§ 3.32 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
Before entering upon the main subject of this debate, I might perhaps be allowed to say that I am sure the whole House will have noted with pleasure the decision of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to withdraw his Motion.
Ten days ago, I gave the House a general report of the events which led to the abandonment of the long-awaited Summit Meeting in Paris. On the same day, there was published a White Paper containing a brief narrative, the texts of the statements made by the Heads of Government at the preliminary meeting, and, in addition, the formal letters interchanged between them. During the last few days, the whole story has been widely discussed and debated in oral and written comment in every country in the world. I think, therefore, that the historians will find ample material for their future study and disagreement.
Apart from one or two comments which I ought to make on particular points, I propose to concentrate what I have to say, not on the past, but on the future. I believe that this will accord with the mood of the House and of the country. I see little value, except the intrinsic interest in any unsolved problem, in speculations as to the motives which may have influenced Mr. Khrushchev to act as he did. Some say that he was influenced by China. Others say that it was a matter of personal pique or anger. Some say that it was a matter of Soviet internal politics. It has been argued, also, that the incident of the U2 aircraft was the true, and perhaps the sole, cause of the breakdown. Whatever may have been the state of Soviet knowledge or suspicion about these flights before the incident of 1st May, I quite understand that the incident itself was bound to be regarded seriously by the Soviet authorities. Nevertheless, one may, perhaps, permit oneself the reflection that there is no country in the world where an incident 1000 of this kind could have been more easily played down, if not completely concealed. On the contrary, it was played up and magnified by all the means of publicity and propaganda.
During the preliminary session of the Conference, after the speeches of Mr. Khrushchev and President Eisenhower, I ventured to observe that all, or nearly all, intelligence—or, if one likes to call it so, espionage—is in a sense an infringement of national sovereignty. In this connection, Mr. Khrushchev had previously declared that his hands were clean and his heart was pure. I must honestly say that this is a very high claim to make: a high claim for the Head of any great Power to make today about intelligence which, in the unhappy state of the modern world, is regarded as necessary to preserve national safety. It has been argued, also, that President Eisenhower might have made his declaration that the flights would be discontinued a few days earlier. I think that that is a matter more of tactics than of substance.
Amid all this doubt and uncertainty, I am at least sure of this, that had the will been there, a path might have been cleared through this preliminary obstacle, either by multilateral or by separate negotiation, so that we could have started on our work.
However, all this examination of the causes of failure and attempts to peer into motives seems to me to be rather idle. Here we are, and the question we have to ask ourselves is, Where do we go from here? We have to give the answer in a spirit neither of despair nor of cynicism. Above all, we must not let basic policy become influenced by the day-to-day turns and twists in the battle of words. We must follow a consistent path and not lurch desperately from side to side, following now one policy and now another.
I must admit that Mr. Khrushchev's speech in Paris deeply shocked those from the West who heard it. A day or two later, he made a speech in Berlin which seemed much more moderate, at any rate in substance. This has been followed by another speech in Moscow. We must, of course, take note of what is said objectively and dispassionately, but let us not go back to the old days, which some of us remember only too well, of 1001 waiting week by week for the pronouncements of a foreign statesman and then attuning our policies to their changing emphasis.
Naturally, I am gratified that the British people reacted to the situation with their usual common sense. They have been disappointed but not unduly alarmed. Some of the weaker brethren seem to be rallying to a more realistic conception of their duty than has recently been fashionable in certain quarters. This is, perhaps, an unexpected but certainly not an unhealthy development. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will, I trust, forgive me for observing that he appears to be almost the sole beneficiary of Mr. Khrushchev's policy, and, if I have some hesitations and qualms as a partisan, I rejoice as a patriot. In our system, the more the foreign and defence policy of the Government of the day can rest upon general support, the stronger will be the position of the nation.
President Eisenhower, President de Gaulle and I were able, fortunately, to use the days immediately following the collapse of the Conference for informal but serious discussion. We felt that, in our own countries and among the other peoples of the free world, the disappointment which must follow this setback would, nevertheless, bring about a new sense of the need for strengthening their unity and their common purpose. This spirit has been reflected by the many messages which I have received from Commonwealth Prime Ministers. It is clearly the reaction of the N.A.T.O. alliance and of the other alliances.
I have already referred to certain reactions which have taken place, as a result of recent events, in our own country. I will, therefore, not go into great detail today. No doubt we shall have debates in this House as to the effect on the military aspects of our policy. There is naturally much discussion of the problem of the nuclear deterrent power of the West. Many varying proposals are always being made as to how responsibility for its control might be held in the future. But I would plead that we should not confuse ourselves with words or take refuge in phrases. Still less ought we to use some of these concepts as mere political conveniences. We are here dealing with something 1002 much more fundamental than the adjustment of groups or parties. We are dealing with the safety of the world.
Let me start with the facts. The deterrent power of the Western world today consists of American and British bomber forces. The time may come—it certainly has not yet come—when the bomber may be partially, perhaps even completely, displaced by the rocket. However, the life of the bomber may well be maintained longer than we think by the various devices calculated to make it less vulnerable to anti-aircraft defence. Even in the further future, it is because the bomber counter-attack against aggression can be made from so many different quarters that it remains so formidable. At this moment, and in the years which lie immediately ahead, the British contribution is a very important, indeed vital, element both because of its strength and because of its location. Our American friends know this and recognise it generously.
I have heard some talk of handing the deterrent over to N.A.T.O. What exactly does this mean? As I have said, the deterrent consists of bomber forces, whether British or American. Under the United States law, the control of their nuclear-armed aircraft cannot be handed over to anyone. Our agreement with the United States precludes us from giving to other countries knowledge which we have obtained through our co-operation with the Americans, without their agreement. It can be argued that the expense and effort of producing weapons other than their warheads may be shared within N.A.T.O. But it is the warheads which give the control. All these things must and will be studied, but I am thinking of things as they now stand and of the situation with which we are presently faced.
What is the real purpose that lies behind the plan to put the deterrent forces under N.A.T.O. control—I mean its true purpose? Is it to make the deterrent stronger or weaker? Is it fear that the British and Americans, who now own and control the deterrent, might be tempted to use it too rashly and, therefore, it should be subjected to the control of other N.A.T.O. countries? Is it some idea of taking it out of the hands of soldiers and putting it into the hands of civilian authorities? 1003 If the latter, I can assure the House that, under the British and American systems, control must and does rest with the elected Government.
If the deterrent is to deter, its immediate use in counter-attack against aggression must be credible to the potential aggressor. Without that, it is purposeless. Are we so sure that, with fifteen representatives, whether ambassadors or Ministers, in N.A.T.O. acting under the unanimity rule, the deterrent would continue to be credible? There might be one finger on the trigger, but there would be fifteen fingers on the safety catch. I hope, therefore, that we shall not be asked to discuss vague references to strengthening N.A.T.O. in this respect without considering exactly what this plan means and its effect upon the value of the deterrent.
Others propose that we in Britain should abandon the nuclear deterrent. They naturally hope that other countries will not enter the field that we are to abandon. Of course, they think that our lead may be followed by other countries. As for the latter, I cannot speak for the French Government, but I doubt whether, until there is some real progress in disarmament as regards nuclear weapons, the French Government would follow such a lead. We know that they would not.
What is the real purpose of the proposal that Britain should abandon the nuclear deterrent on which we have spent so much effort and great resources? Is it on moral grounds? I can understand those who are against any form of armaments, especially nuclear armaments and, like conscientious pacifists, would accept the consequences; but I cannot understand those who believe that the bomb is wicked for us but at the same time are ready to accept the protection which the American bomb affords. Nobody has more mercilessly denounced the hypocrisy of this attitude than the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition.
Is it on political grounds? But by a strange paradox, this proposal generally is made by those who are most anxious for us to increase our separate and independent influence in world policy and are most doubtful of our close friendship with America and most critical of American policy. Yet I cannot believe 1004 that our influence would be greater either upon American policy or world policy if we are forced, for any reason, to follow this course and abdicate our share in this common responsibility.
Is it on grounds of economy? That must be carefully studied. The burdens on our economy are very heavy. This must always cause anxiety. How strong is the economy argument? If we were to abandon the nuclear bomb, should we dismantle the bomber force? Not at all. The bombers are a necessary part of conventional defensive armaments. But it is said that we will build up with the money saved larger and more effective conventional forces. That is much argued. I think that there is something in this, but I must observe that if we are to have more men—in other words, if we are to abandon the plan of modest regular Forces on which we are now working—we shall have to find a method of recruiting more men, either voluntarily or compulsorily, for these larger armies.
Expensive as the weapons are, the men are more expensive. Let us consider the Defence Estimates for 1960–61. It is estimated that we shall spend £1,618 million. Of this, £1,450 million, or 90 per cent., already goes on conventional forces. Moreover, we must face the fact, whether we like it or not, that, apart from the strategic nuclear, the tactical nuclear has now come into being, even in N.A.T.O. We supply a large part of the tactical bomber force. We also use short-range rockets which are in the nature of high-powered artillery. Are these to be accounted conventional or non-conventional? I do not think that the purely economic argument for the abandonment of a contribution to the nuclear deterrent is at present sound.
We do take all these things into account. Our policies must be adapted and modified, but we must not rush from one extreme to another. Oppositions are right to discuss and debate what their policies might be if they were entrusted with power, even if that possibility may seem reasonably remote, but Governments have to take things as they are. They have to deal with facts. I am persuaded that, broadly speaking, in the field of defence we should continue calmly and with determination on the general lines that we are now pursuing. 1005 As I have said, after the failure of the Summit Meeting we had some Western discussions about the future, including economic problems. I had just come from the Commonwealth Conference, in which economic questions played a most important part, for, in our Commonwealth comradeship, we see reflected, in a way, the pattern of the whole world. We have less developed countries, and then we have others which have reached a high standard of production and industrialisation and which seek to improve all the time their own wealth and strength, for their own purposes and in order to do their duty to their less industrialised fellow members.
Looking at the world as a whole, I think that there is a general desire, whether through G.A.T.T., or by any other means, to maximise world trade and not to restrict it. Above all—and this the Foreign Secretary and I discussed frankly with our French colleagues, President de Gaulle, Prime Minister Debré and Mr. Couve de Murville—we all recognised the need to increase our efforts, in an understanding and constructive spirit, to see how the strength of Western Europe —or what remains of it—can be increased and not weakened by the economic developments taking place.
Hon. Members will have seen the recent approach made by the Six to the Seven, and the spirit in which the Seven have responded. These negotiations will not be easy—not because of any but because of the intricacy of the problem, affecting as it does not merely the thirteen nations concerned but their relations with other countries. It would be wrong, therefore, to suppose that this problem can be readily resolved.
The United Kingdom certainly could not contribute to a solution by adopting sudden and unexpected changes of course, or by abandoning old or new friends. We have our Commonwealth trading connections, which are based on long traditions—I might almost say emotions. We have recently entered—by formal agreement, signed and ratified—the European Free Trade Association. With this body, and in full consultation with the Commonwealth, we shall enter into these new discussions. I believe that these developments would have taken place in any event, but I feel that they have been made more urgent and perhaps less difficult as 1006 a result of the failure of the Summit Conference.
In my report to the House ten days ago, I posed the question whether we should regard the collapse of the Summit as an isolated episode or as an indication of a deliberate change in Russian policy. I said then that I did not know. To be frank, I still do not know; I do not think anybody really knows. Perhaps even the Russians do not know. Nevertheless, the consequences for the Western nations, whether in the political, military or economic field, do not seem to me to demand any radical change on either interpretation. We need all the time to examine our political efforts in order to bring them closer and closer in tune.
The need far economic unity in Europe is just as great; the need for maintaining our military strength is just as vital. For, after all, at this first Summit Meeting we had never hoped to bring about a full solution of the problems which divide the world. What we hoped to do was to take a first step on the road. Therefore, we must nerve ourselves to greater efforts as a result of what has happened. But we do not need to contemplate any radical change in the broad policies which we are pursuing; on the contrary, we should regard this setback as a stimulus to urge us forward with greater determination.
As I said, I had not hoped for anything very fundamental at the first Summit Meeting. I told the House so before I went. I had hoped, above all, of course, for the settlement, during this period when the statesmen concerned were gathered together, of some of the major outstanding points of the nuclear test negotiations; I had hoped for some agreement among us all on certain principles to govern more detailed disarmament discussions, and I had hoped for some accommodation on Berlin. But even if we had achieved these objectives we could not have lowered our guard, disbanded our alliances, weakened our military contributions, or thought the economic co-operation of the different groups in Europe and the world any less necessary. We must equally be ready to treat the whole melancholy story as an episode, and be ready "when the dust settles"—to use Mr. Khrushchev's own words—to believe that 1007 the general policy of the détente will again be acceptable to the Soviet Government.
I have said that we must be realists and face the dangers which lie ahead. But we must not lose faith in our own policies because of a single setback. Preparedness is not inconsistent with the détente, by which I mean the policy of genuine co-existence—the policy of trying to remove, one by one, the causes of friction and suspicion between the two sides. This policy seems to me as right now as it was before. At any rate, so long as I have anything to do with the conduct of affairs, I intend to pursue it.
I am fortified in this not only by my own feeling and what I believe to be the feeling of my fellow countrymen, but by the full support which was shown by the Heads of the American and French States. President de Gaulle, who presided with great dignity and skill over a most painful series of meetings and discussions, never wavered from this approach, and President Eisenhower, who has been so fine and staunch a support of this policy, repeated and reaffirmed his faith in his broadcast a day or two ago. Moreover, after the rather trying hours of that Tuesday, we decided that night to issue a declaration of which I think all our countries can be proud, both as regards its tone and substance at that time. I would like to quote it again. The Heads of Government said that they remained unshaken in their conviction thatall outstanding international questions should be settled not by the use or threat of force but by peaceful means through negotiation.They added these important words:… they remained ready "—that is, the three Heads of Government concerned—to take part in such negotiations at any suitable time in the future.I think that, in the situation in which we found ourselves, this statement was a good statement, and that it represents exactly the spirit in which we should face the months and years which lie ahead of us.
As regards the immediate future, let me first deal with the negotiations happily still continuing. In my statement on 20th May, I referred to the two conferences at Geneva, the Nuclear Tests 1008 and Disarmament Conferences. I said then that it was our hope that it would have been possible at the Summit to bring the Nuclear Tests Conference near to agreement and also to help the Disarmament Conference to make real progress. We certainly intend, so far as we are able, to see that both these conferences continue their work.
In fact, the Nuclear Tests Conference has resumed its main meetings while a sub-committee of experts has been considering a co- ordinated seismic research programme between the three countries concerned for the detection of underground tests. These experts have made good progress so far and I am still hopeful that this conference will succeed, and that the issues which we hoped to settle at the Summit will be settled at this conference.
As for the Disarmament Conference, the West has been accused of procrastination. I must say that I am disappointed at the lack of progress, but the blame for this does not really lie with the West. Bearing in mind the past history of disarmament and the complexity of the subject, we must not be impatient. Even before the events in Paris, we did not expect a quick solution of this great problem, but we shall continue to do our utmost to get the conference to discuss practical issues and to take constructive action. We shall certainly not allow ourselves to be discouraged or diverted from the aims which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary put before the United Nations last September.
In addition, I should like to say a word about some wider questions. There has been a good deal of discussion lately, and quite naturally, about the wisdom or otherwise of modern diplomatic methods. It is said that all the peregrination of Ministers, more especially these meetings of Heads of Government, is a development to be deplored. I can quite understand that view. It may well be that in the rather different conditions of the past we were right to use the older methods, but we really cannot escape from the present; we cannot ignore the facts of life.
After all, it is only a very few years ago when any of us in this House could excuse ourselves from an engagement in a distant part of this country because of the time that it would take to get 1009 there and back again. Now we are asked to go 4,000 or 5,000 miles to a conference, and everyone knows that one can get there as quickly as one can on the night train to Glasgow. This development, therefore, seems to me inevitable. It has it merits as well as its disadvantages.
In the various meetings of Parliamentarians, which in the old world would have been quite impossible, whether in the Commonwealth or in Europe, great friendships have been made which are of value. Equally, in the ranks of Ministers and ex-Ministers there are now in many countries men who have worked together and who retain from that experience a sense of comradeship and loyalty. Certainly this method of meetings of Heads of Government is not to be followed for its own sake, but there has been, and we all know it, a general acceptance of the view that, in addition to what can be done by diplomats and Foreign Ministers, there may be circumstances in which conclusions cannot be reached, especially when dealing with the Soviet Government, except by the Heads of Government themselves.
The idea of the Summit was a response to this real need as well as to something like a spontaneous demand of ordinary people all over the world. It is quite true that this Summit Conference can be said to have broken down. All I can plead in mitigation is that it never even started. However, what we must do is utilise all the means available, diplomatic, ministerial and any other, and be ready, in the terms of the Communique, for negotiation "at any suitable time" by future meetings of Heads of Government. In spite of what has happened, I do not think that we should lose heart, for, after all, the policy of détente, to use the accepted phrase, is clearly in the interests of the Western world.
The struggle on its material side is, of course, a struggle of military and economic power. But it is also a struggle for the minds of men. Sometimes I think that we are not sufficiently conscious of the forces that are on our side. In this struggle the Soviet Union is in a sense at a disadvantage. Because of the nature of the closed society, its leaders seem hardly to attune themselves to the thoughts and feelings of the outside 1010 world. That is perhaps why Mr. Khrushchev's Press conference in Paris had an effect so unexpected by him. It seemed out of date both in manner and in substance.
I cannot help feeling that the changes which have taken place in Russia and the other Communist countries round Russia are not unimportant. If it be true that the Soviet Prime Minister did have to adapt his tactics as a result of a temporary incident, he is himself, nevertheless, the chief protagonist of the policy of greater approach between the two sides which succeeded the dark years of Stalin. I saw myself, when I was in Russia, a greater freedom of movement, discussion and argument than I expected. I realised how the common people had their hearts set on peace and prosperity. All this cannot fade in a day.
I was particularly struck in some of the recent Communist propaganda that I have read, including the speeches, by the falsity of the old chatter about imperialism, colonialism and capitalism; all the more so, perhaps, because I went to Paris immediately after the most heartening Commonwealth Conference I certainly have ever attended. What a contrast was this reality of a gathering of men from the five Continents, of seven Seas, of people of all races, creeds—
§ The Prime Minister
I will come to that. It is true that we had a discussion of great interest on the racial problem. This is a question which we did not shirk, but, although important, it by no means dominated all our thoughts and discussions to the exclusion of others. I certainly have never attended a meeting where there was so much manifest agreement on the great underlying issues which divide the world.
All the Prime Ministers present were conscious of a situation with its hopes and its dangers. Both Russia and China now bear upon the Commonwealth from different sides. I felt that we were more united in our general point of view than 1011 at any time since the end of the First World War. We recognised, as I say, the problems of racial organisation which confront us. But the intense interest in economic developments, the belief in freedom, the opposition to Communism, the faith—these were the constructive questions which preoccupied all the Prime Ministers. I certainly felt uplifted and fortified by this Conference before I set out for the abortive conference in Paris.
It can, of course, be argued, and no doubt is argued, by powerful forces in the Communist world that we are all moving to an inevitable final clash. After all, this is the orthodox Marxist doctrine. However, since Marx lived and wrote long before the coming of the nuclear age, perhaps even orthodox theorists will gradually attune their dogmas to the facts of modern life. All the same, one will, no doubt, hear this view held in Russia. We may, perhaps, hear people express it, too, in other countries. But to accept final disaster as inevitable seems to me contrary to the fundamentals of human nature. Certainly it is something which we can never accept.
If we believe in our point of view, if we believe in the kind of way we work and live together and debate and argue, sometimes with great strength and even bitterness but still remembering that we are one people and that, after all, however strongly opinions are expressed, perhaps they may be wrong; if we believe in give and take, and above all in the individual freedom which is the characteristic of Western society today; if we believe that, for all its weaknesses, the kind of social structure which we are developing, while it may have its material side, is able to bring out the latent spiritual and idealist strains in every soul; if we believe this, then the policy, not of weakness, not of surrender, not of depriving ourselves of the power which it is our duty to use and hold for peace, but the policy of trying to gain time, of reducing tension, of gradually getting the nations to know one another better, and of trading together, and reading one another's literature, enjoying one another's art, making more and more contacts—that must be the policy which it is night to follow.
1012 It seems to me, therefore, that the lesson is simple. We must not retire from the struggle, as the pacifists or defeatists would have us do.
§ The Prime Minister
We must not yield to pressure; nor, as some few, wild and irresponsible people might hope, should we provoke what is called a showdown. We must just labour on patiently and with faith.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
At the beginning of his speech the Prime Minister said that it would be a mistake to spend much time in this debate analysing the causes of the Summit collapse. He said that we should rather concentrate on the future. No doubt there is much to be said for that point of view, but I must say that I wish the Prime Minister had given us in the course of his speech some rather clearer ideas as to what policies in the future he thought we should pursue.
I thought it a very strange speech indeed on such an occasion. Part of it seemed to me to be devoted to almost any subject except the one we are supposed to be discussing today. He gave us some interesting reflections on defence—no doubt matters which can be discussed on another occasion. He talked about economic affairs, though without any great precision. He referred to the glories of the Commonwealth, though he omitted to say very much about certain racial problems which have been very much in the public eye. He expressed, in certain cases, certainly most admirable sentiments with which none of us could quarrel, but he did not seem to me to advance the debate very far.
I have no intention of spending too much time analysing and speculating on what happened the week before last. But when all is said and done, what happened is a new element in the international situation, and surely we must try at least to learn what lessons we can from it.
Of course, we cannot be sure exactly what causes lay behind it, and, of course, our conclusions are inevitably influenced by our general views of American and Soviet policies and how these policies are formed. There are, no doubt, some 1013 who believe that American policy was responsible for the breakdown at the Summit, even that there was deliberate wrecking of the Conference through the continuation of the U2 flights and in the statements made afterwards, as well as, incidentally, in Mr. Gates's alert. Others, on the other side, are convinced that Mr. Khrushchev decided even before the U2 episode that the Conference would lead nowhere and, therefore, that there was no purpose in proceeding with it.
For my part, I do not agree with either of these standpoints. It seems to me clear that the immediate decision to wreck the Conference was a Russian decision, but, as Mr. Adlai Stevenson said, the tools for the job were handed to the Russians by the American Government.
On 12th May, when we last discussed foreign affairs, immediately before the Summit, I said that I did not think that we should be too mealy-mouthed about espionage, and I added that it was inept and stupid of the Americans to allow flights like the U2 flight to take place just before the Summit. I expressed concern about statements which were subsequently made justifying these flights and implying that they would continue. I said that I thought they were quite clearly a violation of international law, and I pressed the Government to urge upon the American Government that they should not proceed with them. I pointed out that they were not like ordinary cases of espionage in that they clearly involved the danger of conflict arising from them, and that, in any event, they should not be undertaken without the consent of allies.
I hold that those criticisms are no less justified today than they were then. The flights, we are told, have now been stopped, but there are two questions which I should like to put to the Government and which I hope the Foreign Secretary will be able to answer. Can we be assured that the failure of the Summit has made no difference whatever to President Eisenhower's statement that he had given orders for the flights not to be resumed? He made that statement, of course, on the first day, on the Monday, of the Conference week. I do not think it has yet been made quite clear whether it holds good. I trust indeed that it does.
1014 Secondly, there have been protests from Norway and from Pakistan about the use of bases in their countries for these flights. I should like to ask the Government whether they will give us an assurance that no flights of this kind can take place from bases in Britain without the consent of the Government, and, further, that the Government would not give their consent for these flights. Whatever one may feel about the merits of the whole situation, the danger of surprise attack and the argument in favour of obtaining information, the plain fact is that it has now become much too dangerous to continue with these flights at all.
One further decision, possibly the worst misjudgment of all, was, I fear, made by President Eisenhower when he decided not to announce his decision to stop the flights until four days after the decision had been made. The Prime Minister described this as a matter of tactics. I hardly think it can be dismissed so easily, though, of course, I agree that one's view of its significance depends on what one thinks the situation on the other side, the Soviet side, really was.
I should like to say a word or two about that. It seems to me perfectly clear that at the beginning Mr. Khrushchev did not wish to make too much of the U2 episode. I do not think it good enough for the Prime Minister to say, "Well, after all, in a country like the Soviet Union the whole affair could easily have been suppressed." No doubt that is true, but we must surely see exactly what happened, and what happened was this, that to begin with Mr. Khrushchev played it soft. He went out of his way to say that he did not imagine that President Eisenhower had anything to do with it. He went out of his way to be complimentary to the American ambassador. He said that in any event he thought the Summit Conference could continue.
Indeed, I would remind the House that on 12th May, when we had our debate, it was the general assumption of all of us, I think, that because of the way Mr. Khrushchev had handled the position the Summit Conference would continue. I myself said that it might possibly have stopped the Summit
1015 Conference but that this now seemed extremely unlikely. All the evidence, then, is that these successive statements which began as very mild affairs, and which admittedly became stronger and more hostile to the Americans, continued to indicate that they intended to go on with the Summit talks right up to the moment when Mr. Khrushchev arrived in Paris.
It is true that there is evidence that at the same time there was some opposition to his policy at home, that there was some kind of conflict between those who, like himself, wanted the Summit Conference to take place, and opposition members, so to speak, who did not share his opinion. But even on his arrival at Orly Airport on the Saturday, far from giving any sign that he thought this upset was going to wreck the Conference, Mr. Khrushchev went out of his way to reiterate what he had said so often before—that he hoped it would succeed. He expressed the hope that discussion at the Summit of such things as disarmament, Germany, and East-West relations would yield useful results. He promised that the Soviet Union would exert all its efforts to make the Conference a success. He expressed the view that the Summit must play a very important role in international affairs. He recalled that the four Heads of Government had got to know one another fairly well at previous meetings and he thought that this would help the Conference along.
This was a tremendously significant thing to say in view of what he afterwards said about President Eisenhower. It is completely inconsistent with and completely different from the line that he was taking forty-eight hours later. Therefore, it seems to me that there is little doubt that within these twenty-four or forty-eight hours, for some reason or another, Mr. Khrushchev changed his mind. We do not know why. It may well have been through internal pressures, but he changed it and put forward then what I agree were conditions unacceptable to the American Government. But all this suggests that the timing of President Eisenhower's announcement that the flights were to be stopped may in the light of history be seen to have been of immense significance.
1016 The Americans themselves are conducting their own inquiry, and I am very glad that that is so. It is far better that they should investigate what happened on their side than that we should try to do it here. I wish that on the Soviet side we could see much hope of a similar inquiry. We cannot. Therefore, I think that we must leave it still as something which, for the moment at least, is wrapped in mystery. But this debate is the only opportunity we have of inquiring into the part played by Her Majesty's Government. In the light of that, there are some questions that I wish to put to the Foreign Secretary which I hope he will be able to answer, because it may throw some light on the reasons for the collapse of the Summit.
The first question is this: what consultations, if any, took place between the British and American Governments after the announcement of the capture of the U2 plane? Did we give any advice to the American Government on how this issue should be handled? Did they seek our advice, or did they proceed entirely on their own without any consultation whatever? Secondly, did the letter from Mr. Khrushchev to the Prime Minister on 9th May indicate that at this stage there was already in his mind the possibility that the Summit Conference would have to be abandoned, or did Mr. Khrushchev merely indicate that he was worried about it and that he looked forward to preliminary talks to get these difficulties out of the way? This is a matter which obviously has an immense bearing on the Russian intentions at the time. Then, as to Paris itself, did Mr. Khrushchev, when the Prime Minister saw him, rehearse to him, as it were, the speech that he was to make on the following morning, and was the Prime Minister in a position to tell him, and did he tell him then, of President Eisenhower's decision to stop the flights?
I think that these questions are fair. I can see no particular reason why the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary should not answer them now. They throw considerable light on the Soviet attitude. If one reads the White Paper, "Documents Relating to the Meetings", there is one other question that comes to one's mind. It may well be that already by Monday it was too late. It 1017 may be that the Tuesday afternoon meeting in any event would have served no useful purpose, but it is a little strange that the three Western leaders apparently decided that this meeting to which they invited Mr. Khrushchev was not to be a preliminary one to discuss further conditions for the start of the Summit but was to be a formal first meeting of the Summit Conference to discuss the things on the agenda for the Conference.
I do not understand quite why, when Mr. Khrushchev telephoned originally through one of his officials and inquired whether the meeting of the afternoon of the Tuesday was the one or the other, he could not have been told—after all, the three Western leaders were already themselves in conference then—that it was a preliminary discussion. They need not have given anything away by doing that. They could at least have made a last effort. If there was a last chance, this surely was it. It seems a great pity that no attempt was made to take it. Even if it failed and simply showed that Mr. Khrushchev was adamant in adhering to the three conditions he had made earlier, at least from the point of view of world opinion it would have been surely wise to show that the West was leaning over backwards to get the Conference started.
Much has been made of the so-called alert which the Secretary of Defence, Mr. Gates, ordered on Sunday evening; but we have had no adequate Government statement on this matter. I should like to ask the Government whether they were consulted before this was decided upon and whether it is normal for them to be consulted on these occasions. Perhaps they could say why, even if the military people decided that the alert was desirable, it was necessary to make it public and to make a formal announcement to this effect. This, surely, was a very ham-handed thing to do in top of everything else.
So much for the details of the week before last. I should like to make a few comments on the wider issue. The first and perhaps most important question to which we have to address ourselves is this: has Soviet policy changed fundamentally? Is there or is there not a reversion to Stalinism? I would have 1018 thought that there was no doubt about the answer at the present moment. There seems to me at present no reason for believing that Soviet policy has gone back to Stalinism. If indeed that had been the case, we surely could have expected that Mr. Khrushchev, instead of announcing in Berlin that he would delay any action in the direction of signing a peace treaty with East Germany after the Summit, would have done so immediately. Nor is it likely, if this were the case, that the American plane that strayed off its course and landed in East Germany would have been so promptly and courteously returned. There has been, so far as I know, no change made in Soviet policy towards the granting of visas to Americans, and there has been no demonstration in Moscow, as there has been in Pekin, against the West on this occasion.
There is, of course, the question of the speeches made by Mr. Khrushchev and the Press conference that he gave. I have had a little experience, not as much as the Prime Minister, of listening to Mr. Khrushchev. I have come to the conclusion that one must distinguish sharply between his manner and his matter. He makes speeches which are at times offensive, violent and bullying in tone. Although he has done this—he certainly did it again at the Press conference—in the content of the speech he did not commit Soviet policy to any change whatever.
It is true that his attacks on President Eisenhower are distasteful and offensive and undoubtedly cause great resentment in the United States. My own view is that Mr. Khrushchev makes them for home consumption. I could wish that he thought a little more about their repercussions on American opinion, because it is not a question of President Eisenhower: it is a question of what these speeches will do to American opinion generally and whether they do not prejudice the chance of the next President coming to a Summit Conference. I hope that if Mr. Khrushchev reflects on this, he may, perhaps, modify them in the future.
It is, however, in my opinion, almost certain that there is, and indeed always has been, in the Soviet Union a certain amount of opposition to Mr. Khrushchev's policy from within. I agreed with something the Prime Minister said at the end of his speech when he spoke of Mr. Khrushchev 1019 being the man who, quite plainly, had stood for the policy of conciliation and co-existence. That is certainly true, but that there is internal opposition seems, on the face of it, extremely likely.
We have a different situation in Russia as compared with the time of Stalin. Whether it be because the secret police are no longer under the control of the Head of State or Prime Minister, or whatever may be the reason, there are clear signs of far more internal discussion at the top of the Soviet Government than there used to be under Stalin. Within those quarters, there probably always has been, and still is, opposition. I should not be the least surprised if the Army, threatened with a substantial reduction and the dismissal from the service of a quarter of a million officers, were not to make its influence felt. It is all very well to say that those people will get good jobs somewhere else, but they are human beings and probably fear the loss of their status, prestige and position.
Nor is it to be denied that there is a substantial difference of outlook on the whole question of relations with the West between the Chinese Government and the Soviet Union. It would be surprising if there were not some people in high places in the Soviet Union who were influenced by that and, perhaps, in close touch with China. These differences need not surprise us. If less dramatic, they exist in the West as well.
I am not saying that we have in the East and in the West groups of evil, malevolent persons who are determined to bring the world to ruin. It is not like that at all. What we have in both cases are people who are convinced that negotiations with the other side may damage their own national interests. We know that this is the case with the United States. It is undeniable that some of the scientists, and, I have no doubt, some of the generals, sincerely and honestly believe that if, for instance, the United States accepts a ban on tests, with a moratorium, which would be unenforceable for the time concerning the small explosions, this would put the United States behind in the race, and Russia would have an advantage. I have no doubt that, equally, there are people in Russia who are genuinely fearful of the establishment of control posts because of 1020 the information thereby obtained by the West and a consequent weakening of the Russian position. We have to accept that that is so.
Despite the existence of these groups, however, we should not get into the habit, as the result of what has happened in Paris, of becoming either anti-Russian or anti-American. It is easy to do so. We can say to ourselves, "It does not really matter who was responsible. Between them, they made an awful mess of it. Either they were intentional, which is certainly bad enough, or, even if they did it unintentionally, what a situation for the rest of the world to be, as it were, at the mercy of these two clumsy giants". It is tempting to say "Cannot we somehow cut away from them?"
I do not think that that is the way out. It is better that we should learn the real lessons from this, and they are rather different. First, the lesson that I would propose to the House is that our influence—I mean particularly the British influence—should be thrown against those groups in both blocs who oppose negotiations. This means not merely being generally in favour of conciliation. It means bearing in mind, and urging others to bear in mind, that in everything we say and do, we must take into account the existence of opposition on the other side. We must be careful, in other words, not to play into the hands of the opposition groups, as the U2 episode evidently did.
Secondly, we must remember—and here I agree with the Prime Minister—that the need to come to terms between Russia and the West is just as urgent and overriding and compelling as it always has been. It is true, in my view, that the West and the Western alliance must have nuclear weapons so long as the Russians have them, but there is no denying that the balance of power is a very precarious one. Our aim must be constantly to reduce the power evenly on both sides so that it becomes, as it were, weaker and weaker.
I would add just this. There is a special danger arising out of this business of surprise attacks. Obviously, if one thinks that the other side is likely to launch a surprise attack, the temptation to get in first is overwhelming. In our defence policies, this leads surely 1021 to the tremendously important conclusion that our retaliatory weapons should be essentially retaliatory and not, first, strike weapons. That is to say, they should be weapons which we are likely to be able to use in the event of attack and not weapons which are almost certain to be knocked out in the event of the Russians getting in first. This is one of the most powerful arguments against the Thor missiles, which on these grounds we on these benches have opposed.
The third lesson that we must learn is that it is no use thinking for some time of another Summit Conference. I agree largely with the Prime Minister that there is equally no point in going to the opposite extreme and saying that diplomatic channels are better. The truth is that we wanted the Summit because the diplomatic channels were not working, or were not working effectively. That may still be the case. For obvious reasons, however, it is no use trying to re-create the Summit for some little time.
What we should now try to do is to negotiate through normal diplomatic channels and conferences what we hoped to do at the Summit. That brings me to two or three points. The first relates to tests. It is good news that the expert discussions are going along well, but we must note the Russian threat to resume tests if the United States does. The Russians demand that the civil tests which the Americans are proposing, and which I gather are being discussed at Geneva, should not be made use of for military purposes. Just how this assurance is to be given, I do not know. I drew attention to this in the last debate. It is a matter of immense importance.
I should like to ask the Government a question. In the last debate, the Foreign Secretary told us that, as far as he could see, under the American proposals no tests would take place except those which had been agreed upon either as part of the co-ordinated research programme or as civil tests which were to be allowed and which were outside the scope of the moratorium. It was good to have those assurances last time, but, as far as I am aware, the United States Government have not repeated them in public, and I should like to ask again, therefore, whether we may take it that it is the policy of the West that no tests should 1022 take place except those which are agreed upon in the negotiations at Geneva with the Russians.
Secondly, on disarmament, I can only repeat what I said before. The chaos of procedure points to the need for introducing some kind of neutral chairman, and here I should have thought that we might take a hint from Mr. Hammarskjoeld, who recently indicated that he thought the United Nations could, and should, be broght into these matters.
Thirdly, and most important, I beg the Government to urge that China and India be asked to join this conference. The House will have noticed Mr. Khrushchev's latest speech in which he proposed that China and India, and he mentioned Indonesia as well, should come to the next Summit. It seems to me that there is quite a chance that Mr. Khrushchev himself will make this proposal that China should come to the next Disarmament Conference, and if we were to be in the position where we refused that, I think we would lose the support of a very large part of the world. How much better, then, that we should take the initiative in making this proposal.
I urge, too, that here we want some positive action, and that we in the West should now say that we will reduce the size of the conventional forces to 1½ million from the maximum of 21 million, which was put forward in 1955 and which they are to reach in the first stage; and I urge, too, that we should bring into the first stage of the programme the question of the means of delivery, which is obviously so vital.
In the last debate the Foreign Secretary spoke of the West putting forward proposals for expert consultation on this and on some other matters. Has anything been done about that? If not, is there really any reason why we should not come out with a formal proposal to that affect? The advantage of such a proposal would be that it would do something to break the ice, and would do something to indicate that we at least on our side were not going to relapse into chauvinism.
Finally, on the question of the zone of controlled disarmament in Western Europe, the Foreign Secretary said last time that the Government approached it 1023 from the point of view of defence against surprise attack. If he wishes to put it under that general heading, we do not mind. Evidently that is one of the arguments for such a zone, but are we to understand, from what he said last time, that the Western Powers have agreed on proposals to this end which they were intending to put forward at the Summit? If that is the case, why not put them forward now?
If one asks where they should be put forward, I do not think that there is any great difficulty in answering that question. If the Foreign Secretary does not want to put them forward through the Minister of State at the Disarmament Conference, I suggest that he might ask for the matter to be put on the agenda of the Security Council of the United Nations and himself go to New York and put them forward there.
That brings me to another suggestion which I think is well worth following up. If we go on as we are now with nothing but hostile speeches from each side, and with even the present conference drifting along without much hope, we could get into a worse and worse situation. Is it not worth while the West deciding to try to establish communications with the Soviet Government and taking up some of these problems in the United Nations itself? I should have thought that was well worth looking at.
May I now say a word about our own affairs in the West? I consider that it is necessary to improve political cohesion and control in the Western alliance. I think that the U2 episode and the Gates alert show that very plainly indeed. But there is nothing new in this. In 1956—ironically enough, the year of Suez—the three so-called "wise men" of N.A.T.O., Lange, Pearson, and Martino, produced a report, at the request of the Council, on ways and means of improving both coordination and consultation. I do not think that very much seems to have been done about it.
The problem here, however, is not just a matter of cohesion of policy within the N.A.T.O. territorial area. Again and again the problem is that something happens in the rest of the world as a result of the policy of one of the great Powers which is of very direct concern to 1024 N.A.T.O. The U2 incident is only the latest example of this. I personally have come to the conclusion that the old hypothesis that one can separate what happens in Europe from what happens in the rest of the world and that we can consult together whenever it comes to Europe, but we do not consult together, and act independently, when it is the outside world, will not do any longer. Indeed, the whole of the military situation, and the defence policy based on it, needs re-examination.
In 1958 President de Gaulle proposed that there should be some manner by which at least those countries in N.A.T.O. with world responsibility and concern should meet together for consultation. I know that there were objections from smaller Powers to the particular proposals he put forward, but there is, after all, a military standing group of the three Powers, Britain, America and France, in Washington, and there always has been. I have never seen why we could not agree to President de Gaulle's proposals for a political group of the same kind. Alternatively, as I suggested the other day, I think that there is a strong case for giving greater authority to the permanent N.A.T.O. Council, by appointing, at least in the case of the larger and more powerful countries, Ministers to take their places there.
The Prime Minister referred to the question of political control over the military. We on these benches certainly hold very strongly that the decision whether to use nuclear weapons is one that cannot conceivably be left to the generals but must be taken by Governments. The Prime Minister seemed to imply that there was no difficulty about that, but he went on to ask how one could have control with fourteen other countries. I do not think that it will do as it stands, and my reflection on what the Prime Minister said is just this. He said that the political control was there. But until it is seen how it will operate, nobody will be convinced about it, and I think one has to face this problem of some kind of inner—if one likes informal—circle of the countries most deeply concerned.
In passing, I should like to refer to the admirable Report to the Western European Union prepared by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Park 1025 (Mr. Mulley). I commend it strongly to hon. Members as a brilliant analysis of the present situation of N.A.T.O., and a powerful argument for political control over nuclear weapons. It also includes a powerful argument for throwing the emphasis in N.A.T.O.'s strategy on to conventional and away from nuclear weapons.
The Prime Minister might bring up, as I have done myself, the question of conscription, but we believe that, within the limits set by voluntary service, it ought to be possible very substantially to strengthen the conventional element and so defer the moment—and this is vitally important—at which we may have to begin thinking about nuclear weapons.
If we are to get more political cohesion and control in N.A.T.O., there is one other thing we have to do, and that is to re-assess our own position in relation to Europe. In the early post-war period, when O.E.E.C., N.A.T.O., and the W.E.U. were founded, we were, after the United States, easily the dominant Power. We had automatically, as it were, a special position vis-à-vis the United States. The fact is that in the last ten years Europe has changed in a very complete manner, and we now have, thanks to its economic recovery, its employment, and its economic and political unity, a new situation. We have to live with that new situation. It is not likely to be changed, and the time has come when we must accept it. We have to live with it economically—the Prime Minister referred to the efforts being made in that direction—politicallyand I have said something to that effect—and militarily as well.
We still feel, if I might end on some of the remarks of the Prime Minister, that one of the great issues that we have to face is whether we can stop this spread of nuclear weapons to more and more countries, including those within N.A.T.O. We have to recognise, in looking at this problem, that we are unlikely to be able for very much longer to maintain the privileged position which we have in relation to the United States on defence matters, and other matters as well. It seems highly unlikely as Germany and France go on growing, particularly if the union there becomes a political reality, that the United States 1026 will be able, even if it wishes, to discriminate between us and the rest of Europe. Indeed, if we try to insist on this priviledged position, we shall, I think, make our relations with Europe worse without improving them with the United States.
There has been a wide measure of agreement about the Summit and about what should now be done. I believe that most of the things that I have proposed are acceptable to hon. Members opposite. We certainly want to see the Government continue more vigorously their policy of reconciliation, and if the Russians and the Americans find this difficult and are estranged from one another, then there is all the more reason for our initiative. But we shall not succeed in this unless we can improve our relations with Europe. This is necessary in any case, but now that these two strands have come together, I hope that the Government will pursue a policy which will both improve the cohesion and control of the Western alliance and improve our relations with Europe, and, above all, indefatigably work for the relaxing of tension and the settlement of disputes and disarmament throughout the world.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will not accuse me of discourtesy if I do not follow his speech in detail. I have promised to make a short speech and I intend to keep that promise. However, some of his points I will take up. I shall certainly not take up all the amateur detective work about what actually happened in Paris. The right hon. Gentleman seemed too determined to play Dr. Watson to my right hon. Friend's Sherlock Holmes. It is not a very profitable investigation.
When considering what has been saved from the ruins of the Summit I am quite certain that my right hon. Friend was right to put his finger unerringly on the main point, which is that the Western alliance has been saved, the sum of things has been saved, because if the alliance had broken then the future would indeed be dark. But that alliance over these last few months has suffered a good many strains, and perhaps we may be able to see more clearly what we ought to do in the future if we 1027 consider what some of those strains have been.
Take the first point raised by both right hon. Gentlemen, the U2 incident. On the whole, I think that people in this country have been extremely sensible about that. The word "spy" is, of course, not a popular word in England. "Spy" and "spy plane" sound very nasty. But we, on the other hand, are generally proud of our intelligence service, sometimes justly so. Of course, Britons do not spy they simply collect information which might be of interest to our intelligence services. That is quite a different matter.
Of course, the Russians have the greatest spy apparatus in the world and they are greatly aided by the fact that every Communist and fellow-traveller feels it his duty to pass on to the Russians any information which he can get. We must not forget that Fuchs gave them the whole of the information about our atom bomb and thereby probably saved them two years' work. But that is not the point I am raising. My point is a simple one.
What information could the American plane have got for the Americans by high-level reconnaissance over Russia? Surely the answer is, exactly the information which anybody in a free country can get for themselves. In a free country the maps are accurate. If you want to know where the aerodromes are in a free country you can look them up on the map. You can drive there and see what aeroplanes are flying from them. Launching sites are easier still. If you see a muddy girl with black stockings, it is probable that she has come from a rocket site. She will be only too pleased to tell you where it is.
These considerations do not apply in Russia. The maps are inaccurate and there is no free movement there. Even Russians have to get permits to move about and no one would be such a fool as to protest. The fact is that all this sort of information about the countries of the free world is available for nothing to the Russians whereas equivalent information about the Russians is not available to the free world. This confers on the Russians a very great military advantage. I am not the least surprised 1028 that the Americans acted as they did. So much for that.
There is one other strain which has been put upon the relations of the alliance, and that has been the whole business of the Summit. I am passionately in favour of as much free movement as we can get between the peoples of the Communist countries and of the West. I believe that very often visits of statesmen can be very valuable. I am particularly keen on visits between Russians and Americans. I was delighted that Mr. Khrushchev went to America, and I am very sorry that President Eisenhower is not going to Russia. Nor would I dismiss the idea of Summit conferences. I am sure that they can do good if they are properly prepared.
I am sure that it is possible to get limited agreement at Summit conferences on practical matters. It may be possible to put the seal upon the work of diplomats and valuable to do so at such a conference. But what is no good is to suppose that simply by convening a conference without preparation we can do good. Supposing we put four statesmen in a conference at Paris and surround them with 3,000 journalists and supposing that they have no ideological differences but that the conference was not prepared and that they have no agenda, how can they come to agreement on complex problems?
It cannot be done. The difficulty is even greater when the Russians are attending, as they are divided from us by an ideological gulf. They use conferences not as places where one can get agreements, but as platforms from which they can make propaganda. The thing is not likely to work just by dumping people down.
But here in this country there was this tremendous urge for a conference. People thought that a conference was the universal solvent, egged on by the newspapers and by many politicians. If one said to one of them, "There has never been agreement on the Summit; what are they going to agree about?", one generally got a nasty look. It is not the sort of question that gentlemen ask.
The trouble here was that, though we had this exceedingly strong feeling, the feeling was not shared among our allies. I do not quite know why, but perhaps 1029 they remembered the past and they for-boded the future. They thought that this sort of thing would not work. The mischief was that the whole matter got caught up with politics. The Opposition said about a Summit, "We thought of it first. We do not think any preparation is necessary. We would push our allies around, and so on." It became a sort of race.
I hope that, as a result of the Summit and as the result of what the Leader of the Opposition said today, though there may be Summit Conferences in the future this sort of political Summit race will not take place again here, or at any rate, if that is too optimistic, that it will not take place round exactly the same course.
Does not all this difficulty about the Summit really spring from our taking too short a view and a misunderstanding of what is really going on? I believe "tension" to be one of the most dangerous "boss" words in use at the moment. We are constantly told that tension is increasing, that tension is decreasing or that tension suits the Russians, and therefore we must do what we can to lower it and so on. I think that we have had a good recent example of how little this sort of thing means.
After the Summit Meeting, Mr. Khrushchev at his Press conference in Paris used a form of words about keeping his ultimatum on Berlin in being, uttered much vulgar abuse, and also said that he would drop nuclear rockets on anyone who crossed his path. That was held to have increased tension. Then, when he got to Berlin, he used the same form of words about Berlin, used more vulgar abuse and said the same thing about dropping nuclear rockets on people. The second speech was held to decrease tension, but has anything really happened? I am sure nothing has.
Now for the argument about tension suiting the Russians, and therefore it being in our interest to reduce it: I suppose it is possibly true in a sense that tension does suit the Russians. It would be easier for them to hold down their own people and the satellite peoples if they could represent that they are threatened from abroad. It would have been harder to murder Nagy after a promise of safe conduct if the Russians 1030 had not told the Hungarian people that they were threatened with aggression from outside. I think it is true that it might suit their book, but let us look where this argument takes us.
I think we could all agree that the main source of tension during the last eighteen months has been the Berlin situation and the ultimatum accompanying it. If we say that tension suits the Russians and that therefore we must reduce it, the only way to reduce it would be to sell the West Berliners. If we had been willing to do that at the Summit Conference, I do not doubt that it would have taken place, and Mr. Khrushchev would have come, but would it have reduced tension by a day, a week, a month, perhaps a little more? There were five months between Munich and the rape of Prague, but, if tension suits the Russians, they can easily start it up somewhere else. There are plenty of other soft spots. It seems to me that the argument is too short-sighted. Surely, the point about the Russians is that they are Marxists and believe in their own stuff in the same way as Hitler believed in Mein Kampf.
Here, I should like to quote a few words in support of that view from what was said by Sir William Hayter, speaking on the wireless just after the break up of the Summit Conference. I hope some hon. Members listened to it. He was speaking after the nine o'clock news and had these words to say about the Summit:I must say I myself never thought that this or any other Summit Conference could possibly lead to the end of the cold war. I have thought, or at least I have hoped, that the Soviet Government might be prepared to negotiate limited practical agreements with the West, but it has always seemed to me that they have never regarded the Western Governments as the kind of people with whom a real settlement in a wider sense, a long-term settlement, a settlement of the world as a whole, the end of the cold war, could be negotiated. I have always thought that they look on us as unpleasant and probably transient obstacles in the path of their real aim, which is to spread what they regard as the proper way of ruling the world, of Communism generally. And if this is how they look at the world as a whole, then this breakdown in Paris is, so to speak, a tactical wobble and not a change in their long-term policy, which is to get us away, get us out of the way, sweep us away, remove these obstaclesThat is a statement which shows that Russian strategy has not changed though 1031 the tactics may change and often do. After saying that, Sir William Hayter went on to say something else—which I passionately believe—that this fixed policy of furthering Communism by all means at their disposal will never be pushed to the point at which they run the risk of a general war in which they themselves are involved. That has been the policy consistently pursued since the war, to spread the Communist faith and power by every possible means, short of a general war.
I wish to call one other witness from the academic shades—Professor Hugh Seton Watson, who is Professor of Russian History at London University, who wrote a book which I hope many hon. Members have read or will read, called "Neither War Nor Peace". He gives an analysis in great detail of Russian policy, in which he reached exactly the same conclusion as did Sir William Hayter, and, like him, does not believe that Stalin's death had caused any significant difference. It caused differences of tactics, but not in the ultimate aim. He deals with the situation at some length, and refers to those editors and politicians who say that there has been a change as being guilty of Utopian optimism.
There it is. The aim is fixed, but the tactics are subject to change, and that is what we can never predict. All this speculation about what goes on in the Kremlin seems to me to be beside the point. Nobody knows. Professional diplomats do not know and the experts of the Press are often far more wrong than the rest of us. Nobody knows about the tactics, but we know what the strategy is. Further to that, these changes of tactics are often made for a purpose. Dr. William Sargeant's letter in The Times recently is, I am afraid, getting rather old-fashioned, but he took us back to the Russian use of Pavlov's idea. I do not think that this is new, for I believe that the same suggestion was put forward, for example, in Hitler's time; and he certainly used exactly the same technique for breaking down his enemy's morale. Pavlov's technique for breaking down a dog's resistance was to build up conditioned reflexes and then to give a contradictory stimulus. He rang a bell and gave the dog his dinner. 1032 After a bit the dog started salivating as soon as the bell was rung. When this reflex was built up the bell was rung but the dog was starved. Pavlov found that this technique produced hysteria and submissiveness in the dogs which were willing to collaborate.
It would be highly distressing and, indeed, inelegant to pursue this analogy any further, but it is perfectly true to say that there is a good deal of hysteria and submissiveness in the world at large, and no doubt a great deal of it has been caused by this technique of contradictory stimuli. I think that people are coming to realise that, and I therefore hope that the boss word "tension" will gradually go out of use, though it cannot go out at once, because we have all used it so often that it is spoken almost instinctively. I believe that the time will come when if a man uses the word "tension" in the old sense, it will be realised that, though a creature endowed by God with human reason and therefore realising that he is the subject of a controlled experiment, still his conditioned reflexes are so strong that he cannot help salivating when he hears Mr. Khrushchev ring the dinner bell. That may happen. I do not know. I say that because I feel passionately about it, and because I feel that much nonsense is talked. It leaves us with a situation which is full of anxiety, full of misery and sometimes almost full of despair.
The situation may, and I think will, alter one day but there is no sign that it is altering now or in the foreseeable future. The urge to escape and not to have this vast responsibility is understandable. I certainly feel it no less than do other people, and sometimes I murmur with the poet:Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness,Some boundless contiguity of shade,Where rumour of oppression and deceit,Of unsuccessful or successful war,Might never reach me more.That is a feeling which we all have, but it is no good for statesmen and politicians, for we are the Marthas of this world. We are elected to try to cope with situations, to fetch and to carry until we drop or are turned out. I therefore hope that we shall see the situation clearly, stand by our alliances and act with truth, with courage and with integrity.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
May I begin by adding some comments to what was said by the right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about the method of the Summit Meeting? I think that every reasonable man must agree that there should be personal contacts, and not personal contacts only, but joint consultation with a sense of collective responsibility, among the Heads of Government who control the modern machinery of war.
But no one can claim that the present system of Summit Meetings has been a great success. In 1954, after the Bikini explosion of the 15 megaton thermonuclear device, this House unanimously adopted a Motion which called upon the Heads of the three nuclear Governments to meet without delay, to devise "positive policies" to strengthen the United Nations and to rid the world of the dangers which nuclear armaments involved. Fifteen months later, after a General Election, there was a Summit Meeting in Geneva. Its one result was to destroy the disarmament proposals of the Anglo-French Memorandum of 1954, which the Russians had gone some way towards accepting.
For three years, since 1957, public opinion has been demanding another Summit. After long delays, delays through which perhaps a golden opportunity was missed, a Summit was arranged, which ended with a grievous setback to all the causes which it was intended to promote. Two disastrous gatherings, at an interval of five years, is surely not an adequate arrangement for collective consultation among the men who carry such a dread burden of responsibility towards the nations of the world.
I want to push a little further what my right hon. Friend tentatively said about meetings in the United Nations. I believe, and have believed for years, that if the Heads of Government were to meet for, say, two or three weeks as delegates to the Assembly of the United Nations, and to do it regularly every year, they would find that nothing like the Paris fiasco could occur, and I believe that in practice they would find it to be the best spent fortnight in their year.
1034 Why did the Paris fiasco happen? Why did Mr. Khrushchev kill the Conference for which he had worked so long? I think that my right hon. Friend was right to discuss this, and I offer some further comments only because I think that what happened throws a light on the real nature of the world in which we live today, and on the dangers which our present policies involve.
I was in Chicago when the first news of the U2 spy flight was released, when the cover story of a "weather plane" was abandoned, and when Mr. Herter admitted that the flight was part of a systematic plan of aerial espionage. This came as a great shock to many Americans to whom I spoke, and very many said to me that, if the thing had been reversed, if a Russian spy plane had been shot down while doing air photography over the United States, the reaction of the American people would have been exactly what the reaction of the Russians had been. There would have been the same indignation and resentment and the same demand for reparation which the Russians made.
I want to pursue that line of thought, and to put the events of the succeeding week, as I followed them in the United States, into reverse. I ask the House to consider what the effect in the United States and on the British people would have been if the Russian Government had said and done what was said and done by the authorities of the United States. I start, as I said, from the hypothesis that a Russian spy plane had been shot down over America.
Reversing the rôles of the various characters, it would have been Mr. Gromyko who announced on Monday, 9th May, that the flight was indeed deliberate espionage, that the cover story was a fabrication and that such spy flights had previously happened and would still go on. On Wednesday morning, 11th May, President Eisenhower would have been asked by a journalist whether he would raise the spy flight at the Summit, and he would have answered, "No, why should I?" He would have said that probably Mr. Khrushchev knew nothing about it and in any case it had been sufficiently discussed all over the world.
That afternoon Mr. Khrushchev would have said in his Press conference that, 1035 of course, he had known about the flight; that it was part of a general system of gathering information by every means—a system which was essential to enable the Soviet Union and its Socialist allies to be ready to resist a sudden, unprovoked nuclear aggression by the capitalist States; that the Soviet people had had harsh experience of capitalist hostility in the past; and that, of course, the spy flights over the United States and other Western countries must go on.
If Mr. Khrushchev had made such a speech as that, I think that we should have felt, as I felt that day in Chicago, that the situation had taken a serious turn. But then imagine that on Friday, 13th May, a rumour came from Moscow that, after all, the spy flights would be stopped; that Mr. Khrushchev wanted to help the Summit Meeting to succeed and had decided to remove this cause of discord and misunderstanding. But then imagine that on the following day. Saturday, 14th May, the Kremlin had officially denied this rumour, and had declared that it was without foundation and that the spy flights would most certainly go on. Would not that have made President Eisenhower's position when he arived in Paris very difficult indeed?
And then imagine that on the following day, Sunday, 15th May, Marshal Malinowski, with Mr. Khrushchev's express approval, had "alerted" all the Russian forces by land and sea and air all over the world, in bases close to the United States—had alerted them for "combat readiness", with bombers in the air; and had done so on the very eve of the Summit Meeting with the declared intention of making the Americans understand how powerful and how well prepared for instantaneous action the Russian forces were.
That is an exact transposition of what actually occurred. I have made it only to try to show how things must have looked in Russian eyes. In his message of 17th May The Times special Paris correspondent vividly described how, in fact, the Russians' anger mounted, and how, if the Russian and American rôles had been reversed, as I have reversed them, President Eisenhower would never, in their belief, have sat down at the conference table.
1036 On the following Sunday Mr. Henry Brandon, who many of us know as a much-respected British correspondent in Washington, reviewed in his paper, the Sunday Times, the collapse of the Summit. While he vigorously condemned, as we all do, Mr. Khrushchev's disastrous lapses, he wrote the three following sentences:The United States … found itself assuming both an illegal and an immoral posture … The world was aghast at Eisenhower's ineptitude when he tried to make aerial espionage respectable. … Mr. Eisenhower snuffed out the spirit of Camp DavidI have not recalled this history to make a case for Khrushchev or against America. No one believes more ardently than I do that real British-American co-operation is essential to world peace. But these events and the discussions in the Security Council all last week have clearly shown us that, while the arms race goes on, we shall have espionage on all sides and by every means; and that, on that basis, relations of true confidence between the Governments simply cannot be built.
They have surely shown us that with universal espionage, with American "alerts" for "combat readiness", with brutal Russian threats to destroy bases in Turkey, Pakistan, Norway and elsewhere, from which spy flights may be made, we are living in a state of international anarchy in which the existence of great stocks of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction is almost infinitely dangerous to us all.
There is one other deduction which I want to draw from the events in Paris. When he came back from Washington a few weeks before the Summit, the Foreign Secretary said that the first and most important item on the agenda would be disarmament. So did President de Gaulle, both to this Parliament and to the Parliament of Canada. So, at every stage, did Mr. Khrushchev. Last February the Foreign Secretary told us how much we owed to Mr. Khrushchev's work. We all remember that last year Mr. Khrushchev went straight from Washington to Peking to tell the Chinese that the Americans were not imperialists; in the winter he toured Asia saying that President Eisenhower was a man of peace; he never sought to exploit Cyprus or Hola against us, or Algeria against President de Gaulle. 1037 And for many months he has been saying that his supreme objective is disarmament.
In January, 1958, he told Mr. Iverach MacDonald, the foreign editor of The Times, that that was why he was pressing with such persistence for a Summit Meeting. He said the same thing to my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. F. Noel-Baker) and me in December of that year. Both before and after his proposals to the United Nations in September last, when he restated precisely the objective of general and complete disarmament which the Foreign Secretary had put forward the day before, he has been preaching the urgent necessity of disarmament wherever he went.
I think that it was no accident that in his regrettable Press conference two weeks ago in Paris the first point of substance which he made was this:Disarmament is a different matter from stopping tests. We are almost convinced that the Americans do not want disarmament, but control of armaments for espionage purposes. … The Geneva Conference"—that is, the Committee of Ten Nations—is merely procrastinating.The last thing he said before he left Berlin for home was that "it was more necessary than ever to achieve disarmament, which was the problem of all problems". He added that there was still a danger of war, and he was dissatisfied with the present state of the Geneva disarmament negotiations.
On Saturday last, in Moscow, he made his view still clearer when he said that he believed that President Eisenhower still wanted an international understanding but was being opposed by "American military circles".
Is it fantastic to think that, until he reached Paris, Mr. Khrushchev hoped that President Eisenhower would stick to the line of the Camp David communiqué, which declared thatThe question of general and complete disarmament is the most important which faces mankind todaybut that the President's sustained defence of the spy flights, his assertion that Russia might at any moment carry out an atomic Pearl Harbour against the U.S.A., and the "alert" for "combat readiness", convinced Mr. Khrushchev that the "military circles" were, in fact, 1038 on top and that that explained the slow progress being made in the Committee of Ten? If the "military circles" were on top, what hope could there be for any progress on disarmament in Paris?
Mr. Khrushchev spoke one other sentence in Berlin. Saying what I have no doubt is his genuine conviction, namely, that "disarmament is the problem of all problems", he went on:The Soviet Union will now work harder than ever to achieve it".It may well be that the Committee of Ten is the first place where some of the damage done in Paris will be undone. Some of us have, through the courtesy of the Foreign Office, had the records of the Committee of Ten, and some of us have read them. Today is not the time to debate them, but I hope that we may do so soon after the Whitsuntide Recess.
But there are two points on which my right hon. Friend touched and to which I want to draw a little further attention before the Committee meets again next week. On 10th February the Foreign Secretary said that there should be "some action" in the first stage of a disarmament treaty. He said that the action should bereductions in armed forces and, what is more important, in the level of conventional armaments."—[OFFiciAL REPORT, 10th February. 1960; Vol. 616, c. 496.]So far, I confess that I can find no proposals from the Western delegates for any such reduction in stage I. Indeed, even at stage II, the only proposal that meets the eye is that the forces of the major Powers should be reduced to 2.1 million men. I wonder if such a figure at the second stage would mean any real disarmament at all. But what most concerns me is that people who think they know allege that 2.1 million is the lowest figure that will be accepted in any measureable future, because it is the lowest figure with which the existing Western bases around the world can be held and manned.
I hope that there is no truth in that suggestion. I hope that when the Committee reassembles on 7th June the British delegate will put forward the proposal made for the First Stage Treaty in the Anglo-French Memorandum of 1954, the cealing of which may right hon. Friend spoke, namely, a ceiling for the major Powers of 1 or at most 1.5 1039 million men, with lower ceilings for other nations, and a corresponding cut in conventional arms.
If that was a sound proposal in 1954 and 1955, soon after Stalin's death, it must surely be a sound proposal today. I can think of nothing which would so much improve the military security of the Western nations as the reduction of Russian forces to a total of 1 million men.
The second point I want to urge on the Foreign Secretary for consideration before 7th June is that, when the Committee of Ten Nations reassembles, the British delegate should lend his full support to the proposal for total nuclear disarmament and the abolition of the means of delivery made on 15th March on behalf of General de Gaulle by M. Moch.
I remind the House of the authority with which M. Moch can speak. He has been the French delegate in all disarmament discussions for the last ten years. He is himself a scientist. He has had at his disposal the full resources of the French Atomic Energy Commission. As Minister of the Interior, he saved France from Communist subversion in 1948. As Minister of Defence, he was one of the architects of the N.A.T.O. Pact.
On 15th March M. Moch said this. I shall quote it at length so that his words may stand in the OFFICIAL REPORT. Having argued that we cannot hope to measure or detect the full amount of the past production of nuclear weapons, and that therefore the exact amount of existing stocks will never be known, M. Moch continued:There are, however, two ways in which our nuclear fears may be allayed. One is to tackle, while there is still time, the means of carrying these weapons—satellites, missiles, aircraft, aircraft carriers, submarines, launching ramps, etc. Once the vehicles have been banned and destroyed, the military stocks will appear worthless.There is another course open to us: to substitute, for stock-piling, the rapid supervised reduction of stocks, which means stopping production of fissionable materials for peaceful purposes"—the "cut-off"—and re-converting them for peaceful pm-poses, on a large scale, and in accordance with an agreed timetable.1040I should like to stress this point: a supervised undertaking to cease production for armaments"—the "cut-off"—is, in our view, indissolubly linked with the rapid re-conversion—and not merely token reconversion—of existing stocks. The cessation of production, once in force, would only remain effective as long as this re-conversion was faithfully carried out; otherwise it would be mere deception.For we are aiming at nuclear disarmament of the whole world, not the sanctioning by devious means of the de facto position formerly attained by three powers, which has now been attained by a fourth, and will later, no doubt, be attained by others.Apart from these two courses, there can be no nuclear disarmament. And without nuclear disarmament, how can we propose conventional disarmament?I hope that hon. Members will reflect with care upon these pregnant words. Nuclear disarmament, the problem of the clandestine nuclear stock, is the very crux upon which all hope of progress turns. On 10th February the Foreign Secretary spoke some words which made us think that, in the Government's view, M. Moch had found the right solution. I hope that next week our delegate will go back to Geneva and will say this very loud and clear; I hope that he will give M. Moch the full and vigorous support which I believe the British nation would desire to give him.
In the United Nations Sub-Committee in 1957 the Western delegates sometimes seemed to act—indeed, they nearly always seemed to act—on the principle that no one of them could say anything to which all the others had not previously agreed. Such a principle is very dangerous. It comes close to the pernicious precept, "My ally, right or wrong." To act upon that precept is, as President Eisenhower declared in 1956, to undermine the whole foundation on which the Charter and the N.A.T.O. Pact are built.
I hope that when the Committee of Ten Nations reassembles the British delegate will follow M. Moch's example and will advocate these basic measures of disarmament without which no Treaty can be made. I hope that no one in the House will tell us that these measures are too ambitious, and that we must look for small and gradual steps spread over many years. We have been looking for small and gradual steps for many years already. Ten years ago there were no stocks of nuclear weapons. 1041 There were no supersonic bombers, no missiles of the kind we know today, no nuclear-powered submarines. For ten years the arms race has swept forward with the power and momentum of a Pacific Ocean tidal wave. It is still sweeping forward.
Everyone agrees that these developments must some day be stopped and that we must have real disarmament if mankind is to survive the decades which he ahead. But if they are ever to be stopped, then surely every hour's delay is a needless hour of waste and danger. If they are ever to be stopped, in the name of common sense let us stop them now.
§ 5.35 p.m.
§ Colonel Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
Nobody who speaks in this debate would want to under-emphasise the possible seriousness of the breakdown of the Summit Meeting. On the other hand, it is very important that we should not exaggerate its seriousness. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister tell the House, as we knew that he would, that he will take every possible opportunity of renewing negotiations and seeking out the common ground which there may be with the Soviet Union.
I admit that I never had high hopes of the Summit Meeting. I have just as much distaste for catch phrases as my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) has for "boss words". All too often have I heard the phrase, "We must meet the Soviet Union halfway". When I hear that phrase I often ask what important concessions the free countries can make and what important concessions we expect the Soviet Union to make. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West said, one very seldom receives any answers to those questions.
I agree with the Prime Minister that too much speculation about the reasons for the breakdown of the Summit Meeting leads us nowhere. I was sorry that the Leader of the Opposition spent nearly half an hour on such idle speculation. But one thing I am quite sure about is that the reason for the breakdown was not the U2 incident. Everybody knows that the Soviet Union has the most efficient and far-reaching spy system in the world. Mr. Khrushchev's 1042 only really honest reply to the U2 incident is, "Me too". Spying is simply a side-effect of world unrest. It is a symptom, not a cause. I think that we can all agree about that
Mr. Khrushchev knows as well as we all know that the free countries have no aggressive intentions whatsoever against the Soviet Union. That has been underlined by the fact that he himself spoke of the "spirit of Camp David" with the knowledge, apparently, that there had been more than 30 U2 flights during the last two or three years without any public protest and without any incident, so far as we know. Yet he was able to speak with that knowledge of the "spirit of Camp David".
I think that the U2 flights have provided valuable intelligence and been a valuable insurance against the faint possibility of a surprise attack. Thank Heavens, it is only a faint possibility. Therefore, I congratulate the Americans on having undertaken these flights. Had I been in President Eisenhower's shoes for the last two or three years I should without hesitation have authorised them.
§ Colonel Beamish
Simply because I would have leant over backwards, as President Eisenhower was doing, to try to reach the best possible agreement with the Soviet Union.
§ Colonel Beamish
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is very good at interrupting from a sitting position. If he has an intelligent intervention to make, perhaps he would like to make it on his feet.
§ Colonel Beamish
I shall not give way. It is worth remembering that Mr. Khrushchev's Paris tirade was made with the knowledge that orders had already been given for the flights to be stopped. 1043 That is probably the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question. The U2 incident must, therefore, be dismissed simply as a smokescreen behind which Mr. Khrushchev hid his real reasons.
I see no need whatsoever to despair simply because of this unhappy breakdown. We must press forward with constructive, forward-looking, positive policies, many of which have already been developed but some of which need fresh thinking. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West that nothing has really changed. The driving force of international Communism is still a belief that its victory over all other systems is inevitable. We can all agree about that. There are no real differences between the two sides of the House on that. The Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) have certainly never had any illusions about it. Between the two sides of the House there are, of course, differences of emphasis and differences as to the methods that we would like to see adopted, but I do not think that those differences are very great.
We are all determined to do everything we can to establish a lasting and honourable peace in the world, a world in which, we hope, all formerly independent countries that wish to achieve their independence again can do so, and can keep it. We surely want a world in which the great Powers and the small nations respect their international obligations and honour their pledged words. Unhappily, in such a world there will still be too much room for home-produced dictators, large and small right-wing and left-wing, but dictatorship in such a world would not be for export. I think that we can all agree on that as well.
Meanwhile the struggle goes on with undiminished vigour. The struggle is ideological, cultural, economic, scientific, political, and occasionally, unhappily, military. Whether one calls the struggle peaceful coexistence or the cold war, it may go on for months or for years. It may go on for a decade or two—I do not know. I suppose that it will go on, at any rate, until there are some major changes in the Soviet Union. I have no fears whatsoever of the outcome of the 1044 struggle so long as we and our allies continue to co-operate ever more closely, and recognise with perfect clarity exactly what we are up against.
I am optimistic because international Communism has many weaknesses which too few people recognise. If I may, I will enumerate a few of them. First, let us remember that every Communist Government today was elected by force or fraud, or by both. Let us remember that with the one exception that proves the rule—Kerala—no Communist Government, once elected, has ever lost power. That inevitably means that Communist Governments build up a silent—perhaps I should say a silenced—opposition.
What greater condemnation could there be of the Communist system than the flow of refugees from the countries that are Communist-governed? Incidentally, tomorrow we come to the end of the World Refugee Year, and I very much hope that when it ends Her Majesty's Government will at least double the contribution they are making as a token of their enormous appreciation of the magnificent effort made. I hope that we may hear that.
As I was saying, the flow of refugees has always been from the Communist to the free countries. How many people, without a background of spying, have left the free countries to enjoy the pleasures of Communism? I fancy that I could count them on the fingers of two hands.
A second weakness is the failure of the Soviet Union to seize power in other countries by direct military action. I think of Malaya, of Burma, and of the Philippines—to mention three. In Malaya, more than 12,00 terrorists have been killed or captured during the campaign against them. They have failed. That has been a definite failure on the part of the Soviet Union—a definite weakness.
A third weakness is that the Soviet Union have failed to extend their frontiers—
§ Mr. Davies
I am grateful for that supercilious giving way, but with all his 1045 superciliousness, I would tell the hon. and gallant Gentleman that, if he knows anything at all about Malaya, he knows that the situation there had nothing to do with the Soviet Union as such. Many of us were there at the time, and know that many of those so-called terrorists gave their lives fighting the Japanese, and were directed by British officers. It is a slur to say that many of these people who gave their lives were intimidated by the Soviet Union. They were not in it at all, and any historian knows that that is true.
§ Colonel Beamish
Perhaps I am not such a good historian as the hon. Gentleman, but it might interest him to know that I happen to have been one of the officers in Singapore who handed arms to some of these very men at that time, but what the hon. Gentleman has forgotten is that Russia was then our ally. It is also perfectly true that those weapons were later used to try to destroy the British administration in Malaya, and later the independent Malayan administration.
§ Colonel Beamish
I am most grateful for a helpful question.
The third weakness has been the failure of the Soviet Union to extend the frontiers of international Communism. Of course, there have been exceptions on the fringe countries around China, and the Russians have gained powerful influence in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and several other countries as well, but have not got actual control of any. One-third of the world's population lives today in what Mao Tse-tung calls the "Socialist Camp", but freedom's frontiers have been broadly held since the fall of Czechoslovakia.
Next, I draw the attention of the House to the total failure of the Communists to indoctrinate young people. Who was it who tore at Russian tanks with their bare hands in Budapest? They were boys and girls of 16, 17, 18 years of age—kids who had known nothing but Communism since the day they went to kindergarten. The failure of the Communists to indoctrinate youth in spite of the use of every technique on which they could lay their hands is truly a terrific failure.
1046 Again, they know that they have failed to undermine religious faith. Even in the Soviet Union itself, the authorities dare not make a real frontal attack on the Orthodox religion. When about five years ago the B.B.C. tried broadcasting Orthodox religious services in the Russian programme—a broadcast of just half an hour—it was immediately met with the full force of Russian jamming. Nevertheless, there has been no frontal attack on religion in the Soviet Union. The Russians know that whether people are Mohammedans, Buddhists, Jews, Christians or Hindus, they believe in something utterly opposed to Communism, and oppose it with enormous strength and faith.
Lastly, the rulers in the Soviet Union have a great fear of the truth. They dare not allow their people to hear both sides of all questions. The fresh wind of freedom is at present only a gentle zephyr in the Soviet Union, but it is at least refreshing for Soviet citizens to be able to hear both sides of many questions today, whereas in the past they could hear only one side. It may well be that Mr. Khrushchev has started something that he dare not, or cannot, stop. The Soviet leaders, for the first time in my opinion, have got to take some account, at any rate, of the Soviet people.
There, then, are half a dozen of the basic weaknesses of international Communism, and they are matters which we should consider carefully in deciding what British policy should be. I do not want simply to try to analyse the weaknesses of Communism without saying something about future policy. In fact, I have too little time to develop it at any length, but I should like for five minutes to touch on a few of the most important aspects of our policy as I see it.
First, there is a very important and unanswerable case for paying far greater attention in future than we have in the past to providing economic and technical aid to Africa, Asia and Latin-America. Those are three continents in which we must expect growing attempts on the part of the Soviet Union and China to undermine our efforts to encourage and help stable political regimes and steady economic and social progress. There is already much evidence of Sino-Soviet interest in those 1047 three continents. But it is also interesting to note that persistent Communist attempts to dominate Afro-Asian institutions and conferences have led to growing resistance, most recently from Indonesia—perhaps one of the countries from which one would least expect it.
It is also interesting to note, when looking at this important question, that Soviet and Chinese aid and trade provide a surprisingly small amount of the total trade of the under-developed countries. In fact, a mere 5 per cent. of the total imports of the underdeveloped countries in the world come from the Sino-Soviet bloc, an extraordinarily small figure. In addition, the aid and trade are selective as regards both the countries receiving them and the projects which are involved. We can expect more of that sort of thing.
Secondly, we should recognise that on the successful and happy solution of the multi-racial problems facing us an enormous amount depends. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister mentioned that at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference there was discussion of the opposition to Communism as such. He told us that in his speech today. There is a very close connection between a successful solution of the multi-racial problem and our opposition to Communism. That is why most of us in the House, with perhaps no exception, are so resentful of the South African Government's policy, partly because we think it is plain crazy for the South African Government to suppose that through an apartheid policy they are doing anything to oppose Communism, which is one of their arguments for it. There are many other reasons for our resentment, of course—in fact better ones than that.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggesting that the only reason for doing the right thing is to oppose Communism? Is he suggesting that there is no intrinsic evil in apartheid?
§ Colonel Beamish
Unfortunately, the hon. Gentleman began to interrupt me before I started my last sentence. It answers his question. I think apartheid is unchristian, unworkable and wicked. I was coming on to that.
1048 I am drawing attention to this because in the British Commonwealth out of every eight people seven have dark skins and one has white skin, and soon it will be eight to one.
§ Colonel Beamish
I am glad to have the agreement of the hon. Gentleman. Therefore, we cannot exist unless we can solve these multi-racial problems. We can expect the Soviet Union and China to make the most of our difficulties. That is why there is a connection between these two matters.
We must obviously continue to improve our defence policy. We must try to strengthen N.A.T.O. in every way, both politically and militarily. I believe that an independent British deterrent is most important, and I do not think—I am glad the Prime Minister said this—that a N.A.T.O. deterrent can possibly be a substitute.
Fourthly, we must obviously get closer to Europe, and when I say "Europe" I mean the whole of Europe. The Foreign Secretary made that point when he spoke in the first foreign affairs debate after the General Election. He said that when he referred to Europe he was speaking of the whole of it. I believe my right hon. and learned Friend was the author of the phrase "the grand design", by which he meant that there was such a plethora of different organisations, such as O.E.E.C., Euratom, the Six, the Seven, N.A.T.O., the Schuman Plan and goodness knows what else, that very few people could understand them all, and there is a pretty clear case for trying to get the other countries to agree to simplify the whole thing under this grand design. The door seems to be open for that action, and I hope that we shall hear more about it.
Next we can still improve allied propaganda. A good deal has been done in this respect, and we are spending a certain amount more than we were, but I am sure that very good use indeed could be made of more money if it were made available. The basic theme of propaganda must be that we wish well to the Chinese and Soviet people, that we want to live peacefully side by side with them as they raise their standards 1049 of living, but that we are inflexibly opposed to the export of Communism.
Lastly, as the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) said, we must press on relentlessly and tirelessly with our efforts to achieve disarmament. The Government have been quite tireless in their efforts in this direction, and I was surprised to hear the Leader of the Opposition say that he thought the first target for the reduction of conventional forces in the Soviet Union and the United States should be 1½ million and not 2½ million. I understand that the forces of the Soviet Union are only just under 3½ million at the present moment. I should have thought that it would be a good first step to obtain a reduction to 2½ million.
We have been leaning over backwards to get agreement, and we have always adhered to two golden rules from which we dare not depart; first, that nuclear and conventional disarmament must march in step together so that at all stages any disarmament plan is fair to both sides; and secondly, that any disarmament that we can achieve must be under strict and reliable watertight international control and inspection.
I think that is a good chance of a bipartisan policy towards disarmament, now that the Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that the non-nuclear club has been thrown overboard when he used the words today, "The West must have nuclear weapons so long as Russia has them." I believe there is a wide measure of agreement between both sides of the House on this very important subject.
I wish to sum up briefly. I see no need whatsoever to be unduly worried about the breakdown of the Summit, disappointing though it was. Still less do I see any need to be pessimistic. We are far stronger than many people think, and the Communist system has many weaknesses of which we often do not bake full advantage. As well as stressing these points, I have stressed the great value of a bipartisan approach to foreign affairs and defence matters. I think I can truthfully say that between the official policy of the Opposition and the policy of the Government there is a great deal of common ground.
To sum the matter up more briefly still, I think I can best illustrate what 1050 I have been saying by recounting a conversation I had with a friend of mine, a senior member of the Soviet Embassy staff, when we lunched together recently. He gave me a very excellent lunch and a very good bottle of wine, for both of which he very kindly paid. At the end of lunch, he said to me, "I have always had dinned into me since I could first understand what people were saying that capitalism would wither away. The trouble is that it is not withering away fast enough". In my opinion, the real trouble, from the point of view of Moscow and Peking, is that it is not withering away at all.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Colonel Beamish) set out several reasons for viewing the international scene optimistically. He thought along these lines, I think, that whereas the conflict between the Communist and the non-Communist world continued and the aims of the Soviet Union remained unchanged, there were weaknesses in the Russian position which we had not appreciated well enough hitherto. I, too, am an optimist, but I have a different approach and different reasons for feeling optimistic.
In my view, it is not so much that one side in the cold war has weakened compared with the other as that the amount of conflict and tension between the two sides has diminished during the last five or ten years. In my view, that is a much healthier development and a much greater cause for rejoicing than several of the reasons for optimism offered by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Nevertheless, the fact that he was optimistic earns forgiveness for a multitude of sins.
In foreign affairs, optimism is not merely something which springs from a set of circumstances; it is something which itself helps to change circumstances in a desired direction. It is certainly true that suspicion and fear often tend to creat the very things which are feared and suspected; so any error, if there has to be one, should be on the side of confidence. Indeed, it can be set as a fair criticism against some movements, such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, that they constantly highlight the frightening and negative aspects of the world situation 1051 and do not sufficiently point out the encouraging and positive trends which are present at the same time.
It is a fact, after all, that the American and Russian leaders passionately want to avoid nuclear war, even though they may sometimes give the very opposite impression. I think it might be better if the Aldermaston marchers spent a little time pointing out to the Russians the true fact that the American leaders do, basically, want peace and to the American leaders the true fact that the Russian leaders do genuinely want peace, instead of stirring up the rather frenzied and hysterical atmosphere of nuclear crisis. Although it is true that the horror of nuclear war cannot be exaggerated, the likelihood of its taking place can be exaggerated, and it is very harmful to do so.
When I look back over the past five or ten years, I feel a sense of relief. I remember discussing with a senior Soviet Minister quite recently in a private conversation what was the worst point in East-West relations at the height of the cold war. He agreed without any argument that the very lowest point, the most dangerous point in the cold war, was the precise moment in 1948 during the Berlin blockade when a British airliner crashed as a result of being buzzed by a Soviet fighter. I recall the very great anxiety in the Foreign Office at that time about the immediacy of war and the great difficulty of calculating what the Russians intended at that time. Today, war seems even more horrible to contemplate than it was then, but it seems a great deal less likely.
We have new problems like the spread of nuclear weapons, to which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition referred, but there are many problems which seemed insoluble and critical then of which we do not hear any more now. I think of the problem of Austria, the problem of Greece, the problem of Trieste, the problem of the Straits, the problem of Yugoslavia and the treaties with Eastern Europe—things which worried the Foreign Office in the late 1940s. Where are they now? On an occasion like this, at a critical moment after the collapse of the Summit Conference, we do well sometimes to count our blessings and see where the favourable trends are.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
The hon. Gentleman said that war today seemed more horrible but less likely than ten years ago. Is it not possible that it is less likely because it is more horrible?
§ Mr. Mayhew
That is a very controversial point. I think that there is much in what the hon. and learned Gentleman says, but if one were to proceed from that assumption to attempt to pile up more and more horrible weapons on both sides, I should not go so far as to accept that.
Another point on which we should reflect at this stage is that, politically and ideologically—here I quarrel with the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes —the Soviet Union is a good deal less expansionist than it was ten years ago. The hon. and gallant Gentleman said, rightly, I think, that he was speaking for bath sides of the House in saying that he believed that the ultimate aim of the Communists was to see a Communist world. I do not question that at all. But what a crude and generalised form in which to put the statement. We take that for granted. What we are interested in is considering at what speed and by exactly what methods the Communists are approaching their goal. That is the point.
When we compare what the Communists say and feel now with what they said and felt in the late 1940s, we see that the whole time schedule by which the Communist millenium is to come has been vastly extended into the future. A long time ago, in 1917 and 1918, Lenin and the early Bolsheviks thought that world revolution was coming in 1919, 1920 and 1921. They were right about Germany and Hungary, where, for a time, there were Communist revolutions; but bit by bit the Communist millenium has moved further and further away. Now, Mr. Khrushchev speaks about the grandchildren of Americans being Communists. Among the Russians today, the Communist millenium is even more vaguely in the future. Side by side with this postponement of the millenium, there has been a great improvement in the methods which the Communists regard as acceptable in reaching the millenium. This, too, is an extremely important matter. The old Comintern days were quite different from the state of relationships between East and West today. 1053 Also, there is a long-term factor to which I should draw attention, the removal of a great deal of the isolationism of the Soviet Union during the past five or ten years. We have heard a great deal about Mr. Khrushchev's Press conference in Paris. It was a deplorable incident in every sense, except perhaps in this, that we should not think that because we did not hear so much about and from Stalin, that he was any less bitter or hostile in his attitude to the West, nor should we think that it would have been better for Mr. Khrushchev, like Stalin, to nurse and brood over his grievances behind the Iron Curtain rather than come Westwards and argue them with full publicity before Western public opinion. That is a new feature which we should note.
I remember how difficult it was during the cold war even to talk to a Soviet diplomat. As a delegate to the United Nations in 1948, I set out as a matter of policy to try to arrange for my opposite number, the head of the Soviet delegation, to have lunch with me alone before the conference ended. My success in this enterprise was regarded as an unprecedented diplomatic success. Of course, all that is totally changed. Although much of the Iron Curtain is left—I need not spell it out, since hon. Members know about it and have referred to it—a great deal has gone and concrete results have been achieved.
Let us consider some of the changes in basic Soviet opinion which have taken place in recent years. The Russians accept today, for example, the higher standard of living of British and American workers. This was not always the case. They accept that Western democracy, or capitalism as they call it, has a much longer life and is far more stable than they conceived at the end of the war, let alone before it. They concede that the elected leaders of the Western Powers are men of peace. Mr. Khrushchev repeated that only yesterday—that President Eisenhower was a man of peace. This would have been a heresy for which they would have been sent to prison, or worse, before the war, and it is a profoundly important and encouraging change. They proclaim, without always carrying out, the principles of co-existence. They do not live up to the principles of co-existence as we would regard them, but at least they got rid of the Comintern and the 1054 Cominform. Symbolically, if one listens to Radio Moscow it does not begin nowadays with the "Internationale".
Although this is all in Lenin's texts, Lenin wrote and spoke so much that one can pick out any text from what he wrote. The truth is that this policy of co-existence, which is now part and parcel of Russian thinking and propaganda, is profoundly anti-Marxist. The very basis of Marxism or dialectical materialism is the denial of the possibility of the co-existence of opposites. The assertion of conflict and the assertion of crisis is basic to Marxism, and this new emphasis on co-existence is profoundly different.
Can it be reversed? Some will say that these changes in opinion are on the surface and can be reversed. As someone who has met a lot of Soviet people—students and intelligentsia, in particular—I am convinced that when they talk about co-existence, certainly the young people, they are not making propaganda at all. Although they expect capitalism in America to fail, if one suggests to them that they will encourage or provoke it to fail, let alone that they want it to fail, the average young Soviet student will think that one has said something offensive, as though he was being told that he was in favour of war.
There is a kind of moral basis in the young Soviet person's attitude to co-existence which I believe any future Russian Government will find extremely difficult to reverse. This is profoundly important. Similarly, over the years the Western view of the Soviet Union has become more realistic. Five or ten years ago we did not really appreciate the strides which the Soviet Union had made in science and education, let alone in sport. I think that the Soviet attitude to Germany is far better understood than it was five years ago, and also the limit that they undoubtedly set to their political aggressiveness and imperialism.
I want to ask the Government whether they cannot somehow, at this stage which we have reached as a result of the breakdown of the Summit Conference, give some new impetus to these positive and encouraging trends over the last five or ten years. I have always felt that, whereas we must work for disarmament at these conferences, it 1055 was a great deal to expect successful disarmament agreements in the political conditions which exist between East and West today. I have always felt it a little hopeful to expect to get open skies before open doors. I therefore wonder whether the Government can take some new impetus in this direction.
Cannot we—I believe that there was talk of this on the Western side before the Conference—gradually evolve some kind of code of co-existence? The U2 is a very good example of an action that is definitely incompatible with the behaviour between two great Powers in a state of co-existence. Equally, I am not sure about the microphone at the back of the chair of the American Ambassador in the American Embassy in Moscow. I am not sure that espionage questions are suitable for the kind of discussions that I have in mind, but at least they bring out my point, which is that it is worth making clearer what actions are and are not permissible to great powers according to the principles of co-existence.
Take non-interference in the internal political affairs of a country. The old Comintern and Cominform idea is off, but are we agreed that no form of international political organisation is acceptable? I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) is present. I recall very well when I was at the Foreign Office in the 'forties being visited by the Italian Ambassador, who, in sad tones, pointed out that whereas the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, was negotiating with the de Gasperi Government in connection with the formation and development of Western Europe, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East, as Secretary of the International Department of the Labour Party, was negotiating with the Italian Socialist Party to bring down the de Gasperi Government. I had to explain to the Italian Government that what Mr. Bevin did as Foreign Secretary and what my hon. Friend did as Secretary of the International Department of the Labour Party were two totally different things.
This question of the international organisation of political parties, not only conspiratorial parties like the Communists, but non-conspiratorial parties 1056 like the Socialist and other parties, might profitably be discussed between the powers. As has been said, the Russians still intervene politically in the internal affairs of Western countries. They have got rid of the Cominform but still back old Stalinist front organisations, such as the World Peace Council, the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the British-Soviet Friendship Society and the Society for Cultural Relations. They are a relic of the cold war. They are declining in influence, but they still have the power to irritate and to cause misunderstanding between the Western nations and the Soviet Union.
The worst feature of these old Stalinist front organisations is not so much that they are a weapon of Soviet political imperialism or anything like that. The worst feature is that this brings the Russians into contact with Westerners who, because they are Communists and fellow-travellers, confirm all the Russian misconceptions about opinion in the Western countries. This is a very interesting matter which I have studied a great deal. Organisations like the British Youth Festival Committee or the British-Soviet Friendship Society are of no importance politically in this country, but the people in them believe sincerely that the Americans are not to be trusted, that the North Atlantic Treaty is aggressive, that colonialism is just exploitation and that Western democracy is a sham. As they meet these Russians the impact is to confirm the Russians in precisely those misconceptions which are so dangerous to good will and understanding between East and West.
I therefore say that in any conference about co-existence—I hope that we shall work for something of this kind—we might lay down some such principle as that contacts between Communist and non-Communist countries, where they have to be organised at all, should be organised by bodies which are representative of both countries, which means, in practice, between Communist organisations in Communist countries and non-Communist organisations in non-Communist countries, and not between Communists in Russia and Communists in Britain or in France. This is a profoundly important principle if those contacts are to do good and not cause harm to relationships between the two sides.
1057 My hope is that the Government will maximise contacts of this kind, paying particular attention to the new youth organisations and new youth and student contacts which are being built up, and take a positive attitude to these conceptions of world youth festivals. Whereas we do not want world youth festivals if they are organised, as they have been so far, on the principle of being organised between Communists in Communist countries and Communists in Western countries, it would be a great mistake to rule them out when they can be organised on a proper representative, genuinely non-political basis between the countries of West and East. I hope that the Government will have a look at that point
Finally, at a meeting on co-existence it would be interesting perhaps to compare notes as to what is and is not permissible in the way of propaganda between East and West. Here again is a great field for misunderstanding. Some of it is due to genuine lack of discussion and lack of clarification of minds on both sides. What is and what is not permissible in broadcasting and publishing by way of propaganda between the two sides? Obviously, a country is entitled to publicise itself and to make clear its views on foreign policy, but to what extent should Russian-produced propaganda circulated or sold in Britain attack British political figures or British political parties? To what extent should the B.B.C. not only explain to the Russians about Britain, not only explain British foreign policy to the Russians, but be critical of the internal arrangements in the Soviet Union? It would be well worth having frank and open discussions with the Russians to clear up misunderstandings of this kind.
I have said some of the reasons why I feel that there is solid ground for optimism concerning relations between the Western countries and the Soviet Union in spite of the collapse of Summit talks. Whereas on the surface things have gone wrong, these fundamental changes have been taking place slowly, almost imperceptibly, over the past five or ten years. I believe that they can be speeded up and that they are hopeful for the future.
I should like to say a word about China. If it is possible to be optimistic 1058 about the Soviet Union, it is utterly impossible to have the slightest optimism about China and her relations with the Western countries. The first time I visited the Soviet Union was in 1936. I visited China in 1957. The resemblances politically and ideologically between Russia in 1936 and China in 1957 were profoundly disturbing and worrying. One saw the same utter isolation from the West, the same refusal of Chinese people to speak to one, as the Russians had refused in 1936. There was the appalling ignorance and the appalling dogmatism about the West based on no real knowledge or contact.
I ask the Government, therefore, whether there is nothing we can do to diminish this isolation of China from the community of nations. Obviously, the big point is that she must at the earliest possible time be brought into the United Nations. American policy in this respect is indefensible. I hope the Government will take a strong independent line to prevent not only the ignorance and the isolation that results from not having China at the United Nations, but to avoid inevitably the growth of justified resentment and hostility on the part of China that she is excluded in this way.
I hope also, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, that the Government will urge China's entry into the disarmament discussions, together with India. That is something which should be done. At a smaller but nevertheless practical level, have we sounded the Chinese Government about the possibilities of increasing cultural and trade contacts, as we have done over the years with the Soviet Union? Admittedly, the climate may not be very good, but if the British cannot make this kind of initiative, certainly the Americans and the Indians cannot. There is no other country that can do it.
I therefore suggest to the Government that on the same pattern of agreement as we got with the Soviet Union—the cultural agreement made by Britain with the Soviet Union was the first East-West cultural agreement of any kind, and it was done on a British initiative—we might consider trying to do the same thing with the Chinese. It might be expensive in view of the distance, but travel nowadays is quick. The Chinese might well respond to an initiative of 1059 that kind. There are many British citizens with a good knowledge of China who are sympathetic and friendly disposed and who would be willing to take part in an initiative of this kind.
We have a tremendous problem with the Chinese, but looking over the experience of the last ten or twenty years with the attitude of the Soviet Union to the West and the remarkable developments and improvements that have taken place, I suggest that if we take a positive and constructive attitude towards the Chinese now, we might in due course slowly achieve the same good results.
§ 6.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Rawlinson (Epsom)
The hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) speaks with such authority and so persuasively that for a time he relieved my gloom, because, unlike my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Colonel Beamish), I confess to a greater degree of pessimism. When the hon. Member for Woolwich, East and other hon. Members were speaking, I could not help recalling how, twenty-two years ago, I was sitting in the Gallery and listening to similar kinds of speeches, usually from this side of the House, but using different phrases about different countries, different dictators and different weapons.
The hon. Member for Woolwich, East said that pessimism created suspicion and that suspicion and fear then created a crisis. That may be so, but peace is too precious to look at it as though it is something so desirable that we must look only through rose-tinted glasses, as we in this country have all too often been guilty of doing in the past. For it is just at the present time that we have been singularly reminded of the kind of speeches that were made in 1938. In the days of Adolf Hitler, the vilifying and sneering at the Heads of other Governments was all too common.
I was glad that the Leader of the Opposition pointed out the great distaste that is felt in this country when one Head of a Government attacks another Head of State in the terms in which Mr. Khrushchev attacked President Eisenhower. We cannot ignore the general revulsion at this personal abuse by a Head of Government at a time when the whole balance and peace of the world depends upon the good nerves and the 1060 good sense of the men who are ultimately responsible.
The British people have not been impressed by the foolery at drinking parties, by the swaggering tours and by the hearty familiarity, including those proverbs and stories from the steppes which have been larded about all over the world. They are not impressed, because we have had similar experience of it before. Now, we have had this recent, personal attack. I cannot think why it should have been necessary, unless it can be explained by the old adage that anybody who has a bad case should belabour the other party's attorney. It may be that there is not a bad case. Why, therefore, use the personal abuse which Mr. Khrushchev did only two days ago? He said that apparently Government and the administration of the country was merely the President's subsidiary task; that the President did not know about the spy plane, and thereby revealed his incompetence. But putting his hand on his heart, Mr. Khrushchev said that he was quite clear in conscience concerning any matter of espionage. If that is so, it reveals either his own incompetence and inefficiency, or more certainly, his brazen hypocrisy and cant.
What was the point of making this particular speech at this time? Unlike some hon. Members, I do think it important to try to discover what we think are the reasons why Mr. Khrushchev made that speech. Does he seriously believe that it will have any effect on the United States elections? In a democratic country, the usual effect when one Head of Government attacks another and offers, or proffers, by innuendo or direct, advice how an election should go and who should be the next President, is to stiffen the resentment of, in this case, the United States elector at such interference. Its second likely effect is to increase the difficulties of any future President, from whichever party he comes, in meeting the Head of the Soviet Government. Ultimately, in the last resort, it might well assist the candidature of the present Vice-President.
Is Mr. Khrushchev, therefore, ill-informed? There is a great gulf which still lies between the East and the West, despite the visits of the statesmen, despite the tours of the ballet companies, and the productions of Shakespeare in Moscow. 1061 There is still a tremendous gulf in the minds of men who come from the East and from the West. The greatest danger lies in the lack of sensible and intelligent knowledge of other countries, which may lead to dangerous miscalculation and misinterpretation.
I believe that the flight by the American reconnaissance aircraft over the Soviet Union was assessed in Russia as being of such importance as radically to alter, at least for a time, the policies of the Soviet Union. I believe that the new infra-red techniques upon which rocketry so very much depends, which involves the mapping with accuracy of a target, was, in the assessment of the Soviet Army at this time, a real threat. They then learned, or perhaps partially learned, how far this reconnaissance by aircraft had gone and the effectiveness of the pinpointing of the various targets. I believe that there was, then, a particular dispute, or disagreement, just before the Summit between the Defence Ministers and Mr. Mikoyan and others, and it is not without significance that Mr. Mikoyan will be absent from the visit to Austria which the Soviet leaders are about to make.
Another reason for his speech at this time was, obviously, not to influence the West by pointing out the mistakes of the Americans but to play up to his audience which exists in his own country, in the same way that responsible Ministers in this country are ultimately dependent on opinion. It is, of course, true that Mr. Khrushchev is dependent on the opinion of a much smaller group than is the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition.
He must know surely that the effect of that speech would be and will be to make a Summit less likely and longer postponed. I have always presumed that the object of the Summit Meetings was to make a meeting together of those ultimately responsible and who have the power to make decisions, to negotiate when they meet, to limit and define principally that grey area of uncertainty between peoples and Governments which has so often in the past caused miscalculation and led to conflict, and then to enter into agreements concerning the various problems that exist. Such meetings can be effective only if those representatives have the power and the will. If there is no power and no will, the 1062 Summit can obviously destroy much more than it can create.
In 1959 much apprehension was felt in the United States, and certainly in Europe, that either the West at a Summit would be manoeuvred into a position of disadvantage or that this would be only an exercise in propaganda. I believe that the Prime Minister's policy in 1959 was right. I think that it was right then in that context and those circumstances. There was, of course, the genuine demand of public opinion, believing that the essential thing was to get men round the table to discuss in the hope that they would agree. I do not think that that by itself, however, should be the supreme consideration. But above all, I think that it was right because it was the only real test of sincerity to see whether there could be a Summit and to see whether, if in perhaps only a small, partial area, agreement somehow might come.
Now, in 1960, that policy in effect lies in ruins. Even if Mr. Khrushchev genuinely believed or gained the impression at Camp David that there were good chances of compromise—as, it is said, Sir Anthony Eden after conversations with President Eisenhower thought that there were good chances of a common policy for the Middle East—nevertheless we know perfectly well that, even if he felt that he had been let down and that thereafter there had been a departure OT change, nevertheless if he had wanted to impress the West, we know perfectly well what he could have done. It certainly was not to act as he did with regard to the U.2.
I do not believe that another Summit should be the immediate object of our diplomacy. By "immediate", I speak in terms of six, eight or ten months. I think that a great deal of time should pass to see exactly what progress is being made by those who have been more successful in getting some measure of agreement, that is, the experts. Having now supported the United States in Paris, we should ask, and indeed demand, of the American greater support for our policies. We should demand from them and get from them support for our policies in Africa and Algeria. I should like to see the exclusion of that dichotomy in United States foreign policy which so grievously endangers the 1063 alliance in which I so passionately believe.
I believe that the time has come when we should allow the ambassadors and the experts to do a great deal of the work that has been placed upon them, and rightly so, by the Heads of Government. I know that Marconi and the Wright Brothers debased the coinage of diplomacy, but I believe that at this time ambassadors will not prove so proud as Heads of State and so will prove more effective than their masters.
I applaud the attempt made by my right hon. Friend. I accept that it has proved a failure, and I think that we should be very silly indeed if we did not appreciate the extent and width of the failure that has in fact occurred. I do not despair, however, that at other levels much work can be done with reason and good sense and without the proudness of Heads of State. I certainly hope that the months ahead will be turned towards, not getting the Heads of Government together again, but to useful work of the ambassadors and experts.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Jack Jones (Rotherham)
In a debate on the question of world affairs by the experts on these matters, I want to express what I think the ordinary man in the street is thinking about this position. I refuse to be discouraged by the failure of something that did not take place. The Summit talks did not take place, and therefore they cannot have been a failure. I am quite satisfied that any failure to have the meeting can be placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of Mr. Khrushchev. It will only strengthen the position of the West. It has caused millions of people in the West to ask: why was it that those persons in the East who apparently think that they have a political system better than anything else in the world, and who spend their time expounding it to the world, did not take this opportunity once more to expound it?
I look at this fellow Khrushchev with mixed feelings. I have been out of Britain some forty times during the war and since, and I have had the opportunity of speaking with some of his very close henchmen in East Germany on more than one occasion. I am satisfied that the ordinary man and woman in 1064 Russia no more desires the extermination of himself and his brothers and sisters than do the people of this country. They have set themselves up as being the mouthpiece of the nation but have not at any time given the nation the opportunity to express its opinion of the mouthpiece.
I begin to think very seriously when I see a man patting little children on the head and talking to ordinary people in the streets, which should be admired—not enough of that is done by our diplomats—and then breathing blood and fire and making a statement which means devastation. That takes a bit of thinking about. I cannot believe that Khrushchev is saying what he himself really believes. I think that Russia is beset with a big internal problem. When a nation or a Government thinks that it can do better than another nation or Government, there is likely to be trouble. After all, one can see this in the village choir. When one member thinks he can sing better than anyone else, then trouble starts to brew. In Russia more and more people are becoming educated. This also applies to China. I was writing an article for a works magazine on China. Backward as they are, steel output there is about 28½ million tons this year and it will increase next year and the year after, and we have the same position in Russia. They have a great amount of capital goods which later can be turned into consumer goods. Naturally, there is the desire of the people to express themselves about how those goods should be used and how there should be a fair and reasonable sharing of them.
I am satisfied that Russia is beset with a problem which demands of those who lead that country expressions of opinions which will keep them in the leadership, and that those expressions of opinions are not really expressions of the opinions of the people they presume to lead. I believe that sincerely. My hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said, as we all know to be true, that he has visited Russia and met hundreds of young Russians, and that, wherever one goes in the world and meets the younger folk, they say that their desires are the same as those of our young folk—to live in peace, to have a full belly—to use rough and ready Yorkshire language—to have a 1065 roof over their heads and a fair share of the good things which Almighty God provided for all men to enjoy.
What I cannot understand—it needs a bit of understanding—is why a nation which says it believes, and which sincerely does believe, as Russia does, as Communism itself does, that capitalism will bring about its own destruction, should interfere with the West and its desire to destroy itself. Why Russia or the Communists should try to stop the West from committing suicide, I do not know. Hitler made that mistake. Hitler was doing very well. He was getting into the world's markets and making a job of Germany's economic situation. He wanted to get on a bit quicker, and he thought that the use of military power would be better than the use of economic power for that purpose. What happened? He came unstuck. So will this person about whom we are speaking today, if he follows the same line.
There is the question of atomic power, which is a frightening thing if people believe that somebody wants to start using it for war, and when they know that it will involve the destruction and annihilation of those who want to start the ball rolling. I have never yet seen a person who has power and plenty who wanted to make such a mistake.
Do not let us make the mistake of thinking that there is equity of distribution of plenty in Russia. There is between those who have and those who have not in Russia a greater gulf than existed between those who had and those who had not in this country when it was at its worst. Do not let us make any mistake in thinking there is equity of distribution in Russia. There is no such situation. Those of us who have been to the Persian oilfields know a bit about this equity of distribution. We can believe what we see.
What happened at the Summit which did not take place reminds me of what can happen in disputes between employers and workers. It reminds me of what could happen when I was a trade union official negotiating with the boss and when we had a very good case and the boss thought he would arrange a meeting with us because he thought he had a fairly good case. We on our side were after "summat"—not a summit. 1066 The "summat" we were after was lolly—money. On the eve of the talks the boss began to think his case was not as good as he had thought it was, and on the morning of the discussions he referred to a recent episode in a department, which he used as an excuse to delay, to put off the talks, and take away from us the time and opportunity to put our case.
That was the idea behind the complaint about the spy plane. Who was to worry about it unless there was something to hide? What had the Russians to hide from the spy plane? There is no need for the Russians to send a spy plane over this country, because in every factory and cell in every part of Britain there is information, and indeed it can be procured right inside this building—information which the Russians might want. The spy plane was something for the Russians to use as a peg on which to hang delay. Why did the Russians complain if they had nothing to hide? Was there anything evil which they are now designing? That is the logical question to ask. If they believe that they have the finest ideology in the world, they should welcome everybody flying over to have a look at it in practice—not object to one plane flying 12 miles high above it. Let us get the thing into its proper perspective and have a proper look at it.
We have the question of doing away with armed forces. How in the name of all that is holy and decent Khrushchev can stand there with his hand on his heart and say, "I, the leader of this great nation, am pure", I do not know. The Russian nation is a great nation, let us make no mistake about it: geographically, because of its vast wealth, great manpower and unlimited slave labour—bags of it—with political prisoners doing the work, and with a very low standard of living. We have seen them.
But Khrushchev certainly cannot say that as the accredited leader of the Russian nation. If he does, he must have a very short memory. We remember Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, the lot. There is blood upon the hands of the leaders of the Russian nation—more by far, and got in so-called peacetime, than any that ever happened when the great nations were at war. 1067 So this chap, in my opinion, was using this opportunity to strengthen his own position inside his own country. That is my candid opinion. Wherever we get people bidding for power—it is the same within my own party, it is the same within the Tory Party, it is the same in a church council. Wherever one finds persons bidding for power and failing, they have to find some excuse with which to blame other people. We find them seeking excuses, and things for which to blame other people. History will repeat itself in Khrushchev's case as in the cases of his forerunners.
I am not at all worried about the failure of the Summit talks, so-called. I honestly and sincerely believe that, as a result, people are woken up. Fat dogs do not bite. People feeling pretty contented do not worry. When people think that someone may have something to drop on them which will annihilate them or their brothers and sisters somewhere else—in Australia, in Austria, in Sweden, or wherever it may be—the idea that this might happen wakens people up. I think, therefore, that as a result we shall find that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will be strengthened rather than weakened.
I am one of those who are all for peace. I saw too much of what war can do in the First World War when I had the privilege to serve under a person who became the Father of this House, Lord Winterton. I say again that he was a fine soldier and a great leader of men. I saw too much of what war of that type could mean. People call it, I believe, a conventional war, but when one sees sixty or seventy or eighty mangled bodies in one grave, I know it means war, no matter by what name it is called. That is why I say I am a man of peace. I wish the policemen in my constituency did not have to carry rubber truncheons, but there are thugs about, and so they have to. I am for this country having the opportunity to defend itself against any possible would-be aggressors. There are people in this country who believe that we should arm ourselves with bladders on a stick. That is the sort of picture. The other fellow may have atom bombs and all the rest. I would rather that none of us in the world had any of these things at all and 1068 could settle our differences round the conference table, by arguing out what is right and proper—not who is right, but what is right.
This nation of ours can act as intermediary between the other great Powers. There is America on the one hand, great capitalist nation, as it is—and it is great, despite all its faults. Then there is our nation, which could be democratically Socialist. We went too quickly for people to respond. One of our biggest faults when my party was in power was that it went much too quickly for people to respond to the treatment it gave them, and so brought about some trouble to some extent, but also contentment. [Laughter.] Yes, because fat dogs do not bite; contented people stay away from the polls. Six years of Socialism brought about such a state of affairs that people did not bother any more.
This Summit failure has awakened the nations and awakened the world, and as a result I honestly believe there will be re-thinking. I repeat that this nation could take the leadership at this point. I do not agree with my very good friend who has shown his prowess at Bisley with the rifle. I do not agree that things will stay as they are. China, relatively, may be as far behind Russia as Russia was behind us, but in a century, which is not long in world history, China will catch up. The Chinese will lag behind Russia as the Russians have lagged behind us.
Why cannot everybody catch up and have a standard of living that is decent, right and proper? There is enough in the world, if things are organised properly, for everyone, including the Chinese, to have a reasonable standard of world's population in a few years. They will need to make more steel, and grow more rice and other things to feed themselves.
I have intervened in the debate to make the big point that, speaking as I think I do for tens of thousands of trade unionists and Socialists, we have a right to ask this fellow who the hell he thinks he is to be telling this nation, because of envy, jealousy, some personal desire, some whim or spleen against an individual, that he has the right to set about destroying us or anybody else. I do not believe that that is his intention. He has his own troubles and he has to create an attitude, 1069 by propaganda and various statements, that will strengthen his own position inside his own nation, because the weakness of the position arises from the desires of those who envy the West rather than of those who want to destroy it.
§ 6.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)
That was a very notable speech from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones). Though he claimed not to be an ex pert, I dare say that he has got nearer the truth of the cause of the breakdown of the Summit Conference than all the so-called experts put together. He was optimistic on grounds rather different from those on which most people are optimistic. He was optimistic because the Conference had broken down and therefore N.A.T.O. would be strengthened. Other hon. Members have been optimistic on somewhat opposite grounds.
At the risk of being thought mischievous, I have been looking at what people said on 12th May, before the Conference broke down, to find exactly what they thought about it then. If it is not considered bad form, I should like to remind hon. Members on both sides of the House of what was said by one or two hon. Members on that occasion. The hon. Member for Sheffield, Park (Mr. Mulley), for example, whose words have been commended by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, said on 12th May that unless we go to the Summit there is no chance of settling anything at all for the future. How does that chime in with the views which have been widely expressed on both sides of the House today that it is perfectly possible to take an optimistic view and that settlements are not only likely but probable at a lower level?
Indeed, my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary said much the same thing. His words were:What is certain is that unless this meeting and others after it take place, we shall not make real progress."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1960; Vol. 623, c. 659.]Is it the Government's view today, the meeting not having taken place, that no progress is possible on a lower and more technical level until there is a Summit? Some of us fear that people have committed themselves to such an extent about the Summit that now that there 1070 has been no Summit they are obliged either to eat their own words or else take a most pessimistic view of the next six, eight or twelve months. Perhaps the prize should be given to the leader of the Liberal Party, who said that he did not believe that the Russians would be deflected from sitting at the Summit by the U2 incident. In a sense, I dare say the hon. Member was correct, in that probably it was not the U2 incident—and here I disagree with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Epsom (Mr. Rawlinson) —that deflected them.
Finally, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who was most careful to prepare the position and has been careful for a long time in case the Summit failed, said that the Summit is not a single ascent of a single mountain. He said, nevertheless, that failure could do no harm. He instanced the meeting in 1955 which, he said, was a failure but did no harm.
I must ask myself whether the failure of the Summit has or has not done harm. I think that no one could lay his hand on his heart and say at least that it has not done harm in the United States. I have little doubt that it will be extremely difficult to get the American nation as a whole, and not merely one party in it, following the bitter and unnecessary insults heaped upon the head of the Head of their State, to go as far forward as they had come forward. Those insults went very deep, and they are bound to cause harm there.
Mr. Khrushchev does not seem content with heaping insults on the Head of State. Only yesterday he began to heap insults on the Vice-President of the United States, a thing which I cannot understand. He said that Mr. Nixon had arrived onthe crest of McCarthy's waveHe added that he would recall for Mr. Nixon the message of the Zaporozhe Cossacks to the Sultan of Turkey:What devil of a knight are you if, without your trousers, you cannot kill a hedgehog with the part of your body you sit on?'I do not know the meaning of the reference, but anybody who knows anything about the Russian language—and I am sure that the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) will agree with me—knows that to compare a 1071 human being with an animal by way of simile is one of the deadliest insults one can confer.
§ Mr. Mayhew indicated assent.
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
Since Mr. Nixon has as good a chance of being the next President of the United States as anybody, it seems unnecessarily gratuitous, having put President Eisenhower out of the ring for the next six or eight months, to insult the Vice-President as well.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is the hon. and learned Member aware that there are many precedents for this kind of language from some of his own leaders? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), for example, described the earlier Bolsheviks as "hyenas and baboons"?
§ Mr. Fletcher-Cooke
I dare say that that made negotiations rather difficult with them. It is perhaps one reason for not describing people as hyenas and baboons when one says one wants to negotiate.
My first conclusion is that the failure of the Summit has done harm in that it is bound to lead the Americans several steps away from another meeting. Why Mr. Khrushchev decided to bust it up has been canvassed very widely in this debate. It is really one of the consequences of summitry that if either of the parties to one of these tremendous shows feels that he cannot bring home the bacon, that he cannot get anything to show for it, he will bust it up. Mr. Khrushchev is no exception to that, because, as the hon. Member for Rotherham explained, he has to produce something to his people and he came to the conclusion that he could produce nothing on Berlin. He therefore felt obliged to bust up the Summit. Certainly during this period the Central Committee of the Communist Party, as far as one can see, has been in constant session for days and weeks.
Surely the general sense of the debate has been that Mr. Krushchev had far less power of decision and manœuvre than the whole theory of summitry postulated, because it was one of the defences of summitry that Mr. Khrushchev, as a great dictator, could and alone could take a decision. It was therefore essential 1072 to meet at that level and at no other, because only he could make decisions. It now looks as if not even he can make decisions. We are therefore back where we started, on the basis that it is far better—as history has proved—to seek modest results at a modest level. It is to be hoped that the target for 1961 will be a reinstatement of the Foreign Secretary level of negotiation.
This point was put very well in the debate on 12th May by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). I hate to have to say it, but he comes out rather well in terms of looking up the record of that debate. He said:Without aiming any remarks whatever at the Prime Minister, I think the right hon. Gentleman would agree that if heads of Governments are to take continuously a leading role in international diplomacy they must learn to behave like diplomatists. It is very dangerous when the future of mankind is put in the hands of four individuals, because the state of mind of those four individuals during a period of ten days comes to acquire an importance of an absolutely terrifying magnitude."[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th May, 1960; Vol. 623, c. 743–4.]That is perhaps the best epitaph on this period of diplomacy. It might have been necessary two years ago, because there was no other way of breaking the log jam, but to my mind it has outlived its usefulness for a long time.
I know that many other hon. Members want to speak, and I would only add a few words to what my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) said about tension. In the words of a popular song, "it takes two to tango", but it certainly takes only one to create tension. Either party to a diplomatic dispute can create tension at any time without asking the agreement of the other party if he wants it. We must ask ourselves what Mr. Khrushchev has so far gained out of the relaxation of tension. He has not gained what he wanted over Berlin, which was presumably one reason why he agreed to relax tension. In view of the state of mind of the United States, it does not look as if he will be likely to gain anything out of them in the near future. My view is that tension is bound to increase, in spite of the amazingly relaxed attitude of the last few days.
I am told that the jamming of our broadcasts is already slackening off 1073 again, having reached a climax during the period of the Summit failure. The observation about "allowing the dust to settle" is a forthcoming one. From what has been said, it looks as if Mr. Khrushchev is in favour of a continuation of the relaxation of tension. But we must remember—whether through Pavlov's dogs or any other simile—that what is said and what is done are two very different things. There is no doubt that the Head of the Russian Government has been through a considerable period of very strong and successful pressure from his own Central Committee against his own policy of détente. Therefore, although I am optimistic on the grounds mentioned by the hon. Member for Rotherham—because I am sure that this shock has been valuable for the West and for all hon. Members of this House—the future cannot be very optimistically viewed, even if the hon. Member for Woolwich, East tells us that it is something of a sin not to view it optimistically. I am afraid that I cannot force my mind to be optimistic for the future when the truth compels me to be the opposite.
From now onwards we must be content with a more modest programme. Judging from the events of the past, there is nothing wrong with that. The Austrian Peace Treaty was negotiated at a much lower level. All the valuable things have been negotiated at a very much lower level. Therefore, we should not be too downcast about the failure of this meeting. The benefit to be derived from a Summit meeting was overrated by us all, in a very natural desire to wish the Prime Minister godspeed on 12th May.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Yates (Birmingham, Ladywood)
The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) seemed to be of the opinion that the creation of tension came from only one side, namely, the Russians. To express that view is to misunderstand the present situation. I share the extreme disappointment expressed by the hon. and learned Member and other hon. Members about the attitude of Soviet Russia. I do so having spoken in this House for the past fifteen years against rearmament and policies which ca use tension. Since this country began to rearm, even under a Labour Government, tension has been created 1074 throughout the world. When the hon. and learned Member says that it was because Mr. Khrushchev could not get something out of the Summit that he bust it up, he is not fully appreciating the situation.
I do not want to follow his remarks, except to say that in my view the great evil in the world is not Communism but militarism. The growth of militarism has been a horrifying spectacle, from which we cannot expect a peaceful development. Five years ago I quoted the words of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr. Bell, in a pamphlet. I should like to quote them again. He said:To hold up the hydrogen bomb as an effective deterrent is to use the weapon of fear, and to stimulate suspicion, mistrust, recrimination, hysteria. To suggest that the fear thus aroused throughout the world by hydrogen bombs can turn out to be the most effective guarantee of peace is a delusion. So long as the hydrogen bombs are known to be possessed by one of the Great Powers, other Great Powers will not be content until they possess an equal or a greater number. So there will come about a nuclear armaments drive of the most dangerous kind, such as has often been the direct road to war.Surely that is what has happened.
As one who has belonged to the peace movement in this country for over thirty years, I have received many protests by the Soviet Union that they believed in peace. As one who believes that peace can never be achieved by the greatness of men's arms but only by the greatness of their love for each other, I must express my sorrow at the fact that this peace propaganda which has been poured upon us has somehow failed to achieve what we had hoped.
Both sides were responsible for the failure. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition referred to the speech made by Mr. Khrushchev on his arrival at Orly Airport. I should like to quote the exact words which were reported, not in the British Press, but in Soviet News issued by the Press Department of the Soviet Embassy in London. Although during the fourteen days prior to his arrival in Paris there had been arguments about the U2 incident and about the causes of tension, Mr. Khrushchev said:The Summit Meeting of the leading statesmen of the Soviet Union, France, the United States and Great Britain, which is to be held here, is of great significance in international 1075 affairs. We all know each other fairly well as a result of our past meetings, and I hope this fact will contribute to the successful work of the Conference.I cannot believe that Mr. Khrushchev would have said that if he had decided to completely wreck the Conference. Something else must have happened.
Mr. Khrushchev concluded by saying:We are well aware of the great hopes placed in the meeting of the heads of the Four Powers by the nations of the world, and the Soviet Government will exert every effort to make the Conference a success, to enable it to result in the further easing of international tension, in the consolidation of peace and the security of the nations.I therefore feel that something must have happened to cause that sudden change, especially the change in the language used by the Soviet leader.
The Americans blamed the Russians, and the Russians blamed the Americans. One must remember that the military alert coincided with the Conference, apart from any difficulties about the U2 incident, and I do not know why the Americans brought along their Minister for Defence any more than I can understand why the Russians brought Marshal Malinovsky. The launching of the spaceship into orbit also coincided with the Conference. These moves were, I am convinced, attempts by both sides to emphasise their military power, and Adlai Stevenson was correct when he said that the Americans had provided Mr. Khrushchev with a crowbar and a sledgehammer with which to wreck the Conference.
I am not seeking to justify Mr. Khrushchev's attitude. His language was abusive. I cannot remember any international statesman being insulted in the way that President Eisenhower was. We must be frank about this. That kind of language does not bring about peaceful understanding. I should like to write to tell Mr. Khrushchev that, as one who has been associated with the British Peace Movement for many years, I deplore language like that which he used because it can be not only misunderstood but can cause bitterness throughout the world.
I think that the greatest danger in the failure of the Summit Conference was summed up by The Times when it said:Cold war ice will be harder to unfreeze,1076 One hon. Member earlier as good as said, "Let us leave it. Let us not do anything for six, eight or ten months". If we adopt that suggestion, it will mean that we are not prepared to take over the initiative for bringing about peace, which the Russians seem to have lost at the moment.
Another danger of the breakdown of the Conference is that people who believe that direct negotiations are a snare will hold that belief even more passionately, and those of my hon. Friends on both sides of the House who have been to the United States know how difficult it is to persuade Americans of the importance of negotiations. I went to America in 1947 and again in 1953, and on the last occasion I was depressed because so many Americans said, "What is the use of negotiations? You cannot trust the Russians". I feel that the present situation will make it even more difficult for those people to believe, as we want them to believe, and as they ought to believe, that negotiations must take place, because the only alternative to co-existence is non-existence.
I am not advocating that we should not in future have Summit conferences. I have always believed that every possibility of bringing antagonistic forces together should be considered and that personal contact between both the rank and file and the leaders is important, but I think that the Government must make greater use of the United Nations than they have done hitherto. After the breakdown of the negotiations, Mr. Hammarskjöld, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, spoke of the danger of war by accident. He thought it was a very real risk, because he told a Press Conference that this risk was:based on the assumption which you know very well that nobody in the present world with open eyes goes to war.He went on to say that the problem which had been created required new initiative which should be taken through the United Nations in an attempt to solve this problem.
I want the Government to seize the initiative. I want the Government to take the initiative in pressing for peace other than by a mere meeting of heads of Governments. I want the Government to take the initiative in bringing about total disarmament, the abolition of 1077 tests and the creation of better understanding in the world. Nuclear disarmament is not the only type of disarmament that is required. I have always taken the view—though perhaps some of my hon. Friends disagree with it—that militarism is the greatest evil in the world. Bringing about nuclear disarmament will go only part of the way if it means that we will still believe in the conventional weapons of high explosives, bombers, submarine's, and the rest. I do not accept that a conventional war is preferable to a nuclear war. Neither conventional nor nuclear armaments provide the way to peace in the modern world.
As I see it, it is not the weapons of war that are the great evil. It is war itself, war as an instrument of policy, that is wrong. If I believed that war as an instrument of policy was right I would believe in the most devilish weapons that man could invent, but I believe it is not this or that weapon but the fact that war is an instrument of policy that is wrong and should be outlawed. It is in that direction that I myself seek to influence the House of Commons.
I take the view of Keir Hardie, and it is not bad to remind ourselves of it. I remember reading about the conference which he addressed before the First World War in 1911, at which he said that when men and nations deliberately disarm, not from cowardice or from fear of being slaves, but from their willingness to lose their own lives rather than take the lives of others, their actions would have a new significance and a new appeal, and the nation would not go down to disaster but rather become the greatest nation the world has ever known. Those words of Keir Hardie are as true today as they were then, although we have had two world wars since they were uttered.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, speaking only this weekend in his constituency, made a most extraordinary statement, in which he said that he did not understand the peculiar meaning of pacifist. He said that the bulk of Labour Members suffered from an incurable disease—political schizophrenia —and that in times of real crisis Labour's pacifist heart will always rule its political head. I do not know what my hon. Friends on this bench think, but if the 1078 right hon. Gentleman was saying that a small minority below the Gangway here are able, and always have been able, in times of crisis to sway the head of the Labour Party, he must be passing on a tremendous bouquet to us, because it means that we must be an enormous power. He must have forgotten that, despite all our propaganda, Labour leaders went into the War Cabinet in both wars. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten that. If, in fact, this were true, I would begin to feel that we could say that the heart of the movement to which I belong is idealistic and Christian and its whole concept spiritual, but to say that it is the pacifists who rule the political head is quite wrong, because there has never been a party or any Government in this country which has ever pursued such a policy.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. John Profumo)
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for advertising my weekend speeches, but is he saying that he has given up all hopes of being able to influence his own party?
§ Mr. Yates
Not at all. I have been in the Labour movement for thirty years, and one must not give up hope. What I am saying is that the right hon. Gentleman made an attack upon the bulk of the members of this party which just is not true. I would be the first to admit it if it were true. I only say that, as a Minister of Her Majesty's Government, the right hon. Gentleman ought to be a little more careful in his weekend speeches. I suppose that I cannot ask the Prime Minister a Question about it, because the right hon. Gentleman is a junior Minister and I suppose that only a Cabinet Minister exercises an influence on policy. The right hon. Gentleman might realise that we take some interest in the statements he makes, and if he wants any assistance on that matter I should be delighted to provide him with a few arguments so that he would be on the right lines.
All I would say finally is that there are two sides in this struggle. Both Russia and America are armed with military power, and that military power in the end, maybe through a mistake, will cause tremendous destruction of civilisation. As I see it, there is only one way out, and that is by negotiation. I hope 1079 that the, Government will not give up hope. I hope that every attempt will be made on the part of the Government through the United Nations to get all these matters which divide us fully discussed, so that we do not have to wait for a year before our peace efforts are made in the right direction. In the end, I believe that the people of Russia, the people of Britain and those of America are anxious for and desirous of peace. Surely, we must find a way to give expression to the world's desire for peace, and I believe we can do that through the United Nations by a powerful contribution from our own Parliament and Government.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon- Tweed)
I should like to say one word about the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates). We all have great sympathy with the views which he put forward, but the trouble is that one has to face realistically the facts in the world today. It is no use our disarming if the other people in the world are not going to do so. The trouble about pacifism is that it is a policy which very often, unfortunately, backfires upon those who propose it.
I think that the whole House will be joined together in sympathy with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, because we all know what great value he set upon his approach to the Summit. There is no doubt at all that, in the last two weeks, our foreign policy has received a very severe blow indeed, for the whole culmination of three years' policy disappeared in one day's theatricism in Paris. The cost of getting these leaders together, from our point of view, was very considerable indeed. After Suez, it was the policy of the Government to make it up with America at almost any price, and so we followed along American ambitions in a way that was scarcely advantageous to ourselves. At the same time, we forgot what had been one of the Prime Minister's own peculiar political favourites—the unity of Europe.
Now, we have been told in the last few days that we are making an approach and that it is possible that we are going to join more closely with Europe and to 1080 join Euratom. These things ought to have been done in the last few years. Instead, we made Europe distrust us and we did very little except prove that, though we were being independent, we had not the strength to maintain our independence, or to succeed in what we were attempting to do. In addition, we have let the defences of this country sink to the lowest level at which they have ever been. We now know that it is highly probable that when conscription has ended the total of the Army in this country will probably be no more than 150,000 men. If that is the case, then there is no doubt that we have made a profound miscalculation about the Russian aims during the last few years and that we have sacrificed the unity of Europe, the trust of America—because there is no doubt that the Americans are severely disappointed with us—and the strength of our defences for nothing except one day's insults in Paris.
By some miracle, we have had a chance to gather up what was lost. It seems to me that Mr. Khrushchev was singularly stupid in his diplomacy in attacking the West in such a brutal way, for what he did was to give us one last chance to combine together against the policy of cold war which he has advocated and practised for so long.
I therefore hoped today that in the House we should hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister tell us in some measure of the steps which we intend to take to meet this repeated threat. I hoped that we should hear some reversal of the policy which we have followed during the last few years and which has led us nowhere. I hoped that we should hear from him a statement that he was willing to see an end to his period of powerless individuality which he has been practising during the last three years.
Instead, we had absolutely nothing of the kind. After hearing my right hon. Friend's speech, I can honestly say that I do not know what our future policy is to be. I must be quite plain about this. I should have liked to hear that we do not intend to keep a policy of the individualism of this country going at the cost of unity in Europe, and that we should not have future trips to Berlin and all over the world if the single result was to put forward plans which are not 1081 acceptable to France or Germany or to the rest of Europe and which we ourselves have no power to push through. That has been a miscalculation, and I was sorry to hear no hint that there was realisation that there had been this miscalculation, no mention of the fact that the cold war is likely to continue in every field, and no mention of the ways which we intend to use to combat it.
Where do we stand? That is the question which I should like my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary to answer this evening. Shall we go on as we have done during the last three years? Are we to be an individual without power? Are we to continue to split Europe or are we to try to join in a closer association with Europe? Are we to continue to run down our defences and to have an Army below the minimum which every tactician in this country knows to be too low? These are the main points of the debate today and, in drawing attention to them, I should like to thank hon. Members for the attention which they have given me.
§ 7.35 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I wholly agreed with the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) in his disappointment with the Prime Minister's speech. I also agreed with him when he said that our foreign policy has suffered a severe blow. It seems to me that experience shows that when Western statesmen go to so-called Summit Meetings they make two miscalculations. First of all, they far too often think that the dictators will act out of character when they get them round a table. For some reason, they expect that dictators who have made their policies quite clear will be won over from those policies through being close to the blue eyes of a democratic Prime Minister. The second mistake all too often made is in crediting dictators who go to Summit Meetings with a desire for over-all genuine negotiations when, in fact, they often go there to score points.
Nevertheless, I agree that we must continue to try to negotiate with the Russians on matters in which there is some common interest in finding a solution. I dare say that it may be true that, to get these negotiations at all, we 1082 must have some green light from Mr. Khrushchev, but I am more and more sceptical about anything emerging from Summit Meetings as such. Furthermore, it is quite apparent that the claim of Britain and France to be included in a Summit Meeting while China and India are excluded is growing weaker and weaker.
We have had many rather woolly phrases this afternoon, particularly from the Prime Minister, about the need for unity and about re-thinking our position in the West. I do not think that these phrases are much good unless they are brought down to detail and to action in the kind of way indicated by the noble Lord. When we come down to what can be done, this country alone cannot achieve very much on the total stage of world politics, but there are certain ways in which we are actually the niggers in the international woodpile. This we can cure.
There has been much talk about a closer relationship in the Western alliance. Again, as the noble Lord said, there are two specific directions in which this talk can be brought to concrete action and two ways in which this country, in particular, can do something positive. One is on the economic side. Our relationship with the Common Market is surely the test of our sincerity about inter-dependence and Western unity. But are the Government serious about these phrases? So far they certainly have not been. They have missed every chance of leadership in Europe and, before anything can be done, they must change their policy and make up their mind that it was a mistake for us to stay out of the movement for European unity and that we ought now to join the Six, if they will have us.
This seems to be the crucial decision, and it is a change of attitude which the Government must take if anything useful is to come out of negotiations between the Six and the Seven. Such negotiations will not absolve us from taking a decision of this kind. Much will depend on whether such negotiations are seeking to bring about a serious caming-together in Europe. Nor would the mere joining of Euratom absolve this country from clearing its mind about Europe, because the proposal to join Euratom is not in itself always treated as an earnest of a change of attitude. If it were, it would 1083 certainly be useful, but in fact it is often put forward as an alternative to having a European policy. As someone put it, it is not a European policy but a Trojan horse to enable the British to get into Europe without undertaking any obligations. It is clear that, in any case, Europe will consolidate her fuel policies within the next few years and that something much more than joining Euratom will be needed.
Nor can we get out of this decision by talking about the Seven. In the last few years the Government have been brilliant at evading difficulties. The Prime Minister is now once again hiding behind our obligations to the Seven as an excuse for taking no decision and for giving no lead. But the creation of the Seven as a counter-blast to the Six was clearly our error, and the fact that it was an error makes it all the more necessary for us to get out of that error. A British initiative is needed—nothing else will do. If we were to change our policy and our attitude we should then have to follow this up. We should have to convince the Six that we meant business and we should have to prepare our way with the Six to establish some workable arrangements.
In that connection, we have not only to negotiate the terms of an agreement with the Six but also to negotiate them with the Seven, and we have to reach some agreement with the Six such as the French have done so that our Commonwealth interests will be protected. We also have to negotiate some agreement with countries such as Switzerland which cannot undertake as close a political association as we can, but there is no reason why that could not be done and no reason simply on that score why we should not associate with the Common Market. If we are to talk about inter-dependence, this is the sort of decision which we must make one way or another.
I had a letter not long ago from the Economic Secretary about Britain's relationship with the functional organisations in Europe. In it he said that we could not agree to parts of our atomic programme being subject to certain kinds of supra-national control. In that event, we should give up talking about inter-dependence, because that is the 1084 only sort of thing that inter-dependence can mean. He added:I can assure you that we do keep under constant review the possibility of closer co-operation with the Europe of the Six in these two spheres and indeed in all others.This is constantly said. But it is not enough. This country has an obligation to make same proposals.
I believe that we could make a united European economic effort without doing any harm to our own interests or those of our Commonwealth, and I believe that a united effort by Europe to help Asia and Africa would be of great significance. It would also greatly strengthen the West in the peaceful competition with Russia in trade which everybody now expects.
The noble Lord also referred to defence and went so far as to say that our defences had never been at a lower ebb. This is heavy criticism, coming from a Government supporter, and I hope that the Government have taken note of it. I still believe, as Liberals have believed for some years, that the American deterrent should be enough and that our contribution to the Western alliance should be in other ways. I am not wholly unhopeful that the Government, too, are coming to think in this way, although no doubt they will not say so.
I suggested in this year's defence debate that as a second-best policy we might consider a N.A.T.O. deterrent. In that debate it evoked no enthusiasm but, apparently, it is now being considered in certain political circles. It has always seemed to me very much of a second best. If we are to consider a N.A.T.O. deterrent, we must be clear about what it can do and what it cannot do. I suggested it largely as a means of checking the spread of nuclear weapons, but I am not so sure that its value in this respect will be very great, because the French have made it fairly clear that, from their point of view, they still want their own deterrent, and that a share in a N.A.T.O. deterrent will not satisfy them. Nor am I certain how great this problem now is. On the other hand, a N.A.T.O. deterrent might be a sop to some European sensibilities, and if it were to stop the spread of nuclear weapons in any way, it would have value. 1085 Let us be clear about what it means. Unless it is totally supplied by the United States, the only available European means of delivery is the V-bomber force. This would have to be handed over to N.A.T.O. I do not know that in fact that would make much difference, but it would be strange if a Conservative or Labour Government, both of which have boggled at joining the Coal and Steel Community or Euratom for fear of interference with our national sovereignty, were willing to hand over our major defence force completely to N.A.T.O.
If, on the other hand, N.A.T.O. is to depend entirely on the United States weapon, why should not the United States supply it? If she did, we should certainly not delude ourselves about her position, for she would be an even more dominant member of N.A.T.O. than she is now. It is unthinkable to my mind that a N.A.T.O. deterrent supplied by the United States could ever be used against the will of the United States. It is, therefore, no good for the purpose of meeting the situation of which the Leader of the Opposition has sometimes spoken, when he visualises the possibility of Europe being threatened and needing the counter-threat of the deterrent while the United States is unwilling to make any such nuclear threat.
If the N.A.T.O. deterrent were to be the only deterrent, it might conceivably meet the situation in which the United States wants to threaten the deterrent but Europe does not, but it could not meet the counter-situation, in which Europe needs the deterrent but the United States is unwilling to wield it. There are certainly the very greatest difficulties over control and, because of that, there are great difficulties over the credibility of the N.A.T.O. deterrent. The best means of control may be the Standing Group, strengthened possibly, but at present the only credible deterrent is the American deterrent. Those who, unlike me, feel that this is not enough will have difficulty in finding any other credible deterrent which is not national.
§ Sir Alexander Spearman (Scarborough and Whitby)
Is not the real flaw in the hon. Gentleman's argument that, if there is a N.A.T.O. nuclear deterrent, there will be no conventional deterrent? 1086 If there is no credible conventional deterrent, we shall be faced with the prospect of using a nuclear weapon for any purpose, big or small.
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not see why that should be. N.A.T.O. would still have some very powerful conventional forces, which would be part of the general defence system in Europe. I do not suggest that one can get out of having powerful N.A.T.O. conventional forces by giving N.A.T.O. the deterrent.
We can at least agree one thing about the N.A.T.O. deterrent. It is not a compromise between those who believe in a Western deterrent and those who want unilateral nuclear disarmament. That is like saying that there can be a compromise between Christianity and atheism by everyone becoming Moslems. It is irrelevant to the controversy. Our contribution should be to strengthen N.A.T.O. in other ways. I share the view of the hon. Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Sir A. Spearman) that those weapons should be primarily, if not entirely, conventional.
Before I finish I want to say a few words on two other subjects, namely the Middle East and Berlin. These seem to be two danger spots, but they appear to be danger spots over which it is possible that some negotiation will be useful. At present the Middle East is out of the news. This may be because the noble Lord is in the Chamber and not touring, as usual. It is an extremely unstable area, and the fact that it is out of the news should not make us the least complacent about it. I suspect that anything may happen in Iraq and Persia, let alone on the Israel frontier.
If this happens, my view is that the Tripartite Declaration is much more of a trap than a possible solution to any difficulties or a basis for a policy. Again I ask, as I did in the last foreign affairs debate, whether this is not an area in which we are not only bound to admit Russia's interest, because after all she borders upon it, but where there is also an interest between Russia and the West to reduce arms and enter into a non-aggression pact.
The road to the Summit started from Berlin. I am not convinced that Mr. Khrushchev's reticence over Berlin should not be taken as a warning just 1087 as much as it may be taken with a sigh of relief. We have to decide two questions about Berlin—first, what steps could we take about it and, secondly, is time on our side? The two are interrelated.
Despite strong arguments the other way, I believe on the whole that time is not against us over Berlin. There may come a time again when, either through changes in the situation inside Russia or because of changes in her relationship with China or her European satellites, Mr. Khrushchev may be in a more amenable frame of mind to negotiate over Berlin. He has shown fairly clearly that he does not want a nuclear war over Berlin, and that, for the moment at any rate, he is prepared to hold off drastic measures.
On the other hand, I do not believe that the West can expect Berlin to carry on for ever as it is at present. It may well not be attacked, but if it is left in its present state West Berlin in the long run might well wither away, because people would not find it a place in which their children would want to stay. One possibility which I mention again is that the West should at least put up proposals to ask the United Nations to deal with this situation in some way. The United Nations could set up agencies there or take over control on the roads. If Mr. Khrushchev refused this, it would at least make him show his hand. We cannot be absolutely certain that he would refuse, because he does not want violence to break out over Berlin if it can be avoided.
Whatever else flows from the Summit there are some definite changes in British policy which ought to flow, particularly our policy over defence and towards Europe. There are some actions which the British Government can take or suggest and which I hope they will take. I do not claim to know what goes on in Russia, but it is fairly apparent that this country will perform its most useful service by looking to its own alliances for the moment, not forgetting the need for ultimo ate negotiation with the Communist world and seeing what within its power it can do to strengthen Western unity and put the West in a position where it can usefully negotiate with the Russians where chances offer over matters on which there is a common 1088 interest between ourselves and the Communist bloc.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)
I will not follow the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in his speech on Europe, the Middle East and other subjects of general interest but not directly related to the points which were to be discussed at the Summit Conference. I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstood the abject of the Summit Conference when he said that he thought that the Soviet leaders were expected to come to a conference of this kind and immediately be altered in their attitude by the blue eyes of the democratic leaders whom they met. I do not think that that was the object.
As I understand it, the situation had been reached on two or three problems confronting the world in which a step forward could be taken and even, on one, an agreement reached. It was thought that that agreement might be reached and the steps taken by a meeting of the leaders at the top. The collapse of the Conference has been a surprise and disappointment to most people in this country, but I do not believe that the idea that everything would be settled at such a conference was the right notion of the Conference in first place.
The fact that Mr. Khrushchev called it off after the participants had already arrived in Paris was the surprise, because he could so easily have stopped it after the U2 incident. It has been pointed out that he behaved mildly towards the American Government, although he made full use of the incident for propaganda shortly after it happened. It looked as though the Conference would take place.
To suggest that President Eisenhower's letter was four days late and that that had a great significance in the collapse of the Conference is not consistent with the thought, which I agree with, that the Conference was wrecked by the Russians although the Americans may have handed them the tools. It could have been wrecked after the U2 incident. When it was finaly wrecked at Paris, the decision must already have been taken to do so, whether President Eisenhower's letter had arrived a day or two earlier or not. 1089 Mr. Khrushchev's behaviour underlines the unpredictability of the conduct of Soviet leaders. We must be prepared for such sudden changes of attitude, and we may not be able to guess what is behind them. One explanation has been put forward, to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) referred, that it is a calculated element in a propaganda and nerve war campaign. To blow suddenly hot and then cold and then hot again can have an effect on one's political opponents. There is another theory that pressures in Moscow which were not in agreement in the last few days with Mr. Khrushchev caused him to change his attitude. The outside world can only guess at these things. Perhaps we will never know of the shifting of power within the small groups of men who control Russia.
In the West there will be some who will say, "I told you so. This Conference was never going to work and it was no good trying to meet Mr. Khrushchev at the Summit." There will be a temptation to give up serious efforts to reach settlements with the Russians on world problems. This is excusable and can be justifiable in the light of the extraordinary conduct which we saw at Paris. I was very glad to hear that that is not the view of Her Majesty's Government and that it is the determination of the Government to continue towards settlement with the Russians of these problems.
I urge that other methods as well as Summitry be given full trial. There are diplomatic methods. There are meetings which are not public, as well as public conferences. We are now in for a period of hard words from the Russians, and cold war conditions are starting to come back again. There have been threats. Even today we hear of a threat by General Malinovsky in a speech about retaliatory action against any bases in countries near the Soviet Union which might be used for espionage purposes. Jamming of B.B.C. and other Western broadcasts has started again.
Let us not mistake the nature of Communism and Communist methods. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West that international Communism will not change over-night. We must expect it to continue to try to subvert, to try to over- 1090 take the West economically, to try to win the support of areas and countries and control over their peoples, and in general to implant and impose the Communist doctrine wherever the Soviet Union can.
We must keep our defences and our capacity to compete adequate. But there are matters in which I believe it is in the Soviet interest, as well as our own, to make settlements. First, the Soviet Union cannot wish a hydrogen bomb war and the total destruction which it would bring. To carry this further, it is in the Soviet interest that the testing of nuclear weapons should be stopped and that there should be some measure of disarmament to help the Soviet Union compete economically with the United States. It is in the Soviet interest that there should be a relaxation of tension and that certain dangerous trouble spots should be settled. Mr. Khrushchev and the other Soviet leaders will seek the: best bargains they can possibly get in approaching these subjects, but it is in our interests and theirs to settle some of these points. We should continue to negotiate by every means possible with this end in view.
Since the collapse of the Summit Conference Mr. Khrushchev has announced that he does not intend to conclude immediately a separate German treaty. That means no immediate crisis on Berlin. He talks of a Summit in a few months' time. He spoilt this effect by referring to a future Summit having in its membership not only China but India and Indonesia, and possibly others. If that kind of membership is given to Asia, countries in other Continents will feel that they should be there too. That would alter the nature of this Summit Conference, which is a successor to the previous meetings between Foreign Ministers and Prime Ministers since the war on the problems to be settled in Europe resulting from the victory in Europe. China, therefore, has not been involved in those talks, although I should be pleased if she were to be admitted to the councils of the world, and if it were agreed that she should' participate in this sort of discussion because of her interest in disarmament.
However, it does not help towards a future Summit at this moment to say that this kind of new membership should 1091 be added. We understood that this meeting, had it taken place, would have been a very close, informal meeting of a few heads of Governments, and that some of the meetings would have had very few advisers present. This kind of informal meeting, which can make progress, could not possibly take place with a very much enlarged membership.
The whole question of Communist China is much more difficult than I think has been presented here this afternoon. In the first place, her representation at the United Nations lies at the bottom of the argument about whether she should be represented at such meetings. This issue is raised each September at the General Assembly of the United Nations. I thought that last September enough countries were tending towards Britain's view that Communist China—although we disapprove of her policy—should none the less be the representative China at the United Nations, for an appropriate majority to take that decision.
Unfortunately, at that very moment, Communist China was engaged in activities vis-à-vis India and Tibet which made it very difficult for the countries which were wavering to take such a decision. A lot is in the hands of the Communist Chinese themselves to get this matter settled. Unfortunately, this September seems an inappropriate moment. The American Presidential Election takes place two months later, so I imagine that this would be a very difficult year to take a decision like this. I hope that that important decision may be taken at the United Nations in September, 1961.
The Americans are in a difficult position here. In the first place, their principle of recognition denotes approval of a Government's policies. That has always given them trouble in the past. In our case, very briefly, if we recognise a Government it is because we accept that that Government control much the greatest part of the territory and are regarded by the majority of people in that territory as the authority governing the country. It is, therefore, easy for us to take a step of recognition, because we do not thereby imply any approval of policy of that Government.
The other difficulty the Americans have is that this is not simply a matter of bringing Communist China to the 1092 United Nations as an additional member, or to these other conferences as an additional country. Communist China wants to take the place of the Chinese representative now sitting at the United Nations. That means that the representatives of Chiang Kai-Shek have to be kicked out first, and that makes it more difficult. The problem consists of much more than calling in a further nation.
China is very much concerned with general disarmament, but the Ten-Power Disarmament Committee of the United Nations has a membership that was arrived at with great difficulty, I understand, in negotiation with the Russians. It is a Commission of the United Nations. Therefore, although I would support a move which could bring Communist China into those talks, I cannot see that it is a practical possibility over the next year or so.
The Commission now consists of five representatives from the West and five from the Soviet bloc. It must be kept going, and we should try to make progress in it. We should not hold up talks on disarmament simply because Communist China is not there. In Stage Two of the Western Plan before the Committee there is provision for China and all other countries concerned to come into a conference on disarmament.
Another point which, regrettably, has not been considered at the Summit is the nuclear test negotiations at Geneva. In their present mood, the Russians may now prevent or delay an agreement being reached, although we seem so near to it. We must press ahead with those negotiations. The advance in the last year and a half in Geneva has been most striking. The Russians have agreed to a system of control and inspection for nuclear tests which, a few years ago. would have seemed quite impossible.
In the three years that I spent in our permanent delegation at the United Nations several years ago we had continual meetings on disarmament, and there was no progress at all, because the Russians would never agree to any form of control or verification. Therefore, what has happened in the nuclear test negotiations at Geneva is very significant, and we cannot afford to lose that advance. If the Russians have done that, there is hope that, again, it may be in their interest to make some progress on 1093 general disarmament, although we cannot be so optimistic at the moment.
I strongly urge that the Ten-Power Committee should be kept in being and used. I was glad to hear my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister suggest that the Committee should be given some practical issue or other to tackle. It may be said that so far the two sides have simply discussed each other's plans—or rather criticised and thrown out each other's plans—but there are small matters on which a start could be made.
I suggest that there are elements in paragraphs C and D of Part I of the Western Plan, where it is suggested that information should be collected on present force limits and on armaments, and that this collection of information should be by statements by the States concerned according to mutually agreed criteria. Surely, the Committee could get down to the question of those criteria. It could make a start on a point that has to be agreed before the rest of the paragraph can be pursued. That is something that has to be settled in any plan.
It can be said, if one reads Mr. Khrushchev's plan, that that is something that would have to be part of his plan, too, if he were to expand it. In paragraph D there is an element to be discussed that can be said to be common to both plans, and something that the Russians would have to have in any expanded plan of theirs.
I believe in tackling a subject in that way, and trying to make progress on it. If one can make some progress, there is mutual confidence, and one can then go on to more important matters. The comparative success of the Nuclear Test Conference at Geneva shows that negotiation—a great deal of it in private—on things like this can lead to results.
We understand that Berlin was the other question that the Summit Conference was to have discussed. I cannot altogether agree with the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland when he says that West Berlin may wither away. I feel that West Berlin is very strong and working well. The hon. Gentleman and I were there together about six weeks ago. I have the strong impression that people in Berlin are quite happy to carry on under the present conditions because they see much worse all around. Admittedly some of the children have 1094 never seen a cow and one has to make do with condensed milk. One feels cut off in that respect, but otherwise the city can fairly claim, as it does, that it is the one city in the whole of Eastern Germany which is normal, because it is free and happy and its institutions and Press are unfettered.
I agree with the hon. Member, however, that this question, though it may have been put off, is still there hanging over us and we cannot simply think that it is out of the way. Mr. Khrushchev has put it aside, but he has got it as something with which hecan threaten the West if he wants to at a convenient time later. But if such a crisis were provoked, let us remember that it would be provoked entirely by the Russians, because there is no state of crisis there at present and the present system may carry on perfectly happily for years if necessary, though, of course, we all hope that a settlement can be reached of these difficult German problems.
Those are the subjects which the Summit Conference would have discussed, and they may have to wait until a further Summit after a period of several months if Mr. Khrushchev is right in his prediction. But we should attempt to make progress by negotiation by all methods—by the ordinary diplomatic methods or any other. In this I feel that a stage has been reached where perhaps more private diplomacy might be beneficial. Public and private diplomacy have to be mixed. They have been mixed in recent years, but now that the Summit has failed, I think this is a moment where more can be done by private negotiation in making the progress which I am sure the majority of this House wants to see.
§ 8.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)
I intend to break the normal practice of the House by following the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) in some of the things that he said, and I shall come to them a little later on, but I want him to know that if I do not begin by commenting on his speech, it is not that I have forgotten his points, many of which are important and with some of which I am in disagreement.
This has been a rather disappointing debate in some respects. I thought that 1095 the Prime Minister, whose work in and for Paris I admire, told us nothing at all this afternoon. Indeed, he got to a point in his speech where he appeared to be indicating that he had more in common with Dr. Verwoerd than with Mr. Khrushchev, and, although I do not think he intended it, he gave an unfortunate impression.
This has also been a debate marked with slashing attacks on the Government Front Bench from some hon. Members opposite. The noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) delivered himself of a tremendous assault on the position of the Government which, had it come from a back bencher on this side of the House, would have been interpreted as a split in the Labour Party. But the method was so courteous and the manner so gentle that this will be passed over without comment in the daily Press. At any rate, there is one thing with which we all agree, and that is that the failure of the Summit was tragic. Nobody can deny his sense of disappointment that the Summit failed. Even those hon. Members opposite who believe that summitry is the wrong way to go about it must have wished it had worked.
I want to pay a tribute to the Prime Minister's initiative in bringing about, as he did in part, an atmosphere of détente and for trying to bring the two sides together. Indeed, I think that we shall make sense of the debate only if we recognise that all the participants in Paris may have been sincere. I agree it is a novel idea to take what the other side says at its face value, but why should we not try? Perhaps Mr. Khrushchev really did break up the Summit because of the U2 incident. It is ruled out by most speakers as if it were unthinkable that Mr. Khrushchev meant what he said, but, as far as I can understand it, it is likely that a Head of State would find it difficult to sit down at the conference table with another Head of State who claimed the right to fly over his territory. I think the American espionage matter is a small aspect. What mattered much more was Mr. Herter's claim that he had a right to do it. Even President Eisenhower was never able to give a permanent assurance that the flights would not be resumed. 1096 I do not believe we shall make much sense of these discussions if we do not recognise the possibility that everybody at the Summit was sincere—that is to say, that all the leaders want peace. And even the generals who are much maligned are actually engaged by their Governments to be cautious about détentes in case they result in military weakness. I am not a great admirer of the military man, but if we pay a man a salary, give him a bright uniform and tell him that he has got to secure his country's safety by military means, we cannot be surprised if on occasion he says that a certain course of policy will lead to military weakness.
So we must start this post mortem on the Summit by assuming that all those who took part, both military and civilian, were concerned to get peace. I do not think we ought to be too worried about the most recent attack by Mr. Khrushchev on President Eisenhower because of the President's well-known enjoyment of golf. It ought not to worry us unduly. I remember some of the robust utterances made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) over the last few years with reference to his own colleagues. Robustness of language is not incompatible with sincerity of purpose or with a desire to work with other people. Indeed, the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) in the past has delivered himself of severe comments on his colleagues but they did not render him incapable of the high office of leading us at a moment of national crisis.
The question is, if we accept the possibility that the four leaders at the Summit were sincere, whether their total failure to make progress means that we go back to the cold war. I do not think that will take place, because, in my opinion, the cold war died some months or even years ago. It died not because anybody wound it up, not because it was settled, but because the cold war has become increasingly irrelevant to the problems which confront the world today. Indeed, the whole basis of the cold war was that it was an ideological conflict. It was a conflict that was to be fought out by military methods and it was a conflict that really based itself on a quarrel between the European or white nations of the world. 1097 What has happened in the last few years is simply this. The problems of the world as we see them are neither ideological in character, military in importance, nor European in their origin. What has happened is that the real problems of the world, which are quite different and with which I want to deal in a moment, have increasingly asserted themselves and have proved that the cold war is not the dominant factor in the world today. We have had an awful lot of ideological discussion today, even quotations from Karl Marx by hon. Members opposite and comments about the Communist purpose. But it is a great mistake to credit one's opponents with a monolithic and consistent ideology. I can imagine debates in the Supreme Soviet in which the member for Minsk reads the third verse of the National Anthem as proof of the fact that the British are people with whom it is difficult to deal peacefully. It would be difficult for another Russian M.P. to counter that suggestion because he would not know what we here all know—that nobody remembers the third verse and it means nothing. It contains the words:Confound their politics,Frustrate their knavish tricks.It means nothing to us. When I hear the behaviour of Khrushchev explained in terms of what Karl Marx wrote, it only indicates lack of judgment of the person who quotes the words.
Secondly, the struggle in the world today is not basically military. It is quite different.
Thirdly, it is no longer European. This is why I referred to the speech of the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn. The hon. Gentleman said that we could not have anyone else at the Summit Meeting except the four great Powers because world peace is primarily a European affair. A great many people looking at what happened at the Summit saw four white men each with the capacity to destroy humanity failing to agree. When Dr. Nkrumah indicated this in a speech soon afterwards, he won my sympathy. Quite franky, I believe that the Summit Meeting as it was conceived at Paris will be the last ever to be held in those conditions, and rightly so.
§ Mr. G. Campbell
The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I said that 1098 this conference, like its predecessors, was concerned with peace in Europe. I am not opposed to other conferences of a much wider nature on more general subjects, and I made no claim that the peace of the world was to be discussed only at the Summit Meeting and that other countries were to be subject to what was there decided.
I am sorry if I misunderstood the hon. Member. It certainly was not my intention to do so, but he gave me the impression that he believed that there was, in some way or other, a proprietary right on the part of the Russians, the Americans, the French and the British to decide the future of the world. If he did not say that, then I do not disagree with him.
When I look at the world today and try to rid my mind of the history of the past fifteen years—not a bad thing to do—and I try to see how the problems stack up today, the problems I see are quite different. I see, first of all, the danger of the spread of nuclear weapons. I am an anti-colonialist. I believe in national independence as the first stage of responsible self-government, but if with national independence comes the spread of nuclear weapons, then nationalism combined with nuclear weapons means disaster. The nuclear weapon has a counter-Midas touch; it turns nationalism from gold into lead. There is a terrible danger that if we do not soon grasp this problem, nuclear weapons will be bought and sold and freely made by many countries.
The second problem—this has not been touched on today, but it looms very close ahead—is created by the rise in world population. I believe that the first true man made his appearance on this planet about 50,000 years ago. It has taken 50,000 years for the population of the world to rise to its present level of 2,700 million. In the next forty years, that population will be doubled. We know today that half the people of the world do not have enough to eat. What prospect is there of feeding the rest of them if we do not tackle the problem soon?
The third problem I see as I look at the world afresh as best I can arises from the struggle for human rights. This has nothing whatever to do with the cold 1099 war. There is a growing struggle in Africa and in other parts of the world, in Tibet and in Hungary, a struggle by people who want the right to govern themselves, and for human dignity.
The interesting feature about these three problems—the spread of nuclear weapons, the rise in world population, and the struggle for human rights—is that they all cut right across the cold war, and that the continuation of the cold war corrupts and worsens each one of them. If the cold war continues, nuclear weapons will spread more rapidly. If the cold war continues, the arms race will mean that the world will not tackle the need to raise living standards because the tractors will not be made, the pipelines will not be laid, and the ships will not carry the trade. If the cold war continues, every Government in the world will judge questions of human rights not by their intrinsic merit but by whether the person who suffers as a result of the struggle is an ally or an enemy. The Algerian war, which has been going on for five and a half years, at the cost of one million lives, does not interest us because France is a N.A.T.O. ally. Similarly, we took great interest in Hungary at least partly because Hungary was an embarrassment to the Russians and therefore a help to us. The cold war corrupts our attitude to questions of human rights in the world.
There is a comforting side to each of these problems. East and West have a common interest in reaching a solution. Mr. Khrushchev does not want everybody in Eastern Europe, the East Germans, for instance, to have nuclear weapons. We do not want the West Germans to have them. Mr. Khrushchev, surely, does not want to see the people of the world starve, any more than we do.
I suggest, therefore, that the Summit would never have done more than formally finish the cold war. The cold war has already gone into cold storage. What I hope we shall do from now on, through diplomatic initiative taken by the Government, is to stress the common interest which exists between East and West. I do not, however, believe that one can stress this common interest or make a creative contribution towards the solution
1100 of the problems I have mentioned unless three things are done.
First, we must transfer peace-making to a global level. We cannot any longer try to have world peace settled by white men in Europe alone. China must be brought in. We have all said this many times, and it is now a matter of vital urgency. Secondly, we must have a positive policy. It is no good talking about co-existence only as a relaxation of tension. "Co-existence" is a most unsatisfactory word. What we need is a measure of true co-operation on points of common interest. When I look at China and Russia today, although I am anti-Communist I want the Communist economic system to prosper in China and in Russia. When we look at these affairs in these different ways and in these different terms, we see that the embargo, the hostility, the trade bans and all the rest should be relegated to the museum of history. We should substitute a positive policy of international trade and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) said, cultural contact, if we can get it.
We must also do all these things in such a way as to strengthen international institutions. If the world does not look to the United Nations to tackle its problems, the United Nations cannot hope to survive. What alarmed me about the Summit procedure, although I accepted it because I thought it had a prospect of success, was that it took the hopes of mankind away from the United Nations to some other organisation. Unless the African in South Africa can look to the United Nations to support him in his claim to human rights, unless men, like us, threatened by nuclear weapons, can look to the United Nations as a place where tensions can be relaxed and negotiations begun, then the United Nations will never be strong enough to survive the terrible tests which lie ahead.
I come now to the particular problem of China. For ten years, China has been living in isolation, rejected by the Western world. British recognition has been a formality, and there has been no real contact. China is growing in population and strength and, within a very short time, will become the most powerful industrial Power in the world. Let us make no mistake about that. If Russia could rise from a backward country to become the second industrial 1101 Power in the world in forty years, without foreign economic help, without automation or atomic energy to begin with, and with a population of only 200 million, what will China do with a population rising to 1,000 million, with full Soviet economic help, with modern technological processes from the outset? With all these resources at her disposal, China will be the dominant Power long before I apply for my old-age pension.
I say to myself, therefore, how can there be peace while this great nation is still excluded from the Parliament of the world and still believes, as it does, that co-existence cannot work? That is why I admired the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East. He turned the attention of the House to this question. China today believes, as all new revolutionary States believe, that violence must spread and that there can be no possibility of co-existence. Our major task is to bring China into the family of nations. It is no good saying that because China is not in the United Nations, China does not matter. She dominates us with her absence. She exercises the "Veto from the vacant Chair." Unless China is brought in, there is no sense in discussing disarmament. There is no sense in discussing any settlement, because unless it is underwritten by China it will not be enforceable in the world.
At the time of the Summit Conference, like everyone else, I was very depressed, and on the night before it finally broke up the thought of what I have said about China came to me, and I decided to send a telegram to Mr. Khrushchev in Paris in much the same way as the women's section in Bristol occasionally send a telegram to the Prime Minister—more in hope that in real expectation of success. In my telegram—I have had no acknowledgment—I simply said that unless China and India are brought in there can be no settlement of world problems. If the Soviet Union were to urge this step—I said—it would be an initiative welcomed by the peoples of the world. He has now proposed just this in his recent speech.
Although I do not believe for a moment—why should I?—that Mr. Khrushchev either saw or heard of that telegram, we all have to behave nowadays as if Mr. Khrushchev were our local Conservative Member of Parliament— 1102 not much to my way of thinking, but a man open to reasonable argument and worth a telegram or postcard. This is the break-through in international affairs. We have to work with the material at our disposal. If I asked—this is what I hoped the Prime Minister would say—to set a course for the Government, I would say that the diplomatic skill which the Prime Minister used in trying to bring about the Paris Summit meeting should be used to bring China at last into the United Nations. Let the Prime Minister go to Peking himself. Field Marshal Montgomery has gone there, and it is obvious that a welcome of some sort awaits those who journey from this country with good will. Let him make this issue a big issue in the United Nations this year.
The hon. Member for Moray and Nairn said that this year is awkward because of the American elections, and last year was awkward because of something else. Every year is awkward, but, unless we face the problem of China, we shall absolutely fail to solve world problems. If I were asked to put a timetable before the House, I would say this. Let the Prime Minister open diplomatic contact with China at the highest level immediately. Let us aim to get the China issue raised at the United Nations this year with full British backing and let us get a Heads of State meeting, with China in the Security Council, in 1961.
Many other hon. Members want to speak, and time is short. I think that history is not decided by the conferences that accompany it. The course of history is decided by other factors, and a new era is coming, not because of Paris, but because events are overtaking us so rapidly that our old policy is no longer relevant. I think that it is open to the Government, if they are only willing to use a British initiative, to capture the imagination of the world with a policy that shows signs of making sense. I often think that the stalemate in military power which confronts the world has been accompanied by an amazing fluidity of political thought and understanding and that the world is receptive to an initiative from any Government if it seems to meet the needs of the time. We live in one world already in the sense that everybody is influenced by what everybody else says. 1103 If the Prime Minister is anxious to make an appeal from this House that will strike a responsive chord in the world, let him make it on constructive, creative diplomacy linked to the United Nations. Although the United Nations is not everybody's answer—it has many defects; it is based on the concept of national sovereignty—it has the one element in it that might succeed. It brings together people who disagree to see whether they can find common ground. That is also the purpose of Parliament. Parliament is only a talking shop. The seventeenth century Parliament was neither elected by the public nor did it control the Executive, but it was creative because discussion and negotiation are creative if the right people are brought together. We do not want to bring together in Parliament people who agree. We want to bring together people who disagree. We are all extremists here. That is why we are here—to bring extremists together to argue out the issues of our time.
My hon. Friend has my sympathy, but he has delayed my conclusion, because I was on my very last words.
If the Government follow this course and try to devote their attention to making the United Nations the instrument that it was intended to be and never was because of the cold war, they will carry this country and this Parliament a great way forward after the failure of the Summit.
§ 8.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)
I should like to follow the theme of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) in his plea for a position where China comes into a Summit Conference. One fact which rises above all the others in this debate is that we cannot go on living on a perpetual diet of fear. The balance of nuclear power is something which can be accepted only temporarily. It is not a permanent way to peace. It is a balance which is too delicate. It is too dangerous and it could be economically disastrous. For this reason, our immediate aim, as soon as we can practically accomplish it, 1104 should be to have another Summit Conference, but it must be an effective one.
If it is to be an effective Summit Conference—and here I come to the point made by the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East—it must be one at which as many of the leaders of the world are present as need be, because it must be a Conference which is capable of achieving its full aim, namely, complete world disarmament. This means that it must achieve agreement with the East, not simply part of the East, but the whole of the East. We too easily forget that Russia is only a part of the East and that China is the greater part of the East. It is the whole of the East that we must have at a Summit Conference if it is to achieve the aim of complete world disarmament. Without Communist China at the conference table, no conference or agreement, however satisfactory, can pretend to root out the fear of world war.
Does anyone think that, without a similar agreement with China, Russia would agree to disarm completely? By inclination and by tradition, China has for centuries been a country of peace, possibly one of the most peaceful of the nations. The Chinese used to prefer umbrellas to swords, but the days of that picturesque pacificism have disappeared. China has been mesmerised by Communism. Let us compare China with the rest of the world. America has a population of 150½ million and Russia a population of 170½ million, but China has a population of 570½ million people. By 1975, and probably sooner, Chinese population and nuclear power could make Russian look like a tame bear. It is for these reasons that I see the strong need to have the Peking Government represented, and represented as soon as possible, at a Summit Conference. The Government must start now to try to persuade America to see this point of view.
It is tempting to criticise one's friends and one does it with great hesitation. I have a great admiration for America, but her attitude to China seems a little odd. Surely, it is inconceivable that an intelligent people like the Americans, aware of the present dangers, should be trying to perpetuate an artificial and wholly unreal state of affairs by refusing to acknowledge the Peking Government. 1105 They seem, as it were, to be utterly incapable of logical thinking on this problem or of saying what they propose to do about it.
It must be realised, as I think that it is by most people and, indeed, by many Americans today, that China which lies behind Russia—ominously on her doorstep—has a Government that cannot be ignored certainly by Russia and has a Government which must be recognised eventually by all and finally invited by all to take her place at the conference table. Only in that way can we achieve the ultimate by way of a Summit Conference—that is complete world disarmament. One can only hope that the next opportunity which comes along in September of this year will be one which the Americans, ourselves and other nations will take in order to admit Communist China into the United Nations.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Stewart (Fulham)
I trust that the Foreign Secretary will have noted or will have been informed of the frequency of speeches in this debate urging the importance of the recognition by the United Nations of the Peking Government as the Government qualified to speak for China. We know that Her Majesty's Government have taken that view for some time, but there seems to he a very strong feeling on both sides of the House that a new and even more determined effort is now needed to persuade our American allies to take the same view.
The hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner) said that it is easy and sometimes tempting to criticise one's friends. When we look at the events in Paris, it is possible to scatter criticism fairly freely in all directions, and I have no doubt that the historians will do so. I think that the shrewdest and hardest criticism made of the American Government's behaviour in Paris is the oft quoted remark voiced, as was fitting, by an American, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, that if it was Mr. Khrushchev who broke up the Conference, it was the American Government who handed him the tools.
We may without impropriety echo the criticism that an American citizen has himself made. In assessing the United States and the Soviet Government, we should remember that in America it is possible for an American citizen to voice
1106 that criticism, but if there is anyone in the Soviet Union who considers that Mr. Khrushchev ought to have displayed a little more patience at Paris, I have no doubt that he will maintain the same silence as Mr. Khrushchev maintained about the excesses of the Stalin régime, which he was subsequently to denounce.
But our task surely is not at this stage to make an exact distribution of blame or responsibility for the world's disappointment in Paris. It is to see what lessons can be learned from it. There is one lesson, I think, on the narrower field of our own alliance with the United States and the other N.A.T.O. Powers, and that is the need for much closer co-ordination between the allies in that alliance and much greater mutual knowledge of the policies of each other's Governments.
I want to illustrate where that is important. On any analysis of the events in Paris, it is not common sense that the most powerful member of the alliance should have been conducting intelligence flights within a day or two of an important conference without the matter having been made known to its allies and very seriously discussed by them. It is almost incredible that the alert could have been ordered except as a concerted judgment of the main members of the alliance, and we cannot imagine that if it had ever been discussed in the alliance any consent would have been given to it. The astounding thing, however, is that one member of the alliance can behave in that manner and that there should not be sufficient previous consultation between members of the alliance to prevent ineptitude of that kind.
One of the tasks, therefore, of closer co-ordination within the N.A.T.O. grouping should be to ensure that each of the Governments is informed in rather more detail of the military and intelligence precautions of their allies, so that we may weigh up, before military or intelligence actions are taken, what may be the diplomatic results of them and their possible effect on the alliance as a whole.
Another field in which closer coordination is necessary is that of the colonial policies of the N.A.T.O. Powers. One hon. Gentleman opposite expressed what I thought was going to be a view 1107 similar to my own, but he went on to say that he hoped it would have been possible to secure American support for some of our actions in the Middle East and some of the French actions in Algeria. I should welcome greater coordination among the N.A.T.O. Powers for exactly the opposite reason, that in concerting matters like that our American allies would have pointed out both to us and the French the imprudence of some of the things which we and they have done in other parts of the world.
We know perfectly well, for example, that our own adventure in Suez did not contribute to the reputation or efficient working of N.A.T.O. We know that the French commitment in Algeria is a very serious drain on N.A.T.O.'s military strength and tends to diminish N.A.T.O.'s morale and reputation in a large section of the uncommitted world. And yet—and this is my point—we, the French and other Powers with colonial responsibilities can apparently pursue those policies without there being any organ of consultation to draw our attention to the fact that what we do in the colonial field is bound to have effect, and perhaps grave effect, on the fortunes of N.A.T.O. as a whole.
I do not suggest that overnight we can get the machinery working for that kind of concerted military and colonial policy among the N.A.T.O. Powers. We are, after all, dealing with an alliance and not a federation, but we ought at least to get to the point where it can be accepted that the N.A.T.O. Governments can, without offence and with full propriety, express their opinions between themselves about their military and colonial policies. We ought to have sufficient feeling of common interest to get that result.
I believe, too, that if there were some permanent forum for political consultation among the N.A.T.O. members it would facilitate the advancing of the cause which so many Members have mentioned, the admission of China to the United Nations. If we were to have, as some people have suggested, every N.A.T.O. Government appointing a full-time Minister to be sitting in some kind of N.A.T.O. consultative body, that would be a forum in which our American 1108 allies could be made constantly aware of how much importance we attach to this question of China.
I attach importance to this question of China because it seems to me that the maintenance of the peace of the world depends on our getting all nations as a matter of regular habit to respect the international rule of law and the authority of the United Nations, and as long as we deny China a seat in the United Nations we cannot expect her to respect its authority. One cannot first call someone an outlaw and then complain that he does not show a respect for the law. China at the moment is believed in the eyes of many Eastern peoples to justify almost anything she does by posing before them as the martyred outlaw denied her rightful inheritance by the Western countries. It is important in everbody's interests that she should not be in a position to advance that argument.
Another point arises about N.A.T.O. I do not think that our American allies always fully understand some of the emotional trends in European politics. If they did, I do not think that they would have been making approaches to Spain for military purposes with the enthusiasm they apparently have. It would be a good thing if the United States were made more aware of what is the feeling of many European people towards this nation which is both a dictatorship and was an active friend of Hitler during the last war.
I have mentioned four things—military matters, colonial matters, the Chinese question and the attitude towards Spain—as illustrations of matters in which a greater exchange of views, to put it at no more than that, between the Governments in the N.A.T.O. alliance would be desirable. I do no think that that would mean that N.A.T.O. would become more and more of a closed group to the detriment of the authority of the United Nations. On the contrary, if the N.A.T.O. Powers pursued the course which I am suggesting, I think that, as in the case of China, they would be led towards policies which would advance the authority of the United Nations rather than reduce it.
This seems tome to be one of the lessons of the failure in Paris, but of course the failure in Paris is only the occasion for 1109 this debate. We are all debating a much larger issue which can be put in a variety of ways. I would put it like this: how much longer is mankind to go on living, maintaining the peace by a balance of terror? Is that the best we can hope for in our lifetime? Some people would think that to say "Yes" to that would be optimistic, but the alternative is that we shall not maintain peace. However one likes to put the question, that is really what we are all thinking about.
When we turn to that last question, as distinct from the diplomacy of the last few days in Paris, it seems to me that the Government and the Prime Minister are very much more open to criticism. I have heard nearly the whole of the debate and only two hon. Members, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and one other hon. Member, even referred to the Prime Minister's speech, and they both did so with surprised disapprobation. The right hon. Gentleman's speech does not appear to have aroused a spark of enthusiasm in the breast of any hon. Member opposite. The Prime Minister, as we all know, is a highly intelligent man. He must have been perfectly well aware of the emptiness of his speech. I am afraid that what lies behind it is that he has come to the conclusion that foreign affairs are better debated in secret by a few people who have the expertise in diplomacy, and then one puts the public off with a series of platitudes and one tries to create the impression that all is for the best.
More seriously, I would remind the House of the Prime Minister's journeys last year—journeys undertaken not so very long before the General Election. They were not looked upon at the time with any great enthusiasm by our allies, and in the event we are now obliged to ask ourselves what, with all these journeyings and all these conversations, the Prime Minister was saying. What is his or the Government's policy for the solution of any of the major questions now causing disturbance in the world? It is fair to say that we have never had a real answer to that question.
The Prime Minister defined his policy today as one of a détente. The view seems to be that anything that is too silly to be said in English can be said 1110 in French. He defines that term as "a progressive easing of tension." We should all be prepared to have that, but we are entitled to ask the Prime Minister what proposals he thinks will ease tension. It is that question to which we have never had an answer all these months. Perhaps we shall have one tonight.
Let us consider one of the major questions—that of Germany. We have argued not only across the Floor of the House but within both parties as to what should have been our policy towards Germany in the past, but it is no good raking that up now. We are now faced with a Germany that is divided; that is already partially armed and is being increasingly armed by both sides. Somehow or other—whoever's fault it may be, or even if it is nobody's fault—we have managed to achieve exactly the two things in regard to Germany that we should not have done. We have kept her divided, which gives her a justified grievance, and, having given her a grievance, we have provided her with weapons. As long as Germany remains divided and armed she represents a grave, if delayed, danger to the peace of Europe.
At the moment, I do not believe that a demand for the reunification of Germany stirs the German people very passionately, but I do not believe that apathy on that question will last. If we were in that divided situation I am sure that we should not tolerate it. Sooner or later the one factor that will dominate in German politics is a consideration of the way in which she can get rid of the dividing line. Then she will be happy to try any stratagem, at the expense of either East or West, if she can only got unity out of it. The more heavily armed the two sides the more stratagems in which she can indulge. Therefore, although we may leave this question at the moment, because she is not heavily armed and is preoccupied with other matters than unity, it will come home to roost in time.
One of the mistakes that we have made in many matters is the failure to pay attention to a country until it is really heavily armed. The hon. Member for Billericay described the way in which we used to smile at Chinese armies who went to war with umbrellas to protect themselves against the rain. I remember 1111 the time when China was regarded as a figure of fun in the world—a country to be pitied. As a young student, I remember hearing debates in the Assembly of the League of Nations in which the representative of the Chinese Government appealed to the Western Powers to forgo their rights under the so-called "unequal treaties". Nobody paid any attention to China in those days. She was regarded with pity. We would say that she was the home of an ancient civilisation, and that was all. She was not listened to seriously. Today, not many people like China—but nobody makes fun of her. Everybody listens to what she says. We all know the reason for that; it is because her power is growing.
That is why I say that on the German issue we must not wait until Germany is armed and more powerful, militarily, than she is today, before we try to solve her problem. The West cannot solve the problem by itself; any solution will require the consent of the Soviet Government. But hon. Members on this side of the House have repeatedly put forward one suggestion that carries with it at least a germ of hope. Can we not make the two Germany's, East and West, and possibly the other countries in the centre of Europe, first, a zone free of nuclear weapons, and then perhaps a zone free of all but the most minor and conventional forces and at the same time a neutral zone?
Unless we get something like that, I do not believe we shall ever get the Soviet Government to consent to the reunification of Germany. At one time it looked as if the Prime Minister was toying with an idea of that kind, but we understand now that that is not Government policy. What is the Government's proposal for untying this German knot? We have not had an answer to that.
There is one point about Germany on which I think we all agree. Let us by all means make every concession we honourably can to the Russian point of view in order, if possible, to get this German danger out of European politics. But there is one concession we cannot make either with honour or with safety, and that is any agreement which will allow West Berlin to fall under the power of the present Government of East Germany. If we allow that to happen 1112 the moral of it will be perfectly clear to every German and to every European. The moral he will draw will be that when it comes to the point the West will not stand but will allow the Russians to get their way. If that idea spreads in Europe the whole cause with which we are concerned will be lost. We must be resolute on that question. Search for conciliation and concession in almost every other aspect of the German question, but hold to that and recognise the implications which holding firm on that have for our own defence policy.
I must not interfere with the time of those who are to wind up the debate, and I conclude briefly what I have to say. The particular solution that I offered about Germany may not work. We do not know, but I am not sure that on this or on any other problem anyone will produce a solution that will give the right answer immediately.
We have talked in the debate about being optimists and pessimists and as if we expect that it is a law of nature that human affairs must come to a definite end, good or bad, happy or unhappy, in our lifetime. There is no necessity about that at all. We are not reading a work of fiction. Any one of us may have to go away, as it were, in the middle of a chapter, or even in the middle of a sentence, without the denouement, either happy or unhappy, having worked out. In that situation we can only press for the policies which we believe are just and have a chance of working, and not be put off if it takes a little time.
There is a long story behind all this. I mentioned how the attitude towards the power of China in the 'twenties affects the question today. In the same way, the whole problem of the mutual suspicion between us and the Soviet Government springs partly from the nature of the Soviet Government itself, and that springs from factors in Russian politics right back to the beginning of this century before the Revolution. In no sphere as much as that of foreign affairs are the sins of the fathers so heavily visited upon the children.
We must, therefore, expect any course of policy to take a long time to come to fruition, and one of the reasons why our task is difficult is that it involves such a combination of contrary virtues. 1113 We have to be capable of being prepared and resolute, and at the same time patient and conciliatory, willing never to permit aggression ourselves, and always ready to resist it if it is committed by others.
The two distinctive contributions of the Conservative Party's diplomacy in this century have been at the time of Suez when we committed aggression ourselves, and at Munich where we supported it in another. They have now given up that policy of lurching from one error to another, but they seem to have landed in the position where they have no definite line of policy at all.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition put a number of pertinent questions. I hope that before the debate ends we shall have an answer to them and a slightly clearer indication of where the Government thinks they should now go. Where, asked the Prime Minister, should we go from here? He asked the question, but it is really his job to answer it.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
This debate has made an odd contrast, not only with the debate we had nearly three weeks ago before the Summit Conference, but also with the exchanges that took place in this House a week ago last Friday following the Prime Minister's return from the Summit.
On those two occasions, there was a most heartening unanimity behind the line which was presented by the Prime Minister, and for my part I can see absolutely no virtue in division in this House on foreign policy, unless it is essential; but on this occasion, I would say that almost half the Conservative speakers in the debate have spent their time attacking the very assumptions on which the Prime Minister has been conducting his foreign policy over the last few years. More important still, as my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) has just pointed out, was the strange speech of the Prime Minister himself, a faltering speech, full of soggy platitudes, with no bite or precision. He seemed dazed himself when he began it, and he had us all dazed when he sat down.
I believe the Prime Minister's speech this afternoon to be a tragedy. I think everybody in Britain and millions of 1114 people abroad were waiting for a lead, a constructive and statesmanlike lead which would carry forward the promise which seemed to be implicit in the Prime Minister's behaviour before the Summit and, indeed, at the Summit Conference itself. The Prime Minister this afternoon had the ball at his feet, but he simply touched it tentatively with his toe and then shuffled sleepily off the field.
It seems to me that the first question to which we have to get an answer from the Foreign Secretary is why on earth did the Prime Minister make this sort of speech this afternoon. It seems to me that this presents a mystery almost as great as the mystery which we have discussed in the debate—that of Mr. Khrushchev's behaviour in Paris. Nobody could blame the Prime Minister if he were a little tired or disappointed, but the impression which his speech left on me, and I think on many hon. Members on both sides of this House, was that he had lost his nerve, lost confidence in himself and in the line which he has been following for the last few years.
The most disturbing thing about his speech is that although this debate was called explicitly to discuss the Summit Conference failure and the implications of this failure, he produced literally nothing to add to our understanding of these problems. There was no hint of what he thought had gone wrong in Paris and no suggestion of what lessons we should draw from it for the future, and the only concrete thing in the whole speech, which was a long speech as Front Bench speeches go, was an odd and completely irrelevant essay on Britain's need for an independent deterrent.
I should like to examine for a moment why he spent so much time dealing with this problem, which has nothing directly to do with the subject of the debate. Why did he do it now? To whom is he talking? We know that there is very strong opposition on his own side to the Government's defence policy. There is opposition from the right hon. Members for Carshalton (Mr. Head), Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), and Flint, West (Mr. Birch), the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) and the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), who expressed opposition in the debate this afternoon. But 1115 after all, we understand that the Prime Minister often has opportunities to talk with them in private, and no doubt sometimes he can take them. Why should he have spent so much time this afternoon in dealing with this totally irrelevant point of Britain's need for an independent deterrent?
The only rational explanation that I can find for his behaviour in this respect is one which I am most reluctant to accept. It is that his speech this afternoon was primarily concerned to prepare the way for the visit of the Minister of Defence to Washington tomorrow and the day after. The only rational explanation we can find for this extraordinary interpolation is that he thinks that it will be easier to obtain favours from the Pentagon if he plays down Britain's views on the general political situation in the world as a whole.
If this is the right explanation for the form and content of his speech today, it shows a very sad and unhappy misunderstanding of the real source of Britain's power in world affairs, because Britain's power and influence in the world today, as he himself, I must confess, has shown in recent years, depends of Britain's political leadership and not on military gadgets. I believe that British political leadership has never been more needed than it is at this moment.
On thing which has emerged from the exchanges of the last few weeks since the collapse of the Summit is a very wide degree of agreement, at least in this country, that the collapse of the Summit Conference was not the result of deliberate planning either in Washington or in Moscow. As my right hon. Friend suggested this afternoon, it was the result of a tragedy of errors, of a long series of miscalculations on both sides, and no real change in Soviet policy is implied either by the behaviour of Mr. Khrushchev at the Summit itself or by anything that he has said or done since the Summit.
But we must all admit with regret that the very fact that the Summit did collapse, even if it collapsed by accident, has enormously strengthened those people on both sides of the Iron Curtain who, as my right hon. Friend said this afternoon, have never wanted a settlement in the cold war, have never 1116 believed it possible to end the arms race, and have always been opposed to any attempt to reach lasting agreement between both sides. We have already had examples, in the howls of jubliation in Peking and the more discreet but none the less significant mutterings in the Pentagon, of the pleasure with which the events in Paris have been received in certain quarters on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
The right hon. Member for Flint, West made some play in his speech of the part which Pavlovian reflexes can play in political behaviour. I thought that I detected plenty of Pavlovian reflexes in the reactions of some of his right hon. and hon. Friends to his speech. One thing which one notices immediately is that once a Conservative speaker gets back into the old anti-Communist posture, he can evoke absolutely automatic growls of approval from the Conservative benches, which remain stonily unresponsive to any other sort of approach.
It seems to me that one good thing which has come out of the Summit, if we look calmly at what was said and done, is that there is now open, public recognition, both in Washington and in Moscow, that attempts made on the other side to reach agreement have to be made in the face of consistent and powerful internal opposition. It is very significant that in trying to excuse the collapse of the Summit Conference both Mr. Khrushchev and President Eisenhower have each accused the other of surrendering to the enemies of relaxation in his own camp. In other words, they have each tacitly admitted the other's sincerity in trying to seek an agreement before the Summit, and this at least is something on which we can hope to build.
But it seems to me that, in recognising the existence of negative forces in the opposite camp, they have drawn attention to what I think was the crucial blunder which each committed in the weeks before the Summit, namely, to fail consistently to take account of the impact of their words and actions on the balance of power in the opposing camp. Almost everything that President Eisenhower and everything that Mr. Khrushchev did in the week before the Summit progressively made it more and more difficult for his partner to come
1117 to the Summit at all, and, if he came to the Summit, to negotiate there.
It is precisely because the forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain which oppose a settlement are inevitably strengthened by the collapse of the Summit Conference that I do not think that we can afford, as the Prime Minister suggested, to wait until the dust settles, because there are plenty of people who oppose any attempt to reach agreement in the cold war, who will not remain inactive while the dust is settling and who, indeed, will use the confusion caused by the collapse of the Summit in order to strengthen all those elements on their own side which are most opposed to agreement.
The Prime Minister had a great deal to say in the months before the Summit of the need to keep up the momentum which was leading to peace. What is desperately needed now is to restore the old momentum, and what I think we most regret about the Prime Minister's speech is that he gave us no hint whatever of any step which he proposes to take in order to restore that momentum.
And yet, as the Prime Minister has, I think, admitted, the basic concrete interests which brought the two sides to approach the Summit in the last two years are still there. The cost and the futility of continuing the arms race is more apparent than ever and the danger of war by accident and miscalculation has been emphasised in the most' dramatic way by the U2 incident. We must, therefore, work harder than ever to exploit these common interests.
The Prime Minister's complaint the last time we debated these issues was that in my speech I put forward too many positive proposals for settlement. I will confine myself tonight to reminding the Prime Minister of the proposals made in the last debate and the proposals made by my right hon. Friend this afternoon. I particularly commend to the Prime Minister the moving speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) on the need for complete revision of our approach to the negotiations for general and comprehensive disarmament.
In the last debate the Foreign Secretary was very forthcoming about the Government's intention to seek some arrangements for protection against surprise
1118 attack, not just at the strategic level, but also at the tactical level of some form of regional arms control in Central Europe. This is the time for the British Government to put forward their proposals. It was not possible to discuss them at the Summit, but there is no reason on earth why they should not be discussed through normal diplomatic channels, where the problem of a test ban seems to have been proceeding, as the Prime Minister admitted a week ago. very comfortably through all the roaring upset of the Summit Conference.
I should like to ask the Foreign Secretary if he will, in particular, answer my right hon. Friend's question: do the British Government propose to make public suggestions for a technical study of the cut-off on the production of weapons-grade fissile material and a technical study of controlling the means of delivery of atomic weapons? The right hon. and learned Gentleman said in the last debate that he thought that this was the way to go about it. Is he prepared now to come forward, either through normal diplomatic channels or in the Ten-Power Commission at Geneva, and make these proposals on behalf of the British Government? This at least would be a great step forward to breaking the deadlock at present gripping the talks on disarmament.
I ask the Foreign Secretary to answer the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham. What proposals is he putting forward to produce a settlement of the Berlin problem which will guarantee the security and the freedom of the people of Berlin? If the British Government will only put forward concrete proposals designed to put world policy back on the path from which it was dislodged by the events in Paris, they will be surprised at the support they receive, not only in this country, but throughout the world.
Anyone who has followed the reaction of the foreign Press to the events in Paris cannot fail to be struck by the unanimous reaction of the smaller countries—not only the uncommitted countries in Africa and Asia, but the small countries in the Western alliance in Europe—in the sense of a great loss of confidence in the capacity of the two great Powers, America and Russia, to carry alone the burdens which have been thrust on them since the war. One of 1119 the most encouraging things in recent months was the initiative of the four small Powers in the Security Council last week when they told the great Powers to stop bickering and recrimination and start positive co-operation on practical moves towards peace. If the British Government at least will respond to this invitation, for which they voted in the Security Council, they will find vast and growing support throughout the world.
One of the lessons of the collapse of the Summit Conference is that we must try to find some means of making this type of world opinion more effective. I support very strongly the suggestions made in the debate that, wherever possible, we should associate the United Nations with negotiations between East and West so that the great Powers are always conscious of the impact on world opinion of their private arguments and conflicts.
There is a very strong case for the Foreign Secretaries to attend meetings of the Security Council regularly so that they may have formal or informal talks with one another in the general atmosphere, if not actually under the auspices, of the United Nations. I have always been attracted by the idea that any Summit Conferences which may be held in future should be held as a regular feature of the annual meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations. To treat Summit Conferences and meetings of Heads of Government in this way would have two advantages. On the one hand, it would reduce the atmosphere of melodrama and exaggerated expectation which attends the sort of Summit Conference we have had in the past. On the other hand, it would do something to ensure that the great Powers in their negotiation remained mindful of their obligations to mankind as a whole.
I most strongly support the suggestions which have been made just as strongly by hon. Gentlemen opposite as from our side for an early initiative to get China into the United Nations. I support the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) that, pending an attempt to get China into the United Nations, this country itself might take unilateral action to improve its own contacts at the unofficial and official level with the Chinese people 1120 through the exchange of visits, contacts in the cultural field, and so on.
§ Mr. Healey
Bilateral. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) is so accustomed to playing a lone role in this assembly that he ignores the fact that it is impossible to have exchanges on a unilateral basis.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Though I have been alone in this place, there are growing signs that an enormous number of people are coming with me outside.
§ Mr. Healey
I wish to say a few words about a theme which has run through many speeches from both sides, that one of the great lessons of the collapse of the Summit Conference is the need to strengthen N.A.T.O. I believe that this is true, but when we are considering the strengthening of N.A.T.O. we must accept the fact that the biggest and most important weaknesses of N.A.T.O. are not so much military as political. There are, of course, military weaknesses in N.A.T.O. Incidentally, they are not at the level of total, global, thermonuclear war upon which the Prime Minister spent most of his time this afternoon. Incidentally, too, if the purpose of British atomic weapons is simply to make a contribution to N.A.T.O.'s thermonuclear striking power, why on earth is the Prime Minister so insistent that they should be totally independent? If all he is interested in is making a contribution to the strength of the West here—a strength that most American generals have admitted is already far greater than required for any conceivable purpose—there is absolutely no case whatever for having an independent British delivery system.
I agree very much—and I think that there is a growing feeling on both sides of the House on this—with the view of the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed that, in the military sphere, N.A.T.O.'s major weakness is a weakness in conventional forces, and that one of the most important things to which we must bend our thoughts in the months to come is the strengthening, not necessarily of the numbers but of the firepower and efficiency of the conventional forces of N.A.T.O. in Central Europe so as to 1121 reduce the need for atomic weapons in a local war.
But these military weaknesses of N.A.T.O. are not, in my opinion, the main problem. The main problem in N.A.T.O., the main weakness that needs strengthening, is the political one. The political weaknesses of N.A.T.O. are manifold. It is odd that no one in this debate has, I think, referred to the fact that a few days ago the Army took power in one of the N.A.T.O. countries because it could not tolerate the brutal and oppressive methods used by the previous Turkish Government in repressing political unrest. If that step leads, as seems possible at the present time, to an improvement in political liberties in that country, we must all welcome it. That incident draws attention to the fact that no military strength in N.A.T.O. is worth anything if the social and political unity of the N.A.T.O. countries is weakened internally by this type of conflict.
No one has said anything, either, about the most serious threat to N.A.T.O.'s political unity at present; namely, the continuing squabble between Britain and the Cypriot communities about the implementation of the Zurich Agreement on Cyprus, and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will find time to say something about that. Many of us have been appalled as it has leaked out, little by little, to the Press, what trivial issues are now holding up an agreement between Britain and Cyprus, and by the visible spectre of the colossal dangers that may erupt at any moment unless agreement is reached, perhaps even in the next few days; dangers that would affect not only Britain's national commitments on the island itself but which might well throw two of the N.A.T.O. countries into direct armed conflict with one another. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will tell us something about the present state of the negotiations, and will give us some prospect that they will be brought to a speedy close.
The other major sphere in which N.A.T.O. is suffering a crippling weakness is the vast and growing gulf that has opened between Britain and her Continental allies. I do not think that anybody can deny that here the basic problem is a political one and not an economic one. Indeed, looking back now with a hindsight, one is forced to the conclusion that the real root cause 1122 of the present gulf between Britain and the Continent was Britain's decision in 1957 to sacrifice her contribution to the defence of Europe on the ground for the sake of trying to build an independent nuclear deterrent.
As long as Britain continues to seek a unique status within the Western alliance, different from, and in some senses superior to, that of her Continental allies, there will be no prospect whatever of bridging the economic and political gulfs that have been opened by the division between the Common Market countries and the Outer Seven. On the other hand, if we can once make this great political leap—I agree very much with some of the things, though not all, that the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed said in his interesting speech on this subject—if we can restore confidence in Europe in our readiness to see ourselves treated on the same level as the other European countries, the economic difficulties arising from the Common Market might easily be overcome.
If we look back over these fields—the problems presented by negotiations with Russia and the weaknesses which remain inside the Western alliance—we can see that there is at the present time an urgent need for action and for British leadership. This country must be positive and tireless in its efforts to root out the weaknesses in the Western alliance, to work for agreement between the West and the Communist countries, and to attack problems of poverty in Africa and Asia which in the long run may present dangers even greater than the cold war itself. There was no sign whatever in the Prime Minister's speech that the Government are even conscious of these problems, still less tackling them. I hope that perhaps this was one of the Prime Minister's off-days—he does have them, like all of us—and I hope that the Foreign Secretary will show more imagination and courage when he replies.
I conclude by saying with all the earnestness at my command that millions of people in this country and hundreds of millions of people abroad will be brought close to despair if Britain now abandons the road which she has been following in the last few years—indeed, if she does not now take up the struggle with more energy and enthusiasm than ever— 1123 and I hope that the Foreign Secretary, when he replies, will do something to remove the doubts and uncertainties which have been created by the Prime Minister's unhappy performance this afternoon.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)
There have been many interesting and thoughtful speeches during the debate. I am sorry that I have not been able to hear them all myself, but immediately after 10 o'clock I go to Washington for a meeting of the S.E.A.T.O. organisation tomorrow morning.
I am particularly sorry to have missed the robust speech from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones). I do not think the speeches, from what I have heard of them, have been noticeably partisan, with one or two exceptions. The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) permitted himself one reference to "soggy platitudes". I do not think his own speech showed a conspicuous lack of these platitudes.
A number of questions were asked during the debate and I will try to answer as many as I can. First of all, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked me about the alert. As President Eisenhower has himself made clear, this was a routine test of American communications. There was no consultation between us, nor in our view was that necessary.
The second question that the right hon. Gentleman asked me was what consultation took place with the United States about the statements made with regard to the shooting-down of the U2 aircraft. This was an American aircraft; it was a matter for the Americans and there was no consultation about it.
The third question which he asked me was with regard to Mr. Khrushchev's letter of 9th May. He asked me whether that letter had indicated the possibility that the Summit Conference might be abandoned. The answer is that it did not. After pointing out certain features in the international situation which Mr. Khrushchev thought to be unsatisfactory, he expressed the hope that all the participants would have the mutual desire to reach understanding on the questions being considered at the meeting, 1124 and he referred to the "forthcoming Summit Conference".
The next question that the right hon. Gentleman asked me was whether during the meeting in Paris on the Sunday—that is to say, the meeting at which Mr. Khrushchev came to the British Embassy to see the Prime Minister—he rehearsed to the Prime Minister the speech that he was going to make the following day, and whether the Prime Minister told Mr. Khrushchev about President Eisenhower's decision which President Eisenhower announced at the Monday meeting. The reply to the second part of that question is No. The Prime Minister did not intimate to Mr. Khrushchev what the President was going to say, because I should have thought it was clearly for the President himself to announce that decision to Mr. Khrushchev. Mr. Khrushchev did tell the Prime Minister a good deal of what he subsequently said at the Monday meeting, but he did not include—we wondered at this—in what he said on the Sunday his statement about another Summit Meeting in six or eight months, and he did not refer at the Sunday conversation to the invitation to President Eisenhower to visit the Soviet Union being withdrawn.
The next question which the right hon. Gentleman asked me was: why did not the Western leaders have a meeting with Mr. Khrushchev on the Tuesday? Why was Mr. Khrushchev not invited to that Tuesday meeting? Of course, he had been invited to come to the meeting at 3 o'clock, but I think that the purpose of the right hon. Gentleman's question was to suggest that there ought to have been some further effort during the afternoon to have Mr. Khrushchev come to that meeting in order to discuss the conditions put to the Americans.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
May I clear up the point? I asked, why was it that, when Mr. Khrushchev, on being invited to that meeting, put the question, "Is this a further preliminary meeting or is it the first meeting of the Summit Conference proper?". he was not told "This is another preliminary meeting to see whether we can get going"?
§ Mr. Lloyd
He was not told that. I think the right hon. Gentleman himself has given the answer in his speech. The 1125 right hon. Gentleman said that he considered that the conditions which Mr. Khrushchev had demanded of President Eisenhower were unacceptable. Mr. Khrushchev had made clear twice that day, first at about 9 o'clock in the morning when he left the Soviet Embassy and later in a telephone message sent on his behalf, at, I think, about five minutes to three in the afternoon, that he was still insisting upon those conditions. In the circumstances, with Mr. Khrushchev still insisting upon them, I think that a meeting to discuss those conditions would have done more harm than good.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am much obliged to the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I will not pursue that further, although I do not think that there is much doubt that Mr. Khrushchev gave two sorts of answers to the invitation, one in which he reiterated his conditions and the other in which he asked what kind of conference it was, in fact, to be. In any event, I should have thought that it was worth while having a last try to see if he could modify those conditions.
As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has kindly answered those questions, I should like to put one on the subject of the alert. Are we to take it that there is never any consultation when these alerts take place? Are we never informed at all? Do aircraft leave the ground, so far as this country is concerned? Are they fully equipped with H-bombs when this takes place, and, if it was just a routine alert, why was so much publicity given to the announcement?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I cannot go into those supplementary questions about the alert. [Interruption.] There are Questions tomorrow to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He will, no doubt, deal with those matters then.
With regard to the matter on which I gave way to the right hon. Gentleman, that is to say, the question about the Tuesday afternoon meeting, we did decide to have another attempt, and that is precisely why, later in the day, I invited Mr. Gromyko, with the knowledge of my United States and French colleagues, to have a final talk. It lasted about an hour and twenty minutes, and from it it became clear to me that it would not be possible to hold a Summit 1126 Meeting in present circumstances. It was precisely in order to make that final effort to see what the possibilities were that the Western statement was postponed until 9.30 or 10 o'clock in the evening.
To sum up this part of the debate, I think that the Western allies did everything possible to enable the meeting to take place. President Eisenhower showed great dignity and restraint when he was being fiercely attacked, and by his statement that the flights would not be resumed he did, I think, play his part. President de Gaulle and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister attempted very hard to persuade Mr. Khrushchev to take a more moderate attitude. But, looking back on it, I think that the decisive moment during these Paris talks was when, about 2 o'clock on the Monday afternoon, in spite of pleas made to him both by the Prime Minister and by President de Gaulle, Mr. Khrushchev announced that he was going to make public the speech that he had made. Appeals were made to him to try to draw up a joint statement, because we still hoped that it would be possible at that time to get the Conference to meet. Mr. Khrushchev was absolutely adamant. He was not going to be persuaded. He was determined to make his statement. From that time, when he decided to publish his statement in those terms, there was not much chance of getting the Conference to meet.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked a question about the future. He asked whether the failure of the Summit had made any difference to President Eisenhower's statement that there would be no more U2 flights. I believe that that statement stands. It was reaffirmed by the President in his broadcast to the American people on 25th May.
The second part of the debate has concerned, not the past, but the question of what effect the failure—of the Summit will have upon our relations with countries on the other side of the Iron Curtain. We intend—we have said so—to stick to our policy. The hon. Member for Leeds, East said the world was hoping that we would save it from despair by continuing the policy we have carried out for the last few years. That is exactly what my right hon. 1127 Friend said in his speech opening the debate. He said that we were to go on carrying out our policy.
After the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch), I realise that I must be very careful about using the word "tension". I have a definition of it. It is:Stretching, being stretched; tenseness; mental strain or excitement; strained (political, social, etc.) state; stress by which bar, cord, etc., is pulled when it is part of a system in equilibrium or motion; expansion force of gas or vapour.To put it another way, although I still think that the phrase "to seek a relaxation of tension" is fairly well understood, what I think we have to do is to try to establish conditions by discussion and negotiation under which there can be genuinely peaceful co-existence in the world. I do not think that that is a weakness. I think that that is common sense. Of course, it will not be easy. It will not be rapid process. We all know about the motives of the Communists and the Marxists and their ambitions. But we hope conditions will gradually evolve in which it will be possible to have peaceful coexistence, with nations of different social structures living side by side.
We have been asked what concessions we are going to make to get that or what concessions they will make to get it. I hope that it will be a process of mutual concession. There are examples in trade and in the exchange of information and contacts. I quite agree that there is nothing more wrong in dealing with the Soviet Union than to make unilateral concessions. I think that we have to try to establish negotiations in which equivalent concessions will be made by both sides. That applies very much in the sphere of disarmament, and that is the way in which progress has been made in the Nuclear Tests Conference.
People say that what happened in Paris at the Summit shows how wrong this policy has been. I do not think that it shows anything of the sort. I think that it shows how necessary this policy has been, and how right we were to press on and to try to get a meeting called together. I admit that summitry is not the only way to achieve these purposes, but I must deal with one other point. It 1128 has been said that this Summit Meeting had not been sufficiently prepared and that it was wrong to go to a meeting which had not been sufficiently prepared. But let us remember what had happened. We had four months last summer at Geneva preparing for discussions on Germany and Berlin. The Nuclear Tests Conference had been going on for nearly eighteen months. The disarmament meeting in Geneva had met and been discussing for five to six weeks. I think that we had reached a position where there had been adequate preparation as a result of which it was possible to take at that level a certain number of fairly simple decisions.
Although I did not hear it, I was told about the speech of the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). I very much wanted to explore at the meeting the idea of a code of behaviour between the two systems and exactly what is meant by the détente and by the relaxation of tension. The hon. Member referred to the Stalinist international organisations and asked what kind of propaganda we should be permitted to indulge in. I would add another question: what kind of interference in the affairs of other countries is legitimate, what kind of aid should be given and what purposes should be served? We could have had a useful talk about a code of behaviour. I entirely agree with the hon. Member that we must not be too despondent. There has been a great deal of progress in the last ten years in that direction.
The suggestion was made that the phrase, "Let the dust settle", came from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It did not. It was Mr. Khrushchev who put it that way. It is necessary to let the question settle down a little before deciding exactly how we can push ahead. There are, however, other means. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the chance of another meeting in the near future is not very great. Therefore, we must pursue our objectives by other means. That means the diplomatic channels and meetings of Foreign Ministers. I quite agree concerning the possible usefulness of meetings within the framework of the United Nations. It was exactly for that reason that we put forward, in July, 1958, the proposal for a meeting of the Security Council at Heads of Government level. That was at first 1129 accepted but then, unfortunately, rejected by Mr. Khrusbchev.
The Leader of the Opposition asked that British influence should be thrown, in favour of new negotiations, aimed against groups in the United States and the Soviet Union who are against negotiation. I can say categorically that our influence will be thrown against anybody, anywhere, who is against trying to settle these problems by negotiation and discussion and who wants to try to settle them by war or the threat of war. We will certainly pursue that line and try to maintain momentum behind that conception.
I should like now to say a word about the composition of the Summit Conference. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, we have never claimed that this was the perfect composition which will last for ever or that it is the only kind of Summit Conference that will ever take place. We must, however, remember that the origin of the meeting was the situation in Germany and Berlin; and that is where the Four Powers who met in Paris have a special responsibility.
The two directions in which we can persevere, and try to persevere almost at once, are nuclear tests and disarmament. The Leader of the Opposition asked about the American tests and said that the United States Government had not confirmed my statement in the last debate. At the time of that debate, President Eisenhower was having a Press Conference in which he dealt with that point. Dealing with this programme, he said:It is not nuclear weapons testing that is involved.He then referred tothe co-ordinated direction of a body made up of the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and ourselves"—that is, the United States. He said thatthe tests are not expected to have anything to do either with weapons development or the … peaceful uses projectThe Leader of the Opposition will remember that there was another article in the Treaty dealing with nuclear experiments for peaceful purposes. The President went on to say that he thought that the Russians would, and should, see everything that was necessary. It is clear that the position concerning the tests is as I have stated.
We must go on at the meeting at Geneva seeking agreement on the three 1130 matters to which I referred in my last speech: first, the length of the moratorium; secondly, the quota and thirdly, the composition problem. The kind of argument which goes on at Geneva is a little frustrating—for example, about the size of the quota. One side says that it is a purely political decision; that is, the Soviet Union. The other side puts forward the view that it must have some relationship to the number of suspicious events. Why not fix the number and let everybody argue how they reach the number in whatever way suits themselves? We must try to get on with the length of moratorium, the composition problem and the quota.
With regard to the ten-Power group and the weighty matters put forward by the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) on the question of adding to the numbers, as I have said before the present composition was not our choice. I should have preferred another selection of countries, but that was the only formula on which we could get agreement.
It has been suggested that the United Nations should be brought in. The United Nations is brought in each year and it usually debates disarmament for between four and six weeks. It has every opportunity and there will be every opportunity, I am perfectly certain, at the next meeting of the General Assembly to see if there is a contribution to be made or some way in which the views of the smaller countries can be canalised and help towards a solution.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Since we last discussed this point about the invitation to China and India, Mr. Khrushchev has gone out of his way to say that they should be present at the next Summit. Would it not, therefore, be a good idea to take the initiative by inviting them to the Disarmament Conference?
§ Mr. Lloyd
I do not think that follows, although it has been said before. I must hurry on, because there are a number of points which I want to make. I have made my position concerning China at the Disarmament Conference clear. I said the last time we debated this that agreement was not possible unless China was a participant and that we could not get a realistic disarmament agreement without China's signature. Our purpose 1131> is to try to get a nuclear tests agreement and, as soon as that is obtained, the question of China's accession must come up. With regard to general disarmament, the first step in the second stage of our plan is to have a general conference at which China would be present.
As regards other questions asked, we shall certainly put forward proposals for the studies which the hon. Gentleman asks for. So far as M. Moch's statement of 15th March is concerned, I should have to examine its actual terms, but I am not conscious of any difference in principle between M. Moch and myself on this matter.
The third part of the debate dealt with the question of strengthening our ties with our allies. There has been a good deal of talk about more consultation. It would appear that this consultation has been asked for so that we may have the opportunity of pointing out to our allies how wrong they are about everything. I am not certain that that is the best way of holding together the alliance.
The suggestion was made that the permanent Council of N.A.T.O. is too weak, and that Ministers should go there. That is a touching belief in the politician as opposed to the professional. I do not think that an experienced ambassador is necessarily worse than, in a country where there are changes of Government, a succession of Ministers. N.A.T.O. is not supranational. The Government have to make decisions and I think that a Minister would have to consult just in the same way as an ambassador.
The "Three Wise Men" reported and each of their recommendations to deal with political discussions or consultation was accepted. I think that there has been a great improvement in the general political consultation in N.A.T.O. I was a little surprised that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to put forward the suggestion for a political standing group, just as there is a military standing group. That, I think, would be absolute anathema to all the smaller countries of N.A.T.O. One thing which they are constantly protesting against or watching for is whether we are seeking to have a tripartite discussion apart from them and whether we are to set up some new 1132 institution for tripartite discussions. Therefore, I would think that we had better try to perfect the present system —M. Speak has had a great influence in this. I agree that N.A.T.O. must discuss matters that are technically outside the N.A.T.O. area.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East said that the cause of the trouble between us and Europe was the decision in 1957 to have an independent deterrent. That decision was not made in 1957 at all; it is not true. The question of the reduction of our contribution to land defence was put to our N.A.T.O. allies at that time for the reason of balance of payments and accepted also on the basis that we were to have Regular Forces and that our military effectiveness was not to be diminished.
I quite agree that we have to try to come closer to the rest of Western Europe. What we have been trying to do in the last few months is to improve the political atmosphere and I think that without doubt there has been a substantial improvement in our relations with France and other countries on the Continent. We have to see whether in this improved atmosphere we can get the political will to make a settlement. For the first time since December, 1958, there does seem to be a widespread willingness to re-examine the prospects for a united effort to get unanimity in Europe in the economic field. The Government welcome these signs and will do their best to contribute.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), I gather, wishes us to throw overboard our allies of the Seven and go straight into the Common Market. All I would say about that is that there are important considerations, the whole question of the management of agricultural markets, the increased cost of living, Commonwealth entry, duties on raw materials, the fact that 86 per cent. of our trade is not with Common Market countries, and the co-ordination of the pay and the conditions of workers.
I gather that the hon. Gentleman rather mocks the idea of the question of supra-nationality as an important matter, but these are matters which have to be very carefully considered, though there would be no question of a lack of response on our part to the improved atmosphere. 1133 We have said with our allies in E.F.T.A. that we are willing to open negotiations with the Six as soon as they are prepared to do so. The Six met the other day and extended an invitation to the Seven to come to negotiate. We have no intention of throwing over our allies of the Seven, but in close consultation with them we shall try to work out a permanent and comprehensive solution of those difficulties.
I know that that may sound a very general observation, but I think the important thing about it is that we have got an improved atmosphere and that we are going to start these negotiations. They begin next month, in about ten days' time. Then I shall have an opportunity at Western European Union of meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the Six and, as I say, of getting with our allies in E.F.T.A. an opportunity for seeing whether we can work out the solution which I think there are increasing signs that both sides really want.
In conclusion, of course it has been a great disappointment, this result of the meeting in Paris. We worked very hard to get the meeting, and we worked very hard to prepare for it. We had literally dozens and dozens of meetings preparing for its work, and, of course, it is a disappointment that it did not take place. But wham, I think, we have got to do is to use the atmosphere created by this setback, not just to review our alliances and our relationships with the other countries of Western Europe, but also to bear in mind that those alliances are means to an end—a world where there will be the rule of law, where countries will work out their salvation free from interference from outside, where there will be disarmament under international control, and where the peoples can live in peace with one another. To achieve that end it is absolutely vital that we maintain the strength of our purpose to see that the differences between the nations are discussed and worked out in constructive negotiations.
§ 9.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I think that the Foreign Secretary has 1134 not told the House sufficient about the alert. How can it happen that the Secretary of State of the United States can order an alert and the British Government can know nothing about it Why cannot the Government take as strong an attitude as General de Gaulle and say that the bases in this country from which those planes go should not be in American hands? That is the real case against the Government.
My constituents believe that the American forces in this country and the American bases constitute at the present time a many-sided danger to the people of this country. [HON.MEMBERS: "0h"] Because of that, I want to state quite clearly that I take this opportunity of saying that there are a large number of people in this country who want to see the Opposition say quite clearly and strongly that the time has come when we should end dependence on the Americans; that the time has come when we should say to the Americans "Take these bases out of this country", just as General de Gaulle told the Americans to take their bases out of France.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.