§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Col. J. H. Harrison.]
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. David Price (Eastleigh)
I am grateful for this opportunity of raising in the House the subject of the plight of the Hungarian people at this moment. I am sure that all hon. Members, in all sections of the House, are deeply moved by the heroic resistance of the Hungarian people. Indeed, I believe that the whole country has been moved by the events which have taken place in that unfortunate country in the last three weeks, but in our feeling of sympathy and praise for them I believe we all have a slight feeling of personal guilt and of being ashamed at our inability to help. It is because of that feeling of shame at our inability to help that I wish to ask my hon. Friend some specific questions about how we can assist the Hungarian people in the present situation.
I think we are all aware from reading the newspapers of the terrible retribution which has taken place in Hungary merely because the Hungarian people demanded those basic liberties which we in this House and in this country have enjoyed for so long—a retribution which is comparable with that of the Czarist Army against the Hungarian people in 1849. It is even worse than that: it is in the tradition of Ivan the Terrible, Ghengis Khan and Attila the Hun.
I think that the House should view what we could do in the world context. In my opinion this has been the most momentous event in world history since the October Revolution in 1917. It would be out of order for me to pursue too far today the significance of these events. I should like to take up the tale only as we have read it in the last three weeks. We saw an uprising of the whole nation, a levée en masse which has been condemned by the Soviet Union as being Fascist reaction. I suggest that never in the history of rebellion and revolution has there been such a spontaneous uprising of the people, and above all of the workers.
1462 It has, too, been an uprising of the young—not just the youths of university age but of the children. If any revolution could rightly be called the children's uprising, it has been the events which have taken place in Hungary in the last three weeks.
We must also remember the moving appeal made to the world by Mr. Nagy, the Prime Minister of the short-lived Hungarian Government. We, as members of the United Nations, have a duty to answer that call. We have a further duty as signatories to the Hungarian Peace Treaty of 1947.
I know that there are those among us who claim to be realists and say that there is nothing we can do. The power of the Soviet Army is such that any assistance could only mean a third world war. I must say, for myself, that if there were the slightest chance of an international brigade succeeding, I should be the first to join it, but I fear that that is the slightly quixotic enthusiasm of youth. If we look at the problem realistically we see little hope of assisting the Hungarian people with military intervention.
Nevertheless, their position is so desperate that I think we are entitled to ask the Government to pursue any avenue of relief however remote the chances of success may be. I should like to ask my hon. Friend to consider the problem of the refugees. Here I would pay tribute to the many organisations in this country and throughout the world which axe doing great work to relieve them in their distress. I am sure it is the desire of everyone in this country to help. Therefore, I feel that the original offer made by my hon. Friend that we would take in 2,500 refugees should be raised. My information is that there are 32,000 refugees in Eastern Austria, so I hope that in his reply tonight my hon. Friend will announce that the Government have raised the figure of 2,500 to a much more sizeable figure because the need is sizeable.
I should like to hear from my hon. Friend that the Government have decided to offer more financial assistance. From their statements in the House, I understand that we have so far given £50,000: an initial £15,000 worth of medical supplies; £10,000 worth of food from the resources of the British Army of the 1463 Rhine, and an additional £25,000 given to the Red Cross. I am hopeful about this, because my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, on 3rd November, answering a Question put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) was encouraging.
A further consideration about financial aid is whether it would not be right and proper to offer some direct financial aid to the Austrian Government. That Government have done very great work in caring for the refugees as they come across the border. They have, in fact, borne the heat and burden of the day. In that context, as part of this problem, we have to consider the security of the refugees who are now in Eastern Austria. There is a feeling, not only amongst refugees but also amongst the Austrian people in the Burgenland, that they are not safe from possible incursions by Soviet troops. I would remind my hon. Friend of Article 2 of the Peace Treaty with Austria, signed in May, 1955, by which we have a clear responsibility to guarantee the territorial integrity of Austria as established under that Treaty.
I feel that the problem of the refugees is the minor problem. The major one is how we can in any way take the pressure off the Hungarian people in Hungary. As I said earlier, both as members of the United Nations and as signatories of the Hungarian Peace Treaty, we have a clear duty to do whatever we can within the general context of avoiding a third world war. The major problem can be defined quite simply. It is first, to induce the Soviet Army to withdraw; and, secondly, to create the conditions whereby the basic freedoms can be allowed to exist.
I here remind my hon. Friend of Article 2 of the Hungarian Peace Treaty of 1947, in which Hungary is ordered to take all measures necessary to secure all persons under Hungarian jurisdiction, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion; the enjoyment of human rights, of the fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression of Press and publication, freedom of religious worship, public opinion and public meeting. Let us consider those obligations in relation to the news which we had this morning, that the Russians 1464 have been shooting students who had been reading manifestoes put on the walls of Budapest.
Let us now address ourselves to the problem of how we can get rid of the Soviet Army. I admit that that problem is not amenable to an easy solution, but my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench, who have more experience and ingenuity than myself on these matters will, I hope, indicate some of the many and proper diplomatic methods by which pressure can be put on the Soviet Government.
Remembering Mr. Nagy's appeal to the United Nations, we must start first through the United Nations. I believe that we should press, and get our Allies and associates in the United Nations to press, for a United Nations police force to go to Hungary. That is the only proper logic of what both sides of the House have been pressing for in a different context. I cannot believe that the problem should be treated differently just because the units concerned happen to be Soviet troops.
The chances of achieving that may be slim, but let us at least press that United Nations observers should be sent to Hungary. And they should be sent in numbers—not just the odd man who will stay in the shattered relics of the smartest hotel in Budapest, but enough observers to go out into the countryside. Let them be drawn from all the nations of the world, and above all from those nations which are uncommitted in the cold war. I should like to see the Secretary-General of the United Nations go there. He has offered to go, but he has been scorned by Mr. Kadar's Government.
There is the further consideration that the Russians should open the frontiers. It is contrary to every concept of human liberty that people should be forced to remain within a country whose Government they detest, and in which they are suffering from the oppression of that modern slavery which goes by the name of Soviet Russian. We must press for that—that men must be allowed to escape from the hell which is Soviet rule. I cannot help feeling that the Soviet attitude may well have been taken from one of their nineteenth century writers, Belinsky, who said that the people were so stupid that it was necessary to bring 1465 them to happiness by force. It is possible that the United Nations might be asked to provide frontier guards on the Hungarian-Austrian border.
We are also members of the Council of Europe. I know that there are hon. Members—I see some of them here tonight—who have been attending the appropriate meetings of the Council of Europe. This, above all, is surely a European problem, for I would suggest that Hungary has refound the soul of Europe. I hope that, when he replies, my hon. Friend will give some indication of the measures which the Government propose to take within the Council of Europe.
Then the Government have, on their own account, by virtue of being signatories of the 1947 Peace Treaty, duties of their own. The first duty, I suggest, is to keep up constant pressure on the Russians in every way we can; not just to lie down under this situation and say "This is the Soviet Army, and there is nothing that we can do about it." My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, in recent weeks, has constantly been telling us that we must not solve our problems by appeasement. Are we going to pursue a policy of appeasement towards Hungary?
Furthermore, we must give no public evidence of approving of Mr. Kadar's puppet Government. At the same time, we must not take the obvious, emotional step of cutting off diplomatic relations. I believe that it is important in the interests of the Hungarian people themselves to keep open the channels of communication between us. However, we should do nothing in a way to suggest that we acknowledge this "Tank" Government as the genuine Government of the people of Hungary.
I should also like my hon. Friend to press the Russians to release Colonel Maleter and Colonel Kovacs, who were taken into captivity by a despicable trick. They were brought under safe conduct to negotiate, and were then immediately clapped into prison—typical of the value which can be placed in the sanctity of a safe conduct when given by the present Russian rulers.
Above all, we must mobilise public opinion. I hope that my hon. Friend will tell us what steps the Government may be 1466 taking in that direction. The more our disapproval of what has gone on can appear official, and not merely the disapproval of we ordinary people who happen to have strayed into politics, the better it will be.
The most urgent problem of all relates to the hideous deportations which are now taking place—and let not the Soviet Government try to deny that they have been made. They denied the deportations in the Baltic, but we know where the Lithuanians, the Letts and the Esthonians are now—scattered over 3,000 miles of Siberia. The root of the problem of the present plight of the Hungarian people is how to remove Hungary from being within the Iron Curtain and within the Soviet sphere of influence. In the end, the only way in which we can get lasting relief for them is by a settlement of the whole problem of Europe.
There was a time, a few months ago, when some of us were hopeful that the Iron Curtain was beginning to be lifted; that there was a chance of honourable co-existence. But Soviet action in Hungary has shown that honourable coexistence is a long way off and that we are back to the old system of co-existence in mutual fear. We have been hoping for better things, and there was evidence that that hope was reciprocated at least by some of the elements in the Soviet hierarchy. Many of us remember the pleasure given by the visit of the Bolshoi Theatre Ballet Company here. But the reality of Soviet force has played traitor to our hopes, and even Ulanova at her most lyrical cannot erase the tears of a single Hungarian orphan.
However, we must not go to the other extreme and allow emotion so to affect our good sense that we find ourselves permanently cut off from contact with the Soviet Union. One's immediate reaction is to cut off all diplomatic relations, but unless we are to put ourselves immediately into a third world war we have to maintain contact and keep open the channels of communication. As I see it, at some stage we have to talk with the Russians and do a general deal. I hate to use that word, but it comes to that. When is the right moment is not for me to say, but it is probably not at the present time. That, as I see it, is the best way in the long run in which we can relieve the 1467 Hungarian people of the hideous pressure upon them.
I have heard it said that the Hungarian people went too far. No doubt, to some arithmetical realists they did, but I believe that in their unrealistic appreciation of the odds against them they have refound the soul of man in slavery. I like to believe that even in Russia there is among some people a yearning for freedom. We have had evidence in the last two years of the revolts and strikes which have taken place in the slave camps, and I hope that Berdyaev will be proved right in saying:The Russian cannot realise his historical destiny without revolt: that is the sort of people we are.It may be that the soldiers returning to Russia from Hungary will talk about what they have seen and will realise the sort of people they could be if they acted, that in time all Russia will learn the story of the children's uprising—how the children attacked tanks with their bare hands because they loved freedom so passionately, and that in death they have triumphed, for they have shown the world that freedom and self-sacrifice are the same words.
§ Dr. Edith Summerskill (Warrington)
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the question I want to ask is not posed because I want to make a debating point or to introduce a party element into this discussion I have listened to his speech, which was very sincere and indeed emotional. The hon. Gentleman extended sympathy to the Hungarian refugees. I find it difficult to understand why he cannot extent equal sympathy to the Arab refugees whose plight is terrible and one of the most appalling sights in the world, as can be testified by those of us who have seen them. Why is not the hon. Gentleman equally emotional about them?
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Mr. George Jeger (Goole)
The House is indebted to the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) for having introduced this subject. I should like to congratulate him on the way in which he has 1468 put the case, although it has been almost entirely from a political point of view. He has posed a number of questions, the answers to which I shall be very interested to hear when the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs replies.
I should like to say a few words on the refugee problem, for, as the hon. Gentleman said, several of us have recently been to meetings of various committees of the Council of Europe which are concerned with this problem. I myself was in Vienna last week presiding over a meeting of the Population and Refugee Committee of the Council of Europe when we considered this problem of visiting the refugee camps and the frontier.
Much of what we saw has been published in the Press, with photographs and graphic accounts of the conditions in the camps in Austria and the way in which the refugees are living. But no amount of repetition and reiteration would be too much to describe how the refugees from Hungary into Austria came not merely as refugees from oppression but as fighters for freedom with the light of battle in their eyes and a high spirit and morale which impressed all of us who went to see them.
I have seen refugees of all kinds. I have seen refugees coming from Franco Spain, from Hitler's Germany, from Communist East Berlin into West Berlin. But these refugees are different, for they have fought for their freedom, and it is in that spirit that they have come into Austria. Austria, unfortunately, is a small, poor country. Only recently has Austria regained her freedom. But her frontiers are free and open for all refugees who wish to enter and, as the hon. Member for Eastleigh has said, over 30,000 have taken advantage of the generosity of the Austrian Government and have crossed over that green frontier.
We in this country have no green frontier. We do not know what it is like to have another country right on our doorstep, with the possibility of people flooding one way or the other. It was a great experience to us who have no such green frontier to stand at the Austrian frontier and see the Hungarian guards only a few yards away and to see the way in which the side of the road which was in Hungarian territory had been wired and mined. A broad strip of black earth had been ploughed and raked so as to 1469 show the footprints of those people who were escaping from the tyranny of Hungary into the freedom of the West.
We went into the camps and spoke to the refugees. I must say that many of them, young people—and the majority of the refugees are young and have had to walk a long way to get to the frontier—wanted to know why the West had not helped them. In pursuing that point the hon. Member for Eastleigh was perfectly correct in his political references. They wanted to know why the West had not helped them. They said, "Give us arms and let us go back".
Austria, of course, is a neutral country. The Austrians did not dare to do such a thing. They feared that perhaps some of these young refugees, if they were not quickly taken away from Austria, and particularly from the frontier area, might find a way of getting arms by raiding the gendarmerie or frontier posts, make their way back across the frontier and carry on the fight with perhaps dire results for the neutrality, peace and security of little Austria.
We spoke to various refugees and asked them where they wanted to go. Many of them wanted to go as far away from Europe as they could. They had seen enough of tyranny and war. Many of them wanted to remain as near as they could to their homeland because they hoped that one day they would be able to return. But many of them are anxious to go to other countries, and we ourselves have promised to take 2,500. I do not know whether 2,500 will want to come to Britain. I do not know whether the thousands who have been promised asylum in other countries will want to go there.
The work of sorting out the refugees and registering them is going on day and night. It is being done in the main by United Nations refugee authorities, by the Vienna University students who are working gallantly, and by the officials of the Vienna municipality and the Austrian Government. The whole burden of this at the moment is being borne by Austria.
Therefore, I would say that when considering the amount of relief that we should allocate to the Hungarian refugees we should consider the needs of Austria in conjunction with the needs of the Hungarian refugees, for since the end of the war Austria has had 125,000 refugees 1470 of one kind and another, placing a burden upon the Austrian exchequer. Austria has not grumbled. She has not closed her frontier. She has made them all welcome. But it has made an enormous call upon her exchequer. Now that the main brunt is being borne by Austria, we must consider whether much of the relief fund should not be sent to the Austrian Government, who have promised that their Government auditor will keep a rigid check on everything received and everything spent. I believe this to be one of the essential things that we must do.
Next, the refugees who have been offered asylum in this country and in other countries should be taken over as quickly as possible. I do not know whether hon. Members have ever experienced personally, or have seen, the way refugees live. They sit around on their beds, crowded together, some 35 or 40 camp beds to a room, with nothing to do; they are not allowed out until they have been registered, and, of course, they must not escape back over the border to continue fighting. The children play in the rooms or in the corridors and, of course, are itching to get out somewhere into the fresh air and into a home of their own. AW the refugees are fed at regular times with regular meals, and the Austrian Government, in conjunction with the relief organisations, are doing exceedingly well; but the boredom of sitting around all day long, with nothing to do and with nothing to occupy themselves, is really a human tragedy, the extent of which has to be seen to be believed.
Such is the life of the refugees. If their morale is to be kept high, and if they are to be useful citizens in the future, then our work in bringing over our quota of 2,500, and the work of taking others to other countries, to their new homes and new lands, must go on continuously and quickly.
In our own country, as in others, there are various restrictions placed on immigration; various examinations, screenings and so forth take place. Some countries are worse than others; I will not specify them. I make an appeal that here in Britain we should waive all the usual restrictions which are placed upon immigrants, and we should take the refugees into Britain just as Austria took them 1471 into Austria, as they come across the frontier, with no discrimination of any kind, whether of colour, class, religion, age, infirmity or state of health. We should take them as they come. Switzerland has done it; she has taken 2,000 without examination and without any filling up of papers, just taking the first 2,000 out of the camp. Sweden has done the same with 1,000, and Holland has done the same with another 1,000. We should follow that example and take our refugees in that way.
It may be necessary also to increase the number beyond 2,500. I have no doubt that Her Majesty's Government, if faced with a request to increase the number, will comply with it and take such numbers as wish to come to Britain. That is a matter which will have to be decided in the very near future when registration of the wishes of the refugees has been completed.
We went into these questions at the Council of Europe meeting. We sat until 11 o'clock one night, started again at 9 o'clock the next morning, and went on until 8 o'clock that night, visiting camps and considering the various recommendations and proposals which were brought forward. When these recommendations come to the Foreign Secretary, I hope they will receive the approval of the Foreign Secretary and of the Government, and I hope that Her Majesty's Government will put them into effect.
What are these recommendations? First of all, a grant should be made to the Austrian Government over and above anything which has been collected or promised by relief organisations in order to tide them over the present emergency. Secondly, we suggested that out of our own unexpended credit balance from last year of just over £100,000 in the Council of Europe, we should devote £100,000 immediately to relief in Austria, and hand the money over to the Austrian Government.
Then came the question of receiving refugees and the manner in which they should be received. I have dealt with some aspects of that matter already, but a further very important question arises here. There are young people who will need educating, students whose education has been interrupted, university students, for instance. We must ensure that when 1472 they come here, or to any other member country of the Council of Europe, their university education should be allowed to continue in order that they might realise the possibilities within them and complete their education properly. That, of course, will mean that they will have to be educated in the language of the country of their adoption prior to their continuing their university education; but there are no insuperable difficulties about that, provided the issue is tackled from the beginning and it is understood that the education of these students must continue.
Furthermore, it is desirable that families should be brought here without any discrimination whatever. We remember previous situations of this kind, when refugees have been selected in other countries and there has been careful effort made to pick out the young, the tough, those who can work, if possible young men, leaving all the rest, the old and the infirm. We insist that that should not be done by us in this case, and not be done by any of the member countries of the Council of Europe. I hope that the views on this matter of non-discrimination which were expressed so strongly in the Council of Europe will be noted and acted upon by Her Majesty's Government.
There are present this evening other hon. Members who have participated in similar meetings of committees of the Council of Europe. I know they will give their support to the recommendations which we took upon ourselves to adopt at this meeting in Vienna. It was a great experience to visit these camps and to see these refugees. It was a great experience to see the way in which the representatives of 16 nations sitting round a table came to a unanimous decision of a humanitarian nature, without any misgivings, drawbacks or hesitations. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will play their part on Britain's behalf in honouring the recommendations of the Council.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Walsall, South)
It is a melancholy fact that the one technique which the nations have perfected in the last ten years is that of dealing with refugees. I should like to associate myself with everything said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) and by the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger).
1473 In dealing with refugees, speed is the essence of the cause. I am very glad to see sitting in his place the Joint Under-Secretary of State to the Home Department, because I am quite certain that humane consideration of our immigration laws at this moment is what is specially needed. There is no doubt that the majority of these people will not be equipped with passports. I imagine also that a number of them will have political affiliations which the Home Office might wish to deprecate. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that we shall put such unworthy considerations out of our mind.
In our community, we can absorb very easily the relatively small number of people who will wish to come here. We should make it very easy for them to come. It would not cost us in national terms any very large sum to make sure that all Hungarians who have left Hungary in those circumstances and who desire to come to England should be admitted and should be cared for on admission. I am certain that the interest of the Home Office is particularly important in this connection.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Dr. Horace King (Southampton, Itchen)
The House will, I am certain, welcome the opportunity of declaring its sympathy with and its admiration for the Hungarian people in these very grim hours. This is indeed, as the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) said, a moment of the triumph of the human soul, of the victory of the undying spirit of freedom after 20 years of Communism and Fascism in Hungary, and, indeed, of the spirit of all that we associate with Europe. It is fitting that the Council of Europe itself should be playing a significant part in caring for the refugees now coming from Hungary.
I know that the hon. Member for Eastleigh and hon. Members sitting opposite dislike intensely the linking of Suez with Hungary, and rightly so, because what has occurred in Hungary is so hateful that any British person must repudiate and recoil with horror from any suggestion that he is connected with it. I certainly would not say that Russia was inspired by the example of Her Majesty's Government in Suez to take the action which she has done in Hungary. This action follows a long line of imperialist aggressions by Russia.
1474 Russia has since the war seized an empire and is now in the process, as we have been in this country in watching for the past half-century the dissolution of the British Empire, of watching with the much more rapid speed of modern history the dissolution of its own Russian Empire. What ought to go out from this House tonight is a plea to the Russian Government to recognise the nationalist claims of the Hungarian people, to recognise the nationalist claims of all the Eastern Europeans and to remember that inevitably it is fighting against history if it thinks it can drown those national aspirations in bloodshed.
Having said that, however, there can be no mistake that Her Majesty's Government's action in Suez and the Russian Government's action in Hungary differ in only two major respects: one, of degree, and the other that the British Government unlike the Russians have yielded to the United Nations and have abandoned their aggression in Suez.
What we are up against is that any nation naturally finds that the interest of some other nation runs counter to its own national interests. Egypt owning the Suez Canal entirely on her own would hurt British interests just as surely as Hungary's neutral and independent existence weakens the military power of the Soviet Union. What is wrong in each case is that both Britain and the Soviet Union, members of the United Nations, should run away from the United Nations Charter and seek to pursue their own national interests by means of military aggression. It is for that reason that the United Nations has condemned both of us during the last weeks.
It is certainly true that for years the game of the Soviet Union has been to divide Britain from her allies, to weaken N.A.T.O., to weaken the Commonwealth and to weaken the Anglo-American alliance and that she chose as the moment to strike in Hungary the moment of time when we were estranged from our American friends and when the world's attention was attracted to our own attack on Egypt. I am rather sad to think that it needs the crime of the Soviet Union in Hungary to drive the free peoples of the world almost hurrying back to the solidarity which we had begun to build up in the years which preceded these last few months.
1475 If we want to help all that Hungarian patriots have died for in the last few days, the best thing we can do is to make every positive effort that we can to rebuild our shattered friendship with America, and to work inside the Commonwealth and inside N.A.T.O.
I thought that it would be of interest for the record if we ran briefly through the events of the last few weeks in Hungary, and I have drawn my facts from the Daily Worker. It is rather curious that I should do so, and it is indeed a condemnation of the Soviet Union that the story I tell is the story as told by the Daily Worker.
On 24th October, there were reports of demonstrations by 100,000 people, mainly young folk, in Budapest. I quote from the Daily Worker:The quiet and orderly behaviour of the marchers was impressive.That demonstration had been prohibited by the Government, but according to the Daily Worker of that date the committee of the Government party, seeing that the demonstration was a success, jumped on the band waggon and abandoned its meeting to join the demonstration.
The aims of the demonstration, according to the Daily Worker, were expressed in these slogans:For a fully independent peace policy";Fully democratic elections";Uranium stocks to be used in Hungary";Withdraw Soviet occupation troops".There was no doubt, according to the Daily Worker, that this was a people's rising against an evil government and against foreign dictatorship.
It is true that next day the Daily Worker changed its tune and described the same events in these words:Counter revolution in Hungary staged an uprising in the hours of darkness on Tuesday night. The Hungarian working class rallied round its own Government and party and smashed this attempt to put the clock back.It also referred to youths shouting "Fascist slogans"—the slogans which I have just quoted from the previous day's issue. It also described howSoviet troops were risking their lives to protect lives of peaceful population.Next day, 26th October, the Daily Worker quoted Nagy's description of the rebels as counter-revolutionaires and 1476 anarchists, but said that even Nagy had to admit that these rebelswere supported by part of the Budapest population, due to their bitter feelings.Pravda was quoted on the same day as saying:What has happened in Hungary in these past few days has not been a popular uprising against a dictatorial governmentbut an organised effort to overthrow by undemocratic and violent means a Government carrying out reforms and unprepared for illegal armed attacks. The Daily Worker on the same day described how the people of Budapest were hanging flags outside their houses,showing joy at the successful breaking of the counter-revolution.On 29th October, still according to the Daily Worker, Nagy ordered the ceasefire and said that the Soviet troops were being withdrawn from Budapest by agreement with the commander-in-chief, that he had formed a new Government and that the cause of the trouble had been because the party leadership had not broken away from its errors. In the same day's issue, the Soviets were reported as putting forward at the Security Council, where the matter was being discussed, Pravda's story that it wasan armed uprising of a reactionary underground movement against the legitimate Hungarian Government.If this was a movement against the legitimate Hungarian Government, one might ask the Soviet Union, "Which one is legitimate?" Was it the one which had already been overthrown, was it Nagy's Government or was it the puppet Government, which, I hope to show presently, the Soviet Union was preparing?
On 30th October, this young Nagy government, beginning to establish itself and having in its control the newspaper of the Hungarian Workers' Party—Szabad Nep—declared in its columns:Youth will be able to defend the conquests which they have achieved at the price of their blood, even against counter-revolutionaries who have joined them.So that even if Fascists had come into the upsurge of freedom inside Hungary, it was the view of the Government that they could control any vicious elements which had crept into the people's revolutionary movement. On that day, the withdrawal of the Soviet troops had begun and, according to the Daily Worker, "fighting had stopped, but there 1477 was still a fierce political struggle." As for the claim of the Soviets that the rebellion had been a counter-revolutionary, reactionary, underground movement, the Hungarian Government called Pravda's article "an insult" and said that the greater part of the Budapest population had taken part in the fighting.
Then, on 31st October, in the most critical hours of the Suez intervention, the Daily Worker reported a Soviet broadcast that Soviet troops would be withdrawn as soon as the Hungarian Government desired it. Whereupon, Nagy, who had formed a coalition Government of Communists, Social Democrats, peasants and other political creeds said that the Soviet troops had been asked to withdraw. He also said that it had been Geroe who had called in the Russian soldiers first and that Geroe would have to answer to the Hungarian people for his crime in calling in the Soviet troops. Nagy also said that day that one-party government had been abolished.
The next day, 1st November, the Daily Worker reported that Soviet troops had withdrawn from Budapest, but it also said that 60,000 counter-revolutionaries had come over the border. Those 60,000 counter-revolutionaries remind me of the Russian soldiers with snow on their boots who passed through England on their way to the Western Front during the First World War. The Daily Worker also contained the significant statement that Nagy intended to begin negotiations for withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact.
It was this last statement that I believe to be the most important of all. The revolution against the totalitarian régime, against the Stalinist group, was succeeding. The aims which had been there ever since the Daily Worker reported them at the first demonstration of the young folk of Budapest, the aims of freedom and independence, were succeeding.
What worried the Soviet Union was not the return to party government, not the liberalisation of Hungarian politics, but the threatened existence there of a new Titoist State, free, armed, and outside the military control of Russia. I think that at that moment Hungary, at least in the eyes of the worst group inside the Soviet Union, was doomed, just as I believe that ultimately an armed and independent Poland and Yugoslavia are doomed if 1478 Russia has ever the power to deal with them as she is dealing with Hungary at this moment—unless the ferment surging through Hungary and Poland comes to the top, as, I believe, ultimately it must, inside the Soviet Union itself.
So the Kremlin went back to the old, classic Stalinist tactics. On 3rd November, the Daily Worker announced that a new Socialist Workers Party had been formed with Kadar as secretary. Yet even on that day a dedicated Communist, Charlie Courts, wrote in the Daily Worker:Only after Soviet troops entered the fight did it become a national movement under the slogans 'Russki. go home' and 'Down with the secret police'.He said that Russian soldiers were fraternising with the crowds and were refusing to open fire on them, and that never a gun appeared until security police fired on unarmed demonstrators.
On 5th November the new Government of Kadar was formed some sixty miles from Budapest, and their first act was to call for the second time for Soviet assistance. In other words, the revolt of the Hungarian people had been so successful that Budapest was in their hands and the Soviet action to crush them on the invitation of Geroe had failed. Even on the Daily Worker's own showing, Budapest had been won back for freedom. The only hope of the Soviet Union was to set up a new puppet government on the lines of others in history, backed by the military force of the Soviet Union, whose job was to go as far Right as they dared to win the support of some groups of the Hungarian people, but with the army, air force and navy of Hungary split down the middle, to use the Soviet Army to impose on Hungary again the tyranny from which she had just escaped.
The refusal of the British Communist party to condemn this is about the most shocking thing in the history of the British Communist party, as it is in that of the French Communist party. If the Communist parties in the free world would protest in the name of decency and justice and freedom and national independence their voice might have some effect on the Kremlin, and it is a sad fact that cynical groups in this country, in France—I hope, not in Italy—are still refusing to condemn the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union in the name of justice and liberty and decency is wickedly wrong.
1479 What can we do about it? Obviously, the tragedy of tonight's debate is whatever we believe about this, everybody in this House knows that it would be wrong to intervene in Hungary and so risk the danger of a third world war. What we can do, as has already been pointed out, is naturally to give all the generous help we can to the refugees. It has been my privilege to talk with my hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) about the very moving experiences which he had in Vienna lately. The British people are rising to the humanitarian appeal of the Hungarian refugees on a scale unequalled, I think, in peace time. The Government can do more.
I think, too, that we must support every effort made by the United Nations to urge the Soviet Union forces to get out of Hungary as quickly as possible. We have to remember that one of the most remarkable features of our own crisis in Suez is that it has shown that, although we are sometimes inclined to sneer at it, there does exist a moral force in the world, and that the only hope of the world is to build up world moral opinion, and all that this country can do in these days towards that end should be done.
I am a very simple fellow, and I believe that the only right thing that the Government can do is to accept the moral condemnation of the world of their own action along the Suez Canal. I would not expect the Government to go out of their way to apologise, but I would say that it is their duty to humanity to accept wholeheartedly the spirit and the letter of the majority decisions of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations, even though those go against what the Government think are British interests. We have to rebuild our moral position in the United Nations.
I think we have to take every positive step we can for free and friendly intercourse with the Eastern European countries which have already won their freedom—Poland and Yugoslavia. Ultimately, our goal is to achieve friendship with the Soviet Union, because, paradoxical as it seems, I believe that if the tragic events of Hungary were known to the ordinary people inside the Soviet Union the mass of the Russian people 1480 would be condemning the actions of their Government in these last few days.
Our main task is to hold on to world peace, not to allow even this tragedy of Hungary to induce us in the free world to hate the people as distinct from the rulers of the Soviet Union, for that might mean action leading to a third world war. If there is anything which Poland and Hungary have taught us, it is that the forces of the human spirit are unconquerable. If only we can hold on, under great difficulties and under great provocation, to world peace, just as Poland has moved, towards the free way, and the Hungarians sought to move towards the free way, so the Soviet Union herself will some day achieve freedom.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Lieut-Commander S. L. C. Maydon (Wells)
I do not want to follow the hon. Member for Itchen (Dr. King), except to say that there has been much moral condemnation over Korea, over Kashmir, over Suez and over a great many other subjects, now, under the United Nations Organisation, as there was moral condemnation under the old League of Nations, and yet, so far as we can see today, that moral condemnation, although duly noted on the records, has achieved practically little.
I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) on the happy circumstance, in this otherwise most tragic affair, that he should have chosen this debate on this Adjournment Motion on a day when there is much more time than usual for debate. I would emphasise something he said, which was referred to also by the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger), who has given us an accurate account of what took place in the Council of Europe and about refugees in Vienna in recent days.
The point which I wish to emphasise and which was raised by both hon. Members is the tremendous burden which the Austrian Government have been bearing, and not only in this matter of Hungarian refugees. This has been going on for many years. Since 1945 up to last year the Austrian Government have spent nearly £20 million on refugees. Austria had under her care before ever the Hungarian emergency 1481 started between 125,000 and 130,000 refugees from countries behind the Iron Curtain.
On one night last week when we were in Vienna a report was made to us. One has to take these figures with a certain degree of suspicion because the situation was so confused and things were happening so quickly that it was probably very difficult to get anything but a rather inaccurate account. We were told on the night of 12th–13th October that 2,019 Hungarian refugees had crossed the border into Austria. One has only to think of what the rate may be from now on. The newspapers report that an estimated 200,000 Russian infantry have pressed into Hungary to put down this rising with all their bloody paraphernalia. That undoubtedly will make a difference to the rate at which these refugees are forced out of their country.
There is also the stark fact of oncoming winter and starvation. Food is becoming increasingly short in Hungary. We know that the International Red Cross has in recent days got through convoys of medical supplies and of food, but that food is limited in quantity and cannot possibly go more than a little way to relieve the destitution and the need, not only in Budapest to which the convoys were bound, but also in other parts of the country. All these things lead us to believe that as the weeks go on the rate of flow of these Hungarian refugees into Austria is likely to increase the burden which, over the last ten years, has cost little Austria so much.
Austria's economy has been bled white by the occupation of Russian troops in many of her industrial areas and by the looting of valuable equipment and machinery from her factories. That machinery and equipment has been hauled across the border into Hungary and thence to Soviet Russia. Is it surprising that Austria's economy is groaning under this added strain? I plead with Her Majesty's Government to act quickly in direct financial aid to the Austrian Government. I am sure that that example would be followed by many other Governments in Europe, but I should like Britain to take the initiative in the matter.
I should also like to see Her Majesty's Government negotiate quickly with countries overseas, particularly the United 1482 States and Australia, to ensure that any Hungarian refugee who accepts temporary asylum in some other Western European country than Austria will not thereby prejudice his chance of ultimate immigration in to the United States, Australia, Canada or any other country overseas.
It was extremely noticeable when we were able to interview what must have been a very small sample of the refugees in Austria last week that a large body of them wanted to get to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America and almost an equally large body wanted to stay as near as possible to Hungary, perhaps to get back to help relatives and friends or in order to get a rifle into their hands to shoot more Bolsheviks. One cannot help admiring those people for that. They have a tremendous and impressive courage.
If Her Majesty's Government will bear these two points in mind—the approach to Governments overseas willing to take immigrants, and the direct aid to the Austrian Government—a great deal will be done to help those fortunate Hungarians who managed to get out of their country at this most difficult time.
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
I should also like to add my thanks to what I am sure are the thanks of all hon. Members to the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) for having raised this extremely important matter at this very time when it is so urgently necessary to deal with this problem. I am sure the whole House will agree that the world outside Hungary is faced with a very important challenge. I will not dwell on the political side of the matter at all owing to limited time. Hon. Members have already dealt with that, and no doubt it will be referred to by others who wish to speak. I think that the challenge is to show whether the democratic free countries of the world are really in earnest when they welcome into their fold those who have been oppressed.
It is a very grave problem, one with which we have been confronted before. Not so many years ago I myself was approached by or on behalf of hundreds of people who were being forced to move from one part of the world to another and who. in many instances, were not allowed for considerable periods to land in any country. They were refugees 1483 from the terrible tortures and miseries of the Nazi régime, and because in some instances they were not allowed to land here, they went by ships to seek asylum in other countries., Eventually, under sufferance, because they had been on the high seas for many months or in some cases for a year or more, they were allowed to land in Cuba or some other country. That is not the way to indicate to those suffering in lands where freedom does not exist that our way of life is better, and ought to be adopted by them.
If we in the free world meet fairly and squarely the challenge facing us today, we shall enable those remaining on the other side of the barrier to get information, directly or indirectly, which will induce them to follow the good example set by those who resist the oppressive force in Hungary to realise that there is and to strive for this other way of life.
I appeal to the Minister and to the Home Office to act as quickly as possible. I appeal to them to give every assistance to those refugees who want asylum in our country to get here as speedily as possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) told us what he saw happening in Vienna and he has advised us in this regard. Nothing should stand in the way, neither passports, age nor health. We should set an example and act in cooperation with other countries, so that these refugees may realise that the milk of human kindness exists somewhere because they will be promptly and warmly received.
I believe this to be the climate in this country at present. I believe this is the feeling that people have in their minds and hearts. We should not ask refugees to give guarantees as we did on previous occasions. We should not insist that a person must show that he can become an asset to the country. In my view the refugee given asylum becomes an asset to the country in which he is received. He becomes an asset both morally and actually, and consequently is of not inconsiderable value to the country receiving him. We know this to be true when we remember how we have been amply repaid by people whom we have received, with open arms in the past, as in the case of the Huguenots and others.
1484 May I now refer to one particular point. There are facilities available for supplementing the funds now being provided for the purpose of helping Hungarian refugees. I had a Question on the Order Paper today but it was not reached. I had consequently put it down for a later date, but perhaps this debate offers a favourable opportunity for receiving a reply. The question I proposed to raise concerned funds available in Sweden today which could be used for this very purpose. In 1946 our Government, together with the Governments of the United States of America and France, were parties to an undertaking with Sweden. It was agreed that Sweden would pay out of blocked German assets 75 million kronen to member States of the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency. So far 68 million kronen have been paid and used to help Nazi victims. The balance of 7 million kronen was offered by Sweden to Belgium, but on conditions unacceptable to that country. Then the Swedish Government expressed their intention to pay the amount to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Is this not an opportunity for us to ask the Swedish Government whether when they make this allocation—the equivalent in sterling is £600,000—they will earmark it for the assistance of the Hungarian refugees and for meeting to some extent the cost of their care inside or outside Austria? I appreciate that we certainly cannot compel the Swedish Government to do this, but, as we were parties to the arrangement, I do not think there would be anything wrong in our asking them whether they would direct that the money might be used for the purpose that we are discussing.
I think this would also have the result that those who are being asked to give money privately towards the funds created in our country and other countries would appreciate that general moneys available for helping refugees were being used in this way and thus be prompted to increase their contributions.
Speed is of the essence in this matter. If we do not take the necessary steps to relieve the congestion in Austria, the refugees will no doubt also try to get on lists for countries other than the ones which they first asked to be put on, such as for America as well as for Britain, 1485 and the result will be duplications and delays. Immigration should be made very easy for them, and there should be no question of producing return visas when they land.
I should like an assurance upon that last point. In many instances when an alien comes to this country, the Government insist that he shall have an assured place to return to in the event of his being requested to do so at any time. In this case—I would go further than that in cases of all refugees, but tonight I am pleading this case only—we should not make that a hard and fast rule. Indeed, we ought not to make it a rule at all that the unhappy victim of the circumstances which have occurred in Hungary should be subjected to the demand that he should have some other place to go to.
I am sure the Government are very anxious about the matter, as we all are. If they act speedily, it will help our country, apart from anything else, in any propaganda about our bona fides that we wish to send to the men and women living in particular in countries on the other side of the iron curtain.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)
Like every other hon. Member who has spoken, I should like to express my appreciation of the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) has taken the opportunity to raise this very important subject. Like the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Wells (Lieut.-Commander Maydon), I have had the honour during the last few days of attending a meeting of a Council of Europe Committee dealing with the subject. In a very few minutes I want to say a word or two about the political side, because that is what the Committee upon which I sit has been mainly concerned with.
Before doing so, however, I want to say something about the question of refugees. As I think has been recognised by everybody in this House, it is the most urgent and vital question facing us at the moment. First, I cannot feel that for us to take 2,500 is enough. I do not think that we should have put any ceiling on the number, in the first place. We should have sought, in this emergency and this stormy situation, to keep the gates free 1486 and wide open for any Hungarian who cares to come. Admittedly there may have been a risk, in that bad characters may have been included, but goodness knows, the number of bad characters in this country is such that we can surely take one or two more, even if they are Hungarians.
The hon. Member for Goole quite rightly referred to the suggestion made by the committee over which he presided on this occasion, that the surplus in the Council of Europe budget for last year should be applied to this purpose. I think that it is a sum of about 112 million francs. I understand that this matter was referred to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as it had to be, and, if I am right, it has been postponed to the December meeting.
§ Mr. Kirk
Yes. The Ministers' Deputies postponed the matter for a month. That does not seem to me to meet the kind of qualification which the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Mr. Janner) rightly laid down, namely, that the essential in this matter is speed. I think it is disgraceful that there should be a month's delay. This is a European matter, and the Council of Europe, which is referred to by so many people as being very weak anyway, in this particular instance having been given the opportunity to do something, the Ministers have said, "This is quite a good idea. We will consider it in thirty days' time," That is not the way in which a true European institution should behave in a situation of this kind. I hope that my hon. Friend will give us some assurance that our representatives in Strasbourg will consider taking some action in connection with this important question.
I want to say a word about the political side of the matter, because the Committee upon which I and the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) sat in Paris has been considering it. Much has been said about the economic strain under which Austria is existing, but I want to say something about the political strain. We know that certain veiled threats have been made to Austria by the Soviet Union because of the help which Austria has given to the 1487 Hungarian refugees. I hope that my right hon. Friend will give an unequivocal assurance that Her Majesty's Government stand by the guarantees contained in the Austrian State Treaty of last year, and that we shall not allow Austria to be bullied because of the humanitarian work which she has done for the Hungarian refugees. We should make it plain that we stand by our guarantees of her independence and neutrality.
I now turn to the question of recognition. Everybody in this House accepts that the Government of Kadar do not represent the Hungarian people, or any part of it; they represent only the Russian Army. I do not know whether any decision has yet been taken about recognition by Her Majesty's Government, or whether any decision is required, but I would ask my hon. Friend to say that if it becomes necessary for Her Majesty's Government to recognise the Kadar Government, for reasons connected with British citizens in Hungary, or whatever they may be, that recognition at least will be only de facto and not de jure, and that we shall never recognise as the legitimate Government of Hungary this gang of men who, by virtue of the assistance of a collection of murderers, happen to be in control in that country at the moment.
This is an important point for the people of Hungary themselves, because a great mistake was made when the United Nations accepted the credentials of the Hungarian representative to the United Nations. We and the United Nations should have said, "No, we cannot say that you represent Hungary". Mrs. Kethly, who was in New York at the time, had a far greater right to speak for the Hungarian people than any representative of Kadar in New York had. I hope that that mistake will not be repeated, and that we shall say very firmly that we are prepared to talk to the Kadar Government because they are in charge, but that we do not recognise them as being the lawful Government of Hungary because that they cannot be except by proving, by free elections or in some other way, that they have the right to represent the Hungarian people.
Also, we should insist, by the strongest possible diplomatic action, that the deportations of Hungarian citizens should be brought to an end. The Committee on 1488 which I have the honour to sit suggested—we know perfectly well that there is no chance of it being accepted—that observers from other European States should be allowed to go to Hungary to see what is going on, especially on the question of deportations. I hope very much that the Government will back that proposal to the hilt.
It may be that the Russian authorities will refuse; almost certainly they will; but at least we shall have made the attempt to find out what is going on and to try to stop these young people, an entire generation of Hungarian people, from being transported to Russia, because that is apparently what is happening at the moment.
On the wider political issue, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will make it quite plain that we do not accept the present division of Europe as permanent, that we do not accept the Yalta Agreement as anything more than a temporary expedient agreed upon eleven years ago, and that our aim is to bring it to an end by peaceful means as soon as possible. That, too, is something which will give courage and hope to the Hungarian people in this very difficult time.
We all know that the one thing which the Hungarian people want is something that we cannot give them. What they want—we asked Hungarian friends who came to see us in Paris last week—are arms and ammunition. It is regrettable but true that we cannot give that help without running the very grave risk of a European and a world war; but everything short of that, every moral and diplomatic support that may be given, I hope the Government will give and give freely and willingly now, in addition to the support which they should be giving, and I hope are giving, to the refugees from Hungary.
If ever there was a time when this country and Western Europe should take a moral stand on an issue, this is surely the time, because it has been proved—and this is something which many of us had given up hope of—that even after eleven years the people of a country cannot be indoctrinated by the particular poison which the Russians have been feeding in. To me the most hopeful feature about everything that has happened is that it was the young people of 1489 Hungary who led this revolution and showed that they were not carried away by the indoctrination which they had had.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I am glad that the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) and the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) made special reference to the position of Austria in this problem, because the House is very well aware of the special burden which that little country has had to bear in the matter of refugees over a long period. One hon. Member referred to some of the economic difficulties that Austria had to bear during the occupation. He did not go into detail sufficiently to complete the picture.
He might well have reminded the House that there was not only the burden of a Russian occupation—for that matter the burden of having four occupying Powers—the shortage of food, the burden of refugees, and the rest, but also the fact that the basic economic assets of Austria were being sucked away into Russia by the Russian control of the oil wells, the shipping resources and several hundreds of factories which were taken over as Russian factories. Fortunately, that aspect has been cleared up in the State Treaty with Austria, but for many years the economy was undermined by the activities of the Russian occupying forces.
Austria has a special burden, and a special emphasis should be put on the need for immediate help. What is needed in Austria is money. It is not much use sending lots of old clothes to be sorted. Of course, that is one way of salving one's conscience, but clothes can be obtained in Austria probably more easily than old clothes can be sorted out and sent in batches to people who probably do not need that type of clothing. Similarly, it is not necessary to send food to Austria. What we ought to send there is, essentially, money.
Several hon. Members have spoken about the dispersal of the refugees who are now in Austria. The history of refugee movements in the last ten years has been that many have been left where they landed. There is quite a probability that many of the refugees who are finding their way to Austria at present will be left there. Sometimes that will be by their own wish because they want to be 1490 near their homeland, and in other cases because there is not sufficient welcome for them in other countries. Like the hon. Member for Gravesend, I hope this Government will be very generous and will open our doors wide to any who wish to come in.
An important point was made by an hon. Member opposite, and I wish it had not been made, because I think it is entirely wrong and can put a very dangerous complexion on this matter. It would be better if that could be avoided. That was the suggestion that many of the Hungarian refugees are wanting to get back from Austria, obtain a rifle and then shoot a few more Communists. I hope the Minister will make it quite clear that there is no intention of encouraging anything of that kind. The Austrian Government, I know, have no intention of allowing things of that kind. Otherwise it would undermine the whole purpose of the Austrian Government's very generous treatment of these people.
§ Mr. G. Jeger
I do not know whether my hon. Friend was in his place when I ventured to point out that the Austrian Government are exceedingly anxious that those young men who have asked for arms and ammunition and to be allowed to go back should be sent to another country as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Hynd
Precisely. That is what I was assuming was the position. I am glad to have confirmation of it from my hon. Friend who has just come back from there. It is very important that that should be made clear.
The whole shocking problem which faces us at present is that we are back: again in those terrible post-war days, when people are being driven from their homes. Old men and women with children are having to fly from their burning homes and are trying to find a refuge somewhere. They have to leave all their possessions and have to add to this terrible army of refugees, cluttering up all corners of the world. There seems no final solution. I read a report by a correspondent in the Daily Telegraph the other day. He described how he was in one of these scenes where three large columns of smoke were all that was left of what used to be a great town. Old men were leaving their burning homes dragging children by the hands, and 1491 women were carrying infants at their breasts, running away terrified, he said, under the droning of our planes, not knowing where to go, only knowing they had to get somewhere.
That was not in Hungary, but in Suez, at Port Said. That is what is happening in Hungary. We have an even more terrible picture there, because it is a bigger tragedy and a bigger crime. In the case of Port Said, the crime may be regarded as of second grade compared with that in Hungary. In reply to an hon. Member who said that all the appeals to the sentiment and good will of the world in the past years had had very little effect, we can at least say that the outburst of protest at the Egyptian affair did have some effect. It did bring the crime to an end, or at least to a pause. We hope it is an end of the bombing and burning of homes. In Hungary, it is still going on.
Not only countries not directly affected by these things, not only countries which have not to send their people away as refugees and whose homes are not burning, have a responsibility for this flood of miserable humanity, but also the countries responsible for those conditions. I hope that in the United Nations we shall make it plain, so far as our voice still carries any weight at all in that body, that the British people—whether the Government can speak with a free voice or not—demand that the governments of countries responsible for these atrocities and aggressions shall be called upon to bear a considerable part of the relief of the victims.
I do not know whether it will be possible to persuade the United Nations to take any active steps which would enforce a Russian contribution towards the relief of the victims of their aggression. I hope that our Government will be prepared to say that by some form of compensation we are prepared to make provision for some of the victims of our aggression. At least we are free to do that and can do that. That gesture of itself—a gesture of penitence—would at least put the responsibility on the Russian authorities to do something for the victims of their crimes in Hungary.
Reference has been made to the size of the contribution which the Government are making. To impose a limit of 1492 2,500 refugees is far too inadequate in this situation and the amount of money which we are giving is ridiculous in relation to the problem. I understand that the amount for the moment is £25,000. Perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am wrong.
§ Mr. Hynd
I understand that the West German Government have already given no less than one million West German marks, which is about £100,000, and that the West German trade union centre has given 100,000 West German marks, which is about £10,000. In relation to these figures I am afraid that the contribution of this country, particularly with the heavy share of responsibility which we have for this terrible situation, is completely inadequate. The Government should think again and make a much more generous contribution.
Many appeals are being made, but whatever contributions are made voluntarily or by the Government, they will have only a very small effect on the general problem. Clearly, the main responsibility which lies on Governments and Parliaments in the democratic countries is to find what action can be taken to stop this kind of thing happening for all time. It has been a constant story since the end of the war in 1945. There are 500,000 or 600,000 Arab refugees surviving in the camps along the Jordan border and the frontiers of Israel. There are refugees in nearly every country in Western Europe, many of them old and many of them sick—people who will never get out of these camps because they are old and sick.
One of the weaknesses of the arrangements for giving refuge to the refugees since 1945 has been that most receiving countries have either insisted on ensuring, or at least done everything they possibly could to ensure, that they got the most viable workers, the younger men and particularly the technicians. They have often tried to avoid taking families of these people, and even where they have had to take the families of viable workers, they have firmly rejected the old people who are unable to make any contribution to their economy.
1493 I hope that there will foe no restriction of that kind on this occasion. The individual should be the only concern, and whether he can make a contribution to our economy or not should not be the basis upon which we decide whether he is acceptable or whether we can offer him hospitality. This has been one of the most difficult problems of dealing with refugees in the last ten years. I hope that it will not arise on this occasion but that we shall offer open hospitality to whoever is in need and whoever wants to come to this country.
I hope that, in replying to this very useful and timely debate, the Minister will at least give some assurance that the Government are thinking again about the scale of the assistance, both financial and otherwise, which they are prepared to give, and that we can feel that as a result of this discussion the House has made some contribution tonight towards relieving one of the most tragic and distressing spectacles which the world has had to face for many years.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
I do not wish to follow the attempts of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) to try to score some point by comparing the present situation in Hungary with that in the Middle East. I do not think that by doing so he is doing any real service to the cause of the Hungarian people. Before leaving that matter, however, I should like to make just one point.
Whatever may be the views of hon. Members as to the rights or wrongs of the action sponsored by Her Majesty's Government in the Middle East, hon. Members will not, I am certain, wish to make any allegation at all against the integrity of our own troops. Our troops have gone out of their way to avoid causing loss of life and damage to property in Egypt and along the Canal. Indeed, on several occasions they have endangered their own security and the conduct of their own operations by their efforts to avoid inflicting undue hardship upon the people.
That is a point to remember. We did not embark upon an adventure such as the Russian troops have been ordered into in Hungary, which is nothing short of wholesale massacre and butchery on a vile and wretched scale which, we hope, 1494 will not be reproduced in any country in the world. To try to gain some particular—although I do not quite understand what—advantage out of raising this question of our troops' action in the Middle East in the context of the present debate is, I think, unfortunate.
I should like to support the hon. Member for Attercliffe and other hon. Members in their plea that the Government should make some definite financial contribution to the Austrian Government. As has been truly said, that Government have had to bear the immediate and pressing burden of feeding and generally coping with the flood of refugees that has come into their country. If we were to say that the absolute basic minimum daily cost of housing and feeding one of these refugees is six English shillings, the present total of refugees brings Austria's total burden to between £9,000 and £10,000 a day.
That is the extent of the problem which the Austrian Government and people already have on their hands, and which they have been meeting every day since this emergency began. That burden upon them will no doubt increase, and it is for that reason that I am anxious to support what has already been said in urging Her Majesty's Government to give some specific financial assistance to the Austrian Government in their welfare work for the refugees.
There is no doubt that in this country there is a tremendous upsurge of good will, a spirit of generosity. All over the country, people are asking "What can I do to help? What part can I play? What contribution can I give?" It is not, as one hon. Member tried to point out, just a question of trying to salve their own consciences, but a genuine desire to help. People wish to make some contribution to alleviate the plight of these people, and to lessen, in a small way, perhaps, but also in a real way, the amount of human suffering.
The difficulty is that we feel so far removed from it all. As the hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) has pointed out, we have no green frontier with another country. We are divided by the Channel from Europe, and that plain geographical fact also divides us mentally from Europe. It makes it more difficult for us to understand exactly what the situation is like. 1495 We undoubtedly feel somewhat remote in this instance.
What we can do, not only as individuals but the Government also, is at all times and on every occasion to tell people who may not yet know exactly what has taken place, the truth of what has happened in Hungary. The Government should make use of their propaganda instruments to tell the story, not only in this country, which is important, but also in Europe. They should make certain, through the radio or whatever may happen to be the best means available, that the story is spread to those countries which are still behind the Iron Curtain, because it is essential that they should hear the true story, which they will not get from the Soviet occupiers.
I hope also that if we must go on, as I suppose we must, with these various cultural, scientific and sporting exchanges and engagements with the Soviet Powers, we shall not allow those events completely to cloud us from the realities of what Russian Communism means, and that we shall not completely lower our mental guard so that it comes as a complete surprise to us that this sort of thing can happen at all under Russian domination.
The fact that these things have happened should serve not only as a great shock but a great reminder to people in this country, and particularly to those who in the past have paid lip service to the Communist régime and have defended some of its worst manifestations, that these things are by no means past and that what has been taking place in Hungary could take place elsewhere.
As the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. King) has said, the duty lies upon us to maintain our position of moral strength, to improve upon that position if we can by emphasising on the one side the true facts of what the Communist régime stands for, by not tolerating woolly-minded thinking and weak-kneed approaches to the whole question of the Soviet empire; and at the same time by being constructive about what we ourselves stand for and by making certain that the opportunities that we have and which so many people take for granted, such as free discussion, freedom of speech, free education, and freedom in one's own individual life to lead a free and open life untrammelled 1496 by the force of the State, are enhanced and preserved.
Never must we sink, through negligence or wishful thinking, into a position where this country is likely to be weakened to the extent of encouraging that very system which was once encouraged in those countries now behind the Iron Curtain, and for which today they are paying a very high price indeed. We have traditions of freedom and free institutions in this country. It is quite obvious that we must be morally strong in seeking to preserve them, and by preserving and encouraging them, we shall be playing our part in giving a message of strength and hope to the many millions who still suffer behind the Iron Curtain.
Those are some of the thoughts that I have on this subject. It is essential that at no time in the future, not so much in the immediate future but in the distant future, when fresh overtures are made to us by Soviet Russia, should we allow ourselves to forget what Russia has done in Hungary and what the Communist régime really stands for.
§ Mr. Winterbottom
I wonder whether the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) would explain to us precisely what he means by "telling the truth to the world" in respect of the situation in Hungary. Does he not think that that is a rather dangerous thing to do, tantamount perhaps to throwing stones from a glasshouse?
§ Mr. Eden
It is quite simple. The hon. Member for Brightside (Mr. Winterbottom) does not, perhaps, realise that there is not freedom of speech in a large part of the world today. Many people in Europe and in other countries have not the same facilities as are available to the hon. Member for Brightside for appraising the situation in any particular country.
It is, therefore, an essential task for us to try to ensure that the true facts of the situation in Hungary are got across to as many people in the world today as possible, particularly to those to whom the truth is not readily available.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
I shall have a few comments to make shortly about what the hon. Member for Bournemouth. West (Mr. J. Eden) called 1497 "moral strength". But first of all, I wish to turn to the speech of the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price). We may not always agree with the hon. Member for Eastleigh, but he is one of the hon. Members in this House of Commons who make the House a more worth while place for his presence in it. All of us are deeply indebted to him for introducing this debate today. I add my congratulations to those which have already been offered to him for the speech he has made.
This debate has really been a salute from this House to the Hungarian people. There is no hon. Member in any part of the House who does not echo that salute for the magnificent stand by this very brave people in a tragic hour. What has happened in Hungary has wider implications beyond her frontiers, implications for the rest of the Communist world and, in particular, for the Eastern European Communist country. It is about those wider implications that I wish to speak first tonight.
In considering the implications of the Hungarian rising, it is important to look at the pattern of the Communist countries. There are three types of Communist country. First of all, there is the East European satellite, which is Communist by accident of geography; its Communist Government was brought in the luggage of the advancing Red Army in 1944, and when their new and comparatively unknown rulers were planted upon them by Soviet military strength, there were very few Communists in their territory. In fact, I think it is highly questionable whether there have ever been more than a few thousand Communists in all the East European Communist countries put together.
Secondly, there is the Soviet Union itself, the centre of empire. When one goes to the Soviet Union from one of the East European Communist countries, one finds a completely different political climate prevailing. Whereas in the East European countries one finds suspicion, doubt and despair and a feeling that they are merely footballs in the cold war and events are not decided among them; when one arrives in Moscow one finds confidence, and that particular sense of confidence which comes of being in the capital of a great imperial centre of Empire.
1498 Thirdly, there is the new Communist revolution in China. China is perhaps the only Communist country where, if it were possible to hold a free election, the Government would have won hands down in the first place. I do not think we can compare Communism in China in any way with what has been happening in Eastern Europe or with the temper of opinion in the Soviet Union. It is to the first two types of Communist country to which I should like to direct my remarks, and first to the East European Communist countries—the satellites.
There has been a substantial change in all the satellites since Khrushchev's famous speech to the Twentieth Congress. When Khruschev delivered his posthumous assassination of the great god Stalin, he struck a devastating blow at the very fibre of the Communist movements in the satellite countries. As I have said, these Communist movements in the satellite countries were never more than a few thousand strong, and they were only able to rule partly because of the Stalin myth and primarily because behind that was the Soviet military might; but the Stalin myth was what they were able to put over to the people in their own territories. It was when the Stalin myth was destroyed that their own personal confidence was destroyed as well and the military might had then to become a practical reality if those régimes were to be retained in power.
For a long time in all these East European Communist countries, there has been a gradual pressure because of economic vicissitudes. Particularly in these countries, partly because they were nearest to the Western countries and therefore, have had greater contact one way or another, and partly because they were closer to contact with us before the iron curtain was rung down in the months following the war. They have been looking to the Western nations and realising that in their own economic hardship the Western nations were going far ahead and were enjoying much higher living standards.
The economic pressures in these satellite countries reached boiling point because of the result of the destroying of the morale of the Communist parties in them prior to the Poznan revolt. The manifestation of their outbursts first began because of the economic position, 1499 but then it gained momentum at Poznan in June this year. Everything which has happened in Hungary has followed on from events at Poznan. One event after another has been part of the logical chain of circumstances which has followed. The political pressures which have been added to the economic pressures have been the real reasons for the final outburst which took place in Budapest at the end of October, and it followed directly on the example of the outburst of the Polish people and the reinstatement of Mr. Gomulka.
What I think will happen in Hungary, and, indeed, in Poland, is that the Soviet Union will realise the hard way, if they do not realise it the intelligent way, that they cannot rule people indefinitely by force. It is exactly what Bismarck said—that one can do anything with a bayonet except sit on it. And that is what hon. Gentlemen opposite will have to realise as well in the months ahead.
It is not only that they cannot rule by force that the Soviet people will have to realise. They will have to realise what Hitler had to realise about the Polish people, and they will have to realise it with the Hungarian people, that however strong and ruthless they may be, however dastardly the deeds which they perpetrate, in whatever form they may take, they cannot kill a people. Hitler could not kill the Polish people, and the Russians will not be able to kill the Hungarian people. All history has pointed to this. What we are witnessing is one more attempt to kill a people which will fail as a result of that. So much for the satellite countries.
As the hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) mentioned in his speech, what is happening in Hungary is bound to have some effect on what public opinion prevails, and however it does prevail, in the Soviet Union. Some of the Russian troops will go back and talk about the events which have taken place in Hungary, and I have no doubt that if they are human beings—and they are human beings—they will have been moved by the terrible events which they have seen; but I do not think that we should be over-optimistic about the impact of a few thousand Russian troops going back to a vast nation where there is such a clamp 1500 on inter-communication of people and news.
We have to realise that in the short run there is bound to be a number of people in the Soviet Union who will have been horrified by events in Russia. There have probably been many remarks suggesting the resignation of the Prime Minister. On the other hand, strong action will always evoke echoes in the hearts of many in the taverns of Tashkent and the inns of Irkutsk when it is said that Khrushchev acted to defend vital Russian interests, to save Russian lives and to defend Russian property. There will no doubt be cries of, "Good old roast beef of Russia". If it were possible to hold a Gallup poll, it is quite possible that the Prime Minister's status would be up by five points in the morning.
All that might happen in the short run, but it is not the short but the long run which really counts. What is happening in Russia—in some ways it is what is happening in the satellite countries too, although taking a different form—is that people in the Soviet Union are gradually asking for a say in their own government. One cannot train men to design jet engines or split the angry atom and deny them a say in their own government. When one educates people up to a certain point, one has ultimately to concede them the right to determine their own affairs. That will be the long term problem with which the Khrushchev régime will have to wrestle for the next quarter of a century, and it is something which it will not be able to abate. Whatever it may do in the short run, whatever repressions are perpetrated, it will not be able to avoid that long term consequence of what is happening in their world as a whole.
I shall not refer to China. Historically, China is to some extent in its Stalinist phase, and is so backward at the moment that there is no public opinion comparable with that in the West. Those are the two main consequences of the stirrings behind the iron curtain which are now taking place. What should be our attitude towards those events? What are the things we can do? I entirely agree with what the hon. Member for Eastleigh has said and with what some of my hon. Friends have said. The hon. Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) spoke about the short-term, immediate aid which we can 1501 give to the refugees. That is the immediate problem. We have all been deeply stirred, and let us take action while we are stirred.
However, there are longer term decisions about which we should now be thinking. We have firstly to realise that in this particularly tense situation in Eastern Europe, Western pressures may lead to Russian repressions We therefore have to be very circumspect in any action we take, because it may have an effect the reverse of that desired. Secondly, if we accept that as a basis for argument, we should set our minds towards reducing the tension. The Russian Government is in an extremely difficult position in Eastern Europe. There must be very many worried men in the Kremlin at this moment. The number of men in the Kremlin who have cold feet is probably the same as the number of hon. Members in the party opposite who had cold feet a few days ago.
There must be many people with many doubts about how they can get out of this situation. It is to those people that we should direct our policies to see how we can create a situation in which the moderate elements can come to the fore. In the dangerous situation in Eastern Europe in which the Russian Government finds itself—and it is a dangerous situation—it may be that in the short run there will be some people who will be prepared to settle for zones of neutrality, people in the Kremlin who might be encouraged if we again brought out some of the Prime Minister's proposals at the Summit Conference for zones of neutrality in the centre of Europe. That may be the most practical way we can go about giving the people of Eastern Europe some hope of securing control over their own destinies.
§ Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)
My hon. Friend speaks about giving neutrality. Is not that precisely what Hungary proclaimed, and was not the immediate response from Russia not only repression, but massacre?
§ Mr. Donnelly
I am not in disagreement with my right hon. Friend. I entirely agree with him. If he followed my arguments intelligently, I have no doubt he would see I was agreeing with him. What I was seeking to say was that we, the British, ought to be taking the initiative, as the Prime Minister took 1502 the initiative at the Summit Conference in 1955, and that we ought to try to see if there are not whole areas where we could do a deal with the Russians and say to them, "If you give neutrality to the Hungarians, we are prepared to concede certain things in West Europe as well."
The second thing I would say to my right hon. Friend is that we ought to be looking at some of the cards which we continue to present to the Soviet Union in securing the adhesion of the East European satellites. One of the principal cards we always offer to the Soviet Union and which we ought to consider again is that of the Oder-Neisse line. We have to be prepared to have the courage to say that what has happened in East Europe has happened; that the Poles have been thrown out from the Ukraine and the Germans from the eastern territories of Germany, and that in that situation two wrongs or even three wrongs do not make one right.
One of the best things we can do is to accept what has happened. As the years go by there will be fewer and fewer people available to go back to make their homes anew in the Polish eastern territories or the German eastern territories. The longer the Oder-Neisse line is left in dispute the longer it will be a card in the hands of the Kremlin to play to the Polish people. That is the sort of fact to which we have to address our minds when formulating a new policy towards Eastern Europe.
The third thing we ought to be thinking about is economic aid to the Eastern Communist countries. We ought not to be too obtuse about that economic aid. If we offer them large loans I think we shall play into the hands of the elements in the Kremlin who are saying that we are seeking only to overthrow the military situation in Eastern Europe, so that more repression will result.
There is a number of things we can do about practical trade agreements. For instance, we have our Export Credit Guarantees system, and at the moment that allows credits of up to three years. We could think in terms of four years. If the Russians were not to object to that in Poland we could then lengthen the term to five years. It is not gifts these peoples are seeking but good, practical business arrangements to enable them to 1503 get on their own feet. These are political decisions which will have to be taken by the Government, and the Government alone.
The fourth thing we ought to be thinking about brings me to the remarks of the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West I shall come to his remarks about moral strength in a minute, but first I should like to deal with the less contentious parts of his remarks. I entirely agree with him that what fundamentally is happening in Eastern Europe is a battle for truth. It is truth which in the end will be the decisive factor. I believe the truth will always triumph ultimately. Ultimately truth will win out.
Therefore, we have to see that the mechanical means available in our hands for telling the truth has the best chance. First, there is the radio. The radio programmes which the British Broadcasting Corporation beams towards Eastern Europe are on the whole excellent, but some of the other radio programmes, such as, for instance, Radio Free Europe, are not always so good. There is always too much of the element of schoolboy cloak and dagger about them, and they defeat the objects which they are intended to serve. We must try to restrain the Ku Klux Klan type of approach to the Eastern European Communist countries, and we must stick steadily to telling the truth. It is not propaganda that will win, it is truth. One of the best ways of telling the truth is to give purely factual accounts of events and let people work out their own conclusions. That will be much more powerful in the long run.
Secondly, there is the stepping up of the efforts of such organisations as the British Council. Whenever I have been to Warsaw I have marvelled at the pictures which stand outside the British Embassy there depicting the daily life of Britain. Probably at this moment, at 9.30 p.m., there are 30 or 40 people standing outside the British Embassy looking in the lamplight at pictures posted outside the Embassy showing how people live in Britain, showing a day at a holiday camp or people at work in a factory and showing the interiors of kitchens, homes and schools.
A great deal can be done with the existing organisation of the British Council. Its main effort should be directed 1504 at the Eastern European Communist countries for the next few years. I urge the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to consider very seriously what Her Majesty's Government can do to assist the British Council in this kind of work. These are the main practical things which I think we can do in the long run, but of course they do not in any way deal with the immediate short-term problem, as many hon. Members have already said.
I do not propose to go over the remarks of hon. Members about the refugees, except to underline once again quite firmly my complete support for what they have to say. We are living today in a period of profound importance in history. The events of the last few days in Eastern Europe can well have a profound effect on the future of Europe and indeed of the whole world.
I know that hon. Members opposite hate it when we drag up the question of Suez, but I can assure them that it is in no sense a party matter when some of us do so. I absolutely accept that there is no comparison between what has happened in Budapest and what has happened in Suez, in the actual nature of the events, but nevertheless the fact remains of the impact of Suez upon the uncommitted nations—it is not what we here on the Opposition benches think but what other people in other lands think.
I apologise to the House for the voluminous nature of my notes, I assure hon. Members that I shall not try to use them all, but I should like to draw attention to a few paragraphs in the Observer of Sunday, 11th November. It will be recalled that the dastardly attack on Budapest started on 4th November. Therefore, this is the Sunday immediately following those terrible events.
The passage is from the Observer correspondent in Karachi, capital of Pakistan, once the pride of the Conservative Party. There were almost as many old Cliftonians in the Pakistan Government as there are old Etonians in the Eden Government. The correspondent wrote:Britain stands disgraced in the eyes of the Pakistani common man. and in spite of the Soviet reoccupation of Hungary—which is blamed on the precedent set by Anglo-French 'aggression' against Egypt—Russia is being looked upon as the champion of the Muslim 1505 peoples of the world. Russia"s defence of Egypt thrilled Pakistanis, who are convinced that Mr. Bulganin's ultimatum to Britain and France to halt military action in Egypt was solely responsible for the subsequent ceasefire. Russian action has raised the godless creed from the gutter and made a lady of Communism. People here are beginning to feel that they have no reason to fear Communism and that their main danger lies in Western 'imperialism.'That, in the week of Budapest, gives some idea of the tragic consequences which have stemmed from the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I wonder why the hon. Member did not mention the question of Kashmir, which arises later in that extract from the newspaper he has just quoted.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I am quite happy to agree with the hon. Member about Kashmir as well, and I certainly do not stand as any defender of Mr. Nehru's prevarication on Hungary. I want to make that absolutely clear. I think he has done himself a moral injury as a result of his prevarication.
§ Mr. Speaker
I do not think that the word "prevarication" should be used about a statesman whose nation is a member of the Commonwealth.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Well, Mr. Speaker, that is what I feel about it. I appreciate the thought behind your words, Sir, but I do not find any other word to describe the situation coming readily to mind.
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Member considered a little, he might find an expression which suited his sense without transgressing what I have said about the word.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Well, I profoundly regret his attitude. Sir. Returning to the full consequence of what has happened, the one great practical thing we can do to help the Hungarian people is to get our own record straight and to get the slate clean. If we are able to do that, we shall yet again have a chance of giving a moral lead to the Eastern European peoples, because they have looked as much to Britain as to any other country in the dark years of their long night since the Iron Curtain rang down upon them.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Mr. B. T. Parkin (Paddington, North)
In the closing words of his speech the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) referred to what he called 1506 the most recent Soviet overtures, as though he expected them to be dismissed out of hand. I intervene briefly to ask the Joint Under-Secretary of State if he could give some view, when he replies—
§ Mr. J. Eden
May I interrupt, in case there is any misunderstanding? The hon. Gentleman may be referring to the moment when I spoke about possible future Soviet overtures; I was not referring to any present ones. But, should any subsequent overtures come in regard to long-term policy, we should not forget what they have done in Hungary.
§ Mr. Parkin
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. Nevertheless, the Joint Under-Secretary of State might find time tonight to refer to the suggestions made in the last day or two which contain, I understand, a modified acceptance of what has been called the "open skies" plan. Moreover, I understand that acceptance of these Soviet proposals would involve the military evacuation of Hungary and of large territories in Central Europe. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), I stress the importance of trying to find a contact with those elements in the Kremlin who seem to have lost, for the moment, in the struggle to find a way of carrying out the new policy which was recognised and accepted by the Prime Minister.
I know that there are many hon. Members of this House, including some of my hon. Friends, who do not believe that there is a peace party in Soviet Russia. But I think it is a pretty desperate outlook if we are to assume that there will never be any change of view on the part of the Soviet Union. I should have thought that the tendencies to which my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke has referred—the spread of education, the desire for more "know-how", for more personal liberty, the desire to study methods of self-government in other countries—must inevitably bring about the sort of changes which seem to have been foreshadowed by the approaches of the latest Soviet leaders to Tito and to the Prime Minister of this country and in their twentieth party congress.
The Foreign Office is better advised than any of us on this side of the House as to exactly where the weight lies in personalities. I am not able to nominate 1507 one candidate or another for the job of being the peaceful leader to emerge from the Kremlin, but at least it seems to me that there has been, in that Government in the last few weeks, indecision and a great struggle going on.
I only regret that more people on the Left have not been able to express the sort of opinions which have been expressed in this House, of unqualified disagreement with the decision finally reached in the Kremlin. I do not think it helps at all for people to try to sit on both sides of the fence. We should say bluntly, even those who, like myself, believe that there is a possibility of peaceful progress in the Kremlin, "You have made a colossal blunder and have lost a wonderful chance of relaxing tension".
It is a great pity that the Prime Minister of Great Britain was not able to intervene at the earliest moment in the developments in Hungary and say, "The new peace policy which you unfolded to us, the new attitude of your party at your twentieth congress, seemed to offer the best hope of relaxing tension and bettering relations than anything that had happened since the war, but if you have any reservations on military grounds, if you are afraid that if you "let it rip" you will lose some occupation zones and strong points or bases, something to which you attached a great deal of value when these things were agreed between the Allied leaders just before the end of the war, let us renegotiate security now and you make your proposals and we will make our counterproposals."
I had thought that what had really brought about a more optimistic attitude on the part of Her Majesty's Government a few months ago was that they had come to the conclusion that the Russians really wanted a settlement. If one has only two points of disagreement and believes that if those are settled one's opponents in the discussion will produce two more, there is no future in pursuing the discussion, but if one is really determined to reach a settlement, it does not matter how long the list is.
That is why I hope that the Joint Under-Secretary will say something about the latest proposals and tell us how far they represent something new and how far they may be a rehash of previous 1508 proposals which have been turned down for specific reasons, or whether there is anything in them which would enable the Government to pick up the opportunity which might have been taken earlier to show the peace party in the Kremlin, the more liberal-minded people in the Russian Government, that there is support for them in the West if they can find a way to reverse the last lamentable turn of policy and again pick up the policy of liberalisation in respect of the other Communist countries which they had announced.
Other discussions could arise out of that, though the discussions on security are the main ones. It seems to us ridiculous that the Russians should continue to maintain that they are militarily insecure, but many infantile obsessions persist throughout our own life. It is worth while investigating a means of laying the ancient bogy which obsesses them.
Efforts should not cease at that point. There would be an opportunity, as my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke has suggested, for discussing economic aid to the countries of Eastern Europe, which, of course, would once more put discussions on a peaceful basis of sensible planning instead of their being in terms of military strategy.
I always thought that the tragedy of Czechoslovakia in the years after the war was that the five-year plan of development which her own people passionately wanted fulfilled was a plan of industrial tranformation to emancipate them from the thraldom of German occupation. They had been the satellites of German heavy industry, and they wanted a heavy industry of their own. However, at the time they were building up their plan our own Government were unwilling to help them for two reasons First, we had not the means, and, secondly, there was no desire in the West to strengthen the position of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia.
Their friends the Russians, on the other hand, were extremely unwilling to help them because they did not want to see such industrial plants placed so near a military frontier. They preferred such plants behind the Urals, well out of the way, where they could not be spotted. So the Czechs got virtually nothing. Now is the time when such plans should be 1509 worked out on their own merits, and not as part of a military set-up.
Late as the hour is, politically, I think that there is still a chance for the British Government and the Prime Minister to take an initiative in this matter, which will lead on to fresh discussions on European security, which may yet lead us to a peaceful and free development all over Europe.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Sir Ian Orr-Ewing (Weston-super-Mare)
I should like to intervene for one or two moments to say that so much of what was said by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) would be agreed to by hon. Members on both sides of the House. I was intensely interested in what he said, as I am sure most hon. Members were. On the other hand, I could not help being struck by the general thesis upon which he was working, namely, that so far as he could see Communism would become an impossibility in any collection of peoples which achieved a certain measure of education.
If that is so, what can we do to help in that respect? If that is so, what can we do to draw attention to the difference in the standard of education in this country and that standard which is permitted under any Communist régime? If I interpreted his speech correctly, I entirely agree that the whole beaming of our propaganda, and the placing of the facts before them—for that was the way in which he put it—should certainly be directed towards that end. I have felt for a very long time that the weakness of the development behind the Iron Curtain is that they must eventually become more fully aware of the far vaster opportunities offered to communities which are enabled to benefit by the knowledge which they have the capabilities to acquire. But do not let us forget the basic significance of what the hon. Member said. Communism can never thrive—I am not over-interpreting what the hon. Member said—in a community which achieves something beyond a certain rate of education and technical knowledge. I am not sure that I confine it to the one without the other being coupled with it.
The hon. Member for Pembroke was followed by the hon. Member for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) who, I hope, will not object to my saying that 1510 I thought he was trying to encourage the House to get a little off the beam. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will not give the impression to the world as a whole that, at the moment, we are prepared to enter into an almost personal rapprochement with people who are still in a ghastly culpable position as regards their immediate actions in Hungary. Nothing could do more harm to the whole spirit of the peoples of the world than that we should give the impression of saying, "Forget all that; behind the scenes there are some decent people." The decent people are quite a long way from being in a position of control in the Soviet Union at the present time.
§ Mr. Parkin
It is just possible that many people over there might hold exactly the same views about the hon. Gentleman and his party. That might provide a position of equality which would make negotiation easier.
§ Sir I. Orr-Ewing
We were trying to discuss this matter very much on nonparty lines. It is a national problem. I do not think that in his quieter moments the hon. Member would claim—I certainly would not—that any one party in this House had a monopoly of skill which would enable it to talk to Russia any better than any other individual or party. I do not think that that would be a fair claim from either side of the House.
The great thing is to discover, if we can, whether there is an element at all which is capable of standing up to the type of interpretation of policy of which we have had the latest example in Hungary. Is it a slip, or a matter of principle? Until we do know, all I would say is, for heaven's sake let Her Majesty's Government be extremely careful not to give the free world the impression that we are prepared to talk to anybody, however much their hands may drip with blood.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)
This debate is worth while, because everyone is filled with admiration of the people of Hungary in their great struggle for freedom and with sympathy for those who have suffered so terribly, especially the refugees. I ask the Government to be far more generous, both in the provision of money and in other ways, in dealing with this problem 1511 than they have shown themselves to be up to now. First a gift of £25,000 and then a second gift of £25,000 in no way matches the generous response that has come voluntarily from the people of Britain in the matter of a few days. I hope that the Government will match the spirit of the people of Britain.
When we talk of taking some refugees and absorbing them in our industrial economy, let us be rather more broad minded than we have been. I was in Western Germany last December, and I then realised the full impact of the 10 million or 11 million refugees from Eastern Germany and territories such as Poland which Western Germany had absorbed in a very few years. This represents between 20 per cent. and 25 per cent. of their previous population. I hope that the Government will be more generous in both these directions.
§ 9.52 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker)
About two and a half hours ago now the whole House listened with considerable emotion to the eloquent description of the plight of the Hungarian people which was given by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price). Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have thanked him, as I should like to do, for having taken advantage of the Adjournment Motion tonight to raise this topic. He had the good fortune to raise this matter on an occasion when the ordinary business of the House ceased early, and we have had a very useful and interesting debate for nearly three hours.
The debate has shown that, whatever may be our views on other subjects, both sides have joined together in condemning the ruthless repression by the Soviet Army of a most gallant people whose only wish was to live in peace and to enjoy the freedoms which we in the West have perhaps come to take too much for granted. I have seen on the Order Paper, in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh and many hon. Members on both sides of the House, the Motion in which they set forth their view of the situation in Hungary.
[That this House, in expressing its sincere admiration for the superlative courage of the Hungarian people, deeply 1512 deplores the massive intervention of Soviet troops into Hungary and the subsequent barbarities perpetrated against the Hungarian people and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to demand, both at the United Nations and by direct contact, that the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics withdraw its troops from Hungary, stop the deportation of Hungarians to Russian slave camps, permit United Nations observers to enter Hungary, and allow the establishment of basic human rights as guaranteed both in the United Nations Charter and in the Hungarian Peace Treaty of 1947.]
In addition to them, and all of us, the whole country has been profoundly moved by the horrors of the Soviet repression and the gallantry of a virtually unarmed people who have unanimously renounced the status of satellite. Even some members of the Communist Party, who have been long indoctrinated to swallow almost anything from headquarters in King Street and in Moscow, have been unable to stomach the lie that the Hungarian rising was the work of a few Facist reactionaries.
A number of speeches have been made, and if there are any points that I am unable to deal with in the debate, I will certainly look into them, and, where required, draw them to the attention of others who are concerned.
The hon. Member for Goole (Mr. G. Jeger) mentioned "green frontiers." That reminded me of when I first met the Father of the House, the right hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell), who was investigating this subject in the autumn of 1938. The refugees from Czechoslovakia were then starting a torrent which, as this latest episode has shown, is still going on. I am particularly pleased that the hon. Member for Goole should pay a personal tribute to the scrupulous regard of the Austrian Government to their neutrality. That is most important, and has been stressed by a number of hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd).
The hon. Member for Leicester, Northwest (Mr. Janner) raised the question of a certain sum of money which is in the control of the Swedish authorities. They have told us, the French and the United States, that, subject to the approval of their own Parliament, they intend to make 1513 a donation of that money to the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund, I must remind the House that that is a matter for the Swedish authorities, and they are giving consideration to it.
I think the hon. Members for Paddington, North (Mr. Parkin) and for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) will agree that their speeches went wide of the present debate, but I shall certainly look into the points which they made, particularly that made by the hon. Member for Pembroke, who asked whether we could do something through the British Council in order to improve contact with Eastern Europe. He may have noticed the Answer which I gave last week to a Parliamentary Question in which I said that the British Council is offering two scholarships to Polish students coming to this country. Although that may seem small compared with the figures we are talking about today, at least it is a start and it is the first time that an invitation has been issued to individuals from a satellite country.
I should like to pay tribute and praise to Mr. Fry, Her Majesty's Ambassador, and all his staff both British and Hungarian. For nearly a month now they have had a most strenuous and dangerous time. They have done superbly in maintaining British interests in that difficult period. A number of British subjects, including journalists, who took refuge in the Embassy can, from their personal knowledge, pay far more effective tribute than I can, to Mr. Fry and his staff for all that they have done.
In reply to particular points raised by hon. Members on both sides of the House about the situation as it is today, I should first remind the House of how matters stand at the United Nations. Resolutions have been passed calling for the cessation of Soviet intervention, for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary, for the restoration of human rights, for the admittance of United Nations observers, and for co-operation in relief.
In pursuance of those resolutions Mr. Hammerskjöld has suggested to the Hungarian Government that he should visit Budapest for discussions with them. So far the Hungarian Government have not agreed to that, but only to a meeting of Hungarian representatives with the Secretary-General in Rome. Mr. Hammerskjöld has rightly insisted on 1514 the need for a meeting in Budapest, and in that insistence he has the full support of Her Majesty's Government.
The Secretary-General has appointed a team of very distinguished observers who are ready to go to Hungary. The Hungarian Government have so far refused to allow them to enter Hungary. If the Hungarian Government and their Soviet masters still persist in this refusal the whole world will draw its own conclusions.
The subject of Hungary is on the agenda of the current ordinary session of the General Assembly; in fact a meeting of the Assembly is being held today, with particular reference to the question of Soviet deportations. I fear, as all of us who read the Press fear, that there can be no doubt, in the light of a growing volume of evidence, that large-scale deportations of Hungarian men and women are taking place.
Another point which has been raised is about the status of Austria. My hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh asked whether Her Majesty's Government stand by Article II of the State Treaty, an obligation, I would remind the House, which the Soviet Government undertake as well—that is, to respect the independence and territorial integrity of Austria. We do, and with hon. Members on both sides of the House have paid tribute to the way in which the Austrians, for their part, have been scrupulous in maintaining their obligations and neutrality under this Treaty.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Godber.]
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
The House will join with me in paying tribute to their steadfastness and to the generosity and efficiency with which the Austria authorities have handled the reception of refugees from Hungary and the organisation of relief for that unhappy country. I have noted the remarks by hon. Members about the financial burden on Austria. That had already been realised by us, but I regret that I am not in a position at the moment to make any further statement on the point.
1515 Several hon. Members raised the question of human rights and the Hungarian Peace Treaty of 1947, to which Her Majesty's Government were a signatory. I would remind the House that under Article 2 of this Treaty, Hungary undertook to secure to all persons under Hungarian jurisdiction the enjoyment of human rights and of fundamental freedoms. I should also like to remind the House that on 14th November Mr. Kadar, in a broadcast speech, accepted the principles of free and honest elections in which many parties would participate. We most fervently hope that that is a genuine indication of his Government's intention.
My hon. Friends the Members for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) and Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) and the hon. Member for Goole referred to the Council of Europe, which has rightly regarded developments in Hungary as matters which must affect Europe as a whole. While Her Majesty's Government do not in any way wish to discourage any initiative by the Council for sending observers to Hungary, we believe that action in this direction is even better if left to the United Nations which represents not Europe alone but the whole world.
I have been asked to say a word about a proposal to devote certain unspent funds in the Budget of the Council of Europe to the relief of Hungarian refugees. I understand that a decision on this matter is due to be taken on 3rd December, and although I cannot say whether an earlier meeting to consider it can be arranged, as many nations are involved, I will undertake to press those concerned to see whether earlier consideration can be given to this point.
Turning to action in the United Kingdom, I should like to point out that Her Majesty's Government have made available the not inconsiderable sum of £50,000 for distribution through the International Red Cross. Another £10,000 has been made available to the British Council for Aid to Refugees, which is co-ordinating the arrangement of the reception of Hungarian refugees in this country. The Government will also contribute to the fund for Hungarian relief set up by the Secretary-General for the United Nations. I am not in a position to state the amount of this contribution, 1516 but the House may be sure that it will be worthy of the cause.
Nevertheless, as I am sure all hon. Members will agree, this is not a matter for the Government alone. The response of individual men and women throughout the country has been most encouraging and most impressive. Many organisations have taken part, and it would be invidious for me to mention any in particular. But according to the latest information which I have, the total sums raised by the principal appeals by the Lord Mayor of London, the Red Cross and other voluntary bodies amount to over £450,000.
I have been asked how far food and supplies are getting through. It has been reported in the Press that relief is beginning to get through from Austria into Hungary.
As the House is also aware, Her Majesty's Government have agreed to accept 2,500 refugees from Hungary into the United Kingdom. The first parties arrived the day before yesterday by air. We know that all concerned will do their best to make them feel quickly at home. I can assure hon. Members who have asked whether this figure could not be increased that the Government are giving this careful consideration. Refugees are still arriving in Austria. It has already been mentioned that their numbers are now believed to be as high as 32,000. We do not know how many more of these unfortunate people there may be, or how many other Governments will have offered them hospitality—or indeed, as the hon. Member for Goole has said, how many of those refugees want to come here.
In conclusion, may I say that the whole free world has watched with sympathy and admiration the incredible gallantry of the Hungarian people? Perhaps I should not confine this to the free world. As has been mentioned by certain hon. Members, and as was mentioned in an interesting article on the front page of the Manchester Guardian towards the end of last week, I cannot but believe that that gallantry may have had some effect on the Russian troops who have been destroying Budapest. We do not believe that they can have remained unmoved by the tragic massacres ordered by their high command. In the last ten years—since the end of the Second World War—we know of 1517 nothing that has aroused such indignation and pity and, whatever may happen now and in the immediate future, the battle of Budapest, as the great centre of Hungary, will be inscribed forever in the story of the fight for freedom.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
Before the Joint Under-Secretary of State finishes, may I ask him two questions? He spoke about the number of refugees going to different countries, and said that he had not information about that. Has he been in touch with the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, in Geneva, which has, in fact, been organising and co-ordinating the movement of refugees from Austria? Could he get in contact and find out what is happening? I believe that that Committee has evoked offers from different countries to a total of 20,000, and I suggest to the hon. Gentleman that it is high time we established proper contact with this very important body, which is dealing with this precise problem, and which could probably help us as well as the refugees.
Secondly, could he say something about the suggestion which arose out of the speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Itchen (Dr. King) this afternoon? It might be very useful to hon. Members on both sides if we could have a White Paper, setting out a timetable of events in Hungary from the beginning of the first demonstrations to as late a date as possible before the White Paper appeared, showing what the Russians have said at different stages, what pledges 1518 the different Governments of Gerö, Nagy and Kadar have made and so on. If he could do that we should be very grateful.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
Before my hon. Friend answers those questions, I should like to say this. Whilst not for a moment decrying the efforts that individual countries have made to produce some alleviation of this problem, is it not the tragic fact that, apart from the individual efforts of the nations concerned, not one single part of one single clause of one single resolution of the United Nations had had any practical effect at all in deterring the Russians from what they have done in Hungary?
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
I can assure the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) that as far as I know, we are in touch with everyone concerned with refugees, but I will certainly look into what he has suggested and give him a categorical answer. I have before me a list of offers of assistance, from other countries, for refugees from Hungary, received from the London Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.
As to a White Paper, I could not give an undertaking on that, because I think that what was suggested would mean putting down a lot of actions by other people, for which this Government have no ministerial responsibility.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at ten minutes past Ten o'clock.