§ 3.37 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
I propose to begin what I have to say in this debate about Europe by saying a word about the European Free Trade Area, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Hitchin (Mr. Maddan) has just referred.
Negotiations have been going on for more than a year in the seventeen-country Committee, presided over so patiently by my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General. It was sincerely hoped that these negotiations would come to a successful conclusion by 1st January, the date fixed for the first set of tariff reductions and quota increases by the Common Market countries.
That hope was shared by the other countries concerned. Indeed, it had been confirmed as recently as 23rd October by the six Common Market countries themselves. It was, therefore, with the greatest surprise that we learned on 17th November that the French Government felt that there was no longer any useful purpose in proceeding with negotiations on the basis hitherto accepted by the Six.
That itself, I think it will be the general view, opens up a prospect which is serious both commercially and politically, commercially because there is a grave danger that our exporters will be discriminated against in the Common Market as from 1st January; politically because this would mark the end of the successful effort of the last ten years to build up a single multilateral non-discrimatory trading system between the 17 countries of Western Europe in the O.E.E.C.
That system, in our view, is an essential part of our effort, both military and political, to co-operate with the countries of Western Europe. The Free Trade Area proposals were put forward to preserve that essential economic unity under the new circumstances created by the Treaty of Rome.
I must say frankly to the House that I do not see how the tradition of confident co-operation could survive intact in the military and political fields if it were to break down in the economic sphere. Professor Erhard, the current Chairman of the Six, is coming to London this afternoon to meet my right hon. Friend the 1369 Paymaster-General, who is Chairman of the Committee of Seventeen.
It is our hope that satisfactory proposals can be made for overcoming the immediate problem of discrimination on 1st January and for giving a fresh impulse for the wider negotiations for effective economic association between the Six Common Market countries and the other eleven. I repeat that I believe it is essential if we are to preserve the unity of Western Europe.
I now come to the Geneva Conference on Nuclear Tests. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) asked me some weeks ago whether I would publish a White Paper setting out the various documents which had been tabled at this conference. In his view, that would have resulted in a better informed and more useful debate on this matter. I promised to look into it and I found that only one conference document had already been published, that containing the first draft of the Soviet draft treaty, and that had been given to the Press in New York, not in Geneva. I was also informed that there had recently been a discussion between the three delegations as to whether they should seek to preserve the confidential character of confidential documents for a further period of time and that all three delegations had agreed that that was advisable. In those circumstances, I did not feel that I should ask the conference for permission to publish all the documents.
I think that the point is whether one regards the conference as a public debate or as a negotiation. I certainly regard it as the latter. We have had plenty of public debates with the Soviet Union about disarmament. One takes place each year for about a month in the Political Committee of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and it takes place with rather disappointing results. Therefore, I favour a genuine negotiation.
That view was confirmed by the success of the experts' conference in Geneva in July and August, because that was regarded as a negotiation, a confidential exchange of views, out of which an agreed report came. Our objectives in this conference are to get from it an agreement to stop tests and a proper control system to see that tests are, in fact, 1370 stopped. In addition, we feel that there should be an impulse from the conference towards other measures of disarmament.
For about four weeks the discussions centred round the point whether the text of a treaty on the stopping of tests must be agreed before a treaty for the setting up of a control system is agreed. In our view, those are two connected matters neither of which can be settled without the other being settled. But on no fewer that 12 occasions between 31st October and 27th November Mr. Tsarapkin had said categorically that he would not discuss controls before the terms of an agreement to end tests had been settled. Only today has there been a public statement, and that is why I have said what I have. This morning I learnt that in Moscow there had been released an amended clause of the Soviet draft treaty to which I referred.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says "to stop tests". As we who try to follow these matters understand, the argument has been partly between those who wanted to suspend—the United States and the United Kingdom—and those who wanted to end tests altogether—the Soviet Union. When the Foreign Secretary says "stop" does he mean "suspend year by year", or is he envisaging a permanent cessation?
§ Mr. Lloyd
As I have said before, our purpose is a permanent cessation—ending, stopping, discontinuance of tests, whatever word one likes to use. Whether we get it by way of suspension to begin with is another matter, but our purpose is the same. I thought that we had got over the difficulty about these words partly by the use of the word "discontinuance". I have used "stop" today, but our purpose is the same.
As I was saying, for about four weeks there has been discussion on the question whether one has to agree about stopping tests without agreement on the control system. The Soviet delegation presented to us in Geneva a week ago the new clause which has been published today, which states:The control system shall be set up in accordance with the basic provisions contained in the Protocol attached to the present agreement.1371The agreement on the cessation of atomic and hydrogen weapon tests and the Protocol on the establishment of the control machinery shall enter into force simultaneously.That is an important step forward. In view of it we may now be able to get down to a discussion on the basic principles of control, because we agree, of course, that the agreement on the cessation of tests and the establishment of the control machinery must come into force simultaneously, but there must be comprehensive agreement both on the stopping of tests and on the setting up of the control organisation and its nature and powers before that agreement can be signed. We have never asked, I wish to make it clear, that every minute detail of the control system should be worked out before an agreement can be signed, but the main lines must be agreed between us.
I answered at some length a supplementary question from the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) the other day in which I set out the kind of things which I thought had to be settled in principle before an agreement could be signed. Although the process has been slow, that is not unusual, and I think that some progress has been made.
I quite see that it would have been more convenient for the House if we had published all the conference documents, particularly in view of this latest publication by the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, I have considered the matter again and I propose to stick for the present to the view that this is a negotiation and not a public debate, and, therefore, I do not intend to publish certain documents, for example, those relating to controls, which have been tabled by the Western side.
Within the last seven days there has been some movement of the two sides closer together. I now hope and believe that the conference will proceed to real discussion of the practical and political questions to which answers are required, as I said before, to clothe the technical agreement reached betwen the experts in Geneva with the necessary political framework.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
To help the debate, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer this question? If the two agreements are signed simultaneously, which is obviously the most sensible thing to do, would the cessation 1372 of tests begin at once, before the actual establishment of physical control stations?
§ Mr. Lloyd
That has been our view, and that is where the argument about suspension came in. We said that during the first year we should see what progress was made. I should prefer to have an agreement which comes into operation straight away, which provides a programme for the establishment of control posts and an agreed programe—
§ Mr. Lloyd
The tests would stop, certainly.
I think that is all I have to say about the question of the conference on nuclear tests. One can never be quite certain in these matters, but I believe we have overcome the problem which has taken up about 18 meetings.
Now I come to the question of Berlin. The House is familiar with the terms of the Russian Note, delivered on 27th November. That Note, following upon speeches by Mr. Khrushchev, served notice upon the three Western Powers that the Soviet Union regards as null and void the previous agreements about Berlin. It stated that the Soviet Union is ready to enter into negotiations with the Governments of the United States, France and the United Kingdom on granting West Berlin the status of a demilitarised free city. It added that the Soviet Government proposed to make no changes in the present procedure for military traffic from West Berlin to the Federal Republic of Germany for half a year.
I do not propose to subject the Note to a detailed examination or critical analysis. It gives an account of what has happened in the past which most people would have difficulty in recognising, particularly people like the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) and the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who had responsibility as members of the Cabinet for five years or more of the material time. I do not think for one minute that they would accept that record of the events that took place then.
I want to say, quite categorically, that the Soviet proposal to make West Berlin a demilitarised free city is not acceptable. Our position in Berlin does not derive 1373 from the Potsdam Agreement, but from the unconditional surrender of Germany in 1945. The right to occupy derives from that, and the quadripartite agreements simply defined the areas to be occupied by each country.
The Soviet Union has no right to repudiate those quadripartite agreements, but even if the Soviet Government purports to do so that does not put an end to our rights. The right of access to Berlin flows from that right to occupy. A series of agreements and arrangements have been made over the years dealing with various forms of transportation between Western Germany and Berlin, and we do not accept the Soviet Union's right to repudiate those agreements, either.
That is the juridical position, but I think that there is also a moral aspect—our obligations to the people of West Berlin themselves. The Soviet proposal is unacceptable because we do not think that there is the slightest chance of a so-called free West Berlin remaining free. The means open to the Eastern Germans and to the Soviet Union to put pressure on the people of West Berlin are such that the conception of an island of freedom surviving in a sea of Communist dictatorship is quite unrealistic.
I believe that in taking up that position we have behind us the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in his broadcast on Saturday night, said that we should not accept this proposal, and spoke very much as I have spoken today about the prospects of a free Berlin remaining free.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) also speaking, I believe, on Saturday night, said:The Labour Party has a special duty to make its position on Berlin clear to the world. British labour should make it abundantly plain immediately that we are not prepared to desert our Socialist colleagues who are now administering West Berlin.The Observer—a paper with which I do not always find myself in agreement—said in its leading article on Sunday:Mr. Khrushchev's plan for Berlin is quite unacceptable. It would be unacceptable even if t applied to the whole of Berlin …It goes on:The plan must, therefore, be rejected. It is doubtful indeed whether the Western Powers would he wise even to discuss it.
§ Mr. Lloyd
The fact, however, that we intend to uphold our rights in Berlin, and find the Soviet proposal unacceptable, does not mean that we should fail to seek discussion with the Soviet Union on the German position as a whole Obviously, the right solution for Berlin. which has been a source of trouble for years, is that it should be the capital of a free, united Germany. We are ready to discuss this matter with the Russians in all its aspects. As a first step, I am looking forward to a discussion in Paris in about 10 days' time with my United States, French and German colleagues, and, after that, there will be discussions in the North Atlantic Council itself.
Our views on the problem of Germany as a whole have been frequently stated. We believe that the reunification of Germany is an essential element in European stability. We believe that that reunification should come about by free elections; that the united German people should have the right to determine their own internal policies, and also their own foreign policy, like all the other countries.
That, of course, means that they would have freedom to join either N.A.T.O. or the Warsaw Pact; the O.E.E.C., or its Communist counterpart, the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance; the Common Market; the Coal and Steel Community; Western European Union, or any other grouping; or, indeed, no grouping at all.
If they decided to continue their association with the Western countries—and I do not conceal at all that it is my desire, and that of my colleagues, that they should continue that association—we consider that guarantees must be given to reassure the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries against the danger of attack from a united Germany.
Mr. A. J. P. Taylor said in the Sunday Express:Mr. Khrushchev and the Russians sill never agree to a united Germany allied to the West and with German forces right up against the Polish frontier.That is not the choice facing the Soviet Union. Our position on that has been set out time and again. It was set out in July, 1957. It is that, in the event 1375 of a reunited Germany choosing to join N.A.T.O. we should not take military advantage of the withdrawal of the Soviet forces. That is to say, such a withdrawal would not mean that the N.A.T.O. shield forces would be moved a further 200 miles eastward towards the Soviet Union—
§ Mr. Lloyd
That is just what I am coming to. We would not seek greater military defensive depth from the fact of the reunification of Germany. Indeed, Chancellor Adenauer has referred to the possibility of the demilitarisation of the Eastern zone of Germany. Therefore, there would not be any military advantage, since the West would not seek to derive advantage from the reunification of Germany. The main element in the proposals we have for the reunification of Germany is stability.
The first element, I repeat, in a stable Europe, is a reunified Germany under the military conditions to which I have just referred. The second element is that, as part of the security measures to allay any Soviet apprehensions, there should be a control system in Europe to guard against surprise attack—a control system that would consist of ground controls and of aerial inspection. I shall not go into the technicalities of this, because a conference of experts in Geneva is very laboriously seeking to get going a practical discussion upon what, from a technical point of view, this means—the technicalities affecting the kind of control system of ground controls and aerial inspection, about which we have been talking for a considerable time.
I do believe, however, that such a system should be applied to as large an area of Europe as possible, and that it would add to stability if it were. And when I talk about applying it to Europe, I do not mean to Europe exclusively. I think that, in many ways, the more such a system is extended in various countries of the world—there has been reference before this to the Arctic—the better it would allay apprehensions.
Thirdly, we believe that as part of a European settlement, including the reuni- 1376 fication of Germany, it should be possible, in spite of all the difficulties about regional reductions of armaments, to have, in an area as large as possible, a system of agreed numbers and agreed levels of armaments. If it was too difficult to get that straight away—because of all the complications of agreeing the various levels, particularly those of armaments—we could start with a system of inspection of existing armaments. Indeed, the anti-surprise attack measures, and possibly even this idea of inspection of existing armaments, might be attainable without a general European settlement.
That is our position in regard to Germany, and I will now say a word or two about the Rapacki Plan—or the two Rapacki Plans. In considering them, we have to judge what their effect would be upon our military security, and upon the future of N.A.T.O. In his speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations on 7th November, 1957, Mr. Rapacki outlined ideas for the establishment of what was called an atom-free zone in Europe, and those ideas were expounded in greater detail on 14th February of this year.
One of the difficulties about those proposals, from the British point of view, is that, owing to the preponderant strength of Soviet conventional forces, any plan for the elimination of nuclear weapons on the Western side, is bound to alter drastically the balance of power, or strength. In that connection, we have to remember the ease with which Soviet conventional forces can be moved in Eastern Europe, compared with the difficulty attending the sea transportation of Western reserves.
Also in this first Rapacki Plan, there were matters of control and inspection that were not clear. There was also the objection that it did not seem to us to provide any answer to the problem of the reunification of Germany. Those views were communicated to the Polish Government on 17th May. Now, Mr. Rapacki has brought forward some revised proposals. He announced them at a Press conference in Warsaw on 4th November. From the account which I have read, it seems that he now suggests action in two phases.
The first phase is to provide for a ban on the production of nuclear weapons in Poland, Czechoslovakia and the whole of 1377 Germany. It provides for an undertaking not to equip with nuclear weapons armies in those areas which do not already possess them, and it provides for an agreement not to complete installations for nuclear weapons.
The second phase provides for reductions of conventional arms, which would be carried out simultaneously with the complete removal of nuclear weapons. Both phases would be subject to appropriate measures of control. It is quite clear that, in the second plan, Mr. Rapacki has tried to meet some of the earlier objections.
Under the Brussels Treaty the Federal German Republic undertook not to manufacture nuclear weapons in its territory. That undertaking still holds good and has not been revised. There would, therefore, not be much difficulty about that part of Mr. Rapacki's proposals. The proposal with regard to the holding of nuclear weapons is more difficult for us. I mean the "freeze" on existing equipment of armed forces with nuclear weapons. If it were accepted, it would, in the first place, seriously impair the defence capabilities of the N.A.T.O. forces, and, clearly, it would involve discrimination against the troops of particular countries.
We do not consider—this is a fundamental viewpoint—that, in an alliance it is wise or, indeed, feasible to discriminate against soldiers according to nationality. We believe that the forces under the command of the Supreme Allied Commander must be armed with the most modern weapons, irrespective of the nationality of the troops. To stop equipping now would mean weakening the defence capabilities of those forces and would entail discrimination. Moreover, as I have said before we must remember that the actual nuclear warheads are not handed over, but they remain under United States control. Subject to that, we do not believe it to be possible to have discrimination between the forces of various countries.
The complete removal of nuclear weapons, in the second phase of the plan, would have much wider consequences because, in my view, it would involve the United States not only in leaving Germany but in leaving Europe as well.
Those are our preliminary views. I have stated quite frankly the objections 1378 we see to this second plan. Of course, we have, so far, seen only the report of what was said at a Press conference, and I should like to see the plan set out in formal detail.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
I am most grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for giving way. I have listened with interest to what he has said, and I appreciate his difficulty. In view, however, of the fact that he is turning down everybody else's plans, would be now present the House with a constructive British plan, instead of turning down every other plan?
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said a great deal about the undesirability of discrimination. Does it not take place now? Is it not a fact that any nuclear warheads are in the possession of the American forces and not provided to the other forces except, according to his own statement, in case of need?
§ Mr. Lloyd
They are now under the control of the Supreme Allied Commander, and under American control; but subject to that—[HON. MEMBERS: "Discrimination."] It is not discrimination between the weapons which the average soldier would have to use. The warheads are under American control, with the American forces, and the American divisions are there; they will be with our divisions. Hostilities would not begin without the authority of SACEUR, and, in those circumstances, there will be no discrimination.
Thus, there is, in fact, no discrimination, although I agree that the ownership of the warheads remains American. [Laughter.] I really do not see what cause there is for humour in this. In the event of the tragedy of global war, it would not mean that soldiers of a particular N.A.T.O. nation would have to fight with weapons which were not available to others, or vice versa.
1379 The Rapacki Plan, of course, dealt with what is called disengagement. Discussion of that plan must bring us face to face with the problem of what is meant by "disengagement". It is an attractive idea, when two men are shaking their fists at one another, that they should be separated and put at such a distance from one another that it is impossible for them to engage in physical conflict. In the modern world, however, it is impossible for the great Powers to have that done to them. It is impossible for the great Powers to disengage in that sense. With bomber aircraft with long ranges, with inter-continental ballistic missiles, and with rockets, it is impossible to produce physical disengagement in the sense that the two sides are so far apart that they cannot fight.
If all that is done as a result of a disengagement scheme is to create an area in which it is uncertain what will follow an incident, then that is no help to world security. I understand what is in the minds of those who advocate disengagement and regard it as a means of lessening tension. I fully sympathise with that desire, but it may well be that, in fact, the world is a very much safer place if, in critical areas, there is a direct confrontation of the major parties and not an area of uncertainty where miscalculations may be made as to the consequences of particular actions. If we wish the possibility of armed conflict to be removed, the best way to do that is by agreement between the Governments in the capitals on political solutions and by comprehensive disarmament. That would be genuine disengagement.
The Opposition, in a policy statement on 23rd April this year, set forth a plan for what is called disengagement; but they added to their proposals two provisos:We fully realise that no plan for disengagement would be acceptable if it changes the balance of military security to the disadvantage of either side.Proposals for the withdrawal of N.A.T.O. forces from part of their present area must, for example, be consistent with the retention of N.A.T.O. itself,including the continued presence of United States Forces on the Continent.With respect, I think that those criteria or provisos are sound. I think that a third test is whether such a plan could 1380 be considered apart from political settlements and its consequences upon the possibility of German reunification.
We shall certainly examine any proposals made by Mr. Rapacki or anybody else, applying those tests. What I should like to hear today from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale, if he is to follow me, is a clear statement that he and his party still think that those tests are appropriate. I ask that because, in the latest document issued by the Labour Party—in which, curiously enough, the item "Peace" is No. 10 in the programme—it is said:Labour will propose the establishment of a neutral zone consisting of East and West Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Inside this zone, armaments would be reduced, nuclear weapons banned, foreign forces—Russian and N.A.T.O.—withdrawn. The freedom and security of the area would be guaranteed by all the Powers concerned.It is important to know whether this is a change of policy from the statement of 23rd April.
I put these questions quite simply to the right hon. Gentleman. Is it still the view of the Labour Party that no plan for disengagement would be acceptable if it changes the balance of military security to our disadvantage? Is it still the view of the Opposition that proposals for the withdrawal of N.A.T.O. forces from part of their present area must be consistent with the retention of N.A.T.O.? Thirdly, is it still their view that such proposals must be consistent with the continued presence of United States forces on the Continent of Europe?
Those are simple, but, I think, very serious, questions to which answers are required. Our views are quite clear upon them. We do not believe that we are so strong in Europe today that we can afford to change the balance of military security to our disadvantage. Without N.A.T.O. and United States troops in Europe, there would be no security at all. Therefore, in our approach to these European problems, we must try to see, first, that economic co-operation marches with political and military co-operation and, secondly, that the strength of N.A.T.O. is maintained. On the other hand, we believe that the time has come, after due consultation with our Allies, to have a full discussion with the Soviet Union about the problems of Germany and European security.
1381 Those are the views of Her Majesty's Government in the present situation. For those views I ask the support of the House.
§ 4.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
I will endeavour to answer the questions of the Foreign Secretary a little later. I would only draw attention to the significance of the position that now we are faced with a series of questions from the Government to the Opposition which reveals that in this matter the initiative has been with the Opposition for a very long time. Now the spokesmen of the Government are trying to adjust their ideas slowly to what the Opposition have been saying. I am, of course, extremely grateful for that and there are a number of other ideas also which we can put forward when the right hon. and learned Gentleman has exhausted those.
On the suspension of tests, when I asked the right hon. Gentleman the other day for a White Paper, I appreciated, as I think all of us on both sides of the House appreciated, that it is far better that very delicate negotiations should take place privately, in secrecy, because in those circumstances spokesmen of the nations taking part can make tentative suggestions without being committed to them. Unfortunately, we do not have secrecy. We have a kind of twilight situation in which no one can see what attitude the other party is taking up. We have all kinds of ex-parte statements made without any proper answers to them.
I am delighted to discover from the right hon. and learned Gentleman that some progress appears to have been made, but there are one or two questions that I would like to put to him. I should like to know, for example, what is meant by the term "impulse towards" a general disarmament agreement. Our information is that the American delegation has been instructed to insist, as it has insisted all along in these discussions, that agreement about the stopping of nuclear tests and inspection must be accompanied by substantial progress towards a comprehensive disarmament agreement. That language has been dropped today and the right hon. and learned Gentleman has substituted the words "impulse towards". 1382 What does that mean? Does it mean that, if an agreement can be reached on inspection, control and suspension, that agreement would not be satisfactory unless there is added to it an impulse towards a comprehensive disarmament agreement?
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I have said that these are negotiations. We now have discussions on control, which I hope will be satisfactory. The next thing is to discuss these further matters. The right hon. Gentleman is expecting me to say what my negotiating position is. Would he go into a trade union negotiation in that way and say what would be a sticking point or ending point?
§ Mr. Bevan
If the analogy of a trade union negotiation is to be raised, we have already made our position perfectly clear. We have said on countless occasions that we would prefer to have an agreement stopping nuclear tests and, if it were possible to get it, control and inspection by themselves. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister has mentioned on occasions, with the general approval of the House, that he would rather have a little beginning—I think he called it a modest beginning—rather than no beginning at all.
I appreciate the difficulties. These arise from the fact that the American delegation is sticking to its original position. That is the reason why we wanted working papers. We wanted to know what the situation was. I do not expect the Foreign Secretary to agree with me now, because, of course, he has to discuss these matters with our friends, but I believe that the position of the Government has come to this: if the conference parted with an agreement on the suspension of tests and an inspection system they would be satisfied that substantial progress had been made.
Is that the position of the American delegation? If I might use an "original" expression, this has been the nigger in the woodpile all along. One of our difficulties throughout has been that the United States appears to have been using the suspension of tests and an inspection system as a lever towards a comprehensive disarmament agreement. Although we would like to have a comprehensive disarmament agreement—every sane man would—we have always said that to make that ambitious project the basis of a 1383 modest first agreement is a disastrous form of approach.
We hold the view that if tests were suspended first for its own sake—and surely no one takes the view that any nation ought to go on in peacetime poisoning the atmosphere in the way that is being done now—we would begin to ease people's apprehensions, and if we went on suspending tests for long enough an improved international situation would be created in which further progress might be made towards a comprehensive disarmament agreement. But would it not be alarming if the conference ended because, in addition to the suspension of tests and control systems, the American demand for an impulse towards or substantial progress towards a more comprehensive disarmament agreement had not been reached?
That is why I raise the point. We on this side have not the embarrassments of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He has to meet our Allies and he has to make some agreement with them. But it is our duty as an Opposition to inform the American nation and our own nation that we consider it would be criminal if the conference were to fail on that point alone. I do not believe that the United States would be forgiven if it ever transpired that we had failed to reach agreement on this so important matter, because it must be clear to everybody that if we could suspend tests—[Interruption.] I wish the Foreign Secretary would stop mumbling all the while. We know that technique. It is very discourteous to keep on speaking all the time when I am addressing myself to the House. It is an old trick.
I was saying that if we could get a suspension of tests and, furthermore, if the 5,400 persons were established and control and inspection stations were established among so many nations, in the Soviet system as well as the rest of the world, and they were going about their work peacefully and successfully and the months went by and no further H-bomb tests took place, would not that transform the international situation?
After all, it has always been said that we could never get agreement under this heading because the Soviet Government would never allow people to go into its territory. If the Soviet 1384 Government did allow them, if we made that very substantial step forward, would not a very profound change have taken place in international relations? I should have thought that anyone who wanted to generate progress would seek to do it that way and not make the best the enemy of the better. That is all I want to say about the conference on the tests. I want now to refer to Berlin.
It appears that the Note from the Soviet Union found the Western Powers entirely unprepared, although it was perfectly clear that the position of Berlin had become so anomalous that it could not continue in its present state. It has been clear to all of us who have met representatives of the German nation that that situation was so inflammable that anything might happen there.
Let me put our position. We think that the Russian proposal to convert West Berlin into a free State is impracticable and also unacceptable. That is quite fair. We do not believe—I do not believe, anyhow—that it is a serious proposal. However, we do not believe that the present position is acceptable. We consider that it is equally unacceptable, because so long as Berlin is in its present anomalous situation it will always be a source of trouble in Europe. Therefore, when we say that the Soviet proposal is unacceptable, we say that in the context of our own proposals for the solution of the European problem.
We do not wish the Government to have the right to say that the Opposition are united with them in opposition to the Russian proposals in the existing context. We consider that something more has to be done. We reiterate that we do not think that the something more is what the Russians have now proposed. Obviously, if we are to have Eastern Berlin the capital of Eastern Germany, and Western Germany denied Western Berlin as a capital, there would be a very important loss of face to Western Germany and a serious demoralisation for West Berliners.
It must be obvious that we cannot go on as we are and in his Note Mr. Khrushchev is perfectly right when he says that incidents might happen there at any time. Anybody who has been to Berlin knows that the sentries are so near to each other, the frontier lines are so 1385 absurd, the contiguity of enemy forces is so serious, that anything can happen at any time. As the situation deteriorates, the possibilities of conflict are increased. We say that we must find a solution for the Berlin problem, but a solution for the problem of Berlin is a solution of the German problem and a solution of the German problem is a solution of the European problem.
I now come to foreign affairs debates with increasing depression, because I feel exactly as the House of Commons felt before the war, when listening to speech after speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). It was like seeing a film, which one had already seen made, unfolded again, with all the inevitability of an ancient Greek drama. We are there again, with the same elements as before, as though we had learned nothing.
Mr. Khrushchev is quite right when he says in his Note that the increased rearming of Western Germany is a source of profound alarm to Poland and Russia. It alarms me. It ought to alarm right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, if they have learned anything. It was only the day before yesterday that Dr. Adenauer told his own party that he was not ready for a peace treaty, that he was not ready yet to discuss the future of Germany with the Russians because they were not yet ready to raise the problem of Germany's Eastern frontiers.
Could anything be more provocative than that in existing circumstances? What is Dr. Adenauer delaying for? What is he waiting for? He has stated before that he does not intend that Germany's Eastern frontiers should be settled other than by peaceful negotiation. What is he waiting for? Is he waiting until Germany's armed forces are stronger so that they can take a more independent line? What is he waiting for? What are we waiting for?
In his Note, Mr. Khrushchev says that he believes this to be a piece of German blackmail. Would any hon. Member in any part of the House find any other description for it? If it is too early yet to discuss the settlement of the frontiers between Poland and Germany, so long after the war, when is the time ripe? Is it when all the German formations are 1386 established and the Americans are there with nuclear warheads ready to provide them with them should the need arise?
§ Major H. Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
The right hon. Gentleman challenged any hon. Member to deny that this was German blackmail. Will he bear in mind that certain things happened in Hungary not very long ago, making the position of the satellite States extremely uncertain? I can understand Dr. Adenauer waiting to see what happens.
§ Mr. Bevan
I am asking hon. Members to face the realities of the situation, because all along they have buried their heads in the sand. Years ago we on this side of the House were saying that the rearming of Western Germany would be, not a source of strength to the West, but a source of alarm to Poland and a source of weakness to the whole European system. We do not believe that the cause of peace gains anything as much as it loses by the present position in Germany. We are not alone in that view. It is the view of large numbers of Germans. They do not regard the rearming of German forces as being an unmixed blessing.
How, then, do we approach this problem? We say—and the right hon. and learned Gentleman practically gave his case away this afternoon—that it would make a mighty contribution to the cause of peace if there were a withdrawal of the great Powers from each other in Central Europe. The right hon. and learned Gentleman himself admitted that it would be. He said that Eastern Germany would not be rearmed under his proposal. Why? If there is some merit in being in contact with each other, what is the advantage of having Eastern Germany disarmed? He claimed that that was an advantage. If it is an advantage to have a disarmed Eastern Germany between a reunified Germany and Poland, would it not be very much better to have a wider area of disengagement? Why is the small area an advantage and the greater area not an advantage?
1387 Our proposal is, in the first instance, that we should have a four-Power conference with the Russians, which the Russians have invited. It is true that Moscow Radio the other day seemed to cast cold water on the possibility of a conference. It said:Of course, it would be incomparably better to solve the entire German question instead of only one of its aspects. But it cannot be done because of the Western stand. The U.S.S.R. persists in desiring speedy reunification of Germany with full consideration of the actual state of affairs in both the Western and the Eastern parts of the country. But the West insists on what it calls free elections.Now, today, the Foreign Secretary has reiterated the Western proposals in almost the same terms as we have understood them before—that no move can be made towards a European security system which does not first begin with a reunited Germany under free elections.
Everybody knows that that is not a recipe for anything other than the continued disunity of Germany. It has been clear to all—and I am now merely saying what most of the newspapers supporting the party opposite have at last come to say—that it is unrealistic to expect the Russians to agree to a reunited and rearmed Germany joining the Western Allies.
§ Mr. Bevan
This has now become axiomatic. If, therefore, we are to have a reunification of Germany, which would assimilate the Berlin problem, it must be assumed that such a reunited Germany should not join the N.A.T.O. alliance.
The Foreign Secretary asked me whether it is not a fact that this contradicts what we said in our declaration, that there should be no solution which left us in a weaker military position. I cannot for the life of me see how we would be weakened if there were disarmament throughout that area. It is quite correct that we should lose some military formations, but we should gain incomparably in the pacification of a whole area. And what we are seeking is not to be strong but only to be strong enough to be peaceful. We are not seeking strength for its own sake.
1388 Do hon. Members opposite really believe in their hearts that a rearmed Germany, armed to the extent to which agreement has been reached, will be of itself a decisive contribution to the maintenance of peace? There are very few hon. Members who would really say "Yes" to that privately. Having rearmed her, we have insoluble political problems on our hands if Germany then insists that the Oder-Neisse line should be reconsidered and Polish fears are aroused. That is where Adenauer really leads with his diplomacy. Russia would have to decide whether to let down one of her protéges and accept German blackmail, or resist it and accept the possibility of conflict.
That is what the Russians mean when they say that they are afraid of Germany. It is not that they are afraid of Germany in the sense that they fear that they might be defeated by Germany, but in the sense that a situation might be reached when they would be put in the dilemma of having to lose face and dismantle or demoralise the Warsaw Pact, or having to face the resumption of hostilities.
It is the essence of diplomacy to try to avoid such an "either/or" situation ever arising. It is the essence of diplomacy to provide one's opponents with a cushion to fall on, but what is the diplomacy of the right hon. and learned Gentleman leading to? It is supported by hon. Members in the same uncritical way that they supported the policy of Mr. Neville Chamberlain between the wars, when warning after warning was given, when the perils were perfectly obvious and when all of us—not all of us, because many took the opposite line—but when hon. Members opposite were saying then that a rearmed Germany under Hitler was something which the Russians feared.
"Go East young man"—that was the story then. And now we are reviving exactly the same situation in Europe. Fortunately for us, Poland has a profound interest in preventing such a situation developing, because, of course, it is Poland that might be carved up in an effort to prevent the resumption of war. Therefore, she is anxious that the situation should not arise.
Polish fears put the most effective levers in our hands at the moment but, of course, they will not be there long, because the 1389 situation is becoming more and more difficult. It will be much harder to get Western Germany to agree to proposals in six months from today, and it would have been much easier six months earlier than now. As time goes by, and Germany feels her strength, we shall find that we shall have much more difficulty in persuading her.
Let hon. Members mark this. I am not an anti-German. I am not preaching hostility against Germany. No one can accuse me of that. I want to be on the friendliest terms with Germany, and I think that it is in the best interests of the Germans themselves that they should avoid this situation. I do not know what the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Mr. D. Price) is grinning at. This is an extremely serious state of affairs. He seems to have an incurably frivolous mind.
If we take advantage of the Polish initiative we will do this. The Poles say, "Let the occupying Powers take their armies from central Europe." Of course, the Poles are very anxious to see the backs of Russian soldiers. They do not like them there at all. The Poles are only too anxious to see them leave, but they know very well that they will not leave so long as the German problem is unsolved. [An HON. MEMBER: "They do net want them to leave."] They do not because they would feel helpless and afraid. They have been carved up too often between Russia and Germany to see the situation as it is developing now as a happy one. But, of course, the Poles are sufficiently statesmanlike to realise that one cannot solve the Polish problem without solving the German problem, and so they have put forward this plan.
What is wrong with it? The plan says, in the first stage, that the existing military situation should be frozen, that there should be no further supplies of nuclear weapons in Central Europe. The second stage deals with conventional forces. It is not merely that we have the advantage of a pause, but also that the second stage, with inspection and control by an international agency, should be the running-down of all conventional forces until they are sufficient only to police the nation and the frontier.
If that could be accomplished, if the Germans could accept a solution of that 1390 kind, and they would accept it if it were put forward authoritatively by their allies, in what way would our position be worsened? The Foreign Secretary said that it is always wise to be in contact with each other, because when great nations are in contact with each other incidents do not happen. That, of course, is ballyhoo. I have heard the soldiers say that and the generals say that, but the generals are thinking of past wars. Of course, from the military point of view there is always the disadvantage in losing contact with the enemy. We are not at war. We are striving to preserve the peace, and I think that peace would be preserved or helped if these soldiers were not rubbing up against each other, and if there were not excuses for incidents.
When the right hon. and learned Gentleman said that we cannot disengage in a modern world because of intercontinental ballistic missiles and things of that sort, he was making a false point. Aeroplanes in the air do not cause incidents in the same sense that land forces can easily cause them. [HON. MEMBERS: "They do."] No, not incidents as easily as can be caused by land forces.
Surely the Middle East gives the answer to that, and what has been happening in Berlin all the time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Surely the opposite is true."] I should have thought that that is not the case at all, because where we have got armies that are cheek by jowl with each other, as they are in different parts of the world, with political excitement mounting behind them and incidents happening, we might not be able to pull back. We have discussed these ourselves with military representatives of N.A.T.O., and some of them take our view.
Now the right hon. and learned Gentleman asks, if that happened would we consider that such an eventuality as that will still leave the great Power blocs in relatively the same relation of military strength, and we say, "Yes." The answer is that we do not regard our proposal today as being contradictory to what we said last April. On the contrary, we discussed it at that time.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman asked a further question. He asked whether we considered that we could afford to lose United States support in Europe. The answer is "No", as things are at present. We believe that until the 1391 various stages that I have been describing have been crossed it is, of course, necessary that we give no excuse for any incidents at all, and that, therefore, we think that the American forces should still remain in Europe. But why should American forces have to leave Europe if we have an area of disengagement in Central Europe consisting of Eastern Germany, Western Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, and, one would also hope, Hungary?
When an hon. Gentleman shouted "Hungary" at me, may I ask whether he has any solution for the people of Hungary better than that? It is all very well to use the term "Hungary" as a piece of political incitement, or rebuke, or sneer, or accusation against the Russians. It is far better, in the interests of Hungary, that we should be thinking about a solution to her difficulties, not using her as an argument all the while. I believe that if we could have this European security system in the centre of Europe, at first Hungary might not be allowed to join or might not join, but it would be there, and that would solve that problem, too.
There are, of course, other difficulties that arise out of this. We have tried to face all of them, but there is the fact that if the whole of Germany were reunited, and not armed to the extent that we have armed, competition from her in the economic world would be much more serious but that could be faced, too. If Germany is to be given the infinite benediction of secure peace and is unified, if she is to have her frontiers secured by the other Powers, if her people no longer have to look towards the possibility of becoming a murderous battlefield or a mass of radioactive cinders, they might be prepared, and ought to be prepared, to make their economic contribution to a world development fund, or world development authority.
How many people in Great Britain, if offered the choice, would say, "We are spending £1,500 million a year on preparations for war or on defence, or whatever we like to call it, and we would be prepared to wipe all that out and make a contribution equal to £500 million every years towards a world development fund if our defences could be secure and we 1392 felt that we were at peace with the world"? How many people in Britain would refuse that choice? But that is what we are offering Germany. Why should we not discuss that with the Russians? Why should we not meet them and say, "Let us put it on the agenda, and see how far we can get with it"? I believe that only on these lines, and on these lines alone, is it possible to get some progress made in this field.
I discussed this myself with representative Germans last December. I discussed quite frankly with many of them this problem of recognising the East German Government. We should not need to recognise the East German Government in the first phase of the negotiations. All that we would need to do is for the four Powers to decide the framework for the future of Germany and the basic principles, and, after that had been decided, we would have to meet representatives from Eastern Germany, because there would be all kinds of difficult problems to solve—how we should marry the social services of the one with those of the other, what provincial autonomy we should allow, what would be the functions of a central Government as against a State Government, and how we could assimilate, fail to assimilate or decide not to assimilate, the two different economies of the two different areas.
All these are practical problems of negotiation, and they could then be discussed at that stage, without loss of face on either side, because the Western German Government would have had its position reconciled by the fact that the basic principles had been negotiated with them, and the East German Government would have their prestige upheld by the fact that in the concluding stages of the negotiations they had been brought in.
I discussed that with many Germans of a representative kind, and they said that there was nothing wrong with it. What is wrong is the fact that we have tied ourselves for the last four or five years to a credo about Germany which is becoming more and more unrealistic and more and more dangerous.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
What sort of Germans has the right hon. Gentleman been in contact with —Social Democrats, Rhineland leaders, trade unionists, or who?
§ Mr. Bevan
Others, as well. In any case, I challenge members of the Government and their supporters that they have put forward nothing that looks like a solution for this problem. In fact, all that they have done so far is to make the situation worse.
I know that there will be very considerable American resistance to this, but is it not time that we in Great Britain took the initiative? We have had a little more experience of this than the Americans have had. The history of the immediate pre-war years is right behind us, and we have suffered most grievously from it. We are not merely discussing today the future of Germany. We are really discussing the future of the human race. We are really discussing these immediate problems of the recasting of European frontiers and of the future of Germany against a background which is increasingly alarming for thoughtful persons throughout the world.
Is it not time that we got off the escalator and started to walk, because the escalator is carrying us inevitably to destruction, and everybody is beginning to develop a kind of sense of inevitability? The time has come—in fact, the time has long past—when Great Britain should rise and give the world the lead that the world is now asking for.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) reaffirmed, and we were glad to hear it, his party's rejection of the Russian proposal for a free city for West Berlin and I want for a moment to analyse why he has done so, because his rejection of that proposal was in remarkable contrast to his other suggestions in the course of his speech.
First, we must make up our minds why the Russians have put forward the novel proposal that not all Berlin, but merely West Berlin, should become a free city with a United Nations representative somewhere in control. I should like to suggest that this is because Berlin to the Russians, and particularly the East Germans, has become an intolerable gap in their system of control.
For the last few years the East German Republic has been training, with great assiduity and great concentration, a large number of technicians, technologists, mechanics and other persons who are 1394 needed both in East Germany itself and to service the whole of the Iron Curtain area, because the Germans are extremely good at this and it is something in which they are extremely experienced and skilled. Contrary to the Russians' desire and belief, such young people have shown themselves, once their training is complete, most anxious to leave the Iron Curtain area. In accelerating numbers they have been going through the valve of Berlin into the West, and this expensive training that has been lavished upon them by the Communist States has all been lost.
I believe it is chiefly for the limited purpose of stopping this gap in the system of control over the movement of human beings, and particularly of skilled manpower, that the Russians feel they must do something to seal off the curtain again. Herr Ulbricht has taken the extreme position of showing that the device of a free city or a free zone—a disengaged zone, one might say—is no more than a device. He has spilled the beans there quite firmly because he said:The whole of Berlin belongs to the area of sovereignty of the East German Republic.That is Herr Ulbricht making no bones about it, in great frankness and in great contradistinction to the more subtle plans of his Russian masters. His Russian masters, I suggest, know that this kind of frontal assault is useless. What they want—and this is a lesson for us as regards the whole of Germany and the whole of this problem—is a disengagement in Berlin, a free zone, a kind of Danzig, because they know what happened to Danzig in the end and they propose to play the rôle which Hitler played there. Once there is a representative of some international organisation with very little force at his control in a demilitarised area, the ease with which incidents can be provoked in such a so-called peaceful zone are known to all. It is, therefore, I suggest, simply Herr Ulbricht in a more subtle and sophisticated form.
I suggest to the House that this carries with it a lesson for us all, not only as regards Berlin but also with regard to the whole of Germany; because if it is in the Russian view—and I think the Opposition accept this—much easier to get control of the whole of West Berlin once it has been demilitarised and disengaged, by the same 1395 argument it is much easier to get control of the whole of Germany if the whole of Germany is demilitarised and disengaged.
I believe that is why the Rapacki Plan has been put forward, and I cannot honestly believe that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that Mr. Rapacki would be allowed to put forward this plan without the blessing of the Russians. Although Mr. Rapacki himself may think that, with the brilliant tight-rope walking which the Polish Government undoubtedly perform, there might be something it in for Poland, nevertheless at the same time the Russians are convinced that it is not for the purposes of Polish independence, or anything like that, but in order to further their own ends that Mr. Rapacki has been allowed to put this plan forward.
It is for this reason among others that I cannot accept the theory found in the Labour Party's statement, although I agree that there are arguments both ways, that disengagement would mean the lessening of tension. That is not the view I form from my experience of talking with most of the leaders, including the Socialist leaders, on the Continent. It may be so in the case of the Germans, but it certainly is not as regards the Belgians, the French, the Dutch or any of the Socialists there. That is not their view of this matter, and they are nearer the scene of action than we are.
Their view is that disengagement would not lead to the lessening of tension, but would lead to the heightening of tension in a more dangerous situation. I do not think this is a matter that can be argued very far because it involves so many assumptions and also people's own personalities. However, I think even the right hon. Gentleman would agree that there are strong arguments for doubting whether in fact the leaving of a vacuum —because, carried to its last analysis, that is what it would mean—would lead to the lessening of tension.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I did not gather that my leader suggested it, but I am not committed in that matter to what my leader has said. I am strongly of the 1396 opinion that the less room for misunderstanding there is as regards West Berlin—and vacuums lead to misunderstanding—the less likelihood there is of an incident. That is not to say that there can never be an incident when we are engaged as we are at the moment. Of course, there may be, but it is a question of the likelihood of one; and the number of incidents there were in the old days, which the right hon. Gentleman is anxous to compare, in such places as the free city of Danzig and in uncommitted nations was very great.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I would agree entirely with what the hon. and learned Gentleman says about the danger of a vacuum. Actually in twelve years I do not think we have had a frontier incident. The trouble is that when the major Powers are confronted with each other any frontier incident would be desperately dangerous. When the hon. and learned Gentleman speaks of a vacuum, does he regard a Germany which is armed, but at a controlled level of armament—which is, of course, what the Labour Party has supported—with a Poland, a Czechoslovakia and a Hungary also with a controlled level of armament—and that all those should have a level of armament I should have thought was essential if we are not to have the dangers of a vacuum—does he regard that as a vacuum? Is that the safest—to have a balance, with the great Powers further off with a further balance, but an armed balance which does not mean a vacuum?
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
It is a vacuum in a degree. I see the hon. and learned Gentleman's point. It is not a complete vacuum. But the system of control needed for the preservation of this very delicate balance would involve opportunities for misunderstanding—indeed, for more than misunderstanding—and that would be more likely to provoke an incident than the present situation.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I doubt that, but it is very much a matter of opinion. I do not see why it should be considered something about which we should get so heated, because I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will agree that it is a very difficult balance. I do not believe that the main subject of our discussions 1397 today, the question of Berlin, is very difficult to decide. Indeed, it has been decided almost unanimously on both sides of the House.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I follow that. I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that the present situation in Berlin was equally as dangerous as the situation which would exist if we accepted the Russian suggestion that West Berlin should be a free city. That struck me as being a most extravagant comparison, because although the present situation is no satisfactory, peace has been maintained there for ten years, whereas I hoped that I had demonstrated five minutes ago that if we conceded the suggestion of a free city, it would mean the swallowing of West Berlin by the East Germans within a matter of months. To say that those two situations are equally dangerous is a misuse of language.
Since we are agreed, for different reasons, that this is not an acceptable suggestion, and since the Russians by means of their radio have refused, as the right hon. Gentleman pointed out, to enlarge the area of discussion—
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Moscow Radio have refused to enlarge the area of discussions, because they have said, before we have even made suggestions, that any proposal we were likely to make would be designed only to torpedo their plans. Those are the words, as reported in the Manchester Guardian yesterday. They have not even received our suggestions. It therefore does not seem to me that "the wicked Dr. Adenauer," whom the right hon. Gentleman was constantly attacking, is responsible, at the present time at any rate, for the refusal to discuss the German problem as a whole. It was Moscow Radio, obviously under direct orders from their Government, which said, "We will not enlarge the discussion away from Berlin. We will not have a summit conference about it. Any suggestion which the West makes"—the 1398 terms of which they do not know—"will be designed only to torpedo our suggestion for a free city of West Berlin." Those are the words, practically ipsissima verba, as reported in the Manchester Guardian yesterday. It seems to me less than justice to Dr. Adenauer to put all the blame on him for not widening the scope of the proposals and discussing Germany as a whole.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
It is true that the Manchester Guardian published some of that report, but there was something else on which the Manchester Guardian based its leading article expressing the same view on policy as has been enunciated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan).
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I was not referring to the Manchester Guardian leading article. I am merely stating what Moscow Radio said, and undoubtedly they said, before they had received any proposals from any of the Western Governments, including that of Dr. Adenauer, that they did not propose to widen any discussions beyond those confined to Berlin. That being so, it seems to me unfair to blame the Western Governments, because the Russians, rather foolishly in my view, have said "No" before they need.
As I have said, it seems to me that on the immediate problem and the relations between the East and West of Europe, although the matter is of great moment and extremely serious, there is only one decision which we can take on the immediate problem of Berlin, and that is to say unanimously and firmly, "No", even if for different reasons. But that cannot be the end of the matter. Not only have we to get down to the German problem as soon as the Russians are prepared to do so, but we have also to get down to our own problems in Western Europe.
I was delighted that my right hon. Friend touched upon the question of the Free Trade Area. Hitherto there has been some conspiracy, I think, between both sides of the House that we were not to discuss this subject for some time and that somehow it would be in bad taste to do so. I fear that I must be guilty of a little bad taste today, but since I have my right hon. and learned Friend's example, I hope that I shall be forgiven 1399 if I break what is evidently some sort of a gentleman's agreement.
I thought that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was on a good point when he hinted at the difficulty of controlling Germany when she was a good deal stronger. I am very alarmed that if the economic division of Western Europe into the big Six and the little Six, or whatever it may be, is to continue, the framework within which Germany will be placed economically, and subsequently politically, will not be strong enough. One of the great advantages of W.E.U. and N.A.T.O. is that the framework of the West is larger than that of the Six and is therefore strong enough to control the German people, I believe, under any system of Government which they are likely to elect.
The great danger which I believe we have to face is that if Western Europe is divided economically that framework will be too small. How are we to avoid that division of Western Europe? It seems to me that it is at last dawning upon everybody—and it ought to have dawned on them earlier—that if we are to have a system of a Free Trade Area in the modern world and if we are to induce people to throw down their protective barriers against each other, we have to persuade them—British, French and the rest—that the burdens which the various competitors carry by way of taxation, social services and the ease and cheapness with which they can obtain their raw materials, are more or less equal. I do not believe that we can achieve that in the long run merely by agreements between Governments, because I do not believe that people would trust such agreements to last very long.
It seems to me that equality of opportunity among the various members of a Free Trade Area can be achieved only by a certain surrender of sovereignty. Even though it is very inconvenient for us, I can well understand, for example, the French objecting to the advantage—if it be an advantage—which we have in obtaining cheap grey cloth in this country from Hong Kong. It is not for me to call it an advantage, and I should be the last person to do so, but looked at from the point of view of the marketing of finished articles in a Free Trade Area, I suppose that it is an advantage for the United Kingdom. It is well understand- 1400 able that the French do not see why we should have that advantage, when we are in competition with them, if they do not have it.
In the same way, manufacturers in my constituency frequently ask me why they should be expected to compete with the Italians when they have to bear so much higher load of taxation and of social services. If I say to them that it is quite possible in the end to achieve some parity in these things by means of inter-Governmental agreements, the answer, rightly or wrongly, is that the people of Europe do not believe that mere inter-Governmental agreements, subject to the unanimity rule and to all the escape clauses and possibilities of escape clauses which are open to each individual nation, and must be open to them if they retain the sovereign power to make alterations, are enough to persuade competing organisations in various countries to lower their opposition.
This may sound as though we should join the Common Market, the Six, although my remarks are not so intended. I do not so recommend, because I think that as a result of our taking a very rigid line about our sovereignty in the past we have not been able to influence the form of the institutions which the Treaty of Rome Powers have erected as we might otherwise have done. They have therefore erected a kind of super-commission of technocrats of a most undemocratic sort which it would be quite wrong for us to join.
If examined closely it is the apotheosis of the international civil servant who is given practically uncontrolled power, very much as in the defence field—in the defence field there is some justification for it—the international soldier is now in a position of such enormous power. In defence I think that that is probably inevitable, but in the economic and political field I do not see how we can possibly join a Treaty of Rome which has elected masters who are to a great extent uncontrolled and uncontrollable by national democratic forces.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
There is provision in the Treaty for democratic control by a democratic federal Parliamentary body.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I know, but it is such a shadowy matter. I agree that it 1401 is there, but I cannot believe there is much reality in that for some time to come.
I feel that if we had had a greater will to join that sort of organisation earlier—it is too late now maybe—we could have produced a proper mechanism less uncontrolled, less uncontrollable and more in accordance with our own ideas. Anyone engaged in any international assembly—I think the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. Hynd) would agree with me from his experience of it—knows that there is or has been a great tendency to accept the British view in these matters. We seem to be able to achieve a sort of domination although our powers of doing so, I think, have been gradually slipping away in the past ten years.
Where is the blame to be laid, if, indeed, there is blame for this? I think that it must be distributed evenly between both parties but not placed primarily upon the politicians of either party. I should like to see some skilled political investigator examine exactly where it went wrong. Let us say that Mr. Randolph Churchill might next time divert his powers of analysis and publicity to an examination of exactly what went wrong with the British acceptance of the ideal of a united Europe, at the great conference of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) at The Hague in 1948, and the pass in which we find ourselves today.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
And four or five years of Socialist Government as well, when the opportunities, in those earlier years, before things solidified, were far greater than they were under this Administration. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I hoped not to indulge in these recriminations with the hon. and learned Gentleman, but if he wants it I am perfectly prepared to give it. It is undoubtedly true to say that the forces for the preservation of our status quo, particularly trade union pressure, in the latter years of the Labour Government, 1950–51, did more to wreck British participation in a United Europe than any other single factor. I intended to leave that to Mr. Randolph Churchill rather than to myself.
1402 Nevertheless, when we come to the next round of these negotiations about European economics, it will be realised, as I think it is, that this is not merely a matter of economics; it is a matter of the political direction of Western Europe particularly the containment in its present good frame of mind of Germany. Unless we can preserve within a large economic and political framework the great resurgent power of Germany, then I fear—and this is a most awful admission to have to make—that some of the things said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale may come true, although they are by no means true yet.
That being the awful fate facing us, would my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary, as I am sure he will, and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence when he winds up the debate, give us some comfort that we would, in so far as it is still possible, be prepared, if the Six were so prepared, in due course to modify our present complete refusal to consider the surrender of political sovereignty, however small, to Western Europe? It would mean—and it may be too late—a renegotiation entirely of the Treaty of Rome which at present is obviously unacceptable, but we must be prepared to pay some price here and I think that France. Germany and Italy and the others must do that as well.
It is extremely good news that the present situation is not yet irretrievably lost, and that, according to the news today, the Six are prepared to give us the tariff concessions and quota concessions for a short time which we would get even if we were members. At least that is how I read the news today. But it is not going to last. That is only in order to keep the door open for a further round of what must be very fundamental bargaining; and in that bargaining it must be remembered there is at stake not merely the prosperity of our own undustries and people, important as those are, but the political balance of power between East and West Europe and also the political direction of the rest of Europe in the future.
That is why I regard the position concerning the Free Trade Area as being very relevant to the debate this afternoon, and I do not apologise for raising it, although it is not on the agenda.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
I hope that the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his interesting analysis of the economic problems of Europe. In the short time I propose to take, I should like to deal with two problems that were dealt with by the Foreign Secretary—first, the problem of disarmament, and then the problem of Berlin.
The Foreign Secretary in his reference to the Geneva Conference on the discontinuance of nuclear tests was, I thought, quite optimistic to the extent that he indicated the putting in by the Soviet Government representative of a paper which was based on the twin proposals of discontinuance and the establishment of a system of control and inspection.
This conference has been going on for about five weeks. I do not know what its number is in the number of conferences in the past ten years, but I think that many of us have been disappointed by the lack of progress which appears to have been made. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, (Mr. Bevan) suggested the other day, and again this afternoon, that we would like to have had some factual information as to what is actually taking place at the Conference.
The Foreign Secretary has said that the papers are confidential and the conference itself is confidential, and he is not able to give us any information. I hope that we shall be told tonight by the Minister who concludes the debate that there is no basis for fear that any of the Western Governments are making it a stipulation, before they can agree to sign a convention on the discontinuance of the nuclear tests, that such a treaty must be related to a measure of conventional disarmament.
There will be a heavy responsibility upon any Government, whether of the East or of the West, which stands in the way of an agreement to stop or discontinue these nuclear tests at the very earliest moment. I believe that public opinion, not only in this country, but in other countries, is convinced that the time has come to stop these nuclear tests, and the sooner the better.
I agree that if we are to have a cessation of tests, there must be a system of 1404 inspection and control, although I for one would not be averse to this country, if necessary, taking the lead in making a declaration that we will have no more nuclear tests hereafter, in the hope that that would be an incentive to the other Governments to follow suit. I hope, therefore, that we will be told that if it is possible the Western Governments are prepared to sign a treaty providing for the cessation of tests forthwith, provided that there is agreement on the establishment of a system of inspection and control.
I should like to make a short reference to the other conference at Geneva which is dealing with safeguards against surprise attack. It is difficult to know what is happening at this conference. Again, it is a technical conference and is being held behind closed doors, but if Press rumours are to be believed, there seem to be great difficulties; the conference seems to be floundering, as it has done almost from the beginning. Can we be given some indication by the Minister who is to reply as to whether any progress is being made? This is an important conference. If the two conferences fail, the international situation will be even more dangerous than if they had not been held.
We heard the other day that the Russians and, I believe, the Americans have nuclear-powered bombers. We heard that the United States Government has at last succeeded in its experiments with the Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile, a missile which will have a nuclear warhead, a range of 6,500 miles and a speed of 200 miles per minute. Surely, it is time that the world awoke to the madness of the present arms race. Yet while we are making these attempts to halt the arms race, nations and Governments are employing their best scientific brains and expending vast sums—thousands of millions of £s—in perfecting what we have always understood was actually in existence today: that is, the great deterrent.
If the existence of the hydrogen bomb is a deterrent, as I believe it to be, why is it necessary to go on perfecting and improving the vehicles which are necessary to use these nuclear bombs which, both sides having them in their possession, neither side will ever dare to use? The sooner the world wakes up and realises the madness that exists today 1405 and the folly of it all, the better it will be.
Therefore, these two conferences seem to me to be of the utmost importance. I hope we shall be able to get the assurance for which I asked concerning the first conference and some indication that the Government are hopeful of progress being made at the second.
Now, I should like to say a few words about the problem of Berlin. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, speaking today on behalf of the Opposition, made it quite clear that the proposal of the Soviet Government to make West Berlin a free city is no solution and is completely unacceptable to those of us who sit on this side of the House.
I ask the Government spokesman who represents the Foreign Office, however, whether the three Western Governments are satisfied that they have a sound case legally. Would it not be a wise course, as was suggested in The Times today, to propose in the Security Council, or, perhaps, in the General Assembly, that the International Court of Justice should be invited to give an advisory opinion on the legal aspects of the problem. As The Times so well put it today, it would be sensible to have the legal aspects of the Berlin case put as clearly as possible before world opinion. The Foreign Secretary himself stressed, quite rightly, both the legal and the moral basis of the position that we must take up in dealing with this difficult problem.
Again, however, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said earlier, the future of Berlin cannot be separated from the problem of German reunification. It is the crux of the problem. In my view, there must in the future be greater flexibility in the attitude of the West towards the constitutional and political solution of this difficult German problem.
I do not know whether I am wise in quoting Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, but I shall do so. As long ago as 1946, the Field Marshal formed the view, as stated in his recent book, that a united Germany was not then possible. He went on to state that he doubted whether it ever would be possible without fighting.
Twelve years have passed and we are no nearer a united Germany. Today, however, no responsible person believes, or, indeed, thinks, of war as a means of 1406 uniting Germany. As my right hon. Friend said this afternoon—and it would, I am sure, be the view of the Government—a solution of this problem can come only by negotiation and agreement with the Soviet Government.
In my view, two things are abundantly clear. The first is that Soviet Russia will never accept a United Germany within N.A.T.O. The second is that Russia will not be ready to accept the restoration of capitalist ownership over Socialist enterprises in East Germany. These are two aspects of the German problem which both the three Western Governments and the N.A.T.O. Governments as well as West Germany itself must face.
A third essential is that there must be an unequivocal acceptance by the West German Government of the Oder-Neisse line, subject, of course, to any agreed border readjustments.
The clock cannot be turned back, and it would be utterly unrealistic to suppose that Germany, could be reunited by agreement ignoring the social and economic changes in East Germany during the past ten years. So long as Germany remains divided, however, and so long as Berlin itself remains divided, there remains a dangerous threat to the peace of Europe. On the other hand, a reunited Germany must be given a new status. It must be uncommitted militarily—I emphasise that word—either to N.A.T.O., on the one side, or to the Warsaw Pact, on the other side.
I want to make another observation upon this aspect of the German problem. If confederation is unacceptable—and we are told by West German sources that it is—could we not consider East Germany being reunited with West Germany upon the basis of a federal constitution embodying explicit safeguards against the destruction of the Socialist basis of East Germany except with the free approval of a majority of the Germans living in East Germany? The ultimate solution lies, however, in a European system of security, and it is as a major step towards the solution of this problem that such great importance attaches to proposals like disengagement and the Rapacki Plan.
The Foreign Secretary seemed to suggest that there was some great difficulty in the way of disengagement, because he asked how we could expect 1407 great nations ever to be out of contact with each other. He referred to the fact that we have inter-continental ballistic missiles, and powerful aeroplanes with ranges of 5,000 and 6,000 miles, and in that sense no one would dispute his assertion. But that was the position in 1955, when the first proposal for what is tantamount to disengagement was made by Sir Anthony Eden—
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Henderson
Oh, yes. The hon. Gentleman shakes his head, but he had better look at the files in the Foreign Office. He will then find that in July, 1955, the then Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, put forward his proposal—and a very good one it was—for a demilitarised zone between East and West, in Central Europe. True, he stipulated that it would have to be accompanied by a reunited Germany, but I am not arguing that aspect of the problem. I am saying that there was no difficulty about the then Prime Minister and his advisers in July, 1955, proposing a demilitarised zone between East and West, and that the Labour Party have merely taken that proposal a step forward. If it was not a difficulty in 1955 we say that it should not be one in 1958 or 1959, when we are discussing the wider proposal of disengagement.
The Foreign Secretary told us that if we had disengagement and agreed to the Rapacki Plan, the United States Forces would have to leave Europe. We were never told in 1955 that if we had this demilitarised zone the United States Forces would have to leave Europe. Why should they have to leave? I can understand, as was suggested by the hon. and learned Member for Darwen that there are some doubts about the matter. I have some doubts myself. We cannot say that it is a matter of black and white, and I should be the last to make that suggestion. But I cannot understand why it should be suggested that if we had to work out something on the basis of the second part of the Rapacki Plan—emphasising as it does that it would have to be accompanied or followed soon afterwards by a wide measure of conventional disarmament—it must entail, then and there, the 1408 withdrawal of United States forces from Europe and the United Kingdom.
I hope that the United States forces will remain in Europe and the United Kingdom until we have a stable basis of security for the whole of Europe, and not merely Western Europe. I and my party leaders are not advocating the Rapacki Plan as a subtle way of making it possible for the United States forces to leave Europe. My mind goes back over the last forty years—as I am sure the minds of other hon. Members do—to the days when the United States Government and people were influenced by a feeling that they must live in isolation and were not prepared to accept responsibilities in other parts of the world. Many of us have said time after time that if the United States people and Government had taken the same interest in Europe in the thirties as they are taking in it in the fifties, World War II would never have taken place. Therefore, I hope that we shall not be influenced by any suggestion that the Rapacki Plan on disengagement is being put forward because we want to see the United States Forces leave Europe.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
If Western Germany leaves N.A.T.O. and its territory is no longer available for the N.A.T.O. forces to defend Western Europe in sufficient depth, does the right hon. and learned Gentleman think it likely that any N.A.T.O. commander, especially if he is an American, will advocate the retention of American forces only in France?
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not look at the matter in quite that way. I cannot believe that a 200 miles gap—which would be the position if Germany were reunited and the East German forces which are now tied up with the Warsaw Pact were no longer under the control of a Government other than a united German Government—would make any difference, or that any difficulty would be caused by widening the demilitarised zone to which Sir Anthony Eden referred. I can understand difficulties arising in connection with barracks accommodation and finding somewhere to put American troops if they were withdrawn from Germany, but I cannot understand how the peace of Europe can depend upon the number of miles between the Russian forces on land on one side and the N.A.T.O. forces on 1409 land on the other. I do not wish to be involved in a discussion as to the way in which the next war will be fought. In my view it will never come, but I do not believe that it will be fought on land as the last two World Wars were. I do not believe that this is an insuperable difficulty, I hope that the Government will consider the proposals not in isolation but as part of a comprehensive and constructive plan which could lead to a new era of peace and stability in Europe.
I want finally to refer to the question of a Summit Conference. In the last two or three years we have heard a lot about a possible Summit Conference, and attempts have been made to organise one. Up to date, however, we have failed to secure one. I suggest that the need for a Summit Conference is as great today as it ever was. The problems of Europe cannot be settled by unilateral action. In effect, we are now telling the Soviet Government that the problems of Berlin and Germany will never be settled by unilateral decision. My view—and I believe that I carry hon. Members of both sides of the House with me in this—is that the only possible way to solve the problems of Europe, or any other international problems, is round the conference table. Mr. Khrushchev has repeatedly said that he wants a Summit Conference and that all the problems dividing East and West can be settled peaceably. If that is so, it is desirable from every point of view that a Summit Conference should take place—and take place soon.
Surely the wise thing to do is for the Western Governments, including our own, to take the initiative once again to try to bring about a Summit Conference, so that in negotiations over the conference table the Soviet Government's bona fides can be put to the test. If Mr. Khrushchev persists in his refusal to co-operate in organising a Summit Conference, the world will know where the responsibility lies.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rippon (Norwich, South)
The whole House listened, as it always does, with great interest and respect to the views of the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson). I hope he will understand that, much as I would like, in ordinary circumstances, to take 1410 up some of the points he made, I cannot follow him into the realms of defence policy, into questions of disengagement, and so forth. Rather, I want to pursue the line taken by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). I wish to take this opportunity, one of the rare opportunities we have, to survey the European political scene as a whole. We understood that this debate was to be on European political problems.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said that he found these discussions on foreign policy depressing. So, frankly, do I. The whole difficulty, it seems to me, is that all too often we improvise a debate just to wrangle over the latest crisis, whatever it may happen to be. We are exactly like a fire brigade, dashing from one trouble spot to another. I believe that is just playing the Communist game. I believe that nearly every action of the Soviet bloc is designed specifically—at any rate, in the first instance—to test the will and unity of the Western countries; in the hope that, perhaps sooner or later, we shall weary of the long-drawn-out struggle, and either fall out among ourselves through divisions of opinion, or else adopt some fatal compromise which could bring us only the illusion of peace without security.
After all, there is no reason for the Communist bloc to risk war when they have subtler strategies at their disposal. The cause of much of Western European troubles since the war has been a lack of common purpose. But I think that we must accept that in recent years there has been a concerted, and a partially successful, effort to build it up. In that work I believe that Her Majesty's Government have played a notable part. The N.A.T.O. Prime Ministers' meeting, last December, demonstrated, to a degree unprecedented in peace-time history, a joint determination to pursue closely concerted policies. The Foreign Ministers meeting in Copenhagen in the spring of this year marked a further advance.
The truth is that for the Western world—and here I agree entirely with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen—purely separate concepts of foreign policy are no longer feasible. We must not merely consult together. As M. Spaak said recently, we must consult together so as to reach agreement. That, 1411 necessarily, to a greater or lesser degree must involve some surrender of national sovereignty. We have to go further than we have already gone in pursuing a concept of interdependence. The difference between a "supra-national" organisation and an "inter-Governmental" agency is somewhat less wide than many people believe. It is essentially a matter of degree and of approach. After all, every treaty involves some diminution of national sovereignty, some surrender of national sovereignty, however limited in time or extent.
I am not a federalist, but I think that we must recognise that the sovereignty of every nation of Europe, and indeed of the free world, is already in commission to the others whether we like it or not. As the zoo-keeper said, when asked how to handle a dangerous python if it escaped, "You can only handle it if you have a dozen men, and you have got to trust them all."
I believe that many of our debates on foreign policy are unrealistic. The reason why they are so poorly attended sometimes is that there are, fortunately, a good many hon. Members on the back benches who realise that no longer can we debate foreign policy in terms of a Conservative or a Socialist approach. It is ludicrous for the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) to approach a problem like Berlin on the basis that we must go to the defence of our Socialist colleagues. It is just as foolish as the National Executive of the Labour Party's policy statement in 1950, when it said that we could not go into Europe with enthusiasm because we could not take part in international organisations which did not have a Socialist majority. We must realise that in these days an attack upon Government policy is frequently, in effect, an attack on the whole policy of the Western world. We may make such an attack, but let us recognise at least that it is not a fight between Socialists and Conservatives. What I believe that we do have to discuss is what the common policy should be, and then ensure that Britain plays a full part in shaping it.
We have to do some more thinking about the rôle which Britain should pursue in the world. We have been too conscious of our unique position as a 1412 Commonwealth, and an Atlantic as well as a European Power. I suggest, with some diffidence, that that is one of the reasons we have diverted so far from the main stream of current European thought and opinion. We have thought too much—with due respect to my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) who coined the phrase—in terms of being "with" Europe, but not "of" Europe.
We can influence events in Europe only if we come off the fence and get down into the arena. I believe that our contribution is of supreme importance. With my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen, I believe that we cannot contemplate the dangers which might result from a division of Europe. In the last resort Little Europe cannot stand on its own, and neither can we. But whatever we do we must do as partners and not as external agents.
There are many people who urge the Commonwealth tie as a reason for not forging links which are too close with Europe. But I think that those links are not exclusive or conflicting. They are complementary. Those people who argue that they are antagonistic are like the wife who gave her husband two ties for Christmas, and, when he came downstairs wearing one of them, said, "Huh, so you don't like the other!"
As the result of always seeming to want to stand a little aloof from the rest of Europe, I think that we have been unfairly regarded as being comparatively unco-operative. We have a great many friends in Europe. The Prime Minister and many of his colleagues are well known for their services to the cause of European unity. So are many of the Leaders of the Opposition. But the fact remains, as was said by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen, that successive Governments have failed to take a lead in Europe and win the full confidence and trust of the European people. I do not seek this afternoon, any more than did my hon. and learned Friend, to apportion blame. I think that it can be shared fairly equally.
I am in broad agreement with the policies of the Government, but—and, here again, I agree with my hon. and learned Friend that this is not wholly the fault of the politicians—I have the feeling 1413 that the so-called realists in the Treasury, the Foreign Office and elsewhere, have persistently and seriously underestimated the strength of the political forces at work in Europe today. Within a few months of the then Economic Secretary to the Treasury saying, of the Common Market negotiations, "We cannot at this stage be sure that they will succeed," the Rome Treaties were signed. Since then my right hon. Friend the Paymaster-General has earned deserved praise for his work in trying to negotiate a Free Trade Area, but he has been negotiating late and, inevitably, from a position of weakness.
Even now we do not seem to appreciate that the battle for the Free Trade Area will never be won in a ministerial negotiating committee. We may welcome a temporary compromise which will no doubt be reached, but not until after we have been left in a humiliating position, out on a limb. We have to recognise, on both sides of the House, that these new organisations can only be created on a political level, and by the interplay of public and Parliamentary opinion. Here is the great responsibility which is upon hon. Members on both sides of the House.
Parliamentary opinion has made itself known. But it has not yet made itself felt. Long before the conception of a Free Trade Area was officially announced, 150 Members from both sides of the House signed Motions urging the Government to participate in the negotiations in which we were not then represented even by an observer. Time and time again we have signed Motions and taken part in debates in which we have unanimously agreed that we must take further practical steps towards European unity. It is to the Government's credit that they have already taken some of these preliminary steps.
In December, 1956, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary put forward to the N.A.T.O. Council a very imaginative proposal concerned with reducing the proliferation of European assemblies and organisations. No doubt it may be said to have been a rather hazy proposal; that it did not deserve the grandiloquent title of a "Grand Design"; and that it was put forward in the wrong time, in the wrong place, and in the wrong way. Nevertheless, it was generally welcomed as a fundamentally sound conception. It was welcomed by the Assem- 1414 blies of the Council of Europe and Western European Union as forming a basis for discussion and study. What has happened since? Nothing.
At about the same time, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary told the seven Foreign Secretaries of Western European Union that the Union should become a real political association that should be given more power. What has happened since? Nothing.
On 8th February, 1957, I was delighted to hear the Minister of State, Foreign Office, tell the House that the Government intended to make advances on the political front as well as in pursuance of the Free Trade Area, and that they envisaged more efficient arrangements whereby politicians could meet and discuss any aspect of European cooperation. What has happened since? Nothing.
I rejoiced when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met the President and Chancellor Adenauer in Bonn in May. 1957, and when, at the end of their meeting, they issued an agreed communiqué in which they said thatthe multiplicity of existing and projected European organisations and of European Parliamentary bodies made it desirable to pursue a joint effort to clarify as far as possible the structure of European institutions.They agreed that the most appropriate time to do that would be when the Rome Treaties were signed. What has happened since? Nothing.
Why are we not making better progress? To some extent it is because we are going the wrong way about it. The policies are sound but, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen has said, what is lacking is a manifestation of the political will that is driving forward on the Continent a new generation of politicians—not only in France—who are shaping the future of Europe. I venture with some diffidence, at this stage, to put forward some stronger criticisms, which perhaps may bear upon what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen has said about it not being all the fault of politicians.
The Foreign Office gives me the impression of working to rule. There is no drive. Too many of its officials often give the appearance of being supercilious and bored. I do not doubt their intellectual calibre but it would be refreshing if sometimes they displayed 1415 more enthusiasm. Let me be frank about this. Some of them might be at greater pains to disguise the obvious contempt that they feel for those who are not within the magic circle. The time has come when they should be made a little more aware of the will and power of Parliament, whose servants they are.
I believe that great damage is done to our interests by reason of the fact that even when we support a European project we appear to be rather ungracious about it, because we are either pushed into it at the last minute or, when we are in, we try to pare the budget or hold up progress in some way or another. How refreshing it would be if someone would get up some time from the British side and warmly welcome the initiative taken by someone else. No wonder that against that background there is suspicion when we come forward with a proposal of our own, whether related to European assemblies or to the Free Trade Area. No wonder they say to us, "Why don't you take more interest in organisations that already exist?"
The Council of Europe has not perhaps worked out exactly as some of its founders hoped, but it is wrong to regard it—as do some of the people to whom I have referred—as just another talking shop. I believe that the Prime Minister was right when he said of it:What impresses me, and what I believe will impress future historians, is not our failure but our extraordinary success.The success lies in its influence on European Parliamentary and public opinion, to which we pay insufficient attention.
I come back to my main theme. This House must assert itself over the Executive. We must make it clear that when we listen to these interchanges between our two Front Benches we who sit on back benches are not the helpless, ineffective flock of sheep that they sometimes think we are. We will never succeed in coping with the political problems of Western Europe unless we ourselves make our opinions known, not merely in this House but in the country and in Europe.
At present I have a strong feeling—although I am not an official Parliamentary member of any of these European bodies I go around Europe—that British Parliamentarians who are travelling and working in Europe are severely handi- 1416 capped in their efforts to support and sustain British policy and interests for three reasons.
First, there is inadequate official support and recognition for the work that they are doing. [An HON. MEMBER: "Money."] One of my hon. Friends says that they do not get any money. Certainly, we travel around as the beggars of Europe, but it is usually all right. Normally, we can manage to get a lift in one of the German cars.
Secondly, it is a great mistake that there is not a greater degree of continuity of our representation in European organisations. We are not treating them seriously enough when we automatically change everybody every two or three years. As soon as a man has established a position and is doing really good work, perhaps as vice-chairman of an organisation, and is likely to be made chairman, we take him away. No wonder Europe does not take our work seriously.
Thirdly, we put too great a burden on the second eleven. This is not said in any disparaging sense. I fully appreciate the immense burden he carries, but I do hope that the Foreign Secretary will attend a meeting of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Perhaps I ought to conclude as I began, in an uncontroversial way. I would like to quote what Gladstone really did say in 1888. He said:We are part of the community of Europe and we must do our duty as such.I believe that to be a good European is no mean patriotism.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I am delighted to be able to say for once that I can support almost entirely something said by an hon. Member opposite. However, I think that the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Rippon) was a little unfair to my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) in his reference to Germans in Berlin. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend was talking to a Socialist meeting, but probably it was under the auspices of the Labour Party. In any case, I do not see much difference between referring to his own colleagues in Berlin and someone from the benches opposite talking to Pakistanis about a crusade for Christianity in any part of the world.
§ Mr. Rippon
I gladly withdraw any reference to the right hon. Member for Belper which might be thought unfair. I was thinking only of the Labour Party policy statement.
§ Mr. Hynd
I agree with the hon. Member to a certain extent in his opening comments about suspicion of the Russian purpose in this move and many other moves made in the past—the purpose of the Russians to sow dissension in the West being the primary objective of these overtures. There is no doubt ample evidence that that has been at least one of their purposes in events which have taken place in the last fifteen years. Evidence of that is given by the success of their slogan policy so avidly adopted in this country, with "Ban the Bomb", while Russia is boasting about a series of tests, the campaign against arming the Germans when the Russians are arming the Germans in the Eastern Zone, and propaganda against the release of war prisoners which suddenly came to an end when the Russians themselves initiated the release of top prisoners from Spandau. One of the latest is that about the Nazis being restored to positions of power in Western Germany. I have with me a rather interesting cutting about that from a German paper Die Nation. That paper said:All former Nazis and former Hitlerwehrmacht officers and professional soldiers are with us …That is, Eastern Germany. It says they complain about:the former members of the N.S.D.A.P.That is the National Socialist Party of Germany—in the work of the National Front and particularly in all German work…who have been "very neglected". More and more former members of the N.S.D.A.P., officers and professional soldiers of the Hitlerwehrmacht:perceive in the German Democratic Republic the German State in which their social aspirations, once mistakenly identified by them with national socialism, are now realised.That is a true statement, but it appears very strangely with the propaganda they are making about people who once belonged to the Nazi Party being active in one way or another in Western Germany.
Whilst agreeing with the hon. Member that this is no doubt one of the reasons for the overture by the Russians, at least, 1418 like many others, it might be worth examining. It is not very clear what they want. I do not contribute to the idea which we hear so often bruited about that Russia is living in permanent fear and trembling at the prospect of being invaded by West Germany's twelve divisions, or any development of those divisions. I do not believe that for a moment.
I think that everyone, even those who express that point of view, will agree that the main thing Russia is afraid about—if she is afraid at all—is America, the only other big atomic Power in the world, the really great military Power which clearly and ostentatiously is talking about anti-Communism. I am sure that if the Russians have any fear it is of ate Americans. I am sure that the people who talk about having to understand this Russian fear and, therefore, of trying to prevent Germany reaching a position of power and independence and making a contribution to Western defence, would never suggest on the same basis of argument that we ought to encourage the withdrawal of American forces from Europe, or their reduction. Therefore, I do not see a great deal of logic in the argument and do not subscribe to it.
There may be one or two reasons for these proposals by Mr. Khrushchev. It may be merely an attempt to get an opening of discussion on German reunification. A reason why Russia is probably much interested in the final reunification of Germany on some acceptable lines and a relaxation of tension for economic reasons may be the shortage of manpower in Russia itself and the tension which exists in Europe in a hydrogen bomb world, of which Russia is as much aware as we are. It may be the dangers of another 17th June in Eastern Germany or another Hungarian event which might blow up the whole of that dangerous area. Therefore, there are substantial reasons why Russia might be interested in getting some form of reunification, and this may be an effort to reopen discussions.
On the other hand, it might be an ultimatum to the West—a piece of cold war or an attempt to isolate Berlin and to secure a recognition of the German Democratic Republic. If it is reunification they are after, we ought to try to find out more about it. For the reasons I have mentioned, the Russians would probably like to have a settlement of this German situation. For obvious reasons 1419 which we all know, we would like a settlement and, for equally powerful reasons, the Germans themselves would like a settlement. If the reason is merely concerned with Berlin, there are understandable reasons why Russia does not like this Trojan horse permanently stabled in the middle of her territory, encouraging refugees to draw out. Particularly in the last twelve months, the intellectuals, doctors, scientists and teachers have in their turn encouraged ordinary people, seeing leaders of thought in East Germany rushing out and finding asylum somewhere else, to think that if they find sufficient reason for going they should follow that lead.
One can understand the Russians' concern about that and about the centre of agitation which Berlin has become and must inevitably become in this situation. We can understand their concern about the vivid contrast in the standard of living between East and West Berlin. Therefore, it might be that it is only the Berlin situation which they want to clear up and we can discuss that. If it is a question of getting a recognition of the East German régime, frankly I do not see a reason why we should be so excited about having a meeting with representatives of the D.D.R. to discuss the question of German reunification. I know there is a question of prestige involved, but if ever there is to be any development of the solution of the German situation it must lead at some stage to discussions with the representatives of the D.D.R. It will be a question of bringing together the two parts of Germany, and we must consult the Western Germans and also must discuss with the Eastern Germans. They must at some stage get together, even if only to discuss the procedure for winding up the D.D.R. institutions. That cannot be done without discussion with the representatives of the D.D.R. If it is to serve the purpose of bringing about a development towards reunification of Germany, we ought not to be afraid of it.
The question has been asked several times whether in fact the Russians intend reunification of Germany, whether there is in fact any likelihood that they might now be prepared to discuss it. On the debit side, there is the history of events over the last thirteen years, which would seem to discourage the idea that they 1420 want any progress on this. There was the Potsdam Agreement in 1945, which failed because of the Russian attitude. There was the failure of the currency reform for the whole of Germany, which might have been the beginning of reunification, in 1948, with the result that Berlin was divided and Russia found herself comparatively in a much worse position than before. This was followed by the Berlin blockade, which failed because of the airlift, again leaving Russia with a great loss of prestige and certainly not in a stronger position.
There was also the failure of the Potsdam proposals for a German peace treaty. These failed, with the result that we have been forced to recognise the necessity for some administration in Western Germany, which had to have democratic institutions, and these could not be democratic institutions under an occupying authority. There had therefore to be the development of an independent Parliament. This development having taken place, it had to have the rights of an independent Parliament and to play some part in its own defence.
Every step which the Russians have taken in the major events of the last thirteen years has been against any development towards unification or integration, but every one of those attitudes by the Russians has failed, and in every case they have found themselves worse off in the end. It may be that at last they are beginning to see reason and are realising that this constant, "No, no, no" is only taking them into a relatively more difficult position. If it is true, as we hear so often, that the Russians find the Berlin situation intolerable; if it is true that they find the present position of Western Germany as a member of N.A.T.O. and a developing economic power dangerous and intolerable; and if they are afraid that the Eastern frontiers of Germany might be the cause of dispute in the future, they have all the reasons in the world to say, "Let us try to solve these problems", because that is obviously to their advantage.
It might seem from the history which I have related that there is very little prospect of agreement, therefore, but on the credit side we should remember that over the years there have been indications that the Russians have been prepared to discuss free elections. There 1421 was the Berlin Conference of 1954, when Mr. Molotov made the proposals on behalf of the Russian Government which I quoted from the Soviet News. He then asked:… will Germany, after the elections proposed—this was under the Eden plan—be really free in its home and foreign affairs? The Soviet Government desires that, as a result of the all-German elections, the German state should be really free, should have a really free hand in both its home and foreign policy.In that case, we were discussing a Germany unified by free elections, but what the Russians were demanding, and what they thought the British Government were not prepared to accept, was that a reunited Germany should be entirely free in its home and foreign affairs.
Mr. Molotov went on to say:We should reach agreement that, following all-German elections, Germany should not be bound by any agreements made with one or another grouping of powers, that Germany should firmly take to the peaceful and democratic path and should freely decide—this is relevant to the question whether Germany should join N.A.T.O. or the Warsaw Pact—not only its home but also its foreign affairs.In other words, they should not be bound either by the Warsaw or N.A.T.O. Pacts but should be entirely free.
The Eden plan, he said,follows from the assumption that after all-German elections Germany will not be free to decide … whether the Bonn and Paris agreements now being imposed on Western Germany shall remain in force.He said in that case we could not have a really free Germany after the elections. That was what Mr. Molotov said at the Berlin Conference.
En paragraph 1 of the Geneva communiqué, which was agreed and issued after the conference, we read,… with due regard to the legitimate interests of all nations and their inherent right to individual and collective self-defence.This involved the right of Western Germany to belong to N.A.T.O. or of Eastern Germany to belong to the Warsaw Pact or of a united Germany to belong to any collective pact. That was laid down in the Geneva Conference communiqué. Mr. Molotov went on to say thatThe Soviet proposals do not envisage the liquidation of the N.A.T.O. bloc, Western 1422 European Union or the Warsaw Treaty in the first stage.It was again laid down in the Geneva Conference communiqué that the Russians were entirely in agreement with the idea of free elections.
We know that later they rejected the idea. We know that they argued about what free elections might mean. The fact remains that they were prepared to accept some form of free elections. I know it will be said that it is useless for us to talk about free elections, in spite of the history of the Berlin Conference and the Geneva Conference, and despite the proposals made by the Russians, but are free elections out of the question if we put the word "free" in inverted commas? We might say that from our point of view they are out of the question if we use inverted commas, but is that reasonable?
The Russians themselves have pointed out that the question of reunification is one for the Germans themselves, and if this is serious it must mean some agreement by the Germans on steps towards reunification and on the institutions under which reunification will be administered. This must mean German agreement on how to establish these institutions. Whether it will be by elections or by some form of appointment or by some other method is a matter for discussion between the Germans, and once we leave it to the Germans—and in their latest note the Russians have said that this is not a matter for the great Powers but entirely a matter for the Germans—how can we suggest that the two Germanies will not agree on some form of election?
If it is a question of what is a free election, is there any reason why the form of elections which they have in West Germany should not continue in West Germany and the form of elections which they have in East Germany should not continue in East Germany? This may not be welcome to us any more than free elections in East Germany would be welcome to the Russians, but if we are to get agreement between these two opposing forms we must set up something to which the two opposing forms will agree.
If we could get to that stage, at which they could agree on the establishment of some kind of an all-German institution 1423 and a central form of all-German authority, however limited it might be, by these different methods of election, clearly in the course of time this would evolve into a common form of all-German elections to cover the whole area. I see no argument against that.
We apparently stand by our conception of elections, with members being returned by the votes of the people within a certain geographical area, whereas the conception of the Communist countries and the Italian Fascists is of representatives being elected by the groups within certain institutions, such as youth organisations, factories, trade unions and universities. If it were merely the geographical distribution of candidates and representatives in Parliament which were at stake, I should feel that there was no difficulty at all, but if it is a question of the form by which, within these boundaries, they are elected, then I think, for the reasons I have given, that this is a matter which we can well leave to the Germans.
When we were discussing the question of free elections in January, 1955, and when he was getting away from the idea of the kind of elections which we consider as free, Mr. Molotov made it clear that what he had in mind was some form of election in which account would be taken of the electoral laws of the two sectors of Germany.
It may be said that this is all past history and that even any concessions which we might be prepared to consider in the question of forms of election or appointment in order to get the two Germanies together are out of date, because the Russians have again, within the last two or three days, categorically refused to talk about free elections. It must be remembered, however, that we have refused a number of things, too, as a prerequisite for the discussion. We have refused to discuss mixed elections of the kind I have mentioned and we have refused any recognition of the East German régime.
When we remember our attitude over the Oder-Neisse line, how can we expect Khrushchev to say, "I will give you free elections, four-Power talks and all the rest, so let us have discussions"? I disagree with my hon. Friend's conception of the Oder-Neisse line being 1424 Adenauer's blackmail. Both at Yalta and at Potsdam we laid it down quite categorically that neither that line nor the final delimitation of Poland's western frontier would be discussed prior to a peace conference.
The Yalta Agreement says:… the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should thereafter await the Peace Conference.Again, the Potsdam Agreement says:The three Heads of Government reaffirm their opinion that the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement.We have not yet come to the peace settlement—
§ Mr. Hynd
Western Germany, of course, cannot negotiate one, because we have ourselves maintained that the terms of a peace treaty must first be agreed by the four great Powers. We say that we are responsible for Germany, pending a peace treaty. That has so far been the basic difference between ourselves and the Communists. The Russians have said that this is no longer a matter for the four great Powers but is a matter for the two Germanies. A peace treaty, however, has to be signed by the four Powers, and we would like to see what Herr Ulbricht and the others have to say about that.
As I say, according to the Potsdam and the Yalta Agreements we were not to discuss Poland's Western frontier until we had a peace treaty. From the point of view of negotiations, I should not have thought it necessary for Germany to make herself naked before going to the conference. We can strip her if we like—say what she shall give away—but I do not think that she has any need to do that herself.
My main point is that we must not consider that anything the Russians say they will not accept is something that we can no longer discuss in negotiation. That is not so, any more than is the reverse. Whether or not this is blackmail, an ultimatum, something aimed merely at isolating Germany or enforcing recognition of the D.D.R., or opening up something much wider, we have, at least, 1425 nothing to lose in entering discussion and seeing how far we can get.
On only one thing I would insist; there must be no selling of Western Germany, either in advance or at the conference. We must remember that, whatever may be Western Germany's position now, it has come about as the result of our persuasion and encouragement. Whether that position is right or wrong in international defence or politics, the Germans have accepted the agreements that we have imposed on her—or, shall I say, persuaded her to accept—and has stuck loyally by them.
Western Germany has now accepted commitments, and it would not be easy for her or for Berlin to surrender unilaterally now. They are our Allies, and must be considered. I presume that the Germans are just as ready as anybody to discuss alternatives to the present set-up, even in the defence sphere, because if this were to lead to some form of reunification which, in turn, might lead to wider disarmament, then, economically and in every other sense, Germany would benefit as much as we would—probably more than we would.
It is interesting to note that even Her Majesty's Government are now interested in the Rapacki Plan, in spite of the reservations made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman this afternoon. The Foreign Secretary has said, and I believe that he repeated it today, that some aspects of the plan might be worth discussing. I hope that that will he followed up.
Let me make it quite clear that I am not now talking about any form of disengagement. I see a great difference between the proposals of the Rapacki Plan and other forms of disengagement. We have to ask ourselves whether it would make things better or more dangerous to withdraw the American and the Russian forces. We can all have our own opinions about that, but as I see the position in Berlin, whenever there has been an incident at the zonal frontiers it has been a minor one, and it has been quickly put right by either an American or a British junior officer speaking about it to a Russian officer.
There has been no firing, no frontier questions, no battles, which compares very well with the situation on the Israel- 1426 Jordan frontier and the Israel-Syria frontier, where there have been incidents, incursions, and even a major war. Until the political conditions are more settled and there is a substantial and guaranteed agreement between the main Powers, I do not think we shall contribute a great deal to the maintenance of peace in these areas just by withdrawing the main troops from them.
The Rapacki Plan does not propose that. The proposals for disengagement generally do. The Rapacki Plan proposes that until we have a much wider agreement there shall be a reduction in the numbers of troops here, and I do not see any difficulty about that. The numbers of troops that we have in Berlin and on the German frontier are not considerable. They are no barrier to any major attack. They would not last five minutes—neither would 1,000, 2,000 or 5,000 less. It would not make the slightest different. Their importance is that they are there as a token to show that the territory is American, British, N.A.T.O. or whatever it may be, and that any incursion would involve reactions in the Western countries.
Rapacki faces this practical situation and is prepared to deal with it in a practical way, though not by withdrawal of the main forces immediately, which, I think, would lead to a very dangerous situation. Rapacki recognises the need for the trip-wires until the situation makes them no longer necessary. Because the Rapacki Plan includes Poland and Czechoslovakia it should have an immediate appeal both to Poland and Russia, and we should have made a serious attempt at an ageement on this basis.
Only one point about security in these areas worries me. What form of guarantee can we have once the Russians, the Americans and ourselves have withdrawn? The four-Power guarantee idea does not seem a very happy one at all. At the moment, there is no agreement between Russia, America, France and the United Kingdom for intervention, unilateral or collective, in the event of an incident on the zonal frontiers of Berlin, but once an agreement is established, we would then be in rather the same position that we were in after the signing of the Tripartite Agreement in the Middle East.
We would have given sanction to each party to decide when an aggression had 1427 taken place. We would have given them a sanction to do something in certain conditions, and if we did not agree that those conditions existed we should have no alternative but to take action ourselves. I do not think that a guarantee by the four main Powers is the answer, but it might well be that some form of guarantee by the United Nations could be obtained.
Why not find out what this is all about? Let us accept talks on Berlin. If we do that it may be that the other dependent aspects of the problem will inevitably have to be raised—the reunification of Germany, the peace treaty, the frontiers, the institutions for a reunified Germany, and so on. We should welcome the Rapacki Plan as a basis for discussions on matters which are relevant to the Berlin situation. We should be prepared to examine, at least, the conception of a confederated Germany as an interim solution of the present problem, with all the implications of electoral laws which might not be exactly as we should like to have them here, possibly considering the necessity of accepting a temporary appointed authority if we cannot agree on common elections for the central authority.
Basically, we ought to insist that, in any arrangements which are made for the reunification of Germany or for a temporary solution of the Berlin problems, there should be agreement for the free movement of persons and goods throughout Germany. German nationals should be allowed to move freely about their own country, which they must do if there is to be reunification.
Quite frankly, I do not see very much difficulty in the matter of defence either. If we reach the point of general reunification, then the question of defence is raised. This would primarily be a matter for the Germans themselves. According to the United Nations Charter, they are, of course, as entitled as anyone else to the basic right of collective or individual self-defence.
Should nothing come of it, should our attempts at negotiation fail, should the Russians not mean to have any serious negotiations, then, I submit, the corridors to West Berlin will remain our responsibility with or, if necessary, without the agreement of the East Germans. It is 1428 rather strange, but it is true, that there is no written agreement in regard to these corridors, largely as a result, perhaps, of too much faith in Russian intentions to co-operate after the war. However, if the Russians resign from their responsibilities, there can then be no barrier so far as we are concerned.
In the absence of a peace treaty with Germany, Berlin is still an occupied territory, for which the four Powers have a responsibility. If one Power withdraws its responsibility, obviously, the total responsibility must rest with the remaining Powers. If anyone questions our right to be in Berlin, we must remind him that we are in Berlin by agreement with the Russians at Yalta, and that in order to establish our position in Berlin we voluntarily withdrew 100 miles out of Russian occupied territory. Our position in Berlin is no less established than the position or rights of the Russians or their successors, the D.D.R., in any part of the territory. Both occupations took place under the same agreement.
It has been suggested by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A Henderson) that we might submit this question of our rights in Berlin or West Germany, or in the corridor—whatever it might be—to the International Court. I do not think that this is necessary, because our rights have been clearly established under agreements which we have signed and according to the usage which has continued for 13 years. There is no peace treaty, and somebody must have authority. Under agreements which I could quote, if I had time and the House wished it, it is clearly our responsibility, with or without the Russians or the French or any others, to maintain that position until the peace treaty is signed. On the other hand, of course, I am in favour always of the International Court being asked to adjudicate if only for the purpose of clarifying the matter throughout the world. It might do no harm to take it to the International Court.
If we find that this proposal from Russia is not merely concerned with Berlin, is not concerned merely with the reunification of Germany and is not concerned merely with disarmament and the relaxation of tension in Europe, but they even want a much wider settlement—if 1429 they desire relaxation and disarmament in Europe, presumably they would like it in a wider area—there is no reason that we should not discuss other matters as well.
If the Russians are concerned with having a. quid pro quo and they are prepared to say that they will give East Germany back, what can we offer in exchange? There happens to be on the other side of the world a territory very similar to East Germany, a territory which, like East Germany, is part of a mainland and which is under a régime which is recognised in the United Nations. That territory, however, happens to be inhabited by a group of people who have no international status and who have no authority in the main part of their country. I refer, of course, to Formosa.
I do not see why we should not be prepared to discuss Formosa in the context of releasing Germany from occupation. It might be asked, "What will the Russians get out of Formosa if they leave East Germany and the Chinese get Formosa"? Let the Chinese and the Russians work that out for themselves. At least, we could offer it.
Whatever may be the possibilities, or lack of possibilities, behind these offers which have been made, I strongly urge the Government not to reject them, not to be too rigid in their attitude towards them, and to be prepared to go in again and open discussions of the widest possible nature acceptable in order to try finally to reach a solution of a problem which is concerning the whole world. If we cannot reach such a solution, at least once again let us clearly indicate where the fault lies.
§ 6.35 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I have noticed in my time here that some right hon. and hon. Members make speeches which are helpful to their colleagues on both sides of the House. The Foreign Secretary is one of those. While he is speaking it is always possible to note down a very large number of the points that he makes, and, when the occasion suits, to discuss them.
On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) is quite different. I am sorry that he has left his place. He always transfixes one with such horror to know 1430 what state of mind is going to be next that it is impossible to spend even a second in jotting something on a piece of paper. The only comment I was able to record during his speech was, "Subtle argumentation, but no real constructive proposal. Only partial agreement on his side."
There was, however, one remark which the right hon. Gentleman made, which was echoed in the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and in the speech of the hon. Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) to which I wish to direct attention. I mean the reference to the feeling that the Labour Party has—I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who is to wind up the debate for the Opposition, could deal with this—that Germany must be free eventually to decide not to be in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
I shall say something more about that later, but, in passing, and putting the point briefly, is it not much more of an assurance to the Russians to have this Germany, armed with atomic might growing from day to day, within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and, as the Foreign Secretary said, with its troops placed within the structure of the thing, interlocked in it, rather than roaming freely, like a wild animal, in the centre of Europe, with every opportunity of attacking the Soviet Union without restraint? Why does the Labour Party hold the view, which I took distinctly from the right hon. Gentleman, that it is important to decide that Germany, when united, should not be inside N.A.T.O.?
§ Mr. J. Hynd
I am sorry to interrupt, but did I understand the noble Lord to suggest that I was saying that Germany should not be free to join N.A.T.O., when reunited? I said quite the opposite.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
The point came principally from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale. The hon. Member for Attercliffe made so many points in such rapid gunfire fashion that it was impossible in his case also to take down even a note of what he said. The point came distinctly from the right hon. Gentleman.
The last time that there was a foreign affairs debate in the House, and, if my 1431 memory serves me, on the occasion before that, there was a raging thunderstorm overhead. I am quite certain that this is the atmosphere in which Mr. Khrushchev would like debates on foreign affairs to take place in this House. And we the reverse. The thunder of Jupiter always acts for him when his moral causes are wrong. But here we are tonight, rather snugly and cosily, on a winter evening, discussing foreign affairs, and I really think that Mr. Khrushchev ought to take note of the quiet and acceptable atmosphere in which his fulminating challenge to Europe is received by us at this time. There are barely 20 or 30 Members present in the Chamber at the moment. Perhaps I should not say it, but not long ago—shall we say two hours ago—barely five hon. Members were present. The Minister of Defence is so uninterested in the debate, although no doubt it is reported to him, that on the rare occasions when right hon. and hon. Members mention the affairs with which he deals he steals quietly in to listen for a second or two and then when we have passed on to subjects of not the slightest interest to Mr. Khrushchev, namely, the Common Market and the Free Trade Area, out slinks the Minister to his other duties.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo)
I do not want to disturb my hon. Friend in his remarks, but I should like him to know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence is absent only because he has other very pressing engagements to deal with, not because of any lack of interest in the debate. I know that my right hon. Friend will be back as soon as he is able.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am sure that that is so, and I am sure that the attitude the Minister is adopting is of very great significance, as I sought to show, in explaining to the Russian leaders that their proposal has not set the world by the ears.
The Russians seem to me to move, not, as many people have thought in the past, by careful design and long-term preparation all over the world, but in a series of fits and starts which are very often, as the hon. Member for Attercliffe said, due to internal or satellite pressures and more often in the rather splendid sort of 1432 opportunist way in which the British used to move in foreign affairs before we were transfixed by the modem liberal dogma and confined in obedience to the United Nations.
I visualise Mr. Khruschchev saying about Berlin at present, "Here is the West, sitting pretty, with no idea whatever about the future. Here is this smug, capitalist enclave in a good Socialist territory. It is about time that it got a good shaking, and it will serve, if it does not serve any other purpose, to tell Mao Tse Tung that we also have a Quemoy." I have thought for a long time that the Berlin situation was too good to be true and that it was fundamentally dangerous for the West to leave it alone as it was.
Why the Russians are moving now and not when they were triumphant at the time of their inter-continental ballistic missile last year, or their Sputnik, is a matter of some significance. I think that it is evidence of a basic uncertainty and restraint in the fundamental Russian political strategic position. We can spend a long time in looking great distances, may be to China, for the causes, but they are not relevant to this debate. But it comes out very strikingly in the Note which the Russians sent. It is a Note which is written in a very able style and in good, nervous English prose. I wonder which Englishman in Moscow is responsible for the drafting of it.
I thought that the Note was fascinatingly interesting and not unhopeful in its basic considerations. In large measure the facts were true and were stated, with one exception, without any rancour. Another remarkable thing which we ought to notice is that the tempest of hate which the Russians have engendered towards us for the last ten years is dying down. The froth and spume on the Eastern waves as they move across the ether towards us is disappearing and one is now able, for the first time since the war, to observe the configuration of the groundswell underneath.
If one reads the Note carefully, one will see that behind all the formal phrases of protocol there is on the Russian part a questioning of the whole purpose of European diplomacy and a fear, not so much of Anglo-American rocket power as the resurgence of German manpower inside the defence complex that the West has 1433 created. Also, I see in the Note a yearning for the sort of wartime political agreements that can be made capable of holding resurgent Germany down.
What the Russians seem to say is something like this, and in part it is rather naive, "Take this Berlin proposal of ours. Take six months to consider it if you like. Take the Rapaki Plan, the last or present plan. Take anything you like. Debate it, modify it, put up counter proposals to it, but in the name of humanity and justice"—not, notice, any longer Marxist-Leninist theory—"do not just sit tight on the status quo and the remorseless rearmament of the Germans, because that is intolerable to us and to Germany's neighbours in the East," and, it might he added, intolerable for us, too.
The question is whether we pay heed to the messages that are beginning to come to us from Russia, or whether we do not. Do we conclude that N.A.T.O.'s rôle in Europe, which was a defensive one, is not yet complete? In other words, do we stand pat on our post-war agreements vis-à-vis Berlin and steadily continue to elaborate and embellish N.A.T.O. with rockets and atomic bombs to the Germans?
That is one alternative. The other is that we conclude that N.A.T.O. is now a fully defensive-offensive organisation, that the post-war vacuum in Western Europe has been filled up and that it is now time to start creating the interlocking apparatus which will prevent an ultimate clash of forces between East and West. I hold and have held for some time, as I think the House knows by now, firmly to the latter view. I think, and have thought for a long time, that N.A.T.O. has become a positive diplomatic liability. Let us take one factor alone, namely, the position of the satellite countries. While this curtain of fire is on the ground, this ribbon of scorched earth, from the Baltic to the Aegean is in operation, how is it possible to get at the countries beyond the Iron Curtain? How can we talk about reclaiming them to democracy, peace and European civilisation while that position obtains?
The Foreign Secretary said this afternoon—and he had a great deal of support from this side of the House—that the important thing is not to have disengagement and not to have any kind of vacuum, however partial, in Europe because of the danger that the area would be 1434 overrun and become a liability. He spoke in terms of pleasure at the prospect of perpetual military line-up in Europe, that the sign of troops on the ground right up to some borderline is the best way of keeping security in every sense. I agree that it is always as well to have one's police well placed when one is in danger of traffic accidents and traffic jams. But what is the point? One gets to a certain line which is perpetual and one cannot get beyond it. One cannot develop one's policy for the enlargement of democracy, peace and civilisation if one admits this line. So we must go beyond it and create some détente to do so.
It is in this context that I find the defence stategy of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence since the first Russian Sputnik went up almost incomprehensible. I am at a loss to understand the basic military and political philosophy of my right hon. Friend. I am very glad that at this moment he has been able to come into the Chamber, because he is to reply to the debate and I would be grateful if he would say a word about this. I believe that my right hon Friend's rocket strategy is too narrowly conceived. It seems to be devoted exclusively to aiding and abetting the military purposes of N.A.T.O. It is a sort of projection into Siberia of the military consequences of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) at Fulton.
I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence is fascinated by the prospect of uplifting the civilisations of Eastern European countries; he has been associated with these movements for the last ten years. He is, or has been, an officer of them and has exemplified their ideals in speech after speech. How does he reconcile this with his comprehensive rocket strategy in Europe? The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation now desperately needs more culture and less science. To reverse Goering's famous dictum, I am now in the state that every time my right hon. Friend slips back the safety catch of a rocket missile I feel, with the Prime Minister, like reaching for another volume of Trollope.
The Russian move over Berlin gives the West a wonderful opportunity to start this process of modifying the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and inserting into it more politics and less 1435 militarism. If we are wise, we can use this Berlin incident that the Russians have engineered as a catalyst to change the composition of what I conceive to be our out-of-date political formulas in Europe.
Before I am more specific about the way in which that should be done, I would like to say something about disarmament. The speech of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale seemed to me to be a piece of vaulting idealism. His mind wandered into the empyrean about the future of disarmament. He pleaded for solutions on that line of thinking. I want to do the very reverse. I want to correct, very humbly, some of the false liberal thinking which infects our current judgment on disarmament.
We seem now to be aiming at worldwide comprehensive solutions which involve vast areas of mutual inspection and control. It is quite idle to suppose that if ever these teams of investigators, Russian or Western, really got to work on each other's territories, they would be content to stop at Aldermaston, Harwell, Oak Ridge, or Los Alamos, or their Russian equivalents. The investigations would be made, reports written and translated and inspection arranged. One report would lead to another. Mutual jealousies would be excited. New areas would be demanded for inspection until either the whole thing had to be called off as completely unworkable or hundreds of processes not shown even to our own nationals and high officers in the Armed Forces would be eagerly gazed upon by our potential enemies.
The thing breaks down as an intellectual exercise in political philosophy, apart from being an obvious physical impossibility. I have no faith whatever in the Geneva discussions that are now taking place, or in this sort of solution of disarmament problems. They are all too characteristic of the actions that all Governments have pursued since the war, of going in for the kind of operation that is a mere overture in international propaganda designed to do little more than, say, encourage neutral opinion in underdeveloped areas or some vague purpose of that kind. The rest of the world that is concerned cynically observes that the thing is nonsense from the start and that 1436 if real peace is to be achieved it must be pursued by other channels.
Therefore, the days have passed when anything of that sort can possibly achieve any success. Look at those Palais Rose discussions—months and months of palaver and nothing whatever was achieved. My hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said today that it had taken four weeks to get one point settled with the Russians on mutual inspection or cessation of testing and he rejoiced at a little draft that the Russians had put in towards a solution. Does my right hon. and learned Friend think that they will stick on that? Of course not. The moment that we show the slightest sign of accepting it, they will veer off on to another tactic. Why do we pursue these false hares? They seem to me to be irrelevant to the basic human situation.
There was a chance in 1943 and 1944, when the consequences of the war were being carefully considered by the Allies as they became steadily more victorious, when it might have been possible to have achieved mutual inspection of defeated Germany. At that time, Germany could have been made a laboratory for an experiment in the art of mutual Government by the victorious powers. We could have struggled with the Russians to get our units and American units on to the Oder. We could have allowed Russian units to come up on the Rhine. We could have had mutual areas of control and we could have used Germany as the instrument of interlocking the post-war Allies and preventing them from developing these mutual hates. Nothing was done at that most propitious time to secure anything of that sort. How do we suppose that what we could not do on the ground in those days we can do in the heavens now, with schemes for mutual inspection of launching sites and things of that kind?
In Berlin, too, which is relevant to this debate, and which is not a very large city, we could have arranged, perhaps, for four-Power mutual control of the city. We were not able to get even as far as that.
§ Mr. J. Hynd
The noble Lord's history is quite wrong. We tried very hard to get four-Power mutual inspection teams in West Germany. We got as far as getting them into the Western zone, but 1437 they were never allowed into the Eastern zone. Similarly, we had four-Power control in Berlin.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Quite so. The hon. Member is pointing up my argument. I say that if we cannot even get four-Power mutual control of a city the size of Berlin, how do we suppose we will get it for vast continents and inspection teams of rocket bases and all the rest? It is out of this world.
What happened was that the Russians smashed their way in as far as the Brandenburger Tor and there they have stayed ever since, with the rubble in between them and us. That is a monument of ineptitude to statesmanship at that time. The situation today is that no soldiers, no politicians, no administrators and no business men go through the Brandenburger Tor on their daily avocations. Only depressed humanity is able to pass it. With this picture before our eyes, what is the use of pretending that the world can soon be mutually controlled so that the hydrogen bomb can he eliminated?
Mr. Kennan's great advice to the Western world last year, in that remarkable series of lectures on the B.B.C., was to desist from playing the Russian game of presenting grandiose solutions, and to concentrate on first things first. If we want a detente, and, I think, we obviously do, we are forced to the conclusion, maybe very reluctantly to some advanced minds but by the logic of events that it must be of the old-fashioned, nineteenth century kind, namely, the withdrawal of manpower. After that, it may be possible to establish better relations. If it is, more disarmament will follow unilaterally. If, on the other hand, better relations are not established, no clever plans for comprehensive multilateral disarmament are worth the paper that they are written on.
I hope, therefore, that the matter of physical withdrawal will be the main ground upon which we play this Russian move over Berlin. Let the West withdraw half its forces in the area defined by the Rapacki Plan, that is to say, Western Germany, provided the Russians do the same in their half, that is Eastern Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Let us make no other disarmament proposals for the present, if we are not to get involved in impossible solutions.
1438 On the political side, let the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation invite immediately to its membership the Rapacki area countries, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and perhaps, later, Hungary, though not at this time, and, of course, East Germany will follow in naturally after unification has taken place. Let us see, having done this, and having made this attempt to break down the political violence of the Iron Curtain, what is the Communist reply. Let us see whether there is any condition on which Russia will allow the sensitive fringe area along the Iron Curtain to be overlapped by the security zones, West and East.
Finally, I should like to say a few words about Berlin itself. The great question is whether we can stay after the Russians have gone, if, indeed, they do get out in six months. If we stay, we are merely perpetuating and guaranteeing the remarkably silly idea that both parties in this country and practically the whole Press is unanimous about, of the free zone the Russians have put up. We shall be forced, therefore, to withdraw when the Russians leave, or soon after.
I go further. I say that we ought to withdraw and show some enthusiasm about doing it. Shock tactics seem to me just as necessary in Berlin as they were in Trieste. If hon. Members will note, relations between Yugoslavia and Italy are very much better now that we are no longer interested than they were when we were there. In my view, Bonn and Pankow must he made to get on.
There is too much complacency in German thinking at present. Western Germans ought to dig themselves out of their golden castles on the Rhine and be made to work for the recovery of their poorer brethren in the East for democracy, industrial strength and peace. We ought to give them every assistance in so doing. We ought to try to lift them to their highest destiny. Therefore, anything that we can do, Americans and French and ourselves, to make a provisional Government possible we ought to do. A provisional Government of civil servants from East and West Germany should be set up in Berlin. Somehow we must prise the Germans into a position where they are made to face each other and made to talk.
It seems to me that this provisional Government would have three tasks. One 1439 would be to take over the duties of the four-Power commandatura from the moment that we have to go. Secondly, they should become seized of the functions of trade, customs and movements between East and West Germany now being performed by officials of both Governments. Thirdly, they should prepare plans for all-German elections, on the basis of the very distinctive but, to some extent, overlapping drafts that were prepared for the meeting of the Foreign Ministers at Geneva in October and November, 1955, Comd. 9633, Annexe I being the Western draft and Annexe 1V being the Communist draft. If hon. Members would read those drafts again they would see that there is a mutually overlapping area. It is upon that very area that these civil servants in Berlin should concentrate in the coming months.
It was Germany, through her dire purposes of terror and disaster that brought the Iron Curtain down on the smoking ashes of Europe in 1945, and it ought to be Germany again, in all morals, that is obliged to stoop down, and with her bare hands, lift the Iron Curtain and jerk it into the skies, never to be seen again. If there are men of high purpose and integrity somewhere in Germany—and one can think of at least one in Berlin at this time—who wish to dispose for ever of the hideous nightmare of Hitler and do something great for their country, for unification, peace and civilisation, let them now stand forth and claim to do this thing.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Beswick (Uxbridge)
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) appears to have a good deal in common with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). Among other things, he seems to have the same capacity to transfix the House. When I am faced with the noble Lord's aloof assurance of his own convictions, I, too, find it difficult to put pencil to paper and make notes of what he says. When I do, I am afraid that they are notes of such picturesque phrases as the "spume and foam of the Eastern waves", and this concept which he has of the "false liberal doctrine of disarmament."
I agree, however, with some of the things which the noble Lord has said. I 1440 agree with him in condemning the rigid, sterile, negative attitude which the Government have had to this East-West problem. I agree with him that it is quite absurd to think that there is something unfair or indecent about the present Russian tactics in Berlin. Why should we expect the Russians to accept the present status quo? Why should we expect them to consider as the only alternative the sort of proposals which the Foreign Secretary was putting forward earlier today? What he suggested was not negotiation so much as surrender. I see absolutely nothing in either the economic or military progress of the Soviet Union which leads me to suspect that it will surrender to this negative, unmoving, unbending attitude of the West.
I thought the other day that it was almost pathetic to read Mr. Dulles quoting the various things which had happened in the world recently—the Communist probings in the Far East and in the Middle East, and now in Berlin—as evidence of Communist wickedness. Why should we expect anything else? Why should we expect the Communists to accept the present position in Quemoy and Matsu? Would we expect Mr. Dulles to accept the occupation of Long Island by hostile forces, or the occupation of Mexico, which in relation to the United States is as the Middle East is to the Soviet Union, its soft under-belly? Would we expect Mr. Dulles to watch those hostile forces arranging the affairs and their economy without or attempting to prise a way into them? Of course not. Similarly, in Berlin it is quite unrealistic to take up this subtle analysis of the present action there. The Soviet Union wants to change the situation, and we cannot blame her.
I agree with the noble Lord that we should have been ready with a constructive and positive proposal ourselves to come to some sort of arrangement about that part of the world. Of course, it is when we come to consider the kind of arrangement that we should have there that we begin to differ. I do not want to spend any more time in dealing with the Berlin situation. I do not propose to speak for long, but I want to turn for a few moments to the Geneva talks on nuclear tests.
I do not accept at all the defeatist attitude of the noble Lord about the prospect 1441 of disarmament. Indeed, it seems to me that in the possibility of a start on disarmament we have one of the most hopeful opportunities before us. First of all, I want to dispose again of this legend, this myth, that it has been the Soviet Union and her refusal to accept any control that has been the reason for the deadlock in the disarmament discussions. It is quite wrong. This is a myth which has been carefully developed by the Foreign Office and by the State Department, and there is no truth in it. In so far as there has been any difficulty to get down to the details of the control system with the Soviet Union, this has been more than balanced by the difficulty in getting the Western side to agree to state exactly what it is that they are prepared to disarm.
In the first place, when the Soviet Union was putting forward her proposal for banning the bomb it was the West that said they could not do that because it left the Soviet Union with a preponderence of conventional strength, and we put forward on our side a proposal for reducing conventional forces. Sir Gladwyn Jebb, who was our spokesman at the time, made this point in 1952:I we could reach agreement on the levels of all Armed Forces, I am sure that this in itself would restore international confidence to such an extent that the problem of the control of atomic energy would present much less formidable obstacles.That was the reply when some of us on this side of the House over and over again asked why we could not come to some sort of agreement for the control of atomic energy? The argument then was that it would leave the Soviet Union with a preponderance of conventional arms. Eventually, the Soviet Union said, "All right, if that is what you want, we will accept your proposal for a reduction in conventional arms strength."
It was at that point, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) stated on a previous occasion and in another publication, that the Western Powers switched, and when I asked the former Minister of State, Mr. Nutting, why it was that we could not accept the Russian proposals which were virtually the same as the British, for a reduction in conventional forces, he then said that we could not accept that—… for this very simple reason. To go down to 1.5 million, for example for the United States would, I am advised, mean that the United 1442 States could no longer maintain its commitment within Europe, and that would mean the disruption of the N.A.T.O. defence structure."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 7th May, 1956; Vol. 552, c. 837.]I am not at this moment arguing about the merits of this proposal. All I am saying is that it is quite wrong to have said throughout the discussions that it was Soviet reluctance to discuss controls which caused the deadlock.
Eventually, after failing to come to an agreement either about conventional arms or atomic disarmament generally, we came down to the question of nuclear tests. Time and time again, the Foreign Secretary from the Front Bench opposite has wished that Russia would agree to have expert technical talks to see what was actually possible and what would be needed to detect tests. The Russians would not agree to have the technical talks, because, throughout they have said that they do not wish to discuss control before we have reached agreement on some measure of disarmament. That was the deadlock at that time.
Eventually, the Soviet Union made its declaration on the unilateral suspension of tests. What did the Americans say? What did President Eisenhower say? On 8th April, he said:Why should we not at once put our technicians to work to study together and advise as to what specific control measures are necessary?That was held to be the reply of the State Department to the Russian proposal to abandon nuclear tests. It was shortly after that that the Russians said. "All right, we will have these technical talks," and they took place in Geneva. They were held in a very friendly atmosphere, and one of the most encouraging things about that technical conference was the communiqué issued afterwards, in which the technical experts said that the atmosphere had been very friendly, and the Western side for their part paid tribute to the co-operation which they had received from the other side of the table. It is my belief that that kind of friendly co-operation could be forthcoming again if only we had had a little more giving from this side.
There was a great hope when the political conference met again in Geneva—a hope which went through this country. It was dashed a little by the Prime Minister in reply to a Question 1443 put to him about the progress that was being made, because again he came down to this accusation that it was the Soviet reluctance to agree about controls. Why I was depressed was not because we were not getting any nearer, but because I realised that this was not a genuine explanation of the situation, and today, in fact, the Foreign Secretary has agreed that the discussions and the arguments have not been on the point of whether the Soviet Union would accept international control teams. In fact, the Soviet Union has said for a long time, not just this year, but going back some years, that it was prepared to accept a team of international inspectors on its territory. It is an extraordinary thing that informed men and women, as we are supposed to be, and informed correspondents in the public Press should have hailed this most recent paper submitted at Geneva as something new and as a concession which the Soviet Union has never made before. I have not myself made any great researches, but one easily sees examples in old papers. For example, the New York Times of 25th June, 1957, printed a statement made by the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union. Mr. Gromyko, in which he said:The Soviet Union's chief new proposal has been for a ban on nuclear weapons tests to be enforced by international inspection teams stationed in the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain, and in the Pacific testing areas.I do not think it is possible to hold to this charge, and I am glad to have heard the Foreign Secretary today agree that the argument has now shifted to other matters.
The argument has, in fact, shifted to two matters, control and the relationship of tests to other disarmament measures. There is the question of the details of the control system, which I agree are very important, and how the experts' recommendations should be implemented, and the political aspect of these recommendations, which is also very important. That is one matter and on it, I am afraid, there is some reason for a little pessimism when the Foreign Secretary details the points in the discussions that are to take place. He gave them, as the House will remember, on 26th November, in answer to a Question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle). The Foreign Secretary then said that among the matters that we would have 1444 to consider when it came to the implementation of the control system, would be communications and transport matters, and the enforcement of decisions. Although the Foreign Secretary again today rather retracted from this position and rather suggested that we were not going to require agreement on the tiniest detail of the control system before we signed any agreement, the fact of the matter is that if he talks about wanting understanding about transport and communications before he comes to agreement on these matters it seems to me that there is there a possibility of stalling, such as we saw at the Lancaster House discussions.
There was one other point which he mentioned, and I should like to ask the Minister of Defence if he would give us some assurance about it, because I believe it to be important. The Foreign Secretary said again that among the matters on which he wanted some precision was the question of the enforcement of decisions. That was the device which the Foreign Secretary used at one of the Lancaster House discussions to create a deadlock. If, Mr. Speaker, we are asking for some kind of sanction to enforce our decisions about disarmament we will get nowhere. I agree with the noble Lord that it is not possible to devise any armed sanction. Although in the sub-committee discussions the Foreign Secretary spoke about the power of the inspectors to give orders and expected them to be obeyed on the spot, nevertheless it is not the case that the Foreign Secretary or any representative of the Western Powers has ever stated with precision what he has in mind as a sanction in the event of any disarmament agreement being broken.
The fact remains that the only sanction there can be is the sanction to withdraw, to walk out, which I think is an important sanction. After all, if the Russians agree to a measure of disarmament, if they agree to control and to supervise tests, it is because it is in their interest so to do. If one side or the other breaks such an agreement, then the whole thing goes by the board and we are back where we started. That in itself I conceive to be a severe sanction if the contracting parties are serious and sincere about their intention to disarm. Therefore I am asking the Minister of Defence to be good enough to give us some assurance on this point, namely, that we shall not use the 1445 question of sanctions or enforcement to create a stalemate again at the Geneva talks.
Finally, I should like to refer in part to what I consider to be the defeatism of the noble Lord. When it comes to moving on to what I believe to be the next stage of defence and of the maintenance of peace and law and order in this world, I accept the Minister of Defence's conception of a world security authority. The right hon. Gentleman said that that was the true solution to our problems, and I agree with him; it is. Sooner or later we must get to the idea of a world security authority, to which body the national States will transfer their armaments. It seems to me indeed that the crux and core of our present problems is the question of the transference of armaments from national States to some supra-national authority we can trust. I was most interested in what the Minister of Defence said on that occasion. I am looking forward to his reply tonight, because I want to hear how he reconciles that statement with the intransigent attitude his Government have shown over the Berlin trouble and about nuclear tests.
As the House knows, I have always been against nuclear weapons. I have convinced myself from the beginning that we were not strengthening ourselves or securing our real defence by building nuclear stock piles. So I am against the thermo-nuclear weapon, and I shall strive to get agreement for its complete abolition; indeed, I would welcome unilateral abolition of those weapons. Yet I would also be grateful to have agreement as a start on the ending of the tests. I say that not simply because it would mean we were stopping further poisoning of the atmosphere, although I agree this is important. I want the conference to succeed for another reason. If it succeeds we shall then be moving a step—a short step agreed, but an important step—towards a world security authority, because that would involve the setting up of an international inspectorate not Russian, not American, not British. I want to emphasise that we do not want any contingents from national forces. We want directly recruited inspectors, and as I understand it that is what the Russians are prepared to accept.
If we get such an international team of inspectors, we shall then be develop- 1446 ing for the first time a vested interest in disarmament. We have had in the history of the world so far only vested interest in armaments. I see this embryo body, this nucleus of a team of inspectors that will be required if the Geneva agreement goes through as something upon which we can build. I can see some hope for the world if we can build a disarmament inspectorate, gradually acquiring influence and authority, and if also we can build an international force of the United Nations patrolling and policing the troubled areas in the world. I see no reason why we should not introduce this in the discussions with the Russians. If, therefore, we can start the building of an international police force and transfer national forces to such an organisation, at the same time building an international inspectorate to ensure that disarmament agreements are carried out, I can see some hope for the world. There can be no hope while we stick to the sterile, negative attitude which the Government have shown so far.
I want now to quote the Foreign Secretary who, speaking at the meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council in 1957, said that what we have to fear will happen is—… a wearying of the spirit, because the struggle goes on so long, year after year, and the peoples do not see the end of it.That is what the right hon. and learned Gentleman feared, but a little earlier he had made this comment at the council meeting, which was discussing future policy:… I propose not to announce any predetermined policies. The policy of the United Kingdom will be decided in the light of our discussions.That is not the attitude I like to see the Foreign Secretary of this country taking when he goes out into the world.
I admit that the projects I have been talking about—an international police force, an international inspectorate, are not at the moment accepted by the Eastern countries, but societies change. When I first went to Uxbridge the people there did not accept Labour Party policies. I had to convince them; I had to argue. In the same way the Foreign Secretary has to go out into the hustings of the world. He has to conceive of the United Nations, he has to conceive of these international conferences, as places where 1447 he can put forward constructive and positive policies which one day may well receive the assent of the rest of the peoples of the world.
§ 7.28 p.m.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
I propose in the first part of my speech to follow the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) in his discussion of disarmament. Although I may not follow his argument exactly, I shall say a few general words about the disarmament question and in particular about the Geneva Conference on nuclear tests.
I find that on this question I am in considerable agreement with the remarks made by my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinching-brooke) when he castigated in almost Churchillian terms the current tendency to place profound faith in international solutions and systems of control. It is this aspect of disarmament which worries me. I should say at the outset that, in common with every hon. Member of this House, my aim is to bring about a relaxation of tension, to increase understanding between nations, and to do this without submitting ourselves to the imperialistic designs of Soviet Russia.
Nevertheless, I have certain fears about developments arising from this conference for the ending of nuclear tests, and I would very much like my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence to refer to this question. We seem to be moving towards a period which my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary described as getting "closer together", when the suspension of tests is a likelihood. I must admit to being very concerned about the path that will lie before us in the event of such a total suspension of tests.
The aim of the conference is to make it impossible for anyone to use the hydrogen bomb. We want to ensure that we can create conditions in which this horrifying weapon cannot be used by one section of mankind against the rest. We have heard much talk in the past of the deterrent value of the bomb. I do not believe that the bomb by itself is a deterrent; the balance of power which exists between the two sides is much more of a deterrent—a balance of power assisted on our part by the fact that in the 1448 past we have had a considerable superiority of these weapons, and also by the fact that we not only possess them but have shown that we have the ability and the determination to use them.
Indeed, the whole structure of our Armed Forces today has been formed about this central basis of power, and without nuclear strength at our disposal, even with the lessening of the might of Soviet conventional forces, we are still likely to find ourselves very much at their mercy. Even if the Western Powers all get together to produce men on the ground we have nothing to equal the power of Russian conventional forces.
§ Mr. Eden
The hon. Member will find out if he sits patiently and waits a little longer.
As our forces have now been reduced, it is even more imperative that we should not render ourselves virtually impotent by denying to ourselves the use of weapons by which alone we can ever hope effectively to answer Russian aggression. I do not think that "denying" is too strong a word.
If, as is the hope of the majority of people in this House and in the country, the present conference on nuclear weapons is successful, in that it brings about a decision to stop all tests, what is likely to be the result? If testing were stopped at once, with the consequent dismantling of the complicated machinery, the dispersal of the qualified technicians, and the disruption of the whole process of development in this field, it would certainly be a long and difficult matter for tests to be resumed—even assuming that this country could ever do so in the face of the almost certain moral condemnation of our people and the intense adverse reaction of so-called world opinion.
The Russians, on the other hand, would have no such scruples. They would not be restricted in anything like the same manner.
§ Mr. Silverman
Does the hon. Member fail to remember that the only people so far who have ever used nuclear weapons are our Allies, the Americans, who used them on an enemy which was already defeated and was suing for peace?
§ Mr. Eden
The Russians themselves would certainly not have any hesitation in reopening the tests and starting the whole process again, if it suited their book, once an agreement had come about. We should then be placed in a very difficult position. We might then expect cries from hon. Members opposite once again, saving, "Let us set a moral example to the rest of the world. If one side is doing wrong, must the other follow suit? We must do right, and then, perhaps, by the force of our example we will convince them that we are right, so that they will again stop the tests." That is a dangerous and wholly fallacious argument, and it places us at far too great a disadvantage, without any real reason to believe that Russia has changed her attitude.
§ Mr. Beswick
If the purpose of the Soviet Union is, as the hon. Member and many others, including myself, believe, to spread Communism throughout the world, does he think that the Russians believe that they can spread it more effectively with nuclear weapons or with a world that is wide open to economic and social ideas?
§ Mr. Eden
But in days to come it may suit their purpose again to use military means, when we have totally disarmed ourselves and are completely at their mercy. If we agree to ending these tests in their totality, straight away, what will be the next stage? There may subsequently be international control over existing stockpiles, and a tremendous pressure will then be put upon us to 1450 withdraw from our bases in Europe—bases which by then may well have been rendered virtually obsolete because of the international system of inspection and control over nuclear weapons.
This would place us much too much at the mercy of Russian conventional power, which at present can muster about 200 active divisions in Europe, 20,000 aircraft, and 700 submarines, all waiting today for the first sign of weakness on our part, and for any opportunity that the Western world might give them.
If we do go the whole way—as is apparently anticipated by my right hon. and learned Friend, who has said that the purpose we are working for is the discontinuance of tests and the setting up of control machinery and, further, that not every minute detail is to be worked out before the agreement can be signed—the position is a fearsome one for us. The alternative must be a much more gradual move in the same direction.
§ Mr. Eden
Because only if we can get something effective in the way of control and inspection are we likely to achieve what is ultimately best in our own interests.
Assuming that these talks are not so successful as my right hon. and learned Friend suggested they might be, I suggest that we should advocate, as a first step, the prevention of one factor which is causing a great deal of concern as a result of the tests, namely, the high incidence and possible accumulation of dangerous fall-out. If, by methods of detonating these things underground, at an extremely high altitude, or in other ways known to science, we can work towards lessening the amount of fall-out and doing away with "dirty" bombs, we shall have gone a long way towards bringing about an effective system of control and inspection.
In this context, in all further tests we should first notify the proposal to test these weapons to an international body. That is not asking for control or inspection. It is asking for registration which will help to keep a certain check over the accumulation of dangerous fall-out. Our aim should be to develop "clean" weapons. I do not say that clean weapons are nicer in the end-product than dirty weapons. But at least that would obviate, or certainly diminish, one of the 1451 fears under which mankind suffers at present, namely, the danger caused by the fall-out resulting from testing these bombs.
In asking for these cleaner weapons we should certainly work to develop really effective tactical weapons with a limited destructive capacity. In this context I wish to depart from what my right hon. and learned Friend has said is the present situation, namely, that the warheads are in American hands and American ownership. I should like to see what stage will be reached next in this question of arming the N.A.T.O. Allies with tactical nuclear weapons. These forces should be supplied with such weapons, no matter what the nationality of the troops, provided that they are within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
That leads me to the second part of my speech which is about disengagement. It must follow, from what I have said about disarmament, and the fears which I have sought somewhat haltingly to express about the movement towards the total suspension of tests, that I am not convinced—or at any rate not yet convinced—by those who argue that the withdrawal, of our troops from a demilitarised and denuclearised zone of Europe, even if guaranteed by the main Powers, will lead to a relaxation or a slackening of the tension and the cold war.
I do not agree with my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South on this subject. I think that, in itself, disengagement is likely to give much greater encouragement to Russia's aggressive tendencies. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) described those who do not want to see a demilitarised and denuclearised zone as speaking "ballyhoo." If that be so, I am speaking it. I must press this point, because I believe there is much more danger in the theme of disengagement as proposed by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite than in the present plan.
Why do I say this? Why do I see this danger? It is simply because I fear the incredibly effective way in which the Russians can acquire territory through infiltration and subversion. We have seen this practice of theirs operating in other parts of the world, and it is much more likely to be indulged in if Western military power is not right on the spot. 1452 The second reason for my fear is that if we get a sort of neutral belt across Europe, our suspicions will be much more alerted and we shall be much more sensitive to any movement on either side against this zone.
In such a situation the interpretation of aggression will be very much more difficult. If a whole lot of volunteers, masquerading as business men, technicians or anything else, moved into this demilitarised and denuclearised zone from the Russian side, shall we regard that as a perfectly normal and natural process? Or shall we be so suspicious of their intentions—since we have seen them use these volunteers in other spheres—that we shall risk blowing the whole thing up in a major explosion by sending volunteers from our side?
I do not view with equanimity the idea of a neutral belt across Europe. I am much happier with one side directly in contact with the other, when such contact does not take the form of physical blows. My noble Friend said that an argument of this kind presupposes that the line will be there perpetually. In other words, that the Iron Curtain which has now been established in Europe is there to stay, and we have to go beyond it. I agree that we must go beyond it, but I do not agree that we shall get beyond it by withdrawing our forces from an area into which, very easily and very quickly—if not by military means, certainly by other means—the Russians can again infiltrate, and establish the Iron Curtain further forward—
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
My hon. Friend will not forget that there is the counterpart that the Russians themselves may make a substantial withdrawal from areas which, if he examines the position, he will find are much greater than those from which we should withdraw.
§ Mr. Eden
I do not dispute that the Russians are proposing to withdraw from areas which, from a territorial point of view, are certainly much greater; but that is not to depart from the fact that over the years they have established a very tight system in those areas which could work adversely against us.
By far my greatest fear is the way in which this area, were it to be emptied of the military, could be used for infiltration and subversive purposes. Efforts would 1453 be made to undermine our authority, or that of the comparatively free States in the area, in that way. The Russians could easily re-establish the line of the Iron Curtain even further into Germany by such a process, and we know, because we have seen them operating to our cost, that they are extremely able at that kind of thing.
§ Mr. Eden
It is by this process of infiltration, by the sort of methods now being used in the Middle East, that the Russians might propose to venture. They have already moved into Iraq and from there they could soon move into Jordan. That is the kind of thing I am afraid of—the way they can infiltrate into a country in an apparently innocent manner by sending in technicians, or coming to trade agreements, or by sending armaments into a country and by similar methods. In that way they can effectively establish their control over a country and—
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Eden
The safer way is to confront the Russians wherever they may be in Europe by well-trained men, equipped with the very latest devices, who are vigilantly patrolling that line which the Russians themselves have so arbitrarily drawn.
It is obvious that the Russians want us out of our forward positions in Europe and they hope to weaken our entire position in the West. Their recent proposals include the one that we should give de facto recognition to Eastern Germany. It 1454 would be a short process from there towards demands for the unity of two independent sovereign States—"Confederation" as it is called. The price of such a package, were we tempted to buy it, would be the neutralisation of Western Germany which was hinted at by my right hon. Friend today. Attention was drawn to it by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence can qualify this point.
The Foreign Secretary said that if the demilitarisation of Eastern Germany were to take place, the N.A.T.O. shield would not be moved to Poland. That, in my interpretation, would mean a demilitarised Eastern Germany or Eastern zone of Germany. If the scheme is for the unity of Germany, does not it automatically follow that that means demilitarising the whole of Germany? Or is a united Germany to have one half of itself fully armed and the other half disarmed? Why, as my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South said, if Germany is such a menace to Russia is Mr. Khrushchev not happy in the fact that Germany is chained and controlled by being within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation?
The Russian proposal for Berlin would probably mean demilitarisation of the whole of Germany and that, in the view of some of my hon. Friends, would ultimately mean the withdrawal of the United States from Europe. We would then have to back out of the London-Paris Agreements of 1954, and, worse still, it would represent an open invitation to Russia to move the Iron Curtain forward right to our very doorstep. If the Russians, under some pretext, were to infiltrate into an area from which we had moved I do not believe that with our military might we would be in any way prepared to meet such an advance.
The way we shall bring the apparent deadlock to an end is not by a general détente but by a very much slower and more gradual process, by some such course as we are already pursuing with a view to ending the danger of surprise attack and introducing a system for the inspection of existing armaments. Much more important than all this is the development of genuine economic co-operation in Western Europe. If we can build up a Free Trade Area with some 1455 co-operation from the O.E.E.C., that will constitute a really powerful magnet to bring the people of Eastern Europe away from the drab slavery of the Soviet world. It will give them something, by way of comparison, to see what the Western world can achieve. We can work for European political union, develop it and make it effective.
Meanwhile, it would be extremely dangerous for us to lower our military guard and shield. I do not think that the two things are incompatible at all, but it is most important that we should reaffirm to the Russians, no matter how violent their threats or however insidious their propaganda, that we will never weaken in our resolve—as free men—to build up the prosperity and security of our people.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
The hon. Member has made a speech which will be of great value to us as an election leaflet. Would I summarise his views correctly by saying that he thinks there is no safety for Britain except in the continuance of the arms race and the status quo? How does he reconcile that view with the view of the Minister of Defence that there will be no safety in the world until we have had drastic disarmament?
§ Mr. Eden
The right hon. Gentleman has sought to interrupt me when I had finished my speech. I do not believe that the British people would wear it in the way he thinks they will. If he thinks that my speech will be election propaganda for his side, let him use it. I very much doubt whether he will find that the people of this country are so prone to weakness and woolly-headed thinking that they will not stand up for a proposal such as we have outlined and to which I have drawn attention. I do not think they will be bamboozled from fear or anything else into weakening our military strength.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Mark Bonham Carter (Torrington)
I shall not try to follow the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. J. Eden) very closely. When listening to him, I felt that he would have done better to be the Member for Bournemouth, East. The words that he spoke in the early part of his speech, except for his references to the Free Trade Area, sounded the sort of thing that would have warmed the cockles of their hearts in that part of the world.
1456 The hon. Gentleman seemed to be suggesting somehow or other that the closer two enemies got together the less likely they were to fight. That is one of the strangest doctrines I have ever heard. It is an inversion of the old saying that "Distance lends enchantment to the view." This is the only explanation of the hon. Gentleman's theories. I wonder whether hon. Gentlemen who hold that view believe that we should all go back into Austria and that the neutralisation of Austria is not a step forward in the right direction and something for which we should be grateful. I found it a very odd theory.
I would now refer briefly to two speeches of a very liberal nature from the Government benches. One came from the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) and the other from the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Rippon), who talked about the Free Trade Area. It was good to hear one speech end with a resounding quotation from Mr. Gladstone about Europe. The hon. and learned Member for Darwen seemed unduly depressed. I heard him say that it was very good news that the situation was not entirely lost. If this is, as he says, the best news for a very long time. I am sorry to hear it.
He also wondered what had gone wrong with the negotiations. It is worth while considering that question for one moment. It seems to me that two things went wrong. The first was that this country, as the hon. Member for Norwich, South said, entered those negotiations with apparent reluctance at the last moment and gave the impression that we were there because otherwise we would have been shut out. Secondly, it seems that there was a total misapprehension by Her Majesty's Government about this negotiation and the tactics that we should pursue.
For the last eighteen months we have been negotiating on the basis that the problem was to get economic terms satisfactorily settled, whereas the political question was the primary one. We negotiated on an economic basis, trying to detach the Five from France. We found that ultimately, no matter how closely the Germans agreed with our economic views, the really interesting part of the Free Trade Area to them and to other countries was that it was a political unit of some sort.
1457 One of the topics which has turned up again and again in this debate and to which I propose to turn now is Berlin. One of the purposes behind Mr. Khrushchev's proposal has been to demonstrate, and to give the impression, that the West is inflexibly and permanently attached to the status quo. I think that among the uncommitted nations remote from Europe or not particularly interested in it, he has achieved a considerable degree of success. This, following the recent crisis in the Far East, and following Anglo-American intervention in the Middle East, seems precisely the impression we do not want to produce at this time.
The shape in which the world found itself, almost fortuitously, at the end of the last war, and into which it froze with the intensification of the cold war, should not be regarded as the best of all possible—I say "possible"—worlds. It should be, and I hope it will be, the proclaimed object of the West to make this world into a better world. It seems of great importance that people outside Europe should recognise that that is our object.
If the issue is confined to Berlin, it is clear that our position must be unequivocal. It seems to me that there are two peoples outside the British Commonwealth to whom we are under an obligation from which we cannot escape. Those two peoples, ironically enough, are the people of Israel and the people of Berlin. We cannot accept the Russian suggestion if it is confined to Berlin and the clearer that declaration is made and the more united the support for it, the better.
I do not think it is possible—I think most hon. Members have agreed this afternoon—to discuss this Berlin situation without becoming involved in the more general situation of Germany and European security. I cannot agree with the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) about the tense and nervous prose in which the Russian note was written. It seems to me to be Marxist-Leninist prose at its very worst, but, embedded in those passages of prose, were some chinks of light. The United Nations was mentioned in the context of Germany, I believe for the first time. Furthermore, the very fact that a period of six months was left during which we can consider the matter 1458 indicates that it is not entirely on a take it or leave it basis.
Whatever happened at Montreal, there may be on this occasion, to borrow an expression of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, an opportunity of horse trading. The question we are asking today—I did not think the Foreign Secretary's speech helped us on it—is whether the Government want to do horse trading with the Russians, or whether they think that in any such horse trading the West will always come off worst. If that is their view, it seems that the outlook for the West is a gloomy one. That view implies that, whether in the Far East, the Middle East or Central Europe, the status quo is the best we can hope for; that our policy is one of frozen immobility and waiting for something better to turn up; and that the initiative, which perhaps, is the most important, will remain permanently in the hands of the Russians.
That seems to be what has been happening in the last few years. Time and again the West is put on the defensive. The Foreign Secretary is retrieving balls all over the international court. The memory of "No, no Gromyko" has been obliterated by that of a positive Mr. Khrushchev who is always making dynamic and constructive suggestions which the West cannot bring itself to accept, or even sometimes to discuss. This may not be a true picture, but, as I am sure hon. Members opposite will agree, the image we project is very important. It must, therefore, be in our interests to make proposals, even if we are fairly certain that the Russians will turn them down.
Surely it is advantageous to us to force them to indicate where they stand. Just as they have consistently attacked us at points where our position is weakest, why should not we do the same to them? We all know that Eastern Europe is such a place. We all know that their hold on Eastern Europe is maintained by force and by force alone. Unlike the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West, I believe we can compete with them and that our standards and our example are something which people in Eastern Europe look to with envy and of which the Russians are extremely frightened.
In the light of this, it must be wise to discuss the modified plan put forward by Mr. Rapacki. I hope I was right in 1459 understanding the Foreign Secretary to say that he proposes to do so. Surely we should be ready to discuss that plan and, in Mr. Rapacki's own words,the link between conventional and nuclear disarmament in Central Europe.It is not necessary to be starry-eyed about the prospect of such talks in order to believe that conventional and nuclear disarmament, with suitable inspection, would be to our advantage and to the advantage of the world. Nor do I believe that the direct confrontation of the armies of great Powers is the best safeguard for peace that can be devised.
Therefore, we hope very much that the Foreign Secretary meant what he said when he spoke of the Rapacki Plan and that these talks will be initiated. I know there are those who consider that any withdrawal of Russian forces from East Germany and Poland, accompanied by a similar withdrawal of British, American and French forces from Western Germany, would be a disaster for N.A.T.O on the grounds, so far as I can discover, that that would undermine the morale of Western Germany and that it would be impossible to deploy N.A.T.O. forces in France, Belgium and Holland.
I have always found those arguments difficult to accept on the following grounds. First, I cannot believe that the Russians would withdraw from Eastern Germany and from Poland. Secondly, I think that, if they did, the rise in morale in Eastern Europe would quickly offset any anxiety there might he in Western Germany. Thirdly, the military argument about the deployment of N.A.T.O. forces in France, Belgium and Holland always sounds to me rather like one of "those resistances" which the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) spent so much of his time overcoming in the war.
I cannot help believing that the present Berlin crisis provides an opportunity for the West to take the initiative in these matters. In newspapers in this country and in the United States Mr. Khrushchev's memorandum has been interpreted as a move to initiate discussion on the whole question of German reunification. One influential school represented by Mr. Lippmann has argued in favour of our taking part in such discussions. 1460 It seems that the Russian reaction to this kind of discussion in the West is not without significance. Moscow Radio, which has already been quoted, said that:a call for talks is an attempt to torpedo the Soviet Union's realistic plan for eliminating the abnormal situation in Berlin.The fact that we can make them state their positions if we initiate these talks suggests that that is something we should try to do. We in the Liberal Party believe that we should try to initiate these discussions. We believe the West would gain even if the Russians refused to participate in them. We believe the morale in Western Germany is not to be compared with that of Eastern Europe. The behaviour of the West Germans during the negotiations over the Free Trade Area, Dr. Adenauer's recent remarks on the Oder-Neisse Line, their obvious economic prosperity—none of these indicates a lack of self-confidence—indeed, the very reverse.
The course which such negotiations would take is obviously impossible to foretell, but the Rapacki Plan would provide a starting point. We for our part should not be alarmed if such discussions ranged over a far wider field, including the possibility of holding free elections in East Germany, and if that proved impossible, of investigating the Russian proposals for a confederation between East and West Germany.
Unless the West is prepared to negotiate when necessary, and if necessary to break off negotiations, I cannot see how progress can be achieved. Whether or not it is true, it certainly appears that, in Mr. Lippmann's words,lacking a policy of our own for the unification of Germany, we have become hysterically attached to the status quo.It seems to me that we ought to do our best to dispel that appearance as quickly as possible.
We can be in no doubt that if we surmount the troubles which we are at present encountering in Berlin the pressure will shortly be exerted elsewhere, perhaps in the Middle East once more and perhaps in Kuwait. One must express the hope that the Government have decided with our Western Allies on our policy in this part of the world, for it seems to me that since the present Administration was formed the Government have been so busy undoing the 1461 policies and mistakes made by their predecessors, while at the same time pretending that they were doing nothing of the sort, that their foreign policy has been one of almost total paralysis.
This country is not as powerful as the U.S.S.R. nor is it as powerful as America. To compete with these giants in a nuclear arms race seems to me to be ludicrous. What we can and should contribute is ideas. This, it seems to me, in the Middle East, in Central Europe and in the Far East we have signally and frequently failed to do.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Whether or not we should compete with the giant powers in a nuclear arms race, I am sure of at least one thing—that Britain must have a nuclear bombing force able to deliver her independent nuclear weapon, and I believe that the fact that Britain now has her own nuclear deterrent has given us some degree of immunity from blackmail and from an undue dependence upon our American allies.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
Does the hon. Member visualise an occasion on which we might use the nuclear weapon, on which he is so keen, all on our own?
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I do not visualise an occasion on which these weapons will be used at all, but the fact that both sides possess them and that Great Britain also possesses them means that in all probability the powers will be deterred from all-out war because of the possibility of mutual annihilation.
On one point I agree heartily with what was said by the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Bonham Carter). I agree that history has imposed upon Britain an obligation to the State of Israel and an obligation to the people of Berlin. Recently, I went to Berlin with other right hon. and hon. Members from both sides of the House—and I see one of those hon. Members opposite in his place. The visitor to West Berlin cannot but marvel at the courage and exertions of its people in rebuilding their city from ruin and rubble and in refashioning their economy and their cultural life. In this, they have been sustained by the Allied military forces and supported by substantial American subventions.
1462 Not all the Berliners who have accomplished this are Socialists, although many of them are, and I think that it would not be unfitting for a Tory back bencher to pay a tribute in this debate to the personality of their redoubtable leader, Herr Brandt, whom we had the honour to meet. Moreover, in General Rome, the commander of the efficient though small British garrison, this country has an impressive representative.
The Foreign Secretary said that we are not in Berlin because of the Potsdam Agreement; nor are we there because of the North Atlantic Treaty; we are in Berlin by right of conquest and by agreement with the other Allies of the Second World War. I am sure that nobody in this country would consent to our being forced or prised out of our legitimate position in Berlin simply because Mr. Khrushchev has said so or simply in deference to the uncommitted nations of whom the hon. Member for Torrington spoke, but I think that the situation there provides, as the hon. Member said, an opportunity for a new initiative.
Ten years have passed since the last trouble in Berlin, which the then Labour Government met with courage and resolution. The Berlin airlift was in 1948 and we are now in 1958, and our diplomacy is no nearer the goal of a European settlement nor are we nearer to the reunification of Germany and the making of peace. We have not achieved the objects for which we went to war in 1939.
It takes an effort of memory, after the years that have gone by, to recollect that we went to war in 1939 in defence of the integrity and independence of Poland, and I say that because there are some people in this country and many in Germany who are inclined to forget that the Slav, just as much as the Teuton, has the right to live under his own national institutions. Germans in West Germany do great damage to the cause of reunification when they are willing to accept the pity of the world for their own afflictions, but are surprised when an Englishman suggests that at least equal compassion is due to the other peoples of Europe who lie under an alien and oppressive domination.
The Russians, in their propaganda, make great use of this neglect to speak not only of German reunification, but of 1463 the restoration to Europe of the satellite States. In the Soviet Note of 28th November, about which hon. Members have spoken, we read:The Soviet people will never forget what happened to Stalingrad, nor will the Poles ever forget the fate of Warsaw or the Czechoslovak people that of Lidice.The note goes on:Mindful of all this, the peoples cannot, nor will they, permit Germany to be united on the basis of a militarist state.That is one example of many showing how Soviet propaganda uses historic memory and the fear of the Polish, Czechoslovak and other peoples East of Germany of another "drive to the East" to maintain the Soviet hold upon them.
After visiting Berlin we went to Lower Saxony. As hon. Members know, at Helmstedt one can see the watchtowers of the Communist People's Police.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
If the hon. and learned Member had allowed me to continue with my speech I should have come to that point. I want to suggest some of the difficulties in the way not only of the reunification of Germany, but also of the reunification of Europe—because I believe the two things must go together.
The hon. and learned Gentleman saw, as I did, at Helmstedt, the watch towers of the People's Police, and the strip of earth that is ploughed so that the footprints of those who cross that boundary can be detected. Every day, in diminishing or increasing measure, the flow of refugees from East to West goes on.
Why do they come? They come for many different reasons. Some of them come because they are in fear of the political police, and I suppose that others come because they are in fear of the criminal police. Some come because they are attracted by the brighter lights and greater prosperity of Western Germany. One refugee whom we met was a teacher in Eastern Germany, and he had come because he had been directed to teach atheism in his school. Others come because they want other forms of freedom
1464 But I had the feeling that with most East Germans it is not so much that they want to live under a particular ideology; not so much that they are addicted to a democracy that most of them have never known, but that they want to live in a single, united German national State. They object to the G.D.R. not so much because it is a controlled economy, a totalitarian State, but because it is an alien régime imposed by a foreign occupying Power.
I hope that I shall not be considered unduly gloomy if I ask hon. Members also to consider how deep are the roots of democracy in the Federal German Republic. Of course, there is the difference between the controlled economy of Eastern Germany and the capitalistic economy of Western Germany, but German capitalism has a history of cartels, combines and trusts; and the use of State power and backing for the waging of economic warfare. Germany has the tradition of Rapallo, which goes back to Bismarck and beyond. In the Nazi movement there was the National-Bolshevist element; there was the Soviet-German Pact.
We should remember these things—and I hope that I shall not be accused of questioning the good faith of Dr. Adenauer, one of the greatest Europeans of our day, or of the present rulers of Western Germany. I recall this because I do not share the enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Torrington for the Rapacki Plan. The removal of foreign forces would not necessarily mean an enlargement of the Western alliance of democratic nations. It might mean something that it has been the purpose of British foreign policy to avoid—the wrong kind of junction between Germany and Russia.
I could not understand very much of his speech, but I agreed with one thing that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said, and that was when he connected the Berlin problem with the German problem and the problem of Europe. I believe that the reunification of Germany and of Europe must go together. They must not be considered in isolation from each other. Not the Germans alone but their Eastern neighbours must regain their independence, and it must be made quite clear that we shall not make a bargain at their expense.
1465 In any case, peaceful reunification is, in my view, impossible while two rival systems of power, two rival military alliances—that of the North Atlantic Treaty and that of Warsaw—each have, or appear to have, the object of absorbing the whole of Germany. I suppose that as the range of rockets lengthens there will be a tendency, or a temptation, for the forces of the major Powers to disengage, but that does not necessarily solve anything.
There is an economic, no less than a strategic side, to the division of Europe—indeed, of the division of most of the inhabited globe—into two competing systems. It is not always recalled that the Soviet Union, which suffered even more in the war than did its Allies, might well have become a beneficiary of American Aid.
When the Franco-Anglo-Soviet Conference on Marshall Aid opened in Paris it July, 1947, there was present a Soviet delegation led by Mr. Molotov. Mr. Molotov had already welcomed American aid in the form of credits and deliveries of goods, but—and this is, I think, the crucial point when we consider the division of Europe into two economic systems—what Mr. Molotov insisted upon was that economic progress should be a matter of national planning.
As we know—and as we were "mugs" enough to accept—Marshall Aid, and other forms of United States financial assistance, have been tied to liberal multilateralism. That is something that the U.S.S.R. and the satellites were not ready to accept, and they excluded themselves from the European Recovery Programme. Czechoslovakia was excluded under Soviet pressure. Moscow, and the Cominform, denounced the Marshall Plan, and the Zhdanov Report of September, 1947, described it as… only the European section of the general plan of world expansion being carried out by the U.S.A. in all parts of the world.From then on, the Iron Curtain came down, not only in terms of military formations but in terms of economic plans and policy. East of the Iron Curtain, the Comecon was formed as the Communist retort to, and the Communist equivalent of, the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation. The Iron Curtain is not merely a military front line. It marks a cleavage between the 1466 Communist bloc, with its State monopoly of foreign trade and economic power, and the liberal Western world of international lending and multilateral exchanges.
Mr. Khrushchev had some nice things to say about Mr. Nixon because Mr. Nixon had spoken of peaceful competition between the two systems. Mr. Khrushchev said this also at his Press conference at the Kremlin, on 27th November:We differ with Mr. Nixon with regard to our conception of tyranny. What he regards as freedom for the rich to exploit the poor we regard as tyranny. We forbid exploitation, and he regards our measures against exploitation as tyranny. These are different conceptions.Most hon. Members will not accept what Mr. Khrushchev says, but they will agree that those are, indeed, different conceptions. They underline the difficulty which arises when we try, as we should try, to attract a country like Yugoslavia or a country like Poland closer to the West and away from the zone of Soviet domination.
There cannot be a European settlement while European nations are enslaved. We should not make it more difficult for a people's democracy to return to the Comity of Europe. We should not pursue policies which tend to consolidate the Iron Curtain; we should pursue policies which tend to erode it. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) brought the point out very well. It is quite idle to suppose that, even though a people's democracy which decided to return to the European family would, overnight, embrace liberal institutions and free enterprise. There is no independent future for small nations in a free-for-all free world in which the weaker national economies are placed in a position of debtor dependence upon their creditors.
The Russian hold upon their satellites has many aspects. One is the fear of German irredentism. Another is the fear which exists among the people's democracies that association with the West means the loss of their national independence and their economic sovereignty. Indeed, one of the most effective aspects of Russian propaganda is the Soviet Union's presentation of itself to countries all over the world as the champion of national sovereignty and independence. 1467 That, indeed, is one of the five principles of Soviet foreign policy which has had such a success that it has been embraced by a Commonwealth country, India, in the Panch Shila, and has also been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.
The reunification of Germany and of Europe requires three things. We must have balanced forces on the Continent of Europe, and particulaly is this necessary in the conditions of the nuclear stalemate. It may be that the Minister of Defence will have something to say about this when he replies to the debate. Secondly, we need a diplomacy which is flexible and tough, and tough because it is flexible. Thirdly, we need more flexible and imaginative trade and economic policies. The rigid conception of the Common Market under the Treaty of Rome, the rigid doctrines of non-discrimination in trade and of international currency exchange rates fixed in New York will never be accepted by the controlled economies of Eastern Europe.
In my view, Britain is specially placed to seize the initiative from Moscow and to do something to clear the road leading to an eventual European settlement. Britain knows, from her Commonwealth experience, that it is possible, through preferential and reciprocal arrangements, for free economies, mixed economies, and Socialist economies like that of India not only to exist together, but to work together as sovereign partners for the good of all. That is what Europeans must do if their civilisation and its glories are to endure.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), especially the passages in which he referred to the impressions which he gained on some sort of official delegation. I think that going on any sort of delegation is the worst way to see Germany, or, indeed, any other country. I have never been on an official delegation to Germany, but I have had many opportunities of visiting Berlin since the war. I go to Berlin regularly. When I have visited Berlin I have not gone to the military High Command or under any official auspices at all. I have gone to the modest apartment of the 1468 secretary of a body known as the Fellowship of Reconciliation. My contacts with Berlin have been through the people who are associated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Society of Friends, the Quakers, whose point of view towards international matters I share.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary that we have moral obligations to Berlin. We must not forget that we are largely responsible for the plight of Berlin and Germany today. The Foreign Secretary indicated that if this controversy did not begin at Potsdam it originated with unconditional surrender, and with that I agree. During the war, I was an opponent of the idea of unconditional surrender, and I believe that it was the unconditional surrender policy of the Allies that led to the continuation of the war, which led to the determined resistance of Berlin, which led to the advance of the Russian Red Army into Berlin, and that it was a cause of much of the great problem that exists today.
I join with everybody who says, "I want to see the Russians go out of Berlin. I want to see the Russians leave Eastern Germany." I was in Berlin during the airlift and during the rising of 17th June. T saw the Russian tanks deployed against the population in Eastern Berlin. I wrote an article at that time which was published in the New Statesman in which I said that the sight of Russian tanks and Russian military forces operating against a popular working-class rising in Berlin was enough to make Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebnecht turn in their graves. For this, I was promptly denounced by the Moscow wireless. But that was my point of view. When I think of the immense indignation displayed in this country at the time about the Russian action in Berlin, I cannot understand why the Government appear to be appealing to the Russians to keep their armed forces there.
In a Parliamentary Question on Tuesday I asked the Prime Minister what were the terms of his letter to Mr. Khrushchev. It is rather curious that we have never heard the terms of the Prime Minister's letter to Mr. Khrushchev. What did the Prime Minister say to Mr. Khrushchev? Did he say, "My dear man," "My dear friend Khrushchev," or "Dear comrade Khrushchev, Please keep 1469 your tanks in Berlin"? That is the position. The Government seem to be horrified and alarmed because the Soviet Government, instead of using their tanks and displaying their strength in Berlin, appear to be taking the initiative in withdrawing their armed forces from Berlin. I do not understand it. I want to see the Russians out of Berlin. I want to see Russia out of Eastern Germany, and I want to see all armed forces out of Germany, too.
I remember making my way into Weimar, which is in Eastern Germany, occupied by the Russian Army, in one of the worst phases of the cold war. The Russians and the East Germans looked upon me as a kind of harmless lunatic, with very much the same attitude that the Labour Party Front Bench has held towards me. The advantage of being regarded as a harmless, starry-eyed idealist, however, is that nobody is afraid of me. And so I have wandered about many parts of the world, because people say. "At least this fellow will not do us any harm."
I found myself in Weimar in the middle of the cold war, and I found myself going to see the home of Goethe. I spent a Saturday afternoon listening to the guide explaining in great detail, as German guides do, all about Goethe. I was interested to note that going round the house at the same time was a group of soldiers of the Red Army. The German guide was determined that the soldiers of the Red Army should know every detail about the life of Goethe. Some of these Russian soldiers pretended to be interested, but the majority of them were sick of it.
I said to a Russian soldier who was rather hanging behind and appeared to be completely bored with the German literature, "What do you think of Germany?" He said, "Nitchevo". I asked where he came from and he replied "Siberia." I said, "Which is better? Do you prefer Germany or Siberia?" He said, "Do not be silly—Siberia." That is the point of view of the Russian army of occupation. The Russian army of occupation is as sick of Eastern Germany as that Russian soldier was sick of Goethe.
I do not see anything mysterious whatever about the Russian desire at the present time to liquidate its obligations in 1470 Eastern Germany. I do not see anything, Machiavellian, anything sinister or anything mysterious about it. If we read Pravda at the present time, we find pages and pages devoted to the next Russian plan. In January, the Russian Supreme Soviet has been called together to consider the tremendous plans for reconstruction which are to be submitted by Mr. Khrushchev. A Government that is doing that is not wanting to be embroiled in any military adventures in Eastern Germany.
I believe that the Russians are very anxious indeed to leave Germany, provided Germany can be neutralised and demilitarised and cease to be a danger to them and cease to be the springboard of another attack from another Hitler. That seems to me to be the explanation of it. I do not believe that the Russians have any grandiose plans to march into Europe. Indeed, they are at present making appeals to the Germans which are extremely interesting.
There has been criticism of the literary style of one of the Russian Notes. What I found more interesting than the style was the content of the recent Russian Note to the West German Government which said:… to march East would mean for Germany marching to death. The future of Germany is not in the glory of her arms but in peaceful co-operation with her neighbours. This cooperation can alone provide the necessary scope for the fullest revelation of the great technical and spiritual talents of the German people, renowned for their industry, and ensure the country's economic prosperity.I believe that that is what the Russians want.
I believe that they want a demilitarised Germany and that they want to see the economic recovery of Germany, because that would assist them in the technical development of their own immense country. Therefore, I want to see these proposals treated as if they were genuine and serious proposals and to be accepted as part of a further discussion of the whole German problem.
If I were to consult a friend of mine who lost his legs in the last war and who sells papers from an invalid chair outside the Friedenau station in Berlin, and a good many of my friends in the club in Berlin for ex-prisoners from Russia, I know what they would say. They would dismiss as fantastic the possibility that 1471 Berlin can be helped in any way by continuing the strategy of the cold war. They want to see the cold war ended. They want a positive approach to the neutralisation of Germany, which would mean that the nightmare fear of war disappears from the minds of men in that area.
I would ask the Government to approach this matter not merely from the point of view of political or military propaganda. Why do they not think also in terms of economic propaganda? If there is one thing that the Russians would listen to it would be economic propaganda in the sense that if we had a really imaginative Government they would say, at a time when the Russians are getting ready for their new six-year or seven-year plan, "We can make a neutralised Germany help towards building a new economic plan, not only for Germany but for the whole of Europe." It is on those lines that I would like to see the Government advance in their propaganda.
I remember the first spectacle of Berlin which I saw after the war—the ruin and desolation which had come as a result of British bombing. I remember seeing other cities which had suffered even worse than Berlin. I do not know how many hon. Members penetrated as far as Dresden in 1945–46. It had one of the most awful experiences that any civilised city has had in the whole history of mankind, with 200,000 to 300,000 people bombed and burned to death when the war was practically over. This was a crime in its way as bad as those at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I have seen in Berlin, year after year, the German people recovering from that awful ordeal. Hon. Members will remember how small children were taken immediately after the war to the canteens to receive their small cans of soup and how the German people were dressed in any old uniform. Now one finds even in the most devastated part of Berlin the flower boxes, the geraniums, and all the tidiness of the German people, which shows how they can recover from the destruction and desolation of the war.
I believe that, given the right approach, we could today turn Germany away from any dreams of conquest and turn her immense energies and genius into economic reconstruction. One cannot possibly 1472 have old-fashioned ideas of revenge at a time when the world has nuclear weapons. We have nothing to offer in the way of liberating Berlin by military methods. The only way in which we can liberate Berlin and bring hope to Berlin, to Germany, to Poland, to Eastern Europe and, indeed, the whole of Europe, is by an advance with a positive programme which will be the means of neutralising vast areas of these territories, abandoning the strategy of the hydrogen bomb, and giving mankind in these parts of Europe a new ideal and a new hope.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Martin Maddan (Hitchin)
In the few minutes left to me, I do not intend to follow the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), in his very interesting speech. I want to revert to the topic with which my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary opened his speech, which has been referred to by several hon. Members during the debate, and that is the position of this country in relation to the Common Market.
I feel that this is something which must be voiced in a debate on Europe. It is because we in Britain are really part of Europe that Europe is so important to us, and it is because we attach so much importance to it that we have a day's debate on the subject. There is no doubt that we are now in something of an impasse in our relations with the Common Market, and we should examine why this is so. Fundamentally, it is because we decided not to enter into the negotiations with the six Powers in the very first place. Had that been done—and many people advocated it at the time, including myself in a speech which I made in this House two years ago, in which I outlined the dangers of being on the outside—we would not now be faced with decisions which we can only react to or react against, but we should now be in the position of making the running. Therefore, with these dangers now upon us, we must re-assess how we should in future try to frame our policy towards these six European Powers.
My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Rippon) made it very clear in his speech that the basis of what the six European Powers are doing is political, and that if we try to react, as it were, through the economic back door 1473 we shall not succeed. We shall certainly have to make some economic arrangements, but the primary thing we must do is to reorientate our political thinking with regard to Europe. It has been an age-long policy of Britain, and no doubt in its time it was right, to see that no single State or combination of States in Europe became too powerful, and that we could throw in our weight with the one or the other. Now, of course, that is no longer the case. The six Powers are making their own Europe, and we can be either on the outside or on the inside.
I particularly want to say that I am quite certain that these Powers would have been glad to make special arrangements to meet our own very real Commonwealth commitments and the requirements of the Commonwealth countries had we entered into their councils in the very first place. They have made remarkable concessions to France about her overseas territories, and I have no doubt that we could similarly have reached arrangements about the Commonwealth.
I believe we must make a positive move towards the solution of this European problem. It is a problem not of our enemies farther away but, if I may so put it, the problem of our friends on the doorstep. I believe we should explore, and indeed advocate at home, in Europe and in the Commonwealth, solutions which hitherto we have written off as being impossible, and because of our traditions maybe they have seemed impossible. Yet I believe now that a radical re-examination of these hypotheses is required.
If we look back on the history of our relationship with Europe since the war we can see that we have failed to realise the momentum and the reality and the determination of the European movement, and we must now establish an entirely fresh assessment of its importance or we shall never succeed in solving our problem. We may, and I hope we shall, reach an agreement whereby the tariff and quota cuts amongst the Six will not redound too much to our disadvantage when they are introduced in the near future.
However, this will not be the solution of our problems. That solution will come only when we realise that the hesitation, the aloof attitude we have adopted in the past, is not getting us results. We proposed the idea of E.D.C., but we left it 1474 to others to carry out, and it fell through largely because of the fear in France of German domination of that body. More recently when we were on the opposite side of the House we moved a vote of censure on the then Government for not entering into the close talks in connection with the European Coal and Steel Community and its membership. In fact we used phrases about taking risks and abrogating sovereignty if these actions would help in establishing order. Yet we have not done it.
Then there is Euratom. We have thought, I do not know why, that we should stay out of Euratom. I am told that one of the reasons is that there is a shortage of experienced scientists and technologists and that if we disperse them it will hold up our programme. But, really, the number of fields of advance, some of which may give rich rewards in the end, cannot be explored by ourselves, in spite of all our brilliance, because we have not enough people to explore sufficient avenues to be sure of coming home in the long run with a winner. I should have thought it only prudent to share our resources, as invited, with the Continental countries who in ten years or so will be atomic Powers of far greater significance than ourselves—I am talking about the peaceful uses of atomic energy. They will be able to explore many more roads to success than we can. Finally, there is the European Common Market. We refused to sit down with the Six and we forced them to make their own rules. Now we find it difficult to get in. We do not like what they are doing and they do not like the proposals we have made to mitigate that situation.
At the base of all these things I believe we can see one fault, a fault which I beg and pray should be remedied. The fault is the fear of what these Europeans are doing, the method by which they are doing it and the hypothesis, which I do not believe is tenable and should be radically re-examined, that we could not possibly enter into any such arrangements.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I think that everybody who has sat through this debate will agree that, even more than earlier foreign policy debates this year, it has been marked by a growing sense of disappointment, amounting almost to despair, at the fact that there is as yet 1475 no sign of any change in the Government's general attitude on European affairs. The hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Bonham Carter) put this feeling extremely well.
The Government still seem to believe that the status quo is the best of all possible worlds, and that a policy fixed ten years ago is still the best way of preserving it. The result is that Western policy, and British policy in particular, seems to consist of long periods of complacent inertia, punctuated by crises whenever the Russians decide to exploit the opportunities that we offer them. The initiative remains wholly in Soviet hands, and the West seems to be staggering, punch-drunk, round the ring, wholly on the defensive and always dancing to the Russian tune. Nobody who has read the newspapers carefully over the last few years can deny that this is the general picture which Britain and the West present.
The fact is that the status quo is neither satisfactory to the West nor static. It involves us in precarious exposed positions, like that in Berlin, or the American position in Quemoy, which the Russians can use at any time they choose to torment and confuse us. The status quo is not static because, as nobody knows better than the Minister of Defence, we have to race very hard to keep up. We are involved in a crippling expenditure on armaments and baffling decisions on strategy. Nobody knows that better than the Minister who is to reply to the debate.
Moreover, power inside each camp in the cold war is shifting all the time. In the Communist camp, it is, perhaps, shifting from Moscow to Peking, and in the world as a whole an even greater shift of power is certain to follow the inevitable diffusion of nuclear weapons. This is one of the dominant factors in the generation into which we are moving. Unless something can be done to stop it a large number of Powers will independently acquire the capacity to destroy the human race, and the whole pattern upon which the precarious stability of much of the world is built at present will be disrupted.
So far as it is possible to discern any reason for the Government's resignation at the present status quo, it seems to be the feeling, expressed quite openly by the 1476 hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), that anything in world affairs which suits Russia is certain to be dangerous to the West, and anything which suits the West is certain to be unacceptable to Russia, and that for this reason there is no possibility of changing the status quo to the advantage of both. This feeling seems to be deeply rooted in many of the people who are responsible for Western policy at present. The one exception to this general rule is in the field of disarmament. The one serious attempt now being made to get out of the predicament in which the world is locked is in the field of disarmament, because the intolerable consequences of the present situation are felt by all sides most keenly in the arms race. We all remember the moving remarks made by the Minister of Defence in presenting the Defence White Paper in a debate last March.
Almost the only sparks of hope in East-West relations in the last few years have been the agreement of the experts at Geneva last summer on a control system for a ban on atomic tests and the negotiations now proceeding in Geneva at Governmental level to achieve a ban on tests, and at the expert level to try to devise some means of preventing surprise attack. But still, this attempt to reach some agreement with the Russians on disarmament seems to be totally divorced in the West from all other aspects both of defence and foreign policy. Therefore, in my opinion, the chances of success are very limited.
If we take, for example, the discussions now going on at Geneva for a ban on tests, we must all welcome the news given by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon that the Russians are now prepared to envisage the acceptance of a control system simultaneously with a declaration of a ban on tests. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that even if the three existing atomic Powers agree not to carry out any further tests themselves, this will not prevent other Powers, which do not at present possess atomic weapons, Powers like France or China, from producing and testing their weapons once they have the capacity to do so, unless, to a ban on tests, we can add some type of international agreement which will guarantee military security to such Powers.
1477 It is very difficult indeed to envisage any form of agreement limited exclusively to disarmament which could remain effective over a long period, unless it is accompanied, or followed very rapidly, by agreement on some of the political problems which are the reasons why people want arms. This is the old problem so often traversed in these debates—which came first, the hen or the egg? Is it necessary to get a solution of political problems first or a solution of disarmament problems?
I think that most Governments and most Oppositions have now come to the view that both must go together. It is not possible to reach any lasting agreement on disarmament without simultaneously reaching some agreement on the political problems which are the cause of armaments. And yet we must also admit—this is an admission which, so far, I think the Government have not been prepared to make—that if we are to tie political and disarmament problems together, we cannot hope to produce a solution on a universal basis. We can hope to approach success only by treating this problem regionally, and by trying first to solve it in the areas where the danger of failing to reach a solution is most apparent and most tremendous.
There is no doubt that most people would agree that the part of the world where the danger of continuing the present trend is greatest and most immediate is Central Europe. Nothing has done more to underline the dangers of the present situation in Central Europe than the recent manœuvres by Mr. Khrushchev, culminating in his Note about Berlin last week. Nearly all comment on Mr. Khrushchev's Note about Berlin has concentrated on its purely negative aspects; on the threats of one sort and another which he made to the Western Powers. On the negative aspects of Mr. Khrushchev's Note I think there is a substantial degree of unity between the Western Governments and inside every Western democratic assembly, a degree of unity which was displayed in the debate today.
Before I get on to the more positive aspects of the recent Russian Note, I think it worth while drawing attention to one or two of the implications of the negative aspects of it. In the first place, Mr. Krushchev has said that he is prepared to abandon a formal agreement reached 1478 with foreign Powers, because he thinks the situation has changed since the agreement was made and that it is now obsolescent.
I bitterly regret that Mr. Khrushchev should have felt it desirable to prove to the West in this way that it is no good trying to base agreement with the Russians on trust alone, because the Russians are clearly prepared to break an agreement which is based on trust alone if they, individually, without consultation with other parties to the agreement, believe that the situation justifies it. Nothing does more to justify the Western demand, which is just as strongly supported on this side of the House as it is on the Government benches, that any agreement which is reached with the Russians must contain within it the possibility of physical control of the agreement being carried out.
The particular proposal made by Mr. Khrushchev of a free city in Western Berlin is, I think, recognised by everybody to be unacceptable. Indeed, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) that it is impossible to believe that the proposal was put forward seriously by the Soviet Government as a subject on which to negotiate. The fact is, as we all know, that West Berlin is a free city now. It is the only free city east of the Iron Curtain. Last week, 3,400 individuals crossed the frontier into West Berlin to enjoy that freedom, We also know that that freedom would not last very long if Mr. Khrushchev's proposals were accepted by the West.
If we look at the Russian proposal in its power-political aspect we see that it is clearly unacceptable because it involves the West's leaving West Berlin and getting nothing whatever in return. I think that the Foreign Secretary would agree with me that no agreement among great Powers can ever be reached on such a one-sided basis. I must draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary—I noticed that he was cautious enough not to nod at what I have just said—to the fact that his proposals for solving the German problem are, in this respect, identical with those of Mr. Khrushchev for solving the problem of Berlin. The solution put forward this afternoon was that the Russians should get out of East Germany, but we should stay in West 1479 Germany. The Russians should also allow the overthrow of the Communist régime in East Germany, but we should retain our own Government in West Germany. Those who reject, quite properly with scorn, the Soviet proposal for Berlin should think a little more carefully about how our proposals for a solution of the German problem must appear to the Soviet Union. It is obvious that no agreement for changing the present dangerous situation in Central Europe can be reached on that basis, either in favour of the Soviet Union or of the West.
Why, then, has the West 'been thrown into such a state of uproar by the Russian Note? Even if we reject the Soviet proposal for a free city in West Berlin we know that Russia can make our position in West Berlin very much more difficult than it is today. Indeed, if we reject the proposal without putting forward any positive alternative, there is a danger that our present position in West Berlin will nevertheless slowly be eroded. We had an example of this erosion last week when Mr. Dulles in Washington, pressed by journalists, said, to the consternation of the Government in Bonn, that America might be prepared to accept East German representatives in control posts in Berlin on the understanding that it felt that they were Soviet agents. In a Written Answer to a Question I asked him on Monday, the British Foreign Secretary gave the vine reply. Our position in Berlin is very difficult and precarious in fact, no matter how unassailable it is in law. Unless we do something to change the situation there we may well be involved in a colossal expenditure and even a risk of war when the Russians carry out the threats which they have made in their Note.
But I would draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Soviet Note was not all negative. The bulk of it was taken up with a very carefully drafted appeal to the West to restore co-operation on the problems of Central Europe in the spirit which, the Russians claimed, existed at the end of the Second World War. To what extent in fact it existed then I am not sure, but certainly agreements were made and were kept at that time. The particular proposal which the Russians made in their Note for the neutralisation of a divided Germany is quite 1480 clearly unacceptable to the West, but what my hon. and right hon. Friends want to know is, what is the Western alternative to continued conflict over Berlin? Here we have had no spark whatever of a suggestion from the Government of an alternative. Their attitude towards the present Soviet Note is wholly negative; they have nothing positive as an alternative to continued conflict.
The Government know, however, that my hon. and right hon. Friends have put forward an alternative solution to the problems of Central Europe, and an alternative in some detail. I regret that the word "disengagement" has become so generally attached to the Labour Party's proposals that people's attention is distracted almost entirely from the political aspects of these proposals to the purely military aspects, namely, the withdrawal of the armed forces of the two sides from an area in Central Europe and the military neutralisation of the area in between. Of course, this separation of the armed forces of East and West in central Europe is only one half of the Labour Party's proposals. The other half of the Labour Party's proposals is positive political co-operation between East and West in the area concerned, co-operation which has as one of its aims a solution of the political problems which are still bedevilling peace in Europe and the world as a whole.
I believe there is growing support for this approach to the problems of central Europe. The major journals of opinion support disengagement, at any rate in principle, like The Times, the Manchester Guardian and the Economist, and I believe even the Liberal Party has identified itself with this approach. At last the British Government are beginning to discuss the proposals more seriously than they were prepared to do, say a year ago.
I think almost the only important contribution made by the Foreign Secretary in his speech this afternoon which was in any sense novel was his insistence on the military aspects of the Government's own proposals for German unity. In endorsing once again the proposals made by Sir Anthony Eden in 1955, the Foreign Secretary now concedes the technical feasibility of the military system which the Labour Party envisages for security in central Europe. The Foreign 1481 Secretary concedes that it is possible to have a demilitarised zone with the control of armaments on either side. I hope that after this demonstration by the Foreign Secretary we shall not have arty more argument from the benches opposite about the dangers of a vacuum between East and West and the absolute necessity for the physical confrontation of the armed forces of the two sides if war is to be avoided.
In fact, after listening to the speech of the Foreign Secretary this afternoon, the only real difference I could see between his proposals for a European settlement and ours was that the Foreign Secretary believes that this particular military disengagement should come only after Germany has been reunited, whereas the Labour Party believes that the military system should be introduced simultaneously with the reunification of Germany. I do not believe that anybody in the world seriously believes any longer—
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
Could the hon. Member make that point clear? When he says "simultaneuosly" does he mean before or after? These things do not happen simultaneously in practice.
§ Mr. Healey
The Minister of Defence is either disingenuous or confused. "Simultaneously" does not mean before or after; it means simultaneously, at the same time. If the word is unfamiliar to the Minister of Defence, he might consult his right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, who explained earlier this afternoon how it would be possible simultaneously to have a ban on atomic tests and the introduction of a system for controlling the ban. If the right hon. Gentleman likes to spend a few seconds in such a discussion I shall not complain if he does not listen to my next few paragraphs.
The fact is that nobody believes any longer that it is possible to have German reunification, on terms which the West could accept, before the establishment of a military system in Central Europe which will satisfy both East and West that German reunification will not affect the present military balance between the two great Powers. We must start to create a new security system which will preserve the military balance despite the political 1482 changes which accompany it. If this is done and if we discuss the problem of German reunification within the context of an attempt to create this new military system for stabilising the present balance between East and West, then I think we shall find that both sides to the argument can be much more flexible on how precisely to achieve German reunification.
Here I agree very much with suggestions made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) that direct contact between Bonn and Pankow on the modalities of reunification would be possible, but only within the context of a military agreement between the great Powers which will ensure that the outcome of German conversations does not affect the security balance between them.
Addressing 'myself to the question which perhaps was in the Minister of Defence's mind when he made that peculiar intervention, the problem is how to phase this process in its military and political aspects so that the two never get too far out of balance with one another. The Labour Party believe and have often said that a process of achieving a European settlement along these lines would take many years—for the sake of argument, let us say ten years. It would move through various stages, and a great question is how to develop a programme for creating this new military system parallel with a programme for solving the political problem of German reunification.
The big question is how to start. That is the problem we face today. In my opinion, the first step on which everything else will depend must be to freeze the present military situation, because if we do not freeze the military situation as it is today, one side or the other will upset the existing balance and then the other side will start the arms race again, and before long we shall be involved in a new competition in amassing military power and alliances which will completely destroy such precarious stability as we now enjoy.
So far the only proposal for such a freeze is the latest version of the Rapacki Plan, and it seems to my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself that this would form at least an admirable basis for negotiations. Indeed, Mr. Rapacki in his new version has gone so far towards meeting 1483 the objections made by the British Government a year ago that he has positively embarrassed them. Listening to the Foreign Secretary's arguments against the new version, I found it very difficult to convince myself that he himself believed them.
Discussing the freeze of atomic weapons in the area, he used the odd argument that discrimination inside the alliance would be impossible. What rot. There has been discrimination in the whole of the last ten years and there will be discrimination if atomic weapon carriers are given to the European members of the alliance while the warheads remain exclusively in American control. There will also be discrimination because only the United States will possess strategic atomic weapons capable of delivery against the Soviet Union itself. Indeed, throughout history, there has nearly always been some form of weapons discrimination inside all alliances, because it is very rare to have an alliance in which the military capacity of the various members is identical.
If we dispose of that argument, the right hon. and learned Gentleman comes to the second phase and complains that the proposal for removing atomic weapons and for reducing the number of forces on both sides will mean that America has to leave Europe. Complete nonsense! The Rapacki proposals do not go half so far as the Labour Party's proposals for disengagement—[Interruption.]—because they leave the American and Soviet forces confronting one another along the Iron Curtain, although in smaller numbers.
Above all, the Foreign Secretary says—and he said it again and again in answer to Questions a week ago—that the Rapacki Plan would destroy the balance in Europe to our disadvantage. In fact, what the Rapacki Plan would do, if adopted, is precisely to freeze the balance where it is. The trouble is that, at the moment, the Western Powers want to weight the balance further in our direction by distributing atomic weapons to those members of the alliance who do not now possess them.
There are, of course, varied reasons for wanting to do that. There are, no doubt, weaknesses in N.A.T.O.'s present military position which would, to some extent, 1484 be remedied by a distribution of these weapons. But the fact is that N.A.T.O., at present, is strong enough to have prevented war for the last ten years; and Field Marshal Montgomery—not after retiring but when he was still deputy commander of S.H.A.P.E.—said that he was perfectly confident that there would not be another war in Europe for the next ten years.
In fact, I do not believe that it is possible to conceive of the balance of power in Europe being much more satisfactory to the West than it is at present. If we upset the existing balance by taking new steps on our side we can be certain that the Russians will retaliate by taking further steps on their side—and, indeed, the first step they are threatening to take is to make the Western position in Berlin well nigh intolerable.
I ask the Minister of Defence: if he does not like the Rapacki Plan, what plan does he like in this context? Is he prepared to consider trying to apply some such plan as Sir Anthony Eden suggested three years ago? Has he proposals to address to the experts' conference in Geneva on surprise attack, to see if it is, in fact, feasible to have regional limitation of armaments in Central Europe?
We all know that any change in the existing situation will raise strategic problems, but N.A.T.O. has plenty of strategic problems to face at the present time—the Minister of Defence spends a great part of his year discussing them with those of our Allies who disagree with him—yet N.A.T.O. is still basically performing its military rôle of preventing war in Europe.
I hope that the Minister of Defence will give us something positive to bite on, and something which will give us grounds to hope for the future. As I said earlier, we were very moved by his speech in the defence debate earlier this year. He has an original and forceful mind, and has shown great independence of his military advisers when he has been dealing with defence problems. I hope that he will be equally independent of them this evening, when dealing with diplomatic problems, because, after all, his advisers are less expected to be competent on those than on the matters over which he has shown independence.
Finally, I say that no one must believe that we can afford to wait too long over 1485 this problem. Chances exist today that may disappear, and never recur. There are people on both sides of the Iron Curtain who want to increase, not to relax, tension, and who are now trying to exploit the Berlin crisis for this purpose.
We have Dr. Adenauer in Bonn, trying to undo all the good work carried out by the German Government over the last few months in establishing relations with Pankow. In Eastern Europe we have Mr. Ulbricht trying to undermine the policies of Mr. Gomulka in Poland. In Russia itself, Khrushchev is no longer in such full control of affairs as he seemed to be a year ago. If we reject the overtures that he is making now, we may find that he has to give in entirely to people with whom agreement becomes infinitely more difficult.
The Government are much preoccupied with the pursuit of national greatness. I believe, and my right hon. and hon. Friends believe, that they will not achieve national greatness by multiplying their power to destroy. We believe that Britain can achieve it at one stroke by breaking the present deadlock in world affairs and leading humanity to peace. The whole world is waiting for a lead from Britain which cannot, for political reasons, at present come from any other country. We ask the Government, in all sincerity, to give that lead.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of Defence (Mr. Duncan Sandys)
I am not sure whether this is the first occasion on which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has spoken from the Front Bench opposite, and I do not know whether I should congratulate him, but I am certain that we all listen with interest to his contributions on foreign affairs. I am in considerable sympathy with the desires, aspirations and hopes which he expresses about peace and the future of humanity. I should like to be able to play a small part in achieving those ideals, but it is easier to express the desire than to find the concrete proposals and means of making progress in that direction.
The hon. Gentleman, in a earlier and more colourful part of his speech, described the Government as dancing punch-drunk around the ring. Having had no dinner myself tonight I feel 1486 entirely sober. He accused us of being too much attached to the status quo. We are all very far from satisfied with the status quo, but we must be rather careful not to make a change for the worse. Listening to his speech, I could not help recalling the famous picture by Bairns-father of "Old Bill" with the words underneath, "If you know of a better' ole, go to it".
Up till now, the Opposition have criticised the Government for linking a political settlement with progress in disarmament. I was very interested to note that the hon. Gentleman reversed that attitude tonight. He emphasised the importance of negotiating a political settlement parallel with disarmament. That raises also the issue about which I interrupted him in the course of his speech, when I asked him what he meant by "simultaneous", whether it was parallel, whether it was before or whether it was after. I shall come to that later.
The debate was opened on the Opposition side by the characteristic speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who, I suppose, as a future or ex-future Foreign Secretary lectured us on what he described as the essence of diplomacy. I was very interested to hear what he would say. In the course of his speech—I suppose that he was giving us a sample of his fine diplomatic sense—he was good enough to describe the United States Government as the "nigger in the woodpile". I can only imagine that he has given up all hope of being Foreign Secretary.
The hon. Members for Norwich, South (Mr. Rippon) and Hitchin (Mr. Maddan), and the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), spoke of the importance of our playing a real part in the development of Europe. They spoke with particular reference to the European Economic Community and the Free Trade Area. They were concerned that the present situation has, perhaps, in some way resulted from our unwillingness or inability to surrender national sovereignty.
They put the question whether it would not be possible, if we were now prepared to make such a surrender of sovereignty, to make more satisfactory progress in our relations with Europe. To this I can only say that we have stated our readiness 1487 to accept in the proposed Free Trade Area strong institutions with majority voting in certain fields. This is already a very real surrender of sovereignty. Our willingness to abide by a decision reached by a majority vote is, I submit to the House, an impressive demonstration of our determination and intention to play our full part in the development of Europe.
I come now to the question of nuclear tests. Our primary aim, as before, is comprehensive disarmament, and a number of hon. Members have referred to that throughout the debate. We must never forget that that is the aim. It is something much more than some of the things we have to negotiate about in the meanwhile. By comprehensive disarmament we mean complete abolition of nuclear weapons and the reduction of conventional forces down to the level needed for local security only, subject, of course, to effective inspection and control.
There are all kinds of approaches to disarmament. There is disarmament in a single step, disarmament by stages and disarmament by regions. But however one approaches the matter, we believe that the crux of the problem is inspection. Neither side can be expected to disarm unless it is satisfied that the other side is playing fair. A disarmament agreement without effective inspection, far from reducing tension and distrust, would greatly increase them.
So far, the Russians, at political level, have shown very little inclination to accept real inspection in any form or for any purpose. However, at the technical level the experts of East and West have managed to reach agreement on the practical measures needed to supervise the suspension of nuclear tests. That is a very significant step forward. It has provided us, for the first time, with a precise and workable scheme of inspection, and one which we and the other Western Governments are fully prepared to accept.
The noble Lord the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) complained that progress is too slow. Of course it is. It is much too slow. But I am afraid that it is no good expecting quick results.
§ Mr. Sandys
My hon. Friend also said that progress was much too slow. I would point out that these negotiations are breaking entirely new ground. It is in the nature of pioneering work, and I think we have to accept that we need a great deal of patience and persistence before we get through with the job. We cannot tell what the outcome will be, but it is not necessary for me to say that we shall do everything in our power to make this conference a success.
I agree with the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Beswick) that if a system of inspection can be created, even if it be confined to the limited subject of the stopping of nuclear tests, this may be the first step towards much bigger things. In fact, it may well pave the way to the ultimate objective, which we all desire, of real and comprehensive disarmament.
I have been asked by a number of hon. Members why we have sought to link agreement on the stopping of tests with progress on disarmament. The simple reason is that the stopping of nuclear tests is not in itself a measure of disarmament. We have always felt that negotiations on tests provided an opportunity which should not be missed to make some first step in real disarmament, and we still hope that that may be possible.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I did not understand the Foreign Secretary to say that the Government were linking the cessation of tests with disarmament. He used a quite different phrase, about which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) requested an explanation. Is this the explanation?
§ Mr. Sandys
I do not know what the hon. Member means. I said that I was asked by a number of hon. Members why we had linked disarmament—that is the point which my right hon. and learned Friend dealt with earlier—
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman, surely, has entirely forgotten the significance of my statement, to which he has referred facetiously, about the nigger in the woodpile. It has been the American position all along that there should be no agreement about nuclear tests and controls unless accompanied by some substantial measure of disarmament. This afternoon the Foreign Secretary converted that into hoping that the conference would 1489 give an impulse towards disarmament agreement. I wanted to know how far the two were linked.
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman said that if full agreement could be reached on the question of stopping tests it would be criminal to let negotiations break down over our insistence on linking tests with disarmament.
If the Russians could now be persuaded to get away from generalities—that has been our difficulty in the past—and to accept a proper system of inspection for nuclear tests on the lines recommended by the experts, that would in itself constitute a very important advance. That position, I am afraid, has not yet been reached. Until it is reached, it would not be useful for me to add anything to what my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said earlier today.
We are in the course of negotiations. We hope that from these negotiations it may be possible not only to get progress on the arrangements for the cessation of tests, which in itself is not disarmament, but that we may be able to make progress on disarmament also. We may be overoptimistic, but there is no harm in trying to get something more. Therefore, I ask hon. Members not to press us on this point. We must see how the negotiations go. I am sure that everybody in the whole House would be delighted, glad and relieved if in addition to getting some arrangement on tests we were also able to make progress on disarmament.
§ Mr. Sandys
I am afraid I cannot.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale expressed alarm that the German Army is to be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons. He said that he had been warning the House for years about the danger of re-arming Germany, and other hon. Members took the same line.
It is worth remembering that the policy decision to re-arm Germany was taken on behalf of Britain by the Labour Government, of which the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale was then a member. Does he deny it? I am prepared to give way to the right hon. Gentleman. It is also worth remembering that after the war the Germans were not at all keen to become a military power again. They 1490 agreed to do so only with considerable reluctance at the specific request of the Western Allies, who thought it only fair that Germany should bear her share of the burden of European defence. If the right hon. Gentleman is in doubt about the attitude of the Government of which he was a member, a long time ago I admit, I should like to read to him what the then Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, said. He explained the position to the House on 29th November, 1950. I think that it was before the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale resigned on an entirely different issue—teeth or wigs, I forget which it was.
This is what Mr. Bevin said:If, unhappily, aggression were to take place in Europe, we are satisfied that its defence would have to take place as far East as possible, and that means that Western Germany must be involved; and if Western Germany is to he defended, it seems to us only fair and reasonable that the people of Western Germany should help in their own defence."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1950; Vol. 481, c. 1172.]Within the lifetime of most of us, the Germans have brought about two bloody conflicts, of which we still have bitter memories, but it is really no good trying to fight over again the first and second world wars. We must concentrate on preventing a third world war and the infinitely greater calamity that that would bring upon us all.
We have to keep our eye on the ball. The danger to peace comes now not from the Germans but from the Russians. Whatever may have happened in the past, Germany today is our firm friend and Ally, and she enjoys our confidence. We are glad to see the progress of the new German Army, and we welcome the accession of strength which it brings to N.A.T.O. I say without qualification that I am glad that in the present dangerous situation we have Germany as our Ally. She has become one of the main pillars of the Western Alliance, and the more efficient her army can be made the better it will be for the peace and the safety of Europe.
It is the agreed policy of N.A.T.O. that the forces of the Allies should be equipped with tactical nuclear weapons so as to increase their capacity to resist attack. The nuclear warheads for these weapons are, as has been said today, American, and in accordance with American law they will remain in American custody. 1491 But in the event of an emergency these warheads will be issued by the American forces from their stockpile on the Continent.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East discussed at length the situation in Berlin. The first comment that I should like to make is that we must not allow ourselves to be rattled or bounced, and that is not happening. One thing of which I am certain is that the Soviet Government are every bit as anxious to avoid war as we are. I am sure that they have no thought of provoking a world war over the status of Berlin. Apart from other considerations, they know that in the present state of world armaments, if there were a world war the United States would be in a position to annihilate Russia.
As my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary has explained, the legal position in Berlin is not based on goodwill or agreement with the Soviet Union. It is based on the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany at the end of the war. But apart from our legal rights which we do not propose to give up, we have to consider our moral obligation to the isolated population of West Berlin, whose courage and calm over the years have rightly won the respect of the world. The Western Allies have more than once firmly declared that they would regard an attack on West Berlin as an attack on themselves, and I am sure that the House would not wish on this occasion to whittle down or escape from what we have said in the past. The fact that we have rights which we intend to maintain and obligations which we intend to keep does not mean that we regard the position in Berlin as either healthy or satisfactory. No one in his senses would want to see the present unnatural set-up continue indefinitely. But I was amazed by a statement of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale on this subject. He said that while the Russian proposal was unacceptable, the present position was equally unacceptable.
The present position may be extremely unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, the people of West Berlin are able to live in freedom and to communicate freely with the outside world. Under the Khrushchev plan, West Berlin would soon be completely cut off and throttled by Communist 1492 pressure all round it. Is the right hon. Gentleman really saying that there is nothing to choose between these two alternatives?
§ Mr. Sandys
The right hon. Gentleman said "equally unacceptable". The fact is that no acceptable solution of the Berlin problem is possible except as part of the wider problem of German reunification. We and the other Allies concerned are willing and in fact eager to go into this question with the Russians, and we certainly trust that they will not seek to restrict the discussion to the narrow limits of their own proposal.
Many hon. Members have discussed the Rapacki Plan. There have been various proposals for disengagement, but the Rapacki Plan is by far the most important. The Plan is designed to reduce the risk of war in Europe, but before we can decide whether it would, in fact, help to achieve this object, we must consider what is the nature of the danger.
In the present state of nuclear armaments and air power, the Russians would not dream, I think, of deliberately starting a global nuclear war. Therefore, the only way in which a major war could come about in Europe is by accident or through miscalculation. At present, large forces on either side of the Iron Curtain are leaning up against one another. The question is whether the danger of war by miscalculation would be reduced if these forces were cut down in numbers and their fire power reduced. Today, the Russians know that they cannot penetrate the Western defences without mounting a major attack, and that this would certainly provoke a global war which, I believe, they wish at all costs to avoid. There is, therefore, little likelihood in present circumstances of war in the West through miscalculation.
On the other hand, if the N.A.T.O. armies were to be thinned out and denied nuclear weapons, it would be comparatively easy for Soviet or satellite forces to cross into Western Europe and rapidly seize a limited area without much serious fighting.
§ Mr. Sandys
No, I am afraid not. They may hope that faced with a fait accompli, the Western Powers would hesitate to start a world war to recover this lost territory. If, however, they turned out to be wrong in their assumption that the West would take it lying down, a third world war would be almost certain. There is a lot of murmuring going on on the opposite side. I think the problem was very well summed up by the hon. Member for Leeds, East in a lecture which he gave two years ago, when he said:The main danger of war now lies in the possibility that one side or the other will gamble wrongly on its opponents' failure to resist a local advance in a grey area. The confrontation of American and Russian land forces on the Iron Curtain is the best guarantee against such a gamble, at least in Europe.
§ Mr. Healey rose—
§ Mr. Sandys
I have not misquoted the hon. Member.
I now come to the Labour Party's own plan for disengagement. [HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] I have not misquoted the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Healey
The Minister of Defence is, of course, aware that that was written before Hungary had revealed the danger of war arising, not through miscalculation by the Soviet Union, but through a local explosion of the type which is only too likely today in East Germany and in. East Berlin.
§ Mr. Sandys
I leave the House to judge whether that is a pertinent reply.
I come now to the Labour Party's own plan. It was known as the "Healey Plan", but now it has been given the glamour of the leader's name and is called the "Gaitskell Plan". The hon. Gentleman claimed with pride that it goes further than the Rapacki Plan. I do not know whether that it is a recommendation, but it is certainly true. Not only does it propose to reduce troops and armaments in the prescribed zone, but also to create a neutralised zone from which all foreign forces would be withdrawn.
§ Mr. Sandys
Moreover, it envisages that the scheme could be put into effect while Germany still remains divided That is why I asked the point about simultaneously.
§ Mr. Healey indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Sandys
The hon. Gentleman indicates dissent—I say that for the convenience of HANSARD: I would draw his attention to the glossy booklet which has been issued and states:Labour will propose the establishment of a neutral zone …It goes on to say that the disengagement plan—… would not only lessen tension but also help the free and peaceful unification of Germany.
§ Mr. Sandys
If the creation of a neutral zone will help the unification of Germany it must presumably have taken place first. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] If disengagement is going to help something in the future it must have taken place beforehand. I leave that to the hon. Gentleman to work out. I cannot think of anything which would be more likely to lead to—[An HON. MEMBER: "Logic chopping."] If the hon. Gentleman is prepared to say it is all going to take ten years, as he did in one place, it is no good his complaining that we are making slow progress. That is the alternative. He can say it is all going to take a long time and that we shall not have a neutral zone until the end of ten years, that nothing will happen until everything else is settled. He can say that, but it is not a bold, imaginative, striking, forceful plan against which he can compare our faltering steps.
One of the things the party opposite said was that their plan must be consistent with the maintenance of United States Forces in Europe. Do they really think their plan is consistent with that? If once the American troops start moving westwards they will more than likely move right home across the Atlantic. In this connection, Mr. Nixon—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We must listen to what the Vice-President of the United States has to say about it. He probably has just as good an idea as hon. Gentlemen opposite. Only yesterday he said that any plan of disengagement might well create a public demand in America to bring the boys home and to go over to a policy based on the concept of fortress America. This, he said, would leave massive nuclear 1495 retaliation as the only method for dealing with any Russian probing actions.
As part of a European settlement there may be something to be said for the limited proposals in the Rapacki Plan, but I can see no virtue whatsoever in the Gaitskell Plan. The truth is that it is not a plan at all; it is just a hotchpotch of inconsistent ideas. It is a scheme perfectly designed to drive Germany out of N.A.T.O. and America out of Europe, and to destroy completely the Western Alliance. It is a kind of blueprint for Bedlam—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.