§ [THIRD DAY]
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [27th October]:
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows:
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
§ Question again proposed.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
The passage in the Gracious Speech dealing with foreign affairs indicates the purposes of Her Majesty's Government in broad terms. I want to be a little more specific about certain of them.
There are, of course, still grounds for anxiety about certain matters affecting Communist and non-Communist States. for example, the friction on the frontiers of India and China, and the situation in Laos. I think that it would be foolish to try to persuade ourselves that many difficulties do not continue to exist, but by and large I claim that considerable improvement has been made since this time last year in East-West relations. There may be grave dangers still ahead, but I have a feeling that the drift towards war has been considerably dissipated.
So far so good, but it is extremely important to maintain this momentum, and that is where there has been a certain difference of opinion among the Western Allies. I think that it is a mistake to sensationalise those differences because we are an alliance of free partners and, obviously, we differ from one another from time to time about tactics and methods.
These differences cover two points, the nature of a Summit Meeting about which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke on Tuesday, and the second question is that of timing. It is 383 very important that we should not lose the momentum. Since February we have been almost continuously in contact with the Soviet leaders. There was our visit to Moscow, the long negotiations at Geneva, and then Mr. Khrushchev's visit to the United States. I think that it would be a mistake to wait too long before there is another series of personal contacts.
So far as the actual arrangements are concerned, as the Prime Minister told the House on 27th October, the President of the United States made it clear to his allies very soon after Mr. Khrushchev's visit that he was in favour of a Western Summit Meeting, as it has come to be called, as early as practicable; this to be soon followed by a full Summit Meeting. Within the last day or two there has been a further exchange between the allies and it now looks as though the date most likely to suit all the Governments concerned for the Western side will be a date some time in the middle of December.
This is not as soon as we were willing to attend a meeting, but one of the advantages of this date will be that we shall be able to have full discussions with other N.A.T.O. Governments, and, after all, they are as much concerned as we are about the matters that are likely to be discussed. It also means that the programme of visits that has been arranged can be carried out. M. Spaak is coming here next week, Dr. Adenauer is due to come here on about 17th November, and I hope that the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Italy will visit us shortly after that.
Meanwhile, as to the date of the full Summit Meeting, we still consider that it should be held as soon as practicable but it is not only the convenience of Western Governments that has to be considered, but also that of the Soviet Government and Mr. Khrushchev. I understand that M. Couve de Murville told the Foreign Affairs Commission of the French Assembly that he thinks that Mr. Khrushchev will visit France during the first three months of next year. We shall still work for a meeting as soon as practicable. It may be a very risky thing to say in the field of foreign affairs, but we are making progress in getting this programme of meetings fixed up. 384 There is another important aspect of these matters. During our conversations in Moscow we deliberately decided that instead of being content with talks, and arrangements for further talks, we should try to come to some specific agreement. We therefore decided that in the field of trade, of personal contacts and cultural exchanges, which is a strange phrase that has now become part of the international vocabulary, and communications we should try to make specific agreements with the Soviet Government.
We made an agreement about trade. It is too early to say how it will work out, but one of the provisions of the agreement was that there should be an annual joint review. The first review will take place before 30th June, 1960. In spite of the difficulties that are known to right hon. and hon. Members we hope to expand Anglo-Soviet trade. We also made an agreement about cultural exchanges and personal contacts, and a programme of exchanges is now well under way.
As part of it, a number of British students have already gone to the Soviet Union to attend universities and courses in the Soviet Union, and we have welcomed Soviet students to this country. At present, this programme is on a very small scale. I think that about 100 of our students are going to the Soviet Union and 40 students from the Soviet Union are coming to us.
A small beginning has also been made in tourism. The Soviet Ambassador has told me that about 4,000 people from this country have spent their holidays in the Soviet Union and that about 3,000 Soviet citizens have come to this country. Currency problems are one of the obstacles to the expansion of this tourism. I hope that as the traffic increases in each direction this may resolve itself. We have already proposed that there should be a further meeting in London on 23rd November to take our plans in this field a stage further, and I hope that the meeting will be attended by Mr. Zhukov, the Soviet Minister concerned.
So far as communications are concerned, the Air Service Agreement with the Soviet Union, which was signed in December, 1957, has now come into force and is working satisfactorily. I 385 am told that relations between B.E.A. and the Soviet airline, Aeroflot, are good. These may seem to be small beginnings, but I welcome them none the less as practical evidence of an improving atmosphere. It would be a great mistake to underestimate their importance. Though the figures may be small I think that we have to press on to try to expand them.
I said earlier that there were certain problems affecting relations between the Communist and non-Communist States. Much has been written about Laos during the past six months. One of the difficulties has been to know how much of what has been written or said is accurate. I do not think that there is any country in the world where there is greater difficulty, for geographical and climatic reasons, in finding out what is actually happening. Our information is that the pro-Communist Party in Laos has taken to the jungle, and, with help from North Vietnam, is carrying out insurgency operations against the Government.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek) rose—
§ Mr. Lloyd
If I may be allowed to continue what I have to say, it may deal with the point that the hon. Gentleman wishes to raise.
We, as joint co-chairmen with the Soviet Union of the Geneva Convention of 1954, have a special interest that peace in Indo-China should be maintained. We are anxious to continue to co-operate with the Soviet Union. We believe that the Geneva Agreements were an outstanding success for the diplomacy of reconciliation and we wish that those Agreements should continue in force. That means, in broad terms, that Laos should not become militarily committed to either side. There should not be on its territories bases belonging to either side, save as provided for in the Geneva settlement.
Hon. Members will have seen it alleged that there are American military bases in Laos. I have had a most categorical assurance that this is not so from Mr. Herter himself, who has said the same thing to Mr. Gromyko. At the same time, the existing establishment in Laos should not be subverted from outside. The Geneva settlement clearly lays 386 down that the signatories should not interfere in the internal affairs of Laos.
There is a difficulty, and I will not conceal it, about the International Commission, because, with the achievement of the political settlement in Laos and the holding of supplementary elections in May, 1958, the Laotian Government considered that the Commission had finished its job. In July of that year the Commission decided to adjourn. The Laotian Government have made it clear that they do not wish to have it back. Laos is an independent country and we are not prepared to try to impose the Commission on an unwilling Government. Therefore, we have had to try and find another way, making use of United Nations machinery.
The matter was raised at the Security Council and a sub-committee of the Council was sent to Laos to try to establish the facts. The legality of that was challenged by the Soviet Government, but in our view it was clearly lawful and we used precisely the same argument that Sir Alexander Cadogan, presumably upon the instructions of the Labour Cabinet, used in dealing with the Corfu case, in 1947, and Czechoslovakia, in 1948. The sub-committee went to Laos and the effect of its arrival was almost at once a lessening of tension and anxiety. We are now awaiting its report and I hope that all concerned will very carefully think over what can be done in the future.
I feel that it would be wrong for me to anticipate the next phase, but I will give a hint. In our view United Nations action would not in any way invalidate the Geneva Agreements; on the contrary, it might complement and support them. I do not want to be more specific today, although I have a clear idea of what I would like to see happen there.
§ Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that there are no American bases in Laos. Is it not a fact that there are American military instructors there, and, also, that America has contributed considerably towards the arming of Laos? May I also ask the Minister whether the reports are true that the United Nations Commission has stated that there was no military support from North Vietnam whatsoever?
§ Mr. Lloyd
On the last question, I would ask the hon. Gentleman to await the report. I understand that it will be made public within the next few days, and I think that that should dispose of the matter. I shall be very ready to take what the report says on that point.
As for the other matters, the hon. Member will remember that according to the Geneva Agreements 1,500 French military personnel were to be left in Laos. I understand that because there were nothing like 1,500 French personnel there an arrangement has been come to between the Americans, the French and the Loatians whereby some American teams are to remain there. As for arms, I understand that the provisions of the Agreements have been kept, but I am willing that all these matters should be subjected to full scrutiny. Our interest is that Laos should be kept genuinely neutral.
As for another matter mentioned in the Gracious Speech, the Nuclear Tests Conference, this is a case where the negotiations have been slow. They have lasted for very nearly a year. There has, however, been steady progress towards a treaty, and throughout that period there has been a cessation of tests by the three Powers concerned. The position as I see it today is that the three participants in the Conference could agree almost at once that none of them would ever test again in the atmosphere or under water—and those are the only tests which cause any risk to health. It is true that there are still one or two outstanding points, even in that field, about the composition of control posts and the inspection teams, and on administrative matters concerned with control but I think that those matters are capable of compromise solutions fairly quickly. We would then have an agreement with adequate control, which would remove a great deal of the anxiety which is felt about the effects of fall out, and so on.
But there is also the question of underground tests. There the problem of control has proved much more difficult than the experts meeting in Geneva in August, 1958, thought it would be. In defence of their conclusions it must be remembered that they were discussing the matter with data derived only from a single underground test. Since then there have been other underground tests, as a result of which a great deal of extra information 388 has been acquired, and it is clear that more study will be required before we can reach agreement on a control system to control the suspension of underground tests. We have to get on as quickly as we can with the examination of the new scientific data which was presented to the Russians as long ago as last January, but which they have hitherto declined to discuss—no doubt for what are good reasons so far as they are concerned. Their argument was that it would undermine the agreement reached between the experts last August.
Another thing that we might do is try to acquire some more scientific data about these matters. One possible course might be for the Soviet Union, the United States and ourselves jointly to have a series of experimental tests underground, on which to base an effective control system. In making this suggestion I am not attempting to destroy in any way the work of the experts in 1958. This would only be a form of completing their conclusions.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has said that it seems possible to reach an agreement upon the indefinite suspension of atmospheric and surface tests, but that there are difficulties about underground tests. In that case, why not have an interim agreement to cover the first two kinds of tests, pending a further investigation of the difficulties surrounding the third?
§ Mr. Lloyd
It is not the United States. I do not wish to go into the matter further. We want to arrive at a comprehensive agreement. The position of the United States was made quite clear last April, and I think that it would be wiser for me today not to go further than to direct the right hon. Member's attention to that statement.
I believe that any agreement affecting underground tests should incorporate the 389 British idea of a quota of inspections. I do not see how it could possibly work otherwise. However this may be, I would ask the House to continue to be patient. The Conference has reconvened, and discussions are proceeding. I say again, quite definitely, that our purpose is to arrive at a comprehensive agreement, if it can be obtained, and we shall continue to negotiate in good faith for such a comprehensive agreement.
As for disarmament in general, it has been by no wish of ours that there have been no discussions over the last two years about comprehensive disarmament. The plain fact was that the Soviet Union did not agree that the work of the disarmament sub-committee of five should continue. Again, to be fair, they considered it had talked long enough without producing definite results, and that no useful purpose was to be served in its continuing. They did not accept the Disarmament Commission of 25, set up by a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1957. I shall not go into the merits of that, because it would not be useful to do so, but those are the facts. There was a procedural deadlock.
I therefore went to Geneva this year with the firm intention of doing what I could to break this deadlock and get agreement between the four of us, that is to say, the United States, the Soviet Union, France and ourselves, as to a forum in which discussions on comprehensive disarmament could take place. There was a series of conversations with the other Foreign Ministers and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who visited Geneva. As a result of that we agreed upon a new ten nation body. Its composition would not have been my first choice. Nevertheless, we got agreement on it, and that was a great thing in itself. That agreement was unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Disarmament Commission of all 82 countries.
We have now to consider the prospects for this new body: whether there is at long last the possibility of agreement on comprehensive disarmament, or whether this hope will still remain just a will-o'-the-wisp. There are certain pundits who are ready to lay the blame on Her Majesty's Government for any failure to 390 reach agreement, but it must be remembered that we have not got it within our power to compel agreement; we have to work for something which the United States, the Soviet Union and our other allies will accept.
When, in 1951, I started on these discussions, the Western view, broadly, was that the control organ had to be constituted and set up in its entirety before disarmament could begin. The Soviet view was that agreement to disarm should be entered into and acted upon before the control organ was set up. This certainly applied to their one-third cut in conventional armed forces and to their agreement to abolish nuclear weapons. This was the position in 1951. I felt that in the light of the experience we had had of these negotiations we must try to search for a solution midway between these two theses, and it was one of the merits of the Anglo-French plan of 1954 that disarmament should take place by stages as the control organ felt capable of controlling it. That conception was not then accepted by the Soviet Government.
Another difficulty was that the Soviet Government demanded the abolition of the nuclear deterrent before conventional disarmament. They also required the liquidation of foreign bases in the early stages in the agreement and we could not accept either of those positions. In Mr. Khrushchev's new plan the Soviet Union seem to have changed some of these former positions. In this new plan conventional disarmament is to be completed before any nuclear disarmament and the liquidation of foreign bases takes place at the end of the process of conventional disarmament. I think that these are new features, new positions, which require very careful consideration.
I think that it is common ground on both sides of the House that control remains the key issue. Mr. Khrushchev said in his speech—there has been a slight difference in the text, but I have the copy of the hand-out given in the United Nations at the time of his making his speech:There should be initiated a system of control over all disarmament measures which should be created and should function in conformity with the stages by which disarmament should be effected.391 In the declaration circulated at the same time as his speech was being made it was said:The scope and control of inspection shall correspond to the extent of the phased disarmament of States.I think that it will be a primary task of the new body to clarify these statements, but I am certainly not without hope that they may make agreement easier. I do not think that we have to be too dogmatic or theoretical on either side about this question.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
Did not Mr. Khrushchev go on to say, in elaboration of this thesis, that there should be no control without disarmament?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I think that it is true that there should be no control without disarmament, and we would agree, but I would say that there could be no disarmament without control, and there we have, I think, the position perfectly balanced. I think that this new formula may form a way of proceeding towards those two objectives.
I tried to set out the British position with regard to these matters on 17th September, the day before Mr. Khrushchev spoke. I stated in terms so clear that I did not think that they could have been misunderstood—certainly not in any archiepiscopal circles—that comprehensive disarmament is our aim, that is, the abolition of all nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction and the reduction of conventional forces and armaments to internal security levels. That is our aim, that is our objective.
I also indicated that the end of the road must be a world organ capable of enforcing the peace, because if the process ends in anarchy, or a veto-ridden body, we are no better off than at present. The process must end in a world order and in the rule of law throughout the world. I deliberately posed that question, because I think it of great importance in these disarmament discussions.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
As I understood it, the Government's position at one time was that they would not agree to any substantial measure of disarmament unless there were political settlements. Has that 392 position been changed? Is that no longer the position of the Government?
§ Mr. Lloyd
We always hoped that these two processes would go on pari passu. I have said that progress on disarmament is a help towards political settlement and that political settlement is a help towards disarmament, but I do not think it wise to make one conditional on the other.
I think the hon. Member is referring to a particular case of certain reductions proposed in conventional forces. It was said that in the absence of other measures of disarmament we should not come to the last stage of conventional forces being reduced, without political settlements. I do not think that it would happen. But we now have a chance of a new look at the problem and I hope we do not take up an irrevocable and dogmatic position with regard to these matters.
I tried to set out the balanced stages by which I thought we could achieve the ultimate objective, maintaining a balance between conventional and nuclear disarmament. I said that we were ready to begin at once on certain studies and preparatory measures that would start the process. The debate in the Political Committee of the United Nations finished yesterday in a unanimous Resolution. No doubt that will go to the General Assembly and I hope that there it will be passed also unanimously. I hope that the new ten-nation body will get to work as soon as possible with the intention of tackling this complicated subject speedily and effectively.
The proposals which I presented in outline to the General Assembly on 17th September were prepared as soon as I knew that this new ten-nation body was coming into being. I hoped that they would form a useful guide so that public opinion should be able to see the way in which we thought progress might be made and so that delegations should have something before them when preparing for the meeting of the new body. After that, Mr. Khrushchev made his speech and so the delegations preparing for the meeting of the new body have two outline plans before them; and I hope that they will take account of the views expressed by other members of the United Nations. 393 I wish only to add that I warmly support the emphasis which my old friend and colleague, M. Moch, the French representative, laid in his speech to the Political Committee upon the control of means of delivery of nuclear weapons. That may well be the answer to what we know to be one of the problems, that we cannot absolutely 100 per cent. guarantee the discovery of all nuclear weapons. The control of means of delivery is something which I think is a much more practical possibility.
The final matter about which I want to say something is the British relationship with the other countries of Western Europe. Since the war there have been great movements of opinion towards closer co-operation and towards the idea of a united Europe. I wish to make absolutely clear, because what one says is so easily misunderstood, that when I talk about Europe, I am including Great Britain as part of Europe.
The reasons for this movement of opinion are not altogether clear. Some say it is due to a feeling of responsibility for the past, for the fact that there have been begun in Europe twice this century wars which so nearly destroyed not only Europe, but the world with it, and that must never be allowed to happen again. Some say that its cause is because there is a feeling of relative loss of power and influence in the world. It may, on the other hand, be the consciousness of the contribution which Europe still has to make. Whatever the reasons, there has not been agreement as to how to express this movement of opinion in political institutions.
It is quite true that we have had this proliferation of organisations—O.E.E.C., the Council of Europe, N.A.T.O., Western European Union, the Coal and Steel Community, Euratom, European Economic Community, the Six and now the Seven. May I say, in parenthesis, that I am very conscious of the contributions which many hon. Members from all parts of the House make in attending the meetings of these various organisations and in seeking to sustain this European idea.
I very much appreciate, for example, the work of the right hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. J. Edwards), who is now President of the Council of Europe. In the course of duty during the General Election I went to speak against the right hon. 394 Gentleman. He got in by, I think, 47 votes. Whether he owes that to my intervention or not, no one will be able to tell. Nevertheless, I am sure that we all wish him well in his task.
There are really four headings under which these Western European relationships have to be examined. There is political consultation in N.A.T.O. or in smaller groupings; economic cooperation, in other words relations with the Six, and when the Seven comes into being, its relationship with the Six. Next, the institutions and organisations now distributed through Western Europe, and, finally—perhaps most important of all—the confidence which exists between particular Governments and peoples. We must, of course, not forget the purpose of this. It is not just to have a neat and tidily arranged Western Europe. We must remember that it is Europe as a whole, and at present we have a dividing line through Europe severing Eastern Europe from Western Europe.
The purpose of this is to make a considerable contribution ultimately to the problem of European security as a whole. I think, therefore, that there are many who feel that in Europe at present there is a strange mixture of hope and fear, optimism and pessimism, and a feeling that some are drawing closer together and others are moving further apart.
About all these matters I think that we have to have a series of frank talks. As I said earlier, M. Spaak comes here next week. I go to Paris on 11th November, Dr. Adenauer and Herr von Brentano are coming here in the following week. The Italian Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister will be coming soon after that. I think that we have to take advantage of all these opportunities for frank discussions about a fresh start to sort all this out together, because I feel that if we can preserve the will to co-operate we shall find a way through all these complications.
There are many other aspects of foreign affairs—for example, the help for underdeveloped countries—with which I should very much like to have dealt, but I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State will speak later and deal with points raised in the 395 debate. I want to say, in conclusion, just this: that I am very well aware of the responsibility which this new mandate imposes upon the Government. Relatively, we in Britain may not now have so much physical power as other countries, but we have great influence and a unique opportunity for influencing events. I think that on the broad purposes set out in the Gracious Speech there will be general agreement in all parts of the House. I promise that we shall do our best to see that our influence is exerted to the full to achieve those purposes.
§ 3.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
The Foreign Secretary has given us one of those detailed progress reports with which we have become familiar. As usual, he took us on a tour of the world and there were many capitals at which he chose to make a halt. There were others which he curiously avoided. I shall refer to them later. I shall deal with many of the points he raised, but, if he and the House will excuse me, I do not propose to follow exactly the same route. If I did, I think the House would weary of it even before I did.
What was lacking, I think, in his speech was any general sense of vision about the shape of British foreign policy as a whole at the present time. I would not blame him too severely for that, because I think we all recognise that the occupant of his office suffers under very severe inhibitions of speech. Anybody speaking from the Opposition Front Bench has greater freedom. It is a freedom which I and my right hon. Friends in recent weeks fought very hard to avoid having, but, since we now have it, I propose to take advantage of it. I believe that it is appropriate at the start of a new Parliament, a new Parliament which may well last for very much longer than many of us hope, to look some way ahead, because I think we can agree on both sides of the House that the world during the next three or four or five years is likely to undergo very substantial changes.
I believe that British foreign policy, like the foreign policy of other Powers, will be successful insofar as it adapts itself in time to those changes. I always remember Ernest Bevin—who, with respect to the present incumbent 396 and others who may be in the House, was in my opinion the greatest Foreign Secretary this country has had—once saying that he felt it was impossible to frame a foreign policy for a period of less than ten to twenty years. He added that it is frightfully difficult in modern conditions to look so far ahead. Nevertheless, I think it necessary for us at this stage, particularly in a new Parliament, to try to discern, in a very confused and complicated situation, the way in which world politics are likely to develop over the next few years. If I may, I would have the temerity to suggest that three particular issues stand out, each of them with both positive and negative implications for Britain and for world peace.
First, in the field of armaments I think it is becoming clear now both to Russia and to the United States of America that neither can destroy the other without being destroyed in return. I think it is also now clear to both those Governments, or will soon become so, that the cost and the danger of continuing their mutual arms race may soon become intolerable. I think we can already see signs that those two great countries, whose political rivalry has dominated world politics for so much of the postwar period, are now slowly feeling their way towards some sort of stable and peaceful relationship with one another.
We are all, I think, conscious of this and very happy about it, but we should be deceiving ourselves if we ignored the fact that, while these two great Powers are feeling their way towards some sort of accommodation one with another, other Powers are on the point of entering the atomic arms race for the very first time. The fact that the atomic arms race is becoming a general race and not a race primarily between two single Powers is going to present us all with new sources of danger, new sources of instability, to which there is as yet no clear answer.
I was interested to notice yesterday at the atomic test talks in Geneva that Mr. Tsarapkin was asked a question which I asked the Prime Minister here in the last Parliament, namely, what would be the effect of any agreement to stop atomic tests which was made between Britain, the United States and Russia if France began tests? He was unable to give a reply, as was the Prime 397 Minister unable in this House—[An Hon. Member: "Or Mr. Khrushchev."]—and as Mr. Khrushchev was unable when I and some hon. Friends put this question to him in Moscow a few weeks ago. Here is a problem which may come to take precedence even over the problem of American-Russian relationships in the next five years. I think we require to give it far more thought than has been given to it so far. Indeed, it was totally ignored by the Foreign Secretary in his speech this afternoon.
The second field in which I think one can discern a general trend is in the political aspects of the cold war itself. On both sides of the Iron Curtain the sharpness of the division of the world into hostile blocs is beginning to blur. Inside both the Communist group of States and the Atlantic group of States arguments on foreign policy are developing and in some respects the arguments are cutting across the old divisions in the cold war. We see on the Soviet side substantial disagreements between the Soviet Union and, for example, Poland in the west and China in the east, and in the Western camp we see a very dangerous division emerging between the Anglo-Saxon Powers and the main Powers of continental Europe, namely, France and Germany.
To some extent, of course, the chances of a general world settlement will be improved in so far as the ideological crusade loses its force, but we must recognise also, I suggest, that disunity both in the Western camp and inside the Communist camp can produce a serious threat to the general settlement we all desire. I think it would be very shortsighted for the West to welcome the present division between Russia and China just as I think it would be very shortsighted for the Communist countries to welcome the present division between the Anglo-Saxon countries and continental Europe.
The third great issue on which I think there would be no disagreement inside this House and which may come to dominate world affairs during the period of this Parliament is the developing trend of the revolution in Africa and Asia. It seems to me that during the next five years the transition from Western imperialism may be almost completed in nearly all parts of those two continents, 398 although certain desperate rearguard actions will be fought here and there, particularly in parts of Africa. I think again, if we are honest with ourselves, that we must admit that in those continents there is great internal instability, that there are conflicts between the new States which have come into existence since the end of the Second World War, conflicts which may threaten world peace just as severely as the more familiar conflicts of the cold war itself and that, indeed, we may see appearing in some of these new liberated countries an imperialism which is no longer Western or white but Eastern and coloured and no less dangerous and disagreeable for that.
All these problems of instability in the Continents of Africa and Asia are likely to be aggravated by the economic division between the coloured peoples and the Western peoples and the fact that the poor countries of the world are still getting poorer as the rich countries get richer. This process must ultimately produce a world catastrophe unless the Western countries assist the countries of Africa and Asia in the process of economic growth.
I hope that the House will forgive me for indulging in this few minutes of speculation, but it seems to me that British foreign policy over the next few years will be judged historically, if not in Parliament, by its ability to meet these problems in advance. I think that all of us on both sides of the House are too conscious at present of the forces which are making for a settlement in the cold war. We are all indulging in a rosy glow of satisfaction about relaxation in the cold war tension, and we tend to ignore the fact that forces are rapidly developing in all parts of the world which may disrupt this growing world stability unless the countries which now have power and authority use it quickly to create a strong framework of international order.
These disruptive forces in the world, which have little to do with the old conflict between Communism and democracy, are gathering strength much faster than we think. Even Russia and the United States are weaker today, relative to the rest of the world, than they imagine, and they will become weaker still in the years ahead. I should like to look at the Government's foreign 399 policy in relation to these challenges which I believe will be presented in the next few years.
First of all, I will deal with the Summit Conference. In talking about it this afternoon the Foreign Secretary had a very different tone from that of the Prime Minister during the last week or two of the General Election. I think that all of us on this side of the House, as well as opposite, are gratified at the sense of urgency which the Government have shown in seeking to attend a meeting of the heads of Governments, but I think that it is a tragedy, no less, that the Government, and particularly the Prime Minister, should have cast doubts internationally as well as nationally upon their motives by trying to exploit this process for electoral purposes. I think that there is no doubt at all—and this has been reported by British observers from other European capitals—that the speeches which the Prime Minister made on this issue during the election campaign have contributed to the current difficulties which we have with General de Gaulle. I think that the fact that the Prime Minister refused to attempt to reply to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he raised this problem yesterday is a sign of his guilty conscience in the matter. I leave it at that.
§ Mr. Healey
The hon. Member must realise that the problems involved in a Summit Conference are a little more complex and a great deal more important than those of knowing who wins a by-election or a General Election.
Leaving this matter for the moment, I do not like the phrase "Summit Conference", and I think that perhaps we should be wise to use it less than we do. It is certainly true that heads of Governments must meet one another sometimes, because only they can make major changes in their countries' foreign policy. This is certainly true in the Soviet Union. It also appears to be true in France and I suspect that it is also true in Britain and the United States.
The phrase "Summit Conference" as applied to meetings of heads of Government suggests, particularly to those who do not expect to be represented at the 400 Summit, some form of great Power diktat, and there is no doubt that some countries exploit their possible presence at a Summit Conference in order to inflate their national egoism. The tendency has already created trouble inside N.A.T.O., and there are many signs that it is creating trouble inside the Communist group of States. For example, China has insisted several times on being present at any Summit Conference.
It seems to me that we must be a little more pragmatic about this problem of meetings of heads of Government. The idea that a few people can sit down and settle the problems of the world is obviously nonsense, and I was glad that the Prime Minister said so yesterday. When heads of Government choose to meet at any given time must depend on the problems under discussion. It would be quite intolerable to give every single head of Government in the Western Alliance a free veto at any meeting which took place on any international problem. I must say that it seems a little odd to me that General de Gaulle is simultaneously claiming that a Summit Conference should settle all the problems in the world and claiming the right on behalf of France to prevent any settlement of which he personally does not approve.
I do not believe that meetings of heads of Government in the modern world can impose settlements. What they can do is to assist greatly in the harmonisation of national policies, both inside the West—and we welcome the forthcoming meeting of heads of Governments in December—and between the West and the East. But I believe that wherever possible these problems should be shifted back to the normal diplomatic channels and to such multilateral institutions as the United Nations.
There are certain dangers as well as advantages in the Summit Conference, particularly because the prestige of those who represent their countries at the Summit Conference is so directly and personally involved. There is not only the danger that some Governments may make unwise concessions for the sake of an apparent success at the Conference. There is also the danger, which may be much more evident at the present time, that Governments may deliberately refuse to reach agreements through normal diplomatic channels because they see 401 advantages in saving up agreements for a Summit Conference. I believe that anyone who looks at the course of negotiations on Berlin, for example, over the last six months, will agree that, particularly since Mr. Khrushchev's visit to General Eisenhower, there is no substantial obstacle to an interim agreement on Berlin. The only reason it is not being reached is that both Russia and America see certain advantages in saving up an agreement on this issue for a public demonstration of success at a Summit Conference. I have a nasty suspicion that the prospect of a Summit Conference is similarly delaying agreement on atomic tests.
Above all, I insist that there is little virtue in a Summit Conference if it is simply for the sake of allowing the television cameras to take pictures of heads of Governments shaking hands. There are certain electoral advantages in that but no diplomatic advantages whatever. If we propose to go to a Summit we must go with policies which make real agreements possible.
I should like to turn to the two major issues which I believe must figure at the Summit Conference now in prospect—the problem, first of all, of West Berlin and, secondly, of a German settlement. I think we all agree that the situation in West Berlin is abnormal, but it is abnormal only because the division of Germany and the division of Europe is abnormal, and I am afraid that whatever interim agreements may be reached on Berlin, the situation there will remain abnormal as long as the physical position round Berlin remains as it is at present. I must confess that I can see certain dangers in discussing the Berlin problem in isolation from the problem of Germany as a whole and the problem of European security.
I see little chance of making progress with the problem of Germany as a whole at present, because the West German Government show no sign of a readiness to accept a Western policy which would make progress in this field possible. Therefore, if we are to reap substantial advantages from a Summit Conference which deals with this problem, the issues on which we must concentrate are those of a security settlement in Central Europe.
402 The Foreign Secretary knows that we on this side of the House strongly supported the Prime Minister's declared resolve when he left Moscow last spring to study with the Soviet Union the possibility of limiting and controlling arms in Central Europe. We should like him to go further. We should like a discussion of the whole problem of political and military disengagement in Central Europe, but we believe that as a first step the establishment of arms control on both sides of the Iron Curtain is by far the most hopeful way of dealing with the European problem. Indeed, there is a strong Western interest in seeking such agreement, because all the signs are that the West is already engaged in a unilateral process of military disengagement from Central Europe. Britain has already reduced by half her Armed Forces in Germany, and there are signs that for economic reasons the United States may be compelled to follow suit.
The Foreign Secretary made no reference to this in his speech. I therefore ask the Minister of State to tell us when he replies to the debate, if the Foreign Secretary cannot intervene now, what Government policy on this issue is. This issue was raised by the Soviet Foreign Minister several times at the Geneva discussions in July. There was no comment whatever from the British Foreign Secretary. Why not? What is our policy on this issue? Are we still in favour of it or not? I will willingly sit down for a moment if the Foreign Secretary cares to reply.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
It is exactly as stated in our General Election manifesto, as the hon. Gentleman knows.
§ Mr. Healey
I am very grateful that the Foreign Secretary has said that, because the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be well aware that the manifesto of the party opposite caused some concern in Germany, and it was explained away by Chancellor Adenauer ex cathedra as being a purely party political document of which no more would be heard after the General Election.
The plain fact is that this issue, which is one of the most critical in the whole of our foreign policy, has been ignored by the Foreign Secretary today. There is no mention of it in the Gracious 403 Speech, and there is no sign whatever that it is still the Government's policy, except a few words in a document produced, I believe, by the Conservative Central Office.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman again, but he may now be making mischief. We have never accepted disengagement. I have said again and again at this Dispatch Box that we do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's or the hon. Gentleman's conceptions of disengagement. We think that they are highly dangerous and will lead to nothing but risk in Central Europe. What we have said consistently is that we believe that there can be geographical areas of inspection and ceilings upon armaments throughout the world. That is a sound conception. We have never changed from it.
§ Mr. Healey
The right hon. and learned Gentleman knows that he is trying to evade answering my question by raising other questions. I am not asking him to say whether he agrees with the Opposition's proposal for all-out disengagement. We know that he does not. What we want from him is an assurance that he will continue to press, inside N.A.T.O. and at the Summit Conference, for the study and ultimately the acceptance of limitations on armaments and forces in an agreed zone in Central Europe. May I take it from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's silence that he will?
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman can take it from me exactly what I said—that we still believe that the conception of geographical areas in which there shall be inspection of armaments and ceilings upon armaments is sound. The hon. Gentleman can neither add to nor subtract from that.
§ Mr. Healey
I think that the Foreign Secretary has made his position clear. We know now what his beliefs are, but we do not know to what extent they will inspire his actions.
We know that perhaps one of the reasons for the Foreign Secretary's reluctance to give a clearer answer to my question is that there is opposition to this conception at present inside the Government of Western Germany. We must accept that opposition as sincere 404 and as a factor in the situation. Dr. Adenauer made us all admire him greatly when he made a speech last week in which he said that the German people must recognise that Germany has not yet paid the full price which it would have to pay for having started and then lost the Second World War, that it must be prepared to make sacrifices for a European settlement.
The one sacrifice which Germany could make and which would be welcomed by the vast majority of Germans themselves is an agreement, not only to refrain from the manufacture of certain weapons by Western Germany—an agreement which the West German Government has voluntarily made—but to limit the number of weapons possessed by Western Germany. If the West German Government are prepared to go that far, I believe that we could see at the Summit Conference real and substantial progress for the first time since the end of the Second World War on a solution of the European problem.
The establishment of such a zone in Central Europe would be important, not only for its impact on the dangers in Berlin and in improving the prospect of a general German and European settlement, but for this reason above all. I believe that physical co-operation with the Soviet Union on the problem of military security is the indispensable basis for any sort of world order. It may seem odd to talk in those terms, yet any form of disarmament involves physical cooperation on military security between countries which are politically divided from one another.
I cannot deal at this stage with Mr. Khrushchev's proposals or the Foreign Secretary's proposals for all-out disarmament. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) will do so when he winds up for the Opposition. The key to any progress in a world settlement at present is some sort of physical co-operation with the Soviet Union on the military problem. I believe that the establishment of arms control in Central Europe is one field in which such co-operation is a practical possibility at present.
The other field is that of an atomic test ban. It is clear from what the Foreign Secretary said that on the question of banning tests above the ground, 405 in the sea, in the air or in the upper atmosphere the only obstacle to a treaty now is the question of the precise proportion of Soviet to Western or neutral representatives in the control posts. An obvious compromise is possible. The real difficulty, as the Foreign Secretary pointed out, is with underground explosions. Here, too, there is a wide degree of agreement, at least in principle. As I understand it, the American Government, as well as the Soviet and British Governments, concede in principle the idea of a quota of inspections, and the only real argument is about the number of on-the-spot inspections of possible underground explosions and the way in which that number is to be calculated. I should be grateful if the Foreign Secretary would tell me if this is not the case.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I wish that were the only point. A further point is the efficacy of any machinery of control to establish whether there has been a suspicious incident.
§ Mr. Healey
I was coming to that. On the question of the number of tests, the Americans as well as the Russians, I gather from the speech of the American representative yesterday, have conceded that they would be prepared to accept an inspection system which did not give them the right to inspect every suspicious circumstance, but only, for example, 20 per cent. of explosions believed to be below 5 kilotons.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The point to remember is that this is true for practical reasons. It is a physical impossibility for anybody to inspect every suspicious incident, because there are hundreds and hundreds of them.
§ Mr. Healey
I know. I hope that the Foreign Secretary is not trying to depreciate the fact that the Americans, the Russians and ourselves agree on something less than an absolutely theoretically perfect number of inspections. The real argument, as the Foreign Secretary says, is what criteria are to be used in deciding what are suspicious circumstances and what form of inspection is likely to be efficacious. Here, too, the elements of a compromise are already beginning to emerge. I was attracted, for example—I expect that my right hon. and hon. Friends generally were—by the Foreign Secretary's suggestion that 406 perhaps the three countries might carry out underground tests together in order to investigate the scientific circumstances.
The only point I make is that agreement on this problem is very urgent indeed. It is a matter of the next few months—and for two reasons. In the first place—and I am sure that the Foreign Secretary is well aware of this—unless there is agreement soon to set up a control system, public opinion may, in any case, make it impossible for the Western countries to resume testing; so we get a ban on tests without any control, which, from the right hon. and learned Gentleman's point of view, I should have thought to be not a desirable thing.
Second, as further countries begin to enter the field of atomic weapons production agreement will certainly be more complicated, and I believe that if the three existing military atomic Powers can agree now on a control system and begin to operate it, the chances of getting further atomic Powers to accept the control system, as it exists, will be enormously greater than if we have to start negotiating in six months' time or a year's time with two or three other countries which have completely different ideas, perhaps based on far more limited experience as to what sort of agreement is desirable.
I make this suggestion to the Foreign Secretary: is not this an issue on which the heads of Government of the three countries concerned might meet now? The only countries concerned in these negotiations are Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. They are near agreement. It is desperately important that agreement should be reached quickly. Is it not possible that these three heads of Government should meet in the immediate future to discuss this question alone, without waiting for their Summit Conference, which will have to deal with other questions and at which other countries not concerned with these negotiations will be present? I simply put that suggestion to him. I do not ask for an immediate reply, even from the Minister of State.
Here, again, it seems to me that the greatest prize is the establishment of physical co-operation between the West and Russia on a control system. We must admit that a test ban is only a 407 small first step towards solving the problem of atomic weapons. There remains the tremendous and daunting problem of how to persuade other countries to accept it My own view, and that of all my right hon. and hon. Friends, is that Britain will find it very difficult to take any further initiative on this problem unless she is prepared to put herself on the level of other States in negotiating about it.
There is just one other matter that arises on this issue. Any control system for a ban on tests will have to be universal if it is to be effective. That immediately raises the problem of putting control stations inside the territory of Communist China. I think that there is no chance of agreement on this issue without bringing China into the international community and getting her co-operation.
We are all agreed that Chinese behaviour has been abominable and without excuse on certain issues in the last few months, but that behaviour is irrelevant to this problem. I believe that there is growing recognition, even inside the United States, that present Western policy on China is both futile and damaging. A British initiative here could be decisive. I hope that if the Foreign Secretary can not intervene to do so now, the Minister of State will later tell us what the Prime Minister meant when he told the Prime Minister of Japan that the Japanese policy of not recognising Communist China was—and I quote him—"wise and realistic." Would the Foreign Secretary like to reply to that now, or shall we leave it? Nothing is more important—
§ Mr. Healey
Mr. Speaker, I conceive it to be the duty of Her Majesty's Opposition to submit Her Majesty's Government to relentless and continuous inquisition, and I hope that nobody, not even the noble Lord, will object to my trying to fulfil this function as best I can.
I must raise another question in the same field. From what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said this afternoon I think that he agrees with us that Britain must take now every chance there is to try to break the old mould of the cold war. Can the Minister of State 408 tell us why the Government at the present time are supporting the claim of Turkey to a seat on the Security Council as against the claim of Poland? When my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South winds up the debate for the Opposition later today he will deal with the United Nations aspects of the problem: I will simply deal with the political aspect.
In the last few years all hon. Members on both sides of the House must have been enormously heartened and encouraged by the independence of policy shown by Poland in world affairs, and by the constructive initiative she has been taking for a settlement of European and world problems. It seems to me that, quite apart from all the legalistic and constitutional arguments—which I believe to be in themselves decisive—for a Polish seat on the Security Council, the political and diplomatic arguments would also be decisive by themselves.
We all respect the Turkish position in the world and in the Western Alliance, but Turkey has already twice been on the Security Council—incidentally, both as a representative of the Middle East and as a representative of Eastern Europe—and Britain has previously supported Poland against Turkey. Why are we not doing so now? I do not believe that there is any real argument against it. After all, Canada and Norway, both members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, are supporting Poland and I beg the Government to reconsider their position before next Monday, when the thirty-second ballot on this issue is to be taken at the United Nations Assembly.
I must conclude with a reference to a problem that has played all too little part in our past debates but on which I was very glad to hear the Foreign Secretary spend some time today—the question of British relations with continental Western Europe. We have had far too little discussion on this subject in the last five years, but I do not think that either side of the House can afford any longer to ignore the vast and growing gulf between Britain and the main Powers of continental Europe. This gulf is at once a threat to this country's economic future at home and to the sort of settlement with Russia on world affairs that all of us so urgently desire. 409 I must confess, Mr. Speaker, to a sense of irony on recalling that when the Prime Minister first took office just over two years ago and made a speech on the wireless to tell us of his policy, he said that he intended to give first priority to strengthening British relations with Western Europe, and suggested that if we did this we should be able to show more independence of the United States. The fact is that since 1945 British relations with Western Europe have never been so bad as they are today.
The beginning of improving those relationships is to recognise the fact that so long as the Government continue to maintain that nothing is wrong but that everything is marvellous, that we are loved both in Bonn and in Paris, we cannot expect to start improving the situation. The plain fact is that at the present time the United States is mediating on a large number of issues between us and Western Europe. That is a fantastic situation, even if it did not contradict everything that the Prime Minister was saying just over two years ago—
§ Mr. Healey
I will go over the issues now, Mr. Speaker, in reply to the inquisition from the Foreign Secretary.
We are at present deeply divided on major economic and political issues. It is just useless to deny that the Common Market, as it is now developing, is likely to produce a very serious threat to our prosperity. There is every sign that the Common Market will now become complete in 1965 instead of in, I think, 1972. It is also useless to deny that among leading representatives of the Common Market countries, and in the Common Market as an institution, there is no interest whatever shown in a close association with Britain. This is one of the problems.
A drift of international capital from Britain to the Continent has already begun as a consequence. There is even a drift of British capital; several British firms are deciding to build new factories inside the Common Market countries rather than in Britain on account of the trade barriers which are coming into existence. Market sharing arrangements are being made among Continental companies which will freeze British exports 410 out of Europe unless we do something about it. If the Foreign Secretary is not prepared to admit this fact and recognise these dangers, then I despair of anything ever being done to remove them.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman is really not being fair. The whole closing part of my speech was a recognition of these facts. A moment ago, he said that the United States Government were mediating between us and European countries on certain issues, and it was about that that I asked the question.
§ Mr. Healey
One issue on which the Americans are mediating between us and the Continent—there is public evidence of this—is the question of the Summit Conference, where they stand midway between us and the Continental countries both as regards date and agenda.
§ Mr. Healey
I see no disposition on the part of the Foreign Secretary to deny this.
Not only is there this dangerous position developing on economic policy, but there is open public criticism of the British Prime Minister by the Prime Minister of Germany and the President of France in words which are calculated and chosen to wound him. There is the attempt developing within the Continent to create an independent Continental foreign policy outside N.A.T.O., or, at any rate, quite separately from all the attempts made inside N.A.T.O. I do not, of course, say that these developments are all the fault of Her Majesty's Government, but what I do say is that the situation has been worsened both by the policy of Her Majesty's Government and by the conduct of some of their representatives.
Nobody who has followed the Continental Press or has visited European capitals during the last year can deny that the impression of complacency and patronising arrogance given by the Prime Minister, particularly since his visit to Moscow, has contributed substantially in worsening relations between Britain and the Continent. There is no doubt whatever that Britain's claim to a special position as a military atomic Power and to a special relationship with the United 411 States—a claim which has often been boasted of in public by Her Majesty's Ministers—has greatly contributed to worsening the atmosphere.
We must accept that this problem of relations between ourselves and Western Europe is today primarily a psychological rather than a political problem. There is on the Continent at the present time—it is the beginning of wisdom to recognise it—a deep suspicion of British policy towards Europe and a deep suspicion of British motives in Europe.
I confess that the policy and conduct of the party opposite both in opposition and in Government has given colour to these suspicions. After all, it was a leader of the party opposite who proposed the creation of a European army and then refused to join it when he became Prime Minister. It was another leader of the party opposite who, as Prime Minister, undertook to keep British troops at their existing strength on the Continent until the end of the century and who then appeared to default on his promise. I agree that, if one reads the small print of the agreement, the default cannot be sustained in law, but there is no doubt at all that the impact of the 1957 Defence White Paper and what followed it has been one of the major elements in spreading suspicion and doubt of British motives on the Continent. We cannot begin the process of repairing our relationships unless there is a basic change in our attitude.
Two things are vital. First, we must now—I confess that we are all at fault here, on both sides of the House—accept the movement towards unity on the Continent as a reality. All of us have consistently underestimated the strength of this movement, and this is one of the reasons for our policy being at fault. The other thing we must accept is that France and Germany are now countries in every sense equal with Britain in the world. On both sides of the Chamber, our vision is slightly distorted by our memories of the post-war epoch when the Continental countries were desperately dependent on foreign aid; but, in the last six years, production in France and Germany has increased three times as fast as it has in Britain, as my right hon. Friend has pointed out in another context. Living standards in those two countries will soon be as high as those in 412 Britain, and may be higher unless we pull our socks up.
Even if we make these changes in our attitude towards Europe, it will not be easy to improve relations. Some elements in France and Germany do not want us to have closer relations in any case. Others demand a price we cannot pay, a rigidity of policy towards Russia, for instance, or support for French policy in Algeria. But I believe that there is a great fund of potential support for Britain still on the Continent. There are people in all walks of life, in all political parties, in important positions as well as unimportant positions, who have been disappointed by British European policy in the last few years and who are beginning to lose confidence, but their confidence can be restored if we try to mobilise it again.
I was very disappointed that the Foreign Secretary gave no hint of what his policy was for improving relations. There have been inspired rumours in the diplomatic Press that he is thinking of resurrecting what he rather graciously called the Grand Design a few years ago, which was simply an attempt to juggle with European institutions so as to produce a tidier pattern, an attempt which I think he will have to agree was regarded throughout the Continent with suspicion or derision. I hope that, this time, he or his advisers in the Foreign Office have somthing a little more substantial to offer.
I do not myself believe that there is a magic formula for improving relations, but I believe that we must begin to seek co-operation wherever it is possible. It may well be possible, very often, in nongovernmental matters, perhaps in cooperation in the building of supersonic airliners or even ocean liners. There is a very strong case for looking again at Britain's relationships with the European Atomic Energy Authority which now looks like modifying its functions in ways which would make it easier for us to co-operate. I am quite certain that, unless Britain gives this problem much higher priority than it has had before, the growing gulf between ourselves and the Continent can wreck all our hopes for progress both at home and abroad.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South will deal later in the debate with some of the major issues of our 413 relationships with Africa and Asia. I conclude by saying that I believe that if Her Majesty's Government approach the problems of the next five years with confidence, with a constructive imagination and with patient energy, this country can still make a decisive contribution to the creation of the international order which all of us, on both sides of the House, desire. We believe that it is our function, as Her Majesty's Opposition, to see that the Government display those qualities. In so far as they do, we shall be sympathetic towards them even where we disagree with them. In so far as they fail to do so, we shall be merciless in our criticism.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Mr. Antony Head (Carshalton)
The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has made a highly controversial maiden speech from the Dispatch Box. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I gather that it was not a maiden speech. I have no doubt that we shall hear many more speeches from him at that Box, all of them from that side of the House. If he will forgive me—I think it is a weakness in debate—I shall not follow him in his speech, because I do not wish to detain the House too long and my remarks will be directed towards a subject with which he did not deal.
My justification for taking up the time of hon. Members—I know how unpopular people like myself are when they do so—is that the matter about which I wish to speak is, in my belief, the most important that will confront this Parliament during the next four or five years and, perhaps, the most important for the next ten or fifteen years. Moreover, as the subject of a speech, it has the merit that it is hardly ever discussed in the House. The subject I want to bring to the attention of hon. Members is loosely described as that of the backward, dependent and underdeveloped territories.
I should like to try to say why I believe the problem to be of such importance and so vital for this country in the next five or ten years and for the West as a whole. In order to do so, I should like to try to define what I mean by "the problem". I think that it stems almost entirely from a combination 414 of circumstances, which are these. First, the world today is a much smaller place and we know a great deal about what is going on in all parts of the world. One-third of the world is third or fourth generation rich through the industrial revolution, and it is getting richer. Two-thirds of the world is very poor, some of it abjectly poor, and at the moment, owing to an increasing birthrate, it is standing still.
Secondly, a very large proportion of the poor two-thirds of the world has recently acquired, or will soon acquire, national independence. Thirdly, we are living in the middle of a scientific and technological revolution, which many of us do not realise—that is to say, the way of getting rich through industrial techniques no longer requires an inherited skill or industrial tradition, but can be applied to what we term backward and slightly educated people, provided the capital, equipment and administrative ability are available.
Lastly, those responsible for the governing of these countries have seen the example of what Communist Russia has done in 40 years, interrupted by two wars, and what Communist China is doing today. As one more circumstance, quite a large proportion of the two-thirds poor of the world has been in the past under Western domination.
That combination of circumstances, I believe, poses a question of vast importance, not only for the West but for the future of the world as a whole. Again, I should like to try to make clear why I think that that is so. I think that the question before the West today is this: who is to share in and to give the lead in this industrial and technical revolution which will come to the poorer two-thirds, and what will the world as a whole look like when it has been completed? I believe that it will be completed much quicker than the average hon. Member can conceive. That is the question which is posed to the West.
In my view, this problem has nothing whatever to do with the cold war. We have invented the term "cold war," and I believe that it has led to a lot of misunderstanding in this House. We use it in relation to anything from the war in Korea to propaganda in the Yemen. However, I believe that essentially this is not a cold war. It is a 415 struggle or ideologies and the methods or applying a new industrial technique. That is the problem, and it is not the task of the West to embark on this major problem with the solely negative aim of stopping the backward countries going Communist.
In attempting to deal with this very large problem as briefly as I can, I would say that I am by no means an expert, but at the same time I would claim for myself that my remarks are not entirely superficial, for since I have been on the back benches I have been both to Africa and to Asia. I have read a great deal of diffuse and turgid Communist literature, and I have discussed this problem with some highly intelligent men. In trying to analyse the problem as briefly as I can, I should first like to consider Communist Russia's policy and approach to the problem. Of course, China is also a big factor, but I do not want to make my remarks too complicated, I will therefore confine myself to Communist Russia.
I am strongly in favour of Summit conversations, and I believe that they may well lead to an easing of tension, but it is very delusory for the House or any hon. Member to think that by Summit talks we will cut out the central dynamic of Communism, which is that the world will be a good place only when it is a Communist world. It would be just as illusory if Mr. Khrushchev went to a Summit Conference thinking that he would eliminate the Christian ethic from the West.
§ Mr. Head
That is something which is outside my immediate argument. I could argue it very strongly.
If one believes in Communism, if it is the central theme of one's belief that the world will be a proper place for humans to live in only when it is a Communist world, if one makes financial, technical and educational efforts to win the backward peoples, that is not a hostile or basically wicked act; it is merely an expression of an ideology backed by one's efforts in terms of money and men.
The Russians have been extremely explicit about their policy with regard 416 to the backward territories. They share that habit with Hitler, who wrote Mein Kampf, which hardly anyone read until the war was over and then said, "What an extraordinary thing. He told us exactly what he was going to do." The Russians, although not so concisely as Hitler, have written a great deal about this subject in very turgid literature, much of it very diffuse, and with the help of friends I have digested a certain amount of it. I should like to attempt briefly to analyse Russian grand policy with regard to these countries.
The first thing that is important is that one of the central tenets of the Communist faith has been cut out, namely, the old Lenin dictum of the inevitability of an armed conflict with the West. That seems to be logical and sensible, and any country which thinks that anything but disaster will come from that is crazy. What now takes first place, the inevitability of the armed conflict being cut out, is that the way for Communism to overthrow the West is by an alliance with the revolutionary tendencies in the backward and dependent territories. That is now the first priority.
How does the Communist world visualise this primary aim being fulfilled? I think it is fair to simplify it by saying that it is this: by propaganda, educational, technical and capital aid, and by trade and economic means, they will gradually gain the political and economic affiliation of the two-thirds poor of the world, and as they get richer and their standards go up, and as the Russian and Chinese economies get stronger, by controlling vast quantities of raw materials on which the West is highly dependent, they will be able to control the arteries of trade and raw materials in a way which would gradually weaken and finally bring about the destruction of the Western economy. That, I am convinced, is what Field Marshal Montgomery would call "the master plan" so far as Soviet designs are concerned for making the world a Communist world. It is no good our regarding it as a hostile act or as the cold war. It is an act of ideology which combines helping people who are now in a state of great poverty with a bid for their leadership and domination.
If I am not boring the House, and in order to attempt to explain the thoroughness of the co-ordination and the prac- 417 ticability with which this plan is being pursued, I should like to give a few examples of what Russia is now doing to implement their central design. If hon. Members were now in Moscow and were allowed to go into a certain building—as they would not be allowed to do—they would find hundreds of men and women bending over their desks and tabulating and listening to obscure African languages and turning them into Russo-African dictionaries. They would find other men and women studying the economic, agricultural, social, tribal and religious beliefs of many obscure African tribes.
Elsewhere in another building they would find many technicians, engineers, nominees to trade missions and future ambassadors undergoing courses and learning those languages, those religious beliefs and studying the agricultural problems. Nor does it stop at teaching Russians. Throughout Russia today, as hon. Members probably know, there is an increasing flow of students.
When I first went to Africa, it was said that Africa was not the aim of any considerable Soviet Communist pressure. But from Africa alone there is a vast flow of students into Eastern Europe and Russia One can find African students studying in Moscow, Prague, East Germany, Rumania, Bulgaria and China. They go there for five-year courses, practically all of them taking technical subjects, all with ideology thrown in. They all go on special terms, getting more pocket money than the Czechs do—which annoys the Czechs very much. I am not saying that that always succeeds, but many of those students return to Africa convinced of the Communist ideology.
There are 3,000 such students in Prague alone. It is not easy to analyse numbers, but there is no doubt that the numbers are large and getting larger. The students come not only from Africa, but from the Middle East and South-East Asia as well. In Poland, for instance, there are students from the Sudan, Togo-land, Uganda, Nigeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria.
I am saying this only to underline the fact that this is not a sudden move by the Russians. It is the result of long-term planning for the technical education which is the primary need of those 418 countries. The students have been prepared for the courses and teachers have been prepared for the students.
What is even more important, as can be found by talking to these people, is that they do not particularly want to go to Russia. Many of these countries are frightened about Communist indoctrination of these young men. Many of the countries would far rather send students to the West, but our preliminary requirements before a student can go to Western technical schools are such that these students cannot fulfil them. In Russia, on the other hand, there are local arrangements for teaching Russian and the necessary preliminary knowledge in the student's own country before he arrives.
I know that there are very many students from those countries in this country, but I believe that our educational requirements for the students from backward territories are more a matter of fitting those students into the existing structure than thinking out what is the structure which should be provided for giving them educational facilities. I am certain that if there were more attainable vacancies in the West, not merely in this country, they would be filled to overflowing.
There is another aspect of education to which I want to refer, namely, books. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is on the Front Bench. I congratulate him on having got money out of the Treasury for the provision of 2 million subsidised books a year for all these backward and dependent areas. However, let us take the example of India alone. Four million Russian and 2 million Chinese subsidised books go into India every year, which makes the 2 million of my right hon. Friend look rather small.
There are now more literate Africans than there were. There are cheap, paper-backed, subsidised books which are printed in Moscow and which are about obscure folk tales of the Bantu and other tribes, printed in those obscure languages so that those people are very pleased to read them and very flattered, so pleased that they probably read the introduction which is a convincing dissertation on the joys and achievements of life in Soviet Russia. 419 A great deal of trouble is being taken about these books.
"Soviet Land" is a magazine which is published all over India. It is well produced and published in English, Hindi and ten other Indian languages. I am quoting these examples to show what these people are up to. We cannot say that it is wicked, for the Russians believe in their cause and are in many respects trying to help these people.
Another aspect is that of embassy staffs—and I make these comments particularly to the Foreign Secretary. Russian embassy staffs, trade missions and technicians are all made to learn the language concerned before going to a foreign country. Some hon. Members may have read a book called "The Angry American". It may be overdrawn, but there is a grain of truth in it.
It is no good the West thinking that we will buy ourselves out of this problem, because money badly administered, without understanding or knowledge of the language, is no good. Russian embassy staffs are trained in the language concerned. In the last five years, their numbers have more than doubled. The Russians have seen that technicians are one of the critical factors in this matter. The Russians have discovered that if a good man who is a technician and who knows his stuff ideologically can stay on the job in a country for five years, he is not merely a technician but an ambassador, an evangelist and an intelligence agent.
I will give the House an instance of the trouble taken about this matter, again taking the case of India. To get the matter into proportion, today India takes 7 per cent. of her imports from Russia—not very much. Of its total foreign aid, 17 per cent. is from Russia—not very much. But of all the foreign technicians in that country, 51 per cent. are Russian. That is a significant figure. I do not wish to be controversial, but I doubt whether hon. Members knew that figure, a figure which we should bear in mind.
§ Mr. Head
It is not a bogus figure. I owe it to the courtesy of the Foreign Secretary who allowed me to get in touch with some of the people who study this matter. It is significant.
420 There is another instance which may bring some comfort to hon. Members, that of capital. Russian finance compared with that provided by the West is very small. The Soviet credit scheme started in 1954 and the total amount spent since then is 200 million dollars, an average of 40 million dollars a year. Last year alone, America spent 1,500 million dollars. Hon. Members may now feel better, but every dollar of that Russian money is "propaganda-ed up to the whiskers". Everybody knows where the money has gone and how it has been spent. It is administered by men who know the language and it is applied strategically—not in the military, but in the political and economic sense. It is applied in such a way that it is paid back by trade—and Russia knows well that the flag is apt to follow trade. It is applied in a way in which the long-term return will be to the political and economic advantage of Russia.
Ninety per cent. of this aid has gone to India, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan. If hon. Members who know about this sat down and made out a list, I do not think it would be very different from that. I am saying that the money is small in volume, but it is extremely well placed. I will leave now what Russia is doing, except to say that here is a carefully thought out, vigorously executed, long-term scheme which knows what it is trying to do and which has the men to administer it on the ground.
Now may I for a moment turn to the West? I am sure that the Minister of State will tell me, if he does me the honour of mentioning this when he comes to reply, that we are doing a great deal. Of course, we are doing a great deal. There is the Colombo Plan, the World Bank, American aid and the Colonial Development Corporation. Of course, there is a great deal being done. But the first point that I would make about the West's effort is that most of what is being done is money and very little of what is being done is done by qualified men.
Money, especially badly administered money, can be almost worse than no money. If we pour money into a backward and perhaps corrupt administration and it is used for every single reason except for the purposes for which it is 421 intended, it brings into ridicule the country that gives it. As I say, we produce a great deal of money and the West has made a great effort. But leaving out anything further for the moment, if we look at, say, N.A.T.O. we have discussed and had conferences and got together and we are always talking about the joint defence effort of N.A.T.O. If we look at the whole of this business of the backward countries, which I think is the most important single question that confronts us today, the West is in really serious disarray.
Can any hon. Member tell me about any conference with the United States, the major partner, and us with perhaps more "know-how" and knowledge of these countries than any other nation? Have we really thought it over carefully and given advice and concerted our views? I think that our plans in this repect are not only unco-ordinated but still retain a good deal of the anti-colonialist suspicions of the United States and a good deal of what I would call the disgruntled ex-boss attitude.
We have to realise that on our conduct, our attitude and our aid to this two-thirds of the world the future of Western civilisation may well depend. I put it as high as that. There may be hon. Members who do not agree, but I have never been more convinced of anything than I am about this. What should we do? It is very easy to stand up in the House of Commons and criticise, and I always think it obligatory to try to give some view about what one should do. The first thing we must realise is that inevitably and always, whether it is humiliating or not, America is the senior and always will be the senior partner in this.
The first thing I believe is that the West should get together. Germany has a great deal of capital. Germany is interested in this problem. There is no doubt that in the field of private enterprise there is a great deal in Europe on which we can get together, but there is at the moment little or no co-ordination. Short-term loans voted annually, as in 1956, are no good for long-term projects. Badly administered schemes can be a handicap. The World Bank and that splendid man, Mr. Eugene Black, cannot do it alone because we also need 422 men—we must have technicians and we must have an administration. How can we get men if the countries of the West know little or nothing about it? What do the British public know about this problem? What right hon. Gentleman on the Front Bench has made an important speech on this problem? I do not wish to be controversial when I say frankly that I do not believe any hon. Member opposite has either.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
We have on these benches. We have initiated two large debates on this question this year, which the right hon. Gentleman did not attend, in which, in fact, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Economic Secretary took part.
§ Mr. Head
I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. I knew he initiated a debate. I did not attend, but I read the debate and I had made a rather lengthy speech on this same subject in the defence debate just before. We do not want to score points off one another. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] All I am trying to say is that, whatever the right hon. Gentleman or anybody else has done, the fact remains that the British public knows very little about this question. I am absolutely certain of that, because I have made many speeches about it in my own constituency and the public tend to look upon me as an amiable eccentric on this subject. People would know a lot more if a lead were given by this Government and by all Governments about the vital importance of this problem.
The West as a whole should overhaul the whole of the educational approach. I know that if the Minister of Education were here he would say: "Goodness me, we can hardly educate our own people." But this matter is vital, and I do not believe that we have studied it, especially the West as a whole, in terms of what we have to do to help these people.
If we are to do what we should aim to do in this matter, the scheme should be administered and evolved not by people with a national flag as a waistcoat, but by the West as a whole. It should not be a national affair. It should be of the West. There has been talk recently that Russia may share in this scheme. I would not entirely close my mind to it, 423 except to say that, with the violent anti-imperialist propaganda going on at the moment in the Far East, I do not see how it can happen. It should not be British aid, French aid or American aid; it should be Western aid.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
Can the right hon. Gentleman be more explicit on this subject of why he thinks it necessary for the Western world to coordinate this material? Does he think that the volume or quality of scientific educational material would be increased by the conjunction of the Western Powers?
§ Mr. Head
I am glad my hon. Friend asked that question. Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I think that the present scheme of the West, which has done much, especially financially, to help these countries is unco-ordinated, patchy and often conflicting. To take Kenya as a concrete example, if we say that it is our aim to give an increasing share to the people of Kenya in administration and government as soon as they are capable of it, if that is to have any weight, we must have a scheme both for education and administration. Hon. Members may say that we do; but we do not have enough. I know that Kenya could do with more money, but if the Treasury cannot afford it, why should not some of the money come from the U.S.A.? If Kenya had 6 million for education, it would be a great help. In fact, as I said in my last speech, I would rather have a good education scheme in Kenya than a Bluestreak.
What I am trying to get at—I may not have made the point clear to the noble Lord—is that this business of helping these countries must be a coordinated effort of the West—rather like N.A.T.O.—rather than a haphazard series of individual efforts without coordination.
How much have we discussed it with the United States? Very little. How much have we got a co-ordinated plan? Very little. Take our domestic position. If the noble Lord will think about that for a moment, who here is responsible? When I came back from Asia I thought I would go to see people about this. But who to go to? Who had responsibility? The Colonial Secretary?—a 424 bit. The Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations?—a bit. The Foreign Secretary?—a bit. The Treasury?—a bit.
Suppose this House were to rise in its wrath and say, "The British effort and our approach to the problem is disgraceful." Whose fault is it? [An HON. MEMBER: The Government's.] Of course it is the Government's, but suppose we were to say that we must have discussions about this problem with America, then who knows about it? Each Minister in this country is busy with his own problems. How much time can the Foreign Secretary spend from the pressure of his work to think of this problem? How much time can the Colonial Secretary spend? It is a vast problem, an elaborate problem, a complicated problem. I should like to know, if and when a reply comes, who is the Minister looking after this and how does he coordinate his work with that of other Departments, the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Foreign Office.
I am not trying to bully the Government, but from my own experience I would say that the problem has been insufficiently studied and that the British public are barely aware of it. I appeal to both sides of the House and to the Front Bench about this. I am convinced that this problem is the challenge of our time. I am convinced that this plan of the Russians is the way they think that Western civilisation will gradually be overthrown without war. I believe that the response of the West has been inadequate.
I think the danger for this Government and this House is that, having had one election in which we said, "You have never had it so good," the temptation is to concentrate on material prosperity so that when we come to the next election we may say, "You have got it even better." America has pushed material well-being further than any other country in the world. She consumes more tranquillisers than any other country in the world. I do not believe that the pursuit of material well-being is enough for Western civilisation or will keep it in good health. I say to both sides of the House and to the Front Bench, in particular, that this is the challenge of our time. Let us meet it.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I rise, I hope for the best reason of all, not because I have a speech in my pocket, but just because of the last speech. I have now heard it twice. I want to tell the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), speaking entirely for myself, that I find it offensive to go on making that speech from that bench, considering that he was Minister of Defence and, before that, Secretary of State for War and had more personal responsibility than almost any other man for letting the West down and giving the Communists the advance.
§ Mr. Head rose—
§ Mr. Head
I know, but I can see where the right hon. Gentleman is beginning. If he intends to be controversial—and I must confess I rather hoped this debate would not be controversial—I will say this right at the start, that I think, and have thought in the past, that because of the violation of an international treaty, because we fought a war, and for every reason, our intervention at the time of Suez was right; and I rather regret we stopped. I have not changed my mind one iota, but that does not affect my feelings about those people, because, in my opinion, the two matters are entirely different.
§ Mr. Brown
I listened in silence to the right hon. Gentleman. I ask him to listen in return.
The right hon. Gentleman now goes on attacking Ministers who sit there on the Treasury Bench. I do not like them either, but then, at the last General Election, I fought them. At the General Election the right hon. Gentleman sheltered under their umbrella. He now pretends for the second time that he has now seen a great light on the road to Damascus, he now sees how to appeal 426 to those people in the East. He sees the Russians' master plan. He lectures to us about it. Goodness gracious me, we knew a long time ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I told Khrushchev. Now I am telling those hon. Gentlemen opposite me, and I hope that somebody on that side of the House will listen.
This idea on the other side of the House that this is something one discovers when one is sacked from office, and is short of something else to do, really will not do. It is a matter of political philosophy and the Opposition fought the election on this. We undertook to provide 1 per cent. of the national product every year for the benefit of these people. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. Brown
I wish hon. Members opposite would listen. They do not understand. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carshalton was attacking them. I am now answering the attack which he made upon them.
We undertook to provide 1 per cent. [An HON. MEMBER: "Not more?"] Right hon. Gentlemen opposite, including the right hon. Gentleman himself, as well as the smaller men opposite me, who interrupt an argument they do not understand, told their constituents, "You have never had it so good"—as the right hon. Gentleman has just said— "Do not let the Labour men in, because they will do the adventurous things like providing 1 per cent. of the national product for the development of the overseas territories and that may mean"—so said the right hon. Gentleman, as well as the pigmies opposite me—"that you may not have it so good."
The right hon. Gentleman, having ridden on the tide of not doing these things, now adopts the "Pull up the ladder, Jack, I'm all right" philosophy and comes here today to present, with all the appearance of a great cross-bencher, an argument which cannot be sustained by anything that either he or his party said in the election.
§ Mr. Head
In the interests of accuracy the right hon. Gentleman should take note—he may not be aware of the fact—that this matter was in the party manifesto and was specifically mentioned. He has not said a word about 427 that. Part of my speech was on this, that this is not entirely a matter of money. Maybe he did listen to what I said. I said that this is a matter of co-ordination of approach. Anyway, it is in the party manifesto. It will not do for him to talk as though his party is the only one interested in these things. It is wrong of him to do so. Personally, I am sorry that he has seen fit to talk about this as though he were quarrelling on a party point. This is bigger than a party point, and it is bigger than the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Brown
So far, the right hon. Gentleman has made three speeches. I shall not give way to him any more. What he has said is ridiculous. This is not bigger than a party point. Everything is a party point. It is as big as a party will make it. If the party will do it, it is big. If an hon. Member talks big knowing that his party will not do it, it is very small. It is no bigger because of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is sitting on the back benches, with no responsibility, and because he can talk in this way knowing very well that when he was in office he never even had a glimpse of this policy. He knows very well that none of his right hon. and hon. Friends will do it now. That does not make it big. It makes it sententious and even more offensive. It is big only in so far as any of us will pledge our political futures to doing it.
I beg the right hon. Gentleman to do me the honour of trying to understand this point. There are few hon. Members in the House who disagree with their own party more often than I do. It is true that I become heated about party matters. I become heated by the attitude that if one has no responsibility one is thereby free to talk very big, and to lecture everybody else; and that somehow this makes one more distinguished than those who are carrying responsibility.
The only reason that I make what the right hon. Gentleman is pleased to call a party point is that we went to the country and said that we should devote 1 per cent. of the national production to this purpose. We were asked, "Does that mean that you will tax us more?" We tried to answer that, and in the end 428 we lost the General Election. But that does not entitle the right hon. Gentleman, who gained by it, to come here and to argue in favour of our policy. It is not in the House, after the election, that he should tell people that if we are to meet the Communist offensive in the world, they must make a contribution. It is at an election that he should tell them that some resources have to be directed to that purpose.
I am delighted that the right hon. Gentleman now sees the light, but I beg him to understand that he must make clear outside the House what is involved. He says that we have a duty. It is not a duty simply to provide books. When it came to dealing with this situation which he has suddenly understood—that the Russians were appealing to the unfed because of their economic needs and shortages—what did the right hon. Gentleman say was the answer? He said, "We must buy more books and give them more broadcasts". About what? It is no use unless we have something about which we can broadcast. The Government which cut our contribution to S.U.N.F.E.D., and which reduced all our international contributions, is not the Government to make more radio broadcasts and to issue more books.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby) rose—
§ Mr. Brown
I will not give way again.
I believe that the Russians have not given the aid of which they have boasted. The point is that because we have not done so, we have been unable to take advantage of that fact. I well remember talking to Colonel Nasser, in Egypt, about aid to the Middle East and saying to him, "Do you not understand what the Russians are doing?" He replied, "My dear Mr. Brown, you do not understand. The great difference between the Russians and you is that neither of you give me aid, but when they promise it they do not tie strings to it."
§ Several Hon. Members rose—
§ Mr. Brown
Let me develop my argument. Hon. Members can give their answers later.
The great difference is that whenever we move into this field we do it in a most limited way. We tie strings to it. The right hon. Gentleman was a member 429 of the Government which, with the Americans, got themselves into a terrible jam in respect of the Aswan Dam. That was because we tried to tie strings to the aid which we were offering. We then chiselled out of it and did not give the aid. This led to many of our subsequent troubles, including the mess which the right hon. Member made in Suez, through getting into the war—which was wrong—and being unable militarily to conduct it. This will be well dealt with in history books, and that is why I feel strongly about the right hon. Gentleman.
We give the most limited amount of aid. We will not devote the necessary resources to it. We will not distinguish it from political strings and we get ourselves into a position in which the Russians, who do not provide the aid, are able to claim that they are just as good as we are because our record beside theirs looks so ridiculous that it gives them a propaganda victory.
Of course, the under-privileged overseas merit all our good wishes. They merit all our practical help. If we are the Christians and the democrats and the disinterested people we claim to be, then we ought to give them this aid in full measure, but we cannot do that and, at the same time, promise people at home that they will have more and more and more and that nothing will be taken away from them. We cannot be for the under-privileged overseas and against the under-privileged at home.
The recent election was exactly about this. I do not mind that we have been defeated. I do not mind being defeated on this argument. I think that the right hon. Gentleman has brought out more clearly than anyone else could have done what I regard to be the difference between the Conservatives and the Labour Party. If necessary, I will go on being defeated about this, but I will never make a sententious speech in the House of Commons after I have won an election on the wrong policy, as he has done.
We should recognise that there are under-privileged people all over the world, including at home. We should recognise the great political issue of the difference between us and the Russians in the Middle East. What is important about the future at home is the establishment of the right priorities—priorities in distribution, in social benefits and in 430 the raising of production. The right hon. Gentleman has shown his priorities, but they could not possibly fit his speech. He will not be able to make a reality of that speech until he faces the priorities.
The day on which he is willing to vote for aid, with no strings attached, to the fellaheen of Egypt and the Arab countries, aid with no strings attached to the Arabs of Africa, and aid with no strings attached to the Indians; the day on which he is prepared to deny what the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once said about giving our things away to the Indians; on that day he will earn my respect, but he will also be willing, on that day, to vote for increases in the old-age pension and a notable increase in expenditure on education and the other great needs of this country.
This is a party matter. It is exactly on these issues that we have parties. This is exactly what we fought the election about. I say to him, do not lecture us on great principles, every one of which was denied in his party's speeches in the election.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) has delivered an attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) in connection with this election. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman this. He has made a very altruistic speech on how we must have more aid for the unfortunates at home and more aid for the unfortunates abroad. How does he square that with his party's election pledge not to increase taxation at home, not to increase P.A.Y.E., to abolish Purchase Tax, to reduce Entertainments Duty and all the rest of it? How can the right hon. Gentleman possibly come here and expect us to believe that he, if he ever got back to power, would do that; if he is not prepared to pay the price? This is so much hypocrisy—much greater hypocrisy than my right hon. Friend has ever been guilty of.
§ Mr. G. Brown
I would answer the hon. and learned Gentleman by saying that we would organise the industrial life of this country—
§ Mr. Brown
I did not rise because I did not want to interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman. I am saying that we pointed out that we could do all this if we were prepared to organise whole industries, use the powers of State planning and State direction in order to get an annual rate of increase in the national production as high as that which we had when we last had a Labour Government.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
We all have our own views about how much extra aid that would provide for the fellaheen in Egypt and the Arabs in the Yemen.
May I now get away from this unruly struggle between Privy Councillors in which a humble back bencher scarcely dares to intervene, though if this is to be the freedom for back benchers it will be a strange Parliament indeed. I am not sure that the iron rule of the Treasury Bench and Opposition Front Bench freedom is not to be preferred.
I should like to get back to the subject of the debate, which is foreign affairs, and to discuss, in particular, something which neither my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary nor the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) mentioned, though we were promised that the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) would deal with it when he wound up for the Opposition; namely, the problem of Asia.
I noticed that the hon. Member for Leeds, East made his usual reference to Western imperialism in Asia. At the same time, in a rather strange but interesting way, he said that he thought the established Powers—in which he included the Soviet Union and the big Powers of the West—should get together in something like the old Holy Alliance of Metternich and the Czar to produce stability, and to keep the new and uprising nations in their place.
So far as Western imperialism in Asia is concerned, I wonder whether, in his forward-looking way, he has appreciated that the only part of Asia—or the only 432 material areas of Asia—in which white men now rule coloured men are parts ruled by the Russians. The only parts of Asia where white men rule coloured men in any large areas are parts of the Russian empire. It seems to me, therefore, that it is out-of-date to talk of this strange complaint that if only we were to get rid of our yoke of imperialism, we could make ourselves much more popular, because, in fact, the only remaining vestige of imperialism—and it is a very large one—is not one of the West but of the Soviet Union. I think it is against that background that we should examine what appears to be the most important development since last we had a foreign affairs debate, which is the incredible decline in the prestige of China.
If one remembers two years ago the immense influence of Communist China at the Bandoeng Afro-Asian Conference, when the Afro-Asians were charmed by Mr. Chou-en-Lai, and contrast that with the regard for Communist China in Asia today, we see that the decline is amazing. I should like to dwell on that, because it is interesting to discover why that has happened.
In the first place, I think that undoubtedly the defeat of Communist China in her attempt to capture the offshore islands has played a very important part. It was a failure of prestige which ran through the whole of South-East Asia, and it was only equalled by the success of Communist China in rubbing out all traces of independence in Tibet a year later. These two actions taken together have undoubtedly produced something which I do not suppose anybody in this House could have imagined would ever have occurred; namely, that a country like Malaya, an independent Asian country, should take the lead at the United Nations to try to get Communist China arraigned for her misdeeds in Tibet.
This is an amazing reversal of approach to Communist China in the last year or so, and one wonders whether the leaders of Communist China, in their attack on Tibet, and even more in their attack on India, have not in some way got a folie de grandeur. Why should they do this when they had Asia very much at their feet, and when now they have managed, not through any good management on the part of the West but by bad 433 management on their own part, to alienate all the countries of South-East Asia, which were otherwise apt to look with favour upon Peking? What can be the motive for that? Is it because of internal strength, or is it because of internal weakness? It is most important that we should discover, because if it is, as I suggest, the most important change in the international situation that has occurred in the last eighteen months, we should discover why it has happened.
In the first place, it is the reaction of a country which has had a military failure. If a new country has had a military failure, as Communist China had at Quemoy and Matsu in August, 1958, for the sake of prestige she is bound to win a military success somewhere else, if only at the expense of some relatively weak and friendly nation, such as India. It is not much of an encouragement for the people of the world to try to co-exist with Communist China if the very people who have spoken the softest words, who have gone out of their way to sponsor Communist China's case, are the very ones to be invaded, which indeed is what has happened in India, where I think that something like 60,000 square miles of Indian territory, if not more, is at present in Chinese occupation, and where even the Communists of India are more incensed than the Prime Minister of India at this situation.
What is the motive for that? I suggest to the House—though I would willingly hear some other suggestions from those among hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite who have special knowledge of Communist China, as I know many of them have—what can be the motive, at this stage, for the invasion of India except to try to regain some of the prestige lost in August, 1958, when Communist China failed to take the offshore islands, or, alternatively, as an attempt to divert attention at home from the abject failure of the commune programme.
One could understand it if she had turned her attention once again to Formosa. One could understand it if she had turned her attention again to Korea, both areas hostile to Communist China; but to turn her attention to India, her great friend at the United Nations, her great sponsor; to invade that country which has spoken nothing but soft words 434 to her, must surely mean that there is something very wrong internally in China, and for which she needs an easy foreign diversion to escape attention.
I think, and indeed the reports suggest, that what has happened in China is that the commune system, which is far more violent in its collectivisation than anything the Russians have attempted; which seeks to collectivise not merely the products of the soil but the consumption of those products in the villages, by which not even the separate hearth is allowed to the family but all the stoves are destroyed and everybody has to eat centrally and communally; that this violent onslaught on the family which is, after all, the strongest element in Chinese life, is failing in famine and disaster and that, in the way of all dictatorships, the only way to divert attention from this ghastly failure is by a foreign adventure.
What can China hope to get from this invasion of India? If anyone could tell us that, then I think they would find the clue to those elements mentioned by the hon. Member for Leeds, East in the early part of his speech, namely, the extraordinary turmoil in which Asia finds herself; a turmoil far more important in many ways than the European scene, which has become fairly stereotyped in the last two or three years, where the issues are clear and the parties are clear, and where the room for manœuvre, in a sense, is getting slightly greater, but where there is not much question of a dramatic change. In central Asia, however, with this extraordinary invasion of India by China, it seems to me that the whole issue of Communism in the world has been brought into very sharp relief, and my contribution today is really to ask those hon. Gentlemen opposite who, as I say, are the experts in this matter, to tell us what their explanation is of this unprovoked and, as far as one can make out, fairly sudden attack on large parts of what is obviously India; what the motives for it are, how far it is going, and what kind of outcome they expect from the most extraordinarily irresponsible, dangerous and wicked adventure we have seen for many years.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)
I have listened with interest to the speech made by the hon. and learned Gentleman the 435 Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), and the acrobatics of his thinking are equal to the change of his party. I wonder if he would have spoken in that way as a member of the National Conference of the Labour Party?
Let us take his absurdities. The first absurdity the hon. and learned Gentleman uttered—he was speaking so softly that some hon. Members may have missed it, but I did not—was that the only remaining vestige of imperialism in the world is the Soviet Union. Has he heard of Hola Hola? Has he heard of Kenya?
§ Mr. Harold Davies
The hon. and learned Gentleman said Asia at the beginning but finished this sentence without adding Asia. I took it down as he said it. If he looks up HANSARD tomorrow he will find I am right on that sentence. What was he trying to prove?
He then uttered another absurdity. Did he want China at Matsu and Quemoy to plunge the world into World War III? I was in the United States at that moment and I had to broadcast after Madame Chiang Kai-Shek in New York at eight o'clock one morning, when she urged the Americans to drop the atom bomb on the mainland of China. British people and the would can be grateful that the Chinese People's Republic withheld its firing power over the islands of Quemoy and Matsu.
What absurdity is the hon. and learned Gentleman coming down to the House to utter? Did he want China to plunge us into a third world war? Was he following the shadow of Dulles? Because the Dulles policy in the Straits of Taiwan was one of the most dangerous policies of that time? Obviously the hon. and learned Gentleman tried to twist the truth in a sanctimonious, quiet manner in order to make the House think he was uttering something worth listening to. The real truth is that the world can be grateful that the Chinese People's Republic did not plunge us into a third world war over the incidents in the straits near Quemoy and Matsu. Basically the American people were grateful too, because they want peace as much as the Russian people do if their voices can get through to the international conferences.
436 Now the Indian situation. The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to assume that the international authorities of the world are already agreed on the Sino-Indian frontier line. There was an incident on 20th October, 1959. There was another incident on 21st October south of the Kongka Pass, which is a small corner jutting into Tibet. Yet the last peace treaty that was made, the last written document about this area, was in 1842 between the States of Kashmir and the southern States of Tibet. The Sinkiang high road and railway to Tibet that the Chinese have been building these last five or six years has been going through that territory, therefore the Indians and the rest of the world knew about it, and there were no incidents on that frontier. The truth and the tragedy of this position is that owing to the stupidity and the stubborness of the party opposite in not taking a lead to initiate the entrance of the Chinese People's Republic into the United Nations, we now find ourselves without any negotiating machine where we can modify this tendency and the difference about the Sino-Indian frontier, and in the Gracious Speech there is nothing about this important part of the world.
The House should realise that the one country in Asia with which we have diplomatic relations and the one country in the Far East where we could use our ambassador or chargé d'affaires in Peking is the one country where this Government, through all the differences in Laos, all the differences in India, all the differences in Quemoy and Matsu last year, has made no move. In fact, the Government dwell in a fool's paradise.
If any Member on any side of the House is of the opinion that there will be a division between Soviet Russia and China and that we can follow the ancient and old-fashioned rule of imperialism, divide and rule, as we did in India, as regards these two great nations, then there is a great rethink coming to the whole of the Western world. The linking of the great Soviet peoples and the Chinese peoples is a fact of world history and, whether the House likes it or whether mankind likes it, it is the fact that through the stupidity of Western man and through the American policy of stopping East-West trade, the majority of Chinese 437 trade today is linked to the technology and the efficiency of the U.S.S.R.
So called erudite magazines write about the incapability of Russia. I remember the magazine Fortune, glossy and bizarre, coming out a week before the U.S.S.R. put its Sputnik in the sky. It stated that Russian technology and science was miles behind that of the Western world. To be fair, there are obviously spheres where it is behind, but there are also obviously spheres where it is miles in advance. Is it not time we stopped this childish business of name-calling? Is it not time that the present Government with their large majority should realise that they must speak for Britain and work for peace in the two great areas of the under-endowed coloured man in South-East Asia and Central Africa? Unless the party opposite adopts a constructive and peaceful policy for solving these problems there is not the slightest doubt that the Soviet Union will leap into the leadership in those areas.
The question is often asked why we on this side of the House have not done that. That question could be answered in half a minute. I have been in trouble for years for urging a cut in the armaments programme. We are often asked the elementary question, "How would you pay for this and that?" There is the natural dynamism and the geometrical progression of an intelligent economy in the modern world, no matter what party is in power. If the Labour Party had been in power in the last five years people would have had as much as they have received under the Tories, if not more.
Let us face the facts. The Chancellor of the Exchequer admitted that the improvement was due to the terms of trade. Unless we are prepared to cut back on armaments and adopt a new approach to N.A.T.O. we shall never achieve these ends. At present, we are adopting a childish approach to N.A.T.O., that of trying to build up armaments. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) said in 1957, we cannot use threats to commit national suicide either as a method of negotiation or as a weapon of defence.
Unless we can get a completely new approach to the defence policy and unless we as a small country can cut 438 back on armaments expenditure there is no doubt that the leadership of the Oriental man or of the Asian man will be taken over by the Soviet Union. The first organisation in Europe which must be improved is the narrow, wobbly setup of N.A.T.O.
I want for two or three minutes to talk about S.E.A.T.O. and Laos. Twice in the last few years I have been in Laos. In May and June of this year I urged the Foreign Secretary to look into the problem of international political power intrigue which was taking place in Laos. Here we have a typical example of aid going to the unendowed Oriental man and being used in the wrong way.
The first question we have to consider is this. After the agreement between Pathet Lao and the Laotian Government, the Pathet Lao group was told that it could have representatives in the Government. I do not want to take up the time of the House by going into that agreement in detail, but hon. Members can take it from me that I am speaking accurately on the matter. That agreement was broken. The International Commission came out of Laos and the Soviet Union asked, as one of the co-chairmen, for the 1954 Geneva Conference to be recalled.
Here is a constructive point which could be put forward by the British Government. Why cannot the Foreign Secretary as co-chairman co-operate with the Soviet Union in recalling the Geneva Conference? I put down a Question on the matter during the last Parliament. Here is a constructive lead which the British people could take. Let us speak for Britain rather than for the United States of America. Dulles kept away from the Geneva Conference. He only went there as an observer. In this way the British Government could capture the initiative.
I would not be so unfair or so uncouth as to accuse hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite of not wanting peace. I sincerely believe that they do. I believe that the Prime Minister wants peace as much as the hon. Member for Leek. We do not know how to approach the matter. I only wish that we knew the answer. I sincerely believe that as far as Laos is concerned—and I would like an answer to this tonight—we as co-chairman should co-operate with the 439 Soviet Union and recall the Geneva Conference. In addition, we should invite Vietnam, both North and South, and the Communist Republic of China. That is the only way of reassessing the entire position in the Far East.
I know that other hon. Members wish to speak in the debate and that is why I am abandoning my notes. New hon. Members will soon learn that we in this House try to help each other if we can and to say what we have to say shortly and succinctly in order to make our point. There is one other thing, however, that I wish to say. Ernest Bevin was the initiator of the Colombo Plan. Let us be fair about this matter. We cannot pass it up. If we are setting ourselves up to be like Sparta and if we are going to be a military nation like Sparta, then, obviously, we shall have to live like Sparta.
Because so much of the so-called prosperity of Britain and of the United States is based entirely on the armaments machine certain people are afraid of these utterances. This fear is not reflected in the cheap journals, but in the Wall Street journals. They are afraid of the peace dragging on. This is a tragedy of the capitalist world. The only answer is long-term credit and cooperation with both the Soviet Union and Communist China in order to help the Oriental and the African man.
What is wrong about the Russians believing in their philosophy? They have as much right to propagate it as the missionaries had in the last century. There is nothing underhand or devilish about it. They have had the intelligence to send men into those areas. I have travelled around these parts and I have seen that the men that they send in take the trouble to do their homework. They learn the local language and show the people how to use the material on the spot. That means that a rouble goes proportionately much further than a £ from Britain or a dollar from America. The Russians are not asking the local people to buy material from them, but are teaching them to use the materials of their own country and to use them for the purposes of the local man.
I was amazed to hear the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) say that the prestige of 440 the People's Republic of China was low because China did not attack Quemoy and Matsu. The Bandoeng Powers did their best, but the Chinese had enough sense to hold their fire. The duty of the British Government is to see that China takes her rightful place in the United Nations.
§ 5.28 p.m.
Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I hope the House will forgive me if I do not follow the line of the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies). I wish to say how pleased I am to see that the result of the election has in no way affected the vehemence of the hon. Gentleman's views, the strength of his histrionics or the very lively presentation which he always gives of any subject to the House.
I propose this afternoon to try to make a very broad speech and to avoid those details which so often take up the time of the House. I propose to speak of the grand design in foreign policy. My justification for taking this somewhat Olympian approach is that the pressure of business upon the Foreign Secretary and his associates is often so great that they are very frequently forced to make decisions to satisfy, as it were, the moment at the cost of any consistency in their long-term policy. How often have we here, on both sides of the House, approved a policy which we knew to be a makeshift and the servant of necessity without any consideration of its ultimate effects?
It is very easy to criticise Ministers for this, but today they so often have so many calls that it is almost impossible for them, and, indeed, for any Government, not at times to have the direction in which they are working obscured by the demands of unexpected events. But there is no doubt that a country must have certain objectives for which it is unswervingly and consistently working and a policy in relation to which all other events must be considered in the light of the effect which they have upon it.
At the beginning of this new Parliament, I should like to try to suggest what general scheme our foreign policy should follow. It is, of course, impossible to cast too wide a net and try to deal with every situation in the world. Rather, I would confine myself to what 441 in all probability will be the ultimate conflict, the pressure that will be put upon this country from the Communist world.
We at this moment are going through one of those periodic moods of optimism. The Summit meeting is hailed by everyone as an E1 Dorado and, dangerously, as an end in itself and it is said that peace is just around the corner. But, like my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head), I can actually see little change in the state of the world, for surely it has been apparent to us for many years that the Russians were not prepared to embark upon a universal nuclear war, and neither have we had from them any signs whatsoever that they are intending to give up the ideological combat for the eventual undermining of our position. It would be, therefore, mere wishful thinking for us to believe that they are going to give up their long-term policy for the establishment of universal Communism which is the basis of their faith and the strength of their appeal.
At a time when things are going so well, it would be far safer to understand that what we are facing is a totally alien conception of thought which is pursuing, and will continue to pursue, its unchanging objectives. Not to do so would make us guilty of irresponsible innocence in the face of a change of tactics. This is rather a time not for optimism but for thankfulness that we have been granted a chance for preparation.
It would be most unwise to miss this, for although this country and Europe are at this moment going through a period of really unparalleled prosperity, if one looks a little further one can find little reason for complacency. We are happy now to consider the Middle East at this moment to be in a state of peace, and we all find satisfaction in the fact that the oil flows unhindered, but it is really the peace of Etna in a quiet mood. Only a few weeks ago an attempt was made to murder General Kassem in Bagdad. The throne of Persia hangs in the balance, and the Saudi Arabian peninsula is torn by little wars. It is not an exaggeration to say that the picture is not unlike the situation in the Balkans in 1914, and at any moment 442 a similar spark might set off a similar conflagration.
We must all view with the greatest concern the fact that the workings of our industry and consequently the standard of living of this country are dependent upon such an area. It is our Achille's heel and the singular danger is that it is apparent to everyone. Nor is this all that need concern us. It is little more than a step from the Middle East to Africa which, now that distance has been conquered, is the southern flank of Europe. This today is the unsettled continent. In the north there is the struggle with France and the problem of the ambitious Nasser. In the centre, there is the whole upsurge of African nationalism, and in the south are all the ingredients of a bitter colour war.
Are we to imagine that our opponents will take no advantage of such a field of opportunity or, as an hon. Member said earlier, that the idea of Communism will not have an immense emotional appeal to the recently awakened primitive mind? If we were to lull ourselves into complacency here, we should merely examine the size and scope of the embassies established in the new African countries, which are already beginning to seize their opportunity, and take notice of the preparations which they have already begun.
I do not think that it is too much of an exaggeration to say that the key to whether Europe survives or not is in Africa, for if that continent were to dissolve into Communism or even universal disorder the position of Europe might become so weak that America would once again begin to talk of making another agonising reappraisal. Here I would emphasise something which we are too often inclined to forget—that the threat to Europe is common to every country in it and therefore should be treated as a common problem.
I make this suggestion with all deference to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, but should we not try to combine and have a European aid plan for Africa? Would not this be particularly favourably received and have the greatest effect, coming at this very moment when America is reducing her aid? If we could get agreement upon the initiation of such a scheme as this, would it not be the best justification that could be 443 imagined? For the criterion which, I believe, above all others we should aim at is the drawing together of the European countries.
Here I would digress for a moment. Three years ago the Prime Minister, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, put forward his conception of a Free Trade Area, but then came Suez, and since Suez the aim of our foreign policy has not been to promote this plan, by close association and by a willingness to make certain sacrifices which alone could have given it a chance of working and alone would have allowed us to be accepted into such a community.
Instead, we have concentrated upon the resumption of a close and uncritical association with America, even at the frequent cost of the sacrifice of our good relations with the European Powers. Let me give an example, because it is easy to make these claims without being exact. Two years ago, we supplied arms to Tunis in order to keep in step with American foreign policy. The arms we supplied were negligible in quantity and were of no material use whatsoever to the Tunisians, but their possible use against the French in Algeria, to which Tunisia was the acknowledged pipeline, set up a wave of bitterness that ran the whole way through France.
Was an action like that necessary? When the incident was closed and one looked at the debits and credits of it, all we had gained was one flickering, soon-to-be-forgotten smile from the Arab world to weigh against the bitterest possible feeling in France with whom at that very moment we said we were trying to form a closer association. How much wiser it would have been had we tried to comprehend the French position—even if not supporting it, at least not to have opposed it—when our opposition so stultified what were our declared long-term intentions.
§ Mr. Julian Snow (Lichfield and Tamworth)
I am surprised that the noble Lord is making that point. I happened to be in Tunisia at the time and I took the trouble to find out that that was not so. Since, as the noble Lord has said, that arms supply was of very modest character and for the purposes of maintaining order internally in a newly-fledged State, he is making a bad and 444 incorrect point. On the contrary, I do not think that the French objected to the transaction. I took the trouble to inform myself from French sources also.
§ Viscount Lambton
It is difficult to get reliable French sources in Tunisia. I am interested in the hon. Member's observation, but I saw the French papers at the time and the great majority of them were full of criticism.
One can also wonder whether there has not also been a certain lack of subtlety in our approach. Many people in France have been as deeply concerned as the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Snow), myself and all Members of the House about the conduct of the war in Algeria and the seeming intransigence of French policy, yet by setting ourselves dead against the French position we have lost their good will and sympathy which it would have been to our diplomatic advantage to gain and which we could have gained had we taken a passive line rather than one of blunt incomprehension.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
A few minutes ago, the noble Lord was talking about our winning Africa. Does he consider that we have helped to win Africa to our side by supporting the French in Algeria?
§ Viscount Lambton
I shall be developing that argument later. To answer it now would mean transposing part of my speech. The great thing, however, is to have understanding in Europe which would allow Europe to come together to give aid to Africa. In talking of the lack of subtlety, one might also refer, in this context, to certain remarks which seem to have emanated from authority last spring about the singular obstinacy of Adenauer and how his policy was likely to cause a war, and this similarly put against us those Germans who were themselves worried about the inflexibility of his policy
A country can afford to criticise and to oppose only when it has the power and authority to bring its conceptions into force. To do so without this authority merely weakens its position and gives opportunity for assertions of interference and weakness. These assertions were made frequently last spring when my 445 right hon. Friend the Prime Minister went to Moscow and both countries declared that he was weakening the unity of Europe.
I agree with the point made by the hon. Member for Leeds, East, (Mr. Healey) that our present attitude to Europe is rather extraordinary. I am disappointed that the hon. Member is not in his place, because in my opinion his speech was rather extraordinary. He criticised us for calling on the United States of America to mediate. When asked by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary for what purpose America should mediate, the hon Member replied that he was referring to a Summit Meeting. Is this not hypocritical? The party opposite has long blamed my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for his tardiness in going to the Summit. How could the hon. Member and his hon. Friends, had they now been in power, have a Summit Meeting without American mediation? It would have been perfectly honest for the hon. Member to say that we should not have American mediation at any price, but nothing could be more dubious than his argument of pressing for a policy which ensures mediation and then to blame the Government for doing what the hon. Member himself and his party would have had to have done.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
In the absence of my hon. Friend, may I say that the noble Lord misunderstands what he said? My hon. Friend was not criticising the fact that America was mediating in this matter. He was criticising the fact that we had got into a position in Europe in which we were on such strained terms with France and Germany that it was now necessary for America to mediate to try to get us out of this position.
§ Viscount Lambton
How could one possibly have a Summit Meeting without American mediation?
What we are doing at this moment is asking America to do something that she does not particularly want to do by making Europe do something that she in turn does not want to do. For the first time, it is almost as if there could be life in Canning's phrase that we are calling into being the new world to balance the old. Is this sensible? Is it 446 far-seeing? We must surely face the fact that while we are so strongly pushing for a Summit Meeting, we are at the same time pushing ourselves away from that close association which alone can give us strength and unity. Therefore, it is no use whatever saying that our first consideration is the return of good relations between England and France and Germany if at the same time we are pressing forward a policy which is profoundly distrusted by the other two.
In contrast to that, we must consider whether the closest relationship which we have had with America has compensated for the damage that it did to the European idea. I cannot believe that it has. We are no more to America than a poor relation. It is true that we can influence, but we influence from a position of weakness, and there is no necessity for our advice to be taken. Had we instead been able to build ourselves up as the dominant influence in Europe, and had Europe had a common policy, or a common policy in certain directions, we would have been able to influence from a position of strength.
§ Viscount Lambton
Apart from that, ideologically we belong to Europe. The very way that America gained her independence has given her a suspicion of our methods of rule and scheme of government which time has not yet killed. The Americans are tied to a way of thought and conduct of government from which they cannot break away and they are committed by time, custom and fate to a distrust of colonial rule. They cannot divorce themselves from a policy which is part of the American attitude, even though many of them would like to do so. Ironically enough, a great number of them would heave a sigh of relief if we in Europe could build ourselves up into a position of unity and economic power which would allow them not always to be the arbiter of decisions in which their hands are tied by the traditions of the past.
The basic conception which has caused us to practise this singular alienation from a policy which offered so much three years ago has been the magic that is conceived to lie in a Summit Meeting. Suppose, however, that we have a Summit Meeting and that there is at it 447 agreement on the Oder-Neisse line. Would that really ensure the peace of the world? Would it compensate us for the widening breach between France and Germany and ourselves? If there is going to be peace the reason for it will lie in deeper roots and will come from the determination and will of the Russian people alone. I would rather have a united France, Germany and England in Europe than a Summit Meeting that provided a treaty triumph which left us divided.
I sincerely hope that the late policies which we have had will be changed, and that the most strenuous efforts will be made by us to make the receding dream of a Free Trade Area a reality. I should have thought that we could have done something to make this possible. If we can bring members of our Commonwealth into our association with the seven countries we might help to make it a bloc on a scale that would induce France and Germany to have second thoughts about membership.
I am certain that this will not be possible unless there is a basic change of approach by this country to France and Germany, an understanding of their position and a discarding of our American "younger brother" rôle.
In conclusion, I return to the necessity for such a revolutionary policy. We should not be deceived by the present internal prosperity in this country and in much of the Continent, because great forces are building up against us in Europe which threaten the Continent as a whole.
These are only secondary dangers to America. It is true that we in this country are the last ditch between Communism and America. But it is also true that America itself is not in the ditch. In the eventuality of an ultimate crisis the Americans would not have the same interest in our preservation as we nave. They are 3,000 miles away and many voices would be raised to remind them of that. It cannot be argued that their dependence on Europe is comparable with our own.
This is the ultimate argument that Britain's, and indeed the Commonwealth's, future lies in the closest association with Europe, an association which need in no adverse way affect the 448 Atlantic Alliance. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Minister will devote themselves to this end in the following year.
§ 5.53 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I am very glad that I have had the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker immediately after hearing the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) because he took a wide and long view. That is what I shall try to do, but from a somewhat different point of view. The noble Lord and the right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) put their fingers on an essential point. They said that in our relations with the Communist-ruled one-third of the world and the uncommitted nations the emphasis should be on economic, social and ideological issues. It is in those spheres that we have to meet severe competition.
The Soviet Government have never made any secret of this. When I saw Mr. Khrushchev in Moscow in 1956 he clearly and plainly took the view that the uncommitted nations were a kind of infant school for countries just freed from colonialism and that as they grew up to full statehood and reached social maturity they would go Communist. He has said as much in the General Assembly of the United Nations, during his visit to the United States, and on many other occasions. He said:We shall compete with you ideologically and in social and economic achievements. We do not want to compete with you in arms. We want to get rid of arms because the more we get rid of defence expenditure the more resources and manpower we can plough into our seven-year plan and into our international aid schemes.There is no secret about that.
This point was made by The Times newspaper in its leader on 6th March, 1946, when commenting on the speech made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) at Fulton. The Times pointed out that this speech was a counsel of despair in that it assumed that the world was irreconcilably divided between Communism and democracy, because the view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman ignored two points of first-rate importance. The first was that there were many forms of 449 government intermediate between Communism and democracy that may be nearer to the requirements of their present state of development of the countries of Eastern Europe, or of the Middle or Far East.
The second point, said The Times, is thatwhilst Western democracy and Communism are in many respects opposites, they have much to learn from one another; communism in the working of political institutions and the establishment of individual rights, and Western democracy in the development of economic and social planning.The Times then drew this conclusion, which I think has a topical ring today:The ideological warfare between Western democracy and Communism cannot result in an out-and-out victory for either side. The issue will be determined neither by clashes of eloquences nor by clashes of arms, but by the success of the great nations in dealing with the problems of social organisation in the broadest sense which the war has left behind it.After trying the alternative policy for some thirteen years we have reached stalemate and deadlock on the basis of balance of power sustained by a race in nuclear weapons. If anything is happening in this situation, it is that the balance of military power is tilting on the side of the Communist bloc, because they are drawing ahead of us in nuclear weapons and are already far ahead of us in manpower and conventional arms. Also, they are overhauling the United States and Western Europe in industrial development. In this chosen field we are not getting anywhere; we are going backwards.
Let us look at the alternative approach. Oddly enough, I brought with me the OFFICIAL REPORT of 25th February because I was going to refer to the remarkable speech made on that occasion by the right hon. Member for Carshalton. However, I have now heard him reiterating and broadening the point he made then. I hope he will not be embarrassed if I say that I find myself in considerable agreement with him. The essential point was the conclusion that he came to, that we are dealing with an ideological and social challenge and not with a military threat. Where I disagree with the right hon. Gentleman is when he suggests that all that is wanted is co-ordinated Western action in giving economic aid. 450 I do not think I am misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman, and I believe that the noble Lord's line of reasoning was closely similar, when I say that to their minds this economic aid is a kind of arm of the cold war. It is intended to combat Communism against the background of the division of the world into two camps. The right approach and the right policy would be to seek international co-operation through the machinery and on the basis of the obligations of the United Nations, as part of the liquidation of the cold war.
That is certainly the line that has been proposed by my own party for the Middle East. It is the line that is laid down in the Charter, and is exemplified by S.U.N.F.E.D. It is only on those lines that we can compete and that the ideologies of both sides will cancel each other out. What will remain is economic and technical aid given on its merits. Those under-developed countries that are in line for economic aid do not want to become the ideological slaves or the political bondsmen of either of the two camps. The one thing they are keen on is the preservation of their national independence.
But if we are to compete successfully in this field and are to embark on these policies of economic co-operation, in the giving of financial and technical and economic aid to backward countries, internationally through the United Nations, we must realise that we are going to be supporting constructive, modernising forces, which not only stand for national independence, but are also anti-imperialist. We cannot preserve the old order and also go in for a policy of this sort.
One of the objections to trying to do this on a Western basis is that it would inevitably be administered and run largely by the United States. We have already seen United States aid in action in countries like South Korea, Formosa, Southern Vietnam, and now in Laos. American aid is based on supporting those parties that stand for economic laissez faire. They generally turn out to be reactionary dictators, because there is no democracy in those countries, and without democracy or any social conscience on the part of the rulers of those countries, or any Welfare State, a free 451 enterprise system on the basis of foreign capital assumes very oppressive and corrupt forms.
The régimes of these countries are pretty forbidding and repulsive ones. So far from Western aid on those terms gaining us any kudos or support in the rest of Asia, it is pointed to as being a rather frightful example. If we go in for policies of this sort we have to be prepared to refrain from treating the forces of anti-colonial nationalism, or the progressive parties in the Middle and Far East, as enemies because they want to change the colonial and social status quo. We have to prepare to deal with the Arab countries on the basis of their acquiring their oil resources themselves, and we should be helping them to do that on a technically efficient basis, by stages, and with proper compensation for Western interests that are dispossessed, and also with provisions for getting the oil on reasonable market terms.
It is no use digging our toes in and thinking that we can preserve the status quo, because on those lines we shall get beaten in this ideological competition. We cannot afford to be always on the side of reaction and social backwardness in those countries, however much money we want to put into them. That is why I am exceedingly sceptical of anything good in that way coming under the present dispensation in this country. However much good will there is—and I admit that there is good will and a very genuine desire for peace; there is no difference between the two sides of the House in that respect—speaking quite bluntly, my opinion is that thinking among hon. Members opposite in regard to these matters is somewhat conditioned by social backgrounds.
I can best express it by saying that the approach of hon. Members opposite to the vast problem of the one-third of the world under Communist régimes and the very powerful and growing forces making for social change and colonial emancipation in many other parts of the world is too apt to proceed on some such basis as this—first, the underlying, subconscious assumption that there is nothing seriously wrong with the existing order of things— "We have never had it so good", and all that—and that there is no alternative to the existing social or imperial order that would be radically 452 different and better. On the contrary, their view is that the only alternative would be "Red ruin and the breaking up of laws."
Any hon. Member opposite who did not start with that fundamental belief as a kind of conditioned reflex would soon cease to be a Conservative, and would probably end up on this side of the House by getting into trouble for being a Socialist. It follows from this that when faced by the phenomenon of social and colonial unrest hon. Members opposite find it impossible to admit that it is due to inherent defects in the social order, and to indigenous forces. Their belief is that it is due to infiltration and subversion by foreign agents.
That is a long-standing belief. I remember very well how Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, in his memoirs about the Russian revolution, complained bitterly of finding it impossible to remove the impression, from the minds of the upper reaches of Whitehall and the Cabinet, that Lenin and Trotsky were German staff officers in disguise, or at least German agents working with German gold and under German instructions. On this view the Russian revolution was due to German gold and infiltration and subversion by German agents and every revolution since then has been due to Russian gold, and infiltration and subversion by Russian agents. That is the true-blue fundamentalist school of Tory sociology—a product of high living and plain thinking. I have caricatured the situation a little, but there is an awful lot of that point of view in the approach of hon. Members opposite to these problems.
One of the things we have to do is to try to shake our minds loose from these conceptions. I am not sure whether it was the Foreign Secretary, in a rather dynamic moment in a speech that was not very dynamic, or someone speaking from my own Front Bench, who said something about the need for breaking the mould of the cold war. I agree. We have reached a dead end on present lines I know that we are playing about with a Summit Conference, but I am more interested in what will happen afterwards.
We have reached the stage when we must think out our position and purpose. We should be working towards a way in 453 which we can switch over the relations between the great Powers, which are at present based on the assumptions and methods of the balance of power, and transfer them to the Charter of the United Nations. I know the assumption is that the two things can be run in double harness, and that we can combine military alliances with the United Nations. I have inveighed against this view for many years and I will not go into it again.
Our choice is either to proceed on the assumption that the Soviet Union wants to attack us and that we must pile up arms and conclude alliances to restrain her will to aggress. In that case we are committed to a losing arms race in weapons that are suicidal and in conditions where we are very much the junior partner on our side. That is another point upon which I agree with what was said by the noble Lord; it is part of the price we have to pay for this set-up that we are an American base and an American political satellite.
I do not like this choice because I think that we have more sense than the Americans in this situation. I even grant that to hon. Members opposite, which is quite a concession on my part. It is even a slight concession for my own side. On the whole, we have more sense—and we need more sense, because we have not so much weight to chuck about. One thing I discovered as a League of Nations official was that whereas great States can afford to have duds as their international representatives, smaller States, if they want to keep their end up, have to have people who know what the score is and have a policy and purpose. We have now reached a stage where this is becoming a rather urgent necessity for us.
We must face the fact that it is now up to us to advocate taking the risks of basing our policy on the Charter of the United Nations. We can do this only if we believe that the real danger is not a deliberate attack by one side upon the other, but of war breaking out by accident as the result of a collision between the rival defence preparations. That danger is inherent in the balance of power and an arms race. It always is, and it must be. In fact, a war under this kind of set-up does in the end result 454 by way of collision between rival defence preparations, when each side is trying to defend its own view of its rights against the other side. I have taken this view for a long time but I do not expect to be listened to when I repeat it in this House, but I was interested in what the Prime Minister said when he was in Moscow last February and again in his broadcast with President Eisenhower on 1st September.
In Moscow, the right hon. Gentleman said:It is not that we fear acts of calculated aggression and I hope that you do not. … At the same time it is impossible to hide from ourselves the dangers of a war by miscalculation or by muddle. In such circumstances, it is the duty of statesmen to see if it is possible to establish some basis of confidence or treaty or in some other way to reduce this danger.The right hon. Gentleman also said that we and the Soviet Union have a common interest in preserving peace. I believe that is true. But it leads us straight back to the Charter and to basing our mutual relations on the Charter. As a permanent member of the Security Council we are in a position of equality with the United States and the Soviet Union. We are one of the permanent members without whose vote no decision can be taken on matters of substance. So in this system of international relations we can play a first-class part, were we prepared to put forward proposals designed to effect this transfer from the balance of power to the United Nations.
I follow up with what the Prime Minister said in his broadcast with the President on 1st September. He pointed out that the First World War happened by mistake and should never have happened. He said he believed that if we had had some kind of meeting it never would have happened. He said:Now we are in a situation—in which … there is a danger that we might drift into something by mistake. Bluff, counter-bluff, lack of understanding on both sides and drift into something by mistake.Quite so. I hope that the Government may finally come round to the position where they will advocate taking a first step towards building up an East-West regional agreement in Europe, genuinely based on the Charter, within which the United States and France and ourselves and Germany would function—a united Germany, when she is united—as members of the United Nations; and that 455 the rival alliances should be subordinated to this treaty. This should be part of the disarmament provisions and withdrawal of forces and the banning of nuclear weapons and international control provisions under the agreement. There should also be an undertaking that neither side would invoke their military obligations under any other treaty so long as this regional agreement was in force and being operated. That would be the first step, I believe, and would form a solid foundation for a new start.
It is only when we have established some sort of United Nations system of relationships on the political plane and on the question of armaments that we can make a reality of policies of economic and technical co-operation to assist in the development of under-developed countries. Lord Boyd-Orr once said to me that if the States taking part in this arms race were to enter into an agreement for limiting their arms and cutting their defence budgets by, say, 10 per cent. a year; if they ploughed back half of that cut into their own economies and pooled the other half in a central fund under the United Nations and used it to finance development in the underdeveloped territories, we should have a central fund equal to something like £2,000 million a year. The danger of unemployment and over-production would be a thing of the past, because we should then have a steady and rapid expansion of the economies of the backward countries, a tidal wave of orders to the advanced industrial nations, and a world moving towards a quite different kind of civilisation.
We cannot do these things unless we alter some of this rather old-fashioned view of the nature of Communism. It is a social challenge, not a military threat. The Soviet Union does not want war, but if we keep up the arms race with the Communist world, we shall be in a worse and worse position and sooner or later we shall stumble by accident into a war which no one wants and in which these terrible weapons will wipe out the human race. It is for this country to give a lead for sanity, for a better way of doing things. We cannot hold our own in this arms race. We are bound to be a worsening third. But we could give a lead in political wisdom and sanity.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Sir Henry d'Avigdor-Goldsmid (Walsall, South)
This has been an extremely unacrimonious debate and I wish to thank the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) for contributing at least his quota to the lack of acrimony, which is a very pleasant change from some speakers we have heard in this Chamber on this subject.
I feel diffident about rising to take part in this debate, because I am a newcomer to these debates on foreign affairs which, for so long, have been the province of the specialist. But I was inspired to do so by the extraordinarily eloquent remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head). He made a speech which created a certain amount of antagonism from the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), but I think that my right hon. Friend carried with him the support of those on this side of the House who heard him. I noticed that his speech was greeted by considerable approval from hon. Members on both sides of the House when the Chamber was not so empty as it is now.
What was the gist of this speech and the importance of it? The cold war is now a dead concept. We have emerged from that phase. Now the phase is the battle for men's minds and it is one, as was said by my right hon. Friend, which we are not fighting with distinction. The remedy is not easy, but finding a remedy is absolutely crucial. One cannot help but be tremendously impressed by what WHS said by my right hon. Friend about the technical assistance now given by Russia to the underdeveloped countries. That brings me to my theme, which is that it is within our power to give that sort of assistance, too.
If the House will bear with me, I should like to mention what is being done by a very small country which is facing difficulties not all the same as ours, but of the same kind. I refer to the State of Israel, which is confronted by antagonistic neighbours on all its land boundaries. At the same time as it has maintained its military strength—this is a point to which I shall return—Israel has engaged in the battle for men's minds and made a definite attempt to capture the interest and do something to help build up the new nations. 457 Israel is to some extent now a member of what is loosely termed the Afro-Asian bloc. I say loosely, because, despite the rivalry of the Arab countries, Israel has gone out to capture the imagination and build up the institutions of new countries such as Burma, Ghana and Ethiopia. These are all small and new countries who are extraordinarily interested in Western ideas and receptive to them. They are anxious to get the benefit of the sort of skilled tuition which Israel gives. We too, could give that tuition in an infinitely greater measure if we thought about it on those terms and not as an ex-colonial Power—or, as someone said, an ex-boss Power—but as a teacher interested in imparting his knowledge. A teacher realises that if he does not impart knowledge he and his whole school will be lost.
That is the first thought I should like to leave with my right hon. Friends on the Front Bench. In this battle for men's minds we might gain a great deal by following what has been done in Israel—on quite a small scale, because it is only a very small country. I am absolutely certain that the demand for knowledge in the awakening nations is boundless. The means for satisfying it are small, but such means for satisfying it are found more amply in this country than in any other. That is a problem which my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary has got to consider with the Home Office and other authorities—how far we can go to meet this need.
Here, I think that I should destroy a particular point made by the right hon. Member for Belper. He referred with great approval to his party's pledge to spend 1 per cent. of the national income on underdeveloped countries. That, of course, was a very safe pledge to give, because I think that I am right in saying that the amount we now invest in underdeveloped countries is more than £200 million a year, which is more than 1 per cent.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
I think that the hon. Member will find on examination that that £200 million includes private investment, whereas our 1 per cent. referred to public money.
§ Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid
Naturally I accept the right hon. Gentleman's correction, but, with great respect, that was not made clear in the election addresses of hon. Members opposite. That the 1 per cent. was to come only from the public purse was not put across clearly.
The mere expenditure of money will not win this battle. Our activity must have a direction. In the war we had a Political Warfare Department. Now that warfare is no more, that could be rechristened the "Political Welfare Department". It could have the same initials and might serve the same purpose. Above all, the target for that purpose, I should have thought, would be India. There is a vast sub-continent organised to receive assistance. It is not a question of setting up an ad hoc organisation to receive the generosity of the West, for in India there is a Government which could use—and use practically—the help that the West can give. I should have thought that the battle for India was the key to the whole Afro-Asian Continent.
The key to India, I should say, is in West Berlin. If we think that we can help India by retreating from our position in West Berlin, we will certainly not help India or ourselves. Here I support my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). We would then invite the Communist bloc to profit from the failure of people in Europe to support their friends, and we shall never make friends by betraying our friends. Peace was considered indivisible; this problem, also, is indivisible. We must meet our obligations to the people of West Berlin, obligations to 2½ million people which no one in this House would consider casting on one side.
I do not think that there was the same atmosphere a year ago. We are very glad to have that improvement and great credit must be given to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for the improvement in those relations. Still, the key to India is West Berlin. In West Berlin, a peaceful settlement has to be obtained. With that, if we devote our energies to this struggle for men's minds which is being fought in Asia, in India and Malaya, we shall 459 be able to play our proper part. I can only re-echo what has been said, that this battle is absolutely crucial to our future. We remember George Bernard Shaw's play "The Apple Cart". In that play the whole prosperity that this country then enjoyed was built up on the production of the Colonies. Those days have passed, but we cannot possibly think that we can maintain our prosperity in a world where two-thirds of the population is growing poorer.
The only way in which we can maintain the prosperity of this country, or the prosperity of the Western world, is to take the necessary steps to share it with the under-developed nations which have this enormous desire to learn, which are not doctrinally attached to any one nation, and whose desire it is to enjoy in some measure the benefit and pleasure of the full life which is now open to all who live in the Western world.
§ 6.27 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
I am always a little surprised at the speeches from hon. Members opposite which seem to suggest that the development of the under-developed countries is a sort of anti-Communist exercise. I would not wish to discourage them from well-doing even by pointing out to them the fallacy of their reasoning. I do not believe for a moment that developing the rest of the world is a method of frustrating the Communists, or, indeed, that it has anything to do with this.
For reasons which I think are mainly moral, I should like to see the world's wealth used to develop the world, but I am equally delighted to see the Communist countries do the same thing. I cannot for the life of me see why we should get into an anxiety state when we see the Communists use their surplus in developing backward nations instead of merely building up their armaments.
The idea that imperialism, whether it be military or economic, pays, is, I believe, a profound delusion. In the eighteenth century India may have given us, temporarily, an investment surplus, but since the eighteenth century I am quite confident that not only this nation but every imperial nation has found its empire an economic liability. We have, in fact, handed out to our empire far 460 more than we have ever received from it, both in material terms and, indeed, in spiritual terms.
Do not imagine that by economically building up a country we thereby gain its love. Nothing could be more against the facts. Having seen the Russians in their colonial empire in Europe, I do not think that if they take economic development into Asia and Africa they are likely to bring either tact or other lovable qualities superior to those possessed by others. This is something quite outside party issues.
As a back bencher I cannot take a general tour d'horizon, and I want particularly to deal with the question of the Summit Conference and to say a good deal about the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), with which I found myself in considerable agreement. I am often in considerable agreement with his speeches. Both our Prime Minister and Mr. Khrushchev seem to be very keen on having a Summit Conference at once. For reasons which I will give a little later, I can fully understand Mr. Khrushchev's enthusiasm, but I find it much more difficult to understand the Prime Minister's enthusiasm.
What do we expect to get out of a Summit Conference? Do we expect to get a better and more secure agreement on West Berlin? I find it extremely hard to think of any change in the Berlin Agreement which would not be a change having both the design and effect of weakening our position. If anything is given on Berlin at the Summit, it will be something given by the West. What shall we get in exchange? Disarmament? I believe that, on principle, disarmament is agreed. I do not see how a Summit Conference is the sort of instrument which will solve the details of inspection and control, which are the present problems.
Finally, there is the question of good will. Is the object of the Summit Conference to enable these great men to meet each other, to know each other and to find what good, accommodating fellows they are and of what peaceful content? I do not know. That was said to be the object of the last meeting at Geneva, and it was highly successful. Indeed, the Russians were so encouraged that they immediately started "giving us hell" in the Middle East, an area which Mr. Stalin 461 had been warned off previously. Again, if we want to show the other side how accommodating we are, should we choose General de Gaulle or Konrad Adenauer as our Western exhibit?
If this is our policy, are we not wasting a lot of money on the bomb? If deterrence means anything, it means that we are led by the sort of men who are prepared to blow up the world if our periphery is invaded. I do not know that the peaceful, accommodating aspect is likely to convince people of that. It seems to me that we ought to try to make up our minds about whether the Prime Minister wants to be regarded as "Mac the Peace" or "Mac the Bomb," because they are different concepts. If we want the former, then the massive expenditure on deterrence seems to be misplaced.
I can see the Russians' interest in a Summit. Their interest in a Summit is to divide the West. Look how successful they have been by the very process of proposing this Summit. The West today is in serious disarray. The noble Lord pointed to the serious reasons for distrust there were between us and the French, but he omitted far and away the most serious of all these reasons—Suez.
To the French the Suez expedition was something very different from what it was to us. France was being bled white by a war in Algiers, occupying the whole of her young generation and stretching her economy. She looked—and it was a vital objective to her—to Suez to win the war in Algiers. She found that suddenly, after her troops were committed, our present Prime Minister went to the Cabinet and said, "Boys, you will have to stop or the Americans will cut off the money". Rightly or wrongly, France regarded herself as betrayed—and betrayed for money. The American attitude was different. They had whipped us into order. France felt that she had been betrayed.
There has been a lot of talk about collusion. It has been denied constantly on the Government Front Bench, but the French know that the Foreign Secretary was fully in with them in fixing the Israeli invasion. It is no use denying it to them, because they know; they made the agreement with him and they were left "carrying the baby." The position was aggravated, as the noble 462 Lord pointed out, by our subsequent behaviour towards the Americans—the desperate attempt to creep back into American favour at French expense, such as sending arms to Tunisia.
With that background, is it surprising that there is not much unity between us and the French? Indeed, when it comes to the Free Trade Area, the reason why we are finding negotiations impossible is the attitude of France, who will not agree with those people who betrayed her.
Let us look at the Germans. First, and without consulting our German allies, we announced a new defence system. I agree that by a lawyer's reading of the Brussels Treaty, it is possible to argue that we were entitled to reduce our commitment, although that had not been the way we were talking. Much more serious, not merely were we reducing the commitment but we were relying for our defence on an independent deterrent here. That was saying to the Germans, "Hang you, Fritz, I'm all right." That was not good for confidence there.
Next came the visit to Moscow. What the Prime Minister himself has described an an ultimatum had been delivered by the Russians concerning German territory in Berlin. Brentano had come over here and talked to us about that very candidly and very freely. Not a hint was given to him of the intention to go to Moscow. I challenge the Government spokesman on this. The first the Germans heard about it was when they read about it in the newspapers.
The last time a British Prime Minister went to see the author of an ultimatum concerning a territory belonging to someone else was Munich. The Germans drew that parallel, as did all others. That wrecked confidence in Britain, and one had the undignified spectacle of our own representatives trying to explain in Bonn that it must not be taken seriously because it was only for electioneering purposes.
I do not believe either that betrayal was intended or that it was for electioneering purposes. I believe that the Prime Minister went to Moscow simply because he had not been there since the 'thirties and thought that it would be 463 rather fun to have a look. To understand that, one has to know the essential frivolity of an aspect of the Prime Minister's nature, the sort of thing that enables him to so enjoy being Prime Minister. Such an unserious explanation did not occur to the Germans.
If someone deserts your lines and slips across to the enemy, you may be able to forgive him, as, indeed, I forgive the Prime Minister, if you are convinced that he has merely gone to see his girl friend; but if he has gone for a serious purpose there is nothing for it except to shoot the fellow, and that is precisely what the Germans think about the Prime Minister.
There being that level of disunity, we should be a little grateful for the display of bitter sense by France and Germany, who know the extent to which the West is in disarray and have given us a little time to get straight.
The Foreign Secretary challenged my hon. Friend to say when the Americans mediated. The Americans mediated when President Eisenhower came over to this country, shortly before the election, to try to clear up the desperate break which was occurring in N.A.T.O. At the last N.A.T.O. Conference, as many hon. Members who were there know, neither the French nor the Germans would speak to us.
I pay this tribute to President Eisenhower. He has an enormous capacity for persuading allies and he did them all a lot of good, but the price he had to pay was, in substance, promising the Germans a veto on anything which happened at the Summit. Upon that basis should we not be grateful for our opportunity? Should we not try to make some use of the time to recreate a unity of the West and put our forces in array before we have to meet the very formidable Russians?
There are two things which I suggest that we should do. First, we ought to appoint a Foreign Secretary. We have not had a Foreign Secretary for a long time. The last Foreign Secretary we had was the present Prime Minister. When he had very nearly brought about a Greco-Turk war, Sir Anthony Eden decided to do without a Foreign Secretary. That is how the present right hon. and learned Gentleman was appointed. That has been his position ever since.
464 A Foreign Secretary, to be a Foreign Secretary, must be a man who stands next in succession, or almost next in succession, to the seat of the Prime Minister. He must be the type of man who appears to be in a position to make and influence great decisions. Of course, the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not. As Mr. Khrushchev brutally observed of Mr. Gromyko, "What do you want him for? Nobody pays any attention to him". We could equally observe that of our present Foreign Secretary. We must have a real Foreign Secretary if we are to mend this rift which is developing in the West. It is a job for a very big man, a man of real authority.
We have heard much talk about "Supermac" When I saw the appointments in the present Government I was desperately afraid that the Prime Minister was beginning to believe in "Supermac"; and that is a very dangerous thing in which to believe.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke rose—
§ Mr. Paget
I will not give way to the noble Viscount at this stage.
When I found that the Prime Minister had decided to do without not only a Foreign Secretary but a Minister of Defence I thought that it looked very alarming, because no man could have made those two appointments who did not reckon that he himself would be making the real decisions. After all, the device of surrounding yourself by favourite Ministers of so little credit that they can only live by your favour is a device of power which is old and of ill-repute. We need a Foreign Secretary.
The other thing which we need is unity in Europe.
§ Mr. Paget
That is a remark of a fatuity almost unexampled and unprecedented even by the hon. Member.
What we need is unity in Europe, and we have to pay for that unity. We must pay by making concessions in the imperial and Commonwealth field which we would not have wished to make a year ago and which may be painful, but that sort of concession must be made at this stage if an array is to be created in Western Europe which will give us some 465 chance of meeting the Russians. N.A.T.O. is not enough. N.A.T.O. has been falling apart. There must be real unity which goes not only to the military but also down into the economic field.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
At one stage of the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) I thought that I would have been able to agree with him to a certain extent, but in view of the latter part of his speech I have a great deal of reservation, especially as I suspect that he gave notice of his remarks neither to the Prime Minister nor to the Foreign Secretary. If that is so, he has committed a grave discourtesy which was quite unnecessary in this debate. I will, however, refer to three points which he made.
§ Mr. Paget
When the hon. Gentleman knows the practice of the House a little better he will understand that no back bencher ever should give notice to a Minister in charge of a debate unless he proposes to attack him on a personal matter, to accuse him of being corrupt, or something of that sort. It would have been wholly out of order for me to have given notice.
§ Mr. Williams
All that I can say to the hon. and learned Gentleman is that, if I had intended to make half as vitriolic a speech about him as he has made about my right hon. Friend and my right hon. and learned Friend, I would have had the courtesy to do what I suggest.
§ Mr. Williams
However, I will pay the hon. and learned Gentleman the tribute of referring to some of his remarks. In particular, I noticed his opening passage in which, to me, he debunked the whole philosophical approach of the Labour Party, over a long period of years, to colonial Powers. In that passage, the hon. and learned Gentleman said in no uncertain terms that, historically, colonial Powers had repeatedly invested in, and put more effort into, Colonial Territories than they had ever drawn out. It is very pleasant on this side of the House to have such 466 a degree of honesty coming from the other side on such a matter at last.
Next, the hon. and learned Gentleman asked what was expected of the Summit. I should have thought that hon. Members on both sides of the House now took the line that from a Summit we did not expect a diplomatic Everest, but rather the beginning of a Himalayan range of political discussions continuing through the years. This, to me, is the way that the Summit Conference, and what will flow from it, will develop.
The hon. and learned Gentleman then referred to our friendship, or lack of friendship, with France, and spoke particularly of Suez. It does not come very well for many hon. Members opposite to criticise the rôle of this country at Suez. If there was a weakness here at that time, it came from that side of the Chamber, not this. He spoke of the need for friendship with France. Again, this is a most extraordinary attitude from a party that has repeatedly, violently, vigorously, publicly, and for a long time, opposed up hill and down dale the desire of the French to have their own atomic device.
I could think of nothing, in France's mood today, more calculated to make friendship with her more difficult than an approach of that kind. It may be an unpleasant fact of life to some hon. Gentlemen that the French should want an atomic weapon of their own, but it is a fact of life none the less, and as we are trying to get a closer alliance with France I should have thought that the least we could do would be to help the French on their way in this respect.
I intend, as many other hon. Gentleman have done, to devote the major part of my speech to the underdeveloped countries and, in particular, to the Commonwealth's rôle in the development of those countries. To me, the Commonwealth, and its rôle in the world is of supreme importance. I am an unrepentant believer in the part that the Commonwealth can play, not only in political advance but in economic development. Indeed, if the mood of the House as a whole, if the mood of back benchers, is any guide at all it is reasonable to say that the Commonwealth will figure largely in our debates and thoughts throughout this Parliament. It may be 467 that the test of the wisdom of this Parliament will be whether we can carry forward in equanimity the historical advance of the Commonwealth on both the political and economic fronts, to the advantage of all its members and of humanity at large.
One of the things about which we boast in this country—with a degree of humility, if that is not a contradiction in terms—is that we are prosperous, strong, free and united. These are four priceless assets, and I only hope that during the course of this Parliament those four assets can be brought into play to redress the poverty and degradation that exists in Africa and in Asia. This can be done only if we have closer consultation and co-operation within the Commonwealth itself for a start.
I do not believe that we can best serve our purpose, either as a nation or as the heart and soul of the Commonwealth, by thinking primarily of Europe and only secondarily of the Commonwealth. I reverse those priorities, and say that our first thoughts should be of the Commonwealth and that, around that, we should try to amass our alliances and friendships. I believe that we could have served our cause better by calling a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the way to the Summit rather than, perhaps, after the Summit Conference has taken place or after the European discussions have taken place.
Surely, it is our central position—central both in geography and in the politics of the world—that gives us our decisive influence in world affairs. I disagreed with my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) when he suggested that we were of declining and debased importance. I think that our central Commonwealth position gives us a decisive power if we have the energy and the will to use that situation.
I should like now, if I may, to speak for a few minutes about a reorganisation which I believe could be of inestimable help in the way we conduct our affairs in the Commonwealth and in the Colonial Territories. There is a need for fundamental reorganisation of both the Commonwealth Relations Office and the Colonial Office. In fact, I am not altogether sure that those two offices are 468 not totally out of date, and that we should not sweep them away and replace them with a new Commonwealth Office with, perhaps, a senior Minister, with three Ministers of State under him, to look after geographical regions or economic interests throughout the Commonwealth.
This is the way in which we can best serve our Commonwealth purpose, but we can use this form of machine only if the status of the new Commonwealth Office that I would like to see set up was that of a powerful, dynamic, policymaking Department of State, not only guiding and influencing, but perhaps controlling our foreign policy—because, to me, the Commonwealth is the kernel of our external associations. Here, at home, we can with justification claim that as history has rolled on we have developed "One Nation", but what we now have to do is to change the "One Nation" at home into "One Commonwealth" overseas.
The key to this Commonwealth development over the years must be the word "partnership"; partnership not only between the older nations, but also partnership and co-operation with the emerging territories as well; a partnership which needs most to be expressed in terms of Kenya—a Colony visited by the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. G. Thomas) and myself earlier in the year—and also in Central Africa. Nobody can be completely happy and at ease about the political developments in Africa—least of all, the African nationalists themselves.
What we have to do is to use our long-standing historical experience to guide them—by peaceful ways, one hopes—to self-government which, as we see in the Gracious Speech, will come to Nigeria in the not-too-distant future. There, there is being worked out a partnership of black Africans, but one that can be mirrored in East and Central Africa if patience, statesmanship and dynamism are combined. But advance in Africa is not a matter of political advance alone. In fact, perhaps it would be better if political advance could come in the train of economic advance, for self-government and independence is meaningless unless it is also independence on the economic front. 469 Have we done enough to help the underdeveloped countries of the Commonwealth? Of course not. Nobody ever could have done enough. I understand that hon. Members opposite suggest that they would devote 1 per cent. of the gross national product to helping the underdeveloped countries of the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why they should want to cut the help to such a small figure. That is a most extraordinary approach. What we must do is to gross up the amount to a figure considerably in advance of that, and it is the method of the provision of the finance that is, perhaps, the key to this matter.
Lest a remark that I made in interrupting my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) earlier today was misunderstood, perhaps I may be permitted to enlarge a little on it. I said that the problem of education in Kenya was not one of finance. In fact, I do not believe that it is only finance. The provision of teachers is much more a key to the building up of the correct pyramid than is putting up money to no particular purpose. I would ask the Government: how can we finance further development in the Commonwealth and Colonial Territories?
Last year, at the Montreal Conference there was proposed the establishment of a Commonwealth Bank. I believe that this proposal, like so many new and helpful suggestions, was referred to a committee. This is as dangerous as referring something to a Royal Commission. I hope very much that the proposal is not just sent to a committee and forgotten. I hope that it has not been marked "File and forget", but that it will call for action from the Government in considering whether it is a practicable proposition, as some of us on this side of the House believe it to be.
I believe that we can best help the underdeveloped territories by having a strong and vigorous economy at home and, out of our surplus, investing in the Commonwealth. I have reservations about the suggestions made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton and by my noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed when they say that we should co-ordinate our colonial policies with Europe. I am not sure that 470 I really want to co-ordinate our colonial policies in this country with those of other countries. The other countries may well feel the same.
The best way of dealing with this matter is for us independently to pursue our own development plans in our own Colonial Territories. I agree that there should be an over-riding consultation, but detailed agreement is, I think, not only impossible but it might lead to greater dangers than advantages. Therefore, while I agree that there is a general sense that there should be a loose cooperation between the imperial Powers in Europe, I think that that is as far as one can go in practical terms. We should use the instrument of our trading policy, establishing a Commonwealth Bank, aiming to buy as much from Commonwealth territories as is possible, securing the interests of the West Indies, for example, against American produce. These are the ways to help the underdeveloped territories best of all.
I have devoted my remarks almost exclusively to the Commonwealth for two reasons. First, I believe that this is the way ahead for Britain in the future, through making a more co-ordinated and more closely-knit Commonwealth the centre of our alliances, friendships and trading policies. Secondly, I believe that it is the right way to bring help to those who are poverty-stricken, hit by disease and lashed by famine. One hon. Member earlier said that the condition of the backward peoples was becoming worse. I believe that to be an exaggeration. Their condition is improving, but it is not improving at the rate at which conditions are improving in the advanced countries, and the difference between the two is growing greater.
There are seeds of future dissension and dispute in this situation. It is something to which we must turn our thoughts in this Parliament. This is the moment now for this country to return to its first love, its prime allegiance—allegiance to the Commonwealth and a reverse allegiance from the Commonwealth to us. There is a need for an emotional revival of faith in the Commonwealth. If we have that faith we shall not only have faith in the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth have faith in us, but we shall be able to provide the wealth both at home and overseas and so advance the 471 lot of humanity at the greatest possible rate.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I do not for a moment dissent from what the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) said about the importance of the Commonwealth. I think, however, that it is a little unfortunate to begin putting things in orders of priority as though we were playing a round game, some people saying that the Commonwealth is more important than Europe and some saying that Europe is more important than the Commonwealth. The important function for this country, since it happens to have a central position in the Commonwealth and is also an extremely important European country, while, at the same time, having intimate ties of history and language with the United States, is to prevent these different societies from becoming exclusive and to try to make them pull together, not against one another.
I turn, first of all, to our relations with Russia and the Communist world. I am bound to say that I feel that we have been somewhat mesmerised by Russia. Unfortunately, the way our relations with the Communist world develop depends very much on Russia's development and a good deal on America's development. Much as we may plan for the future, we have only a limited sphere within which we can really exercise an effective interest ourselves. Nevertheless, it is an important interest and one which has loomed large in this debate.
One of the striking features of this debate and of previous foreign affairs debates is that the idea seems now to be accepted that the cold war is off—that was said, I think, by the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid)—and the battle for men's minds, as it is described, is on. This is becoming the central theme for all foreign affairs debate. We then have the question of what we are to do about the under-developed countries, it being assumed that the way to men's minds is through their stomachs.
§ Mr. Grimond
In my view, the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) and the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) are right in saying that, if we appear to be pouring out such aid as we can simply to stop people going Communist, this will not do us much good. We ought to act from higher motives than that. But, of course, the skill of statesmanship is in making baser motives serve higher, enlisting self-interest in the cause of morality.
If we are to do that, it will not simply be a matter of giving out money, food and so forth. It is becoming apparent that democracy is not working very well in the countries to which we have encouraged its export. Indeed, I hear that one of the most frequent cries in parts of Asia today is "Up military dictatorship", not "Up democracy". We must devote some thought to the type of government which we ought to encourage and help in these territories which are, at one time, trying to establish their freedom and independence and, at the same time, trying to raise their populations from desperate poverty. I very much doubt whether one can pull people up from desperate poverty and, at the same time, run the sort of Parliamentary system which we have, and I do not believe that we have given nearly enough thought to this.
I come now to education. One thing which strikes one about the situation in Africa today is the shocking lack of education provided by us in places like Nyasaland. Unless we do provide education, including technical education, a great deal of the material help we give is inevitably wasted. I follow the hon. Member for Walsall, South in saying that it would obviously be wise to concentrate our help in areas which can use it, and India is an extremely good example, I think, of a country which probably can use the help which she is given. Unless there is some concentration, the effort is likely to be wasted.
As regards a Summit Conference and negotiation with Russia, I take it from what was said by the Prime Minister a couple of days ago that the Summit is really now more or less off, as the hon. and learned Member for Northampton will be pleased to note. The Summit is 473 being melted down, as it were, into a series of rather small hills. There is to be a series of negotiations over a considerable period of time. I welcome this. It seems to be a much more sensible approach to our problems to do this rather than hope to have them all solved by some sort of Congress of Vienna, as the Prime Minister described it, dancing waltzes under the television lights for a week or two in some congenial capital.
I share, the fear of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), however, that the Summit may, perhaps, become a stumbling block in that all sorts of useful negotiations which could and should go on may not go on because a Summit Conference is to take place next month, the month after, or the month after that. One immediate question is whether there are any negotiations going on about the Middle East. Is there any attempt being made now to stop this ridiculous situation in which we are supplying arms to countries we do not like and the Russians are supplying arms to the countries they do not like? Is any effort being made to stop the flow of arms to the Middle East and to bring about some settlement in that area?
Not long ago, Mr. Khrushchev made an offer, a rather bold offer, about disarmament. This is being taken up through the United Nations to some extent, but many of us were extremely disappointed in the Government's response to that offer. It seemed to many of us that whether it was sincere or not could well have been tested by saying, "If you want total disarmament, you must have inspection. Are you willing to allow inspection in Russia? If you are, we will allow you to inspect our process of disarmament on this side of the Iron Curtain". The Government owes us an explanation as to what has happened to that offer and why it was so coldly received when it was made.
Relations with Russia and the Communist world are extremely important, but they have, to some extent, deflected us from attending to things in which we can have more influence and which may also become very important in the near future. Here again, I rather agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, East that there is a rapidly changing situation in Europe and in the Western world 474 generally. I think that the Anglo-Saxon countries, by which I mean, with some inaccuracy perhaps, the Americans and ourselves, including the Celtic and Nordic fringes, have lost a good deal of prestige.
As the hon. Member said, there has been a great growth in the power of Europe. There has also been the danger—I think that it is a danger—of a spread of nuclear weapons. I do not agree with the hon. Member for Sunderland, South that it is good, as I think he implied, that France should make its own nuclear bombs. The spread of nuclear weapons is, I think, extremely dangerous. I believe that if this country attaches so much importance to nuclear deterrents, and if it insists upon making its own weapons, it is only natural that other countries will do the same.
I hope that the Government will give some reality to the talk about interdependence and not only make a real effort to stop nuclear tests but try to come to a more united defence system with less reliance on the ultimate nuclear deterrent, which I think is probably an outmoded weapon, and in the process limit the spread of nuclear weapons all round the world.
I thought that we had some interesting remarks from, I take it, the official spokesman for the Labour Party on the subject of Europe. He took the Government to task for not going more wholeheartedly into the movement for European unity. I think that he was justified. I think that we have made a grave mistake in allowing ourselves to be pushed out of Europe, politically and economically. I thought that the speech of the President of the Board of Trade yesterday was notable for its complacency on this point. He spoke with the most bland patronage of what was going on in Europe as though he was looking down on it as a sort of paternal uncle and it was nice that the children were getting on so well. But I remember very much the same attitude being taken by the Labour Party when it was in office.
I can remember the hon. Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman)—I now propose to pay him a compliment, and therefore I do not think that I have to give him notice—making a most effective speech about the tremendous importance 475 of the Schuman Plan, saying how excellent it was and how delightful it was that Europeans were getting on so well in this way, but we were not going to have anything to do with it; it was not for this country. I do not say that this is a simple matter because I think that very serious issues are involved. It has been noticeable since the war that Europe is a hobby of politicians in opposition.
It may be said that as the Liberal Party is permanently in opposition it is a permanent hobby of ours, but we have at any rate a consistent attitude on this point. We have pressed both parties to go wholeheartedly into Europe. However, I want to deal with some of the arguments against this, because there are serious arguments against it. If this is a change of attitude, both on this side and from Members on the other side like the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), who also took his own Government to task on this score, we must be certain that this is a change of heart which would survive if the Labour Party were in office. The first objection which is usually taken is that it contradicts our obligations to the Commonwealth. I dare say that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South holds that view. I can only say that I think that the Commonwealth would welcome entry into European markets.
The next objection which I put against it is that it would mean giving up some of what is called sovereignty. We must face this. It does mean giving up the power to take unilateral decisions on some subjects, but I do not believe that it is nearly as frightening as it sounds when we talk about giving up sovereignty in the abstract. We will not be overrun by the French and Germans and made to do things of which we disapprove. As things have worked out, there has been much less surrender of sovereignty than many people expected when things like the Coal and Steel Community were set up. I do not myself welcome that, but it should be some assurance to those concerned on this point.
However, the most serious objection is that if we are sincere about going into closer economic and political association in Europe and building Western Germany 476 into that association, we may make it much more difficult to come to a settlement between East and West and we shall certainly make it much more difficult to achieve any unity in Germany. Obviously, if Western Germany is tightly built into a European system it will be very much more difficult to come to an agreement with the East Germans and it may be much more difficult to break down the barriers between East and West generally.
This is a genuine difficulty which must be faced, but personally I think that it is worth the risk. Furthermore, I do not believe that the alternative is as attractive as some people think. The problem of Europe will never be settled until there is a great unity among the nations of Western Europe. I thought that the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed was inclined to put the blame for our failure to go into Europe on to the Americans. I may have done him an injustice, but he seemed to me to imply that.
§ Viscount Lambton
In no way did I imply that, but I thought that the reason we failed in Europe was that we had, as it were, put a bar on our association with America before that with Europe. Consequently, we have on many occasions made Europe think that we were using America for our own ends against them.
§ Mr. Grimond
I hope that makes it clear. I do not think that it is fair to say that the Americans have ever objected to our going into Europe.
§ Mr. Grimond
I agree. I do not think that this can be said to be an objection. There are quite serious points which we must face about going into a closer association with Europe if they will have us—at present they do not like us—but, to my mind, the advantages to be gained greatly outweigh them on one condition, namely, that we do not regard this as going into a more exclusive combination, so to speak, but as a step in the general building up of better relationships throughout the world. I do not regard this in any way contradictory to the strongest possible support of the United Nations or the Atlantic Alliance. Once we begin saying that something is more important than another we shall get into 477 great philosophical difficulties which need not arise on practical questions. However, we are separated from Europe.
I believe that we have misunderstood a good deal of what the European movement is about, because it is not primarily an economic movement but a political movement. To be left out of a major political movement in the West would be very serious for this country.
I hope that, whatever happens in this series of minor peaks or lesser summits, whatever they are called, we shall look very much, first, to that part of the world where we can exercise influence, namely, our own Colonies and the Commonwealth towards which, I fully agree, we have a great obligation, and, secondly, to the Western Alliance, in which we hold a unique position, and to Europe, from which we are in danger of being excluded, with which at the moment, as has been said, our relations are far from good and which is a part of the world which after the war looked to this country for leadership but did not get it. We should not abandon the task of joining in the movement for European unity and making it the type of international organisation which can fit in with other organisations, such as the Commonwealth and the United Nations, and not a purely exclusive and inward-looking association.
§ 7.20 p.m.
§ Sir David Campbell (Belfast, South)
I should like to ask the forgiveness of the House if, in speaking tonight, I deal almost exclusively with matters specially affecting Ulster. When I contemplated speaking tonight, I did not know that today would be chosen for a foreign affairs debate. Therefore, I hope and trust that the House will forgive me.
Before turning to Ulster affairs, however, I should like to make one remark about the debate as far as I have heard it tonight. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) that it is essential never to forget that we must keep our position, I was going to say as the head of the Commonwealth, but at least of leadership in Commonwealth relations.
It is also essential that we should continue to be on the most friendly relations with America. Through my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and 478 my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary, the Government have improved our relationship with America and have ensured that the United Kingdom has much more influence on public opinion on world affairs in America than we have had for many years. I also believe that this friendship with America and our position in the Commonwealth do not preclude us from forming part of a united opinion in Western Europe. I believe that all three of these objectives can be achieved and are not incompatible.
It is possible that I or one of my Ulster colleagues might not have had the opportunity of being called either tomorrow or on Monday or Tuesday and so, having had the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, I will confine myself to matters directly concerning Ulster. Before passing to purely Ulster affairs, however, I would say that I and my Ulster colleagues warmly welcomed the references in the Gracious Speech to the Commonwealth, to disarmament, to East-West relations and to the assurance that the Government will give close attention to the social well-being of the people and, in particular, to the needs of the war disabled and their dependants and the old people.
I noted with great pleasure the introduction of a Bill to deal with pockets of unemployment. I earnestly hope and pray that the Bill will achieve its purpose speedily. I say that knowing that the Bill does not apply to Northern Ireland. It will be for our Northern Ireland Government to introduce such further legislation as they may find necessary to deal with our problems there. We are faced with an acute problem of unemployment in Northern Ireland.
I and my Ulster colleagues are most grateful to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for his statement during his speech on 27th October, when, referring to unemployment, he said:I give this assurance to my hon. Friends from Northern Ireland: we will press forward in every possible way to help them and their Government in dealing with the problem there."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 27th October, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 73.]Much has been done to cope with this problem and the Northern Ireland Government may well be proud of their record. Since 1945, 144 new projects 479 have been established in Ulster. Fifty-eight factories and 22 extensions to factories have been built by the Government. Eighty of the new factories and factories existing before 1945 have expanded and up to 30th June this year, a total of 37,000 new jobs had been provided by the firms which had received Government assistance, financial or otherwise.
Regrettably, much remains to be done. Unfortunately, the position is still most serious. In 1958, the average percentage of unemployed in Ulster was 9.3. In 1959, up to October, the average had dropped, I am glad to say, to 7.9, but for a big area 7.9 is a very large unemployment percentage.
Fears have been expressed that the effect of the new Bill will be to make it more difficult for the Ulster Government to induce new industries to establish themselves in Northern Ireland. It may well be necessary for the Northern Ireland Government to prepare further schemes to deal with our particular problem, and it is a very special problem. Our trouble is that all our raw materials have to be imported and the Channel lies between them and all our exports to other countries. The handling of goods on both sides is a handicap which it is difficult to overcome. If our Northern Ireland Government see their way to introduce further measures to induce new industries to set up, I know that we can rely with confidence on the fullest co-operation and help from Her Majesty's Government and I believe that we can also rely on the help and co-operation of all Members of this House.
I welcome the assurance that Her Majesty's Government will devote special attention to the future of the aircraft industry. In Northern Ireland, we have in the Short and Harland enterprise, an aircraft factory with first-class facilities, an able planning staff and a most efficient body of craftsmen. I ask our new Minister of Aviation to assure us that he will do everything possible to ensure a prosperous future for Short Bros. and Harland and will devise means to remove the threat of redundancy.
I am glad to note that in the case of certain other aircraft factories where it was necessary to reduce the number of employees, it was possible in a very short period to place them in comparable 480 jobs in their own locality. Most unfortunately, that was not possible in Northern Ireland.
I also welcome the assurance that the well-being of those whose living depends upon the land will remain one of the first cares of the Government and that the system of guaranteed prices and the long-term assurances in the Agriculture Act, 1957, will be continued. Agriculture is the backbone of Ulster, not only from the viewpoint of the material well-being of Ulster. We are greatly dependent upon our agricultural industry. The small and medium-sized farms of Ulster produce a fine specimen of manhood and it would be a great loss, not only to Ulster, but to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, if that source of manhood were to dry up.
I now turn to a matter which is of vital importance to our well-being in Ulster. I refer to the continued evil activities of terrorist organisations. The General Election made it abundantly clear that the people of Northern Ireland, irrespective of political outlook, are overwhelmingly opposed to terrorist methods. In spite of the elimination of Sinn Fein at the polls, there have been, I regret to say, since the election, three terrorist attacks, the evil men escaping as usual across the border. The Eire Government have declared their opposition to terrorist activities, but have not taken any positive and effective steps to deal with the terrorist organisations which use the Republic as a recruiting and training ground for raids across the border.
I demand—and I speak for all my Ulster Unionist colleagues—from Her Majesty's Government a definite assurance that no further concessions in the matter of trade or otherwise will be granted to the Eire Government until they have taken definite and effective action to suppress the Irish Republican Army and the other terrorist organisations and have rendered it impossible for evil-doers, having committed acts of violence in Ulster, to seek safe sanctuary in Eire.
This is a debate on foreign affairs and I do not expect a reply from the Government benches this evening to my request either for an assurance about the Short and Harland aircraft factory, or for a definite assurance regarding assistance to 481 Eire, so long as they do not take effective action against the terrorist movement, but I hope that the Government will give me and my Ulster Unionist colleagues satisfactory replies to these questions in the near future.
§ 7.32 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
[hope that the hon. Member for Belfast, South (Sir D. Campbell) will not expect me to follow him into the ramifications of the Irish border question on this occasion.
I want to make it quite clear at the beginning that, should I inadvertently be led into any implied criticism of the Prime Minister or other Minister, I have not given notice of such criticism. I hope that that will be overlooked on this occasion. I must say that I was disappointed in the speech of the Foreign Secretary to this extent. We are a new Parliament. We are facing many old problems in Europe and in the world, and one would have thought that a number of new problems and many of the old problems would be faced with a new urge and spirit, but there was nothing, as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said, in the Foreign Secretary's speech to suggest that there was any general appreciation of the situation to be given either to this House or to the world, which I should have thought would have been appropriate on this occasion.
All that we got from the Foreign Secretary when pressed on particular issues about the Government's attitude was, "You have been told it before. It has been said over and over again. I will only repeat what I have said previously "or words to this effect. It was rather depressing that that should be the opening of the first speech by the Foreign Secretary in a new Parliament. A particular point addressed to him in connection with the cold war situation in Europe was on the attitude of the Government to the question of disengagement. Again, we got the reply from the Foreign Secretary, "We have made our position clear over and over again. We do not accept the conceptions of disengagement which have been discussed in various quarters."
I am no great enthusiast for disengagement as a cure-all for the problems of 482 the cold war. I fully realise the risks and dangers which may be involved in many of the forms of disengagement that have been suggested. I fully understand that there is a great deal to be said for the case that the confrontation of the two great forces in Europe has maintained peace along the border for some fifteen years whereas a similar border situation between Jordan and Israel, where there have not been these great forces confronting each other, has resulted in repeated incursions from one side or the other and one major war. I can see all the arguments to make us cautious about the forms that disengagement may take.
I should have thought that after fifteen years of complete failure to find any solution to this question the Government might have been prepared to say that, from amongst the many proposals made by Mr. Rapacki, by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, even by Sir Anthony Eden at the Berlin Conference, and others, at least we could discuss these and see what is involved and whether or not they could lead to something more practical, rather than accept the present deadlock. Yet we accept the stagnation and are prepared to reject any such constructive proposals as might be put forward. I think that is unfortunate and a depressing sort of attitude to these matters. I hope that the Government will consider this more deeply and that if they reject the proposals made for any kind of disengagement arrangement in Europe, at least they will come forward with some alternative proposals which they can submit to the Russians at the first opportunity.
I want to spend what time I have not on these vital issues but on the rather more restricted issue of the European situation. I am delighted that the Foreign Secretary and my hon. Friend on the Front Bench and others devoted a considerable part of their speeches to discussing the importance of the developments which have taken place in Europe, centred around the Common Market and the other related institutions. I am disappointed, however, that neither my hon. Friend on the Front Bench nor the Foreign Secretary had any suggestion about what we could do about this. 483 There has been a great deal of criticism of the record of the present Government in connection with these European developments. Hon. Members on both sides have said that we have had far too few debates on this subject during the last three or four years. I must remind the Government that there have been repeated demands for debates from both sides of the House, which have been generally rejected, and the rejection often accepted in good grace by those of us who have pressed for the debates because we were assured that they might upset attempts made to create a Free Trade Area.
It was only a few years ago when over 200 Members of the House on both sides signed a Motion calling on the Government to make a constructive move in this direction by taking part in the Messina Conference. That was a very considerable proportion of Members from both sides of the House. I think the record will show that the numbers on either side were nearly equal. The Government did not take that opportunity, and we know what has happened as a result. We have found ourselves again kept out, quite unnecessarily, in my opinion, and it has been a repetition of the deplorable history of this demand on the part of the United Kingdom for "the closest possible associations, short of full membership", which we have had in connection with the Coal and Steel Community, the Common Market and everything else.
When one hears this kind of phrase repeated over and over again every time the European countries have made proposals and begged us to come in and take the lead in this unification of Europe, one can understand that they are getting a little tired of it and a little bitter about it because it does not ring true.
I will recall one or two reasons why it does not ring true. It was, after all, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), the present Prime Minister, and the Minister of Aviation who took the lead in the great Hague Conference—of 1948, I believe it was—and in summoning Parliamentarians and other public people from all over the Western European countries, including our own, to move the resolutions calling for the unification, 484 not only economic but political, of Europe, and in which it was made plain that Great Britain was to play a leading part. They pursued their European movement. They developed a campaign throughout Europe encouraging leading European statesmen, Parliamentarians and others to take up this great idea, which was linked, of course, with the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford during the war for common citizenship between this country and France, and other ideas of that kind. They used to lash the Labour Government for not taking a positive line on this.
Then came the 1951 election, and the right hon. Gentleman found himself in office with his two colleagues who had taken a leading part in this campaign, and that movement and those activities were dropped. Europeans have not forgotten the right hon. Gentleman's historic speech at Strasbourg when he called for the establishment of a European army which would dispose of all national armies, bringing them all together in one great defence force under a common command, in which, in his own words, as I remember them, "Britain would play her full part." The European army conception was developed, and again, when the the right hon. Gentleman became Prime Minister, he told the Europeans, "We should like to have the closest possible association short of full membership."
One knows what happened to the E.D.C. proposal. The E.D.C. proposal, as I have said often, and as many other Members on both sides have said, was one positive step for preventing the independent rearmament of Germany which otherwise was an inevitable development. It was worked out and accepted in principle and then in detail by the European countries. We were again begged to come in and to take the lead. Again the Government under the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford rejected it, with the result that France, which had been one of the chief advocates, hesitated at the last moment to go into it with only Germany and one or two smaller countries associated with it. It was understandable. I am quite satisfied that France would have been delighted to have ratified the European Defence Community if we had 485 been prepared to do so as well. It was not altogether surprising that France should not have gone into a European Defence Community under a common command with, in effect, Germany alone. It was a little too much to expect at that stage particularly.
So E.D.C. collapsed, and the then Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, gathered a lot of credit for running about trying to get a second-best. I must say that the praise which was heaped on him at the time for having achieved a second-best, the Paris Agreements, always struck me as a little curious, when he was one of those responsible for destroying the best and only finding a second-best. So we were left with the Paris Agreements.
Then the Common Market developed. Many hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House as well as this pressed the Government to go into the original Messina discussions. What was the answer? The usual answer: "We should like to be associated with this but we do not want to be full members." In other words, we should like to have all the advantages and none of the responsibilities. At least, that is how our answer was interpreted in Europe.
We made all kinds of excuses. We had Commonwealth obligations, we had our agriculture to consider. If we went into this thing we should find our country flooded with cheap agricultural produce from Europe and so destroy our farming industry which we must defend and subsidise because one of these days we might find ourselves in another six years' war and surrounded by U-boats—a curious conception in modern conditions, but nevertheless the only apparent excuse for subsidising and defending an uncompetitive agricultural industry. Anyhow, those were the two reasons given. We had responsibilities to the Commonwealth and the need to defend and protect our own agricultural industry.
What happened at the Messina Conference? France went there. France has her agricultural problems and France has overseas territories. In the discussions at Messina, France was able to get a provision included in the Common Market agreements to cover those two problems in a special way. Those agreements were subsequently ratified by the various Parliaments, and what we did 486 in effect by not going into the discussions at Messina was to force the six Common Market countries to set up a Common Market agreement which suited every member which took part, but naturally was not suited to our special problems, whereas if we had gone to the first conference there is no reason at all why we could not, as was the case with France, have got our special problems of the Commonwealth and our agriculture covered, as France did, with a completely satisfactory arrangement which would have suited not only ourselves but the six Common Market countries and the Scandinavian countries, too.
The situation has thus developed where a Common Market exists and we are outside, and it is quite clear from the speech of the Foreign Secretary and the speech of my hon. Friend—and from speeches of other hon. Members who have not taken sufficient interest in this in the past—that we have got ourselves in an extremely difficult position because of this lack of positive action in those developments which we ourselves initiated.
Not only that, but it is also quite clear from what has been said by many Members today that not only have we got ourselves into very serious economic difficulties but, what is probably even more important, into very serious political difficulties with the very people who have been begging us to associate with them and even take the lead in these historic developments.
As I said, our main argument against the Common Market was that we had our agriculture and the Commonwealth to consider, but then came the Atomic Energy Authority, the Euratom Agreement. We were asked to take part in that, and we were the people who could have given a lead. We were the only ones in Europe who could provide the "know-how", the raw material, the separating plants and the rest. Again, we refused to go in. Why? We took precisely the same attitude in an entirely different situation. We said, "We want to be associated with this, but do not want to be full members. We want the closest possible association short of full membership." Why? What has Euratom got to do with the Commonwealth or our agriculture? 487 These are our historical arguments, but our going into the Euratom Agreement would not affect the Commonwealth or our agriculture. It would have given this country the opportunity of taking a lead in and being at the centre of this great new development in Western Europe, the only area in the world dependent upon imports from overseas for its main power resources, the one part of the world where, above all, it is vital that it should find ways and means of producing adequate power within its own confines without having to depend upon Suez canals or Colonel Nassers, or even American shipping.
Here was our great opportunity, and we threw it away, and it had nothing to do with the Commonwealth or agriculture. Again we took the same attitude. How, do hon. Members think, do Europeans react to that? They say, whether they are right or wrong, that it is quite clear to them that the British arguments about this mean simply that Britain thinks she has got to have a special place in the world, she is different from Europe, and that she has got to have a special position. Whether this is so or not, that is what so many Europeans think.
What have we lost by not participating in the Euratom Agreement? What was the real reason why we did not take part? Agriculture and the Common wealth had nothing to do with it. It was, clearly—this has been admitted in many arguments and discussions in which I have taken part—that we did not want to give away our "know-how" and our lead. That is a most remarkable attitude. This country, above all others, ought to know from history that if one has the "know-how" one had better share it with other countries as soon as possible to get their co-operation rather than try to keep it to oneself. One may build the first experimental factories, railways or whatever it may be, and then a few years later all the other countries begin to get the "know-how" and by then they are able to benefit from one's own experience of the original, primitive plants.
Over and over again we have found ourselves in this position. We have built the first railways, sunk the first mines or built the first type of a certain 488 plant. A few years later, other people have taken up the idea and made better developments because they could see where our weaknesses were. Our position is then that we are faced with the problem of scrapping the lot and building again in more modern fashion, thus wasting another large sum of capital, which private enterprise does not like doing, or carrying on with out-of-date plant in competition with foreign modern plant.
Here was our opportunity to go in with Euratom and to provide the materials and the central stations, and show others how to do it and ourselves give a lead. By that means, if one wishes to take a purely selfish point of view, we might have captured the market. However, one of the results of our not joining Euratom is that Europe is not so much interested in British materials and plants and is looking to America. Therefore, keeping our know-how has not got us very far.
One need only consider the great potentialities of this great development. We have only a limited quantity of local power and we depend essentially on overseas shipments of oil and other things. Here we had an opportunity to set up central separating plants, and so on, within the European area, to feed the whole market, including Great Britain, ultimately from central plants. What will happen now? Europe will build its own, whether in Germany, Belgium or France I do not know. However, one separating plant will probably be adequate, and it will have a vast market. This little island on the shores of Europe has vast plants also, but a very small market. We could provide much more power. We could probably have fed the whole of Europe with atomic energy. But we shall be left, comparatively a small community, with all this great power at our disposal and no means of using it. That is an unnecessary and deplorable situation for us.
It all stems from the attitude that we have maintained all along, that Britain somehow has to be the leading party in all these things, that we must have a special position and are not going to take on the responsibilities of these other countries. Why do we take this attitude today when we know that it cannot be maintained? 489 The key has been given in remarks by the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister made reference to the importance of European unity and of our being associated with it. He said that we want more and more freer and freer trade throughout the world. That is the key. Our whole approach to these great issues has been one of the economic advantages that we can get out of them. In so far as that freer trade might damage our agricultural industry or some other industry we should have the right to make reservations and put up barriers; in other words, we should protect anything special that we have and try to exploit the other parties to our own purely economic advantage. I do not object at all to trying to find more and more freer and freer trade, and even, if necessary, trying to protect what we think we ought to protect. But that is a matter of commercial bargaining, and has nothing to do with the European idea.
This economic approach is a question of trying to get the maximum advantage out of economic haggling. That way is not the way to build up sound basic friendships. By that means we might get advantages, but the other fellow may be upset because one has beaten him in the bargaining. Thus, one may create animosities, but it is a legitimate part of economic warfare.
The European idea, however, was not inspired by the thought of economic advantages to any individual country. It was not an economic idea at all basically. The economic implications of it, however important, were secondary. The inspiration of the European idea, as it was expressed by the right hon. Member for Woodford, the present Prime Minister and some of his colleagues when in opposition, as expressed by M. Spaak, M. Coty, M. Guy Mollet and a whole range of leading people in Europe, including the present West German Foreign Secretary, was the great political conception of destroying for ever the divisions between France and Germany, Belgium and Germany, and so on, which have led so often by the very clash of economic interests to the political clashes which have brought about world wars.
There was a tremendous opportunity when France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and all these countries which had pre- 490 viously been at each other's throats came together and said, "Let us forget all this; let us get together in one single community", as England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have got together, and as every civilised country has developed throughout history from smaller into larger communities, eliminating divisions and feuds within those communities.
That was the great conception, the grand design. I do not pretend that the Labour Government achieved much more or were a great deal more forthcoming than the present Government. This is not now a political issue, but I hope it soon will be. However, the Labour Government did not promise the Europeans more than they intended to give them. We did not encourage them to take steps which we were not prepared to take along with them. The Labour Government were at least quite honest and straight with the Europeans in telling them why we hesitated to go in with them, whereas the Conservative Government bear all the responsibility for originally encouraging these movements and subsequently deserting them. This is the situation in which we find ourselves, and the great question is what we are to do about it.
Just now I said that at the moment this is not an issue between the two parties. I only wish it were, and I hope that the Labour Party will very soon take a positive lead on it, because one party or another will be forced to take a lead some time. I believe that if one is given it will be a lead which will immediately enhance the prestige of our country throughout Europe, awaken again some of the inspiration of the years immediately following the war, eliminate most of the difficulties which have been created between ourselves and the European countries, and, above all, give a tremendous inspiration to the youth of this country as it has done to the youth of Germany, Belgium, France and Italy. The sooner we make it a political issue, the better for all concerned.
What are we to do about it? Our refusal to go to the Messina Conference has forced the six countries to get together in a form which makes it almost impossible for us to join them now. The Free Trade Area proposals are quite irrelevant to the general conception of European unity which is embodied in 491 the Common Market conception, bur-atom and the rest. I do not think that the step which has been taken by the Minister who has been given the name "Mr. Europe"—a most curious name for a man who has completely failed to get us anywhere with Europe—the conception of the Northern tier, will be a great help in bridging this gulf.
On more than one occasion in this House I have recommended when we were in a position in which the Free Trade Area proposals were clearly not getting us anywhere that we should call a meeting of the Scandinavian countries with ourselves to discuss some means by which we could agree on a common approach to the Common Market countries to ascertain whether we could get a special association with them which would lead us into full membership at some stage if that cannot be done immediately.
I did not anticipate that the Government would go as far as they have gone in getting the Scandinavian countries to set up what appears to many Continental countries to be a rival Free Trade Area. Whether this is intended as a bridge or as a challenge is anybody's guess. Naturally, the Government will say that it was intended to be a bridge, but, not unnaturally, a lot of European people think it is intended as a challenge. The fact remains that there is a big danger that it will develop into a challenge and fail to become a bridge.
Therefore, I ask the Government whether, in these circumstances, in view of the fact that we bear the chief responsibility for this situation and that it is apparently impossible for us to join the Common Market immediately on the present conditions, and equally impossible to ask the Common Market countries to dissolve the Common Market at this stage and go through all the procedure of arranging a new set-up, which they would have to have re-ratified in their Parliaments, where there might be many difficulties, they will now approach this in an entirely new spirit.
Let them not regard it as basically an economic question; let them forget that the Free Trade Area negotiations ever took place and give up the idea of merely trying to get the best bargain for this country and trying to protect our personal 492 interests. Let them make a new approach along with the Scandinavians to the Common Market countries with a view to trying to find a basis on which we can, as we can only do at the moment, have a much closer association and accept much more of the responsibilities, even accepting the surrender of some of our, sovereignty on such a basis as will enable us ultimately and gradually, to become absorbed as a member of the new community.
I think it is important that we should do this. If the Government do not think it a practical proposition, might we at least ask them what it is that they are proposing to do, because if they continue to insist on the purely economic approach of attempting to get the maximum advantage we can get from this association with these countries for our own benefit, and without accepting any of the responsibilities which the Common Market countries have undertaken, we are going to create more animosity against ourselves in Europe rather than improve the position.
Therefore, if the Government cannot make the kind of approach such as I have suggested, will they tell us what they propose to do? Will they bear in mind what should have become clear to them now, that we cannot get out of this situation—I am quite sure everybody is agreed that we must get out of the present situation—unless this country is prepared to make some sacrifices of the sort so willingly and admirably made by France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and the others, not for the purpose of enhancing their own immediate economic interests, but to build together a family of nations which will eventually become merged in a new Common European community, which, I am quite sure, would be able to face up either to the United States or to the Soviet Union?
§ 8.3 p.m.
§ Sir Fitzroy Maclean (Bute and North Ayrshire)
It was not my intention originally to take part in this debate, but I was tempted to do so by some remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget).
I thought that all of his speech was entertaining, and I agree with a good deal of it, but I think he was less than fair in what he said about the Prime Minister's trip to Moscow. I think he 493 was particularly unfair in comparing that trip with an earlier trip undertaken by an earlier Prime Minister to another place, the name of which also begins with a capital M. Whatever the party opposite may think about my right hon. Friend, nobody could fairly accuse him of having been an appeaser, either then or now.
§ Sir F. Maclean
If the hon. and learned Gentleman reads his own speech in HANSARD, and if he has not changed it in the interval—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]—he will see that in terms he came very near to saying what I have said he said. He talked about an ultimatum, and implied that it was a disgraceful thing for a British Prime Minister to talk to a foreign Government under the threat of an ultimatum. What he has to remember is that there is a very great difference between the dictator to whom my right hon. Friend was talking and the dictator with whom we had to deal in 1938 and 1939, and that a certain difference of approach is indicated.
I would say, as one indication of the success of his mission, that the ultimatum has since pretty well been withdrawn. It has disappeared; it has been forgotten. That was not so before the war; the Prime Minister went, but the ultimatum remained. It is largely as a result of that visit to Moscow that we have the present loosening-up of the situation, which I should have thought was welcomed by both parties.
Certainly, I do not want to emulate the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), nor descend to his level of party political abuse, but there was a good deal said about the Summit by both sides during the election. I thought that in these exchanges we came out of it rather better, because I think the party opposite was trying to catch up the whole time and make out that the Summit talks, and talks with the Russians, had been their idea and never was our idea. I remember that a parallel thing happened four or five years ago, when the word "Summit" was coined by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wood- 494 ford (Sir W. Churchill), and that he came in for a lot of abuse from the party opposite because he suggested that it might be a good idea to talk to the Russians.
I was fortunate enough to follow the Prime Minister to Moscow a week or two after he had been there, and to be able to judge to some extent personally. I went with the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) to try to negotiate a cultural agreement—indeed, to negotiate it, because we got the agreement. We found not a bad atmosphere, quite a receptive atmosphere, and I think it was because the Prime Minister had gone there and had talked to Mr. Khrushchev as man to man, and I think that that brought very great benefits. This is the right way to deal with the Russians. I think we ought to go and talk to them. I do not think we ought to be afraid of them, or that one ought to run away from them, as a curate might from a prostitute. There is nothing very terrible about them, and if anybody, as I hope to show later in my speech, has to be afraid of the results of contacts between our two countries it is the Russians far more than us.
Until last year I had not been to Russia for twenty years. I knew it fairly well in 1937, 1938 and 1939. Those years were the time when what is now called Stalinism reached its height, and the atmosphere there was extraordinarily unpleasant. To put it mildly, everybody lived in terror of everybody else and what people were most afraid of were their contacts of any kind with foreigners. When I went back last year and again this year, I was struck by great changes—material changes, a certain improvement in the standard of living and so on—but the change which struck me most was the fact that people were no longer so afraid and were now ready to talk to foreigners. A general loosening-up had taken place. The old atmosphere of fear still existed to some extent, but to nothing like the same extent, and, most important of all, it is now possible to talk to the Russians.
That is why I am in favour of the Summit Conference. That is why I was in favour of the Prime Minister going to Moscow. It is most important that we should talk to the Russians at all levels and have all the contacts we can with them on equal terms. We do not 495 want to appease them and we cannot expect them to try to appease us—that would be too much to hope for. As long as we bear in mind that for every concession we make we must demand a counter-concession, I do not think we can come to much harm.
There are various reasons for the loosening-up that has taken place. It is partly due to the personality of Khrushchev, who is a very different type of man from Stalin. I think he realises that it is not possible to run a modern technological State with many hundred millions of helots. I think he realises that if there is to be production of Luniks and Sputniks, and so on, there has to be an educated class, and the moment there is people will think for themselves.
That is one reason. The other reason is that the Soviet Government feel that now they are able, or soon will be able, to face the capitalist non-Communist world on its own terms. I am certain that they do not want a hot war. One reason why they do not want it is that they realise there is nothing in it for them, any more than there is anything in it for us. The other reason why they do not want a hot war is that they reckon that they can quite well win the cold war or peaceful co-existence or competitive existence or whatever we call it. That is a challenge we can accept.
We on this side of the House, and I should imagine many hon. Gentlemen opposite, believe that our system is immensely superior to the Soviet system, and when it comes to meeting it on equal terms I see no reason why we should not come out of it better than they do. We have nothing to be afraid of, and that is why I advocate more contacts at all levels with the Russians.
My own view is that the more fresh air that is let into the Soviet Union, the more contacts they have with the outside world, the more freedom they enjoy in their own country, the more likely the Russians are as a nation and as a Government to evolve into something easier to live with than they are at present. I believe that the more say the ordinary people in Russia have in their own affairs the more likely they are to use their influence in the cause of peace, and the more prosperity they have the less likely they are to want war. 496 I do not for a moment think that this is something sudden. It is a gradual process, and I think we should not be too optimistic. We are probably in for a very tough time in the next ten or twenty years and I believe we shall be subjected to all kinds of pressure—economic, political and even military—all over the world, because that is the basis of Soviet policy. I believe, however, that if we can hold our own socially, politically, economically and, as far as the cold war is concerned, militarily for the next ten or twenty years, there is a good chance that at the end of the time the worst of our troubles will be over.
§ 8.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I welcome the intervention of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) into our debates, because he has now become a Member for the opposite end of Ayrshire, which the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) and myself represent. We shall be very glad indeed to use our influence to guide him a little further on the road along which he has travelled tonight. In fact, we all seem to be fellow-travellers these days.
As the House knows, I was fortunate to accompany the Prime Minister on his famous tour of the Soviet Union. I found there that the right hon. Gentleman, under the influence of Mr. Khrushchev and the environment of the country, made speeches which would have staggered hon. Gentlemen opposite if I had made them at election time. Indeed, I would not dream of making in this House speeches such as those I heard the Prime Minister make at the Soviet Embassy. I was extremely pleased with the ideological development of the Prime Minister in the U.S.S.R.
For example, I heard the right hon. Gentleman say in the British Embassy, when paying a remarkable tribute to Mr. Khrushchev, that Mr. Khrushchev had been responsible for the greatest constructive work in history. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire would go as far as that. I also heard the right hon. Gentleman, in the same speech, under the influence of Mr. Khrushchev, describe the work of the Soviet Government as pointing to the Promised Land.
497 If any hon. Member wishes to find out exactly what other things the Prime Minister said in this remarkable mission I can say, perhaps with some humility, that I have incorporated them all in a book called The Pilgrim's Progress in Moscow, which I commend to the hon. Gentleman who now represents a part of Ayrshire. Indeed, if he continues to develop his ideological pilgrim's progress, by the end of this Parliament he will join the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire and myself, and the only Member who will remain anti-Communist will be the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ayr (Sir T. Moore), for whom I cannot hold out any hope.
I welcome this new understanding and attempt to understand the need for having useful contacts with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Like the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire, I have been a student of events in the Soviet Union for many years. Also, like him, I have seen the Soviet Union develop from famine conditions, as he saw them in 1931, and conditions of terror as we saw them in 1931, into something which is really hopeful that Russia will emerge as a great civilised influence in the modern world.
I do not say this because I am a Communist, although they call me a Communist at election times. In fact, I was called a Communist by a candidate of the party opposite, Mr. Patrick Maitland, at the recent election. He said that I, "a notorious Communist", had entered the constituency to help the hon. Lady who eventually happened to be elected. I said that I did not mind being called a Communist, as long as he did not insult me by calling me a Conservative. Although we cannot say that we are all Communists now, because we are different ideologically, there is a common attitude of toleration and understanding which I hope will lead to the acceptance by this country of the idea of co-existence, so that the world will be saved from the final calamity of a third world war.
I read with great interest Mr. Khrushchev's speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations. I would commend it to hon. Members on both sides of the House as one of the most interesting speeches in international 498 politics that we have had for a generation. I believe that Mr. Khrushchev's speech was perfectly honest and candid. I believe that he is looking forward to a world in which the Soviet Union, the United States of America and ourselves will move together away from what is called the cold war towards an era in which the enormous amount of money that is now being spent upon the development of hydrogen bombs and armaments can be utilised to raise the standard of living of the people of the Soviet Union, Western Europe and the backward countries of the world. I would have liked to have a more positive statement of this plan from the Government.
I hope that everybody will follow the reaction of the Leader of the Opposition when he asked us in the middle of the election campaign—as did the Foreign Secretary—not to dismiss the Khrushchev speech as mere propaganda, but to take it as a definite basis for negotiation. I wish that we had had more of that kind of talk at the election because, especially towards the end of the campaign, political discussion sank to a rather low level. I do not know whether the hon. Members have seen a copy of my election address, but I can assure them that I did not sink to that level. When the Soviet rocket was approaching the moon we were talking about Purchase Tax on pots and pans and Income Tax There was a good deal of pettifogging talk in the campaign.
I wish that the election had been fought upon a constructive international approach of abandoning the whole strategy of the H-bomb and giving a whole-hearted acceptance of the fundamental idea underlying the Khrushchev speech, and of saying that this country, too, was going to stop spending the enormous sums of money that we are now spending on arms and was going to devote its genius, money and brains towards helping in a great constructive effort to obtain a higher civilisation in the world.
What shall we do otherwise? I do not believe that we shall ever catch up with the Soviet Union in the arms race. Since the time when the hon. Member went to the Soviet Union, in 1931, enormous changes have taken place in education in the U.S.S.R. Whatever mistakes have 499 been made by her Governments in international and other spheres, one mistake they did not make was to neglect the education of the young. Today, the managers of the factories and the planners in the Soviet Union are extremely well-educated people. They are pouring out of the universities, and I can see no possibility of winning the cold war against the Soviet Union.
So we have to turn our attention to working out an international policy which will enable us to reach an agreement with the Soviet Union and so end the cold war. I entirely agree about the need for coming to an understanding with Russia about Germany. The policy of disengagement and the acceptance of that principle is the way to bring about a lessening of anxiety in Central Europe. I remember following the Prime Minister to a collective farm about 20 or 30 kilometres from Kiev. The Prime Minister listened to accounts of the development of the collective farm, as given to him by the collective farmer. The farmer told how, after the years of famine and revolution, the collective farm had steadily been built up, only for all the cattle and the majority of the personnel to be taken away to slave labour when Hitler attacked Russia. The farm had then been reduced to dust and ashes. Gradually, the people had come back since then, and had built the farm up again from scratch. There, in the story of that collective farmer, was contained the whole root of the suspicion that exists that, once again, there may come this onslaught from Germany. That is always at the back of the mind of the Russian.
I do not grudge the Prime Minister any credit that may be given him for his venture into the Soviet Union. I remember him when he was at the airport at Kiev. He had learned a few words of Russian. I do not know whether he knew that I was listening to him, but as he passed by the crowd he said over and again in Russian, "I wish you success." That was said in the real spirit of international statesmanship. He has created this mood of understanding with the Soviet Union—and I wish him good luck in his attempts to persuade Dr. Adenauer, General de Gaulle and other international leaders to adopt the same standpoint—but something more has to be 500 done than that. We have to reduce all the platitudes to a policy. That is the difficulty with hon. Members opposite. I can conceive that in a spirit of realism President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev might come to some kind of agreement. What will happen then? When the news came that Mr. Khrushchev was going to America and President Eisenhower was going to the Soviet Union, the price of shares in the great electronics industry fell on Wall Street and the price of shares went down in sympathy—if that is the word—on the Stock Exchange. I can foresee the time when there will be a struggle not so much across the Floor of this House, but inside the Conservative Party itself, because the Prime Minister may come along and say, "We are going forward with a plan for disarmament." Then, all the vested interests that flourish on armaments, which have been so well described by my hon. Friends, will use all their subtle influence in the Press and in the party opposite to prevent disarmament from becoming a practical reality because it would affect certain financial vested interests.
To me, that is one of the problems which is likely to arise both in America and in this country. If the Prime Minister makes a bold stand against the vested interests in armaments in the Conservative Party I will give him my loyal support.
§ Mr. P. Williams
Will the hon Gentleman agree that when there was a degree of reduction in Government expenditure on armaments not so long ago, a reduction in the use of ordnance factories, the shouts came from his side of the House.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Well, this side of the House covers a wide geographical and political area and I cannot be responsible for every shout which comes from this side of the House. I gather that the shouts from this side of the House about the ordnance factories being closed was not because the factories were being closed, but because the Government have not provided an alternative constructive policy.
I desire the Government to have an economic policy which will result in disarmament being carried through with 501 an automatic change-over from ordnance or dockyards to factories for producing useful things and to shipyards where our mercantile fleet may be modernised and things of that kind.
I remember that during the General Election campaign a question was put to me from members of a body called the Navy League—they were optimists, writing to me. They asked whether I would be in favour of new aircraft carriers, torpedo boats and frigates and the whole paraphernalia of naval vessels. My reply was that the Navy League was as obsolete as the Jacobites. If the League had any votes in Ayrshire, I lost them. I suggested that I should be prepared to spend the money now being spent on the Navy on modernising the Mercantile Marine and building harbours which are so badly needed on the West Coast of Scotland. So, although I may have lost the votes of the Navy League, I gained the votes of the fishermen.
This situation presents us with a new problem, the whole reorientation of politics. If we are to get disarmament, and the Prime Minister reduces the £1,500 million spent on armaments by one-fifth or one-third, he will be able to build up in this country a new economy and bring new prosperity to the people. If he goes on on those lines, my party will have to have an alternative programme or else we shall be in opposition until the year 2,000. I hope, therefore, that we shall see a completely new attitude adopted towards the Soviet Union and a recognition that a nation which can send rockets to the moon can send rockets to destroy the economic life of America and of this country. For sheer preservation we have to work out a new world plan, a new peace plan, in which the horror dream of war in an atomic age will be banished from the minds of men in the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., and in which the whole of Western Europe will unite in one gigantic move forward to a great and noble civilisation.
§ 8.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I have great sympathy with much of what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). All hon. and right hon. Members on these benches welcome the 502 pledge given in the Gracious Speech that the Government will support the United Nations andseek to increase its influence.But I wish the Government had found another verb to introduce this pious phrase. They say:They will persist in their support of the United Nations."Persist"! I express an ardent hope that in this new Parliament the Government's support for the United Nations will be very different from what it was throughout the last, and that they will purge their minds of the prejudices, the misconceptions and the false values upon which very much of their United Nations' policy was based.
I want to deal tonight with some matters which have dominated the discussions of the present session of the United Nations Assembly, of which the Foreign Secretary spoke, when he was there and which, I believe, are the gravest long-term problems which confront the world today. Before doing so, may I add a few words to what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), in his admirable speech this afternoon about the deadlock in the Assembly over the Security Council seats.
I was personally concerned in 1946 with the gentlemen's agreement, or constitutional convention as it was called, that, besides the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe should have another seat. I was not a member of the delegation, but by chance I was in New York when America broke that agreement in 1949 and secured the election of Yugoslavia instead of Russia's candidate, Czechoslovakia. Personally, I thought both those decisions right, although the Government to which I belonged voted over Czechoslovakia the other way.
In 1949, Stalinist aggression was still mounting and the veto had been very cynically used, but, as my hon. Friend argued, the situation is very different today. Mr. Khrushchev's policy is very different from Stalin's. Poland's situation and her standing are very different from Czechoslovakia's ten years ago. Surely it is disastrous that the Assembly, the major forum of the United Nations, should be frustrated and humiliated by what, after all, is primarily a gesture in the cold war. 503 Looking at it not in terms of military alliance, but in terms of what will best assist the relief of tension in Europe and the world, is it not plain that Poland—whatever the merits of Turkey—ought to be elected? Of course, I think it absurd that the Charter should require a two-thirds majority for such an election, but it does. So the only way out of this crucial dilemma, until we can enlarge the Council, is for somebody to give way. I hope that our delegate will take a lead in voting for Poland and getting others to do so on Monday next.
I come to the long-term problems with which I want to deal. The first is the United Nations work of economic aid to under-developed nations, of which many hon. Members have spoken today, and the work of Specialised Agencies—the I.L.O., the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the rest. The Foreign Secretary said in the Assembly that all this work was uncontroversial. I wish it were. We think that the agencies and United Nations economic aid get very inadequate support and that Her Majesty's Government set a poor example. I shall not weary the House with a further diagnosis of the evil of world poverty. We have done it often from these benches in recent months. The right hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) and others have done it again today.
Mr. Paul Hoffman, the head of the U.N. Special Fund, has called his task simply staggering and the same word "staggering" was used by Mr. Eugene Black about the task which confronted the International Bank when its capital had been doubled a year ago. Look at this through hostile eyes. A Communist delegate in the U.N. Assembly said the other day that after seventy years of Pan-American co-operation the national income per capita in the Latin-American countries was still ten times lower than in the U.S.A. He said that in the Asian and African countries of the Commonwealth and the French Community the income per capita, after an even longer period, was fourteen times lower than that of Britain and France. "And ironically," he said "this state of affairs is often described as the 'free world'." No one can deny the truth of the general picture which he conveyed. 504 The Government have made some increases in their contributions to some of the various funds set up by the United Nations. They have given £100,000 extra to the High Commissioner for Refugees as their special effort in World Refugee Year. It is a halfpenny per head of our population. They have given another extra £100,000, another halfpenny per head, to the children's fund, U.N.I.C.E.F. We are grateful. We have often urged an increase on them. But we do not think it is very much.
They have raised our contribution to U.N. Technical Assistance from 2½ million dollars to 3 million dollars. It is something, but considering that in every year since its inception the Commonwealth has received far more from U.N. Technical Assistance than we have paid in, again it is not very much. They have raised our contribution to Mr. Hoffman's Special Fund from 1 million dollars to 5 million dollars, but before we made that pledge the Colonial Office had already submitted schemes to Mr. Hoffman for work in the Commonwealth which would cost him 15 million dollars. There, again, our extra contribution is not very generous, after all.
Of course, the Government will say, first, as I have already mentioned, that a year ago we doubled our subscription to the International Bank and, secondly, that we are preparing to take part in the International Development Association, with a capital of 1,000 million dollars, which may be established in the early future as an affiliate of the International Bank. Of course, that is much more like business, and if it brings real aid to the underdeveloped countries, the money Votes which have to pass the House will have our full support.
I should like to ask the Government some questions. Is this I.D.A. to be an affiliate of the International Bank, because that makes it much less likely that the Russians will come in? If so, is not that a lamentable thing? Is the cold war to continue in competitive economic aid? We are preparing to talk serious business to the Russians about disarmament. Cannot we go back to S.U.N.F.E.D., which they supported, and talk serious business to them about how the savings on armaments shall be used?
505 I hope that the Government will answer these questions. We believe that the U.N. itself is the right instrument through which to do the major work of economic aid. We believe that we should endeavour in all this work to eliminate what is a very dangerous aspect of the cold war.
Next, do the Government realise that what they envisage for the Bank and I.D.A. is far short of what Mr. Hammarskjoeld and Mr. Hoffman estimate to be required? In the first twelve years of its existence the Bank lent less than £1,000 million to the under-developed countries of the world. It lent 600 million dollars to India, or 2 dollars per head. That is less than one-tenth of the extra capital which the advanced countries must provide in the next ten years if Mr. Hoffman's minimum objective is to be achieved.
Let us face the fact, of which my hon. Friends have spoken, that the gap between the standards of the haves and the have-nots is still growing wider. Mr. Hammarskjoeld never tires of telling us that this is the greatest challenge which the United Nations has to face, and IS am afraid that we think that the Government's proposals, though we welcome their improvement, still fall short of even the most urgent needs.
That brings me to the second major matter which I want to raise—that of China. As hon. Members have said today, in ten years China has made a greater economic and military advance than perhaps any other nation in the world. When I remember the modern history of Japan and how near Japan came to conquering Asia, I confess that I have nightmares about China. She has nearly 600 million people and an annual intake of troops, if she calls them up, of 12 million. The Chinese have made an arms industry in ten years which, unless I am misinformed, is producing tanks and guns. They claim that by 1961 they will have their own atomic bomb. Even if it is 1965, is there much comfort in that for us? Is this a nation which on the lowest material grounds it is wise to pillory and ostracise? It is very urgent to bring them into the United Nations and to give them the seat in the Assembly and the Security Council which is lawfully theirs. 506 I will not repeat the arguments which I pressed upon the Government a year ago—the general practice of the United Nations; the famous American White Paper of 1949; the words written by Mr. Dulles in the same year:If the Communist Government, over a reasonable period of time, proves its ability to govern China without serious domestic resistance, then it should be admitted to the U.N.Is ten years a reasonable time? The language of the Charter is absolutely clear. Article 23 lays down that China, not Formosa, shall be represented as a permanent member of the Security Council. Until China gets that seat we are in flagrant violation of the law ourselves.
§ Sir Beverley Baxter (Southgate)
What, then, would be made of Formosa? What would be Formosa's standing once China had replaced it in the United Nations?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
China would have the same standing as every other member—the same standing as Britain, France, the United States and Russia, with a permanent seat in the Security Council. Formosa is quite a different question. The hon. Member perhaps knows that we have for many years proposed that there should be a plebiscite in Formosa. After a period of trusteeship there should be a referendum to discover what the people of Formosa really want. I think that that answers the hon. Gentleman's question.
People say that China has been creating trouble for her neighbours—brutalising the innocent people of Tibet; making armed attacks across the frontiers of India and Kashmir. No one, not even Russia, condones these reckless acts of violence. But who knows whether they would have happened if China had been accepted when she should have been accepted as a fellow member of the U.N.? How can we demand that the Government in Pekin shall observe the obligations of the Charter if we unlawfully keep them out?
Who is it that urges now that China shall be given her seat? It is her neighbours—India, Burma, Nepal and Afghanistan, together with Ceylon, Indonesia, Cambodia and many more. I read with care the speech made this year by the British delegate, who argued 507 against dealing with the question in the Assembly. His arguments were utterly demolished by the spokesmen of India, Nepal and others who replied. They think, as we on these benches think, that every extra international complication, every new act of violence, is simply one more argument for bringing the Government of Pekin swiftly into the circle of the U.N. and letting them feel at first hand the solidarity of world opinion against the use of force. We believe that it could still be done this year. The voting in the Assembly was very close. Many good observers assert that a British vote could decide the issue. Until we do it, we are simply repeating the disastrous error we made with Russia forty years ago.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leek mentioned something else which we might do to relieve tension in the East. We might reconvene the Indochinese Conference, as Russia has proposed. I am not criticising, as perhaps my hon. Friend did, the Security Council for sending a sub-committee to Laos. I believe that that was a right and lawful procedure and that it turned out to be useful.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. In my speech I did not criticise that action. I said that it may be a contribution, but I would have liked the Geneva Conference. I wish that statement to go on the record.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I am very much obliged to my hon. Friend. Someone spoke to me at that moment and I missed a phrase or two of what he said.
I believe that that was right, but is there not something to be said for bringing together at the conference table, Russia and China, America, India and France, and other smaller nations of the East? We found this year over Berlin that it was useful just to sit down and talk. Who knows whether this conference might not lower tension between India and China? As the Foreign Secretary said, we have a special responsibility in the matter since, with Russia, we are co-chairmen of the conference. I believe that both India and China earlier agreed that the conference ought to meet. In any case, I hope that the 508 Government will consider the matter very carefully before they turn it down.
I come now to what I think is bound to be the greatest issue that this Parliament will discuss—disarmament. Perhaps I may first say a word about procedure. Procedure may be important, as the late and unlamented Disarmament Sub-Committee of the United Nations often showed. That Sub-Committee is dead, and, instead, we are to have the new 10-Power committee outside the framework of the United Nations. I hope that the Government will use this change to bring about some improvements in the way in which the work is done.
I know that the Foreign Secretary has agreed with me in criticising the procedure in the past. I hope that this new Committee will have proper rules of order. It is a larger body than the Sub-Committee, and without rules of order it can easily fall into chaos. I hope that it will have a proper agenda of work—as the Sub-Committee never had. I hope that it will not change its chairman every day. Above all, I hope that there will be an improvement in the way in which the records of its proceedings reach the light of day.
There will be ten delegations in the room—is there really any hope that what they say will be kept secret? There is a great danger that angled and distorted versions will reach the public, and may do much harm. The only safeguard against that is to ensure that the true record is published at short intervals—every day, every week, or whatever may be agreed. That, and that alone, will make it possible for hon. Members, the Press, the commentators and the public to know what is going on, and I am sure that the Government will agree that in so vital a matter it is essential that they should.
I come to the substance of the matter. I shall not talk at all about the record of the Government since 1955. The Foreign Secretary knows what I think about it. It is over. I hope that a new and better chapter may have begun. But I think that not many hon. Members realise the fantastic pace, the immense and deadly momentum that the arms race has acquired in these last four years. It is four years since the Governments represented in the Sub-Committee stopped talking of comprehensive 509 disarmament and turned, instead, to what they called partial measures.
In those four years there have been fantastic changes in armaments of every kind. These changes have, of course, been brought about by long years of research and experiment, but in those four years there have been the following operational results. The atomic fission bomb has been adapted, in explosive power varying from four kilotons to 500—from one-fifth to twenty-five times the power of the Hiroshima bomb—to the use of every unit of armed force on land, on sea and in the air. When the American troops went into the Lebanon last year there was not one unit that did not have atomic weapons for its use.
Secondly, the first unliftable thermonuclear device has been transformed, by the process technically known as "miniaturisation," into warheads for inter-continental missiles, and into weapons that can be delivered by fighter bombers. Supersonic bombers have come into service, and bombers with twice, and even three times, the speed of sound are being designed. Missiles of all kinds and ranges have been perfected, and many are operational now. The nuclear-powered submarine is at sea. It may have rendered obsolete, as my hon. Friend said, all other naval vessels of every kind. Biological and chemical weapons have been officially and publicly added to the armoury of the United States and great sums of money are being spent upon them. Many other States, with less publicity, are doing the same. I wish that Ministers would read a grim report about them prepared by leading scientists from eight countries at Pugwash, in August last.
These developments have resulted from work which lasted many years, but they have come into the range of practical armaments since 1955; and every competent expert is agreed that, if the arms race continues, the rate of progress will certainly not grow less. We used to talk about the Nazis' policy of frightfulness. It is against this background of world-wide frightfulness, mounting and unlimited, that we must consider Mr. Khrushchev's speech in the United Nations. 510 I say at once that I cannot understand how anyone in his senses could hesitate for a moment about accepting the objective which Mr. Khrushchev then proposed—total disarmament, with total control, in the shortest period of years in which it can be done, leaving only the strictly limited national forces needed for internal order, forces which will carry small arms and nothing more.
I should have thought that there were only three major questions which really mattered. Is he sincere? Does he understand what we mean by total control? Will he be elastic about time and stages if, in discussion, it appears, as I think it would, that four years is too short to make so vast a change?
Is he sincere? His present proposal is not new. He told the foreign editor of The Times in January, 1958, that he was urging a Summit Conference "in order to achieve a major solution of the disarmament problem", and he gave Mr. Iverach McDonald a sketch, with a lot of details, of the proposals which he put to the Assembly the other day. I wish that Ministers would read again the report of that remarkable interview. Several good judges have warned us that it would be foolish to dismiss Mr. Khrushchev's plan as impractical or insincere—Sir William Hayter, Mr. George Kennan, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, and others. Mr. Stevenson, after a conversation with Mr. Khrushchev a month ago, said that he had never felt so hopeful and that Mr. Khrushchev was only proposing what we had all preached, that is, a disarmed world.
Does Mr. Khrushchev understand what we mean by total control? Would he be elastic about time and stages? In Moscow, last December, my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) and I had most exhaustive discussions with him and with many of his leading colleagues about inspection and control. They convinced us that they do understand our point of view and that, for real disarmament, they will accept real control in the fullest possible degree. The Foreign Secretary spoke this afternoon about the divergence of the Soviet view that disarmament should come before control and our view that control should come before disarmament. Unless I am much mistaken, the Kremlin will adhere to what it put into its plan for 511 conventional disarmament in March, 1956. I will read the words:The international control organ shall be established within the two months following the entry into force of the agreement. It shall establish its local branches, set up the control posts, and position its inspectors in good time to ensure that they are able to begin carrying out their functions at the moment when States begin the execution of the measures provided for in the agreement.The words are:… at the moment when States begin the execution of the measures provided for in the agreement".I do not think that we can ask for more than that.
This being so, and in the light of the forthright words used in the Assembly by Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Kuznetsov about control, I confess that I was disappointed by the reception which the Government gave to Mr. Khrushchev's speech. I say that in no party spirit. I have supported the Government in the past when I thought that they were right, but I hoped for something better than the tepid generalities which they used.
I appeal to the Government in all sincerity: do not let the British proposals, the outline which was put forward in the Foreign Secretary's speech to the Assembly, become a rival to Mr. Khrushchev's plans; do not begin the new commission with a lengthy wrangle about objectives and how to start; accept his broad objectives and put in practical and concrete plans where he is vague. The Government may say that that is precisely what the Foreign Secretary did in his speech to the United Nations. As we are to have so little legislation in the coming months, I hope that we shall very soon have a chance to debate his proposals more fully.
I must say at once, however, that there were three points about his speech which filled me with apprehension. His first stage was most ominously like the Western package plan of 1957, which led to total deadlock. I am afraid that in its present form, if that is to be our start, it might mean more years of barren talk. I suggest that the Government should drop all the arid formulas of the past and should instruct our British experts between now and Christmas to prepare, as I am sure they could, some detailed concrete plans. They could prepare a draft scheme for the consideration 512 of the commission of ten for the control of the "cut-off" in the nuclear plants. They could prepare a definite proposal for how much conventional armament and equipment should be allowed per 10,000 men for the national troops which the governments will retain after the first stage of reduction. That might be a major contribution to success. It might cut out months of general talk. In any case, I find it hard to think that the Foreign Secretary's first stage proposals, as he made them in New York, will lead to any practical result.
Secondly, I am disturbed by what he said in the Assembly about outer space. He used some words this afternoon about the means of delivery for nuclear weapons, which, if I understood him aright, were rather different and much more encouraging to me. However, I should now like to deal with what he said in the Assembly. No doubt the Minister of State will clear up any misunderstanding.
I think that it is common ground that the most dangerous developments in the arms race, the developments which it is most urgently necessary to stop, are in supersonic aircraft and in guided and ballistic missiles. The Russians are not behind in aircraft. An American general told Congress the other day that in missiles the Russians are five full years ahead. Missiles are a mortal danger to the British people. Mr. Khrushchev now proposes that all military aircraft and all missiles shall be totally abolished without delay.
Surely it is the overwhelming interest of the British people to snatch at any chance of getting that done. But I find no reference to missiles in the Foreign Secretary's speech until his third stage; and who knows how many years that will be from now? He says that at the third stage there would be a ban on the use of outer space for military purposes. What does that mean? Supersonic bombers do not use outer space. There are many missiles that do not use it either, such as the Corporal, the Honest John, the Matador and the Snark. Why not try to stop this deadly race, not at the third stage, but as soon as it can possibly be done? There is no problem of control with missiles. Even the smallest anti-aircraft missile weighs a ton. Its manufacture in the 513 workshop could not possibly be concealed from United Nations' inspectors, nor its testing, nor the training of troops in its use.
My third point is vital. I believe that we shall get no disarmament unless the present nuclear Powers agree, and agree quickly, to the total abolition of all atomic and hydrogen bombs and of all their present stocks. It was on this, above all else, that the United Nations Sub-Committee reached deadlock in 1957. Unless the nuclear Powers can so agree, there may within five or ten years from now, as my hon. Friend so eloquently said, be a dozen nuclear Powers with atomic stockpiles of their own.
Did the Government read what M. Joxe said the other day, on behalf of the French Prime Minister? He repeated precisely what our Prime Minister said about our H-bomb in 1957, "If others have it, we must have it, too". So it will be with China and then, no doubt, with Japan, India, Germany and Pakistan, and many more.
What did the Foreign Secretary say in the General Assembly about this vital question of nuclear stocks? At the second stage of his plan, there would be some transfers of fissile material from weapon stocks to peaceful use. Of course, that has got to happen, but we know what difficulties it led to in 1957, when the abolition of stocks was not the accepted aim.
Then, under the right hon. and learned Gentleman's plan, at the third stage "there should be a re-examination of the possibility of controlling, and then eliminating, the remaining stocks of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction." Why, in heaven's name, at the third stage? If abolition needs a re-examination, why not start it now? But I am afraid that this whole approach is misconceived. If the Government will not agree on abolition until they have a geiger counter which will detect a secret nuclear stock that is screened with lead and concrete, they may wait for decades, as Mr. Stassen said, or they may wait for ever. Is there nothing we can do but keep our nuclear stocks and watch the numbers of the nuclear Powers increase from year to year? Of course there is. 514 We could abolish the means of delivery, the military aircraft and the missiles without which the nuclear weapons cannot be used. We could abolish the sea, land and air forces without which no Government could embark upon aggressive war. These are the real safeguards, far better and far more certain than any geiger counter. They would remove the whole temptation to keep a secret nuclear stock. The risk involved would be incomparably less than the risk of allowing the nuclear arms race to go on. It is precisely these measures that Mr. Khrushchev has proposed.
Modern armaments represent a mortal danger for all the peoples. As the Political Committee of the Assembly said in its resolution yesterday, the question of general and complete disarmament is the most important one, as it is the most urgent, facing the world today. As the new commission of ten assembles in Geneva, the nations will be watching and waiting, as they watched and waited while the Disarmament Conference laboured in Geneva, thirty years ago. The greatest opportunity in history was wasted then. After six years of devastating war and fifteen years of agonising peace, another chance has come. We beg the Government, in fervent supplication, not to let it fail.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo)
We have had an immensely interesting debate, ranging over a wide number of subjects, and instead of making a set speech I should like to do my best to answer some of the points which have been made.
We have had some powerful speeches from both sides. One could still see signs of the hustings in the vigorous speeches made. I was rather sorry to hear the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) make such a violent attack on my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary. We are used to hearing a very good and useful contribution from him, but on this occasion I think that his speech was marred by the attack on my right hon. and learned Friend. I do not think that he will lose very much sleep from the attack.
On the whole, the speeches have been constructive, and I should like to give 515 the House an undertaking that if I am not able to mention them all they will be studied with the greatest possible care. I listened with the closest attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). If I may say so, it was a Cassandra-like speech. He went all round the world making mischief and prophesying woe. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He did it quite cleverly, and, in parts, with great charm. None the less, it was a prophecy of woe and disaster.
I will give the House some examples so that it can judge whether or not I am being unfair. The hon. Gentleman talked about the dangers of a Summit Conference. Indeed, there are dangers, but as my hon. Friend the Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) said, it was really the party opposite which has been putting forward for so long the view that the answer to every problem lies in a Summit meeting. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes, indeed. The sooner it happens the better, and it did not matter according to some of their speeches whether any preparation was made in advance or not.
Now the hon. Gentleman suddenly professes to have become acutely aware of all its dangers. He talked about the dangers of an interim settlement on Berlin. Yet the impression which his right hon. Friends and he sought to give after their return from Moscow was that if they had been in charge of affairs an interim agreement would have been made immediately obtainable. He grossly exaggerated the ease with which countries could become nuclear military powers. He talked about the division between China and the Soviet Union and between Poland and the Soviet Union, neither very wise topics for a Western spokesman, and division between the nuclear countries and the Continental Powers. He alleged that the United States was mediating between Britain and Continental Europe and, when challenged by my right hon. and learned Friend to give examples, he produced the ridiculous answer that they were mediating for the Summit. He knows perfectly well that they were certainly not mediating for the Summit.
On the question of better relations with Europe, the last thing that we on this 516 side of the House are is complacent. My right hon. and learned Friend has talked about the importance of recreating confidence. The worst way to recreate confidence is to talk about disengagement. The hon. Member knows very well that it is anathema to our European Allies, particularly to France and Germany. He knows quite well that Her Majesty's Government have never favoured disengagement. We do not believe in a grey intermediate area in the centre of Europe which might add to insecurity.
Our criteria for any agreement in Europe are that the forces of military security must not be changed to our disadvantage, N.A.T.O. must be maintained, and nothing should be done inconsistent with the continued presence of United States forces in Europe.
§ Mr. Profumo
I am glad that we agree on that, but it did not appear to be so. At any rate, the hon. Gentleman asked me to make more clear the policy of Her Majesty's Government. In consequence, there were put forward in 1957, with the agreement of all the N.A.T.O. Powers, plans for anti-surprise attack measures, which included zones of inspection. In agreement with our Allies, we put forward the plan at Geneva in May for the establishment of a comprehensive security system. That plan provided for zones in which armaments would be limited after progress had been made towards a settlement in Europe. The hon. Gentleman may not agree with the Government's policy, but what he did today was particularly mischief-making. His own party's insistence on disengagement is the last way to win or, indeed, to keep the confidence of our Allies in Europe. I really believe he knows that, if he will think it over.
I should like to say a word or two more about our relations with Europe since so many hon. Members have spoken of that. My noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lamb-ton) made a very interesting speech on this subject, and an interesting evaluation was made by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), and a thoughtful speech by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) and many others.
The movement towards European unity is not a new problem. In the past 517 the Government have stated on many occasions that they welcomed this movement, and I say so again tonight most emphatically and earnestly. But it is pointless to deny that it is a movement which causes the United Kingdom particularly difficult problems because of its relationship with the Commonwealth, which had been established long before the movement towards European unification itself developed. The Government have always recognised that the economic division of Europe would lead to political division, and it was because they consider that the United Kingdom is an integral part of Europe that they thought that an urgent solution was necessary to the economic problems posed by the creation of the European Economic Community.
It was to bridge this economic gap that the idea of the Free Trade Area was put forward. Negotiations for a Free Trade Area came to nothing. It is much to be hoped that, after a similar Free Trade Association between what I may perhaps now call the Stockholm Powers has come into being, it will be possible to put an end to the division of Europe. If it does not, the fault will certainly not be that of the Government. There is, however, no magic, no easy solution. If there were it would have been found long ago.
It is true that suspicions of the Government's policy do exist on the Continent of Europe. These suspicions are totally unfounded, and it is precisely to explain the Government's motives and to create a feeling of mutual trust and confidence that my right hon. and learned Friend is now about to embark on a series of consultations with European leaders. It is too early to say precisely what may emerge from those discussions, but it can be said here and now with the greatest emphasis and sincerity that the policy of the Government in respect of Europe is to work with the greatest good will for a long-term economic or political solution which is acceptable to all our partners in Europe.
Such a solution is necessarily not only in the interests of the United Kingdom but in that of Europe and of the whole of the Atlantic Community which it is the Government's constant desire to strengthen and develop, and, as men- 518 tioned in the Gracious Speech, the Government believe it is in the wider interests of the Commonwealth as well. In the meantime, the Government are willing to examine sympathetically any proposals for practical co-operation or more effective political organisation in Europe which would permit the concrete expression of their desire to contribute to the movement towards closer unity.
There were many speeches by hon. Members tonight, and in particular by my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Head) about the underdeveloped territories. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), who wound up, laid great stress on this, and I was pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, South (Sir H. d'Avigdor-Goldsmid) supported my right hon. Friend. I should like to say something about this.
I should like the House to note that the Gracious Speech mentioned this problem, and the fact that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also made it a subject of his speech shows with what importance the Government view this matter. I think I had better deal principally with the financial side, although I realise well that all the wider aspects of this problem have been raised in the debate today.
However, most hon. Members have agreed that at the bottom of this problem is the question of the financial contribution. The struggle for men's minds, as it is called, is co-ordinated in Her Majesty's Government by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. I think I should just say that this appointment by the present Government was made with the idea that there should be somebody at Cabinet level to co-ordinate this matter; it is a novel outlook, and that in itself shows the importance which the present Prime Minister attaches to this problem.
I agree that the problem of development of the less developed countries must be looked at as a whole, but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) said, surely the first claim on United Kingdom resources is to provide help for the dependent territories within the Commonwealth itself, for which we obviously must have special responsibility. Our resources, of course, are not unlimited. 519 Listening to some hon. Members talk about this, one would think that it was possible to invest a deficit. When this Government came into office we had a deficit left by the hon. Members opposite when they were in office.
We have managed to make great progress and great headway. We have already done a great deal in the past and we have been ready to extend help to non-Commonwealth countries. For instance, we are doing so in Libya and Jordan in special circumstances, and we are prepared to try to expand our help wherever we can; but I think it right that, after the dependent territories, the independent Commonwealth should, in general, be given priority, and I think no one would challenge the importance of India's partnership with us in the free world. There we are making a tremendous contribution.
In the sphere of multilateral assistance, we continue to support the International Bank and the United Nations technical assistance schemes, which extend help to all member countries. The same is true of the proposed International Development Association, which we support. I want to assure my right hon. and gallant Friend that in all this we in the United Kingdom are not just relying on the normal processes of Government machinery. Very special arrangements have been and are being made to ensure that there is the most thorough co-ordination between the Government Departments concerned in dealing with these vital questions. I sensed that he was, rightly, nervous that these matters were being dealt with by different Government Departments. But there is a master plan. All this has been geared to the recently increased rate of Government expenditure on economic and technical assistance to overseas territories. In these, as indeed in all the present problems in the foreign field, we are keeping in the closest contact with the United States and other Governments.
§ Mr. Profumo
It would depend on whether it was a matter of the investment 520 of money, a matter of teachers or whatever it happened to be. If it was a matter of teachers in the technical schools, it would be my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy. If it was a question about investment in underdeveloped countries and it was a foreign country, my right hon. and gallant Friend should address his inquiry to my Department. If it concerned a Colonial Territory, it would be the Colonial Office, and if it concerned a Commonwealth country it would be the Commonwealth Relations Office. [Interruption.] My right hon. and gallant Friend asked me to whom he should direct a question, and that is the answer. I am trying to tell him that, although there must be different Departments concerned in the different spheres, there is the closest coordination between Departments on what I might call the master plan. I can give my right hon. and gallant Friend that assurance.
The decision to double the resources of the International Bank was an example of the results which flow from the contacts about which I have been talking. The combined measures which we have taken to help India finance her development plans is another. The current examination of the executive directors of the International Bank and the United States suggestion for an International Development Association is a third.
As for the point about education and foreign students, here we find there is another division of responsibility; but I should like to tell the House that we have in this country at the moment some 42,000 overseas students. This is a very impressive figure, and I am not sure that any country in the world can produce as good a one. Naturally, this throws a major strain on the universities and the technical training schools in this country. We should like to do more, but progress must necessarily be related to the development of our higher training institutions as a whole. There is one further consideration which I should like to emphasise. We need not only to carry with us the United States and our other Allies, but we need the cooperation of the developing countries themselves. We cannot force assistance on them. 521 As to the point about Soviet activity—and this was stressed by many hon. Members—it is important not to exaggerate the extent of Soviet bloc aid to under-developed countries. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who has given me notice that he was not able to be here for the rest of the evening, I think would agree if I try to make some comparison so that we can put this on the record. I would say that the right hon. Gentleman made a very fine eve of the poll speech, and I think I owe it to him to try to show him some of his fears are not as grounded as he thought they were.
In fact, in comparison with an annual amount of free world aid, including private investment, of the order of £1,430 million, up to the end of 1958 the total Soviet bloc aid, exclusive of arms and supplies, was only some £575 million, of which not more than a quarter had at the time been spent. In other words, up to the beginning of this year, all the Soviet aid put together was considerably less than half the yearly contribution of the free world to the welfare of the under-developed countries.
The right hon. Member for Belper made great play in his speech about how the party opposite have given a guarantee and an undertaking that they would invest 1 per cent. of the national income in the under-developed countries, and he went so far as to say that this may even have been partially responsible for their losing the election. They made this promise to the nation, realising that other things would have to suffer. Of course, they did not. None of us can forget what they did. They tried to get the benefit of both worlds by saying they would invest 1 per cent. of the national income in the under-developed countries, cut down taxation, and do this, that and the other. They wanted to tell the country that they would do a little bit of everything better than we did.
The right hon. Gentleman went further to say that we did nothing, and he castigated my right hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton for having changed his mind and for getting up in the House and making a great speech on those things which were necessary, while he and his party had done nothing about it by the time of the election. I do not 522 want to have to go through all the election addresses and manifestos again.
I do tell him, however, that he is wrong and must not mislead the House, because there is a long passage in the manifesto headed "Our Duty Overseas". One reason why we won the election was that people thought that we would do our duty more than the party opposite. It is all very well for the party opposite to talk of investing one per cent. of the national income in underdeveloped countries, but we are doing just that ourselves, and, in fact, a little more. It is a very remarkable achievement, considering the state of this country when we took office.
I want to get back to the main argument. Of course, the Government thoroughly agree that this is an immensely important problem.
§ Mr. Harold Lever (Manchester, Cheetham)
Do I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that the Government and the country as a whole are at present investing, or giving, or both together, one per cent. of our national income?
§ Mr. Profumo
The hon. Gentleman understands me perfectly correctly. Indeed, the hon. Member perfectly understood me, and I am being a little modest, because we are doing better than that now.
§ Mr. Healey
Is it not the case, and is not the Minister of State aware, that this overseas investment is mainly going to countries like Australia, Canada and so on? Is it not also the case that the Conservative Party included in its election documents, to which the Foreign Secretary almost gave the status of state papers in the discussion on another problem earlier, the statement that the Labour Party was proposing to spend twice as much as the Conservative Party on the under-developed areas?
§ Mr. Profumo
The answer is that we are doing it fifty-fifty. I quite understand that hon. Gentlemen opposite are a little bit touchy about it, and I apologise for having to rub it in, but we must get the record clear.
This needs more than a warm heart. We can all say that we are going to do a great deal, but it needs more than that. What it needs mostly is a sound economy here at home. With a wise 523 and sound economic policy here at home, the Government hope that we shall be able to play a noble part in what perhaps is the greatest venture, indeed, I would say crusade, of the whole of the twentieth century.
I must now pass to various other points which have been raised in the debate. One of them was the question of Laos. My right hon. and learned Friend devoted part of his speech to talking about the situation there, but the hon. Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies) suggested that in regard to the Laotian problem we should co-operate with the Russians in agreeing to their proposals for reconvening the International Commission in Laos and for a new Geneva Conference.
As regards the first point, my right hon. and learned Friend explained earlier that the Laotian Government is opposed to the return of the International Commission. Laos is a free and independent country and we cannot seek to force the Commission on them. We stick solidly to that. As regards the second point, we have already explained to the Soviet Government, in a Note we sent to them on 21st September, that the Security Council of the United Nations is seized of the question and that it has established a sub-committee to make inquiries and to report to it; and that once the report has been received the Security Council will no doubt consider any proposals which may be put forward. I do not think it would be desirable for me at the moment to anticipate the line we shall take at that stage, but as this is the situation, Her Majesty's Government is confident that we want to follow the line of bringing the United Nations into the problem.
§ Mr. Harold Davies
It is a delicate situation and one does not want to say anything that may bring about a disastrous one. Am I to understand from the considered reply, however, that the position of the Government now is that they will wait for the report from the United Nations—I would add that the Commissioner who was there for a few days is to report as well, and this was not mentioned tonight—and that when the report comes, which I hope the House will have an opportunity of seeing, the Government will come to the House and give 524 their considered decision as co-chairman on whether or not they will support the calling of a Geneva Conference? May I have a reply on that one point, please?
§ Mr. Profumo
When we have had time to study the reports, certainly Her Majesty's Government will come to the House and state its position. I hope that satisfies the hon. Gentleman?
§ Mr. Davies indicated assent.
§ Mr. Profumo
The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the Chinese representation in the United Nations, and this point was made with some force by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South. It was suggested by the hon. Gentleman that a settlement of the Tibetan problem, and, indeed, that of Laos and others, would be much simpler to achieve if China were a member of the United Nations. That may or may not be so, but the fact is that whatever we might say or do, there would be such a split in the United Nations over the question of its admission that it might do the organisation irreparable harm. This is a consideration which no responsible Government could possibly ignore.
§ Mr. Profumo
Both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby, South and the hon. Member for Leeds, East criticised our support of Turkey in the Security Council elections. I make no apology for that. Turkey is a strong and loyal ally of ours with a very balanced and stabilising contribution to make. Of course, we would have liked to support Poland. Indeed, we supported Poland's candidature for the Economic and Social Council earlier this year. There is nothing derogatory to Poland in this. The trouble is really not our fault at all. To our mind, it is quite clear that, with a United Nations consisting of more than 80 members, the number of the non-permanent elected members to the Security Council should be increased. It is now only six out of 77. That seems to us to be far too few. But it is the Soviet bloc that is opposing any increase in membership of the Council.
A great deal has been said about disarmament. The hon. Member for Leek made a powerful speech in favour of 525 disarmament, and the right hon. Member for Derby, South went through my right hon. and learned Friend's speech at the United Nations and spoke at some length. The proposals for comprehensive disarmament which my right hon. and learned Friend outlined—and I say "outlined" because they were merely outlined to the United Nations on 17th September—have been well received by the United Nations, including countries in the Soviet bloc. Since this debate began it has been reported from New York that a draft resolution, sponsored by all the 82 members, has been introduced by Mr. Cabot Lodge, supported in statements made by Soviet delegates, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, and by M. Moch.
That Resolution has the effect of recommending that my right hon. and learned Friend's proposals on disarmament, together with those of Mr. Khrushchev and others, should be considered in the small ten-Power Commission which well be meeting early in the new year. This is a great achievement. The whole block of 82 countries have unanimously acclaimed not only the suggestions of Mr. Khrushchev but also those of my right hon. and learned Friend, and have resolved that they should be referred to this Committee. We think that this is the right course and the right procedure.
§ Mr. Profumo
I have taken note of what the right hon. Gentleman said about the procedure and machinery in that Committee, but I want to take him up on one of his remarks. He said that he was disappointed by the reception given by Members of Her Majesty's Government to Mr. Khrushchev's plan. Indeed, the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), who spoke very interestingly, as usual, said that he was very disappointed that more was not made of this during the General Election campaign. I am disappointed at the reception which the plan put forward by Her Majesty's Government and my right hon. and learned Friend has received from hon. Members opposite.
After my right hon. and learned Friend had spoken, representative after representative in the United Nations spoke in 526 favour of his plan, with great strength. I think I am correct in saying that about 20 countries praised the plan put forward by the United Kingdom, among whom were countries from the Soviet bloc, and one country which is to be a member of the ten-Power Commission. I do not believe that countries in the Soviet bloc do this sort of thing without prior consultation. We can therefore take it that there was a very considerable welcome for the plan put forward by my right hon and learned Friend. The only people who seem to think that Britain has nothing to offer are the right hon. Member for Derby, South and other hon. Members opposite.
I am getting sick and tired of finding situations in the field of foreign affairs where we should be trying to speak nationally where speaker after speaker from the benches opposite denigrates what is put forward on the platform of Britain and on behalf of Britain. It appears that they would support almost anything else. When the right hon. Member for Derby, South made his speech it caused me to come to the conclusion that he had not read the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend. Many of the things that he was criticising are dealt with in the plan. My right hon. and learned Friend made it quite plain in his speech in the House that this was an outline plan—something for discussion. I would have thought that the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues would have welcomed it, but there was hardly a cheep out of them about it during the Election campaign.
We read in the newspapers that the party opposite is to have a great post mortem on why it lost the election. May I, with the greatest respect, suggest that among the things they should study may well be the fact that perhaps the British public did not take too kindly to the fact that everything British is always run down by hon. Members opposite?
§ Mr. Profumo
Nobody looking back to the beginning of this year could fail to recognise that there has been a certain relaxation of tension—a slight but still a definite relaxation of tension—in the international climate. I think it not immodest to say that that relaxation, that improvement, owes its origin in no small measure to the energy and 527 enterprise of Her Majesty's Government who were not afraid to take the initiative in the cause of peace, despite scepticism in some quarters and disapproval in others.
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire gave considerable praise to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for creating better relations, and I agree with the hon. Gentleman. For their energy and initiative, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary earned the respect and admiration of the whole world. I believe that everyone in the House, and, indeed, in the whole country, desires that initiative to be maintained and further developed in the critical months and perhaps even years of patient negotiation which are bound to lie ahead of us. This is a task which will require the utmost in patience, resolution, energy and diplomacy. It is also a task which, surely, transcends questions of party advantage, and I trust that we may be sustained in it by the constructive support and understanding of all men of good will.
§ Motion made, and Question put, That the debate be now adjourned.—[Mr. Bryan.]
§ The House proceeded to a Division:—
§ Mr. BRYAN and Mr. WHITELAW were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, Mr. SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.