§ 3.30 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
I will begin by saying something about the conference on nuclear tests, at Geneva. As the House knows, new Notes from Mr. Khrushchev to President Eisenhower and my right lion. Friend the Prime Minister have just been sent. Translations of these did not reach me until Saturday night and there has, therefore, been little time for study and none for discussion with the United States Government, but 1 shall refer to those Notes in the course of what I have to say.
The position of this conference on nuclear tests at the time of the Easter Recess was that, of the five major areas of disagreement, three had been satisfactorily resolved. When the conference started, the Soviet delegation wanted an agreement to ban all tests separately from and before an agreement as to the details of an effective control system. After considerable discussion, it was agreed that the details of the control system should be negotiated during the conference and should be embodied within the treaty and its annexes. That was the first major hurdle, but it was successfully overcome.
The second matter was the relationship of the agreement on the discontinuance of tests with real disarmament. At the beginning of the conference, the United States and United Kingdom Governments offered to suspend tests for a year and to prolong the suspension provided that an effective control system was being set up satisfactorily and provided. also, that progress was being made towards real disarmament. The Soviet Government, however, preferred that the whole of these negotiations should be confined to the problem of tests, and they objected to that second proviso which I have just mentioned about progress towards measures of real disarmament. The United States and United Kingdom Governments decided to waive that proviso. We made this concession to the Soviet views, although we still want this agreement to provide an impetus towards real disarmament.
That was the second matter. The third matter was the duration of the agreement We had some difficulty in persuading the 899 Soviet representatives of the point that a treaty cannot continue to be binding on a country when it is not observed by the co-signatories. After some discussion, however, agreement has been reached on a draft article on the duration of the treaty. That matter, too, has therefore been disposed of.
The two final issues have been on the staffing and the facilities of the control posts and inspection teams and the circumstances in which the latter should operate. We regard both these as vital elements in the agreement. We are not again going to accept the kind of arrangement which at present exists in Korea, where the work of the control organ has been hamstrung throughout because there has had to be unanimity between the four members of the organ. The Swiss and the Swedish observers have been unable to take any action except by agreement with the Polish and the Czech representatives. Consequently, throughout the whole of that agreement there has never been effective inspection.
I believe that the first of the two matters, staffing and facilities, are negotiable. The Russians maintain that the control posts should be operated by nationals of the territory on which they are situated, with a few observers from the other side to see that there was no monkey business with the instruments. They have advanced from that opening position, first, by admitting the possibility of an increase in the number of these observers, and, secondly, by agreeing that these observers should actually take part in the technical work of the post.
The Russians, still insist that a very limited number of persons from what is called the other side "should accompany the inspection team. In other words, they still seem to hanker after self-inspection, which, of course, we cannot accept. Nevertheless, I believe that in due course we shall reach agreement upon the composition both of the control posts and of the inspection teams and upon their facilities. I had a full discussion on these matters with Mr. Gromyko when we were in the Soviet Union, and I am 'hopeful about agreement upon that matter.
The fifth and most important area of difference relates to the veto. The veto 900 is of special importance in relation to underground tests, because, to detect whether or not there has been an underground test it is vital to have an on-site inspection. Rather different considerations apply to tests in the atmosphere. The Soviet position up to now has been that there must be unanimity that there is something to be investigated—in other words, that an event has taken place which could have been a nuclear explosion. Secondly, they claim that there must also be unanimity before an inspection group can be dispatched to the site of the suspected incident. On both those points we feel that we cannot accept a veto.
One idea for breaking this disagreement is a British idea which was discussed in Moscow and in Washington by the Prime Minister with Mr. Khrushchev and President Eisenhower, and which is mentioned in Mr. Khrushchev's Note. It is that each side should have the right of a limited number of inspections each year which could not be challenged by the other side. There would be free choice to select for inspection a limited number from the suspicious cases disclosed by instruments at the control posts. On a golfing analogy, each side should have a certain number of bisques, X in number. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is that? "] A bisque is a stroke which can be taken at any time by the opponent of the person by whom it is given. I am glad to add to the right hon. Gentleman's knowledge.
The Soviet fear of an inspection system has been that it would be used to gain military intelligence, quite apart from investigating suspected tests. They say that if there is the right to have some hundreds of inspections a year and there is to be a decision by a majority vote when they are to take place, that would amount to complete intelligence cover of the Soviet Union, and they are not satisfied by the answer that the same would apply to the United States and the United Kingdom. We believe that this fear could be allayed if the number of inspections were limited. In any case, every suspicious seismological incident cannot be investigated for purely physical and practical reasons. There are not sufficient resources to do it and not enough scientists available to investigate every suspicious seismological incident. But the risk of inspection and discovery would be a deterrent against breach of the treaty.
901 Both the United States and the Soviet Governments were interested in this idea which we put forward, but the difficulty will lie in assessing the figure X—what is to be the limited number of inspections—and also in agreeing what is required to initiate the right to inspect. We would agree that this right must be founded upon some definite scientific criteria, hut, again, ill evaluating the scientific evidence we could not accept a veto. We could not accept the veto on the question of evaluating the scientific evidence justifying the inspection.
There is another new factor. New data on underground explosions and their detection have been produced since the experts met and made their agreement in Geneva last August. So far, the Soviet Government have refused to examine these new data. but it seems to me that if any agreement is to be reached along the lines which we have suggested, these new data must be examined. There are new data about underground explosions and about the nature of the instrumentation to detect them, and whether it is possible to detect differences between natural earthquakes and man produced explosions.
Upon that there are new data, and it seems to me that on examination of the new data must depend the limited number of inspections and also the scientific criteria to which I have just referred. That is where this new suggestion is at the moment. We think that it is valuable, but, of course, it must depend on what number is fixed and what are the criteria.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Were these new data forthcoming before or after the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow?
§ Mr. Lloyd
Well before it. They have been available for about four months. The Soviet position in the discussions has been that they must limit themselves to examining the data available to the experts and they have refused a further expert examination of this new information.
To sum up, what we want is a comprehensive agreement. We want to see that all tests are discontinued, underground, underwater, in the air and in the upper atmosphere. We want a comprehensive agreement because that is by far the best solution, and it is, and very definitely has been, our first choice. If it proves im- 902 possible to achieve this agreement there is the alternative proposal, which has obvious merits, but does not go the whole way. Our firm preference is for a comprehensive agreement, which we will do everything to promote. Meanwhile, there is the solid fact, which should give comfort to many people, 1 think, that since 3rd November, as far as I am aware, no nuclear tests have taken place.
Turning to general disarmament, we have no detailed negotiations on general disarmament proceeding at present, nor are any at present contemplated. Basically, the reason for this is that we cannot agree with the Russians about the modalities. There is a lack of adequate machinery. There is, of course, the 82-member Commission of the United Nations, but I should have thought that a body of that size is quite unsuitable for serious discussion of the detailed problems of disarmament. We have also been waiting on the Geneva Discussions and their results before deciding on the next action.
We are, however, anxious to proceed with discussions upon real disarmament, and we must discuss the means of doing so with the Soviet Union. I do not know whether we shall have a chance of doing so at the Foreign Ministers' meeting. We may have a chance of raising it then, and if it is not raised then, certainly we shall expect it to be raised at any Summit Conference which might follow the meeting of Foreign Ministers.
I turn to the Foreign Ministers' meeting of 11th May—
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
Before the right hon. and learned Gentleman leaves the question of disarmament, may I ask him to tell us what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards stratospheric tests?
§ Mr. Lloyd
We wish a ban upon all tests. One of the difficulties about stratospheric tests is how a ban is controlled. On the other hand, we have the consolation, if it is a consolation, that stratospheric tests are enormously expensive to carry out. There is that safeguard against people starting to do them. We certainly wish to have a comprehensive ban which will cover all tests of all sorts.
I go, as the House knows, to Paris tomorrow for discussions with the Foreign 903 Ministers of the United States, France and the Federal Republic. We have to examine the preparatory work done by officials during the past fortnight, and to reach agreement upon the Western position for the Foreign Ministers' meeting on 11th May.
The House is well aware of the origins of this Foreign Ministers' meeting. The events leading up to it began with the Soviet Note of 27th November, on Berlin, with its six months' limit. That was followed by the firm statement of N.A.T.O. in December of support for West Berlin. There was the visit of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and myself to Moscow, and during that visit the Soviet Government announced their agreement to come to a Foreign Ministers' meeting. Since then, the arrangements for date, place, participation and agenda have gone smoothly. Remembering the tedious arguments that there have been in the past about these matters—in some of which hon. Members opposite joined—I hope that this is a good augury.
In answer to a Question in the House the other day on the relationship of this meeting to the Summit Conference, I quoted the formula used. It is that the purpose of a Foreign Ministers' meeting is to reach positive agreements if they can, and, in any case, to seek to narrow the differences between the two sides and to prepare constructive proposals for consideration at a summit meeting. As soon as developments warrant it, a summit meeting will be held, and it is for the Foreign Ministers' meeting to make proposals about the date, place and agenda of that meeting. We hope, therefore, that this meeting will be followed by a meeting of heads of Governments, and that that meeting will itself become part of a pattern of other similar meetings.
I think, also, that the negotiations in Geneva, both at the conference on nuclear tests and at the Foreign Ministers' meeting, must be considered against the general background of our efforts to improve relations with the Soviet Union. The trade mission, led by the President of the Board of Trade, is to visit Moscow about 12th May, and we hope that the result of that may be the expansion of trade between our two countries.
Following the agreement to develop cultural relations which was reached 904 during the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow last month, a programme of cultural exchanges, under the auspices of the Soviet Relations Committee of the British Council, was worked out in Moscow; and I am grateful to the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) and to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Sir F. Maclean) and to the Director-General of the British Council for the part they played in these negotiations. We hope that the result will be greater exchanges of information and visits between the two countries, by which a contribution will be made to better Anglo-Soviet relations.
Agreement has also been reached, at long last, on the opening of the air service between London and Moscow. That is also a matter that we discussed when in Moscow. The final proving flight took place last week, and the inaugural flight of the regular service will be on 14th May. We have been trying hard, in these various ways, to improve the atmosphere, not only for these talks but also for the long run.
What we have to achieve at these talks can, I think, be set out fairly simply. These will be the first discussions between Foreign Ministers on European matters since November, 1955, and we hope there to achieve three things. First, some progress towards the reunification of Germany on acceptable terms; secondly, reaffirmation of the right of the people of West Berlin to choose their own system of society and also acceptance of the need for satisfactory arrangements for the free access to West Berlin upon which their freedom depends; and, thirdly, a reduction in tension and an improvement of stability in Europe.
Above all, we want a real negotiation. In the speech that I made on Friday night—to which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had to listen—I said that there are three types of conference. First, there is the conference held in public. An example is that of the Security Council of the United Nations. The meetings of the Security Council are in public, but because there are the permanent delegations there, and the Secretary-General and his officers, a certain amount of diplomatic work can be done in the background without everyone knowing about it The meetings have a value because it is also 905 possible for private diplomatic work to be done.
Then there is the semi-public conference, at which a vast number of people meet in an enormous room. The heads of the delegations sit about twenty yards away from each other being the apex of a triangle of advisers of every sort and kind going back to the wall behind them—including public relations experts. At some of these, reports of the proceedings are given out publicly, verbatim, and at others they are "leaked" verbatim. That is one type of conference, but not, I think, the best sort to achieve results.
Then there is the third sort, where there is a genuine attempt in private negotiation to reach agreements that will he publicly stated. There is no doubt that if that type of negotiation, which is what I prefer, is to have any success, a good deal of tolerance will be needed both from Parliament and the Press. I am certain that we should aim at having serious negotiations, in which there can be real privacy.
We go as one of the four Powers with responsibilities, rights and obligations in regard to Berlin. We also go as a member of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. We have been preparing our position for some time, and the working group has been working this last fortnight. The difficulties in concerting a common position among a number of countries are known to everyone in the House. I saw in a newspaper yesterday that Mr. George Kennan was arguing in favour of direct negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union, because a negotiating process that attempts to take account of all the interests and all the inhibitions of all the partners in an alliance becomes one in which there is usually little give and sometimes not much substance.
I do not accept the latter part of Mr. Kennan's remarks. Obviously, the more partners there are in the Alliance the more difficult it is to concert a common position, but I think that it is a technique that must be learned, because we are certainly not prepared to stand out of these discussions. We are not prepared to be left Out of the discussions, and agree that they should be discussions simply between the Governments of the Soviet Union and the United States.
906 Of course, we are not helped by sensational stories about disagreements, or by the suspicions that sometimes exist. We must face the fact that there is nothing out of the way in differences in an alliance of free countries. We have differences of outlook and approach, and differences as to the methods of achieving agreed objectives. The right to differ is an essential element in a free society, and that applies between free nations as it does between free individuals.
What we have to do, having considered these differences of method and approach, and having argued them out with our Allies, is to try to come to an agreed position that will have substance in it. But to publish to the world beforehand, to use Mr. Kennan's phrase, where there is "give" and the extent of the "give" would make any attempt at negotiation quite profitless.
I believe that in this country there is a broad measure of agreement On Berlin. The ideal solution is that it should be the capital of a reunified Germany. In the meantime, as that does not seem to be very likely very soon, Berlin is in a special position, and special arrangements are necessary. We cannot accept any plan that will lead to West Berlin being swallowed up in the Communist State in the midst of which it stands. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said the same thing in very forthright terms in his speech in Stockholm.
Our juridical rights in Berlin are sound. As to access to Berlin, our view is that a new or further agreement about implementing the rights of access could be of advantage to both sides and would clear up the present misunderstandings. This has been our view for some time, and it is a view that has gained ground recently. As to what sort of new or further agreement it would be possible to get—well, that is precisely the matter that we must explore by negotiation.
Mr. Khrushchev, in Moscow, had some interesting ideas about the United Nations, and about guarantees. I expect that many hon. Members read the admirable article in the Observer containing the answers of Herr Brandt—whom we were delighted to welcome here last week—to certain questions. In the context of Berlin there are obviously numerous 907 possibilities. We certainly favour discussion of the extent to which, and the methods by which the United Nations might contribute in any new arrangements There are also various de facto positions already taken up—for example, about trade. In our view, we must not exclude discussion of any means whereby our fundamental purpose—the maintenance of the freedom of West Berlin, and of the rights of access upon which that freedom depends—is sustained.
We shall be considering in Paris Western proposals for German reunification, and on that, I have only two points to make to the House this afternoon. First, we believe that, at some stage, there must be free elections. As was set out in our 1955 plan, we should have preferred that free elections should be the beginning of the process, that the freely-elected representatives of the whole of Germany should work out their future internally and externally. But the Soviet Union has resolutely opposed that plan.
I believe that it would be a fatal mistake for the West to give up this idea that free elections are essential. What we have to consider is whether some phasing is possible so that the free elections can take place at a time acceptable to all parties and yet not be postponed indefinitely. If these elections are to be postponed at all, if we are to accept the position that there should not be, first, election leading to reunification, it seems to me that we have also to consider whether, in the meantime, there is scope for any measures affecting contacts between the two parts of Germany.
The third objective is reduction in tension and the promotion of European security. We have had the disengagement argument several times in the House. By that, I mean the argument about disengagement in the technical sense of the term; the withdrawal apart in such a way that a vacuum is left in the middle. We on these benches think that this is a most dangerous idea. Whether that view is right or wrong, all our Allies rejected disengagement. Not one voice was raised in favour of this conception in the N.A.T.O. Council. Every Minister, without regard to the political complexion of his Government, who spoke, spoke against it.
908 Our alternative idea of areas of inspection and of limitation of armaments is becoming a good deal better understood as time goes on. I have been asked what our precise proposals are. In 1957, we said that we would allow the whole of the United Kingdom to be inspected if European Russia were also inspected. If and when this idea is acceptable, we must remember that drawing lines on the map which affect the territory of other countries is a matter of agreement by those other countries. Nevertheless, we believe that a system of inspection would lead to a reduction in tension and to the elimination of this feeling of imminent crisis. We believe that with the idea of inspection there could be associated the idea of ceilings upon armaments and armed forces. In some cases they might be the same as now; in others, more; and in others, less. But this is all a matter for discussion and negotiation, and we have certainly not abandoned these ideas.
When the Leader of the Opposition asked for this debate he said that he did so not because he expected the Government to say anything. but because he thought that the Government should hear from the House what the House thinks of the present situation. I will certainly welcome those views, and will be very glad to listen to any constructive suggestions from either side of the House. I think that we have general support for the approach that I have tried to describe
I was encouraged in this belief by the resolution on Berlin and Germany adopted at the end of the recent debate in the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, for which all members of the United Kingdom delegation voted irrespective of party. That resolution upheld the right of the inhabitants of West Berlin to live in freedom and security and to have free communications with the West. The Soviet proposal for a free city was rejected. The resolution supported the reunification of Germany by means of free elections and, among other principles accepted, was that no proposal should be agreed which would involve a change to the disadvantage of the West in the balance of military security which is at present shared by N.A.T.O., and that concessions on the part of the West should be matched by equivalent concessions on the part of the Soviet Union. That resolution was 909 voted for by all members of the British delegation from all parties in the House.
We are very conscious of the responsibility resting upon Her Majesty's Government. We shall try to discharge this duty so as to further peaceful settlements but, at the same time, maintain the vital interests of our Allies and ourselves.
§ 4.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
We cannot complain that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Foreign Secretary has not found it possible to explain in greater detail the proposals that the Government intend to put before the Western Allies. I am certain that neither the right hon. and learned Gentleman nor hon. Members opposite will complain that the Opposition have asked for this debate, because, although it is true that those who enter into negotiations cannot show their hand before they start them, we have the obligation to place before the Government and the nation the views that we hold about the international position and the proposals which should, in our view, be advanced. It is absolutely intolerable that newspapers should have their discussions and that articles should be written, but that we should remain silent when the main responsibility rests upon us.
The Council of Europe has passed its resolution, with which, fundamentally, I do not disagree. The Council of Europe passes a very large number of resolutions, mostly platitudinous.
I wish to begin by discussing the problem of tests. The time has now arrived when we are entitled to have from the Government a White Paper. It probably was a wise decision to hold the discussions between the political representatives in secret, but the discussions are now so protracted and there have been so many leakages and partisan statements about what is taking place that we think that we are entitled now to have an objective report of what is actually occurring.
We have listened this afternoon to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has stated to be the Government's views of the difficulties of reaching agreement. I do not suggest for one moment that the right hon. and learned Gentleman Is not telling the truth. Nevertheless we have no way of checking the accuracy of his statements. The Soviet representative 910 says one thing; American representatives say another. We were told, for example, some little while ago that it was not true to say that the attempt to reach an agreement on the suspension of tests was being linked up at Geneva with a general disarmament agreement. We pressed and pressed from this side of the House that an agreement on the suspension of tests ought not to be made contingent upon a general disarmament agreement. We learn now that what was not being pressed has been dropped.
There was also the discussion about the duration of the agreement. We pressed also that that should be left for the main treaty and should not form part of the pre-conditions for reaching the agreement. We understand now that that, also, has been dropped and the duration is to be discussed later.
Our difficulty is that we are having to deal with snippets. We cannot see the whole picture. This is a subject in which the world is vitally interested, and it is entitled to learn who is responsible for any obstruction that now exists. Therefore, I press upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman—in this I hope that I will receive support from both sides of the House—that we should have as early as possible a White Paper giving us some idea of the working documents now before the conference at Geneva.
I remind hon. Members that it has been a depressing story since the conclusion of the conference of experts. When the experts met and reached their decisions or recommendations or observations—whichever one likes to call them—a wave of optimism swept right through the world, because, after all, scientists representing different nations had met and reached conclusions that the control and inspection of hydrogen bomb tests was a scientific practicability.
I wish to put this on record in the OFFICIAL REPORT. This was their first conclusion:The Conference of Experts, having considered a control system for detecting violations of a possible agreement on the suspension of nuclear tests has come to the conclusion that the methods for detecting nuclear explosions available at the present time, namely, the method of collecting samples of radioactive debris, the methods of recording seismic, acoustic and hydro-acoustic waves, and the radio-signal method, along with the use of on-site inspection of unidentified events which could be suspected of being nuclear 911 explosions, make it possible to detect and identify nuclear explosions, including low yield explosions (1 to 5 kilotons). The Conference has therefore come to the conclusion that it is technically feasible to establish, with the capabilities and limitations indicated below, a workable and effective control system to detect violation of an agreement on the world-wide suspension of nuclear weapons tests".This made us all optimistic. It is true that, as scientists always do, they went on to qualify that general conclusion by pointing out that some tremors were natural in their causation and similar in their indications to those caused by man, but they said that modern methods and instruments are capable of identifying 90 per cent. of these tremors. Therefore, it is possible for modern scientific methods and instruments to trace the vast majority of these disturbances to their source and to find out who was the guilty party, whether it was nature or man.
It is rather regrettable that, when the political conference met, the delegates seem to have applied themselves to the few tremors that could not be identified easily and to have ignored the wide ground of agreement already reached. One would have thought that, if men met sincerely for the purpose of reaching agreement, then, as the vast majority of these disturbances can now be detected, identified and analysed, they would apply themselves to the widest area of agreement. But no; it was not that at all. They spent most of their time saying that there are all sorts of tremors, submarine and in the bowels of the earth, which have symptoms analogous to man-made explosions and that, although it was thought at the first conference at Geneva that these amounted only to from 20 to 100 a year, information came along subsequently—I believe that it was from the United States; we are all fumbling on paper here—to the effect that there were very many more than that, practically 1,000 a year.
Having got that piece of useful information, the conference then, apparently on Western inspiration, said, "We must do something about these." While it is perfectly true that most of the hydrogen bomb explosions are detectable—and we agree they are detectable—nevertheless, we must pursue these tremors to their source because they might be clandestine attempts on the part of particular nations to get around the agreement.
912 For a long while discussions have been taking place also, I gather, on the extent to which, and how, these other manifestations are to be examined. Of course, if we are to try to find out the cause of any seismological tremor we shall have to be on the look-out all the time. We have to have our teams activated almost every week, and, of course, if that happens, then, as the Soviet Union has pointed out, they would amount to such interference that the control teams would be operating so frequently and over so wide an area that they would amount, as the Russians say, to reconnaissance and to concealed espionage.
So bringing forward to the forefront of the discussions this category of earthquake and submarine explosion has obscured for many months the fact that there has been this wide area of technical agreement between the scientists themselves which has not been implemented at all in any definite conclusion. That seems to us on this side of the House to be lamentable. We do not believe in this kind of perfectionist argument in which one must be able to find out the cause of any tremor before one reaches an agreement about the detection of these disturbances.
Again, I would like to call attention to what the scientists said:Although with the present state of knowledge and techniques, the network of control posts would be unable to distinguish the signals from underground explosions from those of some earthquakes, it could identify as being of natural original about 90 per cent. of the Continental earthquakes whose signals are equivalent to five kiloton, and a small percentage of Continental earthquakes equivalent to one kiloton.So we have, first, an agreement that practically all hydrogen bomb explosions of a certain magnitude are identifiable. Then we have a further conclusion that 90 per cent. of the tremors that might be caused by natural conditions are also identifiable. So we are left with the failure to agree because of a small number of unidentifiable tremors left. It seems to us to indicate a lack of sincerity on the part of somebody at the conference in trying to reach an agreement on the suspension of hydrogen bomb tests We are not really satisfied with the situation.
Nor do I think that in an issue of this sort it is necessary that, if there is disagreement between the Western Allies, 913 the disagreement should be concealed. After all, we are not here dealing with a treaty governing the future relations and frontiers of nations or the size of their armaments. We are dealing here with a proposition that was universally agreed, apparently, that it would be in the interests of mankind if hydrogen bomb tests could be stopped, but that, unfortunately, because nations do not trust each other the stopping of the tests could only be done if nations were satisfied that other nations were keeping their word and that, therefore, some system of control and inspection was necessary. That is the situation with which we are dealing.
It therefore seems to me that if any particular nation is trying to obstruct agreement. that nation itself ought to be identified. We should know who is responsible, whether it be the Soviet Union, the United States, or Great Britain. We should know who the culprit is. Further, I would suggest to hon. Members that it is impossible for democratic processes properly to fulfil themselves unless that knowledge is available. After all, this is not something in which we only are interested. This is a matter that affects the welfare of mankind. There seems to have been disagreement—we heard about it this afternoon—about the manning of the control posts. One proposal, I understand, was put from the Western side that they should be manned entirely from outside—in other words, that if there were an inspection to be made inside the U.S.S.R. the experts should consist only of British and United States personnel, and vice versa. That seemed to me to be put up only to be knocked down. It seemed an utterly unreasonable proposition to start off with.
It is true that if there were to be an inspection in Britain or in the United States the control team would consist only of Russian experts. But although it seemed to be fair to both sides, it seems to me to be a proposal that was unacceptable from the very beginning. Then, of course, the Russian proposal that the inspection teams should consist only of nationals of the countries where the explosion was alleged to have taken place was equally silly. It was not a proposition that could be accepted at all.
But are we to understand that it is not possible to reach some agreement of mixed commission, or control teams? 914 Is it not a fact that many of these teams will be operating not only on Russian, American or British soil, but that, if the original recommendations of the scientists are carried out, they will be operating in many other countries? If they are to be operating, it would seem that mixed teams, and mixed teams only, will be acceptable to the nations concerned.
I should have thought, therefore, that if there was a disposition to reach agreement there is not very much between the parties here at all—at least, as we understand it. Until we have a White Paper setting out the facts, all we can do is to form our conclusion from such sources as are available to us.
We had over the weekend some proposal which the Prime Minister put in Russia about Russian tests, if I may be allowed to use that term. We do not know if they are Russian tests or inspections. We are not clear from the newspapers this morning. We would like to know what is intended. Is it a number of Russian inspections?
§ Mr. Bevan
Where does that get us? I am not at all influenced by the fact that Mr. Khrushchev thought it might be a good idea. We are not Mr. Khrushchev's spokesmen. I think that if he were tempted by the Prime Minister to accept that proposal, we ought to try to un-tempt him, because when we are so near to reaching a wide agreement, why should we have this?
Why should we accept such a proposal as that? It would not discharge the obligations that are required for self-assurance, because, as we understand it, what is wanted is that we should be quite convinced that if nations have agreed to suspend tests they are, in fact, carrying out their word; and that assurance surely would not exist merely because a number of inspections have been agreed.
I cannot for the life of me see how such a contribution makes any progress at all. Of course, it has one merit, and this I grant at once, that if we began to have some inspection teams they would have some experience of the operation, and co-operation might bring about a more tolerant attitude and the inspections might be extended more widely. That I grant. But as far as I can gather, we are 915 not so far apart as to justify accepting so minimal a conception as that, and I should have thought that we ought to pursue the major objective. Therefore, I most earnestly hope that the Government will not allow themselves to be weary in well-doing in this respect, because we attach to this the utmost importance.
May I ask: why tests at all now? I agree that we are discussing controls, but I am coming to that. Why further tests? I am not speaking only about the Government's position, the United States and Russia, but about any other nations which are thinking about wishing to make these tests. We understand that the United States and Russia between them, with Great Britain following behind afar off, possess among them enough weapons to blow mankind to smithereens. I understand that the only thing that may separate nations is the capacity to deliver these hideous things, but I imagine that each nation will soon catch up on the other, even in that respect. For what, then, do we want further tests?
It has been suggested, I have heard, by some highly placed generals, that we want these tests in order to be able to produce a less hideous hydrogen bomb with more precision and less destructiveness. If the intention is to have only weapons of less destructiveness, we need not go this roundabout way of doing it at all. We can discard them one by one until we get back to the bow and arrow, the javelin and the stabbing spear. We do not really need to go about it in this way. So I myself would have thought that the time had come when nations should have a little bit of courage to see if they could reach decisions which are original perhaps, but which, nevertheless, might start mankind marching off in a different direction.
Therefore, we want to say from this side of the House that if our party is returned to power we shall stop all hydrogen bomb and atom bomb tests at once, and we shall not be influenced by the technical or political situation that we shall find when we assume office. It is a solemn undertaking from which we shall not flinch. We do not consider that any nation is entitled to poison the world's atmosphere in the pursuit of its own defence. We consider that position to be indefensibly immoral. It was, I think, 916 President Roosevelt who said, "If a neighbour's house is on fire you ought not to spend your time arguing who set it alight, but lend him your fire hose." We reverse that position. We wait until our neighbour's house is alight to find out the effectiveness of our own fire hose. It seems to me to be an utterly indefensible position.
We would ask, even now, that the Government should declare that so far as the United Kingdom is concerned they are not proposing to hold any further hydrogen bomb tests. Supposing we said this. what would be the position of the U.S.S.R. and the United States? I am not now dealing with the fact that we would still have possession of the hydrogen bomb; I am dealing only with the tests themselves. It would be extremely difficult, I think, for the United States to hold back public opinion there. I am certain that it would want to follow the British example. The U.S.S.R. has already offered to suspend tests unilaterally, and did so for a time. Of course, I know that. having said that, we have not dealt at all with the problem of inspection and control. But a very great deal of inspection and control exists now.
I am quite certain that if that were done, and if we all said this at once, or if we said it first and the rest followed suit. that very declaration itself would facilitate agreement about hydrogen bomb control teams and test inspections more than any other single factor. This is, after all, a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis of trust. I think that we ought to take the initiative in saying that we will trust other nations and stop these tests ourselves. I conclude that part of my remarks merely by saying that I think that when future generations come to read our discussions in the House they will not be able to understand our mentality.
We are told by men who know much more about this than we do that the effect of these tests is quite unpredictable and may have the most disastrous consequences for the future of the human race. I was speaking to Mr. Oppenheimer, in the United States recently, and he said to me that one of the things that caused him the greatest possible apprehension was the fact that a very small number of people in the world possessed, between them, sufficient knowledge to destroy the whole of mankind. He said that what 917 was even more distressing to him was that this knowledge could not easily be communicated to the rest of mankind and he went on to say that the specialists themselves were building such walls between themselves that before long they might not be able to communicate even with each other.
I said to him, in those circumstances "What is your solution? What would you do? What is the answer?" I got from him what might appear to be a platitude, but which impressed me enormously at the time. He said, "You know, Mr. Bevan, what is needed in the world is a little more kindness. There is nothing kind, there is something appallingly cruel, in sending up these explosions and bringing down radioactive dust in ways which we cannot possibly control."
It was only the other day that the Minister got up at the Box opposite and said that one of the reasons that there was an increase in radioactivity recently was that there had been an increase in the amount of rain. Really, that is kindergarten nonsense. I know that the reply was put into his mouth. But it is not raining all over the world at the same time with equal intensity, is it? I am not an authority on these matters, but I should have thought that if it rained a lot in one place it was likely to be raining a little less somewhere else; I do not know.
It may be that the Minister has more knowledge and that it rains with equal intensity all over the world at the same time. Surely we have reached a point where we ought not to play with such dangerous toys as these; that we ought really to call a halt. I would myself hope that Great Britain is able to reach the moral stature to give a lead to the rest of the world, and to say, Whatever anyone else does, we are going to stop it." I am quite certain that it would send a thrill of enthusiasm throughout the country if the Prime Minister got up at that Box this afternoon and said, "Yes, we will stop it; let others follow our example."
The Foreign Secretary told us very little about the summit talks. I did not expect that he would. He reminded us, quite properly, that the present exchanges have their origin in Mr. Khrushchev's Note about Berlin, last November. I do not know what lesson he drew from that. I 918 should have thought that the lesson was that we had been drifting along all the time, with no initiatives of our own, and we were suddenly brought into these discussions by the roughness of Mr. Khrushchev's Note. We have been drifting on, month after month and year after year, as though the drift was likely to bring us to some destination more satisfactory than the position we are at now, yet everybody who had examined the situation knew that the drift was leading us to much more difficult conditions.
Germany was becoming more and more armed. It is true that she has no nuclear weapons at the moment, but I understand that her armies are being trained in their use. We know from the speeches of certain people in Western Germany that, as the displacement of Western Germany in the N.A.T.O. Alliance grows heavier, the German elements are demanding a greater and greater voice. My right hon. Friends and I were told, when we went to Paris recently, that we must, of course, expect that, as the German forces grow in number, the Germans must be given a greater position in the N.A.T.O. organisation; it would naturally follow that they would.
I am not seeking to indict the whole of Western Germany. I am one who has never, in all his life, indicted whole nations. I do not believe in it. Nevertheless, I say with the utmost seriousness that we should be making a tragic blunder if we did nothing at all to pacify Western Europe but imagined that the safety of this country consisted in building up the military strength of Western Germany. Hon. Members, when they hear me say that, must not imagine that I am engaged in anti-German propaganda. This is the view of millions of Germans themselves. In my opinion, it is a tragic blunder on our part, against the wishes of many Germans, to insist upon Western Germany becoming an important part of the Western armament. I therefore beg and plead that, when these negotiations are entered upon by our representatives, our representatives should have much more ambitious plans than those disclosed in the sentences of the right hon. and learned Gentleman this afternoon.
We, equally with the party opposite, believe that the people of Western Berlin are entitled to our support. They indicated without any ambiguity in recent 919 elections that they desired to retain their connections with the West. We believe that the people of Western Berlin are entitled to enjoy their freedom. Accepting all that, we do not believe that the most satisfactory way of preserving their liberty is to consolidate the present situation. We earnestly believe that the future of Berlin is best secured by a united Germany, but we believe that a united Germany is not possible except in a European security system.
The Prime Minister has given indications of moving in this direction. Unfortunately, as he travelled throughout the world, he appeared to throw many things overboard. When he left Moscow, he had agreed with Mr. Khrushchev earnestly to study the proposals for a limitation of armaments in Western Europe. Apparently, he did not make himself so clear to Dr. Adenauer nor, apparently, to General de Gaulle, and the United States was a little cold about the subject. We do not know what the present situation is.
The New York Herald Tribune, on 28th March, stated:Mr. Macmillan implies that there will be a summit meeting no matter what happens at the proposed conference of Foreign Ministers in May. General de Gaulle says (and Chancellor Adenauer would agree with him) that the Foreign Ministers must 'uncover the elements of agreement on important points' before a summit meeting could usefully proceed. President Eisenhower places himself somewhere between these two viewpoints. He wants only a 'voluntary' summit"—I do not know what a "voluntary" summit means—that is, a meeting without bluff or blackmail, yet one which recognises the fact that it is useless to deal with anyone in the Soviet Union except Mr. Khrushchev himself.There is a lot to be said for that point of view.
We take the view that it would be an excellent thing if the Western Powers would declare that, no matter what is the outcome of the Foreign Ministers' meeting, there must be a summit meeting. In the first place, from the very beginning, the Russians have demanded that there should be a summit meeting. I think that it would be a corrective to many of the rumours now going about if it were possible to say that, no matter what happened to the Foreign Ministers' meeting, there must be a summit meeting. 920 Otherwise, there will be a suspicion that someone or other at the Foreign Ministers' meeting will create artificial obstacles so as to prevent a summit meeting ever being held.
I should have thought, therefore, that, as a matter of procedure, it would be good to say now that there will be a summit meeting no matter what happens at the Foreign Ministers' meeting. Of course, it would be an excellent thing if there emerged from the Foreign Ministers' meeting agreement on points of substance or, at least, the disclosure of concrete points of disagreement on which the heads of Government could eventually arbitrate and come to their decisions. But it would be a very great mistake, and create an unfortuante atmosphere, perhaps uncongenial to agreement, if the Foreign Ministers met leaving it to be assumed that whether or not a summit meeting is held will depend upon the outcome of the negotiations between the Foreign Ministers themselves.
Nor do I think that Mr. Khrushchev. if he is prepared to make any concession at all, would be ready to do it vicariously. I should have thought that, if there was anything to be given, he would like to be the donor. Perhaps, in this respect, his psychology is more egocentric than that of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but my own experience of statesmen is that, if there is anything pleasant to be done, they do not want their rivals to do it Therefore, in my view, we ought to take it for granted that there must be a summit meeting, and I think that it would be a very good thing to say so at the very beginning.
Our position on this matter has been frowned upon by the right hon. and learned Gentleman this afternoon and described as entirely unrealistic. He says that no one, not a single nation belonging to N.A.T.O., has said a single word in favour of the disengagement plan. Of course, we do not know how he described the disengagement plan. He said that there had been some agreement about limitation, but limitation of arms is a part of a disengagement plan. We have always said that. I put this point to the Prime Minister for his consideration. If one is to have limitation of arms in Central Europe, with inspection and supervision for limitation, one might as well have the limits low as high.
921 In fact, it is better to have them low. If they are to be low, as would be desirable, then the area would have to be guaranteed. It may not be at the beginning of the term, because we agree with a great deal of what has been said about the necessity of going ahead by stages. I should have thought part of the plan would be the withdrawal quickly rather than slowly of foreign forces from the centre of Europe. That is why we have always looked favourably on the Rapacki Plan. It has elements which we consider to be advantageous.
The Poles are anxious that there should be no recrudescence of German belligerency. They want the Oder-Neisse Line to be guaranteed and they do not want a united Germany. Of course they do not, but I am certain that if we had disengagement in Europe, an area called a vacuum—why it is called a vacuum I do not know—in Central Europe, disarmed, or disarmed to an agreed limit, consisting of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Eastern Germany and Western Germany, there would be no threat to Poland. Poland would have no need to fear that she would once again suffer the fate that she has had to endure so frequently.
Why is this proposition so untenable? What are the arguments that have been advanced against it? I dismiss the argument about a vacuum, because I do not know what it means. It is one of those question-begging phrases which no one tries to define. If there were an area guaranteed by the great Powers, a peaceful area with its own arms to the extent that was agreed, where foreign forces do not exist, unfettered and free-based, one could call it a vacuum. Is it a power vacuum we are speaking about? If it is a power vacuum that would exist, we are still dealing in the old terms of power organisation and we have not learned anything at all. We are back where we were.
General Norstad has knocked it down and says that it is just ridiculous nonsense. If one reads his speech it will he seen that, after having said that disengagement is ridiculous, on the old soldier's argument that we should always be as near as possible to the enemy to find out what he is doing, he says we must never lose contact with the enemy and it would, therefore, be a good thing to be up against the frontier watching what the enemy was 922 doing. This is an argument which belongs to the First World War. It did not even belong to the last war where open fighting was on such a considerable scale.
In the war of the future, where intercontinental ballistic missiles will be part of the order of the day, contact with the enemy would be one of the things I would be anxious to avoid. But, having said that disengagement was quite useless, he then went on to contradict himself by saying that if there was an effective system of supervision and inspection right up to the agreed frontiers it would be a different question.
That is precisely what we have been saying. We have said all along that part of our proposal is that the armies should be withdrawn from each other pari passu with the building up of an effective system of supervision and inspection.
§ Mr. Bevan
The Prime Minister's own proposition envisages that, because if we are to have limitation of arms we will not be able to agree to that limitation unless the limitation is inspected and supervised, so supervision and inspection form part of both plans. What we cannot understand is why it should not form part of an ambitious plan.
The other objection that I have heard on the Continent to our disengagement proposal is that it ought to form part of a general disarmament agreement. Of course, it would be an excellent idea if everybody disarmed. That, however, is perfectionism, because does anybody seriously suggest today that we are within hailing distance of a general disarmament agreement, including China? To those who are saying that the proposal we are putting forward is too ambitious, and that we should turn it down in favour of a proposal which at the moment is entirely unattainable, we earnestly hope that the Foreign Secretary has not said the last word on this subject. We should enter these negotiations with a view to bringing about a state of affairs in Central Europe which will enable the reunification of Germany, and, therefore, the salvation of Berlin, to be accomplished. No one now dares to come forward with the argument that the unification of Germany should be accompanied by the right of such a unified Germany to add its power to the 923 West. Everybody knows that such a proposition could not be accepted by the Russians.
In conclusion, therefore, we say that in so far as the Foreign Secretary has been able to disclose what he has in his mind, it does not seem to us to go anything like far enough. I agree that it is not easy to reach agreement between a number of nations, all with different points of view, different traditions, and with their own conception of their own interests, but surely it is in the interests of Great Britain that we should try as far as possible to reduce this burden of arms and bring about a more peaceful atmosphere in the world. We should start in Europe, which is on our thresh-hold and where we have the most influence.
I earnestly hope that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, after all their labours—and I give them credit for them—will not allow themselves to be either intimidated, or become fatigued, or in any way reduce the size of the goal which they are aiming at, because I sincerely believe that we have a considerable opportunity ahead of us; and nothing would please the Opposition more than to see the leaders of Great Britain, even though we may not agree with them politically, giving the lead for which the world so earnestly yearns.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
I am sure that the whole House will join in an expression of good wishes to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary in the great task which confronts him in the next few weeks. Very great issues turn on the success or otherwise of these four-Power negotiations during this summer. Whether the Foreign Ministers' conference is followed by a summit discussion of the Prime Ministers of the four Powers, or whether it is not, success or failure for what my right hon. and learned Friend is intending will be of great moment in itself.
If the conference fails, it may be that some of the things which the right hon. Gentleman the Member far Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has just enumerated and stressed will happen, such as the rearming of Western Germany with nuclear projectiles and things of that kind. But it may 924 be if the conference succeeds, which we all hope it will, changes will take place, such as the temporary recognition of East Germany while the two halves of Germany are being brought together.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation itself will undergo a drastic change. I agree in part with what the right hon. Gentleman has just been saying to the House. Here is this enormous concept presided over, very honourably and splendidly, by a great American general, General Norstad, whose beliefs are for the most forward looking military objective of that great range of powers and forces of his to which he can attain. A lot of his writing will have to he torn up. Some of his thoughts will have to cease to be expressed.
May be he will not care to continue to occupy the great post which he now occupies if, as a result of this conference, some change in relationship between the great Powers in the Western World and in the East takes place. I do not want to say too much about N.A.T.O. today. I have done so in past debates, and I do not think that this is the right moment to do so.
I wish to come quickly to the subject of nuclear tests, because I do not altogether agree with what I believe to be the Government's position in this matter at present. In a supplementary reply to me last Wednesday week, when I asked whether the link was being maintained between the suspension of nuclear tests and conventional disarmament, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary divided the question into two. He said:This is a question of stopping tests and we have never accepted that as being actual disarmament.Then he went on to say,I agree…with myself—that, given a measure of disarmament, it is important to keep the link between conventional and nuclear disarmament."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 15th April, 1959; Vol. 603, c. 1019.]It looked from that reply and from other rumours that have been apparent in the Press, though not explicitly stated, so far as I can make out, in the House, that what I understood to be the original position, so tremendously important to this country, of over 50 million souls with 925 a great maritime Commonwealth and Empire to supervise and control, namely, the direct link between the suspension of nuclear preparation and general over-all conventional disarmament, was no longer being striven for.
It now looks as if there has been an interruption there, and I wish to ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of State who, I understand, is to deal particularly with this point tonight, if, in his reply, he can state categorically whether we are holding to our original position. I have always felt that the hydrogen bomb, terrible weapon though it may be, was of immense importance to this country and to some of our minor Allies in Europe and to some of our Commonwealth-associated Powers, because its deterrent effect prevented the return of conventional warfare on the Continent of Europe. It has been conventional warfare on the Continent of Europe fought by massed armies in two world wars which, to some extent, has reduced the opportunity of this great democratic country of ours to express herself fully in a world-wide sense.
Therefore, I disagree with the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and his parry, who wish to bring the hydrogen bomb to an end, first, by stopping the testing of it and then by getting rid of it altogether. I think that if they succeeded in doing that—and I was horrified to hear the right hon. Gentleman say, on behalf of his party, that if returned to power that is what would happen—we should have the Foreign Office of this country contracting out of the supreme position that we have taken up for the security of the world, and subscribing to the immediate abolition of nuclear tests knowing full well that shortly after that the expertise would depart.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Expertise in the manufacture of the weapon. The moment one stops testing—I will deal with the question of fall-out in a minute—the expertise begins to disappear. Those who continue the tests continue to maintain the mastery over the world. I think I can say that the right hon. Gentleman wishes that expertise to disappear and wishes to see this country, in the end, without the means of delivery of a hydrogen weapon. 926 In other words, the deterrent is to depart, and as far as this country is concerned the Labour Panty wants us to return to the condition in which we had two disastrous wars in three decades.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I apologise for interrupting the noble Lord, but I want to understand what he is saying. Does it amount to this, that if the conference now going on in Geneva, and on which the hopes of so many people are fixed, achieves, if it can be achieved, an agreement whereby all tests will stop, the noble Lord will regard that as an irretrievable catastrophe? Is that what he is saying?
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am convinced that the scientists and the statesmen have put into our hands a weapon which is of supreme importance to this country, placed as it is geographically with its close-packed population. This weapon, as a deterrent to major conventional warfare, is, in my view, of vital consequence to the destiny of this country.
I very much hope that the Government will say that the only way in which the cessation of testing and eventually the abolition of the hydrogen bomb will be allowed to take place is if the great powers subscribe, at the same time, to organised disarmament; in other words, to the reduction of their conventional forces—if all these things, tests, manufacture, the means of delivery of the weapon and reduction of conventional forces are irrevocably linked together.
On the question of fall-out, I would not be saying what I am now saying if I thought that we were still in the era of the so-called "dirty" bomb. We are out of that era as far as I understand these things, and nobody shares the secrets of the scientists in this matter. As I say, as far as I understand, we are out of that era and there is no danger to human health by the sort of testing of the hydrogen and atomic weapons which from now on will be taking place.
When the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said that he had his talk with Mr. Oppenheimer I was expecting every minute that he would say that Mr. Oppenheimer was convinced that the genetic effects of these tests throughout the world were disastrous to mankind for generations to come. He did not say that. He merely said, "Let us have a little more kindness."
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
In pure theory and given that the doses are sufficient, of course the geneticists will give us this tale. But I was expecting the right hon. Gentleman to give us today the evidence to contradict what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has repeatedly told the House, that there is not in the atmosphere today an aggregation of material which is fundamentally dangerous to the destiny of the human race.
I want now to come to the subject of Berlin. What I propose to say may shock the House. There are two great arms to foreign policy. One is aggression and the other is appeasement. I believe that the Russians are appeasing about Berlin. They are embarrassing the West by withdrawing from a situation which they do not wish to continue to hold. There is no parallel whatever between the situation that confronts Berlin now and the situation which confronted it in 1948. I say that despite the fact that a great many publicists and people associated with N.A.T.O. and with the Pentagon and United States military thinking are convinced that it is so.
In 1948, Stalin tried to squeeze the West out of its position in Berlin by putting on the embargoes on road, rail and canal traffic and the rest. The only way that we could test that situation without risk of war was by a civil air exercise, which succeeded. Even with Stalin's determination to use military force to threaten us out of Berlin. a civil exercise succeeded and the West was enabled to maintain its position. If the Russians had really meant war at that time, they would have buzzed down the aircraft that were supplying the West Berliners with their material to live. They did nothing of the kind.
Now, another tactic is being tried. The Russians are trying to hand over the city to the Deutsches Democratic Republic for them to maintain and absorb as a capital into their own country and to get them recognised in the process. The 928 West, therefore, does not have to think in terms of tanks, aircraft, military preparations or of bringing the N.A.T.O. line as close to the Berlin perimeter as is possible. That is not the issue. The issue is in what way we are to outwit the Russian political designs, because this is a political design intended to make us look extremely foolish in the continued occupation of the so-called free city of West Berlin, designed gradually to put us out on a limb and to make us look ridiculous, without purpose there, in the eyes of all central European peoples.
I said in the debate on 4th December that I was convinced that in the end the West would have to get out of Berlin, and so we shall. Therefore our time is short there and in that time we must achieve something of usefulness to the cause of peace and democracy in Central Europe. I understand that a proposal was put up in Moscow by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that there should be a sort of neutralised belt in certain areas of Germany which would be jointly policed. As the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said when I interjected towards the end of his speech, this is a diminished part of the great Socialist plan. Whether it is the policy of the Labour Party or the policy of M. Rapacki, I do not know. I have studied both of them and I do not think that there is all that difference between them. It would, however, appear that the Government's plan at the moment is a diminished part of that proposal.
Nobody, so far as I know, has yet told us how the Labour Party's plan for the policing of this enormous area of Central Europe is to be carried out. How are the forces to be supplied to look after it, to ensure that there is adequate disarmament, that there is no rearmament of offensive or disagreeable weapons, and that each area carries out its appointed task?
What are we to do? Are we to send two or three divisions, which will be matched with German, French and American divisions, intermingled with the Russians? Is there to be any military part in this inspection, or is it to be entirely done by administrators and civil servants? Is the Foreign Office to supply 600 or 700 people who are to go to the centre of Germany and remain there and are the Foreign Offices of the Western world and of the Soviet Union to do the 929 same? How is this vast area to be looked at? How is it to be held down, if holding down is necessary? How are the countries that are to police these areas to be satisfied that the plan is going as it is wanted to go?
I said in the debate last December that even at the end of the war, when we emerged as tremendous allies of the Soviet Union, it was not yet possible in the atmosphere of that time to get a joint supervisory control of shattered Berlin. All we could do when the war ended was to cut up Berlin into four sectors and to put our troops in each. The Allied Commandantura was supposed to be superimposed at the top and provide for certain mutual controls. But it never worked. Even in the years 1945–48, before the Western world began to get apprehensive about the Soviet Union, there was never any joint control of Berlin.
§ Mr. Bevan
Our assumption is that if all goes the way we would like it to go, disengagement in Europe would be with German agreement, because it would be accompanied by the unification of Germany. A solution to the Berlin problem, and, therefore, the difficulties of supervision and instruction, would be enormously simplified by that process. We are not thinking at the moment of coercing Germany into such a situation. I have always been told that the business of inspecting and policing a nation to ensure that it did not arm itself with modern weapons on any scale was a civil one and comparatively easy of accomplishment.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
I am glad to hear the first definition of how the Labour Party proposes to put teeth into its own plan. I had already gone a little way from that point, however, and when the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me I was dealing with our political failure at the end of the war to provide for a joint occupation and inspection of a city the size of Berlin.
I want to know how that will be politically possible at this stage. If the cold war is not at its height, it was at its height only about two or three years ago and there is even now a great deal of tension, disapprobation and anxiety, to put it mildly, about the purposes of the Soviet Union. How is it possible at this 930 moment to provide the political system for a joint inspection and supervision of this territory? I greatly fear that it will not be possible to do it, even for the moderate sized territory which the British Government seem to be putting up for the conference.
Let us consider one single disadvantage to it. There are now two halves of Germany. Apart altogether from goods and merchandise, for people to travel between the two halves of Germany, forms have to be filled in, passports arranged and barriers removed. Many people are not allowed to go and they flee on their own. If they are caught, they are arrested.
We are now to have a third area of Germany introduced in the form of this neutral belt. Whether it is supervised by the United Nations or by the four Powers, it will be a. third area and it will, in a very short time, come to have some sort of political association or control which is different from the other two halves. The traveller, therefore, will be stopped twice instead of once. If he leaves West Germany and enters the neutral belt, that is his first stop. Then, when he goes on into the Eastern zone, that is his second stop. I can see all sorts of difficulties arising.
As Herr Brandt said when he spoke to some of us the other day, anything on a scale of this sort is unacceptable and unworkable and what the West has to look for is something very much more moderate and cautious. As I said during the last debate on foreign affairs, I believe that we can at this stage attempt no more than a mission of a few civil servants from East and West Germany to Berlin to look at the systems of election in both countries to see how far they are compatible with each other and perhaps, to take control of the movement of trade and commerce and persons between both halves of Germany and one or two other simple administrative tasks of that kind.
It may be that when they have been at work for some months a four-Power conference will again have to assemble to consolidate their work and to project a further stage, namely, the sponsorship of a central German Government. or something of that kind, and, after that, the holding of elections to endorse that stage. It seems to me that months or years will pass before anything which will effectively unite both halves of Germany in peace and freedom can take place.
931 The other day, Mr. Khrushchev, when he was at Leipzig seemed to me—the words which he used should be changed, mutatis mutandis, as I shall change them before I sit down—to approach much more nearly the reality of the situation in joining the two halves of Berlin by means of some sort of embryo confederation than the West has so far accomplished in the talks about free elections and things of that kind. The danger which I fear is that the polemical advantage is with Mr. Khrushchev at present and not with the West. He is doing things more cautiously and slowly and in a more down-to-earth manner. He is building from the ground upwards, and so is East Germany, whereas the West has been building from the skies downwards, and we all know in human affairs who wins if that sort of game is played.
Mr. Khrushchev said at Leipzig:We are in favour of unity but not capitalist unity. We must so unite Germany that the capitalist order is liquidated and the power of the working class is set up. But at the moment such a hope is quite unrealistic. The world can live and live very well without German reunion and the Germans can do so, too.That means full-blown authority for the D.D.R. first. and then, with its prestige high and because Berlin is partly a Soviet city, the offer to West Germany to be swallowed up will follow. We must never let the Russians reach that stage. It is because the confederation idea is more realistic than the free election idea of the West that the Russians, unless we are careful, will get to that stage sooner than we shall. We must meet Mr. Khrushchev's faith with an equal or better faith of our own.
Let me reread Mr. Khrushchev's words, but change them in the way in which I think they should be changed:We are in favour of unity for Germany, but not Communist unity. We must so unite Germany that the Communist order is liquidated and the power of the working class is set up.Is not the working class of the Western world a more honourable and wonderful thing than those wretched people who, in 1953, because their norms of working were monstrously high, rose up against the suzerain power of Communist Russia and were put down? Cannot we make a statement of our own which will show conclusively that the working class in the Western world have far more prosperity 932 and are far nearer to political supremacy than they are ever likely to be in the part of the world which Mr. Khrushchev controls? Why is he allowed to talk about the working class in a way that we in the Western world cannot contradict and prove to be wrong?
I feel that if the Western world can act realistically and contradict with good argument the sort of expressions of Communist faith that Mr. Khrushchev puts forward, then the future of our democratic order of society in Central Europe is assured. The danger, I think, is that we are so frightened of the political power of Communism that we tend to oppose it by rigid designs which cannot work, like free elections, or by military designs, like N.A.T.O. which have no chance whatever of coming effectively to the rescue of the countries beyond the Iron Curtain. Some kind of new idea must be put forward if the Western world is to succeed. We must all earnestly trust that the Prime Minister will give it in the forthcoming conference at the summit.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) expressed the fear that he might shock the House. Many years of his stimulating speeches have made the House shockproof to some extent.
I think that many of us agree with much of what he said, but his attitude to our ability to remain in Berlin seems to me to be extremely alarmist and defeatist. Those who exaggerate the capacity of the Russians and East Germans to squeeze the West out of Berlin are doing a considerable disservice to the prospects of success of the coming negotiations. Whether, like de Gaulle, they draw the deduction that if communications are obstructed we must shoot our way through or, like the noble Lord, if communications are obstructed we must retreat, it seems to me that we get the whole thing out of proportion.
I believe that in the West there has been a great tendency to exaggerate both the likelihood of the East Germans trying to squeeze those communications, and the likelihood of their succeeding if they try to do so. In a junior capacity. I was in the original discussions that led up to the airlift at the time of the blockade. 933 One could then hear in private many speeches of the kind which the noble Lord has made, pointing out the difficulty of maintaining our position in Berlin.
As the airlift got under way, to our surprise, I think to the surprise of everybody, it was discovered that a big misjudgment had been made. We had misjudged the political difficulties on the other side of gaining their way by attempting to starve the women and children in Berlin. As the airlift went on, it became clear that, so far from being squeezed out, the Russian would have to come to us on their knees and ask us to save their faces, because the political and diplomatic pressures against them, as soon as we started the airlift, made the whole operation not worth while from their point of view.
I do not wish to speak about Berlin, but about the hopeful news which we had over the weekend that Mr. Khrushchev and the Prime Minister had agreed about a method of breaking the deadlock in the talks on nuclear tests. I confess to some surprise in the way that the debate has gone. I expected that the Foreign Secretary would come to the Dispatch Box and, since the conception has not been apparently welcomed by the Americans, play it down a good deal and back-pedal along the lines of the Foreign Office statement issued over the weekend. On the whole, however, the Foreign Secretary seemed to cling to his idea, and for once the British and Soviet Governments seem to be agreed on a constructive proposal.
In addition, I expected that my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) would take the opportunity, on behalf of the Labour Party, of giving the warmest possible support to this new and constructive development in the disarmament situation. But if I understood him aright, he threw this whole conception of "spot check" inspection aside.
§ Mr. Mayhew
If my right hon. Friend means that the Russians are about to accept unlimited inspection—
§ Mr. Mayhew
I am sure my right hon. Friend is right about that, and I would not dispute it for a moment, but when he says that full and unlimited inspection is not necessary, I do not understand his objection to Mr. Khrushchev's and the Prime Minister's proposal, which is for, so to speak, a spot check, for limited inspection.
§ Mr. Bevan
My hon. Friend still misunderstands me and is almost wilfully misunderstanding me. If this proposal is the only kind of check which can be obtained now, then, obviously, it would be wrong to reject it, but to accept it as a substitute for a major solution, which is in sight, would be, I think, a mistake.
§ Mr. Mayhew
—if he now agrees that if this is the best we can get it should be accepted.
I feel that this is a very important point. I have often disagreed with the Government about a lot of things, but I should have thought that this was one of those moments when, the Government having put forward a constructive suggestion acceptable to the Russians, possibly not acceptable to the Americans, it might have been helpful if it had been made plain to the House that we on this side, as I should have thought to be the case, certainly supported this limited inspection idea as a possible means of breaking the nuclear test deadlock.
As my right hon. Friend rightly said, we have not had a White Paper on this matter. Our information is fragmentary, and we have had merely what we have read in the newspapers, but I feel convinced myself that this approach to an agreement between the British and Soviet Governments should be pursued and has a chance of success.
I was sorry about the reservation which the Secretary of State made on the subject of new data. I should like to know whether when this idea was outlined to 935 Mr. Khrushchev—the Prime Minister said he outlined the idea—it was put forward subject to new data. It may be that I have a suspicious mind, but I would not like to think that the British Government, having put forward this idea, are looking for means now for back-pedalling on it so far as the Germans and Americans and French are concerned.
As I understand it, one can put an unfavourable construction on Mr. Khrushchev's acceptance of the British Government's proposal. For instance, in the Daily Telegraph this morning it was put forward—and I think it must be obvious to everyone as a possibility—that Mr. Khrushchev accepted the idea of limited inspection only for tactical reasons in order to divide the Western countries. It may be suspected that the Russians do not, in fact, want the agreement on limited inspection.
If that is their tactic it seems to me the right course is to agree with our Allies to go ahead with this prospect—
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Is it not quite obvious that we have done the one thing which will make it impossible?
§ Mr. Mayhew
If my hon. and learned Friend means that the Government might have been a little wiser if they had cleared their excellent suggestion with the Americans and the French before putting it to the Russians, I agree.
§ Mr. Mayhew
My hon. and learned Friend must not expect too much from the Government. However, they have put forward a constructive proposal, and it is not a dead proposal by any means, and I think that we should take it seriously and do what we can to make a success of it.
If it is true that the Russian agreement is for tactical reasons, then surely the way to make the tactic succeed is to drop the proposal; and the way to make the tactic fail is for the Western countries to stand by the proposal and let the Russians reject it and show before public opinion that they were not sincere in their original acceptance of it. If we put a sinister construction on Mr. Khrushchev's acceptance of it on the ground that it is tactical, the answer is to 936 go ahead with the proposal and not to drop it.
It may also be argued that acceptance is more sinister than that and that the resistance of the Russians to unlimited inspection is because they want to continue tests. This I find extremely hard to accept—the idea that the Russians value the military advantage of continuing tests so highly that they are prepared to negotiate and sign an agreement with complete cynicism, intending to violate it as soon as they have signed it; that they intend to exhaust the quota of inspection tours and then have nuclear tests, after the quota is used up. I think that it is unreasonable to put that interpretation on their point of view.
It is always difficult to assess the motives of the Russians. I have had to deal with them in small matters for very many years since the war, and I can say that it is very difficult to assess their motives correctly and to adopt the right position between naivete, on the one hand, and over-suspiciousness, on the other. I suspect people who say that they can always understand what the motives of the Russians are. However, I would say that the suspicion that they actually intend to continue nuclear tests, evading this spot check, and to break an agreement they are just negotiating and are about to sign, is not suspicion but just paranoic delusion. We must go on the basis that their demand for limited as against unlimited tests is based on other reasons.
My right hon. Friend, I think correctly, pointed to some of the reasons, and so did the Foreign Secretary. These are the true reasons why the Russians want limitation of tests. There are two, I think. First, because they are afraid that these inspections will not inspect only for H-bomb tests, but for military secrets of all kinds, nuclear and conventional. The Foreign Secretary put it very well, that there might be unlimited roaming around of the Soviet Union of jeep teams of Americans and British and others, and toe Russians do not want possible nuclear targets exposed, they do not want their conventional and nuclear weapon sites and factories examined, they do not want their army manœuvres, and so on, investigated by these teams.
It may be argued that this is a good reason for insisting upon unlimited inspection, unlimited search. I do not know 937 whether that is the view of the Americans. If so, of course, it falls foul of the principle that H-tests should be isolated for disarmament purposes. If one takes the view that these inspections should cover other things than H-tests one is going back on the principle the West has accepted of isolating H-tests for other disarmament purposes.
The second reason, I believe, why the Russians want limited test inspection is the simple reason of the classic Russian xenophobia, the fact that they still have an irrational fear of the disturbing and corrupting influence of foreigners. They are sensitive to the backwardness of certain aspects of their life. They are worried about the possibility of incidents involving foreigners. There has been an improvement in recent years. As we all know, Russia has been more opened up than before. Only five, six, seven years ago it was still an adventure to go to the Soviet Union. One has only to cast one's mind back to those days. I know that even years ago, if a junior diplomat at a foreign embassy in Moscow had a chance to go to the Caucacus, he would write a report pages long about the people, about the scenery, about the railway stations, and so on. So closed was the Soviet Union and so curious was the outside world about every little detail about it.
In those days Ulanova had not been seen. The Russians were isolated. They did not take part in international sport. There was no tourism. The Iron Curtain was solid. There has been a great improvement. This year, probably well over 10,000 Westerners will visit the Soviet Union as tourists; but there is still the limitation that one can drive one's car in Russia only on certain roads. One can still go in for tourism, but often rather herded together. This is not because the Russians wish to hide nuclear tests. Nor is that the reason why they want to limit inspection tests. It is part of the vanishing but still very real xenophobia of the Soviet Union, plus the Russian desire to conceal military secrets.
I plead with the Government to go on seeking agreement on this limited spot-check inspection. This is the key to the whole matter. Never before have the two sides been so close on the question of nuclear disarmament. I ask the Government, first, to continue as a general 938 long-term policy to try to break down the isolation of the Soviet Union by increasing contacts. These are part of the basic foundation for disarmament agreements, and will help towards obtaining a sort of general inspection and making that possible in the Soviet Union. A great deal more can be done along these lines. The agreement signed by the Soviet Relations Committee will double our contacts with the Soviet Union in this financial year compared with last year; but they are still only a small number. They need great expansion.
The second, specific, thing to be done is not to insist upon unlimited inspection for nuclear tests. One hundred per cent. inspection is not possible technically, as both sides agree. Therefore, it is absurd to go on asking for what is not practically possible, even if the Russians were willing to grant it. Let us, therefore, allow limits to inspection for H-bomb tests, either in the numbers of visits made by the teams, or in the timing with which the whole process is brought in. Let us allow Russia to unclothe herself by stages rather than demand the whale thing at once. I sincerely hope that our French and American allies will co-operate in this It is true that they were not previously consulted. That is a failure of diplomacy for which the Government must be blamed, but I ask their Governments to beware of too negative an approach.
Let them beware of a second kind of brinkmanship—coming to the brink of agreement with Russia and then shying off in alarm just because the Russians agree. We must watch ourselves over this. There is no safety in retreating from an agreement on tests. The whole thing is a balance of risks. There is a risk that the Russians may trick us. There is a risk that they may sign an agreement simply to violate it. There is a risk that they might accept the inspection proposed by the Foreign Secretary and even then hold further H-bomb tests undetected. These risks exist; but there is a risk, too, in failing to reach agreement, and letting the present dangerous drift continue.
The gap between the two sides on nuclear disarmament is narrower than it has ever been. We are nearer to multilateral agreement between the Powers on disarmament than we have ever been before. Credit is due to all concerned, 939 including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary for getting us this far. I beg the Government not to allow it all fail now. I hope that they will sum up that last effort, this last piece of determination to agree, which may make all the difference between a depressing failure and a remarkable and hopeful success.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) has said, as I believe many of my hon. Friends do, but I will not follow him in his remarks because I want to refer to what was said by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). I am sorry to note that he has just left the Chamber, but I know that his hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) will convey my remarks to him.
I want to refer to those remarks particularly because the right hon. Gentleman was speaking officially for the Labour Party, and I am not quite certain that the hon. Member for Woolwich, East was doing so. Fundamentally, there is a great deal of agreement on what really matters between the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and ourselves on the state of affairs which we should all like to see. We all want peace, we all want disarmament and we all want freedom from fear. Where the right hon. Gentleman and I disagree is on the methods to be adopted to attain those ends. I know that the right hon. Gentleman feels that some of our methods are perhaps dangerous. I believe, equally, that some of his proposals will not be likely to make for more peaceful conditions but might lead to a worsening of political feeling and a weakening of our position in the West.
Although we have now a dreadful weapon in the nuclear deterrent, I do not think that we should be any less prepared to look at the lessons of the last two world wars and make up our minds what caused them and what could have prevented them. I have always been of the opinion that the last two terrible wars which have overtaken us in the last fifty which were entirely preventable had the peace-loving world talked peace from strength instead of from weakness, as we always did, and had we had an overall Allied plan, as we have today. If. for 940 instance, before both world wars the United States had made her position absolutely plain and had said that in the event of war she would come in on our side, I believe that both those wars could have been prevented.
Throughout the past century we have always looked for a deterrent to stop war. The trouble was that such deterrents as we had were not effective for that purpose. Now we have a real deterrent. True, it is a terrible weapon, but I maintain that, together with N.A.T.O., it has kept the global peace of the world over the last ten years and may do so, if handled wisely and well, for another ten years. It enables us to talk peace from strength, which we have been unable to do during the past fifty years.
I want to deal with one or two points made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale and say why I do not agree with some of them and to what extent I agree with others. First, on the question of tests I believe that the right hon. Gentleman asked why we did not get on with an arrangement by which we could distinguish 90 per cent. of the "tremors", as he calls them, though we would be unable to detect the others. The trouble with nuclear power is that the 10 per cent. of the tremors that we do not detect may be sufficient to destroy the whole world. I believe, therefore, that we should go on striving for perfection in this matter of the detection of tests and the machinery to be set up.
§ Mr. Mayhew
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggesting that if there were a spot check, which would enable inspection teams to go all over Russia, the Russians would risk having tests discovered by those checks? According to his calculations, there would be a 10 to 1 on chance of their being detected.
§ Sir J. Smyth
Any system upon which both sides agree in the belief that they will detect all major tremors is a good one, but we should not accept any machinery which we know would not effect that result.
I rather gathered from what the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said that we should accept the second-best and say, "Let us get on with some arrangement which, anyway, will give us 90 per cent. security, and not bother about the other 10 per cent." I am saying that it is just 941 that 10 per cent. of nuclear power which may be sufficient to destroy the world, just as we know that the 5 per cent. of nuclear bombers which got through with their nuclear bombs could destroy the world. We must keep that point in mind.
The right hon. Gentleman said that, as a gesture, if the Labour Party came to power it would stop all tests, but would keep the bomb. I cannot see any logic in that. I have a lot of sympathy with many hon. Members opposite below the Gangway who, for pacifist reasons, maintain that we should not have anything to do with nuclear power at all, but I do not understand anybody saying, "We will keep the bomb but we will allow ourselves to become more and more out of date in it. We will ban the tests and hope that the other people will do the same." By saying that. we lose all our bargaining power. We should aim at 100 per cent. security, whether or not we get it all at once.
Next, I understand that the Labour Party will not link nuclear disarmament with disarmament in conventional weapons. That is a great mistake from every point of view. We remember the power of the V.1 and V.2 weapons at the end of the last war, and we can imagine the tremendously increased power of such weapons today. It is absolute madness not to go all out for over all disarmament of every sort of weapon. I am strongly of the belief that the only alternative to total war is total peace. We should not accept the idea of any intermediate conventional war between the great Powers. I am sure that such a war would, sooner or later— and probably sooner—lead inevitably to a full-scale nuclear war.
The right hon. Gentleman says that he is opposed to rearming Germany at all. By saying that he is going back upon the policy of Ernest Bevin and the Labour Party, and I cannot see that that is of any advantage to us or to the cause of world peace.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
It is the Labour Party that has gone back, not my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan).
§ Sir J. Smyth
The hon. Member may know more about that than I do, but I cannot see that we gain any advantage, in safety or security, by not rearming Western Germany. It only means that we shall have to pay and do more, and 942 that the N.A.T.O. shield will be weaker. Although our fundamental beliefs may be the same, the right hon. Gentleman's argument in that matter is more likely to lead to insecurity and war than security and peace.
I now turn to the much-discussed question of disengagement and the limitation of arms over a certain area. I cannot agree with the right hon. Gentleman's view that they are one and the same thing. He said that he did not understand what a vacuum was. If I call it a military vacuum it may become more explicable. I shall always vividly remember the position of Belgium at the beginning of the last war. Belgium was a military vacuum. She maintained her neutrality most rigidly, and any of our troops who strayed over the frontier were thrown into prison. Belgium did not want to have anything to do with the overall security plan of the West. That military vacuum was a very great weakness to us vis-à-vis Germany. It was almost certain that when the attack came it would come in that military vacuum, which was least desirable from our point of view.
I am entirely in agreement with the limitation of weapons in a forward zone. We can cope with that quite well. But if we contract out of those forward zones altogether we shall not create any kind of security against aggression commencing there. In fact, we shall do exactly the reverse. I hope that whoever winds up for the Opposition today will comment upon those points, because they are the crux of the difference of opinion which lies between us, not with regard to the very fundamental matters—because upon those we should be agreed, and I believe we are, in large measure—but with regard to the machinery and the working out of various systems.
I am also at variance with the argument put forward by the right hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) as to the real function of the N.A.T.O. forces. General Norstad has made it quite clear that the purpose of the N.A.T.O. forces is to provide a shield, and that in the event of any warlike situation arising their object is to provide time for both sides to make up their minds whether to go ahead with wholesale aggression, which is likely to lead to global war, or to call a halt.
The right hon. Member for Dundee, West thinks that there is another phase 943 beyond that, where N.A.T.O. can engage with the Russian forces in a limited conventional war. We should not entertain that idea for a moment. If we do, people will begin thinking about it and it may happen. If it does, I am sure that it will lead inevitably to a total global war. Any major clash between the forces of Soviet Russia and the Western Powers will inevitably lead to a wholesale war. I maintain, therefore, that we should try and stop any kind of warlike situation arising. I repeat that I believe most sincerely that the only real alternative to total war is total peace, and for that we should always strive.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
The hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) spoke about negotiating peace from strength and said that if we had been in a strong position in 1914 and 1939 those wars would never have happened. He also took my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) to task for his remarks about suspension of tests and spoke about linking nuclear disarmament with conventional disarmament.
I shall have a word to say about peace from strength later. But first, the tests. Of course, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale is quite capable of explaining for himself about nuclear tests, hut, if the hon. and gallant Member thinks unilateral suspension of tests is unilateral renunciation of the hydrogen bomb by the back door, I urge him to study more closely what my right hon. Friend had to say. This is a unilateral renunciation for a period and not for all time. Any responsible British Government which decided as a matter of policy to retain the hydrogen bomb, if there was no agreement about suspension of tests, after a period of time would obviously, very regrettably, have to reconsider its attitude.
§ Sir J. Smyth
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said very definitely indeed that he gave an absolute guarantee on the part of the Labour Party that if it came to power, regardless of what anybody else did on the other side, it would at once stop all nuclear tests.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Certainly, I quite agree, but I would urge the hon. and gallant 944 Member to look at the precise words I used and at the precise words of my right hon. Friend. I do not think that he will find any incompatibility between them.
I know the argument about linking nuclear disarmament with conventional disarmament and, again, I would urge the hon. and gallant Member to think again. The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), in one of his usually surprising speeches, said that two world wars with conventional weapons had caused great damage to this country. That is perfectly true, but how much more damaging to this country would be a nuclear war? If the last war had been a nuclear war we should not be having a debate in this House today. Therefore, I should have thought that for an island of this nature, close, compact and vulnerable, nuclear disarmament is a paramount national interest. I agree that we are a very long way from achieving it, but it stands far higher as a national interest than conventional disarmament. I repeat, I am conversant with the argument that the two should always go together, but I think it is a fallacy.
I am glad that the noble Lord has now returned to his place because he had some surprising words to say about Mr. Khrushchev's position over Berlin and the forthcoming Foreign Ministers' conference. The noble Lord said that there was no parallel between the situation now and the one which developed over the Berlin blockade in 1948. He also said that the Russians were not proposing to grab Berlin but to withdraw from Berlin. He went on to refer to the effect of such an action by them. He said it could make the West look extremely foolish. I urge him to look closer at what Mr. Khrushchev really wants. What Mr. Khrushchev is really proposing under the threat of a separate peace treaty is to end the instability of East Germany, not by a de facto recognition but by a separate peace treaty.
He is proposing that we should conclude a peace treaty which would involve the recognition of the East German Government. That is his prime aim. Berlin is a secondary aim. West Berlin, 100 miles inside Communist territory, is an inconvenient island to him. To us, it is a very important Western shop 945 window and a haven for the oppressed. To him it is extremely inconvenient. He is not proposing to close down West Berlin. He is not proposing to drive the 2 million inhabitants of West Berlin into Communist hands at this stage. He is not even proposing that access should be cut off.
He is proposing that there should be some guarantee of the status of West Berlin in which the East Germans should take a part. That in itself would be a recognition of the East German regime. But, on top of that, does anyone really suppose that any arrangement in which the East Germans are to participate in guaranteeing West Berlin would be likely to continue West Berlin as a shop window for the West and as a haven for refugees? I think that if the noble Lord looks at what Mr. Khrushchev is proposing he will see that his assessment—I think that is the charitable way of putting it—is surprising. If we failed to do this, Mr. Khrushchev proposes to conclude a separate peace treaty with East Germany. That is his threat.
What are the answers of the West to this? Broadly, the French and German answers have been, "We shall stand on the old position. There will be no reunification without free elections". That means the end of the Ulbricht régime. The American position is slightly different. The Americans are not insisting on free elections as an immediate prerequisite to any reunification, although that is envisaged at the end of the day. Secondly, they are proposing certain military arrangements. The full proposals have not been published, but no doubt they will be after the meeting of Foreign Ministers. This is substantially different from what the French and the Germans are proposing.
As far as we have been able to gather from the gradual leaks which have been achieved wit the aid of the American Press about the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow, the British Government proposed three things. We did not get it out of the Foreign Secretary today. From him we seemed to get "ex nihil nihil fit" which means, colloquially, "out of nothing, nothing tits," as always in his case.
The British Government's proposals, as I understand them, amount to three things. Firstly, some kind of de facto recognition of the East German régime 946 prior to reunification—de facto, not de jure. Secondly, some form of international guarantee for the status of Berlin—preferably all Berlin and not just West Berlin. Thirdly, some kind of military freeze accompanied by inspection in specified areas. That would be a form of first stage of the revised Rapacki Plan and, of course, it would mean no nuclear arms for the Bundeswehr.
What is the effect of these ideas? The French and German positions are the old positions, which have been debated. So far as they concern the present discussion they are obviously negative. We shall not get very far with them. The American proposals are limited. I should like to go much further than they have done, but I recognise the difficulties in the present situation of getting anywhere at all. But the British position, I think, lays itself open to serious questioning. I feel strongly that some of today's debate has been unreal in its acceptance of the Prime Minister's proposals in Moscow.
The Prime Minister's proposals will give Mr. Khrushchev a great deal of what he has been asking for, without any comparable concessions from him to our side. Secondly, the Prime Minister's proposals have caused considerable difficulties among the Western allies. If the Prime Minister was seeking to change Western policy, which may be the right course, let us suppose, the first thing he should have done was to secure the agreement of the Western allies to be able so to do. The most unfortunate thing of all is to do something and then have to spend succeeding weeks rushing from capital to capital explaining that one did not mean what one is supposed to have meant.
It is perfectly true that the Prime Minister may have brought a Summit Conference a little nearer, but he has also substantially reduced the British capacity to exercise any influence at that Summit Conference because of the misapprehensions which he has aroused among the Western Allies. I feel that the Prime Minister's attitude can be explained only if he regards the Western position as so bad, so hopeless, that we are confronted with a situation which involves either national suicide or the open surrender of our position in Berlin. I believe that this is based on a misreading of Mr. Khrushchev's intentions and that it is a misunderstanding of the West's fundamental political strength in Europe.
§ Mr. R. H. S. Crossman (Coventry, East)
Does my hon. Friend mean that there should be no British initiative of any kind except with prior consent given by Dr. Adenauer, General de Gaulle and the Americans?
§ Mr. Donnelly
No, I mean nothing of the kind, and if my hon. Friend will bear with me a little he will see what I mean.
I am saying that if we want a British initiative it must be a successful British initiative. That is the test of whether it is of any use. I am saying that the Prime Minister's handling of the situation, even supposing that his policy is right, was inept. That is what I am saying, and I say it because I believe that his handling of the situation will now achieve nothing because of the misapprehensions which he has aroused.
What, basically, are Mr. Khrushchev's aims? By that I mean not just what he has declared as the immediate, short-term proposals involving Berlin and Germany. The first thing which he is seeking to do is to arrive at a legalisation of Stalin's Empire in Europe. The truth is—and Mr. Khrushchev knows it, just as much as we know it—that there are very few Communists in any of the Eastern European Communist countries. He knows and we know that none of those Governments would survive for a week without Russian military support. He is seeking to bring about a Western signing on the dotted line to recognise these East European countries as permanent spheres of Russian influence. That is his first aim. His second aim, which is subsidiary, is the removal of the Western shop window in Berlin.
There is, however, a much larger Russian aim which we sometimes tend to forget and which sometimes is repeated in such platitudes that people do not recognise it for the threat that it is. It arises from the fact that in the long run a large proportion of the Russian regime firmly believe in world domination. They do not necessarily mean to achieve it by military means.
I do not think that anybody here is under any apprehension about Mr. Khrushchev's intentions in considering whether he means war or not. I think it is clear that he does not mean war, because he is fully conversant, just as we are, with the consequences of nuclear war 948 to the Russian revolution as well as to the Western capitalist system. The danger is that, as people have done before him, Mr. Khrushchev may blunder into war by a misreading of the Western intentions, and the duty of the Foreign Ministers' conference is to make these Western intentions so abundantly clear that there can be no doubt whatever in Mr. Khrushchev's mind as to where we stand.
In the formulation of any Western policy we have to answer four questions. We can have all the communiqués and all the nuances of words, but fundamentally it comes down to four questions. First, is an arbitrary attempt to change the Western position in Western Berlin to be regarded by the West as a casus belli? In short, do we fight for Berlin?
The second question is, if not, are we prepared to face the consequences of giving way? Does anybody here think that the collapse of the Western position in Berlin would not be followed, first, by the collapse of the Western position in Germany and then by its collapse in Europe?
Thirdly, if we decide to fight, if it comes to the point, with what do we fight? The hon. and gallant Member for Norwood talked about negotiating from strength. As any hon. Member knows who takes his mind for a moment off the hustings, which preoccupy us so much these days, the truth is that the defences of this country are worse today than they have been at any time in our history since Stanley Baldwin. We have practically no Air Force, and what we have is out of date. We have hardly any Navy, and what we have is out of date. What Navy we have is stretched to the limit with the fishery patrols around Iceland. The Russians have a vast submarine threat. We have hardly any Army which is effective, and what we have is grossly short of equipment. What we have are a few hydrogen bombs, with doubtful means of delivery. What it amounts to is suicide or surrender, because of the Government's present defence policy. Unfortunately that is outside the context of the debate except as an instrument of foreign policy.
§ Sir J. Smyth
The hon. Member is misquoting me. I referred to the deterrent. He cannot accuse me of seeking to argue that the British Army was a great deterrent to any Russian aggression. I have 949 never thought that for a moment. I was talking about the power of the deterrent to stop a global war.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I apologise to the hon. and gallant Member if I have misunderstood him. I hope that he will join me—because he has much greater military knowledge than I and he has a very distinguished war record—in firm strictures of the Government's defence policy. If we have only the deterrent and nothing else, that may be the surest way to a choice betwen national suicide and open surrender. If there were any limited conflagration, the only way in which we could keep it limited would be to have conventional forces available.
The fourth question which we have to answer is whether there is any other course, other than the three which I have mentioned. Is there any compromise? What would be the effect of any compromise not only on the Western position in Berlin but on the attitude of people in the East European Communist countries? We must weigh that. If there is no compromise on the issue of Berlin, what is the alternative which is open to us?
The first thing which we must do is to recognise that this coming Summit Conference is not likely to provide the panacea for all ills. Personally, I am not very hopeful about the outcome. There have been times when a Summit Conference might have been of great advantage to the West, but at the moment, with the change in personnel and the difficulty of arriving at a satisfactory interpretation of United States' policy, the West is in an extremely difficult position for any political operation of manoeuvreability. That makes it a good deal more difficult for us. Therefore, I do not think that we should pin too much faith on this Conference, although I agree with the Prime Minister that it should be one of a series.
Secondly, we must be clear in our minds that the perpetual crisis in Europe—because that is what it is—is basically not military but political. The fact that a Russian stares at an American over the River Elbe is not the reason for the crisis in Europe, nor would the problem necessarily be removed if they were removed. The problem of Europe stems from two things. One is the division of Germany and the second is the imposition by the Russians, by the advance of the Red Army, of alien Governments on the 950 peoples of Eastern Europe—Governments for which those people have no sympathy whatever and which, if they had the opportunity, they would pack lock, stock and barrel out of their countries.
We must state our position forcibly and clearly about East Germany. Here I think there is much to be said for the American position. It is only a limited, half-way house but it is a start. We should be saying that we do not recognise the Ulbricht regime, which is not representative of the East German people; it is a Government of Russian-sponsored Quislings and we have not the slightest intention of having any truck with it in any shape or form. Thirdly, we must be quite clear that we will not give way on Berlin—not an inch. We must be just as staunch today as the British Labour Government was in 1948.
If we do these things, then I do not think that Mr. Khrushchev will precipitate a crisis over Berlin, because he does not want war. He knows perfectly well that a positive and active Western propaganda campaign against the East German Government would severely damage the Ulbricht régime. He knows quite well that although he might make the position of West Berlin temporarily difficult, short of actually using war as an instrument of policy—which I do not believe for one moment he is prepared to use, provided that he is clear about our reactions to the situation—it is not within his power to prevent supplies from being sent to the Western military forces in Berlin. If we do not do these things, however, we shall face a very grave situation.
This is not 1939 all over again, as some people have suggested, but it could be 1938 if we capitulated over Berlin. The year 1938 was the year of Munich and we must remember that the year of 1939 followed. If we now take decisions which we do not like taking because we are frightened of the alternative, we shall be forced into a situation in which we shall have to make impossible gestures to retrieve the position. It has happened before. That situation could well happen again.
I therefore say that the negotiations which are beginning could be the most critical we have had. Provided that we keep our nerve and provided that we make our position clear, I have no doubt whatever that the danger will pass.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
I agree with a good deal said by the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), and I hope that the House will therefore forgive me if I begin by to some extent repeating what he said, because repetition is not, I think, vain when it comes from different sides of the House.
First, I agree with what he implied—I am not quite sure that he said it—that there is no evidence at all that Mr. Khrushchev is in any way frightened at the present, or is likely to be in the immediate future, of Western Germany. What Mr. Khrushchev plainly is frightened of is the break-up of the Communist Empire. I am always a little surprised that the anti-imperialists on the other side of the House are so very tender for that empire. In my guess—I do not think anyone else need pay very much attention to it, although I do not think it much worse than anybody else's—the Communist empire might very well begin to disintegrate if the connection and the mutual respectability of the West and Western Berlin are emphasised, continued and increased.
Very often we forget how important a part of the Communist empire are Eastern Germany and Poland: if one went, it would be very difficult to hold the other. We tend to forget how much of the industrial potential of the Communist empire is not Russian. We all tend to forget all the time—because we have been conscious of them for so long that we are not longer conscious of them—the series of steps by which we have implicitly and then explicitly, de facto and then to all intents and purpose de jure, acquiesced in the Russian annexation of this empire, first of the Baltic provinces—and I remember very well the struggles about that in the House and in this country, to some extent in public, and more in private in talking to Ministers. So it has gone on and on.
Western Berlin is now, in my judgment, in Mr. Khrushchev's judgment the great threat, the most immediate factor threatening the continuance of that empire. That is another way of saying, perhaps, that the reason why he wanted tension, and why he has made this crisis over West Berlin and has taken care to keep it hotted up from time to time, is to try 952 to legalise his breaches of the agreements, explicit and implicit, at Yalta and Potsdam; agreements, which, even if he had kept them, were, in my judgment at the time and now, disgraceful surrenders by the West. Now we are asked, after all these years—and we are asked really with no pretence that it is for any other reason than fear—fear either of defeat in war or fear of interference with our living standards—once again to put our seals to those surrenders.
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said, and I think that I got his words exactly, "We shall stop all tests at once." Then he went on to say, "in all circumstances." That is not verbatim, but he used an expression which was practically identical with that, perhaps even more all-embracing than "in all circumstances." That being so, I wholly fail to understand the hon. Member for Pembroke when he says that that declaration meant that we should stop all tests for a time, but, of course, with every intention of re-engaging in tests as soon as that might seem to us to be tactically or strategically advisable.
I think that we should have from the Front Bench opposite some explanation about that, because if now the Socialists are to tell us that as soon as they are on this side of the House—and they do not know when that may be—and whatever may be the condition of things then, the tests are to be stopped—and that was put wholly on grounds of what we might call absolutist moralism—it must be done, in all circumstances, the moment they get in. What, then, are the circumstances in which it should be done? And indeed, if the thing is to be done on a basis of absolutist moralism, what have circumstances to do with the case?
The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, whose morals are always superior, and generally absolutist, very seldom stops to explain them; he merely assumes and relies on them—
§ Mr. Paget
Perhaps I may put this to the hon. Gentleman. If the 1 per cent. of the American first strike got through, all the major cities of Russia would have disappeared and more than half of her population would have died. We do not know the precise figures of our capacity, but when 953 it does get to that sort of capacity, is not enough, enough? Why go on fouling the atmosphere?
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
I do not quite understand the relevance of that to the argument I was making, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) will no doubt make his own speech in his own time. About fouling the atmosphere, incidentally—and I ask the question not so much by way of argument but because if whoever is to wind up the debate on this side knows the answer—and very likely it is unknowable—I should like to know it.
Up to date, there has been a certain amount of harm done—by what might be called militarist radiation; radiation for military purposes—to the stratosphere and to the atmosphere, though how much harm, genetic or other, we do not know. But is it not possible that the attention which this process, and the talk about it, has drawn to the dangers of radiation, whether or not militarist, is it not at all possible that that attention has done more good in the way, for instance, of making Governments pay attention to wrist watches, X-rays, factory dustbins and so on? May it not be that, so far as the dangers from man-made radiation go, up to date, the addition of these dangers which is to the debit of the military may conceivably be less than the count upon the other, non-military, side? That, I am afraid, was drawn from me by the hon. and learned Gentleman, and is not strictly relevant to the other things I am tempted to say, though it is relevant to very much of the speech made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale.
I should like, if I might, to ask the House to consider very carefully before it accepts from the right hon. Gentleman or even from the hon. Member for Pembroke, without criticism, this assumption that there must be a summit meeting. I think that it is almost demonstrable that all summit meetings to date—going back at least to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, on which I was once something of an expert have done more harm than good—
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
One of the harms they do was, indeed, a little bit strengthened and aggravated by the hon. 954 Member for Pembroke. They tend to devaluate Foreign Secretaries, and that is a very bad result—
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
The hon. and learned Gentleman pops in and out. When he is in he is generally talking, and when he is talking it is generally facetious and often offensive, and he really should try to keep his mouth shut sometimes.
The devaluation of Foreign Secretaries, in general and as a class—whatever one may think of any individual Foreign Secretaries, and I could say a good deal about some Socialist Foreign Secretaries—is a very bad thing for systematic diplomacy. We have had a very great lesson in it lately. One of the things it has done is to make a great world figure of Mr. Khrushchev.
The world is, at the moment, a little short of great world figures. I have not quite come off. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) is past his very greatest—so is Mr. Dulles, and so is Mr. Eisenhower. The world is a bit short of great figures, and great world figures are of immense prestige value, especially to a great Power which itself does not need to fear public opinion.
We have given Mr. Khrushchev a platform, and last time he went to Geneva he no doubt convinced himself that he was a better man, in some respects, than President Eisenhower, and he no doubt convinced himself that whatever he did in the Middle East we would not react. Incidentally, Nehru caused Mao Tse Tung to come to a very similar opinion.
I do not want to go too much into the history of these conferences, but at least it is arguable that so far they have done more harm than good. Incidentally, first of all to denigrate one's Foreign Secretary as much as one dares—and far beyond any reasonable necessities of party controversy—and then to send him into the Foreign Ministers' conference and say, "It must be a success," is really putting a button the size of a bread platter on our man's foil while taking the buttons off the foils of the other men. The House should think twice before doing that.
There was one very remarkable thing that the right hon. Member for Ebbw 955 Vale did not say today. He did not say that anybody was adolescent or immature, and he did not go on to say that only the adolescent and the immature took Communism seriously. In two or three of his speeches we have heard about the adolescence and immaturity of hon. Members on these benches who went on taking seriously the ritual, almost theological chants, coming from the Communist world and have been told how Russian Communism does not really mean all that but that the Communist must go through those ritual chants just as the right hon. Gentleman—I was about to say just as the right hon. Gentleman goes through the hymns when he goes to chapel, but I do not know whether he goes to chapel; though I am sure, if he does, he takes the hymns seriously. He used to say that we on this side of the House naively take it for granted that the Russian Communists take these things seriously. He did not today.
He now says that no one now dares suggest that a re-united Germany should be allowed to reinforce the West. Does not anyone now dare to suggest it? If no one now dares suggest it, what is to happen to the defence of Western Europe? What is to happen to wars for liberty and wars for justice? If Russia is so powerful now—and there can be no other reason why one should not dare to suggest it—why are the Germans the only men in the world who are not to be allowed to govern themselves and, if they choose, to defend themselves and to find allies to help them? Why?
Why did the right hon. Gentleman, who, I remember, once explained that he would not fight in that war—I forget which one; he would choose his own war to fight in; and it is about time he chose one, or he will be in bad shape for it—why did he say that no one would now dare to suggest that the proper solution is not the status quo, in the true old sense of status quo—that Berlin should be, once again, the capital of a State defending itself, if it wishes, with its Allies? Because the right hon. Gentleman thinks that Russia is too powerful. That is why. It may be true. It may be that we have all to acquiesce in it, but I do not think that we should, as moralists, declare it in the manner, and in quite the language in which he declared it.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
The hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) made what I thought was quite a logical point again my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), and the point was also made, I believe, by the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth). I do not believe that we can end nuclear tests without logically abandoning the whole strategy of nuclear warfare.
If a Labour Government were in the place of the present Government, those of us who hold what is called the pacifist point of view would naturally argue, "If you abandon nuclear tests, the time has come when you have to abandon production of hydrogen bombs and the whole strategy of nuclear warfare." Although that is supposed to be the point of view of a small minority below the Gangway, I believe that it is becoming widely held outside.
We have such things as the Aldermaston marchers—young people trying to express a point of view that is not expressed at any time now by the leaders of the orthodox parties. Let the leaders of the orthodox parties realise that this emotion or idea exists and that it is essentially a challenge to conventional views on foreign policy.
Apart from that, I found very little in the points made by the supporters of the Government. They have scored, perhaps, a tactical point against my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale, but they have not done much to enlighten us on what their positive international policy is for getting out of the present international dilemma.
That it is an international dilemma has been shown clearly by the recent speech of Field Marshal Lord Montgomery to the Press Gallery of the House. I do not very often agree with Feld Marshal Montgomery. However, he stressed that some new approach is needed in our foreign policy and that, after two world wars and a long period of diplomatic negotiation, the younger generation are being left with what Field Marshal Montgomery said, not very politely, was a dog's breakfast. That, in colloquial language, just about sums up where we are at present. Lord Montgomery sees himself in the tunnel wanting to find what light there is at the end of the tunnel.
957 I believe that in this rather unorthodox approach to the present international policy Lord Montgomery was expressing in his own way very much the same point of view as the young people who joined in the Aldermaston marches.
I should like to say a few words about the Prime Minister's visit to the Soviet Union, the reactions of the Soviet Union to the Prime Minister and the reactions of the Prime Minister to the Soviet Union. I followed the Prime Minister as a journalist and as a spectator. I found it very interesting indeed. I wondered what had come over the Prime Minister, because the speeches that he made at Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev were so much better than the speeches I have heard him deliver in the House. I have heard the Prime Minister deliver most of his great speeches during the last ten or twelve years. I always had the impression that the Prime Minister was a very good conventional debater of the old-fashioned style, that he could roll out the platitudes fried up with midnight oil and that he could put up a commendable winding-up performance in a debate to rouse his audience to great enthusiasm. I did not like that side of the Prime Minister, but in recent years since he has become Prime Minister I have seen a thoughtful side to him. I have not given up hope for him.
After having listened to the Prime Minister in the Soviet Union, my opinion of him has risen. The only thing which I want the Prime Minister to do is to carry the statements and utterances he made in the Soviet Union to their logical conclusion, which is a complete change in the foreign policy of this country.
The Foreign Secretary is going to this conference. I understand that we are all waiting to give the right hon. and learned Gentleman hints on how to make it a success. I want to give him some. I do not suppose that he will take them.
I want to start off with a suggestion to the Foreign Secretary made by the Prime Minister himself. Soon after he became Prime Minister he delivered a broadcast speech to the nation in which he tried to define the first essentials in what should be a sensible and realistic foreign policy. Speaking over the wireless on 4th January, 1958, the right hon. Gentleman said: 958We could start by a solemn pact of nonaggression. This has been done before. It would do no harm. It might do good.I listened very attentively today to the speech of the Foreign Secretary. I did not hear any mention of the non-aggression pact. Why not? Has the Prime Minister forgotten this first essential of what was to be his new foreign policy? In Moscow, so we were told, Mr. Khrushchev made a speech in which he said that he was in favour of a nonaggression pact. Why did not the Prime Minister respond to it, because the Prime Minister called not only for a nonaggression pact, but for "a solemn pact of non-aggression". "A solemn pact of non-aggression" is presumably a phrase which would be blessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
What has become of the solemn nonaggression pact? It has been taken up by Mr. Khrushchev. I heard Mr. Khrushchev at the reception at the Kremlin say that he was in favour of a non-aggression pact. I heard him say. also, that he was in favour of a nonaggression pact, not only for twenty years but for fifty years.
I thought that I had heard that before. Then I remembered that the idea of a non-aggression pact was elaborated in this House by Mr. Ernest Bevin in 1946. I remember his speech very well, and hon. Members will remember it too. Mr. Bevin then said that he was prepared not only to extend the twenty years' nonaggression pact of friendship with the Soviet Union but to offer the Russians a fifty years' non-aggression pact and that he had offered that to Stalin and that Stalin had refused.
Now, in 1959, Mr. Khrushchev says to the Foreign Secretary and to the Prime Minister that he is prepared to agree to the non-aggression pact suggested by the Prime Minister in January of last year which was a fundamental part of British foreign policy in 1946.
Therefore, I want to know what could be the real objection of the Foreign Secretary to the non-aggression pact advocated by the Prime Minister. It is not anything that was advocated by the Front Bench of the Labour Party. The non-aggression pact was advocated by the Prime Minister as an essential part of British foreign policy. What has happened to it? Can it be that there was 959 a veto by Dr. Adenauer or by General de Gaulle or in Washington? If the Russians veto anything, it is all wrong, but if our Allies veto it the Government suddenly decide to change their mind and to abandon what should be a fundamental part of their foreign policy.
I am in favour of the non-aggression pact. I agree with the Prime Minister and I agree with Mr. Khrushchev. I wonder what will be said in reply. At the end of the debate today, will we be told the reasons why the Government have gone back on the non-aggression pact?
§ Mr. Hughes
That is a matter of historical interest. My hon. and learned Friend can deal with that point when he gets an opportunity. I am not arguing with him at the moment. I am following up the point made by the Prime Minister. Of course, we can argue about our own wars. Have we ever had any war in which we did not solemnly break treaties? If we go back into history we find that our record is not much better than that of the Soviet Union. I will leave my hon. and learned Friend to pursue that point later.
I suggest that when Mr. Khrushchev agrees with the non-aggression pact which the Prime Minister has advocated in a broadcast appeal to the nation, it should at least be acted upon by the Foreign Secretary at the Foreign Ministers' conference. If what the Prime Minister said in the Soviet Union means anything, if the platitudes are going to crystallise into any expression of foreign policy, there should be very little difficulty.
I heard the Prime Minister, for example, give an address at Moscow University. There he had a typewritten speech, and it was a very good speech. He made two other speeches as well, which were more informal and for which he did not have any script. They grew better and better as he went on. There he paid a tribute to the rising generation in the Soviet Union. He paid tribute to the 960 far-sighted statesmanship of the people who had created this great university. Surely, if we wish the young generation of Russia success in the future it is curious if we cannot go so far as to say, "We will suspend hydrogen bomb tests", whose only purpose can be to wipe out the university, the Soviet Union and the generations to come. If the Prime Minister's speech to those students was sincere, it must be followed up by a complete change of foreign policy.
I heard the Prime Minister speak at a collective farm in the Ukraine and there he wished the collective farmers success. He went through the crowd at Kiev shouting "[...]"—"I wish you success". Of course, Mr. Randolph Churchill was there too, but he did not do anything of the kind. He was made of sterner stuff; he did not wish them success. When the Prime Minister talks to the farmers on a collective farm and wishes them success, surely there is something inconsistent in preparing a hydrogen bomb war in order to wipe them out. There is something radically wrong in being prepared to use bacteria to destroy their crops, in connection with which preparations are being carried out by the Defence Ministry at the present time.
At Kiev the Prime Minister understood the very bitter feeling that still remains in the minds of the people of the Ukraine, the fear that the same sort of invasion that demolished their collective farm before will happen again. If the Prime Minister wishes the Ukraine to have peace and the collective farms to develop and flourish, surely he should be taking a much more radical view of the whole question of Germany at present. Whether we like it or not—it may be psychopathic or xenophobic, or something of the kind—the fact remains that there is this fear of another advance into the Ukraine. The Russians fear another advance such as has happened twice in a generation, and they want to have some kind of rearrangement which will result in Germany not becoming a great aggressive military Power again.
I heard the Prime Minister speak at the Naval College, in Leningrad. He wished the Naval College success, too. I have heard reference in naval debates to 500 submarines. I wondered at what 961 point the Prime Minister would ask, "Why are you building 500 submarines?" Perhaps he did; I do not know. I know the answer, because I asked some of the naval officers there, and they said, "We are building 500 submarines in order to sink the aircraft carriers that you are building."
I have no objection and no criticism to make of the personal attempts by the Prime Minister to ease tension and to bring about better relations between ourselves and the Soviet Union. What 1 want to see is these very good platitudes crystallised into a foreign policy which could end the present tension between ourselves and the Soviet Union. I believe it could be done if the Foreign Secretary talked to the Russians in the language they understand.
The Prime Minister wished the seven-year plan of the Soviet Union every success. He used extravagant language about it which hon. Members opposite would have laughed at if I had used such language in a speech in this House. He talked about the great constructive efforts of the Soviet Union leading to the promised land. I never heard Willie Gallacher make a speech in this House so enthusiastically about the Soviet Union as I heard the Prime Minister deliver at the British Embassy in Moscow.
The Russians are thinking in terms of long-term planning. They do not want another war because it would interfere with their plans for building up the economy of the Soviet Union which will surpass the economy of United States of America. They do not want a war. If the Foreign Secretary went to this conference and were to say, "Your seven-year plan is not going far enough. What we need is a ten-year plan for the re-organisation of industry right throughout the world for the purpose of feeding the hungry people, by which the energies of men now wasting their time in uniform could be diversified into productive industry for raising the standard of life of people all over the world", Mr. Khrushchev would be faced with an argument which he could not answer.
If we are to avoid the dilemma of both side committing suicide in the interests of security, we have to think in terms of the future of the world. I believe that in every country people are realising the stupidity of spending such an enormous
962 amount of money, hundred and thousands of millions of pounds, billions of roubles and millions of dollars every year, on the assumption that this is a deterrent, when in truth nothing will come of it. I believe that if the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, under the auspices of the United Nations, outlined a ten-year peace plan for raising the standard of life of every continent in the world, it would meet with a response. The Soviet Union could not oppose it, because it is in line with its own economic philosophy.
We have heard in this debate a good deal about Berlin and about "fighting for Berlin". I do not know what the people of Berlin think about people who talk about "fighting for Berlin". I have seen a good deal of Berlin during the last ten years, and I have watched with great interest and admiration the building up of West Berlin out of the shambles and ruins of the last war.
When we talk about Berlin, I wonder if we ever stop to think who made the shambles of West Berlin and East Berlin. Who was in favour of bombing Berlin to bits between 1941 and 1945? We almost forget that every night during the last period of the war the huge blockbusters dropped on Berlin were dropped by the British Air Force and the American Air Force, by the Allies who pretend that they are so interested in the people of Berlin at the present time. If we are so interested in the future of Berlin, we should welcome any settlement which would clear out the Russians and clear out the soldiers of every nationality.
Supposing that the situation about Berlin developed and the Russians moved into Berlin, supposing that Berlin became the G.H.Q. of the Russian high command do we think that we should not, according to the strategic ideas of the American generals, drop hydrogen bombs on Berlin? I want to see the Russians out of Berlin and out of Germany, but I believe that can only come through negotiations and not with threats of either conventional or unconventional war. I do not believe that the people of Berlin, who are saturated, sated and sick of propaganda from both sides, want to see Berlin become the centre of another world conflict.
This is only part of the German problem. We have become aware of a lot of new thinking about Eastern Germany 963 and Berlin during the last few years. How did the Russians come into East Germany? They came largely as a result of a policy of unconditional surrender. At one time, in the last stages of the war, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) sent a special personal message to Stalin begging the Red Army to march into Eastern Europe, and as a result of this policy of unconditional surrender we have the present very difficult situation in Berlin and in Eastern Germany.
I believe that we have to get a complete, sudden and dramatic change in ideas. Things are moving too rapidly in the world for the slow motion diplomacy to which we have been accustomed over generations. The time has come when we have to get a new alignment, new ideas and a new imaginative approach to foreign policy or we shall drift willingly or unwillingly into a tragedy of suicidal war.
I welcome the Prime Minister's visit to the Soviet Union because it did, to some extent, help to relieve tension in Europe. I believe that it was motivated by good intention, but we know where the road which is paved only with good intentions leads. We need to follow up the contacts which the Prime Minister has made with the leaders of the Soviet Union with a new and definite line of foreign policy by repudiating the atom bomb tests, repudiating the whole strategy of nuclear war and offering as Lord Montgomery has said, new hope to the youth of today in the hope that there will be some light at the end of the tunnel.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the rather tortuous corridors of his historical research to which he treated the House a little earlier. I want to intervene only briefly in the debate because of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and the very forceful way in which he became, not for the first time, the great protagonist of the theory of disengagement.
I want to make a few observations on what I believe to be the fallacy of the 964 theory of disengagement in the hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) will say something about that when he winds up the debate for his party. I should like to congratulate him on finding a place on the Front Bench in this debate. So long as he never occupies that place on this side of the House, I shall be very happy.
I have always thought that of all the attempts which the Soviet Union has made in the last ten years to break up N.A.T.O., the disengagement offer in its various forms was by far the most dangerous because it was by far the most superficially attractive. That is perhaps why the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues have fallen for it. It was, of course, first put forward by Rapacki.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
The theory was Rapacki's. Do not let us argue the authorship of it. If I may read from the attractive party document The Future Labour Offers You, there can be no dispute about authorship of that. It boils down, into a sentence or two, what the right hon. Gentleman said earlier:Labour will propose the establishment of a neutral zone consisting of East and West Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Inside this zone, armaments would be reduced, nuclear weapons banned, foreign forces—Russian and N.A.T.O.—withdrawn. The freedom and security of the area would be guaranteed by all the Powers concerned.So far, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not in disagreement with what I have read out. The theory is very easy. But when we come to look into it, it is not surprising that the Government of no single country which is a member of N.A.T.O. is very much in favour of it.
My first objection to the Labour Party's theory of disengagement is that it does not bring with it, as I think the right hon. Gentleman used to think, any political disengagement—none whatever. It has been made perfectly clear by events in Budapest, and since, that any satellite country which attempted to choose freedom would be very roughly handled in a very short time by Soviet forces. There could be no possible question of the Soviet Union withdrawing its troops from Eastern Germany or other satellite country in Eastern Europe unless it was quite certain that it was leaving behind a Government of a completely pro-Communist and pro-Soviet nature. Secondly, if there 965 were any danger of any kind of internal revolt in a satellite country the Soviet Union would take very swift, remedial action of a very forceful sort.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman how he believes, if his theory of disengagement came about, that Great Britain, along with the other N.A.T.O. countries, could guarantee the freedom and the security of Hungary or Poland or of Eastern Germany. Let us suppose that there were to be an attempted revolt in any of those three countries and that for two or three days Budapest or Warsaw or some other town were in the hands of what the Soviet would call rebels. Let us suppose that Soviet troops came in and suppressed them with military force. That, of course, would be a breach of the joint guarantee, a breach of the guarantee of freedom and security.
How do we deal with that? We should be faced with the awkward dilemma, the worst dilemma of all, of having either to accept a coup or resorting to the ultimate nuclear deterrent—all or nothing.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
If the right hon. Gentleman will forgive my saying so, we are not now guaranteeing the freedom and security of Hungary, Poland or Eastern Germany. My criticism of the Opposition in their offer of disengagement is that they are suggesting that Britain, together with the N.A.T.O. Allies, should undertake a fresh commitment which, if my argument is right, cannot be fulfilled. That is my second objection.
Thirdly, of course, the people in the Western Zone of Berlin would not at all care to be abandoned in this way. They would see themselves as being alone on an island, in one section of Berlin, completely surrounded by others under Communist control. They would certainly accuse us of abandoning them.
But the most powerful objection of all seems to be this. If the N.A.T.O. forces are to leave Western Germany in return for Soviet forces leaving Eastern Germany and one or two other satellites, it follows as surely as night follows day that Western German territory would be denied to N.A.T.O. for the purposes of Western European defence. In modern warfare, with modern weapons which call for as much depth as possible, with the need for early radar warnings, and so on, 966 this would render the defence of Western Europe impracticable.
I am not an expert on these things; I do not pretend to be, but I have never met anyone connected with defence in Western Europe, either military or civil, who for a moment thought that it was possible to defend Western Europe without using Western German territory.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that not only Air Marshal Sir John Slessor but, recently, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery himself, who was Deputy Supreme Allied Commander at N.A.T.O., have both advanced proposals which are identical in their military aspect with the proposals for disengagement which the Labour Party supports.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I am aware that Air Marshal Sir John Slessor has spoken on comparable lines, though he has not gone into so much detail. I do not know what Field Marshal Lord Montgomery's detailed ideas are. If they are exactly the same as the Labour Party's, I apologise for doing him an injustice. I rather doubt if they are. But no one with any responsibility at the moment at S.H.A.P.E. for the defence of Europe—certainly none of the Prime Ministers or Ministers of Defence of the N.A.T.O. countries—would look at disengagement on the lines proposed by the Labour Party; and they have said so.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
—came over here, in an open lecture—there was nothing secret about it—and expressed his view, as he is quite entitled to do.
§ Mr. Bevan
The hon. Gentleman knows very well that it is a tradition in Great Britain that active soldiers do not express comments in public on the 967 political policies of Governments. They can do so when they retire, but not when they are acting. General Norstad's statement caused general resentment in Britain.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I think that the right hon. Gentleman's resentment towards high ranking serving officers varies in inverse ratio to whether they happen to disagree with his views.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
If it should happen that the N.A.T.O. forces withdrew from Western German territory, then, of course another question arises. I do not know whether American troops would stay in Europe in those circumstances. I have a feeling that, if they could not use Western German territory, there might be pressure from certain quarters in America not to leave them in France, but to bring them back to the United States altogether. If that were to happen, that would look very much like the beginning of the break-up of N.A.T.O., which is the one thing, as I said before, which the Soviet Union has been trying to achieve, hitherto unsuccessfully, for the last ten years.
I know that it will be argued that, by some accident or miscalculation, or by somebody being rather trigger-happy, the forces close to one another might spark off a delicate incident. I very much doubt whether that argument can really be sustained, provided that the political control is effective. It has always seemed to me that the very fact that one has now a clearly defined dividing line between East and West, whether it be in Berlin itself or elsewhere, and that the dangers of putting one foot across it are well known is in itself a safeguard against any miscalculation.
Will the same safeguard exist if we form a buffer State or series of buffer States, which is what the Opposition want to do by disengagement, and we leave unresolved within those buffer States the very causes of friction which have made N.A.T.O. necessary? The right hon. Gentleman's offer of disengagement leaves completely untouched the problem of the unification of Germany. It leaves completely untouched and completely ignores—
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to finish my sentence?
It leaves completely untouched the problem of the unification of Germany, and the fact that it is not the presence of troops close to each other in Europe which is creating the tension. What is and has been creating the tension ever since the end of the war is the behaviour of the Soviet Union and the political tension which the Russians themselves have created in the satellites and elsewhere.
§ Mr. Bevan
If I had sat here without interrupting the hon. Gentleman, I should have been accused afterwards of accepting the nonsense which he has just been putting to the House. If the hon. Gentleman had done me the honour of listening to my speech this afternoon he would have heard me say that I considered that the solution of the Berlin problem and of the German problem consisted in the reunification of Germany in an area of disengagement guaranteed by the great Powers, with the Soviet Union. It is really most improper, therefore, for the hon. Gentleman to suggest that I made no reference at all to the reunification of Germany in my speech.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
Is the right hon. Gentleman now trying to claim that his earlier references to disengagement, together with the pamphlet from which I read and the speech he made this afternoon and other speeches which he and his colleagues have made before now, all presuppose and, indeed, insist upon the reunification of Germany preceding disengagement?
§ Mr. Bevan
We have said over and over again that this operation must proceed in different stages. We have said—I said it this afternoon—that, in our opinion, a satisfactory solution of the Berlin problem could be found only in the context of a wider European settlement, a final stage of which would be the reunification of Germany.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
But if full disengagement is to precede, as it must, according to the right hon. Gentleman's speech—
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
—the reunification of Germany, all the dangers I have tried to indicate this afternoon, all the difficulties and disadvantages of creating a vacuum, all the uncertainties in that ill-defined area and all the guarantees which the right hon. Gentleman is anxious that his party, if it ever came to power, should undertake, will exist, and every one of the arguments I have been insisting on will apply just as strongly as they did before he sought to interrupt me.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) will, I am sure, have plenty of time to make his point. I have one or two other things which I wish to say now.
Throughout the speech of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale there ran, not for the first time, the theme that any suggestion for the rearming of Western Germany was rather distasteful and, in certain quarters, was thought to be rather dangerous, in view of past history. Of course, I understand that point of view. The memory of two world wars has not been completely obliterated, and we all understand that. One understands that certain dangers or doubts must be in any Englishman's mind about the rearming of Western Germany, but the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale was less than fair because he never mentioned the fact that Eastern Germany was already armed.
Why does the right hon. Gentleman always concentrate on Western Germany? If he thinks that the rearming of Western Germany is a menace to the peace of Western Europe, does he think that it is more dangerous, or safer, for a rearmed Western Germany to be interlocked inside N.A.T.O. or outside? If he wants to leave Western Germany outside N.A.T.O., how will he guarantee that she remains disarmed?
§ 7.12 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
This must have been a rather gloomy debate for the Government. The last five Members who addressed the House, three of whom were members of the Government party, were all pessimistic about the prospects of any 970 progress at any meeting with the Russians. Indeed, the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) deployed a lot of arguments which, if they were accepted, would destroy the proposals made by his own Prime Minister.
The Prime Minister has proposed a thinning-out of arms in Central Europe, with some form of inspection to go with it. That would lead to exactly the dangers that the hon. Member seems to fear. Furthermore, if we begin thinning out in Western Europe we will get to the point at which the Russians will have a heavy preponderance of arms. If we reach that point, there is a lot to be said for disengagement in a wider sense.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
There is all the difference in the world between thinning out under inspection and a withdrawal. The disengagement theory presupposes a withdrawal of the N.A.T.O. forces from Western Germany, and a withdrawal of the Soviet forces from Eastern Europe. That is not thinning out.
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree. If we thin out the N.A.T.O. forces much further we will need a telescope to see one man from another. I should like to see the Russian forces permanently withdrawn from Eastern Europe, with freedom of inspection to keep them out. I do not think that there is a chance of doing that, but I should like to see it done.
I am one of those who does not think that we can hope for great things from one summit meeting. The arguments which have been put forward in the House from time to time, notably by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), are very persuasive, but I am in favour of continual negotiations with the Russians at different levels on any business which might yield a profit to both sides. I think that there is a profit to be gained from certain types of business.
Our experience of previous summit meetings between even bourgeoise statesmen has been rather distressing. A meeting between statesmen of the free world and Communist statesmen will not, by a curious twist of the wrist, dissolve the disagreements which divide the Eastern and Western world. International politics, even before the present era, have always been rather nasty, brutish and obscure.
971 I do not hold the view that things are made easier by the development of nuclear arms. I am not one of those who takes the view that the piling up of 'nuclear arms, lessens the likelihood of war. It is a dangerous doctrine and one which we should be chary of embracing. But what makes negotiations particularly difficult is that one-third of the world is represented by people who are Communists. It may be difficult to assess their motives and I do not disagree with what, I think, was suggested by the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), that they deviate occasionally from their Communist doctrines; but there is no reason to suppose that Mr. Khrushchev is not a believing Communist. If so, he believes that the only justification for any policy is its historical success. That is the doctrine of Communism and in his eyes Communism is bound to succeed.
We made a mistake over the denigration of Stalin. I do not believe that his death and dishonour meant any change in the beliefs of Communism. Stalin was by no means the first Communist leader to be repudiated, nor will he be the last. Scapegoats have always been found in the Communist Party, and this driving-out of well-known Communists, alive or dead, with all the sins of the party on their shoulders, is a well-known technique. I do not think that there has been a fundamental change in Communist beliefs. The Russian leaders are frozen in beliefs which, though out of date, are still powerful ones.
Even if we assume, as I think we must, that the nature of Communism dominates the Russian mind, from time to time there are matters on which we can do business with them. It is important that the West should lean up against them diplomatically all the time, take advantage of any opportunities where our interests coincide, and be in a position to take advantage of any change from pure local Communism. It is possible to do business over disarmament. The statement by Mr. Khrushchev that he agrees with the Prime Minister's suggestion may be a stalling move. I do not know, but there are signs that the Russians want to negotiate on stopping nuclear tests and we ought to do our best to meet them.
I am a little puzzled by the position of the Labour Party. While I welcome 972 its statements that it would not go on with nuclear tests, so long as its foreign policy depends on this country making these weapons, and being prepared to use them, we can only give up tests for a very short time, and the effect of the gesture would be much reduced.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is it not a fact that the Liberal Party has also agreed to the abandonment of atom tests?
§ Mr. Grimond
Certainly. But we do not think that this country should go on making bombs. Last time I got on to this subject there was a round-table meeting that went on for an hour and I do not propose to be involved in that now.
There is another part of the world where it is possible to do business, and that is the Middle East. I am sure that the Russians or the Communists do not want to go on supplying Egypt with arms, and that we do not want to go on supplying Iraq. Instead of building up a balance of arms in the Middle East, we might make proposals for stopping the flow of arms to the Arab countries.
The main matter before us, however, is that of the Russian threat to Berlin. Because I am one of those who think that it is possible to do business with the Russians, and that we ought to try to negotiate with them, it is particularly important for me to say that in my view the distress and danger in Europe is entirely of Russian creation. In any forthcoming conversations we should not be led into the position of appearing as suppliants and wrongdoers. It is the Russians who are in the wrong, politically or legally. In spite of that, I take the view that it would be of advantage to get agreement on disengagement in Eastern Europe.
I favour negotiations for three reasons. First, we must stop the endless competition in arms. I am not a supporter of the "balance of terror" doctrine. We may have a balance for a time, but it is certain to be upset. So long as there are political disagreements behind it—and I agree with the hon. Member for Windsor that political disagreements are the important things—the time will come when one side or the other upsets the balance and the two sides find themselves at war.
973 I believe that if we could have even a small degree of disengagement in Europe, from this ripple of disarmament we might get a much bigger wave which fans out into a general movement of disarmament of all kinds. I agree, however, that disengagement must come slowly and be accompanied by inspection, probably by the United Nations.
Secondly, I consider it very important to make proposals for disengagement because we want to find out what the Russians are thinking. We do not want to give the impression that the West is always on the defensive. The great service which the Prime Minister has done is, at least at the lowest level of public relations, to give the impression that the West has some proposals to make and initiative to take, and I would be very sorry to see that position lost.
Thirdly, I return to what I said at the beginning, that with all the dangers, as dangers, of course, there are, I cannot help thinking that it would be a great success and a tremendous benefit if the Russians would go back behind their own frontier. That would, of course, leave political problems, but I believe that if the Russians would do that we could look forward to the time when there came a gradual change in the régimes in Eastern Europe and we got away from Communist domination.
What are the dangers about this? There is, for example, what is called the vacuum danger, which was skilfully deployed in our last debate by the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). Although it is, of course, a danger, it should be borne in mind that the Foreign Secretary himself, as I understand, is prepared to face a vacuum in Eastern Germany and does not seem to be very frightened about it. Secondly, there would be inspection, and, thirdly, there would be West German and, no doubt, Czech and Polish local troops left in their countries, even if the Americans and other N.A.T.O. forces had withdrawn behind the Rhine, where I would be quite content to see them if the Rusians were behind their frontier.
Then there is the argument that the Russians would come back. It was referred to today by the hon. Member for Windsor, who quoted Hungary. I do not want to get involved in the dispute about the Hungarian matter except to 974 say that it took place at a very unfortunate moment for the Western world. I do not believe that if the Russians went right back, they would come forward again as easily as the hon. Member thinks, especially if there is an inspectorate on the ground.
These are my reasons for saying that. It may be that the Russians are very much concerned at the moment with building up their economy inside Russia. As they have got most of their economic advantage from the Eastern Europe satellites and, as I believe, those satellites are becoming a political liability to the Russians, we may be reaching a point at which the Russians are not unwilling to make some withdrawal if they could save their face in the process and if they could get the N.A.T.O. forces back behind the Rhine. Furthermore, it is quite conceivable that the Russians are getting rather alarmed about China and that they do not want to have their right hand tied down in Europe when they will need all their resources to deal with the rising strength of China.
Then there is the question of defence, to which the hon. Member for Windsor referred. It may be that we would need early warning systems, and so on, within the zone and the Russians might have the same, but anyone who reads the writings of Field Marshal Montgomery, Air Marshal Slessor, or General Gavin gets the impression that the whole defence picture is changing so rapidly and the installations are being pushed back further and further— General Gavin, in fact, now talks about airborne cavalry and the like, based in Africa—that the immediate holding of troops in the middle of Europe may become much less important.
The last argument against disengagement is that the United States would withdraw. If she withdrew, what would be her reason for doing so? Would it be out of mere pique, or out of a feeling that the defence of Europe no longer mattered? I do not see why America should withdraw. It would be greatly to her advantage in many ways if a settlement were come to in Central Europe.
I think it extremely unlikely, however, that Russia would agree to anything like this, not that that is an argument against putting the proposal forward to get her to show her hand. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that Russia would agree to this 975 unless she were faced with great preoccupations as a result of the growth of China and by her absorption with her own internal affairs. But certainly this is the sort of proposal that we should put forward so that we may ascertain Russia's reaction.
What has not been mentioned much in this debate is that the whole of the situation is being vitally affected by developments in Western Europe itself. We must be careful that we do not assume that nothing has changed. In fact, the failure of the Free Trade Area and the growth of European unity around the Common Market is extremely important politically as well as economically. It can be argued, as it has been, that it will make the unification of Germany, for example, and the withdrawal of the Russians from Central and Eastern Europe much more difficult. That could be so and it is a real dilemma which we have to face.
Dr. Adenauer is, I am sure, convinced, like Mr. Khrushchev, that the division of Germany is the best thing that he can hope for in his lifetime. He certainly wants Western Germany to be built into the Western European system. It is becoming popular to paint Dr. Adenauer as a silly, reactionary, obstinate old man, clinging to an out-of-date position. It should not be forgotten, however, that, from our point of view, he has several advantages. He is both democratic and effective, and this is an unusual combination in modern German statesmen. He is predictable and he appears genuinely to like being locked in the embrace of the Western democracies.
These are not negligible factors in Germany in my lifetime. When Dr. Adenauer has gone, we may well come back to look upon his regime with considerable nostalgia. There are some fairly tough gentlemen coming up to the surface in German politics and they might be a lot more difficult to deal with than the future President.
Before Dr. Adenauer goes, we should make another and strong attempt to get back ourselves into the united Europe movement and to get a position in Western Europe in which we can exercise some real influence over this important movement for greater European unity. I know that there are people in Germany, for instance, who do not like to be linked 976 too closely with France, as they fear that it might be at the expense of the British connection. We should not, however, have to face them with this dilemma. It should be possible for the whole of the Western European peoples to work together.
If we did that, would we be making any rapprochement with Russia more difficult? There is no need for us to do that. To begin with, it is hoping for too much to suppose that at present we will get either a reunited Germany or an Eastern Germany which is closely linked economically with the Western world. For one thing, a lot of the trade of East Germany has always been towards the East. Secondly, the Communist system is now very well established, and, thirdly, I am not at all sure that this is something on which we need necessarily lay great strength at the moment.
Nor do I think that in the first stage it is at all necessary to raise the question of formal recognition of East Germany. This is anathema to Western Germany, because it means that we would be accepting the division of Germany for ever. In the meantime, however, so long as we do not have formal recognition, all sorts of contacts are growing up between East and West Germany on a practical basis and we should encourage these without trying to get them on to too much of a legalistic basis.
For our part, we must get away from the defeatist attitude, which seems to be much more prevalent among the Right in Europe than among the Left, that Western Europe is in a very weak position and that unless she is bolstered up with American troops right up to the Elbe, N.A.T.O. and everything else will collapse.
Why should that be? Western Europe is potentially immensely powerful economically. I am all for the American alliance and all in favour of keeping N.A.T.O., although, possibly, turning it rather in a political direction; but the idea that Western Europe can do nothing if there is the slightest possibility of the Americans withdrawing from Europe seems to me to be defeatist.
What I am not quite clear about is the proposal for thinning out the troops. I hope that at the end of the debate the Minister of State will say a little more 977 about this and how it will affect the situation in Berlin. Is it to be part of a package deal? How far is the thinning out to go, what type of inspection is envisaged, and so on? I cannot see that the Government would be giving away a great deal if we were given a little more information on this subject.
This brings me to the question of West Berlin. The danger in West Berlin is not that the Russians will attack it, but that it will wither away. Capital will pull out. The man who has a business there will not put his son into it. The Siemens works will not get orders, or if it does the cost will be so great that it will not be able to carry them out. We must face lack of confidence gradually growing and possibly an economic stranglehold being put upon it. The situation is very difficult. The situation is not solved by brave statements saying, "We shall not desert the West Berliners". There is not an easy solution to this problem, but that is not a reason for not trying to make a real effort towards disengagement, with all its risks.
Another possibility which should be examined very closely is not so much making the whole of Berlin, including East Berlin, into a sort of United Nations city, though there is something to be said for that, but associating the United Nations in certain ways with the Berlin situation. I remember the history of Danzig and I know that this will not take the place of the protection of the West Berliners, but if a United Nations agency were set up, with United Nations control posts on the roads, the position may be stabilised until we can get a long-term treaty, if we are to get one.
Surely the ultimate aim of Western policy should be to get a rapprochement between the United States and the Russians, and in this process Europe may have to make what may appear to be considerable sacrifices. She will be able to make considerable sacrifices only if she feels confident of herself. This is the basic reason for encouraging European unity so that she will not feel a very inferior Power and will not resent being left to herself by the United States and Russia. I do not think that the Foreign Secretary was right, at least in tone, when he fiercely repudiated the idea of Russian-American direct negotiations. I do not say that they are ideal at the moment, 978 but at some point they ought to come and they may be to our advantage.
The Foreign Secretary, with all his disadvantages, which are often pointed out, has one or two advantages. He does not believe that he is God. He has no Messianic complex. I hope that there will not be any question of a Messianic complex when the Government enter into the negotiations. This will be a hard job. It may well be that the Foreign Secretary will have to say, in spite of the possibility of losing face and votes at home, "This is no good. I cannot agree." He must he strong enough to do that. He must realise that if we want agreement in the West—and I am sure that we all want that—the easiest form of agreement is agreement to maintain the present position.
Anyone who takes the initiative is apt to set up disagreement, but the initiative must be taken and we must risk the possible dilemma between initiative and agreement. I believe that there is a lot in the criticism that our handling of this difficult situation has been by no means perfect and that we have not spent enough time in convincing our Allies before the Prime Minister went off to Moscow.
I hope that in the negotiations a great deal of emphasis will be placed on the need for trying to get a common policy in the Western world, and that, at the same time, if possible, we shall not give up the impetus of the initiative which we have already taken.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
I am in sympathy with some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), but I should like to deal especially with some of the problems which we discussed with representatives of the West German political parties. I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) is present, because we went on a Parliamentary visit to Germany about a month ago. The very problems which we are discussing today are the ones most in the minds of politicians in Berlin and in Bonn. I was present at the speech made by Herr Brandt, Lord Mayor of Berlin, in the House on Thursday last, and I that that we should concentrate our attention on Berlin.
979 I am also in sympathy with the remarks of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), who analysed very well the Russian tactics at that moment and why the Soviet Union decided to create a dramatic scene over Berlin. The present state of affairs in Berlin has been in existence quite happily for ten years. Everyone in Berlin knew the procedure. Everything worked to a proper order and everybody knew what the rules and regulations were. Why did Mr. Khrushchev try to upset the system? I am convinced that he decided the need for it on two grounds.
First, the Eastern zone of Germany is wasting away. Since the end of the war 24 million people from Eastern Germany, Poland and Eastern Europe have crossed into Western Germany and now form 24 per cent. of the population. There is also the loss of 1 million people from the Eastern zone of Germany. Sixty per cent. of them were workers aged between 18 and 25 years, 30 per cent. were clerks and soldiers and 10 per cent. were peasants. Therefore, the economy of the Eastern zone was being run down to an enormous extent and it was developing into an old peasant economy. It is my belief that Eastern Germany was beginning to show signs of economic collapse.
Secondly, the Soviet Government did not like the threat of rocket weapons being put into the hands of Western Germany, in the same way as we do not like Czechoslovakia having 10 divisions. Therefore, Mr. Khrushchev decided that Berlin was to be made an issue to try to force a recognition of Eastern Germany and to make our position in Berlin almost untenable. In making his proposals about Berlin, he over-stepped the mark and put himself in the wrong and thoroughly embarrassed everybody. The situation became what an American would describe as "a snarl-up". The Americans were not prepared to sit on their rights and, as Mr. Dulles said, the possibility of war had to be considered.
The French were not prepared to budge an inch and neither were we, and, therefore, a situation came into being which warranted a move being made by somebody with some sense and a responsibility for the peace of the world. That move was made by the Prime Minister of this 980 country. It may be said that, although he took the initiative, he should have consulted many other people before going into action: but the people of this country, of the Commonwealth and of the world in general are incredibly grateful to him for taking the initiative to try to break what was a nasty international impasse.
We must now consider what will happen, what we can do and what we should suggest to the Foreign Secretary. All the time, the Opposition are trying to persuade the country that disengagement is the real and only effective answer. Even though Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir John Slessor has written on the matter, dealing with the military security aspect for both sides—the Soviet Union and the West—and even though Field Marshal Montgomery is visiting the Soviet Union now, I do not think that it is possible to envisage a vast disengagement plan either at the Foreign Ministers' conference or even at the summit.
The impression I got from talking to German politicians was that, despite the talk of the unification of Germany, they do not in their hearts really mean to have the reunification of Germany. No West German politician can ever honestly think of the survival of West Berlin or Western Germany without the American forces in Germany itself.
So the only two things which can possibly be done are the two things which are essentially practical. They would be to work on the German problem and try to install in Berlin some form of internationally negotiated machinery which would in the long run help to obtain some of the things which we desire, such as the limitation of arms and perhaps some form of disengagement at a later date.
However, I cannot see the Soviet Union at any time in the next five or ten years completely abandoning her position or the Government of East Germany. The loss of face would be completely disastrous for her. Therefore, I do not see that that can take place. The Foreign Ministers' conference may not have an effective or happy outcome if we believe in the wider terms of disengagement. I only say that our good wishes go to the Foreign Secretary and the N.A.T.O. Alliance during these very difficult times, but I do honestly ask the House and the 981 people of the country not to expect too much.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is not here. He kept on asking what has happened to our non-aggression pact, or what has happened to the Prime Minister's speeches which he made in the Soviet Union and in universities there, and what has happened to the feeling which he expressed in those speeches. He also asked: what is our foreign policy? I am sorry that he is not here. I can answer only this. I understand that our foreign policy is that we never intend to breach the security of the United States, our own country, or any member of N.A.T.O. That is our first positive belief, and secondly, we intend to maintain our position in Germany and in West Berlin until we can obtain some form of United Nations or international supervision of the whole of the City of Berlin and access to and from that city.
Disputes have been publicised in the Press about high-flying American aircraft going into Berlin. I do not see why we should get upset about aircraft flying above 10,000 ft. Why should they not? Those air corridors are ours by right. We won them at the end of the war. Just because the flying ceiling at that time was for most aircraft 10,000 ft., why should it remain at that height?
I do not understand the people who say, "Do not go higher than 10,000 ft., for it may upset Russian feelings." People think that when we are dealing with a Russian or an oriental he respects that sort of feeling. He does not. The Russians feel that we are absolutely stupid unless we fly our aircraft at the most practical height. The sooner we can remember those things in dealing with the Soviet Union the better. The Russians are very hard bargainers. They bargain all down the road.
I am sorry that the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Oswestry (Mr. Ormsby-Gore), is not at the moment in his place. How grateful many of us on this side of the House, and, I am sure, on the benches opposite, too, have been because of the tremendous work which my right hon. Friend has done at Geneva. He sat there day in, day out, month in and month out. He has done a remarkable piece of work for our country, and his efforts will, I hope, 982 be crowned with success in some form of control of atomic tests.
I do not want to take up much more of the time of the House, but I should like, in conclusion, to say of my visit to Western Germany that we were very thankful indeed to the Government of Western Germany and to the German Ambassador in London for arranging such a useful programme. We were very grateful to the German politicians of all parties who took so much trouble to explain their points of view on questions of European unity and the Free Trade Area.
I quite understand the tremendous feeling of affection which the West Berliners have for the Western world. It is but ten years since the airlift saved them from annihilation by starvation. I said, speaking to a German audience in Berlin, and I say again in this House, that they must realise that their faith in us is no illusion and that our expression of loyalty is no idle phrase. I hope that out of all their anxiety, out of the tragedies which they have suffered, their city, even though it cannot be united, may be a city united by international means and that the worries which affect this country and, indeed, all the world will be settled peacefully in Berlin.
§ 7.47 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
I agree with the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) in one respect, and that is that there are factors in the Soviet Union's calculations of her position which do make for flexibility in her policy, factors which the Communists would describe as "objective realities of the situation."
I think it is clear from the debate we have had today that the one thing the West cannot afford to do is merely to sit back and rely on the continuation of the status quo. We have got to have our own policy, our own approach and our own vision, and they must be based on a determination to exploit to the maximum any of these "objective realities" making for flexibility in the approach of the Soviet Union. I believe that is particularly true in the policy for disarmament, which is what I want to concentrate upon at the moment.
We have had a lot of gloomy speeches about Berlin today. But I believe that 983 in the field of the talks on nuclear tests there is ground for optimism. The position is now extremely hopeful, the talks having reached a phase in which we can see the achievement at last of something to break the deadlock which seems to be strangling hopes of progress in all the other branches of diplomacy.
Various hon. Members have today attacked the Labour Party's policy on tests. I believe the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) had a side swipe at us on the illogicality of our position, and the hon. and gallant Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) got positively apoplectic about the Labour Party's announcement that when it is returned to power it will immediately and unilaterally suspend H-bomb tests. This has been denounced as an illogical or unwise or disastrous policy.
Surely the purpose of this is perfectly clear. We announce this intention, with one very simple determination in mind, which is that this country shall immediately and decisively make a contribution and give a stimulus to the general banning of tests. One way of doing it is by giving a lead and saying to other countries, "Britain believes it is so important to get a ban on the tests that we shall not wait any longer. We shall take the first step and make the first gesture and we shall invite you all to follow suit."
It will help to organise world opinion in such a way that none of the great Powers involved can keep out of that agreement. It is based on our belief that the need to ban tests without further delay is urgent, and not only on medical grounds. Heaven knows, the medical grounds are urgent enough. The scientists are now getting vaguer and vaguer about the dangers. I believe that one of these days, when it is too late, they will say that they have left a few noughts out of their calculations and that we have all had a four-fold over-dose of strontium 90. It would be typical of them if they did that.
But there is another reason. World agreement on banning tests is the quickest and most effective way of stopping any other Powers from joining the nuclear club. That is the most important next step that we can take in the hard and uphill battle for world peace. Speaking 984 for myself, I should be perfectly prepared to have a Labour Government say to the other non-nuclear Powers that, if the membership of the nuclear club is closed, from then on we would renounce our own membership of it and give up our bomb. But it may be that the Labour Party stress on the unilateral abandonment of tests by this country is already out of date, in the sense that I believe that we are on the threshhold of a general agreement to ban tests. I believe that there is really nothing of substance left between the Powers and a general agreement for a controlled banning of tests, if the real will to have that is there.
But is the will there? What makes me anxious whether the will really exists on the Western side is the fact that it was at the very moment when one of the biggest obstacles to an agreement on the forms of inspection and control had been lifted on the Soviet side and when the possibility of a comprehensive agreed plan was most likely to be realised that the West came out with this distracting and irrelevant plan for a partial abandonment of tests. It came out with it for the reason, not that control could not be agreed upon for a comprehensive plan. but simply that there were some tests which the West wanted to continue. These were the stratospheric tests and the underground tests. The West had lost interest for the time being in the other tests.
The West said, "We cannot get a comprehensive ban. Therefore, to show our determination to have a ban, let us have a partial ban"; but this was to be a ban on tests other than the stratospheric and underground tests. Clearly, America wants to continue with those, because she believes that her defensive and military purposes will be served thereby, particularly by the underground tests, because those are the tests needed to make nuclear war manageable. That is the last thing that I want to see. It is far better for the soldiers to be stalemated by the possession of a weapon so destructive in its effects that they will not dare to use it.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Is the hon. Lady saying that the Labour Party, in all circumstances, would abandon all tests even though the Soviet Union and America went on with them? It is very important that we should know that.
§ Mrs. Castle
The policy of the Labour Party, when it comes to power, is that without waiting for others we would unilaterally give this lead. I believe that if we did that it would give the stimulus to which I have referred. I believe, however, that that unilateral gesture may no longer be necessary. All we need now is the will on the part of the British Government to pursue the hopeful evidence before us of the possibility of an agreed comprehensive ban on tests. I hope to substantiate that argument in a little more detail.
What alarms me is that the American and British alternative of a partial ban on tests was announced on the very day that the Soviet Union was making it clear that in the matter of the composition of the inspection teams there was no longer any bar to the satisfaction of the most detailed demands of the West. This is what Mr. Wadsworth, the American delegate to the disarmament talks, said on 13th April when announcing the new Western proposals:The United States is prepared and prefers to reach agreement to end all nuclear tests as soon as proper control mechanisms and procedures are agreed among us. If immediate agreement on these mechanisms cannot be reached due to the position of the Soviet Union we believe that we can start by agreeing to end certain tests.This establishes two points, namely, that the Western world says it prefers a comprehensive plan, and, secondly, that the only thing that stands in the way of a comprehensive plan is the attitude of the Soviet Union.
Let us examine those two propositions. This was announced at a time when we at Question Time in the House had been led to believe from the answers given from the Front Bench opposite that the Soviet Union was not prepared to accept effective international inspection and control, and that agreement on this was breaking down on two grounds. The first was the manning of the control posts which the Conference of Experts had agreed should be set up throughout territories where tests might take place. That was agreed at the Geneva Conference of Experts last August, but the Western World said that the Soviet Union would not accept that these teams must consist of representatives of all countries concerned. We were also told that the Soviet Union was making agreement impossible 986 because of her demand for the veto in the International Control Committee.
Let us take the first point. On the very day that Mr. Wadsworth, the American delegate, was saying that reluctantly the West had had to abandon the immediate prospect of a comprehensive plan owing to the attitude of the Soviet Union, a statement was put out by the Foreign Ministry of the Soviet Union on these questions of control.
First, on the question of the composition of the teams, the statement complained that the Western spokesmentry to explain the Soviet attitude on the staffing of control posts as though the Soviet Union were coming out in favour of 'self-inspection' and were proposing that a 100 per cent. of the engineering and technical personnel of the control posts should be recruited from among the specialists of the country in which the control post was located. This, however, is a deliberate distortion of the Soviet Union's attitude… The Soviet Government believes that the control posts should have a mixed, international personnel. This personnel should include both specialists of the country in which the control post is located, and foreign experts. These foreign specialists must form an organic part of the control posts' personnel and must take a direct part in the work of the posts, in analysing the readings of the instruments and installations and in summing up these readings, while also occupying key positions at the control posts. Thus, in accordance with the Soviet Union's proposals, the functions to be discharged by foreign specialists at a control post must be exactly the same as the functions discharged by the post's personnel from among the citizens of the country on whose territory the control post is situated.If that is correct, it completely meets any demands we might want to make about the staffing of the control posts. Having received that statement, some of us tried to question the Foreign Secretary upon it, only to be told, to our surprise, "Oh, yes, we believe agreement can now be reached on this." This main criticism of the Soviet approach has therefore disappeared, and it looks as though what the Soviet Foreign Ministry claimed to be the position is, in fact, the position. If not, the Foreign Secretary could have told us that it was not.
I support my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who said that it is high time that we had a White Paper on this matter. We could then know who said what, and where, if necessary, the blame should be apportioned. It seems clear, however, that the attitude of the Soviet Union on this particular point is so reasonable that it gives 987 us the right to assume that she is anxious for an agreement.
We are left only with the question whether or not the Soviet Union, through her membership of the International Control Commission, which is to supervise the agreement, should have the right to veto on-site inspections. This is now the only point that stands between us and the comprehensive ban. If we say, therefore, "Oh, but owing to the position of the Soviet Union there is no ground on which we can stop stratospheric tests and underground tests," we are saying a rather odd thing. I do not know how we could have an "on-site" inspection of stratospheric tests. I do not know whether it is suggested that we should send up a team in a sputnik to measure one of these explosions taking place in space. But, in fact, as Mr. John Davy pointed out in the Observer yesterday. it has been found that nuclear explosions in space are in principle detectable without policing. There cannot be art explosion in space without our knowing at once that it has taken place. That has been revealed as a result of recent American experiments.
We are therefore left only with the question of underground tests. We are told that we cannot have a comprehensive ban because these tests could be confused with ordinary natural explosions and could not be detected without inspection teams visiting the site, and we are further told that the Soviet Union are preventing agreement on this by refusing on-site inspections. Is there any evidence of that? The fact is that the Soviet Union have never said that they will not have on-site inspections. What they have said is that it should not be within the power either of the control teams or the administrator of the International Control Commission to send inspection teams at will over the head or behind the back of the Government of the country concerned. They have merely said that the decision to send on-site inspection teams should rest with the International Control Commission, and in that they are following the recommendations of the Geneva experts.
It is unwise of us to go outside that agreement, which was the optimistic foundation of our whole progress in this matter. The Soviet Union say that the 988 decision in this matter should rest with the Commission, and also that the decision of the Commission should be based upon the unanimity rule. This, we are told, means a Soviet veto, to which the Soviet Union reply, "So long as we are outnumbered on that Commission by the Western world the West's majority is as much of a veto upon us as our claim to the unanimity rule is upon them."
The British Government have now put forward new proposals for getting round these difficulties. They have recommended a limited number of inspections, and Mr. Khrushchev has responded to this suggestion. I do not mind whether agreement is reached on the new British proposal or on the lines of the proposals which existed before; I am anxious to get some agreement which will enable international control organisations to get going and enable tests to be banned. That is the only way to stop the spread of the nuclear rash all over the world. If agreement can be reached on the British proposals, I shall welcome it. But I very much doubt whether there is any likelihood of agreement being reached, even if Mr. Khrushchev accepts the Prime Minister's proposal. We will still have to bring in America. I think that Mr. Khrushchev has embarrassed the Prime Minister by accepting his proposal. There will now be argument as to the number of inspections to be allowed. The Soviet Union has already said: "We do not need very many."
But if agreement were to break down on the British proposals, that does not mean that we must regard a comprehensive ban as being out of the question. I beg the British Government to go ahead regardless of whether the British plan is accepted or not. I beg them to go ahead on the basis of a comprehensive ban now, and, if necessary, on the basis that the Soviet Union should have their unanimity rule operating inside the International Control Commission, because that will not mean the breakdown of effective inspection and control.
Even assuming that the Russians have a right of veto, all that could happen would be that some sort of suspicious phenomena might be detected which could not be identified. Assuming that those phenomena were known to have taken place in the Soviet Union and that 989 the Soviet Union were consistently refusing to allow on-site inspection teams in go there, the Western world would know that the Soviet Union were violating the agreement. Enormous publicity would be given to the fact that, over a certain period, there had been X number of suspicious phenomena taking place on the territory of the Soviet Union. If that were to happen we should still be free to say that the ban was being broken and that our guarantees were being undermined.
Even if we do not have the unanimity rule, what will be the sanction if somebody breaks an agreement? All that will happen is that the others will say, "The deal is off, chum. Now we can start our tests again." That is always the salvation or last resort, and it remains so if inspection teams are not operating just as much as if they are.
I therefore say that we already have evidence that the Soviet Union have gone much further than they have been given credit for in the matter of control. I believe that we are in a period of immense hopefulness in the question of disarmament, and I beg the British Government first to try to take the American Government with them on this partial inspection arrangement which Mr. Khrushchev seems willing to discuss. But, if they fail, I beg them not to be discouraged but to go ahead on the basis of a comprehensive ban, using the machinery of inspection and control which has already been agreed.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
This debate did not look at first as if it were one in which one would choose to take a bisque. Indeed, whenever the Government announce that they only wish to listen to the voices of hon. Members I am afraid that I am rather suspicious, but my suspicions have not been confirmed because I think that we have had a really fascinating exchange.
There was the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) rebuking his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) for not accepting more generously the Prime Minister's suggestion of rationed inspection. Then we had the most remarkable speech of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), who appeared to be attacking the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary for 990 being much too flexible. When I heard that speech I thought there is no pleasing some people. Then there was a chapter or so of the great love story between the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), punctuated, unfortunately, by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) on a rather discordant note.
It is certainly true that remarkable opinions have been expressed from remarkable quarters. If that has been the effect of this debate, as I think it has, it has been well worth while. I suppose that the House has appreciated—I think that it has from the speeches which have been made—that this debate is part of the process by which Great Britain and, indeed, the Western world, is trying to examine its position and to see what of its position it can expend or from what position it can negotiate in going first to the Foreign Ministers' conference and possibly after that to the summit, because I suppose much the same considerations—although not in public and not in the same sort of debate—are going on in the Kremlin, in Warsaw and in Pankow.
I suppose it is true that already both sides have given something, particularly on the matter to which the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) referred. The West has waived its position on this question of whether nuclear tests can be banned, by jettisoning the connection between conventional disarmament and the stopping of tests. That is an enormous concession. When one considers to what extent the West will be prejudiced, or would be prejudiced, if conventional armaments were to remain at their present stage while the nuclear deterrent, even in some small degree, was to be subtracted from, it must be admitted that we have given—by "we" I mean not only this country, but the United States as well—a most considerable gage by willingly giving up the connection between those two points.
It is true, as the hon. Lady pointed out, that the Soviet Union has moved on the question of the composition of the teams of inspectors. That is perfectly fair. Of course, its original position was so ludicrous that one cannot feel that its movement is of the very greatest value, but it is something. Its original suggestion was that the team should consist solely of the nationals of the nation to 991 be inspected. It has moved from that, and rightly. For that motion we should be grateful, but in this process of examining what we can afford to jettison in our position I think we need to be very careful.
1 attach the greatest importance to that aspect of the matter which the hon. Lady did not think important, the question of the Russian veto on the sending of inspectors to the site in question. It seemed absolutely essential that there should be no such veto. Inspection is a mockery and pointless and the whole conception of inspection is pointless if the person to be inspected can say, "No, I will not be inspected." The hon. Lady suggested that if that were so, everyone would know that the person concerned was guilty. That is not at all the same in the psychology of world opinion as being able to go and see whether an explosion has taken place.
§ Mrs. Castle
Is not the hon. and learned Member overlooking one reasonable factor in the approach of the Soviet Union to the question? As long as she is outnumbered on the International Control Commission by Western superiority, the majority rule applies in favour of the Western Powers, which gives them as complete a veto over what the Soviet Union wants as vice versa.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I follow the argument of the hon. Lady, but I should have thought that the correct solution was to see that if any single Power wishes to send an inspecting team to a site and gives reasonable evidence for the conclusion that there may have been a breach by saying that there has been a seismic disturbance, or something of that sort, that should be permitted and no one should have a veto either one way or the other.
We have heard only over the weekend about the Prime Minister's suggestion—a very revolutionary suggestion—that there should be a ration of inspectors without the veto, that we should be able to send in teams up to a certain number. I think that has to be very carefully considered. If we are in this situation of distrust, which, ex hypothesi, we are, the dodges and strategems that a nation—not necessarily the Soviet Union —which wishes to avoid detection and inspection, at any rate inspection, could get up to under such a system are very obvious. I should not like to say that I am against it, but it seems that we are 992 going very near the point in that suggestion—which may have been right to make tion—which it may have been right to make if only for the record—of abandoning what I regard as absolutely crucial in any inspection system, the abolition of the veto.
On the other great issue we have debated today—the Berlin and German issue—again we have been giving and moving a lot in our position. In 1955 and for several years, I think, it would have been unthinkable for us to contemplate the possibility of unification of Germany without free elections in the East. Now the Foreign Secretary today and Mr. Dulles some time ago have moved from that. There again, they may be right, but I am bound to say I found the suggestion that free elections would somehow come a little later in the process and that there would be a phasing of this operation—I think that was the word used—was unrealistic in the real sense of the word "unrealistic".
"Unrealistic" is usually used in these debates in the sense of what Mr. Khrushchev does not like. Anything he does not like is "unrealistic" and anything he does like is "realistic". I am using the word in a different and more absolute sense. It is unrealistic to assume that there will be free elections in East Germany later and that therefore we need not have them now, for we should be deluding ourselves, because once we recognise East Germany, in however shadowy a way, we shall confer a status on East Germany which will prevent us from having a voice thereafter in how she manages her internal affairs.
The same applies to the suggestion, which is really a fundamental issue, that it is very difficult for us to make a stand over the recognition of East Germany and of the East Germans' rights to guard our approaches to West Berlin because, after all, it is said, they have been there for a long time; they may be a bogus, puppet Government—which, indeed, they are—but so are the Hungarians, and we recognise them.
There is a certain logic in that, but it will be far harder, and not easier, if we, accepting that logic, recognise the East German Government now and think that subsequently we can preserve our position in West Berlin. I believe that the stand would be easier to take now than later. 993 I am sure that the stand has to be taken at one or the other point.
Let us reflect for a moment upon how difficult that stand would be if we recognised the East German Government and then in a year's time or thereabouts tried to prevent the East German Government from obtaining some sort of control over West Berlin. It would be far harder for us because we should have thrown away our legal and moral position under the Potsdam agreements and the agreements relating to our conquest of Germany. Once we recognise East Germany I believe that our status in Berlin, which stems from our right of conquest and from agreement with the Soviet Union, has disappeared and that we have resigned and resiled from it.
I therefore very much hope that the Government will not feel that it is possible to recognise East Germany now in the hope that it will somehow strengthen our position vi-à-vis the West Berliners when the pressure on West Berlin begins in a year's time. As was said by hon. Members opposite, and particularly by the Leader of the Liberal Party, that is Munich but much worse than Munich. That is postponing the evil day in the vague and shadowy hope that somehow our moral position will be clearer instead of being muddied and that our legal position will be clearer instead of being muddied. In this process of seeing what we can jettison and how much of our position we can cut away, I regard the recognition of East Germany as too serious a matter to feel that we can throw it off as a matter only of degree and not of quality.
I am not particularly wedded to the proposed zone of inspection in Europe. The Leader of the Liberal Party was kind enough to say that in our last debate I made an effective speech against the principle of a vacuum. I understand that the zone of inspection is not to be the inspection of a vacuum, and to that extent it seems to me that it is fairly harmless. One of its objects, I understand, is to get teams of inspectors on both sides of the Iron Curtain accustomed to their work so that they will be usefully trained for more serious forms of inspection in wider fields. I understand that that this is one of the attractions of the scheme to those who are putting forward this idea of a zone of inspection.
994 I am not sure what the inspectors in this first and limited phase are to inspect. Are they to see that there are no foreign troops in the area; are they to see that there are no nuclear weapons in the area, or are they to count the number of troops in the area? I think that it all depends upon their functions as to whether this is a good or a bad scheme, and if good, whether it is particularly good, and if bad, whether it is impossibly bad.
I do not blame the Government for this, because they are right not to dig in their toes publicly about it. It is obviously a matter first for discussion among the Allies. It seems to me, however, that before the Government can assume that anybody on any of these benches approves of the zone of inspection, we must know with a good deal more precision exactly what it involves. I am not against it in principle and in all circumstances, but from what I have heard so far it does not seem to me that it will help enormously, even if it does not hinder.
We have stripped down a good deal already, and rightly so, and I suppose that in the secrecy of the negotiations with our Allies we are stripping down all we can, but what I fear very much is that we shall be stripping down not from reason but from a process of brainwashing, of softening up, from the other side. Individual brainwashing is a well-known technique of Communism, and national brainwashing is not very far away from that.
Certainly the hot and cold process that Russia has been adopting ever since Mr. Khrushchev threw his Berlin bombshell into the field has been very much like the process known to diplomacy as la douche écossaise. Why it should be regarded as Scottish I do not know. It is the hot-and-cold treatment which, in the end, puts the patient in a dithery state very prone to abandon what he should protect.
That has been the Russian technique for many years, but in this case it is particularly striking. First, we are told that the Berlin question is an ultimatum. Then we are told that it is not an ultimatum. Next there is friendship and warmth and the lessening of tension when the Prime Minister, quite rightly, goes to Moscow. Then the tension is suddenly screwed up while he is in Moscow, and then it is slackened just before he 995 leaves. In my view, all this is part of a system to allow our will to become plastic through becoming first of all stretched and then relaxed. The hope is that as this goes on we shall so adandon our defences and so take up an indefensible position that the Communist Governments of the world will win.
We have today much less talk from the benches opposite about how Communism has changed its spots. As my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) said, that is a very good thing. Indeed, the hon. Member for Pembroke upbraided the Government benches for not realising the dangers from Communism in its plan for world domination. He was right, although rather unfair in the direction of his attack, which should have been directed at his own Front Bench, and particularly at the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) who is for ever telling us that it is a very juvenile approach to think that Communism means what it says about the domination of the world by one means or another.
Still, there has been much less of that talk and much greater realisation—and seriousness—from all sides that we are entering a year in which there are great prizes to be won but great disasters to be suffered if all these hopes which had been built up are not satisfied. That is the great danger which I see of this stratospheric process on which we are engaged. We are building up in everybody's minds —including, of course, our own—hopes which, if they are dashed, will put paid to much solid work which has been going on much less obviously and much less showily hi the last four or five years. If these negotiations fail they will ruin not only themselves but other things, too, and may put us back many years.
I hope and pray that they will not fail, but I must strike a note of warning of what might happen if the Russians get us into the conference room in a softened state. I do not think they will. It seems to me that the dexterity of this very difficult performance by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary is remarkable. I do not agree with the hon. and learned Member for Northampton and others who said that the Prime Minister has been bumble-footed, or whatever was the adjective, in not always 996 not merely telling his Allies but agreeing with his Allies everything he does before he does it. There are occasions when that cannot be done. Indeed, that is a rule of policy which no great nation could possibly adopt.
I think that the Prime Minister has achieved the right compromise in that function and that he has been adroit. But his very cleverness brings its own dangers. One can be too adroit once too often. He is, of course, a very able man, and the ability to keep all these balls in the air at the same time which he has so far displayed is a great tribute to him. He has shown an ability which the House, I think without exception, has admired. Whether it can go on we do not know. We hope that it can, because one thing is certain: if this operation is to succeed, only he can bring it off. My hon. Friend the Member for Carlton in an earlier speech, lamented the lack of world figures. He said that there was a dearth of world figures. My goodness, the Prime Minister is a world figure if ever there were one. There is no dearth here.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I agree with the hon. Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) that the Prime Minister is displaying a great deal of adroitness, but I also agree with him that the result seems to be almost a minus quantity, not so much perhaps through the Prime Minister's fault as through the Allies with whom he has to reckon and the party behind him.
If there is one thing which the debate has made clear, it is that most hon. Members opposite regard the prospects of getting down to serious negotiations for peace with the Soviet Union with alarm and despondency. They are quite happy about the cold war and the arms race. They feel cosy that way and feel they would be in great danger if something happened to end that happy state of affairs. In this the Government are with them, because fundamentally, in spite of the Prime Minister's adroitness, I do not believe that he has any real policy for changing this situation; nor that we can expect anything very much to come out of either the Foreign Ministers' conference or the summit meeting—except to keep the talks going.
997 That, in itself, is something. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once said, "Jaw-jaw is always better that war-war." That is true enough, but it would be a relief sometimes to have a Government with a policy for making peace and with the courage of their convictions, although I doubt whether we shall get that kind of Government this side of the General Election.
The basic trouble is that the party opposite believes that there is no feasible, let alone desirable, alternative to the balance of power as the basis of our relations with that one-third of the world that has frightened them and angered them by going through a social revolution. The hon. Member for Darwen has just expressed his pleasure that no one on these benches has so far pointed out that the whole conception of hon. Members opposite of the motives of that one-third of the world is fundamentally mistaken, but I am afraid that that is exactly what I shall now do.
To do so, I shall use one very interesting case that came up in the debate that we had on this subject on 19th February, when my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and I were taken to task by hon. Members opposite for denying that the Soviet Government wanted to make war on other countries, that it wanted to use the national forces of the Soviet Union to invade other countries in order to impose Communism on them.
We were referred to the Declaration of the N.A.T.O. Council in December, 1957, which said:Only last month in Moscow the Communist rulers again gave clear warning of their determination to press on to domination over the entire world, if possible by subversion, if necessary by violence.What was there referred to, of course, was the meeting in Moscow in November of that year on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Revolution. Incidentally, in a debate last year the Foreign Secretary also brought this up as alleged evidence for this view of aggressive intentions by the Soviet Union.
The meeting in Moscow produced two declarations. One was a peace manifesto signed by all the 64 Communist parties present, and the other was a declaration by the twelve parties in the so-called 998 Socialist States which, for a variety of reasons, the Yugoslavs refused to sign. That declaration contains the following passage:The Communist and Workers' Parties taking part in the meeting declare that the Leninist principle of peaceful co-existence of the two systems, which has been further developed and brought up to date in the decisions of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is the sound basis of the foreign policy of Socialist countries.The declaration then speaks of…the Five Principles put forward jointly by the Chinese People's Republic and the Republic of India and… the programme adopted by the Bandung Conference…and continues:The Communist Parties regard the struggle for peace as their foremost task. In common With all peace-loving forces, they will do everything in their power to prevent war.Then comes the conclusion, in which they state, in effect, that in modern conditions they have gone back to Karl Marx and have repudiated Lenin. They say that there are capitalist countries in which it is possible for the workers and their political allies by the use of constitutional and Parliamentary means to effect the transition from capitalism to Socialistm. It is true that their ideas on how that can be done are somewhat fanciful and, indeed, ridiculous, but that was the doctrine they proclaimed. They say that in other countries this may not be possible because the ruling classes may refuse to allow democracy to operate and that in that case revolutionary action is the only road open.
Whether or not we agree with that, what they are saying is what they think is likely to happen in each country, through the action of sections of the population in that country. But this has been distorted by the N.A.T.O. Conference of Foreign Ministers and by our Government in the way I have quoted. When the Communists talk about arriving at power by democratic and constitutional means they are accused of subversion, and when they talk of resisting counter-revolutionary violence they are accused of wishing to use violence, and, moreover, violence in the sense of the Soviet Union moving into action with its armed forces to impose Communism on other countries.
This, all the way through, is the root error of the Government's policy because, 999 being Tories, they quite honestly cannot understand nor accept that the existing order may be so oppressive that we get revolt against it. In the case of the people of a country who are denied democratic means of change, revolt may take the form either of social revolution or colonial emancipation. But all these things are regarded as manifestations of Soviet aggression to be met, in the first instance, by conventional arms and, ultimately, by nuclear weapons. That, at bottom, is what the Government mean by defence. They have made that very clear in the Middle East and the Far East.
As to what N.A.T.O. has come to mean in Europe, I should like to draw attention to the article written by George F. Kennan in the January issue of the Foreign Affairs Quarterly Review. There he says that, whereas the original purpose of himself and some others responsible for the foundation of N.A.T.O. was that it should act as a sort of shield behind which more favourable conditions could be prepared for negotiation and for getting on with the job of creating a new and better society,There were others, we must now conclude, who saw these things quite differently. For them, the purpose of the building of Western strength was not the creation of bargaining power with a view to eventual compromise but the achievement by Western Europe of a political and military posture so powerful and so eloquent that recalcitrance would melt before it, and Europe would eventually find its unification automatically on our terms, without the necessity of dealing with our major adversaries or making concessions to their interests.That is still roughly the position of the Government. Their position is to hang on to the status quo and pile up arms until something happens, until there is a crisis. Then they go into a flurry to see whether they can still maintain the status quo without stumbling into war. This is more or less the posture in which they are entering the forthcoming conferences. They talk as though the world were prepared to face nuclear annihilation rather than accept some compromise or change in the present position in Western Berlin. They are suffering under a delusion.
The Opposition have for years been pressing for a fresh approach to the whole problem—disengagement. "Disengagement" has become a rather glib 1000 phrase, but as put forward by my right hon. Friend and hon. Friends it is a positive policy. It is the first step to transferring the mutual relations of the great Powers from the balance of power to the Charter of the United Nations. That, in turn, rests on the fundamental assumption of the Charter, which is that the great Powers have a common interest in preserving peace and in dealing cooperatively with disturbances to the peace, and that therefore the real danger to guard against is war breaking out by miscalculation or muddle.
When the Prime Minister was in Moscow he said that. He said, "We do not fear acts of calculated aggression. What we cannot ignore is the possibility of war arising by accident, out of miscalculation or muddle." Obviously the way to prevent that situation arising is the way suggested in the Opposition's plan, namely, for the four Powers to work out forms of co-operation. I believe that that can be done only in their capacity as permanent fellow members of the Security Council and through the machinery and on the basis of the obligations of the United Nations. It means also agreements for reduction and limitation of armaments and withdrawal of forces. These agreements, as a first step, are to cover most of Eastern Europe and the whole of Germany. The final step—we have to envisage it—is that the assumptions, principles and obligations of the Charter are to govern the mutual relations of the great Powers and of all the States in Europe, and rival alliances will be progressively wound up and absorbed in the collective security system of the United Nations. We must arrive at a normal state of international relations where everybody's troops stay at home in their own countries.
I do not agree with the idea that N.A.T.O. is a kind of end in itself and that, whatever is done, nothing must be done to jeopardise the survival of this military alliance and the presence of American troops in Europe. On the contrary, I support Labour's policy as the first step towards getting rid of this lineup of two rival military blocs and reaching a position where we can jointly supervise agreements for disarmament, control of armaments and the withdrawal of forces, and build up systems of economic co-operation which will increase the field of common interest between us.
1001 Disengagement is the first step in that direction, but disengagement also happens to be about the only basis on which we can get anywhere in the negotiations with the Soviet Union about Berlin or about the future of Europe, because whether we like it or not we are losing the arms race. Those who have put their faith in armaments have overlooked the fact, curiously enough, that in terms of power politics they are backing the wrong horse. I pointed all this out in the defence debate on 26th February and adduced what seemed to me to be irrefutable facts and figures to prove that the West is falling behind in the arms race.
As for this country, its position is anomalous, painful and deadly dangerous, and, at the same time, somewhat ridiculous. If we really want to count for something in the world we have got to take the lead in a fresh approach to this whole problem, and that fresh approach is contained, in essence, in the policy so long pressed by the Opposition in the House and in the country.
This policy, incidentally, has a great deal in common with the plan recently put forward by the German Social Democratic Party and also with the somewhat similar plan put forward by the Free Democratic Party which is outside the Socialist camp and probably will enter into the Government coalition after Dr. Adenauer's withdrawal.
There is no doubt that if a Government came into power in this country which tenaciously and courageously pursued this policy, it would win overwhelming support in German public opinion, and the same is true of public opinion in America, where disengagement proposals have been put forward by men not only of the calibre of George F. Kennan, Walter Lippman and Walter Reuther, the great trade union leader, but also by Senator Fulbright, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Senators Mansfield and Humphreys. Their proposals do not go as far as some of ours, but they are first steps in that direction. Mr. Kennan's proposals go even further than the official proposals of the Opposition.
These are the lines along which we can get somewhere, because it is not an unimportant fact that Mr. Khrushchev declared that on the lines of the declarations made by Senators Fulbright and 1002 Mansfield it would be possible to come to terms. The Russians are not asking for everything or nothing. They are prepared to start with anything that looks like a promising start. That is why they were so enthusiastic about the Prime Minister's somewhat modest proposals in Moscow, which, so far as we can make out, he has since abandoned under pressure from his stonewalling Allies.
I hope very much that the Government, and, if not the Government, at any rate opinion in this country, will become increasingly alive to the fact that on present lines the status quo is going to be changed piecemeal to our detriment by unilateral action without our having any say in the matter, if our only policy is to stand fast. We shall be faced again and again with a situation where, on a dubious and obscure issue, we shall either have to risk a catastrophe or suffer a diplomatic defeat and retreat.
It would be much better to take the initiative boldly in a big way and propose a policy that really deals with the fundamentals of the situation. It would be much better that we should be prepared to take the risks of the Charter in our mutual relations with the Communist-ruled third of the world than that we should go on assuming that we can continue to take the risks of the balance of power and the nuclear arms race with impunity.
It is a fascinating but somewhat gruesome spectacle to see how the Government and their supporters are fatalistic about the risks of the balance of power and fanatical in their rejection of the risks of the Charter. After all, the Charter was not devised by amateurs, by people who were blue-eyed idealists. It was devised by the leading statesmen of the world in the light of six years' experience of world war and the whole 20 years' experience of the League of Nations.
It is only on the basis of that instrument and the willingness to accept the risks of a United Nations policy, that is, the risk of entering into agreements with the Soviet Union that assume that we have a common interest in making political arrangements that will prevent the outbreak of war by accident and will promote co-operation on matters of common concern, for supervising disarmament and the withdrawal of forces and 1003 for promoting economic co-operation, that we can make peace, rather than by pinning our faith to piling up nuclear weapons, getting ready to use them in ways that become riskier as rockets replace bombers as the means of delivery, and as the weapons spread to other countries.
The risks on that side are cumulative and deadly. The possibility of getting any kind of settlement on those lines is nil. If, however, we take our courage in both hands, try to break with the past and find a new approach on the lines of the policy supported not only by the Opposition but by large sections of public opinion outside the Opposition in this country and also by large sections of opinion in America and Europe, a policy that we have every reason to believe would in fact provide a basis of negotiation acceptable to the Soviet Union, then we shall succeed. Then we could deliver the world from this nightmare of a nuclear arms race and at last see the dawn of agreement between the great Powers to use these vast forces at our command not for preparing for our own destruction and that of our fellow men but for building a new and better kind of society and civilisation.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) suggested that we ought to rely entirely on agreement that we might make within the United Nations for security forces. I take it that he would agree, therefore, that the United Nations must possess some force behind it. As, in fact, the force that we possess in Western Europe is based on N.A.T.O. forces for dealing with any Russian aggression, I hope that he will agree that we should not weaken those forces in any way. Therefore, I am surprised at his argument in view of his attitude towards disengagement.
So far as I can gather, the policy of the party opposite, or those of it who believe in disengagement, that we should have a complete military vacuum in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and West Germany, means dropping Western Germany out of N.A.T.O. altogether, which seems to be a fundamental weakening of the whole of the N.A.T.O. organisation.
1004 The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) expressed anxiety about the military strength of Western Germany and allowing it to grow again. I have some sympathy with that point of view, but I think that it is the lesser of two evils. So far as I can see, unless we have Western Germany in N.A.T.O. we shall be very hard put to it to maintain conventional forces which will in any way measure up to the task which General Norstad has set for them of acting as a brake against Russian aggression in Western Europe. What alarms me is the weakening of the West in conventional armaments which would be brought about. For that reason. I certainly hope that there will be no disengagement which will involve dropping Western Germany out of N.A.T.O.
The hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) said that nuclear disarmament was more important than conventional disarmament. I would disagree with him on that point. I regard the reduction of conventional armaments, particularly in view of the immense superiority in submarines and military strength which the Russians have, as even more important than nuclear disarmament. I hope that the Government will keep in mind the policy which they have been pursuing in the past, that we must have agreement on both nuclear and conventional weapons if there is to be any security for the nations in Western Europe.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
This has been a much more interesting foreign affairs debate than the size of the House would suggest. If I may say so, the Foreign Secretary started with an unusually refreshing speech. He moved much closer to the Opposition on every issue he touched, but I am afraid that the debate showed that he had not carried very many of his right hon. and hon. Friends with him.
The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) described the Prime Minister, if I interpreted his metaphors aright, as an over-smart juggler who has had his brain washed in a doucheécossaise. The hon. Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn), in a typically graceless speech, made a calculated onslaught on the whole of the Prime Minister's behaviour over the whole of the last few months. Even the hon. and 1005 gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) spent most of his time criticising the Government when he thought that he was attacking my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). The hon. and gallant Gentleman's complaint against my right hon. Friend was, first, that they have separated a ban on tests from other forms of disarmament, and, secondly, that they are inclined to accept agreement on a test ban which is not 100 per cent. perfect. This, I think, was the gist of his criticism of my right hon. Friend, and it is, of course, equally applicable to the Government themselves.
Before I leave the matter of tests, I should like to ask the Minister of State to clear up an ambiguity in the latest position taken by the Government in the Geneva talks, an ambiguity which was responsible, I think, for the misunderstanding between my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). I should like him to clear up the relationship between three things: firstly, the Khrushchev-Macmillan suggestions for establishing a quota of on-site inspections; secondly, the official Anglo-American proposals for a ban restricted to atmospheric and undersea tests, and, thirdly, the comprehensive agreement for a ban on all atomic tests which, I understand, it is still the aim of the Western and Soviet Governments to achieve.
I think I should be correct in saying that all my right hon. and hon. Friends would welcome a ban on atmospheric and undersea tests. I understand that such a ban—the Minister of State will correct me if I am wrong—could be verified and controlled without on-site inspections. Therefore, there is really no disagreement between the Russians and the West as to whether such a ban is possible and acceptable. The only possible disagreement between them is whether it should be accepted by itself, as the official Anglo-American proposals suggest.
I am sure I am speaking for my right hon. and hon. Friends also in saying that if the Khrushchev-Macmillan suggestion for a quota of on-site inspections is intended to apply simply to the underground tests, which require this type of inspection, and if this is intended to be additional to an agreed ban on atmospheric tests, such as is already suggested by the Anglo-American Note, then all my right hon. and hon. Friends 1006 would support it. The only uncertainty in the Foreign Secretary's presentation of this point in his initial speech was whether this was intended to replace an agreement on atmospheric tests or simply to supplement it. I am sure that all my right hon. and hon. Friends would welcome a Government initiative in this sense and sincerely hope that the Government may succeed in persuading their American Allies and the Soviet Government to reach agreement on the number of tests to be rationed, and so forth.
I have another question to ask about a ban on tests. Why have the British and American Governments, in their latest official proposals to the Soviet Union. suggested that tests in outer space should be exempted from the ban? Although the amount of atmospheric pollution involved in these tests is substantially smaller than that involved in atmospheric tests, there is undoubtedly pollution, and I believe that this has been confirmed by recent scientific investigations. On health grounds alone such tests should be banned.
Secondly, it is possible to find out whether such tests have been carried out, though it may be that the Soviet Government were a little slow in discovering the American stratospheric tests carried out last year. I think that I would he speaking for the whole of Her Majesty's Opposition if I said that what we would wish for in the present situation of the negotiations on a test plan is that there should be an absolute ban, with agreed inspection, on all atmospheric and undersea tests and—if we cannot get more—a ban with a quota of on-site inspections on all underground tests; and finally, a ban with such means of inspection as have already been discovered on all stratospheric tests or tests in outer space. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be able to give us some information of the Government's policy on these points when he replies.
Nobody who listened to the Foreign Secretary's very careful account of the negotiations over the last six months for a ban on tests can have failed to feel a tremendous optimism about the way things are going, even though there remain important questions of principle or practice to be negotiated. This is perhaps the first issue on which, since the end of the war, both sides seem 1007 genuinely prepared to compromise. Such differences as exist between them are legitimate differences of national interest which it is the normal job of diplomacy to reconcile. It cannot be maintained that either side has been conducting itself in the way it has for purely propaganda reasons. There has been a genuine attempt to reach agreement. I hope—and I think I am speaking for the whole House, and indeed the world—that it will be possible for the diplomatists to solve the remaining points which divide the Powers.
The area where I detected the greatest change in the Government's policy was in dealing with a settlement in Europe. All these changes are in the direction which the Labour Party has been urging for the last three years. Whilst we welcome these changes, we deplore the fact that the Government did not make these changes until they were forced into a situation where it appeared to the world that they were under a threat from the Soviet Government. Because they waited until the Soviet ultimatum over Berlin hung over the whole of this field, the position of the Soviet Government has been considerably strengthened in any negotiations which may follow and they may have encouraged the Soviet Government to persist in a policy of threats in the hope of extorting further changes of position from the British Government.
The most important change in the Government's policy, which though not explicitly admitted by the Foreign Secretary was implicit in everything he said, was that they have finally agreed that the West cannot achieve its stated aims in Europe by continuing the policy it has followed for the last ten years. The clearest evidence of this change was in two facts. First, the Foreign Secretary stated that he was prepared to work for an agreement on arms control in Central Europe before, and not after, German unification is achieved. The right bon. and learned Gentleman has finally seen the point that the Opposition have bean pressing on him for a long time, namely, that such an agreement, even if restricted in the first stage to an agreement on arms control, would help to create the conditions in which political settlement would be easier.
We congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman on his conversion. 1008 How well we remember debate after debate in the last few years when we have asked him to revise the Eden plan of 1955 and he has told us time and again—mistakenly, in my view—that that plan was one which should be carried out after German reunification had taken place or together with it, but not before. As I say, we welcome the right hon. Gentleman's conversion.
There is, however, an even more important issue on which the Government have moved in our direction. The Foreign Secretary clearly stated this afternoon—and he was severely criticised for it by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen—that the Government are now prepared to move towards German reunification by stages and that though free elections, as we all agree, must take place before German reunification is complete, German reunification must be seen as a gradual process which, in its early stages, involves some sort of contact and interchange between the Governments of East and West Germany.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
The hon. Gentleman must be confusing me with somebody else. In what I said I am not in the least conscious of making any observation to that end. Is the hon. Gentleman quite sure that his notes are not wrong and he does not have the name of the wrong constituency?
§ Mr. Healey
I am not responsible for the hon. Gentleman's state of consciousness, but if he cares to refresh his memory by reading HANSARD in the morning he will see that he expressed the gravest doubts about a gradual or phased movement towards German reunification and concerning the degrading of the importance of free elections as a major step in the early stages.
§ Mr. Healey
The hon. and learned Member nods his agreement. I see that I have succeeded in refreshing his memory for him.
§ Mr. Healey
In the view of the Opposition, both of those points are of essential importance if there is to be any progress in negotiating a settlement in Central 1009 Europe. Both of them have been rejected time and time again during the last few years. both by the Foreign Secretary and—I am delighted to see him arrive so opportunely—by the Minister of Defence. How well we remember the speech of the Minister of Defence in the debate last December, in which he affected total confusion as to how it was possible that a military and political settlement of the German problem should be carried out or phased simultaneously. How violently the right hon. Gentleman rejected all the proposals made from this side of the House for any form of arms control in Central Europe, claiming that it would be absolutely disastrous to the defence of the West. I shall be interested to learn at a later date whether the right hon. Gentleman has offered his resignation to the Prime Minister or whether he, too, has been converted.
Contact between East and West Germany is something which it has been difficult for any of Germany's allies to talk about over the last few years, but the time has come when plain words must be spoken. The West German Government have no right whatever to demand of their allies standards of conduct in relation to the East German Government which they themselves are not prepared to observe. We are all aware that a few years ago, and quite reasonably, with the West German Chancellor's consent, a senior member of the Federal Republic's Government had private conversations with a senior official of the East German Government in Berlin concerning problems of mutual concern. It has been rumoured that Her Majesty's Government possess a tape recording of those conversations.
We are also well aware that the East German and West German Governments and Administrations are in continuous contact the whole time on a large range of administrative questions. We know, too, that West German business men indulge in highly profitable trade with East Germany. Indeed, with the West German Government's consent, they made a trade agreement with Pankow six months ago in which they agreed to send East Germany I forget how many million tons of coal and steel over the next 12 months. It is quite wrong for the German Chancellor or his representative to demand of his allies in this respect a completely unrealistic attitude towards 1010 the East German Government which he is not prepared to observe himself and which, indeed, he is prepared to encourage his own colleagues in the German Cabinet to violate.
On the other hand, I think that all of us would agree that only the West Germans themselves can decide what form their contacts with the East German Government and people should take. They must be the judge of the diplomatic and economic or other risks which they take in this field, but I think that many of us were encouraged to see how much serious thought has been given to the problem in Western Germany in the last few months. I know that my right hon. Friends felt great sympathy with the detailed proposals for contact between the two Germanys made by the Social Democratic Party in its recently published plan for disengagement.
The problem which concerns us more directly has played a central role in this debate, namely, the true meaning and purport of the British Government's proposals for a zone in Central Europe in which arms will be limited and controlled. Everybody in the world, except a few members of Her Majesty's Government, call this a proposal for disengagement. Indeed, the Lord Privy Seal, in answer to a Question on 14th April, said that, although he did not like using the word "disengagement", it was the same point. We for our part do not mind if the Government like to protect their amour propre by trying to find another word for what they are doing. What they are proposing in this field, so far as I understand it, is precisely what the Opposition have urged on the Government in every debate for the last two years as the first step towards disengagement. [Interruption.] However vigorously the Foreign Secretary shakes with simulated laughter, he knows that it is true. It is precisely what we have proposed as a first step towards disengagement. If it is not the first step towards disengagement, what is it?
I should now like to go over various alternatives which have been suggested in the British and foreign Press as the real meaning of the Government's proposal for a zone of arms limitation in Central Europe. First, let us confess that a large part of the foreign Press, particularly in Western Europe, has treated the 1011 Government's proposal simply as an election stunt in Britain. I would not exclude the possibility that electoral considerations might have played some part in the Government's decision to visit Moscow some months ago, and I do not think that anyone in the House would deny that if the Government can derive some electoral advantage from their proposals in this field they will not hesitate to do so. Frankly, I do not feel, however, that the proposals for a zone of arms control and limitation have anything to do with the British election. I think that the Government are far too intelligent to believe that so detailed and complicated a proposal as this is likely to have much impact on the average voter in Britain one way or the other.
A much more serious suspicion is one which has been voiced in many British as well as foreign newspapers which I believe is strongly held by the French Government. It is that this proposal is not seriously intended as a basis for negotiation but is simply a sort of diplomatic gamesmanship, because the British are held to believe that if the Russians will not agree to anything at the forthcoming conferences it is better that they should be made to reject something which is broadly reasonable than that the West should continue to offer proposals which the Russians can reject without any propaganda loss in world opinion whatever.
This, as I say, is a view which is held by many foreign newspapers, and, I believe, by some of the Allies of Her Majesty's Government. I think again, if we are honest, we must admit at least that if they are going into a negotiation it is better to offer reasonable than unreasonable proposals. But let us consider these proposals for a moment as seriously intended to contribute towards a solution by negotiation of the present problems in Central Europe.
I think the real question which we must consider is, what precisely is the underlying purpose of these proposals? Here I deal with a very much more serious suspicion of the Government's intentions, on which I think the Minister of State will have the duty to enlighten us when he replies. It is very widely believed by informed opinion in Britain and inside the alliance that the real purpose of the Government's proposals is to confirm the status quo in Central Europe: in other 1012 words, to accept the division of Germany as permanent and to try to remove some of the military dangers which make the division of Germany dangerous to both sides at the present time.
This is a view very widely held, and I must say that it is because they believe this is what the Government's proposals really mean that some people in Britain and outside are giving them support. In my view, if this is the real meaning of the Government's proposals, Britain's Allies are absolutely right to oppose them.
In the first place, the one thing which Khrushchev wants, as has been pointed out by several speakers in this debate, is to be able to get formal sanction of the gains which Russia illegally made at the end of the war without making any concessions in return. There is a theory that the Government's real view of the forthcoming negotiations is that it would be wise to meet Khrushchev's desires on this point so long as in return the West can obtain new guarantees for the access of its troops and of West Germans to West Berlin. If there is any truth in this suspicion—and, as I say, it is very widely held—I would ask the Government to reconsider what it means.
In the first place, I believe that to try to reach agreement along these lines would be to give up something of tremendous value for a price which is worth almost nothing at all. Here I agreed very strongly with the view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East. In the short term the Western position in Berlin is very much stronger than it has been held to be in much discussion over the last few months. I think that there is no doubt whatsoever at the present time that the Soviet Union is not going to risk a shooting war over West Berlin.
I think it is equally clear that it is not going to try again in the immediate future to impose another blockade on West Berlin. When Khrushchev delivered his original ultimatum there were already six months' stocks of food and coal in West Berlin. Those stocks have been doubled in the last few months. West Berlin could now survive a blockade lasting a year, even if there were no airlift to supplement stocks, and it is worth reminding ourselves that this build-up of stocks in West Berlin has taken place with Russia's knowledge and consent.
1013 The West is frightening itself quite unnecessarily if it believes that the consequence of failing to surrender to a Soviet ultimatum in Berlin will be a repetition of the type of trouble we had ten years ago. Here I think that the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) had the facts, as so often, exactly wrong. The fact is that the situation ten years ago was much more difficult than it is today. Therefore, there is no point in paying a big price to protect West Berlin in the existing situation, provided that we are prepared to maintain our present rights and position there by all necessary means.
Moreover, there is no reason to trust any new Soviet agreement on Western access to Berlin so long as West Berlin remains an island inside a Communist State. The real threat to West Berlin is in the long run, and the real threat can be removed only when Germany is reunited. It can be removed only by a policy aiming at German reunification. In other words, to bargain with the Russians for access to West Berlin in return for giving up German reunification would be to get nothing for something that is worth a great deal to all of us.
I strongly approve the views expressed by the Regius Professor of History at Oxford in an article in the Sunday Times last Sunday when he said that if the West ever put itself in the position of accepting the division of Germany as permanent it would open the way to a direct deal between Western Germany and Moscow —though in making this criticism of the Prime Minister's position, the Regius Professor showed sufficient tact towards his illustrious sponsor to pretend that he was attacking not the Prime Minister but Her Majesty's Opposition.
In my view, the right policy to adopt, and f hope that this is the policy at which the Government are aiming, is to stand firm on our present position and rights in Berlin, as I am sure we can, without any immediate risk. If the Russians hand over their residual powers to the East German authorities, then let us deal with the East German authorities in the corridor exactly as the West German Government does, because all West German traffic to Berlin is already controlled by the agents of the East German Government. There is no reason on earth why, if the Russians 1014 choose unilaterally to take this step, we should not say, "All right. We will maintain our rights and treat the officials of Pankow as agents of the Soviet Union", a point which the Foreign Secretary and the American Secretary of State have already conceded.
We must concentrate on trying to negotiate a new framework for European security in which German reunification can be more easily negotiated. Soviet fears of a united Germany are understandable, even if we do not share them. Hon. Members should pay attention to the wise words spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) on this topic a few days ago. ft is worth reminding ourselves that Soviet fears of a united Germany are shared by all Germany's Eastern neighbours. and particularly by Poland. If, therefore, we hope to negotiate the reunification of Germany by peaceful means—and there is no other way of getting it—we must try to meet those fears in advance.
I suggest that there are two main ways by which this may be done. In the first place, Western Germany itself must now abandon its claims to those parts of Poland which were incorporated in the Polish State at the end of the Second World War. I believe that General de Gaulle was very wise to make this point on behalf of the French Republic in a Press conference he gave in France not many weeks ago.
However much we regret it—and I do not—we must accept as true what the Polish Communist leader, Mr. Gomulka, told his Congress a few weeks ago, namely, that to claim that we could change the Polish-German frontier by peaceful means is like saying that we can skin a sheep without using a knife, and with the consent of the sheep. There is no doubt that in this question we are dealing with a united Poland. This, at least, is one issue in which nothing whatever divides General Anders from Wladyslaw Gomulka.
The second point, on which I will not now insist, is that if we are to get a reunited Germany we must be prepared to ensure that this brings no change in the military balance of Europe. The Government are already committed to a policy of disengagement if Germany is reunified—but disengagement by Russia 1015 alone. The latest official policy of the British and American Governments is that if Germany is reunified the present Soviet Zone should be demilitarised. In other words, they say that we should have what several hon. Members opposite timidly call a vacuum between the forces of the two sides.
This is a completely one-sided concession. The fact is that if we are not going to change the military balance the West will also have to be prepared to make reciprocal withdrawals on its side of the Iron Curtain. There is no way, in logic or politics, of escaping this necessity. As my right hon. Friends have always said, it will be a long process, and the final evacuation of foreign troops from Central Europe can come only when the reunification of Germany has already been achieved.
It is necessary to try to build up confidence step by step. Hon. Members on this side of the House believe that the establishment of an area of arms control in Central Europe, however limited its scope, could be such a first step, and must be seen in this light. We believe there is a growing support for this approach throughout the Western world and on the other side of the Iron Curtain. In Germany today not only the Opposition parties—the S.D.P. and the F.D.P.— support this approach; it is supported even by prominent members of the Christian Democrats, such as Dr. Gerstenmaier, and, in the United States, not only by distinguished columnists like Mr. Walter Lippman and professors like George Kennan, but also by senior senators in the majority party, such as Senators Humphrey, Fulbright and Mansfield.
In conclusion, I would only urge the Government to realise the potential strength and support for such a policy throughout the Western Alliance, and to call on this strength by pleading its case more openly in public. Its opponents do not hesitate to express their views. Let the Government now speak up on their side. It is very common in diplomatic circles to say, "This is all very well, but another two or three years must pass before it becomes practical politics." I would warn the Government that if a first step in this direction is not taken soon, factors may arise on both sides of 1016 the Iron Curtain which stop the development before it reaches fruition.
I can assure the Government that if they are prepared to move in this direction they will receive every support from Her Majesty's Opposition, even in an election year, and even if that support—to use a simile used in another context some time ago—is rather like the support given by a second in the boxing ring to a groggy and frightened boxer.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ormsby-Gore)
At the beginning of his speech, the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) asked me certain questions about the conference on nuclear tests. I shall try to deal with those as best I can during the course of my remarks. He addressed himself, first, to questions relating to Germany and disengagement and the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) also spent a great part of his speech on those two topics.
I am glad to say that at least all parties subscribe to the idea of German reunification. This—I hope that the hon. Member will take it as this—is a direct reply to his suggestion that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to try to establish the existing status quo in Europe. We wish to see the reunification of Germany, but I am bound to say that I was rather surprised by the right hon. Member saying that whatever happened no one would dare to suggest that a united Germany should add her strength to the West. I thought that my hon. Friend the Member for Carlton (Sir K. Pickthorn) dealt with that in his customary robust way.
This suggestion could only mean that if Germany was united—which is the policy of all parties in the House—and if a united Germany wanted to go with the West, we would seek to prevent her from doing so. That is a suggestion that we should tie a united Germany down in advance of the existence of such a Germany to a course of action with which the German people themselves might totally disagree.
§ Mr. Bevan
That is a fantastic misrepresentation. WhatIsaid was that every sensible person now agreed that the reunification of Germany was not a practicable proposition without Russian agreement and that the Russians would not 1017 agree if such a reunited Germany were permitted to throw the whole of her strength to the West.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
That is a very considerable gloss on what the right hon. Member said. We accept that he also agrees with a step by step approach to these matters and I shall deal with that.
To adopt the kind of phrases that the right hon. Member used in his opening remarks would be to pursue a policy which flouted the whole evidence of history, that we can persuade people to give these undertakings before they are reunited. Of course, we recognise that in certain circumstances we might have to offer additional security guarantees to the Soviet Union. This we are quite prepared to do.
We have frequently debated the subject of disengagement, which, if we are to believe the hon. Member for Leeds, East, could mean almost anything. It can apply to the views of Senators Fulbright and Mansfield. Professor Kennan, Sir Anthony Eden, the hon. Member himself, and the original plan of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, which is now being made respectable. It can apply to almost any of those plans. I do not wish to add anything to the debate about disengagement tonight expect to say that if a particular plan—and this is the hon. Member's plan—is anathema to all one's allies it is not very practical to recommend it on the eve of important negotiations. We all agree that we must proceed by stages in dealing with the problem of European security. None of the Western Powers has ever excluded the possibility of limits on forces in Europe at the proper stage.
If hon. Members will look up the proposals made by the Western Powers in 1955 they will see what we suggested about this, but one has to do these things in the right order. One of the things we dislike about the Rapacki Plan, for instance, is that it provides for the limitation of arms, but not for reunification. It provides for the crystallisation of the status quo on the present basis. The truth is that to a great extent this is a question of time and of degree. Whether we like it or not, security proposals and political settlements are connected and one has to beware of making proposals 1018 for one which will make progress impossible on the other. Our own hope, like that of the right hon. Gentleman, is to proceed by stages. We hope that when the Foreign Ministers meet in Geneva the Russians will assist us in reaching agreement along these lines.
As the right hon. Gentleman said, we all recognise that tonight is not the time for me to go into the details of the proposals which my right hon. and learned Friend will take with him to Geneva in ten days or so. I therefore intend to devote the rest of my speech to answering some of the points raised in the debate about the conference on nuclear tests.
We listened once more to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale stating the Labour Party's considered policy that upon coming into power it would unilaterally declare that all British nuclear tests would cease for ever. That is what he said. I am bound to say that I find this declaration a little inconsistent with his proposals that we should still pursue the present negotiations for the suspension of tests under effective international control.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I will explain to the right hon. Gentleman. I think that a Labour spokesman in my place at the conference would find himself in some difficulty. He would tell his Russian opposite number that we must insist on various control arrangements. It would, at the same time, be well known to the Soviet representative that the British were committed to the stopping of tests whether the control arrangements came into existence or not. The Labour spokesman would have little difficulty in isolating our United States allies in the conference, but I cannot say that he could possibly have any other influence upon the negotiations.
We, for our part, feel that it is of fundamental importance that we should establish the principle that measures of disarmament should always be accompanied by effective international control arrangements, for it is only in this way that we can establish the confidence between East and West which is at present lacking.
The right hon. Gentleman expressed the view that the time had come for the 1019 Government to publish a White Paper on the conference. I can appreciate his difficulties, and if I were to make any criticism of the difficulty I had in following his speech, he would no doubt reply that if only we had published a White Paper the position would have been clearer for all of us to understand. I will, therefore, not criticise certain parts of his speech, but we understand his and other hon. Members' desires to have a more detailed knowledge of the way in which these negotiations have been proceeding.
It may well be true to say that nobody can arrive at an objective view of this matter unless he has at his disposal the verbatim records of the conference and all the relevant documents. Our difficulty is that we have agreed with the other two countries taking part in the negotiations that these negotiations should be conducted in secret, and I think that on the whole the House feels that that is the best way of conducting them. It means, however, that we are not at liberty to disclose details of what goes on in the conference.
All we can do, as my right hon. and learned Friend tried to do this afternoon, is to set out the position as we see it and to ask the House to judge whether we have been conducting these negotiations in a reasonable manner. It can always be argued that we are not being objective, but I know of no method of resolving this argument except the publication of all the documents and, as I have already said, we are debarred from doing this.
I recognise the considerable patience which the House has shown in awaiting the outcome of this conference. I myself have had to exercise a certain amount of patience in the conference. What I will try to do tonight is to clarify the position as far as I can. Perhaps it is a rash thing to say, but I will not at all object to a reasonable number of interventions if hon. Members feel that this might help in the process of elucidation.
Perhaps I might start with a brief survey of what has been achieved. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, the conference has already surmounted a number of difficulties. In our efforts to reach agreement the Western delegations have dropped any insistence that the continued suspension of tests should depend 1020 on progress in disarmament. The Soviet Government, unfortunately in our view, thought that this link would be an obstacle to agreement and we have, therefore, put it on one side in the expectation that the signing of this agreement would itself lead the way to real disarmament.
We had originally proposed that the suspension of tests should be on a year-by-year basis, but as a further demonstration of our good faith in these negotiations we have agreed with the Russians, and incorporated our agreement in a draft article, that the treaty should last indefinitely. The duration of the suspension is now subject only to the right of the parties to withdraw if the provisions of the treaty, whether on the ending of tests or on the maintenance of effective control, are not fulfilled. That is an agreed article, which I think answers one point which the right hon. Gentleman raised. It is not a matter still to be discussed in future.
We have made important concessions to the Russians' point of view and, I think, have clearly demonstrated our determination to do all that we can to make a success of these negotiations. I am bound to say that up to now no equivalent concessions have been forthcoming from the Russians. This has led us to the present situation, where the key issue which faces the conference is the fundamental issue of whether controls can be agreed which are effective.
I think That the House is already aware of the difficulties which we have been encountering. At the start of the negotiations the Soviet delegation were not anxious to have the detailed control agreed to until after we had signed a document putting us under an obligation to cease tests for all time. At least, we have now been able to get down to a thorough discussion of the real problems of control. We have reached agreement on a number of points. We have adopted 11 articles and the preamble to the treaty, and I think that we have clarified the major differences that now lie between us.
Some of these difficulties are very serious. We and the Americans are convinced that any treaty that is to achieve its object must give confidence to all parties that the obligations contained in it are being carried out. We therefore insist that the control system must be 1021 effective, and must be capable of working without legalised obstruction by other parties.
Adequate control over the ending of nuclear tests is essential in itself, but our success or failure in achieving such controls will be a clear indication of the likely Soviet attitude to controls in fields of true disarmament. We were, therefore. bound to be disturbed by the Soviet insistence on a comprehensive right of veto over decisions by the control commission, and particularly over the dispatch of inspection teams.
Last summer, the Soviet delegation agreed with us that inspection was an essential part of effective control, yet up till now the Soviet Government have asked for a right of veto over such inspection. We have tried to give effect to the experts' recommendation that such teams should be dispatched to inspect unidentified events that could be suspected of having been nuclear explosions—
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I cannot do it in any detail. All I can say is that there would be a seven-member commission. of which the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom would all be permanent members. There would be four other members elected by a conference to serve on the commission, but we have repeatedly said that we will discuss with the Soviet Union a suitable membership of that commission which will not give the Western Powers an advantage over the Soviet—
§ Mr. Bevan
This is a very important statement, because what has been said by representatives of the Soviet Union is that they must have the veto because the composition of the body deciding whether an inspection team should be sent out would always give a majority to the West. It would be very much better for the House and the public if we knew the exact composition of the body that would have authority to send out inspection teams.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
One of the problems is that we do not think it should 1022 be for the commission, each time, to have a debate on whether or not an inspection team should go out. That should be an administrative matter, very largely dependent upon the scientific evidence that is produced—
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
That is the answer.
We have tried to give effect to the experts' recommendation, but this does not mean that inspection teams would be crawling all over the Soviet Union, as has been suggested by certain Soviet statements. The inspection teams would be sent only when the control post reported some event that could be suspected of being a nuclear explosion. Teams would not wander at large, but would go to the area indicated by the control post as the site of the unidentified event.
We recognise Soviet fears about espionage, although we believe them to be quite groundless, so we have proposed that the host country—that is, the country that is being inspected—may attach as many observers as it likes to ensure that the inspectors do only what they are sent to do, and that they indulge in no improper activities.
In spite of this, the Soviet Government insisted that a team should not be dispatched unless all the original parties to the Treaty agreed. This undermined the concept of the effective control—
§ Mr. Bevan
I really must insist. We want an answer to the arguments put forward by Soviet spokesmen. I am most sincerely anxious to get this point cleared up. As the Minister of State has pointed out, we are really fumbling in the dark here, and lie should help by giving some further information.
When it is reported that a suspected hydrogen bomb explosion has taken place, the decision as to whether to send an inspection team to find out the facts will be one taken, in the main, by the control commission—or it may be taken by the control commission. The right hon. Gentleman has just said that at that stage the Soviet Government demanded the right of a veto. We would like to know what would be the composition of that body, and the Minister has not answered me yet. He has merely said that the Western Powers are prepared to consider the four other members, but we 1023 should like to know what stage has been reached in agreement upon the composition of the body responsible for sending out the inspection team.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
It is not precisely relevant to the point I am making about the dispatch of inspection teams, because that decision would be dependent on scientific data, fed into the technical headquarters, which would demonstrate whether an event which no one can identify has taken place. I quite accept the Soviet point of view that they wish to see a commission which will not be so hopelessly biased against them that they will always be outvoted.
We have said that we are quite prepared to discuss the composition of the commission, if they will say, on that account, that they will do away with the veto. But it would be silly to throw away our cards on the composition of the commission if, at the same time, irrespective of what we have said about composition, the Soviet Union still insisted on a veto on the long list of matters—
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
In all sincerity, we want to be able to answer the Soviet Union. What the Minister of State has now said, boiling it down to the nucleus of the problem, is that the Russians are asking for the veto to be put in even before discussion by the commission has started.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I must get on, because a number of other points have to be cleared up.
There are still certain difficulties, too, about the Soviet Government's refusal to discuss in the conference the methods for detecting high-altitude tests above 50 kms and also the additional data on underground tests which has become available since further tests took place in the United States last autumn. These are facts of life which we have to face.
I believe that, if we discuss these technical problems. we can find means of solving them. One of the considerations we have to take into account is what are we to do about underground nuclear tests under 5 kilotons or even under 1 kiloton, which are extremely hard to detect and identify and to which there is 1024 less objection on moral grounds because they do not entail any radiation hazards?
These tests can be of considerable military importance. If they are to be stopped, how are we to police the ban? Everyone will realise that this is a field in which we have to indulge in very detailed negotiations with the Russians in an attempt to find a solution. We cannot ignore the fact that the scientific data upon which the experts came to their conclusions last summer proved incomplete and, to some extent, inaccurate. A very large part of that scientific data was based on one single underground test carried out by the United States. As a result of a number of other tests carried out since, I repeat that some of that data has proved to be inaccurate. Therefore. we should like to have a fuller discussion on that subject with the Soviet Union.
If our scientists can get together and discuss these problems I think that they will be able to arrive at means of restoring to a great extent the capabilities of detection as described in the experts' report. In view of this new information, which we cannot ignore, I think that it would be a grave deception of the public to sign a treaty when the controls contained in it were to some extent no more than a facade and were ineffective in practice.
I believe that we have shown abundant patience and good will during these protracted negotiations. We are absolutely determined to get a workable agreement if we can. That is why we and the Americans, two weeks ago, offered the Russians two choices—either to modify their attitude on the key points of difference so that we might have a comprehensive agreement covering all tests, which we want, or, if they felt unable to do this yet, to start quickly with the simplest stage of a suspension agreement. As the House knows, that would mean beginning with a ban on tests above the ground up to a height of 50 km, controlled by fixed control posts and ships and aircraft flights, but involving little or no ground inspection.
The reason for taking the figure of 50 kms—this answers an hon. Member's question—was that this was the maximum height up to which the experts agreed last summer that the control system they described would be effective. We felt also that the banning of tests in this environment would mean that a country 1025 wishing to carry out a nuclear test would have to go to the immensely heavy expense of experimenting underground or at great heights in the atmosphere, and this certainly would be an effective impediment to the development of nuclear weapons by additional powers.
§ Mr. Healey
This is very important. It is agreed that it would make it more difficult for third or fourth Powers to carry out tests if agreement were restricted to atmospheric tests. Why not add in tests over 50 kilometres? After all, the first ever carried out was carried out a few months ago. We are also interested in restricting development of weapons in the Soviet Union and the United States as well as Britain.
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
I was just going to answer that. If we made a start in this way, an international control organisation would be brought into being in the near future and tests above ground and up to 50 kilometres in the atmosphere would cease. We would thus obtain one inestimable advantage, for the first practical example of East-West co-operation in the sphere of disarmament would have been established.
I should like to emphasise strongly, however, that we have always preferred, and still prefer, the idea of a comprehensive agreement from the start, and that is what we are still aiming at. Meanwhile, if we had this second alternative of a more limited ban, we would agree to start joint discussions with the Russians to find means of extending the control ban over tests at higher altitudes and underground.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Do I understand that these solutions are to operate piecemeal and that when this proposal relating to altitudes up to 50 kilometres is agreed to, all Powers will be bound by it? If so, does that mean that the British, who, after all, have a concern primarily in this field but not to altitudes above 50 kilometres and not underground, are to be put in jeopardy?
§ Mr. Ormsby-Gore
No, it does not mean that. It means that we would now agree to set up a control arrangement which would police a ban on tests in this particular environment. But, simultaneously, we would enter into the discussions with the Russians and with the United States to try to extend the experts' 1026 report of last summer in order to institute the kind of machinery that would be needed to police tests both underground and in the higher atmosphere. I believe that it is quite possible to have a number of earth satellites which would detect tests taking place in the higher atmosphere.
I should like to turn to Mr. Khrushchev's latest letters on these negotiations. We welcome, of course, the fact that he feels that we should still attempt to arrive at a comprehensive agreement, but we shall have to see whether, in the negotiations, the Soviet Union is prepared to change its attitude in such a way that an agreement of this kind becomes acceptable. We shall, therefore, study in very great detail the proposals when they are put forward at the conference in Geneva.
I should like to say one or two things about these letters, because they do not, for instance, deal with certain matters which we believe to be of great importance. One of them is the question of what methods might be used for detecting tests above 50 kilometres. Are the Russians now prepared to examine that problem? Secondly, Mr. Khrushchev's replies do not indicate whether or not the Russians are prepared to take into account the most up-to-date scientific data on underground tests. Finally, the letters do not deal with a number of other questions over which the Soviet Union still demand a veto in the control corn-mission, but I do not despair on that topic.
As to the suggestion for a limited quota of inspections for each side, this was an idea which, as Mr. Khrushchev says, the Prime Minister felt might do something to allay Russia's fears that the West was demanding unlimited inspection to gain military information about the Soviet Union. I can only say that Russian fears about this appear to be quite pathological. I think that the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) referred to the xenophobia that there still was in the Soviet Union about any foreigners coming into their country.
It therefore seems to us that it should be possible to agree upon a sufficient number of inspections to act as an effective deterrent and which would, at the same time, be based on purely scientific 1027 criteria. This, together with our proposals that the inspection teams should be accompanied by observers, ought to impress upon the Russians once for all that all we are seeking is an effective control and not an elaborate espionage
1028 system. I am still confident that if we can make this perhaps rather slow progress we will establish—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.