§ 3.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
The Prime Minister gave us an interesting and encouraging analysis yesterday of the changed international situation, and particularly of the changes in the European scene and in our relations with Soviet Russia. The whole House, or, at any rate, most of the House, agreed largely with what he said on that subject.
We would all assent to the proposition that the two basic changes which have occurred recently have been the development of thermo-nuclear weapons and internal changes in Soviet Russia. We would further agree that these have led to certain changes in Soviet foreign policy, as evidenced, for instance, by Russia's agreement on the settlement in 224 Austria, their new attitude to Yugoslavia and their acceptance of our proposition in relation to Vietnam; I would say, too, their more forthcoming disposition on disarmament and—perhaps we are more conscious of this than of anything—their new attitude to cultural exchanges and contacts with the outside world. I would agree, also, that in all probability this involves for them a switch from emphasis on military considerations to emphasis on economic and political activity.
Finally, I would say that what the Prime Minister described as this greater flexibility on the other side of the Iron Curtain ought to be matched by a similar flexibility on our side. How this is to be done, how far it has been done, and what exactly greater flexibility among the Western Powers implies, are matters which we must discuss further. Before I come to those, I should like to say a word or two about the two basic changes to which I have just referred.
We would all agree that the Prime Minister's statement that in a global war the thermo-nuclear deterrent was certain to be used is unquestionably true. I would say, also—and I think the Prime Minister will agree with me—that, because of that, it is now very unlikely that there will be such a war. That may be rather a bold statement to make, but I myself believe that the realisation on the part of any potential aggressor that, provided that nuclear deterrent is effective, the aggressor country itself stands a very good chance of being completely annihilated, makes aggression in the full sense much less likely than it has ever been before. It is a strange paradox that the discovery of this appalling weapon should have produced this consequence; but so I believe it to be.
Having said that, and having accepted the implications of what the Prime Minister calls the global war, which I prefer to call "out-and-out" war, I believe that we are still left with a number of questions unanswered, on which the Prime Minister yesterday did not comment. The first is this: can anybody really contemplate the use of the hydrogen bomb except in the very last resort? I cannot imagine that any Government in this country—and, I would hope, in any other country of the world—would dare to use this weapon unless 225 that Government were really driven to it and had no alternative.
If that if so, we must, I suggest, put out of our minds the idea, which is sometimes put abroad, that we use the hydrogen bomb, or we even threaten to use the hydrogen bomb, at any disturbance which takes place anywhere. Plainly, that is nonsense; it simply could not be done, and no other country, I think, is likely to believe that it will be used.
We are thus faced with the problem of what alternative protection we may have. Some distinction should be drawn here, I think, between Europe and the rest of the world. Certainly, most of us feel, as regards any possible aggression in Europe, that it would be, so to speak, of such a straightforward character that it would necessarily invoke the use of the ultimate weapon, the deterrent, as the Prime Minister calls it, and that, therefore, a war in Europe would be the global war of which he spoke. That may be so; but if it is so—and I think it was implied in the Prime Minister's speech—we face at once the question of what we then require in the way of ordinary or conventional forces in Europe.
I think it was Sir John Slessor who first spoke—and others have spoken of it, too—of a trip wire being necessary. At some time the Government should tell us what they understand by a phrase of that kind. What is the exact purpose of the trip wire? Is it simply to give warning? Is it to be a delaying action? In what sense is it used? I think the House will agree with me when I say that there is here, at any rate, a major problem to which we certainly have had no answer so far in this debate. Yet it is not a problem, I venture to suggest, which can be regarded as purely military in character. In fact, upon the answer to that problem must to some extent turn the policy of the West in respect of Germany and European security. The further question is: what happens outside Europe? I shall not attempt to answer that question; I am certainly not capable of doing so. I merely raise it.
I believe that we must be very careful not to get into the frame of mind that because global war with the nuclear deterrent is now very unlikely, we need not worry at all about anything else. I draw, in particular, one vital conclusion from this, that whatever may be the position 226 with regard to global war, the need for properly controlled international disarmament of conventional forces and, if we can get, of nuclear production, too, is still overwhelmingly important. I shall return to this subject a little later.
As to the change in Russia, the Prime Minister gave a very fair, and, if I may say so, very carefully and wisely worded statement upon that and upon its implications in Eastern Europe. I wish to say only that I thought his speech was complemented by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), who pointed out—and I think the Prime Minister did not disagree—that while these changes were taking place and had taken place, it remained true that both in Russia and in the satellite States, the Communist Party retains the full monopoly of power and that Russia still retains full control over the satellite countries; and it is quite obvious, I think, from what has been said by Marshal Bulganin recently, that they intend to continue that. It is equally clear that Soviet policy is fully integrated in foreign affairs and defence with the satellite countries of Eastern Europe.
Finally, we must still assume that the Soviet leaders have not given up their belief in the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the inevitable struggle between the forces of world Communism and, as they describe it, capitalist imperialism. The Prime Minister spoke of Soviet Russia—I think he meant that by implication—pursuing "a similar objective by different methods," by economic, political, propagandist methods rather than military methods, but still pursuing the same or a similar objective.
I would draw a conclusion from that, also. It seems to me to be a corollary of this switch in emphasis from military to economic activity that the focal point of such struggle as may exist between Communism and the free world is likely more and more to be in the so-called uncommitted areas of the world. It is in those territories that competitive coexistence is likely to be seen in its clearest form. I propose to say a little more about that later on.
Having said that this is the position in Soviet Russia up to the moment, I must add that we should be making a mistake if we were to assume that this position will never change. I do not take such 227 a pessimistic view. I think it is possible that in time public opinion in Russia and in the satellite States may procure more freedom, may procure higher living standards, and may change and make more relaxed the outlook of the Soviet Government on foreign affairs. There may, of course, be a long period during which the doctrines of Marx and Lenin will continue to be uttered and echoed in those territories; but it is possible that although speeches on these lines are made, policy may diverge from them. For my part, I can only hope that that will be so. For the moment, I think that we must take the Soviet leaders at their word, at their own valuation and accept, therefore, the qualifications which I have mentioned.
The next question that I come to is this: how should the West react to this new situation? I think that the first point is whether we, the democracies of the West, should or should not continue to stand together. There are some people who sincerely believe that the existence of N.A.T.O., being a bloc, is itself an obstacle to peace, and who believe that it would be best if, in fact, N.A.T.O. were broken up; or perhaps they may feel that the progress towards understanding with Russia has now gone so far that we can afford to allow the break-up of the Atlantic Alliance. For my part, I do not share that view.
I have no doubt whatever that, although there have been these favourable developments, it is much too premature to contemplate any break-up of the Anglo-American Alliance and N.A.T.O. I do not think that I need argue that point very seriously. Most of us, at any rate, hold that the establishment of N.A.T.O. was in itself the major cause of the maintenance of peace in recent years, and most of us would agree that we should not contemplate abandoning it until, in fact, the danger of war has vanished altogether, that is to say, until there has been full-scale, all round disarmament and general world settlement so that the need, the occasion and the fears have all disappeared.
I come to another rather important point. If we believe that N.A.T.O. must be maintained; I venture to say that it is not enough merely to say that. It is 228 always difficult for democracies to work together. Under the danger and threat of immediate war they do come together, as they did in 1948, and remain together, but as soon as that threat is removed, or appears to be removed, the tendencies causing them to drift apart seem to me to be very powerful. I am bound to say that there seem to be far too many signs of this drifting apart in recent months. I would go so far as to say this. If we stick to N.A.T.O., as we want to, then surely the logic is that we must meet this new situation together; we must make up our minds how it should be met and act accordingly. But, frankly, there has been very little sign of that so far.
Let me make my position clear. I am not for one moment suggesting that we should adopt a rigid attitude to the changes which have been made—on the contrary—but I want the new policy we are to adopt to be hammered out jointly with our friends and Allies and not to be adopted as each country thinks independently on its own. May I give one or two illustrations of the danger, of what I mean by the danger of disintegration—I will use that word—of N.A.T.O., which my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East used yesterday?
First, with regard to defence. For a long time many of us have complained about the refusal of the N.A.T.O. Powers to share their secrets, standardise their weapons and pool their resources, but these are points which can be dealt with much more appropriately in a general defence debate, and I will leave them on one side. I think that we have something else to criticise here and that is what seems to me to be the complete inability, so far, of N.A.T.O. and the Atlantic Alliance to decide jointly on the implications of the new situation. What we have, frankly, is different countries each saying aloud what they expect to do in the circumstances. We have had a spate of hints, suggestions, rumours of various kinds in the United Kingdom itself.
I do not think that Ministers are entirely blameless here. It is not good enough for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to address a meeting of the Foreign Press Association and talk about the heavy burden of defence in terms which suggest that in his mind, at any rate, is the nice idea that we could get down to 5 per cent. of our national 229 income, the same as the European average, and not expect remarks of this kind to be misinterpreted in many places.
There is no doubt that the people of this country received the impression, despite the guarded phrase which he used afterwards, that the Government were contemplating very substantial cuts in defence. I hope that such cuts prove possible, but I warn the Government that if they have led the people of this country up the garden in this matter, if, by their hints and their rumours—which have not been denied—they have led everyone to suppose that there are to be substantial reductions in defence expenditure, and then these prove impossible to achieve, they will have something very serious to answer for.
As I say, we first had the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and then we had a very convincing news their willingness to bring their forces Manchester Guardian. I cannot imagine that that was a pure invention of a newspaper of that kind. It must have come from somebody with some kind of authority. We had, if I may say so to the Minister of Defence, his remarks a little time ago that he hoped that National Service would be abolished long before the next Election—there is a certain contrast between what he said and what the Secretary of State for War said last night. I realise that the right hon. and learned Gentleman may not have meant very much but, undoubtedly, people read into those words a great deal. Then we had the Prime Minister saying yesterday, not in his speech but in replying to an interjection during, I think, the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), that he did not think that anybody could deduce from his speech that there was an expectation of substantial cuts in defence.
I have no intention of discussing here the merits of what cuts should or should not be made. That is a matter which belongs more properly to another debate. What I am complaining about is the extreme confusion in the public mind resulting from these unguarded and general statements which have been allowed to be made. If the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary answer, "We did not actually say that", I say that the Government have the responsibility for seeing that the public are 230 properly informed on these matters and if they feel, as I think that they may well have done, that the public were getting the impression that too big cuts were to be made, they should have said so. But no official statement was made at all until the Secretary of State for War's remarks last night.
Of course, the British Government are not by any means the only people responsible for this confusion. The same kind of thing has been happening in other countries. The U.S.A. has been speaking of cuts that will be made in the Army, of cutting down their armed forces, and Dr. Adenauer, on the other hand, has been expressing alarm and despondency at the prospect. One can only describe this as a picture of the wildest confusion among the N.A.T.O. Powers as to what the defence policy really is.
Surely what should have happened months ago, because, after all, the development of the thermo-nuclear weapon is not a new thing—both the Russians and the Americans had the hydrogen bomb in 1953—was that there should have been a careful joint reappraisal by the N.A.T.O. Council of the full implications of this new situation, so admirably described by the Prime Minister. It really is not enough for the Prime Minister to say, as he said yesterday, "We have begun to exchange views with our friends."
That is something which should have happened long ago. At least one might have expected it to happen at the last meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council in April, but the opportunity was missed. Far from bringing the N.A.T.O. countries together, that Council meeting was described in The Times as "an example of how an important international organisation should not work." We were told by the newspapers that it had been insufficiently prepared. Despite the brave attempts of the Foreign Secretary to make out that all was well, the entire impression created was one of confusion and of disorder.
Equally, I must say that on the political side I do not feel that the reaction of the N.A.T.O. countries to the new situation has been at all unified or clear. For instance, when the Russian Government announced their unilateral cuts in arms, one would have supposed that the N.A.T.O. 231 countries would not find it very difficult to agree on what they should say; but, in fact, we had totally different statements by Mr. Dulles in Washington, by the Prime Minister here and by Dr. Adenauer in Germany, all saying quite different things about their views on the Soviet arms cut. Hon. members may say that this is not a very important matter, but it illustrates the point that the West does not seem to have been able to meet what everybody knew was coming with any kind of sensible and agreed statement.
I mention, in passing, a small illustration of the same kind of thing—the extraordinary affair of the Arab broadcasts from Cyprus. There have been Questions in the House about this, and I know that Questions were asked and Answers given in the House of Lords, but what are we to make of the situation when, on the one hand, Sir Gladwyn Jebb sends a message to the French people saying,We are on your side in Algeria. We understand your pride in your civilising mission, in your political success, in the peoples you have led to autonomy, and your rejection of accusations of colonialism.When the Cyprus broadcasting station, at the same time, apparently describes M. Mollet as "a pitiful figure" when he goes to North Africa?
I know that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will say that this broadcasting station has nothing to do with us and is a private affair, but is it right at this stage, when our relations with France and the Arab States are so vitally important, that broadcasts should be allowed from private stations on political matters—and from Cyprus of all places? I think the Government must take this matter in hand. Surely from their own point of view it would be far more satisfactory to control these broadcasts and to take them over.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I was giving them the benefit of the doubt. If they do control them, all I can say is that the contrast between what our ambassador in France said and what the broadcast said is so extraordinary as to be hardly believable. If they do not control them, then, particularly as I understand that one of the 232 directors is an ex-Foreign Office official, I suggest that it would be far better to take them over.
The next point I want to mention, again in connection with N.A.T.O.—and I do not want to spend very much time on it—is the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is not possible for hon. Members opposite to continue to behave as if Cyprus is not a matter of interest to N.A.T.O. It is of the very greatest interest to N.A.T.O. It is bound to be, because, quite apart from the strategic importance of the island, the conflict between Greece and Turkey which is now developing undermines the whole basis of the alliance in that part of the world.
I should like to say a word or two about some remarks made by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) in the Cyprus debate last week. He was taking me to task because I suggested that the question of Cyprus should be considered by N.A.T.O. I find it very difficult to understand him. He said:…I should have thought that the importance of Cyprus, at least to us, was much more in respect of our oil resources in the Middle East and in respect of the Bagdad Pact and in respect of the tripartite guarantee to Israel and the Arab States.Let us take those three things. First,our oil resources in the Middle East.Why does the hon. Member speak about them as if they were ours? They are not ours. They belong, physically, to the countries from which the oil is produced. If he is talking about the oil from the consumers' point of view, he is surely aware that every other country in Europe can say the same thing. This idea that the Middle East is a special British preserve because we get some of the oil from there, is so out of date that it is extraordinary that people like the hon. Member go on talking in this way. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about the Prime Minister?"] The Prime Minister said the same, but I replied to him some weeks ago.
The hon. Member went on to speak about the Bagdad Pact. Admittedly, we are the only member of N.A.T.O., apart from Turkey, which is also a member of the Bagdad Pact, but I think the hon. Member will agree that we have been doing our best to associate the United States with the Bagdad Pact for a very long time. As for the Tripartite 233 Declaration, that is not our Declaration alone; it was made by France, America and ourselves. How he can say that Cyprus and the Middle East are purely our affair, I do not know.
The hon. Member went on to say something even more extraordinary. He said:I find it difficult to understand… how anybody who has seen the American attitude over Palestine, over Abadan and over Egypt, could seriously stand at the Front Bench opposite and advocate referring the question of Cyprus for decision to an American-dominated organisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1956; Vol. 556, c. 1450–1.]First, I never suggested that N.A.T.O. should decide the issue, although I asked that it should be considered by N.A.T.O. I felt that a little mediation, with the help of the United States, might have been a very good thing in bringing Greece and Turkey together, and I still believe that, but to stand here as the hon. Member did the other day and talk as though we have the sole responsibility for the defence of the Middle East is inexplicable to me. How does he imagine that on our own we could defend that area? It is quite obvious that we could not do it for one moment.
The real difficulty has been—and here he would be on stronger ground—that the Americans have been very reluctant to be associated as closely as some of us would have liked in policy regarding the Middle East. But that is no reason for not trying to induce them to come a little closer and to co-operate more with us than they have done in the past.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
The right hon. Gentleman has made it plain that he was not proposing to refer the matter to N.A.T.O. for decision, but if he were to have it referred to N.A.T.O. at all it would be very difficult to escape the conclusion that what N.A.T.O. said would have a decisive influence on the future.
Turning to "our oil resources"—to quote a phrase which I used and which he took up—they are our oil resources in the sense that the industry of this country depends on the freedom to raise that oil. So does the effective work of the industry of a number of European countries, some in N.A.T.O. and some outside. I should have thought that we were on very strong ground in saying that our interest in Cyprus was in relation 234 to these oil resources in their application to the existence of the sterling area and the economy of Western Europe, which are quite different matters in many respects from N.A.T.O.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am afraid that I regard that as little more than an unusually tortuous evasion of the issue. The real issue is a serious issue; as oil consumption rises, it is, I think, clear that more and more Western Europe will depend for its lifeblood upon the Middle East, and it is no use one country in Western Europe thinking that it can handle this situation. There is an overwhelming case, not for a N.A.T.O. in the Middle East—that is not the point—but for the discussion of Middle East policy amongst the countries which are most closely concerned. The trouble with the hon. Member is that although he is highly intelligent and expresses himself admirably, somehow half of him is always way back in the past and unable to catch up with the present.
I conclude, from this brief survey of the difficulties which N.A.T.O. is having, that we must make a greater effort here to keep the N.A.T.O. countries together. I am glad that the committee of the three Ministers was appointed, but I want to make it plain that, in my opinion, what is wanted is not to convert N.A.T.O. into an economic organisation. That is unnecessary in so far as it is concerned with Europe—that is the concern of O.E.E.C.—and it is unwise if it is thought of as a channel for economic aid for other areas. What is wanted is simply a readiness to consult more effectively and to try to hammer out policies together. Frankly, that has just not been evident in recent months.
The next question is: what policies? I should like to begin with disarmament to which, as I say, I still attach immense importance. Controlled international disarmament is the only permanent solution to the problem. I would refer to the admirable speech of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) last night, and I would just say this. There is no doubt that the general impression which has been created by the discussions in the United Nations is that, whereas up to the spring of 1955 the greatest difficulties in the way of a disarmament agreement were undoubtedly caused by the 235 attitude of the Soviet Union, since that spring and, in particular, since 10th May, when, quite surprisingly and suddenly, the Russians turned round and accepted a great deal of what we had been proposing, the West has become more evasive. In that connection I would refer, in particular, to three matters which, I hope, the Foreign Secretary will be able to clear up.
First, there are the manpower ceilings. It is the plain fact that until recently we had proposed that, for the major Powers, the ceiling should be 1 million to 1½ million troops, and we did not, as has been suggested by the Government, put that forward as the last stage. On the contrary, those were the figures which we wished to see introduced into an agreement, and which we hoped would lead to further reductions. I can quote many statements by the Minister of State to the effect that further reductions could be made.
When, however, the Russians accept the ceiling of 1 million to 1½ million troops, although at first this was warmly welcomed by the Minister of State—and, again, this is all on record—the Western Allies go back to 2½ million. What is the explanation of that? What sort of impression does the Foreign Secretary think that that kind of behaviour creates on the world as a whole? It is fortunate for us, I think, that the Russians have now agreed, apparently, to the higher ceiling. That, at least, is something. I hope we shall now not go back on it and put on a still higher ceiling.
Secondly, there are the political conditions. Of course, it is obvious that political settlement helps disarmament and that disarmament helps political settlement, but surely that has never meant that we should make disarmament depend on prior political settlements. Let us take, for instance, the question of German reunification. Why should it be more difficult to get German reunification with disarmament on both sides than it is to get German reunification without disarmament on both sides?
After all, we are not proposing to fight for the reunification of Germany and, so long as the reductions are parallel, I cannot see that there is any disadvantage at all. On the contrary, there should be a far greater advantage, because the introduction of controlled disarmament, of 236 course, improves the atmosphere, reduces fear, and makes it much more likely that reunification will be achieved. We did not say this sort of thing, originally, in 1952 or in 1954. This is a new line which has been introduced within the last few months.
Finally, there is the question of whether nuclear or conventional arms should be the main object of control. Originally, we said that they should both be in—that everything should be in. Then someone drew attention to the problem of detecting stocks of hydrogen bombs—a very real problem, as we all admit. So the British Government, and the French said "No, we will concentrate now on conventional weapons," but as soon as the Russians said, "Yes, we will agree to that," we switched back and said that we must have control of nuclear weapons. This kind of round and round the mulberry bush process is not good enough; I must ask the Foreign Secretary for an adequate explanation.
I turn to the really important question: what is now really outstanding? Why is it that we have not agreement? As my right hon. and learned Friend said last night, and, I think, perfectly rightly, there are only two things: the first is the American proposal for aerial photography, and the second, the precise rights of enforcement of a control organisation. I agree with what he said then. I do not think that it is reasonable for the Russians to oppose aerial control as well as the other controls which they themselves have suggested. I would hope that we would be able to persuade them to do so.
As for the Control Commission or organisation, and exactly what its powers should be, I find, frankly, that more difficult to judge, but let us have no illusions about this. Whatever power we may give to that body, ultimately the success of disarmament will depend on whether or not the great Powers as a whole are prepared to play. We cannot, I think, prevent a breach, if there is a breach, of the disarmament agreement coming back to the United Nations and coming back to the Security Council. Therefore, while I do not wish to be dogmatic on this point, I do not believe that it is something we should absolutely stand out on. I welcome, of course, what the Prime Minister said about the H-bomb tests, and I only repeat my hope that we shall have 237 answers from the Foreign Secretary to my right hon. and learned Friend's questions.
So much for disarmament. I need not say very much about Germany—that matter was dealt with very admirably by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens)—nor, I think, is there a great deal between us on this. I welcome the Prime Minister's statement, but I would ask him what he means by "further study." What sort of procedure has he in mind here? Is this country to take the initiative among the Powers most closely concerned—America, France and Western Germany—to have some private talks—and they should be private—on this matter? I should like an answer to that. The Prime Minister has made a proposition and, naturally, we want to know how he is to follow it up.
I would here underline what my right hon. Friend said. There is a real danger that, unless we are careful, public opinion in Germany may more and more come to regard Western Germany's commitment to N.A.T.O. as an obstacle to reunification. That is a dangerous situation, because we might have a future German Government voluntarily renouncing its right to opt for N.A.T.O., and making its own terms with the Russian Government. Obviously, those terms might be terms which were most unwelcome to the Powers of the West. Therefore, I say that we should at least see, in conjunction and in association with the three other Powers, whether, perhaps on the lines suggested by the Prime Minister, agreement could be reached. Nor would I rule out bringing into the discussion other matters, which are, indeed, almost certain to arise as it is. I have in mind such matters as the future frontiers of Germany and the question of the satellite States.
I do not propose to say anything about either the Middle East or the Far East, which were dealt with very adequately by my right hon. Friend. I turn to a rather wider subject in the concluding part of this speech. The new Soviet offensive in Asia and Africa involves a struggle for men's minds and men's hearts, particularly in the uncommitted areas of the world. The question is what we in Britain and the other democracies are to do to meet that challenge. What is our answer to be?
238 It is a curious fact that although Russia has so far done very little in the way of economic assistance for those territories, and although one would not suppose that countries which have either just won their independence or are hoping to win it soon, would be attracted by a totalitarian régime or would fancy enjoying the same experience as the satellite countries of Eastern Europe, nevertheless, there are very substantial attractions in the uncommitted areas towards Russian Communism. Let us pause for a moment and ask why.
There are, I think, five reasons. First, Russia has not been a colonial Power—not in the accepted, ordinary sense of that word, though, of course, as I have frequently pointed out, she dominates Eastern Europe and has over-run those territories—and if one liked one could describe that as an empire—but, in the sense in which the phrase is used in the uncommitted areas of the world, she would be so described.
Secondly, Russia is only half a Western Power, and that is, T am afraid, an advantage in some of these places. Thirdly. she is still thought to be poor, and she is. per capita, a great deal poorer than the West. Fourthly, so far as T am aware, and certainly the impression is fairly widely accepted, there is no colour discrimination inside Soviet Russia. Finally, she is carrying through industrialisation at an extremely rapid rate by State action.
These are the reasons which make Communism and Russian Communism so attractive to these under-developed peoples. How do we answer them? I would say, first, that we must, if we are to hold these people for democracy, remove from our policy, our administration and our activities every possible taint of colonialism. In practice, this means, first, carrying on, as I readily concede the Government are carrying on, the progress towards self-government in West Africa, the Gold Coast, Malaya, and the West Indies, but I must refer to two sore points which I think are a great handicap to us in this enormously important struggle.
First, the need for racial equality in Africa particularly. We say, and we have said it in a recent document, that the British Government should at least do 239 what they can do in this field by ending all official colour bars at once. Secondly, we say that if we are to meet this challenge, we must accept as the ultimate principle, recognising the transitional difficulties, the idea of one man, one vote. It is no use treating this problem of the feelings in the Colonies about the colour bar as though they were problems peculiar to the territories in which they arise. In fact, what happens in South Africa, in East Africa and in North America as well, influences hundreds of millions of people all over Asia and in other parts of Africa. It has world-wide implications.
Secondly, I say—and I say it avowedly—that we must reject the doctrines of the imperial fortress which have been put forward by the other side of the House—the "what we have we hold" attitude. I need add only a few words to what my right hon. Friend said on this matter. First of all, it is no use holding on to a base in hostile territory, because it would be of no use to us. Secondly, we should not accept that there is necessarily any conflict in these cases between the maintenance of bases, if we need them, and what is politically desirable. It is not so in Malta and is not so in Ceylon. I think and hope that the agreement which the Prime Minister announced will lead to a satisfactory solution there. There is no reason, in my view, to believe that there should be this conflict in Cyprus, and I do not believe there need be in Singapore. Thirdly, we must be certain that in modern conditions we really do need these bases. We have to appraise here, also, the effects of any nuclear war.
I may say, in passing, that this idea that if we are to have bases we should have them as the result of treaty negotiations is not something that is peculiar to the Labour Party. It is, of course, the point of view of the American Government, and that is how they hold their bases at the moment. I do not see why we should not do the same.
Thirdly, we must accept that if these areas wish to remain neutral they should be allowed to be neutral. It is no use forcing pacts on unwilling partners. We should allow them to develop themselves in freedom. Next, I would say that we have to look at our own propaganda in 240 all these territories. I have already mentioned the points of substance here, and unless we get that right the propaganda will not be much good. At the same time, all that we do in the way of broadcasts and any other contacts is certainly worthy of review.
Finally, I come to what is perhaps most important of all, and that is what are we to do to help them economically. I cannot do more, I am afraid, than deal in generalisations here. While there are differences between the different territories, I should like to make a few points which I think are true of most of them. First, these territories need industrialisation. They want to get through the industrialisation phase, because they know and can see around them that that is the basis for a higher standard of living. They want to get on to the "escalator of progress" as it has been described, to the stage when in fact they have achieved a certain degree of industrialisation, and can go on by higher saving and investment to raise their productivity year by year—the phase which the Western world and Soviet Russia have reached.
Incidentally, this industrialisation will not be carried out in these territories except by State action, and that must be accepted. It is an interesting fact that the Congress Party of India, although not labelled Socialist, nevertheless is carrying out the industrialisation of that country by public enterprise to an overwhelming extent. The problem is this. These countries want industrialisation, but if it is to continue they cannot depend on their own resources, for that would only mean screwing down the already low level of consumption so far that it would be extremely doubtful whether democratic processes could be maintained.
Surely the point is that we need to help them in order that they may avoid the appalling sacrifices and political implications of such a situation, which would otherwise follow. We need to help them so that they can maintain democracy, and carry through the industrialisation programme at the same time.
I do not wish to belittle what has been done in recent years. But the present amount of aid is inadequate to the problem which faces these countries. I believe that there should be a new and imaginative plan developed. I should like to see, as I have said on another occasion.
241 this done through the United Nations, because it would immensely enhance the prestige of the United Nations, which is a good thing, and secondly, if we can do it that way, and if Russia agrees to take part in it, we would, so to speak, sterilise the conflicts that are liable to break out in these uncommitted areas between Communism and the free world.
I do not propose to go into further detail, because I have not got the time. I would only say that there has been this so-called S.U.N.F.E.D. proposal, which the Government have always rejected on the grounds that it must wait for disarmament. I beg them not to take that rigid line on this question. I do not know what they mean by waiting for disarmament. If we express defence as a proportion of the national income, we are spending less on it today than two years ago. Is it to be an absolute cut? What is the Government's point of view? I think it is a great mistake to leave this problem untouched and with nothing done about it, except what we are doing today, which is not nearly enough.
§ Mr. Cyril Osborne (Louth) rose—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Naturally, hon. Members will say, "Can we afford it?" I expect that the hon. Member for Louth was going to ask me that, and I say to him that we accept in full our responsibilities for achieving a balance of payments surplus for this country, which will enable us to do all the things that have to be done; in other words, to reduce our debts, to build up our gold reserves and invest abroad, and investing abroad must include any contributions that we may make to schemes of this kind. I accept that fully, but, of course, we shall be enormously helped if we can get defence savings. I do not know where we stand about this; none of us does at the moment, and I hope that we will have some clarification of the position before long.
Do not let us imagine that our present economic problems are simply due directly to the defence burden. It is a burden, but I must remind hon. Members that we had no balance of payments crisis two years ago—in fact, we had a surplus—when the proportionate expenditure on defence was much larger. But, of course, it is a burden, and if we can lift that burden we shall acquire thereby a 242 windfall. It is the disposition of that windfall that I am concerned about. I hope that we shall get it. It is enormously important that if we do that it should not be dissipated.
We need to use it exclusively for two things: first, to catch up on home investment, where we still lag a long way behind Russia and other countries; and, secondly, to play our part in the plan for aiding undeveloped areas.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
No, I do not think that there should be at this time. I say that savings on defence and investment should go to home investment and overseas investment including aid.
The Prime Minister has given us a hopeful picture and mentioned two steps forward. I am afraid that we must ask for more. There is a great opportunity today. In N.A.T.O. we want a real appraisal, an objective appraisal, of the situation which is long overdue. We want discussions on Germany and we want the Government to take the initiative there. We want much closer collaboration on other problems. On disarmament, we must really press the Government for speedy action. The public are thoroughly dissatisfied with the present situation; we must get away from the appearance of evasion in which every time the Russians accept something we withdraw. It would be a real tragedy if when apparently agreement is so close to us we should lose it at this stage.
In the Middle East we want the initiative of the United Nations of which my right hon. Friend spoke. Above all, in the uncommitted areas we must take up the new challenge of Soviet Russia by ending the colour bar, by removing all trace of colonialism and by a bold programme of economic aid, preferably through the United Nations, to make it possible for those hundreds of millions of people to achieve their higher standard of living and nevertheless to maintain the democratic institutions in which we believe.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
A large number of interesting speeches were made yesterday. I wondered whether I was 243 hearing aright when I listened to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)—who is just leaving the Chamber—praising the Prime Minister and criticising Mr. Khrushchev. I shall not be able to deal with all the points raised yesterday but the main theme, I think it is agreed, which is the background to any view of international affairs at present is the change in the Soviet Union. The Prime Minister indicated yesterday some of the tendencies which are showing themselves in the internal life of the Soviet Union and the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) referred to them again today in passing.
I think we feel they are only a beginning and there is plenty of room for their development. As yet they do not appear to extend to greater freedom of political thought or any sort of right of political opposition. Nevertheless, I think those tendencies are significant. The development of the new classes of technologists and scientists, the professional men and women, changes in the educational system, the use of incentives to increase production—in all those there are grounds for believing that an evolutionary process has begun which it may be impossible to stop.
I agreed with much of what the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said. He talked of political disarmament and indicated that the Soviet is still engaged in a political and economic drive for power. I think his conclusion was that we must not engage in political disarmament but be prepared to meet that drive. I entirely agree. We consider our ideas better than Communist ideas and our conception of a free society the best for any developing community and we must be determined to meet the challenge in that field. Although I agree with the hon. Member, the point for us to remember is that we are moving from a period of rigidity, or a phase of rigidity, to one of flexibility. My feeling is that the one mistake we must not make is to adopt an attitude of immobility towards these developments. We really must not do what the Soviet Union did under Stalin from 1946 to 1953.
§ Mr. Lloyd
We must not adopt a rigid attitude towards these developments so 244 as to cause the situation between East and West once again to congeal. The hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) approves of what I am saying in a rather mocking manner, but I think the party on this side of the House has done a great deal to secure flexibility and to prevent the situation from congealing. We want more contacts, more trade, more exchange of ideas and in that way I think eventually we shall have further relaxation and better understanding.
The view is also widely held in the House that while this process of evolution is taking place we must not break off the alliances which have contributed to our security. The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) advised us yesterday not to base our foreign policy on military groupings. Whatever his thoughts might be upon that I do not think we can allow our alliances to crumble away either in N.A.T.O., S.E.A.T.O. or the Bagdad Pact. In the ideal world, of course, military alliances will not be necessary, but we are still far from that happy state. Hon. Members may have read with interest of the speech which Marshal Bulganin made in Warsaw on Saturday when he said:Marxists believed each country should choose its own way to Socialism. They intended this should happen. But they could not tolerate attempts to break up their international solidarity under the pretext that there were national differences and peculiarities.I think that equally we should not tolerate attempts to break up the international solidarity of those countries which are our partners in defensive alliances. That, however, does not mean—I agree in part with what the right hon. Member for Leeds, South said—that those free and equal associations should remain exactly what they have always been. Take N.A.T.O. for example. I do not want to go into matters which I think are more appropriate to the defence debates to the definition of the "trip-wire" and the "plate glass window" and so on, but we do believe that, whilst the military framework of N.A.T.O. should be maintained, its other activities should also be developed.
The right hon. Member for Leeds, South spoke about a picture of the wildest confusion. He seemed to me to have a sort of professorial idea that one can 245 dictate to an association of fifteen partners and get from that audience a sort of stereotyped solution—
§ Mr. Lloyd
We have been working on this for months. These matters have been raised, raised in December, raised again in May, and we are seeking to get from or with our allies a change—an adaptation—of N.A.T.O. suitable to present conditions. I agree with what I gathered the right hon. Member to mean that it is in this field of political cohesion that there is hope of making most progress. I think any idea of channelling economic aid to under-developed countries through N.A.T.O. would be a mistake. There is room for an improvement in the consideration by N.A.T.O. of economic matters, but the way in which we must work for greater cohesion of the alliance is in the political field, at the same time making a reappraisal of the military strategy and military demands.
One of the disadvantages, which I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite knew when they were in Government, about a considerable number of nations in an alliance is that these matters take a long time to consider, particularly when those nations are free and have independent views. I think it is right to secure the appointment of three statesmen who shortly will produce a report on these matters. I entirely agree that though we cannot allow these defensive alliances LO crumble, nevertheless it is important that they should adapt themselves to the new situation.
I now want to say a word about Germany and European security. A good deal was said about this yesterday. There is general agreement, on both sides of the House, I think, that the first step must be the reunification of Germany. Without German unity, any new system of European security would be an illusion. Her Majesty's Government and our allies have constantly maintained that they are not prepared to enter into any new security arrangements which do not end the division of Germany.
Therefore, in practice, the problem of European security consists of devising arrangements which would ensure that a reunified and rearmed Germany does not constitute a menace to her neighbours.
246 The Western Powers believe that German membership of N.A.T.O. and W.E.U. in itself provides security because of the restraints and limitations inherent in membership of those organisations.
§ Mr. Crossman
Might I put a question to the right hon and learned Gentleman for clarification? I want to get this clear. Is the effect of what he is saying that if we get proposals from Russia for the thinning out of forces on both sides of the present partition line, we shall reject them absolutely unless they are accompanied by the reunification of Germany? We should like to know just what the right hon. and learned Gentleman meant. I was not sure whether he was going as far as that in denying any form of security arrangements unless reunification is agreed.
§ Mr. Lloyd
That is a different matter. I do not regard the question of some arrangement for thinning out as coming within the point with which I was dealing, that of new comprehensive security arrangements for Europe. That is a different matter upon which my right hon. Friend spoke yesterday, indicating the possibility of limited agreements of that sort, but—
§ Mr. Crossman rose—
§ Mr. Lloyd
I have not finished what I was seeking to say. In addition to the restraint inherent in membership of N.A.T.O. and W.E.U., as was first suggested by the Prime Minister at the Summit talks at Geneva the Western Allies offered a treaty which provided reciprocal assurances from which the Soviet Union would directly benefit, and also a system for the limitation and control of forces and armaments in which the Soviet Union would directly participate. That, I submit to the House, is a realistic approach. As was said yesterday, the Western Powers are not dictating a choice to the Germans. Under what is called the Eden Plan the Germans are left free to make their own choice. Nothing in the proposals advanced by the Western Powers limits their freedom of action. Our offer was not conditional upon Germany joining N.A.T.O.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth) rose—
§ Mr. Lloyd
Perhaps I might just finish what I want to say about this. It is true that certain of the guarantees proposed 247 in the treaty of assurance could be effective only if Germany became a member of N.A.T.O. and W.E.U., but the Western Powers did not take the line that until a reunified Germany joined N.A.T.O., there could be no security treaty. On the contrary, they indicated that they would be ready to sign a treaty concurrently with the signature of an agreement upon the Eden Plan. This treaty would enter into force in conjunction with the reunification of Germany and its provisions could be brought into effect by stages to be determined by common consent. Unfortunately, no progress was made at Geneva on the basis of those proposals, because of the Russian refusal to agree to the reunification of Germany by free elections.
§ Mr. Robens
Might I put a short point to the right hon. and learned Gentleman? I do not think we need pursue it much further now. Apparently, The Times has had the same sort of confusion as I have had. Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us what is really meant by the words on page 100 of the Government White Paper, Cmd. 9633, in relation to the collective security offer:The final stage would become effective"—that is, the agreement would come into operation—when a reunified Germany decides to enter N.A.T.O. and the Western European Union.Surely that must mean that the collective security agreement for Europe would not come into operation if a united Germany did not enter N.A.T.O. and did not enter the Western European Union?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I think there is a genuine misunderstanding about that. The point of view put forward by the Prime Minister was not related solely to the contingency of Germany entering N.A.T.O. I agree that that document was drafted as though it had that contingency in mind. However, that was not a condition. It was meant to meet a certain contingency against which it was thought the Russians needed security protection.
Suppose a reunified Germany were to decide to join the Warsaw bloc. That type of security arrangement would then have been inapplicable and another one might have been necessary. In the same 248 way, suppose a reunified Germany were to decide to join neither bloc. Another sort of security arrangement might then have been necessary. The document in question was drawn up to meet the contingency of a re-united Germany deciding to join N.A.T.O.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
Might I make the point clear? It appears that we have moved forward since what was proposed at Geneva. Apparently, whatever they proposed at Geneva, the Government are now ready to put forward proposals for a security pact in the event of Germany not joining N.A.T.O. Are they now prepared to put forward such proposals which would include mutual guarantees of assistance in the event of the violation of frontiers?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I do not think the hon. Member can have been listening to what I have been saying. I indicated what the Prime Minister put forward at the Summit talks, the first Geneva Conference, and by that we stand. I am not going to read out the exact words again, but we offered at the time of the reunification of Germany a security arrangement which was not conditional upon whether or not Germany joined N.A.T.O. Therefore, I think it is right to say that we envisage, however a reunited Germany determines her future, a security arrangement for Europe if it can be arranged.
Having dealt with that, and I hope, made the position clear—[Laughter.] Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh, but I really should have thought that as a matter of common sense they would have accepted the fact that the security arrangements required if Germany joined the Warsaw bloc might be different from those required if Germany joined N.A.T.O. If that is accepted, I am glad the House is with me on that point. I would repeat that these arrangements were drawn up to meet what everybody admitted to be the probable contingency. It really was not worth while wasting time on the others, because it was confidently thought that this was the choice which a free Germany would make.
§ Mr. Robens
Do we then have this—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We regard this as important. Does it really mean that the view of the British Government at the moment is that they are prepared 249 to enter into a collective security pact for Europe regardless of what a reunified Germany decides to do?
§ Mr. Lloyd
That is exactly what the Prime Minister made clear at the first Geneva meeting. That has been our position and is our position. There is no room for any doubt about it. I admit that the document was drawn up to meet the contingency of a reunified Germany joining N.A.T.O.
As to the Middle East—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
There is another question I asked about Germany and the procedural point. The Prime Minister made some interesting suggestions. We want to know how the Government propose to follow them up.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is entitled to expect an answer to that question. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If in these matters one indicates beforehand exactly what one is going to do at every stage, then it does not always contribute to the possibility of agreement. The right hon. Gentleman may know, for example, that Dr. Adenauer has said that he will send a Note giving his ideas about the reunification of Germany to each of the four Powers concerned. It may well be that when we have received that, further steps will have to be taken, but it would be wrong and not in the public interest to disclose beforehand every step that is going to be taken in the negotiations.
If I may come to the Middle East, the right hon. Member for Blyth asked a number of questions. He suggested, first of all, that the Bagdad Pact was the Government's policy in the Middle East. Of course, that Pact is part of our policy, but the inference that I got from the right hon. Gentleman was that it was the whole of our policy for the Middle East.
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Philips Price) so staunchly defending that Pact. It is, of course, attacked by the Russians as an aggressive military grouping. That is untrue. Its purpose is solely defensive.
I was vary glad, and I am sure hon. Members were, too, to see the statement made by His Majesty the Shah of Iran during his recent visit to the Soviet Union. He said:The Iranian Government have never joined and never will join an aggressive bloc directed 250 against the Soviet Union. The Iranian Government have undertaken measures for defence. They have been dictated by the needs of the State on the basis of past experience and the present international situation.I think that that is a very calm and realistic appreciation of the reasons which led Iran to join the Bagdad Pact.
The hon. Gentleman asked for more details of the work of the Economic Committee. There is very much I should like to tell the House about that. In the last few months subsidiary organisations of the Economic Committee have been going ahead with their work. A joint agricultural training centre is to be set up, with machinery to be loaned by British firms. Experts have met to consider means of carrying out regional projects affecting two or more of the members, and a meeting is now taking place in Ankara to study the possibility of a joint development of the water resources of the Tigris and Euphrates basins.
The Economic Committee is tackling the problems of animal diseases, measures to improve public health and medical training in the area, and the soun pest and locust problems. There are to be interchanges of educational staffs and students, and a joint study is taking place of import licensing procedures and other means of facilitating the flow of trade. Plans are being considered for the standardisation of agricultural products as a means of facilitating marketing, and good progress is being made with the atomic training centre in Bagdad for the peaceful use of atomic energy. We have promised financial aid for technical assistance and are considering what further help we can give in that sphere.
Some of these things may sound to hon. Members rather humdrum activities, but I would ask the House to think of them against the general picture of the situation in the Middle East. I think that they then appear as an imaginative beginning to processes of general cooperation in an area where such co-operation has been singularly lacking hitherto.
Since the last foreign affairs debate there has been a visit to this country of the Libyan Prime Minister. We received assurances from him of his attachment to the Anglo-Libyan Alliance. He referred to the excellent relations which 251 exist between British troops in Libya and the people of Libya and expressed the hope that our co-operation would long continue. We are examining sympathetically his requests for our help in the expansion of Libyan armed forces, and a technical examination of the problems involved will shortly take place.
The Libyan Prime Minister also pointed out that, owing to the bad harvests and the level of public expenditure, the contributions promised in 1953 would not suffice for this year or next year, which are the last two years of the quinquennial period. The sums promised would have been sufficient only had the money earmarked for development been diverted to ordinary budgetary expenditure. That we particularly wanted to avoid, and accordingly we have offered an extra £250,000 in the year 1956 to 1957, and we have agreed that further budgetary aid should be made in 1958 up to a total of about £750,000. Owing to certain adjustments, the net cost to Britain in the second year will not be as high as the figure I have mentioned. Of course, these proposals will be submitted for the approval of the House in due course. I do not think we shall regret this further contribution for Libyan development and Libyan independence.
We of course desire friendly relations with Egypt, and whatever contemporary propagandists may say we believe that the long association between Egypt and the United Kingdom has been beneficial to both, and there need not be any issues to divide us, but the development of more friendly relations in the future will depend upon facts and upon the willingness of Egypt not to undermine legitimate British interests in the Middle East. There has recently been a welcome improvement in the tone adopted by the Press and radio in Egypt towards this country. If this continues, then there is scope for the re-creation of a better understanding, and we for our part will do nothing to diminish the possibility of the fulfilment of that hope—
§ Mr. Lloyd
—but shall do what we can to maintain friendly relations between the two peoples.
An hon. Member has just interrupted me, mentioning the Aswan Dam, and I 252 think the House will expect me to say something about the High Aswan Dam. We are proud of what we have done in the past to harness and exploit the waters of the Nile, and we have thus done a very great deal for the benefit of the peoples of the Sudan and Egypt. This project, if it could be realised, would affect the standard of living of all those people who live on the banks of the Nile, provided there were to be equitable distribution of its benefits. It is, however, a scheme requiring not only a very large amount of external financial aid but the most rigorous control by Egypt in her internal economy.
Recent developments in Egypt have made us doubt whether the scheme is any longer feasible. The continued high rate of expenditure by Egypt on defence imposes a heavy burden on the Egyptian economy. There have also been increasing signs of the Egyptian Government's plans for industrial expansion, vehicle factories, dockyards and the like. We do not question for a moment Egypt's right to undertake those commitments, but we have to take account of their economic consequences, and we came to the conclusion that the Egyptian Government would no longer be in a position to devote to the dam project that degree of priority necessary to secure its success. Her Majesty's Government, therefore, after close consultation with the United States, concluded that the economic premises upon which their offer of assistance was based had ceased to exist. That does not, however, mean that we have lost interest in the future development of the waters of the Nile in the best interests of all those who live there.
The right hon. Gentleman in his speech referred to the Tripartite Declaration regarding Israel. I agree with him that it has performed a valuable function over the last six years in preserving peace. I also agree with him that it cannot and should not replace the United Nations. One of the satisfactory results of the visit of the Soviet leaders was the desire expressed on both sides to work more closely together in the United Nations on the Arab-Israel problem. I remind the House of what was said in the communiqué, that it was agreed… to give necessary support to the United Nations in its endeavour to strengthen peace in the region of Palestine and to carry out the appropriate decisions of the Security Council.253 The right hon. Gentleman indicated that in his view the only settlement of the Arab-Isael dispute would be a United Nations settlement. We very much agree with that view. That is why we are now endeavouring to work through the Security Council, against the background of the agreement to which I have just referred, trying to keep the peace and ultimately to achieve such a settlement. We have acted in close unity with the United States and our other Allies in the matter. Mr. Hammarskjold's first mission arose from a resolution put forward by the United States, and I think it was more successful than some had expected. I think it made a considerable contribution towards pacifying the frontiers. We followed up with a resolution in the Security Council, another resolution, with the idea of consolidating that progress that had been made.
Although there have been one or two disquieting features lately, particularly in the situation around Jerusalem, nevertheless I think the visit which Mr. Ham-marskjold has just completed has also been of value. We have no doubt he is going to keep in close touch with the situation, and if he can secure full compliance with the Armistice Agreement—I think it is with him or his agents that the possibility of success in that task chiefly lies—the next step will be either to try to reach agreement upon a settlement of one or more of the major problems or else to try to seek a comprehensive settlement.
My hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson) said yesterday that we ought to impose a comprehensive settlement. It is easier said than done. I think we should much rather see whether we can make some agreement. Whenever we have tried to reach a comprehensive settlement before we have failed, but it is better to try to reach settlement of some of the questions, such as waters or refugees, and to see where we go from there.
I now come to the question of arms for the Middle East. I do not think that there has been any other topic which has caused Ministers in both administrations so much difficulty over the past six years. In the Tripartite Declaration we recognised that the Arab States and Israel needed to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purposes of assuring their internal security and their legitimate 254 self-defence and to permit them to play their part in the defence of the area as a whole. Those are the words of the Tripartite Declaration. At the same time, we declared our opposition to the development of an arms race between the Arab States and Israel. That is still our primary objective.
I think that hon. Members opposite will agree with me that it would be unwise for Israel to think that her safety depends upon arms alone. Nevertheless, we accept that she should have arms for self-defence. I was invited yesterday to enter into an examination of the comparative military strength of Middle Eastern countries. It would be quite wrong for me to do that publicly. It would mean revealing all the information within the possession of the Government about those strengths, and that would lead at once to inquiries about the sources of the information.
Wherever it was shown that one country was weaker than another in a particular arm it would lead to requests for the deficiency to be made up. Every argument deployed would be used as a reason for stepping up arms deliveries to one side or the other. One would get drawn into the questions of offensive and defensive equipment and whether particular Arab States were capable of resisting an Israeli attack. Such a public discussion would add to tension and increase the chances of an arms race. Very much the same considerations apply to questions about particular arms transactions.
The right hon. Member for Blyth questioned me about an answer which I gave to a supplementary question of his on 2nd July. He asked:Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman satisfied as at this date that the balance of arms in the Middle East is as complete as he has indicated that he wishes it to be?My reply was,I think that at the present time the balance is as has been indicated before in this House—I would say rather in favour of Israel."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd July, 1956; Vol. 555, c. 995–6.]On the basis of the advice available to me I believe that what I said was the truth. I was, of course, dealing with military strength. In forming the opinion which I expressed, I took into account many factors working in Israel's favour such as unified command, internal lines of communication, technical skill, the 255 state of training and capacity to maintain and use the arms possessed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If it is suggested that it is unreasonable to take those factors into account in assessing the military strength I am surprised. I believe that Israel is in a position at the present time to defend herself successfully, and, after all, that is the commitment which we entered into in the Tripartite Declaration. From the quotation by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Mr. Pickthorn) yesterday, it rather looks as if Mr. Ben Gurian thinks the same.
§ Mr. George Chetwynd (Stockton-on-Tees)
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman mean the position of Israel against the whole Arab League together or against each Arab country when he is assessing the parity of strength?
§ Mr. Robens
Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman at this stage permit one simple question? First, may I preface it by saying that two weeks ago he invited me to put a Question on the Order Paper when he undertook to explain to the House how he arrived at his judgment that the balance of arms was in favour of Israel. Today he has indicated that for certain reasons he is not able to give that information. He has indicated that unified command, internal lines of communication and so on are factors. I should like to ask him one simple question. Would he explain how the Israelis, by the use of the things he has mentioned, are able to deal with Russian bombers that can fly at 50,000 feet with fighters whose ceiling is 35,000 feet?
§ Mr. Lloyd
One has to take into account the current availability of the bombers and the fighting resources which may be available to Israel at the time that those bombers should be capable of their offensive capacity. I repeat that on the advice available to me at present I believe what I have said is true.
§ Mr. Crossman
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has twice quoted me as supporting his view that the balance was wholly in favour of Israel. He must allow me to tell him what I actually said. I said, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has quite rightly said, that Israel could then do as well as the Arab States. I said:Under the Tripartite Declaration the Israelis have sufficient defensive power to take on all the six Arab States. The fact remains that the Russian arms, which include the latest type of bomb, fighter, submarine and Stalin tank, will over a period of time, shift the balance of power to the other side. I am not an expert and I do not know how long it will take."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th January, 19S6; Vol. 548, c. 96.]I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is a little unjust to take the speech in which I said quite honestly at that time, that is, last January, that Israel, with the old weapons before the others came along, was stronger.
I spent the rest of that speech saying, in effect, for heaven's sake keep the balance and to do so you must provide her with new weapons to compensate for the new weapons going to Egypt. The Foreign Secretary is most unjust to pervert my meaning in this way.
§ Mr. Lloyd
I apologise. I had no intention of implying that the hon. Member was saying that today. The hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd) interrupted me to ask whether I was talking of Israel taking on one Arab State alone and it was in that connection that I referred to what the hon. Member for Coventry, East said, which, I agree, was in January.
Another suggestion which the right hon. Member for Blyth put was with regard to the embargo on arms.
§ Mr. Robens
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman gets to that point, will he now say something about the question he was asked in relation to arms to Syria?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I have no precise information to give to the House about the supply of arms to Syria at present.
As to the question of an embargo on arms to the Middle East under United Nations control which I take it is the policy of the right hon. Member for Blyth and his right hon. Friends, I do not think that that proposal is practicable. Is the embargo to take effect after certain 257 further deliveries have been made to particular countries? If so, how much, to which countries and who decides? What countries are to be included in the embargo? Is it to be limited to those with common frontiers with Israel? If not, where is the line to be drawn? Is it to include Turkey and Iran and Iraq? How would it be consistent with our treaty obligations to Iraq, Jordan and Libya? How would it be enforced?
There is no doubt that the countries concerned would violently object. It may be remembered that in 1948 Czechoslovakia paid no attention at all to an embargo. Taking the situation as it is, there are countries outside the United Nations which would not be affected. Having regard to all the circumstances. I believe that this proposal is not practicable and that the policy of Her Majesty's Government to urge restraint in the delivery of arms to this area is the correct one. If it is followed, as I hope it will be followed, by other countries, it is the best hope of avoiding an arms race.
I come now to the question of disarmament. I agree with hon. Members who say that disarmament discussions have become somewhat tangled. There has been so much argument and counterargument, proposal and counter-proposal, that it is difficult to keep the main principles in mind. I want to spend a few minutes in trying to set out in simple terms what I think is the present situation, and I will try to answer the questions of the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson).
The first fact about the present situation is that the great Powers seem to be willing, indeed anxious, to disarm in certain directions. They are willing to reduce what was useful for the older-fashioned type of conventional war, that is to say. large numbers of men. The Soviet Government announced a cut of 640,000 last year and a new cut of 1.2 million in May. The United States have indicated their willingness to bring their forces down to 2½ million men as part of a partial disarmament agreement, and we ourselves, over a period of five years, are reducing our forces from 870,000 to 700,000.
258 These reductions, I think, are acceptable to the States concerned for practical reasons. We welcome the reductions, but it would be wrong to suggest that the sole motive for them is disarmament. It is to a large extent the need for the efficient use of manpower which has led to these reductions. That is one fact—there is a general desire to disarm in a certain respect, but as I have said, it is not primarily for the sake of disarmament but in order to have an effective use of manpower.
On the other hand, in spite of that feature, which I agree is to be welcomed, no desire has become apparent to reduce expenditure on the more modern types of weapons and equipment. We know that the Soviet Union are stepping up their programmes for nuclear weapons, for guided missiles, for ballistic rockets, for heavy bombers and the rest. There are signs that in that field the effort of the Soviet Union is being increased rather than diminished. Our American allies are also devoting huge resources to this kind of effort and we are doing quite a lot ourselves.
Those are the two background points, but there are two approaches to be made to that situation which are under consideration at the present time. The first is the approach of a partial disarmament scheme. The other is a plan for a comprehensive disarmament scheme under effective controls. It was the United Kingdom last autumn which put forward the idea of partial disarmament, and since then various other ideas have been put forward from one side or the other. I see no reason why, when the Disarmament Sub-Committee meets again, it should not make rapid progress in the formulation of some such partial disarmament agreement.
That agreement should include the reduction of conventional forces and armaments, it should include the control of those limited reductions, it should also incorporate the Russian ideas about precautions against surprise attack, and it should certainly include some provision for air reconnaissance, as the right hon. Gentleman said. Without that, there cannot be satisfactory control even in this limited field. Such an agreement should also include provisions for limiting and controlling nuclear test explosions, unless this has already been arranged by other 259 means, and it would cover much of the ground suggested by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton yesterday.
However, I say this to the House. We must not be fobbed off by this interim conception from our pursuit of the ultimate objective, and that is a comprehensive, properly controlled disarmament agreement. In my view that is the great prize, and it is one in which I have always believed. We can have excellent international debating societies. We can have international co-operation in economic matters. We can have a whole series of non-aggression pacts. But if we want to prevent future war, I believe we have to create on the soil of all the significant States of the world some form of international supervision and control of armaments.
It is an ambitious plan. There are many scoffers, there are plenty of difficulties, but I think that once we have achieved this then we have procured from each country such a surrender of sovereignty in the military field that a major war really is impossible so long as that control continues.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Does not a partial plan also include controls of this kind? Will the Foreign Secretary make that clear?
§ Mr. Lloyd
That is the whole point, that the partial plan involves only a very limited form of control. That is one of the points to which I shall come in a moment, because the right hon. Gentleman has asked about them. The extent of control which would be tolerated under the partial disarmament plan is nothing like what I have envisaged as an appropriate control organ supervising the whole field of armaments.
One of the difficulties in this conception is the problem presented by nuclear weapons. What a tragedy it is that Mr. Baruch's imaginative proposals of 1946 were not accepted by the Soviet Union. I believe that was one of the occasions when humanity missed a turning. Nevertheless, dealing with things as they are, I appreciate that it is common ground that it is now impossible lo guarantee that existing stocks of nuclear fuel will not be misused.
However, that is no reason why we should not continue to try, because, apart 260 from the actual stocks of nuclear fuel, there is a great deal which can be controlled; not only all the conventional armaments, but also the future production of nuclear fuel and the means of delivery of nuclear bombs and rockets. I still think that it would be within the wit of man to devise a system of control which would make it exceedingly difficult for any power to prepare for global nuclear war.
Therefore, it is not a propaganda exercise when Her Majesty's Government continually come back to the question of a comprehensive disarmament agreement and a proper control system. It is one matter on which I have never been able to get satisfactory assurances from any of the Soviet statesmen with whom I have discussed it. Strictly limited control, really amounting to limited observation, is what it is suggested should be acceptable, but they will not accept any control which constitutes a real interference with their sovereignty.
§ Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman recall that at the Disarmament Sub-Committee talks Mr. Moch, speaking on behalf of his own Government and I believe on behalf of this Government, admitted that in fact the Soviet proposal for control, in his own words—… goes further even than the control in the first stage of the Anglo-French Plan.Why, then, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman still complain that we have never got any satisfaction from the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Lloyd
What was being referred to then was a limited control compared with control in the first stage of the Anglo-French Plan. If the hon. Gentleman will look up the record, he will see that in the first stage of that plan there was only the beginning of any sort of a control system. I have argued this by the hour with Mr. Vyshinsky, Mr. Gromyko and Mr. Malik, and I do not believe that we can have an effective control organ if its actions are subject to the veto of the Security Council; if the only thing its agents can do is to send in a report that something is being done. I have always believed that the control organ must have some right to stop some malpractice. Of course, when we come to military action 261 or sanctions, that is a matter for the Security Council, but short of that I believe that the control organ must have much greater power than has ever been envisaged by any Russian with whom I have discussed the matter.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton made some mildly critical remarks about the attitude of the Government on the question of the force levels. The proposal of 1–1½ million was originally put forward as a final figure; I repeat, as a figure at the end of the phases of the Anglo-French Plan. If my recollection is right, the Anglo-French Plan had three phases. It was always considered that after that we might go on to further reductions, but at the period—[Interruption.] No, with respect, anyone who has seriously considered this suggestion will have seen that there was a question of carrying out agreed reductions—perhaps a half, then another quarter, then another quarter. Within that bracket of agreed reductions the end figure was 1–1½ million. It was after that, when we had carried out agreed reductions and had also carried out the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons, that we might go on beyond 1–1½ million to further reductions. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not final."] The figure which matched the elimination of nuclear weapons, does not compare with the figure of 2½ million. That is the figure at the end of the first stage of partial disarmament, when nothing at all has been done about nuclear weapons, so the two are not comparable.
Then the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition rather suggested today that we had inserted only at the last moment the idea that the attainment of these figures must depend upon a political settlement. That is not the case. I am sorry to bore the right hon. Gentleman with what I said myself, but at the very first meeting of the Disarmament Sub-Committee on 13th May, 1954, I myself said:It is true that substantial disarmament cannot come about unless there is a real relaxation of world tension, including a settlement of the major international differences dividing the world today.That is what I said at the very beginning. That has always been our position. We have maintained that this does not prevent an attempt to seek a comprehensive agreement. It is the difference between 262 reaching agreement and the complete fulfilment of an agreement. Therefore, we believe—and this is not very different from something that the right hon. Gentleman said—that disarmament and the settlement of outstanding disputes must proceed pari passu. The right hon. Gentleman said that they must go along equally; they help one another.
As I have said in the House many times, if we can arrive at a comprehensive agreement, that will of itself help to reduce tension. I do not believe, however, as a matter of practice that that comprehensive agreement will ever be carried out unless we also settle some of the outstanding differences.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
Does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman remember saying in this House on 30th July, 1954, thatif we were able to reach a measure of agreement on plans for disarmament, that of itself would begin to lower world tension. If we can manage to reach agreement between the two sides upon these two matters, that of itself will help towards a solution of other problems."—[OFFICIAL REPORT.30th July, 1954; Vol. 531, c. 897.]
§ Mr. Lloyd
That is exactly what I thought I said a moment ago. We reached an agreement—or, rather, we hoped for an agreement—with three phases in it with disarmament proceeding along with those phases. What I was saying is that those phases would not be carried out unless we also managed to settle some of the outstanding differences in the world.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman also recall what the Minister of State said just at the time when the Russians were accepting our proposals, in the spring of 1955? He said, curiously enough:I hope Mr. Malik will be able … to reassure me that he envisages that a properly controlled disarmament programme can begirt and can go ahead without necessarily awaiting a settlement of all the other outstanding political problems. I think this very important indeed, and I hope that he can reassure me that that is the position and the point of view of the Soviet Government That is the view which we have always held and I hope that we can register agreement on it.
§ Mr. Lloyd
Right hon. Gentlemen opposite are not doing themselves justice. I quite agree that my right hon. Friend said:begin … without … a settlement of all…263 There is nothing inconsistent between the two statements, If right hon. Gentlemen opposite are so divorced from reality that they think that a comprehensive disarmament agreement is to be carried out with matters like the reunification of Germany and other problems throughout the rest of the world still to be settled, I can only say that I have my doubts about that.
I am glad that the Prime Minister's statement with regard to the limitation of nuclear tests has been so warmly welcomed. The matter has been committed by the Disarmament Commission to the Sub-Committee. That, however, does not mean that no work will be done on this matter until the Sub-Committee meets again. As was stated, we are ready to discuss the matter separately from the question of a disarmament convention. We are working, and have been working for some time, on possible ways in which we might achieve this object. We hope that others will do the same and we shall seek to exchange ideas. The right hon. Gentleman asked me which countries we would approach and when we would approach them I think it is undesirable for me to be more specific, but the Government have strongly in mind the views which, I believe, are held by the majority of people in this country about the desirability of getting this kind of thing under some sort of control, before it is too late.
I apologise to the House for being so long, although the fault is not altogether mine, but I want to deal with the question of aid to under-developed countries. I was rather sorry that the Leader of the Opposition used the phrase "the taint of colonialism". Colonialism has many fine things to its record, but when right hon. Gentlemen in this House start talking about the taint of colonialism, other people begin to believe it elsewhere.
The accusation is sometimes made that aid to under-developed countries from Her Majesty's Government is not on a sufficiently bold and imaginative scale at the present time. We are doing all that we can possibly do within our existing resources. In fact, we are doing rather more than we can currently afford. In the past five years, we have given economic aid to Colonial Territories at the rate, I understand, of about £50 million a year.
264 We have helped with the development of Jordan and Yugoslavia and I have mentioned Libya. We have made a decisive contribution to the Colombo Plan. Last year, we announced that we would contribute a further £7 million to the Colombo Plan technical co-operation scheme during the seven years beginning April, 1956. We have offered certain sums to the Economic Committee of the Bagdad Pact for Technical Assistance and we are planning more aid for that. Besides this, after the United States we are the largest contributor to the United Nations aid funds, such as Technical Assistance and Special Relief Funds for the Arab refugees, for example. Our total aid under all these heads, including colonial development, comes to something like £70 million a year over the past five years. This figure, of course, does not include private investment, which from 1952 to 1955 was running at between £150 and £175 million a year, mostly in the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
The point that some of us are trying to make about aid is this. Nobody denies that much aid is being given to backward areas, and the Pacific areas are the example par excellence. But will the Foreign Secretary apply his mind to the fact that despite all these billions of dollars and sterling of aid, the production of food per capita in those areas, according to the E.C.A.F.E. Report, is still 14 per cent. below pre-war? Will the Government apply their minds to where this aid goes and to the stability of the price of raw materials from the area?
§ Mr. Lloyd
The Government are doing a great deal of which we have cause to be proud.
There is talk at present about aid without strings. We would all feel it quite wrong to impose political conditions—in other words, to say to a country that unless it took such and such a political action, it would get no aid. We would 265 regard that as wrong. On the other hand, we believe that our friends and our allies and the members of the Commonwealth and Empire are, surely, entitled to have more assistance from us than those who are openly or secretly hostile.
§ Mr. Lloyd
While we acknowledge the importance of the United Nations Agencies and we support them there is nothing inconsistent or undesirable in our taking action along the additional lines which we are doing. As far as S.U.N.F.E.D. is concerned, the right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that it will not be a success unless what are called the developed countries put up a very large amount of capital for it. He knows quite well that at present it is not within our power to put up the sort of sum which would make S.U.N.F.E.D. worth beginning. [An HON. MEMBER: "Nine million pounds."] If the idea is that it should begin on a capital of £9 million that sum is too small. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite know quite well that the Government of the United States have said that they will not contribute. One has to accept it.
I have tried to deal with a large number of points. My hon. Friend will deal with any that I have not dealt with. My general conclusion is that there is a definite relaxation of tension. The risk of world war is less. We must not lower our guard. The Soviet drive for political and economic power will continue and we must refurbish our ideas and our alliances to meet this new situation. We must meet it not necessarily in an unfriendly manner. Because we meet their drive for economic and political power does not necessarily mean hostility. The greatest contribution that the people of this country can make towards the United Kingdom being able to give a lead in these world affairs is to strengthen the economy of the nation.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. James Johnson (Rugby)
I find it hard to compete with the Foreign Secretary either in the length of his speech or in what the late Ernest Bevin would have called his "plethora of clichés." I do not intend to comment on his tour d'horizon, and I shall not be as unkind as was the Manchester Guardian, which described him as a "messenger 266 boy" of the Prime Minister. I have listened to his speech very carefully. I have never seen a Foreign Secretary so badgered by the Opposition. He was interrupted 24 times. Listening to him as Foreign Secretary makes me think that he is an excellent Minister of Defence.
Having said that, being a back bencher called for the first time in a foreign affairs debate, I wish to speak shortly and about one topic. I hope that I shall not be thought too parochial in speaking about Ethiopia and the dispute there between the Ethiopians and ourselves about the Somali boundary. I happen to be the only hon. Member who has been there, with the exception of the Joint Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Dodds-Parker). I hope that it will be not thought too much of a tête-à-tête if I primarily address my remarks to him.
On 10th July, The Times had a leading article entitled "Four Years to Trouble". In my view—and the Joint Under-Secretary may later confirm this—that may be "Four Months to Trouble". The facts are quite simple. About the time of the Tudors, 2½ million Somalis came from Arabia to the Horn of Africa. They wandered backwards and forwards in this area for centuries with no boundaries to their grazing areas. In 1897, some thirteen years after we got there for the first time, we wanted to safeguard our flank when moving down the Nile to Khartoum to attack the Mahdi, and so we made a treaty with Menelik II.
In that treaty, we said that we would hand over to the Abyssinians about 25,000 square miles of what we now call the Somaliland Protectorate. For forty years no one, least of all the illiterate Somali herdsmen who wandered with vast flocks of sheep, cattle and goats, knew anything about that. In the thirties it burst upon them. Then came the 1939–45 war; and ultimately, in 1954, Her Majesty's Government signed a treaty with the Ethiopians confirming the handing over of that 25,000 square miles of no man's land in the Reserved Area of Haud.
The difficulty is that some 500,000 Somalis wander annually backwards and forwards over the line. The Ethiopians are determined to assert their sovereignty over this particular belt of territory. I think that they are mistaken to act as they do, and they are building up for 267 themselves an enormous fund of ill-will and even enmity among the 2½ million or more Somalis who are on their east and southern borders. At the moment, we are allowed to have 200 illalos, or police, to look after British interests in that area; and I hope that we shall increase that number to 700. I shall return to that topic shortly.
We have had continual bother ever since the treaty was signed. Having been there on the spot, it is my impression that the Ethiopians do not intend and, at the moment, are not carrying out the terms of the treaty. I have had a cable—as no doubt has the Foreign Secretary—about present conditions there from Mr. Hassan, President of the National United Front. I am convinced that the Ethiopian position is quite simple. At the head of the Ethiopian Government administration there is what one might term a veneer of Sorbonne and Oxford men; below that there is a large gulf, and then we get, particularly in Harrar and the borders, people not unlike the Saudis and Yemenis who, without wishing to be unkind to them, are nearer to the medieval times when the Somalis first came over.
There is hostility and open enmity in the clash between those peoples. The Somalis are politically conscious. Their sons leave the territory and go as sailors to Brooklyn or Barry Dock; they mix in the world, and then return politically conscious. The action of the Ethiopians in persecuting them is cementing and consolidating not only their unity based upon their Moslem faith and their ethnic past, but also their political consciousness in the modern world.
In 1947 the late Ernest Bevin had a scheme for this area. He wanted to unite all Somalis in one united Somalia. At this moment, what was formerly Italian Somaliland is due to get independence in 1960 and will, of course, get it. Many of the 2 million Somalis are there. Ernest Bevin wished to unite those 2 million with our 750,000, and obviously later with the Ethiopian Somalis and, perhaps, with the French Somalis, if he could get consent to that form of a new nation in the Horn of Africa.
Unfortunately, the Americans and the Russians at that time did not assist the late Foreign Secretary at New York in 268 this plan, and it lapsed. What a pity that we did not carry on with it. There is no doubt that at the moment our prestige and our capacity for good will and influence in this part of Africa are slumping. The Ethiopians are appointing their own akils or headmen among our Somalis—and indeed by gifts of land and other measures are persuading British Somalis to become Ethiopian citizens; others go over because of the lack of protection which we are offering to our people.
In the Daily Mail last Monday there was a statement to the effect that at Barnard Castle, some Commandos of the Durham Light Infantry were standing by in case they had to be flown out to the borders of Ethiopia, should a dispute flare up. The Joint Under-Secretary may say something about that. I do not believe that it will be advisable to fly out Commandos or use other troops. It would be preferable to increase the number of illalos or police, and perhaps send in the Somali Scouts to give protection; but it would be a very delicate matter indeed to use forces on what is acknowledged to be Ethiopian soil.
The Joint Under-Secretary, who early this year attended an Anglo-Ethiopian conference in Addis Abbaba—after I was at Harar in January—he has been with Lord Lloyd and knows the mentality and outlook of Ethiopians on this matter—might consider, as the late Ernest Bevin wished to do, calling a conference with the French of Djibouti, the Italians at Mogadishu, our people from Hargeisa and the Ethiopians in Addis Abbaba. There might be possibly a fifth party, the Americans, who have oil interests here, and who are alleged to have much influence with the Ethiopians because of their technical assistance, economic help and financial aid to Ethiopia.
At such a conference the future of the Somali peoples could be discussed. I am afraid that if we do not do something like that soon in Somalia, we will lose our present influence for good will. The Somalis are intensely loyal and wish to stay in the Commonwealth if and when they become united in the 1960s. I hope that this suggestion will be considered, and that Her Majesty's Government will attempt to hammer out what all the Somalis can do together in the 1960s.
In this connection, I do not know whether the Government would care to make some overtures towards the 269 Egyptians. Despite what the Foreign Secretary said earlier today, I believe that the Egyptians have been most mischievous in this quarter of Africa. They are not only attacking us, with wireless propaganda, at Aden and elsewhere; but, more important, have been infiltrating in a very subtle way into the Horn of Africa with their teachers. The Egyptians have flooded Mogadishu and Italian Somali-land with more than 200 teachers in the past year or so; and they are offering very lucrative bursaries at Cairo University for Somalis.
It is shattering to think that, although we have had the Somaliland Protectorate in our care for over seventy years, the Joint Under-Secretary and I are the only Members of Parliament who have been to this neglected possession. At the moment we have only 19 of these loyal subjects in the United Kingdom, receiving higher education, but Colonel Nasser has welcomed about 60 in Cairo, doing the same thing.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
I did not want to interrupt the hon. Member but, as a matter of fact, he must not claim that he is the only Member who has been there. I have been there upon two occasions—and to the places that he has mentioned.
§ Mr. Johnson
I am delighted to hear that. It is a pleasant shock to hear the hon. Member say that, because I was told that no Member of Parliament had been until I went—and, of course, the Under-Secretary of State followed shortly after. I am happy to correct my statement. I do not know what sort of impact the hon. Gentleman made upon the people; obviously it was not much, because they soon forgot him.
It would be a fine and hopeful thing to get some agreement amongst all the nations in the Middle East upon the future of the Somali people. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. I am convinced that it is not in the best interests of Ethiopia herself for things to continue as they are. If we allow the Ethiopians to continue behaving as they are there is no doubt in my mind that they will drag us down into some future war in the Horn of Africa. I fear some situation in these coming years on the lines of what we now see in the Middle East between the Israelis and Arabs. The 270 Moslems fear and hate the Amharic Imperialists on the Ethiopian plateau above them. Ethiopia is expanding. She has now got to the sea at Massawa, in Eritrea. She is pushing out, and unless we can reach a modus vivendi upon this matter, only a nation like Egypt or the Communists will benefit—and they are fishing in these waters—and people like ourselves, Ethiopia, the Italians, the French and the United Nations, whose job it is to look after this part of the world, will all be disadvantaged.
§ 6.2 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire, East)
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) will not expect me to follow him in the rather specialised subject about which he speaks with such knowledge. I could not follow him even if I wished to. All I would say is that I listened with great interest to what he had to say; and, as far as I am capable of doing so, I concluded that the conclusions which he reached were the right ones. I hope that the Government will adopt all the suggestions that he made. No doubt we shall hear something upon this matter from the Joint Under-Secretary at the end of the debate.
After the Adenauer-Dulles conversations in Washington a little time ago Mr. Walter Lippmann wrote, in The New York Herald-Tribune:It is safe to predict that if the leadership of the West is to be like these Washington talks—inflexible, sterile, unrealistic and wishful—then the troubles of the Western alliance will become worse and worse. The alliance will crumble if it is led by men who think it a virtue to be unchanging in a changing situation.I think that Mr. Lippmann had something there. He went on to describe in extremely forcible language—too forcible for me to quote—what Dr. Adenauer and Mr. Dulles had said and done, and the conclusions that they had reached. The moral that he drew was that, although the political situation in Europe had radically changed during the past five years, there had been no change whatsoever in the policy of Mr. Dulles or Dr. Adenauer so far as Germany was concerned—and I think he was quite right.
The Prime Minister did much to allay that fear yesterday. In speaking as he did of the changes which have taken 271 place in Russia, the problems of disarmament and the hydrogen bomb, and the future of Germany, I thought that he displayed a most refreshing flexibility of mind, which almost everybody in the debate has agreed is perhaps more desirable than anything else. The Prime Minister swims easily in these deep waters, as anyone who has watched him negotiate at Berlin and Geneva, with the Russians and the Chinese, can testify.
The fact remains that the Western World is not united, although we all proclaim, almost incessantly, that it is. We talk a great deal about "the three unities". Is it not rather wishful thinking? They are not unities.
I agree with that part of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in which he complained of the fact that there was great disunity in the Western world today and not nearly enough co-ordination of policy. I was mildly irritated by the prim little lecture which he gave to the Government upon the subject of what they say about disarmament. He implied that Ministers should not mention National Service in any shape or form. He said that it showed a great lack of responsibility on their part to do so. [Interruption.] He practically said that, anyway; and I could not help wondering, while he was saying it, how soon he is himself going to come out in favour of the flat abolition of National Service, and whether he will give a date for it.
After what the right hon. Gentleman said this afternoon I do not think he can give a date—and that will be a disappointment to the party opposite, because it is a certain vote-winner. But I really thought it was intolerable for him to read lectures to Ministers for even daring to mention the possibility of abolishing military service in this country. We all want to abolish it, or at least reduce it, in the measurable future.
There will be little chance of any Government in this country abolishing or reducing National Service unless N.A.T.O., to which we all belong, brings its military thinking a little more up to date. N.A.T.O. is where the power of the Western world resides, and it is the only place where it resides. N.A.T.O. is at present conducting a global struggle against the forces of 272 Communism without any central organ of decision to direct its military strategy or political policy upon a global scale. It is at present quite immobile; and it is not open to dispute that its strategic thinking is out of date.
There is no agreement about the size or disposition of the conventional forces that we must have in this military alliance, although they are now barely one quarter of the Lisbon figures. The joyous military arithmetic of Lisbon mentioned 30 armoured divisions, fully equipped, in Europe. They have gone by the board. There is now less than one quarter of that force. But that does not appear to have made any difference to our strategic thought. We have not really decided whether to concentrate, in Europe, upon a defence force of considerable strength, or upon the deterrent effect of our retaliatory power.
The climax of absurdity was reached in a leading article in The Times of 29th May, which recommended, first, large ground forces in Europe; secondly, that these ground forces must have what it called "atomic capabilities" to make them more effective in action; and, thirdly, that every country should have two years' military service indefinitely. It then said that the Germans would have to "buck up" and get their full Army into being as quickly as possible, and that the French would have to bring back their troops from Algeria as soon as possible.
But even that was not enough. We must also have an enormous strategic bomber force, as a deterrent to total war. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who wrote the article?"] I do not know who wrote it; he is anonymous—fortunately for him; but as a straight road to total bankruptcy I have seldom seen anything to equal it. If I had been one of the Russian leaders in the Kremlin, I should have said, "I hope to goodness they go ahead with that."
I do not know what other hon. Members think, but I am not sure that the alternative to a general nuclear war is a local conventional war, as we have known it, for example, in the case of Korea. I am inclined to think that if we now prepare for another war upon the Korean model we may be preparing for one which will never again take place. I should have thought that the alternative was 273 much more likely to be guerilla warfare and political infiltration; and that we should consider whether we ought not to have small but very mobile and effective conventional forces to take care of that kind of war and, for the rest, to rely upon the strategic bombing weapon.
Even so, with costs mounting as they are, we are under an illusion if we think that we can make vast reductions in expenditure on defence. These four divisions in Germany are now preposterous. It has been argued by the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) that we are bound by the Western European Agreement to keep four divisions there. So we were; but subject to consultation, and it is a burden which cannot be sustained.
If, as the price of getting the French to join the European Army, we have to keep four fully equipped military divisions on the Continent, it is a price we cannot afford to pay. We shall be made bankrupt if we go on paying it. We should get the full sympathy of the French if we say we cannot pay it, because they have already withdrawn most of their divisions; and we shall get a considerable amount of sympathy from the Germans, because they have not even started building up their divisions. Meanwhile, with the United States, we are carrying a greater part of the burden of European defence than are our Allies.
I believe that N.A.T.O. is capable of discharging the function which British sea power performed in the nineteenth century. Committed to free institutions, and pursuing a coherent policy in common, it could preserve the peace of the world; but at present there is no machinery to frame and to implement such a policy. Nor will there be until we decide—this was the point which was nearly, but not quite, made by the Leader of the Opposition—whether N.A.T.O. in itself is anything more than a temporary military alliance designed to meet a given military emergency in 1950; or whether we should try to build up out of it an organic union of nation-States as the basis—not a League of Nations but a commonwealth of nations. I think we should try to realise the larger aim and, as peace perhaps begins to pervade the world a little more, we should expand N.A.T.O. from a purely military alliance into the wider field of political association.
274 I wish to turn for a moment to the subject of the Middle East. I have pointed out that there is no great unity of purpose or policy in the Western world so far as N.A.T.O. is concerned. Unfortunately, that is not the end of the story. I agree with the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)—for once—that in the Middle East our interests and those of the United States are identical. I do not altogether agree with some of the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) or those who make out that, in some way or another, our interests diverge from those of the United States. They do not.
What are our main interests in the Middle East? They are, first, to protect the oil supplies—not our oil supplies—but those supplies upon which industrial Western Europe is utterly dependent. Secondly, to restore the shattered N.A.T.O. defences in the Eastern Mediterranean. We have already discussed Cyprus, so I will not go into that again; but I will say that we must restore the defensive system of N.A.T.O. which no longer exists in the Eastern Mediterranean. Thirdly, to prevent an Arab-Israeli war. These are our common objectives, but there is no common policy. Indeed, there is no policy at all. Frankly, I blame the United States much more than Her Majesty's Government for that, although I think it was a pity that at the time of the Washington Conference with President Eisenhower in January we indicated that an agreement had been reached on policy, when in fact no agreement had been reached.
I confess that I found the statement by the Foreign Secretary about the supply of arms to the Middle East profoundly disturbing. I do not ask my right hon. and learned Friend to give details of the figures, but I was not at all satisfied with his explanation of why he had come to the conclusion that the balance of power had shifted in favour of Israel. It seems to have been largely because he thought that the Israelis were cleverer and braver than the Arabs, that they were better fighters, and had better lines of communication. Such considerations may have to be taken into account in assessing military strength, but I do not think that undue weight should be given to these particular factors.
275 We know the numbers of heavy bombers and heavy tanks and MiG fighters which Czechoslovakia has sold to Egypt. The numbers are on paper, and there is no concealment about that. We also know from the Israeli Government that we have not given them any Centurion tanks, or Canberra aeroplanes, or any modern jet fighters at all. That leaves me profoundly disturbed, and I wish to ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State to give, if he can, one categorical assurance. It is that Her Majesty's Government are really trying, and will continue to try, to preserve a general balance of power in the Middle East in accordance with the terms of the Tripartite Declaration.
If we go on denying to Israel the sort of arms which the Arab countries are receiving, either from us or from somebody else, the time will come when the balance of power will be irretrievably upset; and from that moment tension will increase. In default of a settlement—which is not round the corner whatever we may think—I feel it vital that the balance of military power should be kept as steady as possible. The Foreign Secretary said that an embargo on the export of arms was not practicable. If we cannot achieve that, let us at least try to keep the balance as best we can.
I wish to say one other word about Israel. I believe this situation to be one of immense importance, and great danger. We are accustomed to the danger, we have lived with it for so long that we take it for granted. But it is there, and could result in an explosion at any time. I believe that the worst cause of trouble in the Middle East, the root of the trouble, is the festering sore of the refugees. Whether the Israelis or the Arabs are responsible, I believe that we are also to some extent responsible; not merely because we have not spent money, or enough money, but because the refugees will never move from these filthy camps unless they are absolutely certain that they can never go back to their homes in Israel.
There should be a categorical declaration by the Governments of Britain and the United States that whatever else may happen—whatever adjustment of frontiers may take place, or anything else through U.N.O.—Britain and the United 276 States will never stand by and see the State of Israel destroyed with Communist arms. We know it to be true. It does not matter whether we are pro-Zionist or pro-Arab, or whether we are neutral, we all know that if it came to the crunch, if Israel were attacked by the Arab States with MiG fighters and Skoda tanks, neither Great Britain nor the United States could stand aside and watch Israel destroyed.
If we came out with a categorical declaration that we could not, and would not, do so, I believe that we should see the refugees begin to move, and there would be an immediate relaxation of tension in that area. There are many opportunities for resettlement. There are some quite good settlements actually waiting for them; but they will not go at present, because they are waiting to go back to Palestine.
I wish to say a word about another rather sombre picture—wherever we go at present we find much the same story. So far as China is concerned, I suppose we have to wait for positive action until after the Presidential election in the United States. But we cannot go on basing our policy in the Far East indefinitely on the proposition that the Republic of China does not exist, because it does. It is a very important fact in the world today, and I believe that we are missing golden opportunities for trade with China. At present there are over 400 items still on the banned list. There is scope for great expansion so far as the capital goods industries are concerned, and so far as tractors are concerned; and I simply say to the Government that I think they could move a little faster—even though there is a Presidential election in the United States—than they are doing in the way of taking some more items off the banned list, and getting on with trade.
When I was in Hong Kong I found that there were twelve American consuls all trying to stop us trading with China, and they were doing it pretty well. I think that we should now have a shot at trying to drive through those consuls, and I do not believe that the United States' would mind very much if we succeeded.
Even in the economic field, the policy of the free world is still governed by the Bretton Woods Agreement, which, 277 although there might have been something to say for it at the time it was made, is now hopelessly out of date. We are saddled with a rigid international currency system, imposed ten years ago in a different world, which does not work any longer. We are also governed by G.A.T.T., which also does not work. Secondly, there has been no attempt by the Western Powers to establish any agreed standards or system for the direction of economic aid. This argues a mental rigidity bordering upon lunacy.
Finally, I turn to Europe. There has been a lot of talk about Germany, in some most interesting speeches. There has at the same time been a good deal of hot air about German reunion. We might as well begin to face some facts about German reunion. First, it is very doubtful if the Russians will ever agree to German reunification on any ground. It is time someone said so, instead of paying endless lip service to the idea of reunification with such remarks as, "No more peace in Europe, and no more hope for the world unless Germany is reunited". Suppose that Russia says "No". That is as far as we shall be able to go unless we want to go to war with Russia in order to get back East Germany for the West Germans; and that is not a prospect which attracts me in any way.
Secondly, it is certain that the Russians will never agree to the reunification of Germany except on the basis of the OderNeisse frontier and of no German participation in N.A.T.O. We have heard a lot of speeches on the line that, when Germany is reunited and joins N.A.T.O., we shall be able to take all the necessary steps to see that she will not be a menace to the Soviet Union or to anybody else. She will just be Germany in N.A.T.O.; and that will be very nice and cosy, and we shall all be very much better off.
There is only one difficulty. The Russians will not "wear" it; and anybody who supposes that they will is suffering from mental aberration. To go on talking about a reunited Germany in N.A.T.O. may be wishful thinking, but it is also very silly thinking.
I come to the common-market proposal, about which the Chancellor of the Exchequer said something today. Here I think the Government are faced with a decision of major importance. The 278 threat from which this country suffers today is automation, applied on a gigantic scale in the economies of the Soviet Union and of the United States. Both of those countries have capabilities of doing it on a scale which we can never look at. That is the major economic problem which will confront us over the next ten or fifteen years. The Russians art-beginning to apply automation on a very big scale, and the Americans have been doing it on a very big scale over the last five years. The process will go on intensively, and will cost an awful lot of money, which they have got and we have not.
Closer economic, industrial and fiscal integration of this country with the countries of Western Europe will, I believe, be vital over the next few years, if we are to remain a great industrial Power. Flanked by these tremendous continental economies to the east and the west, we cannot otherwise hope to survive. I do not think that that integration is incompatible with our Commonwealth interests. The two are, to some extent, complementary. In the first stage, agriculture may have to be excluded; but, whatever happens, we shall never get economic unity in Europe of a size and on a scale that will make it worth while unless Britain gives a lead.
We have rejected the leadership of Europe, as I know to my cost, for the last eight years. One has to have been to Strasbourg to realise how frustrating it has been. We cannot reject it much longer. If we decide to go on into Europe we must do it in a good spirit, the spirit of trying to make it work, and not of carping and finding difficulties all the way, which has been the policy of successive Governments since the war.
In conclusion, I want to say that I regard the Communist challenge as very serious indeed. It is no longer a military challenge. It is twofold. First, it is technical, and centrally directed; and it will succeed unless we match it with superior techniques and direction of our own. We must weld the three great cantilevers of the free world into an interlinked, organic union strong enough to withstand the challenge. We can build it out of the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, and N.A.T.O. Those three can be combined into a comprehensive union, pursuing a common policy.
279 The challenge is also ideological. This is fundamentally a struggle for the minds of men. We must offer a better way of life to the uncommitted areas of the world than the naked materialism of the Marxist creed; and get our ideas across. Our basic strength is individual freedom. Despotism is no new thing. In their attempt to combine economic planning and efficiency with freedom the Social Democrats are the real revolutionaries of the twentieth century, not the Communists. I count myself, in every sense of the words, a social democrat.
I read the other day a pregnant sentence in an article by Sir Norman Angell.
Every Russian schoolboy can expound the philosophy of Communism according to Marx: not one British schoolboy in a thousand could explain the philosophy of freedom as outlined by Locke, or Milton, or Jefferson or Mill.That is profoundly true. That is why we are not getting our ideas across.
The main dangers that confront us are disunity, rigidity and lethargy. Disunity, for the reasons which I have given: rigidity because, in a rapidly changing world, we flinch from the effort to change our minds, our ideas or our policies. Once in a mould there we stick, and hesitate even to look out over the edge: lethargy, because of indolence and complacency. I sometimes wonder whether the people of this country are at present seriously interested in anything but racing, cricket, Marilyn Monroe and Jack Spot. If we read the papers we might think that those are the all-absorbing topics.
Here we are, in a half empty House of Commons, discussing the destinies of the human race. Everybody else is probably at the tape machine, looking at the Test Match results. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Test Match has ended".] Everybody would be looking at the tape if there were a Test Match. The other day I read a sentence in the second volume of Sir Winston Churchill's "World Crisis," which was:Events continued to drift steadily forward".I thought to myself, "To what extent are they doing that today, against us and in favour of the Communists, slowly but gradually, without very much resistance on our part?"
280 The task confronting the West now is to regain the initiative, and to base it on a theme. It will tax our staying power. But it has been well said that we shall have to live with this Communist challenge for a long time, unless we prefer to die with it.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
On this side of the House we always enjoy the speeches of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby), but they are usually based upon one familiar formula which never lets the hon. Gentleman down.
He begins by paying a charming compliment to the Prime Minister, and he proceeds to demonstrate with cruel clarity what a failure the Prime Minister and his Government are. This afternoon he gave a catalogue of catastrophic consequences, all of which came from his own Front Bench, because of the Government's policy on Germany, China and the Middle East. Is it not time that the hon. Member faced up to some of the obligations that are upon him, in the seriousness of the present situation? Has he the right to go on sustaining with his votes a Government which he destroys every day of the week with his voice, as he has done so effectively tonight?
§ Mrs. Castle
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman considers it constructive criticism, in a situation the seriousness of which he has brilliantly shown this evening, to refer to the refreshing flexibility of mind shown in the speech of the Prime Minister yesterday when we all know that that is only a flattering way of describing the flabbiness of his policy. The hon. Member surely is much too intelligent not to realise that.
So far from the Government Front Bench in this debate having a refreshing flexibility of mind, we had quite a remarkable analysis by the Prime Minister yesterday—with which no one will disagree—of the fact that the situation has changed since the Berlin Conference, from rigidity to flexibility, the great changes in Russia and opportunities which we must seize, but we have not had a single example in the form of policy of how they are to be seized and what changes in policy the 281 Government are to adopt to meet this changing and challenging situation.
The only new item is the policy on the Aswan Dam. That was a classic example of how not to behave in the new situation, how not to give and to withhold economic aid in a world which is tired of out-of-date imperialist handouts on the basis of self-interest.
I want to concentrate on some of these specific items and policies, and particularly on the speech of the Foreign Secretary. I assumed that we would get from the Foreign Secretary today the follow-up of the opening innings of the Prime Minister yesterday, and that we would begin to realise how the fine phrases which we had yesterday were to be translated into action by the Government. We have had no evidence whatever of that in one specific field on which the right hon. and learned Gentleman dwelt at considerable length—disarmament—which is the most hopeful field available to us at the moment. The only evidence that we have got, which is indisputable, is that within the last few days alone this Government have let another opportunity go by. They allowed the Disarmament Commission to meet yet again, to talk yet again over the old, stale tirades of one side against the other and to adjourn once again in that situation, which was full of opportunity.
The Foreign Secretary told us that the question of disarmament was somewhat tangled. I must say, after listening to his speech, that it was pretty clear that he played his part in tangling it. I say quite definitely that I lay at the door of the Government the charge not only that they have thrown away the opportunity of a positive achievement in this field over the last two years, but that they have done it not by bungling, but deliberately.
Here I disagree very strongly with my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). The Government, spurred on in this by the United States of America, are afraid of military disarmament just because they are afraid of political disarmament. They are afraid of a start being made in a practical way over a practical area of the international scene because if we really got international co-operation, if we got—as we could get tomorrow—Russia, America, France, Britain and all the other Powers working together in practical co-operation on disarmament, it would be impossible 282 any longer to go on resisting the political disarmament which some people are afraid to see. The whole policy of keeping the world divided into rigid camps watching one another with suspicion with a political war all the time and an economic war would become fluid, and we might go forward to real co-operation over a wide area. I think that is what the Government are afraid of.
We had some absolutely staggering statements from the Foreign Secretary about disarmament today. They were statements of which I challenge the veracity. I have gone to as much trouble as any hon. Member in reading the records of the Disarmament Sub-Committee's debates, reading the speeches made last week by our Minister of State in the Disarmament Commission, and trying to get at the truth. That is not easy, because of the complexity of the situation. It is really incredible that the Foreign Secretary could come to the House this afternoon and say that he had never had any satisfactory assurance from the Russians on the question of control, and that the partial disarmament plan which we now know is available to us contained only very limited provisions for control. I suggest to hon. Members that if they read the records of the disarmament talks it will perhaps begin to come home to them what is within our grasp in the very near future.
It is true of course that this is a recent change. I am not saying the Russians are angels and we are devils. I do not say that for a moment. In fact I frankly admit that only eighteen months ago we could rightly claim that agreement on disarmament was impossible because of the absolute incompatibility of the two points of view. Those points of view were incompatible because their interests were incompatible. Certainly, immediately after the war, when America had the H-bomb and Russia had not, they were talking at cross-purposes. Russia was moralising about the need to ban the bomb that she had not got and America was wanting to cut the vast land armies of the Soviet Union, but as soon as the Soviet Union got the bomb and the deterrent was operating, there came about a balance of strength which could be reflected in a balanced disarmament programme.
283 In May, 1955, that balanced programme became acceptable to both sides, when the Soviet Union marked the entry into a new era by accepting the Anglo-French proposals. I suggest that she did it because she was a realist—not because she was idealist, but she was realist. She realised that in the situation of nuclear stalemate it was mad folly for the world to go on with an arms race without any attempt to get control.
I lay this at the door of the Government. When the Russians announced their acceptance of that plan, what happened? The Minister of State said it was a dividend of British and allied policy—a welcome dividend—and at last patience had been rewarded, but what did they do? They disbanded the Sub-Committee for three and a half months to make sure that agreement was not reached, just as they did when Mr. Gromyko said last week that he would accept the new Western proposals, changed once again. The world is becoming suspicious when, at the moment we can achieve a dividend, all the boys are sent home to see if they can think of some new snag.
What has happened since then? When the basis of disarmament agreement was reached this Sub-Committee adjourned. Then the summit talks were held at Geneva. Most of us thought that the purpose of those talks was to make a relaxation of tension possible, but all that has happened as a result was that one particular item of policy has been advanced by the Americans and has since been made an absolutely irremovable stumbling block to disarmament agreement. That was President Eisenhower's "open skies" plan as his contribution to the talks. That was one of the points which might have been discussed, but since then the Americans have made the introduction of an aerial survey the sine qua non of any method of control, and not only of control when disarmament starts, but control before disarmament starts.
Mr. Stassen came back from Geneva and said to the Russians, "Look, we now advance as a test of your sincerity that you should forthwith adopt the aerial survey plan as an initial operation of initial inspection" before any disarmament is started. What kind of answer did our Government give to that? There 284 was no talk now of the Anglo-French plan. That was out of date because the Russians had adopted it—so all that was dropped. It is as the result of all these months of tedious delay that we have at last had the latest Russian plan before us. I want the House to dwell for a moment on the contents of that plan, because it goes far further on this question of control than the Foreign Secretary is prepared to accept.
Mr. Gromyko, in March this year, put forward a programme of conventional disarmament which began with a worldwide freeze of arms levels and then reductions in two instalments to the levels of 1 million and 1½ million for the two big Powers. He suggested that the savings in arms expenditure could be allocated to improving the living standards of the world and distributed through a United Nations fund. Thus, what we could have is an agreement, the beginning of the end of the economic war. We could have made a start in the channelling of economic aid from all the great Powers through the United Nations. How dare this Government throw that away, as if it were of no importance?
The plan visualised the setting up before the disarmament programme ever came into operation—"in good time" are the words used in the Russian plan—of an international control authority which would have its control teams at ports, railway junctions, airways and main highways, and it would have its international inspectorategiven unimpeded access at all times"—that is the wording of the document—to military units, munition factories and large bases. The Foreign Secretary tells us tonight that this partial plan for conventional disarmament did not visualise any real control.
Imagine it—we could have it tomorrow —this control agency working and these international teams working. As for the aerial survey, the Russians have always said that they would not accept it on the basis which the Americans were trying to push down their throats, that this was to be made the test of their sincerity, that American planes should fly over Russia and blue print all the bombable places before disarmament started. The plan says that as disarmament develops and confidence grows, the use of aerial photography shall be considered.
§ Mr. Martin Maddan (Hitchin)
I think that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made it quite clear that it was not that he despised these arrangements, but that mere inspection without some method of enforcement would not be helpful to anybody.
§ Mrs. Castle
Let me deal with that question. That is another unreal obstacle. We should have international teams and an international inspectorate which could go on to any air field to see if they could find a whole range of jet bombers there which could not be accounted for. What the Russians say is that the teams will report to the Security Council and say, "This country is violating this plan. We are not satisfied that this plan is being implemented in this particular area." The West say that the control teams must have power of enforcement. What are they going to do? Will they blow up the aeroplanes, or drop H-bombs on them? Are they to shoot the pilots? All that the control teams can do and all that this international body can do is to place on record, in the limelight of world opinion, that a country is violating the disarmament agreement, and that is a warning to all the other great Powers.
There is no other sanction except war. I hope that this is a disarmament plan not to plunge us into war. Therefore, I say that this question of enforcement is just nonsense. In the last resort enforcement must come from the Security Council, which is the only body which can operate sanctions, apart from the sanctions of world opinion that can be brought into operation as soon as the report is published.
There is another item in this remarkable document from Mr. Gromyko. He proposes that there should be an area of limitation in the two Germanys and adjacent States where the limitation of armaments could be tried out and the inspection scheme studied on a limited basis. Is not that what the Prime Minister was referring to yesterday? I was very interested when he suggested that his great idea was that there should be a gradual limitation of forces in certain areas. It is there in the plan. If he is so pleased with the idea, why did he not, when this plan was announced, welcome it with open arms?
The scheme also includes a ban on test explosions, and a 15 per cent. cut in military budgets. It is remarkable that 286 when the Disarmament Commission met in New York last week, our Minister of State spent three speeches in tearing the plan to pieces on the ground that unfortunately the Russians have moved away from their proposals of 10th May, 1955. He said that those were the days when the Russians were talking realism. What did we do when they were talking realism in May, 1955? We dropped our proposal.
How long is this farce to go on? We have had all this argument about who wanted political settlement first and who did not. The remarkable fact is that our Government are on record in contrary directions every time the Disarmament Commission meets. They say one thing one time and another thing another. One of the main drawbacks, they said, was that the Russians—naughty people—now wanted too much disarmament. They were still standing by the Anglo-French levels of 1955. That showed what mischief makers they were.
Mr. Gromyko says, "If that is what is standing in the way, we will go back to your levels now on the American suggestion of 2½ million for the big Powers." What happened? "This is a sad day," said Mr. Lodge, "The Russians have said that we do not really want disarmament. We are talking the cold war talk. We had all better go home and think about it." That is what we did. The last words by Mr. Lodge, the American delegate, were, "We are only willing to take this step of accepting the new Russian levels provided that there is adequate inspection, including aerial reconnaissance"; and, therefore, the whole possibility of implementing this plan now hinges on the fact that Russia must first and foremost accept the "open skies" plan.
What did our Government do? The Minister of State, having made all the usual noises about how he hoped that we should at last reach an agreement if we went home for long enough to think about it, said:I cannot see how any system of disarmament inspection or of protection against surprise attack could be developed in the present day unless the control organ disposed of an aerial component.This was a rather more wordy way of saying what the Americans have said.
§ Mrs. Castle
Yes, I do. That is exactly what I have been saying. I was attacking the right hon. and learned Gentleman very vigorously when he was no doubt having a well-earned cup of tea. The whole point which I am making is this: let us start with what disarmament we can get. Let us start by controlling what is controllable. Let us stop chasing the moon and make a start somewhere.
The Russians have now accepted for the big Powers certain levels of arms by 1958; and in any case British forces will by that time be lower than that level. In exchange for that, the Russians are prepared to agree to the establishment of an international control inspectorate and international control teams with wide-ranging powers of invasion of national sovereignty. In other words, they are giving us something for nothing. The arms will be reduced in any event. The Russians are prepared to set up this international control system in exchange. The Russians have now come back to control without disarmament.
What they are not prepared to do is to allow American bombers to fly over their territory and get a blueprint of bombing targets, while the Americans are saying that there can be no disarmament until we have a full agreement over the whole range, and are saying, "We cannot make a start because of this objection and that objection". The Americans will not ban the H-bomb tests until they have a total agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons—having said, two days ago, that such elimination was impracticable.
What do we stand to lose? There is to be a cut in arms in any event. Can it be that it is the West which is afraid of control and inspection? Is it the West which is not prepared to have Russian teams, international teams, in our factories and military bases? Is not that the truth? The evidence emerges conclusively from this story of disarmament. If that is not the truth, why has this Russian offer of a level of control and inspection not been accepted? We could get it tomorrow. Instead of that, we say, "Aerial survey must come first", knowing that the Russians will refuse it. One of these days they will accept it and we shall be out on a limb.
My final words are about hydrogen bomb tests. The Government have told us time and again that they are prepared 288 to discuss a limited control of H-bomb tests. They have had the chance. This matter was raised within the Disarmament Commission. The delegate of India made a strong plea for the total suspension of the tests. The Americans said, "Nothing doing". At first they said there was no real danger to human health from these tests, and then they said that until there was agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons the tests must go on as essential to their national defence and the security of the free world.
That put us in the never-never land. The Minister of State, in the name of the British Government, said that an agreement to prohibit test explosions must be accompanied by an agreement to prohibit the manufacture of nuclear weapons. That is in the never-never land, too.
Now the Prime Minister has been cheered to the echo because he said that we are prepared to consider some control scheme independent of a full-scale disarmament agreement. Why did he make that announcement as soon as the Disarmament Sub-Committee had adjourned? What had we been there for it not to discuss disarmament? Why has no concrete proposal been put forward by this Government during the last few months?
In my opinion the Government are playing for time. They mean to blow up their own little bomb and they will kill time until their test explosion is over. We shall have no initiative from this Government for disarmament or for peace until that test has been completed. I therefore suggest that instead of the so-called flexibility of the Prime Minister yesterday, what we need is the demonstration of action in the right direction.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ormsby-Gore (Oswestry)
When one listens to the speeches of the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) in foreign affairs debates one tends to get the impression that she thinks that the only stumbling block in the way to peace over the last few years has been the United States. A typical example of her partiality in this debate was her reference to the Eisenhower plan for aerial survey. How did she refer to it? She referred to it as a plan for American bombers to fly over Russia and blueprint those targets which they wanted 289 to bomb. Does she think that that is a fair assessment of President Eisenhower's plan for aerial survey? He made it perfectly clear that the aeroplanes which flew over these territories would be at the command of the International Control Force and would be just as much at liberty to fly over the United States as to fly over Soviet Russia.
§ Mrs. Castle
My reason for putting that interpretation on the plan is the context in which it was put forward. It was put forward suddenly at Geneva when disarmament proposals had been agreed by the Russians. When the Disarmament Sub-Committee reassembled the Americans said, "We must reserve all our previous decisions on disarmament. We now put this aerial survey first as the test of Russian sincerity."
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
That still does not in any way meet the point I made. The hon. Lady treated in a completely partial way the whole of President Eisenhower's plan for aerial inspection. It was, I think, typical of the whole of her speech, and in fact typical of all her speeches. Until she rose to her feet in the debate I think we had had a large measure of agreement on all sides of the House on our fundamental policies.
§ Mr. Crossman
Does the hon. Member also refer to his hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby)? Does he warmly agree with it, too?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
My hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) quite rightly described his own speech as constructive criticism of the Government—a very fair statement. Nevertheless, he has been broadly in agreement, as have most hon. Members on both sides of the House, with our foreign policy over the past five or six years. We have always held that by building up N.A.T.O.—indeed, the Leader of the Opposition himself said so today—we were likely to bring about a relaxation of tension in the world. By matching the threat from militant Communism with such a body as N.A.T.O. and by building up our strength and our unity, we thought we would bring about a more flexible situation. That was the object of our policy, and the vast majority of hon.
290 Members on both sides of the House subscribed to that policy. The important thing to be said about it is that it has proved remarkably successful.
We now have an entirely new situation in the world which requires the most careful examination. It is, of course, true that a section of the Labour Party never supported that foreign policy. They claimed that if we built up our strength in the West it would merely provoke Russia, who would in turn build up her strength, and at the end of it all the situation would be worse than it was five years ago. This has proved to be entirely false, and I am sure they are all very glad about it.
Today we have a more peaceful world and a more flexible situation. We are all extremely glad of it. We can all afford to be Bevanites nowadays in this matter and we can afford to discuss methods of reducing the amount of our resources which we devote to military purposes. That is what we have always desired; we have always desired to see some of this immense burden switched to more productive purposes.
When we study the situation, while we recognise that it is more flexible we must realise, at the same time, that we are by no means the only people who will switch their resources in this way. It is not only in the West and in the free world that there is to be a rapid switch of resources from the military to the economic sphere. I do not know that we all fully appreciate what this new era of competitive co-existence will mean or are fully aware of the immense challenge which we may have to meet from the economy of the U.S.S.R. in the years to come.
I believe that that challenge will be very formidable indeed, and particularly formidable, as has already been said in this debate, in the so-called uncommitted nations and in the undeveloped parts of the world. We have recently had a number of assessments of the rate of growth of the Russian industrial potential. There was, if I may say so, an extremely good article en the subject this spring by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. In the April issue of the Lloyds Bank Review there was another assessment of the great increase in production in the U.S.S.R.
Although it is fairly difficult to arrive at exact figures and to make an exact 291 appreciation of this rate of growth, one thing is perfectly clear. The rate of growth in the Soviet Union vastly exceeds that in the United Kingdom or, indeed, that in the United States of America. The figures show that the rate of growth of the national product of this country is rising by about 3 per cent. a year; in the United States it might be as high as 5 per cent. per annum, but in the Soviet Union—even making a rather guarded estimate—the rate of growth is likely to be of the nature of 10 per cent. per year.
What does that mean? It means that in the year 1963 the total production of the Soviet Union will be roughly equivalent to the total production of the United States of America today. That is an extremely formidable figure. Let us also remember that the Soviet Union has this additional advantage that, being a totalitarian dictatorship, it can see that a great deal more of its resources are diverted to foreign investment; and that foreign investment can, without very much difficulty, be taken from the home consumption of their own people. The Russians, therefore, have that further advantage over us when it comes to competitive co-existence in other parts of the world.
I think, therefore, that we are likely to see a considerable increase in the offers which are made by the Soviet Union to help under-developed countries everywhere. It will be on a very massive scale, and I do not for one moment believe that the Soviet Union means to channel that aid through United Nations Agencies. It means to make its offers of aid direct to the countries concerned, hoping to gain political advantages thereby. After all, some of us can remember what the Russians did in the 'thirties when, in spite of the fact that at home they had a very considerable famine and that, as a result, millions were dying, they were still exporting grain to other countries because they thought that there was a political advantage to be gained.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us if that was when the Americans were burning wheat?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I do not think that that question is very relevant. At any rate, I want to picture to the House what I think will be a very serious challenge in the coming years, and to see how this 292 will affect one particular area—because it is quite impossible tonight to cover the implications all over the world.
The area which is of the greatest importance to us is the Middle East. We are becoming increasingly dependent on the oil supplies there and, indeed, nearly 70 per cent. of the total reserves of oil in the world are to be found around the Persian Gulf. Therefore, the maintenance of our friendly relations with the Powers round the Persian Gulf is of supreme importance, not only to us but to the whole of Western Europe—and probably to America as well, in the years to come.
If our friendships there were to be poisoned and undermined, we would suffer a really shattering blow. How are we to display friendship? How are we to demonstrate our good will there? We can do it only by helping them to build up their own industrial potential and to raise their own standards of living. That means that we shall have to meet the kind of requests which they will make of us. What will be their demands? Basically, they will be for increased educational facilities, because it is on improved education throughout these nations that the whole foundations of their growth will depend. They will also expect large numbers of technicians and experts.
If we do not provide them, they will find those technicians, those experts, those teachers, those facilities from other sources, and the other sources may be very much less friendly disposed towards this country, and that might well have the most dangerous results.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
But surely, with their oil royalties, those countries are in a position to buy those facilities anywhere they like? How are we to stop them?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I was about to come to that. My next remark was to be that, in this part of the world, finance will not be a problem. Nevertheless, those financial resources will make demands on the rest of the world, and the question is: who is to meet those demands? There are, of course, other problems elsewhere where there is not the money available, but the countries in this area will be able to pay for what they want, and what they want are experts, technicians and education of one kind or another.
293 I wonder whether we are now laying plans to ensure that we can supply these demands when they are made? In Iran, Iraq and Kuwait, to take just three examples, we must be prepared to help in every way in the setting up of schools, technical colleges and universities. We must also lend experts on a massive scale. In addition to that, we shall probably have to try to provide facilities for education and training here in the United Kingdom for these people.
I know that it has already been said that we have done a great deal on those lines already. When we look at the way in which we have helped with the United Nations technical assistance programme, the Colombo programme, and in other ways we can see that we have at least borne our share of the burden and, indeed, carried more than our share. We have provided a remarkable number of technicians—and it is British technicians for which many of these foreign countries are always asking. We are now right down to the bone. I have heard of many cases recently where we could not find even two or three men who were badly needed in some of the under-developed countries. We must make a most prodigious effort in this field.
There has been a tendency in this debate to under-rate the importance of the Bagdad Pact. I do not want to talk about the defensive side of the Pact at the moment, although it is worth pointing out that the original conception was of a Pact formed between Turkey and Pakistan, who thought that they needed it for their mutual defence. It was adhered to by Persia and Iraq, two free, independent, sovereign States. They, too, think it necessary for their defence.
We would do a great deal of damage if we tried to under-rate the importance of that Pact as a security arrangement, but it has been quite truthfully said that in this more peaceful world in which we are now living we should switch towards the economic side of the Pact. That is perfectly true, but when some hon. Members say that that is what should be done they are really pushing at a very open door. Already the economic committees set up under the Bagdad Pact are hard at work. I heard only the other day some reports of the kind of work which they were doing, but one of the things that became quite apparent from a discussion 294 of their work was that the demand for experts and technicians will be prodigious. I was told that for Iran alone there was a demand for no fewer than 300 experts and technicians in the economic field.
There has also been a suggestion that we should have a great United Nations economic plan for the Middle East. I do not for one moment rule out the possibility of certain United Nations organisations playing their part in many of these economic plans in that part of the world, but I think it quite unrealistic to suppose that these Arab countries, which are at the moment intensely nationalistic, are going to accept an economic plan imposed upon them by the United Nations. [HON. MEMBERS: "Imposed?"] Well, to some extent, imposed. We discuss it airily here, but I have not heard it discussed a great deal inside the Arab countries themselves.
§ Mr. Crossman
What does the hon. Gentleman mean by saying that the United Nations economic plan will be imposed? The Arab bloc is a very important part of the United Nations, and, presumably, any economic plan of the United Nations would be one of a kind to which they would agree. I think the difficulty would be that, if it were imposed, they would veto it, as they have done the question of refugee aid.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
Perhaps imposed was not the right word. What I was trying to indicate here is that to say that the only way to pursue our policy in the Middle East is by means of a United Nations economic plan for the whole area of the Middle East is unrealistic, taking into account the extreme nationalism of those States. If the Arab nations want aid and ask us for it, and if they ask the United Nations for it, I have already said that any way in which the United Nations can contribute would be welcome; but I do not think it is realistic to believe that Saudi Arabia will set aside large amounts of oil royalties in order to help the economic expansion of Jordan. I may be quite wrong, but it does not sound to me to be very realistic to try and plan for the whole of the Middle Eastern area.
I think it is much more likely that we will get requests and demands for help directly from those individual countries, 295 and that, in meeting those requests, we will continually find ourselves in competition with Soviet Russia, which will offer to supply both technicians and material on a very large scale indeed. I was very glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary say this afternoon that, in giving this aid to other parts of the world, it is quite a good plan to distinguish between our friends and our enemies. I think there is a great deal to be said for making it clear to the rest of the world that there are advantages in being friends with Great Britain, and that there are certainly some disadvantages in being Great Britain's enemies.
I quite appreciate that in other parts of the world where this finance is not available quite other difficulties will arise, but, whatever these problems are, we can be sure in years to some that we will have to meet this challenge from the new Soviet policy of competitive co-existence, and I hope we shall in the next year or so equip ourselves to meet that particular challenge.
There is one other aspect of this new era of competitive co-existence which, I think, will become of increasing importance, and I refer to propaganda and information. I hope that when we are considering a reduction of expenditure on our military forces, we will transfer at least some of these savings to this propaganda front. Just because we conclude that our way of life is no longer under attack from a particular quarter, it would be the greatest mistake to imagine that it will not come under attack from a different direction. In this connection, it is true to say that the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee have never been fully implemented.
It is possible to point out that the recommendations of the Drogheda Committee are now somewhat out of date, but something along those lines is necessary, and that a great deal more is necessary is I think unquestionable. I do not consider that either side of the House has a very good record on information services, grants to the B.B.C. or suchlike matters. When we run into any kind of economic difficulties, that is one of the first things to be cut. I remember that there were almost whoops of delight among some of my hon. Friends when 296 it was announced that there was to be a cut in the budget of the B.B.C, the British Council and the Information Services. I think that would be a most misguided attitude in the present situation. I think we can all agree that in the years ahead, with this more flexible situation that has now developed, we ought to devote more and more of our resources to the battle of ideas, because that is what it will be, in the coming struggle for the souls and minds of men.
Finally, I cannot sufficiently emphasise how much I welcome, as I am sure every other hon. Member welcomes, this less dangerous and more flexible world situation, but it will impose upon us entirely new tasks that will demand of us entirely new and different policies, and I hope that I have indicated at least two of the lines along which those policies should develop.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas (Lincoln)
I must begin by pointing out to the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) that he was wrong at the beginning of his speech in assuming that there was agreement between the two sides of the House in this debate. It is true that on certain aspects, such as N.A.T.O., there has been broad agreement, and that has been made clear, but it was made equally clear that, on matters such as disarmament, and especially after the speech made recently from this side of the House, there is a great deal of disagreement.
One point on which I should like to comment is the Government's action in regard to this new economic competition that there is to be between the Russian bloc countries and ourselves, because the hon. Member for Oswestry referred to the Middle East and the competition facing us there. It was clear even a few months ago to certain of our traders who went behind the Iron Curtain that the Skoda motor car and motor bicycles works was to start an invasion of the territories of the Middle East and would undercut us. One of the reasons why I happened to learn about this was because I attended for a few days the Leipzig Trade Fair in Eastern Germany last February.
It is on the Government's attitude towards the Leipzig Trade Fair that I should like to comment, and I hope the Government will give me some answers. I have noticed throughout several of the 297 Speeches made recently in the debate that no notes whatever have been made on the Front Bench, which makes one wonder if there is going to be any reply to this debate at all. I ask these questions, in spite of that, because representations were made to the Government after the last Leipzig Fair about the British delegation, which was a military delegation.
I want to know whether the Government have learned anything as a result of the representations made by traders who came back from the Leipzig Trade Fair. Did not these traders report that they felt that they had been done down completely by the West German Government, which had persuaded us to take no official recognition of the Fair, when West Germany itself had more floor space at Leipzig than the rest of the free world combined? Did they not think that the West German Government themselves had had an unfair commercial advantage? Was it not also a fact that the West German Government had concluded with the East German Government a trade pact which the East German Government reported as being as official as those concluded with India and Finland?
Is it not also a fact that respectable firms like Rolls-Royce, Massey-Harris, David Brown and the Standard Motor Company, which sent representatives to Leipzig, were made to feel that they were doing something dishonourable, or at least their representatives were made to feel that? Is it not a fact that, at the hotel in Leipzig where the delegations from the countries assembled, the British and American delegations were the only two delegations which were not in ordinary civilian clothes?
Was it not the fact that the British and the Americans sent a delegation not of traders but of a lieutenant-colonel each, a captain each, a driver, and a lady who was presumably the wife of one of the officers? Did they not sit in uniform at the door of the main room where all the other delegations were, with their national flags on the table, so that the Communists could point out to those who came from Vietnam, Mongolia and China, who had never before seen a British or American person, that those were the British and American delegations, and say, "They are not interested in trading, so they send military people, That is what they always do. They are militarists"?
298 If we ask why we sent a military delegation, we are told we were acting on our rights as occupying Power. Of course we were. But is that going to happen in September at the next Leipzig Trade Fair? Are we going to lose not only the economic war by failing to trade, but also the political propaganda war by insisting on displaying ourselves as militarists to these men and women from Asia and the new countries there, while the Communist countries present themselves as being concerned with peaceful trading?
Representations have been made, and I should like to have some answer as to what is going to be done. Will the Government encourage traders to visit the next Leipzig Fair? We cannot afford to luxuriate in a huge domestic market like the United States or the Communist bloc. We must go out and get trade. It is surely most important now that we should do everything we can. to look to our future. The hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) referred to the fact that there were some 400 items on the banned list, under embargo, for export to China. One of them is marine engines, which are made in my constituency. What is to happen? There is full employment in Lincoln still, but in a few years' time, when we shall want the trade which we have had for decades, through this Lincoln firm, exporting marine engines to China, there will be no orders for engines or for spare parts because, in the meantime, the West Germans, the Swedes, the Czechoslovaks and others will have captured the trade.
This policy must be reversed. We must encourage traders to go behind the Iron Curtain so that they can learn what is happening and not be surprised at what the effect of the embargo has been. Year after year, those men who go are impressed not only with the quality but with the quantity of the different types of manufactured goods which are being produced in Iron Curtain countries.
As an example of the ignorance there is about these vital matters, I recall that in 1949, when I was at the United Nations Assembly, the first Soviet atomic bomb was exploded. There were important men in positions of authority in Western Governments who refused to believe that the Russians had really deliberately exploded an atomic bomb. They said that it must be some moujik who had 299 tripped over a wire in the Urals. That was the attitude displayed towards the Soviet Union, and it gives some measure of how we underestimated what the Russians were doing. It is important that traders and other people besides Army officers in uniform should go and see what is really happening.
As I said a few moments ago, there have been few dissentient voices during the debate yesterday and today on the subject of N.A.T.O., though nearly all hon. Members have agreed that there should be some changes in the military, political and economic dispositions of the West, especially in relation to N.A.T.O. Some have wanted more military changes, others more political changes, others more economic changes. It is a fact, of course, that when N.A.T.O. was set up, it was recognised that there might well be changes in the future, and Article 12 expressly provides for, or holds out the possibility of, review, but not until 1959. Of course, that is out of date; events have marched so much faster than that.
We have had Prime Ministers, Presidents and Foreign Secretaries all speaking of changes in N.A.T.O., but there has been nothing more than the throwing out of ideas, many of them ill-conceived and ill-considered. If the ideas are not remarkable, the people who have said that there should be some change are. The suggestion has come from President Eisenhower, President Gronchi of Italy, Herr Adenauer, Herr von Brentano, Herr Lange, Mr. Pearson, Sgr. Montino, M. Mollet, M. Spaak, M. Pineau, and many others.
Though there have been these ideas advanced, there has not been any place in which they could be debated or discussed. Indeed, there have been almost as many suggestions advanced as there have been contradictory ideas put forward by Members of the Government as to what should happen to N.A.T.O. at the moment. We have N.A.T.O., and yet there is no forum in which these matters can be discussed. The Council of Europe on the other hand, which is a relatively unimportant body, has a forum, an excellent secretariat, and all the equipment for providing a place to meet and discuss these things. By its 300 very nature, its discussion is of much more parochial European problems because, by turning its back on the United States and Canada, it has ignored the aspect of power in politics, and its debates and the subjects for discussion are unrealistic.
I submit to the Government once more that they should work towards transforming this Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe into a Consultative Assembly of N.A.T.O. I speak of turning it or transforming it into the other Consultative Assembly in that way, because I do not suggest that we should set up another Parliamentary body.
§ Mr. de Freitas
I am glad that I have the hon. Gentleman's agreement; I was not suggesting that there should be another such body.
§ Mr. de Freitas
It is not a dining club; the hon. Gentleman is very narrow-minded if he believes that it is. We cannot go on multiplying these assemblies. The smaller European countries find it difficult already to find members for the Council of Europe, Western European Union, the European Coal and Steel Community, and so on. Instead, we must transform the Council of Europe into a Council of N.A.T.O. This new Assembly could draw on the experience of the Council of Europe, with its over-elaborate organisation, and from the experience of the N.A.T.O. parliamentarians who met in Paris last year. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot) was the distinguished leader of the British delegation to that meeting, but it operated without any staff at all. The new Assembly can draw on the experience of both those bodies, not having too much or too little organisation for its purpose.
I hope that in the autumn, at the Council of Europe and at the next meeting of the N.A.T.O. parliamentarians which will be in November, the members will consider transforming the Council of Europe into this Assembly. There will, of course, be objections. Sweden, Ireland and Austria will be out; they are in the Council of Europe, but they are not members of N.A.T.O. Nevertheless, I believe that their exclusion would be far more 301 than compensated by the addition of the United States and Canada.
I suggest, too, that in the next Assembly, in view of the many points which are up for discussion now on the future of N.A.T.O., there should be discussions on the widest range of subjects. For instance, they should discuss military problems such as one which the Americans hardly ever discuss—the fact that the Strategic Air Command of the United States, the West's most powerful military weapon, is not subject in any way to the influence of the European Allies. That would be an important subject for discussion in an Atlantic Assembly.
Secondly, there are certain political aspects, such as the recognition of the Chinese Government, which has been mentioned today. United States Congressmen do not realise that they are in step only with themselves. Thirdly, there are economic problems. Oil has been mentioned and I have referred to East-West trade. Not only Americans, but many others also, do not realise the enormous incentive we have given to the building up of the industrial power of the Iron Curtain countries by our ridiculous embargo. We, of course, in Europe will have a lot to learn, too, from the American point of view.
My quarter of an hour is up, and I ask whoever replies for the Government to assure me that they can bring their economic policy on East-West trade, and on Germany in particular, into line with their political policy, and also that the Government will use their influence to create a N.A.T.O. forum.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rippon (Norwich, South)
I have listened with great interest to what has been said by the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas), but I am sorry that he started his speech by trying to emphasise the divergence of view between the two sides of the House. Much of what the hon. Gentleman had to say I felt would commend itself to all hon. Members. Inevitably in a debate of this kind there are divergences of opinion even between hon. Members on the same side of the House. We have seen that quite often in the course of this debate, and I should have thought it was a good thing to see in a democracy.
302 Whilst we may regret the tone of the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), I think that on the whole this debate has shown a considerable unanimity of thought on the broad questions of foreign policy. We listened yesterday to a speech by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister which I think commended itself to the mood and feeling of most hon. Members, particularly in the way in which it focused attention on the implications of the growing recognition by all nations of the terrifying potential power of nuclear weapons.
Certainly the grim picture of destruction presented in the testimony of the United States military experts at a recent meeting of a Senate Committee must tend to diminish the possibility of a general war. Many hon. Members may have seen reports of General James Gavin's estimate of the casualties that would follow an all-out assault by the United States Strategic Air Command, assuming that the prevailing winds carried the fallout in a south-easterly direction over Russia. He said thatcurrent planning estimates run in the order of several hundred million deathswhichever way the wind blew. If it were in a south-easterly direction, most of them would be in Russia, though the fall-out would probably extend to the area of Japan and the Philippines. If the wind blew in the opposite direction, the casualties would extend "well back up into Western Europe".
It would appear that against this background we can say that the likelihood of military attack has diminished, and that a new situation has been created in which it ought to be possible to secure a measure of agreement upon disarmament. if we follow the policy advanced by Her Majesty's Government and not the partisan and biassed viewpoint expressed by the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn.
If, however, the possibilities of a direct military attack have diminished, it is clear from this debate that we cannot afford to rely merely on the deterrent effect of modern weapons of war. Whether the wind blows one way or another, or whether it does not blow at all, we cannot afford to abandon the shield of N.A.T.O. We cannot, as the Foreign Secretary put it, allow our alliances to crumble away.
303 I should have thought that it would have been clearly contrary to our obligations to N.A.T.O. if we threatened to withdraw our troops from Germany, as one or two speakers yesterday appeared to suggest, because of the German attitude over support costs. On the other hand, if we have accepted the agreement to pay £34 million this year, or £30 million less than our local costs, in the interests of European solidarity, I think we ought to leave the German Government in no doubt of the strength of public opinion in this country on the point. Our request for £50 million was not unreasonable in view of the present state of German defence expenditure, and the offer to buy arms in this country is not, I think, regarded generally as a suitable alternative to payment in cash.
We have been told that the way is still open for negotiations on support costs in the future, but we also know that Herr von Brentano told the Bundestag on 27th June that no more support costs would be paid after this year. Whilst we must remain willing to fulfil all our obligations in regard to the maintenance of our troops in Germany pending any alternative arrangement after consultation, we should make it clear to the German Government that there is a strong feeling that their attitude is not the proper way in which to build up good relations between our two countries.
If we accept that the military framework of N.A.T.O. must be retained, then we are all agreed that, as the Foreign Secretary has said and as my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) said in his forceful speech, it must be adapted to a changed situation. I think that that involves improvement in the political and economic strength of that organisation.
In the new situation about which we have been speaking there must be a more positive impetus to co-operation and unity than fear of aggression. The Russian steamroller of today is an economic rather than a military machine. I agreed very much with what the hon. Member for Lincoln said on the question of trade, which tied up closely with the observations made by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire from this side of the House. No doubt this economic conflict is infinitely preferable to military war, 304 but its dangers for us are no less great, as the Prime Minister has warned us from time to time.
Unfortunately there is a lack of comprehension in some quarters of the close relationship between international trade and the problems of peace and war, albeit the Soviet leaders are not unconscious of it. In that context I welcome very much the recent announcement that Sir Roger Makins is to be appointed in the autumn to the post of Joint Permanent Secretary at the Treasury. It shows a recognition of the close link there is in these days between economic and foreign affairs.
I share the view expressed by the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire and also to some extent by the Foreign Secretary, that we and the Commonwealth must play an increasing part in opening up trade and other contacts with the Soviet Union and with the Chinese people as well.
I also believe that the economic, and so the political stability of the Western world depends in large measure upon this country taking the lead not only in Commonwealth but also in European affairs. Here again I do not think there is a great deal which divides the House.
Yesterday a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House raised the implications, for us and for the Commonwealth, of the common market project now under discussion by the six countries of the European Coal and Steel Community—the Messina Powers. I expressed my own opinions on this subject in the House recently, and I shall not weary hon. Members with a repetition of them, except to say that I agree entirely with what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire. I would also reiterate that I do not believe there is any fundamental divergence of opinion between the views of, for example, my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) or my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) and those of the large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House who subscribe to the two Motions and Amendment on the subject which have recently been tabled. I believe that Commonwealth trade and European trade must be regarded as complementary and not antagonistic.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
As my hon. Friend has referred to me, might I make this clear to him and the House? The Amendment to his Motion on the subject of the common market was not meant to imply that if the common market were set up we should have nothing to do with it. It was meant merely to indicate that there is a better answer than a common market which we ought to try to bring about.
§ Mr. Rippon
I appreciate my hon. and gallant Friend's point. I think it illustrates my point that it is really a question of a difference of method rather than a difference of a fundamental nature.
Since the tabling of the Motions and the Amendment, something has happened—I do not suggest that there is any significant connection between the two events—which has somewhat altered the situation. It is the recent meeting of the Council of Ministers of O.E.E.C. in Paris, at which it is perfectly clear, from the important statement which the Chancellor made this afternoon, that a number of decisions have been reached which take us a long way further towards the principle of greater liberalisation of European trade. I think the Chancellor's statement will be generally acceptable to hon. Members on both sides of the House as representing a significant step in that direction.
What I think that we should all be agreed on—my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely and others—is that whatever the outcome of the discussions and the decisions at O.E.E.C, which will be pursued by the working party which is to study the common market project with a view to getting an association between the Messina countries and the other O.E.E.C. members, it is essential that any action, military or economic, which this country takes should be based on the full approbation and co-operation of our partners in the Commonwealth and Empire. I do not think that there will be any divergence of opinion on that.
That is why I was concerned, as I think were a number of other people, at the communiqué which was issued after the recent meeting of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London. It merely said thatThey were informed of current proposals regarding the political and economic activities of the North Atlantic Alliance and the 306 development of closer economic co-operation in Europe.It appeared to many people that an opportunity had been missed and that no fresh initiative had been devised to reconcile the interests of this country and the Commonwealth and with those of Western Europe in the field of economic co-operation. However, although the Chancellor could not go beyond the communiqué in the answer which he gave to me this afternoon, he indicated that there were discussions, and I think we can assume that Her Majesty's Government, as at present constituted, will carry the Commonwealth with them in all the stages of the development of economic co-operation in Europe.
It may well be that, although there will always be scope for conferences of the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth, there is also a need, which had been expressed by Mr. Menzies among others, for more functional conferences, political or official, on specific matters, such as this question of the liberalisation of trade in Europe.
We must proceed together. While I am sure that we must strengthen the machinery that we have for securing the co-operation and good will of the Commonwealth in these matters, I am sure that there is no fundamental conflict of interest between the aims of those who urge an expanding Commonwealth and those who believe that, in the changing situation of the modern world, we must participate on an increasing scale in the promotion of Western European unity in the military, political and economic spheres.
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Daines (East Ham, North)
A phrase which has been very much used in our debates is "elasticity and the new flexibility". I propose to relate what I say solely to the Prime Minister's speech, and I hope that the quotations which I use are representative and fair. I listened, as I am sure some hon. Members did, with great care to the right hon. Gentleman's speech. After all, he is the Prime Minister of this country, and what he says counts for far more than what the Opposition says or what some sections of his supporters say. He speaks for England. Therefore, I treat him with respect, and I propose to analyse his speech.
307 As to his first argument, the right hon. Gentleman referred to the deterrent—a nice, fashionable word—effect of the H-bomb in that it can blow mankind to pieces. He said:I call it the ultimate weapon, since it has power enough to destroy the human race…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 38.]The right hon. Gentleman implied that the weapon was so terrible that it could not conceivably be used by ourselves, the Americans or the Russians.
Let us examine that. I do not disagree for one moment about the destructive power of the H-bomb. I accept what the scientists tell me, that human society could be blotted out in these islands, in Western Europe, in most parts of America and in most parts of Russia.
Let us examine it in the light of recent history. Let us take the case of the monolithic state of Germany under Hitler. We now know, however different it may be from what we were told by our propaganda at the time, that when Hitler gave an order, even if the general at the front knew that he was sending his armies to their death, it was carried out. In the case of a monolithic State with a paranoiac type like Hitler at the top, is there anyone who can really say with safety that if he had had the H-bomb or the atom bomb twelve months before the end he would not have used it? These are cold hard facts, and facts that we have to face. Take Russia—
§ Mr. Daines
No, let us take Stalin, who also had paranoiac tendencies. It is interesting to note in passing that Tito is quoted in yesterday's Daily Telegraph as saying that Stalin was most likely murdered. If Stalin in the last few years of his life had faced a challenge to his rule and power and that of the party he controlled, is there anybody who can say with safety that the H-bomb would not have been used by him in those conditions?
Therefore, however terrible this issue is—I admit all its horrors and terrors—it it no good if we try to avoid the truth. We must face the truth and take account of it in our reckoning. The simple fact is that what happens inside Russia concerns us very much. I do not believe it is 308 possible for the H-bomb to be used by the authorities within this country without some measure of agreement at the top. I believe the same is true with the diversification of power in the United States. The distinguishing feature of democracy is not only that it is representative, but that its power is diverse and there are checks and balances. Can anybody see these checks and balances in monolithic Russia today?
The Prime Minister apparently drew many deductions from the Twentieth Congress, but did not that Congress accept Khrushchev's revelations just as it accepted, worshipped and deified Stalin a few years ago—as Khrushchev himself also did? What authority and what trust can we place in a Russia where those conditions still operate? I freely accept that to talk of political Parliamentary democracy in our terms for all other countries is sheer moonshine, but what trust can we have until power is diversified through the checks and balances that work in a democracy?
When the Prime Minister inferred that there was some tinge of democracy in Russia because of the so-called collective leadership, I very much wondered. I remember making a speech some time ago—I do not make them often, and then generally at ten minutes to nine, so that I am somewhat limited—I dealt exhaustively with this process of collective leadership and put forward the theory that on analysis it was far more likely that the Russians agreed not to bump off each other than anything else. When they faced the threat of a new Stalin emerging—because Beria was the potential Stalin—they ganged up and agreed to work the collective leadership principle. That means that a mere handful of men are determining the whole fate of Russia and the whole shape of her policy in the world. There is no accountability to Parliament, or anything that looks like Parliament, or an assembly of the people.
The Prime Minister said that because of the rise of the demands of the managerial, technologist and scientific elements in Russia, another new element for progress and liberalisation had come. Is that really true? Does that stand the test of analysis? Are not all those men—if not all, enough for control—integrated in the party in any event? What we are seeing in Russia is the 309 rise of State capitalism with a new bourgeoisie with power based, not on ownership, but on political power and with a vested interest in maintaining the monolithic State.
§ Mr. Tomney
Does not my hon. Friend recall that seven of the present leaders were in the Praesidium with Stalin and Beria, so that the top mechanism has not changed?
§ Mr. Daines
I agree with my hon. Friend. That is what I am trying to say, and I thank him for the support which he has offered me.
The problem of Russia is not a secondary matter. We must spend as much time as we can examining it and trying to understand it. It is difficult, because the ordinary methods of expression and public opinion do not operate. With all respect to the Prime Minister, not only I but most students of Russia profoundly disagree with his conclusions.
In the great storm and great publicity which arose over the State Department's publication of Khrushchev's speech—and I say this emphatically and chance the criticism—with the exception of the statement about Kharkhov there was not a single fact not known to me, not because I am possessed of any profound insight, but because it had been there for many months for any student of Russia to read if he got down to the facts.
To finalise what I want to say on this subject; in Russia today we have the so-called collective leadership with the Army playing a far bigger part and exercising far more power than it did in Stalin's day. We have a neutralisation in power with the M.V.D. very much down. We have to watch the situation carefully, because I am afraid that unless we know what is happening inside Russia we cannot appreciate her external policy. In other words, if we know what is really happening inside Russia we have the key to its external relations.
Let us examine some of the optimism of the Prime Minister and also of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. When I listened to my right hon. Friend's praises dealing with the changed attitude in Russia and how new winds were blowing—that is what he inferred; he mentioned Austria and the change in Russian policy—I automatically equated with that the situation of 310 Russian interference in the Middle East. When we blow away the dances, the speeches and the dinners and we equate the so-called give-away in Austria with the offensive action in the Middle East, is there a single concrete action which the Russians have taken which can justify that optimism? They have given nothing.
Last week Bulganin told the Polish Government and the Polish people about criticisms in their Press and, with all the other inferences, I am beginning to wonder how much the wind is blowing. The position in the satellites is exactly the same as in Russia. There are cases where we know more about the satellites than we do about Russia, but when the party starts loosening up and reaching any form of liberalisation, when it gets to the point where the party's power is threatened, the party automatically clamps down. It must do so. Once the process of freedom starts, particularly with a people who have known it, it becomes like a raging fire which cannot be controlled. What we are seeing, as I have said, is a rise of a new State bourgeois class whose power is based upon political action and which cannot afford to indulge in liberalism as we understand it.
I want now to deal with the subject of competitive co-existence. How I hate this political paraphrasing and thinking that one solves the problem if one coins a new phrase. It is something like doctors who think that if they put a name to the disease that cures it. Now we are in for competitive co-existence and economic co-existence. What does that mean? Does that mean that we are to have a game of giving away and competing with the Russians to see who gives most? Or does it mean that our economic help and development will have a political purpose and a political aim—that is the substance of what has been said from the Front Bench about the Middle East, whether my comrades on the Front Bench like it or not.
We cannot avoid political direction unless we waste it. There may not be tags, but there must be political emphasis. The Russians have no illusion about how they apply political aid. I felt a long while ago—even before the Aswan Dam announcement—that they were overextended. Of course, they take political 311 action; they get the maximum propaganda from the maximum political action. Equally important is the fact that they are beginning to use this method in countries which are ripe for a tiny disciplined Communist party to get the maximum results.
I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) that the bulk of our trouble in the Middle East and the Far East is due to the poverty of the masses, but there is a new factor which is fast becoming of great importance. There is a new power-hungry élite at the top, educated in the West, but which has seen the Communist party and what has happened in Russia and how economic power can be based upon political action, and it is going over to the Communist party. Communism has nothing to do with Socialism and the working class; it is a technique of power, if only we could see it in its true reality. I accept the fact that the first people who have to go to the wall are the Social Democrats.
I want to quote from the speech which the Prime Minister made yesterday. He said: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.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT,23rd July, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 41.]My understanding of that is that Communist parties outside Russia have done more harm than good to her. Let us examine the truth and see what happened in the immediate post-war years. It is true that the Russian Army was upon the frontiers of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, but it is equally true that the Communist party inside those countries was the tool which effected Russia's purpose. In both cases, it was a clear instance of Communist parties acting for the Russians, and, to a greater or lesser extent, the same thing happened in all the satellite countries.
It is simply not true to say that Communist parties have not been an advantage to the Russians. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) stated—I believe that I am quoting him fairly accurately—that Communist parties are not political parties but organised conspiracies. That is quite true. Nothing 312 is more misleading than to look at the Communist parties in terms of the piece that is above the surface. It is more likely to happen that the visible Communist party above the surface is, like an iceberg, indicative of a far bigger chunk underneath—an underground movement which infiltrates into the trade union movement and also establishes organised sabotage and espionage groups.
That brings me again to the Prime Minister's speech, and to the question of the pay-off which Communist parties have delivered to Russia in the past. I am sorry if I am going on too long, but I am determined to say this, because there has been far too much sloppy thought in this debate, and it is just as well for us to have a spot of straight speaking—to which I am never averse. I will take another example of the way in which Communist parties have paid off within the field of espionage.
It is easy to jest and say that somebody has a Communist under the bed every time he goes to sleep, but let us consider soberly what espionage has done. Fuchs was recruited by the Communist party; Alan Nunn May was recruited by the Communist party. Pontecorvo was a member of the Communist party and disappeared to Russia, and there were all the Gouzenko disclosures. I do not want to go into the sidelights of the Petrov affair. The fact is that America and Canada in the mid-'forties were honeycombed with Communist cells. We should bear this fact in mind before making anti-American jibes about the way in which they deal with Communists. Anyone who has studied the Gouzenko disclosures knows that in the United States armed services, most of its economic activity and even its governmental activity, right up to the White House, had a definite web of Communists within them.
I make this point not merely to bring it up again, but in order to show that when the Prime Minister says that Communist parties have not paid off, he overlooks the facts, and that every one of the individuals to whom I have referred was recruited by the Communist party.
It is highly probable, and a perfectly safe assumption to make, that the information derived by the Communists from Fuchs, plus that obtained from the Americans, put Russia in a position to manufacture the H-bomb, and that its 313 production might at least have been delayed for a number of years but for that fact. Right through every free country where Communists can operate in the name of democracy they have the worker-correspondent system. Their job is to feed back to the Russians every item they can get in regard to new industrial and technological processes, and the progress made in them, in order to help to equip the Russian system. All this is done through the Communist party.
The plain fact is that we are facing something entirely new in history; something which transcends all national boundaries. We cannot push it back into a safe little enclave. I agree that the Russians have given the world struggle a new emphasis, both economic and social, but they are equipped with a civilian army in every country which pays them the maximum dividends.
If anybody challenges me about that, I recommend a careful study of the vast amount of material now available in connection with the work of Communist parties. What simply horrifies me at times is the fact that when we face a spot of industrial trouble which is deliberately organised and fomented by the Communist party—and I exclude completely the present strike—it is almost impossible for anybody to get up and say so. There is virtually a conspiracy of silence about so many of these problems which almost makes one feel sinful to state the truth as one sees it.
But I believe that it is the duty of every hon. Member to tell the truth as he sees it, whatever may be the party line-up. I can imagine nothing more disastrous to the future of our country and of the world than for members to say, "How can I benefit my party, and how can I chuck bricks at the other side in a matter of this sort?" What I have to say about the Prime Minister's speech I say to the best of my ability, and, I hope, objectively and sincerely.
Having taken some time in giving my views of the Prime Minister's speech, I now want to deal with what is not in the Prime Minister's speech—which worries me much more. I am not unduly worried about Russia. I have lived with and studied these problems ever since 1920. I read everything I can about it, 314 and I hope that I have some understanding of it. It has never unduly worried me. I am worried far more about what is happening to us than what is happening to the Russians and what they control.
Yesterday the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) dealt with this subject in his very pleasant and light way. I propose to deal with it much more heavily. Despite all the pretty words which have been said during the last two days about the necessity for maintaining N.A.T.O., there is an amount of feeling expressed which causes me to think that some Members would welcome the disintegration or—what is the best word to use, I do not like "emasculation"—the weakening of N.A.T.O. I rule out my comrades who approach all these problems from the point of view, "My Russia, right or wrong." When we faced overt action by Stalin, when we could not escape the logic of events because of what happened in Czechoslovakia, we "ganged up". The Americans came in and we rapidly began to build up a military machine. Now we are beginning to split apart; this is disastrous until we can be sure that we can accept that the honeyed words of Russia match up to their policy.
I also have an unpleasant feeling that underneath what you, Mr. Prime Minister, were consciously thinking and saying was a political and economic subconscious which was concerned and disturbed about the internal condition of this country. It is all very well for the Leader of the Liberal Party the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) to talk glibly about cutting £500 million, and it is all very well for other of my comrades to say that we must do this and that before the Tories do it. That is wrong and dangerous, and it may land us in a position where you, Mr. Prime Minister, must also be careful—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he must address his remarks to me.
§ Mr. Daines
I am sorry. May I say to the Prime Minister, through you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that he had better be guarded about his political and economic subconscious so far as home affairs are concerned and ensure that it is not warping his judgment about what is necessary in the interests of this country.
315 I am not sure whether we are on the right lines so far as Europe is concerned. I believe that we must face the possibility that in the next decade there will be in West Germany a repetition of what happened in Czechoslovakia. The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is not in his place in the Chamber. But in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, he said something which I think represents a point of view that ought to be considered. He said that Russia has no material aims in Europe, and is satisfied. It may be that that colours some of the thinking of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary. It it highly probable that it is palpably false.
If we study Lenin's policy, at the beginning, his whole idea of the success of the Russian Revolution was based on the assumption that Germany would go Communist and come into the Russian orbit. That was the position then, and I assert that it is still the Russian objective. I agree with the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby), who said that when we talk about German unity we are talking nonsense, because the Russians do not intend to agree. Of course he is right. The Russians will agree on their terms, or alternatively, under conditions where they know they can obtain complete control of the German Ruhr. The noble Lord had better look up his history and examine the hard facts, because that is the central core of Russian policy in Europe. They have to get control of the Ruhr, and it is our task to see that they do not do so.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that the Prime Minister of England was paying more attention to our country's economy and was going to cut down our defensive arms because of the internal condition of our country?
§ Mr. Daines
I did not say that. I carefully said that I thought it was the effect of the political subconscious of the Prime Minister. It is always fascinating when listening to a speech—and I listen to a lot of speeches—to ask oneself why the Member is making such a speech—not only what he is saying but why he is saying it—and so a reference to the subconscious is not out of place.
316 I wish now to come to my final point. I have dealt sketchily with N.A.T.O., and I now wish to come to by far the most important aspect of this problem. A little while ago I said to the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) that the strange thing about this debate was that I had not heard a single reference, or rather an extended reference, to what is happening in America today. Of course I mean the United States. I agree that it is an extremely difficult subject to speak about just before the Presidential and Congress Elections, but I intend to say something, because I think our debate would be unreal unless we face the situation.
With some other hon. Members I was fortunate in being able to go to the United States on a somewhat extended tour—I say "somewhat extended." In all the contacts I made, both with the ordinary people and at State level, I could not escape the fact that in the United States there is a very powerful and growing feeling, if not of isolationism, of neo-isolationism, and that is a most disturbing fact. I believe that, in the long run, it would not only be a disaster for the West, but we should play into the hands of Russia and give them complete control of Europe if we facilitated a situation in which America went out of Europe. Particularly when I study the statements made by Mr. Dulles and Admiral Radford, I can see a clear indication that today the Pentagon and the American Government are seriously considering a policy of neo-isolationism; of retiring behind an H-bomb screen.
Look how popular are the cries, "Bring the boys back" and "Cut economic aid." These cries are already being uttered. It is argued that military aid could be cut and the job could be done effectively with the H-bomb. I believe that the factor which more than others made possible World War II was the withdrawal of America from Europe.
Let me finalise. I have been critical not only of the Prime Minister and of the policy of the Government as expressed by him, but, by inference, of some of the Members of my own Front Bench. We must have hope in circumstances of today, but hope must be based upon facts. That hope can be justified only when the free nations of the world, including the United States of America, 317 accept the full responsibility of their economic power. We must again take the initiative and not always fall back in face of those whose long-term objective is to destroy everything for which we stand.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mrs. Evelyn Emmet (East Grinstead)
I have hesitated for some time about intervening in a foreign affairs debate because I have realised that in this subject a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing, and I know just enough to realise how little I know. Wishful thinking in foreign affairs is very risky, especially in connection with the United Nations, which has already achieved some very excellent and concrete results. Its scope in the future seems to be full of promise but it certainly is not at the moment a guarantee for peace, and it could not be used as a substitute for local defence systems until there is a greater degree of reasonableness among the nations.
Those who sit round the committee tables at the United Nations—I have seen them myself—are still at school. They cannot always get on with each other and they are at different stages of development. The democratic nations are still in the minority. When concerted action is possible, it should be used to its utmost, because success will strengthen the organisation.
I turn to two points which have not been raised in the debate. Mention has been made of almost all our foreign problems, from Germany to China. I would draw attention to the tools which are at our disposal in carrying out our foreign policy, and especially to the changed background against which our Foreign Office and our foreign missions have to work. Have we really become aware of how changed those circumstances are? In my father's day, at the outbreak of the 1914–18 war, the embassy at Rome consisted, except for my father and his counsellors, of a staff of seven with two chancery clerks.
In those days when our ambassador expressed the policy of his country, he knew, and his hearer knew, that it was reinforced by the Navy, the Army and the Air Force of the British Empire. That carried weight in any proposal 318 which he put forward or any undertaking that he gave.
During the period of peace after the 1914–18 War, and until the next war, heads of State and the Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs were always in touch either personally or by telephone or cable. That constant contact with each other diminished the influence of the heads of missions. As the influence and the importance of the embassies declined, so did their staffs increase. Now, when I visit some of the missions, I wonder how the immensely swollen staffs can find enough to do. I have a secret feeling that they collect statistics which are sent to London and are pigeon-holed in the Foreign Office.
One of the dangers of the very swollen staff is that the younger members, instead of integrating their lives with those of the people in the countries to which they are accredited, may remain in their little English colonies and not achieve the purpose of their appointments. I should like the trend which started during the 1914–18 War reversed, embassy staffs streamlined and their influence greatly increased.
We are entering a new era in diplomacy when missions, though they may have lost the important rôle of taking decisions on the spot, will fulfil a tremendously vital purpose in putting forward our Western way of life. Though it is true that they have not the military backing that they used to have, they have nevertheless a tremendous responsibility on their shoulders to represent their country's way of life better than they have ever done before.
The hydrogen bomb has turned the threat of a hot war into the threat of a cold war. We have heard this afternoon and yesterday that the clash of ideologies will finally be resolved in men's minds. If modern diplomacy is to fulfil its purpose in easing tension and increasing understanding among the nations it will have to learn how to deal with psychological warfare and to perfect its own. I wonder whether the Foreign Service is geared at the moment to this new type of activity.
The hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) reminded us forcefully of the tremendous skill of the Russians in subversive diplomacy. How far is the recruiting board at the Foreign Office 319 taking that new situation into consideration when choosing candidates? As this is an ideological battle, I suggest that brilliance of intellect may not be as useful as integrity of character; it is certainly quite useless without the latter.
In an ideological conflict in which there is intelligence balanced on both sides the personal qualities will tip the balance eventually. Therefore, I feel that unless we have first-class tools to carry out our foreign policy, we may fail in a purely executive capacity. The time has come when those responsible for recruitment to the Foreign Service should look very carefully again at the duties which those men will have to carry out.
Another point which I wish to make which I think has a bearing on the international situation has not been mentioned and probably has not even entered the minds of hon. Members. The hydrogen bomb and total warfare have attracted the attention of women to foreign spheres. Hitherto foreign affairs has been a rather glamorous and mysterious profession carried out entirely by the male sex, generally wearing black hats. Total war has brought the attention of women to the international situation. Probably they feel that if they run the risk of being involved in total destruction they may as well see what is going on and perhaps have a share in the responsibility.
I think that is important from this point of view. Women's inclination is naturally for peace; they are not the fighting sex. It would be very dangerous under present circumstances to leave part of our troops, as it were, a prey to subversive, extreme Left peace propaganda. That has happened before in our country. If we leave people uneducated in what lies behind foreign affairs that may happen again. A country which takes the trouble to bring its women into the know-how of foreign affairs will gain enormously in strength.
I think it is especially important to support those women who have come forward in public life in countries such as Germany, where before the war they took no part in public work, The effect of leaving the men entirely to their interest in government and of the women being kept entirely to the kitchen may have had a very definite bearing on the ultra-militant point of view of the German man.
320 In the last week or so there has been a conference in London of eminent women from six countries of Europe. They are anxious to maintain contact in their fight at home against Communist penetration. It was a most interesting conference. We think it was a most successful beginning for further work.
I hope that in our own country the importance of educating women in foreign affairs will be increasingly appreciated, so that we may use all our resources in this uneasy period of coexistence which we hope will finally resolve itself into the superiority of the free way of life.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. G. A. Pargiter (Southall)
I hope to be brief in order that other hon. Members may have an opportunity of speaking in the debate.
The Prime Minister received a great deal of congratulation yesterday for his opening speech. He gave one the impression of being able to swim along very easily with the tide. That general impression is one we often have of the Prime Minister; so long as the tide is going nicely he can swim with it, but he never gives the impression on behalf of the party opposite that they are able to swim ahead of the tide or to use the initiative which should be with them. I am sorry to say that that remains the position now. The Prime Minister told us that things are moving in our favour and that with care and by going steadily we may get somewhere, but he has not given much indication of where we are likely to get.
References to disarmament yesterday and today showed clearly that it is time we had an indication from the Government that they really have a policy of their own on these problems and on where we ought to go. It is not good enough to keep shifting their ground. Every time a proposal comes up the Government appear to shift their ground. Many technical arguments have been used to explain why that is necessary, but they do not appeal to the man in the street in the least. All he sees is that proposals are put forward and are given headlines. Everyone says, "Those are the British proposals and the Russians say something like it". Then it would appear that our Government say, "That is not quite what we meant but something different". It all starts over again.
321 That kind of thing has been going on for far too long. It reminds me of the position which we were in before the war. The League of Nations had a long conference on the problem of disarmament. The Russians came along and said, "Of course, let us disarm ". That was regarded as a terrible piece of sabotage and the whole disarmament procedure broke up. Today we seem to be heading for the same sort of situation. Russia is the villain of the piece, and is putting forward proposals for disarmament which for some reason are not acceptable to the Western Powers. There may be very good reasons for that.
I can understand very well the point of view of the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines). The last thing on earth which would suit him would be any measure of disarmament. He can see no possibility of co-existence at all, but merely that we have to go in for an all-out attack on Communism. We must understand that so far as the Communist countries are concerned, once a régime is properly and firmly established it never gets shifted from without. It can only be shifted from within, and only shifted from within very largely of its own volition, when there is a general feeling of confidence and stability, and tyrannical and dictatorial régimes tend to ease themselves. That has proved true in the past, and will probably prove true again. I think that is the real reason behind the present changes which we are witnessing so far as the Soviet Union is concerned.
I want to deal for a moment with the problem of East Germany. It is rather interesting to draw a parallel between the position in Germany and the position in Vietnam. According to our very solemn agreements, there should be an overall election taking place there at the present time. I think that this was the month when the election should have taken place. Vietnam said: "We are not having any election. We cannot possibly win a free election and therefore we are not going to have one". So the Powers who agreed on this have obligingly said, "We will not bother to have an election; we will put it off." I think that the Eastern bloc might be given some credit for agreeing to that in the conditions under which they have agreed to it.
When it comes to the question of having free elections in Germany, East 322 Germany would probably say, "If we had free elections now of our 17 million people against the 70 million in West Germany, we should not have a chance of winning the election." We would regard that as thoroughly reprehensible. Is it equally reprehensible that Vietnam is not to have elections because it cannot possibly win? Because that happens to be in our favour, we are acquiesing in the situation in Vietnam by endorsing the stand which it has taken.
We can only go forward in so far as we are prepared now to proceed on the basis of co-existence. We have not to endorse what the Communist States do but we have to live with them. If we are to have disarmament we shall have to learn to live with them, and in getting disarmament we have to recognise that this country depends, from an economic point of view, very considerably on the question of reaching agreement on disarmament.
The question of conscription is closely tied up with the need at the present time to use our manpower to better advantage. Whether that will remain the case under the Government's policy of creating unemployment is another matter. All this seems to me to be tied up with the general question of agreement with the Communist Powers. I hope that we shall learn something of the Government's intention. I should like to hear more of their intention with regard to the testing of atomic weapons, particularly hydrogen bombs.
The Prime Minister was applauded when he said that we were going forward with the suggestion that they should be limited. It was suggested by one hon. Member on this side of the House that we certainly were not going to try to get agreement until after we had exploded a hydrogen bomb ourselves. That did not draw any protest from the Government Front Bench. I should like to know whether that is the position and whether, if agreement is possible tomorrow on the limitation of hydrogen bombs, the Government will say, "We are prepared to agree to this, although we have not exploded a hydrogen bomb."
Personally, I should also like to hear from the Prime Minister that, whether agreement is reached or not, we shall say that it is high time that somebody took 323 the initiative and that whatever other Powers may do we shall not explode hydrogen bombs. That would be giving a lead. It would not be very popular, perhaps, in many ways, but nevertheless it would be a lead on one of the most vital questions before us.
I turn next to the problem of trade with China. We are in grave danger of making precisely the same mistake about China as that which we made about Russia in the period immediately after the Russian Revolution. At that time we endeavoured to destroy the Revolution, we refused to trade with Russia, and in the end we threw her back on her own resources, as a result of which she pulled herself up without our help. Many of the problems which we now face are becoming more and more acute because of our failure then to recognise the new system growing up in Russia and to trade with her.
I gather that in the last few days China wished to place an order in this country for Land Rovers. The Land Rover is a vehicle peculiarly suited to agriculture, especially in rough country where the roads are bad. It may, of course, be used for other purposes. I understand that the Board of Trade blandly refused a permit for the export of Land Rovers. In view of the present conditions in the motor industry, I should have thought that we ought to be stretching ourselves to create trade in that direction. That is not the way in which we shall maintain peace with China.
In my view, it is time that the Government looked at the situation, not solely from the point of view of the Board of Trade, but from the point of view of overall policy. They must decide whether we are to trade with China at present, when trade is available, or to wait until Russia has given China all the economic help she needs, and until she has been able to develop her own industry and no longer needs our help. We shall then rub our hands in despair because trade opportunities have been lost. I suggest that it is high time that the Foreign Office began to look at this problem in the light of our economic needs.
Another important question affecting China is disarmament. We are debating the question of disarmament and the number of troops which China should 324 be allowed to maintain. It is a most peculiar situation that at the same time the United States has gone firmly on the record with the statement that China is not to be admitted to the United Nations. It is nearly time Britain put her foot down and stated that, whatever America may say, it is time that China was admitted to the United Nations and given her proper place on the Security Council. How can we negotiate a disarmament agreement affecting China unless we take her into consultation and bring her into the community of nations?
These are vital questions upon which we have heard nothing from the Government. I hope—although it may be a faint hope—that we may hear something in the winding-up speech tonight which will give us a little more cause for hope and confidence in the future than anything which we have heard so far.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
I think the hon. Member for Southall (Mr. Pargiter) was more than usually unfair to the Prime Minister in his opening remarks when he said that the general consensus of opinion yesterday had been that the Prime Minister was all right as long as he was merely drifting along with the tide. To be fair, that was not the reception which my right hon. Friend's speech received from the Leader of the Opposition this afternoon, or from a number of other hon. Members opposite.
Whether we are Conservatives or Socialists, I should have thought that there is one matter on which we had no quarrel—and I say this in no form of obsequious flattery: it is that if the Prime Minister has shown himself during the last few years quite exceptionally a leader, it is in taking initiative in the solution of international disputes and trouble. Indeed, I have sat on these benches and listened on occasions—for instance, on the occasion of the Geneva meeting which resulted in bringing fighting in Indio-China to an end—to fulsome tributes being paid by hon. Members opposite to my right hon. Friend, not for having drifted with the tide, but for the initiative which he had taken. The same applied to Trieste; tributes were paid to the initiative of my right hon. Friend, the then Foreign Secretary, which resulted in the settling of a problem which 325 had proved intractable—I am not making a party point—for years before the present Prime Minister took over the Foreign Office and while the Socialists were in power.
Thirdly, out of the many examples that one could choose, there were my right hon. Friend's initiative and efforts which resulted, after the collapse of E.D.C. in the entry of Germany into the comity of Western nations. Hence, I certainly do not think that the hon. Member has been fair in asserting that the Prime Minister has drifted with the tide. In the last five years many more disputes that previously proved incapable of solution have been solved than were solved during the whole previous six years under another Administration.
Then again, it was not fair of him to make a comparison between our attitude to free elections in Vietnam and Russia's in Eastern Germany. This country has done nothing to persuade Vietnam not to have free elections. So far as I understand, all our advice has been to the effect that the Vietnamese should fulfil the Geneva Agreement. To say that in the matter of free elections the Soviet Union is behaving to East Germany as we have behaved towards Vietnam is a parody of the truth.
§ Mr. Pargiter
May I point out that we are acquiescing in not having free elections that should have been held?
§ Mr. Bennett
I do not know whether the hon. Member wants force to be used. After all, we cannot force people to have free elections, but that is an entirely different matter from the Russians' behaviour in flatly refusing in any circumstances to let the East and West Germans have free elections. However, I shall not pursue any further the many discrepancies between fact and fiction that there are in what the hon. Gentleman has said.
Like the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson), I shall make no attempt to make a great tour de force of the world. I want, instead, as he did, to talk of one specialised matter. Great stress has been laid in speeches from both sides of the House on the dangers to world peace that lie in the continued division by military force of various disputed parts of the world. We have heard speeches about 326 Korea and the continued dangers that flow from the artificial military barrier drawn across that country. We have heard of Indo-China and what is happening in Vietnam and Vietminh and the dangers coming from artificially-created divisions there. On both sides, too, there has been quite a lot of discussion about East and West Germany and how the present division of Germany does nothing to contribute to peace and stability in Europe—whatever may be our individual ideas about its solution.
Yet another part of the world, where a similar state of affairs continues, receives no notice at all. In view of the constant and continuing tension in that area, I am always amazed that more is not said about it. I refer to Kashmir. I suppose that because both the contestants are Commonwealth countries—and I can well understand the reasons—there is a tendency to play down this dispute, almost to hide our heads in the sand and not to appreciate how serious that dispute is. I believe that just as other parts of the world that have been mentioned have the seeds of future disaster, so we have the seeds of future disaster in Kashmir at the moment.
Quite apart from the fact that because of the tensions which exist between two under-developed countries—India and Pakistan—far too high a proportion of their national incomes is being devoted to arms because of the need to maintain this artificial frontier in Kashmir, at any moment we might waken up and read in the newspapers that actual local warfare has broken out.
As a humble student of political affairs, it has always seemed to me that in most international arguments there is a good deal of right on both sides. The difficulty is to know where the real right lies. But, whatever individual mistakes of policy may have been made, I submit to the House that in Kashmir we have a pretty clear case for us to decide which side is right and which is wrong there. The Pakistanis at this moment are burning with resentment about this affair. I want the House to appreciate how many of them have expressed themselves to me and how sincere they are in what they think. They say that when the Indian sub-continent was divided there were various grounds on which the princely States went to one side or the other.
327 There is, first of all, the question of religion—whether the Moslems or the Hindus have a majority in the State. There was a question of the contiguity of the length of frontier attaching to one or other of the two great Powers there, and which had the longest. There was the question of strategic considerations and what is really necessary for basic strategic reasons, and there are the economic considerations involved. If one is a Pakistani, and one knows that 85 per cent. of the population of the State of Kashmir is Moslem, if one knows that there is a continuous 600 miles of frontier with Pakistan and only 300 miles of continuous frontier with India, when one knows that Kashmir forms a natural mountain barrier for Pakistan, and if, on top of all that, one knows that the only two roads for trade purposes go from Kashmir into Pakistan and that out of the five rivers that form the very life-blood of Pakistan two rise in Kashmir, then one ought to be able to understand, even though as far away as we are here, why they feel as resentful as they do about it.
When one has done that, and one looks further at what has happened in two other particular States, we see what happened in the case of the little State of Junagadh, where there was a Moslem ruler with an 85 per cent. Hindu population.
That Moslem ruler tried, as the Kashmir Hindu ruler tried to do to India, to accede to Pakistan legally against the supposed will of the majority. The Indian argument in Junagadh was that because the ruler, representing only a minority of the people, decided to accede to Pakistan, that could not be tolerated, so Indian troops marched in, a plebiscite was held, and there being a Hindu majority, they decided to upset the ruler's decision and go into India. In the case of Hyderabad, where again there was a Moslem ruler and a Hindu majority, the Moslem ruler also decided not to accede to India but to remain independent. As we know, Indian troops marched in and Hyderabad was compulsorily ceded to India.
In view of the facts which I have outlined, I think that in this country we ought to start now to pay a little more attention than we have done hitherto to the solution of this problem. I wish to say something about the attempts at settlement 328 that have been made up to now, and then offer a brief suggestion as to how we can go on from here. At the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference in 1951, there was agreement in principle that a plebiscite should take place, and the only outstanding question in 1951 was how that plebiscite should be carried out. There were several suggestions as to how it should be supervised.
One suggestion put forward by the Prime Ministers at that time was that Indian and Pakistani troops should be withdrawn from the positions they then held, and that neutral Commonwealth troops should move in. That was accepted by Pakistan and turned down by India. The next suggestion made was that Indian and Pakistani troops should divide the functions of supervising the plebiscite between them. That suggestion was accepted by Pakistan, and it was that the majority of the troops should be Indian and the minority, about one-third, should be Pakistani. India turned down that suggestion, even though her own troops would be controlling the majority of the country, while Pakistan, once again, accepted it.
There was the final suggestion that both Indian and Pakistani forces should get out and that a force to control the country during the plebiscite should be a locally raised force under the United Nations administrator. That suggestion also was accepted by Pakistan and turned down by India. In 1948, the matter had already also moved into the world forum of the United Nations. In the Security Council in 1949, in 1950, in 1951 and again in 1953, similar recommendations were brought forward that this question should be decided by plebiscite. In every case Pakistan agreed and India failed to agree to the plebiscite being carried out. Our position today is thus a complete and dangerous stalemate.
I wonder how many hon. Members know that the former Prime Minister of Kashmir, Sheik Abdulla, who was originally a supporter of the Indian cause but who later, in 1953, showed himself to be too unenthusiastic to suit the Indian Government, a man who, although a Muslim, went forward at the beginning with the idea that Kashmir should join India, was arrested in 1953 and is still in a cell in Kashmir, having been there for three years without any trial or any 329 charge being brought against him. I would in all friendliness say to the Indian Government and to the Indian Press, which has so often criticised various aspects of British Imperial policy, particularly when one or other Government has had to arrest some colonial extremist leader or deport him, that if they are to make those sort of criticisms, they should wear something of a white sheet.
I wonder what their and world criticism would have been if we in this country had not just deported the Kabaka or deported Archbishop Makarios to the Seychelles—I do not want to get drawn into that now—but had arrested a colonial Prime Minister and kept him in prison, not just in limited restraint in some other part of the world, but actually in a prison cell, for three years without any charge of any sort being preferred against him. One is really amazed at how little attention is being paid in the world to the fact that Sheik Abdulla is at this moment so immured.
I would suggest to my right hon. Friend that this question should not be allowed to go by default on the premise that nothing dangerous will follow if it is allowed to go on as it is. One has reason to believe that the question will be raised again at the coming session of the United Nations in New York this year or, if not at the coming Session, then at the next one. I suggest that when it is raised, we do not just allow it to be referred back, but we take it seriously and make a new and determined effort, through the Security Council, to get some sort of agreement and get world opinion ranged along with us, to have something done to obtain a settlement, whether it be by partition, by plebiscite, or a mixture of the two.
I believe that the Indian Government, and Mr. Nehru in particular, are very sensitive to world opinion. If it could be shown plainly what our feelings and world feelings were on this subject, then there would be rather more chance of a settlement than appears at the moment. I regret to say this, because there is no one for whom I have more respect as a world leader in these difficult times than Mr. Nehru, but I really believe that he should in this matter of Kashmir practise a good deal more of what he preaches to others. There really is here a classic example of a man who ought to practise 330 what he preaches; and when I suggest what should be done at the United Nations this year, my principal appeal is to Mr. Nehru and to the Indian Government, who have more chance than anyone else of bringing about an end to this problem.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North West)
I do not propose to cover the general ground, and I am sure the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the matters which he was discussing. I wish to answer certain points made in the speech by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. Nicholson). As I intended to make a few comments on his speech, I am sorry it is impossible for him to be present. I did inform him of my intention, and he told me that he would not be able to be present; but I hope that he will not mind my dealing with them, because they are of considerable general interest.
The hon. Member for Farnham said that because a person happened to be a member of or connected with a group, or happened to know what was taking place in a particular direction, and was keen and sincere about something, it was not appropriate for him, so the hon. Gentleman intimated, to speak in what he called a partisan matter. If that were so anybody advocating any proper cause which he understood would be placed in a position of having to leave to those who did not appreciate the cause as well as he the advocacy of that cause. That obviously is not the position in this House.
One would never expect in a debate on Welsh affairs that it should be said that anyone who happened to live in Wales or to be interested in the subject should not speak. That would be rightly resented, and so it would if a person happened to be a Methodist and it was said that because he was a Methodist, therefore he was partisan, and was not entitled to participate in a debate on a religious matter in which he was concerned. That would be absurd.
On this question of Palestine, I do not suppose that the hon. Member for Farnham would have objected to Disraeli making the comments that he made when he suggested in his writings that there 331 should be a national home in Palestine for the Jewish people. Nor indeed should he object to any other people who are Jewish or connected with Jews doing the same thing.
The fact of the matter is that the hon. Member for Farnham, and I am sorry to say some other hon. and right hon. Members, have not really appreciated the facts relating to the State of Israel as they exist. The hon. Member raised several questions, and I want to deal with them. He talked, first, of who was responsible for there being Arab refugees. He outlined a position which indicated that the Jewish settlers in Palestine were responsible for the Arab refugee problem.
I agree that it is essential to try to reach a solution of this problem, and I think that the speeches which have been made from time to time by the Israel Government and by those who support Israel have indicated that they are most anxious to deal with the position and to ensure that no one shall suffer; but we must consider the facts, before coming to a wrong conclusion which suggests that the Jewish settlers there were responsible.
What did happen in this region? It is essential not to lose sight of the fact that the Arab refugee problem arose from the war which the Arab Governments launched against Israel. That is irrefutable. The problem is the result of an attempt to overthrow by force the United Nations Resolution of 29th November, 1947. I want to put some facts on record so that in future debates we shall know the position. If I am wrong, I should like those who are discussing the matter to let me know where I am wrong so that at least I may argue the position with them. I am sure, however, that I am not wrong.
These are the facts as I understand them. On 15th May, 1948, the Secretary-General of the Arab League declared at a Press conference in Cairo:This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.It is a fact that some 200,000 Arabs live in Israel today but in all areas in Palestine which came under Arab occupation after the U.N. decision not a single Jew remains. Who was responsible 332 for the exodus? The Economist said, in its issue of 2nd October, 1948:The Jewish authorities are now in complete control… urged all Arabs to remain and guaranteed them protection and security.… However, of the 62,000 Arabs who lived in Haifa, not more than 5,000 to 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is little doubt that the most potent of these were the announcements made over the air by the Arab Executive, urging all Arabs in Haifa to quit. The reason given was that upon the final withdrawal of the British, the combined Armies of the Arab States would invade Palestine and drive the Jews into the sea. And it was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.So much for the first point. Secondly, I want the House to understand that Israel and everyone connected with the Zionist movement with which I am concerned is most anxious that the refugee problem should be solved. We feel that it can be solved. We feel that, if the Arabs would only do what the Israelis have done in Israel, they could solve this problem easily. Time after time Israel has offered compensation, but also time after time there has been pressure to bring into Israel a force of 100,000 or 150,000 fifth columnists, although the whole of Israel is not the size of Wales. That is an absurd suggestion, and it is time it was made clear to the Arabs that this cannot happen.
What should happen is that the compensation which has been offered by Israel before should be accepted in the future. What are the facts about the numbers of the refugees? We were told by the hon. Member for Farnham that Jews have done a great injury to 1¼ million Arab refugees in not letting them come back after the war. The hon. Gentleman has overlooked the fact that at the end of 1944 the entire Arab population of Palestine was officially estimated to number 1,179,000, which included 67,000 Bedouins. The Foreign Secretary will know that these figures are approximately accurate.
The hon. Member for Farnham also forgets that Transjordan annexed a part of the former mandated territory with a substantial portion of Arab population. He has not taken into consideration the fact that there are at present 200,000 Arabs in Israel who are being treated equally as well as the other citizens and who are contented. One has only to 333 walk into the Arab village near Jerusalem to find an example of how the people who did not fight against the Israelis at the time Israel was declared to be a State are contented with their lot. The Arabs are accepted as citizens, with representation in the Parliament of Israel in the same way as their Jewish fellow citizens.
I shall take advantage of the few minutes I have left to deal with a few more figures. The difficulty of determining the true number has plagued United Nations officials ever since the Arabs crossed the border. The United Nations Economic Survey Mission, which studied the problem thoroughly in 1949, put the figure of Arab refugees in need of relief at 635,000. The first director of U.N.R.W.A. referred to "the 600,000 refugees "in November, 1950. The United Nations Conciliation Commission accepted a figure of 711,000, and an analysis of the population records of the Palestine Mandatory Government shows the total Arab population of what is now Israel as less than 800,000, and 200,000 of those are still in Israel. Putting it at its highest, this leaves 600,000.
I am not saying that this is a negligible figure. On the contrary, but we ought to know what figures we are dealing with, and how the position has been worsened by the fact that the Arab nations have refused to allow these people to lead decent, ordinary lives, and have used them as a political facade for the rest of the world—indeed, have kept them in the front line as political propaganda.
I would commend to the House the speeches that have been made by Israeli statesmen. Time after time the Arabs have been appealed to to come together with the Israeli to discuss settlement. The Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Ben Gurion, himself has said that he is prepared to go to Egypt, that he is prepared to go almost anywhere, to meet the various leaders of the Arab States, but they have bluntly refused to meet him. He was prepared to settle the refugee problem separately. The Foreign Secretary knows that very well. This has been made clear by appeals from Israel from time to time. On the other hand, the statements made from the Arab side have been incitements to the Arab people to attack.
Why is Israel refused the opportunity of arming herself, not to attack the Arabs—the Foreign Secretary knows as well as 334 I do that there is no intention to do that—but at least to make them understand that if they attempt to attack Israel there is a possibility—not even necessarily a certainty; that is not asked for—of their being defeated? If Israel were given this opportunity, Nasser and the people he is trying to influence would come to the conclusion that it was not worth while again attacking Israel and risking defeat. Consequently, the problems would become soluble. It is not true to say that there is a balance of arms. Why does not the Minister ask the Prime Minister of Canada what he thinks about the position. Has he yet discussed the position with the Prime Minister of Canada? In a recent speech the Prime Minister of Canada referred to the "unbalance of arms." These things must be dealt with.
Lastly, I want to ask the Minister this. Why are trade agreements being discussed without pointing out to the Egyptians that the boycott which they are imposing upon the citizens of this country who happen to be of the Jewish faith cannot possibly be tolerated? The Minister knows the kind of thing that is going on. The Egyptians have no right to defy the Charter of the United Nations, the Declaration on Human Rights, and the ordinary principles of civilisation by attempting to discriminate against and boycott certain people because of their religion or race.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
In the course of my remarks I shall come to some aspects of the subject just discussed by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner), which arouses very deep feelings in the House. I wish first to make one or two more general comments.
This two-day debate covering the whole world scene has provided a remarkable contrast. The Prime Minister may be said to have sent the Government off to a fairly smooth start yesterday, and his speech, so far as it went, appeared to command the assent of the House. Today the Government have run into much rougher water as the House has attempted to probe what lay behind the generalities and to define, subject by subject, precisely what it is that the Government have in mind to do.
I feel that, compared with most foreign affairs debates in which I have taken part, 335 the general analysis of the situation in which we find ourselves has commanded even more agreement than usual. There have been very few voices, if any, which have challenged the opening remarks by the Prime Minister about the immediate danger of war having receded and about the changes which have occurred over the last two years, or the reasons which he thought lay behind it, such as the deterrence of the new weapons and the change from Stalinism in the Soviet Union.
Of course, various hon. Members have expressed more or less optimism about the developments in the Soviet Union, on whether the question of co-existence is going to be an angry, hostile, competitive thing or whether there is at least a chance of genuine co-operation and so on, but, broadly, there has been very little disagreement on that side of our discussion. There has also been agreement, and that is very useful, that the fact that we are all hoping to have better relations with the Soviet Government does not mean that we need have worse relations with our Allies. It is not a question of choosing between friendliness with Russia and friendliness with our Allies.
Much has been said about solidarity with the United States and the need to maintain the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and so on. It is agreed that all our policies must continue to be joint policies. I do not know whether it has been clearly stated how much more difficult it will probably be to maintain effective joint policies in the new situation than it was when we all felt ourselves to be facing a common danger. The tasks are less clear-cut. There is probably more room for a difference of opinion. It may be that this difficulty in part provides the explanation why the clear-cut principles which have been put forward have not today been matched by clear-cut policies.
It may well be that the true explanation on many of these topics is not so much that the Government are wrong in their thinking, but that they have failed to convince their Allies and, consequently, cannot get a joint policy; and the Government spokesmen are in difficulty in doing justice to themselves without appearing to criticise their Allies. I do not know. The Foreign Secretary today did say rather plaintively something to the effect 336 that an alliance of free nations took a very long time to get under way or produce action. Whatever the reason, I am afraid that it has to be recorded that we have not had a clear picture of the action proposed by the Government in these various situations.
Before the debate began, the Press, and notably The Times, which I shall quote, was talking ofthe clouds that obscure so much of British policy,and was asking and, indeed, demanding of the Government that in this debate they should give a clear line on a whole list of topics. Those hon. Members who have sat through the debate will recognise that all the topics have come before us in the last two days—defence, disarmament, the British attitude to Western Europe, the Arab-Israel dispute, the position of Germany in N.A.T.O. and so on.
I think that the Prime Minister might agree that on a number of these topics his speech did not get us much further on precise policy. We on this side of the House were waiting in the hope that the obvious gaps—and I do not think that he was attempting to take us into every subject—would be filled in by the Foreign Secretary, but I am afraid that the Foreign Secretary failed in most respects. All we have got from the Government is that they intend to agree on policies with their Allies, but they did not say, any more than they did when we complained about it in February and March, what they propose to attempt to agree about.
There were one or two examples in the subjects which have already been fully discussed. Speaking at this stage in the debate, I cannot hope to say many original things. On the question of Western defence and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, we start from a basis of agreement. Whether we may want to argue about the level of forces under the North Atlantic Treaty, we are all agreed on the need to maintain its framework and unity of purpose. But when we consider what has been done or not been done in recent months, we must agree that the last meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council, so far as the world knows, was a flop. It was certainly hailed as such by the Press.
So far as any of us not in the know are concerned, it did nothing except one 337 damaging thing. It had been heralded as a meeting which opened up new possibilities for N.A.T.O., and as apparently it did nothing of the kind, it contributed to the lowering of morale.
Various recipes, including some during the debate, have been put forward as to what should be done about N.A.T.O. I have always thought that the most important thing was obvious and simple. It is that there has to be, in an alliance of this kind, a sensible joint plan for defence, a purely military plan for the defence of the area which it is supposed to defend, and consultation among the members on ail political questions so far as they affect the job which the alliance has to do, which I have always believed to be primarily a military job. Those are the things that matter, and not the frantic searching for new and different tasks which might be given to N.A.T.O.—a body which is not designed to carry out tasks other than the defence of a certain area.
Even after all the discussion that we have had, I should like to ask what were the United Kingdom's proposals on these topics. I do not think that we know. I do not think that anything which emerged from the N.A.T.O. Council meeting—no communiqué or anything of that kind—suggested that the British Government put forward proposals which were not accepted. Equally, nothing very much seems to have emerged in the way of a joint decision. All that the Foreign Secretary was able to do today was to protest, when attacked earlier upon the same lines, that we—that is, Her Majesty's Government—have been working for months on the necessary adaptation of N.A.T.O. We must accept that, but all I can say is that the next N.A.T.O. Council meeting, which is only a month or two ahead, had better begin to produce results for the public if it does not want morale to drop very low indeed.
I do not think that the answer is likely to come primarily from what are called the "three wise men," greatly as I respect all three as individuals. I think that it will have to come from joint agreement between the Governments upon the military requirements of the defence of Western Europe, adequate military plans, and, perhaps above all, availability to meet those needs. As the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) 338 said, it is no use doing the sort of thing which was done in The Times recently, namely, to list a whole number of things that the soldiers might well like but which there is not the faintest chance of any Government being willing to produce.
I shall not talk specifically about the German problem which has been thrashed out in great detail. I think that most of us feel that the Prime Minister's general attitude to the question of a security agreement in Europe was satisfactory once it had been clarified by means of many interventions and interruptions. If his proposals appeared to be rather vague I suppose that he could answer that, after all, he had put forward plans in some detail in the past, at Geneva and elsewhere, and that any future discussions would be based upon them.
What was again disappointing to us, however, was that the Government were not willing to tell us what they proposed to do about it. They were asked whether they were going to take the initiative. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition rose during the course of the Foreign Secretary's speech to ask him if he could say anything about the procedure which the Government proposed to adopt in order to promote the sort of things which the Prime Minister had indicated in general terms. He got a flat negative. He was told that it would not be appropriate—or some such phrase—to go further at this stage. I do not know; perhaps we are not entitled to be told these things, but the Government cannot complain about our attitude if, the moment we try to obtain a hint of the next move by Her Majesty's Government we are simply told, in connection with subject after subject, that no information can be given to us at the present time.
In another connection, especially about disarmament, references have been made to confidence-building measures, and we had hoped that something of that kind would have been announced about the proposal for what has been called the thinning out of forces in Central Europe. We thought that such a thing might be contemplated as an interim measure. It was not quite clear from the Foreign Secretary's speech whether this is a topic which the British Government are prepared to tackle in a practical way, because he said at one stage that he was not prepared to contemplate any security 339 arrangement which would not end the division of Germany.
When he was challenged upon that I think he said that he was referring only to a final and comprehensive security agreement. He left us to infer that, while we still have the division of Germany, he might nevertheless contemplate some lesser measure in the shape of the thinning out of forces. If the Joint Under-Secretary can say anything about that matter, I shall be grateful.
I do not want to spend too much time upon what I believe is the most unhappy subject of this debate, namely, the Government's performance in the disarmament discussions. I shall not go back over the past; I think that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) adduced a devastating argument against the handling of the Government's case in recent months. There is no doubt that in recent months, even if their attitude has been sensible behind the scenes, the Western Powers have failed to make their case with the public. They have left the impression that every time the Russians came to meet them, they, as it were, raised the ante, and were not prepared to accept what previously they had been thought to accept. That applies particularly to the level of the forces and the necessity for prior political settlements before any real disarmament can be agreed upon.
There has undoubtedly been a change, particularly over the levels of forces, in the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. Maybe this again is one of the cases where United States policy has changed, and we felt that we had to go along. So far as political settlements are concerned, in the light of the tone of the Prime Minister's speech, when he rightly indicated what a great improvement there has been, it was a little difficult for us to accept the fact that it was because of political conditions and the failure to reach a political settlement that we had to raise the acceptable level of forces from 1½ million to 2½ million.
What are we to do now? What is it in fact—and on this I think the Foreign Secretary was not very clear—that stops 340 the partial agreement which I think he said he favoured? We should welcome some kind of partial agreement if we cannot get the whole thing immediately. I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman agreed, and the points which he appeared to put forward to be included in such agreement were some reduction in conventional forces and some control—I think he said limited control—in order to supervise those reductions; and then he referred to the two proposals, that of Marshal Bulganin for control of strategic points and that of Mr. Eisenhower on what are called "open skies".
Apart from the last point about "open skies", I cannot see why, if these are the ingredients, we cannot have them quickly. All the other ingredients, including a limited form of control, seem to me to be included, not only in our plans, but in the plans of the Soviet Union. If the thing is really sticking only on the question of "open skies", I can only say that until that was put forward by Mr. Eisenhower at Geneva last year I do not believe it was considered by any of the Powers as something which must be accepted before we could have an initial agreement on the first stage. If we have reached the point where that is a condition, we have undoubtedly changed, and I do not believe that it is justifiable.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The right hon. Gentleman does recognise that such a partial disarmament agreement would exclude anything to do with nuclear weapons? That would be very unfortunate indeed. It may be necessary to go along without it—it may be—but it is not necessarily a step forward if we disregard any attempt towards nuclear disarmament.
§ Mr. Younger
Really, I get more confused with each intervention of the Foreign Secretary. We all realise that for a disarmament agreement finally to be satisfactory, it has virtually to cover everything, though now we are in doubt whether scientifically everything can be covered at present. But I thought that the whole point of an interim solution was to cover a limited measure of conventional disarmament without tackling the more intransigent question of nuclear disarmament. There have been changes in Western policy, but I thought that 341 this proposal to support conventional disarmament first was considered fully acceptable.
§ Mr. Younger
I will not go further into the details of this. At one time or another I have read all these statements, and I will look at this one again. But if the Foreign Secretary or the Joint Under-Secretary will clarify this matter, so much the better. We are not satisfied that there is any real obstacle to the sort of partial agreement to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman referred.
On the more limited, though related, question of the bomb tests, I thought that the Government were very negative. They seem in principle to have accepted more or less what we want, that we should try to get agreement on this, even if we have not yet got a general disarmament agreement. But when we asked what they were going to do, we got a double negative from the Foreign Secretary. He said, "That does not mean that no work will be done until November ". When pressed, he said it was "undesirable to be more specific". I do not see why we should not have an answer to the question. Following particularly the statement of Mr. Shepilov, are the Government, in fact, proposing to approach any Governments and if so, which Governments, to suggest that any discussions should start on this matter; or are they just approving it in principle but hoping that someone else will raise it?
I have very little time to cover the numerous topics which have been left unresolved even by this lengthy debate. I have two brief points to make about the Middle East. The first is that we are glad to note how far the Government have moved, since the debate after the turn of the year—in February—in their views about Soviet intentions and the possibility of discussing Middle Eastern questions with the Soviet Union. We are glad that the United Nations has been invited to take charge of the more urgent questions relating to the dispute between the Arabs and Israel, a course which we were originally told, some six or seven 342 months ago, was extremely naive on account of the mischievous intentions of the Soviet Union in that area.
There are numerous pieces of evidence that the Soviet Union is anxious to persuade the Arab States to accept a policy of "live and let live" with Israel. There have been signs also that she is prepared to accept that policy herself with the Western Powers. If the Prime Minister were to tell me that that was the product of his discussions with Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev in London I should be delighted to give him credit for it. Whatever may be the reason, the Government's attitude towards this matter has changed.
On the question of balance of arms, which has been raised more than any other issue of foreign affairs in this House, the explanations given by the Foreign Secretary are not satisfactory. I know that he is handicapped because he cannot give us any detailed facts, but I ask him whether he disputes that in recent months there have been very large deliveries of modern arms from Czech or other sources to Egypt. I do not think he can, because in another part of his speech, referring to the withdrawal of the proposals to give aid in connection with the Aswan Dam, he gave as one of his reasons the enormous Egyptian expenditure on the arms programme. I think there was a link between those two matters.
If the Joint Under-Secretary accepts that the delivery of arms has been growing, as does almost everybody outside the Foreign Office, I ask whether Israel has been getting equivalent deliveries, and if so, from where? Not from us, I think, and certainly not from Communist countries. I do not see where she can get them. If not, the arms balance must have been swinging heavily against Israel in the last six months. The Foreign Secretary said last February that there was a balance, so therefore it is not the case that Israel has started with an enormous preponderance of arms which the Arabs are now balancing up.
The Foreign Secretary stated that the balance would not last. We have a deep suspicion that the balance is not lasting, and that Her Majesty's Government—and I presume one must include the other signatories to the Tripartite Declaration—are pursuing a policy of drift in this 343 matter, which is very dangerous. I join with the hon. Member for East Aberdeenshire in asking the Minister who is to wind up the debate to repeat and to restate with the utmost firmness the Government's intention to maintain the balance in the Middle East. That at least may be something. We cannot get all the facts, but the facts as we know them all tend against the conclusion which the Foreign Secretary is asking us to accept.
I am afraid I shall be cutting short the time of the Joint Under-Secretary if I speak very much longer, but there is one more point which I should like to make. We all seem to be agreed that we are moving away from the cold war, but it is much more difficult to agree on what we are moving towards. It may be that that is partly due to the quadrennial blight which the American elections always put on Western policy, but it is very difficult to discern any positive general policy or any shape of things that the Government or the Western Powers are hoping to see in replacement of the cold war.
I do not think that we should wait for the American elections to state our views. I think we shall probably find after the elections that the reappraisal of world policy which seems to be hanging fire in the United States will, as often happens, take place with a big bang. We shall find that a great deal of thinking has been going on, and decisions will come thick and fast. We do not want to be left behind.
I should like particularly to refer to certain matters in Asia—the question of Chinese admission to the United Nations and the question of breaking down the now absurd restrictions on East-West trade. Both those matters are urgent. I think that now, much more easily than a year or so ago, we can persuade our American Allies that the civilian, social and economic aspects of policy in South-East Asia are more important than the military organisation of the South-East Asia Treaty.
If we were to pursue, and pursue publicly so that the world knows, issues of that kind, that would be some evidence of the vitality of the Commonwealth Conference. We always expect the communiqué at the end of the Conference to 344 be uninformative, and we do not complain about that, but we hope to see afterwards some sign of the fact that this gathering of important States, covering Asia as well as the West, has led to some kind of general approach to some of the major problems.
Since the Commonwealth has not been mentioned very much, I hope to end with this point arising out of the Commonwealth Conference. Now we hope that we can begin to look at matters in a rather longer perspective without fearing war in the next few years in Europe, can we not allow ourselves to pay a great deal more attention to the world-shaking issue which is going to be determined in India? I believe that in the course of the Indian second five-year plan and perhaps in the following five-year plan the decision will be taken whether the industrial revolution in Asia is to occur by democratic, free means or not.
It is a tremendous task, and the Indians, like the rest of the people in Asia, are going to require a great deal of help from outside. They are going to get it from where they can, and that will undoubtedly include some Communist countries. I hope we shall not join in the futile warnings given by Mr. Nixon in telling the Asian countries that if they accept aid from Communist countries they are facing some kind of slavery. They will not listen to such warnings. They are not afraid of that kind of Communist domination.
What will determine their attitude on the future political framework and affect them much more will be a sympathetic political attitude and, so far as we are able to give it to them, economic aid of that nature in their enormous task. I am well aware of the limitations to our resources for these purposes, but the West as a whole—organised through the United Nations in particular, I hope—could do a great deal. If we believe that our influence is great in world affairs, as so many hon. Members have said in this debate that they do, I think we should exercise it more strongly than we have done in these fields, and let it be known that we are doing so.
The Government have said they recognise that this is a moment of fluidity and flexibility in world affairs. This second day's debate has suggested, alas, that they are letting the moment slip.
§ 9.39 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. A. D. Dodds Parker)
Eleven years ago today the right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) and I and many other hon. Members had just been elected to this House for the first time. I must admit that at that time I did not think I should be winding up a debate on Foreign Affairs, which is not limited to any one aspect of human problems, many of which are quite beyond the immediate responsibility of a Foreign Office Minister. To go back to that day, 25th July, 1945, no atom bomb had at that time been dropped. Many of us will remember the headlines in the papers when atom bombs were dropped earlier the next month. Thinking back, I believe that we can say that the most tremendous changes have happened in the world, far greater than anything that we would have envisaged at that time.
The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have given the House statements on the salient points of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby has referred to one or two of those and disclaimed his satisfaction with them. I hope that the House will not expect me to go in any detail into disarmament. It is an intensely complicated problem and I, like other hon. Members, try to tie my brains around it.
But to sum up, as briefly as I can, the point about partial agreement to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, Her Majesty's Government were the first to propose this last year. The Soviet Union only accepted the idea on 12th July this year, and we still do not know exactly what elements the Soviet Union want to include in a partial agreement; but we hope to find out at the next meeting of the Sub-Committee. We will also consider the report from the Commission which met earlier this month in New York. I regret that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State cannot be here to give us a personal account of that; we still have to see what action we can take.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the question of the Middle East, and I would again say that we are waiting for a further report from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who is labouring, I think with the support of 346 every one of us in this House, to produce some answer to this problem.
On the question of arms balance, my hon. Friend the Member for East Aberdeenshire (Sir R. Boothby) asked me whether Her Majesty's Government are really trying to maintain a genuine balance of power under the Tripartite Declaration. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby also referred to this question. I will repeat the words of the Tripartite Declaration, which are, of course, the intention of the Government, and which have been reaffirmed time and time again from this Box. It is that:The three Governments recognise that the Arab States and Israel all need to maintain a certain level of armed forces for the purpose of assuring their internal security and their legitimate self-defence and to permit them to play their part in the defence of the area as a whole.I hope that my hon. Friend will be reassured that that is the intention of the Government which has been reiterated times without number from this Box.
§ Mr. Janner
While the hon. Gentleman is dealing with this matter, will he answer the question which I put to him? Does he agree with the Prime Minister of Canada that there is an imbalance in arms? He calls it an imbalance, but he obviously means by that a non-balance.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I am afraid that, however unbalanced the hon. Member may feel on this, I am not responsible for what the Prime Minister of Canada said, and I have not seen the context in which he made the alleged remark.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Grimsby also raised the question of India. Her Majesty's Government are, of course, fully aware of the need of the Indian Government for support. We have done our best to help in the years since the war. This is not a party matter. I had the privilege last year of working in the Commonwealth Office, and I know how closely the Indian authorities continue to work with this country. I like to claim, and I sincerely believe, that our relations with India have never been closer than they are at the moment.
As I said earlier, we have in the course of this debate covered just about every problem of the human race, and I hope that hon. and right hon. Members will forgive me if I cannot answer all the points which they have raised, but I assure 347 them, particularly now that the Recess is near, that I will study them, and I hope, if their suggestions are constructive, to get something out of them for the benefit of all of us.
My right hon. Friends have covered fairly widely the problems of Europe, and the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition also spoke about these, as did the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) and the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), who made a well-informed speech about disarmament. Other hon. Members have spoken about Euratom and the common market, both in the debate yesterday and today. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made a statement about this which, I hope, will have informed the House of what is being done about those two problems.
I was sorry that the Leader of the Opposition used the phrase "the taint" of colonialism. I do not know whether he includes his brother as one thereby tainted, like myself and many others. I do not think he has any reason to be ashamed, or any call to use that term, about what his brother did for 25 or 30 years in Africa.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am surprised that the hon. Member should refer to my brother who did what, I think, is generally agreed was a remarkably fine job in the Sudan. For the hon. Member's benefit, I would say that I have no reason whatever to believe that my brother would disagree with a word of what I have said this afternoon.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
That is as is may be, but I put it to him—and I will return to this in a moment—that it is a pity that he should use this word from those benches about the efforts of so many of his countrymen who have carried out this work in the past, and will carry it out in other ways in the future, to help people overseas.
He spoke about Russia and about the fact that no colonialism exists in Russia, but I would point out to him that there are millions of Moslems in Russia who are living in what he would call a colonial status. It is a great mistake for him to stand at that Box and repeat the remarks made by the enemies of this 348 country that Britain alone is a colonial Power. He talked about the appeal of Russia to people in the uncommitted countries. Apparently he did not know that there are these millions of Moslems in Russia in what he would call a colonial status.
The right hon. Gentleman also spoke about bases and the reliability of leased bases. Had he read the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) carefully, he would have seen that there are many grave objections to leased bases, as both ourselves and the United States have found in the period through which we have been passing.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson) raised a question on the Haud and Ethiopia, of which he had been good enough to give me notice, and I should like to tell him of the action which has been taken as a result of what has happened in the Haud and areas nearby. As I informed the House recently, Her Majesty's Ambassador in Addis Ababa lodged a strong protest against breaches by Ethiopian officials of the terms of the 1954 Anglo-Ethiopian Agreement. The most serious aspect of these incidents has been the repeated attempts to interfere with the tribal organisation of certain British-protected tribes who are now with their herds in the territory covered by the Agreement.
Her Majesty's Government have received reliable reports that Ethiopian officials have convened meetings with these tribes and put pressure on them to acknowledge Ethiopian suzerainty and to accept Ethiopian nominees as their tribal leaders. This is a clear breach of the Agreement, which provides that the tribal organisation and leaders recognised by the Protectorate Government should continue to function while the tribes are in the territories.
These incidents cause Her Majesty's Government grave disquiet. Not only do they contravene the spirit and the letter of the 1954 Agreement, but they also run counter to assurances given to me during my discussions in Addis Abbaba earlier this year that the Ethiopian Government intended to work the Agreement in closer harmony with our local officials. Her Majesty's Ambassador has also been instructed to lodge a protest against the 349 killing by Ethiopian forces of a number of British-protected Esa tribesmen during the course of an incident which took place well inside Ethiopia in February of this year. I sincerely hope that we shall receive satisfactory replies from the Ethiopian Government to these two protests. The state of affairs which has made them necessary can hardly fail, if it continues, to cast a cloud over Anglo-Ethiopian relations—an event which Her Majesty's Government would deeply regret.
§ Mr. J. Johnson
But what are the Government to do about this? Do they intend to step up the number of our police and armed people inside the territory, or what action do they propose to take?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, to whom the hon. Member has addressed a Question, as he knows.
The other point that he raised was about the British Protectorate of Somali-land and its possible future relationship with Somalia. Her Majesty's Government's policy remains the same as was set out by the Under-Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs in his statement in Hargeisa on 29th May. This statement not only envisaged an acceleration of economic, educational and constitutional development in the Protectorate, but also indicated that Her Majesty's Government would be prepared in principle to give favourable consideration to the possibility of a closer association some time in the future between the two Somali territories, if the peoples concerned should desire it.
I do not think that the hon. Member would expect me to comment, at the moment, on the other points he raised, but I am sure that he realises that we do regard them as being important and will follow them up.
In the very few moments left to me I should like to refer very briefly to what is sometimes called in this House, though some hon. Members dislike it, "competitive co-existence"—how we compete, as one hon. Member said, in living together. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, we have to maintain our security in this world, to develop our material and economic benefits and to maintain peace within freedom, that is, as we understand freedom in the West.
350 I believe that this has met with the general approval of all right hon. and hon. Members in the course of this debate. It is the pattern of the methods that we propose to use that has not been so generally agreed, but I believe that the general pattern of the future development has been set. There is N.A.T.O., which was formed when the late Mr. Ernest Bevin was Foreign Secretary, and with which is associated the economic development of O.E.E.C. and the European Payments Union.
Then there is S.E.A.T.O., which has done much more than many hon. Members are prepared to agree. If hon. Members saw as much as I do of people who live close to the Societ bloc, they would realise that both S.E.A.T.O. and the Bagdad Pact create far more confidence in those people than many who live somewhat further away from the scene may realise. I think that it would be a great mistake if the impression was given in the course of this debate that the military side of those two organisations was not regarded as of prime importance to their members, particularly to the members in the Middle East and in South-East Asia. Both organisations contain members of the Commonwealth. The Colombo Plan, which is the economic support, as it were, of the South-East Asia area, was started as a Commonwealth Organisation. It has carried out, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, valuable work in the development of the area in the last few years. Equally, the Economic Committee of the Bagdad Pact, of which my right hon. Friend gave the details, has already in quite a short time established itself and is working to the great satisfaction of the people out there. It is, I believe, of the greatest importance that we should have the Commonwealth in all these organisations, and also the United States in all except the Bagdad Pact itself, and I believe that the economic and what we might call the cultural developments which are being carried on under the Bagdad Pact are going to be of great importance.
Sometimes, when I see the list of organisations and the jobs which are being done under the Bagdad Pact, it makes me think of all the organisations in the United Kingdom concerned in various aspects of Commonwealth relations which are given on page 72 of the 351 Commonwealth Relations Office list. I think these are of great importance, because they try to work up, without a great expenditure of money, the inter-change of educational staff and students and joint efforts to increase the flow of doctors and others.
This practical method of co-operation with people in these parts of the world shows that we have a great deal to offer from this country. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about S.U.N.F.E.D., which we regard as being only one of the various ways in which aid could be given to these under-developed territories to win the struggle that lies ahead for the peoples of these uncommitted territories. I will not go into further details beyond what my right hon. Friend has already given concerning the economic aid which we have given, except to say that the colonial development and welfare fund, will contribute £120 million in the five years from now until 1960 in this matter of technical aid.
But I should like to make one brief reference to the very great contribution which this country is making in education. There are over 26,000 overseas students in this country at the moment, and I believe that this is a very great contribution, which is stretching the teaching resources of this country, but is doing a great deal to help people. Those of us who come in to day-to-day contact with them realise that there is much more to be done. I should like to thank the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) for his contribution to the Soviet Relations Committee on the British Council, and also my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Mr. Mott-Radclyffe); they have both worked on it in order to develop these cultural acti- 352 vities which they and all of us feel are of great importance.
I have not got time to talk about the B.B.C. and what it can do to help, but I think it should be noticed that the English services of the B.B.C. are of growing interest to people abroad. With the growth of English and all that it means, more and more people are listening to the services in English and not just the services in their own country.
Finally, may I stress the fundamental basis of our foreign policy, about which the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) spoke in connection with our American Allies. We believe that it is with the Commonwealth and with the United States of America that freedom in the world, as we understand it, and economic progress must be based.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
Well, yes. I am sorry, but I have already said that I believe that with the Commonwealth and the United States of America lies the absolute basis of freedom and of economic progress, in this world.
I believe that in the months ahead, when the House will be in Recess, we will continue to pursue the objective which we set out in this debate, and which I believe has, by and large, the general support of this House as a whole. The measure of our success, not only as a Government but as a country, history will record. We on these benches intend to succeed. Ultimately, we believe, there is no other significance for human endeavour, and no other reward.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Edward Heath)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.