§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Blenkinsop
Before this House went to the House of Peers, I was calling attention to the fact that economic aid schemes to the under-developed territories were not enough in themselves, and that catastrophic and sudden falls in prices of the raw materials on which many of those under-developed countries depend could be of the most serious character.
There are many examples of this. Any of us who has been abroad, in India, Burma and elsewhere, knows precisely how these falls can destroy good economic planning over a whole period ahead. Although efforts have been made in the past to secure some kind of sanity in world prices, they have failed. The tragedy is that, in recent answers to Questions on this subject, Her Majesty's Government have shown no sign of their willingness to explore this field further, although we all recognise how vital it is and how even a modest agreement would be of value.
In trying to put forward constructive proposals, I would ask whether consideration has been given, for example, to the modest suggestions in Mr. Grondona's recent book on the preparation of raw material reserves and the development of the reserves in this country. It is a modest proposal which does not, by itself, satisfy many of us, but if some agreement could be got from the Government about that proposal, it would be something which would make a contribution that might well be a starting point for something more.
The real trouble that we face all the time is our inability to get from Her Majesty's Government any sign of leadership in these fields, even of a modest character. We have had a few blinks of light during the course of this debate, a few indications that suggest that the completely rock-like attitude of December is breaking slightly. After tremendous pressure in the country, and from this side, there is some sign of movement, but that is the most we can say. There is no kind of sign of that vision for the future 1446 which is what our people are asking for at present. It is for that reason that I believe so very sincerely that the sooner this Government get out the better it will be for the public good and for the possibility of advance. The longer this Government continue their present attitude, the more tragic is the situation for the world at large.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. W. T. Aitken (Bury St. Edmunds)
Although I was very interested in some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop), I am sure he will appreciate that if I do not follow him on this occasion it is because we all have our own subjects we want to discuss in this debate. No one seems to have dealt so far with that very important sector of international affairs, Cyprus. I have either taken part in or have followed most of the debates on this subject, and I also had the advantage of serving for a period as a United Kingdom delegate at the latest session of the United Nations. I think there is a good deal more appreciation at the United Nations of the fact that Cyprus is really more of an international matter than has appeared from some of our discussions in this House.
Public opinion is now beginning to realise that Cyprus is not merely a matter between Greeks, Greek Cypriots and a Conservative Colonial Secretary. I have always thought that many hon. Members opposite have consistently failed to appreciate the very strong position of the Turks, although I except from that the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). The best illustration of that failure to accept the position of the Turks came in our last Cyprus debate. The hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), in a very interesting speech, said, in effect, that the Turks ought to be easier to negotiate with and would probably be more willing to make concessions than the Greeks, because the Greeks were more politically minded.
Recent tragic events in Cyprus would seem to underline the crowning irony of the present situation. The only way in which E.O.K.A. can possibly win is for Britain to turn against her staunchest and most faithful friend in that part of the world, possibly with a clash of arms. That means that the possibility of Enosis is more remote than ever before, because I 1447 do not believe that any British Government—and I fully expect that in two or three years' time it will be the same Government as now—could visualise a situation in which Britain would have to enforce a settlement with the disagreement of the Turks.
It is understandable enough that there is some confusion in many people's minds about the real issues in the Cyprus question, because public opinion in this country on the whole is sympathetic to the aspirations of the Greek Cypriots. It is very hard to argue that a man is not of the race he passionately believes himself to be. The majority of the inhabitants of Cyprus certainly fulfil Venezelos' description of a Greek. He said, "The definition of a Greek is Greek-speaking, Greek-feeling, Greek-thinking." That is also the definition of a French-Canadian as being French-speaking, French-feeling and French thinking—and, I am glad to say, French-eating, too.
The other factor that has further confused the public mind regarding the international importance of Cyprus, rather than the purely British-Greek aspect of the problem is that in this country we take great pride in the fact that self-determination is one of the moral justifications for our present colonial policy. In our last Cyprus debate, the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) was asked to state something about the Opposition's Cyprus policy.
His statement was most revealing, and well worth repeating. He said:We on this side of the Committee have said that it is our policy, and we repeat it, that there should be a period of self-government. During that period, political parties will grow, governmental institutions will develop, Cypriot Ministers will assume responsibility and gain experience of government. At the end of that period it is quite unthinkable that, if they have the interests of Greek and Turkish Cypriots at heart, they will ever think for a moment in terms of trying to split the country up into divided loyalties and broken friendships and divided lives, for that is what it would mean."—[OFICIAL REPORT. 15th July. 1957; Vol. 573, c. 879.]That is a very important point of my argument. The Greeks and the Byzantine priest-politicians realise that, too. They know perfectly well that a period of self-government in Cyprus, perhaps a lengthy one, would mean the end of Enosis, because all experience has proved 1448 what the right hon. Gentleman described as a possibility is the natural evolution which results in men's minds and hearts when they set about governing themselves. Of course, there is nothing in the whole of our Colonial policy and the guidance of subject peoples to independence which precludes self-determination when they have achieved that end. We are not even denying the prospect of eventual self-determination to the Cypriots; we are simply asking them to go through the drill which will equip them better to judge what form of independence or future links they may want. All this makes it extremely difficult for many quite well-informed people in this country to realise that Cyprus does not present a situation which, somehow in some way ought to be settled between the Colonial Secretary and Archbishop Makarios.
It seems to me that there is very solid ground for Turkish concern, and I cannot really understand why this is not more appreciated by hon. Gentlemen opposite. Do they realise that, but for British rule, there would be no question of Enosis in Cyprus now, because there would be very few Greeks there? The hon. and learned Member for Northampton, in a very remarkable speech in 1956 at the Council of Europe, pointed out that, when Britain took over the administration of the island in 1878, there were found there 20,000 Greeks and 60,000 Turks. It is not always realised either that, in that part of the world—excluding the behaviour of Hitler who was in a class by himself—people have behaved worse within living memory towards each other than at any time since the days of Genghis Khan. In the Graeco-Turkish war of 1922, when the Greeks invaded Turkey with the express purpose of taking over the Greek-occupied territories in Asiatic Turkey, they were beaten. There followed a ruthless exchange of population, the Turks of Macedonia being ripped from their ancient homeland, and the Greeks in Anatolia shifted to Greece. The Greeks in Cyprus, if it had been under Turkish rule, would certainly have shared the fate of their kinsmen on the mainland, and Cyprus would today be as ethnically Turkish as Smyrna.
This is not forgotten in Ankara It is not forgotten that our sovereignty dates only from the Treaty of Lausanne, after the 1914–18 War. Any radical alteration 1449 of the status quo established by that Treaty must naturally be regarded by the Turks as a threat to their security, quite aside from the fact that our position is desired in the island for exactly the same reasons as it was desired by the Turks in 1878, that is to say, as some form of nearby allied assistance in the case of invasion by Russia.
The Greek point of view on this is simple and straightforward. It is simply the old doctrine of "No" to everything. The Greeks have rejected absolutely the idea of the partition of the island. They have rejected the N.A.T.O. offer of mediation. They have rejected the Radcliffe proposals. This is another example of the old problem of an irresistible force moving toward an immoveable object. But it is perfectly clear that the Greeks are a good deal less irresistible as a force than the Turks are immoveable as an object.
The view of the Greeks—and this is, to my mind, the most unfortunate aspect of the whole mess—is to expect the irresistible force which will aid them in their objective is to come from a change of Government in this country. There were some very harsh things said during the last debate on Cyprus when that point of view was expressed, and I think that the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) and the right hon. and learned Member for Newport did a good deal to elucidate in more detail what the Labour Party's policy would be. Nevertheless, rightly or wrongly, the Greeks have had the idea, since the very beginning of this trouble, that a change of Government would result, within four or five years, in the transfer of the island to Greece.
The N.A.T.O. argument has been frequently introduced into these discussions—that is why I have no hesitation in raising this matter in an international affairs debate—because some hon. Gentlemen opposite have claimed that, because Turkey and Greece, with ourselves, are members of the North Atlantic Treaty family, they are now supposed to be friends one with another. The Turks realise that this does not take cognisance of the facts of international life, nor, I think, does take cognisance of what goes on in some families either. Anyone who knows of the banked up fires in that part of the world knows that the status of 1450 N.A.T.O. partnership of Greece and Turkey has no relationship whatever to their unhappy traditional relations with each other, or, indeed, their current feelings towards each other.
It is hard for us in this country not to like the Greeks and their lovely country, but no one in his senses could possibly say that it is a stable country politically, Greece has had over twenty-three Governments since the end of the war, and no one knows this better than the Turks. Turkey has a very long coastline. With the exception of two major ports in Eastern Anatolia, Mersin and Alexandretta at the Cyprus end, it is surrounded and strategically enclosed by Greek possessions, all within a very short distance of its mainland.
The whole history of unhappy relationship between these countries shows that both the Turks and the Greeks have good reason to fear each other, and particularly to fear for their minorities. To the Turks, therefore, partition is the only possible solution. It is not an ideal solution we all accept that. Probably the Turks themselves accept that it is far from an ideal solution, too, but they know or they hope, that part of the settlement will result in an enclave on the island within which British force is available.
The cardinal factor in the situation now, which we must accept is that the fundamental principle in any possible settlement must now be, in the light of event during the last few months, based on Greco-Turkish agreement. I should have thought that, about a year or two ago, the Greeks were on quite a good bet. It looked very much, as Lord Salisbury said, that their policy was to edge us—that is Britain—long from point to point in a series of bilateral negotiations which would end in ethnic self-determination for Cyprus and the presentation of a fait accompli to the Turks. That is really why the Greeks rejected the offered N.A.T.O. mediation. Their rejection was designed to emphasise their view that the future of the island was a sole matter between the Greeks and Great Britain.
We know now beyond any doubt, and so do the Greeks—and, I think, hon. Gentlemen opposite—that the Turkish position is more adamant than ever, and any one who takes a realistic view of the 1451 situation knows that there can be no settlement of the Cyprus problem that is no solution which makes any sense, without agreement between Turkey and Greece. That is why, after making my own deductions from the Ankara-Athens meeting, and as the Foreign Secretary indicated yesterday at Question Time, there is some hope of the beginning of a move towards some common ground. There is no question, however, that if Britain should concede Enosis, now, or later, which is all the Greeks so far have said they will have, if any Government should do that, if a Socialist Government should do that, they will have to consider whether they are prepared to deliver the body, at a cost, perhaps, of an armed clash with our best and staunchest friends in that part of the world.
Without our aid, Greece's chance of achieving Enosis in the foreseeable future seem to be slim. It may be that someone will suggest that there is the possibility of the threat of Russian intervention. That, of course, would produce an American counter-threat. Even if it led to war, I doubt whether the Greeks would gain anything.
I believe, as the situation has developed, we shall be in Cyprus for a long time. The priest-politicians of the Byzantine Church, and their sinister rôle in their own country, is not understood here. It is well understood by the Turks; and it is understood by Greeks. They must realise now what they have been led into by Archbishop Makarios. They must find their own way of dealing with the Archbishop if they wish to extricate themselves from what is obviously an impossible position.
Now I come to the main point of my intervention in the debate. Although I do not agree with many, if any, of the Opposition's criticisms against the administration of the island and various happenings there, it is perfectly right and proper for them to make these or any other criticisms they feel are justified. But there is one thing that we have never really been able to get down to—and our friend Walter Elliot called the House's attention to it in one of his speeches—and that is that there has been a sort of dualism in these discussions. We have not discovered what the Labour Party's policy is on this funda- 1452 mental point of Turkish-Greek agreement.
The last debate elicited some information on the question of self-government and self-determination, but surely now is the time when it is in the general interest of the country that the Opposition should make clear to the Greeks that there can be no diminution of British authority in Cyprus until there is a Graeco-Turkish agreement. If it can be made clear to the Greeks that all parties believe that a Graeco-Turkish settlement is essential before we can contemplate any change in the British administration of the island, the Greeks, and most important of all the Greek opposition, will surely realise that no British Government of whatever political complexion is likely to allow itself to be manœuvred into an impossible international situation. If we cannot, however, agree to some extent among ourselves on the presentation of these objectives of British international policy, I think that the Government must take every possible measure, far greater and more vigorous measures than they have ever taken before, to bring home to this country and to the world the international character of this problem.
This is well understood in the United Nations. I do not say that the Government have had an entirely easy passage there, but the recognition of the fact that this is a fundamentally international problem is far more widely appreciated in the United Nations than it appears to be here in the House of Commons. It must be made clear to the world that this is not merely a question of Enosis, or self-determination between Britain and one of her colonies but a question of international security which affects the whole of that vital part of the world.
I believe that the gap between the Opposition and the Government is really not as wide as might seem on this issue. What a good thing if the right hon. Gentleman who is to wind up for the Opposition could give us an indication as to what is the Opposition's attitude towards the fundamental question of agreement between the Greeks and the Turks on Cyprus. There are many solutions which would give both the Greeks and the Turks, not all that they want—very few of us ever get all that we want—but most of what they want. This is the fundamental problem with which we are 1453 faced in our relationship with the Greeks and Turks. Not only the Government but Parliament as a whole should make it clear to the Greeks that no settlement can be reached until the Turks and the Greeks reach an agreement. Then and only then can we in Britain bring about a settlement which will leave the Cypriots in peace in their own land.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
I listened, as I am sure most hon. Members did, to the Prime Minister yesterday and felt some relief because I thought that a step forward had been taken from the position assumed on 20th December last. I do not feel so confident about what the Foreign Secretary said, but I felt last night, after listening to the Prime Minister, that we had moved forward in the right direction.
As has been pointed out by hon. Members on both sides, this is a very momentous debate. We are living at a momentous point in the history of humanity. After all, the human race at the present moment is standing at the crossroads. We are face to face with this fact, and it will be admitted by all, that the development of science as a means of human destruction has brought humanity to this position: either we must abolish war or war will abolish humanity. That is a simple proposition which, I think, will be accepted by all hon. Members.
We have created a monster—a terrible monster which is ready to gulp us up at any moment. Not only have we created this monster, but we nurture it. We feed it and give it a name, and the name that we give it is "deterrent." We spend our treasure upon it, but we all know—and there is not one hon. Member tonight who will deny this—that in the event of an emergency we stand entirely and absolutely defenceless. That is not only true of Britain or Western Europe. It is true of Russia and the United States of America. We have been hypnotised, and we feed a monster, and delude ourselves that it will protect us, whereas at the same time we know in our hearts that it means our destruction.
Yet we have been witnessing in the last six or seven months nations pitching argument against argument across the Iron Curtain. We have witnessed the diplomatic game of ping-pong. The tragedy of the ping-pong game is that it 1454 has been played on the edge of the crater of an active volcano. That is the seriousness of the present situation.
I found a measure of encouragement in the Prime Minister's speech, not merely in what he said but in what he left unsaid. I was very pleased personally because he did not say certain things, and I was of the opinion that it was time that certain things were not said in the House by people holding responsible positions. It was very refreshing that no reference was made in the Prime Minister's speech last night to the necessity for a change of heart among the leaders of the Soviet Union, because we have heard it repeated too often that we wanted evidence of a change of heart and of integrity on the other side before negotiations could start. That, I am sure, is the wrong approach because it is Pharisaical. It is not conducive to the production of the cordiality which the present situation demands and needs.
Moreover, I was struck by the fact that yesterday the Prime Minister steered clear of the tendency to regard the present struggle as a moral struggle between the West and the Communist States. There has been a very well-marked tendency in the past few years, and especially in the past few months—this is particularly true of America but it is reflected here—to try to over-simplify the situation. The suggestion has been that the Western Powers stand for the spiritual way of life whereas the Communist States stand for the materialistic way of life and that the struggle is between the spiritual and the materialistic ways of life.
I am very pleased that the Prime Minister did not launch that argument yesterday afternoon. That was very refreshing because, personally, I am of the opinion that morality and moral values cannot be fought or decided by carnal weapons. Truth, moral values and the spiritual way of life cannot be defended by nuclear weapons which by their nature are diabolical in essence and diabolical in their consequences if they are applied. If we are to win in the field of spiritual values, then the battle must be fought not in blood and not by means of nuclear weapons but in the field of thought, philosophy, logic and practical way of life.
1455 Although the situation bristles with difficulties, as we all admit, and although we have been brought face to face with the possibility of complete and utter disaster, there is still hope. There is hope, I believe, because of the general sense of uneasiness and disquiet which is to be found in different parts of the world at present. For me, that is a ray of hope in the gloom of the present situation. We are all uneasy about things as they are. That is felt in this country, in the rest of Europe, in America, in the Commonwealth, and also in Russia.
The Russians are uneasy. The Russian leaders are uncomfortable and they have a feeling of disquiet because they have nothing to gain from international conflicts. They have a régime and an economic order to protect. They have built that economic order painfully over forty years and they are anxious not to see that economic order, which is unique, with which perhaps we do not agree, but with which they agree, go down in ruin or be irreparably damaged in a few hours or a few brief days of nuclear conflict. It stands to reason that they have nothing to gain by going to war. For their own welfare and good, for the preservation of what they believe to be right, and for the economic order which they wish to preserve, it stands to sense that they do not want war. Consequently, I think we are on safe ground in assuming that Russia is uneasy and uncomfortable at the international tension which exists at present.
I think that we are right when we say that Russia is uneasy also about her satellites in Eastern Europe. It may be difficult to believe this, but I think that events are beginning to prove that the satellites are becoming liabilities to Russia. Who knows but that, if we could get into the minds of the Kremlin, we should find that they would be only too glad of an excuse to rid themselves of this liability? It seems to me only logical to conclude that they are uneasy with the present situation.
Let me also turn to a point mentioned by the Foreign Secretary in the debate on 20th December when he said that Russia is anxious to overwhelm the world with Communism. That has been said again today. Let us assume that that is true. It follows from that premise that 1456 Russia cannot achieve even that objective by starting a nuclear war. All the evidence, therefore, seems to point in one direction—that there is uneasiness and disquiet not only in this country, in America, in the Commonwealth and in the rest of Europe but in Russia, too.
We therefore have a common denominator and a community of interest among the rival groups. This community of interest should be exploited to the full by wise statesmanship not to the advantage of a group, not to the advantage of the West and not to the advantage of Communist Russia, but to the mutual benefit of the whole of humanity. One thing seems to me to be absolutely clear: this mad arms race must be reversed and this mad endeavour to reach the so-called position of strength must be brought to an end. Indeed, I am of the opinion that the first function that we on both sides of the House are called on to perform is to bring this mad endeavour to an end.
Countries seek a position of strength but the amazing thing is that no Power ever seems to reach a position of strength, If Powers think they have done so, they are not sure that they have reached it; and if they have reached it, they are not sure how long they can hold that position. It is a very elusive situation. Speaking in absolute terms, the position of strength is never reached and can never be reached. According to the White Paper on Civil Defence, we do not know whether we are in a position of strength or not. Russia does not know. We do not know where we are. It is a very uncertain position.
It reminds me of the man in a fair who was climbing the slippery pole with the hope of reaching the top and, having done so, winning a pig as a prize. He never got to the top. Indeed he was never in the same position on the pole for very long and eventually he slithered down, to our entertainment, but to his own mortification, and he returned home without the prize at all.
That is exactly what is happening between the nations. That has been the experience of the Powers. The West thought they were in a position of strength. What happened? We were unable to make a diplomatic gain or advantage of any sort. The days when America had the monopoly of the atom 1457 bomb were the days when Molotov was repeating his "no" without a break. We were not able to move him a single inch, although we were in a position of strength. The same applies today.
Let us assume that Russia is in a position of strength today. Does that bring us one inch nearer to the Communist position? We are all the more determined to resist Communism simply because the Soviet Union is in a position of strength. As these groups struggle to a position of strength the division between them is widened. The gulf is deepened. Far from bringing the nations to talk this seeking for a position of strength makes talking more difficult.
The problem today is not how to accumulate more power or how to gain ascendancy in this struggle for strength. As we on this side of the House see it, the problem is how to bring this mad race to an end. If it is not brought to an end, we all know the inevitable consequences. Our civilisation and all that it inherits shall dissolve, leaving not a wrack behind; not even a wrack of liberal democracy or of social democracy or of Communist dictatorship.
The tragedy is that as individuals we all know that this is true, yet as communities, groups and nations we founder in the bog of suspicion. Unfortunately, this mad endeavour is interwoven and intertwined with such complex considerations. We have, for example, the ideological, the philosophical, the political and economic complexities. I suggested earlier that we should forget the ideological and the philosophical and concentrate on the political and economic complexities of the situation, especially the political complexities in Central Europe and the political and economic complexities in the Middle East.
The task, therefore, is to unravel the problems, to disentangle the various items in the bundle, sort them out and settle them one by one. It would be better for us to have small successes than large failures in Europe. We have two alternatives from which to choose. Either we retain the status quo and decide to live along with tension with a risk of the collapse of Europe in a nuclear war, or we can seek agreement on a disengagement policy and suspension of nuclear tests.
1458 Here is a prospect full of promise and possibility. According to today's papers, Russia is prepared to agree to inspection of an atom-free zone, and she is prepared to suspend nuclear tests. We talk of risks and, of course, there are risks. Life itself is full of risks. War is full of risks, and so is cold war. Whichever way we turn we meet with risk. A treaty of security guaranteeing the inviolability of a neutral belt would be far less risky than the maintenance of the status quo and the continuance of tension. I know that this is only one step and that more steps will have to be taken in future, but it is a great step and, speaking for myself, in the dangerous situation of the present day,… I do not ask to seeThe distant scene; one step enough for meif it is a step in the right direction.
§ 6.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
If the hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) will forgive me, I will not follow him in his remarks, except to say that he delivered a most agreeable speech which was full of sweet reasonableness, but he tended to underestimate the fact that over the last ten years we in the West have made ourselves strong. He might have made that speech in 1945, and if he had had his way it would have been very much the worse for all of us. It is because we in the West have made ourselves united and strong that we are in a better position to get round the table with our opponents, which I hope is what we shall do.
I sought to be called in the debate because I had the honour of being a delegate from this country to the Twelfth Session of the United Nations, and I thought that it would be a good opportunity to make a few comments on some of the issues which were there discussed. I have returned with at least one conviction, which is that it is very much better to have this great forum of world opinion than not to have it. Perhaps that might seem not to be saying very much, but I say it because, although we all support the principles and objects of the Charter, there is some scepticism about the work and effectiveness of the United Nations.
This is well illustrated by a rather sad little story which was going the rounds at 1459 the United Nations about two Hungarians in October, 1956. One of them said to the other, "We may be delivered either through normal means or through miraculous means. If St. Michael and all his angels were to come down to earth and deliver us, that would be normal. If the United Nations did anything about it, that would be miraculous."
But it is worth reminding people of these words of the Secretary-General:The Charter does not endow the United Nations with any of the attributes of a super-State … The United Nations is rather an instrument for negotiation among Governments … an instrument which, added to the time-honoured means of diplomacy, can concert action by Governments in support of the goals of the Charter.That is what the United Nations attempts to do, and that answers the question put by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) yesterday about consultation with the smaller nations.
Consultation with the smaller nations and ascertainment of their views go on every day at the United Nations, and I think that the United Nations is also the father and mother of all non-aggression pacts. I could not understand why the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) was so passionate in his appeal for a nonaggression pact. We could not have a bigger or better non-aggression pact than exists already in the Charter. Its ineffectiveness, where it exists, is due to the veto which can prevent the decisions of the Security Council being enforceable by sanction. President Eisenhower recently suggested that the five permanent members of the Security Council should surrender the right to veto recommendations made by the Council for solving disputes peacefully. In the present state of political sophistication of the majority of members of the United Nations, it probably would not be wise to go further than that yet. But even that has been rejected by the Soviet Union.
Other critics of the United Nations say that its only use is to act as a sounding-board for Soviet propaganda. Why not? The more the uncommitted world can see for itself the difference between Soviet words and Soviet deeds the better. Soviet propaganda often misfires, as was very well illustrated in the fabricated emergency which was brought to the General 1460 Assembly over Turkey and Syria. As the speeches in that debate were made, it became more and more obvious to everybody that this was a pure fabrication. It very shortly became known in the lobbies of the United Nations as another U.N.E.F. or "United Nations Emergency Farce".
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said that the West, too, can make its viewpoint clear on this sounding board, and I believe that this country did that during the debate on disarmament. I am sure that anybody who takes the trouble to read the speech of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Minister of State will have a better understanding of this complex isue and of all that the Western allies have tried to do to resolve it. As a result of that debate, proposals which would have led to a farreaching start with genuine disarmament were endorsed by 57 out of 81 participating members, and only the nine members of the Soviet bloc voted against them. It is not quite fair to say that we have missed every opportunity of putting forward proposals.
These proposals were endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the nations, and it was in that debate that the Polish Foreign Minister made his proposal for disengagement—a theme since repeated with variations by Mr. George Kennan (though repudiated by Mr. Truman and the Democratic Party) and by several hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. All these proposals, of course, are worthy of serious consideration and discussion, if necessary at the summit, but it seems to me that they would have the effect, by neutralising Germany, of destroying the existing shield of N.A.T.O. troops on the ground in Western Europe. As I have asked in the current issue of World News, how many Austrias can Europe afford at the present moment?
Moreover, so far as we can judge from what my right hon. Friend the Minister of State last night described as a "literary bombardment", it is precisely the status quo which the Soviet Union wishes to see maintained in Eastern Europe, including Eastern Germany. I was glad yesterday to hear the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) say:The instability of the present status quo, above all in Central Europe, is now recognised, 1461 I think, by nearly everybody, as a real danger to peace."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1324.]Therefore, we all want to change it. But we want to change it for a better status all round.
Will disengagement help? The danger, as I see it today, is not the likelihood of a third world war, which, to my mind, has never been more remote. What the West has to defend itself against today are three other dangers. The first is that our economic and social systems, based as they are on the disciplined freedom of the individual, will prove to be less successful, in open and perfectly legitimate competition, than the Soviet system of State capitalism which denies such freedom. That is the first danger. Mr. Khrushchev is always boasting that that will inevitably happen, and that he does not care how long it takes.
The second danger is that of internal subversion of a State, such as happened in Czechoslovakia. The third danger is open military intervention on, and eventually across, the borders of some presently free State. It is against the latter danger—the danger that the Iron Curtain will creep westwards—that we need to retain a shield; otherwise, we shall be faced with the dilemma either of letting a fait accompli ride or of rectifying it by unleashing the nuclear "sword".
I was glad to hear the hon. Member for Leeds, East state categorically that the party opposite believes that nuclear weapons have a deterrent power which should be made use of in Western defence policy. I am bound to say that I have no sympathy with the hysterical "ban the bomb" brigade, and I am also bound to say—I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is not now in his place—that I do not think I have ever been enveloped in so thick a metaphysical fog as I was when I heard the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale describing his present position with regard to nuclear weapons.
I think it would be better to rely, in the first place, upon the non-nuclear shield, and I fear that if Germany were neutralised, there would no longer be sufficient depth for that shield to be effective. I may be wrong here, and I know that some hon. Gentlemen opposite do not agree, but, in my opinion, it is as certain as it can be that both American 1462 and British troops will leave the Continent, that there will not be sufficient depth left, and that, therefore, for all practical and, above all, psychological purposes, the European circle of N.A.T.O. will cease to exist.
As things are at present, I consider that Germany has just as much a duty to defend our Western civilisation as any other Western nation. I also believe that she is a safer neighbour, as much of the Soviet Union as of any other continguous State, if she remains a member of a purely defensive alliance, bound as she is by treaty not to arm beyond a certain ceiling, not to manufacture nuclear weapons and not to seek to enlarge her present boundaries by force.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. He is developing a very interesting argument. Can he say what is the point of the conventional arming of Germany if the policy we are attempting in paragraph 12 of the Defence White Paper applies, that is, an all-out nuclear retaliation in the event of any major attack, even with conventional arms?
§ Mr. Longden
It is a perfectly fair and valid question which the hon. Member has put to me. I am sorry to tell him that I have not studied the Defence White Paper as closely as I should have done. My own impression is that N.A.T.O. strategy or tactics are as I have described them—to be able to use a shield of ground troops without the strategic nuclear weapon at all.
To continue, I was extremely disappointed, if not shocked, to hear the suggestion from the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short), who spoke yesterday, that we should now recognise East Germany. In my opinion, it would give a tremendous fillip to the puppet régime at Pankow, and a great slap in the eye to our allies in the Federal Republic. It would perhaps be another thing if the Government of the Federal Republic decided to recognise the Government at Pankow, but that is a matter for them, and I certainly do not think that this country should.
None of this is to say that there should not be a meeting of heads of Government. Let us have one, and I suggest that it should be in London. Let there be no ore-conditions. It is only common 1463 sense that a good deal of hard work in the valley and on the slopes will be necessary first, if only to discover what can profitably be included on the agenda and what not. I do not think, with great respect to the Opposition, that the phrase "icebreaking" was a very good description of this process, because if ice is broken, someone generally falls into the water, and then who rescues whom?
It appears that it would not be possible to put on the agenda the subject of free elections in East Germany or in the satellite States. I think that both Marshal Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev have made that clear, so we must be careful, if we go into summit talks excluding these issues on the agenda, that we do not dishearten the people behind the Iron Curtain, because it remains our purpose, short of war, to do what we can to rescue them from their present state of dependence on and slavery under Russia.
Summit talks would be a good thing, if only, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton said, to test the sincerity of the Russians. Why do I doubt that sincerity myself? It is not because we like to doubt it, because we would like to believe in it. These are the reasons.
First, the Russians have rejected President Eisenhower's proposal for a partial surrender of the veto and for co-operation to ensure the peaceful use of outer space. These two suggestions by President Eisenhower have been rejected. Now the Russians have rejected our proposals, of which the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton did not seem to have heard, that we should appoint international teams of experts to be set the task of ascertaining precisely how a disarmament agreement, when reached, can be made effective. Surely, nothing would be lost, and much might be gained, by all parties if those suggestions were accepted? I think we should agree with our allies—all of them—about what else can safely be offered, then offer it and await the reaction.
Another issue which was debated has been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Aitken) namely, Cyprus. It was debated there with advantage, because nobody in the world today, not even on the benches opposite, can suspect that 1464 the Turkish attitude to this issue is the creation of perfidious Albion. It must surely be clear now, even to the Greeks, that if we were to walk out of the island tomorrow, it would be the Turks and not the Greeks who would walk into it. We have been extraordinarily patient in the face of most grievous and, to my mind, unforgivable words and actions of the Greek Government, and I think the time has come when we must be ready to impose what we consider to be a just solution.
Now may I say a few words to the House about three other issues in the United Nations with which I was particularly concerned. They all concern our co-partner in the Commonwealth, the Union of South Africa. I said just now that there were 81 participating members of the United Nations. That is, unfortunately, because the eighty-second member, the Union of South Africa, walked out last year and retains only a token membership. She walked out because, year after year, resolutions are put down on the agenda about apartheid, about South-West Africa and about the treatment of Indians in South Africa.
On all these occasions when the debate on apartheid is held in the United Nations we hear hon. Gentlemen getting up from the other side of the House and accusing Her Majesty's Government of siding with South Africa on the question of her racial policy. I assume that those questions are put out of sheer ignorance, because if hon. Gentlemen opposite took the trouble to read what was said they would find this was not so.
In a speech I said:Our vote in this matter is in no way influenced by any opinion we may hold on the merits or demerits of the Union's policy on racial segregation. Our only reason is that the Charter contains Article 2 (7)—'Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorise the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.'If the racial policies of a Government are not within this domestic jurisdiction, I do not know what is. We believe that that Article precludes discussion. We may wish it was not there, but we also know that if it had not been there many nations would not have signed the Charter. In any case, the attitude of Her Majesty's Government has been consistent ever since the question was first raised in 1946.
1465 About South-West Africa, here again I said:The United Kingdom has never sought, and does not now seek to defend conditions in South-West Africa.We want it to be placed under the international trusteeship system but that can only be clone with the consent of the Union. So we have contrived something to try to break the impasse, the formation of a "good offices committee", consisting of this country, the United States and Brazil, and I am glad to say that our representative on that committee is Sir Charles Arden-Clarke. I appeal to the Union of South Africa to co-operate genuinely and wholeheartedly with this good offices committee.
In conclusion, I apologise to the House for speaking much longer than I intended, but may I record that in my humble opinion we are exceedingly well served in New York by Her Majesty's permanent representative, Sir Pierson Dixon, and his staff. I can at least acknowledge gratefully that in a novel, and at first somewhat mystifying situation, they were of the greatest help to me and to my hon. Friend.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. John Stonehouse (Wednesbury)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. G. Longden) rendered at least one service to his own side of the House in saying a few words in favour of the United Nations organisation, which we on this side of the House were glad to hear. Any recognition of the part which the United Nations can play in world affairs has yet to come from the Ministerial Front Bench in this debate, although we hoped that we should hear a clear explanation of the part which the United Nations can play.
I, like many of my hon. Friends, was impressed by the spirit in which the Prime Minister approached the debate in his speech yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman seemed relaxed and refreshed after his Commonwealth tour. No doubt India made a great impression on him, because the right hon. Gentleman paid many compliments to India and to the part she is playing in world affairs. Through those remarks the right hon. Gentleman also paid an indirect compliment to Lord Attlee and the part he played, when he was Prime Minister, in 1466 creating the Commonwealth countries of India, Pakistan and Ceylon as free and equal partners with the other, older members of the Commonwealth. What would have been the position today if those nations had had to struggle for their freedom in the same way as the former colonies of France have had to struggle for theirs? There is no doubt that the policies followed at that time by Lord Attlee and his colleagues are now much appreciated in the world, and we are glad to know that they are appreciated by even the Ministerial Front Bench.
Unfortunately, in his speech today the Foreign Secretary lowered the standard of this debate deplorably. I remember that some years ago I participated in a debate on steel with the Foreign Secretary at a university students' union. I was reminded of it this afternoon, because I thought the right hon. and learned Gentleman had to score cheap points in the manner of a students' debate. We had expected him to state the Government's policy in the present stage of world affairs, but instead of doing so, he skated around the real problems and only attempted to make debating points.
It appears that the West, because of the various alliances that have been created, is inflexible in its foreign policy today. It may even be true that the Communist bloc is more flexible than the West. If we have to wait until every one of our allies is advised as to our innermost thoughts, if we have to sort out every stage of negotiation with our allies, we shall suffer in the end from a sort of paralysis. Yet it appears that Poland is able, by putting forward the Rapacki Plan, to signify at least some independence from the Soviet bloc. That is a hopeful sign, and I hope that the independence of Communist countries in Eastern Europe and also of China will become more evident as time goes on.
I was particularly glad that the Prime Minister recognised the part to be played by India as a third force in the world, though there has been much criticism in past years of the third force idea. Every country was once expected to join one or other of the power blocs, and everybody thought there would be greater world security if there were increasing polarisation. Now, thank goodness, we are moving away from that idea. We 1467 can see that if there is a neutral bloc in the world it can actually add to stability, and can help to ease the tension between the two Goliaths on either side.
I hope that this idea of a third force can develop as a real and effective stabilising buffer between the world giants, and also as a bridge between East and West. I endorse what has been said already from this side of the House, that India has a very special part to play in forming that bridge. It justifies her having a place in the forthcoming Summit Conference.
My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Blenkinsop) referred to assistance to underdeveloped countries. This is certainly one of the ways in which the richer countries of the West can help not only to raise the living standards of the backward peoples but make a contribution towards removing tension from world affairs. If these backward countries have an opportunity of doing constructive things to improve their way of life there is much less likelihood that they will turn to Communism or dictatorship. If they feel frustrated in their efforts to advance it is certain that dictators and others who appeal to that frustration will be able to win power—and that will not be in the interests either of stability or of the progress of the people living in those countries.
The assistance which Russia gives to under-developed countries is every bit as valuable as that which we and the United States can give. We should welcome willingly any assistance which Russia gives to the backward areas; indeed, if we encourage her to give that aid we shall help to defeat the very objects of Communism. The building up of the basic standard of living of the under-developed countries is in itself one of the weapons which will defeat Communism. The fact that the U.S.S.R. is today building a steel mill in India is a contribution to India's economy, and to the strength of the Congress Party of India. It is also a handicap to the success of the Indian Communist Party. Like that which the more advanced countries of the West can give, the aid which the Soviet Union can give to other under-developed countries, such as Syria, provided that it is not military aid, helps 1468 to remove the causes of instability and frustration which are the seeds of Communism.
At the recent conference in Cairo the Soviet delegate offered to provide aid without strings. It may be that that was simply a propaganda gesture, but we should take it up and endorse that offer by telling the Russians that we shall be only too delighted if they will give this aid without strings, and we should follow it up by informing the new organisation created as a result of the conference in Accra that we will guarantee aid to the under-developed countries so that they can go ahead with their own development. I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East said about our support for S.U.N.F.E.D. and the other organisations, which should be developed in order to channel this aid.
The Foreign Secretary made a most disturbing reference to the Middle East. His remarks about the frontiers between Israel and the Arab States will be received with absolute dismay and disgust. Rather than adding to the stability of the area they will tend to add fuel to the fires of suspicion. They will be of no assistance in relieving tension in the Middle East. I welcome the unions which have taken place between Egypt and Syria, and Jordan and Iraq, because both can add to the stability of the area. That is particularly true of the union between Jordan and Iraq, because it will help to relieve the problem of the refugees in Jordan. They will be able to find employment in Iraq, and that country, with her oil revenues, will be able to assist the more backward parts of Jordan.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said, in a truly remarkable speech, the more fundamental problem in the Middle East concerns the production and supply of oil. Britain and the West are lagging behind in this matter. They have not yet brought forward any realistic plan for the oil industry of the Middle East. Unless they do, the opportunity will be lost. A plan must be brought forward within the next few years, through the United Nations, for proper control of the production and distribution of oil.
In this connection, the International Co-operative Alliance has put forward a 1469 very interesting plan for an international oil convention, under the United Nations, which would supervise the operations of the oil companies and lay down certain safeguards in the interests both of the producing and consuming countries. There is everything to be said for the Government's looking at that plan again and seeing whether it is not the best sort of plan to consider with the object of getting some sensible approach to the organisation of the oil industry, rather than leaving it to chaos and the sort of international competition which exists today, and which can lead only to trouble in the future.
This is especially important in view of the fact that not only are we a consuming country, which needs the oil, but we have a lot of capital tied up in the oil industry. It would be in our own interests to protect that capital and secure some international safeguards in respect of the new oil pipeline now being constructed through Turkey at tremendous expense.
The Middle East should be one of the items on the agenda of the forthcoming Summit Conference. We ought to consider what other items the Prime Minister should take in his knapsack as he climbs towards the summit. We do not want to put in too many items, or the knapsack will drag him down. We should consider not only what positive items should be placed on the agenda, but what items would be better left off.
One of the things at which the Government must look again before the Prime Minister goes to the Summit Conference is the White Paper Report on Defence, which was published a few days ago. This is a most provocative document. It is a pity that the Minister of Defence has issued it at this juncture, just before a Summit Conference is to be held. I refer in particular to paragraph 12, which says:it must be well understood that, if Russia were to launch a major attack"—on the West—even with conventional forces only, they would have to hit back with strategic nuclear weapons.That is a disastrous and lunatic policy. It does not make sense in itself, because it is liable to so many interpretations.
The Minister of Defence may think that he is talking from a position of strength 1470 in saying that, but I am afraid that he is simply revealing to the world his weaknesses—and that is a dangerous thing to do. This is the sort of statement that is liable to lead us into a sort of MacArthurism—the situation which prevailed when General MacArthur and some of his colleagues during the Korean War advocated an all-out bombing attack on China in order to bring a localised war to an end. Thank goodness the then Prime Minister flew to the United States to prevent America from taking this step of bombing China which certainly would have engulfed us in a world war. At that time there was a localised war in Korea.
Is the Minister of Defence suggesting—this is a foreign affairs matter as well as a defence question and that is why I raise it—that if there is, for instance, an attack by Russia on, say, Turkey we should automatically react with a nuclear attack on Moscow? If that is the case, it is a suicidal policy on our part. It needs to be clarified, and I hope it will be clarified before the Prime Minister goes to the Summit Conference. He cannot very well go with this sort of policy in his pocket if he sincerely believes in negotiation and more realistic plans between East and West on a basis of faith, because this sort of thing would destroy faith altogether. Certainly, if any local war broke out, for instance some frontier dispute between the U.S.S.R. and Turkey, or even an attack on Berlin, it would be much better for the world as a whole if such local disputes were dealt with by conventional arms rather than involving the world in a hydrogen bomb holocaust.
Another thing which I think the Prime Minister should think about before he goes to the Summit Conference, and something which he should not insist should go on the agenda, is the question of German reunification. Pressure has been brought on him over this. It was even raised in the debate yesterday by the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe). I hope that the prospect of success at the Summit Conference will not be jeopardised by insistence that German reunification should go on the agenda. There are many other more important things to discuss which deserve the attention of the world long before the question of German reunification is considered.
1471 We should respect the opinions of the Poles on this matter. They have been expressed fairly strongly. What would be the position if reunification were forced on a reluctant East and West Germany? The tension which would be created in the centre of Europe would be much greater than exists today. Instead of having a stabilising force in the centre of Europe we should have Germany trying to reconcile two opposing systems both in economics and politics. It would be an impossibility for that to be achieved in the present state of Europe. I submit that before German reunification can take place there must be a lowering of the tension on both sides, and that may take some years. It would be better if German reunification were attempted after tension has relaxed rather than before. If we force the pace now, we are liable to create more tension and instability in Central Europe than exists at present.
We have also to consider the effect on the other Eastern European countries should German reunification take place. If it succeeded, which I doubt, we should have a powerful Germany building up again in Europe. What would the effect be on Poland, Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries? They would fear Germany and would be forced towards the East. They would feel that they had to rely on the protection of the Soviet Union against this new threat building up in the centre of Europe.
The greatest hope for the achievement of peace and security that we have is the development of national Communisms. We do not want a monolithic Communism stretching from Berlin right over to Pekin and Vladivostok. That would be a danger to the world. We want Russia and the other Communist countries to develop their own approaches to international affairs.
If we had a reduction of tension, which would result from the policies advocated by my right hon. and hon. Friends, I believe it possible for Poland, Czechoslovakia, China and the other Communist countries to develop their own approaches and gradually, as their internal standards improved, for the people to develop a liberal outlook. That is the greatest hope for world peace. We shall never achieve real stability if we 1472 carry on with the present policy which is being foisted on us by the American State Department, and apparently taken up by our own Foreign Office, of all-out ideological war against Communism. That will not carry us anywhere.
I hope that the spirit portrayed by the Prime Minister in this debate, so much of which my right hon. and hon. Friends have endorsed, will pervade widely through the Government Front Bench and percolate even to the back benches, and find its way down through the Tory Party. I hope that there will be an end to the Suez complex and to Tory Imperialism and as a result that we shall be able to get a better foreign policy and an opportunity provided for Britain again to play a respected part in world affairs.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-on-Tweed)
There has been a noticeable difference in the atmosphere of the debate during these two days. Yesterday we had a striking contribution from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition also made a constructive and interesting speech. At the end of the day, the Minister of State put forward some logical and interesting ideas, even though one might not go the whole way with him. But, today, there seems to be simulated irritation on the benches opposite, and we now hear there is likely to be a Division tonight. That seems to me a great pity and hardly the way to work towards the high ideals which have been spoken of. It is a pity that this debate which started so well should end by a Division.
I do not wish to speak about what other hon. Members have said, but to refer to the changing face of the Middle East and a subject which has not yet been fully aired, the merging of Syria, Egypt and the Yemen and the rising of Nasser once again like the Phoenix from the ashes after we thought we had seen the last of his popularity and prowess. It is interesting to judge how this resurgence of Nasser has occurred. There can be no doubt that in a large degree this is due to the curious policy which has been followed in the Middle East during this last year by the American State Department.
It is interesting to see exactly what they have done. First, it was decided 1473 just over a year ago that, by economic pressure, we should teach Egypt and Syria the dangers and penalties of association with Communism. For such a policy to succeed, it had to depend on two things; first, that there was not created by isolation two blocs of such potential value to each other that they would unite; and, secondly, that the logical consequence of such a policy, the turning of the countries to the Soviets for aid, should be faced with equanimity. It is worth reflecting how much better it would have been, if it had been decided to isolate Egypt, to have helped Syria, or, if it had been decided to isolate Syria, to have helped Egypt, and not to have forced both countries closely together.
At any rate, the Americans, having decided upon this policy, should have been prepared to carry it through to its logical conclusion. Directly the inevitable happened and the turn was made to the Soviets, they were so frightened at what they had done that they became associated internally in the régimes with some of the most tactless moves in the history of diplomacy. This resulted in the anti-Westernism of the two countries and helped to create the bloc which, however anti-Communist it may become. is yet so anti-Western that it can still carry out the Soviet purposes.
It is curious, as an hon. Member has said, that it was not realised that the Suez intervention, whatever its rights or wrongs, was the last chance for direct intervention in the countries' régime. We can only hope that the American State Department will have learned by the mistakes it has made and that they will not be repeated. I regret that it was necessary for our foreign policy to follow so blindly behind that of America. Can we really not in future decide to agree if we consider it is to our advantage to disagree?
I should like to pose this question: What is our future policy going to be towards Nasser? What we have done during the past year is ineffectually to undermine him while we are dependent upon him. It cannot be said to have achieved any other result than to press him towards his present extreme courses. It is easy to citicise, but it would be impossible to imagine an area with more difficulties than the Middle East at the present time. Whichever way our 1474 Foreign Minister turns, he is faced by them. There is no doubt that he is so overwhelmed by the problems of today that he has very little chance or time to look at the future. There is a very great danger that by concentrating alone on today we are mortgaging tomorrow.
The whole of the Middle East is in a state of flux. Countries after centuries of poverty have suddenly found themselves rich beyond understanding. The discovery of oil has thrust the whole civilisation and idealism of the West, with all its alien ideas and conceptions of equality, into a feudally-ruled society. What will happen can be guessed only by the past history of the world. When a country becomes rich, its people wish to share in the riches and, when they have shared in the riches, they wish to share in the Government. While the transition from feudalism to democracy took hundreds of years in this country, and even then was not achieved without bloodshed, in the Middle East circumstances make it almost inevitable that similar changes will take place in a few years.
How is our foreign policy preparing to meet this vast social change? If we have to continue a hand-to-mouth policy which is based only on the support of the status quo, we are risking finding ourselves hopelessly on the wrong side of the fence in twenty years' time. Can we really doubt that there will be a wider distribution of power, or believe that the unlimited authority of kings and sheiks will remain as they are at present?
Indeed—and I pose also this question—do we really desire to have connections only with the heads of Governments who rule in a manner long outdated by Europe and the new world? Do we wish to appear in the East as a symbol of opposition to the rights of representative government which we ourselves believe in and practise and which, by our very presence, we introduced?
Let me be plain on one point. We have no alternative but to support existing authorities at the present time, but what is needed is a concept of imagination which can allow us to support the authorities at the present and at the same time draws us as closely as possible to those who will at some future date in all probability achieve a share in their country's Government. We should try to see, difficult as it undoubtedly is, 1475 whether it is not possible to provide some kind of bridge between the present feudalism, with all its artificial frontiers, and an association of representative Governments closely knit together to the general advantage of the Middle East.
It is worth while mentioning how important the Middle East is to us. The oilfields of the Middle East are as important to our development in the next thirty years as were the coalfields in the Industrial Revolution. Surely it is worth spending money to establish what amounts to a good relationship between ourselves and the future.
Without direct intervention, there are only two ways left open to us of infiltrating into the Middle East. They are trade and education. Have our trade relations with the Middle East been encouraged? Has enough been done to forward an increased volume of trade? The committee which was set up recently under the Minister of State, Board of Trade, was a step in the right direction, but there is all the difference in the world between setting up a committee and getting advantage out of it. We need a demonstration of earnestness from the Government that they are prepared to push ahead and see what can be done. It is somewhat alarming to realise that it is four years since a trade mission last want to the Middle East.
Let us make no mistake about it; we have lost great opportunities by such tardiness. Germany is thrusting her interests forward in a way and with a success that can only alarm us. A few months ago a car in which I was travelling broke down a mile or so outside Beirut. I had little to do but count the passing cars. Of the first 15 cars that passed me, 14 were German. In the last year we have hardly done anything to forward our own interests there. However high the costs may be, whether it is by the granting of credits or in other ways, we must do so. The money which we spend will be modest compared with the benefits which we shall get in the area.
The other way we can use to spread our influence is by education. One of the aspects which strikes anyone who has been to the Middle East in the last year or two is the intense desire for knowledge shown by the ordinary Arab. 1476 The whole Arab world is crying out for education. All our universities at the moment are full to overflowing, but it is rather alarming that there are now only 50 more Arab students at our universities than in 1950. We can be certain that if we do not offer educational facilities they will be offered in precisely the places most calculated to do us harm. We have only to examine the infiltration of local Egyptian teachers into the body of the Middle East to see what we have to combat.
It is true that British Petroleum has an educational scheme, which is encouraging, but that is not enough. By partial control of that company, the British Government have a unique opportunity of furthering our best interests in that area. If they were to devote a portion of the income from the investment they receive annually from British Petroleum in extending educational facilities, that money would be indeed well spent.
I do not know whether many hon. Members know that there was a plan a few years ago to set up a British public school in the Lebanon to which Arabs were to go. That was a good scheme. None of the pupils could be stigmatised for having been educated in England, and later, it would have ensured that a large number of students would have been adequately prepared for our universities. Why was that scheme not revived after Suez, and extended?
Even more than in the Lebanon, there is need for a public school in the Gulf, for at this time the position of Gulf students who come to this country is unsatisfactory. They have inadequate education behind them. They lead an unsatisfactory life here, attached to schools or crammers and so on, never reaching university standard. Consequently, they miss all the advantages of university life and carry back to their countries a certain sense of frustration and disappointment. So obvious are the opportunities of providing education that I would rather leave the details to greater experts than myself and merely suggest that a far more strenuous approach should be made. If the British Government were to seize the initiative, the other oil companies would most likely be persuaded to follow that example.
There is, however, one way in which, without great expense, we in this country 1477 can extend our indirect influence. That is by making available to more Army cadets opportunities to receive their military training in this country. I should like to cite two examples which, I think, show that we are not doing as much as we easily could.
Four Iraqi students were admitted to Sandhurst in 1950. In 1955, in 1956 and in 1957, only five were admitted each year. Why do we not provide an increase in military places? Here again, was an opportunity whereby we could extend our influence. Criticisms are always made of the French and their short-sightedness in colonial rule, but it is worth noticing that, when they left Morocco, one of the things they did was to provide no less than 40 military students' places each year at the Military University of St. Cyr. It seems to me that we could follow that example to some extent.
Perhaps more unimaginative than anything has been our approach to the problem of Jordan. When General Glubb was so unceremoniously hustled out of the country two years ago, it was obvious to everybody that that was the end of the close military liaison which had existed between the Arab Legion and ourselves. The Army is now purely nationalistic and there are no British officers left in it. Nevertheless, I am sure that the majority in this House will agree that, despite the recent merger, the Arab Legion stands alone between the King and chaos on the Israel-Jordan frontier and, consequently, should be helped as much as possible.
Having lost our direct influence, we should have done all we could to see that our indirect influence—which must be the basis of all our relations—was as great as possible. We should have granted to many more Jordanians the opportunity of receiving their military education here. Up to 1957, it was the custom to provide two places only at Sandhurst for Jordanian cadets, but on 1st January that year the number was reduced to one. In spite of protestation, that decision has stood.
If that were an isolated case, it would be alarming enough, but it is not an isolated case. It is merely an example of neglect of an opportunity which is fast passing. It would seem worth while providing many more places for our Arab friends who wish to get their education in this country. The Foreign 1478 Office could once again lead the way. The oil companies, by the production of scholarships and educational facilities, could follow that lead. Could we possibly have a better opportunity than the present merger to make some gesture of this kind?
There is justification for a policy of infiltration in this matter. We have prime justification for it in our treatment of India. Had we not made available facilities for education for the most intelligent of young Indians, I think there is little doubt that the chaos which would have followed the British leaving of India might well have turned that country to the Soviet bloc. Precisely because we had educated them in our methods, India chose to remain with us. As a result, they have had all the moderating and constitutional advantages of association with us.
When one considers how far more tenuous are our relations with the Middle East, how much more we depend upon them than we ever depended upon India, as there are none of the deep-rooted antipathies brought about by Colonial rule but only an intense desire for education, it would seem nothing but sensible by every means in our power to promote a closer association between these advancing countries and ourselves.
In a wider sense, also, that is the right policy for us to follow. We have not the strength by violence or force to maintain our old position in the world, so if we can no longer be a Rome, let us at least determine to be a Venice and not just have a policy zigzagging indecisively between the two, without particular advantage to ourselves.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
The noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) has drawn some contrast between the proceedings in the House today and the proceedings yesterday. I agree with him that it is a very different debate today in many respects compared with yesterday. If the debate had been a one-day debate and yesterday had been the day, it is probable that there would have been no Division, but, having heard the Foreign Secretary, I said to myself, "Well that settles it. Inevitably, there will be a Division."
1479 I really cannot see why the Foreign Secretary should not try to be more clear and decisive in the speeches he makes. He speaks of this consideration and that consideration, and finally tells the House nothing except, "We will consult our allies about it." It is true that on some matters that is a fair reply, but it is not a fair reply to give on everything. I have not heard officially what the decision is, but my guess is that after that speech a Division is inevitable.
§ Mr. Morrison
The debate was opened yesterday, I thought admirably, by the two Front Benches. I do not want to commit myself to agree with everything the Prime Minister said, but it was a good speech that lifted the subject on to a higher level than had been done for some time. The speech of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was serious, constructive, positive and worthy of an Opposition which I think wishes to be helpful to the country in these difficulties. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said, we are not disagreeing about foreign affairs for the sake of doing so. My right hon. Friend, in fact, said that he would have a bias in favour of no Division if things could go that way.
Unlike domestic affairs such as, for example, the Rent Act, foreign affairs are serious and difficult and can lead to dramatic and grave results. Therefore, my own view has been that on foreign affairs we should not artificially try to disagree with the Government, but that if the Government were wrong, we must disagree with them and say so, if necessary by voting. If, however, the Government are right, we ought to have the courage to say that too. That seems to me to be the right attitude to foreign affairs.
In democracy, there must be free debate in Parliament. There have to be—the Prime Minister made a fair point—consultations with allies and with the Commonwealth, and this takes time. There have to be consultations, among others, with the United States of America, and I imagine that that is not always positively easy.
1480 During my visit to the United States in the autumn of the year before last, although it was my seventh visit it was the first time I had visited that country with a Republican Government in power. It smelt different and it was different. It is the Americans' business what Government they have, but I think it is easier for us as Governments to get on with Democratic Administrations than with Republicans. Whether that will do the Democrats any good or harm, I do not know. Any way, I say again that it is their business.
There is a curious Government in the United States. Mr. Eisenhower is a likeable man. Those of us who knew him here and have met him in Washington like him very much, but he is easy going and he has behind him the pulsating, energetic Mr. Dulles, who is undoubtedly a person of great power. But he is, I think, a person of great unreliability and uncertainty as to where he will be from hour to hour.
What interested me in the course of that long visit to the United States, meeting as I did all sorts of audiences of varying character, was that I never met a single American who had a good word to say for Mr. Dulles. I met a number of audiences who tried to incite me to attack him, but I said, I am only a poor foreigner from England. I cannot do that. Anyway, he is in hospital and it would not be fair." My worry about Mr. Dulles is that if he says one thing, one does not know whether he may do something else. Therefore, I imagine that the consultations with the United States of America are somewhat more difficult than they were when Dean Acheson was in office as Secretary of State. He was a very good Secretary of State.
We have all these complications of Parliamentary debate and consultation, not to mention the difficulties of the Government agreeing within their own ranks. I am not making any party point, because it can affect anybody or any Government. All these things have to be squared up. In a dictatorship, however, if it is a one-man dictatorship, a dictator does not have the troubles of a Cabinet. There is no trouble with the Press, with Parliament or with broadcasting. Even foreign broadcasting is jammed, as we are experiencing.
1481 There are the two systems. Whether in the long run the dictatorship is better off than a free democracy, I am not sure. After all, Hitler had a very great dictatorship, and a very hot one, but it did not prevent him at last from coming to a sticky end.
During the war, all of us hoped, first, that we would work in cordial co-operation with the Soviet Union during the war, and with the United States, which it was vital that we should, and it is vital now; and as a whole, we did. There is a book about to be published from which I will quote a little about the Stalin correspondence with the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), Lord Attlee, Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Truman, which, unless I am wrong, will cause a certain amount of excitement on both sides of the Atlantic. Nevertheless, during the war the effort was made and as a whole, although there was friction and some frank speaking from Moscow now and again, we got on fairly well in the prosecution of the war. We had a genuine feeling that we wanted, not only in war, but in peace, permanently to be friends with the Soviet Union. I am sure that the same was true of President Roosevelt and of the general body of American citizens at that time.
If there are people in the Soviet Union who think that either in our Government, whether Labour or Conservative, or even in the American Government there are people who want war with the Soviet Union, I would venture to say to them that they are wrong and are making a great and dangerous mistake. I do not believe it to be true. On the contrary, we felt that when the war had finished the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the United Kingdom could between them take care of the peace of the world. Indeed, while the war was on, this was evidently the feeling of Mr. Stalin as well.
This is what Mr. Stalin said in one of the telegrams in the book which is to be published next week. I suppose I am guilty of a little professional irregularity. I have to review it for Forward. Publishing date is not until about Friday of next week. Never mind, I do not see why I should not say this in the House of Commons. Mr. Stalin, in a message to Mr. Churchill, as he then was, on 30th September, 1944, said: 1482I share your conviction that stable harmony between the three leading Powers is an earnest of future peace and it is in tune with the hopes cherished by all peace-loving nations. The consistency of our Governments in this policy in the post-war period, like that achieved during this great war, will, I believe, be the decisive thing.That was a very true observation and we would all agree with it, and yet, unhappily, it was not to be.
I was not only a Member of the War Cabinet, but, like others, a Member of the Labour Government that followed. I am absolutely confident that the late Ernest Bevin approached his task at the Foreign Office with a similar desire to have peace with the Soviet Union. He had trouble with them. Even then, he was patient for at least two years, because he thought that these difficulties might pass and things would be all right. Unfortunately, however, it was not to be. Then, he went on to the organisation of N.A.T.O. with the United States and others in order that there should be the elaboration of some form of collective security.
What the free nations want is, first of all, peace—that is the No. 1 thing—which also means security. That brings along the absence of fear, which is a great curse to the human race, because fear is a poisoning influence in international relations. I suggest, however, that we want not only peace; we want liberty and freedom as well.
Therefore, in the conduct of foreign affairs, whilst we must not be too emotional and drag in moral things in a humbugging way, nevertheless foreign affairs cannot exclude moral considerations of peace and freedom in the world. Our approach must be on the basis that the greater the number of countries and the greater the area of square miles which are occupied by free democracies, the better it is for the world; and the less that is occupied by dictatorships, of any sort, the better that is for the world.
I am perfectly sure that if in the years from 1933 to 1939 we Labour people, in denouncing Nazism and Hitlerism in Germany, had said that that was a matter the spread or otherwise of which was not a factor in foreign policy, we should have been richly condemned by our own people and others as well. Therefore, it is not illegitimate that in the pursuit of foreign affairs we should try to promote 1483 the cause of freedom and liberty; but I still agree that the securing of peace and security comes first.
One of the big features of this debate has been the desirability of the summit talks. I share the desire of my right hon. and hon. Friends that those summit talks should take place. The Prime Minister has certainly come along. The credit for it has been given very largely to the Commonwealth, but I think that the Labour Party has had something to do with it as well. He talked in rather freer and more forthcoming language yesterday, but I must say that we all hoped that he would be quicker in coming along.
President Eisenhower is coming along as well—not quite so quickly, but he is coming along. If the President is coming along, presumably Mr. Dulles is coming along as well. Let us hope that Mr. Eisenhower will keep an eye on his Secretary of State to make sure that he is coming along, and to keep him under control.
If the summit talks take place let us also hope that they will succeed. I do not think it is wise to say that it is of no use putting this or that item on the agenda, because the Russians will not have it, and it would not be wise for the Russians to say the same thing about us. Nor must we say to ourselves, "Let us put on the agenda something that the Russians would not like." That would be wrong. I think that it is for each nation to put down what it thinks is wise, taking into account, of course, what is expedient and sensible.
Both the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend have agreed on the principle of the summit talks, and they have both agreed on the necessity for some form of preliminary consultation with a view to preparing the agenda, making the arrangements, and so on, before the talks begin. That is an important element of agreement. It is interesting to know that the late Mr. Stalin agreed with both of them, not in connection with these particular summit talks but in connection with meetings of Heads of States during the war.
This is what Mr. Stalin said on 9th August, 1943, in another of the strictly personal and secret telegrams to the right 1484 hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). As I say, this message related to a coming meeting of heads of State, and Mr. Stalin wanted a preliminary consultation. He said:In order not to put off elucidation of the problems which interest our countries, it would be advisable to hold a meeting of authorised representatives of our states, and we could agree on the place and time of meeting in the near future.Besides, we should agree beforehand on the range of problems to be discussed and on the draft proposals to be approved. Unless this is done the meeting can hardly yield tangible results.When the Prime Minister, my right hon. Friend and the late Mr. Stalin are in agreement on such a principle, I think that it is a somewhat encouraging state of affairs.
We cannot, of course, be sure how long these preparations will take. They could, and should be expeditious. The Foreign Secretary referred to an experience I went through when I was Foreign Secretary, together with my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies). That was the meeting at the Palais Rose—which I always persist in confusing with the Villa Rose—in Paris, for the purpose of preparing an agenda for a meeting of higher-up people.
There was great argument about whether the Russians wanted the question of Germany to be put on the agenda. There is still argument about that. The Americans did not like it going on the agenda, but I thought that foolish, and said that if the Russians wanted it to go on we should let it go on. We put it on. Then the Russians thought of something else that presented difficulties, and matters went on for weeks and weeks. Of course, that was all in the days of Mr. Stalin, and it may be that things are better now in that respect. I hope very much that the preliminaries can be dealt with expeditiously, as I think they ought to be.
I agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said about the Middle East. Years ago I myself advocated the setting up of an economic and social board there. I must say that the Foreign Secretary was quite unsatisfactory today about Israel. He was against any guarantees, and said that it was a matter of rectification of the armistice line. The disgrace is that things 1485 are still being run on an armistice basis at all. There should have been a peace years ago.
There is talk about compromises, in which I would prefer that neither our Government nor the American Government should have a hand. I think that flatters should be settled direct between the Arab States and Israel, though not on the basis of Israel giving up chunks of territory. After all, it is only the size of Wales now. But if there are bits of give and take here and there for the purpose of sensible rectification that is another matter. But I certainly hope that the Foreign Secretary will not let himself or his office run a subconscious anti-Israel line. That would be unfortunate and bad.
We now have this trouble about the Sudan. I must say I do not think that Mr. Nasser is a very nice man. I will not argue whether his view is right or wrong—nor will I argue the merits of the dispute, because we do nor yet know enough about it—but the brutal and intimidating way he has done things is really very bad indeed. I think he is an exceedingly difficult man to live with.
I come to Germany, and to the so-called argument in favour of what is generally known as disengagement in Central Europe. I have been through controversies about Germany at Labour Party conferences and the like. They were great controversies, with the party divided right down the middle. However, someone won at the end of the day, and in a minute I will say who it was.
Perhaps I may make the preliminary point that if we compare the treatment of Germany after the First and Second World Wars, and the outcome of the German conduct after each of those wars, we see a very great contrast. I am old enough to remember that those of us who were in the advanced Socialist movement after the First World War denounced with vigour and with bitterness the cruel way in which the Allies set about Germany. If anything, we had a better case for setting about Germany after the Second World War than after the first one.
However, both we and France set about her after the first war, and the result was that Germany was put into great difficulties and into economic queer street. There was inflation, and Germany 1486 went to pieces. It must, of course, be said that part of those economic troubles were her own fault, because she almost deliberately sabotaged herself, in some respects, so as to command the sympathy of the world. Nevertheless, it was very largely the fault of the allies, and the rise of Hitler was in part—I go no further than to say that—the responsibility of the allies and a result of the Treaty of Versailles.
After the Second World War we were more sensible. We treated the Germans as fairly as we could, without spoiling them unduly. They have worked very hard to get themselves economically sound, and have met with an amazing degree of success. Compared with the Weimar Republic set up after the First World War, the Germans have this time run their Parliamentary democracy very well. They have made great economic progress.
If I may say so with respect, I think that it is a bit mean of the German Government to quibble about paying £50 million towards the British defence costs that we are incurring in Germany. They tried it on me when I went to Germany at the time I was a Minister. I said, "Look here, you have got to be defended. You cannot defend yourselves, partly because you cannot and partly because we will not let you. Somebody has to do it, and you have jolly well got to pay your contributions towards the cost of German defence. Otherwise, you would be reaping an economic and commercial advantage from the willingness of the British to pay". I appeal to the German Government to do the proper and decent thing and pay up. There ought not to be this foolishness about it.
The question then arose of whether Germany was to be treated as a sovereign Power. We decided in due course that she should be so treated. That was Labour Government policy, confirmed by the Conservative Government. But if one makes a country—in this case, Western Germany—a sovereign Power, certain consequences follow. It seems to me that such a country must be free to pursue its foreign policy and defence policy. It appeared that the Germans were willing to contribute to Western defence and to collective security. I feel that Western Germany has a right to do so if she so wishes. If she does not, that is another 1487 matter. I want to see a Germany which is contributing to collective security, a Germany which is peaceful and not running policies of her own separately from associated democratic and peaceful Powers. I do not believe that the best results from a peaceful, constructive, co-operative Germany will be achieved if we treat the Germans as untouchables.
As I said, we had the great Labour Party debate, in which all sorts of other people joined—the peace societies outside contributed, the Communists contributed, as they always, do, whether they are wanted or not—and a good time was had by all. In the end, there was a vote, and my side just won. It was a very narrow victory, but we did win. If it had been the other side who won, they would have made even more noise than we did about this famous victory. I must say, however, that it was very narrow. I do not want to throw that hard-won victory overboard. That is what makes me a little disappointed about this business of disengagement in Central Europe.
Disengagement in Central Europe seems to be designed to throw clean overboard the victory we so narrowly achieved at the Labour Party Conference. Moreover, if we take the line that Germany is to be excluded from these matters, it follows that Germany is to be excluded from N.A.T.O. It strikes me as rather odd that we should build up a system of collective security and, having done so, then throw overboard one of our important contributors to the maintenance of collective security. That seems to be wrong. If it is desired that Germany should be a neutral Power—I am not sure that it is—then I think that that would be wrong; indeed, it was condemned by my noble Friend Lord Attlee. It would be wrong to deny the Germans' right to settle their own foregin policy.
Moreover, if Germany is excluded from N.A.T.O. and prevented from making her contribution to Western defence, the military consequences for Western Europe will be serious. I was a member of the War Cabinet, as Home Secretary, Minister of Home Security, and I can remember the nasty feelings we had when the Germans broke through Holland, Belgium and France, on to the Channels ports; and when they 1488 got to Norway and Denmark. From all these areas we were subject to aerial bombardment and nearly subject to invasion. I do not, therefore, want it to be too easy for anybody else to pass through Europe right to the Channel ports. It seems to me that, if Germany, so to speak, is, in effect, demilitarised, then the area through which the vast Russian army would have to come is very limited, and it might be easy for it to reach the Channel ports.
Even if there be added Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, this does not over-comfort me, though I am open to conviction upon it—we must all go on thinking about it—because it must be remembered that, behind the borders where the Soviet Union and its allies begin—presumably, Rumania and Bulgaria will still be there—there is an enormous area of Soviet country stretching right to the Far East. The Soviet Union, therefore, is in a position totally different from that in which we should be if we eliminated Germany from Western defence.
Some people think that we can bargain for German unity in return. In my view, if there is to be German unity, it must be a unity of a free country which can control its own destinies, its own Parliamentary elections, and elect its own Government. Otherwise, the whole show might go Communist, or there could be civil war. Moreover Germany has a right to unity. My hon. Friend the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) was talking a little lightheartedly about it when he said, "Let them wait; there is nothing terrible about that". Let us imagine—it is very imaginary—that we had been invaded by the United States, and let us suppose that Scotland had been cut off and divided from England. The Scottish Nationalists would, perhaps, like that; but it surely would have been a legitimate British hope that our Scots brothers should come back and be amongst us again. In the East German analogy, they would not only have been cut off, but they would have completely lost their liberty of expression, their right to argue. If there is anything more precious to a Scot than anything else, it is the right to argue. These things must be taken into account. I think that it is right that Germany should have unity if she wants it.
1489 Whether the Soviet Union would concede unification and withdrawal from Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, I do not know. I do not believe that the Russians will go from East Germany and from the other countries to which they have gone until they want to. What I regard as more likely is that they will some day tire of holding down these other countries, especially if those countries less and less like being held down.
Collective security does not mean throwing away important allies. On the contrary, it means building up alliances; the more safe allies one has, the better for peace. Heaven knows, N.A.T.O. is weak enough without our deliberately making it weaker. I do not think that the Labour Party has yet collectively and officially pronounced about all this, and I thought that I would make my own few observations in order that they might go into the common pool for consideration and report.
Finally, as to the Bulganin letters and world public relations, I feel that there have been rather too many Bulganin letters. In my view, the last Eisenhower reply was one of the brightest yet produced, especially that bit which said that he did not think it was much good for us to go on throwing speeches at each other. It was rather good. Who the author was, I do not know; but I cannot believe that it was Mr. Dulles.
The truth is that the Soviet Union has been having considerable success in the battle of world public relations. They have impressed a large section of public opinion and a good many newspapers, and they must be congratulated on having achieved a fair amount of success. I wish I could equally congratulate the British, American and other Governments. We seem a dull lot in comparison. We have a vast horde of public relations officers, including the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, not to mention, in another capacity, the Lord President of the Council, but they never seem to study this business of foreign policy from the point of view of world public relations. That is the big battle which has been going on for months past. The Russians have been winning it and have learnt how to talk to the West. It took them years.
I have a serious explanation for that. This change in the capacity of the 1490 Russians to talk in an understandable way to the West came soon after Mr. Burgess and Mr. Maclean arrived in Moscow. I have the utmost contempt for those two men, and I hope that no reputable politician or journalist will want to have anything to do with them. I think that they are a pair of rascals.
§ Mr. Morrison
Near enough traitors to their country. I do not believe that in Moscow they have done anything in the way of espionage. If they did, they did it before they went. They ought to have been fired months before for conduct which had nothing to do with this matter at all, but something else. These gentlemen have helped the Russians in a vital way by advising them—editing, drafting, phrasing, and so on—on how to talk nicely to the West, and have made a contribution to the public relations battle. The West has had the worst of that battle. We have lacked initiative. We should have opened up subjects of discussion with the Russians which were legitimate in themselves, but which would have made the Russians think before they answered back, as we have had to do.
We must try to find a way of talking to the people of the Communist countries. I know how difficult it is, but we must try. It is terribly vital that we should manage to do so. The world should be able to live up to the watchword of the British Broadcasting Corporation—" Let Nation speak unto Nation."
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
Praise for a Labour speaker from the Conservative side is not always particularly welcome, but I think that the stature of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison), even in his semiretirement from the Front Opposition Bench, is of sufficient quality to stand up to a compliment from the hon. Member for Torquay.
Although I cannot agree with everything that he said, there was certainly much in his speech that we not only enjoyed, but with which many hon. Members on both sides thoroughly agreed. However, there was one feature which I would have found more convincing but for the speech of the right hon. Member 1491 for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). When the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South began his remarks, like several preceding speakers on his side, he attributed the change of tone in the debate to what the Foreign Secretary said or did not say today. That may sound all very well on the face of it, but we on this side of the House recall—and HANSARD will record it tomorrow—that the first shots in the changed atmosphere were fired by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale before the Foreign Secretary had spoken.
Indeed, in his opening remarks the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said that his more critical attitude which he would develop today—and he received a certain amount of applause from hon. Gentlemen behind him—did not spring from the Foreign Secretary's comments. It could not have done so, because the Foreign Secretary had not spoken. It sprang, he said, from the fact that he had had an opportunity to look through the Prime Minister's speech and, on reflection, had found many parts which he did not like.
We on this side are left unbelieving at the sudden suggestion that the change in debate is due to what the Foreign Secretary said, because the very first shots in this matter were fired by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale who said that the greater criticism which he would develop sprang from a review of the Prime Minister's speech. It is not for me or any other hon. Member on this side to know what in the Labour ranks changed that attitude, but the evidence I have given has proved conclusively that it had nothing to do with what the Foreign Secretary said. It was due to a decision on their part, perhaps after such unexpected and unusual unanimity yesterday, that the debate should not be carried on in the same way on the second day. Hon. Members opposite are shaking their heads, but I am still waiting for an explanation of why the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale began as he did, before the Foreign Secretary had spoken.
Leaving the right hon. Gentleman's rather complicated explanations about the present nuclear policy of the Labour Party, in summary what were the chief criticisms that he developed against the Government in the preparation for a Summit Conference? As I understood them, the first was that we should not 1492 spend too much time on the preparations in trying to get an agreed list of items on the agenda for discussion. The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South said something with which I fully concur. Whether we can or cannot agree on the items, it would be folly to go to a Summit Conference and agree to discuss only what the Russians wanted to discuss or, for that matter, for the Russians to agree to discuss only what we wanted to discuss.
As I understood the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, he said that the Russians would never under any circumstances agree to discuss the freedom of the satellites and that, therefore, it was impracticable for us to put on the agenda any question about Eastern Europe. Thus, in summary, what the right hon. Gentleman said was that we should discuss only items on the agenda that suited the Russians, such as our entry into the Middle East, and should not discuss anything that offended them. That, the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South said, would be impracticable.
The other chief point of his criticism was that we ought to fix the date first because that would expedite the preparations. That would be the most foolish of all things to happen, the one fatal thing. We cannot go on having Summit Conferences, and this one, if it is to come about, must carry a measure of success. We must make sure that it is not used simply as a venue for propaganda, with all the disillusionment that would follow. I say that it would be a hundred times better to have no conference at all than to have an inadequately prepared conference from which disillusionment resulted, because it would be impossible to have another, better conference for a considerable time thereafter.
May I turn to a point which I do not think has been mentioned so far? All of us agreed with what the Prime Minister had to say about his Commonwealth tour and the impression that he got from it.
Nearly all of us would agree with what he said about India and about our understanding and appreciation of India's position, that although she is in the Commonwealth she does not wish to become militarily aligned with us. To say that we understand and appreciate it, however, is not to go as far as the 1493 right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition appeared to go. I make this point because it is important for the record. In his contribution to the debate on this subject the Leader of the Opposition spoke of his trip to India, when he was seeking to justify Britain's participation in N.A.T.O. He said:But I also endeavoured to make it plain that while we felt it necessary to belong to N.A.T.O., nevertheless we not only accepted but positively encouraged the non-alignment policy of India."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1232.]I should like to know whether in saying that, the Leader of the Opposition was giving the Opposition's attitude towards this matter or was purporting to give also the attitude of Her Majesty's Government, because I am afraid that I could not support that policy, for a simple reason which I will now seek to explain.
We have S.E.A.T.O. and the Bagdad Pact at the moment. Those of us who have travelled in Asia recently know that it is not easy for statesmen, politicians and other leaders in the Asian countries which belong to these Pacts to carry public opinion with them when there is a neutralist non-commitment trend abroad and a great deal of propaganda to that end. It is already difficult enough for them to stick with us in these Pacts, not only in the S.E.A.T.O. and Bagdad Pacts but also, for instance, in the defence arrangement with Malaya, and I therefore hope that Her Majesty's Government will be able to say a word this evening to reassure all of us that although we may well accept the reasons which guide India today, we do not encourage a non-alignment policy for her or anybody else.
If we do encourage such a policy, then the next logical thing for us to say straight away is that we encourage those who want to disrupt the S.E.A.T.O. and Bagdad Pacts, because we cannot logically say, on the one hand, that we encourage non-alignment for one Asian nation and then, on the other hand, praise the loyalty and the staunchness of those in the S.E.A.T.O. and Bagdad Pacts who are situated geographically and historically in almost exactly the same position as India. There are certain hon. Members opposite who probably would not mind seeing the Bagdad and S.E.A.T.O. Pacts disrupted.
§ Mr. Bennett
That at least is a logical policy, but if we do not accept it—and, whatever individuals may say, I understand that the Front Bench opposite do not want to see the repudiation of the Bagdad or S.E.A.T.O. Pacts or our defence arrangements with Malaya—then I hope that we shall not for a moment give any impression that we do not highly value the staunchness and the loyalty which has been shown by the Powers throughout the Asian countries associated with us in these Pacts.
The only other point I want to make arising from the debate deals with our weapons and our defences. If someone coming from another world could have seen the Order Paper of the House in the last few months and the Questions dealing with the atom bomb, he would have found it hard indeed to discover what was in the minds of hon. Members, because out of the scores and scores of Questions which have been asked every one has been directed towards weakening the nuclear defences of this country and not one has expressed any fears or apprehensions about the weapons of our enemies. Day after day we have had objections to our allied planes flying with the hydrogen bomb, to rocket sites and to preparations for air bases, but never has there been a Question which urged greater defence on our part in order to counter the enemy's aggressive forces, both conventional and non-conventional, which we know only too well are being mustered behind the Iron Curtain. We all know about the 200 divisions which exist. The Russians never seek to conceal that fact. In addition, they never cease from boasting about their power to destroy this island by rockets at a moment's notice, or to destroy any of the countries which surround us, if it comes to a struggle.
This muddled thinking in which hon. Members opposite see more cause for worry in how strong we are than in how strong the enemy are is best exemplified in their apparent policy over the unilateral suspension of hydrogen bomb tests. Frankly, I do not understand what is the policy of Her Majesty's Opposition towards these tests or towards the development of hydrogen bombs, because we have had a series of variations on that theme, but at least I understand that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale 1495 apparently committed them today to the statement that they would like the Government unilaterally to make the voluntary gesture of the suspension of the tests. In the right hon. Gentleman's words, this would serve as an example which the Russians would find it hard not to follow.
I am extremely suspicious about the capacity of Russians to follow examples, and I think the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South may agree with me here. They have never shown themselves impressed by voluntary gestures from the West. The most recent example is of a situation which we seem to have forgotten remarkably quickly, judging by the little reference which has been made in the debate to Hungary. It is only a few short months ago that all of us were filled with resentment and anger about the Russian treatment of Hungary. Ever since then, deportations, executions and imprisonments have been going on in Hungary. I remember perfectly clearly that when I last spoke about Hungary, in a short Adjournment debate, the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) asked whether Her Majesty's Government did not realise that the best example which we could set to the Russians to persuade them to get out of Hungary was for us to get out of Suez. He said that it would be very difficult for the Russians not then to get out of Hungary if we first went out of Suez. That was many months ago. We gave the example, and so far the Russians do not seem to have been particularly impressed in what they have done about Hungary by that example.
I should have thought that if the Russians genuinely want a Summit Conference, if they really want public opinion impressed so much that Mr. Dulles or our own Prime Minister or the French Prime Minister would be carried willy-nilly on a wave of popular enthusiasm for a Summit Conference, it would be they that should now be making such a reciprocal gesture. If the Russians were to do something decisive about Hungary—we cannot expect them to hand it back to freedom for a while—if they even recognised even one of the twelve United Nations resolutions on the subject which they now defy, that would have a great deal more effect on public opinion and on the chances of a successful Summit Conference than any number of speeches 1496 or of letters passing between Russian and Western leaders. It is in that hope, and because we ought still to be thinking of the people of Hungary, that I make this particular appeal tonight.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I hope that the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) will not mind if I do not follow him in his remarks, although some of the points he made offer obvious temptations to do so. I do not want to follow him in them, or to debate with him, for two reasons. One is that it seems to me, with great respect—and he put his point with great moderation—that he made the mistake which the Prime Minister avoided yesterday, namely, of repeating at this moment all the vituperative polemics which have bedevilled international relations for nearly a dozen years.
I am very far from saying that all the fault, or the main fault, for that lies with this country or with the West. Certainly it does not, but I am perfectly certain that if at this supremely critical moment we are to make any advance at all towards saving the world from what may well be ultimate catastrophe we had better keep our mouths shut on either side about the mistakes the other has made in the tragic twelve years now coming to an end.
My second reason is partly the same as the first, because I think that at this moment we had better concentrate on the efforts that apparently everyone wants to make to begin again and to see whether we can get out of the atmosphere of tension and excitement and away from the method of trying to maintain peace by stumbling on from crisis to crisis over a period in the hope that somehow or other somebody will step in to save us from the consequences of our own actions.
The hon. Member for Torquay said that he did not understand why the character of the debate had changed. I have no more information about it than anybody else but, having sat through the debate, it seems to me clear that the indications certainly are that most of my hon. and right hon. Friends will vote against the Government tonight. The hon. Member, and perhaps the House, may be surprised to hear, though I say it with the utmost sincerity, that I wish 1497 with all my heart that we did not have to divide. I agree absolutely with my right hon. Friend that of all the matters on which we can disagree the one matter on which we ought to make the greatest effort not to disagree, and especially at this moment, is this question of foreign policy in the present context of international affairs. It did look yesterday, I am bound to say, as if perhaps we might be able to avoid such a Division at this moment, but how can we support the Government?
How can we go along with them if we do not know where they are? The Foreign Secretary refused to answer any single one of the questions which were put to him both yesterday and today, yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and today by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)—and, indeed, in the speech last night by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey)—or to give one single indication of what is in the Government's mind about any one of the issues that the Summit Conference will be about.
I suppose it is just conceivable that the Government are right in not telling us, and, certainly, if they do not know, they cannot tell us. Let us suppose that they do know. I suppose it would be possible to make out some sort of controversial case for saying, "We will keep it locked in our bosoms. We will not tell anybody what we think is the right solution of anything, except our allies, whose agreement we hope to get, but, in the end, may not get at all." I think that would be a very foolish way of negotiating with our allies.
Suppose that there is a difference of emphasis, or a difference of point of view, between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of the United States of America upon the question of having a preliminary conference of Foreign Ministers. It is precisely because the Foreign Ministers have ended in deadlock that the whole question of a Summit Conference arises at all. If the Government want to do some particular thing about some particular issue, and if they are having difficulty in getting agreement with their allies on it, would it not be very much better to be able to say, "We have told the House of Commons what our 1498 view is about this, we got the united support of the House of Commons for it, and what we are saying to you, in trying to work out a common allied policy about this issue, we are authorised to say in the name of a united House of Commons"?
Would not their hands be strengthened? Is not that a better way of getting agreement with our allies than by the Government's keeping their mouth shut and coming to the House of Commons with a fait accompli and asking the House of Commons in these supreme matters to act as if it were nothing but a rubber stamp? If they do not know, they cannot tell anybody; but they ought to know. They ought to make up their mind.
We could accept, and I accept myself, that if they are going as a member of a team, as one ally among other allies, it is eminently proper that they should try to work out a common policy and a common point of view if they are to negotiate with people elsewhere about matters over which there is difference. It is quite right to work it out, to make up their mind what their view is and see what support they can get for it. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary are not going to the conference as a Conservative Prime Minister and as a Conservative Foreign Secretary. The Prime Minister would have no right to go anywhere and say, "I am here because I am the Leader of the Conservative Party", any more than my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, if the fortunes of political war were changed, would have the right to say, "I am going to the conference as the Leader of the Socialist Party of Great Britain"—the Labour Party here. They go as representing this nation.
Do the Government really believe that their moral authority in the country today is such that they are in a position to ignore the views of the Opposition in the House of Commons? Do the by-elections mean nothing to them? I am not saying necessarily that they ought to abdicate. The Government are entitled, if they think so, to say that they represent the country on the whole, but can they say they represent all the country? Would it not be wise to see if they can formulate here in the House of Commons a policy which is the policy of the House of Commons, the policy of the country?
1499 If they do not tell us what it is they propose, how can we support them? They have not told us anything, but there are some negative indications. We understand that the Government have made an agreement with the United States of America about missile bases. My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale asked the Foreign Secretary this afternoon what was the hurry. There are no rockets yet; they have not got any missiles. All they are proposing to do is to prepare some sites.
There is to be a conference. Presumably if there is to be a conference it will not be delayed many months. Suppose it is delayed for months, and suppose the conference broke down, or, if it did not break down, at any rate resulted in a situation in which the Government thought that they should go on with these bases. What would they have lost by waiting four months? On the other hand, if the conference succeeded to such an extent that the Government thought they could begin on a progressive—gradual if hon. Members like, slow if hon. Members like, but progressive—disarmament, perhaps they would not want to go on with this highly dangerous proposal for the bases.
It is not enough to say that it is the same in principle as bombs carried in planes. We are not talking about whether it is the same in principle. We are talking about whether, when we are beginning to discuss a relaxation of international tension, it will be helpful to leading the negotiations to success to choose that very moment for erecting new bases, with weapons pointed at the heart of every centre of power in the Soviet Union. If it were urgent, yes. If the conference were being postponed three or four years, yes. But what in the world would be the harm in waiting four months?
I cannot help suspecting that the reason of the Government is quite different. They do not want the missile bases any more than I do. This is the price that they pay, this is the result of attempting to get agreements and to make bargains with allies. The Americans have moved. They no longer insist on a meeting of Foreign Ministers before the Summit Conference takes place. Did they move for nothing or did the Government pay 1500 a price? Is this what the Government agreed with the United States as a quid pro quo for their weakening on the insistence of holding a Foreign Ministers' conference first?
That is one negative indication that the Government are more anxious to present an appearance of not resisting a Summit Conference than of making certain that the Summit Conference succeeds, if and when it takes place. But it is not the only one.
They have chosen this moment to produce a White Paper on defence. I know that we are not debating it tonight. We shall have a debate on it next week, and there are several hon. Members who are far more qualified than I to discuss its strategic and tactical sides, but there are some elementary things about which we are all entitled to make up our minds. One of the things that the Summit Conference must necessarily discuss—I gather that this is not in dispute—is the suspension of nuclear tests. Everybody agrees that that is one of the things which must be discussed. Whatever argument there may be about the items on the agenda, this one will undoubtedly be on it.
There is not the slightest point in discussing a suspension of nuclear tests, however, except as a preliminary to a further discussion—perhaps not at the same conference—designed to lead to the complete abolition or banning of nuclear weapons. If we do not mean that, it is not a bit of good talking about the suspension of nuclear tests. If we mean that we must retain nuclear weapons as part of our necessary armament, for whatever reason, it is not very honest or sincere to invite people to discuss upon what terms the tests will be suspended. An invitation to agree about suspending tests is an invitation at least to begin a discussion about banning nuclear weapons; otherwise there is no point or sense in it.
What does the White Paper, Report on Defence, say? Paragraph 12 says—I cannot believe that the Government mean it—that if there is any substantial attack by the Soviet Union with conventional weapons we shall retaliate forthwith with nuclear weapons. The White Paper, like the one issued last year, makes it quite clear that we cannot defend ourselves against nuclear attack by other 1501 people. That, too, is no longer within the realm of controversy; it is accepted that we cannot defend ourselves. We may be able to defend our nuclear weapon sites and bomber cases, but the attempt to defend anybody or anything else has been frankly given up, according to the White Papers of last year and this year.
In effect, we are saying to the Soviet Union, "If you attack anybody substantially with conventional weapons, we will retaliate at once with nuclear weapons, against which we could not defend ourselves if you attacked with nuclear weapons first." Do we mean this? If we do, it is a direct incitement to the Soviet Union, if ever they are minded to attack anybody, to begin with a nuclear attack. That is what the White Paper is inciting them to do. That is all that it can mean. If we cannot defend ourselves against nuclear attack, and if we say to the Russians, "If you limit yourselves to a conventional attack, we shall attack first with nuclear weapons", we are telling them not to be fools, and that if they want to attack they must attack first with nuclear weapons.
That is the only meaning which can be attached to that White Paper. If we do not mean that, why in the world do we choose this moment of all moments to say that we do? If we do mean it, how can we pretend that we want the Summit Conference to succeed on the subject of the suspension of nuclear tests as a preliminary to an agreement for the prohibition of nuclear weapons? This makes no sense at all. I do not want to believe it—I refuse to believe it—but the only sense it can possibly make is that we want to state in advance a position from which we cannot retreat to prevent the purpose of the conference.
It would have been possible for the Foreign Secretary to have dealt with some of these points and with other points which were put to him. The right hon. and learned Gentleman chose to say, "Certainly I will not tell you what is in my mind. It is nothing to do with the House of Commons and the Opposition. I will talk about it only to Mr. Dulles"—with the success that he has had so far in conversations of that kind.
All we know is, first, that the Government will tell us nothing about their mind on the issues at stake; second, that they 1502 are going to begin right away, before even agreeing about the conference, the venue, the date, or the preparations for it, to force through preparations for the missile bases; and third, that they publish a White Paper making nonsense of any attempt to reach agreement about nuclear weapons. Any Opposition which fails to vote against a Government who have so lost all sense of responsibility ought to be impeached.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. G. B. Drayson (Skipton)
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) devoted the major part of his speech to subjects which were more fitted for a defence debate. There might have been some advantage if the two days' defence debate to be held next week had been merged with this debate and we had had four days of discussion on the combined subjects. I know that in the defence debate we wish to talk about the individual problems of the respective arms, but that could be done under the various Estimates.
There has been far too much talk about the subject of defence and not enough about the various problems in the sphere of foreign affairs. We have all been aware that for some time the peace in the world has been kept because of a balance of fear. It is this balance of fear which the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said was a poisoning influence. Not only has it poisoned the systems of mankind, but it has had a serious damaging effect on their nerves. Because the world is suffering from an acute attack of nervous tension, this debate has come at an opportune time. We all hope that it will lead to summit talks which will be fruitful.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister told us that he came back from his very successful Commonwealth tour with a determination to use the moral and material power of the Commonwealth for good. He went on to say that we could make progress in certain fields. He instanced that of disarmament and the possibility of non-aggression pacts. He said it was better to achieve peace by deeds rather than words. My right hon. Friend said there were other opportunities, such as trade and individual contacts, which could lead to a lessening of world tension. Germany was one of the major problems, 1503 and the countries of Eastern Europe and Indonesia. He particularly mentioned these in the list he gave.
The trouble in Indonesia has its origins in the fact that in 1945–46 the British Government of the day and the United States were not prepared to make ships available to the Dutch to return their administrators to their former colonies in the Dutch East Indies. We know that the party opposite had the desire to liquidate the British Empire, starting with India, and that they were determined that the Dutch people should not be allowed to re-establish themselves in the Dutch East Indies, which they had administered so well and successfully for many years. Because we allowed a vacuum to exist in that part of the world, the Communist influence is now strong there today.
This was the first example we had of the fact that if we create a vacuum in the world the Russians will fill it. Where we have divergencies of policy between the United States of America and Great Britain and the two nations are drawn apart, leaving a vacuum, it is the Soviet Union which steps in.
The problem of Germany is one of unification. Whether this is one of the areas of possible agreement and progress, I do not know, but I was again impressed by one of the remarks of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South when he referred to a telegram sent during the war by my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) suggesting that there should be preliminary discussions for a conference. Draft proposals which were to be put forward could then be approved. I imagine that draft proposals of how unification could be brought about would be discussed among the Foreign Secretaries in any preliminary conference before the summit meeting.
I am not satisfied that the proposals put forward in 1955 by Sir Anthony Eden are correct. They need to be modified. The Prime Minister said that in trade and individual contacts he thought progress could be made. That is a subject on which I have commented many times in this House. I have frequently said, with due respect to our Foreign Service, that businessmen are very often our best ambassadors. Recently I have taken part in an Adjournment debate in this House on trade with China, and we had a 1504 very encouraging reply from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. In a recent discussion on Eastern Germany, the Minister of State was not so forthcoming.
There is one matter which we should try to eliminate from the area of discord. There is what I would regard as a pathological attitude towards Eastern Germany. I am reminded of the chorus in George Orwell's book "Animal Farm". Now it is "Grotewohl bad, Gomulka good". A few days later we might find that it is "Gomulka bad, Grotewohl good". There is nothing much to choose between them, and while we continue this attitude to Eastern Germany we are preventing 18 million people from playing a fuller part in the life of Europe.
I have read the remarks made recently by Mr. Dulles when the present difficulties and changes in Eastern Germany were brought to his attention. One got the impression—I may be wrong—that he was hoping there would be some further uprising in that country. There I agree with the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who said this afternoon that one should not incite if one is not prepared to help at the same time. Those people who publish newsletters or tend to encourage trouble in Eastern Europe and are not themselves prepared to go and help, carry a very great burden of responsibility. Of course, we would all like to see those countries return to what we call the free world, but I do not think that will be done by a series of uprisings such as we saw in Hungary just over a year ago.
I hope that all the obstacles, many of them petty ones, which prevent contact between this country and Eastern Europe will be removed so that we may get down to the main problem of dealing with the Soviet Union. There are a number of financial matters arising out of pre-war debts which prevent normal trade relations between this country and countries like Rumania and Bulgaria. How is it possible for those countries to pay their pre-war debts when they were occupied by Germany during the war and their countries were despoiled, and when since then they have been occupied by the Soviet Union who have extracted reparations from them? If anyone should pay the pre-war debts of Rumania, it is the German nation itself. It is entirely 1505 responsible for the predicament in which Rumania finds herself at present.
I have no great details of the Rumanian problem—I have not been in that country—but I think it quite unfair to suggest that they should make good these matters when they are under the heels of the Soviet Union, and were literally placed there by Germany. Let us concentrate on countries nearer our own size. I welcome any progress that can be made to eliminate these small matters and lead to summit talks.
As I said in my opening remarks, the Prime Minister said that the material forces of the Commonwealth could be used towards world peace. I recall that one of the results of the N.A.T.O. Meeting in Paris in November was that Great Britain and America—America in particular—said that more funds would be made available for economic aid. We have heard very little since the N.A.T.O. talks about how that money is to be made available.
A suggestion has come forward, from, I imagine, responsible sources in the United States of America, that here is a possible area in which the United States and Great Britain could co-operate with the Soviet Union in what are sometimes called the uncommitted countries to work together on a project for improving the standards of living in those territories. Whether it be a hydro-electric scheme or some other scheme, it was suggested that, rather than have the East and West bidding against each other for the favours of the country in question and for the opportunity of helping it with economic development, there was a part which both sections of the world could play by coming together and working out the project. Thereby they could reach an area of co-operation in a minor way which might lead to greater co-operation at a later stage.
In reference to the summit talks, a constituent of mine told me a little time ago that one great asset of the Russian people was that they were the best chess players in the world. He went on to say that they never make a move unless they have thought out several other moves ahead, but that in the last few years we have not always anticipated their next move. We decide, for example, to establish a base in Cyprus. The Soviet Union then takes steps to see that that base is denied 1506 to us or that our position in that part of the world is made untenable. This has been going on all over the world.
I hope that the Government have their eye on Aden, or any of the other possible trouble spots, and are anticipating what moves the Soviet might be contemplating in the future. We should also bear in mind what the Soviet Government are likely to do should the summit talks prove to be a failure, because I am sure that they on their side have thought that one out too. We on our side are determined to do nothing that will make the talks unlikely to succeed.
The Prime Minister finished by saying that we should have courage, faith and hope. We know that he has the first two, and it is we who hope that they will bear fruit.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Kenneth Younger (Grimsby)
This two-days' debate on the international situation has, I think most hon. Members would agree, followed a rather sad course. We started with the Prime Minister in a mood of expectation—I would almost say of restrained optimism. I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said an hour or so ago about the change which came over the debate as a result of which we shall be ending it in a Division.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who followed the Prime Minister, welcomed the change of tone in the Prime Minister's speech, which seemed to us to be a change from pessimism in December to relative optimism now. We had hoped that although he could not give us much indication in detail of the possible ways forward which he saw, the details would be filled in a little later by his colleagues.
When one boils it down, the optimism generated by the Prime Minister was based on a few very simple things. He said categorically that he wants a Summit Conference and he said that he wants it to succeed. When one asked oneself how the Prime Minister hoped to make it succeed, one found that he gave only a very vague hint. He said thatthe general subject which seems to me to offer this chance of progress is that of disarmament in its widest sense."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1228.]1507 The Prime Minister did not elaborate and, naturally, in the debate which followed we were anxious to probe that and see what it meant.
I confess to have been a little surprised at the Prime Minister's choice—and the way he put it—of the issue which seemed to him the most hopeful. Far be it from me to look any gift horse in the mouth, for we have had very few grains of hope offered us by the Government in this debate. If the Prime Minister really thinks that there is good hope here—and the Foreign Secretary repeated it—good luck to him. We hope he is right.
What we have learned of the disarmament side in the course of the debate is that those aspects of disarmament which seem to us to offer some hope of agreement apparently do not appeal to the Government. The only one that seems to appeal is one which, though important, seems to me to be one of the less important aspects, namely, the provisions against possible surprise. There, again, if progress can be made, we shall be delighted, but I certainly think that the Prime Minister might have referred to some more general political subjects as offering hope, not only because that has been the opinion of very many of the most informed commentators who have been discussing this subject in recent weeks—British, as well as those of other nationalities—but also, to some extent, because that is the view that seems to appear from the White Paper, Report on Defence.
In paragraph 17 of that document, under the general heading of "Disarmament," there appear these words:The first step towards disarmament is not necessarily a disarmament agreement If some progress could be made towards the settlement of one or more of the outstanding political problems, big or small, it would help to create a more favourable atmosphere …and so on. That is not a very strong expression of opinion, but it led us to hope that the Government would see some prospect of success at a Summit Conference, not merely in a general discussion on disarmament, but also on some political problems which we on this side have been suggesting should be discussed.
When I had finished listening to the Prime Minister, with my pencil poised to 1508 note any particularly important things that he might say, I was reminded of something that was said to me only a few days ago by a distinguished diplomat, now in London. He told me of an occasion when, as a very young official, he went to Geneva. He listend to the speech of a very fine, well-known European orator, and was much impressed by it. When it was over, he remarked to the experienced head of his delegation what a magnificent contribution he thought that was, and his senior said, rather dryly, "All right, you draft the telegram." The young man went away to draft the telegram to his Government, and, after chewing his pencil for a long time, found that all he could make of the substance of it could be put in two or three sentences. There were only two or three sentences of substance in the Prime Minister's speech, but I would not worry about that if the gaps had been filled in by his colleagues.
We had been hoping that they would say something about the substance of the Conference, which at this stage, of course, means about an agenda, which could justify the tone of the Prime Minister's speech. We had some discussion yesterday, in relation to the agenda, on the question whether Mr. Bulganin was, in fact, claiming a veto and insisting that only the things that appeal to the Soviet Union should be included. I do not think that it is profitable to pursue the discussion in that precise form, but I think that it is a fact that will be agreed by anybody who has read the correspondence that, at the point we have now reached, there are two rival lists.
There is an American and there is a Russian list of items for the agenda, and, speaking very broadly, they are, at any rate as regards their more important items, mutually exclusive. I think that much of the Soviet Union's list, whilst perhaps not actually objectionable, lacks reality, in the sense that all the Russians ask for is some kind of declaration of good will, declarations of non-aggression, things that are uncontrollable. Therefore, in my opinion, they do not contribute very much to a settlement.
Of the American list I would say, principally, that it strikes me as a not very businesslike proposition as a working document, and certainly not businesslike as a starting point for negotiations. They 1509 seem to have put in the maximum; all the things that they would like to get at the very end of a long period of negotiation. We must realise that a great many of those things will make it much more difficult to get discussions started at all.
Surely, in those circumstances, our job—and by "our job" I really mean the job of all the Western allies—is to pick on some of the subjects which the Soviet Union appears to be willing to discuss, and to see whether we can adjust them, or widen the terms of reference in each case, so that we, too, in addition to the Soviet Union will be able to make our legitimate points under these headings.
That is exactly what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition did. I do not want to quote him in full, although it is not a long passage. It is within the recollection of the House that my right hon. Friend picked out four items which had been mentioned by Mr. Bulganin and suggested that they would be acceptable, not in the form in which Mr. Bulganin put them, but with some elaboration. With slight changes, he said, we could discuss the suspension of hydrogen bomb tests, but widening the issue somewhat. We could discuss not just a nuclear-free zone in Europe but disengagement in Europe. As to the Middle East, we could discuss not just the renunciation of force there, but wider issues also. Lastly, my right hon. Friend referred to the matter of cultural collaboration, the only one upon which the Government appear to be at all forthcoming, and which, he said, was harmless. I am sure most people will agree, that it is the least significant of all those headings. Surely, that is the approach which we ought to make, not to stand on either the Russian list or the American list, but to find some common ground.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) today pointed out that we have the usual Parliamentary situation reversed in these debates. Usually, it is the Government who make the running and take the initiatives and the Opposition criticises. Indeed, the common gibe from Government benches no matter what Party is in power, is "What would you do?" In this instance, however, all the positive proposals have come from this side and have been met by a blank absence of Government initiative.
1510 In this connection I want to answer one criticism which, though not prominent in this debate, has been very prominent in speeches outside. I think that the Foreign Secretary has used it in the past. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman that we ought not to expect some new idea from our Government every few weeks on a subject like this; if a position is taken up which is sound, we cannot expect it to be constantly changed just because the other side do not immediately accept it. But that is not what we are asking. Our complaint is that there has been no really significant adaptation of the Western position, especially not on the problems of European defence and Germany, despite the world-shaking events which have taken place over a period not of weeks, but of years.
There has been reference in the debate to the major events which have led to our present situation in which we are discussing the possibility of negotiation, the death of Stalin, the possession of the H-bomb by both sides, the Hungarian revolution, the Sputnik, not to mention the great changes in the Middle East. If all those things have been happening in the world around us, the onus is on those who suggest that no change in Western policy is called for rather than on those who think that some adaptation to current circumstances would be the normal thing. After all, the minds of thinking men have been going through a very rapid evolution during the last few months and years. The Minister of State last night admitted that, although there may be no change in the strategy of the Soviet Government, at least there had been a change in their tactics. One cannot, however, say even that for the British Government or, apparently, for the Western Governments as a whole, whose tactical as well as strategical attitudes seem to be virtually unchanged.
Last night, the Minister of State referred to the policy of strength, which, in my recollection, used to be termed "negotiation from strength" at the time when it was made a key point in Western policy, particularly by Mr. Dean Acheson, a year or two ago. I myself do not complain of that principle as such. I have yet to meet the negotiator who prefers to negotiate from weakness rather than from strength, but the error which 1511 has undoubtedly crept into the Western interpretation of that policy is that Western Governments have allowed it to be doubted by almost everybody whether they are as serious about the negotiation as they are about the strength. There is no doubt at all, I think, that outside observers—many people in our own countries and, I suspect, some inside Western Governments as well—do not really consider that what I may call the classic Western position about Germany, that is to say, the position that there must be free elections and that the subsequent German Government must be free to join N.A.T.O. if they wish, is a genuine negotiating position at all today.
But what are we waiting for, if we have believed in negotiation from strength before we do adopt a genuine negotiating position? Surely, no one now expects that there will be a really major shift of power or strength in our favour which could make a moment a little later more favourable. These things have made most people in this country and elsewhere believe that a shift to a genuine negotiating position on our part is both possible and absolutely necessary.
I now come to the Foreign Secretary's speech today. I find it very difficult to describe what my sensations were as I listened to him, but I am convinced that his general posture towards this problem of negotiating struck depression into the heart of everybody who heard it. We on this side know how we felt about it, and we could see how hon. Gentlemen opposite felt.
As I have said before in the House, I am perfectly prepared to make allowance for the genuine difficulty which faces Governments involved in many alliances about the question of being frank with their own Parliaments while they are in consultation with allies. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, South said, this is something we all recognise. The Foreign Secretary, cannot say that the House as a whole, or indeed the Opposition, is not often patient with him when negotiations for a treaty are going on and statements cannot be made. We did not expect that he would announce all sorts of decisions about what the British Government will do.
But if we are expected to accept that the Government cannot even contribute 1512 to an intelligent discussion in the House on a matter of this breadth and importance, and if we are to be told that because they are in consultation with their allies they are not in a position to give a lead to opinion in this country or in the world, frankly any attempt by Parliament to participate in foreign affairs at all becomes a farce. I believe that in adopting this attitude the Government are throwing away what could be a valuable diplomatic weapon, namely, the support of opinion in this country made publicly known.
Our allies do not hesitate to make their opinions known. American opinions at Government level are constantly made known in the Press conferences, both of the President and of the Secretary of State. After all, reference was made today by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale to a statement by a leading State Department official, Mr. Robert Murphy, in which he apparently did not hesitate to make an extremely tendentious statement which now, by being made authoritatively, becomes an element in the situation. If even our leading allies play this game—all countries do it—surely our own Government can afford to be frank enough to enlist the support of public opinion and the House.
I was shocked when the Foreign Secretary, in replying to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, who asked whether it was not possible for us to be privy to what is going on, leaped to his feet and said "Certainly not", and described it as a fantastic conception. That seemed to me to be not only a discourtesy to the House but also bad diplomacy. I have ceased to believe that the difficulty with allies is the real reason. The reason for the Government's reticence derives from the fundamental barrenness of their own thinking.
I will not take the House again through all the suggestions for various adjustments of our position which have been made from this side of the House. We agree that the main difference that has emerged relates to disengagement in Europe. I want to say a word about that before I finish, but before I do so, I want to probe a little further the question of the Middle East, which many people think is a more dangerous area at present than Europe.
1513 I should like to ask a question to which I do not think we have ever had a clear answer from the Government. We are always told that it is no good trying to approach the Russians for any kind of agreement on any major aspect of the Middle East. I should like to know whether we have, in fact, ever attempted such an agreement. What proposals have we made to them? If we have made some, when did we make them? Can we he told something of the response?
I do not think we can continue any longer relying simply on the statement that it would obviously be no good. We have been told that ever since before Mr. Bulganin and Mr. Khrushchev were here on their visit, and we are entitled to have a more precise answer.
Take, for instance, such a question as the guaranteeing of the Arab-Israel frontier, on which the Foreign Secretary was particularly unsatisfactory today, if I may say so. What worries me about this issue is the unreality of the Government's policy. Lord Gosford may say in another place that the Government stand by the Tripartite Declaration, but surely the Government know quite well that none of the parties who might look to it for protection, and indeed none of those who might seek to commit an aggression, gives a fig for the Tripartite Declaration any longer. It has become discredited. I supported it for a long time and I think that it served its term very usefully, but in fact no one is counting on it today. This is not merely because of the equivocations which went on about it and the doubts about the determination of Governments to carry it out which arose at the time of the Suez affair. It also arises from the fact that in order to be effective today any such declaration requires a fourth signature upon it. In other words, it requires to be the subject of negotiations with the Soviet Union.
Turning to another aspect of this question of the borders of Israel, we were rather shocked to have so blunt a reaffirmation of the Guildhall Speech of November, 1955, because this does nothing nowadays except to sow confusion as to what are the basic objectives of the United Kingdom in any revision which may have to take place along the Israel frontier. When he was asked to be more precise the Foreign Secretary 1514 said that he always refuses to make any gloss upon the text of that speech, which he read in full. I am glad that he read it. I, too, have it here. We are entitled to ask him for more precision than there is in the original statement.
It may be that it was deliberately meant to be ambiguous, but I suggest to the Foregin Secretary, first, that whatever else it means it cannot mean just a rectification of the existing Israel frontier. It must mean something much bigger in the way of the reduction of the area of Israel. If he is not prepared to accept that as a flatter of textual criticism, as it were, surely he will agree that it was not in fact taken to mean that by any of the Arab States and that, after all, is the test for a published diplomatic document. Whatever the text may say, it was not in fact taken to mean that. It was taken to mean something very much more, and I believe that to revive it now can only be mischievous. It will not shift Israel's position and I believe that it promotes unreal thinking among the Arab countries.
I want to say a word on the wider aspects of the Middle East. Frankly, I am not sure how much influence the Government now wield in the area, although on a recent visit to Jordan I was much gratified by the spirit which I found there towards this country, and it may be that we have rather more influence than we have been inclined to think in recent months.
Even in the two weeks since I was there the situation has again changed. We have the Iraq-Jordan alliance, on which I should like to join in offering my congratulations. We have the Syria-Egypt alliance, and I agree with what the Foreign Secretary said about that; it may also be a step forward and we should not rush in to condemn it.
This I would also say, however: I do not believe that these alliances will lead to any fundamental progress in the Middle East if it should turn out that Russia backs one of them and the Western Powers back the other. This would simply be importing the cold war more ferociously than ever into a dangerous area. It would be particularly dangerous if the Iraq-Jordan alliance were to come to represent the old order in Arab eyes, as undoubtedly some Arabs 1515 will try to make it do, while the Syria-Egypt alliance comes to represent the Arab nationalist revolution.
It is true that Iraq, in particular, is doing a great deal of development and that the alliance with Jordan may offer much greater opportunities for Jordan than she has had before. I hope that we shall encourage and help this, but I think we are also entitled to say to countries which have always been friendly to us that social reform will be needed in addition simply to economic development. I think that the very considerable resources which are available to the Jordan-Iraq alliance should make this sort of reform much less painful to them than it is likely to prove to Egypt and Syria.
It may be said that these things are internal matters for the countries themselves, but they are also of deep international concern, and we are entitled to offer our advice because we have such a great interest, as indeed has the whole world, in avoiding these alliances turning into a line-up of East against West.
Disengagement in Europe has been argued to and fro throughout the two days of the debate. I want to deal only with the question of the possibility that there might be what one might call a Hungarian type of revolt after disengagement occurred, and that then the Red Army would return despite formal guarantees. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said yesterday,The West would then be faced with the grave decision of imposing sanctions …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 1344.]Yes, I think that is quite true, but surely this is the same risk as is run with any other aggression anywhere else.
If I may give a particular example, which seems to me quite a close parallel, not far away from Hungary, is not it exactly the situation which would arise today if there were to be an attack upon Yugoslavia? Exactly the same grave decision would face not only the Western alliance but everybody in the United Nations.
If we take the line which the Minister of State took last night, let us think what that sort of attitude must mean to people who are at present in Eastern Europe. 1516 If I put it rather bluntly, it is not because I want to attribute any wicked motives to the Minister of State who said it, but because I want to make it clear how I think it is bound to look to people on the other side. What they will think we are saying is, "The West, rather than see you, the Hungarians or the Poles, free and enjoying the same chance of collective assistance from outside against aggression as other people do, and in addition a specific four-Power guarantee, prefers to have you firmly behind the Iron Curtain because then everybody knows that the nations of the West cannot help you; and so you are off their conscience." It is a pretty deadly thing if we are afraid to have these countries free of foreign troops because there might be aggression against them and we might then feel under obligation to do something about it. But that is the only deduction that these people can draw.
This fully justifies Mr. George Kennan's forecast in his third lecture when he pointed out that if nothing is done about Europe there will be eventually on the part of the people of Eastern Europe… general despair, apathy, demoralisation and the deepest sort of disillusionment with the West.I must allow the Prime Minister, who, I believe, is to wind up, to start his speech now. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale said that whether we divided this evening depended upon the Foreign Secretary's speech. Frankly, on the basis of what the Prime Minister said yesterday we did not intend to divide. It is true that he said little, but what little he said seemed constructive, conciliatory and an advance. We had hoped that the Foreign Secretary would follow him in tone and would elaborate constructive proposals, but we got neither. We had the reassertion of the Guildhall speech and only a niggling, legalistic rejection of all the proposals made by my hon. and right hon. Friends. I began to wonder, as I heard the Foreign Office Ministers speaking, whether the Prime Minister had been entitled to strike the note which he did if there was going to be as little substance behind it as there turned out to be.
We thought that the Prime Minister was seeking unity. We still hope that 1517 he is. I should like to ask him for an assurance that he does not take the view of the attitude of the Opposition to foreign policy which seems to be taken by his noble friend, Lord Hailsham, who is quoted as saying:We shall fight to win because we believe that the foreign policy espoused by our opponents would mean at worst the rendering of this country helpless in the face of Soviet conventional weapons, or perhaps even nuclear weapons, and at best converting it into a satellite—or even a parasite—instead of an ally of the United States.The Prime Minister knows perfectly well that is not our attitude, and I hope he will not allow that section of his party which apparently thinks it is to win the day. We have not sought disunity, but we cannot associate ourselves with the humiliating lack of leadership which has been shown. We are therefore, obliged, with real regret, to divide the House.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
This debate has dealt with issues of such importance and of such gravity that I feel it is due to the House, and to public opinion both at home and overseas, that I should try before the close to restate shortly the Government's position on the broad issues which are involved.
The House, I know, will forgive me if I do not go into some of the many details which have been discussed. I have heard a great deal of the debate; alas, I could not hear it all, for there were other commitments which I had to fulfil, but I have been struck by one fact.
There are, of course, natural differences between parties, and even, I would say, within parties, on matters of this kind, and that is not unnatural and has often been the case. But I did find in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday a great measure of agreement, and I was very glad to hear some of the opening passages of his speech, in which he took a very clear position, which I hope we can take to be the position of the Opposition as a whole, both in the House and in the constituencies.
I should like to remind the House, because I think they are of such importance, of some of the things the right hon. Gentleman said. He said:We support N.A.T.O. and the Atlantic Alliance.1518 It follows from that that we must support it in such a way as to prevent it falling into disunion or disappearing. That is a very good reason for working with one's friends and allies. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:Nor do we believe in neutralism.He was good enough to say that neutralism—must mean, as, indeed, the Prime Minister said, either sheltering behind the United States, or the destruction of N.A.T.O., and neither of these things commends itself to us.He then said:Nor do I believe in the possibility of a so-called third force or new power bloc.That was a very fashionable doctrine not very long ago, and widely held on the benches opposite. Then, the right hon. Gentleman went on to the most important of all his declarations:Nor do we favour unilateral disarmament."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1958; Vol 582, c. 1233.]The right hon. Gentleman said that his party had rejected a resolution asking them to pledge a future Labour Government neither to test, use or make nuclear weapons. I repeat—not to test, not to make, and indeed not to use them. These are not views which I hear expressed everywhere in constituency discussions or even in elections, but I am very glad that this is on the record.
In the course of this debate, a number of points have been put to us in this situation which I should like to answer as frankly and as simply as I can. We are asked to abandon the tests unilaterally, at once. The resolution, of course, was not to make this obligatory upon the Labour Government and I do not see why it should be obligatory upon us.
§ The Prime Minister
I did detect at the time of the conference the same kind of dualism that I often detect in the House. At any rate, as the right hon. Gentleman and certainly others have said, it would be a foolish thing to do at this moment. Surely the question of tests is just one of those questions which should be kept for the Summit Conference, and to make a unilateral declaration 1519 now that we will abandon these would have none of the good effects that we want. We know well that it would not induce other countries to follow, if we merely said this. It would not necessarily induce the United States to follow, and it would have none of the effects we want. Surely this is a thing, above all, that should be reserved for discussion at a Summit Conference.
§ The Prime Minister
Then I was asked to deal with the question of disengagement, which is a very complicated matter. A large number of schemes have been put forward, some by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and very well argued, and some by other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen.
To put forward these schemes may be a valuable exercise for individuals or members of an Opposition, or leader-writers or commentators. However, I would ask the House to remember that, if they are put forward from this Box on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, they become schemes or plans which are definite proposals to which we are bound. We do not make them and then retreat from them. I am not prepared—and I must ask the House to support this—to put forward a scheme of this kind until it is agreed in detail with all the countries most affected among our Allies.
§ Mr. Beswick
Would the Prime Minister answer this question? It is a serious point. Why is it impossible for this country to put forward any definite scheme when our American allies seem to be under no such inhibition?
§ The Prime Minister
So far as I know the American Government have not put forward a scheme of disengagement. I am talking about disengagement schemes. Alas I was not present, but there was reported to me the observation made in what I know must have been a very powerful speech from the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison). He pointed out what I would have pointed out, though I am sure he has done it in greater detail, that there are certain dangers in many of these schemes, and that we cannot just throw away lightly, or without very careful 1520 consideration, the security system which we have built over years. The right hon. Gentleman pointed out that already one of the weaknesses of N.A.T.O. is what he called its lack of depth, and there are many dangers, as well as some possible advantages, in the various schemes which are under discussion.
It is our duty, and it is our intention, to discuss these with our allies specially concerned. Indeed, they are all concerned, but perhaps the Federal Government of Western Germany is one of the most concerned. We must discuss them also with all the rest of the N.A.T.O. allies and with the United States, for nothing could be more terrible than if the result of some plans lightly entered into was the dissolution of N.A.T.O., the loss of Germany and, possibly, the driving of America back into isolation.
I am then asked to give some definite pledge about ballistic missiles. We shall soon put upon the Order Paper a Motion, and this subject will be discussed in the Defence debate on two days next week, where it most properly belongs. I am asked to stop all preparations—even the preparatory work on some of the sites—until after the summit meeting. Even if it were the case that this was possible, or that it would have any great effect upon the military situation in the next few months—which it would not—I wonder whether such a gesture would have more than a day of two's effect. What lasting effect would it have? Does anyone think that, if we made that gesture—which would be an honourable one, and I see the purpose of it—the Russians would stop building all their bases?
Does anyone think that the construction of the long-range missiles or long-range operational bombers would cease in Russia? There is a great danger in making one of these gestures, which sound very well. They work very well for a week or two, but then one is asked, "What more will you do?" I would have thought that this whole question, which belongs to the disarmament problem in its widest form—the question of the location of missiles as well as the control of nuclear armaments—would far better be left until it can be discussed with the hope of some corresponding advantage coming to us in return.
The right hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Younger) made a moderate speech, 1521 despite what he said at the end—and he had to say that, because he was told to say it; he clearly belongs to that part of the Opposition which would have preferred not to divide tonight; but he has done his duty in a very agreeable way. He rather wondered why I had said that some advance, however small, on the disarmament front was one of the most hopeful things. I repeat what I said, and I will give the reasons.
I said it partly because I honestly felt, last summer, that we were getting somewhere. There was a point when those nearest the discussions—and especially some of our American friends—felt that there was a chance that we were getting somewhere. I believe that there is an opportunity, and I have reason to hope that in this field we may be able to make some advance. It would also have the great advantage that if we could get controlled disarmament it would deal with some aspects of disengagement—in a way it is part of the same problem—without involving some of the much more difficult political aspects so much affecting the lives and interests of many of the countries of Europe. I still believe that it is in this field that we have an opportunity of making some advance.
Finally, I come to the whole question surrounding what has been called the summit meeting. I made it clear yesterday that I am in favour of such a meeting. I do not think that there was any doubt about what I said. I said—and I hold to it—that I want a summit meeting, but I earnestly want it to achieve at least some success. During the months when the prospect of such a meeting is held out, there would be a sense of relief and hope. If it failed completely, we might win a propaganda success if we proved that the Russians were hopelessly inflexible and we were reasonably flexible, but it would be only a propaganda success and not a real one; and once again there would descend upon us a sense of hopelessness and even despair.
Therefore, when I say that I want a summit meeting but I want it to be successful, I am really sincere, and I am not without hope that if we handle it wisely and manage the preparatory work skilfully we may obtain some modest advance. Then, however small the advance, an immense change would come, because there would always be the 1522 expectation and the possibility of moving on from that to some further step. But if we have a complete and absolute blank, as we had before, I very much fear that the results will be almost worse than if we had not embarked on the enterprise. I therefore want a meeting, but a useful and effective meeting.
I have been asked whether I would announce the date. Of course, that is quite a good question to ask, and I do not have any objection to it. But I do not think that anyone in this House really expects me tonight to announce the date of the summit meeting without the full agreement of those who are to go there. After all, even if one gives a dinner party one takes the precaution to find out whether the guests are likely to come. These are matters which must, of course, be discussed in detail and must be matters of agreement between the Powers involved. To do this unilaterally on my part tonight would seem to me to be an act of folly. I can think of no more certain way of killing the Summit Conference.
When we come to the agenda, I agree with what the right hon. Gentleman said. I think it is rather a mistake at any rate to publish these great lists of agendas which do not look so terribly hopeful on either side. He suggested that perhaps I would help by publishing what I thought would be the best agenda, so that everybody's bid, as it were, would be on the table. But I do not think that is our duty or the best way in which we can use our diplomatic power. I believe that what t said yesterday is still true.
We believe that our best hope lies in serious preparatory work; to lay down a procedure—this is my point, and it answers the right hon. Gentleman—to choose an agenda calculated to achieve concrete results on specific issues, and—I think this is of great importance—to do the preliminary work in disentangling the points of disagreement and revealing perhaps the most promising areas of possible agreement. If that work is well done, we shall have not only a good agenda, which prevents it from being merely a polemic exercise, but there will have been enough preparatory work to know something of what may be the movements and where the most helpful direction for discussion lies.
1523 A great deal of the success or failure will depend on how effectively we do that and I must therefore repeat to the House, as I said earlier in my opening speech, that I think there is—perhaps more than we all realise—a good deal of agreement among us. Of course, there is disagreement on this and that, but I think there is a good deal of agreement.
I hope it is sincere agreement and we are determined to do everything we can to succeed. We have every interest.
§ We have party and political interests, but we have much more than that. There is hardly a man in this House who, one way or another, if he thinks of his children and his grandchildren, has not a deep personal interest. All I can say is that the Government, both as a Government and, I hope, as men, will do their best to succeed.
§ Question put, That this House do now adjourn:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 242, Noes 308.1527
|Division No. 42.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||Finch, H. J.||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Fletcher, Eric||McCann, J.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Foot, D. M.||MacColl, J. E.|
|Anderson, Frank||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||MacDermot, Niall|
|Awbery, S. S.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||McGhee, H. G.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||George, Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||McInnes, J.|
|Baird, J.||Gibson, C. W.||McKay, John (Wallsend)|
|Balfour, A.||Gooch, E. G.||McLeavy, Frank|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Bence, C. R. (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Greenwood, Anthony||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Mahon, Simon|
|Benson, Sir George||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Beswick, Frank||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Hudd[...]ersfd, E.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hale, Leslie||Mann, Mrs. Jean|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mason, Roy|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hannan, W.||Mellish, R. J.|
|Boardman, H.||Harrlson, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Messer, Sir F.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Hastings, S.||Mi[...]kardo, Ian|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hayman, F. H.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Healey, Denis||Monslow, W.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Moody, A. S.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Herbison, Miss M.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Morrison, Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Mort, D. L.|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Holman, p.||Moss, R.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Holmes, Horace||Moyle, A.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Houghton, Douglas||Mulley, F. W.|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Hubbard, T. F.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas|
|Champlon, A. J.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Oram, A. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Hunter, A. E.||Orbach, M.|
|Clunie, J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Oswald, T.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Owen, W. J.|
|Collick, P. H.(Birkenhead)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Padley, W. E.|
|Collins, V. J. (Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Paget, R. T.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Cove, W. G.||Janner, B.||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs,S.)||Parker, J.|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Paton, John|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Peart, T. F.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech (Wakefield)||Pentland, N.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Jones, David (The Hartl[...]epools)||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Deer, G.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Popplewell, E.|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Diamond, John||Kenyon, C.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Dodds, N. N.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Probert, A. R.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||King, Dr. H. M.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Dye, S.||Lawson, G. M.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Ledger, R. J.||Randall, H. E.|
|Edelman, M.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Rankin, John|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Reeves, J.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Lewis, Arthur||Reid, William|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Lindgren, G. S.||Rhodes, H.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Lipton, Marcus||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Stonehouse, John||West, D. G.|
|Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Stones, W. (Consett)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Ross, William||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Royle, C.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Short, E. W.||Swingler, S. T.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Shurmer, P. L. E.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)||Willey, Frederick|
|Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Ab'tillery)|
|Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Skeffington, A.M.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)|
|Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke, N.)||Tomney, F.||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Slater, J. (Sedgefield)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Snow, J. W.||Usborne, H. C.||Woof, R. E.|
|Sorensen, R. W.||Viant, S. P.||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Warbey, W. N.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Sparks, J. A.||Watkins, T. E.||Zilliacus, K.|
|Steele, T.||Weitzman, D.|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Bowden and Mr. Pearson.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Davidson, Viscountess||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Aitken, W. T.||D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Deedes, W. F.||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Holt, A. F.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Hope, Lord John|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hornby, R. P.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Drayson, G. B.||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||du Cann, E. D. L.||Horobin, Sir Ian|
|Ashton, H.||Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Dame Florence|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Duncan, Sir James||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Atkins, H. E.||Duthie, W. S.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Howard, John (Test)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Elliott, R.W.(N'castle upon Tyne, N.)||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Hughes-Young, M. H. C.|
|Barber, Anthony||Errington, Sir Eric||Hulbert, Sir Norman|
|Barlow, Sir John||Erroll, F. J.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Barter, John||Farey-Jones, F. W.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Fell, A.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Finlay, Graeme||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Fisher, Nigel||Hyde, Montgomery|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Forrest, G.||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)|
|Bidgood, J. C.||Freeth, Denzil||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Biggs-Davison, J. A.||Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Gammans, Lady||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)|
|Black, C. W.||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)|
|Body, R. F.||George, J. C. (Pollok)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Gibson-Watt, D.||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Glyn, Col. Richard H.||Joseph, Sir Keith|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Godber, J. B.||Kaberry, D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||Keegan, D.|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Goodhart, Philip||Kerby, Capt. H. B.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Gower, H. R.||Kerr, Sir Hamilton|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Kershaw, J. A.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Grant, W. (Woodside)||Kimball, M.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R.(Nantwich)||Kirk, P. M.|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Green, A.||Lagden, G. W.|
|Bryan, P.||Gresham Cooke, R.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.||Langford-Holt, J. A.|
|Campbell, Sir David||Gurden, Harold||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Carr, Robert||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Leavey, J. A.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Leburn, W. G.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)|
|Cole, Norman||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Harvey,Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)|
|Cooke, Robert||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Linstead, Sir H. N.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hay, John||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Henderson-Stewart, Sir James||Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hesketh, R. F.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)|
|Cunningham, Knox||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Dance, J. C. G||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Macdonald, Sir Peter|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|McKibbin, Alan||Partridge, E.||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. P.||Peel, W. J.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Peyton, J. W. W.||Storey, S.|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Pitman, I. J.||Sumner, W. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Macmillan, Rt.Hn.Harold(Bromley)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Pott, H. P.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Powell, J. Enoch||Teeling, W.|
|Maddan, Martin||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Temple, John M.|
|Maitland, Cdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Profumo, J. D.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Ramsden, J. E.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Rawlinson, Peter||Thorneyoroft, Rt. Hon. P.|
|Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.||Redmayne, M.||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Marshall, Douglas||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Mathew, R.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Maude, Angus||Renton, D. L. M.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.||Ridsdale, J. E.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Mawby, R. L.||Rippon, A. G. F.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Medlicott, Sir Frank||Robertson, Sir David||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Robinson, Sir Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Vosper, Rt. Hon. D. F.|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Robson Brown, Sir William||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Roper, Sir Harold||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Russell, R. S.||Wall, Patrick|
|Neave, Airey||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)||Sharples, R. C.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)||Shepherd, William||Webbe, Sir H.|
|Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.||Soames, Christopher||Wills, G. (Bridgwater)|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Spearman, Sir Alexander||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Speir, R. M.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-S-Mare)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)||Wo[...]llam, John Victor|
|Osborne, C.||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Page, R. G.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Heath and Mr. Oakshott.|