§ 3.32 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Anthony Nutting)
I think it was clear on Monday last that the House heard with a sense of deep regret the statement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about the dismissal of General Glubb and two other senior British officers of the Arab Legion.
British officers have had a long, proud and happy association with the Arab Legion since it was founded by Peake Pasha in 1920 to preserve order in the newly created State of Transjordan. General Glubb himself has been with the Legion since 1930 and has commanded it since 1939, a record of 26 years of devoted service to the Arab cause. Under his command the Legion has expanded from a small body of about 1,500 men into a well-equipped and well-trained force of some 21,000, and, may I add, one of the most effective and efficient fighting forces in the whole of the Middle East.
As the House well knows, this growth and development have been due very largely to the devoted and untiring service of General Glubb. As my right hon. Friend made plain on Monday, last General Glubb and his two fellow British officers deserved better of the country they had served than abrupt and discourteous dismissal at 24 hours notice. If I may say so with respect, it is right that the House should, at the earliest opportunity, debate the situation which has arisen, for not only are British officers involved, but very substantial sums of British money are voted yearly to support the Arab Legion, and the House will wish to consider these issues in the context of our future relations with Jordan and against the wider background of the situation in the Middle East.
Her Majesty's Government have not only contributed British officers to the Legion in fulfilment of their obligations under the 1948 Anglo-Jordan Treaty, which was made by the previous Government; they have largely been responsible for its equipment and for giving it financial support amounting to more than £60 million during the last nine years. In addition, we are pledged under the Treaty to come to Jordan's aid if she is attacked. We have maintained air and ground forces 2112 in Jordan to provide for her defence. We have therefore fulfilled the spirit and the letter of our obligations to Jordan.
I regret to say that the summary dismissal by the Jordan Government of General Glubb and the other British officers, without consultation with Her Majesty's Government, can hardly be said to fulfil the spirit of Jordan's obligations to us. The provisions of the Treaty cannot be fulfilled unless there is full and continuous consultation between Jordan and the United Kingdom on all matters essential to the effective defence of Jordan.
However, in the event, the Jordan Government did not see fit to consult us and summarily dismissed General Glubb from his post as Chief of the General Staff together with Brigadier Hutton and Colonel Sir Patrick Coghill, respectively Chief of Staff and Director-General of Intelligence. In addition, they relieved of their command one British brigade commander and seven British unit commanders.
The Jordan Government have, it is true, since stated that they wish to preserve their link with Britain under the Treaty and the presence of British officers in the Legion. Nevertheless, a state of uncertainty exists for the remaining British officers as a result of the treatment received by those who have been dismissed. As my right hon. Friend told the House, it would be wrong for those officers who held executive command to be left in the uncertain position where they hold responsibility without the authority to carry it out. I am sure, therefore, the House will feel that Her Majesty's Government acted correctly in asking that all those who were still in executive commands should be relieved of them.
Meanwhile, it is no secret that one of the essential elements in our co-operation with Jordan has been the maintenance of the Arab Legion as an effective defence force. The effect upon the Legion's efficiency of these sudden changes in its command may well be serious. That is one of the most important factors which Her Majesty's Government must weigh in considering their future policy and relationship with Jordan. It has always been our purpose to train as many Arab officers as possible to take on positions of responsibility, but there are still few 2113 who have the necessary experience to take over the higher commands. For this reason we must have grave doubts about the effect of the recent changes in command on the effectiveness of the Legion as a fighting force.
As my right hon. Friend made clear on Monday, the Government do not underestimate the gravity of the situation which has arisen. We are consulting with our Allies, and the House will not expect me to announce new decisions before these consultations have been completed. There are many grave issues which are thrown up by these changes in Jordan, issues which affect a wider situation than that of Jordan itself, and which must in consequence be judged against the wider background of the whole Middle East area.
This is no doubt the setting in which the House will wish to discuss these matters.
No one can deny that we are facing a difficult and troublesome phase in our relations with Arab national feeling. The causes of this lie partly in history but have been aggravated by the bitterness of Arab hostility towards Israel. We shall not find a quick remedy for these ills, more especially as there are third parties pouring poison into the wounds and doing their best to increase hostility against all that we stand for. In face of this, our best and wisest course is to show ourselves reliable, consistent, patient but yet firm in the policy—[Laughter.]—I repeat firm in the policy of seeking and extending co-operation with the Middle East States in the things that matter—the defence of their security and the development of their life and their resources.
It has recently been suggested from the benches opposite that Her Majesty's Government should get themselves a new policy for the Middle East. What new policy have the Opposition in mind? Our policy is based on the Bagdad Pact and the Tripartite Declaration. In the debate on the Bagdad Pact in April of last year, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), speaking then officially on behalf of the Opposition, made it quite clear to the House that the Bagdad Pact was the right policy in existing circumstances. He voiced no criticism of the Pact, and at the end of the debate there was on Division on the Motion 2114 which approved—I repeat approved—our accession to the Pact.
Yet, speaking the other day from the Opposition Front Bench, the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) made it quite clear that, in his view, we should dismantle the Pact, which, he said, constituted a major danger to peace in the Middle East. This is a surprising change of front, and, what is far more important, I submit to the House, very dangerous doctrine indeed. I want to make it perfectly clear that we stand firm and four-square by the Bagdad Pact, and that we have no intention whatsoever of abandoning our friends who have joined in it with us. Our every interest and theirs—political, strategic and economic—make it imperative that we should stand together, as we do and as we shall continue to do, in the defence of the Middle East against aggression from without.
At the same time, we intend to use the economic institutions of the Pact to promote trade, technical assistance and development. The Bagdad Pact countries have already embarked upon plans for development on which their Governments are spending over £300 million a year—plans which include communications, agriculture and land use, joint development projects, technical education and the peaceful uses of atomic energy. It is the declared intention of these countries to increase the efficiency of this development through economic co-operation, the sharing of technical knowledge and the improvement of technical education.
We recognise that we have an important part to play in all this development, and this is fully understood and welcomed by our Middle Eastern Allies. [An HON. MEMBER: "Who are they?"] Our Allies under the Bagdad Pact. I noticed that the right hon. Member for Blyth, in the same speech the other day, said that the Bagdad Pact—and I quote his own words—…provoked, as might have been expected, the equally mischievous and dangerous Soviet intervention in the Middle East."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1956; Vol. 549. c. 853.]This, of course, is complete and arrant nonsense. [Interruption.] If the hon. Member will bide his time in patience, he will get the argument. If the right 2115 hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) really think that Soviet policy, which is nothing if not long-term in its preparation and execution, is determined by reflex reactions of this kind, then they must think that Soviet politicians are much simpler and more nervous folk than we do.
The fact of the matter is that this Soviet move was a calculated and carefully planned action to stir up trouble in the Middle East and to undermine Western influence. What is more, to those who say that the Bagdad Pact constitutes a major danger to peace in the Middle East, I must say categorically that the opposite is the truth. It is proving an effective instrument for the defence of the Middle East, and if hon. Members opposite do not believe that, let them spend a few hours each week listening to what Radio Moscow has to say on the subject.
Having said that we stand by our friends in the Bagdad Pact, I want to make it equally clear that it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to stand firm in the Persian Gulf, where a combination of old friendships and new resources imposes upon us a clear duty and responsibility. On that point, let there be no doubt that we shall take any steps that are necessary to sustain our position and our friends the Rulers of the Persian Gulf States.
One of the most remarkable phenomena of the post-war world has been the expansion of oil production in the Middle-East. The importance of this to British industry and to full employment in this country cannot be exaggerated. In Kuwait alone, the output of oil has increased from 28 million tons in 1951 to 53 million tons in 1955, and the approximate value of this oil has risen from £110 million to £200 million in 1955. Across the Gulf in Iran, another impressive story of expansion has unfolded. Over the past twelve months, the quantity of crude oil produced for export has risen from 3 million tons to 15 million tons, and its total value from £15 million to £75 million. That in twelve months.
But, of course, oil is not the whole of the story. We have granted a £10 million credit to Iran, and with the opening up of trade relations which followed the oil 2116 agreement in 1954, trade between our two countries has expanded very considerably indeed. In Iraq, oil production has increased over the last four years from 7 million tons to 33 million tons, and its total value from £35 million to £168 million. We are taking a large share in the development programme of that country, which will help to raise the standard of living and bring prosperity to Iraq and Britain alike.
I think it well to portray this encouraging side of the picture, and the House will see from what I have said that not all the Middle Eastern scene is dark and gloomy and full of frustrated endeavour. It will also, not, however, have escaped the attention of the House that all those thriving and rapidly developing States of which I have spoken are allied to Britain by close ties of one form or another.
§ Mr. Nutting
I must now turn to the more difficult part of the area—the Arab-Israeli scene. Anybody standing in my place today would dearly like to have some encouraging news to give to Parliament about this, but I must frankly admit that, while our efforts continue to try to bring about an Arab-Israel settlement—and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary is in particular engaged in this search during his Middle Eastern tour—there is, alas, no progress that I can record.
The Government are often urged by the Opposition to bring about peace between Jew and Arab, but whether it be a final peace settlement or whether it be just the maintenance of an uneasy peace on the existing borders, the House must realise that this is not a job which we can carry out alone. We are only one of the three Powers that signed the Tripartite Declaration, and we are only one of the United Nations on whom responsibility falls for keeping the peace. We have fulfilled, and we will continue to fulfil, our obligations under the Tripartite Declaration. We are consulting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations about whether the machinery for truce supervision can be improved and, if necessary, expanded.
We have repeatedly said that we will support General Burns in any expansion of the Truce Supervisory Organisation 2117 that he considers necessary. My right hon. Friend, the House will recall, speaking in the debate on 24th January, threw out the idea of some additional measures to increase the preventive effect of the existing United Nations machinery. These ideas, too, are being examined by the Secretary-General in consultation with General Burns.
We are sometimes told that the Tripartite Declaration is not enough and that we must give a treaty guarantee to Israel within her present borders. That proposition has come many times from the benches opposite. But I often wonder whether hon. Gentlemen, when they suggest this, have fully thought out the implications of such a step. It would be committing this country to the permanent recognition of a frontier which is not agreed—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—a frontier which results from an armistice and not from a peace treaty, a frontier which is bitterly opposed by all the Arab States.
§ Mr. Nutting
The right hon. Gentleman might perhaps keep his more abusive comments for his own speech, which I understand is to follow. I shall, of course, listen to the right hon. Gentleman with the greatest courtesy and attention. I hope that he will extend to me the same courtesy. We are being asked by the Opposition to guarantee a frontier which is bitterly opposed by all the Arab States.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is telling us that an alliance with Israel would mean guaranteeing her frontiers?
§ Mr. Crossman
But we have made an alliance with Western Germany in which we are not committed to treat the present partition line as her frontier. I cannot understand why the right hon. Gentleman should say that we cannot ally ourselves with Israel without committing ourselves to the armistice line as a final frontier.
§ Mr. Nutting
I say that the Government cannot be expected to follow a course and to give a guarantee which would amount, in effect, to recognition in perpetuity to the existing armistice line. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] In our opinion it would, in effect, be the biggest step we could take away from a peace settlement. It is one thing to say—and here I come to deal more fully with the point raised by the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman)—that we would oppose the alteration of a truce line by force, because that would mean a fresh outbreak of war. It is quite another to say that we would recognise in perpetuity and undertake to maintain a frontier about which the parties are in violent disagreement—
§ Mr. Nutting
Perhaps the hon. and learned Gentleman will let me finish. We have said, and I repeat, that we have always been ready to guarantee an agreed settlement, and the United States have taken exactly the same line. If the Opposition say they are not asking for recognition in perpetuity of the existing armistice line but want a guarantee of this existing armistice line, that is precisely what the Tripartite Declaration lays down, and that is precisely the obligation to which we are committed and which we have declared repeatedly we shall fulfil.
§ Mr. Nutting
The existing armistice lines are guaranteed by the Tripartite Declaration. The hon. Gentleman asked what is the trouble, and I ask him what is the trouble, because I am being continually asked to give further guarantees.
§ Mr. Shinwell
The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me, but I think that he is missing the point. There may be some confusion—I admit to being confused myself because of what he said. Earlier he said that we have the 1948 Treaty 2119 with Jordan, and that that Treaty provided, among other things, for protection for Jordan in the event of aggression. I am within the recollection of the House. Surely a similar treaty with Israel, affording Israel protection in the event of aggression, would not be going any further than do the provisions of the Treaty with Jordan.
§ Mr. Nutting
The existing armistice lines, the existing boundaries—whatever the right hon. Gentleman likes to call them—are guaranteed, are upheld by the Tripartite Declaration, and we are bound to take action, both within and without the United Nations in fulfilment of the obligations under that Declaration. I cannot see what guarantee of the existing situation could be firmer.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
What I cannot follow is this. If the Tripartite Declaration so to speak protects these frontiers, or whatever we may like to call them—including the frontier of Jordan, as I presume it does—why did we need the special Treaty with Jordan to supplement that guarantee? [HON. MEMBERS: "You did it."] I know we did it—I quite agree. Nevertheless the right hon. Gentleman is defending the position as it is, and if it be the case that it is right to have a separate Treaty and a specific guarantee in the case of Jordan, how can it be wrong to have a separate treaty and a specific guarantee in the case of Israel?
§ Mr. Nutting
The right hon. Gentleman has asked me why we concluded the Anglo-Jordan Treaty in 1948—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—And why we did not conclude a treaty with Israel. He was in power in those days and not us. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer the question."] If hon. Gentlemen opposite would give me half a chance I would try to answer.
§ Mr. Nutting
In any case, Mr. Speaker, I think that the right hon. Gentleman has his history a little wrong. The Anglo-Jordan Treaty was made in 1948—the Tripartite Declaration in 1950. But why is it suggested that the Tripartite Declaration is such an ineffective affair? 2120 I do not pretend that it pleases everyone, but the fact is that this Declaration—and the declared intention of its signatories to carry it out—has prevented the further outbreak of war between Jew and Arab. That is, after all, what the Tripartite Declaration was intended to do, and in that it has succeeded for the last six years. That is why the right hon. Gentleman's Government made it and why we uphold and fulfil it today.
During the Washington visit my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary discussed the Middle East at considerable length with the President and Mr. Dulles. They agreed that there was now increased danger in the Palestine situation and, accordingly, made arrangements for immediate consultations between the Tripartite Powers on the nature of the action which we should take in the event of the use or threat of force to violate the present boundaries. These consultations are now taking place in Washington.
I should not leave the Arab-Israel question without saying a word about arms deliveries. Our policy on this has been frequently stated in the House, and I can assure the House that, despite all the difficulties which have confronted the Tripartite Powers in keeping a check on deliveries, a balance of strength has been maintained up to date. We have never sought to deny that the recent Communist arms deal with Egypt may in due course upset this balance.
But we do not believe that that situation has yet arrived and in any case, we and our allies are convinced that the safety and security of Israel does not lie in entering upon an arms race in the Middle East. This might well end up with Israel being surrounded by hostile neighbours, all of them armed to the teeth. The safety and security of Israel must be found in establishing normal relations with her neighbours. That is one of several reasons why we consider a settlement so imperative and why we shall continue to concentrate on that and refrain from doing anything liable to jeopardise or endanger the peace.
I hope the House will accept from this account of what is being done that we and our American Allies are taking every step that is open to us to strengthen the inevitably uneasy peace which exists between Israel and her Arab neighbours. It 2121 would be idle to pretend that the events of the last few days may not have their effect upon our ability to discharge our manifold obligations, but I hope it will not go out from this House today that Her Majesty's Government have neither policy nor position in the Middle East. That would be a completely false picture. Our policy is based on the Bagdad Pact and the Tripartite Declaration. The first, apart from its economic values, is an effective shield against aggression from without. The second has proved an effective guardian of the peace within.
We stand by our obligations. We offer genuine help, friendship and co-operation to all nations in that area. Wherever and whenever necessary, we shall strengthen and fortify our vital interests and build up those who are our true friends. Whatever the setbacks and whatever the disruptive forces which may be ranged against us, we shall continue with a policy of building on strength, confident that this will bring eventual stability and peace to the whole of the Middle East.
§ 4.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I am surprised and disappointed that the Prime Minister did not decide to open the debate himself. It seems to me that if he had something new to tell us it should have been told to us at the beginning of the debate. If, on the other hand, he has nothing new to say, all I can say is that many hon. Members on all sides of the House will be extremely disappointed that in this very difficult and dangerous situation Her Majesty's Government have still not decided what action they shall take.
In the circumstances, the Prime Minister gave the Minister of State an almost impossible task. Of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, I think it might be said that it made up in emphasis what it lacked in substance. The only point of importance that he mentioned was the possibility of a pact with Israel, and on that, and on his remarks alongside it regarding the Tripartite Declaration, I can only say that he left most of us confused and failing to understand the logic of his argument. Perhaps I might pursue this matter a little further now.
The right hon. Gentleman said that we could not have a pact or alliance with Israel because it would imply that we 2122 were permanently guaranteeing the existing frontiers. Of course, as he has said—I am glad that he said it again—we are in fact guaranteeing the existing armistice lines against aggression from either side. That, I think, is not in dispute. Furthermore, we have at the moment with Jordan an alliance which binds us to go to her help if she is attacked—if she is attacked across those armistice lines. My right hon. and hon Friends have asked, very pertinently, why, if we have an alliance with Jordan which binds us to go to her assistance in the event of aggression against the existing frontiers, should we not equally have an alliance with Israel. To that the right hon. Gentleman gave, I am afraid, no satisfactory answer whatever.
I will return a little later on to the question of Arab-Israel relations. There are many other things about the Middle Eastern situation to which I should also like to refer in my speech.
I was glad that the Minister of State paid a tribute to General Glubb. Although the debate takes place as a result of his dismissal by the King of Jordan, I should like to say that in any remarks that we may make about the Government's policy we certainly do not wish in any sense to belittle his achievements. I had the pleasure of meeting him three years ago, and I was impressed by his moderation, wisdom and calmness. It certainly is no fault of his that he has found himself in this situation.
One of the features of this situation which is rather remarkable is the degree of unanimity in the British Press about the significance and probable consequences of General Glubb's dismissal. Almost every newspaper has drawn attention to three consequences. First, it is agreed, I believe, that it increases the danger of war between the Arab States and Israel either because a planned operation against Israel may be more likely now or that frontier incidents will be less under control. The reason why there has been such general agreement on this is that we know—I would certainly bear this out—that General Glubb and his fellow officers have exercised a restraining influence upon the Arab Legion and upon the policy of Jordan. I can vouch for that because the Foreign Secretary of Israel himself told me that three years ago.
2123 Secondly, I do not think it is in dispute that for the past 18 months or so the Arab Legion has been actively engaged—very properly engaged—in trying to prevent infiltration and aggression from the Jordan side of the frontier, and has attempted, I think with some success, to exercise control over the Jordan National Guard.
The third reason why I think we must recognise that it increases the danger of war between Jordan and the Arab States, on the one side, and Israel, on the other, is that it is evident from what has been said in Jordan that this was indeed one of the most important reasons for the public demand for the removal of General Glubb. I notice that since then a certain event has taken place. It was reported in The Times of 6th March that:Members of the permanent bureau of Palestine refugees…were received in audience by King Hussein and asked him to conscribe in the Arab Legion all capable young men among the 900,000 refugees in Jordan to fight for the restoration of Palestine under his Majesty's banner and the banners of the newly reformed Arab Legion. The King promised to grant them their wish.In those circumstances, we must also agree that the prospect of a settlement between the Arab States and Israel, which in our opinion was always extremely remote, is now even gloomier and less probable.
We must further recognise that if the Arab Legion was, as I would hold that it was, a restraining influence under General Glubb's command, the change in the situation must surely affect our whole attitude to the subsidy which maintains that Legion. There is now a very real danger if the subsidy continues that we shall find ourselves subsidising the maintenance of a force which might well go into action against Israel in circumstances in which we have to go to the defence and assistance of Israel. That is plainly a highly contradictory position.
The fact of the matter is that, although in effect we spoke as though the Arab Legion was part of our defence against the danger of attack from the north-east, nevertheless I do not think anybody who knew the Legion—I had the pleasure of meeting some of its officers and seeing their encampments and so on—could possibly say that it was particularly interested in any possible aggression from 2124 the north-east. The Arab officers have always looked to the west against Israel, and now, without the restraint of British officers, that must be enormously aggravated.
The second consequence is that there has been a severe blow to our prestige in the Middle East, and, indeed, to the prestige of the whole of the Western Alliance. I do not say that prestige is necessarily important for its own sake, but there is no denying that it can be a very powerful ally to a policy. What one means when one says that the prestige of Britain and her Allies is lowered by this event is that a number of our enemies—or those who profess to call themselves our enemies—are heartened by it and our friends are discouraged. In that part of the world, as indeed in others, we cannot ignore the tendency which exists in many countries to go to the side which they think is going to win. If they think Britain is going to lose there will be many people who will be quick to get out of the British camp. That is the particular danger which follows the loss of prestige.
The third consequence of these events in Jordan, to which I am surprised the Minister of State made no reference, is a very serious setback to the policy of the Bagdad Pact. The Bagdad Pact, about which I will say more in a moment, has undoubtedly become a big bone of contention in the Middle East. It has been opposed and attacked by Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and Syria. There is no doubt that a consequence of the dismissal of General Glubb is to make it extremely probable—to put it no higher that Jordan will now go into the anti-Bagdad Pact camp and line up with Egypt and Saudi-Arabia. Since the Government have rightly declared that they base their policy, firstly on the hope of an Arab-Israel settlement and, secondly, on the Bagdad Pact, it is undeniable, as I said the other day, that these events must be regarded as constituting a major setback to our policy—I mean the policy of Her Majesty's Government. Indeed, I think those words, if anything were an understatement.
It accordingly becomes clear, surely, that we must have a reassessment of our whole policy in the Middle East. That I take to be the real purpose of this debate. Before considering exactly what we should 2125 do, I think it is as well to ask the question, why has this happened? Was it something which was fortuitous and could not have been anticipated or expected? We would say no. We would say that in our view the events which have taken place, whilst partly inherent in the situation, were nevertheless also the direct result of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in that part of the world.
Why do I say they were partly inherent in the existing situation? It is for this reason. I think one must admit that the peculiar arrangement under which the Arab Legion was led by British officers, financed by Great Britain and wholly under British control—the subsidies being paid not to the Jordan Treasury but to the Arab Legion office—could certainly not continue very much longer. I would add that a situation in which the whole of the Jordan people in consequence regarded General Glubb virtually as the dictator of the country was also something which was wholly inconsistent with the rise of Arab nationalism and the resentment in those countries against foreign domination, direct or indirect.
The fact is that the situation has now so changed in that part of the world that I do not think any of the Arab peoples are going any longer to tolerate a semi-colonial status. One must add in this case that the position was profoundly affected in Jordan itself when the rest of Palestine was transferred to Jordan and, in consequence, the population was more than doubled—doubled by an influx of refugees who are bitterly hostile to Israel and, rightly or wrongly, also hostile to Great Britain. But I do say that the termination of the arrangement—had the position been understood—could have been carried out very differently and without the loss of prestige which has occurred.
As to the policy of Her Majesty's Government, I do not say that there was any single event which one could pick out as the sole cause which led to this pretty disastrous situation, but I think there were a number of things which led to it. In particular, I am bound to say—contrary to what the Minister of State said—that I think the Bagdad Pact, in a way which I shall explain, has itself contributed very materially to this development. 2126 The doctrine of the Northern Tier Alliance, if it were a voluntary agreement between Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Persia, is not one which I would oppose in principle. It is a defensive agreement, and we have defensive agreements in the West. Perhaps this will explain the misunderstanding which was evident in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman when he criticised my right hon. Friend. It is not the Northern Tier Agreement as such which we think has done harm. What we do think has done harm has been the attempt by Her Majesty's Government to convert this into a whole Middle Eastern policy.
I need not quote from the Prime Minister or the Minister of State, because they have repeatedly said that this should be the foundation of Middle Eastern defence as a whole. The Minister of State repeated this afternoon that the economic aspects of the Bagdad Pact are enormously important. They will not deny that they have made this the whole pivot of their policy. Why has that been dangerous? It has been dangerous because by so doing they have, first, provoked violent opposition from other Arab States, from the States which we can describe in this situation as being neutral or neutralist.
Secondly, it equally provoked very violent opposition from Jordan itself when an attempt was made—I will come to that in detail in a moment—to force her into the Pact. I think it was disastrous to pursue that policy of trying, as it were, to bring every Arab State in, particularly because that was done without the United States being a member of the Pact. As far as our relations with Saudi Arabia are concerned, that was an obvious gap in the whole policy.
Whatever the Prime Minister may say about what the Egyptians ought to think about this, the fact is that they have opposed the Bagdad Pact from the start, because they regarded it as an attempt to maintain Britain's power in the whole Arab world, which they resented, and because they regarded it as an attempt to do this through the influence and power of Iraq, the chief rival to Egypt in the Arab League. Saudi Arabia, of course, has been opposed to the Pact as well, and, as I have tried to imply, has been free to make as much trouble as she liked; and she has made a good deal of 2127 trouble with the dollars which she earns from selling oil to America.
Finally, the attempt to force Jordan in was doomed to failure. We have never had from the Government the full story of General Templer's visit and I hope that this evening, even if we are to have no new policy, some confusions and obscurities about the past may be cleared up by the Prime Minister. I should like to ask whether it is true, as my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman) alleged in the last Middle East debate and as has been stated in the Press, that General Templer went out there with instructions to offer a very substantial increase in the Arab Legion, without any guarantee that it would be under British control, in return for Jordan joining the Bagdad Pact.
What was, in fact, offered? What conditions, if any, were laid down? Who decided to send General Templer, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and the highest ranking officer in the Army, to Jordan in circumstances which, if they had wanted to negotiate, were such that one would have supposed it wiser to send a less prominent personality? What was the Foreign Office advice on the probability or possibility that the Jordan Government would accept any such offer? All I can say is that whoever was advising the Government on this matter was advising extraordinarily badly.
I dare say that hon. Members will recall the questions which were put to the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs on 21st December. After the Joint Under-Secretary's statement, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said:Does not this show the whole bankruptcy of the Middle East policy of the Government? Does it not show that the optimistic references made in the Middle East debate in this House only a few days ago were wide of the mark? Is it really the case that the Bagdad Pact and the arrangements by General Templar to get Jordan to accept the Bagdad Pact have gone so badly and the preparatory work done so wrongly, that instead of having a country that will support the Bagdad Pact we shall have a situation in which we are trying to thrust the Bagdad Pact down the throats of the Jordan people…I think those were very pertinent questions, but the Joint Under-Secretary of State blustered and objected that this was all very unfair and, indeed, reckless and 2128 irresponsible. All I can say is that his own closing remark in that passage was perhaps a classic. He said:…what is now happening in Jordan will pass over."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st December, 1955; Vol. 547, cc. 2038–40.]If this ill-judged, ill-informed and badly carried out attempt to continue what was in essence a paternalistic policy, without the force and drive of unity with America to carry it through, has been one aspect of the Government's policy, then the other has been appeasement of Arab opinion over the Israel question.
I do not wish to go over the whole ground of the last debate, but I must briefly remind the House of our point of view. We take the view that the Prime Minister's Guildhall speech, with its implication of substantial concessions by Israel and its encouragement, accordingly, of Arab hopes, was a grave error. We say, secondly, that the announcement of the then Foreign Secretary when he was in Bagdad thatBritain was not going to try to outbid the Russians in providing arms for Egypt nor would she try to balance deliveries by increasing the supply of arms to Israel ",—set alongside the Prime Minister's statement the following day,—the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right in saying that we should try to maintain a balance of arms",—was a contradiction giving the impression of utter confusion to the world as a whole.
I say, thirdly, that the reliance on the arms race argument is one which we cannot accept, and it is one which frankly I regard as quite unworthy of the present Government. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman why. Nobody wants an arms race if it can be prevented by a general agreement to limit arms. That is what we are endeavouring to bring about; all of us would like to see it done internationally.
If the Government had come along and said, "Now that the Russians are supplying arms to Egypt we will try to get a general agreement to limit arms everywhere in that part of the world," it would have been logical; but merely to say that we will deprive one side of the opportunity of purchasing arms when the other side is free to go on getting as much as it likes and to defend that on the ground that we do not want to participate in an 2129 arms race reminds me of nothing else but the non-intervention agreement in Spain.
The real reason of course—and I do not know why the Government do not say so—for which they have refused to allow Israel to purchase so far even the quantities of arms necessary for her defence is fear of Arab resentment. That is the real reason and I venture to say that that kind of weakness makes no impression upon the Arab peoples.
Either we stand by the Tripartite Agreement—and in that case we are bound to allow Israel enough arms for self-defence, for that is laid down in the Agreement—or we do not. If we intend to stand by it, we must make our position abundantly plain to the Arab States and give up this policy of trying to appease them by our policy towards Israel.
In the last debate I put forward some suggestions as to what might be done. I will only mention them briefly, because there are other aspects to the debate. We believe that the Tripartite Agreement must be upheld, and I was very glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman today specifically mention it. I must say that on the last three or four occasions we have had to drag out of the Government a declaration of that kind. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] It is all in the columns of HANSARD, and hon. Members know that it is true.
Secondly, we say that if we intend to carry out the Tripartite Agreement we must allow Israel the arms to balance those received by Egypt from Czechoslovakia. Today the right hon. Gentleman says he is not quite sure and that perhaps it might upset the balance. The Foreign Secretary has gone much further than that; he said that it will upset the balance and that there is no doubt about it. If we are to be told that it has not yet upset the balance, it makes us wonder when the right hon. Gentleman thinks it will upset the balance. How many more MiG. fighters have to be delivered to Egypt? Have we to wait for another year or two until Egypt has built up an overwhelming force before we try to maintain the balance?
The third point which we repeat is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth stressed in his speech on the last occasion, that we believe that a more effective frontier force of some kind could 2130 be used, and we still hold fast absolutely by our proposals for long-term settlement, including the settling of the refugees, including compensation, including frontier adjustments, including the ending of the economic boycott.
Finally, we repeat that we do not think this problem of the Middle East as a whole can be solved without bringing the Russians into it in some way. After all, this is already a United Nations affair and Russia is a member of the Security Council.
The last chance, it seems to me, of retrieving the situation occurred in the talks at Washington just after the debate to which I have referred. At that stage, positive plans could and should have been made following the talks with General Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles. But, in fact, nothing whatever has emerged from the Washington talks. There is no agreement on the very difficult, but very vital issue of the conflicting, and, indeed, fierce opposition between the British and American oil companies in Saudi Arabia and the Protectorates.
Secondly, not a word has come from the Prime Minister or anyone else about the balance of arms and what is to be done about it. Presumably, after the extraordinary contradictions to which I have referred, the right hon. Gentleman came to the conclusion that the least said about the subject the better.
Thirdly, as to the Tripartite Declaration, all that we are told is that consultations are going on. There has been a need for consultations ever since the announcement of the Czechoslovak arms deal last September. In a clever reply, the Foreign Secretary was able to tell us that, of course, there was an immediate meeting of the Tripartite Powers. It is not enough to have meetings and consultations unless some decisions are taken, and we are still waiting for them. I should have thought that when the Prime Minister referred to the necessity of consulting our Allies about events in Jordan, he might perhaps have pointed out, or reminded us, that these consultations were already taking place in Washington. I should have thought that by now at least we could have heard something of the outcome.
The fact is that the policy which led up to the present situation has, in our 2131 view, been ill-informed, ill-prepared and has managed, rather remarkably, to be both weak and yet provocative at the same time. It has landed us in discredit and danger.
I now turn, as we must, to future policy. I should like to begin with some fairly general observations. There are some hon. Members opposite, I know, who, exasperated by what they regard as a series of retreats in the Middle East, wish to reimpose our will on that part of the world by force over the whole area. They are those who particularly regret our evacuation from Abadan and Suez and who are most insistent that we should in no circumstances give up Cyprus. I understand their feelings. But emotion in this matter is not a very good guide.
I must say to them that although we ourselves are profoundly worried about the Middle Eastern situation, we cannot go their way for three reasons. First, because that kind of policy is not one for which we at present, even if we wanted to pursue it, have adequate forces. Certainly we have not without the U.S.A. and there is no hope, in my view, that the U.S.A. will join with us in a policy of this kind. Secondly, I think that this policy fails to recognise the tremendous force of nationalism and indeed anti-Westernism which is thrown up and has grown up in the Middle East and which, let us beware of it, will be driven directly into Communism, as it has been, for instance, in Indo-China, if we persist in trying to apply semi-colonial policies in that part of the world.
§ Mr. Julian Amery (Preston, North)
How does the right hon. Gentleman think that the obligation under the Tripartite Agreement on which he very rightly, in my view, puts general emphasis can be carried out if we are not in a position of strength in Cyprus and elsewhere?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
It has always been our view and, so far as I know, the view of the Government that it was perfectly possible to meet the demands of the Cypriots for self-determination while retaining military bases in Cyprus. I should be very surprised indeed if the Colonial Secretary were to tell the House that he had been negotiating with Archbishop Makarios on any other basis.
2132 The third reason why we cannot accept the views of the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and others is that we feel that those views inevitably involve us in a conflict with international law and the United Nations. The plain fact of the matter is—and I am taking the case of Abadan now—that if we had put troops in Persia to maintain our hold in Abadan we should have been arraigned as aggressors before the United Nations. Of course, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) rightly pointed out the other day, the Government continued the policy, which we were driven to for that reason—if we like to put it that way—of waiting for an eventual agreement with Persia which we are all glad was reached without actualy taking military action against her. That is why, as I say, we cannot accept the view of the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.
In deciding policy, I suggest that we must first of all settle exactly what is our real interest in the Middle East and what our commitments are there. I would say that there were three things in particular which must be accepted as commitments or interests of an overriding character. The first is our commitment under the Tripartite Declaration which, I repeat in case there is any misunderstanding, is a declaration to go to the help of whichever side is attacked. It is an undertaking to guarantee those temporary armistice frontiers. Also, too, it carries with it the essential condition that we maintain the balance of arms to the two sides.
Reference has already been made to the possibility of an alliance with Israel, and I must say that we do not see that there is anything inconsistent with that and the Tripartite Declaration. I think that this is something to which the Government should give serious consideration in the light of the latest development. I will not pursue it further.
Our second interest—and it is an interest—is, of course, the supply of oil. It is no use denying the fact that we are very completely dependent on oil in that part of the world. This is a "must" so far as we are concerned. We cannot survive without it. But what precisely is the danger here? We get nearly 50 per cent. of our oil from Kuwait, some from Persia and some from Iraq. Oil is in these three 2133 territories and in Saudi Arabia. I think that we make a mistake if we jump to the conclusion that the Arab States with these oil reserves will be so desperately anxious to sell them to anyone else. The whole of their apparatus, their pipelines, refineries and everything else, are directed to selling to the existing Western countries.
I do not believe that, short of a big political change in that part of the world, the danger that we should be cut off from oil is nearly so great. That is why, when the hon. Gentleman talks as if we have to maintain military power in that part of the world to a greater extent than we do at the moment in order to safeguard the oil, I am afraid I cannot accept that conclusion.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Of course, if we have no Anglo-American understanding about the oil in that part of the world, that may be so. I go further and concede this to the hon. Gentleman. We are talking now about the sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf. I would say that the Government, in view of the situation that exists, had better look pretty hard to the position at Kuwait where we get nearly 50 per cent. of our oil.
The third objective, which I think we must all accept, is that we cannot accept that these territories with their oil reserves, which are very important to us, should come under Russian control. I say that quite emphatically. This is a vital interest of ours. I do not believe, however, that the Arab Governments are in the least anxious to allow the Communists to come in and control their territories. For these reasons—the three which I have given—we certainly cannot clear out and wash our hands of the whole area. It is far too important for us, and we could not trust Russia to keep out of it if we disappeared. I concede that. But I would say to hon. Members opposite that, first of all, it would probably be agreed that the United States should have, and has, exactly the same three objectives that we have, and therefore it 2134 should not be difficult to reach agreement with her on Middle Eastern policy.
Secondly, and in a sense this is repeating what I said in answer to the hon. Member for Preston, North, I do not believe that to achieve these objectives we have to have military forces disposed everywhere and have to continue semi-colonial policies everywhere. The plain fact is that the attempt to do this is a handicap today. Finally, it is not necessary in order to achieve these objectives—precisely because we are in a stronger position than is sometimes suggested—to take sides or to intervene in the rivalries between the different Arab States. We would do best, while standing firm on the question of Israel, to concentrate as far as the rest of the Middle East is concerned, on economic aid rather than on military force.
I come to the question which follows these basic considerations. What should our immediate policy be? Should we, for instance, re-inforce our troops in Jordan? I take the view that we should do that only if it is necessary to protect British lives. I strongly urge the Government not to attempt by military force to impose a policy on Jordan. If the Jordan Government wish to break their alliance with us and to link up with Egypt and the neutralist bloc, they should be allowed to do so.
Secondly, we must have—and I hope that they have already begun—immediate talks with Jordan about the position under the Treaty. It would be unwise to repudiate the Treaty. It has not been broken technically by the dismissal of General Glubb, but it would be impossible to continue with the subsidy in the new situation. It may be that the money—and it is quite a substantial sum—could instead be made available for economic development and the settlement of Arab refugees as part of the general settlement.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am sorry, but I do not want to go on for too long.
A third essential, surely, is to settle the ridiculous and absurd dispute between the British and American oil companies. It is really so ridiculous, because we all know that they are interlocked. Therefore, the way in which they are playing against each other in that part of the world is quite absurd. In fact, I should 2135 like to see a wider plan emerge from discussions between the companies under which both the Arab Governments concerned and the oil companies would subscribe to a large fund for the economic development of the whole area, and not only the oil-bearing territory.
Fourthly, the ban on arms for Israel must now be lifted. The situation is really far too dangerous as the new development has occurred in Jordan. It does not mean any spectacular sale of arms, but it means, at any rate, that Israel should be allowed to buy the necessary weapons in terms of quality with which she can match, if need be, the new arms which Egypt is now obtaining. In plain fact, it means Centurion tanks, which she was never given although Egypt has had them from us, and also modern fighters.
Fifthly, there is a lot to be said for Britain and America making a declaration of Middle Eastern policy on the lines which I have tried to indicate saying what our attitude is. We must be quite firm about Israel. Apart from that, we should say that we have no wish whatever to stifle or restrain Arab Nationalist sentiment, and are only too anxious to help the economic development of the area. We must not just make that declaration. We must do a great deal more about our propaganda, including our radio propaganda in that part of the world. I do not see why the station in Cyprus is not used for that purpose. I should have thought it quite effective. When Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev come here in April, I hope that the Government will take the opportunity of talking about the Middle Eastern situation with them.
Before the Prime Minister went to Washington, I warned him that we were genuinely critical of the Government's Middle Eastern policy and that we could not support him in this if that policy continued. We hoped that Washington would produce a change. It has not done so. There has been nothing—just in-action. What has happened in Jordan confirms our view that the Government's policies were wrong and dangerous, and for this reason I have not hesitated to criticise the Government today.
I recognise that it is the duty of the Opposition to be constructive. I may not have carried all with me, but I have tried 2136 to show what can be done and I ask the Prime Minister to take these proposals seriously. Looking at the state of the world, and in particular the condition of the Western alliance, one cannot today but feel anxious and gloomy. There are signs of division and separation and public arguments and a general loss of that unity which existed when N.A.T.O. was first created.
It is never easy for democracies to work together with the same unity as totalitarian regimes, but that is a reason for trying very hard to achieve unity. There is a desperate need at the moment for a lead which will both rally the democratic forces and restore unity and yet at the same time give the reassurance which we must give to the uncommitted countries that our policies are progressive and peaceful. I hope that the Government will give that lead or else make way for one that can and will.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)
The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) has made a detailed and, I think, in many ways, an admirable survey. He talked of the need for a reassessment of policy but on that I think that he gave the House, not a lead, but rather an addition to our confusion, because in the early part of his speech he said that it was desirable to bring the Russians into consultation, Yet, when he was challenged by my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery), the right hon. Gentleman said quite certainly that Russia should never interfere in any way with the oil in the Middle East.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If I may interrupt the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, I said that we should talk to the Russians but we should make it plain that we cannot tolerate Russian or Communist control of these vital areas.
§ Captain Waterhouse
What I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say was that he intended to keep them out of those areas. However, we shall see what he said when the OFFICIAL REPORT comes out. The fact remains that the right hon. Gentleman gave the House a confused view of that most important subject, which I shall refer to again later.
I was sorry to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that he thought Britain 2137 had not got adequate Forces to deal with her responsibilities. It is a great pity that anybody in the position of Leader of the Opposition, and an ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer, should make that remark. I believe that our Forces are adequate for our responsibilities if they are properly used. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about the revival of nationalism. I agree that there is a revival of nationalism, but most of us will agree, too, that nationalism is a force which can be greatly over-emphasised. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite say "No," but they are members of an international party, so how can they say that?
Another point made by the right hon. Gentleman was that we would come into conflict with international law, but I do not think there is any question of that. Certainly there is no international law which states or implies that we should leave Cyprus.
There are four long-term considerations which make our interest in the Middle East vital. The first is that through the Bagdad Pact it is a great crescent against Russian or Communist infiltration and aggression. Secondly, it is one of the most important oil districts in the world, and this has been mentioned. The third, which has not been referred to in this debate but which from our point of view is of tremendous importance, is that it is one of the highways of the world; that we must have access through the Mediterranean and through the Canal. The fourth is that it is to our mutual advantage to get the peaceful development of nations in that area. These objectives are complementary, not destructive. They stand together, they reinforce one another. I shall deal first with the question of Russian activities.
Russia has been turning the heat on there, and turning it on with a vengeance. I do not think that a few months ago, certainly not a year ago, the right hon. Gentleman would have suggested that Russia should be brought into consultation on the Middle East. Now, however, Russia's propaganda, large Russian missions in several countries, the Russian supply of arms via Czechoslovakia, the Russian offers of money, have all brought Russia into the picture.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the forthcoming visit of Bulganin and 2138 Khrushchev. I take this opportunity of saying that I personally regret that this invitation was ever given. It is peculiarly embarrassing in this present connection, because I think I am right in saying that Iraq has banned Communism in her country and it must be confusing to the Iraqi to find that we, the principal partners in the Bagdad Pact—
§ Captain Waterhouse
—should be asking these people to come here as honoured guests. It is one thing not to ask people but it is another thing to cancel an invitation once given, so I do not advocate that we should concel the invitation, but I do advocate that we should give them a courteous but cautious reception. I advocate that we should give them precisely the same kind of treatment as they give us in Russia. We should give them the very best of wine, the very best of food—and we should put microphones under their pillows and their plates, and we should have a batch of detectives keeping a sharp eye on them during the whole of their visit.
A great deal has been said, and properly said, about the Bagdad Pact. Whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition condemned it or not was not clear. He condemned it in parts, he commended it in parts. Those who support it are definitely our friends and our allies. We have friends who do not support it but those who are definitely and actively against the Pact I class equally definitely as our enemies.
§ Captain Waterhouse
I believe that we need to take a firm line today, both about the Pact and about the Middle East as a whole. As soon as one mentions being firm, the accusation of warmongering is made, but I do not look upon that as a fair comment. I believe that a firm statement about a fair position is most likely to avoid future friction. Therefore, I welcomed the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State that we intend to take and to maintain a firm line in the Middle East. It is firmness for which I ask now.
Let me make it clear that by firmness I do not mean that it is best to take the 2139 smallest man and hit him hardest. We have to be extremely careful. Here I agree with what was said by the Leader of the Opposition about our handling of Transjordan. We do not know what the position is there. I do not think my right hon. Friend knows. We do not know what is the position of the King, whether he is a free agent or whether he is not, or whether possibly there is a military junta, as happened in the case of Farouk and which is now in power in Egypt.
We cannot prejudge this issue but, speaking for myself, I can say that I should welcome and support any clear-cut decision that Her Majesty's Government think it proper to take on the subject when the time comes. I agree in general that if our garrisons are to be reinforced, they should be reinforced from the point of view of security and not in any way from the point of view of overawing this small people.
This morning I read in the papers a suggestion that if any action were necessary in Transjordan four divisions might be needed. I recollect that when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power and we had trouble in Abadan some of us in this House suggested that we should use some force. A gun boat was, I think, sent there. It was said then that two divisions would be necessary in Abadan. However, when the smoke cleared away and we could see the position more clearly, it was decided that two battalions would have been sufficient.
I believe that some of our leading soldiers have a touch of the horrors. They seem to think that they cannot go anywhere, and do anything, unless they have overwhelming force. That was not the way in which the greatness of Britain was built. It is not the way it was maintained either in 1914 or in 1940. I hope that a sterner and more healthy view of the power of British arms will be taken by those responsible for the handling of those arms.
I was disappointed by the fact that in an otherwise excellent review, as I respectfully thought it, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State never once mentioned Egypt. I feel that to have this debate without discussing Egypt, and without discussing Egypt carefully, is fantastic. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman 2140 opposite mentioned Egypt either but, to my mind, Egypt is the key to the whole position.
I suggest to the House that for the past 100 years Egypt has been a trouble maker in the Middle East, and that only for 50 or so years when Lord Cromer and other great Englishmen were asserting their power upon the government was Egypt tranquil, prosperous or really happy. But that is by the way. I suggest that Egypt is the trouble maker and has been the trouble maker of the Middle East for a long time.
Today she is using anti-Judaism not because she really is very anxious to support the Arab League in that direction but because she believes that by taking that direction she is most likely to get the support of the Arab League, which is a very different thing. Egypt is using her Arab friends. She is not acting even for her own good, and much less for their good. She is stirring up hatreds where no hatreds existed, and anybody or any country doing that is rendering a disservice to mankind.
In Abadan, in the Sudan originally and in the Sudan in the last 12 months, Egypt has had a baneful influence. Nobody could possibly acquit her of her part in the mutinies in the South. To what extent her agents were stirring up trouble in the Kosti area I just do not pretend to know. In Libya, Syria and now Jordan, we see the hand of Egypt.
Egypt herself is in breach of treaties. I will not go back to the old discussion, so the House need not be nervous about that, but I would remind the House that when right hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power they took the matter of the freedom of the Suez Canal to U.N.O. I found that on Resolution No. 558 of the Security Council there voted eight in favour of condemning Egypt and none against, with China, India and Russia abstaining. The resolution called upon Egypt to terminate the restrictions on commercial shipping through the Canal. Does that resolution mean nothing? That resolution having been passed, does it not mean that anybody who fails to obey it is breaking the rules of U.N.O.? Did not right hon. Gentlemen opposite take the trouble to find out what would be the position before they took the matter to U.N.O., or did they take it there because they wanted 2141 to shelve it and take no action on it? Whatever the reason may be, the situation is a very grave misfortune.
Egypt should be told, and told clearly, by somebody—if U.N.O. will not do it, I think the British Government must do it—that the Suez Canal is going to be free and that in future there will be no further interference with British shipping or any other shipping in the Suez Canal or the Persian Gulf.
The Minister of State said that we have no intention of abandoning any of our friends. That is very good news indeed. I hope my right hon. Friend will repeat it and I believe that he will carry it out.
I look upon Egypt as an enemy. I feel that the time for turning the other cheek to our enemies has passed. At some point we must have the courage to say that we disagree with a nation in an action that it has taken. Britain is still powerful, and on occasions our strength must be used.
If I have carried any weight in the House in what I have said about Egypt, I urge Her Majesty's Government to make a statement as clearly as they can condemning Egypt's action in blocking the Canal, and her general conduct in the Middle East. I would remind the rulers of Egypt that Nahas Pasha has gone, King Farouk has gone, and in the not too distant future we may find that Colonel Nasser will not prove an exception to what has become the rule of quick departure in recent years.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, the position in the Middle East as a whole is gloomy and difficult. I do not believe it is desperate, but I do believe that it is absolutely essential that Her Majesty's Government should make it clear just where they stand, and having decided the policy that they are going to adopt, should carry it through even in the face of unpopularity at home and at some cost abroad.
§ 5.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil McLean (Inverness)
Mr. Speaker, it is extremely difficult to make a non-controversial speech about such a controversial part of the world as the Middle East. If I should stray and make some remarks that might be thought controversial, I hope the House will extend to me the indulgence which is usual when 2142 hon. Members speak in the House for the first time.
I thought that the Minister of State made clear the broad lines of our policy. I was especially glad to hear him say that we should support our friends in the Middle East.
I feel, however, that there is still a certain amount of confusion about what is actually going on in Jordan today. Like many other hon. Members on both sides of the House, I was shocked by the abrupt and discourteous way in which General Glubb was dismissed by the King of Jordan after so many years of loyal service to the Hashemite kingdom, but I was not in the least surprised. I think that many of us saw some such event coming.
We ought to ask ourselves whether the hand that removed General Glubb was the same hand that killed or organised the killing of King Abdullah in one of the most holy places of the Arab world. Was it perhaps the same hand that pushed out King Farouk and brought Nasser to power or, at least, was behind that coup d'etat? Even if it was not perhaps the same hand, it might well have been. And the same forces that brought Colonel Shishakli to power in Damascus at about that time. I wonder whether that hand belonged to the Mufti of Jerusalem or at least one of his henchmen.
We do not yet know whether the young King of Jordan took the steps he did under compulsion from a group of free officers who delivered an ultimatum to him that he must act in this manner, or whether it was upon his own initiative that the King took this action to forestall such an ultimatum. Perhaps we shall know in a few weeks' time. We ought also to ask ourselves what have been the roles of Egypt and Colonel Nasser during these last few days in Amman. Colonel Nasser has openly said that he wishes to have a unified Arab command of which the Arab Legion will form part; and up his sleeve, he has in Cairo an extremely able, potential Arab Legion commander.
In any event, these happenings in Jordan are a grave blow to British prestige. This blow to our prestige has been underlined by events that followed in the Bahrein area which we thought we had under complete control.
2143 King Hussein and the Jordan Government have said that they desire to continue their friendship with us and to continue the Treaty and we should heartily welcome these statements. The reasons, however, that the King and the Jordan Government have given for their dismissal of Glubb Pasha give cause for grave disquiet and I fully agreed with the Leader of the Opposition when he voiced the anxiety that the policy of the Jordan armed forces and of the Jordan Government may become increasingly hostile to Israel.
Indeed, they have already made their intentions towards Israel clear when they said that their reason for dismissing General Glubb was that he did not follow a policy sufficiently active or hostile to Israel. That was also one of the reasons why King Abdullah was killed. Now there is news that they want recruits for the Arab Legion from the West bank of the Jordan. One can imagine what would be the feelings of these new recruits from the West bank who, if they were in the Arab Legion, looked from their outposts across the frontier at their own villages and farms on the other side. One can imagine the temptation it would be for them to commit raids across the frontier. So I believe there is grave danger of increased hostilities along that frontier.
More frontier incidents could lead to fighting between Israel and Jordan—two States of which this country is the parent. We founded Jordan, and in the founding of Israel my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) played a prominent part. How can we say that we are not responsible for what happens between those two countries when we created both? Indeed, in addition, should there be hostilities between those two countries I believe we shall have an extension of the conflict and that the great Powers will be dragged in too.
I believe that we still have the power, the right and such great interests in the Middle East which allow us to play if not an overwhelming role, at least a decisive rôle in determining what will happen in that area. We have a base in Cyprus, a Colony at Aden and treaties with the sheikhs along the Persian Gulf. We also have air arrangements with Iraq, and the Bagdad Pact and so on. We still have tremendous power in the Middle East. 2144 We certainly have the interest of our own future, staked in the Middle East through its oil, and strategic position lying across our communications with the Commonwealth.
I feel that we have a moral duty as well as power to play the decisive, although not the unique rôle in the Middle East. The Prime Minister's speech at the Guildhall, which has been deeply misunderstood, was an effort by the Prime Minister to put vital questions to these people in the Middle East. It was an initiative to make them see what is happening in their own part of the world. That is the kind of courageous leadership which this country should give.
The little country of Jordan, which is our ally, holds a strategic position in the Middle East, lying between Egypt and Iraq, the two great centres of the Arab world, and it also possesses the finest Arab military force in the world. The Daily Express wishes us to cut our losses in Jordan and withdraw the subsidy, but I believe that that would be a great error on our part. Jordan itself is not a viable country and Egypt or Saudi Arabia would get control of the Legion, or it might lead to the partition of Jordan. There are others who believe that we should have what is called a firm policy. But I believe it is possible to have a firm policy only if we have an Anglo-American policy; otherwise such a move might create trouble rather than anything else.
The Leader of the Opposition put his finger on one of the main difficulties when he said that we must put a stop to the oil war which is now going on in the Middle East, and talk with the Americans to that end. At present, unless we can get a joint Anglo-American policy, the confusion will increase and also the Russian intervention will increase to such an extent that whether we ask the Russians to come into the Middle East at the conference table or not, they will in fact be in there. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said, we should stand squarely behind the Tripartite Declaration. I am glad that my right hon. Friend said that in Washington talks are going on to see what measures should he taken, and I hope that in those talks there will be discussions with the general staffs of Jordan and Israel about the military measures to be taken, if the situation makes them necessary. There 2145 might also be discussions with the Egyptian Government about the possibility of reactivating the Suez base, if there is a further worsening of the position.
I also very strongly support my right hon. Friend's view that we must stand squarely behind the Bagdad Pact. That is absolutely vital at this stage, and in the future, for both defensive and economic reasons. So it is with our commitments in the Persian Gulf. At the same time we should firmly ask our American friends—and the Prime Minister has great influence with the Americans—to advise the Saudi Arabian Government not to use the power and the money they get from their oil royalties in such an irresponsible way. We can point with a certain amount of satisfaction to the way we have advised the sheikhs in the Persian Gulf how to spend the money they get from oil royalties.
I have already taken too much time in this debate and, as a maiden speaker, I do not wish to continue for too long. But, before concluding, I should like to say a few words about the Arab peoples. The Arabs are awakening. There is a tremendously strong force in Arab nationalism. In the development of this movement Egypt must undoubtedly play a great, perhaps the leading, role. But I feel that our Egyptian friends and the Egyptian Government must realise that admiration for Egypt is not the same thing as love for Egyptian imperialism.
We should also point out to Colonel Nasser and other Arab nationalists, who feel so strongly on certain matters that they take arms from the Russians or make an alliance with the Communists, the dangers in this course, because the Soviets are only using them as an instrument of Soviet policy. It is very important that the Egyptian Government should not be confused about these two matters and we should tell them by all the means in our power including the Press and radio of the dangers for them of following these policies. I should also ask them to look round at the fate of the Crimean Tartars and the other Muslem minorities in the Soviet Union and ask them if they would like one day to share the same fate.
The crux of the problem in the Middle East lies here in this country where the final decision still rests about what can 2146 be done. We are perhaps not the most powerful nor the only country interested, but we are probably the only country which is at present really in the position to take a decision. One of the decisions we have to take is whether we wish to stay in the Middle East or not. To stay is unpopular, difficult and even dangerous. To go would I believe be disastrous both for this country and for the people of the Middle East.
Perhaps I may quote an Arab story told about the last Arab Sultan of Granada. After he had lost the town to the Christians, he went with his mother up to a hill overlooking his capital and cried, and she said to him, "Well may you weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man." Let that never be said of us in this country.
§ 5.20 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
The hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) has earned the high commendation of the House for his admirable speech. Both in substance—although we may not all agree with what he said—and in delivery he displayed a confidence and a considerable knowledge of his subject. I am sure I express a view which will be held in all quarters of the House when I say that he will be heard in the future with eager expectation.
If there is anybody who can extract any satisfaction from recent events in the Middle East, or, for that matter, who wishes to make unnecessary party capital out of those events, that person is rendering no service to the United Kingdom. The position has been slowly deteriorating. Our prestige in that area has been gradually diminishing. I recall an observation made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) on one occasion during the lifetime of the Labour Government when he visited the United States and made the comment that this country had never sunk so low. It seems to me, certainly so far as the Middle East is concerned, that our prestige is about as low as it has ever been.
I am bound to say that for myself, whatever others may say, I derive no satisfaction from that situation. I imagine that all of us are anxious to preserve the interests of the people of the United Kingdom. In whatever way we advance our views and claims, and despite differences, that is our avowed purpose—or 2147 at any rate, it ought to be. So I first address myself to this subject by making the confession that I have become more confused than ever after listening even to this early part of the debate.
Let me furnish an example. Demands are made, and I am fully associated with the demands, that we should utilise the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement in order to prevent anything in the nature of aggression as between the Arab States and Israel. But I am unable to understand that demand in association with the inhibition regarding the use of adequate forces in order to implement the provisions of that Agreement. It seems to me that there is some confusion of thought.
If, when we speak of implementing the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement, we mean merely having talks and discussions and making our comments through diplomatic channels, it seems to me that we have had enough of that and, on the whole, such action has proved unsuccessful. But if we mean implementation in a realistic sense, then, clearly, at some time or other it may be necessary, whether we like it or not, to exercise the use of force. It is of course regrettable, costly, imposes vast burdens on the people of the United Kingdom, and in the end, may not prove successful. But it seems to be the logical sequence to the demand that we should use the Tripartite Agreement in order to deal with aggression.
There has also been some talk about the need for injecting into the Arab countries more economic aid rather than military help. At first sight, that seems to be the right course to adopt. But we should reflect on the fact, which was established by the Minister of State in his speech this afternoon, that in the past ten years we have spent the round sum of £70 million in Jordan, to say nothing of vast sums which have been expended in other Arab countries over a long period of time. And when we ask ourselves what has been our reward, what has been gained financially, diplomatically, physically or even in the sphere of defence, it would appear, to put it quite bluntly and even vulgarly, that nearly all of that money has gone down the drain.
It might have been far better had a substantial proportion of the sums expended in the Arab countries been 2148 devoted to the development of the backward countries and, in particular, our Colonial Territories. However, the money has been spent and therefore we should exercise considerable caution before we inject further sums into the Middle East.
It occurs to me that the Aswan Dam project, which I understand is to be financed substantially by the United Kingdom, is a matter which requires very careful examination, because we might find at the end of the day that we have imposed further financial burdens on the taxpayers of this country and that Egypt, having gained what she wishes, may "cock a snook," at us in precisely the same fashion that King Hussein and his advisers have done.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
Is the right hon. Gentleman really saying that the British taxpayers are going to provide the money for the Aswan Dam, because that is very serious? We have heard nothing of that kind.
§ Mr. Shinwell
If a financial contribution is to be made by the United Kingdom, I do not understand how it can come out of any other pocket but that of the British taxpayer, even if it is in the form of a loan. If we have to provide credit for the purpose, we have in the long run to pay part of the bill. I stand to be corrected, though, if we are not to provide some form of financial assistance, I do not see how the Aswan Dam is ever to be completed. However, the Noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Lord Hinchingbrooke) has a much more profound knowledge of finance than I possess, and I shall be glad to hear his contribution on that subject. Or perhaps at the end of the debate the Prime Minister would advise us whether we are to be penalised in any form as a result of the construction of the dam. It is not completely relevant to the subject at issue, but it has a bearing on it.
That leads me to the question whether we ought to withdraw our subvention from Jordan or continue to provide it. Before we do continue it we should have definite guarantees that Jordan will not play another trick of the kind which has just been perpetrated in the dismissal of General Glubb. In his statement the other day, the Prime Minister advised the House that matters were not quite so gloomy, because our relations with Jordan 2149 would remain friendly; indeed King Hussein and his advisers had given a guarantee to that effect.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)
I referred to guarantees, but I said that I took a very serious view of the situation.
§ Mr. Shinwell
At any rate, the Jordanians have themselves said that they are anxious to continue friendly relations. This reminds me of the old saying:It is all very well to dissemble your love, but why did you kick me downstairs?They seem to be saying, "We have the greatest feeling of friendship for the United Kingdom, but get out as fast as you possibly can." It is just not good enough.
What conclusion do we reach from a consideration of the policy which has been continued over a long period of years? Surely it is that we have been at the mercy of the pro-Arab elements in the Foreign Office. I hope that this will cause no offence, but if it does it cannot be helped. The Prime Minister himself has been accused of being a party to this philosophy. I do not want to accuse him unduly, for, Heaven knows, he has been attacked by nearly everybody recently, and whenever anybody is being kicked around I feel that I want to come to his assistance.
§ Mr. Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
The right hon. Member and Lord Beaverbrook between them would be the end.
§ Mr. Pickthorn
I said that the right hon. Gentleman and Lord Beaverbrook between them would be the end.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I do not know why I should be associated with Beaverbrook. It is bad enough being associated with some hon. and right hon. Members of this assembly. Lord Beaverbrook would be the last word.
I repeat that the right hon. Gentleman has sometimes been accused of associating himself rather unwisely with pro-Arab elements. At any rate, one thing which is clear beyond a peradventure is that we have expended vast sums of money and have rendered considerable assistance to Arab countries, gaining very little in return.
2150 On the other hand, so far as I am aware we have rendered no financial assistance to the State of Israel. Instead of helping them we have impeded their development. They have gained nothing from us at all. Now, when they are in a state of dire distress; when they have a feeling of insecurity, and when—as has been admitted by Government spokesmen, and is generally accepted; it has been said over and over again by Arab leaders—they are imperilled by their Arab neighbours, the United Kingdom Government, which bear the primary responsibility for the creation of the State of Israel—going back to the Balfour Declaration and the progress made throughout the years, culminating in the Mandate—refuse to render the essential needs which would give the people of Israel the sense of security which is so desirable in the circumstances. In my view that is the principal argument against Government policy in the past few years.
Some time ago the right hon. Gentleman made a statement to the effect that he did not anticipate any trouble between the Arab countries and the State of Israel.
§ Mr. Shinwell
That is my recollection. Indeed, I think it is on record that Members of the Government have said, "There is going to be no trouble, or, at any rate, if there is, we shall be able to deal with the situation. There is the Tripartite Agreement. We are ready to enter into consultation with Colonel Nasser. That admirable gentleman does not really mean to be bellicose, although he sometimes expresses himself in a belligerent fashion." All those statements have been made from time to time.
I believe that the present situation as between the Arab States and Israel is worse than it has been since the end of the Palestine war. I am satisfied that the people of Israel hold that view. It has been expressed by Mr. Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister of Israel. In spite of the fact that he seeks to restrain the activists in the State of Israel—who wish to come to grips with the Arab countries now, when they believe there is a possibility of their gaining at any rate a temporary victory—he has himself said, in response to some of the bellicose statements uttered by Arab leaders, "They speak in 2151 terms of war; let them try." That is very dangerous indeed.
The question is, what is to be done about it? I try as hard as I can to follow the various statements made by hon. and right hon. Members. It may be that I do not understand the situation, but I try to do so. The Minister of State said this afternoon that if we provided arms for Israel we should create an even more tense situation. That has been stated in another form by others. It has been repeated over and over again. It has been said that if we provided arms for Israel in addition to what they presently possess it would only mean that the Russians would provide more, and before very long—the right hon. Gentleman himself said this—the Arab countries would have an overwhelming military superiority and the State of Israel would be rendered helpless and hopeless.
§ Mr. Nutting
I did not say that if we provided arms to Israel that situation would obtain. What I intended to convey to the House, at any rate, was that if we provided compensating deliveries on the scale which is sometimes demanded, the arms race would be started.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by "compensating deliveries." Nor, I suppose, do any of my hon. Friends, or even hon. Members opposite. Perhaps the Prime Minister will tell us what is meant by that when he winds up the debate. Has anyone ever asked that the State of Israel should be provided with arms equivalent to those which are possessed by all the Arab countries? Nobody has ever asked for that; indeed, the State of Israel would never expect it. What is more, they never could pay for it. Let that be understood. They could not pay even for 50 per cent. of what is in the possession of the Arab countries. All that is asked for is a reasonable balance.
The right hon. Gentleman said, and I was surprised at him, that they were in balance. Will the Prime Minister be good enough to tell us in the most specific and explicit terms how many Centurion tanks have been provided for Egypt, for Jordan, as well as for Iraq and, it may be, for Saudi Arabia? For all I know we should include Syria and the Lebanon. How many for the State 2152 of Israel? How many jet aircraft have been provided for each of the countries concerned, and how many naval vessels? I know there have been some naval vessels.
If we had the figures we should feel more satisfied. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say that it is not customary to disclose figures of exports of arms to other countries. That is only a pretext; I know what the right hon. Gentleman has on his lips, before he says it. He is going to quote what I said when I was Minister of Defence in a quite different situation. This is an exceptional situation. If it were not, we should not be having constant debates and what is regarded by everybody as a tense situation. That is the difference.
Why should the giving of this information impinge upon security? We should be told in clear and understandable language how many of the different types of arms have been sent to each of the countries concerned? It is only fair that we should ask, and it is only right that we should know.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
Why is the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) so interested in parity of arms for Israel? He and his party supported the Tripartite Declaration, the object of which is to guarantee the frontiers of Egypt by Britain and the Americans. Why parity for Israel?
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am not asking for complete parity. I have never done so. We are not asking that Israel should have possession of the same number and types of arms as those which have been accumulated in all the Arab countries. I am asking for a reasonable proportion and, in particular, for a reasonable number of jet aircraft.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I hope that my right hon. Friend will not allow the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) to get away with the proposition that the Tripartite Declaration consisted only of a guarantee of frontiers. If I remember aright, it provided expressly for maintaining some sort of general balance of armaments.
§ Mr. Shinwell
If anybody supposes that we are not acquainted with the provisions 2153 of the Tripartite Agreement he is wrong. The Prime Minister must now address himself to these matters. Does he really believe that the Tripartite Agreement can enable us to prevent trouble in the Middle East? He ought to tell us now. Is it to be as the result of conversations with Colonel Nasser, Jordan, Iraq the United States and France? What will be the nature of the conversations? Were these matters not discussed at Washington? We have heard very little about them. We ought to know, because much depends upon them. We want to be reassured that the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement, if they are to be exercised in a diplomatic fashion will be exercised with the utmost expedition to prevent the tense situation becoming worse. That is the first point.
The second point is that, if in the judgment of the right hon. Gentleman trouble is to occur or he apprehends trouble, and the provisions of the Tripartite Agreement have to be expressed in military terms, he ought to tell us how that military force is to be exercised. I am going to tell him what I think, and he may not like it. I do not pretend that it will be agreeable to everyone. I would speak in the clearest and most definite language to the Egyptians and the others concerned. I would say to them, "We are just about as tired of this affair as we can possibly be." All this tension may touch off a war which at any cost we must try to prevent. It might lead to the loss of our oil supply, at any rate temporarily, and it could put this country out of action for a considerable time. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I do not want to exaggerate, but there is just the possibility that through some intervention, interference or suspension of oil supplies we might find ourselves with about five million people unemployed. That is a very gloomy outlook indeed.
The right hon. Gentleman must take note of this proposal, and I am sure he will. Let him say to the Egyptians and the Arabs, "We speak to you in the most friendly terms. The whole purpose of the Tripartite Agreement is to express our friendliness and desire for peace, and our desire to bring the countries in the Middle East together to work out a sensible and wise conclusion of the difficulty. If you are not going to be peaceful, if you contemplate taking action one against 2154 another"—I should say this to all the countries concerned, including Israel, because we must treat this matter objectively, whatever our personal inclinations, and there must be no more nonsense—"we shall take whatever course we think desirable in order to prevent the use of force by any of the Middle East countries." I do not believe that the Arab countries understand any other language.
Arab hostility against Israel is largely the cause of the trouble, but how can we escape from that situation? Is it to go on for ever? That will not ease the tension in the Middle East or help the United Kingdom. It will not promote better understanding among the nations of the world to have an incurable disease. Something must be done about it.
Suppose we take no action of this kind. What will happen? The Minister of State suggested that there must be talks with the United States and France. I am all in favour of this co-operation. Certainly I am not anti-American. Even with Anglo-American co-operation the world is in a bad enough state. We are in a sufficiently crazy and disordered state without throwing overboard Anglo-American co-operation. That does not mean that we are not occasionally a little suspicious of Americans, and certainly in the context of the Middle East oil position.
Of course, we cannot blame them. They want to control the oil, and we want our share of it. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that in 1946 I negotiated an oil agreement with the late Mr. Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior in the United States Government. The United States never ratified it, though we were ready to do so. I do not say that it was as good an agreement as I should like to have had. The right hon. Gentleman can get it in the Library, or, if he wants to buy it, I think it costs 6d. Nevertheless, it provided the basis of a possible agreement about the use of oil resources, not only in the Middle East, but in other parts of the world. It seems to me that we must come to some conclusion on the oil situation.
Next, I want to say a word about what seemed to me—I hope I am right in this assumption—to be the principal argument adduced by the Minister of State in support of Government policy. As I understood it, the right hon. Gentleman started 2155 off his speech by talking about the Bagdad Pact. He said that we must stand by the Bagdad Pact and concern ourselves, not merely with its defensive implications, but also with its economic implications. I do not know that those words were received too graciously by some hon. Members on this side of the House, but I reminded myself that we had accepted the Bagdad Pact. I hope that will not make me any more unpopular than I am, but there is nothing like having a good memory when taking part in debates. That does not mean that I regard the Bagdad Pact as being as unalterable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, nor that I regard it as perhaps the finest piece of diplomacy that has ever been undertaken by this or any other Government.
All the same, I believe that, in the context of what is happening in the world, it is just as important to have a pact in the Mediterranean as it is in South-East Asia or in Europe. If we are to object to a pact in the Middle East, of whatever kind and no matter who may be associated with it, we ought to object to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and, of course, some people do, though I do not.
I should be only too pleased to throw all these pacts overboard if we could only be assured that everybody would play ball, but the trouble is that we cannot be sure about it. Therefore, I am not going to accept from the Minister of State this argument that it is the Bagdad Pact which is responsible for much of the trouble, or that Jordan was annoyed because General Templer said something he ought not to have said. With great respect to General Templer, he is the last man I would have sent out on a diplomatic mission. He is a very fine soldier indeed, and I knew him both at the War Office and at the Ministry of Defence, but I would have got somebody a little less brusque, a little less straightforward and a little more diplomatic than him.
I do not believe that the Jordanians are annoyed because we tried to drive them into the Bagdad Pact, nor do I believe that the Egyptians are annoyed because we wanted to drive Jordan into the Bagdad Pact and because we have already got Iraq in it. I am convinced of the truth of what I am now going to 2156 say. If there had been no Bagdad Pact, there would still have been trouble. What is the use of pretending otherwise?
Next, what about the proposal that the Russians should be brought in? It seems to me to be a superfluous question, because they seem to be in already. If I might repeat the proverb, it is no use locking the door after the horse has been stolen. I think hon. Members will understand what I mean. Of course, some day we shall have to come to some arrangement with the Russians, not only about the Middle East, but about Europe and South-East Asia because, otherwise, we are going to have an insane world.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I say to my hon. Friend that some day we shall require to come to some arrangement with them. We shall go on talking, and eventually, as a result of much talking, they will be ready to come to a conclusion of a reasonable kind.
At the moment, I am bound to say that all this talk of bringing Russia in—and I hope there will be no misunderstanding of what I mean—for a final settlement or a partial settlement of the Middle Eastern problem, all this talk about the oil situation in the Middle East and what we have got at Kuwait and Bahrein and other places, all this talk about the Bagdad Pact, seems to me 10 be quite irrelevant to the situation that has been thrust in our faces because of what has happened in Jordan. We have to deal with the immediate situation, and I ask what is to be done about that? As a result of what has happened in Jordan, instead of a disciplined Arab Legion, it may be converted into an anarchic, chaotic and undisciplined force, and that will be a very dangerous situation. It may mean immediate trouble on the borders of Israel and Jordan, and we must guard against that.
So I beg the right hon. Gentleman to address himself to the immediate situation, and ask if he will again consider this question of a treaty with Israel. The Minister of State did not make a very good job of the case when he suggested that a treaty with Israel would prove to be a disadvantage and might create further trouble. Let us have a treaty with Israel, if Israel agrees, but let us 2157 be very careful, because if we carry on in this fashion, Israel some day may say, "Mind your own business." If our position continues to deteriorate, everybody will say to us, "Mind your own business," so we must be very careful. There may be trouble in Libya and Cyrenaica, though I hope that none of these things will happen.
If we have a treaty with Jordan, why not a similar treaty with Israel, which would offer them some measure of security? That is one consideration. The next is that we should speak in the firmest possible language to the Arab countries and let them know what our intentions are. There must be no threats, because if we threaten we shall have to act in certain circumstances. Finally, let us consider the position of Israel in the military sphere and provide her with some modern arms so that, if things should come to the worst, she will be in a position to defend herself.
In my judgment, if Israel is provided with adequate arms and if the Arab countries—who because of internal troubles may have no desire for a major conflict—as a result of Israel possessing these arms, lay off Israel, then there is a possibility of working out a solution of the Middle East problem, because then we shall have the breathing space in which to undertake that task.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
I should first like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) on his maiden speech. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) for the words he used about that speech, but I think that all hon. Members will expect someone on this side of the House to refer to it and to say how very helpful we found that contribution to our debate. Secondly, I should like to associate myself most wholeheartedly with what my right hon. Friend the Minister of State had to say about Glubb Pasha and the deep regret we all feel at the way he has been treated.
The speech to which we have just listened has, I think, brought to a head one of the most important failings in the debate so far. When we are discussing this sort of subject we should first find out what on earth a foreign policy is for. If the foreign policy of any country is 2158 not designed first of all to protect the vital interests of that country I do not think that that foreign policy will prove to be a very good one.
What is this country's vital interest in the Middle East? Without any doubt whatsoever—and leaving aside the ordinary considerations of humanity—surely the vital interest is oil. If we lose our oil we shall not be able to survive as a great industrial nation. If we lose our oil we shall not be able to fulfil our rôle under N.A.T.O. or any other treaties to which we are signatories. The paramount consideration, therefore, must be the effect of this policy, and these happenings in the Middle East on our oil interests.
I do not know how many hon. Members realise that unless the capacity of the Suez Canal—or an alternative to it—is very greatly increased by, say, 1960, we shall not be able to get enough oil into this country from that part of the world. It is, therefore, not merely a question here of considering only the effect on the sources of the oil but also the effect on our getting the oil to this country. From that I think there automatically flows this conclusion. The Bagdad Pact must be one of the first parts of our policy in protecting our oil. Indeed, it was for that purpose, I understand, that it was designed—to ensure that our oil interests were properly protected in that part of the world.
Whether or not that was the original idea, it certainly seems to me that that should be the Pact's main purpose now. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington quite rightly said—and I agree with him absolutely—it is not a question of bringing the Russian's in; they are now exercising their interests in the Middle East. The importance of the Bagdad Pact, therefore, becomes even greater—to ensure that the Russians do not interfere either with the sources of the oil or the lines of communication necessary to get it to this country.
What has all this to do with the dismissal of Glubb Pasha? The first thing we have to face is that the Bagdad Pact will make no sense for very long if we do not have a considerable backing for it from Arab countries—not necessarily all the Arab countries but as many as possible. Criticism has been levelled against the Government from the other side to the 2159 effect that it was unwise to send General Templer to Jordan. I now happen to have as my own doctor the medical officer who treated General Templer when a piano fell on him during the war. I understand from my medical adviser that certainly the tones which flooded out of General Templer could hardly be called harmonious on that occasion.
However, we all know that General Templer is a very fine soldier, and that he is deeply respected for his military knowledge and the work which he has done in the Far East since the war for this country. It can only be sniping with no good intent to suggest that sending General Templer anywhere is likely to make things more difficult. I deeply regret some of the things said about him today. It is most unfortunate to suggest that the Government were wrong in sending their head soldier, if one may put it that way, to consult with Jordan, to decide what Jordan's part should be, and what its relationship to the Bagdad Pact should be.
The fact that all this other trouble has blown up at the same time I do not attribute to General Templer's visit. As I think my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) said earlier, this is a long chain, it goes back a long way—one might almost say that it goes back to the days of Lord Cromer. It is a process which has been going on in the Arab world—the Arab awakening has been taking place. What has happened, surely, is that certain undesirable forces—undesirable from this country's point of view—have tried to take charge of that awakening and of that movement.
I have never regarded Egypt as an Arab country—it is a conglomeration of a good many races—but one of the things at which Egypt has always been extremely good is intrigue in high places. I do not suppose for a moment that Egypt has not had a good deal to do with what has recently happened in Jordan. I am quite prepared to believe, however, that she may not be the prime mover. It may well be that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness has said, the Mufti in Jerusalem is behind this.
A point important to realise is this. It is quite possible—and I believe likely—that King Hussein is not his own master 2160 in what he is doing. I must not give away secrets, but I do happen to have some knowledge of the complications which are involved when the king of a foreign state has done something which has annoyed this country and about which this country feels obliged to take action. I have knowledge of that in this part of the world we are talking about. All I should like to impress upon the House is that I believe that the one thing we must avoid doing if we possibly can is to make it more difficult for this present King of Jordan to keep control of the affairs of his country.
It is perfectly true that he has slighted this country, that he has slighted General Glubb and has slighted Her Majesty's Government. It is perfectly true that he has done all those things—and I certainly deeply deplore and regret that he has done them—but I still ask this question. If we take action which makes it impossible for that man to remain as ruler of Jordan are we quite certain that the alternative will be any better? It is equally possible that the alternative might be very much worse. Will it really be very helpful to our vital interests—and that surely should be our point of view—to take any action which is likely to throw the State of Jordan into chaos?
I believe that the State of Jordan is in a very dangerous position at the moment It is subject to many pressures whch are thoroughly alien to Jordan's own interests and certainly damaging to Britain's vital interests Therefore, it seems to me that the one thing which Her Majesty's Government must avoid doing if they possibly can is anything which would make it more difficult for law and order to be maintained in Jordan. To do anything like that would not help the Bagdad Pact.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Could my hon. and gallant Friend give an example or two of the sort of action that might throw Jordan into chaos? I agree that we must avoid that.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I will try to help my noble Friend on that. I would say that one thing that might very greatly embarrass King Hussein would be troop movements by this country which could be construed—which might not be intended to be but which could be construed—as an attempt by this country to 2161 protect King Hussein from his own people. There is that risk if we take the action suggested by some of my right hon. and hon. Friends with whom I have been associated in the past, and it would be a pity if that risk were to be taken.
I assure the Prime Minister that I heartily welcome the righteous indignation of his statement in the House the other day and strongly recommend that he should be very firm in his dealings with these matters, but I hope he will realise where the real culprits are and will be most careful to ensure that undue action is not taken against a man who may be quite defenceless and may not be his own master.
It is always unpleasant for this country to suffer insults, and hon. Members well know that on other occasions I have advocated taking more forceful action than that which the Government have taken. We are now, however, seeing how true is the quotation from Lord Cromer which I made at the time of the Suez evacuation and how accurate it has been about Egypt. Perhaps I may remind the House of it. [-le wrote, about 1908, about leaving Egypt:All we have to do is to leave behind us a fairly good, strong and above all things stable Government, which will obviate anarchy and bankruptcy; and will thus prevent the Egyptian question from again becoming a serious cause of trouble to Europe…But it is essential that, subsequent to the evacuation, the Government should, broadly speaking, act on the principles which will be in conformity with the commonplace requirements of Western civilisation.The next is the most relevant part:If England did not interfere some other Power would do so.Has not Russia interfered?—Of the many delusions which at one time existed about Egypt, the greatest of all is the idea that England can shake herself free of the Egyptian question merely by withdrawing the British garrison and then declaring to the world that the Egyptians must get on as well as they can by themselves.The final words of the book are in Latin:"Quod regnas minus est quam quod regnare mereris."I take that to mean that it is infinitely more important to deserve to rule than it is to worry about what one is ruling.
In our creation of Jordan as a State and our creation of the State of Israel, we have surely deserved better treatment than we have had from that area. Right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite seem 2162 badly divided today on what they want to happen in this area. When they say that the first on their list of priorities is what happens to the State of Israel, I think they are plumb wrong. I have tried to show today what I believe is our vital interest. If we are to worry about Israel first, before out own interests, we shall lose the most vital interest of all.
I agree that we must stand by the Tripartite Declaration, but how many people in this country realise what that Declaration means? It means, if it is called into force, that British troops will have to fight on behalf of Israel against the Arab people.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I was dealing with the situation if Israel is attacked. I am grateful for the intervention, because I certainly support the view that it is equally possible that Israel may attack the Arabs; that risk exists, too. Do people realise what the Declaration means?
Do we not deserve a little better understanding from the countries in that part of the world? Is it really in their interests and in the interests of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite to state a case for Israel every time they can in the House and outside, forgetting what are our vital interests in this part of the world and forgetting that if we alienate the Arab world and our oil supplies are interrupted, and that if we undermine the Bagdad Pact, we may very well go down as an industrial nation and suffer miseries which will make anything which happened in the 1931 slump period pale by comparison?
Those are the real issues involved. I fully understand why my right hon. Friend cannot make a full statement today, but I hope that in the studies which he is making he will bear this paramount issue in mind. Our vital interest must come first, however, much as we may be anxious to preserve other people's vital interests. Moreover, we cannot do everything. Secondly, the danger to our vital interests is not always the one which seems most obvious in the light of the news of the day.
In this instance, the position of little Jordan and of that pathetic King of Jordan is one which ought to have our compassion rather than our wrath, and 2163 we should turn our attention to coping with those who are undermining the British position in the Middle East. Those people, I believe, are Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the Soviet Union and—I regret to say this, although I think we must say it—certain private individual interests emanating from America. I deeply deplore that. I do not believe that the White House has anything to do with it, for I believe that it arises from private commercial interests. It is a great pity that it is happening.
I believe that the quickest solution to the problem in this part of the world is for the United States to join the Bagdad Pact; half our troubles would then be over, if not all of them. I therefore ask that very possible effort should be made to persuade the United States, if they want peace as we want it and if they want our vital interests in this part of the world, which are also theirs, to be protected, to play a far more substantial part in helping the Bagdad Pact on its way.
§ 6.19 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Boyd (Bristol, North-West)
I agreed with some of the remarks which were made by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) and disagreed with others, but today I am supposed to be non-controversial and I had better not refer to individual remarks or speeches by any other hon. Member. I share the feeling of another new Member who said that he had nothing uncontroversial to say in this House. If I succeed in avoiding provocation of hon. Members opposite, I suppose it is likely that I shall only provoke my hon. Friends instead.
The first positive suggestion I wish to make is that we should be extra careful in this topic of the Middle East to keep in very close consultation with other member countries of the Commonwealth. We in this country and other Western countries have more opportunity to be acquainted with the Israeli point of view. India, Pakistan, and other countries with considerable numbers of Moslems living in them have more opportunity to hear the Arab case. It does appear to me that if our Commonwealth is in very close consultation together it might be in a position to evolve a very fairly balanced view as between the interests of both 2164 sides in this dispute between Israel and her neighbours.
I think that has a relevance to the Bagdad Pact. Some members of the Commonwealth are outside the Pact and others are in it. I do not think that Pact is a conception to which we can legitimately object, but I do not think Britain is in a very good position to take a prominent initiative in trying to persuade other countries to join the Pact. That could be more appropriately done by and would be much easier for countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Turkey, and Persia—countries which are close to the spot and are in touch with modern trends of opinion and sentiment in that part of the world. It is more appropriate that they should take a lead in that sort of development and in any attempt to persuade other countries of the possibility of joining that Pact.
I want also to suggest that we should try not only to keep in touch with the Commonwealth but also with a much wider circle of other nations. I think this is very much a subject into which we should try to draw the United Nations to a greater extent. I was glad to hear in the speech of the Foreign Secretary last week that he seems to be moving a little more in that direction. From the speech of the Minister of State this afternoon, it seemed that there are to be consultations with the Secretary-General in order to try to increase United Nations participation.
I hope it will be possible for this country to take the initiative in persuading the Security Council to strengthen the observers along the frontier, irrespective of whether General Burns advises in favour or against. It is not really fair to impose on public servants—civil servants, or military servants—the burden of expressing a policy opinion on a political question such as whether it is desirable to strengthen those observers or not.
I hope the suggestion will not be dropped but will be examined very thoroughly to see whether it is possible to establish a United Nations force in some suitable part of the district, perhaps near the border between Israel and Egypt, as has been suggested.
In any strengthening of United Nations action in the Middle East, we have to remember that these problems are not going to be over in a month or two, or 2165 a year or two, but probably will last for a decade or two or more. We might as well look at the longer run solution as well as tackling the immediate problem. I hope that it will be possible to build United Nations participation, which itself would cover us against a great deal of criticism for whatever part we may have to take.
If United Nations decisions require enforcement and military power in that part of the world., no doubt in the near future that would fall largely on Britain as it fell largely on America in Korea to provide the necessary forces. We would be in a much better position to provide that power in that part of the world if first we had the authority of the United Nations behind us in whatever was being done.
It is worth looking back for a moment over the pre-war period of the League of Nations. During its first ten years the League of Nations was fairly well utilised and did a great deal of useful work. In its second decade the enthusiasm fell away and the idealism evaporated. The League was neglected and each nation fell back on policies more similar to those which have been advocated by the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely. Each nation felt that it was sufficient just to think of its own rather immediate national interests; and in the pursuit of policies based on that narrower consideration it could not of course get so much co-operation from other nations whose national interests might be different, so that gradually the world fell to pieces until we had the Second World War. That kind of realism was not quite so realistic as it was held out to be by its initiators. I hope that in this second decade of the United Nations we are not going to repeat that sorry story.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
With the memory of my own maiden speech still sufficiently fresh in my mind, I listened with considerable sympathy to the hon. Member for Bristol, North West (Mr. Boyd) going through that ordeal. I must say that I admired the sang-froid, the confidence and debating power of the hon. Member. Oddly enough, some five years ago when I made my maiden speech it was also on the Middle East. That was just one of those coincidences which seem to occur. I wish I could look back and 2166 be confident that I spoke nearly so well as the hon. Member did this evening.
I have some extremely happy recollections of a time I spent in Jordan just prior to the assassination of the late King Abdullah, one of the best friends this country has had in that part of the world. I had the useful experience of seeing the Arab Legion in the desert in its encampments. No one who had gone through those experiences could have done otherwise than form an intense admiration for Glubb Pasha and the officers and men he commanded. I will confess, however, looking back now on that romantic and exciting episode—it is always easy to be wise after the event—that I think I can truthfully record that at the time I had the feeling that, exciting and romantic though the Legion was in its formation and serving under British officers, with all the glamour and efficiency that went with it, there was a little something of a past age in the particular way in which the Arab Legion was run in Jordan.
I am not altogether surprised that some modification of our military leadership in Jordan has had to come about. Like every other hon. Member, I deplore the way in which it has been brought about, but I share completely the sentiments of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) that it would be a tragedy if, because we bad this rebuff, we tried to take it out on Jordan, either on the King or on the State as such. If we have suffered a severe rebuff, we in no way recover merely by adopting an attitude of being tough, as some call it, with Jordan. That could lead to nothing but the loss of our remaining rights and interests in that country, and certainly making impossible the continued rule of a family who, basically, are friendly to this country and their replacement by something which I not only think might be somewhat worse, as my hon. and gallant Friend said, but which could undoubtedly only be very much worse than the present régime there.
From comments in Jordan so far, it would appear that they do not regard what they have done—they are right in a strict sense—to have in any way abrogated or interfered with their defence treaty with us and our right to maintain bases on their soil. Although I appreciate that it must be the Government who have all the knowledge, I would say that it would be a pity now deliberately to 2167 wreck what remains of British interests in that country in order to pay out Jordan for having got rid of Glubb Pasha in the admittedly deplorable way that it has been done.
I believe that when we look at the cause of what has happened in Jordan now, it would indeed not only be foolish for British interests but entirely unjust to try to pin the main blame on the Jordan Government or the Jordan monarchy. There are other much more powerful interests. The real troublemaker in the Middle East primarily to blame is the Soviet Union, which by any and every means she can utilise does everything she can to undermine British interests in the Middle East, as in any other part of the world, if she can find a medium for so doing.
Secondly, there is Egypt. Egypt, other than the interference by the Soviet Union, is to my mind the real nigger in the woodpile, and from there a number of our, troubles in the Middle East are arising. I for one deeply regret and deplore that fact, because I was one of those who supported the Government on the line they took about the evacuation of the Canal Zone. I do not go back on that now—I still think that the Government had no other course open to them—but I recall the promises and assurances that were given by Nasser and other Egyptian leaders, in words rather reminiscent of another dictator, that this was positively their last demand and that if we came to an agreement about the Sudan and evacuated our troops from the Canal Zone, we could look forward to decades of close Anglo-Egyptian friendship and partnership.
Although I was readily prepared at the time to accept those promises, I confess that in common with, I believe, a large number of other people who put their faith in Egypt, I now feel utterly betrayed. Since then, the Egyptians have by broadcast deliberately tried to disturb British interests in Kenya, where they can have no conceivable interest themselves. They have done their best to upset our interests in Libya and throughout the Persian Gulf, and, more recently, they have undoubtedly been doing their best to upset our interests in Jordan and Iraq.
Egypt does not have the excuse that she is a dependent territory under British 2168 domination struggling to be free. Egypt is now—I saw the term used in The Times, and I could not think of a better one—an ambitious power seeker in that part of the world. She is not struggling to free herself from British domination but is struggling to exert the power of Egypt and its present rulers throughout the Arab world.
I do not suggest that there are any measures by way of military or economic sanction as such that we could carry out against Egypt at the present time, but as an alternative we can at least wake up to the realities and all of us face the fact—which I, at least, have faced—that Egypt under her present régime is not a friend of this country.
While not imposing force or sanctions against Egypt, we have no need constantly to woo her. I would go so far as to say that when she tries to blackmail us by saying that if we do not do this or that she will go to the Soviet Union for help in building up her country, we should tell her to get on with it and see how she likes it when she has got all the Russian people and technicians there. There is a limit to how far we should go along the road of continuing to woo someone who shows herself so singularly unwilling to enter into any form of partnership at the end of the wooing.
Having said that in criticism of Egypt and Russia, I must go on to say, not only of the little trouble that is now appearing in Jordan, grave though it could be in its implications, but of the whole Middle East, that we cannot get away from what The Times published in its leader yesterday and today, to which one of my hon. Friends earlier has referred, that the root trouble of what is happening in the Middle East today is the friction between Arab and Jew and the natural resentment of the Arab world for the State of Israel.
Almost before I was born, let alone began a political career, the Balfour Declaration was made. It is no good now regretting it or saying that it should not have happened—that would be merely to cry over spilt milk—but whenever I have been to the Middle East, far more important than fear of Communism, far more important than anti-West or pro-West feeling among the Arabs, has been a deep and burning resentment that the State of Israel has been imposed upon 2169 them. Unless we accept that this feeling exists and do not pretend otherwise or seek other causes for the basic unrest in the Middle East, we should be blinding ourselves to the true state of affairs.
That brings me to what we should do now. I agreed wholeheartedly with my right hon. Friend the Minister of State today when he laid down our two lines of policy in the Middle East and said that nothing that has happened now should be allowed to interfere with them. First, there is the Bagdad Pact. I have been surprised that certain right hon. and hon. Members opposite should have criticised the Bagdad Pact and yet shown their sympathies towards Israel.
As an Englishman, I have important reasons why the Bagdad Pact is not only useful but essential for our own interests, which is what I am primarily concerned with. But for hon. Members who have strong Zionist sympathies and who are, rightly or wrongly, concerned with the future of Israel as such, quite apart from this country's interests, I would have thought that a pact which was deliberately directing the energies and thoughts, economic and military, of the Arab countries away from thoughts of aggression against Israel and towards where the real danger came from, would receive a welcome from those same people in this country.
Far from blaming this country or anybody connected with it, including General Templer, who went out there recently, I would say that the more we can do to maintain and extend the Bagdad Pact will not only safeguard our own interests, but will reduce the danger of the full Arab energies being diverted towards settling what is, however one may regret it, their present main purpose in life; that is, the extinction of the State of Israel. Therefore, for those who want to protect Israel as well as British interests as such, I would have thought that the maintenance of the Bagdad Pact and its improvement and extension was an equally common purpose which should be pursued to the best of our ability.
§ Mr. Crossman
Is the hon. Member suggesting that we should seek to persuade another Arab country to enter the Bagdad Pact? The present difficulty surely is that only one Arab country has been willing to join it. Does the hon. Member say that we should get the rest 2170 of them in? These efforts so far have been the major cause of our disaster.
§ Mr. Bennett
The hon. Member has only just come into the Chamber and did not hear the main part of my speech. I was not dealing with whether we should persuade any particular country to join the Pact. I was saying that our whole basis should be the support and extension of the Bagdad Pact. If any opportunity arrives by which we can convince others that they should join the Pact, such opportunities should not be passed aside by this or any other Government which subscribes to the Bagdad Pact. Whether at this moment we could get any other Arab countries to join is another matter. The mere fact that today it may not be possible to extend the membership does not mean that our policy should not be aimed towards maintaining and extending the Bagdad Pact as and when opportunity offers. That is my position.
§ Mr. Bennett
That proves the hon. and learned Member's misunderstanding of the Middle East situation. If at a time when everybody is saying that the Bagdad Pact needs to be supported and maintained he suggests a contribution to its success by putting in the one country which would lead to its entire break-up, that is hardly a contribution to the maintenance of the Bagdad Pact.
§ Mr. Bennett
I have made my position perfectly clear to those who have listened to me. I repeat that no opportunity should be lost to permit and encourage any other Arab country to join the Bagdad Pact; and if in due course it became possible, I would have no objection to Israel going into it. It is simply not practical politics in the foreseeable future, as I am sure the hon. and learned Member would agree, to get Israel in with Arab countries.
§ Mr. Bennett
My right hon. Friend the Minister of State said that our primary interest was the maintenance of the 2171 Bagdad Pact, and I am glad that he made this point. Once more I stress that it is British interests with which I am chiefly concerned. I think that British interests are best safeguarded by that arrangement until we can think of a better one.
My right hon. Friend went on to speak of our determination to stick to the terms of the Tripartite Declaration. That is perfectly right. As I have said, we may all have many regrets and worries about the past concerning Israel, but Israel now exists. Under the Tripartite Declaration we have given our word to both sides, and I support the Government enthusiastically in standing by obligations that we have already entered into; but I do not think any hon. Member who speaks in this House is speaking for one-tenth of the country if he thinks that it wants those obligations that we have already entered into to be extended any further.
I do not believe that half the people of this country yet understand the extent of our obligations under the Declaration. It is no good making declarations in a democracy unless we feel fairly certain that we can carry the greater number of our countrymen with us in carrying out those military obligations. I do not believe that any Government in this country today could be at all sure of carrying the people with them if they entered into any further extension of our existing obligations there, unless it was as part of our membership of the United Nations.
My final suggestion is in that context, that we cannot "go it alone" in any further extension of our obligations under the Tripartite Declaration. At this moment I am not at all sure that we are not already pretty far out on the limb, because whatever declaration America might make, the fact remains that unless Congress in due course consents the Executive cannot go to war in that area.
As regards the third partner in this—France—she is already starved of troops and having to drain her European reserves for North Africa. I do not think that anyone can take seriously the military contribution which France can make to restoring peace in that area. Already Britain, extended as she is all over the world by her commitments, seems to have gone dangerously far in taking on a commitment to stop or bring to an end any war that arises under which the terms 2172 of the Tripartite Declaration could be invoked. I would not support any Government which went any further in "going it alone" and extending our obligations, although I would support any Government in carrying out our obligations under a general United Nations move.
My final suggestion about the Arab-Israel situation, about the frontiers, the armistice and the vexed question of refugees is that it would be a good idea to go back to the United Nations and let the General Assembly, look again at this problem. I believe that, alone, Britain, France and America have carried this burden, which has become increasingly dangerous and difficult to bear, long enough. and that it is time that all the other nations which had full responsibility in the creation of the State of Israel were brought into the dispute, so that in this dangerous situation which is being created it is not Britain—and Britain alone, except for two slightly doubtful partners—which now has to carry a burden for which we do not carry the main responsibility.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Clement Davies (Montgomery)
Like the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), I also regret that this debate was not opened by the Prime Minister. A very serious situation is arising. Not only are we anxious to know what the Government's policy will be, and not only is the country anxious to know, but I believe that the whole world is anxious to know, for the reason that throughout the world his known what a very prominent part we have played in the Middle East for many generations and how much the various countries in the Middle East owe to us.
In truth it can be said that every one of the Arab States owes its independence, its position today, its whole economic position, as well as its political position, to the sacrifices which have been made by the Governments and peoples of this country. Without a doubt we have received a serious slap in the face, which has resounded throughout the world. We are all wondering what is the next step and what will happen. I should have thought it is only right that this debate should have opened with a statement by the Prime Minister saying, in no doubtful terms, what is the attitude that is 2173 now to be adopted by Her Majesty's Government.
It is not merely that General Glubb has been dismissed in this manner. I do not know, and I do not suppose anyone at the present moment does, who was actually responsible for securing General Glubb's dismissal after his having given such faithful service for so many years. It may be, as suggested by some hon. Members opposite, that it was not the act of the King of Jordan at all and that he was merely the tool that was being used by other people. Whoever it was, it has undoubtedly resounded throughout the Arab world and caused tremendous anxiety and consternation throughout Israel. As I have said, the whole world is waiting to know what is the next step.
We realise that the restraining influence undoubtedly exercised by General Glubb and by his colleagues who have been with him has now been removed, and therefore we are asking: why? and what is the next step? The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) very rightly said that we must consider first our own vital interest, and he suggested that our most vital interest was the securing of a proper supply of oil. May I suggest that there is an even greater interest than that—the preservation of peace. If there is a danger, as undoubtedly we all feel that there is, that the peace may be broken in that part of the world, it will affect us more vitally than anything else. I am sure that is also in the mind of the hon. and gallant Member.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
I do not think we could possibly hope to preserve peace very effectively if we were deprived of our main oil supply.
§ Mr. Davies
We all realise where the danger point lies. We all realise how the advent of Israel into that part of the world and the rise of that State has made enemies of all the Arabs who surround it. We all know that they have been arming against it and that they made an attempt to drive the Israelis into the sea before the Israeli State was even established. We all know about the uneasy truce that still exists. Efforts have been made to try to turn that truce into a permanent peace. So far we have unfortunately failed.
2174 As I understand it, we relied on the Arab Legion because otherwise I cannot possibly understand why we went on financing the Arab Legion and why we made it the strongest force, in the whole of the Middle East, as was said by the Minister of State today, unless we felt that it was to be used in the interests of peace and not in the interests of aggression. If it is otherwise, then one of the matters which the right hon. Gentleman claimed as part of Her Majesty's Government policy of consistency has gone to the winds, because it cannot be consistent with maintaining the sanctity of those boundaries and trying to maintain an equal balance between them, all the time pouring money into one to make it stronger than anyone else, unless we felt that with the restraining influence of the British officers that force would not be misused. That has been the position.
Now we all realise that the danger is far and away more acute than it was a few weeks ago, when for the first time we heard of Russian intervention and their having gone, if I may use the phrase, "haywire" over the Tripartite Agreement. Now what is to happen. That is what we are all waiting to hear from the Prime Minister today. Quite obviously the situation is much too dangerous for us to wait for a long-term policy. As I understood the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, South—and I absolutely agree—there are two things which are desired: first, immediate action, an immediate declaration of policy telling everyone quite plainly where we stand, and, secondly, what should be the general guide to our policy for the future, so that peace may be maintained not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
I should have thought that the right thing to have done was to make it absolutely clear beyond any peradventure of any kind that any action of aggression now against Israel would be regarded as an illegal Act, and that the aggressor would have to deal with the United Nations and appear before it. We feel that we owe it now to the Middle East, to the fact that we were mainly responsible for bringing Israel into existence and that we were mainly responsible for the Tripartite Agreement, that we should say: We now guarantee Israel.
If that statement were made definitely, it would be bound to have the effect that 2175 no one would dare to say, "All right we will take the risk and the consequences, whatever they may be, and we will start our attack." Now that the restraining influence has been removed, what are we to do in order to prevent some action being taken? I do not think that it would avail us at the present moment to move troops or anything of that kind, but we should make it quite clear that we would regard an act of aggression as being an act taken against ourselves.
It has been rightly said that the country which has really been the main cause of the trouble in the Middle East has been Egypt, yet Egypt owes more to us than does any one of the Arab countries. I agree also with the hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) that she is the least Arab of the lot and is a conglomeration of goodness knows what.
We have poured into Egypt not only money but assistance of every other kind. We have given our best brains towards helping Egypt. One of the finest administrators ever sent out by this country to assist another was Lord Cromer, who found Egypt a desolate, bankrupt land and left it a fair and flowering land, bringing it once again into a position of stability.
Instead of showing any gratitude, all the time Egypt has been doing her utmost to undermine us. She did so in both wars. When we were fighting for our life we were betrayed. Even now, when we have given up the defence of the Canal, when we have sacrificed all that we have done, what does she still do? In spite of the declaration made by the United Nations, in spite of her original undertaking that the Canal would be a free highway and that nobody would interfere with the movement of ships, she still interferes. It is time we made it plain that there is a moment when we say, "You have gone too far."
If I may say so to the Minister of State, that is where firmness is really required. I gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that we have gone no further yet than stating that our policy is the Bagdad Pact and that by the Bagdad Pact we stand. But Bagdad is to the east of the danger point and, as far as I know, there is no danger there at present. The danger is west of Bagdad. 2176 Therefore I feel that there ought to be an immediate declaration about the danger point.
§ Mr. Nutting
If I may interrupt, I did say that our policy was twofold, not in the singular, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said. Our policy is based on the Bagdad Pact and on the Tripartite Declaration. I re-affirm once again—and the Leader of the Opposition seemed to find comfort in my reaffirmation—that we should fulfil our obligations under that Declaration.
§ Mr. Davies
I agree, but I feel that a mere statement made under the Tripartite Declaration has not been enough to act as a restraining influence. Something much more definite has to be stated. As I have said before in the House, the trouble was that emphasis was placed upon the wrong matter. The Declaration begins by saying that it is desirable that all should have weapons of defence. It then goes on to say that the three Powers will do their best to see that no one gets more than anybody else—putting it roughly—and that a fair proportion should be maintained between them.
Having said all that, we then say—almost as if we add something at the end—by the way, no one must cross the borders of anybody else. Why I have asked for a more definite statement is that this is the important point and that emphasis should be put upon it, not upon arms. It was impossible for us to ensure that arms were not supplied by any other Power. We had no right to interfere, but we had a right to say that we would not allow aggression to take place there and that therefore the acquisition of arms by any one group would be useless. That would have been far and away more effective than the ineffective Tripartite Declaration which has been thrown to the winds.
§ Mr. Nutting
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. and learned Gentleman again, and I hope he will not think me discourteous. He said that the accent in the Tripartite Declaration was on arms and not on the maintenance of the existing armistice lines. The accent is equal throughout the Tripartite Declaration. I was not responsible for drafting it, though my predecessor was, but I can assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the accent is equal throughout the Declaration.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If I may also intervene, may I say that I am delighted to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that, because there have been occasions when it has been denied by the Government Front Bench that there was any obligation to maintain the balance of arms.
§ Mr. Davies
That is why I am asking that a much more definite statement should be made, putting all the emphasis upon the maintenance of the present boundary lines. We all agree that those are temporary, but they are sufficient for the moment to stop aggression. What we are hoping is that there will be a round table conference when the final settlement is made. I realise that President Eisenhower and the Prime Minister have said that this is how we will guarantee those new boundaries, but what we are anxious about is to stop aggression today, which would mean that we preserved the peace.
As regards general policy, I have long felt that the old-fashioned defensive agreements are of no use whatever today. That was why we welcomed, first in the Brussels Treaty, then in N.A.T.O., now in the Bagdad Pact, the importance not of coming to the assistance of one another when war breaks out, but of coming to the assistance of one another now, and doing so socially and economically as well as politically. That is the important point. Unfortunately, so much emphasis has been placed upon the sharing of burdens should war break out that, instead of achieving the effect which I know was in the minds of all those who entered into these agreements, namely, to cooperate with one another, a sense of suspicion and jealousy has been created in those who are not partners.
I ask that all these pacts should be reconsidered. It is far better that people should be brought together voluntarily to assist one another, not when difficulty arises, but today when we are living side by side, when we are so dependent upon one another and need closer voluntary co-operation upon economic and social lines. That is the way to maintain the peace which we all desire.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Rupert Speir (Hexham)
It is very desirable at a dangerous time like this that we should try to derive the benefit of learning all the lessons that we possibly can from recent events. It seems to me 2178 that we are still in danger of not having learned the lesson that a cold war is very largely an intelligence war. The Leader of the Opposition, in his concluding remarks, referred to the importance of improving our propaganda services. It is in order to emphasise the importance of giving attention to intelligence in all its forms at this very dangerous moment that I intervene in the debate.
At present we are spending about £1,500 million a year on the armed Services, yet the Estimates for our intelligence services of one kind and another show that only a fraction of that amount is spent on them. I cannot help feeling that we should get better dividends if we spent more of that money on providing better intelligence services. I should explain that by "intelligence services" I mean intelligence in its broadest sense—the offensive services of a secret nature and the defensive services, with all the ancillary and propaganda organisations which go along with them.
It is generally admitted that our intelligence services during the last two wars—they were very largely built up during the periods of those wars—were extremely efficient and effective, but as soon as the war is over we disarm and dismantle the intelligence services which have played such a very large part in our ultimate victory. I believe that we have gone too far in dismantling our intelligence services since the end of the last war, especially in view of the cold war which has since developed.
In wartime we have a Minister of Information, a political warfare executive, a secret intelligence service, a security service, and the Special Branch, and we have many other methods of putting our point of view over to the enemy—and not only to the enemy but to other countries too, and particularly to neutrals: we also have good methods of obtaining information about other countries.
It seems to me that the countries belonging to the Soviet bloc are spending, millions of pounds on these very services, covering both offensive intelligence and, defensive intelligence. They are telling other countries what they are doing and what their aims and intentions are, and they are also getting very good information about what is going on in other countries.
2179 I do not, of course, suggest that in peace-time and even in times of cold war we should use the methods which are employed during a hot war, but I suggest that the time has come for us to reconsider the whole aspect of intelligence in its broadest sense. Again and again, not only in recent weeks but also in recent years, it seems that we in Britain have been taken unawares. That was so in Malaya, in Korea, in Kenya and, more recently, in Cyprus. Having been taken unawares, it has then taken us many years slowly and painfully to build up our intelligence organisations in those places. I believe that if we had had better information in advance in all the places I have mentioned we should have avoided some of the troubles that we have to meet today.
Consequently, I ask the Government to make sure that at such a time as this when economy in Government services is obviously of very great importance, we should nevertheless not economise falsely by applying an economy axe to our information and intelligence services. Far from expenditure on these organisations being curtailed, I would urge that the time has come for us to expand these services in order to be certain that we are informed of what is going on in foreign countries and that they are properly informed regarding our aims and objectives.
If these intelligence organisations are to play their part properly and have an effective rôle in winning the cold war, which we all desire, it is obvious that more money must be devoted to them. This may mean more money for the B.B.C. Overseas Services, more money for the British Council, more money for the Foreign Office information services and more money for our secret intelligence organisations. Although an expansion of these services now will require the expenditure of foreign currency, I believe the money will be money well spent. I hope, therefore, that the Government have learned the lesson that a cold war is very largely an intelligence war, and will act accordingly.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
Like my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, I had the opportunity last year of visiting Jordan and, on several occasions, of meeting General Glubb. I endorse what has been 2180 said by a number of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House about the capabilities of this distinguished soldier. His abrupt and ungracious dismissal by the Government of Jordan after he had served their country for thirty-six years is difficult to understand, and this no doubt explains the shock which it has given to public opinion here.
I had the same thing said to me by other Israeli leaders as was said to my right hon. Friend by the Israeli Foreign Secretary, particularly by those who had to deal across the frontier with the Arab Legion. The local commanders' agreement, which has operated under great difficulty along the 300 miles of frontier separating Israel and Jordan, has encountered many problems, but I was told that the attitude of General Glubb and the officers serving under him towards the Israeli local commanders had prevented a great many difficulties arising and had enabled difficulties which had arisen to be dealt with satisfactorily.
There is no doubt that the confidence created by the fact that the Arab Legion was commanded by General Glubb may be seriously threatened by his displacement. On the other hand, I think there would be agreement—I heard this from a number of sources when I was in Amman last year—that strong feeling has been evident among the Arab officers of the Legion that they should secure the highest posts in a force 100 per cent. Arab. No one in this House will object to those aspirations. That to which we object is the way in which General Glubb was dealt with personally.
The Glubb incident, if I may so call it, in a sense is merely symptomatic of a highly dangerous situation which has been developing in the Middle East during the past years. It is a situation which constitutes a definite threat to world peace, and it is from that angle that many of us would approach the problems in that part of the world. The hon. and gallant Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke), who is not in his place, suggested that the Opposition made its No. 1 priority the interests of Israel. He said that the prime test of any foreign policy should be the national interests of the country concerned. I should have thought that in these days the primary interests of any country in which sane people lived was the preservation of 2181 peace, and I should have thought that peace was a method, even of safeguarding the oil supplies on which our economy depends, far better than the alternative of war.
I therefore believe that we can examine some of the measures which have been taken in past years purely from that point of view, the objective being the preservation of peace. I was glad that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition indicated that in his view it would be a mistake to abrogate, at any rate in present circumstances, the Anglo-Jordan Treaty. I do not for one moment suggest that that Treaty makes a considerable contribution to the preservation of world peace, but it is a rivet in the structure of world stability, even though it applies only to one small part of the world.
Incidentally, I believe that that Treaty has been of far greater value to the people, Government and Royal family of Jordan than its provision of two bases for the Royal Air Force. If one studies the history of the matter, one knows that there has always been a feud between the Royal family of Saudi Arabia and the Hashemite family of Jordan, and the fact that the latter was receiving the protection of Britain in the difficult days of a few years ago has been of great advantage to Jordan itself.
I hope, however, that it will be made clear to the Government of Jordan that if there is ever a clash between our commitments under the Anglo-Jordan Treaty and our commitments under the Tripartite Declaration, in the event of Jordan's associating itself with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria in armed aggression against Israel, our commitments under the 1950 Tripartite Declaration will supersede any commitments we may have under the Anglo-Jordan Treaty, if it continues to exist.
I should like to say a word about the Bagdad Pact. I agree with the view of the Government to this extent: a regional system of collective security, authorised as it is by the provisions of the United Nations Charter, is something which should receive the support of all those who believe in what is commonly called collective security. Where I have a doubt is that I feel that our country is accepting too many commitments. In that far distant part of the world, the other side of the Middle East, in what is called the 2182 three tier defence system across the Taurus Mountains, we have accepted commitments, together with the four countries whose territories are situated in that part of the world. I should be much happier if the United States had also been an active member of that system of collective security, or, alternatively, if we had remained outside as observers, in the way that the United States have done.
In these days, when we compare our resources with the resources and manpower of the United States and Russia, for us to accept much greater commitments in these international engagements than the all powerful United States of America is fraught with considerable danger to this country.
The other measure that has been taken over the past few years to stabilise the positions in the Middle East is, of course, the Tripartite Declaration of 1950. I cannot understand why there has been so much doubt and fog about what is contained in the Declaration. It is very easy to have a look at it, and there is no doubt about what it covers. It covers not only aggression against the armistice lines, but also violation of the frontiers. It says:The three Governments, should they find any of these States was preparing to violate frontiers or armistice lines would, consistently with their obligations as members of the United Nations, immediately take action…That refers to the Arab States on the one hand and Israel on the other. It is quite clear that the Tripartite Declaration does commit the three Governments associated with it to go to the assistance of any one of the Arab States, on the one hand, or Israel on the other, not only if there is violation of the armistice lines under the 1948 Agreement, but of the present de facto frontiers. Therefore, provided the Tripartite Declaration is really to be implemented, it is a considerable safeguard against any aggressive action in that part of the world.
The other point I should like to make about the Tripartite Declaration is on the topic of arms supplies. The Declaration says:The three Governments recognise that the Arab States and Israel all need to maintain a certain level of armed forces…for their legitimate self-defence and…defence of the area…It is not because many of us feel that Israel is always in the right and the Arab States always in the wrong; but as my 2183 right hon. Friend said this afternoon, the Government of Egypt have received supplies—we are told 30 MiG 15's and 40 or so I1.28's, modern twin engine jet bombers from Russia, and Centurion tanks from this country—and while the Government of Israel have only more or less obsolescent fighter planes at their disposal, no modern bombers, not even obsolescent bombers. We feel it is wrong in the situation which today exists in that part of the world that this little nation should be deprived of reasonable means of defending itself. We do not say that arms are the solution; we only say that we should not expect Israel to use Meteors against MiG 15's and to have no means of countering the bomber attacks likely to come from the other side, if there is war.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Supposing Israel took these supplies and used them to attack Egypt; would the right hon. and learned Gentleman then be prepared with his party to campaign for the resistance of Israeli aggression against Egypt and the landing of British troops in the Canal Zone on behalf of Egypt?
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not believe that any hon. Members on either side of the House, if they support the Tripartite Declaration, can blow hot and cold at the same time about its consequences. I have said and I know that my right hon. Friends have said to those we have met in Israel as well as in Arab countries that we mean what we say in that Declaration. If it is Israel that commits aggression, we shall be on the other side; if it is the Arab States that commit aggression, we shall be on the other side. I can understand the noble Lord, if he does not agree with the Tripartite Declaration, saying that it will have this or that consequence.
But if that is the accepted instrument of our national policy for the time being, if there is aggression from one side or the other, we have to intervene. We hope, as a result of the Tripartite Declaration, and if we can ensure that for the time being Israel is not deprived of or refused sufficient arms for the purpose of self-defence, following the entry of Russia into the Middle East, that another step will have been taken to prevent war and to maintain peace.
On this problem of the maintenance of peace, which I think is the crux of the 'whole situation in the Middle East, as it 2184 may be anywhere else, may I say that in a sense I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), that pacts alone will not solve these problems. I was glad to hear the Minister of State, and indeed my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, refer to what I think is a vitally important aspect of the problem in the Middle East where, of a population of 30 million Arabs, some 90 per cent. are living in conditions of abject misery and poverty. The more we can build up their standards of living and bring to them the advantages of decent living, the more difficult we shall make it for their present leaders to launch them into a suicidal adventure threatening the peace of the world.
An hon. Member opposite referred to the attitude of the United States, or certain business interests there, regarding the question of oil. It would seem as though we have entered into a state of competitive co-existence with the United States so far as oil is concerned, and if that be so, I believe that it can lead only to disaster. It is vitally important for our own country and for the United States that we should not only have paper agreements as to the way the political problems of the Middle East should be handled, but that we must try to bring about real and effective economic cooperation instead of creating a state of competitive co-existence.
§ Sir Robert Boothby (Aberdeenshire. East)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman realises that the oil companies which are actually conducting this ludicrous war have interlocking financial interests, which makes it even more ludicrous?
§ Mr. Henderson
My right hon. Friend pointed that out this evening. It is not only ludicrous, but highly dangerous.
At present, as we know, we have the extraordinary position that the American interests and the American Government are, for example, supplying Saudi-Arabia with American tanks, which may well be used against British soldiers in the Buraimi Oasis. That is a threat which may well develop and become a direct threat to co-operation between our country and America.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister discussed these economic problems with President Eisenhower when they 2185 met in Washington. I am sorry that the French Prime Minister was not present at that conference. I believe that there is a case for a meeting of the "Big Three"—President Eisenhower, our own Prime Minister, and the French Prime Minister—to discuss these Middle East problems. All three Governments are committed under the Tripartite Declaration. There was a suggestion that the United States Government were barred by their constitution from taking action, but, in any event, I should have thought that the sooner the leaders of the three countries which signed the Declaration met together to hammer out where exactly we stand regarding the dangers and possibilities in that part of the world, the better.
I believe that, apart altogether from a meeting of the Big Three, the real solution, or an attempted solution, should be the responsibility of the United Nations. I know the difficulty there and that in 1950 the Security Council passed a resolution calling on Egypt to remove the ban on ships going through the Suez Canal to the ports of Israel; and that all through the following years the Government of Egypt have defied the authority of the Security Council, lowered its influence and, indeed, its prestige. I consider that a calamity.
There may be some hon. Members who feel that to talk about the United Nations so often as I do is merely a sign of naïve idealism and a reluctance to face the realities of the international situation. I know of no alternative, at any rate—
§ Mr. Henderson
I know about the Commonwealth. It may interest the hon. Gentleman to learn that every country in the Commonwealth is a member of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Henderson
There we have the issue, and the chorus of approval for the old approach to these international problems—no use for the United Nations, and attempting to divert us from the 2186 issue by a reference to the Commonwealth. If I may interpolate a word about that, I would say that the party on these benches has done more to stabilise and maintain the Commonwealth than has the party opposite.
I am not interested in what hon. Members below the Gangway opposite feel about the United Nations. I feel passionately about the United Nations. I believe it to be the only alternative to the system of power politics which, according to speeches made by hon. Members opposite—is bringing us right to the verge of war. If we are not to have the United Nations, what are we to have? Are we to rely only on the Bagdad Pact or the Tripartite Declaration, or on the armies and navies as in the good old days of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries? Surely we have got away from that?
I come back to my point that I believe we are drifting towards a very serious situation in the Middle East. I do not know whether the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would disagree with that. I gathered that it was the view of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. I am suggesting—though it may fail—that under Article 34 of the Charter, the Security Council again should seize itself of this problem of Israel and her Arab neighbours—[Interruption.] The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) is an old friend of mine, but I do not know what he is nattering about. If he wishes to ask me a question, I shall be glad to give way, but this is a very serious matter. It is certainly serious for the people of Israel and for those people in the neighbouring Arab countries, If war occurs, it will be their blood which will be spilled, and, therefore, I do not think that we can treat the matter lightly.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Lord John Hope)
In order to get the record clear, may I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman to help me about something which he said a moment ago? He seemed to contrast the United Nations with, for instance—because he mentioned it—the Bagdad Pact. Presumably, if he believes, as I do, in the United Nations, he believes in the Charter and the rules, and realises that regional arrangements can take place under the United Nations.
§ Mr. Henderson
I am well aware of that and I think that I could recite the Charter from one end to the other. I am afraid that the noble Lord has not been listening to what I have been saying. I started off by saying that I supported the measures already taken. My only qualification was in regard to the Bagdad Pact, that I thought we were extending our commitments too much and that we should be in the same position as the United States—that either both of us should be in or both outside. Of course, I am not objecting to regional arrangements any more than I object to N.A.T.O. or the Western Union. What I am saying is that the Charter of the United Nations provides for the Security Council considering a situation which is a threat to world peace. If we believe—and I understand that this is the common view on both sides of the House—that there is a threat to world peace in the Middle East, it justifies our saying that it is the responsibility of the Security Council and, above that, the General Assembly of the United Nations, to try to find a solution to the problem.
It may be said that the Soviet Union will exercise her power of veto. I have serious doubts about that, in spite of her intervention in the Middle East by supplying arms to Egypt. At any rate, it would be an acid test of the geniuneness and sincerity of the claim of the Soviet Union that she wants peace to be maintained. Even if this attempt failed, I would far rather have seen an attempt made to solve the problem peacefully than no attempt being made at all. If the attempt is made and it fails, the people of the world will at any rate know where to place the responsibility.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) will forgive me if I do not follow him into the subject of the United Nations beyond saying that I respect his idealism. The fact is that in the nearly four hours' debate that we have had so far there have been eleven speeches, six of which have been made by Privy Councillors and two by maiden speakers. I make no complaint about that because we have all enjoyed those speeches, especially that delivered by my hon. Friend the Member 2188 for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean). I merely mention the fact because it is the reason why I shall try to take no more than ten minutes to make my speech.
I am fully aware that when a backbencher, or any hon. Member who is not in the Government, speaks upon these matters he must be handicapped—and I hope that hon. Members will not misunderstand me—by a certain lack of intelligence. I speak of the kind of intelligence mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir). There must always be a lack of that kind of intelligence among ordinary hon. Members and, therefore, the two proposals that I shall make to the Government tonight must be subject to that qualification.
I agree with the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton that the Glubb Pasha incident is merely symptomatic of what is happening all over the Middle East. It is something which should not be happening, because by temperament, the Arab races and ourselves are mutually congenial. For more than a generation British influence has been exerted in that part of the world for the good of the Arab people and for the general good. There is absolutely no doubt about that. I do not consider it insular or arrogant to say that.
It makes me sick to hear hon. Members laughing when the honoured name of Lord Cromer is mentioned. There is no doubt about the beneficial effect of our influence; nor is there any doubt that for various reasons—of which the establishment of the State of Israel is perhaps one—the Arab States are growing to resent our tutelage, and, however unwise or ungrateful that may appear to us, they are unquestionably fully entitled freely to decide their own destiny. The enthusiasm with which the rude and almost treacherous dismissal of Glubb Pasha has been greeted in Jordan makes it abundantly clear that we are no longer wanted there.
There are three courses open to us, each of which has been advocated by hon. Members on both sides of the House. We could send troops to occupy Jordan, and rule her hereafter by force. I would oppose such a solution, not on the first ground advanced by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, 2189 namely, that we could not do it—I expect that we could take them all on and beat them—but on his second ground, that we should not have a moral leg to stand on. We must practise as we preach, and we preach the rule of law. I do not believe that any forcible solution would command support from the people of this or any other country. Nor would I recommend the middle course of compromise. If I were Her Majesty's Government I would remove every British officer and man and every penny from Jordan tomorrow. It is time people realised that they cannot always have their cake and eat it with the poor old British.
Moreover, if Jordan is going to disintegrate anyway, let it be rather because we have gone than in spite of our having stayed. At any rate, the whole incident underlines one lesson, namely, that a base has no value without sovereignty. Let us take that lesson to heart and keep it there when thinking of Cyprus. Cyprus is not like Suez or Jordan; it is like Glasgow, because it belongs to us.
It is very ironic that the natural sympathy which exists between Englishmen and Arabs is being or has been poisoned partly as a result of the existance of Israel, because that natural sympathy does not exist between Englishman and Jew. Winwood Reade, in his "Martyrdom of Man," says:It is only in adversity that the Jew is to be admired.That is far too harsh a judgment, but if it is true Israel looks like being in for a lot of admiration pretty soon.
That brings me to my second point which worries me far more than does Jordan, and which has worried hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. I refer to the Tripartite Declaration. It may have been all that it was possible to reduce to paper at the time, but it is stuffed fuller of wool than is the sack upon which sits the noble Lord in another place. The right hon. and learned Member says that we must show that we mean what we say, but we do not say what we mean. That is my objection. I ask my right hon. Friend what would happen if Israel were to attack or be attacked tomorrow. Does anyone know? If he does, he should not keep the information to himself. I beg him to tell not only me, but the whole 2190 world in the largest voice he can command. It is the one thing that might possibly allay the fear of war in the Middle East.
Surely the United States and ourselves—let us leave France out because she has never been very much help to Western policy in that part of the world, and now it appears that she is beginning to doubt the wisdom of Western policy anyway—can agree now to declare that if anyone crosses the existing boundaries between Israel and her neighbours with aggressive intent he will meet with our combined opposition at once. That is what the United States has done in the case of Formosa, and in my view it has removed Formosa from any threat of war. One declaration by the United States was enough. That may be what the Tripartite Declaration means, but no one could be expected to know that from reading it.
Assuming that we did that—I come back to the interjection which I made earlier in this debate—what does it then matter about arms for Israel? Israel wants arms. There is only one respectable reason for wanting arms in the modern world, and that is to defend one's frontiers. If those frontiers are to be defended for Israel by two stronger Powers, why is it necessary for her to have all these arms?
I should like to say a word about Egypt. I have always thought that we were right to leave the Canal base when we did. We should have had to go anyway this year, and, even if a base is strategically well situated for another war, it must be a liability if the surrounding population is hostile. Moreover, I used to think—and I do not yet know that I was wrong—that Colonel Nasser was the best ruler available to Egypt today. I cannot believe that he is worse that King Farouk or than the Communists would be. But handsome is as handsome does and I am bound to say that Colonel Nasser has not been doing very well by us.
Therefore, I strongly support the appeal made by my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) that the Government must take a different attitude towards Colonel Nasser unless and until he reforms and proves himself what he has sometimes said he is, a friend of this 2191 country. He knows as well as we know that the Bagdad Pact is not a threat to Egypt, threatens no harm to anyone, and promises much economic good to all its members. For the first time in world history it links four Moslem independent States and one Western Power. For that reason alone it is of value.
Let me sum up. There are two suggestions I make to my right hon. Friends. One is that they consider moving out of Jordan tomorrow and, the other, that they should try to persuade the United States to join with us in a clear declaration about what will happen if anyone violates the present frontiers of Israel. If my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister cannot do it no one in this House can. I hope they will persevere in their efforts.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)
I know that the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. G. Longden) will forgive me if I do not follow him either to Cyprus or to Glasgow. I intend to confine my remarks to Jordan.
I had the pleasure only four weeks ago of talking to Glubb Pasha in his headquarters in Jordan, and I came away with a very deep feeling of admiration for all the work he has done. Everybody who has been there will know that the Arab Legion is not only a very fine force but is almost the only sane organisation in an insane country. I did not think it was possible until I went to Jordan to see a country so ill-governed, a country that was not a democracy or even a dictatorship, but a pure mobocracy, run entirely by the opinions of the refugees, who live in thousands in their camps. They live on us, on British and American money, and on money provided by U.N.R.R.A.
Those refugees are provided day by day not only with food but with welfare services which compare favourably in many ways with our own. They have just sat there for seven years doing absolutely nothing, and waiting to go back to "Palestine," which is now Israel. It should be made clear to them that they are not going back to Israel unless there is a peace settlement between Israel and Jordan. If we are to give any money to Jordan it should not be to build up the armed forces but to settle those refugees. 2192 We should insist that they are removed from those camps and so cease to be a danger to peace. They represent a most serious problem. It is they, if anyone, who will bring about war today.
I offer one very strong criticism of Her Majesty's Government. The things I have been saying are known to many hon. Members; surely they must have been known to the Government. The Government acted exceedingly foolishly in trying to bring Jordan into the Bagdad Pact at this moment. I am not saying whether the Pact is right or wrong, but it was obviously wrong to try to bring Jordan into it then. It was particularly foolish to send General Templer there, of all people. I cannot conceive of a more foolish move. He is a very fine man as well as a fine general and a good negotiator but he has two great faults, so far as this operation is concerned. Firstly, he is a soldier, and secondly he has won his fame in putting down a rebellion in a colony, Malaya. That is something which people all over the Middle East know. They are particularly sensitive to what is called Colonialism.
Surely the Government could have found one of their own number to go out and do this negotiating. It may have been difficult. The Government may have no competent negotiators, although the present Minister of Defence, when he was Minister of Labour, showed that he was a good negotiator. Imagine what the Russians would do if they were faced with this task. Would they have sent Marshal Zhukov there? They would not have done anything so foolish. They would have asked a member of the Bagdad Pact from another country to go. Why did we not ask Nuri Said to go there himself or send one of his Ministers to persuade Jordan, as one Arab country to another. They would behave in a way that no British general could possibly hope to do. We did not do that. Instead, we sent General Templer, with the disastrous results that we have now seen.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition reminded the House of the effect on the front line between Jordan and Israel. Some hon. Members have been there and seen it and have been deeply impressed with the spirit of tolerance and common sense with which the Arab Legion has conducted its affairs. It was under British officers and 2193 was acting almost as an international force in stopping infiltration of Jews from Israel and of Arabs into Israel. It was performing a very fine service, under British officers.
After the British officers have left, is it to be expected that the Arab Legion will show the same tolerance? I am extremely doubtful about it. A very dangerous situation will arise and that will to a very large extent be the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government for the foolish action they have taken in Jordan.
How are we to remedy what has happened? First, we must look at the subsidy paid by the British taxpayers to Jordan and the Arab Legion. Is it to be continued? The only possible thing to do with the subsidy is to settle the refugees and thus ease the problem, but it should be paid only if the Jordan Government agree that the refugees should be settled. Otherwise, I hope the subsidy will be instantly withdrawn. We shall be able to use it for a better purpose than that.
That is not all. The Arab Legion is not the only British or semi-British force, in Jordan. At the moment the Queen's Bays are there. They are to be replaced by another regiment. Are they to remain there permanently? Do the Government think of having one British regiment isolated in an out-of-the-way place in Jordan, liable to get involved in riots and disturbances? I hope that the regiment will shortly be removed.
I hope we shall see whether it is wise to keep in Jordan as many civilians as are there now, and we might see in particular to the interests of the women who so bravely work in the refugee camps. Many British women are there, and they have been under the protection of the Arab Legion. If that protection goes, those women may be in very grave danger. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will do something to protect them.
I would also add to the plea made by my hon. and right hon. Friends that, as this danger has been added to the danger that Israel already faces, she should be given the arms she needs. There was possibly a case to be made, though personally I do not agree with it, for the line taken by Mr. Foster Dulles in saying 2194 that the moment had come to have a halt in the arms race. At any rate, it was a feasible line to take at that time, but the situation is entirely changed now.
Today, instead of having a frontier with Jordan which was relatively safe, Israel faces a frontier which is exceedingly unsafe, and I hope therefore that something will be done at the earliest opportunity to see that Israel now receives some arms. I also hope that something will be done to strengthen the Tripartite Declaration. I know, because he has told me so himself, as he has no doubt told other hon. Members, that Mr. BenGurion is deeply disturbed at the idea that if Israel should be attacked, whatever the Tripartite Declaration may or may not say, the action will be so slow and there will be so many consultations and so many things will have to happen that there will be no chance of stopping the aggression. That would apply, of course, on the other side, I quite agree, if Israel was the aggressor. We want to be quite certain that we get a definite clear-cut decision that action will be taken and taken rapidly, and only when we do that will Mr. Ben-Gurion be satisfied.
§ Mr. Dugdale
I agree. I think it may have been the hon. Gentleman who asked one of my hon. Friends exactly the same question. He was referring to the Cyprus question. I do not propose to get involved in that question, because we have enough to discuss tonight without it.
I think it is necessary to have troops available somewhere. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"] There are troops, apart from anywhere else, in Libya, but it is not mainly with troops that action will be taken., but with planes, and planes can fly quite long distances. I think that what Mr. Ben-Gurion wants to know is that action will be taken, whether with troops or planes, with sufficient speed to deter anybody from aggression. Only if we can do that can we in some small way mitigate the disaster which has overtaken Jordan—a disaster brought about largely by the incompetence of this Government.
§ 7.54 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
In the course of this debate we have had a number of extremely interesting and constructive speeches. Quite early in the debate, the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), in a particularly cunning and persuasive speech, was trying to persuade the Prime Minister to his particular attitude towards Israel, but I thought that, none the less, his speech had a great deal of force.
We had a very able maiden speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean), which showed a genuine knowledge of the situation in Jordan, although perhaps one might not have expected to find a maiden speaker addressing the House with such fluency. We then had an extremely useful contribution by my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) who spoke of the intelligence services and the necessity of improving both our propaganda and our intelligence throughout the Middle East, both in regard to the sources of information and the way in which we deployed our own information. We have had other speeches which have been valuable contributions, following the emphatic statement in the opening speech this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State in his assertion that we should, and will, take firm action in this matter.
What I want to deal with briefly tonight is this. It seems to me that whatever action is taken about future policy in the Middle East, it will require some re-assessment and will require the emphatic assertion of British authority, because our prestige and authority have never been at a lower ebb in the Middle East than they are today.
What, therefore, are British interests? The premier interest undoubtedly was clearly and cogently stated by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Major Legge-Bourke) as the protection of our oil interests, on which depends the whole future of this country. He was clearly right in drawing the attention of the House to the fact that, if we lose our oil interests, if mass unemployment and economic upheaval arise in this country, the question of our being able to maintain peace in the Middle East, or indeed in the world, simply will not arise, because it is upon our wealth and our capacity to protect our oil interests that employment in this country depends. The 2196 second vital interest is to safeguard the peace of the Middle East, and the third one obviously is that we must keep open our communications in the Middle East.
Having stated these three principles, which to my mind underlie our policy in the Middle East—the protection of the oil, the assurance of peace and of open communications—I come now to the first main question of the implications of recent events in Jordan. I go the whole way with my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely in what they said about the position of King Hussein. I am not under any particular bonds of secrecy in this matter, and I go so far as to say that it is no secret that in fact a band of officers in the area of Jordan are concerned with the overthrow of King Hussein. I see these things following a pattern which we could see in Egypt—the pattern which I remember speaking about in December, 1953, in this House, when I referred to the ten or eleven different putsches that have followed in Egypt right up to 1952 and 1953.
Now, of course, it will be to Colonel Nasser's advantage if he can create in Jordan what he has created in Egypt—a military dictatorship under his own control. It is plain that this young King was influenced quite suddenly. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already stated that, in fact, only the day before, our Ambassador had seen the King. King Hussein is a young boy only 20 years of age, brought up and educated at Harrow, and, following his education at that school, I understand that he is a boy of the highest integrity and reliability. Having been seen the day before, it appears that practically up to the time that this announcement was made, there was no indication whatever that Glubb Pasha was to be dismissed.
Is it not clear that he was then and is at this time a prisoner of his own thoughts? Is it not clear that this young King may be in the position in the near future of finding himself removed either through abdication or assassination? Who influenced this? I think the finger points to the influence of Nasser and none other. How it was done I do not think we need debate in the short time we have tonight. All of us may have our own ideas which leader is the person 2197 behind the actual movement; but what is more important is what is to happen in the future.
If in a month's time we pick up our papers and read that this young King has been removed, that he has either abdicated or been assassinated, I am afraid that I for one would really have it on my conscience if I did not say what I feel we ought to do tonight to prevent that happening.
For many years Jordan has been our friend and Ally and there is no reason for the young king or any of his friends to desire to offend this country. I cannot believe that he was influenced by the propaganda from Athens or from Cairo—and in particular the latter. Someone, therefore, must have influenced him, either personally or politically. Could the influence have been political? Could it have been the propaganda? Was it the statements which have been made to him to the effect that Saudi Arabia could afford to pay, and would pay for the Arab Legion and take it over? Would that be sufficient? I think not.
What are we to do? Under the Anglo-Jordan Treaty we are empowered to send troops into Jordan. In fact, under that Treaty we could send in further troops at present, but supposing that this group of officers has really managed to obtain control of the Arab Legion the position might be that the Arab Legion would be in conflict with British troops in Jordan, and I cannot believe that that would be very wise. What I think the Government should do is to have further discussions with King Hussein in the near future and give him the most emphatic assurance that we will stand by him through thick and thin, and see that he is not influenced and upset by anyone else who seeks to overthrow his authority.
To put it in another way, we should try to see that, with his consent—with his consent—we can return our officers and our troops. It may be that Glubb Pasha cannot go back—there are his feelings to consider and he might well not be capable of being restored—but that does not mean that another officer, suitable both to King Hussein and to ourselves, might not go back and restore the Arab Legion to its former position.
Why do I say that? I say it because to my mind Jordan is the danger point 2198 at the moment because it is on the boundaries of Israel. It is not that Jordan is a satisfactory base, and there is no oil there or anything of that kind and we have nothing to gain. It is because it is the immediate danger point that I believe we must reinforce Jordan with troops, but I do not want that to be done without Jordan's consent. I beg of the House to consider the past history of Egypt. The Egyptians are not as clever as Machiavelli but they are infinitely more dishonest than any other race living on this earth today.
The extent of the bribery and corruption taking place at present in Jordan and Saudi Arabia—and flowing out also from the coffers of Syria and Damascus—is quite incredible. Baksheesh—all those who have been to the Middle East know what it means—is being liberally contributed. It originally came through the American oil companies in Saudi Arabia—that is where the money comes from.
But I have not much time and I turn from that to ask the Government to take a very firm line in Jordan. Let us try hard to see if we cannot find out what I believe to be the truth, which is that King Hussein is still our friend but is afraid, mortally afraid, of the position which may arise with Saudi Arabia and Egypt—and if I were in his position I should be pretty frightened too.
If that be anything approaching a correct assessment—and it may not be so at all—then obviously the failure of all Governments in the past ten years and more in the Middle East has been the failure to learn the lessons of psychological warfare which have been so ably alluded to by my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham. We really cannot continue with our present methods. In the last few days we have at last sought to jam the radio. We must pursue a policy which is first of all a determination to prevent what is not free speech, what is not free radio, but what is deliberate sedition, calling for the overthrow of constitutional authority—and frequently calling for pillage and for murder.
Anyone who has impartially read accounts of the broadcasts from Athens and from Cairo cannot but say that that is treasonable material which we have every right to prevent reaching the peoples in those countries which are either our 2199 territories or under our protection. Therefore, I believe that there is not a conflict of law—as might impliedly have been suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. It is, in my view, upholding the rule of law to prevent the dissemination of propaganda broadcast in this fashion.
We must extend the espionage and counter-espionage services of officers who have served in the Middle East and who understand it and who understand, if I may say so, the quite different moral code which exists out there. It is the failure of our Foreign Office officials over the past fifteen years to understand the totally different moral approach of the Middle East—the endless baksheesh, the desperate nepotism, the whole outlook on what, after all, existed in this country 200 ears ago—which has led to a wrong analysis and a wrong approach.
For instance, in Lagos there is a list of how much it costs to bribe any person in that place, and it is readily available to businessmen in that part of the world. We all know that this situation exists throughout the Middle East, but somehow—and I hope that it will not be so any longer—people think it wrong to talk about it. I do not think that it is particularly surprising to find that state of affairs in a civilisation. It certainly existed in the England of 1760—one could buy practically anything then. Therefore, let us try to understand and meet that outlook. We cannot meet the Middle East propaganda at the moment, because the money is with the Saudi Arabians, who are prepared to pour it in, but we must understand the outlook.
In conclusion I have to say this about Egypt. As I see it it is not for any back bencher—and I venture to say not even for any right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench opposite—to determine what measures this Government shall take against Egypt. The Government alone can know the real facts of the position, and in so far as I throw out one or two ideas I do so purely by way of suggestions for consideration, and in all humility. First of all, we should try to secure agreement between America and ourselves on our future joint oil policy in the Middle East. In considering that oil policy let us make emphatic representations that the Egyptians shall get no benefit from it whatsoever.
2200 Secondly, we should consider whether we should not work to rule in the removal of our troops from the Suez Canal Zone. In the present circumstances those troops could be used as a local tactical force round Port Said. That could be done, not to show that we shall not remove from the Zone, but that we shall take due care in that matter, and bring home the fact that we have not yet left. Thirdly, if there is indication and sufficiently clear proof that the Egyptians really are trying to move in through Jordan in order to attack Israel then I think we should consider whether the sterling balances still owed should not continue to be held.
Furthermore, I am told, although I do not know how right it is, that a good deal of economic sanction could be imposed upon Egypt, if need be, by careful consideration of her cotton trade. I am not experienced in this matter, but several merchants to whom I have spoken, including one of the best known in the country, have told me that a certain amount of effective sanction exists there, because, although the Egyptians are selling cotton behind the Iron Curtain, a great deal of dislocation of trade could be caused if we took a firm line.
I could make many other suggestions, but I venture to submit that the two which should be carefully considered are these: first, that we should try to maintain our friendship with Jordan in order to prevent Arab action by Saudi Arabia or Egypt, leading to the development of war against Israel; and, secondly, that we should go full steam ahead for an agreement with America, particularly to try to knock together the heads of the oil companies in order to get a clear and emphatic policy for the joint protection of our oil interests, both American and British, in the Middle East. Those oil interests, curious though it may be, could determine the peace which we all wish to achieve in the Middle East.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
Many of the matters with which I had intended to deal have already been amply and fully covered in the debate. Therefore, I will confine my speech to a few remarks about the situation in the Middle East consequent upon the recent events in Jordan.
2201 Many times in the House I have endeavoured to bring home the message that if there is one people in the Middle East upon whom we can rely it is the inhabitants of Israel, amongst whom are those who had previously settled under the Mandate in Palestine. Many a time, long before this debate, I and many of my hon. Friends urged upon our Governments, irrespective of party, that we should accept the Mandated Territory as a Dominion in the British Commonwealth. I still believe that that would have avoided much, if not all, of the trouble occurring in the Middle East at present. We should have had men and women in that part of the world, Jew and Arab alike, who would have been loyal and in a position to help the Middle East in a situation of anxiety. Through the ability and experience of the settlers in that land, they would have led the rest of the Middle East to adopt policies for economic advancement rather than for aggressive military and blackmailing purposes.
I deliberately say "blackmailing", because the truth is that what has been practised upon us is mainly blackmail. Of course oil is important to us; but we must not imagine that if a blackmailer is appeased to a certain extent he will be satisfied. Surely we have learned that lesson by this time. Expediency in these matters, and the handing out of largesse, whether in money or in grants of land, will not stop the demands. As has happened in Egypt and now in Jordan, once the initial demands have been met they will continue, but for larger and larger amounts. We ought to realise, even at this late stage, that we must say that we are not prepared any longer to be dealt with in that way; we and America and the other countries of the United Nations must say that.
I ask, should we not be right to regard that small State of Israel as possibly of help in the circumstances? About a year ago something happened in Israel which, could not possibly have happened anywhere else in the world, except for some parts of the Commonwealth, certainly not in the Middle East. The tenth anniversary of the entry of the Jewish Brigade into the line in Italy was observed by a large parade through the streets of Tel Aviv. About 10,000 Jewish veterans of two world wars took part—those of the 2202 Trumpeldor Unit which fought at Gallipoli; the first and second Judean battalions of the First World War, with rows of decorations on their breasts; Commando units which fought in Africa; Pioneer units which were active in Africa and France; Port Labour units, engineers, technicians, members of the Medical Corps, as well as A.T.S. and W.A.A.F.S.; three battalions of the brigade commanded by Brigadier Benjamin; their auxiliary units, artillery and command units, all decorated with the Africa Star, the Italian Campaign Medal and other awards.
These were men and women who had fought in the Allied cause. And who took the salute at the parade? It was taken by two ex-privates of the First World War—none other than Privates Ben Zvi, the President of the State of Israel, and Ben-Gurion, now the Prime Minister of the State of Israel. The parade was preceded by meetings of veterans of 31 Jewish units in the British Army. This took place in Israel, in the heart of the Middle East. Tributes were paid to them by the British Prime Minister. A message was received from him sending his cordial greetings to former members of the Jewish Brigade Group on the tenth anniversary of their entry into the line at Italy. He said,We remember with gratitude their valuable contribution to the Allied cause.I could give many examples of this type of feeling which is to be found in Israel. Last time I was there I addressed a branch of the British Legion. There is enthusiasm and keenness shown towards this country, because their feelings and outlook are the same as ours. They are a democratic people prepared to work with the democracies, they are not anti-Arab. A mistake which is frequently made is the assumption that the State of Israel and the Israelis are anti-Arab. They want to be allowed to live and to carry on their work and to help with their neighbours in building up the Middle East economically and agriculturally.
But what are they compelled to do today? I think we in this country will appreciate this: they have to spend about 20 million dollars in order to build air raid shelters. That is perhaps one of the most significant illustrations which I can give of the position. Clearly they are not building shelters in order to attack any 2203 one; they are building them for the same reason that we had to build shelters in this country during the war, and that is to defend the civil population against attack.
Hon. Members have spoken about the Tripartite Declaration. I agree entirely that there is an obligation on us, on America and France, in the Tripartite Declaration. The Declaration is perfectly clear and says quite categorically that before providing arms to the parties concerned the full circumstances must be taken into consideration so that there shall be a balance. It is no good anyone insisting that because another State not a party to the Declaration is providing arms to Arab States the whole tripartite arrangement must be frustrated because we are not giving opportunity to Israel to defend itself. The Declaration does not say that we shall not supply arms. It says that we shall, and that arms must be supplied in order that the balance shall be maintained.
I quite agree with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition who said today that it would be absurd if Israel were asking for as many arms in number as those which have been provided to the other State, but for Heaven's sake let us give her a chance to defend herself. That is the important thing. Israel has courageous people; that is undeniable; people who are prepared to defend themselves and to fight if attacked. Why on earth should we not give them an opportunity of doing so, instead of calling upon British soldiers or soldiers from any other country to do what they themselves can satisfactorily do if given the chance?
I am not sure whether you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, were present a few days ago at a luncheon given by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee. I was present, and I think you were also present. On that occasion the Prime Minister said:There is no country which would not prefer to help themselves than turn to others to help them.I think the Prime Minister meant it. In the defence debates we heard the same. Hon. Members opposite would heartily agree with that proposition in respect of our country and practically every country. Why not in respect of Israel? Why not give Israel the chance to defend itself? It is quite obvious that a necessity for 2204 defence is likely to arise, and the likelihood is that the threats which have been made by the surrounding enemy countries will be carried into effect, or attempted to be carried into effect.
I remember many years ago in this House I raised the question of the statements which were made by Hitler in "Mein Kampf." I was told at that time, in this House, not to be worried about it, that it was all right, and that once he got into power he would not dream of doing to Jewish men and women what he said in "Mein Kampf" he would do, but it did not work out that way. As it worked out 6 million Jewish men and women and children were murdered in accordance with the design of Hitler. We had been wrong in imagining that once that man was given power he would not do what he had threatened to do. We know very well that at the moment Nasser, Saudi Arabia and others are talking in the same manner about attacking Israel. Now we get Jordan not only talking about it but acting as though—as I believe to be the case—it is her intention to attack soon.
I say we have no right to expect Israel to stand back and wait to be wiped out, even whilst other forces are being brought from somewhere else, which may take only hours or longer. The country is providing itself with shelters because it believes it will be attacked.
Some hon. Members are very keenly interested in agriculture. Whilst all this is going on it would be worthwhile asking what Israel is doing. Is it preparing to attack? Is it preparing the kind of thing which is alleged against it, as the Germans alleged against Jews in Germany? Precisely the same kind of thing was said then as is said today about Israel attacking. It was said by the Nazis about the Jewish people in Germany. We know it is utter-nonsense to suggest that a land of the size of Israel with its comparatively small population could possibly do the attacking, or would want to.
We have been talking about frontiers. How many hon. Members know the consequences of the proposals which have been coming forward about the Negev, about handing parts of the Negev over to Egypt? Do they realise what a dangerous thing it would have been if Egypt and Jordan had been able to come together because part of the Negev had been given to Egypt and they could thus 2205 combine against us? I have said some of these things here before. I do not say them because I feel happy or proud about them, but because, unhappily, they are the facts.
I hope the House will not mind me pointing out what is happening and has happened in Israel in the last six months. During the second half of 1955 two training centres and 20 villages were set up in the Lachish region of Israel and the first winter crops were sown. The majority of the settlers were recent immigrants from North Africa who go through an intensive training at the training centres. The transition from artisan to a farmer in modern farming is bewildering for those who step from the atmosphere of the Middle Ages in their countries into the twentieth century atmosphere of Israel, but the newcomers are eager to learn. I am quoting from a statement made by the Minister of Labour of Israel, who stated:Lachish and the Northern Negev have been opened to immigration, to settlement, to planting and to harvest, by the establishment of the Yarkon-Negev pipeline. Water poured into the area for the first time"—that is, for the first time in the history of the Negev—from this pipeline on July 19, 1955. It is the first of two parallel lines; the second is now under construction. The entire conduit will carry 50 billion gallons of water annually and make possible the irrigation of an additional 40,000 acres of semi-arid land. Eventually, the desert fed by the Yarkon-Negev line will produce food for some 160,000 persons.That has happened in the last half year, with all that has been going on around the borders. These are not the kind of people who want wars or who seek aggression.
I appeal to the Government. Let us be firm at last. We will lose nothing by saying to those who want to be aggressors, "There is in the Middle East at the present time an element which desires to build. Israel is prepared to work with you." The people of Israel have appealed to the Arabs from every angle to arrive at a peace settlement and the Arab leaders know in their hearts that Israel means it genuinely.
I met Arabs years ago in Israel—then Palestine—who were most friendly with the Jews. The Arabs in Israel today are most friendly with them. They get on extremely well with each other and they 2206 could get on well with the rest of the Arab world. If today we said that Israel would be supplied with defensive weapons, the Arab world would think a long time before it attacked.
The Arabs realise that man for man the Israelis are better fighters—I do not say this boastfully—the people of Israel have reason to be more courageous and anxious about their position. They have reason to fight better. It is their last stand. It is the last stand of hundreds and thousands of people, who still carry the tattoo marks of the concentration camps. They cannot go back. Therefore, they are bound to fight. If the Arab world realised that Israel was not being left naked with nothing with which to protect itself, the situation would be helped instead of hindered. It would be realised that it was no longer a question of expediency prevailing, that we meant what we were about and that in order to build up the Middle East, we, Israel and everybody else concerned were prepared to work in harmony with each other.
I hope that this last lesson which we have received in the incident relating to General Glubb will at least teach us that to give in to force or to threats of violence and all the rest that results from blackmail is not the way to carry on, but that if we make a just and proper stand by saying that those who build shall be helped, we shall not only teach a lesson to the world, but the Arab population will learn to respect us instead of treating us as it does at present.
§ 8.33 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I have promised to make only a short contribution, and perhaps hon. Members will forgive me if some of my points are stated briefly and are not fully argued. First, with regard to France, our closest ally, geographically and in two wars. It is very satisfactory that M. Mollet is coming to London this weekend. I hope very much that in the conversations with the Prime Minister special emphasis will not be laid on the character of M. Pinaud's speeches about Europe, but rather that the opportunity will be seized to see what can be done to align British and French policy throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
2207 The French have felt grieved with us that we have not shown more sympathy with them in their trials in North Africa, and we have suffered somewhat in the Middle East by the fact that since the war there has been the remains of Anglo-French antagonism in Syria and in Lebanon. Those two things, it seems to me, might be brought together.
The Egyptians are intriguing in Libya as well as elsewhere, and the French have fears that Egyptian and Communist influence will pass through Libya into the territories of North Africa for which they are responsible. We have some fear of the action of the Saudi Arabians and the Egyptians with regard to matters in Syria. We know that Communist influence in Syria is quite strong. Cannot we and the French get together and swallow some of the differences and disputes of the past and see whether we cannot reinforce each other in our respective areas for the sake of stability and peace?
The Government lay their policy on two foundations. One is the Bagdad Pact. I think we are very far from the situation where Syria can come anywhere near to the Bagdad Pact, but at least if we have the support of the French and their traditional friendship with Syria to manoeuvre Syria a little away from her evil associations towards the south, then perhaps Syria may also in due time join us in that Pact.
It is essential to have either Syria or Jordan associated with the Bagdad Pact because of the air communications, to which my hon. Friends have referred, and because the oil pipeline goes across one or other of those territories. If we lose both Syria and Jordan, it will not be long before B.O.A.C. aircraft on their way to the far distant parts of the Commonwealth are "buzzed" by MiG fighters over the desert, and not long before the oil through the pipes is completely turned off instead of partially as now.
That brings me straight to the support of those of my hon. Friends who have asked for the reinforcement of Jordan. I think that it is necessary to riposte. There has been a loss of British power and influence in the last week, and it is necessary to restore the position at once but without any kind of further provocation. I cannot believe that any country, 2208 and least of all Jordan, could regard it as a provocation if we were to send small reinforcements to our garrisons to Mafraq, Ma'au and Aqaba to make sure that the position of the existing troops is secure, not to speak of the wives and families involved.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
We have troops already in Cyprus. Those which were sent there in December and January were not for the purpose of keeping order in Cyprus but for these other operations in Jordan should they be required.
Secondly, I think it is necessary very soon to start patrolling the Canal and the Gulf of Aqaba. Now that the Resolution has passed through the Security Council we can interpret it as freedom for us to send our ships of war where we like and, if necessary, convoy vessels where we like. If in the process of normal, legitimate movement on the high seas—I am not talking about Egyptian territorial waters—we are intercepted in any way or any of our ships or the ships of our Allies are fired on by the Egyptian batteries, I think that those batteries should be singled out and demolished with the appropriate weapons.
Finally I come to the other main leg of the Government's policy in the Middle East, the Tripartite guarantee. I believe we shall have to give that one up. The nearer we get to the danger of war in the Middle East between Israel and the Arab States, the more closely we must look at who precisely will do the necessary policing operations. I have just asked that France should be brought in, but France is militarily weak and we look more to her diplomacy. I do not believe that the United States is desperately interested in anything that goes on beyond the shores of the Mediterranean. I cannot believe that the United States will be interested in the essential policing and diplomatic problems of those complex countries in the Middle East. Therefore it comes down to us.
How precisely will British foreign policy develop? It should develop organically and historically, but how will it develop if we hold ourselves in readiness to jump with our forces at Beirut or Damascus, or Tel Aviv, Amman or Cairo, according to who is judged by somebody to be the aggressor?
2209 It is inconceivable when we think of the operation—of our own troops involved, the diplomatic forces behind, the supply organisation, not to speak of what follows in the way of military government—that we should act mechanically in that way at the will of some organisation, be it the United Nations or members of the Tripartite Declaration, and be prepared to go in, perhaps in the South, perhaps in the North or perhaps from the East. How could we act as a world Power responsible for decisions in the Middle East on historical and traditional lines, and yet be prepared to conduct that kind of operation. The Government must give serious consideration to this point.
I do not know whether it can be said that the Tripartite guarantee has kept the peace so far. It may be that the Powers concerned have not been prepared for war—they may not be prepared for war now—because there are other guarantees and other arrangements apart from the Tripartite guarantee. All I can say is that this mechanistic device is of no use at all for the implementation and the development of British power and British opportunities, and the sooner we discard it the better we shall serve the interests of this country. As I said the other night, I have the firm conviction that the interests of this country are absolutely identifiable with the interests of the world and the interests of peace.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
I have often listened to the noble Lord, the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) with interest, sometimes even with admiration for his courage in disagreeing with hon. Members on his own side of the House. Tonight he has disappointed me, and perhaps my hon. Friends, because his speech seemed to be devoid of any shred of principle in the application of foreign policy. It was based on old-fashioned notions of British power and Imperialism and was lacking in any conception of the honouring of obligations which we have accepted and are bound to carry out in the modern world.
In the situation that has developed recently in Jordan there are two or three different aspects which ought to be considered carefully and apart from one another, not muddled together. There is 2210 the question of an insult to British prestige. There is the question of the danger, particularly to Israel and also to general peace in the Middle East. Lastly, there is the question of our interest in the oil of the Middle East.
As regards the first, because there has been an affront to British prestige by the abrupt dismissal of Glubb Pasha, hon. Members who think that the way to reply to that affront is by dealing a blow at the person who has insulted us are living very much in the past. The fact is that this is a symptom of the development of the feeling of national independence which has spread throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
This is the way the world is today, and if it means occasionally that nations will thumb their noses at former colonial Powers, it is no good imagining that we can now retort to that by the use of the big stick. It would be better for us to make up our minds sooner or later to adjust ourselves to this world, to understand it, and to try to help it than to talk in the language of gun-boats and troops, and the rest of it. If we do that, we may find ourselves involved in a new kind of Boer War. We do not want that. A Boer War in the modern world might not stay where the original Boer War stayed. It might involve loss of British prestige and moral authority in the world, it might also land us in a situation like that into which the French were landed at Dien Bien Phu in Indo-China, and it might even involve us in a world war. Therefore, the first thing about which we have to make up our minds is that if the people of Jordan do not want us in their country, if they no longer wish to a be a British Protectorate, then we had better come out and make the best of it.
Then there is the position of Israel. It has been made amply clear by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and other hon. Friends of mine that we are bound in honour by the special position which our country had taken with regard to the establishment of a Jewish Home in Palestine, by our attitude towards the decisions of the United Nations and by many other historical factors, to uphold the position of Israel as a viable State in the Middle East.
That means that, temporarily, we may have to assume the rôle which the noble Lord wishes to reject, but which we must 2211 accept if no one else will do so for the moment, that of the world's policemen in defence of Israel if she is threatened. It is an unpleasant role, one which we ought not to have to accept, and one which cannot for long be sustained. Therefore, we must seek rapidly to replace it by other arrangements which will result in the world's policemen coming in and acting as the police force in that area.
In the meantime, while the situation is urgent and while we are uncertain whether the other partners to the Tripartite Declaration are prepared to play their part or not—there is very grave doubts whether France would, and there is even some uncertainty whether America would—the British position must be made absolutely clear. If necessary, the Government should declare that we have forces in readiness to be used in the event of an act of aggression by either side in the Middle East.
§ Mr. Warbey
If necessary, on our own. I am afraid that the Government are hedging very much on this question, but we cannot afford to wait until France and the United States have agreed on the measures to be taken in the event of aggression. If we are to stop aggression from taking place, I believe that we must supply balancing armed forces to Israel and declare unequivocally that we are prepared to act on the basis of our declarations and pledges whatever may be the position taken by the other countries involved.
Having said that, we must immediately proceed to transfer the whole responsibility for the maintenance of peace in the Middle East to the shoulders which ought to bear it, and those are the shoulders not of this country alone, nor of France and the United States together with us, but of all the countries in the United Nations, and specifically the great Powers who are represented in the Security Council. In other words, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) suggested, we ought to lose no time in requesting that, under Article 34 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council should be seized of the danger of a breach of the peace in that part of the world. We 2212 ought immediately to raise it in the Security Council and through the Security Council seek to bring into the preservation of peace in the Middle East all the great Powers represented on the Council.
I should hope that that would lead to the creation of what many of us on this side of the House regard as the only way of introducing into the Middle East a pacifying element of a United Nations force, which need not be of any size, but which could create a buffer area between Israel and the Arab countries. This, of course, involves bringing the Soviet Union into consultation and into action in defence of security in the Middle East. This is where the point made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely inescapable, that if we want to avoid this country being left alone as the sole protector of the Middle East—
§ Mr. Warbey
—we must be prepared to bring the Soviet Union into full partnership on all discussions affecting the security of the Middle East. That the Government have so far refused to do, and they are therefore responsible for the situation with which this country might well be faced as a result of their refusal to face political realities. Instead, they have chosen to rely upon this futile act of accession to the Bagdad Pact.
The accession of this country and Persia to the Bagdad Pact created what was purely a local defensive alliance of certain countries in the Middle East into an act of provocation which was all the more provocative because it was futile. It added nothing to the defence of the real interests of this country. It was as provocative to the Soviet Union as if the Soviet Union had formed a military alliance with Mexico. The Minister of State sniggers. I do not know at what he is sniggering. He knows that the situation is exactly parallel. If a number of countries in Latin America had formed an alliance and, suddenly, that alliance had been joined on practically the same day by Mexico and the Soviet Union, the United States would have taken the same kind of action to upset the activities of the Soviet Union as the Soviet Union has taken to upset the activities of the Government in the Middle East. The situations are precisely parallel.
2213 Reaction was inevitable, and the right hon. Gentleman knows that the real difficulties and dangers in the Middle East started after we joined the Bagdad Pact and not before. All the really acute troubles have arisen since that time. The right hon. Gentleman has tried to suggest that the Russian intervention was long-planned interference. The Minister of State says "Hear, hear," but he has not produced a shred of evidence in support of that statement. He has made a general statement without a single piece of evidence to back it.
The fact is that, so long as the Middle East was comparatively a power vacuum, there was no trouble and no Russian intervention. It is only since the right hon. Gentleman and his military friends rushed in to fill this dangerous power vacuum that we have had all the trouble which has occurred in the past year. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Government that if they are serious about creating pacification in the Middle East, and if they recognise that, if we are to do that, we must inevitably bring in any great Power which has a legitimate security interest in the Middle East, they have got to be prepared to consider whether the Bagdad Pact is of any further use to this country.
There has been a lot of talk about the oil in the Middle East being vital to the industries and standard of living of this country. I should have thought that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would have realised by now that oil cannot be maintained for this country by fighting for it. If there is one thing more certain than another, it is that if we use military force in the Middle East in an attempt to keep the oil, we shall lose it. We can keep the oil only if peace is maintained there. We had all this over Abadan and the present Government have had to endorse the policy of peace which we carried out over the Abadan incident. If we desire to keep the vital oil supplies which this country requires, we cannot do it, under conditions in a modern world, by fighting for it, by using military force. We can do it only by commercial methods, by diplomacy and by politics.
The real trouble in the Middle East is the quarrel and rivalry of interests between the oil companies. We have to see that the political power of Governments is supreme over the racketeering 2214 of private oil companies in the Middle East. That is the job to which this Government should turn their attention. They should see that they have control over the British oil companies, and the American Government should have control over the American oil companies. Until the two Governments have control over the respective oil companies, it is futile to talk about British and American Governments getting together and solving the problem of oil in the Middle East.
Finally, the way to deal with the oil problem and the other economic questions in the Middle East is to give a fair share to both Arab and Jew who, up to now, have not had a fair share of the world's goods. They will get that only when countries like Britain, the United States, France and others that have exploited them in the past are prepared to bring them into a great consortium in which they can benefit first and foremost from the oil which comes out of their soil.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
The Government have had an uneasy passage during these last few weeks. At home their economic policy has collapsed about their ears, causing grave anxiety to the people of this country. Abroad, their lack of policy over foreign affairs has necessitated this debate which has meant the changing of our business for the week, and therefore we regard the situation as serious for the Prime Minister. I should not mind very much if the inefficiency of the Government in their handling of affairs both home and abroad recoiled only on the Government and their supporters. But that is not the case. The failures of the Government react on us all, and therefore we are entitled to be critical and to make proposals.
That, I think, is the answer to some hon. Gentlemen opposite who seemed to think that the job of the Opposition is merely to endorse all that the Government have done. Apparently they think that all the knowledge is possessed by the Government and that no one else can have any at all. It is perfectly true that the Government have sources of information at their disposal which no one else has. Nevertheless, I believe it to be our function, as Members of the Opposition, to supply ourselves with all the information we can and to use it when making our criticisms and our proposals.
2215 The first thing I say in criticism of the Government is that they are like an ostrich with its head buried in the sand. They have failed to see what is going on around them. I was astonished to learn from the Press that the dismissal of General Glubb—which, after all, gave rise to this debate—came as a surprise to the Government. Indeed, they have issued a statement saying that his dismissal came as a great shock. I did not understand that, until I thought back to some of the replies to Questions in this House, and especially to the reply given by the Joint Under-Secretary, to which my right hon. Friend referred today. In effect the Joint Under-Secretary said, "Do not worry; all this trouble in Jordan will come to nothing." That was an amazing thing for the Joint Under-Secretary to say on behalf of the Government.
I do not understand why the Government, who are probably better informed than their Joint Under-Secretary, did not realise that British control over the Arab Legion was rapidly coming to an end. Every Arab in the Middle East knew about it; everybody who visited the area had been told time and time again that it was the policy to get rid of British influence in the Arab Legion, for reasons that I will give later.
On 12th January, Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia offered the Jordan Government the financial aid they would need in order to do precisely what they have done, namely, to get rid of British control over the Arab Legion. What was the point of those three countries offering to provide Jordan with the amount of money we had been providing as a subsidy, unless it was to get rid of British control of the Arab Legion?
On 15th January—only three days later—King Hussein, as head of the State, said in a broadcast that he looked forward to the glorious day when, with the help of the Jordan army, the whole Arab nation would recover its usurped rights in Palestine. That is pretty clear. Despite what one hon. Member said earlier, namely, that King Hussein may be the tool of his politicians, and may not be entirely responsible for the things he is saying, he has nevertheless said them, and said them as head of the State. If he were to be deposed tomorrow, whoever put those words into his mouth 2216 would probably be the next head of the State.
On 17th January, the Jordan Foreign Minister welcomed the offer of financial aid and proposed a conference of the four Foreign Secretaries of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, to discover just what financial aid should be given and how it should be used, and they no doubt discussed amongst themselves the best way completely to rid themselves of British influence. All those things happened in the first few weeks of this year, and the right hon. Gentleman must have known all about them.
But suppose we assume that he had not been informed by his advisers that these things were going on, and that he had not had time to read the newspapers, whose correspondents were all saying this. In the debate on 24th January hon. Members on this side said—and I said it myself—that it was the intention of the Arab countries to get rid of British influence in the Arab Legion. I said that because I had just come back from the Middle East, where it had been said to me by some very influential Arab leaders.
In the Daily Herald of 23rd January there was a dispatch from Basil Davidson, who had just left Amman and who sent his dispatch from Cairo. He said that there were four things which the Jordan people were determined to have: first, the release of all political prisoners; secondly, a general election, with polling free from military police and pressure; thirdly, an end to British control of the police and, fourthly, an end of Glubb's absolute control of the £9 million British subsidy paid for the upkeep of the Jordan Army. All I want to say after that recital is that I still am at a loss to understand how the Foreign Office could issue a statement that it came as a shock to it and a surprise to the Government that Glubb Pasha had to go.
We have been criticising the Bagdad Pact, and were taken to task about this by the Minister of State when he opened the debate. He accused me of saying, in a debate a week ago, that I wanted to wind up the whole Bagdad Pact. I have read the report of that debate again this afternoon, and there was not a word which said that. I was a little cross with the Minister of State in my interjection, 2217 and I apologise if I seemed to be discourteous. I am very angry when a Minister merely takes a brief and relies upon someone taking a few words out of their context and putting them in his speech. If the right hon. Gentleman had done his own research he would not have said what he did this afternoon. It is quite untrue to say that I said something different in that speech from what had been laid down by my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) in dealing with the Bagdad Pact.
What I said about the Bagdad Pact—and will go on saying, and what my hon. and right hon. Friends will say—is the fair criticism that we can lay against it. The Minister of State said that it was the centre of the Government's Middle East policy. Did one ever hear such nonsense as that? There is only one Arab State in the Bagdad Pact. Syria, the Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia are outside the Pact. It is therefore nonsense to say, even though one emphasises words like "patience" and "fairness," that our whole Middle Eastern policy must be based upon the Pact, which ignores the existence of powerful Arab States. We can criticise the Pact but, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made clear today, we have not criticised the idea of a collective security pact in the northern tier.
While the Minister of State claimed great credit for the economic development contained within the Bagdad Pact, we criticise the fact that in order to get economic aid a country must join a military alliance. I am not sure that that is the right way to deal with economic aid. A country cannot have economic aid within the terms of the treaty unless it is a member of the Bagdad Pact. We have virtually put other Arab nations outside the economic aid that we are prepared to give. That is wrong.
I should have thought the Arab reaction to the Bagdad Pact was sufficient warning. Colonel Nasser was perfectly forthright in his declarations against the Pact. Let us not underestimate the power of Nasser. We may not like him and may object to military dictators, but Nasser is a powerful figure. He is ambitious and is pursuing a policy extremely popular in the Arab world, Arab unity. He is pursuing the idea that the Arab nation 2218 extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf and that it should be free of foreign interference. He believes in strong Arab nationalism.
I do not think we can quarrel with a country that wishes to be independent and free of foreign domination and wants to establish to itself the rights of its nationhood. We cannot quarrel with these aspirations of a nation. What we have to do is at least to try to make friends with these nations in the Middle East, because the effect of trying to force the Bagdad Pact upon Jordan made the situation in regard to Israel in the Middle East far more dangerous than it has ever been before.
The Prime Minister, when he was dealing with the Pact, said:It is based on the concept of co-operation between equal partners, which it has been our purpose to establish generally in our relations with Middle East countries."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 30th March, 1955; Vol. 539, c. 379.]Equal partners means that one must give up domination. It means that they are to be treated on the basis of equality, and if we are to give economic aid, it is a very dangerous thing to attach too many strings to it.
Now we have lost control of the Arab Legion, which in my view was one of the safety factors in preserving something like peace along that very long Jordan border. There is no doubt that the people of Israel must feel very apprehensive indeed at present in their little State. If I were in the Israeli Government, I should be spending some sleepless nights worrying about what the next move might be, because I see that where on one long border there was an army controlled by British officers, which could in the main restrain the worst elements in Jordan, there is now an army, which the Minister of State told us today was composed of 21,000 men, well equipped and well trained and upon which the British Government have spent £60 million in the last nine years. It is now along the Israeli border, without the restraining influence of General Glubb.
Therefore, the position of Israel is a very serious one. I say on behalf of my party that we shall go on pressing the Government for a treaty with Israel, which we regard as important. The Minister of State, when he had to leave his brief in order to answer a specific question about this matter, never gave 2219 us a direct answer, except to say that we could not have a treaty with a country the borders of which were not defined. Then, he was asked how it was that we could have a treaty with Jordan, the borders of which country were not defined in one particular area.
I do not want to weary the House with a long quotation, but I should like to refer the Minister of State to a debate on 22nd April, 1950, in this House, when my right hon. Friend the Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) was Minister of State and dealt with that matter. He showed that we recognised the land which the Jordan people had taken in Palestine. We recognised that as part of the land to be covered by the existing Treaty, based only as an armistice line and subject to modification by agreement between the two parties at any subsequent time. Therefore, it is perfectly feasible and perfectly possible to have a treaty with Israel based on the same grounds as those on which the Treaty with Jordan was based.
It is very interesting to note that only in tonight's Evening Standard there is an article by—I do not know whether one should mention the name or not in case the Prime Minister should get frightened, but it is an article written by Mr. Randolph Churchill. As he has written some peculiar things about the Prime Minister lately, I did not wish to mention his name in case it should frighten the Prime Minister. But Mr. Randolph Churchill writes in the Evening Standard, of an interview with Lord Killearn, who was for twelve years our representative in Cairo and an anti-Zionist, but who is now saying that the Government should have a treaty with Israel.
Whether or not we should have a treaty, I say most emphatically that the Government must now face the need of supplying arms to Israel—and in my view they must supply quality arms. They must meet the threat of faster fighters, of higher-flying bombers and of the superior tanks which are now in the hands of the Egyptians. The Minister of State and others have said from time to time that this will lead to an arms race. Of course that is not true, because the limit of arms must be the absorptive capacity of the country accepting them.
2220 We have here Israel, with a population of about 1¾ million surrounded by the Arab States, which are anti-Israel, with a total population of 40 million. It is of no use saying, therefore, that in an arms race one merely piles up arms until they are a real menace. The fact is that there is an absolute limit to what the Israelis can take. That is much less than the quantities which the Arab States can take, but at the moment the Israelis have not got a fighter to match the MiG, they have not a tank to match the Centurion and the Stalin T, and defence against bombers is difficult because they have not a fighter which can attain the heights at which the new Ilyushin bombers can fly. The Israelis are being put into an extremely difficult position, and I beg the Prime Minister once again to consider whether or not he will raise the ban on arms to Israel and give serious consideration to Israel's requirements.
§ Mr. Robens
If I give way it will only take from the time of the Prime Minister, and I do not think that that would be fair.
After the Prime Minister had returned from Washington we hoped that we should be told something specific about the Middle East and particularly about the Tripartite Declaration. Whatever we may say about the Tripartite Declaration here, however many times we are able to drag from the Government the admission that they really do stand by it, the truth is that neither the Jews nor the Arabs really believe in it—they have not confidence in it. Nevertheless, to the Israelis the Tripartite Declaration is very important. Israel is a tiny country, and with these new weapons she could be cut in two in a matter of hours. It is, therefore, not just a pious declaration that Israel wants. Israel wants to know in what form and how quickly aid can be given. We had hoped, therefore, that the Prime Minister would have talked to Eisenhower about this and would at least have given some indication as to the way in which aid could be given to one side or other in accordance with the Tripartite Declaration in the event of aggression.
We should also like to know what has happened to the suggestion, first made from these benches, about the international police force along strategic parts of the frontier and about which the Foreign Secretary later said he had talked 2221 eighteen months or two years previously with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We were not aware, of course, that he had done that; it was only after we had asked questions about it that we learned he had had talks.
What has happened? If full advantage is to be taken of the United Nations machinery, the Prime Minister and his colleagues in the Government should not answer us week after week in this House to the effect that they would support General Burns in any application he might make in relation to increasing his observer force. General Burns is a servant of the United Nations, and the decision whether or not to increase the force of observers or to use them as an international police force is not a matter for him. That is a political question for the United Nations Security Council to decide. It is passing the buck to say that we shall do it if and when General Burns says he would like more people for this task. The Government should long since have taken the initiative in proposing that it should be done.
If peace is to be preserved on that frontier, nothing less than an international police force along certain strategic parts of it is required. Col. Nasser is prepared to accept such a force, and it was a great mistake to let all these weeks pass since he indicated his willingness to withdraw a kilometre from the frontier, to facilitate such a force, without taking some advantage of his offer.
A problem of the Middle East which has been mentioned many times is our dependence, and the dependence of a good deal of the Western hemisphere, upon Middle East oil. We should be hypocrites if we did not acknowledge right away that the whole of our economy would come crashing around our ears if the oil were suddenly diverted from us; but we cannot have two policies about oil in the Middle East, an American policy and a British policy. The strange thing is that most, if not all, of the money which is causing the trouble, which is used for the bribery and the corruption and to organise demonstrations, and which has been used to get the British out of Jordan, comes from royalties paid by the American oil companies. It is a strange thing that the most anti-Communist country in the world should 2222 be allowing its money to be used to create a vacuum into which Communism can go.
I am a little surprised that the Prime Minister did not seriously deal with this point when he had the opportunity of talking to President Eisenhower. He may have done so, but he has not told us. When he came back he said nothing.
Altogether £360 million a year is going into the countries of the Middle East, but not to all of them; only to those which happen to have the oil. We, therefore, have abject and extreme poverty lying side by side with the most abnormal riches it is possible to see. If we want to preserve that oil in a friendly way for the Western Powers, we must always be prepared to pay a fair price for it; but there is no reason that, given a joint Anglo-American plan on oil, some of the surplus money should not be set on one side, not merely for the countries in which oil is found but as a fund for the economic development of the Middle East as a whole. I believe that money from royalties spent in that way would do very much better for the peace of the world than money spent in bribery and corruption and in unpinning all we have tried to do.
I should like to say much more, but I must draw my remarks immediately to a conclusion as I understand that the Prime Minister wants thirty-five minutes in order to tell us what I am sorry he did not tell us at the beginning of the debate. I would say this to him: the Government have very heavy responsibilities. They must take action, and they must be firm in the action which they take. The Minister of State emphasised that the policy was to be based on reliability, consistency, patience and firmness; but about what?—tell us about all these things that are to be done.
I want briefly to re-state our position. We say quite firmly that troops should not be used in Jordan in order to enforce a policy on Jordan, but troops should be used only in protection of British lives in that part of the world. The ban on arms for Israel should be lifted and she should be allowed to buy quality arms. We say the Government should not abrogate the Jordan Treaty, but should immediately open talks on the financial provisions of the Treaty in view of the changed circumstances. We say that the Government should try to get the oil 2223 companies of America and Britain to agree on a joint plan for the Middle East.
We believe that the Government should declare quite plainly that they have no intention whatever of interfering with the natural aspirations of the Arab people for independence, their own way of life and their nationalism; but at the same time we stand firmly by the Tripartite Declaration, that Israel must be protected, that she is there to stay and, subject to the guaranteeing of the State of Israel, the Arabs are perfectly entitled to have their natural aspirations granted to them.
Finally, I say to the Prime Minister that we have to decide whether we shall divide the House tonight. That will depend very largely on what the Prime Minister has to say, but I can assure him that we do not propose to go on giving carte blanche approval to the policy of the Prime Minister and the Government in foreign affairs until we are satisfied that what he is doing is good for the country and good for the world.
§ 9.27 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)
It is agreeable, before entering into the controversy which in some respects has arisen in this discussion, in my winding-up speech to be able to pay tributes which deserve perhaps rather fuller testimony than I can give tonight to my hon. Friend the Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean) on his maiden speech and to the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Boyd) for his contribution from the other side of the House. The House was not quite so full then as it is now, but those speeches were fully deserving of a very much wider audience. There also ran through them a certain substratum, I will not say of agreement, but of common thought which, quite naturally in a debate of this kind, others are instinctively tempted to conceal, but which in those maiden speeches appeared quite clearly. I am sure that the whole House will want to hear those two hon. Members again.
I will pick up some of the points made by the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens). He asked what we are doing about the United Nations observers. Why did we not get going and produce some results? Why did we only have thoughts which were produced by the Opposition 2224 long ago? If the right hon. Member and his colleagues want to have a monopoly of thoughts for increasing the United Nations observers, gladly I give it them with any other thoughts they like to produce. The right hon. Member complained—[An HON. MEMBER: "Get on."] I am going to get on and hon. Members opposite will not like some of what is coming to them. If hon. Members wish to claim the authorship, which belonged to the Foreign Secretary, for the increase in those numbers, of course, they can have it. It does not make the slightest difference to us so long as we get the results.
§ Mr. Robens
The right hon. Gentleman has challenged me. What I am saying is that he has not got results. That is what we are complaining about.
§ The Prime Minister
The right hon. Gentleman was good enough to say that he would give me twenty-five minutes and I was to sit down at three minutes to ten. The House can judge how well he has fulfilled that part of his bargain. It does not shock me at all. It is a reasonable arrangement that when one asks for an amount of time, one likes to have it. The House knows perfectly well that I am always ready to give way if I possibly can—I have done it for thirty years in this House—but when one asks for a certain measure of time in winding up, one is entitled to get it. Therefore, I do not propose to give way to the right hon. Gentleman any more.
I have told the right hon. Gentleman and I have told the House that we have made it quite plain that we are quite ready to make our contribution to an increase of the United Nations observers—and we have said more than that. We have said quite clearly that we consider that the United Nations observers should be increased in number. That is our view and our opinion. The decision for that does not rest with one member of the United Nations, but with the United Nations collectively. They are, all of them, fully aware of our view, which has been stated both publicly and privately. 2225 I still hold to the view that has been expressed, and I hope and trust that it will prevail among the majority of the United Nations so that that element, which must not be exaggerated, but which can be useful in ensuring that hostilities do not break out, can be made effective.
The right hon. Gentleman was very indignant because my right hon. Friend had said that last time he spoke he was violent in denunciation of the Bagdad Pact. I shall remind the House of what he said. The right hon. Gentleman said:What the Government did after that"—this is how he described our action—…was to precipitate a major danger to peace in the Middle East by going ahead with the policy of a military alliance in the Bagdad Pact.If that is not denouncing the Bagdad Pact, I do not know what is.
§ The Prime Minister
I wish to finish the golden words. The right hon. Gentleman must not interrupt me before I finish his quotation. He went on to say:That provoked, as might have been expected, the equally mischievous and dangerous Soviet intervention in the Middle East."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th February, 1956; Vol. 549, c. 853.]I would only say this to the right hon. Gentleman: Every single word of what was said by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) in tearing to pieces the folly of that statement was absolutely right at every point.
§ Mr. Robens
I merely ask the Prime Minister to ask his right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary what Nasser told him when he went to see him about the Bagdad Pact and the Russian arms.
§ The Prime Minister
I am not in the least concerned what Nasser may or may not have said. I am dealing with the right hon. Gentleman, who in his last speech violently attacked the Bagdad Pact in considerable contradiction to the right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) who opened the debate for the Opposition this afternoon and in even more marked contradiction to the right hon. Member for Easington, and, let me add, to those who supported the Pact 2226 when we first introduced it into this House. If this was such a wicked business, what a pity it is that the right hon. Gentleman, with the remarkable foresight about which he has told us this evening, did not think of voting against it when it was produced.
I have quotations from a number of speeches that were made at the time, notably by—[HON. MEMBERS: "Make your own speech."]—Mr. T. Reid, who was the Member for Swindon in the last House, strongly and emphatically endorsing the Bagdad Pact. [Interruption.]
Order. I must ask hon. Members to listen to the Prime Minister. The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) was heard in perfect silence.
§ The Prime Minister
I was only pointing out to the House, as I think I am entitled to do, that there has been a whole series of divergent statements from hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is your view."] I am entitled to make these statements because the country should realise them. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite have alternated between supporting and attacking the Bagdad Pact. The right hon. Gentleman's attack last time was of the greatest benefit to the critics of this country. Today the right hon. Gentleman takes a different line. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) took a different line. My policy is clear enough. I am one of the authors of the Bagdad Pact. I am proud to be so, and I stand by it in every line. Our complaint is that right hon. Gentlemen alternate in their criticism, one day saying that it is a bad thing and another day saying that it is a good thing.
I was asked by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, earlier in the debate, if I would give some account of what happened in negotiations with the Jordan Government over the entry of Jordan into the Bagdad Pact. He said that all this had been concealed and clothed in mystery and asked whether I would be good enough to tell the House something about it. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman—I do not complain because it is difficult for all of us—has not had the leisure to read HANSARD. An actual account of all this was given in HANSARD, and perhaps I had better read the Joint Under-Secretary's reply, 2227 which explains exactly what the negotiations were about and what we offered, which I hope the House will consider reasonable. This is what the Joint Under-Secretary said:In response to an inquiry on their part the Jordan Government were recently informed that, in the event of the Jordan Government acceding to the Bagdad Pact and in recognition of Jordan's new responsibilities under it, Her Majesty's Government would be prepared:"—I hope that I can have the right hon. Gentleman's attention—
I think that gives a reasonable account of the offer which was made to the Jordan Government.
- "(a) to equip and maintain additional infantry units of the Arab Legion, together with an artillery unit;
- (b) to convert an armoured car regiment to tanks; and
- (c) to negotiate the replacement of the Anglo-Jordan Treaty of 1948 by a Special Agreement under Article 1 of the Pact."
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am obliged to the Prime Minister for taking up my question, but he has not told us whether any conditions were laid down if, in fact, this were to be carried through, nor has he given us a clear indication of what the consequential increase in the strength of the Legion would be or what the additional subsidy would be.
§ The Prime Minister
I can give the right hon. Gentleman further information if he desires, but I was dealing with the point he made that these negotiations have been carried through with some mystery. They have not. Nor were they carried through by any form of blackmail, as has been suggested, that is to say, by saying to Jordan, "If you do not join you will not continue to enjoy the privileges you now enjoy." I want the House to appreciate that. That was never said at any time.
As for the choice of General Templer, which was also criticised, I would add that here was a military matter in the main, which the officer was to decide. I do not know what more distinguished officer we could have sent. He was well known to the King and to most of the Jordanian leaders at the time. So I make no apology for the choice of General Templer.
Now I want to say a word about the recent developments in Jordan which, 2228 after all, apart from the other matters which have arisen, were the original cause of this debate. Last Monday I reported to the House immediately recent developments in Jordan, and I expressed our view as a Government of what had happened. I also informed the House of certain decisions we had taken in respect of officers in executive command. I think it is fair to say that the House as a whole thought that those were the inevitable decisions we had to take. They have been communicated to the Jordan Government by whom they have been received with, I think I ought to say, considerable distress.
On Monday I also told the House the doubts which I felt as to whether we could, or should, immediately determine the lines of our future policy towards Jordan from this time, that is to say, I do not mean just the officers but the treaty, the subsidy and all the other things that go with it.
We have had much advice in the same sense during this debate, and I think it is good advice. I must tonight tell the House bluntly that I am not in a position to announce tonight in respect of Jordan, though of other things I have more to say, immediate definite lines of policy which will inevitably be followed—I will tell the House why—because I am sure that to attempt to do so now, with such information as we have, would be not only premature, but probably dangerous to our own interests, more perhaps than to those of Jordan.
During this debate a number of hon. Members from both sides of the House have counselled a certain caution. I think it is right that that caution should be pursued, but, as we do so, there is a factor which has been mentioned several times and which we cannot ignore in weighing up our present difficulties.
The Leader of the Opposition and others referred in passing to Arab-Israel antagonism—so did some of my hon. Friends—and to its possible effect on the course of events in Jordan. It is certainly true that where there are very large refugee problems, the difficulties are infinitely greater in trying to get any kind of relaxation of tension or toleration of another point of view than anywhere else in the Middle East.
That is perfectly true, and I have not the least doubt that though the House may try to weigh what were the factors 2229 which brought about this result, one of them beyond doubt was the number of people in Jordan today. Is it half a million, or is it more, who are exiles from Palestine, who look back, as the right hon. Gentleman said, across that frontier, and whose whole thoughts are bent in getting back across that frontier.
Hon. Gentlemen who know this business well will perhaps know this too, that without doubt the most powerful factor militating against Jordan joining the Pact when General Templer was there was that they knew that one consequence of the Bagdad Pact was that its members might be thinking of other things as well as of getting back again to Israel, or a future conflict with Israel. I have not the slightest doubt that that factor played its part in the decision that was then taken. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is obvious."] It may be obvious to the hon. Gentleman, but perhaps he will not mind my repeating the obvious. It is an important factor which is not always understood.
I want to say something on the subject of Egypt. For some time past, we know, the Egyptian broadcasts have kept up a stream of abuse against Glubb Pasha, and that has been distributed all over Jordan. To try to disrupt a treaty between Jordan and ourselves is utterly inconsistent with assurances of friendly relations. If the Egyptians generally want friendly relations with the Western Powers, they can be obtained, but not at any price One way of ensuring that Egypt does not get them is to pursue a policy which, on the one hand, professes friendship and, on the other, incites hostility.
I also want to say something about a point which has arisen over and over again during the debate, first being raised by the Leader of the Opposition—the position of Jordan in relation to the 1950 Declaration and the position of Israel in relation to a treaty. Perhaps hon. Members do not recall—anyhow, nobody has mentioned it—that our treaty with Jordan was made before the hostilities broke out, As the right hon. Member for Blyth correctly mentioned just now, the right hon Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger)—very properly, I think—entered a certain caveat when the Trans-Jordan Treaty became a treaty with Jordan. The right hon. Gentleman rightly pointed out that 2230 the frontiers had not been finally determined, and he went on to say:Until, therefore, the frontier between Israel and Jordan is determined by a final settlement between them His Majesty's Government regard the territory to which the Anglo-Jordan Treaty is applicable as being bounded by the Armistice Line or any modification of it which may be agreed upon by the two parties."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th April, 1950; Vol. 474, c. 1138.]The House will observe with interest—I think that what was said at that time was quite right—how close those words are to the later 1950 Declaration for which the Government of that day were also responsible—again rightly, I think—but I do not think it is an accident that the words have a certain parallel meaning.
The position about treaties, therefore, is that there was a treaty with Jordan before the hostilities began, that after the hostilities had begun there was a statement in respect of that treaty which was very similar to the 1950 Declaration, and that since the Declaration of 1950 all the policies of successive Governments have been based on that Declaration and no further treaties have been made with any parties to the dispute in any part of that area. [Interruption.] Iraq is not a neighbour of Israel. That is the reason why the Labour Government did not make a Treaty with Israel at the time. It is the same reason as applies now. If that was not the Labour Government's reason, I do not know what it was; anyhow, they did not make a treaty with Israel.
The point that I am establishing is that I think this country should keep, as the United States is keeping, this distinction clearly in mind. We have given various undertakings—very grave undertakings, as the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) rightly said—in respect of the 1950 Declaration, but treaties must await a settlement where they can be offered to both sides, and so far both sides have not agreed upon their settlement. At any rate, I hope that what I have said clears up the difference between treaties and the 1950 Declaration, and that the House knows exactly what it is.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
Does the Prime Minister not think that if the point of view which he is now putting forward were really the valid one, the right thing at the time of my statement in 1950 2231 would have been for us to say that our Treaty with Jordan did not apply to anything outside the original frontiers of Jordan? In fact, we did not say any such thing. We said that it covered the new territories of Jordan as a whole up to the armistice lines, and that is why we say there should be a similar treaty with Israel.
§ The Prime Minister
If the right hon. Gentleman really felt that, I do not see why he did not make his treaty at the time. My belief is that his Government did not feel that, but felt that where the frontiers were still undetermined, treaties had better not be made.
At any rate, we looked into this again at Washington and at Washington we deliberately chose a form of words in respect of the 1950 Declaration with which I must trouble the House again, because they are of the greatest importance. The words are:The Tripartite Declaration of May 25, 1950,right hon. Gentlemen say they always have to drag this out of me, but on this occasion they will not have to do so—provides for action both inside and outside the United Nations in the event of the use of force or threat of force or of preparations to violate the frontier or armistice lines…Let hon. Members notice how close this is to the Jordan language. It goes on:We are bound to recognise that there is now increased danger."—and I endorse the view of the Leader of the Opposition that the danger has been further increased by the events in Jordan in the last few days; I entirely accept that. [Interruption.] I am reading this quotation, because of its relevance to that increased danger:Accordingly we have made arrangements"—that is, ourselves and the United States—for joint discussions as to the nature of the action which we should take in such an event.I ask the House whether it is conceivable, knowing the constitutions of the two countries, to imagine any statement of a graver character could be made by the United States and the United Kingdom, or one which has greatest significance for the action we may have to take.
I do not consider—and I hope that the House including right hon. Gentlemen 2232 opposite will agree with me—that it is a light engagement which we have to carry under the 1950 Declaration. It is very serious indeed for the people of this country, perhaps more serious than many of them yet realise. It is of the greatest significance that we and the United States should be in complete agreement about it and have had discussions as to the nature of the action we should take in such an event.
I would say—hon. Gentlemen opposite can judge—if I were in the position of Israel, that I should regard that undertaking, in view of the forces which are available in the area, as infinitely more valuable than agreement to be allowed to buy a certain number of tanks or aircraft. There is no question about it. If this country were in danger, a statement like that by the United States would be worth all the tanks we could get from anywhere, and infinitely better in the cause of peace than an arms race and all the consequences that would flow from it.
If right hon. Gentlemen opposite prefer an arms race, they can always have it. The consequence, if we do not agree to accept the undertaking of the United States, this country and France, which has now joined us in this obligation, is, as the right hon. Gentleman rightly said, to pile in a certain number of arms with the result that in the end Israel could not hope to compete with the Arab States.
§ The Prime Minister
I want to say something about the criticisms of the Bagdad Pact, because it is a very important instrument, however much right hon. Gentlemen opposite may sneer at it. It is the only example yet created in the Middle East of a treaty engagement in which a number of countries have voluntarily come together for mutual help one with another, the only example of this kind that exists at all, both politically and economically. Moscow Radio calls it the "Colonial Pact." I hope that when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was speaking earlier and talking about semi-colonial arrangements, ho was not a milder echo of Moscow Radio in that respect. [Interruption.] I said I was sure that he was not, that he did not refer to it in that context at all.
2233 By means of that Pact we are creating a unity in a wide area of the Middle East which has never existed before, a unity which is both political and economic and which has already brought far-reaching advantages to all the peoples in that area. We repeat to the House tonight that we intend to uphold the Bagdad Pact; to be loyal to all those who are its members; to uphold the 1950 Declaration, with all its possible ominous consequences for the people of this country; to be loyal to all those engagements. We think those make a foundation upon which Middle Eastern effort can be built, and we will pursue them, whatever the consequences, until the end of the road.
Order. We have only a few moments left. Let us hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
If I may have the leave of the House to speak, I was merely going to say that in view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of the Prime Minister's reply, we shall divide the House.
§ Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 252, Noes 312.2237
|Division No. 117.]||AYES||[9.58 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jeger George (Goole)|
|Albu, A. H.||Deer, G.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Delargy, H. J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Dodds, N. N.||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)|
|Anderson, Frank||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch)||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dye, S.||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Baird, J.||Edelman, M.||Kenyon, C.|
|Balfour, A.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Bartley, P.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||King, Dr. H. M.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lawson, G. M.|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Ledger, R. J.|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)|
|Benson, G.||Fernyhough, E.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)|
|Beswick, F.||Fienburgh, W.||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Finch, H. J.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)|
|Blackburn, F.||Fletcher, Eric||Lewis, Arthur|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Forman, J. C.||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.|
|Boardman, H.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Logan, D. G.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Gibson, C. W.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C||MacColl, J. E.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Greenwood, Anthony||McGhee, H. G.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||McGovern, J.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Grey, C. F.||McInnes, J.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||McLeavy, Frank|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hale, Leslie||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Burke, W. A.||Hannan, W.||Mahon, S.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Hastings, S.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Hayman, F. H.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)|
|Carmichael, J.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Herbison, Miss M.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.|
|Champion, A. J.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Mason, Roy|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hobson, C. R.||Mayhew, C. P.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Holman, P.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Clunie, J.||Holmes, Horace||Messer, Sir F.|
|Coldrick, W.||Houghton, Douglas||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Monslow, W.|
|Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Moody, A. S.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Hoy, J. H.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. Herbert (Lewishm. S.)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Mort, D. L.|
|Cronin, J. D.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Moss, R.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Hunter, A. E.||Moyle, A.|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Daines, P.||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Irving, S. (Dartford)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Janner, B.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Oram, A. E.|
|Orbach, M,||Royle, C.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Oswald, T.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Viant, S. P.|
|Owen, W.J.||Short, E. W.||Warbey, W. N.|
|Padley, W. E.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Paget, R. T.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Weitzman, D.|
|paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Skeffington, A. M.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||West, D. G.|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Parker, J.||Snow, J. W.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wigg, George|
|Paton, J.||Sparks, J. A.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Peart, T. F.||Steele, T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Plummer, Sir Leslie||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Willey, Frederick|
|Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Stones, W. (Consett)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Probert, A. R.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Stross, Dr.Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Randall, H. E.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Rankin, John||Swingler, S. T.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Redhead, E. C.||Sylvester, G. O.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Reeves, J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Reid, William||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Woof, R. E.|
|Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Thornton, E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Timmons, J.|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Turner-Samuels, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Ross, William||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Mr. Popplewell and Mr. Pearson.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G-||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Grant, W. (Woodside)|
|Aitken, W. T.||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Cooper-Key, E- M.||Green, A.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Gurden, Harold|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Crouch, R. F.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Aston, H.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Cunningham, Knox||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Currie, G. B. H.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Dance, J. C. G.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Barber, Anthony||Davidson, Viscountess||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Barter, John||Deedes, W. F.||Hay, John|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Beamish, Maj. Tufton||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Drayson, G. B.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||du Cann, E. D. L.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Bishop, F. P.||Duthie, W. S.||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Black, C. W.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Hope, Lord John|
|Body, R. F.||Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick & L'm'tn)||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Eden, J. B (Bournemouth, West)||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Errington, Sir Eric||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Erroll, F. J.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, w.)||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Howard, John (Test)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Fell, A.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Finlay, Graeme||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Fisher, Nigel||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Bryan, P.||Foster, John||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Hurd, A. R.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Freeth, D. K.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Hyde, Montgomery|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A.(Saffron Walden)||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.|
|Campbell, Sir David||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Carr, Robert||Gibson-Watt, D.||Irvine, Bryant Codman (Rye)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Glover, D.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Channon, H.||Godber, J. B.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Gough, C. F. H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Cole, Norman||Gower, H. R.||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Moore, Sir Thomas||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Kaberry, D.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Kegan, D.||Nairn, D. L. S,||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Neave, Airey||Speir, R. M.|
|Kerr, H. W.||Nicholls, Harmar||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Kershaw, J, A.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Kimball, M.||Nicolson, N.(B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Kirk, P. M.||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Lagden, G. W.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Lambert, Hon. G.||Nugent, G. R. H.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Nutting, Rt. Hon. Anthony||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Oakshott, H. D.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Leavey, J. A.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Storey, S.|
|Leburn, W. G.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Summers, G. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Osborne, C.||Teeling, W.|
|Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Page, R. G.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Partridge, E.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Peyton, J. W. W.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.||Pitman, I. J.||Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Tilney, John (Wavertee)|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Pott, H. P.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Powell, J. Enoch||Turner, H. F. L.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Profumo, J. D.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Vickers, Miss J. H.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Ramsden, J. E.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Rawlinson, Peter||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Redmayne, M,||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Renton, D. L. M.||ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Ridsdale, J. E.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Maddan, Martin||Rippon, A. G. F.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Robertson, Sir David||Whitelaw, W.S.I.(Penrith & Border)|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Robson-Brown, w.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Marples, A. E.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Marshall, Douglas||Roper, Sir Harold||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Mathew, R.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Russell, R. S.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Mawby, R. L.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.|
|Medlicott, Sir Frank||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Sharples, R. C.||Mr. Heath and Mr. Studholme.|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Shepherd, William|