Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question [17th May]
That this House supports the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to strengthen the unity of the free world and thus to create, in cooperation with the Commonwealth and with their allies, greater opportunities for the improvement of relations between East and West and for the promotion of conditions of peace and order throughout the world in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.—[Mr. Heath.]
Which Amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
in view of the dangers to world peace which have recently arisen in areas of political instability, particularly Cuba, Laos, the Congo and Angola, regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to cancel the visit of H.M.S. Leopard to Angola, and calls upon all Governments to base their foreign policies on the Charter of the United Nations, to seek the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and to promote positive co-operation between the Communist and Western Powers as the only means of ending the cold war and halting the arms race".—[Mr. Healey.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I start by emphasising some of the things which my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said in his admirable speech yesterday afternoon. By chance, I heard the Prime Minister's speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to which a number of hon. Members have referred. Like others in his audience then, I had not the slightest inkling, when he had finished, of what the Government's policy might be.
This debate has by no means cleared it up, and it is essential that the House should have another discussion, in the early future, on the problems of Europe, E.F.T.A. and the Common Market. I hope that the Government will take up my hon. Friend's suggestion and will send a message of good wishes from the House to the negotiators at Evian who are now trying to settle the long and terrible Algerian war.
I hope that the Government will listen to my hon. Friend's appeal for a larger contribution from our country to the Indian Five-Year Plan. India still needs £80 million. If the Indian experiment in democracy should fail, it would be a disaster to us all. If it failed by our refusal to give the help for which she asks, it would be a mockery of the Commonwealth partnership of which we boast.
Angola. Africa today is seething with new passions, new hopes, new ambition and, alas, with hatreds which are very old. There may be dark and very bloody chapters in its history close ahead. The only chance that they might be averted lies in the policy of racial partnership for which our nation stands. In many places in Africa today that policy hangs in the balance. What white men do in one place may disastrously affect what black men do in others.
That is why we deplore the sending of a warship to Luanda and the projected visit of the Foreign Secretary to Dr. Salazar to celebrate his assumption of dictatorial power. We think that black men may all too easily conclude that that is a gesture of approval for 1561 what Dr. Salazar is doing in Angola, and if they do, we, like Africa, may pay a heavy price.
I want to add a little to what my hon. Friend and other hon. Members said about Cuba. I was in Washington when Cuba was invaded by anti-Castro refugees. The main facts as I learned there are not disputed. The enterprise was organised and planned and executed under the aegis of the C.I.A. who trained the refugees. The C.I.A. gave Batista men positions of command and arranged the take-off places in Guatemala and elsewhere and helped to find the ships and arms. It told the President, against all the evidence, that the people of Cuba would rise in welcome and would sweep Castro from power.
The truth was and is, as British witnesses have recently attested, that Castro has widespread popular support and that many thousands of Cubans would die in his support. I think that American opinion has now begun to understand that that is true. I think that Mr. Walter Lippmann and other Liberals have made it plain that the invasion and its preparation by the C.I.A. on American soil was a violation of United States domestic legislation, of a treaty between the United States and Cuba, of an inter-American convention of 1928, of Article 15 of the Charter of the Organisation of American States, the O.A.S., signed in 1948, of Article 1 of the N.A.T.O. Pact, and Article 2, Sections (3) and (4), of the Charter of the United Nations. That is a veritable holocaust of American national law and international obligations.
When Britain and France struck at Nasser over Suez, in 1926—[HON. MEMBERS: "1956."]—1956—President Eisenhower used the words for which his name will live in history:We cannot and we will not condone aggression, no matter who the attacker, no matter who the victim.It is essential in the interests of Anglo-American good understanding that the true friends of the United States should repeat those words today.
There are other things which should be said. First, the Monroe Doctrine does not justify the unilateral use of force. It is subordinate to the Inter-American Convention, which I have mentioned, against the preparation of 1562 sponsored civil war, and by Article 103 it is subordinate to the overriding obligations of the Charter of the United Nations.
Secondly, no dispute between American States can be transferred from the U.N. to the O.A.S., unless all the parties so agree. The Lord Privy Seal confirmed the other day that that is true. I was in the U.N. Assembly for the last debates on Cuba. I regret that the British delegation made such efforts to canvass votes for a reference of the matter to the O.A.S. I think that it should have learned the lesson of Guatemala, in 1954. It was that event which made the Latin American people spit at Vice-President Nixon on his ill-fated good will tour. Much worse, it was this precedent which made the C.I.A. believe that it could carry through a similar conspiracy in 1961.
Thirdly, we must keep in true perspective the Russian threat in Cuba. True, the Russians have bought Cuban sugar. They have given Castro loans and arms; they have done precisely what we have done in Yugoslavia since Tito quarrelled with the Kremlin in 1947.
True, Cuba is only 90 miles from the territory of the United States. But consider what the United States has done in Turkey. It has provided 3,000 million dollars, very much of it in military aid, since 1948. Turkey has a lengthy common frontier with the Soviet Union. It is full of American bomber and missile bases. They are close to the Caucasian oilfields, the Black Sea ports, and other vital points. Turkey has a dictatorial military régime.
I believe that Cuba can never be a real military danger to the United States, but perhaps its fears may bring home to the American people what the Russians feel about the N.A.T.O. bases by which they are surrounded on every hand.
Fourthly, the Cuban venture was urged on President Kennedy by the C.I.A., with the powerful support of the United States Chiefs of Staff. The fact that in a great military country they could mount an illegal conspiracy of that kind and could secure permission to carry it out surely shows the dangers of the present struggle in the world for military power. How can we uphold the Charter, and strive faithfully for the 1563 rule of law, if legal obligations are thrust aside like this? Like my hon. Friend, I wish that the British delegation had said these things in the Assembly a month ago, as Mr. Dulles and President Eisenhower said them in 1956. Perhaps it will serve a useful purpose if those who opposed the Suez venture say them now.
What is the main lesson of this Cuban story? Surely that there might never have been a crisis but for the fears and tensions which the arms race has produced. I believe that the same is true of Laos and the Congo. The arms race is not the only cause of tension, of course it is not. But would any of the current crises have happened if the arms race had not been going on? I will spare the House a lengthy argument on that point.
I believe that in Cuba, Laos and the Congo the difficulties have arisen very largely, if not entirely, because of fears that these territories might be used as centres for military power and infiltration. The same anxiety now besets us, as my hon. Friend said yesterday afternoon, about Persia, South Korea, other Latin American countries, and elsewhere.
I could adduce a lot of evidence to support that view, but I believe that it is shared in the highest quarters. Mr. James Reston, who sometimes knows what Presidents are thinking, tells us that President Kennedy has now come to the conclusion that what he callsthe great turning point of history todayis not Cuba, or Laos, but nuclear power.
The Commonwealth Prime Ministers said in March that disarmament was the most important question facing the world today—four of them Conservatives, and six from uncommitted nations. Mr. Khrushchev has been saying for years that disarmament is "the question of questions" on which all else depends. It is this consensus of opinion on the major problem of today which gives such high significance to the declaration of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers on disarmament last month.
The Prime Ministers broke loose from all the talk about "partial" measures, about limiting war, and about arms control with which we have been obsessed in recent years. In the United States it 1564 has become a kind of fashionable "don's delight". The Prime Ministers finished off those theories when they wrote these words:In view of the slaughter and destruction experienced in so-called 'conventional' wars, and of the difficulty of preventing a conventional war, once started, from developing into a nuclear war, our aim must be nothing less than the complete abolition of the means of waging war of any kind.In other words, war of any kind is an absurd, a monstrous, anachronism in a world in which the barriers of time and space have been destroyed by scientists. We can afford no more wars, neither limited, nor peripheral, nor percentage, nor wars, so often talked of, fought with our tactical nuclear armoury alone. Not only talked of, but prepared and rehearsed.
Last September, N.A.T.O. had an exercise in Schleswig Holstein, called "Holdfast". Whenever Red or Blue force got into trouble, it made a nuclear strike. More than fifty bombs were used. I wonder what would have remained of that small province if it had been war.
The Commonwealth Prime Ministers have called for the ending of all wars by the abolition of national armaments. They said:All national armed forces and armaments must be reduced to the levels agreed to be necessary for internal security.This is not a policy for a far-off tomorrow. The Prime Ministers declared that afavourable opportunity was now at hand for a fresh initiative towards a settlement.They said that an agreement for general and complete disarmament should be initiated as soon as possible.Once started, the process of disarmament should be continued without interruption until it is completed…. Disarmament should be carried out as rapidly as possible in progressive stages, within specified periods of time.There must be verification, inspection and control at every stage.At the appropriate stage, a substantial and adequately armed military force should be established, to prevent aggression and enforce the observance of the disarmament agreement.This force must be under an international authoritycreated in association with the U.N.This is a revolutionary programme which will completely change the whole basis and conduct of international 1565 affairs—a revolutionary programme appropriate to the revolutionary age in which we live. I believe it to be an event of profound importance that the Prime Ministers—the leaders of 650 million people; more than the combined populations of Russia and America—should have declared that nothing less than this can save mankind.
But we must face the question: is it simply a declaration, or is it business? Can we hope that Mr. Khrushchev, when he speaks of peaceful co-existence, really means something that we should recognise as peace? My hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney), in his very able speech yesterday afternoon, answered with a resounding "No". He said that Ernest Bevin shared his view. I worked with Ernest Bevin in the Foreign Office for eighteen months, and I saw him every day for three more years while I was along the passage in the C.R.O. Ernest Bevin said to me a hundred times, "I will never give up. Some day they are bound to change." It is one of the tragic mis-timings of which history is so full that Ernest Bevin died before Joseph Stalin, and did not remain alive to see Mr. Khrushchev come to power.
I ask my hon. Friend whether President Kennedy was wrong to say, in his message on the state of the Union, that we must increase our support of the United Nations as an instrument to end the cold war instead of an arena in which to fight it. I do not dissent from anything that was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East about the Kremlin; it has a long way still to go in understanding what co-existence means. But no one will deny that Mr. Khrushchev has made great changes since the days of Stalin, both inside Russia and in his conduct of international affairs.
I will not deal in detail with his record from the time of the Korean truce until now.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
The right hon. Member is putting forward a very interesting proposition which we must take into careful consideration. From his past work with Ernest Bevin, did he ever come to the conclusion that the Soviet Union would accept a supranational authority at any time?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
In the days of Stalin we never came to any very useful conclusions. Stalin was intent on carrying out an international cold war. But I submit that Mr. Khrushchev, whatever wrong he may have done, has made great changes, and that perhaps we had better negotiate with him while we have him, lest worse befalls.
I shall not deal with Mr. Khrushchev's record from the Korean truce until now, but I recall that after his visit to Camp David he went straight to Peking and told the Chinese—who did not want to hear it—that the Americans were not imperialists and that President Eisenhower wanted disarmament and peace. I recall that he made a veritable crusade through the territories of China's neighbours, saying the same thing. I recall that the former Foreign Secretary—now the Chancellor of the Exchequer—told us in February of last year that there had been a great relaxation of the cold war and that it was due to the personality of Mr. Khrushchev. The former Foreign Secretary often told us of his conviction that the Russians would keep the treaties which they signed. The U.2 incident and the way it was handled were a smashing blow to Mr. Khrushchev's policy of peace and disarmament, and to his position in the Communist bloc.
The Chinese, who still believe in the inevitability of war, are now certainly exerting very heavy pressure on him. The struggle in the Communist conference in Moscow in November—I was at another conference at the time and I heard the echoes—was very bitter. I believe that that pressure, the U.2 incident, and what happened in the Congo, together with the harsh memories of long ago, all combined to make Mr. Khrushchev put forward his unacceptable proposal about the Secretariat of the United Nations. I want to face the question of his tripartite system, and of what is called his triple veto, and to suggest how the problem may be solved.
I say at once that Mr. Khrushchev's attacks upon the Secretary-General have deeply offended us all. We can never accept his plan for a triumvirate to head the Secretariat; it would destroy the whole conception of the international loyalty of the Secretariat, enshrined in Article 100 of the Charter, on which the whole functioning of the United Nations now 1567 depends. Mr. Khrushchev is proposing an amendment of the Charter—an amendment which I am certain he can never carry, and which we cannot accept if we are ever to get the kind of co-existence which he says he wants.
Secondly, we must ask ourselves why he is putting this amendment forward. Not many of us have asked this question. He explained his reasons in some detail in his speech to the Assembly last September, when he said that both East and West had agreed that in a disarmed world there must be an international force. But in the Congo there was already an international force; it had been placed under the command of a single man—the Secretary-General; the Secretary-General had made decisions with which the Communists and many neutrals disagreed; this showed the danger of leaving the control of an international force to any single man. It was a system to which he could never agree.
If we recall the way in which the West treated Soviet Russia between the wars—and I lived through them with Dr. Nansen, of Norway—from our intervention in support of the Czarist generals, in Russia's civil war, right through to the Abyssinian and Spanish crises and up to the time of Munich, it is easy to understand the fears which Mr. Khrushchev feels. Between the wars the capitalist countries all too often showed the deep hostility to the Soviet Union which Karl Marx had taught the Communists that they would.
Let us forget all that. Let us look at Mr. Khrushchev's proposal on its merits. Does any one of us think that it would be a good plan to place an international force, in a disarmed world, under the sole control of an international official, however wise? Certainly, the present Secretary-General would not say that. He has repeatedly complained that the Assembly has failed to set up a committee to assist him in the Congo—to share the vast responsibilities which he bears.
I believe that an international force should be controlled like this: there should be a commander-in-chief, with two deputies, all chosen from middle and smaller Powers. The commander-in-chief should be directly responsible to a very strong standing commission of the Assembly of the United Nations. The commission should give the 1568 commander-in-chief all his political directions, and if the commission disagreed on controversial points it should submit them instantly for decision to the full Assembly.
I believe that on those lines, if Mr. Khrushchev gave up his attacks on the Secretary-General, his preoccupation with the international force could be reasonably met. I believe, though I will not recite the details, that an analogous arrangement might be possible for the inspection of a ban on nuclear tests.
I wish to add one other thing about the conference on nuclear tests. We all ardently desire a test ban treaty, but, no doubt, with every month the Chinese pressure on Mr. Khrushchev not to sign a treaty is growing stronger. I believe that if Mr. Kennedy's fourteen points had been put forward a year ago, we might have had a quick success. But in spite of the present situation, I hope that we shall go on making every effort to bring Mr. Khrushchev round. But I hope also that we shall not allow the test negotiations to hold up a start in negotiations on real disarmament.
I found, when I was in the United States, that two very high authorities, that must be nameless, shared my view that the establishment of an inspection system for a test ban, taken by itself, without disarmament, was by far the hardest single part of a disarmament system. They agreed that with general disarmament and general inspection many of the difficulties which now impede a settlement would disappear. They agreed that a test ban inspection system would be costly and would take years, perhaps four years, to bring into operation.
I view with grave alarm four more years of the present arms race. It is a very long and very dangerous period. Herman Kahn, whose work on thermonuclear war is so much discussed, tells us, with the authority of the Rand Corporation behind him, that in the next four years we shall have another total revolution in the weapons system and in the general machinery of war. Will the Government look back to 1955, when there were no inter-continental missiles and no thermo-nuclear warheads, and remember how much easier it would have been to make a treaty then than it is today? Every difficulty about a test 1569 ban conference is a reason not for holding back on wider negotiations, but for pressing forward in them with all our power.
Just before he entered on his new office, Dr. Wiesner, M.I.T., President Kennedy's chief science adviser, said that we could not afford to leave disarmament until later. He said that science and technology were moving too fast. He was discussing the problem with fellow scientists engaged in military research. He said:Each of us has hundreds of thousands of people working under us on the development of weapons. You cannot control this and bring it into a tractable form by fooling around with minor things.How can the Government get on with real disarmament? I have said that the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' declaration is an event of the most profound importance, and I believe that to be true. But it is still only words on paper. The bombers are still taking off with their nuclear loads. The missiles are being tested and put into hardened sites. The submarines, so deadly to Britain and Europe, are being multiplied. The Minister of Defence is still planning his weapons for five, seven and ten years ahead. How are we to get some action that will save us from the waste and danger that all this must involve?
The real difficulty of disarmament is not the technical complexity of the treaty clauses. They are relatively simple, as I have so often said. The real difficulty is getting a political decision to disarm. But it is also true, as Mr. Foster Dulles once said in the Assembly, that technical solutions, the drafting of model treaty clauses, a paper showing in detail how the thing could actually be done, may greatly help to get the political decision. It would make it all practical and real. Perhaps this was the Prime Minister's idea when he proposed an international committee of experts to study how inspection of general disarmament would work. On that basis, I am afraid that his proposal is predestined to defeat. The Russians will never accept it if the Government confine it to inspection alone. Let them widen it to include disarmament as well, and let them give the U.N. Committee of Experts a British draft on which to work.
1570 I would guarantee—I speak from long experience going back to the disarmament of Germany by the Treaty of Versailles—that given the right instructions, Whitehall could prepare a scheme, first stage, second stage, third stage, Army, Navy, Air Force, conventional weapon reduction, manpower reduction, abolition of mass destruction weapons, abolition of the means of delivery—all the lot.
Whitehall could prepare a scheme in time for August next. It would be a draft and nothing more. No one would be bound to any detail, not even ourselves. Everyone could make the reservations and amendments he desired. But, at long last, it would get us down to business. It would save us from another tide of contradictory words and slogans. It would give at least a hope of a relatively early practical result.
If we want to be realists about the world in which we live we all have to face a profound adjustment in our thinking. Disarmament is not a distant dream. As the Commonwealth Prime Ministers asserted, it is an urgent necessity of today. It is the first step to what many hon. Members on both sides of the House most sincerely desire—world government. I do not believe in catch phrases that disguise the problems to be solved. I do not believe in the efficacy of paper constitutions if the will to work them is not there. But consider how disarmament would advance us towards an effective world authority in the United Nations.
By Article 2 of the Charter—here I follow my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice)—we have given up the right to use or threaten force to settle international disputes. A great slice of national sovereignty has gone. By disarmament treaty we should give up the right of each Government to decide what armed forces it would maintain. Another great segment, and a decisive segment, of national sovereignty would then be gone. The logical result of giving up the arbitrament of force would be to let the International Court of Justice have obligatory jurisdiction in all our international disputes. Another segment of sovereignty would be gone.
Disarmament would release the men and funds required to fight the real enemies of us all—ignorance, poverty 1571 and disease, and the needless hardships that still affect so great a number of our fellow men. It is thus that a world authority may, by treaty and by custom, come about. It is thus that we may make the world society of friendship, mutual help and understanding that for two generations has been promised and which the rising generation now so ardently and so generously desires.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)
I begin by adding my congratulations to those which have already been offered by a number of hon. Members to my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) on his excellent maiden speech yesterday. We all listened to it with interest and we shall look forward to his further contributions to our debates.
We have also listened with interest and respect, as we always do, to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). We all acknowledge his sincerity and keen interest in these problems. I shall seek to return during my speech to one or two of the points he raised. At this stage, I wish only to say how glad I was to note the particular reference he made to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' declaration on disarmament, a very important document. The right hon. Member read various passages. I would remind him and the House of the final words in that declaration, because I think that they put the matter into context:Therefore, while striving for the abolition of armaments, all nations must actively endeavour to reduce tension by helping to remove other causes of friction and suspicion.That is the wider aspect in which I think that this must be considered.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) complained about the length of time spent by my right hon. Friend on our relationship with Western Europe. I agree that when we discuss foreign affairs the variety of subjects is immense and that it is difficult to get a cohesive debate. I must remind the hon. Member, however, that our relationship with Western Europe has been a basic element in our foreign policy certainly since the Battle of Hastings, if not before.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
I should like to make clear the point I made on this. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that it would have been greatly for the convenience of both sides of the House if the Government had indicated their intention to have this subject thoroughly discussed? If they did not wish to put down a Motion on it, or to allocate a day for it to be debated, they could have told the Opposition that they wished to allocate one of these two days to this subject. By smuggling it into a general debate under cover of a Motion which does not refer to Europe, the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in raising the issue without giving any chance whatever to focus the debate.
§ Mr. Godber
I think that the hon. Member might allow me to develop my speech before he embarks on a large intervention.
I remind the hon. Gentleman that the greater unity of Western Europe must play a very important part in strengtheningthe unity of the free worldwhich are exactly the words in out Motion. It is quite reasonable that this should have been introduced. Indeed, in spite of what the hon. Member has said, I think that it was quite clear, from the speeches which followed on his side of the House, that many hon. Members were anxious to take part in a debate on this matter at this stage. I am sorry if he feels he was inconvenienced, but there was certainly no intention——
§ Mr. Godber
That certainly was not shown by the way in which the debate continued.
I want to devote most of my speech to other matters, but before I do so I want to deal briefly with one specific aspect of our discussions with the Six which was raised by one or two hon. Members, and particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Sir A. Hurd), namely, the position of British agriculture in this problem.
Quite clearly, joining the Six or, indeed, a close association with them which embraced agriculture would mean considerable changes in our system of support in this country. On the other 1573 hand, if we are to get a fair comparison, we should consider how things are likely to develop if we remain outside the Six while they develop their intended policies in this sphere.
By the very nature of our present policies, Britain tends to be the residual market to which world food surpluses gravitate at the present time. It follows, therefore, that if production in the Six were to increase, foodstuffs they had hitherto been importing would tend to be diverted to our market and any surpluses that arose within the Six would incline towards us, with a resulting pressure on our market and on the cost of Exchequer support. It is important that this should be realised so that it may be seen that the comparison is not really between our position within the Six and our position as it is now, but between our position in the Six and our position as it would be outside the Six after their joint agricultural policy had begun to take effect. This is an extremely important distinction.
On the other hand, if we were able to make some arrangement with the Six whereby we were able to contemplate, over a period of years, some harmonisation of agricultural policy which involved bringing our method of agricultural support and that practised on the Continent more into line, we could no longer be looked upon as an external residual market but as part of the Community.
§ Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)
Is it the policy of the Government to object to cheaper food for this country because of the cost of Exchequer subsidy to the farmers?
§ Mr. Godber
No, I am trying to put the picture in relation to what the change would be. One has to draw the balance between our position now and our position in the Community, and I am trying to develop the point.
The maintenance of fair prices to producers in this country, as in the Six, would be a matter of concern to the Community as a whole. It follows from this that decisions affecting these prices will be taken collectively. This, of course, is not peculiar to agriculture, but is inherent in the whole idea of the Common Market and applies across the board.
1574 Let us not forget that we are not the only country determined to safeguard its agricultural interests. It is significant that every one of the countries of the Six has a much larger proportion of its population involved in agriculture than we have and, politically speaking, this strengthens rather than weakens agriculture's power favourably to influence decisions taken by the commission or the council on farming matters. Added to this is the intention, written into the Treaty of Rome, to safeguard and protect the standard of living of those engaged in agriculture in the Community.
Of course, there would be certain commodity problems, but, bearing in mind the fact that the Community as a whole has not yet taken any firm decisions on agriculture, if we went in we should be in a strong position to influence any decisions on these matters in a way that would be helpful to our farming community. Furthermore, when one looks at the high cost of production in some parts of the Six, one is bound to ask: if the countries involved are able to contemplate membership of the Six, need we necessarily feel that such an approach is beyond our power? I was very interested to read, in this connection, a recent pamphlet produced by the National Farmers' Union dealing with this subject. I thought it a valuable contribution to our general thinking on this matter, but I was left with the impression that it posed the question too much in terms of black or white, that is, accession to the Treaty of Rome as it stands as opposed to maintaining our present position. Quite clearly, if we were to join or link up we would want to safeguard our own producers, and indeed our Commonwealth also, and a special arrangement in relation to this would be necessary.
Furthermore, a link-up with the Community would presumably mean adoption of the common external tariff for most commodities against other countries outside the Six, the Commonwealth or E.F.T.A. This in itself would inevitably reduce the pressure on our market in certain commodities and I do not think that this was fully taken account of in the production to which I have referred.
§ Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)
Is my hon. Friend aware that what disturbs us at the moment is not so much the nature 1575 of the alterations to the 1947 and 1957 Acts, but that by joining a common external tariff we would increase costs of production and have dearer food in this country?
§ Mr. Godber
That is an aspect which, of course, has to be considered and it is an essential part of the policy of the Community which would have to be watched carefully. Undoubtedly, very big issues would be involved for our farming community if we were to link up with the Six, just as they would be for the rest of the Community as consumers. Undoubtedly, some changes in emphasis in our production policy might follow, but there is no reason to assume that, in total, our farmers would stand to suffer under a system which would be worked out between the Six and ourselves. Indeed, it is very difficult to explain how Western Germany, with its high-cost production, can accept membership of the Six in the agricultural field if Britain cannot.
British farmers have a right to a full and fair measure of support. In this respect, they have the Government's pledges, which would still stand. The real question is whether, in fact, their long-term objectives could not be as well safeguarded within the Community as without. I have dealt with this matter in some detail, because of the interest shown by my hon. Friends, but my right hon. Friend will be dealing with other matters——
§ Mr. Healey
On a point of order. I have no doubt that the hon. Member's speech would be very appropriate at a meeting of the Agriculture Group of the Conservative Party, but is it really in order, when we are debating the Motion and Amendment on the Order Paper, to discuss details of the National Farmers' Union statements?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I have just taken the Chair, and so far I have heard nothing that would not be in order on the Motion and Amendment which we are now debating. I shall pay full attention to what is said.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
As we have just had some blinding flashes of the obvious, which many people have been urging on the Government 1576 for many years about the situation in agriculture and the Six, can the Government tell us whether they now propose to get into the Six and negotiate about the future of agriculture, so that the matters which the Minister has been mentioning might be taken into account before the Six reach their final conclusion about their agricultural policies?
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
On a point of order. Before the question is answered, may I put this point to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker? On the footing that this discussion of the Common Market was relevant to the Motion moved yesterday, there has since been moved an Amendment, and the debate is about the issues raised in the Amendment. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Is this relevant to any of the issues raised in the Amendment?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
If the hon. Member will allow the debate to continue for a while, I will pay full attention to what is being said.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
Further to that point of order. We are quite willing to allow the debate to continue, but I hope that, while you are thinking about it, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, you will take into account the feeling which is growing among a number of us that this is becoming almost a farce—this tremendous concentration on an aspect which is not mentioned in either the Motion or the Amendment, to the exclusion of everything else. It is beginning to look as though the Government are quite determined that there shall not be a foreign affairs debate at this time.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I think it is reasonable to allow the Minister to continue with his speech. I will listen to what he says, and if it seems to me that it is my duty to interrupt him, then, of course, I must do so.
§ Mr. Godber
I am sorry that hon. Members opposite feel so impatient about this. These matters were referred to, and I was seeking to reply to points raised in the debate yesterday. In any case, I had already clearly indicated, before hon. Members got up to interrupt, that I was leaving this matter and was seeking to get on to other matters which they wanted to be discussed. Therefore, it is rather unfortunate that they have delayed my return to them.
1577 In reply to the point raised by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond), I would say to him that I am sorry that he was not here to hear exactly what my right hon. Friend said yesterday, because he dealt with it in great detail. No doubt, the hon. Member can read it in HANSARD.
If I may now turn from Europe, I should like to deal with the question of nuclear tests, on which we had a most interesting contribution from the right hon. Member for Derby, South this afternoon. After an immense amount of patient negotiation, all three parties at Geneva had agreed at the end of last year on the main shape of the control system and its organisation, and, in particular, on the concept of genuinely international staffing and a single neutral administrator. But, against this background, when the conference reopened on 21st March, the Soviet delegate put forward his proposal to replace the single administrator, to whom he had previously agreed, by a three-man council representing the West, the Communist bloc, and the neutrals, able only to act when all three representatives were in agreement.
Such a provision would paralyse the workings of the whole agreement. He put this forward before he had heard the new proposals of the United States and ourselves, although it was generally known that we had been working very hard at a review of our positions to speed the conclusion of a Treaty. We had agreed on proposals which went very far to meet previous Soviet objections. These were put to the Soviet delegate after his speech on the same day. Subsequently, they were explained in detail, and on 18th April the United Kingdom and United States delegates tabled a complete draft treaty incorporating these proposals, together with the treaty articles—17 in all—and the preamble and annexe, on which the conference had already agreed.
We are prepared to sign this treaty at once, but it is not a "take-it-or-leave-it" draft. It is a picture of how we view the treaty, and we have told the Soviet delegate repeatedly that the document is open to negotiations, and we are very ready to consider any positive response from him. But, so far, there has been none.
Here, I should like to explain what was involved in the new Western 1578 Proposals. When the conference reconvened on 21st March, all three Governments had already agreed in principle to the idea of a phased treaty. By this, there would have been a verified ban for all time on those tests which could be detected by existing methods. Small tests, which might escape detection by being conducted underground, would have been subject to a temporary and unverified ban. This would have depended on voluntary and unilaterally declared abstention while a research programme was carried out to improve the capabilities of the control system in this field.
As to the way the research programme should be carried out, the Soviet Government accepted the idea of carrying out experimental nuclear explosions, but they were not satisfied with the safeguards which were proposed for ensuring that these explosions were not used to gain information of military value. To meet this objection, therefore, the United States Government proposed, on 21st March, to allow Soviet scientists to inspect the internal details of the American nuclear devices which it was intended should be used for seismic research. This concession would, of course, be subject to the approval of Congress, since United States law is involved.
This, I suggest, was an important concession. Another one related to the moratorium. It had been agreed that there must be a considerable period during which a research programme on detecting underground explosions could be carried out, and it was proposed that there should be a moratorium on underground weapon tests during this period. Initially, the Russians said that such a research programme would take four to five years, whereas the Western side claimed that it could be carried out satisfactorily in two years.
We and the Americans suggested a period of twenty-seven months, but, to try to meet the Soviet point of view, we have now proposed that the moratorium should last for three years, starting from the signature of the treaty, on the basis that this will allow ample time for the necessary research to be carried out. The Soviet Union has so far rejected this offer, although it has produced no scientific arguments to show that the 1579 research programme could not be completed in this period.
Both these concessions—the research programme and the moratorium—were important and substantial. But in addition, we proposed that, if the other features of the control system were agreed, the Soviet side should have equality of representation with the Western side on the Nuclear Tests Control Commission which is to direct the work of the control organisation. Inspection of devices in the research programme, the programme itself, the moratorium, and equality of representation on the Commission—these are the main positive proposals which we and the Americans have made.
In addition, we have made a number of lesser but still important points. We have agreed to reduce the number of control posts on Soviet territory from 21 to 19. We are willing to grant the Russians a veto on the budget as a whole. We agree to doubling the quota of inspections in the Western countries; that is to say, that the United States and Britain will each allow the same number of inspections in their territory as in the Soviet Union. We have also made concessions with regard to the peaceful uses of atomic energy and a complete ban on high altitude tests.
I do not think that I need to go into further detail to show the very real efforts which we have been making to meet the Russian point of view in our search for agreement. There is, however, one further point to which I should like to refer before I leave this subject, and on which I find myself in very broad agreement with what the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) said yesterday. This is the question of French nuclear weapons tests.
The House will recall that when the Conference first met in October, 1958, only three Powers—the United Kingdom, the United States, and the Soviet Union—had tested nuclear weapons. They were, therefore, the only Powers qualified at that time to negotiate. Her Majesty's Government continue to believe that far the best course is to conclude an agreement as soon as possible between the present negotiators, considering how far we have got in our arrangements, and then open 1580 such an agreement to accession by France and all other countries. The French have, in any case, indicated that for their part they have no wish to take part in the conference.
The Soviet delegate knows that there is a treaty text already agreed in Geneva by which the parties to the treaty would undertaketo refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in, the carrying out of nuclear weapons test explosions anywhere.The Soviet delegate knows that the United States and the United Kingdom Governments, at a time when they have temporarily and voluntarily suspended their own testing in order to further the negotiations, are fully observing the undertaking I have just quoted. Yet he suggests that we and the United States are deriving advantage from the French tests. I suggest that this is a ludicrous misrepresentation which cannot but cast doubt on the sincerity of Soviet desires to conclude an agreement.
The French tests cannot possibly be significant for British and American nuclear weapons development. Indeed, it could legitimately be deduced that France has tested for precisely the opposite reason, namely, that the United States and the United Kingdom have not given her the information about nuclear weapons which would enable her to dispense with tests. So long as there is no effectively safeguarded treaty to stop nuclear weapons testing, to which other countries can adhere, the Soviet Government should not be altogether surprised that other countries wish to test. If, therefore, they are so apprehensive of French tests they should rapidly make constructive proposals which will make the conclusion of the present treaty possible.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Is it, nevertheless, the view of the Government that the treaty should be signed and that Soviet adherence to the treaty should continue even though the French tests continue, or will the hon. Gentleman go so far as to say that the actual operation of the treaty would be dependent on the French tests ceasing?
§ Mr. Godber
I am just coming on to the effect the treaty, once it is signed, could have on the further developing countries, not only France. When a treaty is signed, then by all means let 1581 the three of us approach France and China, and any other countries in the world which are likely to be coming forward to the testing stage, and seek their adherence to a controlled ban on nuclear tests. That is what we have to do—get a concrete treaty in being and then try to get the adherence of others.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The hon. Gentleman does not quite answer my question. During the period when the accession of France to the treaty is being sought, do the Government regard the treaty as binding on the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Godber
We would certainly hope that the treaty would be absolutely binding on all three parties. We have no wish to see nuclear testing start again by the major Powers. I emphasise that it would be our hope and intention that there would be no question of tests by the three, otherwise there is no purpose in their signing the treaty.
§ Mr. Healey
This is a very important issue. I understand that Mr. Dean raised it during the negotiations at Geneva. Is it not the case that the American Government are seeking to include in the treaty a provision by which its members will not be bound by their obligations necessarily if certain other Powers begin to test? For example, does the hon. Gentleman think that the American Government would consider themselves bound if it were found that a large number of tests were taking place in China?
§ Mr. Godber
No. That is exactly the point. Of course, they would not consider themselves bound in those circumstances. The intention is to try to get the treaty and then get the adherence of France and China. If these other countries were not willing to join, it would clearly be extremely difficult to maintain the treaty in force. That is no reason for not trying to get the treaty in force first. One must take this a stage at a time. As the whole House will agree, the important thing is to try to get the treaty into effect now.
In view of the latest developments. I should like to make it quite plain that Her Majesty's Government are gravely concerned at the completely negative and destructive attitude adopted by the Russian delegate since the conference reconvened, of which there is further 1582 evidence on the tape at lunchtime today in the reports of this morning's meeting. If this indicates that they are determined to wreck this conference, with all that that could entail, they will incur, and rightly incur, the condemnation of the whole world. In such an atmosphere the prospects for full disarmament discussions would be dismal indeed.
I should like to say, at this point, how very much we welcome, as I am sure the whole House welcomes, the reports, which have already been referred to, that a meeting between President Kennedy and Mr. Khrushchev is likely in the near future. Obviously, there could be a possibility, if such a meeting takes place, of clearing the air, which could lead to improving the atmosphere for future international negotiations in this, as in all other, fields. I am sure that we all hope very much that the meeting will take place.
Mr. Khrushchev has said that the Soviet Government are making serious preparations for their coming talks with the United States Government on disarmament. It is as well to bear in mind the developments leading up to these talks. First, we must go back to the breakdown of the previous disarmament negotiations last summer. As is known, the Russians walked out of the Ten-Power negotiations at a time when the West was about to present new and constructive proposals which took into account points made by the Soviet Government in the course of the negotiations.
It was a great disappointment to us that the Soviet Government should have chosen to walk out at that stage, particularly when they were aware—it was well known at the time—that the West was about to make new proposals. There was never any opportunity to negotiate or discuss with the Soviet Government the disarmament plan which the United States delegate tabled on the day when the talks broke up.
Our first object thereafter was to bring about the resumption of substantive negotiations. The United Nations Disarmament Commission, consisting of all the members of the United Nations, was convened for that purpose in August. The question was then referred to the General Assembly. During the course of the Assembly's proceedings my right hon. 1583 Friend the Prime Minister made what we considered to be a practical and constructive proposal for bringing about fruitful negotiations. He put forward the idea that, after the pattern of the successful discussions of experts which preceded the present Nuclear Tests Conference, there should be meetings of experts from both sides to consider and make joint recommendations on feasible methods of ensuring compliance with and verification of various kinds of disarmament measures. Unfortunately, this idea did not find favour with the Soviet Government at the time. But we are not without hope that some procedure on these lines may be adopted when disarmament negotiations are resumed. Various other proposals were put forward at the General Assembly, but up to the time of its Christmas adjournment no agreement had been reached on how to proceed.
The position then changed with the change of Administration in the United States. The new Administration there made it known that they were carrying out an extensive review of United States disarmament policies as well as the position reached at the Nuclear Tests Conference, about which I was speaking a little while ago. Naturally, they gave priority to the nuclear test discussions because the conference was current, and the disarmament review would necessarily take time.
A further development was the Conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers in London, to which the right hon. Gentleman rightly drew attention and to which I have already made a passing reference. The conference agreed this notable declaration on disarmament, which should form, I hope, the basis of our policy in this field in the future.
Against this background the United States and Soviet Governments found it possible to agree at the resumed session of the General Assembly to continue exchanges of views during June and Julyon questions relating to disarmament and to the resumption of negotiations in an appropriate body whose composition is to be agreed upon.We fully support the agreement between the United States and Soviet Governments to have these discussions, about which, of course, we were consulted beforehand. Indeed, the agreement received 1584 the unanimous support of the United Nations General Assembly.
The object of these coming talks between the United States and Soviet Governments is to find a basis for the resumption of multilateral negotiations in the whole field of disarmament and, in particular, a practical and acceptable forum for fruitful negotiations. The United States Government have stated that they will be ready for substantive negotiations at the end of July, and it is our earnest wish that these negotiations will materialise as a result of the talks between the statesmen so that we may yet again give expression to our striving for general disarmament under effective international control.
That, of course, is the great problem, and I notice here, again, that this is one little bit of the Commonwealth Prime Minister's declaration that the right hon. Gentleman did not read out. The Prime Ministers made it quite clear, in paragraph 8 of their declaration, that disarmament without inspection would be as unacceptable as inspection without disarmament; the two must go together. This is where we get discouraged by what is happening at Geneva in relation to nuclear tests. Unless we can get agreement to inspection on small things, what hope is there of it on large——
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
I tried to argue that inspection for tests alone is a much more complicated and difficult problem than general inspection, and I believe that that cannot be contested.
§ Mr. Godber
Whatever view one holds on this, there has to be willingness to have inspection, and that is what we have not yet really seen——
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Again, with deference, Mr. Khrushchev has constantly made it plain over the last five years that he is ready for full inspection if we have disarmament. His interruption of the Prime Minister's speech in the General Assembly last year was to say, "If you will accept our approach to disarmament, we accept your inspection."
§ Mr. Godber
Yes, I know that he has said these things in public on a good many occasions, but the difficulty is to tie the Russians down on these things. That is the difficulty, and it has to be faced——
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose——
§ Mr. Godber
No, I have given way a lot, and I do not think that it is reasonable to give way now.
All I can say here is that we are anxious to make our full contribution at multilateral disarmament negotiations and, in doing so, we shall follow very closely the principles laid down in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' declaration.
I should now turn to one or two other items that have been touched on. Angola has been referred to by some hon. Members, but has certainly not formed the dominating feature of our discussion. I should like, therefore, to refer to the disturbances that have been taking place in the northern part of the territory, and which have been on a large scale. The latest information from our consul-general in Luanda is that the disturbances are still continuing. We do not have any exact figures of the casualties.
Naturally, we hope that the present disturbances are brought to an end with a minimum of human suffering, and this hope will be reflected in any consultations we may have in the normal way with the Portuguese Government or with our other allies. We regret the present difficulties, and do not disguise from the Portuguese Government that our colonial policy is quite different from theirs. We are always ready to share with the Portuguese Government our own experience in colonial matters.
Then there is the particular point, which was put down in the Amendment, and which was, I think, the cause of the Opposition's censure—the visit of the frigate H.M.S. "Leopard" to Luanda this week. Frankly, I am amazed at the way in which the Opposition have tried to represent this as a major incident. Visits by ships of the Royal Navy are taking place all over the world the whole time, and I am informed by the Admiralty that there have been no fewer that 818 calls at foreign ports during the first four months of this year.
As my hon. Friend the Civil Lord of the Admiralty has already explained to the House, this particular call at Luanda was part of a programme of visits being made by H.M.S. "Leopard" on its way back to Simonstown from the Sierra Leone 1586 celebrations. The visit was of a purely routine nature and had no political significance whatever. It does not imply any attitude on our part to the policy the Portuguese Government have been following in respect of their overseas territories. I have already said that we do not agree with them on their approach to colonial matters. I think that it is better left there.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East asked two specific questions. He asked, first, whether Captain Galvao has been refused a visa for this country. I under stand that Her Majesty's Consul at Sao Paulo received an application from Captain Galvao for a visa to visit this country. In accordance with the instructions he had already received, he refused to grant a visa. The whole question of visas is a matter for the Home Office and, as the hon. Gentleman knows, it is not the practice of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to give reasons for these refusals——
§ Mr. Godber
Secondly, the hon. Member asked that my noble Friend should cancel or postpone his visit to Portugal. My noble Friend's visit to Portugal is in return for the visit of the Portuguese Foreign Minister here last year. Visits of this kind are made irrespective of the internal form of government or overseas policy of the countries concerned. It is only by personal contact that we can explain our point of view, and try to reach closer mutual understanding over questions of common concern to both Governments.
The date for the visit was chosen purely as a matter of mutual convenience, having regard to my noble Friend's very heavy programme of visits abroad——
§ Mr. Healey
Can the hon. Gentleman inform me whether the Foreign Secretary proposes on 28th May to attend the celebrations in Lisbon of the anniversary of Mr. Salazar's accession to power?
§ Mr. Godber
The Foreign Secretary will carry out the programme that has been arranged for him. I am not precisely informed of what activities he will be attending but, clearly, he will take part in such normal civic celebrations to which he is invited——
§ Mr. Healey rose——
§ Mr. Godber
I cannot keep on giving way.
I have explained why my noble Friend is going to Portugal and, quite clearly, when one goes as a guest one accepts the wide majority of invitations given. Without notice, I cannot give an answer on this specific point. The hon. Gentle man's main question yesterday was whether the visit would be amended or postponed. I have given a specific answer to that, and I think that is as far as I can take that matter——
§ Mr. Godber
The point of the question has been noted, but I have given an answer on the main issue, which, I think, is the important point, of my noble Friend's visit.
I do not think that hon. Members should try to read into these visits all sorts of extraordinary motives that are not, in fact, intended. If visits between Ministers of different States are to be hemmed about in this way, it will be extremely difficult for my noble Friend to make visits at all—[Interruption.] It is not suggested that there is civil war in Portugal at the moment——
§ Mr. G. Brown
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The hon. Member has just said that he is not suggesting that there is a civil war in Angola—so what are we discussing?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make clear how his last question is a point of order.
§ Mr. Brown
It may be that I am wrong, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and in deference to your position I am prepared to be instructed. If the Minister denies what every one in this House knows to be the fact—that there is something akin to civil war in Angola at the moment—and one wants to raise the matter and the Minister will not give way, how else does one do it except to ask you to give us the chance of getting at the facts?
§ Mr. Godber
I referred to conditions in Portugal itself; I did not mention Angola.
I am dealing with the point in terms of conditions in the Metropolitan area of Portugal, which is where my noble Friend is going, and I think it would be improper to try to restrict his activities in this particular courtesy visit or to read wider issues into them.
From one area of present anxiety I switch to another area which has figured in some speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite, namely, Cuba. Criticisms have been levied against the United States. This matter has been fully debated in the United Nations and, as is well known, we supported the Argentine resolution which was passed by a large majority. Perhaps I could remind the House of what the British delegate said in the first Committee on this debate. He said:Whatever the underlying reason for these hostilities, my delegation naturally deplores bloodshed and strife and hopes for the early restoration of peace and tranquility to the people of Cuba".In order to see this problem against its proper background, and, indeed, in judging the whole of this matter, hon. Members should remember that among the scores of thousands of refugees who have left the shores of Cuba since Castro came to power two years ago there were many who fought with him against the Batista dictatorship. Their disillusionment with Castro is understandable, for despite repeated promises to the contrary, no elections have been held since he came to power. Indeed, on 1st May he announced that no further elections would be held. They were, he said, no longer necessary. Although he has brought about many valuable reforms in Cuba, these have been put through at a price which most hon. Members would not regard as acceptable.
I should inform the House of the position of British subjects who were arrested by the Cuban authorities during these disturbances. Since 17th April, eleven British subjects have been arrested and detained by the Cuban authorities without any charges being preferred against them and, for the most part, under very arduous conditions. Ten of these have now been released and one other, Mr. Robert Geddes, is still under arrest. Although more than a month has elapsed, no charge has been brought against him.
1589 Our Ambassador and his staff have followed up all these cases with constant representations to the authorities. We have left the Cuban Government in no doubt as to the grave concern which is felt in Britain at this series of arbitrary arrests. In the case of Mr. Geddes, we have strongly urged that if a charge is not brought against him he should now be released.
In coming to the subject of help to under-developed countries, I remind hon. Members that this is help which is vital to their well-being and is necessary to enable them to raise their standards of living and to play their full part as independent states seeking to move forward into an era of greater opportunity. The question of aid looms far more largely in our minds today than it did even a decade ago. We in Britain have been increasing our effort in this field in a striking way as part of the large sum of aid from Western countries to those in need.
The total figure of Western aid at the present time is running at about £2,100 million a year. The United Kingdom has made, and is making, a full and increasing contribution to this enormous effort, and that has to be seen in the context of our balance of payment position. Three years ago we were contributing about £80 million a year from Government funds for the development of the poorer parts of the world. By 1960 this had risen to about £150 million. When it is remembered that to this total must be added about £150 million invested privately by British citizens in the developing countries of the world, then the total outflow of our resources in 1960 reaches a total of £300 million.
Most Western aid, and practically all aid given by the Communist bloc, is extended bilaterally from one Government to another. This is true in our case. The bulk of our economic aid goes to the countries of the Commonwealth. We have a special responsibility for their development, and I do not think that any hon. Member would dispute that they should have the lion's share of what we have to give. Even so, all that we can spare is far less than what these countries need, and we welcome the aid which other countries have given, 1590 and are giving, to members of the Commonwealth.
In particular, we acknowledge the vast and generous contribution which the United States, whose resources so far exceed our own, have extended to the Commonwealth. This point was mentioned yesterday by the hon. Member for Leeds, East and I must add that particularly valuable has been America's aid to India. This question is being handled through what is known as the Indian Consortium, a group of the countries concerned, under the auspices of the International Bank. A meeting took place in Washington last month and these discussions are to be resumed in Washington at the end of this month. The question of commitments of assistance towards India's third Five-Year Plan is still under consideration, and I cannot make any statement about the possible outcome. But let me make it clear that our assistance to India, in spite of our limitations, is substantial. Towards her second Five-Year Plan we made loans totalling £80 million, which was drawn in the two and a half years between 1958 and March of this year. We have already concluded loan agreements totalling a further £40 million, which were signed on the 1st of this month, as initial contributions towards the third Five-Year Plan on which India has now embarked.
Apart from such bilateral arrangements as this, we are also among the first in our support of the various international aid organisations. The United Kingdom is the second largest contributor, after the United States, to the United Nations Special Fund and Expanded Programme for Technical Assistance, as we are to the newly-established International Development Association.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
What is the attitude of the British delegate to this United Nations Special Fund with reference to the Cuban request for a loan of 1 million dollars?
§ Mr. Godber
No doubt that will be considered, but I cannot state our attitude on that subject now. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that it will receive our full consideration.
Britain is the third largest contributor to the funds of the World Bank. In 1591 contrast to these figures, it is only fait—in view of the massive propaganda put out by the Soviet bloc about their aid programmes—to point out that the total aid from the United Kingdom alone for 1960, including private Investment came, according to our records, to more than the total aid disbursed by all the Communist bloc countries from the beginning of their aid programme in 1954 to the end of 1960.
I would not for one moment wish to give the impression, in saying that, that I am opposed to aid from Communist countries to under-developed States. Indeed, where it is given without political obligations, I am sure we should all welcome it. The needs of the world are very great in this sphere and there is room for everyone to play their part. In the light, however, of Communist propaganda on this subject, I felt it necessary to bring the true position clearly into perspective.
I need hardly remind the House that, apart from the development aid which this country provides, we are now proposing to set up a new Department of Technical Co-operation which will coordinate, develop and, I hope, expand what this country is already doing in this direction. We have a great tradition in this, and I feel confident that the establishment of this new Department will help us to do even more.
In our work to develop the O.E.E.C. into the new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the enthusiastic participation of the United States and Canada has been a heartening encouragement. It means that North America and Europe, the two greatest industrial units in the world today, are working closely together to strengthen the economic bonds between them. It means that this force can be harnessed to help the industrially less developed countries, and that the best use can be made of the enormous resources at the disposal of the West.
Moreover, new opportunities are provided for political consultation in which countries like Sweden and Austria, which have felt themselves unable to join N.A.T.O., will be able to take part. The participation of the United States and Canada in the Organisation represents a further step towards the binding 1592 together of these countries, which have a common purpose and ideal.
Extending beyond our continent and our alliance with those whose interests most closely match our own, there is the vital necessity for effective machinery for international co-operation on the world scale. This is why, of course, we have always given wholehearted support to the United Nations, and shall continue to do so.
One of the most important achievements of the United Nations has been to build up a Secretariat of international officials pledged to serve impartially the interests of all members, great and small. It has been fortunate in finding as Secretary-General a man of great integrity and outstanding capacity, and I was very glad to hear what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about this. We, of course, deplore the really vicious attacks made on the Secretary-General by the Communist bloc in an endeavour to discredit him and to set up a triumvirate which would destroy the effective position of the head of the officials of the United Nations.
Inevitably, of course, the machinery of the United Nations is still far from perfect. We are convinced, for example, that some changes are called for, and I think that the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) particularly mentioned one or two yesterday, including the expansion of the Security Council to take account of the new situation—the larger number of countries—and the Economic and Social Council. These are badly needed to bring the present situation into balance. After all, the existing ones were started in 1945.
The important fact is that the Organisation exists and can be made to work, provided that member States have the will to see it does so and to accept the financial and other obligations as well as the benefits. I emphasise the financial obligations because there are difficulties in that respect at present.
As the Prime Minister said in his speech to the General Assembly last September:The United Nations is the best—indeed the only—organisation which we have available.It is in the interest of every free nation to make this Organisation more effective as a means of preserving peace and 1593 security, limiting the area of international disputes and developing cooperation in every field. It is in accordance with their principles that Her Majesty's Government, in co-operation with the Commonwealth and their allies, have been unremitting in their search for every opportunity to improve relations between East and West, to strengthen the unity of the free world and to promote conditions of peace and order throughout the world.
I have tried to deal with certain of the aspects which have not been dealt with previously. I hope that hon. Members will feel now that they have the opportunity to discuss other matters besides Europe, but I also hope that they will not feel inhibited from discussing Europe because of its important relation to this debate. I hope that when the time comes they will feel that the Amendment which we are now discussing could well be withdrawn, and I commend the original Motion to the House.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
This debate has certainly been very much of a muddle when it could have served the most useful purpose had we concentrated on what, I think, the majority of those present feel is the most important issue over which this country has some influence and control—the future of Europe today.
I was really astounded when I listened to the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) apologise, after he had only had a cursory look at Europe in two columns of HANSARD, for dealing with it at such length and then go on at great length to talk about his hopes of what might happen when President Kennedy meets the Russian leader. That seems to me to epitomise the abysmal rôle which the Official Opposition have proclaimed for themselves over this difficult problem of Europe during the last ten years.
It could be understood, and it can be understood, why the Conservative Party should have been so hesitant and reluctant to take what is a very great and historic decision—if eventually it takes it—to join the Common Market. But one would at least have hoped that a party on this side of the House that claimed for itself the position of the Official Opposition and, sometimes, has 1594 even called itself a Radical party, would have had something to say on most occasions about Europe. Its policy seems to have been one of myopic nothingness in such an important and historic matter, apart from some very honourable exceptions, including those of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins) and one or two others.
As far as the Lord Privy Seal was concerned yesterday, I wish to take up one or two points which he made, and, particularly, I wish to begin by referring to the Amendment which the Liberal Party has on the Order Paper and which I know, Mr. Speaker, you will not be calling. The first part of the Amendment refers tothe misjudgment and hesitation which has characterised the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards European unity".Whilst I do not want to harp on this at a stage when it seems to me that at last the Government are getting very near to taking a very important decision, and which I hope I shall be able to welcome, I think it is necessary to put on record what some of this "misjudgment and hesitation" has been.
I do not think that any of us in the House at the moment who have been the keenest advocates of European unity have not eaten a good deal of the words that we have spoken about what we would and would not agree to during the last six or seven years. I think that a lot of us have moved quite a long way since then. There is some excuse for back benchers not always to know the facts, but I think that it was really a great tragedy that in the negotiations which took place concerning the idea of the original Free Trade Area, those who represented the Government did not realise that they were missing the fundamental point which was driving on those on the Continent who wanted the Common Market of the Six.
I remember some while ago being tremendously impressed by this when talking to a group of officials in Brussels, and also in Strasbourg. Some other hon. Members of the House were with me at the time. I left with the impression deeply embedded in my mind that the one thing about which those people were concerned was that the Six should be so tied up that never again, in any circumstances, could it be broken. The driving force for this were the French 1595 and Germans, who wanted to see their nations tied up for ever. They were not concerned in the slightest about anything outside the Six. If Britain got together in an Outer Seven and tried to form some association, then there was a danger that in some way this might weaken the Six and distract the members of the Six. If at any time they came under tension, then perhaps some member countries, perhaps Belgium or Holland, might ask, "Why cannot we develop more like the Outer Seven?" As I say, I left with the feeling that this sort of thing would be absolutely fatal. It was this fear of any distraction from outside of the Six which made this driving force within the Six so great that they would not have anything to do with any group outside.
I am sure that this is really the root of the problem, and if there is any criticism of the Government and of any other hon. Members who have been interested in the matter, it is that we have not seen this danger early enough. However, when the negotiations for the original Free Trade Area broke down, a few hon. Members of the House, and my party certainly, realised that this was the trouble, that it was no good then starting to negotiate an Outer Seven, but that the Government should sit down and rethink their arguments as to whether it really was true that our own agricultural policy could not be aligned with the policies of the Common Market. The Government should have decided whether it was true that the problems of our Commonwealth trade could not be solved and whether they were obstacles preventing our joining the Six. The Government did not do that. In the debate which we had to ratify the treaty of the Outer Seven, the Liberal Party voted against that treaty, and several hon. Members told me that they thought that we were quite mad. In fact, we have been proved right, and the treaty has been an added difficulty to overcome in realigning our policies in order to bring us nearer the Six.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was honest enough to admit at Strasbourg a year last January that it had been a mistake for Britain not to enter the Coal and Steel Community at the beginning. But we have gradually moved on, particularly in the last few months, with 1596 much hesitation and a great deal of vagueness which has not always been a great encouragement to friends of the European movement and which has not greatly reassured those hon. Members who are frightened about going into Europe. Nevertheless, we appear to have reached a position in which, although the Government have not emphatically said that we intend to join the Six, they have all but said so.
I turn to the question whether there are four choices before us. Yesterday the Lord Privy Seal said that there were four possible courses. The first he dismissed almost straight away. He agreed that the members of the Six were not very keen about the second. The third wasfor the United Kingdom and other members of E.F.T.A.—not as a group but individually—to make a form of association with the Community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th May, 1961: Vol. 640, c. 1398.]But if hon. Members agree with what I have said about the driving force behind the Six, they are bound to come to the conclusion that there is only one way in which we can have an association, and that is by going into the Six with the intention of working for its principles and objects in the same way and with just as great an enthusiasm as the French and the Germans.
As the hon. Member for Stechford said yesterday, we should be no less full members than France, Germany or Italy or any of the other three members of the Community. We may negotiate on our special problems, but it is most importhat to get over to the members of the Six now that it is on those things that we want to negotiate. For example, there is the question how we shall gradually harmonise the two different methods of dealing with our agriculture, on the one hand our deficiency payment system and on the other hand their method of higher fixed prices. We should make it clear that it is on these matters that we want to negotiate and not on the main articles which form the Treaty of Rome, because if anyone thinks that the main treaty is negotiable, then I am afraid that he does not understand the attitude of the members of the Six.
This is the point which the Liberal Party has constantly been trying to make and to which it refers in the 1597 Amendment, when it speaks of deciding to apply for membership. We want it understood that in Britain we are at last just as keen about the ideas, principles and articles which are in this treaty as are those people who are already members of the Six. Some hon. Members laugh, but that is certainly my view and the view of my party; and if we are to get into Europe, it must also be the Government's view.
I agree entirely with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr. Aubrey Jones) who said yesterday that it must not appear that we are reluctantly accepting the objectives of the Six. If that were so, it would set up all kinds of tensions within the Six, because one of the difficulties in this situation is that there are many very important and grave political implications about the Six. But if I were asked to say what they are, I should have some difficulty in telling hon. Members. I do not know whether in the next ten or twenty years we shall evolve some new form of federalism in Europe which is unlike that of the Americans or of any other federalism, or whether it will be some kind of confederation. This is something which will have to be solved by the members of the Community, enlarged if we join, when they continue to try to achieve their objects of uniting Europe and making it into a real community. It seems to me that it cannot be solved at the moment.
§ Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)
How does the hon. Member 1598 reconcile that statement with the statement which he made a minute ago that the treaty is not negotiable?
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
Do I understand that it is the policy of the Liberal Party that Britain should sign the Treaty of Rome as it now is, without regard to the political terms of that treaty, with the exception of the reservation which he made about agriculture?
§ Mr. Holt
The basic principles of the Treaty of Rome, which cover such things as a common tariff, a central fund, free movement of labour, the harmonisation of social services, are not negotiable, as I understand the treaty. They are matters which one either accepts or does not accept. We say that Britain should accept them. There appear to be some misconception——
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton) rose—
§ Mr. Holt
I would prefer to continue with my argument at the moment. There is some misconception which may have arisen from a misinterpretation of the French translation into the English.
The vital article is Article 237, which provides:Any European State may apply to become a member of the Community. It shall address its application to the Council which, after obtaining the opinion of the Commission, shall act by means of unanimous vote. The conditions of admission and the amendments to this Treaty necessitated thereby shall be the subject of an agreement between the Member States and the application State. Such agreement shall be submitted to all the contracting States for ratification in accordance with their respective constitutional rules.I am advised that the word "amendments" would be better translated from the French as "adaptations". This really refers to matters like the alteration in the voting system which would be required, membership of the European Parliament, of the court, of the economic and social committees, etc. That articles does not mean that we could negotiate a basic alteration in the treaty. It is extremely important to have that clear. If one were to try to interpret in the other way, the interpretation would be promptly resisted by the 1599 Europeans because of the chain reaction which it might set off.
It is something of a miracle that the Six was ever formed. It is something of a miracle that it has gone on so well. It is not that the countries of the Six have not had their difficulties. If another country were to come in now and seek to make a major alteration in the treaty, Holland might start raising questions about her agricultural produce, her inability to get as many exports as she had expected into the other countries, and so on. That kind of thing is just not on.
Article 236 deals with the possibility at some time of a revision, but that revision is to be undertaken by the members of the Community who are in at the time. It is not something which would take place on the joining of a new member.
However, all this does not mean that we cannot undertake considerable negotiations on our own special problems so long as we stick to the basic principles of the treaty. For this purpose, as the House knows, there is an arrangement for attaching protocols to the treaty. It is by means of the protocols that we can deal with our special problems in regard to agriculture, Commonwealth trade and the like. Because of the necessity to accept the basic principles, the idea, the political conception of unity embodied in the Treaty of Rome, we have constantly said that the Government must announce that they are prepared to do just that. We never accepted it before. Because we said we could not do it, we started negotiating the original Free Trade Area idea. For us to accept the ideas embodied in the Treaty of Rome is something quite new.
If the Government would only announce their readiness to accept the basic conception, they would not, in fact, be weakening their negotiating position but strengthening it, because this is what the Europeans want to hear. They want to hear that at last we are on their side wholeheartedly. If that were done, there would be no doubt at all that we could come to a very speedy solution of many of the still difficult but not insoluble problems in regard to our Commonwealth trade and agricultural policy which would remain.
§ 5.34 p.m.
§ Mr. David Walder (The High Peak)
I rise to speak in the House for the first time with a very real feeling of trepidation. In the first place, I realise very well that the former Member for The High Peak, now Lord Molson, whom I succeeded, established a very high reputation in the House and in his constituency over twenty years. It is only right that I should today express my appreciation for that record. I feel trepidation, also, because I had originally regarded the subject of this debate as, perhaps, a non-controversial one which I might find suitable for a maiden speech. Doubtless, the House will excuse my innocence in the matter when I find that that is not quite so.
Having looked at the Motion and the Amendment, I find, not entirely to my amazement, that I have some reservations about both. If it is any consolation to hon. Members apposite, I do not intend to deal at any length with the question of our entry into the European Common Market. Like some of them, I regard discussion of that matter as somewhat inappropriate in a general debate on foreign affairs. I myself would prefer that that issue should be dealt with separately. It is, of course, of great importance to those in my constituency who are concerned in agriculture, but I regard it as part of the pattern of our general commitment to Europe.
I say only that I hope that those matters which were formerly considered disadvantages in our negotiating position—our ties with the Commonwealth and our own protective system for agriculture—may in further negotiations be regarded as advantages, as bargaining counters rather than as stumbling blocks to a settlement. I hope that the House will not regard that statement as quite so naive as it may seem. I realise that I am asking Her Majesty's Government for a small and speedy miracle.
I shall deal with the general pattern of East-West relationships which I consider will be part of our lives in the pattern of foreign affairs for the next fifty or perhaps one hundred years, certainly throughout the lifetime of any hon. Member sitting in the Chamber today. It is a melancholy thought that the Motion before the House today would 1601 have been very similar ten years ago and, doubtless, will be very similar ten years hence save only for the difference in the names of the particular Communist pressure-points set out therein.
To accept that without question is to take a nineteenth century view of British foreign policy and apply it to the twentieth century, to follow the view of the Marquess of Salisbury—the one who was Prime Minister, I mean—who said that British foreign policy was a matter of drifting gently down the stream, now and then putting one's hand out to fend oneself off from either bank. While not accepting that, I think we must recognise that our field of action is of necessity limited.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) spoke yesterday about co-opera-with the Communist world. I think that that is, perhaps, putting it a little too high. Co-operation suggests to me negotiations carried out on terms of some advantage to one side or the other. I suggest that in the future the advantage might lie with Her Majesty's Government. I think that peace and disarmament will come about in a climate which is appropriate for them and when both sides can see some positive advantage in peace and disarmament. I agree with hon. Members opposite, who, I am sure, say that the advantages of peace and disarmament are obvious and clear to the whole world, but I still think—it may be a cynical view—that progress towards peace and disarmament is being brought about in very much of a piecemeal way, with small moves succeeding each other, rather than in one enormous burst of good intentions.
As I understand it, the rivalry between East and West, which I have suggested might well be the permanent backdrop of our lives for many years, offers us one opportunity. Here I think that we might well take a leaf out of Mr. Khrushchev's book. The change which took place in Soviet foreign policy after the death of Stalin has been mentioned today. Stalin regarded the United Nations with very great suspicion. He confined himself to a circumscribed area which he regarded as proper for Soviet influence. Now we have Mr. Khrushchev concentrating on the new nations which have joined the United Nations and regarding that body as a sounding board 1602 for his own policy and propaganda. I should have thought that we might well take that as an example for ourselves.
I should like to quote President Houphoet-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, who said at the recent meeting of African Heads of Government in Monrovia:We have chosen frankly the West. We do not wish to engage in war. We do not wish to have the enmity of any group, but we know how to choose our friends, those who will not impair our liberty.I should have thought that it was on men such as that, and men with ideals and attitudes such as that, that the British Government might well concentrate. I think that we are in a very special position in this matter. We are the prime ex-colonial Power, and our appeal to the emergent nations should be sharpened by the fact that we have seen revolutions take place in our own Commonwealth—peaceful and non-Communist revolutions, revolutions often aided by our own policy. Surely this is the counter to Soviet propaganda, which suggests that the only sort of revolution is the violent, Communist-inspired revolution.
On this point I wish to refer to Cuba. I think that the situation there rather underlines our position. I suggest that we are in a special position towards the uncommitted nations. To my mind the fiasco in Cuba tarnished the reputation of President Kennedy, which had been so sedulously polished throughout his election campaign. Certainly let us have co-operation with our allies, but I think that we must leave room for criticism if only to preserve our own position.
I have perhaps wearied the House and taken advantage of my own position. Certainly it has heard me in uncharacteristic, but, I gather, customary silence. In conclusion, in supporting the Motion, may I say that, although it is important that we should have a foreign policy suitable for our own needs, I urge on Her Majesty's Government that perhaps we need even more a foreign policy which can be shown to offer some appeal to the uncommitted nations, which is imaginative enough to interest them and which may well bring to our side those uncommitted nations that either have chosen freedom or are seeking freedom.
§ 5.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
It is my pleasure and privilege to offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Walder) and, I am sure, the congratulations of every Member of the House, without distinction of party, and without distinction between those who agree with him and those who do not. He made a most thoughtful and lucid speech, which promises well as his experience in the customary atmosphere of the House develops. I am sure that all of us look forward with great pleasure to hearing him on other occasions.
It is not possible to engage in controversy with the hon. Gentleman, because it is the custom of the House not to do so. However, I think that he will not think it a breach of that rule if I pause for a second or two to share with him the nostalgic memory of an earlier Marquess of Salisbury paddling his canoe in the centre of a quiet stream and fending it off from time to time from either bank. I am not sure that I would accept the analogy as being really applicable to foreign policy in the third quarter of what the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) once called "this terrible twentieth century", I do not know what has become of that quiet stream. I know only some of the rapids and waterfalls and catastrophies that we have suffered since the passing of that great Conservative Prime Minister.
This has been a somewhat curious debate. I am reminded of the famous old story of the two stone-deaf men on top of a bus. One said to the other, "Say, what time is it?". His friend said, "It is Thursday", whereupon the other jumped to his feet in a state of great alarm and said, "Good God, this is where I get off". This has happened in speech after speech in what has been called a debate. There is no point of contact between the speeches. I suspect that one reason for this is that so many people did not want to debate foreign affairs at all.
Such channels as are not already dried up for me lead me to believe that there were at one time some doubts on this side of the House as to whether it was advisable or useful to have a real debate in which there was a clash of view between one side of the House and the 1604 other, ending in a Division. Last Thursday, one of my right hon. Friends, if I may so still call him, spoke about not dividing the House and the country. If there were any doubts about that, or if doubts linger in the mind of any hon. Member on this side of the House, I should have thought that the contrast between the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker) this afternoon and the reply to it was a complete justification for moving an Amendment to the Motion and for dividing the House at the end of the debate.
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South for his speech today. I can pay it no greater tribute, though it may sound paradoxical to say it, than to ask the House to consider what a galvanising effect it might have had on the country, on Europe and on the world if the speech that my right hon. Friend made at the beginning of the debate this afternoon had been made by the Prime Minister from the Dispatch Box yesterday.
Since the debate has taken this course, I should like to begin by saying one word about this Europe business. Most of us who have been in public life any length of time have been fascinated by this idea of having a United States of Europe, some wide area as large, as well endowed, and as well populated, as either the Soviet Union, on the one side, or the United States of America, on the other side. It would have, no doubt, a common market. It might some day even have a common currency, as the vast market of the Soviet Union and the other vast market of the United States of America always have had. It might—and, I suppose, must—have free trade between the various component parts. I am sure that this thing will some day happen.
What a curious thing it is, however, that so many public figures, many of them in this House, who have regarded this idea as almost blasphemy through all their lives are nowadays among its most enthusiastic and blind supporters. What a tragedy it is when people are converted to the right idea at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.
A united Europe cannot be based upon an international policy which regards a divided Europe as permanent 1605 and necessary. Half the economic difficulties that have come out in this debate from time to time would disappear if the European Common Market were big enough, if it covered the whole field. It seems to me that before we can make real progress with what I have already agreed is an idea that some day must be made to happen, we have to get rid of a great many of the more urgent difficulties with which the world is faced. I leave the question of the Common Market there and come on to what, I think, is the subject that the House must consider as a much more urgent problem than that. I say it without disrespect to those whose minds are dominated by the necessity of uniting Europe, because my own mind is dominated to some extent by it, too.
I do not know what others think. I do not want to be alarmist in any way, most certainly I do not want to deepen anxieties or to heighten tensions. There are, however, many hon. Members of the House—most, I think—who, like me, have lived through two world wars. There are many Members of the House of Commons who were Members here between. 1935 and 1939 and who remember many—I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South has not forgotten any of them—debates on foreign affairs in those years from 1935 to 1937, then the dreadful Munich year and then the final catastrophe a year later.
I hope I am wrong—I would rather be wrong than right—but in the atmosphere in which these debates are conducted, and have been conducted these past twelve months, I cannot help sensing something perilously, sinisterly similar to the later debates of that period between 1935 and 1939. I do not want to see it end in the same catastrophe. Most certainly, I do not want to see it end in the same catastrophe for the same reasons.
Look at the Motion and at the Amendment. The hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish), who concluded the debate last night, said that there was no difference between them. There is all the difference in the world between them. That was why I took the liberty of adding my name to the Amendment, since I was not represented by it in the normal way. In the Motion put down 1606 by the Government, there is not one single specific reference to any specific issue. It is an empty concatenation of platitudinous words. The Joint Under-Secretary of State, who replied to my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South, was grateful to my right hon. Friend, as we all were, for bringing directly into the picture that important declaration about disarmament by the Prime Ministers' Conference. The Joint Under-Secretary said that he was very glad that my right hon. Friend had mentioned it. Why did not the hon. Gentleman mention it himself? Why was it not mentioned yesterday? Why does it not appear in the Motion? Why was there not one single word about it from the Government spokesman yesterday, There was today, I agree, because my right hon. Friend made a speech which demanded a reply on this and on other points.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, South)
My hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary read his speech, which must have been prepared in the Foreign Office several days ago.
§ Mr. Silverman
It is not often that the noble Lord interrupts me to reinforce my argument so effectively. Why was there no reference to it in the written speech? Yesterday, also, there was a written speech. Why was it not in that one?
For the rest of it, the Joint Under-Secretary's speech today was couched certainly in a moderate tone, in a low key, but it was the characteristic cold war speech that we have had time after time, year after year. He went through a number of specific issues and was at great pains to show how our side of the argument is always and inevitably and completely right and the wicked Russians on the other side so obviously and so demonstrably wrong at every point, at every moment on every issue, even to the extent this afternoon of doubting their sincerity.
If we really doubt their sincerity we should stop the conference now. It is not a bit of good going on having conferences if we doubt the sincerity of the people with whom we are conferring. If there is one royal road to producing lack of confidence between two negotiators—and it is on confidence that successful 1607 negotiations must rely—that royal road is for each not merely to suspect the sincerity of the other but to make quite clear to the world that he does, because by that he is saying, "I do not expect the thing to succeed."
Let us look at the conference that is going on in Geneva about tests. There is one, maybe vestigial, basis on which one could have some slight beginning of confidence in sincerity about nuclear tests. What is it? It is that there have not been any for nearly three years. People who want to have tests can have them. There is no agreement not to. There is no instruction. There is no mutual understanding, and there is no bargaining. Negotiation is going on and it has been going on for a long time, but in fact tests have been suspended long ago. Are we to base no hope and no confidence on that fact? Why not a word about it just to give them a little encouragement in the progress of their negotiations?
Then there was the elaborate attack upon the Russian proposal to have a three-man leadership of the Control Commission. I understand the objections to it. I think that some of them, at any rate, are valid objections and it is not possible to say that there is anything artificial or unreasonable about the attitude which the West has adopted towards it, Certainly not. That is an arguable point of view, but the other is not so completely unarguable as has sometimes been pretended. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South suggested some modification of the Secretary-Generalship which might meet what he described as perfectly reasonable objections which not merely the Soviet Union but others have to its present mode of working.
The Observer is not written in the Kremlin, but it had a most interesting article last Sunday which invited us to distinguish between a triumvirate in this respect and a triumvirate in the United Nations and argued that whereas the one in the United Nations was now and would for ever remain unacceptable, this was not true of the test Commission. This is therefore an admission, a concession, a realisation that it is not necessary to suppose that because the Russians are obstinate about this—if hon. Members like are unreasonably 1608 obstinate—we must therefore immediately conclude that there is no hope and that we must not attach to them any confidence but we must destroy all belief in their sincerity and throw up the sponge.
Suppose we throw up the sponge. What happens then? I should have thought that it was common ground among all of us that the last thing in the world to do at this moment in world history is to throw up the sponge about any kind of negotiation and any kind of agreement. We must go on patiently negotiating until in the end success is achieved. [An HON. MEMBER: "For whom?"] Not in the interests necessarily of anyone but ourselves. We have a quite selfish material interest of our own in seeing that peace is preserved, and so has every country, including the Soviet Union. If this were being put forward on all hands as some vague expression of an idealistic sentiment there would be much less confidence and belief in it than there is when we know that it is dictated by the hard, practical, self-interest of every country concerned.
What does the Government Motion do about all that? What is the difference between the Motion and the Amendment? The Motion says:That this House supports the efforts of Her Majesty's Government to strengthen the unity of the free world …and all the rest is held to follow from that. All we have to do is to establish the unity of the free world and then all the other difficulties and problems resolve themselves like snow on Midsummer Day.
I am glad to see that there is not a word about the unity of the free world in the Amendment, because this is a cold war phrase. It does not mean anything. It is only a way of saying again in a mild and inoffensive way how right our gang is and how wrong all the others are. That is all one means by talking about the unity of the free world. If the Government mean more, let us go on to examine what is the more they mean.
There is not a word in the Government Motion about Cuba, not a word about Laos, not a word about South Korea, and not a word about South Vietnam. Not all of them are in the Amendment. Some of them had not happened when the Amendment was drafted, but some of them are in. Would it be unfair to say 1609 that the Government's silence about all these matters is because what they are really saying is, "We dare not do anything other than we do because otherwise we might disturb the unity of the free world."? Or is there any better reason?
Let us take the Cuban situation. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, in his speech this afternoon, referred to the United Nations debate and what was done in our name and on our behalf, without our having been consulted. Whatever it was, it was based on an allegation which we swallowed hook, line and sinker and which everybody in the world knows is untrue. It was that the United States Government had nothing whatever to do with this idiotic folly. And our attitude in the United Nations was justified in the House by the Lord Privy Seal on the ground that we accepted that assurance.
I do not know who is to reply for the Government, but would he please tell the House, frankly and sincerely, whether he still believes that the United States Administration had nothing to do with the invasion of Cuba and the attempt to get rid of Castro? Perhaps the Lord Privy Seal will tell me now. Does he still believe that? I shall assume, until he contradicts me, that he does not.
I have known the right hon. Gentleman for many years and have great affection and respect for him, and I am sure that he is not the sort of man to stand up alone, holding that the world is flat, against all the other inhabitants of it who know that it is not flat. If he tells me that he still believes that the Americans had nothing to do with the invasion, I will believe him. I do not know whether anybody else will, but I will. But, of course, he does not believe it. The Americans no longer say it. But if it is not true that they had nothing to do with it, there should have been some modification, some reorientation of what has been said in the name of Great Britain in the councils of the world about Cuba.
One could justify what was done if it were true—or even if one believed that it was true—that the United States Administration had nothing to do with the invasion. Now we know, however, because they say so, that the United States Administration not only had a great deal, or nearly everything, to do 1610 with it, but are still of the same mind and are waiting only for another opportunity. Once we know that, is there not a need that the Government now should tell us what their view is?
The Joint Under-Secretary of State made an attack upon Castro and his administration. I hold no brief for Castro or for his administration. I have never met him, and have never been to Cuba. But quite apart from the formidable list of statutory prohibitions which make what the United States did illegal, both domestically and internationally, there is an historical fact. Castro's Government is an autocracy; be it so. The Cuban people are to have no more Parliamentary elections; be it so. Cuba is not a democracy as we understand it; be it so.
But, when the landings took place on the beaches, the invaders got no assistance from the population. When Castro landed on the beaches during Batista's administration, he got a lot of support from the population—and he could not have succeeded without it. So, if it be tyranny for tyranny, there is no doubt which tyranny the Cubans prefer. And, after all, it is a matter for them.
There is not one word that anyone can say in favour of the American attitude to Cuba that could not equally be said, with exactly the same force, by the Chinese Government about Formosa. If there is a difference, I am willing to give way while somebody educates me and tells me what it is. Cuba is only 90 miles from the American coast, and the American case is perfectly simple and comprehensible. It is that if Cuba is to be turned into a Communist base, American security is endangered and they are entitled to disregard domestic and inter-nation laws, and to intervene, because the safety of the United States comes first. That is the American case.
Formosa is 100 miles from the Chinese coast. There is one difference in the Chinese favour, and that is that, whereas Cuba has never been part of United States territory, there is an international decision by the great Powers that Formosa is part of Chinese territory—so much so, that it is the basis of the American case for supporting Chiang kai-shek, and for giving him the Chinese seat in the Security Council, that he is 1611 in control of Formosa, and that Formosa is part of China.
So let us understand that this is a situation in which, if one side or the other puts a foot wrong in any one of these tense areas, world war three may inadvertently happen. In that situation, do let us toe careful not to defend in our friends what we would regard as a casus belli in our enemies. That way lies catastrophe.
We are hoping that the situation in Laos may now be settled. How passionately devoted to the idea of neutrality so many people are when Laos is concerned—but apply the same principle to Germany and one is regarded as a pro-Communist right away. Of course, we may still get German neutrality. If we were all neutral, except for our obligations to the United Nations, we should be nearly at the end of a very dangerous road.
How did the situation in Laos develop? We had an agreement about neutrality and a neutralist Government as long ago as 1954. It was said to be one of the great triumphs of Sir Anthony Eden, the "man of peace", that he brought about peace in Laos on the basis of neutrality. What became of it? The neutrality looked to somebody as though it might be neutrality on the wrong side, and so the Americans intervened to upset the neutralist Government and replace it with one that would be aligned with them. Now the Americans will be very glad to settle for what they recklessly threw away two years ago—and I hope that we will assist them to get it, for it would be good for them, for us, and for the world.
What about South Vietnam? Even as we see our way towards a settlement in one focus of catastrophe, our American friends are starting something else. They say that they are. They have many troops and advisers in South Vietnam and are pouring in more money, more aid and more support. Why? It is to maintain in power a Government—if that is the word for it—that is infinitely more tyrannous than Castro's—indeed, compared with it, Castro's is a bourgeois liberal democracy. South Vietnam is the next focal point to be deliberately stirred up.
1612 I shall not start on the story of South Korea. I was almost alone in the House—not quite alone, I am glad to say—in 1950 in thinking that the political assessments of the Korean struggle, which had then broken out, were wholly wrong. I think that if they had the job to do again, as they had in 1949 and 1950, many of my hon. and right hon. Friends might take a different view, but one cannot job backwards with history. The result of it was that they lost power. I will not bother or take time to spell out that part of it now, but at the end of the struggle with all the cost, years afterwards what has become of the South Korea which we were going to save for the free world? Have we any friends in it any more? Have the Americans any friends in it any more?
What is the cause of all this? Some wickedness on the part of the Americans? Some inherent villainy? I do not believe it. I am absolutely certain that they no more want war than anybody in the House, or anybody else, wants war. I am perfectly ready to agree, but I think that they are hopelessly mistaken, that they sincerely believe that this really is the way—maintaining the unity of the free world—to create greater opportunities for the improvement of relations between East and West and for the promotion of conditions of peace and order throughout the world, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.
Why do they believe it? They believe it because they have misconceived the whole situation. When people rise in Angola, or in Cuba, or in Laos, the Americans do not look round to see what are the inherent evils in the social order against which those people are rebelling. They look for the Communist under the bed. If any black man, or brown man, or yellow man rises against his feudal oppressors and is attracted by the example of Western society with all its amenities and conditions and tries to strike a blow to secure some of the advantages of a free democracy and social justice for himself, there is no need to give the Communists all the credit for it. It pays them a compliment which they do not deserve. But the result of such an attitude is that that is made true by leading those people to believe that the Communists are their only friends.
1613 In their own opinion, the Americans are keeping the free world free as well as united, and when the Government put down their Motion in these terms they are saying, "We agree with them and that is why we do not oppose them, at any rate openly, in Cuba, or in Laos, or in any of those other places." That is why I rejoice that my right hon. and hon. Friends have put down this challenge to them in this Amendment, because we do not believe it.
Not all revolutions need be Russian. Not all Socialists need be Communists. On these benches we believe, or used to believe, and I hope still believe, that there can be a free society which is not capitalist. We go further and say that there can be no really free society which is capitalist. Our quarrel with the Russians is not over their attempts to socialise their industry and their resources and to build up a collective economy in the interests of the community. I do not know how far they have succeeded, but if they have not succeeded, we wish them well and hope that they will.
Our quarrel with them is about their sacrifice in individual and personal and civil democratic liberty. All these revolutions have taken place exclusively in countries which have never known those things and which have had to find their own way to social liberties through economic freedom first, just as we have our own civil liberties and hope to use them to establish our economic freedom and social justice as we understand it here.
What a difference it would make to the world—and, if one may make so trivial a point, what a difference it might make to this party—if we were to set ourselves at the head of movements of this kind, to let it be known that, wherever men are fighting for liberty, for social justice and for freedom, we are on their side and not against them, that we are not prepared to hold them down with American dollars for the sake of making more American dollars, or for the preservation of a way of life in which the Americans believe and we do not.
That is why there is at last a real challenge to the Government's foreign policy. That is why we rejoice at it. That is why all of us, whether we receive a piece of paper once a week from the 1614 Chief Whip's office or whether we do not, will go as a united party into the Division Lobby tonight, in support of the things which we have in common and which we work for in common, no matter in what different ways. The challenge is here.
I finish by saying one word to the Government. They cannot believe that the world can go back to the mid-nineteenth century, to the quiet stream and the little canoe, fending ourselves off first from the right bank and then from the left bank. We are in a different world. We recognise that we have to remake our society, and we must recognise that these movements in Africa and in Asia and elsewhere are genuine movements among oppressed people who do not want to take sides with this system or that system, this bloc or that bloc, but merely want to do something for themselves.
Do not let them go on believing that they have no friends in that endeavour outside the Soviet Union. They have some in this country. Let us take the initiative into our own hands to build a more creative way of dealing with the problems of the world.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Hamilton (Wellingborough)
If the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will allow me to say so, I think that that was a most brilliant speech, brilliantly delivered, immensely persuasive, and wholly corrosive and indigestible.
We have all waited a long time for this debate and here we are, three-quarters of the way through, still with many Members who wish to speak. It is clear that in their Amendment Her Majesty's Opposition have risen to the occasion. They seem to have looked around the world for convenient pegs on which to hang their case. It is true that they have found Cuba, a former French protectorate in the Far East, and Angola, the only country they have quoted twice by name in their Amendment, a Portuguese colony of our oldest ally, a place with a population totalling less than that of Scotland, and of which we do not know even the name of the townships, but which will serve for the occasion.
The Amendment is flexibly drafted, as indeed it would have to be to collect the signatures that it has from what I 1615 might call the two Opposition front benches. The Amendment can best be described as a "two-way stretch." Rather than follow a tour of world irrelevancies, I will come back to Europe.
The Lord Privy Seal's speech yesterday was the most interesting speech on this subject that I have heard in this Chamber. I sense that there is a fund of good will and sympathy for him personally in all parts of the House. His responsibility is complex and difficult. By comparison, I am sure that he looks back nostalgically on those days when he was Chief Whip. If only the Continentals would respond in the way that the Conservative Party would respond, his life would be very much easier.
Having said that, I admit that I find it a little difficult to agree with some of the things my right hon. Friend said. For instance, he said that we in this country had made a full contribution to wards the recovery of Europe. I have never really been under that impression. Those of us who came here only at the General Election are conscious that Europe has been endlessly debated and discussed in this place—