HC Deb 01 November 1956 vol 558 cc1631-744

4.41 p.m.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

I beg to move, That this House deplores the action of Her Majesty's Government in resorting to armed force against Egypt in clear violation of the United Nations Charter, thereby affronting the convictions of a large section of the British people, dividing the Commonwealth, straining the Atlantic Alliance, and gravely damaging the foundations of international order. This has been for our country a black and tragic week. The Government, by plunging the country into an unjustifiable and wicked war against, we believe, the will of the majority of our citizens, have deeply outraged millions of our people. The Prime Minister this afternoon knows that his action has divided this nation more deeply and more bitterly than I remember in my lifetime. Today, and in the days that are coming, we shall find an increasing number of our constituents saying that they are deeply humiliated and shamed at the action that has been taken by Her Majesty's Government.

Look at the events of this week. First, we have dealt, it may well be, a mortal blow at the unity of the Commonwealth. We have strained to the utmost the alliance with our friends, perhaps beyond repair. We have violated our solemn pledges and undertakings under the United Nations Charter, and this evening, while this debate is taking place in this House, we shall be arraigned before the General Assembly of the United Nations. Whatever the result of our vote at ten o'clock here, it may be that a two-thirds majority of the nations of the world will have branded our Government, and, far more important, our country, as an aggressor—in 1956.

I was priveleged to be here, not on these premises but in the old House of Commons, at the time which the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) described as "Britain's finest hour". I speak quite seriously, as one who takes second place to none in love for my country or in service to my country, when I say that I feel a deep humiliation in being present at Britain's worst hour. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, in two successive and masterly speeches in this House, deployed our case. He argued, in a case which has not been answered, and which, in my view, is unanswerable, that the action of Her Majesty's Government is in violation of our pledges to the United Nations.

I speak for my right hon. and hon. Friends, but there is cumulative evidence from the country during the course of these debates that the answers which Government spokesmen have so far given to our case have left the House and the country still in doubt, and unconvinced that any answer can be given by the Government to the case which my right hon. Friend has made, that we have entered into this action in violation of our solemn pledges.

During the course of this week we have seen the Government as the first British Government—I do not know whether the Prime Minister feels any pride about this—to use the veto in the United Nations. Times without number, when we have discussed international affairs in this House, Ministers have pointed to the wickedness of the Soviet Union in using the veto. [An HON. MEMBER: "Last Monday."] What is our answer now? We have used it, and used it in circumstances which, it is clear from all the reports we get in the Press, have outraged world opinion as well as the members of the United Nations.

I have listened to the attempts by Government spokesmen to answer the case put by my right hon. Friend and other hon. Members on the crucial question whether the action taken by Her Majesty's Government is or is not in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. I listened, in particular, to the two speeches made by the Foreign Secretary, one at the close of the debate on Tuesday and the other at the close of the debate yesterday evening. We have become familiar in these debates, since we have had a Middle East crisis, to Ministers speaking from one day to another with conflicting views which leave the House and the country in confusion. Let me recall the Foreign Secretary's own defence of the Government's position.

On Tuesday, in reply to the charge by my right hon. Friend that we were in breach of the United Nations Charter, the Foreign Secretary did not seek to prove that we were within the United Nations Charter. Indeed, on Tuesday his main theme was that we could not wait, that the situation was urgent, that there was danger, that we had to act at once and that, therefore, the Government could not wait for the United Nations to pronounce upon the matter. Let me quote his own words. He said: The Security Council is … frustrated by the veto … it cannot act immediately … the policeman "— this was on Tuesday evening in this House, at about ten o'clock— has his hands tied behind his back."—[OFFICIAI. REPORT, 30th October, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 1381.] While the Foreign Secretary was making that speech in this House the British representative on the Security Council of the United Nations, acting on the instructions of the same right hon. and learned Gentleman, was frustrating the United Nations by using the veto and was actually at that moment engaged in tying the policeman's hands behind his back. That, indeed, is a shameful thing.

I ask the Foreign Secretary or the Prime Minister, whichever of them is to reply, whether, when either or both of them spoke on Tuesday, they had already given the instructions to their representative on the United Nations Security Council to take that action. If the instructions had been given—the time-table seems to indicate that they must have been given—why was not this House told about them on Tuesday evening? Not only did we use this veto for the first time, and frustrate the United Nations by the use of it, but we did it in New York, and speaking in this House at about the same time the Foreign Secretary, who gave the instructions, was silent. He said not a word about it.

Yesterday evening the Foreign Secretary changed his ground. He then claimed—and I listened to every word of his speech and have read it since—that our action was in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations. Let me quote his words: One of the accusations of the Leader of the Opposition was that the action we have taken is a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter. No doubt he believes that. Yes, we believe that. So does world opinion, so does British opinion. The Foreign Secretary continued: I believe with equal sincerity that that is not so.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st October, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 1569.] I put this to the Prime Minister: if the Government believe, as the Foreign Secretary told us last night, that the action which they have taken is in conformity with the United Nations Charter, justifying this on the basis of Article 51, by what is a long and tortuous argument—if the Government are convinced that their action is in conformity with the United Nations Charter—why did not they put their proposed action before the Security Council and ask for their judgment?

Who is to decide whether any action is within the Charter or not? Is each country to make that its own unilateral decision? I ask the Government why they did not put that question. Do they propose to instruct their representative in the General Assembly this evening to argue that the action which we have taken is in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations? Let me read to hon. Members Article 51, upon which this argument is based. We have heard it before, but I think I should read it again because it is vitally important; the honour and fair name of our country are at stake. It reads: Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security. he Government claim that their action was in conformity with the United Nations Charter and they base that claim on Article 51, but Article 51 lays it down quite clearly that if any such action is taken it must be immediately reported to the Security Council. [An HON. MEMBER: "And it was."] So it was, but did the Government ask the Security Council to pronounce upon it? When the United Nations were considering this situation, including the Government's action, the Government used the veto and made us a guilty country in the eyes of the world.

I therefore say that the case made out in this Motion and by the Opposition this week has been abundantly proved and that none of the speeches which we have heard from the Government has gone anywhere near attempting to answer the charge made. We repeat that in moving this Motion of censure we do so basically and fundamentally because the Government have acted in violation of the United Nations Charter, to which all of us, including them, are pledged in this country.

When the Election of 1955 was fought the Conservative Party told the country that its foreign policy was based on certain principles and that one of those principles was adherence throughout— "throughout" was the word used—to the United Nations Charter. Every hon. Member opposite who votes for the Government this evening is betraying the pledges which he gave to his constituents in the Election. If hon. Members doubt it, let us go to the country and find out.

I turn to the Tripartite Declaration. I should like to begin by saying a few words about Israel. Like many hon. Members, I have had the privilege of visiting Israel and I have come back, as we must all have come back, deeply impressed by the magnificent way in which they are building a home for their tortured people and, while building a home for their people, creating a new, democratic society which in so many ways is a pattern to the world. I have come back deeply conscious, too, of the fact that they have been carrying on this magnificent work under great strain and tension, with a spade in one hand and a gun in the other. Like all of us, I am anxious that we should do all that we can to ensure the future well-being and prosperity of Israel.

I have said this before and I say it now as a friend of Israel: I still believe that the greatest safeguard for the security of Israel in this period was embodied in the Tripartite Declaration of 1950. Indeed, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary know that we went to see the Government as representatives of the Executive of the Labour Party at a time when the Government had concluded some new agreements with some of Israel's Arab neighbours. We then urged that so that we might keep the balance, which is the implicit cardinal principle in the declaration of 1950, Her Majesty's Government should enter into agreement with Israel comparable with the agreement we had already arrived at with some of her Arab neighbours.

We put that proposal before the House. We put it in two deputations to two Foreign Secretaries—the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and the present Foreign Secretary. They refused—and for the moment I make no complaint about that. Why did they refuse? They refused because they said that the best safeguard for Israel was complete compliance with and adherence to the Tripartite Declaration.

When the Prime Minister was Foreign Secretary, he spoke in a debate in the House on 2nd November, 1954, and dealt with this very point. I want to call attention to the words which he then used and relate them to the circumstances which we now face after the Government's action this week. He spoke of the "three Governments", and I particularly call attention to these words: The three Governments--and it is, of course, of cardinal importance that it is the three Governments—all declare …".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1954; Vol. 532, c. 326.] He then went on to use words from the Declaration which I need not repeat. The major point which the Prime Minister made was not only that the Tripartite Declaration of 1950 was Israel's best safeguard, but that the cardinal point of the Tripartite Declaration was that three countries had committed themselves to it.

What happens now? The Tripartite Declaration was designed to meet the kind of situation which has occurred between Israel and her Arab neighbours in the last few weeks and days. We know perfectly well that Her Majesty's Government took this action, when they were already committed under the Tripartite Declaration with the United States, without consulting or even informing the United States Government, a partner to this Declaration. I therefore ask the Prime Minister to reply to this question: does the Declaration still stand? Have we not now real grounds to fear that the action which the Government have taken has undermined the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, may have destroyed it and may have torn it up? And—and I say this as a friend of Israel—with all their pretext of sympathy for that country that is the worst thing that the Government have done for it.

We say in our Motion that the action which the Government have taken has divided the Commonwealth. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford, in one of his wartime speeches, much quoted, for and against, said that he had not become Prime Minister of Britain to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. This Empire is being transformed into a great Commonwealth, the greatest multi-racial community the world has ever known, and the present Prime Minister, the successor of the right hon. Member for Woodford, has dealt such a mortal blow to the Commonwealth that he may be responsible for its liquidation.

First, we are members of this great Commonwealth which has made, and has still to make, such a wonderful contribution to the peace and well-being of the world, and to show the world that people of different colours, religions and creeds can live on equal terms of human dignity together. I ask hon. Members to realise how this action of the Government appears to the countless millions of fellow-citizens in our Commonwealth. There are the millions of Moslems in the Commonwealth and in the Colonies. I tell hon. Members how this action will appear to them—and this, in my view, is one of the greatest indictments of the present action of the Government.

For the people in the Commonwealth and the Colonies—and in the uncommitted world—this will be an attack by a powerful white country on a weak country of coloured people. When one reads the pronouncements in the Press of the Commonwealth and Colonies it becomes increasingly clear that, by the action taken this week, we may very well have destroyed this great venture, this Commonwealth, towards which we have been working. And it is a Conservative Government, it is the party which regarded the Empire almost as a branch of the Conservative Party, whose members talk about it as if it belonged to them—they are the Government who are breaking up the Commonwealth at this time.

Those are our charges: that we have violated the Charter of the United Nations; that we have torn up the Tripartite Declaration; that we have divided ourselves from our friends, and that we have outraged public opinion in the world.

I now want to say a word to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has for many years been looked upon by many people in this country, and of more than one party, as the champion of the United Nations. [An HON. MEMBER: "He still is."] In 1945, the present Prime Minister was one of those privileged to be present at the foundation of the United Nations. He made a speech at that Foundation Conference from which I want to quote. I want to remind the House of what he said—and we shall remind the country.

At the Foundation Conference, in San Francisco, in 1945—and I expect that hon. Members have made this same quotation in Election speeches to their constituents; I wonder whether they will make it after this week?—the Prime Minister said: At intervals in history mankind has sought by the creation of international machinery to solve disputes between nations by agreement and not by force. Yet no one here doubts that despite these earlier failures a further attempt must be made … Great Powers"— and I presume that he included us among the great Powers; I presume that he included the Government which he now heads: can make a two-fold contribution: (1) by the support of this organisation; (2) by setting themselves certain standards of international conduct and by observing them scrupulously in all their dealings with other countries. The greater the power any State commands, the heavier its responsibility to wield that power with consideration for others and with restraint upon its own selfish impulses. I say to the Prime Minister that he has forfeited the trust of millions of our people. He has failed to keep the faith, and now, at the end of this tragic, humiliating week for our country, I say to the Prime Minister, and, I believe, to the country that, not for the first time in the history of this House, it has been left for the Leader of the Opposition to speak for Britain. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am proud of the lead which my right hon. Friend has given today. This evening, when we go into the Lobby to vote for this Motion—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nasser."]—we shall carry with us—[HON. MEMBERS: "Nasser."]—the good wishes—[Interruption.] I remember hearing, in 1937 and 1938, talk of "Franco's friends", "Members of the Ring", "Men of Munich", and I ask, Who are you to talk to us about Nasser?"

In voting for this Motion this evening we are speaking for the best in Britain. We say to the Government, "Get out, and make way for others."

5.9 p.m

The Prime Minister (Sir Anthony Eden)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: approves of the prompt action taken by Her Majesty's Government designed to bring hostilities between Israel and Egypt to an end and to safeguard vital international and national interests, and pledges its full support for all steps necessary to secure these ends. I undertook a few moments ago that when I opened this debate I would deal at once with the question of the status of prisoners of war and the questions which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked. Therefore, having moved the Amendment which stands in the names of my right hon. Friends and myself, I will answer the right hon. Gentleman's questions.

There has been, of course, as the House knows, no declaration of war by us. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame."] Shame? Hon. Members opposite must really clear their minds a little bit. There was also no declaration of war at any time in the Korean conflict, but the Geneva Convention does apply to any state of armed conflict.

We have received a formal inquiry—I think the House would like to know this—from the President of the International Red Cross asking us whether we will ratify the 1949 Conventions which we have already signed. The 1949 one is a later edition of the Conventions. We are replying that, although certain legislation is required before we can ratify these Conventions, Her Majesty's Government accept the Conventions and have every intention of applying their conditions should the occasion arise. The Egyptian and Israeli Governments have both signed and ratified the Conventions and we shall, therefore, consider ourselves also entitled to receive from them the treatment provided by these Conventions.

I should add that we are applying the provisions of the 1949 Conventions to the survivors from the Egyptian frigate "Domiat." I repeat that the Geneva Convention applied in Korea although there was no declaration of war. It was never admitted that there was a state of war, and Korea was never a war in any technical or legal sense, nor are we at war with Egypt now.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

First, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman a question with regard to Korea? In the case of Korea, the hostilities were against North Korea. North Korea was not recognised by the United Nations, by us or by any nation on our side of that controversy as a State at all. Therefore, no question of a declaration of war in that case could possibly have arisen. There is no parallel between that case and the case of Egypt which is a fellow member with us in the United Nations.

The point that the right hon. Gentleman has not dealt with is not whether the Geneva Convention applies. He said in the last words before he sat down that we are not at war with Egypt. What are we at with Egypt then—at peace? The point I want to put to the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly plain and simple. We have delivered an ultimatum. That ultimatum contained conditions as to time and as to other things. The time expired. The conditions were not accepted. It is clear in international law that in those circumstances the country which delivers the ultimatum is not entitled to carry on hostilities without a declaration of war. Since that is so, what legal justification have our hostilities at all?

The Prime Minister

That is not the question that I was originally asked. The question that I was originally asked was whether there had been a declaration of war by us. The answer is that there has not been a declaration of war by us.

Mr. Silverman


The Prime Minister


Mr. Silverman

On a point of order—

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Charles MacAndrew)

I do not see how a point of order can possibly arise.

Mr. Silverman

The point of order is this. The question originally arose on a point of order which I addressed to Mr. Speaker. That point of order related to a Ruling as to how the House of Commons could secure from the Government some explanation of under what legal authority we are carrying on any hostilities at all. That was the original question raised. Mr. Speaker's Ruling was that it could be dealt with in the debate.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I think I have heard enough to answer the hon. Gentleman now. It is not a point of order.

Mr. Silverman

Further to the point of order. The Prime Minister has just said that that question is not the question which he was asked, and therefore, he is refusing to answer it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order.

The Prime Minister

I wish to allay the anxiety of the House on the two points which I was asked. On the first, I repeat that there has been no declaration of war by us. On the second, the Geneva Convention applies to any state of armed conflict. Therefore, it applies in the present conditions just as it applied in Korea. That is the position of the International Red Cross in the matter. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) keeps interrupting me. I am answering the questions that I was asked.

Mr. Silverman

The right hon. Gentleman is not.

The Prime Minister

I repeat that there has been no declaration of war by us, and that the Geneva Convention applies.

Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)

The Prime Minister has made it perfectly plain that there has been no declaration of war, but the question I put to him was whether we were in a state of war. I am still not quite clear whether we are or not. He said that we are in a state of armed conflict. Exactly what is the difference between war and armed conflict?

The Prime Minister

We are in an armed conflict; that is the phrase I have used. There has been no declaration of war.

The important point which I think the House wanted to have met, and which I have met, is whether the Geneva Conventions apply to the present situation. After all, the whole indignation was "What about our soldiers, sailors and airmen?" I have replied quite clearly that the Conventions do apply to the present situation. Therefore, I have met the point made at Question Time to me.

Mr. Gaitskell

The Prime Minister agreed to give way on these points. First, I should like to ask him whether he realises that we do not in the least accept the analogy of the Korean war, firstly because in that case, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, there was an armed attack from North Korea upon South Korea, and secondly because the defensive action taken was action taken on the unanimous decision of the Security Council of the United Nations. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that the treatment of prisoners in North Korea is not something which is exactly going to commend it to ourselves now.

I must press the right hon. Gentleman on this point. Is he able to give an assurance to the House that when he speaks about the status of the present situation—that we are in a position of armed conflict—in fact any prisoners whom the Egyptians may capture would be treated by them as though we were in a state of war?

The Prime Minister

Once again let me explain that the provisions of the Geneva Convention apply so far as prisoners of war are concerned to the present situation. We are so treating the prisoners. They are bound by the Geneva Convention too, and the International Red Cross is in communication with them as with us. We are all of us bound by the provisions of the Geneva Convention—Israel, Egypt and ourselves.

Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)

May we get this matter clear, because it is rather abstruse and it is important to get it clear. I understand from what the Prime Minister says that Egypt has signed the Geneva Conventions. We have not, but we are now accepting them. Is it perfectly clear that Egypt is accepting these Conventions vis-à-vis ourselves so that our boys becoming prisoners of war will have all the advantages of the Prisoners of War Convention at the hands of Egypt?

The Prime Minister

We signed, of course, an earlier Convention than the present one. We signed both Conventions, but we are governed by the earlier one previous to the ratification of the new one. I have said that although we have not ratified the new one, Her Majesty's Government consider themselves bound by it. They are so replying to the International Red Cross who are also approaching the other two Governments. They have both signed and ratified the International Convention. I repeat yet once again that this applies in present conditions without any declaration of war. That is the position. I say that on the best legal advice, and I have not the slightest doubt that it is correct.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

Does not that apply between States merely when there is a state of war between States? Is not the whole question here whether Egypt accepts that we are at a state of war with her at all? Will not the Prime Minister make the position perfectly clear for the protection of our men that we are at war with Egypt, if such is his intention to make war with Egypt, by making a declaration of war in the way that is conventionally accepted?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir. I repeat once again that the Geneva Convention applies to any state of armed conflict whether there has been a declaration of war or not. I do not think that I can make the position clearer than that.

Mr. F. Beswick (Uxbridge)

We have been told by the Prime Minister that there has been no declaration of war and we are not in a state of war, but we have also been told that there have been air operations against certain points in Egypt, including Almaza airport. I understand that there have been certain anti-aircraft measures taken in some civil airports in this country. In what state are we if any action is taken by Egypt or an ally of Egypt to bomb positions in this country?

The Prime Minister

What I said was perfectly clear on that point. We are in a state of armed conflict. The whole basis of the request as put to me is: What would be our position and rights under the Geneva Convention? I have said quite clearly to the House that the rights apply completely here as they did in Korea—even more so as everyone has signed or ratified the Convention.

Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

If the Prime Minister does not give way hon. Gentlemen must resume their seats.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

I was under the impression that the Prime Minister sat down because I stood up.

Mr. Charles Pannell (Leeds, West)

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It is within the recollection of the House that Mr. Speaker this afternoon was compelled to suspend the Sitting and when he came back here there was an interchange to calm the affairs of the House in which the Prime Minister gave an undertaking that, at the beginning of his speech, he would adequately answer questions put to him. It therefore seems a trifle unfair if the Chair is now going to rule against an undertaking honourably given and honourably accepted.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

That is not a point of order. It is a well-known custom in this House that if the Member who is addressing the House does not give way other hon. Gentlemen should sit down. It is quite simple. The Prime Minister did not sit down and, therefore, he must continue. [Interruption.] Order.

Mr. Benn

I am concerned in putting a different point from the one put by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas). I am not concerned with the position of British troops who may be captured by the Egyptian authorities. I am concerned in my question with the legality of Her Majesty's Forces ordering men to commit acts of war against a country with which Her Majesty is in friendly relations. I want to ask the Prime Minister whether he will deal with this very real difficulty. It arises in the constituencies of all hon. Members of this House as to whether the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces is entitled to give orders to constituents of ours to commit acts of war against a country with which Her Majesty is in friendly relations.

The Prime Minister

That is a point that either my right hon. Friend or I will deal with in the course of our remarks. I think that I must proceed to make some observation on the last two days' debate.

Mr. Warbey


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

There are more than fifty Members who wish to make speeches. If we go on like this we shall never get through.

Mr. Warbey

With great respect. Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I understood that the Prime Minister gave way when I was on my feet.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

The Prime Minister gave way because I stood up. He told me so. I asked him.

The Prime Minister

I should like to make my own observations now, as the right hon. Gentleman did in his concluding remarks, upon the debates which have been taking place in the last few days. I should like to tell the House some reflections which I want to put before hon. Members in reply to the charges which have been made, to the invective sometimes deployed against the Government's action, action which I repeat to the House we intend to be aimed at bringing hostilities to an end and restoring the security of the Canal.

In all this invective to which we have listened there has been one notable omission. Indeed, in listening to some of the speeches, including that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) who has just addressed the House, one might think that the Middle Eastern area had been securely at peace and that we and the French Government where injecting by old-fashioned imperialist methods—[Interruption.]—Yes; there it is—the danger of war in an area of tranquillity. That ignores the whole history of the last ten years and ignores the policies pursued by the present Government and by the Socialist Government before us in trying to carry out responsibilities in the changed post-war conditions in an area vital to our interests and also to the Commonwealth and to Europe.

Therefore, the connection must be made with what went before. Every phase of this struggle to maintain stability in the Middle East is relevant to the situation to which the House has now to apply its mind.

First and foremost, I must recall, because it is most relevant, the circumstances of the creation of the State of Israel. Mr. Bevin declared the British Mandate in Palestine to be unworkable. I am not criticising this or arguing it; I am merely stating the position. He had turned the problem over to the United Nations. That was at the beginning of 1947. There followed the United Nations partition plan, favourably received by the Jews and unfavourably by the Arabs.

Mr. R. R. Stokes (Ipswich)

It was a swindle.

The Prime Minister

Everybody has his views. It was done by the Government which the right hon. Gentleman often supports.

It is all too easy to forget how the end of the Mandate resulted in full-scale conflict between Israel and the Arabs, which did not cease until the uneasy Armistice of 1949. Since then, there has been no period when there has not been a constant sense of danger and strain, punctuated by repeated frontier incidents. Egypt and others have insisted ever since that a state of war continues. That has been her justification, of course, for denying passage to Israeli ships through the Canal, despite repeated United Nations condemnation of such action.

The United Nations has made repeated efforts to secure respect for the Armistice and to bring the war to an end, and we have helped all through the years to the fullest extent that we could. All these efforts have failed, and constant forays have continued on both sides, despite General Burns, the observers, and every thing that could be done. Moreover, the Egyptian Government has put the world on notice that they intend to encompass the destruction of Israel. For this purpose, armaments are being accumulated—

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton (Brixton)

British arms.

The Prime Minister

—and military conventions between Egypt and other States are being concluded.

I must recall that there was immediate reaction in Egypt—and this is how the main part of the trouble arose—at the time of the events in Abadan. Immediately after the Abadan events, there came the immediate reaction of Egypt, the repudiation of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, and later the massacres in Cairo of which we have such grim recollection. At that time, before we took office, the Socialist Government sent large reinforcements to the Middle East, and they were quite right to do so. But I think we have the right to ask them to consider the reasons for which we are sending forces there today to try to limit or stop hostilities

The Socialist Government worked then for a new system of joint Middle East defence. We followed them in that effort. The Egyptians turned it down, and that did not prevent us seeking agreement with Egypt over the Sudan and later over the evacuation of the Suez Canal. If there was ever the smallest justification for suspicion of British colonialism, it surely falls to the ground in the light of these actions. What would be the fairer charge, I think, would be to say that the policy of conciliation was taken to dangerous limits. But we believe we were right to risk much to try to establish friendship and confidence and thereby build a wider area of peace.

What then, the right hon. Gentleman may rightly say, has precipitated the situation in which we consider we have been forced to intervene?—an increasing tension in which nobody can deny that Egypt has played a leading part by acts and, perhaps more serious still, by propaganda in every area of the Middle East? I am not going to discuss the Canal negotiations today, but this comment in relation to the Middle East as a whole I may make. An allied resolution was put before the Security Council embodying the 18-Power proposals, which we had made much effort to get agreed. If they could have been accepted—and they would have been but for one Power—then the Canal problem itself and much of this situation would, I have no doubt, have been resolved.

I have been personally accused of living in the past and being too much obsessed with the events of the 'thirties.

Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

Would the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to elucidate that last statement, that if the Security Council had accepted the 18-Power proposals about the Suez Canal much of this situation would not have arisen?

The Prime Minister

Might not have arisen.

Mr. Bevan

How does the right hon. Gentleman connect the two things?

The Prime Minister

Because if there had been immediate progress on that issue, I have no doubt it would have brought about a comparable relaxation in other areas of tension. [Interruption.] Of course, certainly. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that agreement over Suez would have made no contribution to the situation, I will not continue to argue the matter with him.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)

The Prime Minister has referred to the endorsement by nine members of the Security Council of the principles approved by the eighteen members of the London Conference. Did not the members of the Security Council who voted for that vote for it because it said that those principles would be suitable for a solution of the Canal problem by peaceful means?

The Prime Minister

All I have said was simply that if there could have been carried that Resolution, it would without doubt have improved the Middle Eastern situation. I should have thought that was a glimpse of the obvious to anyone.

Now may I go back to the personal accusation made yesterday, that I myself was too much obsessed by the events of the 'thirties and, in consequence, old-fashioned? However that may be, is, there not one lesson of that period which cannot be ignored? It is that we best avoid great wars by taking even physical action to stop small ones. Everybody knows that the United Nations is not in a position to do that. We and the French have the forces available. We must face the fact that the United Nations is not yet the international equivalent of our own legal system and the rule of law.

I admit that Her Majesty's Government and the French Government have taken a very great step, and it is important that the House and the country and the world should know the objective we seek. We do not want to stay, and we do not intend to stay, one moment longer than is necessary. But effective action to re-establish peace will make easier an international solution of the many problems which exist in that area. Of course, we do not delegate to ourselves any special position in that respect. On the contrary, we would welcome and look for the participation of many other nations in bringing about a settlement and in upholding it. We do not seek to impose by force a solution on the Israel-Egypt dispute, or the Suez Canal dispute, or any other dispute in the area. We do not seek to negotiate by ourselves alone on any one of these disputes. The whole purpose of the Anglo-French intervention is to stop hostilities, prevent a resumption of them, and safeguard traffic through the Canal.

Israel and Egypt are locked in conflict in that area. The first and urgent task is to separate these combatants and to stabilise the position. That is our purpose. If the United Nations were then willing to take over the physical task of maintaining peace in that area, no one would be better pleased than we. But police action there must be to separate the belligerents and to prevent a resumption of hostilities.

Much has been said in the course of this debate about the position—

Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)


Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Order. I have said already that if a Member who has the Floor does not give way, any other Member must sit down. The Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister

Much has been said in the course of this debate, and by the right hon. Member for Llanelly, about the effect of our actions on the unity of the Commonwealth, and, particularly yesterday, Australia was many times mentioned. I therefore propose to quote to the House a passage from a speech delivered by the Prime Minister of Australia—[Interruption.]—who certainly did more than anyone else to try to bring success to the 18-Power proposals and is for that deserving of the support and approval, I should have thought, of every hon. Member of the House. At any rate, in view of the charges which have been made, I propose to read what the Prime Minister of Australia said.

On the question of whether the United Kingdom was at fault in not having consulted other British countries in advance, he said that the answer to this question seemed to him to be that she was not at fault at all. The circumstances were those of great emergency. Hostile armed forces were approaching each other and extensive combat was imminent, and in that combat vital interests in passage of the Canal were quite likely to suffer most serious damage. The Canal was an international waterway with guaranteed freedom of passage for ships of all nations, but that guarantee would cease to have much value if the Canal itself became part of a theatre of active war.

He said that there was literally no time to be lost if any action was to be taken to keep the combatants out of the Canal area and afford it proper protection. In the Australian Government's opinion, Great Britain, whose interests were so vast, was correct in proceeding upon her own judgment and accepting her own responsibility. We were not living in an academic world. The Government of Australia believed that the action taken by the United Kingdom and France was proper. It was quite clear that normal processes of the Security Council were such that even assuming that some resolution could be carried, the Canal would have been involved in war long before any United Nations action could have been effective. Finally, the Australian Government saw nothing sinister in all this. On the contrary, it seemed to them realistic and to pay due regard to the moving facts of life.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand has also spoken in a similar sense of support. I have a note of what he said. He said that while admitting that several features of the situation were disturbing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—I thought hon. Members opposite would cheer that—he had full confidence in Britain's intentions. He added that the views put forward by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, were not the views of the New Zealand Government.

We have a duty, as we see it, which we shall carry out, to restore peace and to do it as quickly as possible. We have attempted to do it in the only way in which it could possibly have been done. There is nothing in any suggestion that has been made throughout this debate which would be likely to bring an early end to the hostilities except the action that the Government have taken. There was nothing either in the Abadan dispute or at other times when hon. Members opposite were in power that succeeded in achieving a settlement.

Of course, we want to go with the United Nations so far as we can and we shall put our case to the Assembly today and tomorrow.

Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)

What about the decision?

The Prime Minister

I think we are entitled to judge that when we know what the decision is.

Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)

Does the Prime Minister's last remark imply that if it happens to be a decision of which he does not approve, he does not propose to accede to it?

The Prime Minister

I did not say that. We are entitled to know what we are being asked to accept before I say whether we accept it or not.

I may add, in relation to what the right hon. Gentleman told us just now about the 1950 Declaration—

Mr. Robens

The previous decision of the Security Council was to ask the Israelis to withdraw their troops to the frontier. It is quite likely that the decision of the Assembly will be to ask the British and French to withdraw their troops. Does the Prime Minister say that if such a decision is arrived at by the Assembly he will refuse to withdraw troops?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman does not know, and nor do I, what the result of the deliberations of the Assembly may be. I am certainly not prepared to answer a hypothetical question without knowing. The reason why we could not accept the Security Council's decision, as I have repeated innumerable times, is because anyone who reads that Resolution, including the preamble, must realise that it was in fact a censure on the Israeli Government. We did not feel, and I do not now feel, that the facts justified that censure.

Let me take the question of our attitude to the 1950 Declaration. The right hon. Gentleman asked me just now about it and our position so far as Egypt was concerned. The argument that I have put to the House, and the only argument, in connection with the 1950 Declaration was that we did not feel that Egypt was in a position to call for the fulfilment of the 1950 Declaration on her behalf when she herself had so often denounced or renounced the Tripartite Declaration and made it so apparent that she did not want it to apply for Egypt. That is the sole comment I have made. In no other way have we gone back on our 1950 Declaration.

I should like to remind the House of this. In the first debate we had in these matters, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), in a most courageous and impartial speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—he has more experience of foreign affairs than have some of those who are jeering at his name now—in relation to the recent Suez Canal dispute, said: By all means consider all the pros and cons, but I ask the Government not to be too nervous, because if they are too nervous we shall begin to evolve a situation in which countries can set themselves up against international practice, international morals and international interests, and, in that case, we are not helping the peace of the world; we are helping anarchy, conflict and bad conduct among the nations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1956; Vol. 557, c. 1668–9.] How, then, do we envisage the future of the Middle East? Before we can answer that question we must have pacification. That is the first step. That is an essential step, yet, important as it is, it should be only the condition for a better life in that area. The great need of the peoples of the Middle East, all of them, is some form of economic improvement. It is an area which suffers from poverty as severe as any in the world. A state of war has existed in the Middle East for the last ten years. It has prevented the economic problems from being tackled in most areas, except, perhaps, Iraq, which has made remarkable strides forward.

Two conditions for this are essential. One is that the States of that area should cease to need or to feel they need great armaments to protect themselves against one another, and the second is that the area should be sufficiently stable to encourage investment other than in the oil industry. That will not be achieved as long as the state of war exists. We are convinced that if we had not taken this action the state of war would inevitably have spread over an infinitely wider area.

We fully recognise the risks of the action we have taken, but in our full responsibility, with our full information, we believe it was the only action available to our two Governments. We stand by it, and we will carry it through.

5.52 p.m.

Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

We have been present at an historic occasion here today. I believe that it is an unprecedented occasion. Fifty million British people who want to support the Government in the use of democratic processes wanted to know exactly the position we are in vis-à-vis Egypt, but the Prime Minister's speech was written on political litmus paper.

At the lime when the Anglo-American Palestinian inquiry was taking place in 1946 and 1947 the Middle East Section of the British Foreign Office sent to some members of the commission seventeen secret documents, and that at the time when the party opposite was pretending to be the protagonist of world Jewry and that it was hoping to build a home for the Jewish people, who, through the centuries, had led such battered lives. At that time in the crucial history of the Middle East the Conservative Party and sections of the Foreign Office were playing power politics with the lives of that people. It is well known, and documents exist to prove it, that negotiations were going on behind the backs of the Jewish people, and at the end one of the leaders of the Foreign Office said that it was to be expected that ultimately an Arab State would be established in Palestine.

The Jewish people are being dragged into this war. I am convinced that the speech of M. Pineau in France had something to do with the political manœuvres that have been taking place since the beginning of the Suez crisis. M. Pineau said that he had other political cards up his sleeve.

The party opposite has been playing political brag with the lives of the British people, too, in the days of the hydrogen bomb. That great party opposite, which says to the British people that it will double the standard of life in Britain in the next twenty-five years, is the party which today jeopardises for a generation the oil supplies of Western Europe. That party is playing power politics, has broken the N.A.T.O. alliance, has broken the Anglo-American understanding, and has prepared the possibility of a rapprochement between the United States of America and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

We on this side of the House believe that for a constructive policy the Israelis should have been offered an Anglo-Israeli treaty to help to safeguard Israel in its transition period. We believe that even now, if the world would do a little rethinking, we could put teeth into the United Nations, and station on those frontiers an international force to stabilise the political and power position in the Middle East for a generation or so.

I believe that a tragic error was made at the time when Nasser was applying for economic aid and help in building the Aswan Dam. We have been paying £10 million a year to an Arab State. We were asked to find £25 million, and only £6 million immediately, towards the cost of the Aswan Dam, and if we had paid it we could have had a sane economic approach to the Arabs. I see hon. Members opposite nodding their heads. One of the great truths of human history is that where there is poverty and where there is hunger there cannot be any settled state of life. We could have had a sane approach if we had had the courage to go ahead with building the Aswan Dam and if we had not played the double-cross, as we did—for the Egyptian Ambassador in Washington, only two days before the world knew that the Aswan Dam loan was not going through, said in an interview on the air that everything was ready for the negotiation of the loan.

Now there is fighting without a declaration of war. I still want to know whether our boys will be regarded as francs-tireurs. Nobody in the House has answered that question yet, and with all the skilled legal knowledge available to him the Prime Minister should have answered that question by now in this House. I also want to know why it was that the Aswan Dam loan fell away.

I believe that we could and should have a constructive policy right now, and if the Government had courage they would have the courage to evolve and pursue one. They would say that this undeclared war should cease, that this military activity should cease; and they would go to the United Nations and say that, in view of the difficulty of the situation, there should be an international force placed for an interim stage on the frontiers of Israel. There should be an Anglo-Israeli treaty, if necessary, clearly guaranteeing the frontiers in the transition period.

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham, West)

Will my hon. Friend pursue that point for a moment? The Minister of Defence has said in the House that a soldier who was given illegal orders was under obligation to refuse to carry them out and could be prosecuted and convicted for murder if he shot someone in pursuance of an order contrary to the law. It is not we here but the lads themselves who will want to know what risks they run in this illegal folly, this international conspiracy, and this crime against human relations.

Mr. Davies

I sincerely hope that my hon. Friend, with his legal knowledge, and others like him, will have the opportunity of speaking, because this is something which the British people should know. I should not like to follow that argument further. I believe that I have made my point clear that the House of Commons is entitled, with the legal knowledge at the disposal of the Prime Minister, to know the exact legal position of our troops in the strange, unprecedented circumstances with which we have been faced in the House today.

Mr. Warbey

Can I help my hon. Friend? Surely the position is that no British soldier, sailor or airman at the moment has any right to kill an Egyptian except in necessary self-defence. Is not that the position?

Mr. Davies

If we have that point cleared towards the end of the debate I shall be quite satisfied. I am not asking for an immediate answer. I am not qualified to give a correct answer, but I know that the House should have an answer.

There are two other points which I sincerely wish to make. Despite what the Western world may think, the tragedy is that ordinary Jews and Arabs have lived side by side for centuries without any pogroms against the Jews. That is more than can be said of the Christian world. I believe that outside the shadow of high power politics the ordinary Arab and Jew can still do that. It is well known that within the State of Israel the ordinary Arab who is living and working in the villages has a standard of life which is gradually getting higher and higher. Here at this juncture, in a difficult period, we have injected into the situation high power politics partly to satisfy French ambitions in North Africa.

A White Paper should have been presented to the House giving as many particulars as possible of the talks with the French Foreign Secretary and the French Prime Minister. [An HON. MEMBER: "A Socialist."] I am not concerned whether the Prime Minister of France is a Socialist or not, but with the needs of the situation, and I think that within my own party the situation needs criticism. I think that for once the Quai D'Orsay has caught the British Foreign Office napping and has led it up the garden path of French foreign policy. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, history is full of strange incidents behind closed doors.

If I am not correct, British troops will not be drawn into spheres of activity in Algeria and into Mediterranean activity in and around the centres of French fighting today. The cream of the French Army, nearly 500,000 men, are fighting in North Africa, and a section of the French Army was destroyed in Indo-China. France, because she did not have the wisdom to follow in North Africa the policy followed by British Socialists in India, is draining the life-blood of her country. Are we to be allies in that? [An HON. MEMBER: "A Socialist Government."] If the hon. Member thinks that there is a completely Socialist Government in France he has no knowledge of French politics.

I accuse Her Majesty's Government of having destroyed the basis of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and of having destroyed also the possibility of securing in the Middle East an economic development that would have provided hydro-electric power and afforded opportunities for developing oil resources and distributing oil royalties on a completely different basis.

Now, what is left to us? Whether the House likes it or not, I believe that Soviet Russia and the United States will have to be brought into that area ultimately as part of a troop formation to be the teeth in the United Nations organisation. I am convinced that two years from now the only way in which we shall be able to stabilise the Middle East will be by a rapprochement between the United States and Soviet Russia who would come into the area with troops. If that can be secured, there will be a transition period during which economic progress can be made and the standard of life of Israel can progress.

This week boys will die. The party opposite announced in the General Election that they stood by the Charter of the United Nations. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not warmongers at all."] Some of us did not use that expression. Some of us would not use that expression about the party opposite, because we believe that it would be wrong to think of any one man in the modern world or any candidate for Parliament being a warmonger. What some of us did say was that the consequence of the policy which the party opposite was pursuing would be such that we should have war.

Whether hon. and right hon. Members opposite are blind or not I do not know, but here we are, whatever the Prime Minister may say, confronted with a war. As Bismarck said, one can start a war but one does not know where it will finish. We do not know where this will finish. The Prime Minister thinks that it will be short and sharp and that he will be able to face the world with a fait accompli and the reoccupation of the Suez Canal. It will be neither short nor sharp. The right hon. Gentleman has reunited the Arab world as never before.

6.10 p.m.

Captain Charles Waterhouse (Leicester, South-East)

I do not intend to follow the remarks which the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) made in the earlier part of his speech, but what I will say deals very definitely with the latter part of his speech, when he spoke of the main issues which are now facing us.

In his opening speech, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) referred to two masterly speeches recently made by the Leader of the Opposition. I would remind the House of a third speech which the right hon. Gentleman made and which I think was the best speech he has ever made in his life. It was made on 2nd August. It was made in a different context from this, but there was one passage which applies equally well to the present context. It is not long and I will read it to the House. The right hon. Gentleman said: Colonel Nasser has certainly made a number of inflammatory speeches against us and his Government have continually attempted subversion in Jordan and other Arab States; he has persistently threatened the State of Israel and made it plain from time to time that it is his purpose and intention to destroy Israel if he possibly can. The right hon. Gentleman concluded this passage by saying: That, if ever there was one, is a clear enough notice of aggression to come.

Mr. Warbey

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) is not here to defend himself, will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman now read the concluding passage of my right hon. Friend's speech on 2nd August, in which he said that the Government must not use force except in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and will he now apply that part of his speech to the present context?

Captain Waterhouse

I will not read either the whole or other parts of that speech. I have read this part of it because it bears directly on the argument whether or not Israel is to blame in her present action.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)

In view of what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has said about my right hon. Friend, surely he does not deny that my right hon. Friend finished that speech by saying that nothing which Colonel Nasser had done up to that point justified the use of force and, indeed, nothing he has done during the last few days would justify force if it were not justified at that time.

Captain Waterhouse

The right hon. Gentleman was speaking on 2nd August, not in the last few days. But my point has nothing to do with that. What I am trying to point out is that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition at that time said that in his view—

Mr. Benn

Force was not justified.

Captain Waterhouse

No, the right hon. Gentleman said: That, if ever there was one, is a clear enough notice of aggression to come.

An Hon. Member

Now read on.

Captain Waterhouse

I will read the whole speech if the hon. Gentleman wishes. It is a good one. It continued: The fact is that this episode must be recognised as part of the struggle for the mastery of the Middle East."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1956; Vol. 365, c. 1620.]

Hon. Members

Now read on.

Captain Waterhouse

We have had a lot of play with the exact wording of the Charter and whether what we have done comes precisely within Article 51. I am not greatly concerned with the exact wording of the Charter. What concerns the House and the country and the world is the spirit which underlies the Charter.

In his speech just now my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke about the time which it has taken to develop the laws of England. Generations and centuries have passed while our laws have been made and modified. Today we have a Charter which is a good legal text to interpret an idea, but it is the idea underlying it, much more than the wording of the Charter, which concerns us today.

I think it would be fair to summarise the underlying idea of the Charter in this way, that force shall no longer be used for aggressive purposes and that if aggression does take place the profit should be taken out of it. If that is a fair summary, and I think it is, we can apply it to the present situation, and we have also the remark of the Leader of the Opposition that in his view there was a definite threat of agression by Egypt on the Israelis.

Mr. Hale

I want to put a fair point. I agree that we should try to read the spirit of the Charter. Surely the spirit of the Charter is that a nation should not act as a judge in its own cause, and that one nation which has merely a commercial interest should not take an action contrary to the opinion of the great majority of the nations of the earth who are members of the United Nations?

Captain Waterhouse

The hon. Gentleman is not quite fair. No question of acting as judge arises in the Security Council or in the General Assembly. The Assembly and the Security Council are there to give political views. They are not there to give a justiciable decision. If that is wanted one must go to the International Court at The Hague.

Since that declaration of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition was made Egypt has done nothing to lessen the fear which existed that she intended aggression. Her threats to Israel have continued. She has interfered with the Jordan elections and last, and most important, she has arranged a unified command between the forces of Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

No one can say that the Daily Mirror is a paper which favours those of us on this side of the House, but hon. Members may have noticed its cartoon yesterday showing the Middle Eastern Command loaded up with all the troubles which we all know so well in the Middle East. It is entitled "The Last Straw." The last straw is the unified command of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It is that last straw which preceded the action of the Israelis in advancing into Egypt.

What do hon. Gentleman opposite think that Israel should have done? She had applied to the United Nations about her shipping in 1951. She had got a decision from the United Nations—[An HON. MEMBER: "The Government have had it five years."]—and nothing happened. I do not want to make a party point of this. If I did want to do so I would remind hon. Gentlemen opposite that it was the Labour Party which was in power in September, 1951. I admit that we, too, are to blame, but the fact remains—[An HON. MEMBER: "This Government have had five years."] That is precisely what I am saying, that after five years Israel found that the decision of the United Nations had been disregarded, and therefore she said, with common sense, "I will take the law into my own hands and I will defend myself as well as I can."

Israel decided to forestall what she believed, and I believed, and the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition believed, to be the certain eventual attack of Egypt upon her. I am not prepared to blame Israel for that. I never have been a Zionist but I have never been a Jew hater, and I believe that there is an element of Jew hatred which is being stirred up, inadvertently perhaps, but stirred up definitely by the attitude of hon. Gentlemen opposite. [Interruption.] I think it is a very cruel thing that the Israelis, in this hour of their tribulation, in this hour when every hand is turned against them, should find that many of the voices to which they have been used to listen have been silent, or that those same voices have been heard in condemnation of their own country. Is the explanation that those hon. Members hate Her Majesty's Government even more than they love their own country?

In view of this background, we have to consider whether Britain and France were or were not justified in taking the action which they have taken. I believe that they are justified for several reasons. The first is that they have a tremendous interest in the oil in the Middle East. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Do hon. Members opposite deny it? It is a fact. We could not maintain our standard of life if we had not that oil. Do hon. Members opposite deny the importance of that? Do they not care about the standard of life in this country? Of course they do. They are not prepared to go on to the platforms in their constituencies this week-end and say that the oil does not matter.

There is—[Interruption.]—a great body of British and French nationals living in the Middle East—

Sir Ian Horobin (Oldham, East)

On a point of order. Is an hon. Member opposite entitled to call the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who is speaking "a buffoon"?

Mr. Speaker

I did not hear the expression used. I am not for the moment sure whether it is on what I call the index of bad words, but hon. Members should observe courtesy towards each other.

Captain Waterhouse

I do not mind what I am called. At the proper time I could say quite a lot of things about hon. Members opposite. I am trying at the moment to put some sensible and important points and if these points seem to an hon. Member to be buffoonery, the hon. Member who made that remark may himself be in a very good position to judge what buffoonery means.

I have said that oil is vital to France and Britain as to no other two countries. I have said that no other two countries have as many nationals in the Middle East as have Britain and France. I say that no other two countries have as great an investment in the Middle East and that no other two countries have anything like so much shipping passing through the Canal as have France and Britain. More than one-third of the total tonnage of shipping passing through the Canal passes under the British or the French flag.

There may now be some danger that a war will break out in earnest, but I am absolutely convinced that if this action had not been taken by the Government there would have been certainty of a war. In this matter the Prime Minister has been under heavy personal attack.

Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)

The right hon. and gallant Gentleman attacked him.

Captain Waterhouse

I will mention that in a moment.

Of all the statesmen in the world, no one has such a record of steady work for international co-operation, first in the League of Nations and then the United Nations, as has the Prime Minister. It is perfectly true that I have disagreed with him, but the mere fact that he stood out against what I then thought ought to be done proves all the more conclusively how determined he was to avoid the use of force. I said in the House in the early days of the dispute, and I do not repent now, that gunboats ought to have been sent to Port Said. The Prime Minister treated my suggestion rather roughly. He had every right to do so. It proves that in his whole attitude he was not prepared to use force for a primarily national interest but that he is prepared to use force in the interests of wider international considerations.

Much play has been made of the comdemnation which we are getting throughout the world. Everybody, it is said, says that we are at fault. I wonder whether hon. Members have read the broadcast which President Eisenhower made last night and, if they have done so, whether they remember these words: The United States was not consulted in any way about any phases of these actions. Nor were we informed of them in advance. As it is the manifest right of way of these nations to take such decisions and actions, it is likewise our right, if our judgment so dictates, to dissent. The President thus made it absolutely clear that the action can properly be taken.

Mr. Benn


Captain Waterhouse

I have taken that paragraph from the President's speech and I am not misquoting him in any way. He said quite clearly that, although he disagreed with what we had done, we had the right to do it.

Mr. Benn

Would the right hon. and gallant Gentleman also refer to that section of President Eisenhower's speech in which he confirmed what we have long suspected, that the Prime Minister wanted to use force in August?

Captain Waterhouse

I dare say that when he gets the opportunity the hon. Member can quote other parts of President Eisenhower's speech or other speeches which bear out his point of view. But the President of the United States makes very careful statements, and he definitely stated that in his view we had the right to do what we have done.

I do not want to keep the House very much longer, but I want to make the point that the United States themselves must shoulder their full share of the blame in these matters. For the last four or five years in the Middle East they have been trouble-makers rather than trouble-abaters. They have given no modicum of help to us in any of the contests which we have had or any of the difficulties which have arisen. When we were in very difficult negotiations with Egypt, they encouraged Egypt. They condoned Persia over Abadan. They cold-shouldered the Bagdad Pact. Now we have the last series of actions of Secretary of State Dulles. I do not know whether his eye was on more profit from oil in the Middle East or more votes in the Middle West, but whether it was oil or whether it was votes, the result has been that we have had no support at all from the United States in these critical times in our history.

Certain sections in Britain are criticising us and certain sections in the United States are criticising their Government. I could read a quotation, although I will not trouble the House with it, in which it is plainly stated that in the view of the writers in some United States newspapers Dulles's policy has been bad in the Middle East and has left us in the very greatest of difficulties.

I will say no more. Britain has stood alone in the past and if necessary she can stand alone today—and stand alone in spite of attacks in this country and in spite of the jealous attacks from nationals elsewhere. We were first accused of having no support within the Commonwealth. Already two great Commonwealth nations are standing firmly by our side. We on this side of the House think that Her Majesty's Government have taken the necessary action to avoid a major war, and we pray that hostilities may be brought to a successful and an early conclusion.

6.30 p.m.

Mr. John Dugdale (West Bromwich)

The Prime Minister is a very busy man, but I am sorry that he did not find time to sit and listen to his master's voice, as he might have done had he remained here. The most cynical reference in the speech of the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) was his reference to the Jews. He said that we on this side had thrown them over. When has he defended them before? When has he spoken in their favour?

Captain Waterhouse

I have never defended the Jews and I have never set up as being a Zionist. I have told the House that I am not a Zionist and that, if anything, my sympathies lay with the Arabs; but I blame hon. Members opposite who, throughout, have supported the Jews and who have now deserted them.

Mr. Dugdale

When the right hon. and gallant Gentleman says that, does he remember that all the time the Jews were building up their country, when they were peacefully working for the building of their country, they got not a word of support from him or from any hon. Member opposite—at least not from most of them?

It is only when the Jews are guilty of attacking—I agree under great provocation—that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman speaks of going to their defence. On this side of the House we very much regret that they have been provoked. Of course, we realise the provocation and we are friendly to the Jews, as we have been in the past, but that is not to be an excuse for plunging into an imperialist war, as this country has now made it.

Mr. Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)

The right hon. Member has made a very serious statement. He said that the Israelis never had a word of support from anybody on this side of the House. I do not think that he should say that, even in regard to myself alone and many others on this side who have given support in the past, both by voice and vote, to the Israelis in a difficult time.

Mr. Dugdale

It is true that there has been some support, but very many hon. Members, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East in particular—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am concerned with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman, who himself said that in the past he had not been a great supporter of the Jews. He has made that clear and it is perfectly fair to say so.

I should like to pass from the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to that of the Prime Minister. It was the most cynical speech to which we have listened from any Prime Minister for many years. He talked of a little war; he talked of a police operation. It is indeed a little war, because it is a war against a little country and not a war of which anybody can be proud. There were large headlines in the Daily Express today which said: British Navy Sinks Egyptian Frigate. Do hon. Members opposite, who remember the days of Trafalgar and of Jutland and those other days when we have had glorious British naval victories, feel that this is indeed another glorious victory, the sinking by the Navy of one frigate belonging to the Egyptian Navy? I think that in their heart of hearts they do not, and I am sure that the Navy, for whom I have as deep an admiration as anyone else, must have hated having to perform this operation.

The Prime Minister made it clear in advance that he would not accept the decision of the United Nations if that decision went against us. That was a very startling thing to have said. It will interest President Eisenhower very much. It will interest the Americans very much. This Prime Minister is the man who, until now, has stood for the rule of law and order.

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker)

My right hon. Friend did not say that. He said that he could not be expected to accept the resolution of the United Nations until he knew what it was.

Mr. Dugdale

He certainly implied it very clearly.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

indicated dissent.

Mr. Dugdale

Will the hon. Member now say that if the Assembly of the United Nations asks us to withdraw our forces, we will at once do so?

Hon. Members


Mr. Dugdale

I will give way if the hon. Member will answer that.

Does that not prove what I have said, that the Prime Minister has made it clear that if the Assembly asks us to withdraw our forces, we shall do nothing of the kind? That is what he said by his speech, and it is not denied by the hon. Member.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

I hope I made clear what the Prime Minister said. Anyone who looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow will see it.

Mr. Dugdale

I will leave it to the judgment of the House and to anyone who reads HANSARD tomorrow.

I have referred to the Navy. What is our Air Force doing? Many hon. Members may have read the Daily Mirror this morning—[Laughter.] Hon. Members laugh at the Daily Mirror, but I am speaking of an interview by a correspondent of the Daily Mirror with a man who had just come back from a raid on Egypt. This is what he said: There was no fighter resistance, but there was some light flak up to 8,000 ft. It was very wild shooting. We saw the lights of Cairo in the distance. The airfield we attacked was beautifully lit up. There were many planes on it. We came in high, dropped our bombs and watched them explode. They did a lot of damage, and I felt that our effort was very successful. As soon as our bombs struck lights began to go out, but we had taken them completely by surprise and the damage was done. The raid was obviously very successful.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)

Will the right hon. Gentleman say, here and now, that he wanted the operation to be unsuccessful and our bombers shot down?

Mr. Dugdale

Of course I did not want it to be unsuccessful. All I say is that it is not difficult to be successful when the enemy has no defence against one and when one takes him by surprise without a declaration of war. It is difficult not to succeed in those conditions. These men are the successors of those who fought the Battle of Britain, the men who defended Britain against attack under great odds when they had very few defences. The task of these men today is to bomb undefended people without a declaration of war. I hope that the Government are proud of that.

Why did the Government do this? I believe that they have a pathological love for Disraeli's Suez Canal. They must do everything they can to defend this Canal, this great creation of Disraeli, their leader, Of course the Canal is important We all realise that, but is it important enough to break international law and to risk British lives? What is expected to happen to the Canal afterwards? Do the Government expect that the position on the Canal will immediately revert to what it was?

Does the Prime Minister intend that Britain should hold the Canal? Does he intend to ask the 18 nations to restart their organisation to run the Canal? Most of the 18 nations have already condemned this country? Does he believe that they will join with us in building up the ruins of the Canal. They are taking a very grave risk. There may be a bomb on the Canal. It has already been reported in the Press that a frigate has been sunk somewhere near the approaches to the Canal. I do not know whether that is true, but it is something which could easily happen.

Supposing it does not happen, supposing no damage is done by the war during the course of this operation; will anyone suggest that the ordinary work of keeping up the Canal, as it has to be kept up, will continue? Of course it will not. The Canal will become silted up and otherwise damaged. That is one of the prices we have to pay for this war, but it is not all.

This war, as hon. Members have said before, has done more to unite the Arab world than anything else could have done. Fortunately, the Arab world was not as united as it could have been. There were many people in the Arab world who dislike Nasser, many who did not want to see Nasser the dictator of the whole Arab world. What has happened today? We have every Arab country supporting him.

I read in the Press this evening that Cario Radio has appealed to all Arab nations to halt the flow of oil to Britain and France, even if it means hurting themselves, even if it means blowing up the pipelines in the Arab world. That is what they are being asked to do, and we must remember that the Arabs are very excitable people and that it is quite likely that they will carry out those instructions. Is that what the Prime Minister wants? [Laughter.] What is so funny about that? It will not be funny when it happens. Hon. Members opposite had better wait until they find what damage has been done before they laugh.

Hon. Members opposite are living in the past. The one great thing about Nasser is that he has had the sense to realise that in these days it is not ordinary warfare which wins; it is propaganda. It is the kind of work that he has done by building up his wireless and propaganda organisation throughout the Middle East that wins. What happened when many hon. Members on both sides of the House asked the Government to increase our propaganda against him? We were told that it would cost too much money to have another broadcasting station, or to speed up our propaganda so that it could compete with the extremely efficient propaganda that has done so much for Nasser in the Middle East.

It was said that it would cost too much, yet the Government are now prepared to have a war. What will be the cost of that? Will they be able to afford it? When the Foreign Secretary replies to the debate I should like him to tell us whether he has consulted the Chancellor of the Exchequer and ascertained what he thinks will be the effect of this war. Does he realise that we are starting this war—

Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)

Will the Foreign Secretary remember that if he talks to the Chancellor the answer he will get will be, "There ain't gonna be no war"?

Mr. Dugdale

I wish the Chancellor had as much power as that. Unfortunately, the Chancellor—who, I am sure, does not want a war himself—has been over-ruled by the Prime Minister and the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East. We now have this war, and it will cost us a large sum of money. I want to know whether the Chancellor feels that it is right to start a war with our reserves at a low ebb and with great pressure upon the £ sterling.

We must remember that when we have got into financial difficulties in the past we have depended upon the United States of America to get us out. Time and time again we have had United States help, by way of Lend-Lease, Marshall Aid, offshore purchases, and one thing after another. These have helped us out of our financial difficulties. But do we expect that the United States will help us out of our financial difficulties today? She will do nothing of the kind. Why should she? We have already embarrassed Mr. Eisenhower and put him into a position of extreme difficulty. He will not do anything to help us, nor will his successor if there is a change of President. We shall have to get out of our own financial difficulties.

Mr. Charles A. Howell (Birmingham, Perry Barr)

Another 1s, on Income Tax.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it is about time we tried to do without foreign subsidies?

Mr. Dugdale

I am very glad to hear the hon. Member say that. All I am saying is that it is not the best thing to do without foreign subsidies and then to engage in such heavy expenditure that we find ourselves in a position where we need them. That seems to be a very bad thing to do. I think it is highly probable that there will soon have to be another Budget, when we shall be asked to suffer further cuts and pay further taxes.

The British people are willing to pay taxes in a good cause. They paid them before, in the cause of a just war. But this is a very different thing. They are willing to pay taxes and to suffer and even to die in a good cause, but they will not be willing to suffer and die for a group of little men who, to bolster up their pride and morale, can think of nothing better than to go to war with a little country in the name of freedom.

6.44 p.m.

Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)

I do not propose—

Mr. Maurice Orbach (Willesden, East)

Another friend of the Jews. Up the Blackshirts.

Sir T. Moore

I do not propose to follow the right hon. Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) in his somewhat heated and often inaccurate speech, because there is so much to be said on this subject that we should all try to restrain our output to the minimum. The tragedy of this business is that it has developed into a party issue instead of remaining a national one, as it was on 2nd August and as it should be.

Unlike some of my colleagues, I do not entirely blame the Opposition. I have always believed that they have as good, honest and patriotic Members on their side—

Mr. R. J. Mellish (Bermondsey)

Jolly decent of the hon. Member.

Sir T. Moore

—as we have on ours. When they make a mistaken decision I always try to find a reasonable excuse or justification for it, but I am quite satisfied—as most hon. Members on this side of the House are—that the decision reached and announced by the Leader of the Opposition yesterday was wrong. I can only come to the conclusion, therefore, that that decision was based upon incomplete facts and information about the whole subject, and also, possibly, to a somewhat jaundiced view of any action taken by this Government.

With much diffidence, I should like to give the House such knowledge as I have and such information as I have acquired. I might perhaps say here that for nearly fifty years I have been an intimate friend of Egypt, and have a considerable knowledge of and regard for her people. I feel, therefore, that I can give a little background to this tragic affair which will enable hon. Members to understand it better. In his speech today the Prime Minister said that it was essential to go over some of the incidents which led up to the present dispute so that we might appreciate more clearly the actions which had to be taken. That is what I should like to do in the few minutes for which I shall speak.

I shall start with Colonel Nasser. I have reason to believe that he is a nice, pleasant and even kindly man in private life. I believe that he is a good and a brave soldier, and also a patriotic Egyptian. But in public life he is a ruthless dictator, an ambitious politician, and an adept at diplomatic poker, as we have discovered. [Interruption.] I am not giving way. No fewer than thirty or forty Members rose to speak when I did, and I am not going to have my speech spoiled by interruptions, or made to take so long that some other hon. Members are prevented from speaking.

When the revolution in Egypt had taken place and the reluctant Neguib was made dictator he very soon became too popular for Nasser, who, as we know, was the real instigator of the revolution. Neguib was, therefore, deposed. But during his temporary elevation to power he gave the people some comforting assurances about the formation of a truly democratic constitution. When Nasser came to power he also felt compelled to pay a certain amount of lip-service to this idea of parliamentary democracy and, therefore, free elections. He said that that reform would take place as soon as the work of the Revolutionary Council was completed. That reform has not yet taken place—for one good reason, namely, that he knows that if there were free elections tomorrow he would be out of a job.

I know that it is unnecessary to remind the House that the population of Egypt numbers about 23 million, of which number about 12 million to 14 million are composed of the fellaheen, the peasants and the workers who were, and still are, members of the Wafd party, that is, the Labour or Socialist Party of Egypt, and who were, and I believe still are, our friends. When Colonel Nasser put himself into the vacant chair, he was practically unknown. He had no political support and no political party to give it. He only held power—I think this should be borne in mind—by the good will of the Revolutionary Council and, I admit, a section of the army, but by no means the whole army, as some people believe.

That being so, Nasser had to do something dramatic to capture the admiration and the good will of the crowd, something that could be linked up with the people's well-being and meagre standard of life. The Aswan Dam seemed to him to fulfil those requirements perfectly. Therefore, one can judge the angry frustration with which he greeted the decision of the United States not to implement its promises. I hope that the Americans will keep in mind how this thing all started. That being refused to the Egyptians, something more dramatic and something to appeal to the nationalistic emotions of the Egyptian people had to be devised. Hence the seizure of the Canal.

We all know how these disputes and discussions have dragged painfully on and at times, perhaps, have been held up by the not unexpected fluctuations of American support. Meanwhile Israel, seeing the growth of her surrounding danger, got busy, and one must admit that she timed her action with undoubted skill. Had she any justification? I think so. Israel has long been convinced, and I believe rightly convinced, that the one unifying link among the Arab States was her destruction. The latest pact between Egypt, Syria and Jordan has, of course, confirmed her view on that point. But if we take the attitude of the Arab States in their desire to destroy Israel, that also is capable of being understood.

We must remember that for long the Egyptian army has been suffering a bitter blow to its pride owing to its defeat by the Israeli Army in 1948. It has wanted to restore faith in itself and to retrieve its reputation. Therefore, there is every incentive for it to desire to get even again with Israel.

The other Arab States surrounding Israel have been justifiably embittered by seeing the million-odd homeless, hopeless Arabs, wandering about Jordan and elsewhere, people who were torn from their farms and homes in Palestine, as it then was, in order to make room for the Jews who were fleeing from their hideous persecution in Europe. Therefore, everyone seemed to have a real reason for hurting or destroying Israel. Israel knew that, and has been facing that problem and danger for the last ten years.

It is an insoluble problem. Ever since the Balfour Declaration of 1917 it has been a problem which baffled first the old League of Nations and then the United Nations. I do not know the answer to it, but I think that the only answer to it is this, though I hesitate to put it forward. I believe that Israel will have to take back those homeless fugitives, those exiles from their own country, and fit them into the Israeli community. When she has done that, I believe that the right course will be for her to apply for admission to the Arab League and to settle down as one of the components of the Arab States comprising the Middle East. That has been agreed by some Jews as the right course to adopt.

The present position, so far as I can make out from listening to the various speeches which have been made, is that hon. Members opposite have based and are basing their opposition to the Government's action on the failure of the Government to get authority from the United Nations for the action which they have considered necessary, that is, the action to stop further hostilities, to preserve free passage along the Canal and to protect the lives of British nationals.

I am not going into all the arguments which have been used by the Opposition to explain or confirm their views, or into, to my mind, the strong, convincing defence that has been advanced by the Government. I will deal with one issue only, the Charter itself. There is one thing which we must remember, and this, I think, was referred to by the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies), which is that the Security Council has no definite physical force at its disposal and neither is it in a position to create swiftly enough the necessary force to carry out its decisions without delay and when an urgent emergency has arisen. It can only recommend.

That has always been the weakness of the Security Council. Many debates have taken place in this House, outside it and in other Parliaments regarding the necessity for having an international police force. I believe that something of that sort has already proved to be inevitable. Indeed, the events of the last few months have shown how, in fact, France and ourselves have actually had to step in to fill the gap.

In those circumstances, and as the United States is so preoccupied with its Presidential election, is it not very appropriate that a Conservative British Government and a French Socialist Government should undertake this very unenviable and unwelcome task of maintaining the peace and preventing further excursions into war and so try to protect the whole situation in the Middle East? I am sure that the people of Egypt, especially those in the Wafd, are in agreement with our attitude. I have been assured of that within the last few days. I believe that when the Wafd realise that this intervention on the part of this country and France is the only thing that is going to save Egypt from possible ultimate destruction, they will support us. Indeed, they are already doing so. They have already started some form of private broadcasting service adjacent to Egypt which is determined to keep the Egyptian people informed of this conflict and the issues involved.

A few weeks ago, the Prime Minister said that our quarrel was not with the Egyptian people, but with Colonel Nasser. He was right. The Egyptians are a kindly, friendly, simple, though emotional people and once they realise this man Nasser is a menace to their peaceful existence and to their future happy relations with the Western nations, they will turn on him and throw him out. I believe that when that happy event takes place and peace has been restored, as it will be, the world, the Arab States, Israel and, indeed. Egypt herself will thank God for Britain and her Prime Minister.

7.0 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

The right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) and I were once Parliamentary Secretaries in the same Government and we were sworn of His Majesty's Privy Council at the same time. Since then our paths have diverged and I hope that it will not be thought fulsome of me if I congratulate the right hon. and gallant Gentleman on the exceeding modesty of the speech which he made this evening. After all, he has succeeded in doing something which I have never succeeded in doing. He has impressed his will on his own Front Bench. Tonight, he is entitled to view the stricken field with the feeling that no matter who goes down, he has won. I think it is the worse for the country and the world that he should have done so. My congratulations to him do not extend to the tremendous victory that, with great persistence, he has succeeded in achieving.

I know that there are a large number of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who wish to address the House and I shall detain the House for only three minutes. My excuse for doing so is that six months ago I accepted an invitation to be in the United States of America on 3rd November of this year to address a series of meetings connected with a religious organisation of which I am president. Imagine my surprise when, a month ago, I received a cablegram from the law forum of one of the greatest of the American universities—in my view, the greatest of the American universities—asking me if I would appear before them in about a week from now and debate the Suez question with the Egyptian Ambassador.

The cablegram requested me to answer, "Yes," or "No." If I had had to pay by the letters for the cablegram I sent back, I chose the cheaper of the two words. I gave that answer then because I did not understand what was the British policy with regard to Suez. If I had to repeat my answer tonight, I should send the same reply with greater fervour, because I now know what is the British policy with regard to Suez.

I know what my Government, the Government of which I was a member, suffered because of the speeches made by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, when they were in opposition, during their visits to America. I wish to assure Her Majesty's Government that I shall make no speech in America on this issue; but if I am asked a question I shall give a truthful answer in as few words as I can. I do not think one can do less than that for any audience willing to listen to one's words.

I endorse and accept every word of the two speeches made yesterday and the day before by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and the speech made this afternoon by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). I should like to add just this—

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

The three minutes are not up yet.

Mr. Ede

I thank my hon. Friend for reminding me, but he should not take ten seconds of it.

Unfortunately, I am old enough to recollect the South African War, and I would say this to my right hon. and hon. Friends. We have taken our stand unitedly on the question of principle. Do not let us be deceived as to the nature of the attack that will come from the other side of the House. I saw this afternoon, and I have seen this week, the Tory Party acting with the same imperial arrogance that brought us into the South African War. I have no doubt that they will employ the same tactics against us as were employed by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain against the Liberal Party, or those members of it who had the courage to stand for principle in those days.

7.3 p.m.

Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

I will not attempt to follow what the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has said. So often during the few times which I have spoken in this House I have been uncertain of my feelings about a matter. I have been filled with admiration on many occasions for the way in which hon. Members on both sides of the House appear to be able to have the completest conviction on almost any subject. The great tragedy of this debate is that there is no one in this House who does not feel deeply and seriously concerned about the great problem that is facing the nation.

It would be the greatest insult to pay to any hon. Member to doubt—even, if I may say so, to the extent that the right hon. Gentleman cast doubt on the future actions of Her Majesty's Government—his sincerity in this time of struggle for the nation. It therefore makes it all the more difficult, when, as has been so evident during this debate, hon. Members on either side conscientiously hold views which are so divergent and which are yet apparently so genuinely and so strongly maintained.

I have tried to ask myself on this issue: are Her Majesty's Government right in the action they have taken, are taking and promise to take? I am myself in this dilemma, that I feel just so strongly on this issue in support of Her Majesty's Government as many hon. Members opposite—unfortunately, nearly all hon. Members opposite—conscientiously feel in their opposition to the policy of Her Majesty's Government. I do not believe that it will do the future of this nation any great service to dwell upon those points in which there is latent fire, such as whether the Israelis were or were not the aggressors.

A few moments ago, as some of my colleagues in the Chamber will have heard, I was called anti-Jew. I was called a Fascist. I do not like these accusations being bandied about the Chamber by people who know nothing of the matter. I do not like being called anti-Jew. I hope that I am a reasonable Christian, and, being a reasonable Christian, I can not be anti-Jew. My greatest friend was a Jew—I say "was" because he died a few months ago—and I have often spoken in support of this great adventure which was Israel—

Mrs. Lena leger (Holborn and St. Pancras, South)


Mr. Fell

Is, was, and, I hope, will be.

I have no doubt at all that on the pure issue of who was the aggressor there can be no doubt whatsoever. A few minutes ago I was saying how certain some hon. Members could be about matters and that I am not always so certain. On this issue I have no doubt that the provocation was such that had anybody been living in Israel he could not reasonably have said that the provocation was not sufficient to justify the Israelis going out and getting rid of the threat which would lead to their extinction.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I quite agree with what the hon. Gentleman has said, but how does he explain that on no less than six occasions, when the Israelis had done exactly the same thing in self-defence, the hon. Gentleman's Government voted against them?

Mr. Fell

I am trying to make my speech, and I hope that the hon. and learned Gentleman will do me the courtesy of listening. If I sound passionate it is because I believe passionately in what I am saying. I will not attempt—[Interruption.] I know that the Opposition Front Bench is a little upset when back benchers speak, but if it finds itself too upset perhaps right hon. Gentlemen would interrupt me.

Mr. Younger

I was only telling one of my colleagues who the hon. Gentleman is, because he is unknown on this side of the House.

Mr. Fell

That is exactly the sort of quip I would expect from the right hon. Gentleman. But I do not want to raise any heat in this House, so I shall not call it arrogance.

I shall not go into the history of what hon. Members have said on these matters, and into quotations from the speeches of various people. If I were to start that I would certainly raise the heat in this Chamber. I want to come to what appears to be the main issue dividing the House, the things in which hon. Members genuinely believe. We credit hon. Members opposite with sincerity when they say that such matters as we are now debating should never be acted upon until they have gone through United Nations procedure and we have waited for a United Nations decision.

International law has been built up over many centuries. The British Commonwealth has played no small part in building up the law of nations. I wonder whether the failure of the League of Nations was due to our trying to put too much upon it too quickly, and whether we have not fallen into the same trap with the United Nations and the Security Council. Perhaps we are trying to put upon this organisation a burden which it is physically incapable of bearing. How can an unarmed organisation, unable to carry out a verdict accepted in almost complete agreement by all its members, maintain law and order in the world?

If we can get to the stage, which I believe is still a long way distant, of having an international organisation with some sort of police force at its disposal, and it is possible to maintain the peace of the world for all time, those of us who have scruples must be willing to forgo much in order to bring that result about. I would forgo many things in which I believe in the interests of such an organisation for world peace. Let us remember, however, that even our own police force is regionalised and that local authorities have some control over local police forces.

We have built up an organisation which is not yet competent to deal effectively with emergencies that need police action, or capable of looking after the law of nations. How can the Opposition say, "We must not go outside it"? I cannot see that that makes sense.

Let me go back to the beginning. Most people would agree that our failure to be strong at Abadan, and quickly strong, led to a deterioration of our reputation in the Middle East, and that that led to an agreement with Egypt which was not in every way the sort of agreement to which those who had respect and love for the Sudan were entirely favourable. That agreement eventually led to the withdrawal of our troops from the Suez Canal. Who can say that Nasser would ever have grabbed the Canal if British forces had not been withdrawn?

On the question of the actual grabbing of the Suez Canal, may I ask how we apprehend somebody who steals? I understand that in common law it is the duty of any citizen who sees another committing a felony to stop him doing it—I hope that no hon. and learned Member will pull me up on technical details. I understand that that is one of the responsibilities of citizenship. It is not the citizen's duty to leave the person who is committing a felony and run off and get help from an unarmed police force, and then to hold meetings before the police can even send someone to apprehend the felon.

Surely the analogy with the present Suez Canal situation is not inexact. If we find that two groups of boys are throwing stones across a path along which women and children are walking we do not try to find the police, but try to stop the boys throwing. It is our bounden duty to do so. That is the law we have worked out as our common law. Is that not the way in which the law has to be observed internationally? How else is international law to be kept?

Mr. Christopher Boyd (Bristol, North West)

Surely the citizen would first try to persuade the boys not to throw stones across the footpath. Then, rather than resort to force, would he not call in the police?

Mr. Fell

If I had to run a long way to fetch a policeman, leaving the battle to get worse, with the risk of women and children being knocked down on the path, my first job would be to try to apprehend the boys who were causing the disturbance. One of my hon. Friends suggests that the magistrate would blame me for running away.

The Government have taken action which, in my view, it was the bounden duty of this Government to take. I have looked at the criticism which has been mentioned by hon. Members opposite. It has been said that the world is against us. Who is the world? Krishna Menon? He is reported to have called what we have done wanton brutality and to have said that the whole world must record its protest against this action directed against a nation and people who have committed no crime apart from their insistence on their national sovereignty. That is Krishna Menon. Is he a friend of Britain? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes.". Mr. Nehru has criticised us. I will not try to be controversial by asking whether he is a friend of Britain.

President Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles, without, it seems to me, stopping to think, have said that the Israelis were the aggressors. They were quoted as saying that.

Mr. Younger

By the Prime Minister.

Mr. Fell

Are they the friends of Britain in this emergency? They are being troubled by the immediate difficulties of an election within the next few days.

Next, Mr. Bandaranaike. Is he a friend of Britain? It is perhaps as well to speak plainly on these matters. At least what I have been saying is, I hope, upholding the policy of Her Majesty's Government when they are undertaking operations of a kind which are of the greatest importance not only to this nation but also to the whole of the Commonwealth and to the world.

It seems to me that if we listen rather to Mr. Menzies and to the views of New Zealand we hear the true voices of our friends. Some of the speakers from the back benches opposite have tried to be reasonable. Some hon. Members opposite have supported us. But my complaint about the speeches from the Opposition Front Bench is that I have not heard any attempt by any right hon. Gentleman opposite to see whether he and his Front Bench colleagues can lead their back benchers, and what they claim to be half England, to support the Government in this action. Throughout the week they have been destructive and at no time constructive.

In this matter, which is one of the greatest concern to every Briton and every member of the Commonwealth, I am clear that the action taken by Her Majesty's Government was not only the right action upon every principle but, as the Prime Minister said this afternoon, the only action we could have taken in upholding our many and manifold responsibilities. I support that action whatever the consequences may be.

7.25 p.m.

Mr. S. N. Evans (Wednesbury)

I am sure that the Prime Minister will be glad to know that he has the support of the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). When asking the Prime Minister a question yesterday, I said that the Middle East situation was both confused and confusing. I do not think the hon. Member did a great deal to clarify it.

The hon. Member rightly pointed to the fact that a good deal of the anxiety expressed on this side of the House has centred around our relationship with the United Nations and our responsibilities under that organisation, and I shall have something to say about that in a minute or two. I must confess from the start, however, that I find great difficulty in arguing this matter in strictly legalistic terms. My mind keeps coming back to the politics of the situation in that part of the world.

This Middle East situation is a diamond of many facets. There are, of course, the unbounded ambitions of Nasser and his declared intention of driving the Israelis into the sea. There is the fact that for the past two years he has been the unrelenting enemy of British interests in the Middle East and that throughout his life he has been an unrelenting enemy of every liberation principle for which my party stands. It is an irony of the present situation that we are unwittingly and unintentionally, and for reasons which I understand, in the position of getting lined up with this Egyptian dictator and in opposition to our sorely-pressed Socialist colleagues in Israel. It is a pretty dreadful situation for many of us. I understand how it has come about, because of the contradictions in that area.

It is very important that we should understand that there are several poisons at work in that area. There is, of course, Nasser's declared intention of becoming both Pope and Caesar of the entire Arab world. There is the Arab-Israel conflict, with the fate of the 900,000 refugees, about whom I have not heard a word in this debate, and, of course, there is the future of the Sudan. I would say that the most impressive thing over the three months of crisis has been, first, the rock-like calm of the British and, secondly, the silence of the Sudanese. The silence of the Sudanese has been deafening. They know what is going to happen to them if this Egyptian dictator emerges as a Napoleon of the entire Middle East.

Let me say at once that I understand the misgivings of those of my colleagues who are concerned about our position in the United Nations. I understand their misgivings thoroughly, but I must ask them and ask the House whether the United Nations is, in fact, in a position to act as an impartial arbiter in international disputes.

One of the prime causes of the present situation in the Middle East is Anglo-American oil rivalry in that part of the world. The Republican Party is the instrument of certain forces in the United States, not least of whom are the Texas oil millionaires and oil companies. It is the political representative of people who talk in such terms as, "What is good for General Motors is good for America." It is only a slight extension of the same philosophy to say, "What is good for America is good for the world." The plain fact of the matter is that Mr. Dulles has never been in a position to give us his support on any matter where American and British interests were in conflict in the Middle East.

Therefore it is unrealistic to expect that in any reference to the United Nations where British interests are concerned we shall get justice and fair play from the United States representative there. It is unrealistic to believe it. The United States has spent ten years, many dollars, and much duplicity undermining our position throughout that area. It would be wishful thinking of an unusually naïve character to believe that, having done that, the United States would, when a matter of this kind came before U.N.O., do anything which would have the effect of restoring British influence, prestige and authority in that part of the world.

It is no use our countrymen looking to U.N.O. for justice when these Anglo-American rivalries are up for consideration at U.N.O. This is the reality of power, and without a firm grasp of the simple essentials of power and how it works we shall consistently go wrong. Let me give one example. When the British Labour Government sold 2 million tons of oil to the Argentine as part of the Andes Agreement, and, through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, invaded what was traditionally an American market, we sentenced ourselves to death at Abadan. We frightened the life out of them. They have never recovered, and in their minds all the time is the thought that some future Labour Government may do a deal of that kind again. That has been the animating influence at U.N.O., and let us have no illusions about it.

Before I leave this aspect of the matter, I will mention this further consideration, that the world price of oil today is based upon American costs. Middle East oil costs at least a third less. If British oil production in the Middle East mounts until such time as we are able to say that we will offer British produced oil at prices based on British Middle East costs, where will the American oil producers stand then? These are the kind of considerations which have been at work at U.N.O., and we should make no mistake about that.

In a matter of international justice, U.N.O. today is at best a political eunuch and at worst a fraud, a snare and a delusion. I will say to the Government that it would be as well if we considered where the balance of advantage lies, whether we are in U.N.O. or out. I will say this too, that I understand some of the difficulties of the Government; I know and I understand some of the insincerities of public life. For myself, I would much rather be straight and clear and honest and say that in the Middle East and its future the interests of Israel and Britain are identical, that this is the basis of our relationship, and what we are engaged in doing is to protect our joint interests. I think that would be much better.

Mr. W. Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)

My hon. Friend knows that I appreciate a good deal of what he is saying and I understand it; but I should like to put this question to him. If he is saying that the struggle in the Middle East for Middle East oil is between Britain and America and, on the basis of defending British interests, the action of the Government is justified, how would he feel if the Americans took the commercial struggle to the point of a military invasion of the Middle East to look after their oil?

Mr. Evans

My own view is that, in present circumstances, they would be very glad if there were no Middle East oil at all. What the position will be 10, 15 or 20 years from now, I do not know.

I personally do not find it improper or immoral to defend British interests. Oddly enough, I am not one of those who think that it is all right to defend Jewish interests or Arab interests but all wrong to defend British interests. The real question, as I said, is whether U.N.O. in present circumstances is an instrument adequate to the responsibilities which devolve upon it. I personally feel that the "Big Two"—there are really only two—go along to U.N.O. not concerned with justice for small countries, but that the first question asked is, "Who are the protagonists? How do their interests line up with ours? Is there a clash or are they compatible?" Then they go on to ask, "What do they want? What have they got to offer?" That is how it works, and it is unrealistic to think that U.N.O. works in any other way.

I have said to my own Wednesbury Divisional Labour Party, and I have said it twice in another part of this building, that I have grave doubts about the utility of the United Nations in this day and age. Certainly, it does not possess the authority, having arrived at a decision, to impose it. That is still reserved for the sovereign States.

A new phase is opening in diplomacy. Before the advent of the hydrogen bomb, there were alliances; but the advent of the hydrogen bomb means that the major war is ruled out. Both the "Big Two" have decided that the cost of such a war would be extinction, or something next to it, and so it is ruled out. They are accordingly no longer so much worried as they were about the fidelity of their allies. That, of course, is what accounts for America's complete failure to observe the reciprocities which are customary between partners. She is contemptuous of British interests, and has been for a long time, because, having satisfied herself through this new factor in international affairs, the hydrogen bomb, that there is not going to be any war, she does not bother any more.

I said to my Wednesbury Divisional Management Committee on 8th September, reported in Reynolds News on the 9th, that in my view the Middle East situation was such that Britain would not be able to act solely in accord with her own peaceful principles but only in accord with what her experience of dictators had taught her. I have to stand by that.

The issues here are very great indeed and they cannot be segregated. Tied up with this question of Suez is the future of Israel. Is there anybody who does not realise that if this man Nasser emerges from this present conflict, which has gone on for three months, with enhanced status, that is the end of Israel?

Of course, there is the other consideration of oil which weighs with me. Do not forget that oil today is the main cement holding together the sterling area. The world is no longer on the gold standard. Oil has taken its place. Advanced industrial nations, such as our own, can at a push do without gold, but to be without oil is to see our industries grind to a standstill and starvation overtake the people.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I am interested to note that hon. Members opposite cheer my hon. Friend when he says that. It is important. They were silent the other day when they sold our Commonwealth oil for dollars.

Mr. Evans

I recall that I had something to say at the time of the Trinidad oil debate.

This is a sombre occasion because the issues are fraught with consequences to our country—what our attitude should be and whether we should accept U.N.O. rule, no matter what its effect on the happiness, security and living standards of the British people. This is a question which cannot be dismissed lightly. For myself and people like me, I have to say that in all these weighty matters we have to keep faith with the dead as well as the living. Every time I think of this Egyptian dictator, I think of the tens of thousands of my generation who gave their all on the Somme and at Passchendaele. They did not do it so that England could end up a hostage to this third-rate Egyptian Hitler. Neither did those who fell in the Battle of Britain and at El Alamein, Arnhem, Cassino and on the beaches of Normandy.

I say again that we have to keep faith with the dead as well as the living. If we remember these things, we shall not go wrong. For myself, I know of no better, more honourable or safer guide.

7.43 p.m.

Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett (Croydon, North-East)

The House has listened to a most moving and courageous speech from the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans). I listened with particular interest to his observations about the United Nations, and I should like to say a few words of my own on that subject.

I speak as one who came out of the First World War with a passionate belief that the League of Nations and its system of collective security was the one thing which we had got in exchange for our dead. In the years between the wars, I watched the League slowly being killed—killed not only by the malice of its enemies, but by the folly of some of its friends.

When I listened to some of the hard and bitter things that have been said by hon. Members opposite during this debate about my party and our attitude to the United Nations, I had an uneasy feeling that in that respect history may be repeating itself. [An HON. MEMBER: "We do not want to kill it."] I am sure that the hon. Member does not want to kill it, but there is some risk of the United Nations being irrevocably damaged by its own friends, and especially some of those who have intervened in these debates from the Opposition benches.

As I see it, it is quite wrong to regard the United Nations simply as a collective instrument for the maintenance of peace—peace without suffix and without prefix. It is nothing of the kind, and it was never intended to be that. It is intended as an instrument to maintain peace with justice, which is a very different matter and a much more difficult matter, because people and nations are not always agreed about what justice should be. In fact, the United Nations is attempting to achieve something which has eluded mankind for two thousand years, and it is hardly reasonable to expect it to achieve that in ten years. I beg hon. and right hon. Members opposite not to be quite so impatient because problems are put to the United Nations which it is beyond its capacity to solve. Nothing is more liable to damage it.

Hard things have been said by hon. Members, on both sides, over many years about the veto, and especially about the Russian use of the veto. I would be the first to agree that the continual use of the veto would bring, and has brought, the whole machinery to a standstill. Yet as has been pointed out by more than one speaker in these debates it is quite wrong to condemn the use of the veto altogether because had there been no veto there would be no United Nations today.

I should like to turn for a moment to look at the position as it was in the Levant the morning before yesterday. It seems a long time ago, but it is only just over forty-eight hours ago. As I see it, after intolerable provocation, the Israeli armies were sweeping forward into Egypt and were within a matter of miles of the Canal.

In describing what might have been done had the matter been left to the Security Council, I am bound to say how much I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary when he remarked, in winding up the debate last night, that the observations of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) were divorced from reality. I would like to remind the House what the right hon. Gentleman said. He said: The Council would first have unanimously called upon the Israelis to withdraw. I do not dispute that. He then went on to say: If they had not, what would have been the next step under the Charter? It is all laid down. We should have withdrawn our ambassadors. That, again, I do not dispute. But then he said: If that had not made them stop, we could, under the Charter, have cut all sea, rail, air, postal and telegraphic communications. If that had not brought results we could have imposed a blockade."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1956; Vol. 558, c. 1565.] After that, the right hon. Gentleman went on to talk of the final step of a naval demonstration. But how long would all that have taken?

I concede that Israel is singularly susceptible to a blockade, but even in the case of Israel it would have been a matter, surely, of four or five weeks. As I see it, the time scale in which we have to think is not of weeks, but of days. Hon. Members should use their imagination and consider the measureless catastrophe which might have resulted had we not intervened, had we not checked the headlong advance of the Israeli armies which, I am convinced, our intervention has checked already, and had they swept forward. Let us make no mistake about one thing. Having taken the tremendous risk of going to war at all they would, I believe, have stopped at nothing short of the complete destruction of Egypt's military power.

It was not just a question of the Canal, though that in itself is perhaps more serious than hon. Members have considered, because the installations and the ships and so forth of the Canal are no longer entitled to immunity. Until recently, when we had the international company in charge, I think it probable that both sides would have done their best to have avoided the Canal's specialised vessels, barges and so forth, but those considerations do not apply now, and I have little doubt myself that were the Canal area to become a great battlefield for the Israeli armies and the Egyptian armies, the Canal would be out of action not just for months but possibly for two or three years.

There could have been even wider consequences, because anybody who understands the implacable hatreds of that part of the world must surely concede that the great cities of Suez, Port Said, Ismailia and Cairo would have gone up in smoke and flames, and that there would have been massacres and horrors and misery of every kind. What were we to do while all this was happening? I say "we" because it was we and the French, to a lesser extent, who alone had the power to intervene effectively and quickly.

It has been suggested by the Opposition that we were to stand by and await action by the Security Council. All I can say is that the American resolution before the Council which I believe to have been quite properly vetoed, would simply have led to the sort of action which, I am afraid, is not disagreeable to some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, because what it would have amounted to would simply have been, that amidst all that carnage and horror we should have raised sanctimonious hands to heaven and passed by on the other side.

Mr. Warbey

I am trying to follow the hon. and gallant Member's argument, and I gather that what he is saying is that the aim of the Israeli attack was to invade Egypt, and that the Government's action has stopped that. In that case, if he thinks that the Israeli object was a full-scale attack on Egypt, which would have set Egyptian towns in flames and have destroyed thousands of Egyptian lives, has he objection to Israel being named as the aggressor?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I recognise that as a fair question, but I would not myself add to what has been said on this issue by the Foreign Secretary. I have never myself been a Zionist: I have never spoken strongly on behalf of Israel. However, I recognise, and I think we should all recognise, the terrible strain under which the Israelis have been living, not only in their own country, but, in many cases, before they went there. Their action may be wrong, but, none the less, can one altogether blame them if, despairing of another solution to the problem, they decide to attack the central point of the alliance against them with the object of destroying it before it gets too strong? I am not necessarily defending it. I merely say I certainly would not condemn it out of hand.

I certainly would not agree that the Israelis were the aggressors from the beginning. I would not accept that for a moment. I am equally certain that had their advance continued the Egyptians would not have stood against it, and I very much doubt whether Israel, with the best will in the world, could have kept the situation in hand, so that a terrible catastrophe would have occurred, which I sincerely believe it was the object of our Government to prevent, and which I have every reason to hope has in fact been prevented.

However, in my own mind, one of the most serious aspects of the situation is the fact that the crisis has revealed what, perhaps, has long since been suspected, a very sharp conflict of view between ourselves and our American friends, and that, I submit, is potentially—only potentially—a more serious thing than the present issue in the Levant, although, perhaps, it is a good thing to have had it brought out into the open. In passing, I recognise, of course, that it is very unfair to take too literally anything that is said in the heat of an election in America.

Even so, I think it is fair to compare the action which the American Government have sought fit to take at the present moment with our own actions both under the Labour Administration and under the Conservative Administration on numerous occasions when we have not ourselves entirely agreed with the Americans' point of view in areas where none the less we accept that they have greater interests. I should say that in general we have never hesitated to express disagreement but at the same time have refrained from actually opposing them.

The peace of the world as a whole rests upon twin foundations, upon loyalty to N.A.T.O. and upon our ability to meet a major attack with nuclear retaliation, and both parties have played some part in the laying of those foundations. Both parties can claim some credit for the results which have been achieved. It is relevant to the present situation to see it in proportion, and to recognise that in the main that policy has been successful. It has been successful because for several years now the boundless ambitions of the Soviet rulers, backed by their vast armies, have been contained and held in check.

In so far as it may be true that the present difficulties have been fomented by the Soviet, surely that is a sign of the success of our main policy; surely it is a symptom of the great strains which have been generated behind the Iron Curtain by the strength and solidarity of the Anglo-American position. Even more, surely, the resurgence of the spirit of independence which we have been witnessing in Eastern Europe is also a symptom and result of our main policy since the war, because had it not been for the unity and strength of the West, countries like Poland and Hungary today would be half forgotten memories, submerged in the depths of a Russian empire stretching from remotest Asia to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. It is for these reasons that we should at all costs strive to preserve Western unity.

There are some occasions, and I believe this to be one, when it is wise to be very frank when speaking of one's friends, and I believe we are entitled to remind America that the part we play in N.A.T.O. involves great financial strains and immense risks. After all, the establishment of the American atomic bases in this country, under a policy started by the party opposite—I am not criticising hon. and right hon. Members opposite—means that in certain circumstances our crowded little island may be the target of the first priority for these terrible weapons. We have loyally accepted both the cost and the risk. But how shall we be able to continue to play our proper part in the Atlantic treaty if America is to oppose us in those areas on which we depend absolutely for our economic strength?

Mr. Ellis Smith

That is what she is doing.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

And that is why I am venturing to make these observations today.

Meanwhile, it is a very distressing and saddening thing that so many nations appear to have their opinions ranged against us. Let us remember that in the long history of this country it is by no means the first time that Britain has stood alone. I am confident that in the fulness of time the world will recognise that on this occasion we have been right.

8.1 p.m.

Mr. Roderic Bowen (Cardigan)

I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East (Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett) in his remarks, but I should like to make one or two observations on the speech made by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans), who reached a degree of cynicism which was most disturbing. It was matched only by the sentiments expressed by the right hon. and gallant Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Water-house). That attitude of mind towards our membership of the family of nations and towards our obligations under the United Nations Charter is something which, I believe, is alien to the overwhelming majority of the people of this country.

If the conclusions of the hon. Member for Wednesbury are right, it would be far more honourable for us to seek to disband the United Nations immediately and to tear up the Charter. Does he really believe that the vote at the Security Council on Wednesday went against us because of Anglo-American rivalries, or because of a struggle for oil? I do not believe it. I believe that the reason we were alone at the Security Council was because we had acted in a way which undermined the very authority of the United Nations itself.

There are many in the country whose final judgment upon the Government's conduct will depend upon the results of the military operations in which we are now engaged.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Speaking for myself, I accepted the economic analysis of my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) except that I thought that he did not carry it far enough. But the political consequences of that was to support whole-heartedly the Motion of censure which the Labour Party is moving.

Mr. Bowen

The hon. Member for Wednesbury used the phrase "keeping faith with the dead." I cannot reconcile that sentiment with his attitude towards international obligations and international bodies.

As I was saying, there are many in the country whose final judgment on these events will depend upon the success or otherwise of the military operations in which we are now engaged, and, whatever our views as to the Tightness or wrongness of the Government's conduct, we all hope that the effect will be to bring about as quickly as possible a cessation of hostilities in that area. Whatever happens in that area, the fact remains that our action, particularly at the Security Council, has been a denial of our belief in the basis of the United Nations. It is a strain on Anglo-American friendship and a disturbance of the good fellowship within the Commonwealth itself.

A number of hon. Members have referred to this action by the Government in Suez as a police action. The fact remains that the votes of the countries at the Security Council made it quite clear that world opinion was directly opposed to unilateral action in that sphere. One hon. Member has said that we are trying to put too much of a burden on the United Nations. The fact is that in this instance we were not prepared to allow any burden to be placed upon the Security Council.

There was no reason at all why we should not have supported instead of vetoing both resolutions of the Security Council. Certainly, we could have fully supported the request to both parties to cease fire and to Israel to withdraw to her own borders. In exercising the veto in these circumstances we have done a great disservice to international organisation and to the development of effective international machinery. We have put ourselves in the position where it is very difficult indeed for us to find fault any more with the exercise of a veto by Russia. We have weakened our case against any future forceful intervention by another Power in foreign territory. By acting independently of America we have endangered the whole conception of the Tripartite Declaration.

When the Government's proposals were put before the House last Tuesday, we were given no idea that there was any measure of disagreement in the Commonwealth. The phrase used was "close consultation". We were given no clue that there was bitter hostility to our point of view in the United States. It is quite true that right at the tail-end of his speech the Foreign Secretary made it quite clear that there was no question of agreement from the United States, but nothing was said to indicate that the United States was violently opposed to the action which we proposed. It is quite clear that it is. The right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that no clue was given, throughout either the Prime Minister's statement or the Foreign Secretary's speech, that our behaviour at the Security Council would be on the lines that it turned out to be.

What can be done in the present circumstances? I believe that the position could be retrieved if our action had been right and proper before the Security Council. It is quite clear that intervention in this area is needed. It is quite clear that military intervention may be needed, but the fact is that the Government, by their action at the Security Council, made it quite impossible for any collective action to be taken.

Someone may ask, cynically: what would they have done? The fact is that we deprived them of any opportunity of making up their minds on that issue. I believe that we should go back to the Security Council and indicate our preparedness to accept intervention, indeed, advocate intervention, by the United Nations in this matter.

I should like also to express my fears about the statement of the Prime Minister in connection with the General Assembly. The interpretation which I placed upon the words of the right hon. Gentleman was that if the findings of the General Assembly were suitable and convenient to us we would accept them, which simply means that if judgment is in our favour we accept the judgment; if it is not, we do what we choose.

I do not believe that it is too late, even now, for the Government to say, in the General Assembly, that what is called for in Egypt is action under the ægis of the United Nations, and that Her Majesty's Government would welcome the United Nations taking effective action in that area to try to secure a cessation of hostilities and the return of the Israelis to their own border and the establishment of peace in Egypt itself.

8.12 p.m.

Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)

I felt that the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Cardigan (Mr. Bowen) about a United Nations security force intervening at this time were rather unreal in view of the situation actually facing us in the Suez Canal area at present. However, I want to develop briefly a slightly different line of argument, because almost every point of view on this situation has been put from both sides of the House.

I feel that at this time our thoughts should be with the British Service men in our Army, Navy and Air Force who have either been in action in the Suez Canal area or are held in readiness for any such action as they may be ordered to undertake. I feel sure that some of them will be remembering the times when they operated on the Canal or in the desert during the last war, or were boxed up during that very unpleasant period for British troops in the Suez Canal area.

Neither of those occasions provided pleasant memories, and I often remember what the British soldier thought of Egypt and the Egyptians. But even in a debate which has been as heated as this one has on certain occasions, it would be unparliamentary of me to repeat what they said. I am certain, however, that all British troops will be glad to have had the assurance of the Prime Minister that the action which they are being asked to undertake at the moment in the Suez Canal area is of a temporary nature. Also I am satisfied that the Prime Minister meant what he said, and I am sure that the troops place complete reliance on that.

Policing action, as the Prime Minister called this, is always unpleasant for any troops. It is much easier for troops to attack or to defend than it is to be in the middle and try to keep the peace. However, in my experience the British soldier is the best military policeman in the world, and if anyone can do this work, he certainly will.

We have not had much measure of agreement between both sides of the House during this debate, and ever since the Suez Canal question came to be debated we have been on the verge of a Motion of censure, or the House has been directly divided on party political lines. I think that that is always the greatest pity in an international situation of this kind, and should be avoided if possible. However, here are one or two points on which both sides of the House are in agreement, so let us keep to those.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Tell us what they are.

Sir J. Smyth

We all deplore the Egyptian provocation against Israel which has been going on for so long. On the other hand, we also all deplore the fact that eventually the Israeli Government took the law into their own hands and invaded Egyptian territory. I shall not try to decide which side will in the long run be adjudged the aggressor, but I am sure that we all deplore the fact that those two things have happened and that, as a result of them, a very grave and anxious situation was created, and still exists, in the Suez Canal area.

In my opinion that situation could easily have led to a head-on collision between Israeli and Egyptian forces, and a warlike situation which would have spread throughout all the Middle East. It might also have led to a very dangerous situation for us and other nations on the Suez Canal. I believe that if we have done anything to prevent the situation developing on those serious lines—and time alone can tell if that is right, we cannot tell today—if we have taken that action to prevent what was, to start with, a minor conflagration becoming a major war, then we shall have really done something.

Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)

Does the hon. and gallant Gentleman not realise that it is the function of the United Nations, and not the function of any one nation, to intervene or interfere between combatants? That is the difference between his side of the House and ours: we want submission to the United Nations and the Government wish to take the law into their own hands and use force.

Sir J. Smyth

I appreciate the point of view of the hon. and learned Gentleman, but I look at it from this point of view. If two people fall into the water and are drowning, I do not look up my book of rules to see if I am trespassing or not; I try to jump in—[An HON. MEMBER: "And shoot them."]—and pull them out. Time alone will tell whether we have done right, but I think we have done a good thing.

There is all the difference in the world in taking military action to fight a war and taking military action to prevent one from starting. We all have different points of view but I believe that if our Armed Forces, particularly since the end of the last war, are to function in a worthwhile way, at must be in the second direction, to stop a war starting rather than to intervene in one which has already started.

Apart from the global war with nuclear weapons, which does not come into the question that we are considering today, the whole essence of what has been called "the fire brigade operation"—the operation to prevent a war—is speed. The smallest conflagration can be put out—it has been done—if it is dealt with rapidly, whereas after a few weeks' delay it is very difficult indeed to deal with it. We saw that in Korea. We were very fortunate in the case of Korea, in that the Russians were not taking part in the Security Council proceedings at that time and the American forces could take action with the least possible delay.

In the case which we are considering, we knew perfectly well that if it had gone through the normal channels of the Security Council—to which we did refer it—there was no doubt about it that the Israeli and the Egyptian forces would come into headlong collision and a major war might well start. Consequently, I maintain that the action taken by the British Government was entirely within the spirit of the United Nations Charter. I firmly maintain that it was in the spirit of the United Nations Charter to prevent war and bloodshed if we could possibly do so.

We all realise that the Suez Canal is not entirely an Egyptian area. It is a great international waterway and very much a British concern. I do not propose to reiterate the arguments put forward by the opening speakers in the debate. I think that the Prime Minister's speech will be quoted all over the world tomorrow. It was a quite magnificent one.

The sympathy of the House at the moment should go to our Service men in the Middle East who are carrying out a formidable and very depressing operation. It is depressing and difficult from two points of view. First, it is depressing and difficult by reason of its nature. A policing operation is always difficult and unpleasant for troops to carry out. I have done a lot of such operations myself.

As to the second reason, I do not suppose that any hon. Member opposite will agree with this point, but I say from my experience that it is very depressing indeed for British troops to have to carry out difficult operations when they know that at the seat of Government there is bitter opposition to what they are doing and when they know that the Opposition have said in no uncertain terms that they are going to do everything they possibly can to stop the operations. Nothing can be more depressing than that to troops carrying out difficult operations.

It may well be that at the present time Egyptian propaganda radio is blaring out to our troops in Egypt or to the Arabs extracts from the speech which the Leader of the Opposition made yesterday. The Egyptians may even drop that speech in pamphlet form upon our troops. I should certainly do so if I were in the position that the Egyptians are in today. That is a very great pity, and I wish very much that such a situation had not been brought about. I cannot think of anything more lowering to the morale of our troops in Egypt than to know that the House of Commons is completely divided in this matter.

I have previously said that I considered the Motion of censure moved by the Labour Party about the Suez question was the very greatest encouragement to Nasser at that time, and I believe that the speech which the Leader of the Opposition made yesterday was the greatest encouragement to all those who want to foment a situation of lawlessness and disorder in the Middle East at the present moment.

As I have said, time alone will tell. We cannot see how the problem will work out, but I believe that it will work out very much more in favour of the Prime Minister than any hon. Member opposite believes.

I hope that, whatever our differences may be about the rights and wrongs of what has been decided, we can send from this House to our troops in the Middle East, who are having an unpleasant time, a message to the effect that we wish them all success in their great endeavours to keep the peace—and a speedy return home once the job is done.

8.27 p.m.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

I have listened with the very closest attention to the speech delivered by the hon. and extremely gallant Gentleman the Member for Norwood (Brigadier Sir J. Smyth). Nobody can speak with more intimate knowledge of the problems of soldiering than he can. He bears the highest award for gallantry that can be given to anyone in this country. I served with the Armed Forces only in a junior capacity. However, I think that we might both agree that the one thing that our troops need, which they have not had, is an argument as to why they should be engaged in these operations.

The reason our troops are in this critical difficulty tonight is that from nobody, neither from the Government Front Bench nor from the back benches opposite, have we had a coherent argument to encourage our troops which will stand up even to today's test, let alone the test of time. It is because my right hon. and hon. Friends and I feel that to put troops in any illegal war of aggression is a crime against those troops that we have moved our Motion of censure in the House tonight. These are bitter words. I make no apology for them. I merely ask the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood to believe that they come from me with as deep a sincerity as did his words from him.

We are considering the explosion of the Middle East. Like many other hon. Members, I had the opportunity of being in the Middle East as a soldier during the war, and I have more recently been in Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East. The problem of the Middle East is not one problem. It is a complex of problems. It is the problem of bitterness between Jew and Arab. It is the problem of the ex-dependent peoples becoming independent. It is no good people, my hon. Friends included, saying that there is no anti-colonial issue in the Middle East, because that just is not true. Whether they are right or wrong, the Algerian nationalist leaders believe that they are fighting the cause at one with the rebels in Budapest, with the revolutionaries in the American Colonies and with all the fighters for liberty throughout history. They feel that they are at one with that struggle and that, because they believe it, is an element in the situation.

I want to say a word about British relations with Egypt; and let no one begin to accuse anyone here of being pro or anti any particular personality in Egypt. I say sincerely that no country has committed as many crimes against Egypt as this country has and I say quite sincerely —and I hope that my words go out to Cairo, because unless some of us say what is in our hearts, we shall have no friends in Egypt in the future—that I am ashamed that within three months of evacuating Egypt, following seventy or eighty years' occupation, British troops should be going in again, provoked into it by the fact that Egypt was herself the subject of an attack.

That is a very serious situation. Although Colonel Nasser is not a democrat—he was not elected by the majority of the people of Egypt—let it be remembered that for many years we imposed the Government of Egypt upon the people of Egypt. What speeches were ever made by hon. Members opposite protesting when a British ambassador sent tanks to the palace, as happened during the war, when Lord Killearn sent tanks to compel a change of Government? Who, from the benches opposite, said that the Government of Egypt was not representative of the people?

We did not care, because it was our Government of Egypt and was doing what we wanted. That has been the basis of Anglo-Egyptian relations since. Mr. Gladstone moved troops in temporarily—I repeat, temporarily—in 1882. That is the basis for the hatred of this country in Egypt. I bitterly regret it, but it is a factor in the Middle East which the House has to take into consideration.

There is another element in the Middle East struggle which everyone in the House should at least try to understand. That is the element of internal revolution which, naturally, comes from the development and the distribution of oil resources. After all, in Saudi Arabia there is a primitive feudal community where slavery is still allowed. All hon. Members know that and I am not revealing anything. Slavery is still legal in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is running with oil and running with dollars and Saudi Arabia will one day explode, because one cannot maintain a primitive community when the wealth of the modern world is being distributed to the ordinary people.

So we are faced with the internal revolution in the Middle East and with the struggle between Arab and Arab, between the Bagdad Pact Powers and Nasser, between the Hashemites and the rest, between the Saudis and the rest, and so on and so on. I do not speak with any pretence of being a scholar or even someone with a great knowledge of the Arab world, but what has bedevilled a solution of all these difficulties has been one thing. It is that each of the great Powers, Britain, France, Russia and America, was so concerned to pursue its selfish interests that not one was willing to give the basic co-operation needed to tackle these other difficulties of which I have been speaking.

There has been bitter anti-American feeling on both sides of the House and one of my hon. Friends has referred to it. I recall that I was recently in the United States, talking about the position in China. I was in the Middle West, the centre of American isolationism, and I was explaining that British policy to China was based on the belief that China should be in the United Nations. I got from the people to whom I spoke the cynical sneer that it was all because of our businessmen in Hong Kong.

Of course there are oil interests in America, but do not let us ignore the many people in the United States today who regret our action for reasons quite unconnected with the folio of shares which they may have in Wall Street, the common working people in America who see our action in Egypt as an act of aggression.

Every country in the Middle East has fought for its own interests. The French interest in the area is to root out what the French regard as the centre of the Algerian revolution. That is why the French want to be there. The British want to be there to maintain our dominating position in Egypt, which the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) had to abandon two years ago. The Americans want to be there because of their oil and other interests. To buy themselves in, the Russians have taken a lesson from the British Foreign Office.

They have gone round and said, "Here we are, boys; we will give you arms if you will give us just an edge into your affairs." Just as this policy worked for the Foreign Office with the Bagdad Pact and the Jordanian Treaty, so it has worked for the Russians. But they did not ask for any alliance in return, whereas British support has always been tied up with military and political strings. That is the situation in the Middle East, and it has boiled up and exploded.

What should we have done about it? Hon. Members opposite are quite right to ask us constantly what we should do. The answer I shall now give is really no sort of answer, because the events have altered the situation in 36 hours. I mention only what we should have done, so that I may claim truthfully that this situation need never have arisen. The first thing we should have done was to see to it that the security of Israel went without any possibility of doubt. That is the one thing that the Government would never do for Israel in the days before she attacked.

I have been in the House week after week when my hon. Friends have asked for assurances of arms for Israel. There was nothing doing. I have been in the House when my hon. Friends have asked for an alliance with Israel; nothing doing. I have been in the House when my hon. Friends have sought a clear assurance about the Tripartite Declaration—when we had in our minds the Prime Minister's speech at the Guildhall, when he talked about a "compromise" in connection with the frontiers; nothing doing. If we are to excuse Israel—and I am not attempting to do so tonight—on the grounds that she was given a feeling of insecurity and was insupportably tempted and tortured by her enemies, the charge lies against the Government Front Bench. They never gave Israel the security which would enable her to resist the temptation to attack.

The odious hypocrisy of the new friends of Israel is an imposition not only upon the good sense but upon the intelligence of the House; the fact that we should suddenly be told that Anglo-French-Israeli interests have been united. The sad fact is that Israel, tortured and tempted as she has been, has made a tragic blunder which, for all I know, may cost her her existence. The slaughter of the Jews in Israel may be far worse than anything we saw in Europe at the end of the war. I hope to heaven that that is not true. If Israel is to survive in the Middle East she must survive along with her Arab neighbours. Anything we do which worsens the tension which already exists between Jew and Arab is a fatal blow at Israel's chance of survival. That is the truth of the matter, and I say that without any desire to make party points. This is the real difficulty that we have to face if we are to have peace in the Middle East.

What about Colonel Nasser? I shall not say much about him, except that one of the things which he has done this year is to ask for means to carry out the Aswan Dam project. Everybody knows that Egypt has only two sources of wealth, and they are both water—her river and her Canal. They represent the only wealth she has and the only chance of raising her standard of living. I have never met Colonel Nasser, but anyone who has talked to him will agree that he was possessed with a belief in the Aswan Dam project.

By means of a cynical policy trick, with which the Middle East has become only too familiar in Western politics in the years since the war, we withdrew our support for the project, with a view to deflating Nasser. By doing so, not only did we turn the common people of Egypt against us; we turned Nasser's mind towards the nationalisation of the Canal. Moreover, we drew him even more towards a belief in the need for an attack upon Israel to restore his prestige. I say that the main responsibility for the situation which confronts us today rests firmly with the Western Powers, and particularly with the Prime Minister.

I now come to the situation itself. Israel has attacked. I do not know whether she did so with the connivance of the British and French Governments, but she has been tempted enough to justify her doing it, and she was none the worse whether she did it with our connivance or on her own. She atacked, and a situation then developed which was quite extraordinary.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans) said that the United Nations was no good. He said that we should get out, and get on with the job of doing what we ought to do. That is an old-fashioned idea, but I respect him for putting it forward. He has had the courage to say it outright, but every hon. Member opposite has pretended that this action is something to do with the Charter of the United Nations. The one thing I hate is humbug and hypocrisy. I do not mind piracy or banditry, or anything else, but let us, please, not have the United Nations flag waved over every right hon. and hon. Member opposite.

Why is this an act of aggression? It is an act of aggression for many reasons, but the first reason is Article 51. Hon. Members have spoken about Article 51, the right to self-defence. We have always applied it only to ourselves. What about Egypt? She was attacked, and under Article 51 she has the undoubted right to defend herself. What do the British Government do? They send Egypt an ultimatum, telling her to desist from the right of self-defence which the Article guarantees.

That was a clear breach of the Charter and of many other things as well. It was a breach of the Bagdad Pact, because Article 1 of that Pact reaffirms our loyalty to the United Nations Charter. It was a violation of the N.A.T.O. Agreements because, after all, one of the N.A.T.O. Agreements reaffirms our faith in the Charter. It was a violation of the Tripartite Declaration, because we solemnly pledged ourselves to uphold that Declaration.

I will not weary the House with them, but I have looked up, as others must have done, the solemn pledges given by the Prime Minister, at least three times this year, to uphold the Declaration. But when it comes to an attack on Egypt, the Prime Minister said last night, "I thought it was a common view that the Declaration did not apply to an Israeli attack on Egypt." That is complete humbug. It is also a violation of the 1888 Convention, which prohibits warlike acts on the Canal. Israeli troops have not yet reached the Canal, and let us remember that the only bombs falling on the Canal tonight are British bombs.

Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

The plan was that Israel would not reach the Canal in any case. She was to be entitled to all the territory of Sinai.

Mr. Benn

I respect the hon. Gentleand I do not want to make his position any more difficult, as I am sure he does not want to make mine. Good luck to those who have the courage to speak their thoughts. Do not let the hon. Gentleman be more embarrassed by what we say from these benches than my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury has been embarrassed by what has been said from the other side.

The fact is that by this act of aggression we have violated every solemn pledge we have given to the Middle East. Let us be honest and say that we have done it to safeguard our security. Do not let us dress it up as a defence of the Charter, because that is the last straw and more than I and my hon. Friends can stand.

May I finish with one word about what one might call the moral element in all this? I am a relatively young man, at any rate just old enough to have been in the last war and one who may look for ward to the old-age pension about (he year 2,000. The thing that has depressed me about this debate has been the number of rounds of cheers given in this House for the cynics, for my hon. Friend the Member for Cheetham (Mr. H. Lever) when he said, "We all know what the world is like. We all get what we want and do what we like." Everyone laughed and cheered and it was thought to be a brilliant—

Mr. Harold Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)

I do not wish to interrupt my hon. Friend's brilliant speech, a good deal of which is much to the point, but I must point out that I did not say a single cynical thing in the whole of my speech such as he attributes to me. I am sure that when my hon. Friend compares the words he has just used, when recorded in HANSARD, with the words I used when so recorded, he will not be proud of the distortion he has just perpetrated.

Mr. Benn

I say sincerely to my hon. Friend that if I find that I have done him an injustice I shall seek an opportunity to correct it. I can only say that my impression of the speech he made, and of the speech that my hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury made, was that they were of such a character as to suggest that one could not hope for anything in the world unless there was a coalition of the crudest national interests.

I say that to urge that point of view today in the world in which we live is to damage the one hope there is of peace. Why do I say that? Because I am an idealist, and because I face a situation which makes idealism the only excuse for going on living. We live in a world of much bigger Powers than we are. When I see the Prime Minister strutting across the world stage and bullying a little country, I know, and I hope that he knows, that Russia and America could snuff him out in two minutes if they chose to do so. The hydrogen bomb, delivered from Moscow, could obliterate this country if Mr. Bulganin chose to present us with an ultimatum—[HON. MEMBERS: "And vice versa."] So could an American ultimatum; and it may be that in the saturation of destruction we could do grave damage to them. The fact is that in the world in which we live there is only one hope for Britain and the world, and that is the rule of law.

The rule of law means hoping and working for a situation in which the nations will act, not only according to their own selfish interests, but also according to the dictates of their conscience. If we destroyed—[Laughter.] The hon. and gallant Member for Poole (Captain Pilkington) really should not laugh. Has the hon. and gallant Gentleman read President Eisenhower's speech, in which he announced this morning that the Prime Minister urged the use of force in August, thereby giving the lie to the protestations of peace that we have had?

Captain Richard Pilkington (Poole)

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's closely reasoned argument, with which I do not agree, but he has so far given no explanation at all of the basic reason why this country took the action it did, and that was to stop a war that had broken out

Mr. Benn

The hon. and gallant Gentleman will be doing this House an injustice if he compels me to retrace my argument far enough back to answer him.

May I deal with just one point? Over the last three debates the Prime Minister said time and again that force was the last resort, and we believe him. Today, we have the statement of President Eisenhower that the British Government wished to use force at the end of July. Whom do we believe, President Eisenhower or the Prime Minister? [HON. MEMBERS: "The Prime Minister."] All right. I pick President Eisenhower for one reason—because what he said was confirmed by M. Pineau in the French Assembly, when he told the French Assembly that we would have used force in July but for technical reasons. When a leak from Paris and a protest from Washington combine to prove the Prime Minister to have spoken words that were not altogether true, I think that the evidence is overwhelming.

I do not want to finish on a party note, except to say that my own feeling on this is that there is no course of action the Government can now take which could save the situation. I do not believe that the credit of the Prime Minister in the world is such that he could recommend or lead this country into any action which would be taken sincerely by the rest of the world. Therefore, I join with my right hon. and hon. Friends in saying that he must go. He can only go by those within his own party who do not share his view having the courage to abstain from voting tonight and showing that the Prime Minister does not command the support of his own party.

It is not an easy course to recommend, although I know, and hon. Gentlemen opposite know, that there are members of their own party who take this view. That is between their consciences and themselves, and it is not for me to tell them what to do. I only say that in the discharge of our solemn obligations and our duty the Opposition will fight this action in the country—everywhere—because it is wrong and because we have faith in the instinctive sense of decency and fair play of the British people. We shall hound the Government down, and then we shall have the terrible task of trying to rebuild the credit of this country which the Government have so wantonly thrown away.

8.50 p.m.

Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)

In more years than I care to remember, even during the days of the war, I do not recollect feeling running so high as it has done today, nor that there has ever been such general uneasiness in the House as exists today or as much private anxiety on both sides. In these debates we necessarily voice our party allegiances and back up our spokesmen in the characteristic fashion of Members of the House of Commons; nevertheless, it would be a mistake for anyone to deduce from the events of today that there is any sense of satisfaction with the existing position. There is certainly no sense of satisfaction on this side of the House. We would much prefer that we did not have this case against the Government. We would much prefer that this situation had never arisen.

We have traversed so much of this argument in the last few days that it is familiar to all of us. There is not very much new that anyone can say at this stage of the debate, but I would suggest to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen that perhaps it is just as well for us to glance for a moment at the background of this debate. I find it hard to believe that Ministers of the experience of members of the Government could have done what they have done or could have defended it so badly unless they were in almost a distraught, state of mind. I believe, and we on this side of the House should remember it too, that the members of the Government are in very great difficulties and have been in them for a long time.

I say at once that their difficulties are the difficulties also of other Governments. I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government are alone in their embarrassment. It would be a very great mistake for us, even on this side of the House, to indict the existing Government as though they bore the exclusive responsibility for the existing state of affairs.

The fact of the matter is that mankind is faced with an entirely novel situation. There has never been anything like it in the history of nations. Two major events have completely cancelled—if I may be allowed to use the term—all the finesse and the sophistications of conventional diplomacy. There is nothing in the White House, in London, in the Quai d'Orsay or in the Kremlin that furnishes statesmen with lessons from history to enable them to judge what to do in the existing circumstances.

The advent of the hydrogen bomb has stalemated power among the great Powers. The use of the threat of war, which formerly helped to solve many international difficulties—and when the threat could not do it war tried to do it—is no longer available to statesmen. The great Powers are stalemated by their own power. This fact has created a vacuum in diplomatic thinking. In the last four or five years the tragedy of the world has been that the statesmen of the world have not adjusted themselves to that reality. I know it is an obvious thing to say, but we do not leave a thing behind merely because it is obvious. There is an old German saying that to understand is not necessarily to leave behind.

To state that the hydrogen bomb has introduced an entirely novel relationship between nations does not mean that we should then forget it and imagine that we can go on as we were before. The fact is that, there being no way of settling disputes between major nations by the resort to major war, the statesmen of the world have not got together to attempt to solve those problems which formerly were attempted to be solved by war. The Middle East is a characteristic example.

There is another novel situation. I have ventured to mention it on several occasions before. It is an extremely novel situation, and it has stolen upon us in so stealthy a fashion that we have scarcely recognised its arrival. It is that not only does the use of force become utterly inadmissible in determining quarrels between nations without running the risk of universal destruction, but the use of force in domestic affairs is now demonstrably failing. The most extraordinary and the most optimistic of all the news that we have had in the last few months is the fact that the Soviet Union itself is recognising that it cannot hold down whole populations merely by terror and by police action. For myself, I find that an infinitely encouraging fact.

I would venture to point out, if I may be allowed to do so without immodesty, that in 1951, in speaking from the other side of the House on the defence programme of the Labour Government, I pointed out that one of the most encouraging things that we could expect was that with the increasing industrialisation of the Soviet Union, and with the increasing use of industrial techniques in the satellite countries and in Russia, we could look forward before very long to an increased democratisation of the régime. Because I profoundly believe—and this is an article of faith with me, as I think it should be with almost every Member of the House -that there is only one form of Government which is consistent with the modern industrial community, and that is political democracy.

Those are two very important events that lie at the background of what we are discussing this evening. The tragedy has been that in the meantime, although those facts have been there, they have not inspired statesmen to intelligent action. Indeed, there are commentators in the United States, like Mr. Lippmann, who, speaking of President Eisenhower the other day, said that the difficulty about the President was that he did not act for peace but merely reacted against trouble.

I am not one, therefore, who is going to say that the British Government are themselves reacting with complete guilt towards this situation, because I think it is one which is shared by everybody, and every public man ought to have a sense of humility in face of these intractable problems. I therefore think that it would be a profound blunder if any party in this State tried to mislead the people of the country into imagining that there is any simple or quick solution to these problems before us.

But having said that. I am bound to say that I have not seen from the Prime Minister in the course of the last four or five months, or even longer, any evidence of that sagacity and skill that he should have acquired in so many years in the Foreign Office. Indeed, I have been astonished at the amateurishness of his performance. There is something the matter with him. I have often listened to bad cases in this House but rarely have I listened to them so badly put as I have heard them in the last few days. The Prime Minister has made several speeches in which he has repeated himself over and over again, but each speech becomes more tawdry and barren than the last.

He made a speech today. It was perfectly obvious from what he said that he had not thought out at all the implications of the actions of the Government. He had no answer to some of the inquiries which were put concerning the legal position of the combatants. We are told that we are not at a state of war with Egypt. We are told that we are in fact in a state of armed conflict.

I have been looking up some of the precedents about this. I thought that I recognised some of the language which the Prime Minister used in justifying himself. He said the other day: In the meantime, as a result of consultations held in London today, the United Kingdom and French Governments have now addressed urgent communications to the Governments of Egypt and Israel. In these we have called upon both sides to stop all warlike action by land, sea and air forthwith and to withdraw their military forces to a distance of 10 miles.…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th October, 1956; Vol. 558. c. 1279.] Then he went on to justify it by saying that he did this "in order to defend British lives and British property." That was an ultimatum delivered to the Egyptian Government. I have here another ultimatum delivered to Belgium on 2nd August, 1914: The German Government cannot but fear … that Belgium will be unable, without assistance, to repel so considerable a French invasion with sufficient prospect of success to afford an adequate guarantee against danger to Germany … the measures of Germany's opponents force Germany, for her own protection, to enter Belgian territory. Will the Prime Minister tell me what single difference there is between that language and the language used by him?

There is another example. The argument advanced by the Prime Minister to this House was that we have in fact taken this action in Egypt in order to safeguard British ships going through the Canal and to safeguard British interests and, of course, stop the war—but, yes, that is what Germany said. Every country that attempts to justify itself uses language of this sort.

Indeed, I could quote almost all the ultimatums given by Hitler to countries that he invaded where he used exactly the same kind of language as the Prime Minister used the other day. The same language was used to Norway: The Reich Government therefore has today begun certain military operations, which will lead to the occupation of strategically important points on Norwegian territory. … The Reich Government therefore expects that the Royal Norwegian Government and the Norwegian people will respond with understanding to the German action and offer no resistance to it. Any resistance would have to be and would be broken by all possible means by the German Forces employed. … We have only to substitute Egypt for Norway, because what did the right hon. Gentleman say? He said that he expected the Egyptian Government to peacefully permit the re-occupation of bases on the Canal by the British Forces, and if they resisted they would be overcome with all necessary force. That is exactly what he said. Quite honestly, this is the language of the bully. There is no semblance of legal justification behind it.

The right hon. Gentleman was today asked the question whether he would accept the decision of the Assembly of the United Nations. What was his reply? He replied that he wanted to know what that decision was before he would give his reply. That is a funny answer for a member of a club to give. We have understood that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have attempted to justify their action on the ground that it is consistent with the Charter of the United Nations. But if the United Nations itself says it is not consistent with the Charter, do the Government put their interpretation against that of the United Nations? Will the right hon. Gentleman answer? Are hon. Members opposite going to go to the country to argue that their interpretation of the Charter takes precedence over the interpretation put upon it by the Assembly of the United Nations itself? That is the only conclusion one can reach from what the right hon. Gentleman said. It is, in fact, Great Britain insisting on being judge in her own cause.

Our view is this. It has been stated, and I repeat it, that we believe it is highly consistent with the welfare and security of Great Britain that we should not ourselves attempt to impose our will by force upon any nation, and that only by the maintenance of that position can we ever give to the people of Great Britain the hope that they will not be exterminated by war.

Right hon. and hon. Members have said that the United Nations is too weak and it cannot be relied upon. Every gang that wanted to lynch some poor prisoner always pleaded that the court might not be effective. It is the way in which lynchers have always justified themselves. We are perfectly prepared to admit that the institutions of the United Nations are not by any means as effective as we should like them to be. But what we say is that it is our duty to build them up to a strength at which they can be relied upon. It is not enough to say they are weak, and therefore we destroy them. If we destroy them, where does the hope lie? Is the appeal to be to anarchy, for it is anarchy we are being asked to support? It is the action of the bully.

There are some people who are hoping that the conditions in Egypt will soon resolve themselves, and we shall soon have a military success, and that therefore everything will be all right. Will it? We are told by spokesmen in the United States, by Senator George for example, that the Anglo-French action spells the death knell of N.A.T.O. That is a statement by a responsible American statesman. What does the dismantling of N.A.T.O., and the destruction of the United Nations mean? What screen after that stands between Britain and the possibility of destruction? It may be said that the existing screen is too fragile. But it can be strengthened, it can be built up, and it can be buttressed. If that screen, fragile though it is, be destroyed, what is to be put in its place?

Have we had from the Government any answer to that at all except the use of British force? But dare we appeal to force? We had from the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), speaking in the gravest possible accents not long ago, a warning to the nation and to the world of what might happen if international anarchy results in the loosing of hydrogen bombs upon the world; but what can the right hon. Gentleman give us except what we have been trying to do by our example and by our efforts—that is, to build up a system of international law upon which we can depend?

It is not enough to say that other nations have not been loyal to the same conception; that will not help us. It will not help us if we join in their anarchistic behaviour. The Prime Minister the other day attempted to defend his veto at the Security Council by saying that he could not himself accept the condemnation of Israeli aggression. The fact of the matter, however, is that the spokesman of the British Government at the Security Council himself condemned the action of the Israelis as being aggression. He himself said the following day that he thought it was a violation of the armistice conditions and that Israel should retire behind its frontiers. Which line do the Government take—what the Prime Minister said in the House of Commons, or what the Government spokesman said in the Security Council? Which position do they take—or do they have both? The fact is that in this matter the defence of the Government is confused because they have reached decisions which are fundamentally indefensible.

I do not blame the Government for not telling the Commonwealth and the United States their plans beforehand, because they were plans that could not be disclosed. What was wrong was not that the Government did not disclose the plans. What was wrong was the sort of plans that they had. Of course, it was not possible to tell Washington that we intended to invade Egypt within twelve hours—it might have leaked out. It was not possible to tell the Commonwealth that we were going to invade within twelve hours—it might have leaked out. One cannot stab a man effectively if he is given too long notice beforehand. Therefore, the fault with the Government is that they had formed plans which in their very nature were a violation of the confidence existing between ourselves and members of the Commonwealth.

For my part, I do not even accuse the Government of taking action independent of the United States. It would be a foolish thing for me to say, as I have been advocating independent action for some time, but rather more intelligent action. I do not blame them one little bit for taking this independent action. I blame them for the action itself. It was the action that was wrong, not the independence of the action. Therefore, what we want from the Government is a more coherent defence of what they have done than we have had so far.

The next thing we want to know from the Government is, what are their intentions? What do they expect now to happen? Have they formed any idea of what will occur, even if they are militarily successful and if they overcome Egyptian resistance? Are they able to form it? Can they tell us how it can happen that the defence of these three centres will be more practicable than was the defence of the Canal Zone? If those centres are surrounded by a hostile, marauding, pilfering population, as was the case before, will they have a peaceful, pacific and contented population now? Will they? Do they really imagine that if they over-run Egypt that is the end of the story? Are they going to bleed Britain to death in Egypt as France is bleeding herself to death in Algeria?

This is not a carefully considered action. It is the action of a number of frustrated statesmen who have not thought through to the consequences of their own conduct. Furthermore, we on this side of the House regard it as one that stains the reputation of this country irremediably. How can we hold our heads up in the councils of the world after this?

It is all very well for hon. Members to rejoice over the triumph of British arms. Everybody knows that the British soldier is brave enough. He does not have to prove that again, does he? How often must he prove it? Is it necessary for us to prove that we can stand up against great odds? We have done it before. Is it necessary for hon. Members of the party opposite to go to the country and say, "We know that we have most of the world against us"? But it has been against us before. When we had almost all the world against us before we had honour on our side. In this matter we are dishonoured.

We here in this House gave—I do not wish to distribute the prizes—but we gave in the case of India, in the case of Ceylon, examples to the world of how great empires can dispose of their strength and of their power peacefully. Progressively we did that, and we were able to hold our heads up because of it. [Interruption.] An hon. Member opposite says something about the number of people who lost their lives. That is true, but it is also true that fewer lives might have been lost if we had been bigger earlier.

What are we to say at the United Nations, or whenever we go abroad and meet the spokesmen of other people? We say that Great Britain has always stood for civilised principles, and for humanity and justice. How do we answer now, when we drop bombs on helpless people? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, when we drop bombs. How do we answer now at whatever judgment seat any hon. Member likes to mention? A nation more powerful than us may drop even worse bombs on British cities. How answer that? With bombs? Bombs with bombs? That is the bankruptcy of statesmanship. The world has travelled that way in my own lifetime twice. We dare not travel that way again, because this time there will be no return.

We say to the Government, not in any spirit of partisanship—I say so, anyhow, and no one can accuse me of lack of partisanship—not in the spirit of partisanship but with a deep sense of sorrow, that I attack the Government tonight for this policy. I believe that they are not supported by the vast majority of the people of Great Britain. They are certainly not supported by the vast majority of the people right throughout the world.

I do beg and pray of them to retrace their steps even now. It would be evidence of increased stature—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—yes, if the Government were now able to do that. Having found that their best friends do not sustain them in this action, that their allies are themselves dismayed by it, that the world is shocked, it would be an act of statesmanship for the Government now to say, "We halt at this point. We are not going to lead mankind over this road any further." Unless the Government are able to say that, in the name of mankind let them, for God's sake, get out.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Butler.

Mr. W. Yates

On a point of order. I am a young Member of the House and I desire to have your advice. Mr. Speaker. I have been to France and I have come to the conclusion that Her Majesty's Government have been involved in an international conspiracy—

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Hon. Members

Let him speak.

Mr. Yates


Mr. Gaitskell

The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) evidently has an extremely important communication to make to the House and I would appeal to the Lord Privy Seal to allow his hon. Friend to finish what he was going to say.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) rose on a point of order. It may be, as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition says, that the hon. Member has a very important communication, but all important communications are not points of order. Mr. Butler.

Mr. Yates

Mr. Speaker, I desire your advice. Would it be right, if I disagreed with what the Government have done in the present situation—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not a point of order."] The point is that we must have your advice on this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Who are 'we'?"] The Government have taken this action and I want to know whether it would be considered right and patriotic for a person deliberately to try to bring down Her Majesty's Government in those circumstances?

Mr. Speaker

I still do not see that that is a point of order. If my information is right, there are quite a number of hon. Members in the House who are engaged in that enterprise, and they are quite entitled to do so. Mr. Butler.

9.21 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

We always enjoy the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) when he is in one of his philosophic moods, and he certainly did not in any way derogate from the dignity of the debate by the contribution he made tonight—not from the beginning of his speech, when he referred to some of the international incidents which have altered not only the attitude of statesmen to the world, but also the course of the world itself. Nor, although we disagree with many of the points that the right hon. Gentleman made, can we be unduly upset by the tone of his intervention earlier today.

The position, as we see it, is that there is a sincere difference of opinion between both sides of the House, and it is my business to put. as the right hon. Gentleman requested, the Government's case to the best of my ability in concluding the debate. The business of a "distraught mind "and" frustrated statesmen ", to which the right hon. Gentleman referred in his Celtic eloquence, seemed to me to ill-coincide with his description of the cunning of Her Majesty's Government and the Prime Minister himself. It seems to me that the Prime Minister has himself today made an intervention in the debate which was of the highest possible quality, and which has rather belied the description of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale of my right hon. Friend as being a bully and endeavouring to cheat other nations.

Mr. Ian Mikardo (Reading)

"The best Prime Minister we have got."

Mr. Butler

That observation remains eternally true, and it will be even more so at the end of my intervention.

The debate has been a remarkable one because it has included several very distinguished and some emotional speeches. I think we were all particularly impressed by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. S. N. Evans). [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I notice that the applause is not confined to one side of the House, which shows that when an hon. Member speaks not only from the heart but also with a sense of reality, he makes a universal appeal to this Chamber.

Mr. Warbey

What about the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates)?

Mr. Butler

This debate has been opened against a background of human considerations. I shall not indulge in criticism of the Leader of the Opposition tonight, because I do not want in anything I say to raise the temperature, or to take away from the sane consideration of the extremely grim subjects which we are discussing this evening, but I do want to say that I found in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), who spoke yesterday, more humanity than I did in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition.

The human considerations of our troops, which were referred to by the right hon. Gentleman, should be foremost in our minds tonight. [An HON. MEMBER: "Bring them home."] In considering the issues which we have to consider, and in casting the vote which we shall shortly cast by an overwhelming majority in favour of the Government this evening, we must remember when we examine this problem, the background of human consideration which affects us all in one way or another.

That is why I open my speech by a reference to the legal background against which our troops are now operating. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where"?] I have been asked to do it, and I have been asked under what authority Her Majesty's Government have ordered the troops abroad, what authority they are acting under and, as it has been put rather dramatically in the debate, are they committing murder or are they engaged in legitimate war? I have put it like that because that is how it was put earlier in the debate.

It is right that an answer should be given immediately and responsibly on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on this matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "Let us have it, then."] Since hon. Gentlemen have asked me this question, perhaps they will be good enough to wait for the answer? History affords many examples of wars that have started without a declaration of war, but they have been wars none the less, and all the normal rights and duties of war have attached to them. I would say, after consulting the best legal experts I have been able to consult this afternoon, that the laws of war apply to the situation in Egypt at the present time.

To make the situation clear—[An HON. MEMBER: "Are we at war?"]—I must remind the House—[An HON. MEMBER: "Study Nuremburg."]—that the situation is that governed by the Third Hague Convention of 1907, which says that hostilities should not be commenced without a previous unequivocal warning either in the form of a declaration of war or, to use the words, "in the form of an ultimatum."

I have asked for an interpretation of this, and I have found it in Oppenheim, in the seventh edition, in volume II, page 292—I think it important to set this out—where it specifically states that failure to observe this provision does not render the war illegal. [An HON. MEMBER: "Is there a war?"] Neither does it take away, from the hostilities thus commenced, the character of war.

The position of Her Majesty's Government in face of this situation is this. Her Majesty's Government do not regard their present action as constituting a war. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It corresponds broadly to the situation in Korea. Nevertheless, they consider that we have complied fully with the spirit of Article 1 of the Third Hague Convention, to which I referred, in warning Egypt by means of a statement of our requirements, accompanied by a conditional intimation that certain points in Egyptian territory would be occupied if that requirement was not complied with. That, therefore, is the legal position in regard to the background against which we have begun this action in the last few days.

Hon. Members

Is there a war?

Mr. Butler

There is not a state of war, but there is a state of conflict.

Mr. Elwyn Jones (West Ham, South)


Mr. S. Silverman


Mr. Speaker

Mr. Elwyn Jones appears to be the hon. Member to whom way has been given.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

Is the Leader of the House aware that the failure of the German Government to make declarations of war was one of the counts in the indictment at Nuremberg and one which the judgment of that court took note of and condemned?

Mr. Butler

I am equally aware that in the case of Korea the situation was, as far as I am informed—

Hon. Members


Mr. Butler

—very little different from the situation we are facing here. I do not know why hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite should desire always to denigrate the actions of their own country. [Interruption.]

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order, order. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House has not given way. Mr. Butler.

Mr. Butler


Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order, order.

Mr. Elwyn Jones

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for a right hon. Gentleman to make an imputation against my loyalty, or the loyalty of any hon. Member, by suggesting that my only interest is in denigrating my country when at the Nuremberg trials this country associated itself with the judgment of the Court? [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I could not read anything like that into it.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Butler.

Mr. Butler


Hon. Members


Mr. Butler

That was the—

Mr. Hale

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. This afternoon you were present in the Chair when the Prime Minister was asked a number of questions and he asked for the leave of the House to defer the answers until he spoke later. He said that he would give way and allow these questions to be put. Those questions have never been answered. We still do not know whether British soldiers are being called upon to commit murder, or whether they are being called upon to carry out lawful orders.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I see no point of order in that. It is a matter of debate. Mr. Butler.

Mr. Butler


Hon. Members


Mr. Butler

That was the—

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas


Mr. Butler

If that was the reason for the rising of the hon. and learned Member for West Ham, South (Mr. Elwyn Jones), I have no wish to impute any wrong motives to him.

What I did say, having myself for a short period studied international law, but not being an expert or a lawyer, was that I am aware that there are many other cases in international law, including the bulging pages of Oppenheim, which I had to study when I was young, which indicate that there are many other cases in international law, apart from the case of Germany, which could have been cited. It was rather partial to cite the case of Germany against the Government when there are many other cases which could have been cited, but I certainly do not impugn the motives of the hon. and learned Member.

Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas

The right hon, Gentleman has quoted Oppenheim. I want to quote to him just one passage from it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, certainly, the right hon. Gentleman has given way. I want to put one passage to him from it and have him tell the House how he distinguishes it. The passage, from page 296 of the seventh edition of Oppenheim, is this: If a state has sent a simple ultimatum to another or a qualified ultimatum threatening a measure other than war"— which, we understand from the Prime Minister, is the situation in this case— it is not, in case of non-compliance, justified in commencing hostilities at once without a previous declaration of war. How does the right hon. Gentleman distinguish that?

Mr. Butler

I rely on the statement I read from Oppenheim, the seventh edition, volume II and the page I mentioned, and also in its relation to the Third Hague Convention, Article I, and I am perfectly satisfied that a state of war exists and that the situation is as I have described.

I should like to add in answer to questions—because it is my duty to attempt to answer questions put in the debate—that the orders given to troops are governed, as the House of Commons knows, by the Army Act and particularly Section 76 and Section 190 of the Army Act before it has been recodified in its new form as coming in on 1st January. Those are the basis of the orders given by Her Majesty's Government to the troops and the legal basis on which we are acting.

When we look at the main issue, I should like to follow upon the thoughtful remarks of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale by looking back for a moment on what I think we can all describe as the tragedy of the Middle East over these decades. I think that we can do it with the humility which the right hon. Gentleman requested. It is a situation started by the Balfour Declaration; and some hon. Members may remember Lord Balfour's words when he started this experiment, that it would be an "interesting experiment".

It certainly has been. That has been a great understatement. Throughout all these years, attempts have been made by statesmen of all nations to solve the problem in the Middle East, which has never yet been solved. I should like to remind the House that points arising from the Arab-Israeli dispute have been seven times before the Security Council since 1948. No one can say, quite apart from the matter going to the Security Council outside the control of Her Majesty's Government, that Her Majesty's Government have not acted with the utmost moderation and conciliation in this problem over the years. I refer to the particular efforts of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary.

We come immediately to the recent situation which rapidly deteriorated largely owing to the Egyptian arms deal with Russia and the military joint staff arrangements among Jordan, Syria and Egypt. As a result of developments of this sort, there is no doubt that the Israeli nation felt itself ringed around and, while neither the House nor Her Majesty's Government should do anything to condone Israeli action, we have to treat the Israeli advance as a fact with which the Government had to deal.

In his speech yesterday the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition used a simple expression. He said, "What is it all about?" The answer, in simple English, is that Her Majesty's Government and the French Government, together, have had to deal with an immediate situation of the most extreme gravity. That is what it is all about. Hostilities were spreading in such a way as to prejudice—in the terms of the Government Amendment to the Motion which has been moved—both national and international interests and the foundation of international law and order itself. That, simply, is the position with which we had to deal.

We had to deal with a position in which the Israeli attack upon Egypt could have been intended either to seize the east bank of the Suez Canal or to carry them across the Canal itself. Either of those circumstances could have prevented the free transit of goods and ships upon which this country depends. I think it is wise to listen to the hon. Member for Wednesbury, who realised that it is the working population of this country which will suffer unless we have a fair solution of this international problem. And it is not only the working population in the factories which will suffer; it is those who drive our tractors on the farms—leaving aside any question of personal satisfaction in motoring. The industry and agriculture of this country depends upon the free transit of ships through the Canal.

The Government therefore felt that they had no option but to act immediately. This burden was not of our choosing. In my opinion, it was not one which could be shirked if we were going to do our duty not only in our own country's interests but through the need to preserve international order and security in the future. Quite simply, the position as I see it is that a hard decision now—which we knew perfectly well would be unpopular—will be proved in history to have prevented an even harder decision at a later stage.

When we look at the physical facts as seen by Her Majesty's Government—and our most intimate Ministers have been connected with this—we see that the only possible place for intervention is the Canal. If Israel crossed the Canal the chance of successful intervention would, in our opinion, have gone. If fighting took place on the Canal the prospect of successful intervention would have been seriously diminished. At the same time, if other Arab countries had started fighting—the distinct possibility of which was envisaged by the right hon. Member in his speech of 2nd August—the prospect of stopping hostilities immediately would have been nil. Indeed, it may well have been impossible for anyone, including the United Nations, to stop the conflagration quickly, it at all.

These are the circumstances of reality and fact with which some of us were faced when we had to make this very serious and difficult decision. Hence the statement of our immediate requirements, which we made to both side—Israel and Egypt. Action had to be taken, or the opportunity for action would have been lost. Fortunately, the action taken was partly successful, in that Israel accepted our terms. The tragedy—and it is a tragedy because it would have been quite possible for Egypt to have accepted—was that Egypt flatly refused the terms, and did not put forward any alternative terms offering a cessation of hostilities. She did not say, for example, "We refuse to move back, but if Israel agrees to stop fighting we will stop."

Consequently, the position arose that if fighting was to be stopped Egypt's power to carry on hostilities had to be neutralised.

Mr. Benn

Are we at war with Israel?

Mr. Butler

It is arising from that situation that our military action, of which the House was given information by the Minister of Defence, has itself taken place. It is in that spirit that, following upon the advice given by the Prime Minister in his speech, that we shall continue to conduct operations and reach the objectives which I shall define before I sit down.

Mr. Healey

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. In making this point this afternoon, the Prime Minister said that his aim was to separate the combatants. How can he separate combatants by landing miles in the rear of one of them?

Mr. Butler

I am coming to the statements of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and of our objectives and will endeavour to deal with the hon. Member's point. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I think it is quite reasonable to answer points in the course of the general sketch of one's own speech.

I have attempted to give the House a description of why we had to take this decision, and I implore hon. Members not to underestimate the soluble character of the Middle East at the present time and the importance of our stepping in at the right moment.

Now as to our motives. Our motives will always be impugned, as they have been in this House, by our enemies and by those who seek to gain party advantage out of our country's difficulties. In this connection, I want to say something about a meeting which took place today, I believe, of the National Council of Labour. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has already announced his intention to oppose the Government's action by every constitutional means at his disposal. In our democratic way of life that is a course which he has every right to follow, and the more he follows it the less support he will get in the country. Much as we regret our lack of unity in this situation we are a sufficiently virile Government and a sufficiently active Government to stand up to any criticism by the right hon. Gentleman.

I understand—and this is important for the House and the country to note—that the National Council of Labour, representing the Labour Party, the Trades Union Council and the Co-operative movement resolved that normal, constitutional, Parliamentary methods should be followed and urged that—which I think the House should note with satisfaction—workers should "refrain from taking industrial action as a means of influencing national policy in the present crisis."

I mention this on purpose. There is nothing in the present crisis which concerns the relations between workers and their employers, and I am sure the Government are well satisfied that it is the attitude of the National Council of Labour, the Trades Union Council and the Co-operative movement to adopt this attitude in our present difficulty.

Leaving that statement, which I think should be registered in the House and in the country, I want to come back to the statement made by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Fienburgh) who very often, thanks to his journalistic activity, is somewhat controversial in debate. In the course of his speech yesterday, he accused the Government of using the Israeli border incidents to provide a certain cloak of moral sanctity to enable them to follow up the plans which they have been cultivating and preparing for since the incident was first launched.

We do not accept that interpretation of our action. We had, before this incident occurred, attempted to achieve a peaceful solution under the Charter of the United Nations. We took specific steps with the 18 nations and were bitterly disappointed when Egypt flatly refused to accept that solution. We tried to follow up the Canal Users' Association idea and make it work. We have had disappointments, but we had, up to this last incident, made some progress. Then came this emergency situation and, as I have said, we hope still to pull a solution out of the nettle, disaster, which will be under the umbrella of the United Nations.

I wish to reaffirm the statements made by the Prime Minister earlier this afternoon—this is in answer to the hon. Member for Islington, North—that we do not seek to impose by force a solution of the Israeli Egyptian dispute, or of the Suez Canal dispute or any other dispute in the area. We do not seek to negotiate by ourselves alone on any of those disputes. The sole object of the Anglo-French intervention is to stop the hostilities, to prevent a resumption of them, and to safeguard traffic through the Canal itself.

Mr. Bevan

How does the right hon Gentleman answer the statement by President Eisenhower? This is from Washington, dated 31st October: There were some among our allies who urged an immediate reaction to this event by use of force. The action is Nasser's nationalisation of the Canal. "Some among our allies"—was the British Government among the allies?

Mr. Butler

I really cannot interpret a speech by the President of the United States. All I can do in reply to the right hon. Gentleman is to interpret the policy with which Her Majesty's Government have been intimately associated over these months. And the interpretation of British policy is as I have given it, that we have been working up to this emergency—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—

Mr. Mikardo

You gave the game away there, Rab.

Mr. Butler

I said that we have been working up to this emergency to obtain a peaceful settlement of the dispute; and now that we are faced with the fact of this emergency we have deliberately taken action which is controversial, yet highly courageous—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in order to restore the respect for international law and order.

I should like to remind the House of the statement of the Prime Minister that if, when we have achieved our purpose of restoring law and order, the United Nations are willing to take over the physical task of maintaining peace in the area, nobody would be better pleased than ourselves. Therefore, I regard the police action we have taken as a possible preliminary to a restoration of law and order under the aegis of the United Nations.

I am absolutely convinced that had we waited and hoped that the United Nations would act, with all the problems of the Russian veto as we know them, we should not have been able to achieve peace or a lasting settlement. I am certain that those who follow us tonight, and those who follow us in the country, will find that they are following the right course for the preservation of law and order, and that those who oppose us will find that they have missed a chance—a courageous chance—of saving law and order for the world. Our objective, then, is to enable the spirit and intention which underlies the Charter to be carried into effect. If delay had occurred, the prospect of successful intervention to stop hostilities would have gone, or would have been seriously jeopardised.

There is no doubt that our action is in accord with what is described as "customary international law" and that Article 51 of the Charter does not impair that right. That is the view expressed by the Foreign Secretary in his speech yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition drew an analogy between Anglo-French action in Egypt and possible Chinese action in Hong Kong and Malaya We think that that sort of extension of conflict and that sort of example is a very bad thing at the present time We do not think that there is any valid parallel between action designed to check the conflict between two countries fighting in an area of vital international interest, which is our object in this matter, and a hypothetical intervention by China in Hong Kong or elsewhere.

I will conclude by referring to the speed of our action. Our action had to be speedy because the situation with which we were dealing was an immediate one, which we had to answer with an immediate step. That accounts for the difficulty of consultation with the Commonwealth Governments and with the United States of America. There were, however, consultations, or conversations, with the United States of America, as is known, and, as has been said by the Prime Minister, there have been very strong speeches in support of what we are doing by the Prime Minister of Australia and indications of support by the Prime Minister of New Zealand. The idea of the right hon. Member for Derby, South that we are smashing the Commonwealth into smithereens is a gross exaggeration.

I also believe that the relations between ourselves and the United States of America, while, naturally, having had considerable difficulty over this episode, which we acknowledge, will not be strained to the extent perhaps that some speeches have made out. There is a great identity of interest between us and the United States of America which it is imperative, in the interests of the peace of the world, to maintain. I am convinced that the relations of our two countries will come through this difficult period and that the Americans will understand, as well as this country will shortly do, the motives that have inspired us.

Our Amendment says that we shall safeguard international and national interests. The Opposition feel that we were misguided in our motives. There can be legitimate differences of opinion, but I cannot really believe that it is the wish of the Opposition that this country and her Armed Forces should fail at the present time. I make an appeal to them to look at the merits of our policy and to back us in the difficulties which we are facing. I am convinced that the

majority of our country, when they hear the case as it has been put, will realise that we are those who, by our resolute action, have decided to defend law and order, and that our actions will be justified.

Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 255, Noes 324.

Division No. 296.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Ainsley, J. W. Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Albu, A. H. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lewis, Arthur
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Lindgren, G. S.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Fernyhough, E. Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Fienburgh, W. Logan, D. G.
Anderson, Frank Finch, H. J. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Awbery, S. S. Fletcher, Eric MacColl, J. E.
Bacon, Miss Alice Forman, J. C. McGhee, H. G.
Baird, J. Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) McInnes, J.
Bellenger, Rt Hon. F. J. Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. McLeavy, Frank
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Gibson, C. W. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Gooch, E. G. MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Benson, G. Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C Mahon, Simon
Beswick, F. Greenwood, Anthony Mainwaring, W. H.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)
Blackburn, F. Grey, C. F. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Boardman, H, Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mason, Roy
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Mayhew, C. P.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Griffiths, William (Exchange) Mellish, R. J.
Bowles, F. G. Hale, Leslie Messer, Sir F.
Boyd, T. C. Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Mikardo, Ian
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Hamilton, W. W. Mitchison, G. R.
Brockway, A. F. Hannan, W. Monslow, W.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Moody, A. S.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Hastings, S. Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Hayman, F. H. Mort, D. L.
Burke, W. A. Healey, Denis Moss, R.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Moyle, A.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Herbison, Miss M. Mulley, F. W.
Callaghan, L. J. Hewitson, Capt. M. Neal, Harold (Bolsover)
Carmichael, J. Hobson, C. R. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Holman, P. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)
Champion, A. J. Holmes, Horace O'Brien, Sir Thomas
Chapman, W. D. Houghton, Douglas Oliver, G. H.
Chetwynd, G. R. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Oram, A. E.
Clunie, J. Howell, Denis (All Saints) Orbach, M.
Coldrick, W. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oswald, T.
Collick, P, H. (Birkenhead) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Owen, W. J.
Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Padley, W. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hunter, A. E. Paget, R. T.
Cove, W. G. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Irvine, A. J. (Eage Hill) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Cronin, J. D. Irving, S. (Dartford) Palmer, A. M. F.
Crossman, R. H. S. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Janner, B. Pargiter, G. A.
Daines, P. Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Parker, J.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Jeger, George (Goole) Parkin, B. T.
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. pncs, S.) Peart, T. F.
Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery) Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Pentland, N.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Johnson, James (Rugby) Plummer, Sir Leslie
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Popplewell, E.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Deer, G. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
de Freitas, Geoffrey Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Probert, A. R.
Delargy, H. J. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Proctor, W. T.
Dodds, N. N. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Donnelly, D. L. Kenyon, C. Randall, H. E.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Rankin, John
Dye, S. King, Dr. H. M. Redhead, E. C.
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Lawson, G. M. Reeves, J.
Edelman, M, Ledger, R. J. Reid, William
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Lee, Frederick (Newton) Rhodes, H.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) West, D. G.
Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.) Wheeldon, W. E.
Ross, William Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Royle, C. Swingler, S. T. White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Sylvester, G. O. Wiloock, Group Capt, C. A. B.
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Wilkins, W. A.
Shurmer, P. L. E. Taylor, John (West Lothian) Willey, Frederick
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.) Williams, David (Neath)
Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Thomson, George (Dundee, E.) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Thornton, E. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Skeffington, A. M. Timmons, J. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Tomney, F. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Slater, J. (Sedgefield) Turner-Samuels, M. Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Snow, J. W, Usborne, H. C. Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Sorensen, R. W. Viant, S. P. Winterbottom, Richard
Sparks, J. A. Wade, O. W. Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Steele, T. Warbey, W. N. Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Watkins, T. E. Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich) Weitzman, D.
Stones, W. (Consett) Wells, Percy (Faversham) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.
Aitken, W. T. Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Harvie-Watt, Sir George
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Hay, John
Alport, C. J. M. Cunningham, Knox Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Currie, G. B. H. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Dance, J. C. G. Henderson, John (Cathcart)
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Davidson, viscountess Hesketh, R. F.
Arbuthnot, John D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.
Armstrong, C. W. Deedes, W. F. Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)
Ashton, H. Digby, Simon Wlngfield Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)
Astor, Hon. J. J. Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hill, John (S. Norfolk)
Atkins, H. E. Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Doughty, C. J. A. Hirst, Geoffrey
Baldwin, A. E. Drayson, G. B. Holland-Martin, C. J.
Balniel, Lord du Cann, E. D. L. Hope, Lord John
Barber, Anthony Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Hornby, R. P.
Barlow, Sir John Duncan, Capt. J. A. L. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.
Barter, John Duthie, W. S. Horobin, Sir Ian
Baxter, Sir Beverley Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick & L'm'tn) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Howard, John (Test)
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Errington, Sir Eric Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral g.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Erroll, F. J. Hughes-Young, M. H. C.
Bidgood, J. C. Farey-Jones, F. W. Hulbert, Sir Norman
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Fell, A. Hurd, A. R.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Finlay, Graeme Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)
Bishop, F. P. Fisher, Nigel Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)
Black, C. W. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Hyde, Montgomery
Body, R. F. Fort, R. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H.
Boothby. Sir Robert Foster, John Iremonger, T. L.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Boyle, Sir Edward Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Braine, B. R. Freeth, D. K. Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Garner-Evans, E. H. Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. George, J. C. (Pollok) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Gibson-Watt, D. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Glover, D. Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Bryan, P. Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Gough, C. F. H. Joseph, Sir Keith
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Gower, H. R. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot
Butcher, Sir Herbert Graham, Sir Fergus Keegan, D.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Grant, W. (Woodside) Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Campbell, Sir David Grant-Ferris, Wg. Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Kershaw, J. A.
Carr, Robert Green, A. Kimball, M.
Cary, Sir Robert Gresham Cooke, R. Kirk, P. M.
Channon, H. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Lagden, G. W.
Chichester-Clark, R. Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Lambert, Hon. G.
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. C. Lambton, Viscount
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Gurden, Harold Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Cole, Norman Hall, John (Wycombe) Langford-Holt, J. A.
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Leather, E. H. C.
Cooper, A. E. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Leavey, J. A.
Cooper-Key, E. M. Harris, Reader (Heston) Leburn, W. G.
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfteld)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macolesfd) Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A, T.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Crouch, R. F. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Llewellyn, D. T. Noble, Comdr. A. H. p. Speir, R. M.
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield) Nugent, G. R. H. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Oakshott, H. D. Spence, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Ormsby-Core, Hon. W. D. Stevens, Geoffrey
Longden, Gilbert Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W. Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Osborne, C. Studholme, Sir Henry
Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Page, R. G. Summers, Sir Spencer
McAdden, S. J. Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
McCallum, Major Sir Duncan Partridge, E. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Macdonald, Sir Peter Peyton, J. W. W. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Pickthorn, K. W. M. Teeling, W.
McKibbin, A. J. Pilkington, Capt. R. A. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Pitman, I. J. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Pitt, Miss E. M. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Pott, H. P. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr-R. (Croydon, S.)
Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster) Powell, J. Enoch Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
McLean, Neil (Inverness) Price, David (Eastleigh) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Profumo, J. D. Touche, Sir Gordon
Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Raikes, Sir Victor Turner, H. F. L.
Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Ramsden, J. E. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Maddan, Martin Rawlinson, Peter Tweedsmuir, Lady
Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Redmayne, M. Vane, W. M. F.
Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Rees-Davies, W. R. vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R. Remnant, Hon. P. Vickers, Miss J. H.
Markham, Major Sir Frank Renton, D. L. M. Vosper, D. F.
Marlowe, A. A. H. Ridsdale, J. E. Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Marples, A. E. Rippon, A. G. F. Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Marshall, Douglas Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Maude, Angus Robertson, Sir David Wall, Major Patrick
Maudlins, Rt. Hon. R. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Mawby, R. L. Robson-Brown, W. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Medlicott, Sir Frank Roper, Sir Harold Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Webbe, Sir H.
Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Russell, R. S. Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Moore, Sir Thomas Sohofield, Lt.-Col. W. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Morrison, John (Salisbury) Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Mott-Radclyffe, C. F. Sharples, R. C. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Nabarro, G. D. N. Shepherd, William Wood, Hon. R.
Nairn, D. L. S. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Woollam, John Victor
Neave, Airey Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Nicholls, Harmar Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Nicholson, Godfrey (Famham) Soames, Capt. C. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Spearman, Sir Alexander Mr. Heath and
Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith.

Question put, That the proposed words be there added:—

The House divided: Ayes 323, Noes 255.

Division No. 297.] AYES [10.12 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Bishop, F. P. Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K,
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Black, C. W. Corfield, Capt. F. V.
Alport, C. J. M. Body, R. F. Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Boothby, Sir Robert Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Crouch, R. F.
Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William Boyle, Sir Edward Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)
Arbuthnot, John Braine, B. R. Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)
Armstrong, C. W, Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, w.) Cunningham, Knox
Ashton, H. Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Currie, G. B. H.
Astor, Hon. J. J. Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Dance, J. C. G.
Atkins, H. E. Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton) Davidson, Viscountess
Baldock, Lt.-Crrdr. J. M. Bryan, P. D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Baldwin, A. E. Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Deedes, W. F.
Balniel, Lord Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Digby, Simon Wingfield
Barber, Anthony Butcher, Sir Herbert Dodds-Parker, A. D.
Barlow, sir John Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Waiden) Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.
Barter, John Campbell, Sir David Doughty, C. J. A.
Baxter, Sir Beverley Carr, Robert Drayson, G. B.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Cary, sir Robert du Cann, E. D. L.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Channon, H. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Chichester-Clark, R. Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Duthie, W. S.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David
Beyins, J. R. (Toxteth) Cole, Norman Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (Warwick&L'm'tn)
Bidgood, J. C. Conant, Mai. Sir Roger Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)
Biggs-Davison, J, A. Cooper, A. E. Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Cooper-Key, E. M. Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn
Errington, Sir Eric Kirk, P. M. Powell, J. Enoch
Erroll, F. J. Lagden, G. w. Price, David (Eastleigh)
Farey-J ones, F. W. Lambert, Hon. G. Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)
Fell, A. Lambton, Viscount Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.
Finlay, Graeme Lancaster, Col. C. G. Profumo, J. D.
Fisher, Nigel Langford-Holt, J. A. Raikes, Sir Victor
Fletcher-Cooke, C. Leather, E. H. C. Ramsden, J. E.
Fort, R. Leavey, J. A. Rawlinson, Peter
Foster, John Leburn, W. G. Redmayne, M.
Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H. Rees-Davies, W. R.
Fraser, Sir lan (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfleld) Remnant, Hon. P.
Freeth, D. K. Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T. Renton, D. L. M.
Garner-Evans, E. H. Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.) Ridsdale, J. E.
George, J. C. (Pollok) Lindsay, Martin (Solihull) Rippon, A. G. F.
Gibson-Watt, D. Llewellyn, D. T. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)
Glover, D. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield) Robertson, Sir David
Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.) Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)
Gough, C. F. H. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Robson-Brown, W.
Gower, H. R. Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)
Graham, Sir Fergus Longden, Gilbert Roper, Sir Harold
Grant, W. (Woodside) Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard
Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich) Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.) Russell, R. S.
Green, A. Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick) Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Gresham Cooke, R. Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.
Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) McAdden, S. J. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) McCallum, Major Sir Duncan Sharples, R. C.
Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Macdonald, Sir Peter Shepherd, William
Gurden, Harold Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)
Hall, John (Wycombe) McKibbin, A. J. Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Mackie, J. H. (Galloway) Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) McLaughlin, Mrs. P. Soames, Capt. C.
Harris, Reader (Heston) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John Spearman, Sir Alexander
Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster) Speir, R. M.
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) McLean, Neil (Inverness) Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd) Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.) Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macmillan. Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley) Stevens, Geoffrey
Harvie-Watt, Sir George Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax) Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)
Hay, John Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries) Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Maddan, Martin Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle) Studholme, Sir Henry
Henderson, John (Cathcart) Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark) Summers, Sir Spencer
Hesketh, R. F. Manningham-Buller Rt. Hn. Sir R. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)
Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. Markham, Major Sir Frank Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Marlowe, A. A. H. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Marples, A. E. Teeling, W.
Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Marshall, Douglas Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maude, Angus Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Hirst, Geoffrey Maudling, Rt. Hon. R. Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Holland-Martin, C. J. Mawby, R. L. Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R.(Croydon, S.)
Hope, Lord John Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C. Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Hornby, R. P. Medlicott, Sir Frank Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R. Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
Horobin, Sir Ian Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Monckton, R. Hon. Sir Walter Touche, Sir Gordon
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Moore, Sir Thomas Turner, H. F. L.
Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Morrison, John (Salisbury) Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Howard, John (Test) Mott-Radclyffe, C. E. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Nabarro, G. D. N. Vane, W. M. F.
Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Nairn, D. L. S. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Neave, Airey Vickers, Miss J. H.
Hulbert, Sir Norman Nicholls, Harmar Vosper, D. F.
Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.) Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Hurd, A. R. Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th & Chr'ch) Walker-Smith, D. C.
Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Wall, Major Patrick
Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) Nugent, G. R. H. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Hyde, Montgomery Oakshott, H. D. Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Iremonger, T. L. Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Irvine, Bryant Gotlman (Rye) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Webbe, Sir H.
Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam) Osborne, C. Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle) Page, R. G. Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Panned, N. A. (Kirkdale) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown) Partridge, E. Wood, Hon. R.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Peyton, J. W. W. Woollam, John Victor
Joseph, Sir Keith Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot Pilkington, Capt. R. A.
Keegan, D. Pitman, I. J, TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Kerby, Capt. H. B. Pitt, Miss E. M. Mr. Heath and
Kershaw, J. A. Pott, H. P. Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith
Kimball, M.
Ainsley, J. W. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Oswald, T.
Albu, A. H. Hale, Leslie Owen, W. J.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Padley, W. E.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Hamilton, W. W. Paget, R. T.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hannan, W. Paling, Rt. Hon. W.(Dearne Valley)
Anderson, Frank Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)
Awbery, S. S. Hastings, S. Palmer, A. M. F.
Bacon, Miss Alice Hayman, F. H. Pannen, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Baird, J. Healey, Denis Pargiter, G. A.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis) Parker, J.
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Herbison, Miss M. Parkin, B. T.
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Hewitson, Capt. M. Peart, T. F.
Benson, G. Hobson, C. R. Pentland, N.
Beswick, F. Holman, P. Plummer, Sir Leslie
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Holmes, Horace Popplewell, E.
Blaokburn, F. Houghton, Douglas Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Boardman, H. Howell, Charles (Perry Barr) Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Howell, Denis (All Saints) Probert, A. R.
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Proctor, W. T.
Bowles, F. G. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Pursey, Cmdr. H.
Boyd, T. C. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Randall, H. E.
Braddook, Mrs. Elizabeth Hunter, A, E. Rankin, John
Brockway, A. F. Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe) Redhead, E. C.
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Reeves, J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Irving, S. (Dartford) Reid, William
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A. Rhodes, H.
Burke, W. A. Janner, B. Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jeger, George (Goole) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Callaghan, L. J. Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.) Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Carmichael, J. Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Ross, William
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Johnson, James (Rugby) Royle, C.
Champion, A. J. Johnston, Douglas (Paisley) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Chapman, W. D. Jones, David (The Hartlepools) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Chetwynd, G. R. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Shurmer, P. L. E.
Clunie, J. Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Coldrick, W. Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) Kenyon, C. Skeffington, A. M.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Key, Rt. Hon. C. W. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)
Cove, W. G. King, Dr. H. M. Slater, J. (Sedgefield)
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Lawson, G. M. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Cronin, J. D. Ledger, R. J. Snow, J. W.
Crossman, R. H. S. Lee, Frederick (Newton) Sorensen, R. W.
Cullen, Mrs. A. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Sparks, J. A.
Daines, P. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Steele, T.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Lever, Leslie (Ardwick) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Lewis, Arthur Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich)
Davies, Rt. Hon. Clement (Montgomery) Lindgren, G. S. Stones, W. (Consett)
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Lipton, Lt.-Col. M. Strachcy, Rt. Hon. J.
Davies, Harold (Leek) Logan, D. G. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.)
Deer, G. MacColl, J. E. Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
de Freitas, Geoffrey McGhee, H. G. Swingler, S. T.
Delargy, H. J. McInnes, J. Sylvester, G. O.
Dodds, N. N. McLeavy, Frank Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Donnelly, D. L. MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Dugdale, Rt. Hn, John (W. Brmwch) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling) Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Dye, S. Mahon, Simon Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Mainwaring, W. H. Thornton, E.
Edelman, M. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.) Timmons, J.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Mann, Mrs. Jean Tomney, F.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mason, Roy Turner-Samuels, M.
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Mayhew, C. P. Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney) Mellish, R. J. Usborne, H. C.
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Messer, Sir F. Viant, S. P.
Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Mikardo, Ian Wade, D. W.
Fernyhough, E. Mitchison, G. R. Warbey, W. N.
Fienburgh, W. Monslow, W. Watkins, T. E.
Finch, H. J. Moody, A. S. Weitzman, D.
Fletcher, Eric Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Forman, J. C. Mort, D. L. Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Moss, R. West, D. G.
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Moyle, A. Wheeldon, W. E.
Gibson, C. W. Mulley, F. W. White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Gooch, E. G. Neal, Harold (Bolsover) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Greenwood, Anthony Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.) Wilkins, W. A.
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. O'Brien, Sir Thomas Willey, Frederick
Grey, C. F. Oliver, G. H. Williams, David (Neath)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oram, A. E. Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Orbach, M. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Williams, W. R. (Openshaw) Winterbottom, Richard
Williams, W. T. (Barons Court) Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.) Yates, V. (Ladywood) Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson

Main Question, as amended, put:—

The House divided: Ayes 320, Noes 253.

Division No. 298.] AYES [10.24 p.m.
Aitken, W. T. Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.) Eden, Rt. Hn. SirA. (Warwick&L'm'tn) Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)
Alport, C. J. M. Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West) Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.) Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E. Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton) Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Arbuthnot, John Errington, Sir Eric Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)
Armstrong, C. W. Erroll, F. J. Joseph, Sir Keith
Ashton, H. Farey-Jones, F. W. Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot
Astor, Hon. J. J. Fell, A. Keegan, D.
Atkins, H. E. Finlay, Graeme Kerby, Capt. H. B.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M. Fisher, Nigel Kershaw, J. A.
Baldwin, A. E. Fletcher-Cooke, C. Kimball, M.
Balniel, Lord Fort, R. Kirk, P. M.
Barber, Anthony Foster, John Lagden, G. W.
Barlow, Sir John Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone) Lambert, Hon. G.
Barter, John Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale) Lambton, Viscount
Baxter, Sir Beverley Freeth, D. K. Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Beamish, Maj. Tufton Garner-Evans, E. H. Langford-Holt, J. A.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) George, J. C. (Pollok) Leather, E. H. C.
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.) Gibson-Watt, D. Leavey, J. A.
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Glover, D. Leburn, W. G.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald Gough, C. F. H. Legge-Bourke, Maj E. A. H.
Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth) Gower, H. R. Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Bidgood, J. C. Graham, Sir Fergus Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Biggs-Davison, J. A. Grant, W. (Woodside) Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)
Bishop, F. P. Green, A. Llewellyn, D. T.
Black, C. W. Gresham Cooke, R. Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)
Body, R. F.. Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans) Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Boothby, Sir Robert Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury) Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A. Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G.
Boyle, Sir Edward Gurden, Harold Longden, Gilbert
Braine, B. R. Hall, John (Wyoombe) Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.) Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H. Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Harris, Reader (Heston) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Browne, J. Nixon (Cralgton) Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon) McAdden, S. J.
Bryan, P. Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) McCallum, Major Sir Duncan
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T. Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfd) Macdonald, Sir Peter
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E. Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.) Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry
Butcher, Sir Herbert Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) McKibbin, A. J.
Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden) Harvie-Watt, Sir George Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)
Campbell, Sir David Hay, John McLaughlin, Mrs. P.
Carr, Robert Head, Rt. Hon. A. H. Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Cary, Sir Robert Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maclean, Fitzroy (Lancaster)
Channon, H. Henderson, John (Cathcart) McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Chichester-Clark, R. Hesketh, R. F. Macleod, Rt. Hon. Ialn (Enfield, W.)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W. MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.) Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton) Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)
Cole, Norman Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe) Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Conant, Maj. Sir Roger Hill, John (S. Norfolk) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Cooper, A. E. Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Maddan, Martin
Cooper-Key, E. M. Hirst, Geoffrey Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K. Holland-Martin, C. J. Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)
Corfield, Capt. F. V. Hope, Lord John Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Craddock, Beresford (Spethorne) Hornby, R. P. Markham, Major Sir Frank
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P. Marlowe, A. A. H.
Crouch, R. F. Horobin, Sir Ian Marples, A. E.
Crowder, Sir John (Finchley) Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence Marshall, Douglas
Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood) Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Maude, Angus
Cunningham, Knox Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives) Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.
Currie, G. B. H. Howard, John (Test) Mawby, R. L.
Dance, J. C. G. Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.) Maydon, Lt.-Comdr, S. L. C.
Davidson, Viscountess Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J. Medlicott, Sir Frank
D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hughes-Young, M. H. C. Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Deedes, W. F. Hulbert, Sir Norman Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Digby, Simon Wingfield Hurd, A. R. Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Dodds-Parker, A. D. Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.) Moore, Sir Thomas
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA. Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Doughty, C. J. A. Hyde, Montgomery Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.
Drayson, G. B. Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H. Nabarro, G. D. N.
du Cann, E. D. L. Iremonger, T. L Nairn, D. L. S.
Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Neave, Airey
Duthie, W. S. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich) Nicholls, Harmar
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham) Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Micolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch) Robertson, Sir David Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)
Noble, Comdr. A. H. P. Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.) Thorneyoroft, Rt. Hon. P.
Nugent, G. R. H. Robson-Brown, W. Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Oakshott, H. D. Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks) Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)
O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.) Roper, Sir Harold Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D. Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Touche, Sir Gordon
Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Russell, R. S. Turner, H. F. L.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.) Sandys, Rt. Hon. D. Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare) Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. Tweedsmuir, Lady
Osborne, C. Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R. Vane, W. M. F.
Page, R. G. Sharples, R. C. Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale) Shepherd, William Vickers, Miss J. H.
Partridge, E. Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.) Vosper, D. F.
Peyton, J. W. W. Smithers, Peter (Winchester) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Pickthorn, K. W. M. Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood) Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Pilkington, Capt. R. A Soames, Capt. C. Walker-Smith, D. C.
Pitman, I. J. Spearman, Sir Alexander Wall, Major Patrick
Pitt, Miss E. M. Speir, R. M. Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)
Pott, H. P. Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.) Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Powell, J. Enoch Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.) Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.) Stevens, Geoffrey Whitelaw, W. S. I. (Penrith & Border)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L. Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Profumo, J. D. Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.) Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Raikes, Sir Victor Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray) Wills, G. (Bridgwater)
Ramsden, J. E. Studholme, Sir Henry Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Rawlinson, Peter Summers, Sir Spencer Wood, Hon. R.
Redmayne, M. Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington) Woollam, John Victor
Rees-Davies, W. R. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Remnant, Hon. P. Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Renton, D. L. M. Teeling, W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Ridsdale, J. E. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Mr. Heath and
Rippon, A. G. F. Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway) Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith
Ainsley, J. W. Davies, Ht. Hon. Clement (Montgomery) Holmes, Horace
Albu, A. H. Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.) Houghton, Douglas
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Davies, Harold (Leek) Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth) Davies, Stephen (Merthyr) Howell, Denis (All Saints)
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Deer, G. Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Anderson, Frank de Freitas, Geoffrey Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)
Awbery, S. S. Delargy, H. J. Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Bacon, Miss Alice Dodds, N. N. Hunter, A. E.
Baird, J. Donnelly, D. L. Hynd, J. B. (Atterclifle)
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F, J. Dugdale, Rt. Hn. John (W. Brmwch) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.) Dye, S. Irving, S. (Dartford)
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S. E.) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Benson, G. Edelman, M. Janner, B.
Beswick, F. Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse) Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw vale) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Jeger, George (Goole)
Blackburn, F. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Jeger, Mrs. Lena (Holbn & St. Pncs, S.)
Boardman, H. Edwards, W. J, (Stepney) Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Johnson, James (Rugoy)
Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan) Evans, Edward (Lowestoft) Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Bowles, F. G. Fernyhough, E. Jones, David (The Hartlepools)
Boyd, T. C. Fienburgh, W. Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth Finch, H. J. Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Brockway, A. F. Fletcher, Eric Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Forman, J. C. Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Kenyon, C.
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N. Key, Rt. Hon. C. W
Burke, W. A. Gibson, C. W. King, Dr. H. M.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Gooch, E. G. Lawson, G. M.
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Ledger, R. J.
Callaghan, L. J. Greenwood, Anthony Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Carmichael, J. Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R. Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Grey, C. F. Lever, Harold (Cheetham)
Champion, A. J. Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Chapman, W, D. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Lewis, Arthur
Chetwynd, G. R. Griffiths, William (Exchange) Lindgren, G. S.
Clunie, J. Hale, Leslie Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Coldrick, W. Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley) Logan, D. G.
Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead) Hamilton, W. W. Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Collins, V. J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury) Hannan, W. MacColl, J. E.
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.) McGhee, H. G.
Cove, W. G. Hastings, S. McInnes, J.
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Hayman, F. H. McLeavy, Frank
Cronin, J. D. Healey, Denis MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)
Grossman, R. H. S. Henderson, Rt. Hn. A, (Rwly Regis) MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Cullen, Mrs. A. Herbison, Miss M. Manon, Simon
Daines, P. Hewitson, Capt. M. Mainwaring, W. H.
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H. Hobson, C. R. Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)
Darling, George (Hillsborough) Holman, P. Mann, Mrs. Jean
Mason, Roy Proctor, W. T. Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Mayhew, C. P. Pursey, Cmdr. H. Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)
Mellish, R. J. Randall, H. E. Thornton, E.
Messer, Sir F. Rankin, John Timmons, J.
Mikardo, Ian Redhead, E. C. Tomney, F.
Mitchison, G. R. Reeves, J. Turner-Samuels, M.
Monslow, W. Reid, William Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Moody, A. S. Rhodes, H. Usborne, H. C.
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.) Robens, Rt. Hon. A. Viant, S. P.
Mort, D. L. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Wade, D. W.
Moss, R. Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.) Warbey, W. N.
Moyle, A. Rogers, George (Kentington, N.) Watkins, T. E.
Mulley, F. W. Ross, William Weitzman, D.
Neal, Harold (Bolsover) Royle, C. Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.) Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. West, D. G.
O'Brien, Sir Thomas Shurmer, P. L. E. Wheeldon, W. E.
Oliver, G. H. Silverman, Julius (Aston) White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Oram, A. E. Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Orbach, M. Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill) Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B
Oswald, T. Skeffington, A. M. Wilkins, W. A.
Owen, W. J. Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.) Willey, Frederick
Padley, W. E. Slater, J. (Sedgefield) Williams, David (Neath)
Paget, R. T. Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.) Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley) Snow, J. W. Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury) Sorensen, R. W. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Palmer, A. M. F. Sparks, J. A. Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Panned, Charles (Leeds, W.) Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)
Pargiter, G. A. Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R. (Ipswich) Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)
Parker, J. Stones, W. (Consett) Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Parkin, B. T. Strachey, Rt. Hon. J. Winterbottom, Richard
Peart, T. F. Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall) Yates, V. (Ladywood)
Pentland, N. Stross, Dr. Barnett (Stoke-on-Trent, C.) Younger, Rt. Hon. K.
Plummer, Sir Leslie Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Popplewell, E. Swingler, S. T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Sylvester, G. O. Mr. Bowden and
Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Mr. Pearson.
Probert, A. R. Taylor, John (West Lothian)

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves of the prompt action taken by Her Majesty's Government designed to bring hostilities between Israel and Egypt to an end and to safeguard vital international and national interests, and pledges its full support for all steps necessary to secure these ends.

While the Division was in progress

Mr. George Craddock (Bradford, South) (seated and covered)

Mr. Speaker, I want to raise with you a matter of urgent importance, and I am seeking your guidance. I understand that the mounted police are charging into the people outside. I have interviewed just now two people in the Central Lobby who were beaten up. A young lady was nearly crushed by a horse, and when a young man went to her rescue he was thrown over the wall and beaten up by several policemen. I am asking you what action we can take now to deal with this situation.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member cannot take any action in the middle of a Division. It is not a point of order. This is an entirely new topic and has nothing to do with the rules of order. I do not know what other action the hon. Member can take. He must consult his friends to see whether there is any action he can take.