspection, I am bound to express my regret that the Soviet Union has not seen its way to agree to the proposal. The Soviet Government is not opposed to aerial inspection in principle, because on page 33 of the Fourth Report, and as part of its proposal for disarmament, I see this phrase:At a specified stage of the execution of the general disarmament programme, when confidence among States had been strengthened, the countries concerned shall consider the possibility of using aerial photography as one of the methods of control.Whatever the objection is, it is not an objection in principle to the proposal for the use of aerial photography.
There is a psychological side to this proposal for the United States, which still has vivid memories of the Pearl Harbour surprise attack by Japan. I doubt if it will agree to a convention, whether partial, or the comprehensive, to which we look forward, unless there is something in the nature of a modified system of aerial inspection. I therefore hope that the Soviet Union will reconsider its decision and will accept that proposal in the interests of securing early agreement.
The Government should, therefore, press forward with the preparation of a draft convention embodying the proposals on which there is substantial agreement, while continuing their efforts to secure comprehensive agreement on the lines of the Anglo-French plan.
There is one other aspect of the problem to which I should like to refer. This afternoon the Prime Minister made what I think we all regard as a most impressive speech in relation to some of the international problems which confront us. We on these benches welcome his reference to the question of nuclear tests and the Government's intention to work out methods of limitation and control, but we should like a little more information on what the Government intend.
149 I think the Prime Minister would agree that not only in this country but throughout the world there is a great deal of concern at the consequences of nuclear test explosions. We are told that this year the United States has conducted about nine explosions; that is not an official statement by the United States, but it has been widely reported in the Press. We do not know how many explosions have been carried out in the Soviet Union.
There has been a statement by one of the leading American scientists, Dr. Lapp, on 3rd July, who stated that current nuclear tests in the Pacific have brought the world much closer to the maximum safe level of radio-activity. That has been followed by a resolution passed by the Japanese Parliament calling for a cessation of the tests, and we have seen the communiqué issued following the meeting between Mr. Nehru and the Presidents of Yugoslavia and Egypt, also calling for the cessation of these nuclear tests.
§ Mr. Henderson
I said that there was a great deal of anxiety in this country as well as elsewhere in the world.
Will the Prime Minister answer these questions? First, do the Government intend to make proposals through diplomatic channels that there should be immediate discussions? If so, which Governments do Her Majesty's Government propose to approach? Secondly, have the Government any statement to make on the recent offer by Mr. Shepilov, the Soviet Foreign Minister? In reply to a question which I addressed to him last week, the Prime Minister said it was being studied by the Government. Have they any statement to make on that offer to enter into discussions with a view to banning the tests? It is certainly to be hoped that any discussions into which the Government may enter will be with a view to the eventual abolition of all nuclear test explosions.
Thirdly, is it the Government's intention to refer this study to the United Nations Sub-Committee, which I understand will not meet before November, or can we have an assurance that this matter is to be treated as a matter of some urgency, necessitating action now and not in three or four months' time? It would 150 go a long way to reassure the Opposition if the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary, in the reply to the debate, could give an assurance on these matters.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
It is very kind of the right hon. and learned Gentleman to give way. He is doing his best to cover the Government with a certain moral guilt on these matters. Since he is speaking on behalf of the Labour Party, will he say that he does not wish the present Government to conduct hydrogen bomb tests in Australia in the coming winter?
§ Mr. Henderson
I would say to that, that if we get into international discussion and it is made a condition that with other Governments, the British Government shall agree to give up their forthcoming test or there will be no agreement; then no test to be made by this or any other Government should stand in the way of an international agreement to end all nuclear test explosions. The noble Lord's question, however is hypothetical.
§ Mr. John Peyton (Yeovil)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that my noble Friend's question was hypothetical. I suggest to the right hon. and learned Gentleman that his answer has been so hypothetical as to be absolutely meaningless.
§ Mr. Henderson
I made it quite clear. I do not know what else the hon. Member would like me to say. I will just repeat that it is a matter entirely for the negotiations which are to take place with the other Governments concerned. All I say is that I am not in favour of the possibility of holding the British test being a bar to an international agreement.
Finally, the extent of the agreement already reached in the disarmament meetings indicates that there is chance of making definite headway; and the Government should exert their full influence to get some practical results without delay. To achieve even a limited agreement would contribute to the solution of outstanding political problems, would ease the burden of defence expenditure which lies so heavily upon the people, and would open up new prospects for the economic and social betterment not only of ourselves but of all the peoples of the world, and especially of the peoples of the less-developed countries.
§ 9.36 p.m.
§ Mr. C. E. Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
Today's debate has naturally ranged over a very wide compass. We started with Germany and went on to the Middle East; we have touched on the Far East, and now the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) has spoken about disarmament. I hope that he will not think it discourteous on my part if I do not attempt to reply to the points which he raised on that subject, many of which were, in one sense, technical, but leave that reply in the far more capable and responsible hands of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, when he speaks tomorrow.
Perhaps I may just say this to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, if he will forgive me. We all know the passionate conviction and sincerity with which he pursues the goal of disarmament. We agree with him, and respect him for it, but I think, perhaps, that he sometimes tends to get the problem a little out of perspective, particularly in relation to conventional weapons. I recall that it is only a matter of a little over a month since my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Defence reminded the House that in Eastern Germany today there are 22 Soviet divisions and seven East German divisions, whereas in Western Germany there are no more than five United States and four United Kingdom divisions. I think that that should bring out the disparity between the two conventional forces, and I mention it deliberately so that the problem should not be seen out of its proper perspective.
The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said that he did not think that we should base our foreign policy upon military groupings. That is a slight paraphrase of what he said, but I think that I have represented him correctly. He also said that collective security should be switched from the military to the economic aspect. I do beg him not to go too fast on that particular line. Although it is perfectly true that there has been a change of policy in the Soviet Union, none of us in this country knows whether it is really a change of strategy or a change of tactics. There is, however, one question which we are all entitled to ask: Why has there been a new look? What has brought about the change? I think that there is only one answer. It 152 is that the West and the free world built up their defences through N.A.T.O. If it had not been for N.A.T.O., I very much doubt whether there would have been any change of heart in the Soviet Union or whether the wind from the Ural mountains would have blown any warmer.
If, as the right hon. Gentleman implied, all the various military groupings which we have built up in the free world are to be scrapped, and if the economic functions which we put on them are also to pass into the wider field of the United Nations, then, frankly, I cannot go that far with him. I cannot think of anything more unwise than that we should scale down N.A.T.O. and S.E.A.T.O. or the Bagdad Pact and take away their economic as well as their military functions, because if we were to do that we should invite Soviet penetration just where I think Western interests are most vulnerable
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
If the right hon. Gentleman says that I am misquoting him, we will read what he said in HANSARD tomorrow. I listened to his speech and I took most of it down. I thought that he said that we ought not to base our foreign policy upon military groupings. He certainly said that, and I thought that he said that the economic functions of some of these military groupings, notably in respect of S.E.A.T.O. and the Bagdad Pact, ought to pass out of those particular groupings to the United Nations.
§ Mr. Robens
If the hon. Member will do me the honour of looking in HANSARD tomorrow at what I said on the two points which he has mentioned, he will find that I said that we should not base foreign policy on military groupings as an end in themselves; and on the question of economic aid, I said that I thought that it was a mistake to channel economic aid solely through military pacts and that that ought to be done through an international agency.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I will not go into that too much. There is no need for a heated debate about this. I do not think that there is a great deal of misunderstanding between us about what the right hon. Gentleman said, and still less about what he meant.
§ Mr. Robens
The hon. Member inferred that I said that the military pacts ought to be "scrapped." I never used that word in the whole of the debate.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
If there is any difference between us, I regard the military pact as a means to an end and the right hon. Gentleman perhaps thinks that we have reached the end rather sooner.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I think that we ought not to underestimate the value not only in military terms but in economic and political terms of the Bagdad Pact. It would be very unwise to underestimate them. Iraq is the only Arab country that belongs to the Bagdad Pact. So far as I am aware, she is the only Arab country which votes, I think by law, 70 per cent. of her immense oil revenues to development.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
I think that the right hon. Gentleman ought not to underestimate the value of the visit of King Feisal to this country. Do not let the right hon. Gentleman tell us that neither in the military nor in the economic sphere should we proceed any further with organisations like the Bagdad Pact, because I believe them to be part of the essential framework of the defence, both economic and military, of the Middle East.
Of course, we are living, as the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said, in an era of what is now called "competitive co-existence". The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) does not like that phrase. I think that the difficulty about it is that competitive co-existence means one thing to us in the free world and quite another thing to those on the other side of the Iron Curtain. To us on this side of the Iron Curtain competitive co-existence means to live and to let live, and behind the Iron Curtain, in spite of the new look, it means the cold war, but not the hot war.
We have lived through the Stalin era, which was the era of threats. We have passed from that to the Malenkov era, 154 which was the era of bluff bonhomie. We have now passed to the present era of Bulganin and Khrushchev, which I might describe—though this is only a guess—as the period of moral and political disarmament. None of us knows really whether the ultimate goal of the Soviet Union has changed. I am inclined to agree with the hon. Member for Woolwich, East that the ultimate goal of Communism, which is to envelop the free world, has not changed.
What has changed has been the timing, because behind the Iron Curtain they have a completely different conception of time from that which we have. We think of time in terms of years. Behind the Iron Curtain they think of time in terms of generations. Just because their conception of time is different it does not mean that still they have abandoned the ultimate goal of Communism, which is the envelopment of the Western world, not by methods of war but, now, by the new penetration by economic means and by what we call the cold war.
The right hon. Member for Blyth, when referring to the problem of the relations between Israel and the Arab States, made the suggestion that there should be a United Nations arms embargo. I very much wish that he had told us how the United Nations could enforce such an embargo. If the United Nations could do it, I should be all for it, but the right hon. Gentleman did not tell us how such an embargo could be enforced. I am not at all against what might be called the United Nations solution, or an attempt to get one. I hope wholeheartedly, with every hon. Member, that the mission of Mr. Hammarskjold will be successful. We all applaud the efforts of General Burns. Perhaps that there is a sort of ironic justice in the United Nations being asked to clear up what hitherto has appeared to be an insoluble problem.
When right hon. and hon. Members opposite were sitting on the Government benches and they handed over the mandate, they handed over to the United Nations, and they bluffed themselves, and probably many other people, into thinking that they were handing over the administration of what was Palestine to another authority which was capable of maintaining law and order and administration. In fact they were handing over 155 the administration of Palestine to a vacuum, with the most ghastly results.
Perhaps it is right, in a sense, that the United Nations should now be called in to clear up the mess which, through no fault of their own, they created. This might bring home in a way which otherwise could not be brought home the full meaning of collective security, which is that everybody is in it. It is not collective security when somebody else takes the knocks and the rest do nothing about it.
The right hon. Member for Blyth asked for a new approach to the German problem. I was not quite certain what sort of new approach he meant. I listened to every word he said—
§ Mr. Robens
The hon. Gentleman has got it all wrong so far. He has probably got this point wrong too.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
—but I do not think he meant, though I am not certain whether he really knew what he did mean himself, to abandon the principle of free elections. Did he mean that?
§ Mr. Robens
The answer is that we have said consistently from these benches that we stand by free elections in Germany for German reunification. We could go on saying it day after day.
§ Mr. Mott-Radclyffe
So long as the right hon. Gentleman is not abandoning the principle of free elections I do not mind what sort of an approach he has, but we must ask ourselves why it is that hitherto the Soviet Union has not shifted one inch on this vital issue of free elections in East Germany.
Some of the speeches made in this debate by hon. Members opposite have suggested that the Soviet Union might in certain circumstances be prepared to give way on the issue of free elections. I do not believe that it will. That is the one thing that it will hold out against, and I shall say why. There are two reasons. One is that if the Soviet Union gave way on the principle of free elections in Eastern Germany, it would lose the elections.
The other reason is that if the point of free elections is conceded in Eastern Germany, where does the Soviet Union go after that? If it says, "Very well. We 156 will have free elections in Eastern Germany", it is difficult for it to say "No" to free elections in Poland, in Hungary or in any other Iron Curtain country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because democracy is contagious and it sets up a kind of chain reaction. If the Soviet Union were to start by giving way on free elections in Eastern Germany, I do not quite know where it would end. That is why, for my part, I do not believe that the Soviet Union is at the moment prepared to give way on this vital point.
What we have really been discussing in today's debate, and what, no doubt, we shall continue to discuss tomorrow, is something which embraces not only the problem of the reunification of Germany, not only the problem of the relations between Israel and the Arab States, not only the problem of how we preserve peace and stability in the Middle East and how we can develop its resources, and not only the problems in the Far East, which the right hon. Member for Blyth touched upon, such as Quemoy, Matsu and Formosa. What we have really been discussing is how to maintain the right degree of collective security in conditions where there is a kind of détente between East and West and when nobody knows whether the détente is temporary or permanent. That is a frightfully difficult problem.
This is a problem which we may disagree about as between one side of the House and another but it is a problem which vitally affects the whole nation. Because it affects the whole nation, it also affects the whole of our relations with N.A.T.O. and with the free world. It is a problem which presents itself in a very acute form and poses a number of frightful questions, the answers to which are extremely difficult to decide upon, for it poses a problem of priorities when it is almost impossible to know what is priority number one, what is the second priority, and so on. One requires to be not only a diviner of the future but also a kind of King Solomon to execute the right judgment.
The Iron Curtain countries have their own system of collective security. It is much more rigid than ours. They have their own problems with it. With us, everything depends upon our making up our minds what sort of system of collective security we want and whether 157 that system will be only a military one or something a good deal wider. If it is to be a good deal wider, we have to decide in what proportion money is to be spent on the wider aspects as opposed to the military aspects.
We have to take into account conventional weapons, for obvious reasons. We have got to take into account nuclear weapons. We must take into account economic weapons. We have got also to take into account the fact that the world is still divided in a conflict of ideas, and that the battle that is raging, so to speak, in the cold war over most of the earth's surface, and particularly over the territories of the uncommitted nations, is a battle of ideas and a battle of the mind.
In the long run the free world has to win the battle of the mind. I would say in parenthesis to the Foreign Secretary that in the battle of the mind, since we live in a propaganda age—I use the word "propaganda" in the wide and not the narrow sense—we cannot afford to do our propaganda on the cheap.
Having built up N.A.T.O., having built up the Bagdad Pact, and having built up S.E.A.T.O., and since all those organisations are really paying quite a substantial dividend, not only in terms of confidence, not only in terms of the economic growth of the areas concerned, not only in terms of defence, for goodness sake let us consolidate what we have built, and add a few more bricks to those existing structures. I cannot conceive of anything more unwise, or in the long run more futile, or in the longer run still more dangerous, than that we should forsake the substance of what we have built up for the shadow.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.