§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. G. Campbell.]
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
On a point of order. I am asking you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. According to all the advice which I receive as a Member of this House, I understood that today was to witness a debate on foreign affairs. We are now left with three hours in which to deal with a subject which is pregnant with danger for civilisation itself. If we allow an hour, as we are well entitled to do—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I appreciate the hon. Member's point, but the position in which the House finds itself is that a Motion has been moved, That this House do now adjourn. I have no option but to put that Question, and I have called a representative of the Foreign Office, so that it would seem to me quite reasonable to expect that a debate on foreign affairs is very likely to take place. Mr. Heath.
§ Mr. Rankin
I appeal to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. So far as we can visualise what may happen within the next three hours, it would seem that 1453 ordinary back bench Members will be almost completely excluded from the debate which is to follow, and, therefore, we are not going to have, on either side of the House, that expression of view which we ought to have on these occasions.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I must proceed in an orderly fashion. I called a representative of the Foreign Office to speak on the Question, That this House do now adjourn, and the House must proceed along those lines.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
I had intended to start by saying that those of us who are concerned with and interested in foreign affairs in the House could not at the moment complain about any lack of debate, because this is the fifth that we have had in rather less than two months. Although we are now having a rather truncated day, I can quite appreciate the hon. Gentleman's anxiety, and if he is able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, no doubt he will be able to make his point. I will endeavour to make a rather shorter speech than I would normally do on such an occasion in order to give a further chance for hon. Members to take part.
Last Thursday, we debated the Congo, and today it is foreign affairs, with particular reference to Berlin, although I know that many other hon. Members want to touch on a number of other subjects. It seems rather ironical at this season of goodwill when the House is about to adjourn for its Christmas festivities that we should see so many conflicts across the world. The House is accustomed to trouble spots and to talking about them. Berlin, the Congo, Laos, and Viet-Nam have been before us now for a long time, and today we think particularly of Katanga, Goa, and Indonesia, and right hon. and hon. Members may well add others.
Of course, some hon. Members, with great skill, during the preceding four hours, have already made their foreign 1454 affairs speeches, and I watched with admiration how they did it. When I used to occupy the corner seat on the Front Bench, my admiration for their particular skill was rather less, but today I was interested in the way in which they got their foreign affairs speeches over.
If I have felt the temper of the House aright, that sense of growing anxiety at the moment about the difficulties which confront us in the foreign field is not so much because of the individual difficulties which we face but because many hon. Members sense that there is a great danger at the moment of what one might term a slide into the use of force to settle disputes in foreign affairs. I think that that is the point which is causing great anxiety to all of us at the moment in the difficulties which we face, and foremost in our minds must be the recent attack on Goa.
I think the House was of one mind when the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations made his statement about this. The Secretary of State said we deplored it. The House almost unanimously agreed with that. At the same time we recognise that we do so with the utmost regret that such should have happened with a Commonwealth country.
There is little that I can tell the House about this because we have no consul in Goa; so we have no direct reports. We only know what hon. Members have read in the Press. But Mr. Nehru has given instructions, we understand, that British lives and property be protected.
The matter was taken to the Security Council the same night. There, as has already been mentioned today, a resolution was carried by seven votes, the necessary number in the Security Council to carry a resolution. It deplored the use of force and called for a cease fire and for the withdrawal of troops. It was, as hon. Members know, vetoed by the Soviet Union. It was a very interesting resolution which the Soviet Union cited in order to do so. This resolution was put forward by Ceylon, Liberia and the United Arab Republic. The point is that this resolution invoked Resolution 1514 of the General Assembly, and that, hon. Members will recollect, is one which deals with colonialism and calls for 1455 immediate steps to be taken, without any reservations, for independence to be granted.
So I think that the fact that that resolution should have been prayed in aid, so to speak, by the Soviet Union in its attitude at the United Nations shows that the emphasis there was an anti-colonialist one, and that this was at the back of the minds of those who voted for it. I think it is also perhaps a warning to all those who have said in this House from time to time, "You must not worry about the wording of United Nations resolutions but vote on the general sense of them." But this is a case where it is brought home to us how a resolution of this kind is now being used by the Soviet Union, and by others who support it in this particular instance, to justify the action which is being taken. This, I think, is a matter of fundamental importance, the approach of these countries to the United Nations.
So we see that the action taken in the Security Council can have no effect on the situation in Goa. The Leader of the Liberal Party earlier today asked whether I would mention the effect on the United Nations. That, of course, is bound to be serious. One cannot foresee exactly what the implications of this are.
He also asked about the financing of the United Nations. My hon. Friend the Minister of State, who has just returned from the United Nations, will have something to say about that in his winding-up speech, but I can just here mention that when the general financing resolution for the Congo operation as a whole came before the United Nations the United Kingdom supported it, and that resolution was carried.
The right hon. Gentleman mentioned the bankruptcy of the United Nations. There has since been a resolution which was put forward as a result of various talks held between certain Governments and the Secretary-General to the United Nations giving the United Nations power to issue bonds as a means not of financing the peace and security operation but as a means of bridging the gap between the cash available and the deficit. We supported it, pointing out at the same time that the obligation of individual countries to pay their dues to the United Nations really must be carried out, and 1456 the United Nations should find ways by which that can be done.
When one is thinking of the implications of recent events, hon. Members have this afternoon already mentioned the question of Indonesia and West New Guinea. We have seen today the speech of President Soekarno in which he called for his troops to be ready to liberate this territory. Again, these are grounds which are anti-colonialist. These are of the same form as those which I have just mentioned, which were quoted in the Security Council. There is, as hon. Members have indicated, an apprehension that the Indonesians will look to the same support in the United Nations from those who feel that force is justifiable in this particular respect.
§ Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Bosworth)
The right hon. Gentleman is not suggesting that there is any sort of comparison between the situation in Dutch West New Guinea and Goa, is he? The issues in Dutch New Guinea are totally different from those in Goa. The Goans are Indians.
§ Mr. Heath
I am not making any comparison at all between the two situations. I was very carefully not doing that. What I was doing was emphasising the anti-colonial aspect which is causing apprehensions in hon. Members' minds.
But I want to go on to say something more about this and the view of the Government. We believe that it is essential that force should not be used to solve this dispute between Indonesia and the Dutch over West New Guinea. We have said this before and we have always used our influence to that end. We see no reason why it should not be settled by negotiation. The Netherlands Government are our allies in N.A.T.O. and the Dutch are our close neighbours. In the debate in the United Nations a resolution was put forward on which the Dutch Government spoke and which received considerable support, some 53 votes, and in which the Dutch Government offered to give up sovereignty and to hand over the administration to an international body till a final decision could be taken that would be a means of offering self-determination to the Papuans.
Indonesia is one of the most important new countries. It is the sixth largest 1457 country in the world. The British Government have been working for good relations with Indonesia. There is growing trade. There have been many visits in the past years of Ministers, and others from Indonesia and, as the House knows, it has been arranged that the State visit of President Soekarno should take place next year. So we have our close neighbours the Dutch involved; and also we have been trying to create good relations with this very large, fundamentally very rich, and newly emerged country; and it will obviously be of the greatest regret to the British Government if all this is jeopardised at some stage by the use of force.
The Indonesian view is that the Papuans should become part of the Indonesian State and that any emergence of a Papuan State should be prevented. We believe this ought to be discussed and negotiated about in the light of the principles expressed in the United Nations Charter, and that it should be possible to find a settlement of this. In this we would support an appeal already made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
It is perhaps encouraging that President Soekarno limited himself to the command order which I have already mentioned, and so the matter is still open to negotiation, and we hope that he will make it clear that the Indonesians have no pre-conditions for such negotiations and that fruitful talks can be held.
After all, in that part of the world, we think particularly of developments which are now taking place within our own territories, in which discussions are being held in order to create a Greater Malaysia, as many hon. Members are aware.
It is with the anxieties of hon. Members about the spread of the use of force in mind that the Government have been so anxious to limit the force used by the United Nations itself and to concentrate particularly on negotiation and on conciliation. We debated this at some length on Thursday. Therefore, I do not want to go over the whole ground again. I want only to recall briefly two events since then.
When we put forward a Motion on Thursday to the House it had two objects; first of all, the call for a cease- 1458 fire; and secondly to enable conditions to be created in which conciliation might be carried out in which there could then be a basis for co-operation between the Government in Leopoldville and the provincial Government in Elisabethville.
We were heavily criticised by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. In fact, that cease-fire request to the Secretary-General undoubtedly focussed the world's attention on that situation. It received much more support than right hon. and hon. Members opposite were prepared to admit. As the House has been told, two of the Secretary-General's colleagues are in the Congo now. The Secretary-General said in his letter that they were there in order to seek a conciliation of differences between the Central Government and the provincial authorties.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The right hon. Gentleman says that it received more support than we made out. Is it not the fact that it was unanimously rejected by the United Nations Commission on the Congo, including all seven Commonwealth members of that Commission? There could not be a greater weight of opposition.
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Member has dealt with foreign affairs long enough to know that there are other means by which support and action can be carried out in such cases, and I propose now to go on with them. There has been close co-operation between a number of Governments concerned, who are anxious to bring about conciliation, and the United Nations Secretariat. In fact, at the moment both objectives have been achieved. In the Congo there is now at any rate a hold-fire and talks are going on between Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Adoula. So we have reached the stage, which was our objective, of bringing the two leaders together. They are now brought together, for Mr. Adoula has gone to Kitona instead of remaining in Leopoldville, one of the difficulties which I have explained to the House. The Minister of State in New York was in close touch with the United States delegate. I think that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) will himself now agree that Anglo-American relations have not been fractured as a result of the action we took 1459 with the Secretary-General. In fact, they are as close as they have ever been.
On 14th December, the President of the United States received a message from Mr. Tshombe about his wish and preparedness to negotiate with Mr. Adoula. At this point, the President nominated the American Ambassador in Leopoldville, Mr. Gullion, to bring about a meeting, and the British Government, through their representative in Elisabethville, were able to assist with arrangements for that meeting and also with arrangements for the terms on which it would be held, including the suspension of fighting.
So Governments have been working closely with the United Nations Secretariat to bring about this situation. The United Kingdom and the French and the United States consuls went with Mr. Tshombe to Ndola, from whence he went to Kitona, and at the same time as he left Elisabethville fighting stopped. The talks began yesterday, but we have not as yet received any reports about them. The important thing is that negotiations should be going on and that the fighting should be stopped while they are going on. We hope that they can be successful. As I mentioned to the House before, we made an analysis of the public statements of both Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Adoula, and we believe from that that an accommodation is not beyond the bounds of possibility, and we sincerely hope that, with skill and persistence, it can be brought about.
§ Mr. Rankin
Is the basis of the negotiations to be the recognition of Katanga as a State which has seceded from the Congo?
§ Mr. Heath
Her Majesty's Government have always made their position plain. They have never supported secession by Katanga from the Congo as a whole. But the basis of the negotiations is a matter for Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Adoula to arrange between themselves. They have now been brought together and we hope that they can reach agreement.
Before coming to Berlin, I turn to another aspect of foreign affairs. One situation in which patience and restraint 1460 have succeeded in producing results is in Laos. The prospects for a settlement at Geneva are fair. It is true that the forces still face each other in Laos and there have been incidents in the ceasefire, but restraint has been exercisd and the situation has been held despite those incidents. The conference at Geneva has reached agreement on all but two of the differences which existed when the conference started. It is not possible to make further progress on those two until a united Laotian delegation arrives in Geneva. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that a united Laotian Government should be formed. The three princes are now to meet on 26th December, and we hope, with the utmost sincerity, that they will form a national government which can then send a joint delegation to Geneva to take part in the final negotiations.
When one looks at the difficulties which have been faced in different parts of the world, and faced by the United Nations, the situation, at Geneva and in Laos, shows that if restraint is exercised and there is patience and skill one can gradually work towards an agreement. If the three princes can be persuaded to form a national government, then there is a chance of reaching a final settlement at Geneva.
In these circumstances, in which there are United Nations problems, in which force has been used, in which there are apprehensions that force will be resorted to again, the N.A.T.O. Ministerial meeting took place in Paris last week. I think that the greater part of the House will accept that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is an indispensable link between North America and Europe, and that it is the surest instrument of collective self-defence of the Western European countries. It is and has long been one of the corner-stones of Her Majesty's Government's foreign policy.
But it is a defence alliance and it cannot act outside the N.A.T.O. area. There is no N.A.T.O. bloc in the United Nations, but the countries which are members of N.A.T.O. and which have interests spread right across the world are affected by the situations which I have been mentioning—if only briefly, for the reasons I explained earlier. Many of their interests do not always coincide, 1461 as is natural with interests which are world-wide. The N.A.T.O. Ministerial meeting was a good opportunity for a frank exchange of views about these problems which, if they cannot be discussed and reconciled, are bound to lead to strains within the alliance itself. It is right, therefore, that there should be this frank discussion and that the consultation should be as full as possible.
Secondly, we need to increase the military effectiveness of the alliance as well as the political effectiveness in the form of the consultation I have just mentioned. In the past year, the review of strategy, which we discussed exactly a year ago in a defence debate, has been carried out. It has not yet been completed and it will be intensified therefore early in the new year. However, this is not a defence debate and hon. Members will not expect me to deal with that in detail.
The third thing the N.A.T.O. Ministerial meeting did was to give an opportunity for a full discussion of the situation in Berlin. The position of Her Majesty's Government on this issue has been stated a number of times. It was described very fully in our debate here on 2nd November. The position is that the Government wish to see a settlement of this problem by negotiation. That has been our declared attitude and it remains so.
We have also set out what we believe to be the essentials in any settlement. I think that there is general agreement in the House about them. We have been criticised by some hon. Members who have said that by putting them forward we have left everything else to be negotiated. Other hon. Members have said that by setting forth the essentials we have left nothing for negotiation. In fact, there is a great deal for negotiation, accepting the essentials which we have set out, and which are, first, the freedom and viability of West Berlin; secondly, the maintenance of the Western allied garrisons; thirdly, the right of unrestricted access to West Berlin. I think that those three things have the general support of the House.
Since we last debated this subject on 2nd November, a new German Government has been formed. In our last debate hon. Members appreciated the difficulties which confronted the Western 1462 Alliance in the absence of a German Government. This has given an opportunity to increase the pace of allied consultation about Berlin. There have been the visits of the German Chancellor to the President, of the French President to the Prime Minister, and of the German Chancellor to the French President. In addition, the four Foreign Ministers have had the opportunity of discussing this immediately prior to the N.A.T.O. meeting.
In discussing this, the Foreign Ministers were dealing with delicate issues of the greatest importance affecting the vital interests of all the Western countries, and I think that the House will agree that if there are to be successful negotiations, then what is of prime importance is that there should be allied unity about them, and, therefore, the N.A.T.O. Ministers were right to concentrate on working still further for Allied unity in this situation.
The second thing which is necessary is to see whether a basis for negotiation does in fact exist. There were earlier talks with Mr. Gromyko in New York during which the Secretary of State of the United States and my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs did their utmost to convince him that interference with allied rights would be extremely dangerous for the world as a whole.
The indication which Mr. Khrushchey has given that he is prepared to negotiate with the West before signing a peace treaty with East Germany does, I think, indicate that he now recognises those dangers which were pointed out to Mr. Gromyko, but those hon. Members, or those outside the House, who have doubts as to whether this is a propitious moment for negotiation, or whether a basis does exist, could have had their doubts reinforced by the speech which Mr. Menshikov made a week ago in New York. They could say that one could deduce from reading his speech that the Soviet Union believes that Western rights could be ignored, or wiped out, or dispensed with without further ado.
It was agreed at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers, and supported by the North Atlantic Council, that contact should be renewed with the Soviet Union. It may be that the best way of 1463 doing this is by diplomatic means, perhaps in Moscow, or it may be that there are other means which can be used. This can be discussed between my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the President in the talks for which my right hon. Friend has just left, and so in the new year it may be hoped that contact will be renewed with the Soviet Union to carry matters further than did the talks with Mr. Gromyko. It may be that in exploration of this kind matters of substance will have to be dealt with, but we must all hope that progress can be made. Her Majesty's Government recognise the need to enter into negotiations as soon as it is practical and fruitful to do so.
Sometimes there are expressions of impatience in the House, but I think that on reflection the House will agree that to enter on negotiations which then break down because there is no satisfactory basis, or which have to be postponed or interrupted because they have not been sufficiently prepared, would not lower tension but would raise it at the moment of breakdown and leave the situation worse than it was before. We have the support of the N.A.T.O. Council in this action. The House has sometimes discussed subjects which ought to be included in the negotiations, and of course any expression of view by right hon. and hon. Members is of great value.
A great deal of work has been done by the Western allies in preparing the agreed positions which should be established for negotiation. That work continues. The House has been very fore-bearing and understanding of the limitation on the Government in discussing publicly the matters on which they are trying to establish an agreed position with their allies, who have equal rights and who will also be engaged in these negotiations. It is one of the advantages of Mr. Khrushchev that he has no public discussion of his position, and he has no pressures to make public the position that he would take up, or the moves he might be prepared to make, in negotiations
Judging from past experience, I think that perhaps it should be our aim to reach agreement first, if we can, on the most pressing and potentially the most dangerous problem, and that is really 1464 the question of the allied rights of access to West Berlin. If a solution to that could be reached, then tension would be reduced and it might then be possible to move on to wider problems. Mr. Khrushchev's removal of any time limit for the signature of a treaty with East Germany makes the further contact which I have mentioned possible, and we must now await the outcome of such further contact as can be made with the Soviet Union.
At the same time, we must—
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, indeed, That is surely an integral part of the freedom and viability of West Berlin which I mentioned first of the three essentials earlier.
At the same time, we must recognise that the gap which is seen to exist between the two positions is still wide, and any negotiations, if a basis is found for them, are bound to be tough. Her Majesty's Government believe in a peaceful settlement which takes account of the proper interests of ourselves and our allies, and of the people of West Berlin. We will work with our allies to find out whether a basis for negotiation does in fact exist. If it is found to exist, then we will do our utmost to achieve a settlement of this problem.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
After the bitter controversy of last Thursday's debate and the Government's handling of the Congo problem, and before I turn, as the right hon. Gentleman did, to some of these sombre problems that are before us in today's debate, it is pleasing to feel that there is one matter on which I can unequivocally congratulate the Government. I am referring to their vote in the United Nations General Assembly in favour of the entry of the Government of China to their right and proper place in the United Nations. Although this has been a long time coming, it has been welcome and timely, and in the circumstances of the past few weeks it cannot have been altogether easy.
§ Mr. Wilson
I am concerned only with the Government's vote. The Government voted for the admission of the Government of China. This is something for which we have pressed in debate after debate, and I want to make it clear that I would be among the first to recognise the difficulties of the United. States Government on this issue.
Public opinion in that country is very strong, and at a time when the President is having to guide his country, in the face of very strong political pressures, into acceptance of a policy of negotiation with the Soviet Union over Berlin, it is, I think, understandable that the President may feel that a total reversal of America's China policy is not a political possibility at the moment.
Moreover, he has shown great firmness and vision in scotching the neo-McCarthyite movement almost at its birth, and so we can sympathise with his difficulties in perhaps having to face a third problem if he reversed American policy on China. But, at any rate, Her Majesty's Government were right to vote as they did.
The prospects of peace, difficult enough, are made immeasurably more difficult when the Government responsible for about one-quarter of the world's population are denied a place in the forum of world affairs. And those who set such great store by the need to conclude a world disarmament convention must obviously recognise the importance of China, which is now no doubt on the threshold of atomic achievement, being a party to the negotiations and a signatory to any nuclear disarmament settlement.
I turn now, as did the right hon. Gentleman, to the tragedy of this week's action in Goa. On Monday my right hon. Friend stated our position. It is a matter for deep regret that the Goa problem could not have been settled by peaceful means long before this. It is undeniable that there has been provocation, terrorism and suppression—all the familiar accompaniments of Portuguese colonial administration—in this territory. It is obvious that the poison has spread from Angola, in Africa, across into Asia, 1466 and that this has very much affected the situation.
I say right away that India, over the years, has been very patient about the Goa problem. When we consider that the French were prepared to negotiate a settlement in respect of Pondicherry six years ago, and remember that Portugal has been intransigent not only about the problem of the Indian occupation of Goa but about providing for self-government by the Goans, we can measure the tremendous provocation and feeling of the Indian Government on this matter. Nevertheless, we profoundly regret that the disciples of Mahatma Gandhi should settle this issue by the use of force.
In the action that they have taken—I do not deny the strength of their case; I have tried to give some of the background to it—we must admit that they have not only sullied their own record, both as keepers of the peace and peacemakers, in which they have played an historic rôle in the past few years, but, at the same time, have delivered a serious blow against the United Nations at a very dangerous hour in its history. For the record, we commend the actions which the Government took to urge restraint on both parties in the week preceding the outbreak of fighting and equally we support the line taken by the Government at the Security Council. We only regret that the Government's dismal record in relation to Angola last year robbed us of any prospect we had of acting as mediator between India and Portugal in an effort to settle this matter peacefully.
I now turn to the question of Berlin. Despite the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman has given tonight—I know that, inevitably, there was a long period in which there was no German Government—there has been a general lack of urgency on the part of the Western Powers that to my mind seems to date from the moment when Mr. Khrushchev made it clear that his deadline was not necessarily final and irrevocable. We get the impression that the Western Ministers heaved a sigh of relief at that moment, and began to act as though the crisis, although still with us, was in a sense postponed sine die.
This question, however, simply will not wait. Two months and more ago we 1467 all recognised it as a matter of pressing urgency. The House was recalled to consider it and other problems. Today we are no further forward than we were two months ago. I wonder whether the sense of urgency in Paris last week—which does not seem to have been as great as it should have been—was in any way diminished by the need, as the Government saw things, to keep on the right side of President de Gaulle on the question of Katanga. President de Gaulle's views about the Berlin question are no secret, and I wonder how far he was able to play off disagreements between Britain and the United States over the Congo in the United Nations.
It is fair to ask how far Britain's position over the Common Market and Britain's dependence on France—and it is widely believed that France holds the key to our entry to the Common Market—are holding us back from a clear statement of our views on Berlin.
§ Mr. Wilson
I thank my hon. Friend very much. As the right hon. Gentleman fairly said, there is no basic disagreement about our objectives over Berlin. My right hon. Friend has stated them, and I once more repeat them. The people of West Berlin are entitled to live under the system of Government which they choose. This is not and cannot be negotiable, as far as the West is concerned. Equally, we stand firm on the question of physical links and access between West Berlin and the West. Even a temporary solution of the Berlin problem, by which I mean a settlement of the question of Berlin ahead of the wider problem of German unification, is not viable unless it embodies guarantees of access, and by that I mean guarantees not limited merely to words which can be broken.
Nor can any settlement be regarded as durable or defensible which does not provide for the dismantling of the wall. The wall is an affront to the twentieth century, and to the so-called civilisation in which we live. I wonder how long it will be before the Eastern Powers recognise that their wall is regarded by the rest of the world—as perhaps, one 1468 day, it will be regarded by archaeologists who dig up its foundations—as the most concrete expression of a desire not to keep people out but to keep people in; in other words, not a bastion but a prison.
Having said that, I repeat that the inalienable democratic right on the part of the West Berliners to choose their system of Government and the provision of physical means of access are essential conditions of a settlement. As my right hon. Friend has argued, in order to get such a settlement we should be prepared to make at any rate some recognition that East Germany exists as a fact, whatever the strength of our desire may be for a united Germany.
We should be equally prepared to be realistic about Germany's Eastern frontiers with Poland and Czechoslovakia. Let me say right away also that the prospect of a satisfactory and defensible settlement will, I think, be heightened also if the West makes it clear, by word and by deed, that we are prepared to renounce the use of Western Berlin as an advance battle headquarters and centre of provocation in the cold war. The price we pay, in terms of suspicion and ill will, for insisting on keeping West Berlin for Radio Free Europe and similar organisations, and as a centre for spies and provocateurs, is out of all proportion to any value that may be thought to derive from these activities. In saying this we recognise the use to which East Berlin is being put by the other side, but our chances of a satisfactory settlement would be enormously heightened if we could persuade our allies to stop using West Berlin as they are at the moment.
Since the House debated this last, I think seven weeks ago, there has been nothing to encourage complacency or procrastination, and if there is any doubt about that I think that the statement referred to by the right hon. Gentleman by Mr. Menschikov on 11th December should have dispelled any such complacency. The deadline may have been pushed off a little into the future but, nevertheless, time is running out. Once the U.S.S.R. reaches the conclusion that the West is not prepared to negotiate, or does not wish to negotiate, or is too riven by division and mutual distrust to negotiate, then a peace treaty will be signed and the problem of freedom for the civilians of West Berlin 1469 and of access to the city will be greatly worsened. Once again, we shall be negotiating from weakness and under duress. No blustering, minatory speeches by the Foreign Secretary, including the quite childish outburst last week, will be of any help there. In fact, such speeches will have quite the opposite effect.
Since we last debated Berlin, we have had the Kennedy-Adenauer talks, which made useful progress, the Birch Grove talks, which made no progress at all, and the de Gaulle-Adenauer talks, which were little more effective. We have had the meeting of the Foreign Ministers and of N.A.T.O. What is worrying is not only the desire of President de Gaulle to interpose a veto against productive negotiations, but, in the past fortnight, some signs at least that Dr. Adenauer was moving in his direction.
I know that the whole thing has been overlaid, not only by Katanga but by Franco-German disagreements about the Common Market, especially on agriculture. It was a bad time for a meeting. Our fear is that progress on Berlin has tended to become the residuary legatee in all these discussions, and although the outcome of the Kennedy-Adenauer talks appeared encouraging, Dr. Adenauer's considered views after them, as read for him by Dr. Erhardt in the Bonn Parliament, seemed almost as intransigent as they had been before. How far this was a matter of placating West German political opinion—we know his difficulty; his position is not so strong in Parliament as it was before—and how far this really represents his view, I think that we should find it rather hard to guess. The Guardian did not over-state the position in its leading article when it described the policy as "unworkable and dangerous." First, there was his demand for what he called a German policy to be pursued by the Western Powers entailing the nonrecognition of the East German régime, the postponing of the frontier question until an all-German peace treaty and efforts to reunify Germany. This is a much more restrictive bargaining position than anyone really thinks adequate for getting the essential conditions of the West on Berlin.
The whole House will have noticed the contrast between this and the interview which President Kennedy gave to 1470 lzvestia two or three weeks ago. In my first supplementary questions from this Box in my new sphere I described it, I think not unfairly, as a welcome and long-awaited act of leadership in the West. I am sure that the whole House will agree with that. He re-emphasised clearly that the Western Powers would stand by their commitments to the people of West Berlin in respect of their freedom and the question of access. It is a great service to peace that not only the German people but the Soviet people should be left in no doubt about this. But he was equally clear about his willingness to enter into negotiations with the Soviet Union. I think that especially imaginative was his statement about the two military blocs. He said:I think it would be helpful if N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact engaged in a commitment to live in peace with each other. I certainly believe that we should take every conceivable step to prevent surprise attack.I think it rather a pity that the Prime Minister, when we pressed him to associate himself clearly with this statement—which I believe means a great deal in the way of reassurance to people on the other side of the Iron Curtain—was a little bit slow, a little bit cagey and a little unforthcoming.
Perhaps the most dangerous part of Dr. Adenauer's Bundestag statement was the clearly expressed demand for greater German participation in nuclear weapons. I shall come to that aspect in a moment. But, once again, I point the contrast here with President Kennedy's clear repudiation of any desire that Western Germany be supplied with nuclear arms. In vain have I pressed the Prime Minister to be equally clear. I hope that when the Minister of State winds up this debate he will show that the Government fully support President Kennedy in this very important declaration. It is at any rate to be welcomed that Herr Willy Brandt in the Bundestag debate expressed a very different point of view. I quote The Times:Herr Brandt was reserved but not completely opposed to the idea of a N.A.T.O. atomic force. He feared it might bring about American disengagement in Europe or cause the Warsaw Pact countries to take a military step.It is idle to talk of negotiations with the Soviet Union while this cloud, this fear of atomic weapons for Germany, 1471 still remains. I suppose that I have visited the Soviet Union as much as any hon. Member on either side of the House, both as a Minister and, in the past few years, as an opposition Member. I have had many serious discussions with, I think, all the principal Soviet leaders. Right hon. Gentlemen should not be in any doubt about the Soviet feeling regarding Germany. It is a strange psychological feeling about which I could not accurately use the phrase a "love-hate" relationship. Certainly it is a compound of respect and fear.
For many years the Russians have had a phrase to describe a job which has been really well done upon a house or on a ship or something like that. They call it a "German job". It goes back to the days before the Revolution when the Germans had to do most of the practical work in Russia. They have that healthy respect for what the Germans can do. At the same time, they remember—this is said by everyone to whoever visits them by the ordinary people in the streets—that they had 17 million dead in the last war as the result of Nazi invasion. Is there any wonder, therefore, that irresponsible suggestions about giving nuclear arms to West Germans rouse the deepest and most violent passions and suspicions in the minds of Soviet leaders and. I believe, among ordinary Soviet citizens. So I hope that the Government will come out clearly about this and that there is no question of nuclear arms for Germany. If they do not, I fear that the negotiations will be much more difficult if not entirely doomed from the start.
Last week, with President de Gaulle still obstructing with the proposals he wanted to put forward and with Dr. Adenauer less than enthusiastic, it was left to the United States and the United Kingdom to continue diplomatic probings. For the two Anglo-Saxon Powers to be left to do this is less than satisfactory, although we welcome the fact that they are going to do so. It would be far better if there could have been a common approach. But, at any rate, if there is to be probing let it be thorough and constructive. Let it explore the one positive point in Mr. Menshikov's statement, when he referred to the advantage of in some way recognising the international status of West 1472 Berlin through the United Nations and the possibility of garrisoning a token United Nations force in the city.
The suggestion of a United Nations presence in Berlin has been very much canvassed. If we could get one or mare of the specialised agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation or the World Health Organisation, in Berlin, so that visitors from all over the world went there, that might be one of the best possible guarantees of good behaviour by all concerned. If, indeed, we could get the establishment of a new international disarmament agency and could locate it in Berlin, then that could be of very great value. I think that it was Mr. McCloy who, a few weeks ago, linked a settlement on disarmament with making progress in the negotiations on Berlin.
I wonder if it is quite fanciful to consider the construction of a new motorway from West Germany to Berlin. I know that this would be very expensive, but the finance could be provided through the United Nations, to which we would, no doubt, pay our full contribution while others would not, as the right hon. Gentleman said. No doubt the control could be in United Nations hands, and while the annual cost would be heavy it would be a small price to nay for peace in this part of the world. I hope that this will be considered.
The big question to be settled by the Moscow probings is that of the scope of negotiations. I agree with Herr Brandt, who said in the Bundestag that the common German standpoint of recent years, that there must be no isolated Berlin solution, remained the right one. That is not only a statement of what should be but it is also highly realistic. We shall not get a solution of the Berlin problem alone. It cannot be divorced from the wider German question, and, above all, of the limitation of armaments in Central Europe.
Year after year, we have pressed for a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe which would include Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland, with not only the removal of nuclear weapons but an adequate system of inspection. In the short-lived mood of commonsense which coincided with his Moscow visit nearly three years ago, the Prime Minister 1473 undertook to set on foot studies of this problem. We have gone on urging that these studies should be made, and we would like to know what has happened to them. I hope that they have not been delegated to the one man and a boy who form the Government's disarmament staff in some musty corner of the Foreign Office. We hope that they will be given much higher priority, because they are relevant not only to a solution of the disarmament problem but also of the Berlin problem.
Now I turn to the wider N.A.T.O. problem, which Ministers were discussing in Paris last week and to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. I will refer to it only briefly now, but we shall want to discuss it further, certainly in the Defence debate but not least in its foreign policy aspects.
I have referred to the question of nuclear arms for Germany in the context of Berlin and in the wider context of East-West relations. In our view, the strength of N.A.T.O. is imperilled by excessive dependance on nuclear weapons already. That is not only our view. We understand that last week Mr. McNamara made one more appeal to Britain and France not to proceed with their own nuclear deterrents but instead to integrate with the American system in the West as a whole. But prestige politics obviously mean more to the Prime Minister and the Government than considerations of the defence of the West. That has been the position ever since the famous Defence White Paper of 1957.
I do not know if it is necessary to repeat this, but as a party we reject a neutralist rôle for Britain. We believe firmly in N.A.T.O., and it is right to remind the House that it was a Labour Government which first conceived N.A.T.O., and it is precisely because of this that we have repeatedly stressed the improvements we want to see in N.A.T.O., militarily and politically. Speaking for myself, I do not think that N.A.T.O. will ever be able to play its full part in the world and the defence of freedom as long as it has to look over its shoulder to see the denials of freedom in dependencies of some of its members. That the Government should speak more strongly than they have done to Portugal, and also to France about the terrorism in Algeria, is essential if 1474 we are to have clean hands in N.A.T.O. I do not apologise for saying that.
The perilous inadequacies of conventional forces in N.A.T.O., for which I think this country bears the heaviest responsibility, heighten the danger that a conventional attack could at any time be converted into a nuclear war withouout the holding operation which adequate conventional forces could make possible. This is the implication of the Government's policies. Britain's military weakness, due to the vain searching for nuclear prestige, combined with our economic weakness, not only means that we are a drag on our allies but that we are contributing unnecessarily to the risk of a false step or an over-adventurous Eastern military move being transformed into nuclear war. We are told, too, that the N.A.T.O. High Command has been pressing us to fulfil our military commitments in Europe. Our failure to do so is hastening the day—as I believe the evil day—when pressures Dither to supply nuclear arms to Germany or to bring into being six or more additional German divisions will be found to be irresistible with all that means for peace in Europe.
I turn, finally, to a question which we ought not to have to discuss tonight but which I am afraid we must—the question of whether Britain really believes in the United Nations. I am not going back over last week's Katanga debate. Like the right hon. Gentleman, we welcome the fact that talks are taking place. I do not think it would be easy to counter his claim as far as that is concerned, but, in addition to the tragic loss of life and the setback to the economic viability of the Congo, there have been two other major casualties of the past fortnight. One is the loss of British prestige in the world.
The Prime Minister's dramatic gesture in producing U Thant's letter at the end of last week's debate failed to impress even his own supporters. They were not taken in by it. As soon as he read it I pointed out that the statement of United Nations principles and objectives was exactly the same as before the Government's manoeuvre over the ceasefire and that the decision to send eminent United Nations negotiators to the Congo had been taken days before. The Prime 1475 Minister's little pantomime fooled no one, but what it did was to outrage a great many nations who put world peace above party manoeuvre.
Once again, the abstention over the South-West African Resolution has led to grave doubts about our position. Our representations over Goa would have come better from a Government who themselves had shown more respect for the fundamental principles of the United Nations. If it is true that because of Suez our voice was muted over Hungary, it is equally true that because of Katanga it has been muted over Goa.
The second thing is that over the past few weeks the Government—perhaps sotto voce and their supporters double fortissimo—have done a great deal to discredit the United Nations. The acceptance of every story put out—there was a good account in the Observer last Sunday of the way in which lies were manufactured—by that poison factory in Elisabethville and the equivocal answers to demands that they should declare public support for the United Nations operation, have done immeasurable harm. The world is asking, what rôle do Her Majesty's Government see for the United Nations? Are we on our road back to Sir John Simon over Manchuria or to the Hoare-Laval Pact? Do they think of the United Nations as a rather costly debating society meriting lip-service on every United Nations Sunday, and certainly before every election, but strenuously to be cut down to size—or below size—if British sovereignty or British strategic or financial interests are thought to be in danger?
Dag Hammarskjoeld in his last Reports, contrasted what he called the static and dynamic concepts of the rôle of the United Nations. This is the debate now going on in this country. Some hon. Members opposite think of the United Nations as being little more than a concert of high contracting parties. Hon. Members will have seen the leader in last week's Sunday Telegraph. I quote it, not with the idea of advertising or perpetuating it, but rather to show how the paper seeks to rationalise it, and perhaps the Government do too. It says:The United Nations, in the ambitious form in which the late Dag Hammarskjoeld conceived 1476 it, is dead. Whatever may happen now in Katanga, the notion of a supranational body, exercising power independently of the interests of individual nations, cannot for the future be entertained. Mr. Macmillan read the funeral oration in the House of Commons on Thursday … Without the wholehearted support of Britain and France, the U.N. Secretariat must abandon its claim to intervene autonomously in the world's trouble-spots. No matter how many more half-civilised nations join the General Assembly, the facts of international life make it impossible for the United Nations to act without Europe … The lesson of the Congo is that the Western Great Powers should never hesitate to use their Security Council veto when their national interests are seriously threatened.We could not have it put more nakedly than that. How many hon. Members opposite, including some distinguished Members and noble Lords who are absent, really believe this statement about the United Nations? There we have the nationalist view.
Against that, we have the view, which at least we support, that the United Nations and its Secretary-General must be free to take actions which, as Mr. Hammarskjoeld once said,unavoidably may have to run counter to the views of at least some member Statesand that it is necessary for this country and other countries to support the United Nations even when it is against our own national interest, particularly when it is against the national or financial interest of companies located in this or allied countries.
In our view, that is the only road to peace. Only if we regard the United Nations as dynamic, as developing and as broadening from precedent to precedent until internationalism becomes the nucleus of world government—only if we can look at it in this way can we see peace coming to the world.
There is in particular one direction in which the United Nations must be given special responsibilities and that is disarmament. Here, the lowest common denominator of nationalist interests will not add up either to disarmament or to peace. Last week I quoted in a different context a speech made by the Prime Minister as long ago as in the defence debate of March, 1955. I make no apology for quoting it again. Referring to disarmament the Prime Minister said:The control must provide effective international, or if we like supranational, authority invested with real power. Hon. Members 1477 may say that this is elevating the United Nations, or whatever may be the authority, into something like world government. Be it so, it is none the worse for that. In the long run this is the only way out for mankind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd March, 1955; Vol. 537, c. 2181.]Those words by the Prime Minister six years ago are still of lasting significance.
I hope it will be in that spirit that the Prime Minister goes to meet the President in these vital talks that, we hope, will not in any way be affected by the sad news we have received about the President's family. I hope that the Prime Minister is briefing himself by rereading the President's imaginative address to the United Nations Assembly on 25th September calling for a new initiative for world disarmament, including, which is very important, a treaty forbidding the transfer of control over nuclear weapons to other nations.
It is true that since that speech we have had a number of grievous blows—the nuclear tests and the breakdown of the latest effort at Geneva. There have been, perhaps, one or two more hopeful signs—for example, the statement of agreed principles signed by Mr. McCloy and Mr. Zorin and the agreement on the composition of the new disarmament commission—but there still remains the basic obstacle of Soviet refusal to allow inspection to go beyond the arms destroyed and to cover those that remain and the Russian insistence that we do not get complete inspection until we have complete disarmament.
In this context of disarmament, there is a strong case for suggesting that a senior Minister should be appointed permanently and full time to deal with the question of disarmament, with experts charged with the study of the whole question of disarmament and control, including the economic implications of disarmament and control. This should be a full-time job. The United States has not only a powerful disarmament agency, but has a distinguished advisory body of people who can help from outside. We have in the Foreign Office, I understand, one man and a boy.
Heaven knows, we have a proliferation of Ministers all over the place. There are far more Ministers in the present Government than in any previous one. I am not quite so sure about the productivity which has resulted from this 1478 proliferation. There is a very strong case, in the interest both of getting the job done and of our image in the world, for appointing a senior Minister full time charged with responsibility for the armament.
The Prime Minister and the President of the United States are meeting this week, as the Lord Privy Seal said. They are meeting, despite the right hon. Gentleman's optimism, in an atmosphere clouded—in our view, unnecessarily clouded—by suspicions generated by last week's events over Katanga and by our votes on Angola and on colonialism. For all that, I think that everyone in the House will wish the Prime Minister well in these talks. Too much depends on these talks for any partisan attitude to be adopted concerning them.
It will be a long road back—via an understanding on Africa, on Berlin, on N.A.T.O., on the appropriate rôle for Britain to play in N.A.TO., and the contribution we must make towards making that rôle a reality, towards real agreement on disarmament and on the dynamic development of the United Nations as a world authority. This is the extent of the road which has to be travelled. I hope that this meeting in Bermuda will mark real progress on that road. The tragedy is that all that we heard last week and again this evening seems to suggest so little appreciation of what we have to do for our part to make that possible.
§ 9.1 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
It is with much greater pleasure that I follow the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) this evening than I would have felt if I had followed him, as I tried to, in the debate on Katanga last week. I hope that he will forgive me if I do not follow him, except on the question of Berlin and perhaps a little on the question of the United Nations, because time is so short.
What rather depressed me about the right hon. Gentleman's approach, and, indeed, that of Her Majesty's Government, is that they seem to be quite prepared to accept the status quo. To my mind, a divided Berlin is a time bomb which is set to explode no man knows when. Mr. Khrushchev has described West Berlin as a bone sticking in his 1479 throat. It was a bone sticking in his throat for three reasons. First, it was a shop window through which the unfortunate people on the other side of the Iron Curtain could gaze at the benefits of a capitalist system. Secondly, it was an escape hatch through which they could fly to the West and, as we know, 3½ million of them did so before 13th August. Thirdly, it was a reminder of reunification. Therefore, this bone has to be either eliminated or assimilated.
The Soviet Government and people will not tolerate a reunited Germany. We heard from the right hon. Member for Huyton, who certainly has no doubts as to their sincerity, the reasons why the Russians feel that way about the Germans. Whether their views are genuine or not—I am quite prepared to accept them as such—there is no question but that the Polish views are absolutely genuine and sincere. They fear beyond anything else the reunification of Germany. I very much doubt if there is anybody on the Continent of Europe or in this country who, in his heart of hearts, wants to see a reunited Germany, except, of course, some people in Germany. The Soviet Union might agree to the reunification of Germany on condition that the whole of the reunited Germany was neutralised.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
My hon. Friend has more time than I have. If he makes public assumptions about who does or does not want to see Germany reunited, I think that it will be necessary to interrupt him. I have stopped as many German bullets as most people, but I want to see Germany reunited.
§ Mr. Longden
I am sure that my hon. Friend will agree that it is open to me to express my awn views in the House of Commons.
§ Mr. Longden
My own view is that most people on the Continent of Europe—I said that, and I repeat it—do not 1480 want to see Germany reunited. That is my view and I am perfectly entitled to say it in the House of Commons.
If that is so, what is the West's position? First, they cannot conceivably abandon the West Berliners to the Communist world. If we were to do that, the word of the West would be worthless in all the uncommitted nations and, indeed, in N.A.T.O., where there are several countries whose populations are not much larger than that of West Berlin, we should lose a great many adherents.
Secondly, the West cannot contemplate a neutralised, reunited Germany. Why? I do not believe that it is practicable to neutralise and to treat a great nation of 80 million people in that manner, as, for example, Austria was treated. I do not believe that it is practicable to deprive them of that essential element of sovereignty which is the right of self-defence. I do not think that it will be practicable to begin it or just to go on with it. Why should the German nation as a whole be relieved of the responsibility of bearing their fair share of the defence of Western civilisation?
If we have these two views opposed to each other what shall we do? I do not believe that it is possible for the status quo to remain for very long. This is a task for diplomacy, but my view, which I have expressed before now, is that the West should give up its ultimate object of reunifying Germany. That is what I would advocate most strongly that it should do. I advocate most strongly that we should treat the Soviet zone of Eastern Germany as Austria was treated, and that zone should be an independent sovereign State whose neutrality was guaranteed by the four Powers, with a reunited Berlin as its capital.
I believe, also very strongly, that the Eastern frontier of that State should be on the Oder-Neisse Line. The penalty for losing wars is to lose territory, and Germany has lost two wars in this century. The main advantage of that scheme would be that the people of the East would have the freedom to chose their own Government. The corroding process of Communism in that zone of Germany would cease, and it is only eighteen months ago that Dr. Adenauer said to a Press conference:If we can help them"—1481 that is, the people of East Germany—to live better and more freely, then that is more important than anything else.If their plight was bad eighteen months ago, how much worse is it today when the wall to which the right hon. Member for Huyton referred now exists and which I saw a fortnight ago? But I must make it abundantly plain that that solution, too, is out of the question unless, first, the Federal Republic of Germany can be persuaded to agree to it and to release their allies from their pledge, which otherwise they are bound by, to go for reunification.
This is the only alternative to a prolongation of the stalemate. We must not offer concessions to the Russians to maintain our existing rights, but our present policy should not be, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable. If I am asked whether the Kremlin would agree I would say that it is not for us to say "No" for Mr. Khrushchev. He is quite able to say that for himself. Let us give him the chance to say "No". The Russians would be getting something out of it if they are sincere in their fear of a reunited Germany. They would get a neutral cushion between Poland and the West which some day might be prolonged southward to join Austria, and at the end the new State might invite the United Nations to set up its headquarters in Berlin.
I should like to say something about the United Nations, to which I believe my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs will refer when he winds up the debate. I should like to express my thanks to Her Majesty's Government for having voted the way they did on the admission of China. I have advocated this ever since I was there myself. Now at last we have come out into the open and we have to face the reality, which is that the Communists rule China and Chiang-kai Shek does not. I hope that it will be made abundantly clear by the Government that Formosa shall not be taken over by the Chinese, but that it shall remain an independent sovereign State in its own right as a member of the United Nations.
What can be said about Goa? As the right hon. Gentleman has said, this is another blow at the United Nations. I think that the only faint satisfaction that we can possibly get out of this 1482 utterly unwarranted aggression is that perhaps from now on the world will be spared more sermons from the Indian pulpit.
My right hon. Friend said that Her Majesty's Government had decided to look more closely at the resolutions for which they voted or on which they abstained from voting. I think that he said that the general sense of the resolutions was not enough and that in future we must worry about the wording. I respectfully hope that that will be so, because I believe that we made a mistake on 24th November in abstaining on the Katanga resolution, for the reason that that resolution for the first time permitted the use of force to eliminate military and para-military personnel, political advisers and mercenaries.
I do not see why we should prevent Mr. Tshombe from having his European advisers, technical and political, since that is precisely the policy that we try to follow in those parts of Africa for which we are still responsible, namely, the building up of a multi-racial society in which each race contributes what it can to the general good. I do not think we ought to have voted for the use of force to prevent that. It would have been better if we had voted against it.
As members of the United Nations, we accept and carry out resolutions of the Security Council, but if we abstain, those resolutions, to be carried, have to carry the affirmative vote of seven members and the concurring vote of five permanent members. Is abstention the equivalent of concurrence? If it is, we must honour that resolution. I tell the Opposition once again that it is no good talking about the Katanga lobbies and diehards on this side of the House. The whole of these benches were united on that occasion because we believed, rightly or wrongly, that the United Nations was exceeding the mandate that had been given to it.
I should like to know whether the right hon. Member for Huyton wants Heir Majesty's Government to forgo the veto altogether. The veto was deliberately put into the Charter to give nations the right to vote against a resolution if their national interests were affected.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
I think that the view of us all is that we want to see reforms in the United Nations so that vetoes are much rarer, even if they do not disappear altogether. This country should never use the veto in the United Nations purely to satisfy our own real or imagined financial and nationalist interest.
§ Mr. Wilson
Yes, really. I go beyond that. I would say that although the hon. Gentleman has said that the United Nations exceeded its mandate in the Congo, if it had not done what it has, I believe that by this time the Congo would be a cockpit for a conflict between all the major Powers.
§ Mr. Longden
There must always remain two views on that subject. There will be great opposition in this country to the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that we should forgo the veto. We have used it on very few occasions. Out of 103 times, I think that Russia has used the veto on 96 occasions, leaving the rest for the West. If that is not sparing enough, I do not know what is.
I must say that in the present state of political sophistication of most members of the United Nations, the majority of whom between them can contribute less to the United Nations than this country does alone, we should be unwise to forgo the right of veto. In any case the question is academic, because if we did, Russia would not.
§ 9.15 p.m.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I was shocked when I heard the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) list the concessions that we ought to make unilaterally to Russia prior to the negotiations that he advocated over Berlin. I noted them. The first was that the West should give up its claims for the reunification of Germany. The others were that we should recognise the East German Government, recognise the whole of Berlin as the capital of the East German Government and recognise the Oder-Neisse Line. What would be the point of negotiations after we had done all that? We should have given up everything.
I think I got an inkling of the reason for this strange attitude on the part of 1484 the hon. Member when he said that he had advocated recognition of China's place in the United Nations ever since he was in China—
§ Mr. Longden
I must correct the hon. Gentleman. I made this suggestion 18 months ago in this House.
§ Mr. Hynd
This is also the main point that disturbed me about the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). This issue is not one that can be dealt with in terms of slogans or the old bogies trotted out from time to time from one side or the other. My right hon. Friend spoke of the veto that President de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer had in negotiations. But they have no veto.
It is an unfortunate fact that the West is divided on whether we should enter into negotiations; if so, when and on what conditions. It is a natural state of affairs that a number of independent powers grouped together in a democratic alliance should have different views, and be in a different situation from that of a totalitarian power which rules all its satellites and can speak with a single voice. But because there are these differences of view, and one or other may be right—I should not like to give a final judgment on which is right—it is a little unhelpful to describe the attitude of other members of the alliance as that of exercising a veto when we know that neither Dr. Adenauer nor President de Gaulle has any veto at all.
On the general question of Berlin, and whether and why and when we should negotiate, one could speak for a long time. In view of the time available, I would just remind the House why we are there and under what conditions. This was the result of an act of faith in the course of the war when we agreed that we would share with our allies the administration of Berlin and the administration of Germany on the basis of the Potsdam Agreement, because we were hoping—we believed that it was possible—that after the war we should be able to maintain the co-operation which existed during the war between the West and Russia.
In these conditions, we set up a Control Council for Germany, a four-Power authority which was to be responsible for the administration of 1485 Germany under the terms of the Potsdam Agreement with the object of treating Germany as a single economic unit under central German administrations. The Control Council was made responsible also for the administration of Berlin—in this context not East Berlin and West Berlin, but greater Berlin. Every agreement that we have made with the Russians since has been in terms of greater Berlin and not a divided or separate Berlin.
That the Russians themselves decided at one stage to withdraw from their responsibilities under this four-power agreement and also to withdraw from the Berlin city authority the Communists, who had been elected in a minority, and to set up a separate city in the east, in no way absolves us from our own responsibilities in respect of the whole city. Legally, the position is that we are jointly responsible with the Russians for the administration of all Berlin until there is a final settlement, and that state of affairs has existed for sixteen years.
In the last two years we have been faced with a couple of crises, and ultimata have been addressed to us by Mr. Khrushchev, the first since the Berlin blockade of 1958–59. The question that we must ask ourselves is why after sixteen years of this situation we suddenly find ourselves again in the midst of a crisis. Everybody knows that the crises of 1958 and this year were deliberately manufactured by the Russians. That is the first fact. We have not created the crisis. We have tried to maintain, pending negotiations for the peaceful settlement of the whole position, the status quo. The Russians, for their own reasons, created two crises which threatened to bring about the final breakdown of the whole position with the risks of world war. That is what created the danger.
What were the reasons for Russia creating those crises? One can only make guesses, but it is conceivable that the Russians may themselves be conscious of the danger of the continued existence of a divided Berlin. They may also be conscious of the liability, financial, economic and otherwise, of maintaining these long lines of communication and the tremendous occupation forces necessary to control that kind of territory, just as they did in the case of 1486 Austria, when, after all the disappointments and disillusionments of years of the Palais Rose negotiations, they suddenly swung round and got out of Austria, giving the Austrians practically everything they had asked for. The Russians may also have in mind their experience in Hungary and the experience of 17th June, 1953, when East Germany rose in revolt.
There are many substantial reasons why Russia might want to bring about an end to that situation. The Russians are not the sort of people to come to us and say, "We want to get out; will you let us go gracefully?" Of course, not. Therefore, they are taking other methods to try to bring us to a final settlement of the whole question. We have the evidence that, in November, 1958, Mr. Khrushchev issued his first ultimatum, telling us that unless we were prepared to agree to his terms he would sign by 1st January a separate peace treaty with East Germany. He did not do it. Why not? There was nothing to stop him doing it, but he did not do it. He repeated the performance this year, and again gave an ultimatum to expire at the end of this month, and he recently told us that we need not worry about it because he was not going to press it.
Why is it? The reason probably is that the Russians have very substantial reasons why they should get us into a conference to settle the whole German problem. I do not believe, for the reason suggested by my right hon. Friend and an hon. Member opposite, that it is because the Russians are afraid of Western Germany. Mr. Khrushchev made a series of speches in the last several months, in which he spoke with contempt of little Britain and France, which he said were hostages which he could blot out in the first two seconds of a war. Why should he be worried about the still smaller and easier to attack Western Germany, when he is not worried about Britain and her Commonwealth and France?
It is a very convenient element of propaganda for Russia in Communist countries to arouse fears of Germany when trying to maintain populations under the control of the Communist Party, but I do not believe for a moment that the Russians who know and who 1487 matter have any fears at all of any unilateral action by West Germany. If they have, why on earth did they start by arming East Germany, long before West Germany armed? Is it only West Germany of which they are afraid? Did only Germans from West Germany take part in the invasion of Russia during the war? I believe that this is complete nonsense, that it is not a factor in the situation at all, but that the tactics are very much our concern.
There are 3½ million refugees from the East who have come into West Berlin over the last several years. Naturally, the Russians are worried about them, because many of these refugees are professional people—doctors, dentists, scientists and people of that kind, as well as farmers, young people and qualified workers—to the extent that even the West Berlin authorities and the West German authorities themselves were trying to discourage these refugees, because they were afraid that Eastern Germany was being denuded of qualified and democratically-minded people.
This concern of Western Germany about this flood of refugees is evidence of the real importance of this loss of qualified workers to the East, and therefore there is a good reason why the Russians and the East German authorities should be concerned about this and should try to bring an end to it. Their answer was the building of the wall, with barbed wire entanglements and all the rest of it. What does it mean? Did they think that this would stop West Berlin from being a centre of espionage, as they and my right hon. Friend allege it is; a centre of propaganda, a thorn in the flesh of Mr. Khrushchev, and an enclave of the West in the middle of the Communist world? Was the wall to stop that? If so, it is surely a failure from the start, because the wall divides Eastern Berlin from West Berlin, and therefore makes a permanent division of the city and thus makes permanent the opportunities for espionage and propaganda from Western Berlin. But the creation of the wall was also to prevent the reunification of Berlin, although one would surely assume that unification, not division, the best way to bring to an end any allegations of 1488 espionage and counter-espionage and the rest.
What I am worried about is that there was no positive reaction on the part of the Western Powers in connection with the wall. As I said earlier, the whole of the agreements which exist between the Western Powers and the Russians have reference to our responsibilities in East and West for the whole of Berlin, and in creating this wall and dividing the two parts of Berlin permanently, as they did, the Russians were not only cutting off free access, which the Berlin people and the allied people in Berlin are entitled to have, but they were doing something very much more. They were in fact engaging in the military annexation of a territory for which we, the Western Powers, are still equally responsible. And we did nothing about it.
I well remember the blockade in 1948 and 1949. The blockade was defeated because we took resolute counteraction against it. What has happened since? There has been irresolution and compromise on every occasion. When the Russians restricted free movement in Berlin we in the West did nothing about it. We protested when they first armed the East Germans, but we did nothing else until we responded by creating rearmament in West Germany and bringing West Germany into N.A.T.O., but we did nothing to prevent the rearmament of Eastern Germany. Then we came to 13th August and the creation of the wall, a military annexation in territory over which we still have responsibility.
I do not know how far people realise the effect this permanent division of Berlin has had. Herr Willy Brandt in Paris only last week explained that in the last few months there had been a series of cultural exhibitions held in West Berlin for which the West German authorities issued no fewer than 10 million tickets of entry to those exhibitions to people in West Germany, and those people came freely over. On 13th August that finished. There was no more access. Before 13th August there were 500,000 crossings of the sector frontier between East and West every day until 13th August. Now there is none.
These are the facts, and now, to crown it all, we find that in spite of all our 1489 commitments to the Berliners and our allies, under agreements under which we are made responsible for maintaining order in Berlin, we have the East German police shooting down men, women and children as they swim across the river or climb out of windows to their friends on the Western side.
The other day I read in the British Press how a young Austrian student was shot. I confess that I was not particularly impressed by the report I read. Here was just another poor victim, but I was told the other day by Herr Lemmer in Paris what really happened. The young Austrian student was shot when still on our side of the wall. Those who know Berlin know the trick. The official markings are within the Eastern sector and one can easily walk into the sector thinking one is still on the Western side till one comes up against the markings. That young Austrian student was shot on our side of the wall, but he was lying two metres inside the Eastern territory, although it was not marked. He lay there bleeding to death and crying for help for a solid hour—dying for an hour—while the might of N.A.T.O. stood by and watched. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] No one lifted a finger to help him. Not even the Red Cross was called in to help as they do even on the battlefield in a war. But there was the collective might of N.A.T.O. and there was our responsibility in West Berlin. That is the kind of thing which we are now standing by and seeing happen.
What kind of reply ought we to make in this new situation? By their own actions, the Russians have created an entirely new situation, a new situation in which they have destroyed the fiction of Berlin being a four-Power area under four-Power control. They have created the fact of an East Berlin which they have made the capital of Eastern Germany. We now have every right to pronounce that West Berlin is now part of the West German Federal Republic. That is the fact, and when people talk about recognising the fact of the Oder-Neisse Line and the fact of the existence of the D.D.R., let us also recognise the fact that by their own action and their own policy the Russians have made East Berlin entirely dependent upon the Federal Republic for its economy, its communications, its 1490 social life, its cultural life and everything else. If we are recognising facts, let us recognise that one too and start by saying that in this new situation West Berlin is part of the Federal Republic.
It may be said that the Russians, through the D.D.R. officials, would interfere with our rights in the corridor. Would they? Why have they not done so up to now? And if we were to negotiate a new treaty, such as Khrushchev suggests, in which we would merely rewrite the things we already enjoy—access to Berlin and maintenance of our troops in Berlin and the freedom of West Berliners to move about in West Berlin only, what difference would that make? Those agreements already exist. Until now, there has been no attempt, since the blockade, to interfere with freedom of access. Would the writing of the same terms in a new agreement, which is all that is proposed, make it more easy or more difficult to interfere with that access?
I am not suggesting for a moment that we should ask simply for the status quo. We do not want the status quo in Berlin. We do not want the status quo in Germany—but neither, apparently, does Khrushchev. Hence the reason why he has made repeated demands for negotiations for a peace treaty for the whole of Germany. Hence the reason why he has made gestures from time to time, either threatening or offering discussions. No one on either side wants the status quo and that is precisely the kind of situation in which negotiations become possible.
I know the attitude, again expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton and by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West, that there are certain things which we cannot expect the Russians to agree to. We cannot expect Russia to agree to the reunification of Germany or to free elections. But can the Russians expect us to agree to the continued division of Germany and no free elections? There are certain things which we cannot expect them to agree to and there are certain things which they cannot expect us to agree to. But surely that is a situation which makes negotiation necessary. If one can agree without negotiation on things of that kind, negotiations are not necessary, but when one reaches deadlock, whether 1491 it be in industry, in foreign affairs, or wherever it may be, that is when negotiations are necessary.
Therefore, we should have negotiations and in those negotiations we should state our demands from the beginning. We believe in the reunification of Germany and we believed in free elections. Let us ask for them. If the Russians believe in a divided Germany and a recognition of the Oder-Neisse Line and all the rest of it, let them ask for those things. That is where negotiations begin.
It is no good for me or for any other hon. Member to suggest a final solution, stating individual points on which we should be ready to make concessions or the Russians should be able to make concessions. That can be done only when we see what they are demanding and they see what we are demanding. Only when the negotiators get together and see in which directions they can find agreement can concessions and counter-concessions be made.
Therefore, in saying that we ought to react firmly to what happened in Berlin on 13th August and the policy now being pursued by the Russians and the D.D.R. authorities, I am not saying that we should either refuse to have negotiations on Berlin, or on a final German settlement, nor that we are satisfied with the status quo. But if we want negotiations about a general peace treaty, or even about Berlin alone, we must not start from anything other than the status quo. That is the important thing.
§ Sir K. Pickthorn
I am not trying to be tiresome but to follow the argument with which I agree almost 100 per cent. What does the hon. Gentleman mean by status quo? Its meaning used to be the state of things as they were before the war. I am not sure whether in his argument it does not mean the state of things as they are. I think that the hon. Gentleman ought to tell us what he means.
§ Mr. Hynd
I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not understand me. Generally, the term status quo in this context refers to the continued division of Berlin, the continued division of Germany, the maintenance of troops in Berlin, and the maintenance of communications with the West. I am saying that 1492 if we are to go into negotiations with the Russians for a final peace treaty, or for a general settlement of the German position, or of the Berlin position, we should make it clear, as I think the Minister himself said, that we start from that status quo—from the situation which existed before 13th August, if the hon. Gentleman likes—and that we are not going to accept the situation which has come about by the unilateral accession of territories—the unilateral action of 13th August last.
While welcoming the opportunity far negotiations, which I believe the Russians want, and while withholding our fire and not giving away all our concessions in advance over the radio, we should make it clear that we will start not from the present position, but from the position of an open Berlin, the position which existed up to 13th August under the agreement between ourselves and Russia. I believe that in the Berlin situation we are facing a final test at this period of world history of the will of the West to survive.
§ 9.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Forbes Hendry (Aberdeenshire, West)
I hesitate very much to speak about Berlin, or, indeed, about Germany, after the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), who is such an expert in these matters, but I feel that I have something to contribute to this debate. I shall be brief, but like the hon. Member for Attercliffe, I feel that we must look at the background of the situation in Berlin.
I was in Germany as a Military Government Officer at the end of the war. I had been taught to believe in the Potsdam Declaration, that the allies would together build up a new Germany to take its place in the community of civilised Western nations, and I remember the horror on the faces of our soldiers when they stopped looking at German machine guns and found themselves looking at Russian ones. That was immediately after the war.
Since then the Russians decided that they would annex the Eastern part of Germany. They bled that country white deliberately, and they have built up an impassable barrier between the Eastern and Western parts of Germany, so that free movement between the two parts 1493 was impossible except in one place. That one place was in Berlin where the East Germans could go perfectly freely. Having got there they could pass over the boundary into West Berlin, and into freedom. No less than 3½ million people have left East Germany in the last ten years. I used to think that they were political refugees, but I have discovered that that is wrong. They were ordinary Germans, and the best of them.
During the last few years no fewer than 2,000 school teachers have passed from East to West Germany for the pure and simple reason that they refuse to stay there and teach the children of the country things in which they did not believe. Several hundred doctors, hundreds of skilled men, lawyers, university professors, and so on, have left everything which they would normally value in life, and have gone into the West, to freedom, and to a way of life in which they believe.
Three and a half million people out of a population of 18 million people is more than any country can stand. It is for that reason, I suggest, and for that reason only, that this diabolical wall was built on 13th August across Berlin.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)
Does my hon. Friend also agree that it is significant that, of the 1 million refugees who have crossed over from East Germany to West Germany in ten years, 50 per cent. have been under the age of 24 and 50 per cent. have been industrial workers?
§ Mr. Hendry
I agree. To sum up, East Germany has rapidly been developed into a country of old-age pensioners and children. It is hardly viable, and I suggest that it was for that reason only that the East German authorities and the Russians had to build this diabolical wall against West Berlin. That wall has been likened to the Chinese Wall, but it is nothing like it. The Chinese Wall was built as a fortress. The Berlin wall was never built as a fortress; it was built as a prison wall to keep the East Germans in.
I was there three weeks ago and I saw the wall. The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) spoke about its foundations, but there are no foundations. It is a flimsy wall, useless as 1494 a barrier except where it is covered by fire from the Eastern side. There is a strip of death on the Eastern side. Our people ought to know what the wall is like. It is a jerry-built wall and for some ten yards behind it on the Eastern side there is a clear strip covered by fire, which nobody can cross except at the peril of his life. In one place the wall was originally a cemetery wall, and the gates have been built up. Behind the cemetery wall there is a barbed wire fence running across the graves to prevent people from getting to the wall. Anybody getting between the wall and the barbed wire is shot. When there is a funeral, the coffin is taken and buried in the cemetery, but the mourners cannot go through. It is heartbreaking to see the wreaths placed against the outside of the cemetery wall.
The wall is now the frontier between Western civilisation and the most evil barbarity this world has ever known. Our people should know what the wall is like, and the reason why it was built. Not nearly enough of our people realise the purpose of the wall, and that, instead of being a defiance to the West it is a positive and visible symbol of the failure of the Communist way of life. It is obvious that the Communist authorities in East Germany—whether Russian or German—have failed to keep their own people in except by the use of this horrible wall. They have made sounds of defiance, but the wall is a confession of failure, and we must reinforce our demands on the Russians and the East Germans. We must not give in. The wall is our frontier. If we let the Russians or the Communists get one yard on this side we are giving in.
My right hon. Friend ought to negotiate to get rid of this inhuman situation in Berlin, but he must negotiate from strength and not from weakness. He must not give way one inch. It is not for me—a person with very little experience of these matters—to offer a solution when my right hon. Friend has not done so and the hon. Member for Attercliffe, with his vast experience, cannot offer a solution. But the situation cannot go on as it is. We cannot have these 60,000 people who live in East Berlin and used to work in West Berlin being prevented from doing so against their will. I spoke to one man with a sick wife in East Berlin who could not visit her 1495 or send his wages to her. That sort of inhumanity must stop. In order to stop it we must negotiate, and I urge my right hon. Friend with great respect to negotiate, in the interests of humanity, not from weakness but from strength.
§ 9.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Woodrow Wyatt (Bosworth)
I am quite happy at the attitude of the Government and Opposition Front Benches on the question of Berlin. Their attitude is commendable, as is that of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. Hendry) and of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. H. Hynd). It is not that attitude that I want to try to influence tonight; what I want to do is to make a plea to both Front Benches to change their attitude on Goa.
The Lord Privy Seal explained that he knew nothing whatever about Goa except what he had read in the Press. He said that we had no consul there. I suspect that that is the position of my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). This is why there has been so much misunderstanding about Goa, and so much unfortunate misrepresentation of the Indian case. To be served by the British Press on this matter has been to be served by a very bad instructor. We know what to expect from the vile and malevolent Daily Express. We know that it has nothing good to say about Nehru and many other people. But we do not expect bias and incomplete reporting from newspapers like The Times and the Guardian, or even the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. They are not all of my particular persuasion, but one does not expect to be so misinformed, and not to be given any of the basic facts.
It seems to me that the basic mistake that we have been making is to talk as though Goa was some kind of independent country which has just been invaded by this monstrous bully, India, without any reference to the United Nations. This has apparently thrown the whole of the United Nations into confusion, if not more or less brought it to an end and sullied the good name of India. Many hon. Members opposite did not think that India had a good name before, so I am not clear why they are so concerned now.
1496 The population of Goa is approximately 650,000. In 1950, the Portuguese took a census, when things were not quite so "hot". They published it in 1951. They themselves only claim that 517 Portuguese lived there and about 336 people of mixed descent; and these people were all the administrators and, of course, the Portuguese were transient administrators and had no being or home there at all. There was no suggestion that there was a kind of Portuguese settlement in Goa. It was not even like Kenya, where there are many settlers with homes or businesses, or something of that kind. Every one of the 650,000 other people in Goa were officially described by the Portuguese as Indians. There was no suggestion that, somehow, they had been assimilated to Portugal and in some mysterious way had become Portuguese nationals.
In fact, there were only 600 students in Portuguese schools in Goa. Most of the 12,000 students are in English schools and I hope that hon. Members will be proud of the fact that the Goans preferred to go to English schools, all run from Bombay University, rather than to Portuguese schools. Any suggestion that there was no connection between Goa and India is absurd. The Goans have regarded themselves as an integral part of India. One-fifth of the people of Goa or Goan origin live in India. Only 5 per cent. of the people speak Portuguese; 25 per cent. speak English and the rest speak Concanim. It is a language similar to the Marathi language and it is spoken in Southern India.
There is no suggestion that there is a peculiar kind of Goan nationality or racial origin which makes it distinct from the rest of India. This local language continues to be spoken in Goa despite the fact that many laws were passed by the Portuguese making it illegal to speak that language. But after 450 years they have been unable to persuade more than 5 per cent. of the population to learn to speak Portuguese.
Goa was seized by force by Albuquerque in 1510. He proceeded to massacre the entire Mohammedan population of Goa at that time, so I do not think that it is for the Portuguese to complain if Goa is being returned by force to India with the loss of about eight lives. Goa is as Indian as Bombay. 1497 There is no difference between Goa and anywhere else in India. For fourteen years the Indian Government have pleaded with the Portuguese to negotiate on the subject of Goa. They even established diplomatic relations with the Portuguese for four years between 1953 and 1957 to try to create some kind of negotiation between the countries because they wanted to settle this matter peacefully.
In 1956, a non-violence movement was severely squashed by very brutal methods on the part of the Portuguese police. Even then India took no action except to prevent Goan nationals from taking arms into Goa. Many Goans were gaoled by Mr. Nehru because he thought that they were taking too violent action and going back to Goa to try to stir up trouble there. India's policy was continually to appeal for negotiations to Portugal. During this time 3,000 Goans were arrested, I think that about 1,000 Goans were found to be in gaol when the Indian troops marched in yesterday.
The Nationalist movement of Goa has been suppressed and at least 87 Goans are known to have been shot and tortured to death by colonial administrators in Portugal. Last June, when some Nationalist leaders in Goa asked the Portuguese whether they might be allowed to take part in the deliberations or the advice given by the legislative council they were arrested and put in gaol. This council is not, of course, a Parliament, or anything of that kind. It is simply allowed to suggest to the Government the path of a new sewerage track, or something like that.
There have been a series of resolutions at the United Nations about the attitude and behaviour of the Portuguese in Goa and elsewhere. Remarkable though it may seem, the Government actually voted for one of these resolutions which required Portugal to give information about Goa to the United Nations. Despite that, the Portuguese took no notice at all. They disregarded the resolution. They said it had nothing to do with the United Nations. I wish to ask the Government whether they implemented that part of the resolution for which they voted which required 1498 those who voted for the resolution to use their best influence with the Portuguese to obey the resolution, and what was the nature of the way in which the Government tried to bring their influence to bear on Portugal? What was the answer? We have heard nothing about that.
There were two other recent resolutions about Portugal. There was the resolution which was quoted by the Lord Privy Seal, demanding immediate independence and the working for an independent colonial territory. Naturally, this was rejected by Portugal. More serious was the one on Angola on which we abstained. It set up a committee to investigate the situation in Angola and requested Portugal to give the Committee every facility. Portugal refused permission for the committee to go into Angola.
Why should it have been supposed that it would have been any good for India, in the face of these objections by Portugal to resolutions about Goa, to go to the United Nations prior to the police action which they took in Goa the other day? Had they done so, are the Government seriously saying that they would have supported India at the United Nations and demanded that Portugal should abandon Goa? Is that their case? Is their defence of their unfriendly action towards India and Goa that if India had gone to the Security Council they would have promoted and voted for a resolution demanding that Portugal should leave Goa? Nothing of that kind has been done or said before. If they are prepared to say they would have done so, it would have been very interesting. But the Government did not vote even for the resolution for an inquiry into Angola.
What was India supposed to do? Should she have waited? But waited for what? For a Cyprus situation to develop, an internal revolt with the loss of many lives? Should India have done what other people have dishonestly done elsewhere—promoted internal trouble by sending in arms and guerillas? Did the Government want India to do that? Do they only bow to force? Did they take any notice of the appeals for negotiations and to the United Nations?
It is untrue to say that India has not raised this matter in the United Nations. She was one of the sponsors of the 1499 resolution demanding that Portugal should give information about Goa to the United Nations—a resolution totally ignored by Portugal. I think that Mr. Nehru took a more honourable course. He did not try to fake at all. He simply went in and "cleaned it up" in 24 hours, treating the operation as a police action.
I would have thought that that was an action which would have commended itself to Members opposite. The expedition was carried out with a great deal more efficiency than their misguided action at Suez. Perhaps that is part of the reason for their envious reaction to what Mr. Nehru did. But this is, after all, an internal matter for India. One cannot invade oneself, and Goa was, and always had been, an integral part of India until it was taken by force by the Portuguese. To go on pretending that it was a part of another country, and that this action jeopardises the United Nations, is hypocrisy, and is thought to be so in India. One cannot say that 517 Portuguese administrators amount to a country because they happen to be sitting in somebody else's territory.
This was really a case of clearing out some brigands who ought not to have been there. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Indeed it was. These brigands had said that it was nothing to do with the United Nations in any case, and had refused to discuss it there. So why is India supposed to go to the United Nations about something which Portugal says has nothing to do with the United Nations?
This action might, of course, cause some unfortunate consequences. I think that some Members opposite hope that it will. But one good consequence will be that, for the first time in history, there will be free elections in Goa; and if the people of Gao decide that they would like to rejoin Portugal I am sure that no obstacle will be put in their way. Indeed, it would not be illegal, under the Indian Constitution, for a pro-Portugal party to set up shop and advocate a return to Portuguese administration. I am sure that it would not be prevented from doing so.
§ Mr. W. R. Rees-Davies (Isle of Thanet)
Will the hon. Gentleman answer this direct question? Within three to four months he will find that the gates 1500 of India are closed entirely to her own citizens leaving the country. Is he prepared to suggest that I am wrong? They will have to stay inside their own country because they will not be allowed to leave. At least part of the purpose of the take-over of Goa is to prevent the Goans, too, from being able to leave their own country.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I do not know whether that is supposed to be a consequence of the Government's Commonwealth Immigrants Bill. Nor do I know where this mysterious information has come from. I cannot possibly say, and I can give no credence to it of any sort.
It is said that India's action may harm the United Nations. It is not for Members opposite to use that argument. They who perpetrated the misdeed of Suez, and who have been busy sabotaging the United Nations in Katanga, quite shamelessly, certainly cannot accuse somebody else of harming the United Nations. [An HON. MEMBER: "They can."] Well, they can, but they cannot do it with authority.
It was also said that perhaps it would damage India's capacity to mediate between the great Powers. I really cannot see that. [Laughter.] It is unfortunate that hon. Members get their information only from the Daily Express and that they are so misinformed as the Lord Privy Seal, who said that he knew nothing about Goa except what he read in the Press.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Proceedings on any Motion for the Adjournment of the House moved by a Minister of the Crown exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House) for One Hour after Ten o'clock.—[Mr. Godber.]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Godber.]
§ Mr. Wyatt
The position about India's mediatory capacity is that the action which India took in Kashmir never prevented her from being effective as a mediator in Korea or Indo-China. Yet I would not defend the action India took in Kashmir. I happen to think that Pakistan was in the right about that. I 1501 think that it was a highly controversial and questionable action to accept the accession of a Hindu ruler trying to keep his throne and governing a Muslim State. That was a questionable action, though hon. Members opposite did not think India's mediatory capacity had been destroyed by Mr. Nehru's handling of that matter, but they do over the question of Goa when the occupying Power has refused to negotiate.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
What worries me about this argument is whether the hon. Member would concede General Franco's claim to Gibraltar.
§ Mr. Wyatt
Indeed they were not. This certainly makes a difference. I will not pretend that I think General Franco has not a perfectly good legal claim to Gibraltar. I think that he has. On the other hand, I think that at present it would be unsuitable for the peace of the world to hand Gibraltar over to a Fascist dictator in Spain; and so long as we are strong enough not to have to do that I hope that we shall not do it. I do not think that there is anything illogical in my attitude over Gibraltar and my attitude over Goa.
I am making the same claim about India. She has been strong enough to take over Goa, and, anyway, I do not like dictators. There has been no possibility of two nations endangering the peace of the world by an operation in which eight people were killed in Goa and an anomaly was tidied up. I think that the only criticism to make of Mr. Nehru is that he ought to have done it long ago instead of leaving this absurd anomaly to exist so long.
Another question is whether it will be a bad example for the Dutch over West New Guinea.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I do not agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman). The inhabitants of West New Guinea are of quite a different racial origin from the Indonesians. They are separated by a big stretch of water and a long sprawling archipelago. I cannot think that the Indonesians have more right to run West New Guinea than have the Dutch. I do not think that either has that right. The Dutch, however, have agreed to negotiate about West New Guinea and have, in fact, put forward suggestions—unlike the Portuguese in Goa—that there should be a plebiscite, supervised by the United Nations, to allow the people to decide whether they want their country to be run by Indonesians, or by Dutch, or to be independent. It is, therefore, a rather different situation from Goa, where the Portuguese refused to take any notice of anybody.
The reason for the attack made on Mr. Nehru in this country—an unfortunate one and damaging for the Commonwealth—is twofold. First, as I mentioned earlier, the Conservative Party is, perhaps understandably, riled that he pulled off such an operation successfully in Goa in a way that they could not do at Suez. It is always irritating to find somebody doing something more efficiently than oneself.
The second reason is the not very agreeable motive of thinking "Hooray. We have caught out a moraliser doing something naughty. This is splendid."
§ Mr. Wyatt
There is the feeling of glee, of childish delight, that the good boy of the class has a snotty nose. It is a feeling that should be restrained. In the first place, I do not think that Mr. Nehru has done anything wrong. Secondly, it is not very helpful to our relations, not only with the Commonwealth, but with the Afro-Asian nations. Hon. Members should not suppose that 1503 the world has condemned Mr. Nehru. A tiny section of the world has condemned him. The rest of the world has not had to rely on the British Press as its sole source of information, as the Government have done. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Perhaps the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Smithers) and some of his hon. Friends were not here when the Lord Privy Seal said that he knew nothing about Goa, we had no consul there and he knew only what he read in the Press. The hon. Member, who has been to India, will know the kind of inaccurate information which is being conveyed in the Press.
§ Mr. Wyatt
I have looked up some facts and made inquiries. Unusual, I know. I apologise.
At the time of the Cabinet mission in India, it was always intended that Goa should become independent or a part of India. I happened then to be personal assistant to Sir Stafford Cripps on the British Cabinet Mission and it was always assumed that, following upon the arrangements made between ourselves and India, automatically France and Portugal would follow suit with Goa, Pondicherry, etc. The French followed suit about Pondicherry, but the Portuguese refused to do anything about it and would have continued to refuse to do anything about it until the end of time. They would have taken no notice of any United Nations resolutions. They have not done so over Angola or over the previous resolution over Goa, so why should it be supposed that they would take notice of any future resolutions?
Mr. Nehru may have performed a great service to the world. He may have done two things. He may have made it impossible for the Portuguese to sustain their repression in Angola, because the spirit which sustained them was a mythical notion that they had a divine right to run colonies and this has now been completely dissipated. Mr. Nehru may have weakened a dictator in his homeland. I am referring, of course, to Salazar.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
Would the hon. Member suggest that 1504 Mr. Nehru has done good to the future of the United Nations as well?
§ Mr. Wyatt
Certainly, yes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If he has sharpened their appreciation of the realities of the world in which we live, he may have done a great deal of good. Certainly, he has done no harm to the United Nations. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I appeal to hon. Members to look at the facts. We ought not to be governed entirely by blind prejudice.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)
Does the hon. Member believe in sophistry or morality in politics?
§ Mr. Wyatt
I believe in trying to discover facts and then stating them rather than in taking up a position of prejudice and trying to make the facts fit the prejudice, which is what hon. Members opposite have done.
India's action may have done much to destroy the myth that Portugal can continue an outdated colonial approach. I think that it may have weakened Portugal's whole will to fight in Angola, and I think that it may have struck a very severe blow against the dictatorial régime of Salazar.
I hope that the Government will now stop their rather lofty and unbecoming disapproval of what Nehru has done. They may think that he has come off a pedestal on which, in fact, he never stood, but he has certainly sunk no lower than they have. It is not for them, while they are engaged in sabotaging the United Nations' activities in the Congo, to pretend that a police action in Goa, which lasted 24 hours, with practically no loss of life, is on the same scale as their own wickednesses. They also ought to consider, when they are using arguments against the Common Market on the ground that it may weaken the Commonwealth, that their wholeheartedly unfriendly, unsympathetic, blindly prejudiced attitude towards India over Goa does much more harm to the Commonwealth than any number of Common Markets.
§ 10.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
I have had the privilege of listening to the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) surprising the House before now, but perhaps never more so 1505 than this evening. I do not intend to follow him in his astonishing defence of what has happened in India. As he says, he has obviously spent a lot of time looking things up. To me the facts seem perfectly plain. Goa has been a Portuguese Colony for 451 years, as the hon. Member said, and now that state of affairs has been altered by a military conquest which has been carefully prepared at a time when Mr. Nehru was being urged by Her Majesty's Government, by the Americans, and by the United Nations to settle the matter peacefully if possible. That seems to me to be the whole story, and I cannot possibly concede that there can be any sensible defence of this action. The picture of the Indians encouraging a Portuguese political party I can only describe as piquant.
§ Mr. Julius Silverman (Birmingham, Aston)
There have been negotiations for fourteen years. The matter has been twice brought before the United Nations, but the Portuguese have treated it with contempt. What prospect was there of a peaceful settlement of this issue or a settlement by United Nations intervention?
§ Mr. Hastings
Whatever the past history is, I cannot see that the action which has taken place can possibly be justified in modern times.
In intend to turn hack, with an apology to the House, very briefly, because there is little time, to the question of the United Nations in the Congo. I have no wish to cover, if I can avoid it, any of the ground which was gone over last week. I raise this question for two reasons—first, because of its manifest importance, not only to the future of the United Nations but to that of Africa, and secondly, because of certain revelations which have been made since the debate took place last week, and which I think have not attracted the attention they merited.
I should like by way of preamble to cite something my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in answer to a supplementary question on 12th December. He was talking of the United Nations Force. He said this about it:It does not operate in the ordinary way which countries would follow with forces in 1506 the field. There are all kinds of forces working in it and, alas, the great contest in the world is reflected in the Security Council and in the Assembly."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 12th December, 1961; Vol. 651, c. 218.]The principal disagreement between the two sides of the House on the question of the United Nations is that right hon. and hon. Members opposite, perfectly genuinely and sincerely, believe in what I regard as a dream, an idea, a theory, of what the United Nations should be, whilst many of my right hon. and hon. Friends, equally sincerely—this has to be conceded to us—believe it to be not only our right but our duty to look for faults if they are there and to speak up about them. It is in that spirit that I go back to this question tonight.
I spent a short time in Elisabethville not very long after the first bout of fighting finished. I formed two firm impressions. I did my level best to find out and judge how the situation was going and these are the two principal impressions I brought away with me. The first was gained from going about, talking to people about what had happened, and trying to see for myself. I was impressed by the inevitability of a second clash, for various reasons, but principally because of the feeling—and it is unpalatable to say this, but it was manifest—of the loathing which existed among Africans and the white people for the United Nations force. I am not saying that that feeling was right or wrong, only that it was so.
Secondly, I had this impression because of the physical position of the United Nations troops in Elisabethville, which constituted to troops lacking the discipline of normal Western forces, a provocation which was bound to end in trouble. Thirdly, I had that impression because of the dreadful situation in the Baluba Camp, where 50,000 Africans are crowded together in conditions of indescribable qualor, filth and misery under the protection, it is said, of the United Nations force consisting, when I was there, of a battalion dug in in the midst of this mass of humanity, with their guns pointed day and night into it. This situation was brought about through ignorance of African conditions and through misjudgment, not by intent. The Africans collected there because they were offered protection over the radio against a threat which probably did not exist at all.
1507 Because of these conditions it seemed to me that a clash was inevitable. Dr. O'Brien was courteous enough to give me an interview and I did my best to convey to him that this was what I believed; he made no reply.
The second impression I brought away, stemmed from a story which I was told on what I took to be good authority. It was supposed to have leaked from the United Nations force themselves that the orders from Dr. O'Brien on which the military operation had begun originally were these. The United Nations Force had to capture certain key points in the town and had to arrest a number of Katangese Ministers, including Mr. Tshombe, and take them to Leopoldville. This, if it were true, would have been a complete condemnation of the reason given for that attack, which was said to be to capture mercenaries only. I discounted this story because I thought that the matter was far too important for a story like that to be accepted except on direct evidence. But since then, last Sunday, in his article in the Observer there was the clearest confirmation of these orders from no other person than Dr. O'Brien himself. The best thing I can do is to read briefly from his statement.
Dr. O'Brien says that Mr. Khiari, whom he describes as "nominal head of the civil operations in Katanga, to whom Mr. Linner had entrusted or relinquished great authority in the political field" came down to Elisabethville shortly before the fighting started and gave instructions to Dr. O'Brien at his house in Elisabethville. They were:to take over the post office, the radio studio and the transmitter; to raid the Surété and Ministry of Information offices; to arrest any European officials found there, and seize their files; and to arrest Godefroid Munongo, the Minister of the Interior; Jean-Baptiste Kibwe, Vice-President and Minister of Finance, and Evariste Kimba, so-called Foreign Minister. Tshombe also was to be arrested if absolutely necessary. Mr. Fabry, who was then Legal Adviser to the O.N.U.C. at Leopoldville … produced from his brief case Mandats d'amener—roughly equivalent to warrants for arrest—for Tshombe, Munongo and the others. These warrants bore the seal of the Central Government.He adds that when he went to Leopoldville several weeks later he found that neither General MacKeown nor Mr. Linner knew of these instructions.
1508 When he got to New York, subsequently, neither Dr. Bunche nor General Rikhye, the Military Adviser to the United Nations, knew of them either. Finally, Dr. Bunche told him that he believed Mr. Hammarskjoeld never knew of them at all. Mr. Khiari, again according to Dr. O'Brien, claimed that he had been in direct personal touch with Mr. Hammarskjoeld by secret unnumbered telegrams. If this is true, it means that Mr. Hammarskjoeld passed secret orders for the beginning of an operation of this importance to a junior officer, bypassing the senior military official and senior civilian in charge of operations in Katanga.
I do not believe that anybody who has read of, heard of, or knew Mr. Hammarskjoeld will ever believe that that was true. Whether we agree with the United Nations operation in the Congo or no, it seems to me that everybody in this House would accept that the decision—and the important decision was for the first attack and not the second, if my thesis is accepted, because the second followed automatically and inevitably—was of vital importance to the future of the United Nations.
The implication of what Dr. O'Brien has written and of what I am saying is very clear. It is that this decision was taken and this attack started without the knowledge of the Secretary-General or of the senior officers of U.N.O.C. Where did these orders come from? Whom does Mr. Khiari represent in Katanga? What power or group of powers—if this is true—took it upon themselves to send him to Elisabethville to give instructions? I do not know the answer nor can I vouch for the truth of this story. All I am doing is repeating what I heard in Elisabethville and what Dr. O'Brien has written in the Observer.
It has been said, and I have heard it fairly frequently in Africa and in this country—it is a serious and in many ways alarming suggestion—that the United Nations Force in Katanga is nothing more than the instrument of Afro-Asia. If this is true, surely there is real cause for dismay, and I think never more so, than now after the example of what I can only call hypocrisy which we have seen from certain Afro-Asian nations at U.N.O. over the past few days.
1509 The Government made plain during the debate last week that their reason for refusing to send the bombs was their general disquiet at the conduct of their operation in the Congo. If this story is true, then they could not have any greater reinforcement of their misgivings, and in a most alarming manner.
In conclusion, I believe this in general about the Katanga operation, whatever the apologists may say; that if a ceasefire is achieved it will have been brought about principally perhaps by two factors; firstly, by the initiative taken by Her Majesty's Government, on which I should like to congratulate them; and secondly, because of mounting feeling in the United States, against this operation. Those are the two things which will bring about a cease-fire and some sanity into this situation, if anything can.
Two matters remain. First, there is a need now to find an equitable solution. As my right hon. Friend said, there is no news about the meeting between Mr. Adoula and Mr. Tshombe. If we can in any way help to ensure that from that agreement, if agreement there be, the stable administration of the Katanga can be preserved, we shall have done a service for the future of Africa. Of this I have no doubt. There is nothing whatever to replace it. Finally, although I recognise that at this moment it would perhaps be invidious, because the object is to get agreement and to get some peace and sanity into the Congo, but if we are to have faith in the United Nations in any operations of this kind again either in the Congo or elsewhere, from now on, we must have a full inquiry to find out how it was that the United Nations embarked on this disastrous course on 13th September last.
§ 10.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
The hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) called for an inquiry into the events in the Congo. I do not see any objection at all to the United Nations instituting a full inquiry when these problems are settled. I believe that inquiry will show how much of the statements that we have heard from the other side on this Katanga question have come from sheer, calculated propaganda put out by the Katanga people.
1510 One of the most contentious statements made by the hon. Member was when he followed his right hon. Friend in suggesting that the situation in Katanga has now improved as a result of the initiative of the British Government. This was a point about which the Lord Privy Seal said a good deal, and it is important to get the record straight on it. The Lord Privy Seal plainly implied three things: first, that the initiative of the British Government was actually welcomed; secondly, that it was acted upon; and, thirdly, that it has led to the current improvement in the Katanga situation.
Which of these three statements holds water when the facts are studied? In the first place, was the British initiative welcomed by the United Nations? What are the facts? The appeal by the British Government was carefully considered by the United Nations Committee on the Congo, and it was unanimously rejected by all 19 members, including seven members of the Commonwealth. Therefore, the first point by the Lord Privy Seal is plainly wrong.
Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that the British initiative was implemented. It was not. On the contrary, the United Nations went on to free its communications and to restore freedom of movement to its troops. Once that was done, admittedly, the position improved. But what evidence is there that Mr. Tshombe would have gone to see Mr. Adoula if the British Government's cease-fire demand had been carried out before the United Nations won freedom of movement for its troops?
It seems to me that the bad habit of rewriting history has been travelling westwards in the last few days, and it is necessary for us to make quite plain that Her Majesty's Government's iniative for a cease-fire was utterly rejected by the United Nations and was not acted upon, and that, if it had been acted upon, we should not have had the current improvement in Katanga.
Apart from this point, in his speech the Lord Privy Seal was, on the whole, uncontentious. He did not say anything new. I think that he would probably agree with that. I should like to add a 1511 word of congratulation to the Government. My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) congratulated the Government on their vote on China. I feel that their diplomacy in connection with Laos has been patient and constructive. In fact, I think that it can be recorded that our diplomacy in South-East Asia under successive Governments has been a good deal more successful than in many other parts of the world. We hope that the Governmetn will rise to the occasion over the West Irian crisis.
There was one omission from the Lord Privy's speech which, I hope, will be remedied by the Minister of State. There was no reference to disarmament. I confess that, after the Soviet tests and the long history of disillusionment and frustration on this subject, it needs an effort of will to address oneself to this question again and pick up the bits and see what can be done about making progress. But we have to remind ourselves that even the smallest practical achievement in this field would have a political value out of all proportion to its intrinsic importance, and also that the economic benefits to be gained from any all-round measure of disarmament would be of a scale to dwarf almost any other means of improving the economic prospects of the world.
We are at the moment, thanks to the agreement on procedure between the Soviet Government and the United States Government, actually closer to agreement on disarmament, on paper, than ever before. The recent agreement about the composition of the new Disarmament Commission is very welcome. It embodies a principle for which my right hon. and hon. Friends and I have been asking for a long period—the principle that the neutral, uncommitted countries should be brought in to bear some responsibilities. Bearing in mind the agreement on methods between the great Powers, the agreement on procedure and the agreement on the composition of the Disarmament Commission, I think that it can be said that, on paper at least, the prospects for agreement are probably better than they have ever been.
I imagine, however, that we all feel that it would not be enough even to get agreement on paper in the existing state of tension between the Eastern and 1512 Western countries. There would still be the need for that psychological urge to take the first plunge into practical disarmament. I want to make an appeal to the Government, that perhaps while they are negotiating on this disarmament question they should bear in mind the possibility of lowering the tension in a more fundamental manner. I will come back to that later.
I support what my right hon. Friend said about the Government's attitude in these negotiations. In the past, for example, over the nuclear tests conference, I think that it is fair to say that the British delegation played a patient and constructive part in the negotiations. Certainly, the disastrous end to the conference was no fault of the British Government. But now I sense on the Government side a lack of will power, an inertia, about disarmament. The Government seem too ready merely to follow the United States lead in recent months on disarmament.
I support the suggestion made by my right hon. Friend. Let the Government make a fresh start by taking out of their ranks, and out of the ranks of the Civil Service and the Foreign Office, a group of men entirely specialised in disarmament; a group of men who have a personal vested interest in the success of disarmament. Let them name a single Minister and make him responsible, and let him have his own small Department capable of doing research, planning, and briefing for conferences simply on the subject of disarmament; a group which will exert pressure for disarmament not only outwards on other countries, but inwards on other Government Departments. I believe that this would be a way of recovering momentum on disarmament by the British Government. Let them increase the whole status of the subject and give it increased priority.
Something must be done, also, to relax the appalling tension between the East and West. Perhaps the most important cause of this is the arrogant claim of the Communist countries, that their way of life is the only civilised way of life; that it ought to be followed by all countries; and that in the course of history we shall all adopt their way of life. The arrogant claim in the Peking People's Daily last week:Capitalism will be wiped from the face of the earth.1513 and Mr. Khrushchev's declaration that all our grandchildren will be Cornmunists—these statements do not help to create the conditions in which disarmament can become possible.
I ask the Government whether there is not perhaps a case for a shift of emphasis here in our information services, in the speeches of Ministers, in our diplomacy generally: that we should lay less stress perhaps on the undoubted shortcomings of the Communist way of life and undoubted virtue of the British way of life and more stress on the folly of ideological rivalry itself in the nuclear age, and stress the simple truths which come naturally to British people, that there are many different social systems in the world, that the variety of them is increasing, that the Soviet and American ways of life have serious shortcomings and are wildly inappropriate for the vast majority of the countries of the world, and that this proselytising, this ideological rivalry increases tension, diminishes the chance of disarmament, and is altogether a barrier to peace.
We in the West should surely formulate and press for our concept of co-existence—a concept of "co-existence plus"—plus ideological co-existence, plus genuine freedom of contact between East and West, plus practical cooperation between the East and the West.
In the meantime, I have to note that all that the Government seem capable of doing in this field is to cut our overseas information services by £600,000 next year. As though our influence in world affairs had not sunk enough, they must now cut the instruments by which that influence is so often exerted. It seems absolute folly to cut down these services, precisely at a time of crisis, and precisely when we are doing badly—when these things are needed more than ever before—and also to cut them down in such a manner that schemes just started this year will have to be cancelled next year. Anyone who has anything to do with overseas information, and with British Council work, knows that it is far worse to start something one year and cut it out the next than never to start it at all.
A great opportunity exists for our overseas information services at present, particularly in the teaching of English. 1514 There is an enormous demand for that, and for the training of English teachers. These services should be in process of expansion rather than being cut down, as the Government seem determined to cut them down. I hope that when the House meets again it will be possible to debate the whole subject. It is years since the overseas information services were discussed in the House. This is a moment when they could and should be more useful to this country than ever before. I hope that the Leader of the House will see his way to providing a full debate on this question when the House resumes.
Hon. Members on both sides of the House have pointed to the dangers, and the very black outlook, in many parts of the world. It is easy to look out at the dark side—at the growth of Communist power, the strength of world Communism, the Soviet tests, Khrushchev's threats and his brandishing of the 100-megaton bomb in our faces, and his boasts about the mission of world Communism—but I hope that we shall bear in mind the fact that we can also look at the recent development of Communism in another light, and compare Mr. Khrushchev with Stalin, noting the real increase in the approachability and realism—and, in my view, the increased sense of responsibility—of the Soviet Government, as compared with the situation in Stalin's day. We can also note the growing uncertainty and division within the Communist camp, which may have a profound effect on the whole world outlook before many years have passed.
Therefore, I feel that it is wrong to look only at the extremely dark and worrying side of the international scene. We have the problems of disarmament and Berlin and other problems, which seem insoluble. But I like to recall some of the seemingly insoluble problems' which faced us at the Foreign Office during the time of the Labour Government. There was the "insoluble" problem of the Austrian Treaty. It seemed totally impossible to get a treaty for many years, at that time. There was the "insoluble" problem of the Dardanelles, of Trieste, and of Greece, and the problem of getting the Russians to lift the Berlin blockade without war.
1515 Above all, there was the "insoluble" problem of the Iron Curtain, and the impossibility of communicating with any Soviet citizens, even with a Soviet diplomat. It is worth recalling these things, because many of these problems seem to arise spectacularly, so that everybody notices them, and to be solved so slowly and imperceptibly that one hardly realises that they have been solved at all.
We look to the Government to tackle the problem of disarmament and Berlin with renewed vigour. Hon. Members on both sides, including the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) felt that the Government were not approaching the problem of Berlin with proper urgency. The Lord Privy Seal could give us no information about the North Atlantic Council meeting. It is extremely vague and unsatisfactory that after all these discussions we should not only have no common Western position on Berlin, but not even a common Western position on probing—how the probe is to be carried out; whether it should be in Russia, by our ambassadors or Foreign Ministers. After all these months of coming and going we seem to be no nearer a solution of the problem of negotiating on Berlin.
It is absurd to become optimistic because Khrushchev has postponed his ultimatum. He will come back to this problem again and again, and it will be more and more perilous each time. Therefore, the Government should show more energy and confidence on the subjects of disarmament and Berlin. We hope profoundly that the Bermuda talks will be successful, and that the problems that now seem so appalling will in due course be solved.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)
It is a pleasure to welcome back to the Dispatch Box the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew). We have been most interested in what he had to say on this occasion, and we hope that we shall hear the hon. Gentleman on many other occasions.
Anyone listening to our debates today must have been given cause to wonder at the way in which, having wasted a great deal of time earlier, we have now 1516 had a very constructive and useful debate in the latter part of the evening. It is unfortunate that other hon. Members were prevented from taking part in what so far has proved a very useful debate. There are several points on which I wish to touch, and though time is limited, I shall seek to deal with some of the points which have been raised.
Perhaps I may refer first to the matter on which the hon. Member for Woolwich, East closed, the question of Berlin, which has dominated a number of speeches and particularly that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson). I realise the forebearance which the House has shown on this subject over a considerable period of time now. I am also quite sure that the House will realise from the course that the developments have taken that it is still very difficult for me, or for any Government spokesman, to say anything further with regard to this problem at the present time.
I have listened to the various suggestions and proposals put forward and they will certainly receive careful attention from the Government. I was struck by the number of references to the wall, and I was glad to hear the remarks of some hon. Members, particularly those of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd). Generally, over the question of Berlin our position remains the same. We believe that further discussions could fruitfully take place—indeed must take place—through diplomatic channels. We hope to continue to play a very full part in these discussions. It is our view that the discussions which have taken place so far have established a position from which further steps can be taken, perhaps in the forms of discussions, perhaps probings, leading to the negotiations which it is obvious that hon. Members on both sides of the House desire to achieve.
The right hon. Member for Huyton spoke of a lack of urgency in this matter. I can assure him that there is no lack of urgency on the part of the Government. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman realises the problem we are up against. It is on this basis and because of a desire to make progress that we have been discussing the matter again recently with our major allies and the present discussions at Bermuda will 1517 embrace this. It is well known that in this matter our position and that of the Americans are very close indeed.
It has been suggested that the negotiations are being held up because of the obstinacy of France. It is true that at present our French friends are less hopeful of the chances of an acceptable basis for negotiations in the near future than the rest of us, and the recent statements both of Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Menshikov, which was mentioned today, have done little to persuade them to change their view. But they made clear to us in Paris that they are not opposed to negotiations in principle. And last week the N.A.T.O. Ministerial Council unanimously agreed that the next step should be the resumption of diplomatic contacts with the Soviet Union to see whether an acceptable basis for negotiation could be found; so there is no obstacle in the way of going ahead in this sense with our immediate task.
Our three main essentials have been repeated in this House on many occasions, but I want to stipulate them once more because Mr. Khrushchev's own demands by comparison are so much vaster and I think that it is well to show the contrast with the things which we are seeking from the Western aspect to maintain and to guarantee.
The essentials we insist on and which neither the Americans, nor the French, nor the West Germans nor ourselves can allow to be whittled away are simply these: freedom of the people of West Berlin; the continued presence of our troops to be able to ensure that freedom; and freedom of access to West Berlin both for allied troops and civilians. These are the basic considerations on which all these discussions take place. I agree with right hon. and hon. Members who have added to that the question of the wall and the need to see that something is done about that, but those are the basic considerations, and it is well to remind the House of them.
It is the Russians who are trying to change our status in West Berlin. They do so on the basis of saying that, by signing a treaty with their own régime in East Berlin, they can remove Allied rights in West Berlin. But those rights do not rest on any such basis. They derive from our occupation rights, 1518 established in 1945 and buttressed by the free wish of the free people of West Berlin. I would also like to quote from the interview which President Kennedy gave to Mr. Adzhuvi which has already been quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. Referring to the signing of a treaty, the President said:If the Soviet Union attempts in that treaty to turn over jurisdiction over West Berlin to the East German authorities, against the wishes of the people of West Berlin—if the lines of communication and access, from West Berlin to the outside world and the West, are completely under the control of East German authorities to cut any time they so wish—then this treaty does not bring peace, it only increases the danger.Now I am hopeful that, in the conversations and negotiations which we hope to have with the Soviet Union, assurances will be given which will permit us to continue to exercise the rights which we now have in West Berlin, as a result of the existing four-Power agreement, and will permit free access in and out of the city. We do not want to stay in West Berlin if the people there do not want us to stay … it seems to me that the rights that are ours by agreement should be maintained.That sums up the position very clearly.
The right hon. Gentleman also referred, in dealing with this interview, to what the President said about N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact engaging in a commitment to live in peace with each other. I can say that we are wholeheartedly in agreement with the President that such a commitment should be helpful.
The right hon. Gentleman also asked if we supported what the President said about not giving nuclear weapons to other countries. I can give an emphatic answer to that. We do support Mr. Kennedy in that. That is why we voted on 4th December in the United Nations for the resolution which opposed the relinquishment of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states. This was the Irish resolution, for which we voted. I can give the House an absolute assurance in that regard.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
I am grateful for the clarity of the hon. Gentleman's answers to my questions. Does this extend not merely to handing over nuclear arms to West Germany but also to the proposals for a nuclear deterrent held jointly by N.A.T.O.?
§ Mr. Godber
I was dealing specifically with the handing over of nuclear weapons to any individual State. In regard to N.A.T.O., the position is, of 1519 course, that at the present time final control of the warheads is held by the United States, as the right hon. Gentleman realises.
I now turn to the question of Chinese representation at the United Nations. I was very glad to have the kind congratulations of Members opposite on our vote concerning the admission of the Peking Government. It is very pleasant to find a welcome on that vote. I was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) how this will affect our position with regard to Formosa. My best answer is to quote the words I used in the plenary debate last Friday in explanation of our vote:I wish. However, to make it clear that in the view of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom sovereignty over the island of Formosa is undetermined. It therefore follows in its view that the question as to who should represent Formosa in the United Nations is also undetermined. The vote which I cast in favour of the draft resolution and of the amendment does not prejudice the position of Her Majesty's Government on this point.I think that that clears up the question of where we stand in that regard. I am sorry if it does not clear it for hon. Members opposite, but it makes it quite clear that we have distinguished the position from that of Red China.
I now turn to nuclear tests and disarmament, to which the hon. Member for Woolwich, East particularly referred. As regards nuclear tests, there is little that I can usefully say. Discussions are still going on slowly, but the prospects are very discouraging indeed. It would be quite wrong for me to pretend that there are any great hopes there. The truth is that the Russians' so-called treaty abandons every sort of international verification or control. They do not even propose or contemplate an international body to compare or to check the results of a detection system. It is to be self-inspection, absolute and complete.
This means, in fact, that the Russians are suggesting that the whole basis of our previous discussions, the agreed basis, the experts' report and the whole score of agreed treaty articles should be repudiated in this way. They are suggesting that three years' work should be aban 1520 doned, and they do this without giving any satisfactory reason. The Western Powers still say that our draft treaty is the proper basis on which to go forward for a treaty. We believe the international verification system must be preserved if we are to have any confidence at all in such a treaty.
As to disarmament itself, the picture is a little more encouraging, as has been suggested. We have, of course, got the agreed principles between the Soviet Union and the United States plan which was put forward by Mr. Kennedy in his speech to the plenary session of the United Nations in September, the plan about which we have been closely consulted in its preparation.
We now—in the last few days—have agreement on a negotiating body of 18 States, the original 10 plus India, Burma, U.A.R., Ethiopia, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and Sweden. On a geographical basis, this gives a fair coverage of the world and gives us a rather larger negotiating body. I hope that it will not be unwieldy. It takes account of the increasing interest of a wider number of States in this problem. What we have still to agree is the place of conference and the date of starting. Various dates have been suggested. It is certainly the desire of Her Majesty's Government to get started at the earliest possible moment, but, at the same time, we recognise that it is no good going into talks without the most careful preparation.
I have every intention of pressing ahead in this way very strongly indeed. I welcome the encouragment—if I may put it that way—of right hon. and hon. Members opposite by suggesting that we should make a very special drive in this matter. I do not accept, of course, the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Huyton that this is a question of the matter being looked at by one man and a boy at the Foreign Office. I am sure that that is not so. At the United Nations in the last month or two I personally have been very active in initiating discussions with some of our Western colleagues on this important matter. We are very anxious to make rapid progress here.
§ Mr. Mayhew
I do not think anyone disputed that Ministers have been busy 1521 about disarmament from time to time, but the point is this: is there a department, and how strong is it, specialising about disarmament, and should there not be a Minister specialising in disarmament?
§ Mr. Godber
There is a department specially designed to do that. If it were necessary for a Minister to give the whole of his time to it, certainly that should be done, but it depends on making progress, and my noble Friend is seeing that it is adequately staffed. There is a major difficulty which we must not miss in regard to this, which was the qualification brought out in the McCloy and Zorin correspondence which followed the agreed principles on the question of what in fact was meant by control and verification of disarmament.
The Soviet is considering disarmament in the very narrowest field as things which one throws away and as not having anything to do with control and verifications of "remainders", as the forces and weapons left have come to be called. This seems something wholly unrealistic, because both the United States plan and the Russian plan proposed definite force limits, the Russian of 1,700,000 and the American of 1,200,000. They are definite but cannot be determined under present conditions of international tension without some international check, and this is what at present the Russians say they are not prepared to face.
This is one of the basic points of difference we have to resolve before we can travel along the road. However, if the Russians want to make progress they will find us more than ready to meet them half way. We want to get started and, having got started, to continue on the road. That is one thing in the United States new plan; it is contributing to a continuing process. Although it is in three stages, every stage overlaps and there will be very little break at all.
As I have little time left, I want to deal with one or two other points made in the debate. We have had reference to the question of Goa. We had a rather extraordinary speech by the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Wyatt) in which 1522 he seemed to be going back to the pure concept of power politics and nothing else. It was an interesting speech, and I listened to it, but I am afraid that I have to tell the hon. Member that I cannot go very far with him. I think most hon. Members deeply deplore the action taken by India in this regard, and I am very sorry that a man of Mr. Nehru's standing should have taken action of this sort which undoubtedly must have blemished his very fine reputation in the world in regard to the question of negotiation and settling matters by peaceful means. This is something which must cause us all regret.
I believe that it has had a bad effect in regard to the United Nations also. I do not think it would be right to ignore this, and I certainly am not going to be led astray by the somewhat cynical sneers of the hon. Member in regard to the Suez position of a few years ago. I think that is just a red herring he is trying to draw across the path. The position is serious and, in particular, the action of the three countries in the Security Council who, along with the Soviet Union voted in support of the Indian armed intervention of Goa is something which causes all people with a serious interest in the United Nations regret. Whatever may be thought about Portuguese colonial policy this was an armed attack and runs counter to the principles of the Charter. I believe that this sort of action can only have a very serious and harmful effect on the future of the United Nations as a whole.
I should like to have had time to develop the position in regard to the United Nations because I think that one of the interesting and valuable things which have come out of the debate is the genuine concern shown by a number of hon. Members following on the strains and difficulties which have arisen both in the Congo and Goa and elsewhere. I believe that the United Nations is passing through a difficult and critical time. Having been there and seen it at close quarters, I realise some of those strains. We have a position in the Security Council where the effectiveness of that body which should have been controlling all general peace-keeping operations was undermined by the quite improper use of the veto by the Soviet Union. Added to 1523 that we have the question of the General Assembly which has not been able to develop its authority properly. It has doubled its numbers in the last ten years, but all those new members have not as yet attained the experience really necessary for a balanced judgment on world affairs.
§ It being Eleven o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.