§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Perhaps I may now ask the Committee to return to the subject we were debating before this interlude, namely, Germany. It has at least this much similarity to the issue we have just been discussing: it presents a problem which, until now, has appeared from many points of view to be insoluble, possibly because of irreconcilable, or apparently irreconcilable, elements and arguments on both sides, but which it has now been found possible to resolve.
I should like to make this further point on comparison with the Cyprus situation, a point made clear by the Prime Minister's announcement, that this is a decision between the three Governments representing the Powers who are primarily interested in Cyprus from a strategic or other point of view, but which, as the Prime Minister said, is essentially dependent upon an agreement between them and the people of Cyprus. Unfortunately, in the general debate we have been having so far I heard mention of the people of Germany being interested parties on only one occasion, and that was on the occasion of the last speech from the opposite benches. It may be that the Germans were mentioned before, but there is no doubt that the general tenor of the debate has been to discuss only the interest of Great Britain, America and Russia in a German peace settlement and of a settlement of the tension in Europe.
Proposals have been put forward from one point of view or another for the neutralisation of Germany, for Germany withdrawing from or remaining in N.A.T.O., for Germany being part of a disengagement belt, and so on; never, however, with any direct reference to the question of the consent of the German people, except that my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell), in his remarkably fine opening 631 speech, referred to the willing consent of the German people, to a reunited Germany or to temporarily two Germanys, or to whatever arrangements might be reached.
I will therefore begin my few remarks on this point, because there might be, and I have a suspicion that there is in certain quarters, a tendency to say, "Well, in the context of this great issue, the German people do not matter or, if they matter, they do not matter a great deal. After all, we have had two great wars with Germany." But, as my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) reminded the Committee, even during the darkest days of the war there were hon. Members on both sides who thought differently. Great words were uttered by Sir Winston Churchill, who was Prime Minister at the time, when he reminded the country and the world that there were in the Germany we were fighting millions of people who stood aside from this conflict, and who in their hearts were with the Allies in the struggle against the Nazi elements which were in control of their country.
That has been the spirit which has animated many of us in trying to find a solution of the German problem,' both during and since the war. We are sometimes inclined to forget that one of the main issues in the question of the settlement of the German or the European problem is the issue of how far we shall be able to contribute by any settlement to the final destruction of those elements in Germany which the four great Powers united during the war to oppose, and to assist those elements in Germany to whom the Prime Minister of the Coalition Government of those days referred, and who were in the minds of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne and those of us who, during the war, spoke strongly in the House against the policy of unconditional surrender. I refer to the assistance and encouragement of those elements in Germany to maintain their position and build a solid democratic constitution in which the dangers which existed before could no longer survive.
We hear a lot about the revival of Nazism in Germany. I do not want to go into that question except to say that it is a pity that, when we hear of instances where there seem to be a manifestation of the old Nazi influences in Germany, 632 we see very little in our Press about the trials that are going on day by day, week by week and month by month in German courts all over West Germany of people who were responsible for war crimes as Nazis, members of the S.S. and the rest, and which are receiving tremendous attention in Germany.
We hear a lot about the revival of anti-Semitism and there is no doubt that there have been manifestations of it in Western Germany recently, as there have been in other countries. Yet again we must not forget the reactions of the mass of the German people to these manifestations. We must not forget that anyone proved guilty in Western Germany today of uttering those terrible statements about the Jews and about gas chambers, and so on, is likely to be hauled up before a court and to receive a very heavy sentence. That is not the case in this country, and it should be remembered that those sentences are being given by German judges in the German courts. Let us also not forget that recently, when there were some offensive markings on Jewish shops in Dusseldorf during the night, on the following day those very shops were packed with shoppers as they had not been before, and that a tribute was paid to the people of Dusseldorf by the spokesman of the Jewish community there for the fine demonstration.
We hear also every day in the House a revival of the enemy Krupp—this terrible menace of another Krupp plot; Krupp building his empire; Krupp not able to sell off his assets in coal and steel. Incidentally, it seems to be an insoluble problem, yet its solution is not difficult if we want to solve it. I have certain sympathy with the difficulties of selling off vast enterprises under forced conditions. Even Her Majesty's Government have had experience of the difficulties of trying to sell nationalised steel and nationalised road haulage under pressure. They found is difficult to get adequate prices.
The solution of the Krupp problem is simply to let Her Majesty's Government, the Treasury, or any block or group of British industrialists or financiers, make a genuine offer to Herr Krupp for his assets. Nobody would be more pleased than the German people themselves to get rid of this problem, and I have no doubt that Herr Krupp would be delighted to be able to sell off his assets 633 and put his money into electronics or atomic energy, which I personally do not think would be safer than coal and steel, though it seems to be the general desire that he should do something of the kind.
I only mention these various aspects of this constant suspicion that is going on about the development of democracy in Western Germany because I myself, thinking back to the year 1945 and 1946, when the most optimistic of us were trying to cast our minds ahead 10, 15 or 20 years, would never have dared to believe that there would be so little manifestation of this kind of development in a Germany which, for thirteen years had been shut off from the rest of the world. Germany had been subjected to intense propaganda by Nazis, who controlled the Press, publicity, wireless and everything else, and the youngsters brought up in the Nazi schools are now the younger middle-aged people who are the basic element in that country, who are not now yearning to go back to the Nazi days, but who, in fact, in Eastern Germany, an: revolting in the universities against any form of dictatorship, and are being suppressed by the regime there. In West Germany, any public demonstrations there are not about the old political ideas; they are not about Germany, but are primarily about the new European community.
My own view is that what has happened in Germany by the efforts of the democratic elements in the country, whom we enabled to take their places in the control of Government, has been much more encouraging in the intervening period than we might have been entitled to expect. Of course, there remain elements which are undesirable, and it remains desirable and indeed essential that these elements should be kept under control. This is the point which we must bear in mind when discussing the question of a settlement of the German problem.
If these elements are to be kept under control, and if democracy is to be allowed to broaden and flourish in Western Germany, surely the peole of Western Germany, upon whom we depend for the development of that democratic spirit and that co-operation, with the rest of the world, instead of hostility will be enabled to do it only in so far as we give them the necessary confidence in our good faith, in our solidarity with them, and in the encouragement which we are prepared to give them in lighting the very elements 634 which are their enemies as well as our enemies in Western Germany. But it will do us no good whatever trying, even by implication, constantly to lump the whole German people together with every little manifestation of something unhealthy that there may be in the country. It is just as sensible to suggest that everybody in this country and every Member of this House is responsible for and an enthusiastic supporter of, for instance, the Suez campaign, or many of the other things which have been done by one Government or another here. There are different elements in everything, and it is basic that we should keep that point in mind.
My right hon. Friend, in his opening speech which admirably summed up the general attitude of hon. Members on this side of the Committee, made that quite clear, and it was supplemented in what I considered to be a remarkably fine speech by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne, although I might have some reservations on the emphasis which he put on certain points. This is the keynote of the policy which we submit for the consideration of the Government, and which we suggest should be thoroughly examined by our partners in the Western alliance, including Western Germany. I would emphasise, however, as I think my right hon. Friend did clearly, that these five points in our Motion on the Order Paper, signed by some 95 or 100 Members on this side of the Committee and supported by every Member on this side, are, nevertheless, five points each of which is part of a combined proposition.
In other words, the Motion does not consist of five separate suggestions, any one of which can be thrown out in the hope that the other party might be prepared to consider one of the other. There are within these five points propositions which are, quite frankly, concessions towards the Russian point of view, concessions which we hope will enable them to accept the other propositions and help to get an agreement which will be generally beneficial to everybody. It must not be thought or suggested that the proposition behind these five points in the policy we submit in any way implies that Members on this side of the Committee are at any time prepared to sell out our own Allies. What I mean by that, is that for example, to say that we are prepared to 635 exclude Germany from N.A.T.O. as point one, and, if the Russians will accept that, we are prepared, without German agreement, to drop point two, because to do any such thing would be a betrayal of our Allies.
We persuaded Germany to join the N.A.T.O. alliance, and, whatever we may say about her, she has been a loyal member of that alliance. Therefore, what we are suggesting in these five points is not that Germany should be excluded from the N.A.T.O. alliance—my right hon. Friend made that point clear—but that we should be prepared to discuss, first of all, with her and our other Allies, the question whether, within the context of the plan we put forward, which includes reunification, free election, disengagement and all the rest, Germany herself would consider it desirable for her to withdraw from N.A.T.O voluntarily in order to secure the other benefits, and thus play her part in trying to bring all-round agreement.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
Is it not a fact that, juridically, Western Germany's membership of N.A.T.O. automatically lapses the moment that a new international entity, namely, united Germany, is formed? Therefore, it is not a question of asking Germany whether she wishes to leave N.A.T.O., but whether we are prepared to admit a united Germany to N.A.T.O. Further, is it not a fact that the whole of the Labour Party's policy is based on disengagement, which means that a united Germany shall not be admitted to N.A.T.O.?
§ Mr. Hynd
I thank my hon. Friend for that speech. Of course, his first presumption is correct, and it is just what I myself said several years ago. If we get a united Germany, there would no longer be a West German Government, and there would no longer be any East German Government. Therefore, the commitments entered into by the separate entities which would no longer exist would have to be re-examined by the new national entity.
It is quite clear that what we are talking about are the conditions upon which we and that part of Germany for which we are responsible now, which is a member of the Western alliance, should be prepared to face such a situation, and, after the end of N.A.T.O. and the 636 Warsaw Pact, and after the creation of a unified Germany, should consider what it was that we would expect a unified Germany to become. In other words, was it to be a neutral country, a country in a neutral belt or an area of disengagement, or a country which was to be reunited with a central Government or a confederacy or federal states? These are all matters that come after, but, if we are to consider the kind of peace treaty which we are prepared to accept with other parties, we must also have in mind what kind of a situation we should be creating thereafter. That is why consulting with our West German Allies, on this point as well as others, is vital.
I feel that if it were to be accepted abroad that the interpretation of any proposals of the kind we were making for a Four-Power Conference implied that we were prepared, irrespective of what our West German partners thought, to offer them as a kind of counter in the negotiations, without consulting them or without their agreement, we could be risking further diplomatic reverses. We should certainly be contributing to that disillusionment of those elements in Western Germany, and in the whole of Germany, which it should be our basic consideration to try to encourage and inspire with more confidence in our good faith.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
My hon. Friend may be interested to know—I do not think that I am betraying a confidence—that some of us who had conversations with Herr Ulbricht in East Berlin during this week-end heard him make it perfectly clear that if he had a situation in which West Germany was outside the N.A.T.O. alliance and East Germany outside the Warsaw alliance and there was controlled disarmament on both sides, things consistent with the Motion which my hon. Friend and I signed, from his point of view there would be no objection whatever to free elections in both parts of the country.
§ Mr. Hynd
I was not aware of that, but I am very glad to hear it. Of course, if that were the case, if West Germany were impressed with the advantages to be obtained from such a situation—I am certain that she would be—there would seem to be a very little difficulty about that or about free elections.
637 All I am trying to show is that whatever we do we must remember that we have to carry with us the confidence of the German people who have placed their confidence in us. Persuade them, yes, try to persuade them of the advantages, yes, but compel them, no. Otherwise, we should be in an impossible position at any peace conference. If we said to West Germany that whatever her views we proposed that she should be compelled to leave N.A.T.O. and not allowed to join any defensive alliance—
§ Mr. Hynd
No, it is not. It is not our policy to compel. It is our policy to persuade. If we took the attitude I have described and West Germany did not accept it, what would happen at a peace conference? Would we be prepared to arrange conditions with the Russians, Americans and others, and then present West Germany with an ultimatum? If so, what would happen if West Germany refused to accept that ultimatum? Should we, who have been her Allies and persuaded her into N.A.T.O., then start taking measures against her to force her to do what we wanted? Or are we to go to the Russians and the others and say that because West Germany refused to accept our demands, we must refuse to ratify the very peace treaty which we had just signed?
It is obvious that such a course is impossible. As in Cyprus and in other cases of negotiation about the settlement of any situation, it is not only the big fellows in control of the territory who have to be consulted, but the people who will be the subject of any agreement which might be reached. In fact, however, I do not think that there is a great deal of difficulty about that.
On this issue, my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne tended to oversimplify the matter when he was asking what was the objection to demanding that Germany should be excluded from defensive alliances. He asked whether it was not worth doing that to avoid a third word war with hydrogen bombs and so on.
If it were as simple as that, many of us would no doubt be prepared to go to great lengths to bring it about, but there 638 is no assurance, whatever agreement we get on this or any other issue in the world, with the Russians, Americans, or anyone else, that that will be the end of all international trouble. We know from our experience, that that would not be the case.
Another argument which has been used about the question of defensive alliances and free elections is that Russia will never agree. We can never be sure that Russia will never agree to anything. I have vivid recollections of the arguments used against me in 1945 when we discussed the level of German peacetime industry. My hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne and other hon. Members will remember that this country insisted on a minimum level for peacetime purposes of 11.1 million tons of steel a year for the whole of Germany. Russia demanded a level of between 4½ million and 5 million tons, America a level of 5 million to 7 million tons, and France an even lower level.
We were told that it was no good insisting on the level we wanted and that the Russians would never agree to it. However, we stuck to the point. We said that any lower level would be madness. The negotiations broke down and the Russians withdrew, but within a week they were back not only agreeing with the 11.1 million tons, but demanding 12 million tons for Germany, and proclaiming throughout that country that they were the friends of the German people and that it was the Western Allies who were trying to depress standards. It was a complete change of front and it was very useful for Russia's propaganda purposes.
There is also the case of Austria. We had the Palais Rose discussions on Austria which went on and on for many years. We made concession after concession, but no agreement was reached. Experts in practically every country, certainly in this country, were unanimously agreed that there was no point in continuing the negotiations because the Russians would obviously never leave Austria until there was an agreement on Germany, since Austria was Russia's line of communication with Germany.
America accepted that view and it was thought that getting the Russians out of Austria and getting a separate Austrian peace-treaty was out of the question 639 However, it was held that we might as well continue the negotiations, and suddenly the Russians changed their minds, and out they went.
There is always a possibility that Russia will agree to a proposal of this sort, provided that she is satisfied with the other points. We ought not to give up our own principles, certainly on this matter of free elections. In any international negotiations, this country of all countries should never discard free elections, because even if we think that there are other ways of approaching free elections, in the end we must stand firmly on the principle that at some stage the people of Germany, Cyprus, or whatever country it may be, must have the right to decide their own form of government and the composition of that government. That is a vitally important issue. Whatever we do in this context, there must be no question of unconditional surrender on our part. We must go forward with good will trying to get common agreement over the whole field.
It may well be that the Russian Notes and the opportunity given for the Prime Minister to visit Moscow and discuss matters informally with the Russian leaders are signs that the Russians want some relaxation of tension for their own purposes. As I have often said, Russia, too, has an economy to consider in these matters. Russia, too, has to divert many consumer goods from the standard of living of her people into vast armies, vast armaments, vast scientific experiments, and so on.
Russia, too, is subject to pressures, even though they do not express themselves in the way that ours do, at the ballot box. They express themselves in minor explosions here and there, in little revolts at this or that university, or this or that factory, or simply in the murmurs of intellectuals, writers, teachers, or whatever it may be. It may well be that Russia is having to give a little under these pressures.
There is one point in the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend about which I have some hesitation. Having in mind that no proposals can be 100 per cent. watertight, there is one point about which I am not very happy, although I should be prepared to 640 have it examined within the context of the other proposals. That is the complete withdrawal of the main forces from Germany. I agree with disengagement and favour the revised Rapacki Plan, specifically because it does not provide for that.
My right hon. Friend was not quite exact when he said that this was not the only frontier in the world where there are difficulties and where the Americans and Russians are not there to keep the peace. It is the only frontier where there is a country divided directly be-between a Communist régime and a non-Communist régime and where there is tremendous pressure for reunification backed by the great Powers. It is the only country of that kind, but there is another frontier, somewhat similar, the Arab-Israel frontier. There are no Americans or Russians on that frontier.
The conditions on that frontier over the last ten or twelve years have been very different from those on the frontiers of Germany. I am bringing this point in only to show that none of the solutions is necessarily completely watertight, and that they must all be examined very carefully. That is why I would rather have the Rapacki Plan than the proposition for complete disengagement. I fear that if there were a withdrawal of even the token occupation forces and the tremendous tensions in Berlin were left, it might create a very dangerous situation for the Russians as well as for ourselves, and it might even be more dangerous for the Russians, because it is in those conditions that another 17th June might occur, and be more dangerous than it was on the last occasion.
Whatever we agree to in this context must be carefully examined beforehand and balanced with every other consideration. We must be prepared to listen to any counter propositions that are put forward, in the hope that the pressures which I have mentioned may persuade the Russians to be more reasonable and ready to compromise.
The Prime Minister is now going to Moscow—even if he is going only for informal discussions and not formal negotiations—and I hope that the Government will realise that this visit is regarded throughout the world as an opportunity from which can emerge a new atmosphere, with new possibilities of agreement. If 641 the Prime Minister comes back with nothing to offer, because of his inability to put forward or accept any constructive suggestions, there will be tremendous disillusionment, not only in the House of Commons and this country but throughout the world, and the subsequent conditions will be worse than the existing ones. We can only hope that the Prime Minister has a successful journey, and that out of it will come something constructive and helpful to the future peace of the world.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
So much has happened in the last hour, and we have had such magnificent news, that the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) seems to have taken place a long time ago. I want to return to it, because it is only his speech that has caused me to rise. I had no intention of taking up the time of the Committee until the hon. Member spoke. He made a dramatic, forceful and a clear speech. He has the talents which enable him to produce a speech with those qualities whenever he chooses, but his speech tonight did not, in my opinion, contribute to the cause of peace, which I know he has most sincerely at heart.
I know that the hon. Member never has any hesitation in correcting hon. Members, and he will do so on this occasion if I have misunderstood his argument, but I thought the gist of his speech was, first, that no peace meant no survival.
§ Sir A. Spearman
Yes—no peace, no survival. He put the question whether what might happen in Berlin and Western Germany was worth war.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Member is over-simplifying what was already an over-simplified speech. In a short speech one cannot go into all the ramifications and possibilities. I was not putting the argument that he suggests. I was asking whether, in view of the calamitous and irremediable nature of the consequences of failure, it was not worth while to consider constructive proposals on their merits without being too inhibited by what had previously been said or done.
§ Sir A. Spearman
I accept that correction, but I would remind the hon. Mem- 642 ber that he asked whether Berlin was worth a war.
§ Mr. Silverman
No, I did not. The hon. Member for Hertfordshire, Southwest (Mr. Longden), said that in his opinion Berlin might be worth a war, in circumstances which he described, whereupon I said, "Suppose that that was not the question, but that the question was merely whether we should agree to consult East German officials instead of Russian officials when we went to West Berlin. Would it be worth a war?" The hon. Member said "No", and I agree with him.
§ Sir A. Spearman
I will make another attempt to interpret what I thought the hon. Member said. I am trying to do it in a few sentences, and am not pretending to give a complete resume of his speech.
§ Sir A. Spearman
The hon. Member would probably agree that he was saying that certain actions on our part were worth while because they might save a war. I claim that the alternatives are different from those he suggested. I believe that if we were to give way on the assurances that we have given—and by "we"I mean the Allies and the West in general—it would be the surest way of bringing about a war.
The course suggested by the hon. Member would jeopardise the very existence of N.A.T.O., and if N.A.T.O. disappeared it would be an immeasurable disaster for us. It would either put us at the mercy of the Communists, or entail our starting a suicidal war to defend ourselves. It might well mean both, because if we gave way to Communism while the United States did not, and she still retained her nuclear weapons, we might well become a Communist base for missiles directed against America. If we once submitted to Communism here we might also have war.
The disappearance of N.A.T.O. would be an immeasurable triumph for the Communists, because it would give them every prospect of the world domination that they have repeatedly said they intend to get.
§ Sir A. Spearman
—which interpreted the effect of Russian statements at the conference in Moscow as being, "We are intent on world domination by subversion if possible, by violence if necessary."
§ Sir A. Spearman
I did not come prepared for that, because I made that remark in reply to the hon. Member.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Gordon Touche)
I hope that the hon. Member will not intervene too often, because other hon. Members want to speak.
§ Mr. Silverman
That is quite right, Sir Gordon, but a direct reference was made to me. I shall not interrupt again, but the hon. Member must not try to ride away like that. There are two questions here. The first concerns what the Russians might or might not believe, and the second is what the hon. Member infers from their acts and what they say. He said that they have repeatedly said that they are intent on world domination, and I challenge him to produce one quotation showing that they have ever said any such thing.
§ Sir A. Spearman
I quoted the White Paper. I have not the detailed reference in my mind, but I will give it to the hon. Member afterwards. If he really believes in his heart of hearts that the Communists are not out for world domination, I think that he would believe anything.
I hope that the hon. Member will not think it too unflattering if I tell him that sometimes when I hear him speak on the lines on which he was speaking today I am reminded of the childish fable 644 of the fox and the duck. The fox went to Mrs. Duck and said to her, "I know you want to go off shopping and do not like leaving your little ducklings. I will look after them while you go off." Gaily and happily she went off, but, when she came back, there were no little ducklings.
I have not very much faith that if we left ourselves denuded of our defences in the hope that the Communists would treat us very kindly, we should not be deceived. Mr. Khrushchev was reported yesterday as making a rather unhelpful and unfriendly speech. We need not bother too much about that. I do not see that we need be very delighted when he is in a beguiling mood or very disturbed when he is in a threatening mood, because, whereas we use words to convey our intentions, they use words to conceal their intentions, and so often their words seem to have no bearing on their future actions.
After all, it was not so very long ago that Turkey was threatened with appalling disaster if she dared to join N.A.T.O., but no sooner had she done so than she was treated far more reasonably than ever before. I believe that the prevention of war— and I claim to be as opposed to war as any hon. Member— in the immediate future depends on the strength of our defences. I thought that there was a lot in what was said by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), that in the long run he was optimistic. He said that he was optimistic because getting rich was a mellowing influence. I think that it was Dr. Johnson who said:Man is seldom so harmlessly employed as in making money.I rejoice in the Russians making money. I do not at all want to see the Russians getting poorer. I want to see them getting richer and richer, because I am sure that will have a mellowing influence.
As to the Prime Minister's visit to Russia, about which so much has been said, I believe that he will make a big contribution to peace if he makes it really clear to his hosts that there is no possibility of us in the West agreeing to any concession that could undermine our defences and if he makes it so clear that there is no possibility of them starting a war through any miscalculation of what we would do.
645 That is one side of it, but the other side—more congenial to the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne—is what he might do in making closer contacts with the Russian people, in encouraging them to come here and enabling us to go there, because, while I in no way depart from what I said, that peace in the immediate future depends upon the deterrent, there can be no lasting security for us in that. The lasting security must be in closer contacts and better relations and it may be that the Prime Minister will start them to no small extent.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
The hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Sir A. Spearman) repeated what I may perhaps call the stock Conservative view of the nature of the Communist challenge. Conservatives interpret it as a military threat. They seem to imagine that the Soviet Government are spending their time thinking up ways of invading other countries to impose Communism on them by force of arms, whereas their position is quite different.
§ Sir A. Spearman
In the last instance in Hungary, and in East Germany and other satellite countries. Those countries are not Communist by their own choice, but because the Russians have put the Red Army there.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
That, again, is a typically Conservative view. In Hungary, the Russians were already there as part of the peace settlement. They were called in by the Government. I condemned that on 19th December, 1956, in the House, but after all, the hon. Member's own Prime Minister produced exactly the same doctrine as a reason for going into Jordan at the request of that Government.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
They have offered to come out, and offered it as part of a general settlement by disengagement. If the policy advocated by the Opposition 646 were applied, the Russians would come out of Hungary, whereas we shall never get them out with hydrogen bombs; and I do not think that the Hungarians would thank us for trying.
Although the Soviet Government, like any great Power, will resort to power politics to defend their own national security interests, they are not pursuing an ideological foreign policy in the sense of believing that the armed might of the Soviet Union is the instrument to use for spreading Communism. What they say —I think they are wrong, but they say it—is that the social and economic success of their system in raising the standards of living of their people will attract the workers of the world and in each country the workers will turn to Communism.
The reason I believe that that is not so is, first, that it gravely underrates the actual social achievements of our capitalist democracies, in which we are still on a higher standard of living, and, secondly, it gravely undervalues the efficiency of democracy as a system of Government through which we can make any changes we want in our social system. Thirdly, it does not understand the value of democracy as an end in itself, as a way of life in the eyes of those people who have enjoyed it. Nevertheless, that is their position. It is what they believe.
The whole trouble is that on our side we keep on challenging them to a competition in a field where they can beat us, namely, in the field of material achievements, particularly military might. We decline the competition they are offering us in the field where we are stronger, namely, the ideological field. The result of a policy of disengagement would be to strengthen the demand for more political freedom and democracy among the Communist countries: it certainly would not increase the popularity of Communism on this side. But that policy and disarmament would create an economic need for more public ownership and planning in our economic system. That is the nigger in the woodpile. That is where the rub comes in from the Conservative point of view.
I hope, as everyone in the Committee hopes, that the Prime Minister's mission will render a service to peace. If it does, he will get a good deal of credit out of it, and he will very much deserve that 647 credit. But as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, in his powerful and cogently argued speech, there is no hope whatever of arriving at even a basis of negotiation with the Soviet Union unless we are prepared to abandon the condition that united Germany must be free to enter N.A.T.O. There must be some form of disengagement, as a compromise between the extreme positions on the two sides.
I am not quarrelling with our refusal to accept the Soviet Government's word for it that, if we withdraw our troops from West Berlin, the free city's status will be respected. But then, it is not reasonable to expect the Russians to accept our unsupported assurance that, if they withdraw their forces from Eastern Germany and raise no objection to reunited Germany joining N.A.T.O., Eastern Germany will remain demilitarised, at least so far as Anglo-American-French forces are concerned. We say nothing about West German forces.
We cannot have it both ways. We cannot treat the Russians as cads whose word cannot be accepted and expect them to treat us as gentlemen who must be trusted on our bare say-so. It does not make sense. The only middle ground is some form of disengagement.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made the point very strongly that there is already considerable support in the United States for this kind of policy. He mentioned particularly Senator Mansfield, the Deputy Leader of the Democratic Party, and Senator Fulbright, the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In his last speech, Mr. Khrushchev also referred to Senator Mansfield's views and said, "With people like that we can talk sense and come to terms. These are people with whom we can reach agreement." That is indirect, but fairly conclusive, evidence that a policy of disengagement such as that proposed by the Opposition would provide a basis of negotiation on which we could come to terms with the Soviet Union. That is a not unimportant consideration.
The point is made that it is unfair to the Germans. I cannot for the life of me see why. We are, in effect, saying to Germany, "You were beaten in the last war, which you started. As a result, you 648 are divided. You have foreign forces on your soil on both sides. We are offering you unification on certain conditions. You can either reject the conditions and remain disunited or accept the conditions and become unified". The conditions are that united Germany should take part in an all-European treaty and in the United Nations, but should not be a member of either of the rival alliances.
I agree fully that that is only a temporary position. I support the five points of the Motion on the Order Paper, tabled by a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself. I am one of the sponsors of it. The Motion only repeats an extract from the National Executive's Foreign Policy Report, adopted unanimously by the Annual Conference at Scarborough. It is a Motion which is the official policy on which the whole Labour Party is agreed. There may be a handful of dissentients to right or left, but the overwhelming majority of the party is solidly united on this policy.
That policy is only meant as a basis of negotiation, as a first step which will lead to further consequences. The Minister of State said that he accepted that German unification must take place within a framework to be agreed and guaranteed by the four Powers—Great Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union. There is no framework on which it is possible to reach agreement except a form of disengagement on the lines that we have proposed.
That position is, from Germany's point of view, unequal. Therefore, I believe, as part of the negotiation of a settlement of that kind, it would have to be made clear that Germany would recover equality within the organised European community; not through the process of being free to join military alliances, but through the process of the military alliances being progressively wound up and replaced by the obligations of the Charter of the United Nations.
This policy of disengagement is much more than a policy of just withdrawing forces geographically. That is the first step and an important one, and must be done, as has been stated frequently by the Minister of State and by my right hon. Friend, on lines that do not diminish the balance of security on either side. This "balance of security", so-called, is the balance of power and is really a 649 balance of insecurity. The longer that we go on with the balance of power and the arms race the unsafer we shall be. Our real task is how to lighten and diminish the weight of fear on both sides of the scales in this balance. Therefore, the policy of disengagement is not merely a policy of military withdrawal. It is also a policy of political co-operation. One of our five points speaks of a collective guarantee by the four Powers, which they can only exercise in their capacity of permanent members of the Security Council.
Furthermore, I believe that a policy of military disengagement must be followed by a policy of economic engagement. ft would be very useful if the Prime Minister, when in Moscow, would investigate the possibility of expanding trade relationships, using the machinery of the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe. In April, 1956, the Soviet Government put forward far-reaching proposals at the Commission and they were adopted for purposes of study. They called for cooperation in matters of trade, investment, credit, banking, transport, cultural exchanges, exchanges of technical information, and so forth. We have the machinery there, and there is acute need of expanding our trade with these countries, which are already responsible for one-third of the world's industrial production and will be responsible for half of it within the next few years. They are tremendous potential sources of raw materials and they can plan their economies to meet our needs if we will plan ours to meet their needs, and so on. We can do a great deal more than has been done hitherto and we can use this machinery for the purpose.
It is vitally necessary that when the Prime Minister goes to Moscow he should be prepared to consider making a new start. We have heard this evening that he has made a tremendous success of switching over to a policy of disengagement in Cyprus, as it were, and I believe that he would score an even greater success if he could switch over to a policy of disengagement in Germany and Central Europe.
But there is a previous question, and that is the question of access to Berlin. On this issue, the Minister of State was categoric where he should have been vague and vague where he should have been categoric in his speech this after- 650 noon. He was categoric about rejecting any form of disengagement which, to say the least, was very unwise because he was locking the door on any possibility of agreement.
The right hon. Gentleman was vague on whether or not the Government were seriously contemplating the use of force to break through to Berlin, if and when the functions of Soviet officials on the lines of communication and at the frontiers were handed over to East German officials, instead of using the original Dulles formula, which was recommended by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, namely, that we should work with these officials as Soviet agents —which does not imply even de facto recognition. It is important to get that position cleared up. Frankly, it does not pay to try to run a bluff on the Russians in such a matter. They are not people who give way under that kind of treatment. They merely get tough about it.
It is deplorable that the Russians are taking unilateral action over Berlin. But we have been standing pat for years on an intolerable status quo and in the end the Russians got into the mood of a mule driver with a balky mule who finally, in desperation, lights a bonfire under the animal to make it move. I only hope that in this case the "mule" will not sit down on the fire instead of moving towards serious negotiations. If the people of this country could bring themselves to believe that we are seriously contemplating the use of force to uphold our view of our rights of access, instead of adopting some kind of modus vivendi, like that of de facto, or less than de facto, recognition of East German officials; and that we are not prepared to take these things to the United Nations Security Council and obey the obligations of the Charter concerning refraining from the use of force to settle our disputes, there will be an explosion.
If the Government are really trying to do that, the result will be either that they will receive a resounding diplomatic rebuff, or they will jeopardise the survival of the human race. That would be a tragic outcome of the journey to Moscow, when instead it might accomplish so much good for a world which, heaven knows, is looking for a lead in the direction of peace from somewhere.
I therefore beg the Committee to give the Prime Minister a mandate to go to 651 Moscow with an open mind and a readiness to change his basic positions, if necessary, in order to reach agreement. I ask hon. Members particularly to bear in mind that not only a united Opposition, but a large section of opinion outside the ranks of Labour, represented by the Manchester Guardian and the Observer, is in favour of a policy of disengagement; that the evidence is that that policy would be acceptable to powerful sections of American opinion and that it would be accepted by the Soviet Government as a basis for negotiation. What is wanted now is a British lead.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
The hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) is asking for a British lead. Recently, on the question of the use of force, he asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to give an assurance that on no account would force be used—
§ Mr. Russell
The hon. Member is asking a great deal, and doing a great disservice to the country by expecting the Prime Minister to answer such a question in the affirmative. I am not suggesting that anyone should say that force should be used, but it is wrong to think that anyone should expect the Prime Minister to say that it would not be used—
§ Mr. Zilliacus
All I want is that the Government should give a categorical undertaking that they will not resort to force in violation of the obligations of the Charter of the United Nations. The Government did that in the case of Suez, with disastrous results, and I do not want to see that tried again over Berlin—
§ Mr. Russell
That is another story. That was not the question which the hon. Gentleman had on the Order Paper.
§ Mr. Russell
I sincerely hope that we shall not have to use force at all, but it is wrong for the Prime Minister to be asked to say that in no circumstances should it be used.
§ Mr. Russell
Whoever stopped the convoy—and I thank the hon. and learned Gentleman for his interruption.
So far as I understand, the defence of Western Europe depends on two factors: one is the deterrent and the other is what the Supreme Commander called a "shield force". I think that that is apt to be overlooked by hon. Members opposite who insist on a policy of disengagement in any circumstances. Just before Christmas, in common with other hon. Members, I attended a meeting of the Assembly of the Western European Union, in Paris. On that occasion, as on previous occasions, we had an address from the Supreme Commander, General Norstad.
§ Mr. Russell
They were appointed, but I am not dealing with the question of who elected the representatives. I am merely stating that I, in company with other hon. Members, went there, and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not pursue that matter, as it is hardly relevant.
The point that I am making is that we heard an address from General Norstad, and in discussing the value of a shield force be said:Failure to have such a force deployed in the forward line would, we believe, invite a series of incidents and would leave us with no warning and no response which was adequate to the event.In other words, the Supreme Commander expressed himself very clearly against leaving a vacuum in which there would be no major troops on our side right up to the front line. That is a point of view that ought to be borne in mind.
General Norstad went even further when, at question time, after the end of his address, he was asked by Herr Altmaier—one of the delegates of the German Social Democratic Party, not a Right-wing German, not a Christian Democratic—if he would be able to perform his military task if a demilitarised zone should come into being in Central Europe on the lines of the Rapacki Plan. General Norstad said: 653If you are now speaking in the context, as I now must speak, of the general military and political context existing at this time, the answer is categorically "No". Perhaps I would do best to leave it there.General Norstad seemed to express himself again very clearly against any form of disengagement or of having a demilitarised zone.
§ Mr. Paget
Surely the Rapacki Plan was not for a demilitarised zone. It was for a withdrawal of atomic weapons. For us to withdraw our atomic weapons when we are geared to them is one thing, but if the proposal is that we should withdraw about nine divisions a matter of at most 100 miles while the Russians withdraw about 30 divisions for 300 miles, I should have thought that the military advantage was rather obviously to us.
§ Mr. Russell
I agree. The answer given by General Norstad was the answer to the question: if a demilitarised zone—the Rapacki Plan or whatever else it might be—came into being. I think that that is a clear answer against a demilitarised zone. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is how the question was worded—if a demilitarised zone came into being. I think that the views of the Supreme Commander, who, after all, has to carry out the defence of Western Europe, should be taken into consideration in a matter like this.
§ Mr. Paget
Surely it must depend on what he is applying his mind to. If he is applying it to disengagement with the Russians going back to Russia when we are only going to France and the Low Countries, the military advantage is obviously with us. General Norstad was not applying his mind to that at all.
§ Mr. Russell
I think that he was. Surely the hon. and learned Gentleman will accept this next point. I do not profess to be anything of an expert on defence, but surely room for manoeuvre of forces of the West confined to the Low Countries and France is far less than room for manoeuvre by the Russians, even if they are driven back into Russia?
The great danger is—and even the Leader of the Opposition, in his speech, seemed to appreciate some views expressed on this—that there would not be room for these troops there. We may 654 have to bring ours back to this country and the Americans may take theirs back to the United States. That would be a disaster, as I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman would agree. That is what we have to reckon with in considering disengagement. That, surely, is one of the conditions in which we must not give way on the question of disengagement.
§ Mr. Russell
I do not profess to be an expert, but, surely, the warning system and the infrastructure must be considered, also. At the moment, presumably, the infrastructure leads right up to the East-West line, as does the warning system. If, however, we leave a vacuum or an area of disengagement, if it covers the whole of Poland, Germany and Czechoslovakia also, our warning system then moves back to the frontier of Western Germany and the amount of warning we get is correspondingly less.
§ Mr. Russell
Surely the object of the disengagement plan, at least according to a number of hon. Members opposite, is that in the event of disengagement. Western Germany, if not necessarily compelled to be outside N.A.T.O., should not be a member of N.A.T.O. In other words, she should be completely neutral. In that case, would we be entitled to have a warning system from Germany, or would the Germans, if they had their own warning system, be entitled to connect with ours and pass on the information? That is a tricky and dangerous situation. I would prefer to have the warning system, as now, right up to the Iron Curtain frontier rather than have it brought back to the frontier of the Low Countries and of France, leaving a colossal vacuum in between.
There is the other danger that if we had to withdraw our troops completely, if we brought them back to this country and the Americans also went back, the disadvantage would be completely with 655 ourselves. That is something which, I hope, we shall not envisage in any circumstances.
A great deal has been talked about tension in Western Europe. I agree that since the ultimatum, if such we can call it, concerning West Berlin was given in November, there has been an increase of tension. I suggest, however, that before that threat was made by the Russians, there was not as much tension on that frontier as one might imagine from reading about it.
Like probably many other hon. Members, I have crossed that frontier several times in the last few years, not only by air, but by road and rail. In crossing it last April, on Good Friday, in company with my hon. Friend the Member for Armagh (Mr. Armstrong), after we had attended a meeting of the Cultural Committee of the Council of Europe in Berlin, I was much surprised. It was just like crossing any ordinary frontier, except that the East German Customs and passport officials came into the motor coach in which we were travelling took away every passport and made sure that nobody was travelling without a passport or that no passport was without an owner. The passports were taken away and stamped. On crossing an ordinary frontier, however, the passengers would no doubt get out of the bus, but nobody would search the vehicle to ensure that there were no unauthorised passengers.
But apart from that there was complete courtesy and no sense of tension of any kind. The same thing occurred on a previous journey which I made in 1956. But I have a feeling that there is not quite the tension, or was not until the Berlin issue, between the two sides of the Iron Curtain which we are sometimes led to believe. Rather than give way and yield in any negotiations with the Russians, something that would weaken our security completely, a continuation of the system as it is at the moment, leaving out the Berlin issue, is surelv better than yielding to something to which we ought not to yield.
I would, therefore, prefer to see a continuation of the cold war of the last ten years since the Berlin crisis of 1948–49 rather than give way, weaken the whole of our defensive system and put ourselves at a complete disadvantage in relation to the Russians.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Boyd (Bristol, Northwest)
It seems to me that it is exceedingly difficult to achieve exactly the right balance of firmness with conciliatory behaviour to keep the peace in the sort of tense situation which has been developing. For a start, none of us knows quite how dangerous, if dangerous at all, is the situation developing round Berlin. It is, therefore, perhaps easier for hon. Members who are not in responsible positions to speculate more freely about possible events, and it is perhaps useful for us to discuss what might happen and what we ought to do.
The first thing that is in prospect is simply that the Russians will withdraw their troops from the eastern sector of Berlin just a short distance, which is a very small event, and that they will also withdraw their sentries from the routes between Berlin and Western Germany and hand over those jobs to officials of the Pankow-German Republic. If that is all that happens, then we are, of course, making a great crisis out of very little.
If it is true that the East German officials, or the authorities ordering them, who take over these jobs have no intention of interrupting communications between West Berlin and Western Germany, even in the event of the British, American and French troops remaining in West Berlin, then, of course, the crisis is not a crisis at all. We must hope that that is how it will turn out. There is fairly wide agreement that it would be wrong simply because we are told by Russia that our troops ought to leave West Berlin that they should therefore go. We should consider specially what are likely to be the wishes of the population of West Berlin in deciding that question, and it seems fairly clear that they have expressed the opinion, through their freely elected representatives, that they desire the Western forces to remain in West Berlin and that they do not think their freedom would be as safe even as it is at present if the Western forces left. As a first step, we have a clear obligation to take the opinion of the population of West Berlin into account.
The next step is to try to sustain communications with the minimum trouble. This obviously involves dealing with the officials of the East German Government, 657 and if we save face by calling them agents of Russia I cannot see what harm there is in that. I should have thought that it is a small gain if the Russian officials have left some of these jobs, even though Communist Germans or officials of the Communist German Government may have taken over. It is, perhaps, diminishing the Russians' influence a little bit, which might be considered to be a small beginning to the disengagement which we on these benches have been advocating. I know that it is difficult for the West German Government, but even in Germany the idea of enlarging contact between West and East has been growing in the political parties. It began among the Free Democrats. It is growing among the Social Democrats, and even some Christian Democrats are growing more flexible in this respect.
I should not have thought that we would be letting the Russians have anything very terrific if we negotiated with the officials of the Pankow Republic, but I think that we would be giving away too much if we took our Western forces out of Berlin under Russian threats. Then, of course, there is the possibility, which we can discuss, that there might be later, at some stage, a serious effort to renew the old blockade of Berlin and stop the movement of traffic, as Mr. Khrushchev seemed to be implying in his speech yesterday. He appeared to be implying that traffic between West Berlin and Germany would be stopped by the Pankow Republic officials and that if we resorted to an airlift the aircraft would be shot down.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
That surely is a complete misconception. What Mr. Khrushchev was saying, as I understood, was that if we, in order to avoid recognising East German officials, were to enforce an airlift, they would resist. That is a different thing.
§ Mr. Boyd
My hon. Friend may be right in that interpretation. I certainly do not rule out that possibility, and we should not rule it out until we have been actually stopped from sending supplies through in the normal way.
As many people think that there is an intention to have another blockade it is useful to consider what we would do if necessary, hoping that it will not be necessary and thereby perhaps making it less likely to happen. It is probably true that 658 in the Suez crisis we quite overestimated the likelihood of an intention to block our trade through the canal. It may be that we overestimate the danger of an attempt to block trade and traffic going through between West Berlin and West Germany, but it is useful to consider what would happen if the anticipated danger took place.
In this connection I would comment about the altercation that took place on the question of a lorry being stopped at a gate and who was using force. If the gate is closed and the sentry is standing by and the lorry is stopped, it seems that the man who has closed the gate has used a degree of force illegally in stopping the lorry going through. If the lorry driver drives through the gate and smashes it and in the process knocks the sentry down and proceeds on his course, greater force would have been used by the lorry driver. But if the sentry succeeded in shooting the driver, greater and more serious force would have been used by the sentry.
It seems to me, therefore, that there is no simple answer to that question. Probably that is the sort of asessment that would be made if the matter came before the United Nations Assembly as a last resort. It might also take the view that the sentry was wrong to stop the driver, that the driver was more wrong who had forcibly smashed the gate—
§ Mr. Russell
Would not the hon. Member agree that the person who first uses force is the one who is guilty of it?
§ Mr. Boyd
That does not necessarily and automatically follow, and it does not necessarily excuse the further action leading to further violence by the next person. If the gate has been illegally closed, the matter should be taken to the International Court or there should be negotiations between the higher authorities, rather than a greater amount of force being used. Once we step up the scales of force there is no clear indication where to stop before getting to a nuclear war, unless one has the idea that rather than keep on stepping up the degree of force used, there should be negotiation going up if necessary through higher levels and ultimately to the General Assembly of the United Nations. So it seems clear to me that we do not want anybody on the Western side to take the contest to a higher level of force, to smash through the gate rather than pursue the matter by 659 negotiation. Because of this I would prefer to try the air-lift in the hope that there will not be attempts to shoot down aircraft—that is, if the gate is actually closed.
I also hope that food supplies are being built up, as I think Willi Brandt suggested, to enable Berlin to carry on for some time and to allow time for negotiation, rather than wait and be left with a very short time before the lack of supplies became serious. I hope, therefore, that we shall be prepared to increase the road, rail and air services early, to stock supplies, and perhaps also to remove West out of Berlin all those wanting to go West from farther East, and anybody else who would be glad to leave Berlin and has no special need to stay there at present. All this would help to diminish the food supply problem if things become difficult, which we hope they will not.
I suggest that we do not want to give way unjustifiably. We want to stand our ground, but to do so in the most conciliatory and least violent way possible. If we keep to such a course continuously we shall have the maximum chance of peace both in the immediate crisis and in future ones. In the end if we cannot get settlement by negotiation at lower levels, we shall have to take the matter to the United Nations, the Security Council and the Assembly, abide by their decision, and put our weight, influence, authority and force, if necessary, behind the enforcement of a United Nations decision.
§ 9.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I will begin with two preliminary observations. I believe that the whole Committee will wish to join with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in expressing to Mr. Dulles our warm regard, our recognition of his great devotion to his task and of the services he has rendered to us all, and our ardent hopes for his recovery.
Cyprus we shall be debating when the Prime Minister returns from Moscow. I only say now that a load of anxiety and grief has been lifted from the hearts of many people, not least from the mothers of our soldiers and from the mothers in Cyprus, too.
Our debate this afternoon has shown that hon. Members on both sides of the 660 Committee, certainly all hon. Members on this side, are glad that the Prime Minister is going to Moscow and we wish him well. He has called his visit a reconnaissance and has warned us against expecting any spectacular results. I have heard it said by people who think they know the Kremlin that the Soviet leaders expect to do serious business with the Prime Minister on only two subjects, trade and cultural relations. I came back from Moscow the other day thinking that there was much of real importance to be done on both. It is only when we have talked with the Soviet leaders that we can understand their passionate enthusiasm for their seven-year and fifteen-year economic plans.
Of course, they are proud of what they have done in the last forty years. They found Russia, after their revolution, in a catastrophic condition, prostrate from the war, still torn by civil strife, her transport system smashed, millions of people dying from hunger and millions more from epidemic disease. When the great Norwegian statesman Nansen was repatriating prisoners of war for the League of Nations he once called Russia the country of the dead. They have made it, in forty years, one of the leading industrial nations of the world, but they think, as Sir John Cockcroft said only the other day, that the development of science and technology is only just beginning to bring its results, that it is a solid foundation for a rapidly expanding economic system, and that they are on the threshold now of achievements far greater than anything they accomplished in the past.
When, with my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker), we saw Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Mikoyan, in December, they told us again and again that, whatever happened about the cold war or about international trade, they would, by their own efforts and with their own resources, fulfil and over-fulfil the targets of their economic plans, and bring about by 1965 a massive increase in the living standards of their people. They know very well that an expanded international trade could make an immense contribution to the fulfilment of their aims.
Mr. Khrushchev told the 21st Congress of the Communist Party that the Soviet Union had trebled its trade with the capitalist countries of Europe and 661 America since 1950, and that, thanks to the seven-year plan, they should double it again by 1965. I came away with the conviction that this passionate concentration on internal economic and social advance might be a powerful factor on the side of peace, that these men know that the arms race, and still more a nuclear war, will be fatal to their hopes, would destroy their system, and that it is our overwhelming interest to sweep away whatever trade restrictions still remain, and to build up with them whatever trade exchanges and co-operation will benefit both them and us.
Culture is a word from which the British instinctively recoil. I remember Lord Balfour once saying to the League of Nations that the six Commonwealth delegations had never voted together except against what was then called intellectual co-operation. Visit a Russian university or school, or music or ballet schools, or picture galleries, theatres or concerts, or even the Pioneers, and one cannot resist the feeling that culture and the arts are very important in the Soviet scheme of things.
I was fortunate enough to be present in Leningrad, with Her Majesty's Ambassador, when the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre Company from Stratford gave their first performance of "Romeo and Juliet" there. Admittedly, it was a performance of outstanding power and beauty, the masterpiece, perhaps, of that great producer, Mr. Byam Shaw, but that does not explain the fact that its reception, and the reception of all the other plays, was a triumph far beyond anything that I have ever seen in any other theatre in the world. The enthusiasm of the public, the speeches that were called for almost every night, the Press publicity, made this a mass demonstration not for Shakespeare only, but for Anglo-Russian friendship, and, I would even add, for international peace as well.
I believe that it is of very real importance that Mr. Khrushchev should not only allow all this to happen, but gives it his full support, and I am sure that he will urge on the Prime Minister that it should be expanded still further. I left Leningrad and Moscow with a conviction that a man who says and does so much for a programme such as this must be genuinely trying to break down 662 the barriers which, for over four long decades, have been between his people and the outside world. I hope that the Prime Minister may be able to do real business under that heading, too. Our Committee of the British Council whose chairman is my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew), has done very much on which they deserve our congratulations. I hope that when he gets back, the Prime Minister will give that Committee more resources still.
Mr. Khrushchev's speech, reported this morning, means that he intends to talk to the Prime Minister of other things, besides culture and trade. He has put Berlin back as No. 1 on the agenda. Some hon. Members think that his language was very rough. To me, the most significant sentence of his speech was:One cannot settle international issues now by force of armsI genuinely believe, after long discussions, that Mr. Khrushchev and his colleagues are desperately anxious for a settlement of the whole German question, and that they want to talk and not to fight, and that if we had had the Summit Conference, for which they have so often asked, we should not have had the Berlin Note three months ago.
There are two things which make the Berlin question acute and urgent for the Kremlin. The first is the tide of refugees who leave East Germany for the West, 2 million out of 17 million in the last nine years, half of them in their early twenties, and thousands of the best specialists, engineers, doctors, chemists, university teachers, without whose services the country must be extraordinarily difficult to run. This is much more than a problem of prestige. It is a menace to the working of the Government's whole administrative and economic machine.
The second is the arming of West Germany, which is now going on. Of course, we know that the Russians first rearmed East Germany, violating, as we believe, the Potsdam principles. To look at recent events from their point of view —and I try to put this with as little provocation as I can—eight miles from the centre of Leningrad there still stand the earthworks at which the Nazi armies were held at bay. From that distance.
663 Leningrad was under siege for 500 days, for just as long as Hitler's armies were in front of Moscow launching attack after attack. In Warsaw, I saw Nazi films showing Hitler's troops, before their final retreat, dynamiting and setting fire to every building that remained. They did the same in Russia, and only fifteen years ago.
I remember what kind of disarmament we were proposing to Russia in 1957 and what kind of things are happening in Germany today. The Prime Minister will forgive me if I elaborate the point. It will be ever present in the minds of his Kremlin hosts. Until May, 1955, the Western Governments were urging the Soviets to accept the drastic plan of an all-round armament reduction, a reduction to 1 million or, at most, 1½ million men for their army, navy and air force, including their security police and other forces. That was a reduction of up to 80 per cent. and there were to be a corresponding reduction of conventional arms, total abolition of all nuclear weapons, including stocks, abolition of other weapons of mass destruction, budgetary limitation, and inspection and control.
In May, 1955, the Soviet delegate suddenly accepted most of the major points, but we withdrew our proposals —I shall not argue about this; we can do so on another occasion—before serious negotiations could begin. In the subcommittee of the United Nations, in 1957. Mr. Stassen was saying that his Government no longer believed that large armaments reductions would help the cause of peace. He was saying that they had come to think that the extreme form of inspection and control which they had previously favoured was not practical, feasible or attainable, and when Russia still proposed total nuclear disarmament, including the abolition of existing stocks —knowing, as everybody knows, that American stocks are now sufficient to blow up the world two or three times over —Mr. Stassen replied that a substantial part of those stocks must be retained.
Mr. Stassen said that America must be free to make new nuclear weapons from existing stocks of fissile materials and must be free to refabricate her stocks into new and more efficient weapons, to introduce and maintain nuclear weapons in the territories of her Allies—that is, in 664 Germany—to train the forces of her Allies in the use of nuclear weapons, and increasingly to equip those Allies with the means of delivering such weapons.
Are hon. Members surprised that the Russians argued that this was not disarmament at all, but simply a widespread preparation for nuclear war? Are they surprised that the Russians were not reassured by the thought that the Americans would keep control of the nuclear warheads? The Russians know as well as we do that if we do not obtain all-round disarmament the Germans will be able to make their own warheads before long.
Let hon. Members remember something that looms large—I believe that it looms much too large, although it is not unimportant—in Russian minds. Yesterday, we had some Questions about the firm of Krupps. Hon. Members may have forgotten the record of the Krupp family. Before the First World War they were proved, in the German Reichstag, to have bribed German officials, to have financed armaments propaganda and to have done everything in their power to increase the expansion of the German forces and their readiness for instant war. They did a great deal that could be called most dangerous war propaganda.
Between the wars, they created the Hugenberg Konzern, bought up a great part of the German Press, the German broadcasting stations, advertising agencies and UFA films, and threw the whole weight of this enormous machine behind the Nazi movement. With other armament firms they gave direct subsidies to Hitler, thus enabling him to pay the storm troops which destroyed the democratic Weimar Constitution and brought Hitler into power.
The Press reported the other day that Krupps are now associated with Messerschmitt, Dornier and other famous firms in plans to build up an aircraft industry on German soil. Perhaps the Russians have exaggerated, and perhaps their fears about great trusts are no longer as justified as they were in years gone by. No one can believe more firmly than I in the peaceful aspirations of the post-war German generation, but I understand the feelings of the Russians when they read such news as this. It is this problem of growing armaments— and, above all, of nuclear armaments— in Central Europe that we have to solve.
665 The Berlin crisis is only a symptom of a malignant and spreading disease— a disease of fear and suspicion that is growing greater and not less. I told Mr. Khrushchev very plainly that the Labour Party did not believe that his proposals could ever solve the Berlin problem. I told him that we could never abandon the people of West Berlin, and I reminded him of the results of the Berlin elections in 1946 and in December of last year. In 1946, the Social Democrats had 48.7 per cent. of the votes, and in 1958 they 52.6 per cent., which was a clear overall majority. In 1946, the Christian Democrats had 22.2 per cent. of the votes, and last year they had 37.7 per cent. In 1946, the Communists had 19.8 per cent. of the votes, and last year they had 1.95 per cent.
We cannot abandon the people of Berlin, but I cannot help thinking that in this situation it is madness for anyone to speak of allowing things to drift into a resort to war. If Mr. Khrushchev says that "international issues cannot now be settled by force, "if Mr. Eisenhower says, as he said yesterday, that "the Western Powers are searching for a just peace, "it is surely time to give up sabre rattling on either side.
Surely, as my right hon. Friends have said this afternoon, there is an opportunity for Britain to give a lead. As they have argued, Berlin can be satisfactorily dealt with only within the context of the whole German problem. We believe that, in dealing with the German problem, disengagement is the opening gambit which holds out by far the greatest hope. Only disengagement, leading to the early creation of a controlled disarmament zone, touches what I have tried to show is the real root of the present troubles. It may have to come by stages and perhaps, as my right hon. Friend explained, the first stage could be the Schultz Plan, of which he spoke. Or it may be that a more ambitious and swifter programme would be more likely to succeed.
Of course, it will not be lasting unless it leads on to the reunification of Germany at an early date. Nothing could be more certain in the politics of Europe than that Germany will not remain divided for good and all. Let the Kremlin and the men in Warsaw ponder on the true significance of that vast flow 666 of migrants to the West. The division of Germany is a danger to Germany, a danger to Europe and, above all, to Poland and Russia; and it is a danger which grows greater with the passing years. I believe the difficulties of reunification may be less than they appear. I do not believe that acceptance of the Oder-Neisse frontier will be among those difficulties, and I believe most firmly it ought not to be.
The problem of the land and industries which have been nationalised in Eastern Germany is often spoken of. In my submission, it is no problem at all. The stage at which the technique of free elections must be used is much more complex, but, as my right hon. Friend has said, both Mr. Dulles and Mr. Khrushchev have shown some welcome signs of flexibility on this vital point. On the starting point of disengagement, if the Prime Minister gave it his strong support there might be in the Kremlin something approaching a meeting of minds.
My right hon. Friend spoke of the speeches of the two American senators within the last few days. Mr. Khrushchev told me that the Soviet Government strongly favour the Rapacki Plan. Mr. Rapacki told me that it is not a cut and dried proposal which we must take or leave. Every point is open to discussion and negotiation. We believe that the plan of action outlined by my right hon. Friend this afternoon holds out the best hope for real advance, but I was not much encouraged by the Minister of State or much impressed by the arguments he used. We think it grotesque to suggest that our plan would make Germany a pariah State, or that there is any analogy with what happened between the wars. It could in no way break up the newfound friendship and co-operation between France and Germany. The Coal and Steel Community, Euratom, the Common Market and the rest are there to stay.
If I understood the Minister of State aright, perhaps in his view there is to be a permanent division between Russia and the West, a gulf in military, social and economic matters which nothing will ever bridge. We shrink from any such prospect. We look forward, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) so rightly said, to a European 667 security agreement in which all nations of East and West shall be embraced. We will not achieve it, and no zone of controlled disarmament will long endure, unless we get a treaty of all-round disarmament for Europe and the world.
The Minister of State spoke about what happened between the wars. What really happened? The victorious Allies disarmed Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. The great majority of the German people accepted that policy, believing the Western pledges that all other nations would similarly disarm. In the end, the other nations, including the leading Western nations, wanted to honour the pledges they had made. They put forward disarmament proposals which would have brought us peace, but they had hedged and hesitated for too long. Hitler was in power. The Disarmament Conference broke up in disarray and a series of consequential blunders led us to a Second World War. I am afraid that that grim story of drift and indecision may be repeated now.
The Russian leaders have not forgotten what happened in 1955. They said to me, not once but many times, that they do not believe that Western Governments want disarmament at all. They note that, whenever Mr. Khrushchev proposes, as he has done four times within the last two years, the total abolition of all nuclear weapons, and of all missiles, our leaders say not one word in reply. I hope that we may debate these matters fairly soon. In the meantime, I hope that the Prime Minister will read the foreign policy passage in Mr. Khrushchev's latest speech and will try to sound his mind on what is, in truth, the gravest of all the issues for the future of mankind.
I heard with much agreement the peroration of the speech of the Minister of State. I believe, with him, that the present Soviet leaders understand that the continuance of the arms race and the risk of nuclear war imperil their economic plans and may destroy their system and themselves. I sat for many years in the United Nations beside their predecessors, who are now out of power. The present leaders have made many changes in the foreign policy which the Soviet Union has pursued. I believe that they are developing a new attitude of mind. We shall do well to grasp 668 whatever chance of progress fate may give us, before it is again too late.
§ 9.34 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
I should like to apologise to the Committee for the absence of the Foreign Secretary and myself during the greater part of the debate. I am very grateful for the kind references to the reasons for that absence, which were made, I am informed, by the Leader of the Opposition when he opened the debate. We also regret the absence of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), who, we hope, will make a speedy recovery. I have had reports of the debate, so far as it has been possible, and I should like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for what he said about me and the Foreign Secretary and for his good wishes for the journey which we are to undertake.
This is the kind of debate in which most valuable speeches are made from all sides, and they require careful study. Although we have not been so fortunate as to hear them because of our other commitments, we shall certainly study them most carefully. With other periodicals I thought I would take HANSARD with me in the aeroplane on my journey.
Of course, these questions are very difficult and complicated. It is no good anybody trying to pretend that there is an easy, simple, obvious solution, and so I was glad that, with very few exceptions, that has not been the mood of this debate. This has been a serious attempt from all sides of the Committee to face a very difficult situation, indeed perhaps a dangerous situation, which we must grasp if we are to avoid disaster.
I want to get the thing a little into perspective in reference to our own visit. The purpose of the visit was described by the British Ambassador in Moscow as "a voyage of discovery". I think I used the word "reconnaissance". I am grateful, as I say, for the friendly things that have been said about our purpose and for the hopes expressed about the degree of success that we may have, but I want 'to make it clear that, so far as these larger issues are concerned, our purpose is not to negotiate. It is our purpose—to use the phrase employed by the Leader of the Opposition—to break the ice and to get some feeling of the 669 general situation before the next stages have to be taken up.
The next stages must be visits to Paris, to Bonn, and perhaps to Washington, with a view to the formulation of Western allied policy. It is when that policy comes to be formulated that the great decisions have to be taken. All this is preliminary to working out what is the right line for us all together to take. It is a great mistake to believe that we can find new friends by abandoning old ones. It is absolutely necessary that the Western alliance should stand firmly together and not allow itself to be divided or disunited.
In reference to the possible visit we may have to pay to Washington, I am sure that the whole Committee will have listened with sympathy and approval to the kind observations, by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) about the American Secretary of State. Mr. Dulles is a figure whose very bigness is hardly realised until we are threatened with its absence. He is one of those men whose devotion to duty and strength of purpose have made him a great, important and vital figure in the life of the world. I trust, like the right hon. Gentleman, that Mr. Dulles may make a recovery to health.
Apart from the larger issues, there are other questions which I hope we can usefully debate, including culture. The right hon. Gentleman properly said that "culture" was a horrible word, but I have had something to do with culture in one way and another, as bookseller and publisher, for quite a long time, and even as a student and scholar. What we really mean is, can we begin to know a little more about each other by trying to understand the contributions which the different countries have to make to what the world has to give?
I think we can do something by contact and by trying to bring our people closer together. But I think that there again—we may as well face some of the difficulties—some movement must come from both sides. Great phrases and formulae are not sufficient. Action has to be taken, and if we really want to get closer together, we have, perhaps on both sides, to remove the obstacles—they are great obstacles—which stand in the way.
On trade, too, I hope that we can have some useful talks. Here again we 670 must not exaggerate. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, as a trained economist, knows very well what is the actual trading situation, the amounts which can be increased and the difficulties on both sides. Here also I feel that something can be done—not one of those wild, spectacular things which are sometimes suggested, but a steady improvement, so that both our countries can gain from the increases in wealth that we hope to see both of us enjoy. In other words, we should break down the old fallacy that we can gain from somebody else's poverty and realise that we all gain by each other's wealth.
To return, however, to the larger and most immediate issues. After discussions with our Western Allies, with our N.A.T.O. Allies and after full consultation with our Commonwealth friends we shall have—not immediately, but within the next period—to face the supreme test of direct negotiations with the Soviet Government. It is for that—and it is a grim prospect as well as an inspiring one —that we have to fit ourselves.
Something has been said, I think, about the timing of our visit. I have heard suggestions that it had something to do with an election. It has nothing to do with that, except that I thought it just as well to get it in before the election. Free travel is very attractive—and one never knows! The truth is that for some time I have been making really quite strenuous efforts to get to the summit, but it has seemed to be a very difficult and disappointing journey. Sometimes we have had a long exchange of Notes, written in the most tremendous detail, and I tried to break through that by writing much shorter replies, which I have been told afterwards were regarded as somewhat discourteous—length, apparently, being a sign of grace.
Then, last summer, I really thought for a short period that we had achieved it when there seemed a possibility that Mr. Khrushchev would come to New York to join in our consultations there. That, for some reason or other, did not take place. Therefore I thought this was the time, for two reasons, why we might venture to make this proposal. I wish to make it clear that we proposed ourselves; we took the risk of being refused. We have been accepted as guests, I took this decision on my own responsibility, which I thought it right to do 671 First, I thought it was right to take up this long-standing invitation, other methods of meeting having failed, and, secondly—and I must be quite frank— because the situation in Berlin and Germany, and the Russian attitude towards it, is threatening and even dangerous. I felt that one could not leave that without making some effort to get closer to grips to see really how we stood.
A great number of views have been expressed today on the details of all kinds of possible agreements that may be made. There are a great number of plans under all kinds of different names, and there are a great many variations of them. In fact, one's dossier is almost too full of them, and they have to be studied very carefully. Some have been put forward today.
It is quite difficult to formulate these schemes. If I may say so, I hope without offence—and I do not mean it in any offensive way—even the Opposition, who do not have to carry the immediate responsibilities, had to make I think two or three shots before an appropriate resolution could finally be agreed, and even then there were some dissentients. I am not complaining of this, but it does show how easy it is to have a sort of general idea that there ought to be something done about it, but when it comes to formulating particular plans there are, of course, great difficulties.
Nevertheless—and this is, after all, what the House of Commons exists for— discussions like this in public, where there must be, of course, far greater freedom for everyone except the Government of the day, are valuable and useful, and I am sure that the Committee will understand the reticence of the Government in committing themselves to this or that proposition. For every word I speak or every foolish word that I might let out might have really disastrous effects in one place or another.
All I can say is that we will study them, as we have studied them. We reject nothing so long as we maintain certain definite principles. These are— and I must repeat them—that the balance of military security must not be changed to the disadvantage of either side—we have no right to risk that—and that any proposals must be consistent with the 672 survival as a defensive organisation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and that means quite a lot when we come to study some of these proposals. Nothing must be done which would result, whether in logic or in fact, in a withdrawal of the American and Canadian Forces from the Continent of Europe. Within that, we must say, nothing ought to be excluded.
We must be firm but we must be flexible. I will not—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman who wound up the debate will excuse me—go into the details of his account of the story of the disarmament discussions. I cannot accept his account of them, and he knows it well. It is a very one-sided and partial account, the main basis of which is to take everything that is said by the other side at almost face value and to read every kind of mistake into what is said by the Western Allies.
The test—and I hope to take up this discussion in Moscow—whether it is the question of the nuclear tests or anything else, the test is control. We will agree to almost any scheme if there is effective control, but we will not agree to give away our strength and security except in exchange for control of an effective kind.
As I said, it is not really very difficult to think out variations of schemes. From what I have heard—and I will read it carefully—the Leader of the Opposition made a very moderate and very helpful speech showing all the different types of schemes that might be useful, perhaps small to begin with but growing in their efficacy and finally very much more ambitious, to bring back a sense of security, happiness and confidence between the peoples of the whole of Europe, East and West.
I am bound to say—I hope that he and the Committee will forgive me; perhaps they are the meditations of the results of experience—that it is not really very difficult in life to think out all sorts of schemes to get agreement. The really difficult thing is to get the will to agree. If people want to agree it is not difficult to form a precise plan. It is the same in business, the same in ordinary private relations—if people want to agree they trust each other and all that stuff written by the lawyers into the agreement no 673 one ever bothers with because they trust each other. Look at this country where the great mass of our business relationships are done on a word, on the telephone, on a letter written, on the confidence of one with another.
It is not merely thinking out the scheme that is difficult. The problem that we face, and we know it in our hearts, is to break the ice. Can this terrible division between the two groups be broken into? Can we make a start? If we can make a start, I do not think there will be much difficulty in finding some technical scheme which translates into an undertaking that new sense of confidence. It is the will to agree that matters.
There are great disappointments. There are sometimes alarming attitudes and threatening speeches made by the Soviet leaders. We must accept those. We must not be thrown off our guard, but we must be not unduly disturbed by words. Deeds are what matter. We must, therefore, if we can, be firm but imaginative.
I cannot help feeling that a visit of this kind can do no harm. I trust it may do some good. From what I have heard of my friends, the heads of the allied Governments, I am encouraged to believe that they feel the same. After returning, we will take counsel with Parliament and with the allied Governments and with our friends in the Commonwealth and in N.A.T.O. Meanwhile, we will do what we can to make a contribution to the work of the alliance and we shall be encouraged and fortified by the gracious and friendly attitude which has been expressed on all sides of the Committee today.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
During his speech, the Prime Minister made some remarks about what my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) had been saying about the course of the disarmament negotaitions in 1955 and subsequently, very reminiscent of what the Foreign Secretary said in the House on a previous occasion. My right hon. Friend made it plain that this debate was not the occasion for going in detail into the course of those negotiations or into the attitude of Her Majesty's Government. I had hoped that while the Prime Minister was dealing with the point, my right hon. Friend might 674 have risen to his feet and questioned him about it.
I hope that, on reflection, the Prime Minister will reconsider what he has said and that in due course we shall get an explanation from him and from the Foreign Secretary of the attacks that they have made. It is well known in the House of Commons that my right hon. Friend has spent many years studying questions of disarmament and world peace. It is well known that some months ago he published a book dealing with this subject, which was singled out for attack shortly afterwards by the Foreign Secretary.
That attack by the Foreign Secretary led to correspondence with him in which the details of his allegations were gone into and in which a reply was made to the points that he had made in the House. When, however, permission was subsequently asked of the Foreign Secretary to publish that correspondence, he refused on what I considered to be rather flimsy grounds. If the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister continue to repeat in the House allegations which, we believe, they cannot substantiate about the arguments put forward by my right hon. Friend in his recent book, can we at least have from the Foreign Secretary the courtesy of a public discussion of these issues and can the relevant documents be published?
If the Secretary of State proposes to seek safety behind the allegedly confidention nature of correspondence of this kind, we must press him to tell us how we can discuss these issues in public. If he will not allow us to discuss these issues in public, we call on him to withdraw the harmful, disparaging and inaccurate things that he and the Prime Minister have been saying.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
I should like to take up one remark made by the Prime Minister. He used the phrase, "We reject nothing." He appeared to apply that to the very powerfully presented, constructive proposals of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister enunciated certain principles that ought to be observed which none of us could accept. The question at issue was whether my right hon. Friend's proposals were consonant with those proposals or not.
675 The Prime Minister appeared to regard that as an open question. Of plans and schemes, he said, "We reject nothing". But I think that that argument misinterpreted the Minister of State, because it was clear that the burden of his speech was to reject altogether the propositions put forward by my right hon. Friend, and many of us were left with the impression, at the end of that speech, that, while the Government were very skilful in finding arguments against anything put forward from this side of the Committee, they had a sad dearth of invention, thought or imagination when it came to devising any proposals of their own.
§ The Prime Minister
I should not allow this to pass. We reject nothing consonant with these criteria, but how these criteria, which are vital, are applied must be discussed between us and agreed between us and the Western Alliance.
§ Mr. Stewart
Most certainly. But the question still at issue is whether the proposals put forward by my right hon. Friend could properly be urged upon our Western Allies. I think that they are consonant with the principles which the Prime Minister put forward. Our view was that the job of the Government should be to try to persuade our Western Allies to take a similar view. What worries us about the Government's point of view is that they do not appear to be prepared to persuade anybody to do anything, and, if they do, what they propose to persuade anybody about has not emerged from Government spokesmen during the debate.
The Prime Minister suggested that if two parties have the will to agree it is easy enough to devise schemes. I do not think that the matter can be dismissed quite as easily as that. Nobody could be so optimistic as to suppose that if we discuss with the Soviet Union we would in any brief, or even lengthy, period of time establish such a degree of mutual confidence as might exist between two fellow citizens of this country engaged in the same line of business. What we have to face is that we may be able to create an atmosphere in which the Western Allies, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union and its friends, on the other, are prepared to trust each other to a limited extent.
676 We may be able to reach agreement in a limited field, and any agreement, however limited, has the advantage that it makes the further growth of trust a little more likely. But in an atmosphere such as that surely the nature of the proposals matter rather more than the Prime Minister suggested in his speech.
That is why I feel that the carefully-thought-out proposals put forward from this side of the Committee merited more serious consideration than they have had from the Government during the debate.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £1,272,018,000, be granted to Her Majesty, on account, for or towards defraying the charges for the following Civil and Revenue Departments and for the Ministry of Defence for the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1960.
§ Resolution to be reported.
§ Report to be received Tomorrow; Committee to sit again Tomorrow.