§ [THIRD DAY]
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question—[31st October:]
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows: —
Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.— [[Sir R. Robinson.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ 2.48 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
The Gracious Speech from the Throne sets out the broad and major objectives of the foreign policy of Her Majesty's Government. Many of these were fully discussed as recently as a fortnight ago, and I do not think that hon. Members will expect me to cover the fundamentals of that policy so soon after our recent debate. But, despite the very short time which has passed, there has been a considerable number of developments in the matters which we discussed, It is a most rapidly changing situation. Indeed, on some matters the situation has been changing this morning, and I hope to give the House such information as we have about them.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a number of questions on some of those matters. He mentioned the testing of the 50-megaton bomb, and that was dealt with by my right hon. Friend and by the Minister of Defence yesterday. He also spoke of the 22nd Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, the problems of negotiation over Berlin and of the Friedrich-strasse crossing point and the Note to Finland, with all of which I hope to deal today. I hope to say something to the House about the situation in the Congo and at the United Nations. I may also add a word or two about the situation in South-East Asia.
331 Most hon. Members will agree that many of these problems have to be viewed against the background of long-term Soviet policy. There are undoubtedly great dangers in examining these individual items and particular problems without seeing them in the pattern of which they are a part. It is for that reason that we are bound to consider most carefully the proceedings at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party. Naturally, we shall want to study the documents most carefully. Perhaps, however, I may make a few preliminary remarks and, no doubt, the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). who is to follow me and who studies these matters with the utmost care, will also like to help us in this respect.
All of us here are acquainted with party conferences. This one seemed to have certain marked peculiarities. If one may put it into modern terms, it might be summed up by saying that, unlike those of Blackpool and Brighton recently, it failed to create what one would term the right party image. It set out to be a forward-looking conference to project to the world the new 20-year plan of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. What happened was that it deteriorated into two very bitter arguments about the past and the present in the middle of which the future was lost.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal does not want to mis- 332 represent the conference. He must understand his opponents, at any rate. Is it not true that while these matters were discussed at the conference and those phrases can be taken from the reports of speeches, there was an immense amount of discussion of Russia's 20-year plan for the future? They are thinking in terms of 20 years. The right hon. Gentleman does not have a plan for 20 minutes.
§ Mr. Heath
I do not think Mr. Khrushchev would like his remarks which I have quoted to be treated quite as lightly as the hon. Member treats them.
In the home field, there was a continuous attack on the anti-party group. It is interesting to recall that in 1939, four party congresses ago, one of the delegates referred to Stalin in these terms:Long live the towering genius of all humanity, the teacher and guide who is leading us victoriously to Communism, our beloved Comrade Stalin.At the recent party conference, a delegate referred to him in these terms:He flagrantly flouted the Leninist principles of leadership, committed arbitrary actions and abuses of power. Stalin could look at a comrade sitting at the same table with him and say, ' Your eyes are shifting today.' Afterwards, it could be taken for granted that the comrade whose eyes were supposedly shifting fell under suspicion.One is reminded of the alleged remark of the noble Lord, Lord Dalton, when looking at the picture of Gladstone—"I cannot face those eyes." Both sets of remarks, those of 1939 and those of 1961, were made by the same delegate— Mr. Khrushchev.
It seems strange, perhaps, to us who look at these affairs that these matters of Comrade Stalin's behaviour were not recognised at the time by those who were working so closely together. It seems strange that it takes 25 years to describe the reality of things. It also seems doubtful whether it can be a very good system which allows such men to come to power and to hold power for so long. It also seems to be rather doubtful whether it is a system which many people in the world wish to see extended. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) took an hour and ten minutes yesterday. Perhaps I may be permitted to make my 333 speech. When I get to one hour and eleven minutes, the right hon. Gentleman will have the right to complain.
We may also ask why, if the party is so united, there have been the attacks which we have seen.
§ Mr. G. Brown rose—
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
Will the right hon. Gentleman stop this piffle and tell us about what the Government are doing?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I wish respectfully to remind the House that there is a relation between interruptions and the number of hon. Members whom it is possible to call to speak.
§ Mr. Heath
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will wait to hear what I have to say. There is an explanation. This may be an internal battle about the allocation of resources between light and heavy industry or between the use of orthodox or nuclear weapons, but it is more likely to be the demonstration of a desire to impose current doctrines at all costs and the fear in the monolithic society which Mr. Khrushchev has described that the slightest crack will lead to the whole edifice finally toppling. It is also a demonstration of the need to whip up party support. The point which I should like to put to the House is that, whatever may be the explanation, we should be foolish to think that it was a demonstration of the weakening of the position of Mr. Khrushchev in the Soviet Union.
In a Question the other day, the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) put forward an interesting viewpoint which can be summed up as saying that Mr. Khrushchev is the best First Secretary we have got and that, therefore, he ought to be supported in this work. That is certainly an arguable thesis. Nevertheless, one must at times be allowed to doubt it. The hon. Lady's argument is followed by the fact that we should, therefore, make considerable 334 concessions on Berlin in order to keep Mr. Khrushchev in power. When, however, one looks at the consequences of part of this thesis, one is at least entitled to doubt whether it is a valid debating thesis.
If I may turn to the relationship between the Congress and Berlin, Mr. Khrushchev made this statement: The Western Powersarc showing a certain degree of understanding of the situation and are inclined to seek an answer to the German problem and the question of West Berlin on a mutually acceptable basis.The Leader of the Opposition suggested in his speech that we should put forward specific proposals for specific talks. That we have done. We have made specific proposals that arrangements should be negotiated between the Soviet Government and the Western Powers before any unilateral action is taken by the Soviet Government with the East Germans and that we should do that in order to prevent a clash. That is the first specific proposal which we have made. The comment of Mr. Khrushchev at the Congress recognises that that proposal has been made and acknowledges, as he said, although I would not necessarily accept the whole of his wording, that the Western Powers seek an answer to the German problem on a mutually acceptable basis.
Furthermore, both Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Gromyko at the conference referred to the question of timing. They said:If the Western Powers show readiness to settle the German problem, the issue of a time limit for the signing of a German peace treaty will no longer be so important: in that case, we shall not insist on signing a peace treaty absolutely before December 31, 1961.That, too, shows in procedure a change of approach for the time being by the Soviet Government.
When we turn, however, to the question of substance regarding the Soviet approach to Berlin, in the proceedings of the Congress there was no change which was as marked as that on the change in procedure. Indeed, Mr. Khrushchev said:The Western Powers present the matter in such a way to imply that these rights are necessary for them to ensure the freedom of West Berlin.… Do they really believe that they can force us to act against our vital interests?335 That is one particular declaration by Mr. Khrushchev. One cannot, unfortunately, say that it indicates a preparedness to move towards the West in negotiation to find a solution which would be satisfactory.
On the last occasion, I explained to the House the initial talks which had taken place between the American Secretary of State and my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary, as well as between the President and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, with Mr. Gromyko. I also said that it was our view that talks should be resumed along the same lines in Moscow. Of course, the 22nd Congress to which I have just referred has only just been concluded, but the American and the British Ambassadors have now returned to Moscow, having been home for consultations with their Governments. In addition, the British Government have had official talks with officials in Bonn and in Paris about this situation.
It is, of course, a fact that the Soviet Government accept this method of proceeding, that there should be a continuation of the talks which took place earlier with Mr. Gromyko. At the same time one must recognise that two difficulties have existed, to both of which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman himself drew attention.
The fact is that at the moment there is no Government in the Federal German Republic, and it is to be hoped, of course, that there will be a Government there as early as can be arranged in order that it can play its full part in consultation. The second factor is the rise of tension because of the local events in Berlin in recent weeks. This is particularly regrettable in view of the point which was made to Mr. Gromyko, that it was essential that the temperature in Berlin should be kept as low as possible if there were to be reasonable chances of further progress being made, in these talks about Berlin in order to achieve a peaceful settlement.
The right hon. Gentleman asked about the position at the Friedrich-strasse crossing. Perhaps I may describe very briefly what happened. The crux of the matter is that the East Germans tried to change the procedures under which allied traffic, which had operated 336 very smoothly before 13th August, moved in between East and West Berlin.
The allied occupation personnel driving into East Berlin from West Berlin are identified by special licence plates on their cars. These licence plates are quite different from the normal licence plates used in Berlin. Examples of these plates were given to the Soviet authorities many years ago. What has been happening in the past is that the East German police seeing a car coming along with one of these number plates have waved it through automatically. They could see the occupants inside; they knew them from their frequent passage to and fro; and they allowed them to go through. Occasionally there were difficulties. It worked smoothly most of the time, but occasionally there were difficulties, and on those occasions the Western Commandants referred it to the Soviet Commandant in order that it could be sorted out. The Soviet officials, either military or civil, had access to the Western Zones on exactly the same terms. That was how it was working until 13th August.
On 13th August the East German police began to ask that the allied motorists in civilian clothes should show identity cards as well as being in a car carrying one of the recognised identity plates when they were entering East Berlin. Uniformed personnel were still not affected by this. When this happened it revealed a difference between the orders given to British personnel and those given to the French and Americans.
The British orders allowed a civilian in one of the cars with the licence plates to show an identity card but not, of course, to hand over the identity card. The orders or instructions to the French and American personnel did not permit that to happen. These discrepancies are easily explainable because the orders were drawn up some time ago, before these matters were closely co-ordinated between the three Western Powers in Berlin; but the plain fact is that these differences did not matter in the least until 13th August because they did not cause difficulties. It was after 13th August that the difficulties arose.
On 22nd October, matters came to a head when the American Deputy Commandant refused to show his identity 337 card in accordance with the instructions at that time and was turned back by the East German police.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman could say whether after 13th August there were any discussions between the representatives of the three allies as to what would be done in the eventuality of the East German police holding them up.
§ Mr. Heath
Yes, there have been continuing discussions between the Western allies about how this matter should be dealt with. Perhaps I could say a word about it in a moment.
The American Deputy Commandant asked for a Soviet officer, and one did not appear. This was then followed by the United States military police, who were armed, escorting the Deputy Commandant through the check point, and similar escorts were provided on the three days, 25th, 26th and 27th October. Since then this has not been carried through by the Americans in order to reduce tension.
The other details, which are probably well known to the House, occurred on 25th October, when United States tanks drove up to the sector border but did not cross, and on 26th October Soviet tanks also drove up to the sector border on the East German side, and on 28th October the Soviet tanks withdrew and that was followed by the withdrawal of the American tanks. In this way the Soviet Government have in fact acknowledged their responsibility in the Eastern sector for access at the Friedrichstrasse crossing.
The United States and the French Governments have protested against these incidents and the developments since 13th August. Meanwhile, the Western Powers have now reached a decision to impose on the Russians, who, I said, previously were following exactly the same procedures, the new access procedures which I have described as happening already with the Western Powers. Cars from East Berlin with diplomatic licences are now to be stopped when entering West Berlin and occupants in civil clothes are asked to produce their identification. [Interruption.]They are now following the same procedures. What I was about to say 338 was that we hope that as a result of the contacts made in Moscow by the Ambassadors in protesting against this change in the procedures we can now work out this difficulty and try to find a solution. That is the situation which has been reached as far as the Western Powers are concerned.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Does it mean then that when American and French civilians are going in official cars across the border they will show passes in the way we used to and in the way we are now asking the Russians to do when they come into West Berlin? Is that right?
§ Mr. Heath
That is a matter which is still being discussed—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and that is why I am not able to tell the House this afternoon, as I was hoping to do, what exactly that procedure was going to be. But I have already said that action has been taken in order to reduce tension by the American and the French Governments. I cannot give the House this afternoon, as I was hoping to do, the last minute discussions which are now going on in Washington.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Against exactly what eventuality was this considerable show of force meant in Berlin? Is it not folly to make a display of force except where absolutely vital interests are concerned and when one is going, if called upon, to resort to military action? Is there not in fact danger in using a considerable display of military force over what may be an important but not a vital Western interest?
§ Mr. Heath
As the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, very wisely, I think, said in a speech on this Motion for an Address, in this difficult period for us one is likely to have incidents and we must keep cool and calm heads. I agree with that. As I said, what has emerged from this situation is that the Soviet Government have shown their responsibilities in that particular sector again.
Now I turn to the question which has been raised again —it was raised in the last debate—about the substance of negotiations. There was, I think, a general appreciation in the House of the Government's difficulties at a time like this in dealing with points of substance. The Government are perforce bound to 339 be reticent, and I am indeed grateful for the consideration which the House has shown in that matter. Work in this respect continues in the ambassadorial group in Washington.
The right hon. Gentleman himself and many others put forward suggestions, which, of course, have been most carefully considered. There was, in fact, a conflict between the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), because the right hon. Gentleman said of the way in which I put the need for negotiation that I had given the impression that all the rest was negotiable, whereas the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington took the view that I was absolutely rigid and had said that nothing was negotiatble at all No, that is not the case.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman when he says that one must take a positive view and put forward proposals. I should like to comment on some of these proposals within the scope of reticence which is bound upon us. I think that the right hon. Gentleman listed a number of things which he said might form part of arrangements for better access to West Berlin than at present, and one of these things was de factorecognition.
There is, I think, sometimes an impression that de factorecognition is in itself a particular state of affairs. Whereas de jurerecognition is clearly definable and confers or bestows a state of affairs, that is not the case with de factorecognition, which really consists only of a number of practical arrangements, and by their being practical arrangements they can be increased, expanded or decreased. Therefore, there cannot be any question of a formal act conferring a legitimate status or prejudicing an ultimate settlement, but there are already many day-to-day contacts as far as the de facto situation is concerned.
These contacts are not at the moment at Government level. The question when considering de facto recognition is to what extent there can be an increase in practical arrangements to deal with day-to-day administration, and that is obviously very much a matter of practice. If one accepts this basis, 340 which is the real basis of de facto recognition, it is really a question of seeing what practical arrangements can be made to deal with these day-to-day affairs.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
Could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the definition of what is entailed by de facto recognition is also accepted by the West German Government? If so, why has the right hon. Gentleman been making all these difficulties about the proposals which have come in this respect?
§ Mr. Heath
I think that this is a generally accepted definition of de facto recognition among all countries with diplomatic representation.
There is also the question of the Oder-Neisse line. Again, I do not want to go into specific proposals, but I want to make the comment that the case which is being put forward is concerned with the dangers of German revanchism and the growth and threat of German power, but this entirely ignores the formal undertakings already given by the German Government not to resort to force to achieve reunification or a change of frontiers. It also ignores the fact of German forces being integrated into N.A.T.O.
But what can cause revanchism is such a thing as the wall across the centre of Berlin, because that, by dividing, and dividing families, by its very inhumanity, raises emotions which can lead to such a thing as revanchism. Therefore, that is an aspect of policy which in itself is a danger in this respect. Many believe that the Russians have deep and genuine fears about the Federal German Republic. [HON. MEMBERS: "So have we."] I have stated that: but it does not mean that their fears are justified. It means that they genuinely hold them. But the credibility of those fears is not increased by such a thing as the Note to Finland, which has just been sent, in which they are asked to consult about defence measures in accordance with the Fenno-Soviet Treaty of 1948, because they allege that Finnish and Soviet territory is under threat of military attack from the German Federal Republic and its allies in N.A.T.O. It is notable also that this Note was sent at a time when 341 the President and the Foreign Minister were both out of the country.
It is not from the German Federal Republic, which at the moment is without a Government, or from the allies in N.A.T.O., including ourselves, that Finland has anything whatever to fear. Finland is associated with us in E.F.T.A. It is a member of the Nordic Union with Norway and Denmark, both N.A.T.O. members, and we welcomed its President here last year. The intentions of the Soviet Government in sending this Note are not clear, but under the smokescreen of propaganda of the kind put out it can do nothing but arouse suspicions, and these suspicions are rampant at the moment. The Finns, as we know from past history, are calm, courageous and wise people, and I am sure that in these circumstances they will retain their calmness and their courage.
There is one other point about the suggestions put forward on Berlin. The right hon. Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Gaitskell) spoke a great deal on Tuesday about European security arrangements. They are very technical, intensely complicated and of the greatest interest. Her Majesty's Government and the Foreign Office have devoted an immense amount of time to them and, as the House knows, they involve inspection. The right hon. Gentleman in his speech said with great emphasis:On the other hand, I believe that there is a very real possibility of reaching agreement on a zone of controlled disarmament, a special zone."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1961; Vol. 648, c. 20.]Does he really think that this is a propitious time at which to obtain agreement on a zone of that kind? He himself emphasised in a speech a fortnight ago that things are no longer what they were fifteen years ago and that we can act only by persuading countries to accept these things. We have to persuade Europeans of the desirability of accepting them.
Fundamentally, I find in Europe that we have to persuade them that their security is increased by a scheme of this kind. These people in Central Europe find themselves faced with a Soviet Power which has shown bad faith in resuming tests. They have also seen the test of the 50-megaton bomb and the continued refusal of the Soviet Union to 342 have inspection. They have also seen the crisis over Berlin, and they now see the bullying of Finland which is going on. In these circumstances, one must ask whether this is a propitious moment to put forward schemes of this kind.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
Could the right hon. Gentleman say why the West German Government and the American Government, with the support of the British Government, rejected all proposals for a nuclear-free zone in Central Europe before the explosion of the megaton bomb, before the latest incident with Finland, before the resumption of tests, and before all the other incidents which he has now used as an excuse for not putting forward this proposal?
§ Mr. Heath
As I have said, there are a variety of proposals of this kind which are technically within the 1959 peace plan which contained proposals for dealing with the situation. At that time we felt that the atmosphere was right and propitious to put the plan forward, but at the moment we doubt whether it is.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I put this forward as one of the things which should be part of a settlement on Berlin. If this is to be thrown aside and if the Oder-Neisse line is to be thrown aside, on what does the right hon. Gentleman expect to negotiate?
§ Mr. Heath
I have not been throwing aside these matters. I said quite deliberately that I did not wish to take up a committed position on them because of the situation which we are now in. What I offered was comment about the nature of these proposals.
The position at the United Nations is mentioned in the Gracious Speech. I said a great deal about this on a previous occasion, and I wish to say now only that we then hoped that by this time a new Secretary General would have been appointed. It is regrettable that he has not. The general position, as we understand it, is still that U Thant will be acceptable to the great majority of the United Nations. What we believe now is that, if he is elected, he should himself declare the number of advisers that he is going to have and the scope of their consultation. It has not been possible to reach agreement about that. 343 Therefore, we would support the position in which he goes forward for election and himself announces which arrangement he proposes to adopt.
But the absence of the Secretary General has been particularly noticeable in the situation in the Congo, and it is to that that I wish to refer. There was a delay in ratifying the cease-fire protocol of 10 days after it was signed on 13th October, and in that situation many serious things could have occurred. Fortunately, there was restraint on both sides and, as a result, the prisoners were finally handed over in accordance with the cease-fire.
I gave a general statement about the position in our last debate, when I said that our policy was to achieve a peaceful settlement with reconciliation between the two sides. Since that debate we have discussed with the United Nations authorities in New York, Leopoldville and Elisabethville how that can be achieved and our representatives have discussed it with the Central Government of the Congo and the provincial Government in Elisabethville. We were pleased that Mr. Tshombe sent his emissaries to Leopoldville with proposals— they were positive proposals—about the economic and monetary fields and accepting the unification of the armed forces. But Mr. Tshombe demanded a special status for Katanga. That was the gist of his proposals. Mr. Adoula accepted Mr. Tshombe's letter and replied in a conciliatory spirit. This was followed a short time ago by information that the Central Government's forces were carrying out probing operations between Kasai and Katanga. These led to clashes and bloodshed, which Her Majesty's Government greatly deplore. This morning there has been a further announcement from General Mobutu that an attack is about to begin on Katanga for the ending of the secession, as he calls it, of that province. This is undoubtedly a very grave and serious situation. We understood that after the initial probing operations the forces had been withdrawn and peace was restored.
It is true that the situation has been made more difficult by the use of aircraft. These are small civilian aircraft with make-shift bomb racks and carry- 344 ing machine guns. Her Majesty's Government have throughout been anxious that any extension of this conflict into air war should be avoided, and the use of these aircraft, which appear to come from Katanga, can throw doubt on Mr. Tshombe's assurances that he wishes to have no further connection with the mercenaries, which we have accepted. On the other hand, before one accuses him of a breach of faith, one must try to obtain information about the source and the control of these aircraft.
I must here make a further denial of the accusation which is made that either Sir Roy Welensky and his Federal Government or Her Majesty's Government have had something to do with any supplies going into Katanga. I assure the House that every possible step has, in fact, been taken to prevent this happening through British territory.
Mr. Tshombe has now replied to Mr. Adoula's further letter asking for reconciliation and calling for the cessation of the attack upon him and the Katanga Government. We support this. We hope that Mr. Tshombe will meet Mr. Adoula personally, and meet him very soon, and we have advised him to that effect. We want to see an end of the fighting and the achievement of a peaceful reconciliation.
We must face the fact that if these aircraft continue to be used the United Nations will take action against them with United Nations air forces, and so we are bound to look to the United Nations to try to achieve a peaceful settlement of the dispute which is now going on. The powers of the United Nations are clearly laid down in the resolution of 21st February. We look to them to bring the fighting to an end. We have instructed our permanent delegate at the United Nations this afternoon to inquire what action it is proposed to take.
I think that the whole House recognises, even though perhaps the world does not, our very great interest in the maintenance of law and order in Katanga in the light of its common frontier with British territories and tribes crossing the frontiers and the effects which these things could have. Therefore, we earnestly desire reconciliation between the two sides in this conflict.
345 I have dealt with the two main subjects which are of interest to the House.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
Before my right hon. Friend leaves the subject of the Congo, will he say whether, if the United Nations troops are to be instructed to act against aircraft which are alleged to belong to Mr. Tschombe, they will also be instructed to act against Mr. Mobutu's troops?
§ Mr. Heath
I have told the House that we have asked our permanent delegate at United Nations to inquire what action the United Nations propose to take. But there are accusations that these aircraft are being used against other targets and against United Nations aircraft themselves. They have, I believe it is true to say—we must face this fact—threatened United Nations aircraft, although there is no evidence mat they have yet shot any of them down. In these circumstances, the United Nations forces feel entitled to defend themselves.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
I am sorry to press my right hon. Friend, but a great many hon. Members on this side of the House feel very strongly about this matter. Can he give the British viewpoint on whether the reports are true that Mr. Mobutu's troops are crossing the frontier into Katanga? Is it our view, irrespective of what the United Nations may say, that this is a legitimate police operation of a domestic nature or the sort of aggression the United Nations ought to stop under its existing resolution? The United Kingdom ought to have a view on this.
§ Mr. Heath
The United Kingdom Government have a very clear view on this. They look to the United Nations to restore peace and law and order and achieve a peaceful settlement.
I have covered the two main subjects in some detail because I was asked to do so by the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members. In conclusion, I should just like to say a word or two about two things in which perhaps there is a slightly brighter ray of hope.
The situation in South Vietnam, in South-East Asia is extremely grave and serious. There is an organised campaign going on there which is very akin to that 346 in Malaya during the emergency. It is being carried out quite ruthlessly from North Vietnam, with a programme of assassination. Even the chief South Vietnam official of the Control Commission was captured, tortured and killed only in the last few days. This is indeed serious. We must have no illusions about the nature of the campaign which is being carried on.
As far as the people themselves are concerned, the whole situation has been greatly exacerbated by the flooding of the Mekong delta, as a result of which more than half a million people are homeless. In this situation Her Majesty's Government have tried to help with the provision of supplies to the flooded areas, and at the same time have sent the Thompson Mission there, as was announced to the House, to deal with administrative matters.
In Laos, next door to South Vietnam, there is a situation developing in which Prince Souvanna Phouma has been accepted as the future Prime Minister, although he has not yet formed a Government of national coalition. At the same time, at the conference in Geneva certain progress has been made, and we are now moving towards the crucial stage there. It will be necessary to have representatives of the National Government at Geneva in order to deal with the final stages of the conference, and so we greatly hope that the National Government will be formed soon.
I come now to my last point. I am always in a dilemma as to whether the House wishes to hear during foreign affairs debates about the negotiations on which we are embarking with the European Economic Community. On occasions when I have raised this subject hon. Members have said that they would much prefer to discuss other subjects, and yet if I do not mention it I am always open to the accusation of not giving the House sufficient information or, indeed, of trying to hide things.
Perhaps at this moment I might add a few brief words to say that the reactions which we have had from the members of the Community towards our preliminary statement have been encouraging, particularly in that they recognise the immense importance of the Commonwealth and of finding satisfactory arrangements for it.
347 I should like to say something about our approach to the negotiations. All those who have been engaged in negotiations recognise that there are two ways in which one can approach them. One can take an extreme position and argue every line and comma of the matter with which one is dealing and expect those negotiating with one to respond with an equally extreme position, and then, after a long period of haggling, reach a point in the middle with a gap which one may or may not bridge. But that is an unsatisfactory method of trying to negotiate in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, particularly with the imperative necessity of creating greater unity in Europe.
The Government decided therefore, that they should take a realistic position in these negotiations and put forward realistic proposals. That is what they have done. I think that is an explanation to some like the right hon. Member for Easington and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) about the approach we have made to these negotiations.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I am not, naturally, asking for details now, but could the right hon. Gentleman say whether the proposals put forward suggest any modification of the Bonn Declaration?
§ Mr. Heath
I was about to mention the Bonn Declaration and the statement I made about it. Among the nations of the European Free Trade Association, the Danish Government have made application and have made their preliminary statement; the Norwegian Government are carrying on debate in their own Parliament; the three neutral countries recently met in Vienna in order to co-ordinate their positions; and there will now be a meeting of E.F.T.A. in Geneva on 21st November, in which all the countries can make their positions plain.
I was asked whether we would arrange for the Bonn Declaration to be made available. It is being circulated in the OFFICIAL REPORT in translation tomorrow for hon. Members to study. The statement I made on this was that the Government shared the aims and objectives of those who had drawn up the 348 Declaration and would be anxious, once they joined, to get to work with the Six in a positive spirit to reinforce the unity they have already achieved.
If hon. Members study that Declaration they will see that its purpose was to set up a Committee—the Fouchet Committee—to find means of formalising the consultations carried on between the Six. These have been carried on between the Heads of Government and Foreign Ministers for 18 months, and, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in February, if he was invited to take part in these consultations he would consider it favourably. I made a similar statement soon afterwards at the Western European Union, where consultation is carried on between us and the Six, and repeated it in August. The Committee has considered this matter but has as yet submitted no formal documents to the Governments of the Six, who will keep us informed about its progress.
We have now reached the stage when we resume negotiations in Brussels on Wednesday of next week at Ministerial level. That, we expect, will be followed by officials in negotiation the following week. The officials will be joined at frequent intervals by Ministers as required, in order to make progress in the negotiations. So we are now facing the stage in which, after an encouraging start, we have to get down to the hard and detailed work of negotiation in order to see whether it is possible to satisfy the three points we have put before the House; the requirements of British Agriculture, the Commonwealth and our E.F.T.A. partners.
This is bound, of course, to take some time because of the detail and complexity of these negotiations, the number of countries involved and the other countries which are bound to be affected, but the House can be assured that we shall do our utmost to make a success of achieving arrangements which I know the House would like to see brought about.
§ 3.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
In view of the fact that the full magnitude of the disaster which has struck British Honduras is only now becoming known, I take this opportunity to say that we on this side of the House, 349 and I am sure all right hon. and hon. Members, feel deep sympathy with the people of British Honduras in their present ordeal, and offer our support to any measures the Government may see fit to take in order to alleviate their distress.
As the Lord Privy Seal said, the most important event of the fortnight which has passed since we last discussed Foreign Affairs is the Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. I want to follow his example in offering a few very tentative reflections on what it may imply. All of us in the West, I think inevitably, have focussed our attention on the horror of the H-bomb tests which have accompanied the Congress and the irresponsibility with which Mr. Khrushchev has talked about them.
The ghastly reality of the tests carried out by the Soviet Union in the last two weeks makes an ironic and, indeed, tragic contrast with the Utopian vision of New Soviet Man, presented at the Congress by Mr. Khrushchev himself as a man who would be distinguished,by spiritual wealth, moral purity and perfect physique.I hardly need to comment further on the contrast between words and reality.
We are very struck by the contrast not only between this Utopian vision and the reality of the tests, but also between the reality of the tests and another reality at the Congress—the final degradation of Stalin, the attacks on Mr. Molotov and the anti-party group, and the open, bitter quarrel with Communist China. In this respect I was rather disappointed by the comments which the right hon. Gentleman had to offer. It seemed to me that he was too satisfied with making very justified, but also very easy, propaganda capital out of these events.
In looking at what was said and done at the Congress we must welcome the fact that the main ground for attack on Stalin was not his political mistakes but his moral crimes. It is a very striking change in the temper of political discussion in the Soviet Union that Stalin should have been attacked for violating moral principles in the Western sense, for violating human rights, for torturing suspects, and for abusing fixed juridical procedures.
350 I suggest that this is something entirely new in the history of the Soviet Union and must be encouraging to all those, wherever they may be, who hope that the Soviet regime will ultimately move in the direction of greater respect for the human personality. I believe, too, that there was something very important and significant in the grounds offered for the attack on Mr. Molotov and the so-called "anti-party group". Mr. Molotov was attacked in so many words by Mr. Khrushchev for seeing peaceful coexistence in the old Leninist sense—as a temporary aspect of a permanent cold war—whereas Mr. Khrushchev preferred to define peaceful co-existence, as he sees it, as a state of "armed peace".
I make this suggestion with the greatest possible reservation, because it is extremely difficult for us in the West to understand the motivations of the actions of Soviet leaders, but perhaps there is a possibility that herein lies one of the clues to this horrible series of Soviet atomic tests, which have so shocked us and so shocked the conscience of the world. Mr. Khrushchev has always argued that the reason that permanent peaceful co-existence is possible is that the Soviet Union is now so strong in the military sense that it need not fear attack by the West.
It is just conceivable that the main purpose of these tests was not so much to terrorise the West as to convince his opponents in the Soviet Union and in China and throughout the Communist world that it was safe to base one's foreign policy on the permanence of peaceful co-existence, because Soviet military power was so tremendous that never again could there be a serious threat of an all-out attack from the capitalist world.
I put forward that suggestion in full consciousness of the fact that it may seem starry-eyed and it may be wishful thinking, but I think that it is the only explanation which is consistent with the extraordinary contradictions which one must otherwise see in the attack on the anti-party group and the degradation of Stalin on the one hand, and this naked demonstration of brute force on the other. Although we must rightly be appalled by the sort of mentality which can use such a terrible means to make a political point, we must not ignore the 351 possibilities of negotiation which would arise if the explanation which I have offered covers at least a part of the truth.
If there is anything at all in the tentative hypothesis which I have offered, at least two conclusions must follow. The first is that, over the coming months and years, the Chinese Communist Government is likely to act in foreign affairs increasingly independently of the Soviet Union. The doctrinal division between the Chinese Communist leaders and the present Communist leaders of the Soviet Union is likely greatly to increase the political tensions which arise out of the obvious conflicts of power and interests between the two great Communist States. I conclude from that that it is now more urgent than ever to make a tremendous effort to get the Chinese Communist Government represented at the United Nations, so that it may have a chance to learn about the world, and the world may have a chance to learn about it.
I raised this issue in the debate a fortnight ago when I asked the Government to state their own position on this matter. I had no reply and we have not had a reference to it by the Lord Privy Seal this afternoon. I hope that he will take some opportunity to intervene later in the debate and to say what initiative Her Majesty's Government propose to take in this matter. After all, the Government have confessed many times in public in the last twelve months that the continued exclusion of Communist China from the United Nations is not only a political absurdity, but could be a source of great danger for the world.
The time has now come, in this session of the United Nations Assembly, when, if, for reasons which we all understand, the United States Administration finds it impossible to take any initiative itself, the British Government should take an initiative and, if possible—and I think that it is possible—take it in concert with all the other members of the Commonwealth.
A Commonwealth initiative on this issue at the United Nations this year would have a very good chance of success, and I fear to think of what the consequences might be if no move is made on this issue in the next twelve months and developments in the Far 352 East, perhaps including China's explosion of her first atomic weapon, so greatly change the whole context in which this issue must be discussed that the chance of finding a solution later becomes greatly diminished.
My second conclusion from my tentative explanation of the events at the Communist Party Congress—and there is nothing tentative at least about the fact of a profound political division between the Soviet and Chinese Communist leaders, which has been publicly admitted by both of them—is that over the next twelve months hon. Members and the Western world as a whole will have to pay increasing attention to the problems of the Far East.
The situation in Laos is now looking moderately hopeful, and, on behalf of the Opposition, I pay tribute to the efforts which the British Government representatives have made at the Geneva Conference on Laos in order to achieve the sort of solution which all of us, on both sides of the House, have seen as the only possible solution for at least the last twelve months. But the situation in South Vietnam is very dangerous indeed. While I understand why the Lord Privy Seal chose to say very little about it this afternoon, with the greater freedom which one has in opposition it may be permissible for me to say a little more.
There have been many reports of large-scale infiltration into South Vietnam from Laos and from North Vietnam. I would like some official view to be given—perhaps we can get it later in this Session by means of Questions—of the truth of those reports, because we must all remember the extent to which reports of external infiltration in the Laos affair were deliberately fabricated by the Government in Vientiane, as it admitted itself. There was the famous occasion when the Minister of Education in the Laotian Government publicly boasted to journalists that he had made up— entirely out of his head—the reports of Communist infiltration and the large-scale supply of military aid, reports which created a great fuss and crisis throughout the world when they were first put about.
My second question is whether it is not the case that the real accusation by 353 the United States Government and by the Government of South Vietnam is not of an invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnam, but essentially of the training of South Vietnamese in the North and then sending them to fight for the Viet Cong in South Vietnam. In other words, the sort of problem which we are facing is not essentially the sort of problem which we faced in Korea, when there was a crossing of an international frontier in force by large numbers of organised troops under the formal control of a recognised Government. We are faced here with a situation much more like that in Greece during the civil war there. It is a civil war, a war in which many people inside South Vietnam disagree with the Government of South Vietnam and are being given assistance in pursuing their civil war by external Powers.
If that is the case, it might be a dangerous mistake to send large bodies of Western troops into South Vietnam in order to take part in the civil war. If we did that, not only should we face almost the certainty of a new Korea— because in such a situation we could hardly expect the Chinese Communists to refrain from sending in large bodies of troops, even if, as in the case of Korea, they were called volunteers—but, if we took sides in this overt way in the fighting going on in South Vietnam, we should inevitably turn all the people against the Government which had invited us in.
In a speech which must have puzzled and astounded us all, an American general, General Van Fleet, made many remarks which most of us would deeply resent and with which we would disagree. However, he made one remark about South Vietnam which seemed to contain a good deal of sense. He said that a white face had no place in that country. I hope that the Government take that view and will use their influence with the American Administration to see that there are not large, organised bodies of troops sent to intervene in South Vietnam. Such a course would not only greatly increase the existing dangers of the situation, but, in the long run and perhaps in the short run, would make protection of Western interests in the area very much more difficult than it now is.
354 In South Vietnam, as in Laos and other parts of the Far East, we are beginning to see, if we have not seen it already—and many of us have—that the old Dulles concept of protecting South-East Asia from Communism by a military alliance of Western Governments with South-East Asian Governments has grave weaknesses, even though there is increasing awareness in South-East Asia among the local peoples and their Governments of the military and political threat from Communist China and, indeed, of the threat from Communism in general.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Will my hon. Friend say whether he agrees with the proposition that, however the Communists or the other side make political capital out of these situations, the revolution in this part of the world arises out of a genuine revolt against intolerable social and political conditions.
§ Mr. Healey
Without having visited Vietnam or Laos, I would not be so foolish as to say precisely what are the motivations of the Communist guerrillas in those areas. We faced this problem in Malaya not long ago, and I think it was finally proven by the results there that the essential core of the revolution was a Communist Party operating under the direction and instruction of a foreign Communist Government.
I have not been there, and I know only what I read in the papers. This may well be the major factor which is operating also in South Vietnam. But, even if this is the case, it is unlikely that the West will be able to deal with the situation by large-scale direct intervention of its own forces. The problem can be met only by getting the people of the country on to one's side.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield) rose—
§ Mr. Healey
I am sorry, I cannot give way. If I do, I shall speak for too long and lose the patience of the rest of the House, and I doubt whether I can rely on my hon. Friend's patience even at this stage of my discourse.
It seems to me that the key in South-East Asia, as indeed in Africa and Asia as a whole, lies in creating the right sort of relationship between ourselves 355 as comparatively rich white peoples from the Atlantic area and the very poor coloured peoples who live in those continents. I believe that one great lesson of the Malayan War is that the defeat of externally inspired Communist revolt is possible only if the support of the local population can be won and held.
In that respect I should like to ask the Government a question about the situation now developing in Malaya, because it seems to me that the Government are in danger of making a serious mistake through not acting on the principle which I have just enunciated. When Malaya was given independence, and Singapore achieved the constitutional advance which she desired in recent years, I think we all felt that the situation in the area could be finally stabilised only if somehow or other Singapore and Malaya could work together as parts of a single country.
At that time the rulers of Malaya were wholly opposed to such a suggestion, mainly perhaps for communal reasons, but in the last month the Tunku of Malaya has come forward with a proposal to accept Singapore as part of a new Malaysian State. Perhaps the reason why he has made this proposal is that he sees it—in my view rightly— as the only way in the long run of preventing an independent or separate Singapore from falling to Communist subversion. But the Tunku is making it a condition for the absorption of Singapore that even though Britain may keep her base in Singapore, this base shall not be available for use under the auspices of the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation.
I know that this is not directly in the Lord Privy Seal's Department, but he has been concerned in the discussions on this in the Government, and perhaps it would not be unfair to ask whether he could assure the House that the Government are not opposing the Tunku's proposals for the incorporation of Singapore in the Malaysian State purely because of America's insistence that the Singapore base must remain available to S.E.A.T.O. If the Government were to be so misguided, the result inevitably would be that within a year or two there would be a Communist take-over in 356 Singapore and a loss of the base to the West altogether, and perhaps its availability to a Communist Power.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government will use all their influence with our American allies to try to persuade them that if we wish to preserve the interests of freedom in South-East Asia we must base our policies there on the attitudes and aspirations of the local Governments and adjust our policies to fit theirs, and not seek to impose policies which have no possibility of obtaining any local support.
The most disturbing element in the policy of Her Majesty's Government in Africa and Asia in general has been their failure to give the right priority to winning and holding the confidence of the local population. It may be the case that the long-term interests of the West as a whole in Africa and Asia depend on our resisting the pressure of our Western allies in the short run to protect their particular national short-term interests.
We saw an appalling example of this in the Government's attitude over the Angolan affair. I cannot understand why the Government still act as the protector of the Portuguese Government in Angola, rather like Sir John Simon protected the Japanese in Manchuria twenty years ago, instead of aligning themselves with the United States Government and standing up for the rights of the people in Africa and elsewhere for self-determination.
I must here raise the question of the treatment of Captain Galvao when he tried to land in this country a week ago. The Government appeared to treat him as a common criminal. I cannot believe that in this respect the Home Secretary was acting without consultation with the Foreign Office. Indeed, it seems to me that such an action was quite inconceivable unless there was pressure from the Portuguese Government on the Foreign Office to exclude Captain Galvao. It seems extraordinary that this country, which took in Lenin as a political plotter against a friendly Russian Government fifty years ago, should feel so terrified by the presence today of a man whose only crime was that he fought for progressive policies in Angola, and is still fighting for liberty in Portugal itself.
I should like to ask a few questions about the Congo. Many question which 357 were asked in the last debate remain unanswered. I agree with the Lord Privy Seal that we must all feel great concern at today's news that the Central Gov-ment forces seem to have invaded Katanga en masse,but I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that this invasion comes after repeated attacks on the Central Government forces in South Kasai by Katanganese aircraft; and that it comes after repeated violations by the Katanga Government of the cease-fire agreement signed only a month ago with the United Nations forces.
Perhaps the Lord Privy Seal can answer this in a word now. Do Her Majesty's Government accept the ceasefire agreement as binding, together with the protocols and inter-probations given it by United Nations headquarters in New York? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]
§ Mr. Healey
That is a most unsatisfactory reply, and can only give rise to the sort of suspicions which the Government claim they have been trying to allay over the last few months. After all, Her Majesty's Government are a member of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Heath
Of course we abide by United Nations resolutions. It is not a question of our abiding by the ceasefire agreement, because we were not concerned in it. We have not had forces operating in Katanga, the Congo, or elsewhere. We expect both sides to implement the agreement fully. There have been accusations by both sides of the agreement having been broken. Unfortunately, one knows from experience that that happens with practically every cease-fire agreement.
§ Mr. Healey
I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. He has given me the answer that I hoped he would give. But if this is the case, and if Her Majesty's Government accept responsibility to use 358 their influence wherever relevant against any breach of the cease-fire agreement, I ask the right hon. Gentleman if, at some stage—I am not demanding an immediate reply—he can comment upon a report which appeared last Sunday in the Sunday Telegraph,which is not a paper of the extreme Left. I will not read the whole. report, but, briefly, it gives an account by a correspondent who travelled in one of five twin-engined German Dornier aircraft, part of a total of nearly fifty aeroplanes said to have been ordered by the Katangan Government. The Report states that Mr. Tshombe is also expecting five Sabre aircraft from Rhodesia.
If this is the case Her Majesty's Government have the right, the duty, and the power to prevent the transfer of aircraft from Rhodesia to Katanga in this way. One of the clauses in the armistice agreement provides that neither side will strengthen its military position, either in arms or in men. I ask the Lord Privy Seal to assure us that he will inquire into the report of this correspondent; to say that he will withdraw the passports of the two English pilots Who flew two of the aircraft out there, and that he will tell Sir Roy Welensky and his Government of Southern Rhodesia that, under his present relationship with this country, he has no right to take an action in the field of foreign and military policy which is contrary to the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
§ Mr. Heath
I will answer this point now, because it is very important. Her Majesty's Government certainly would not support action of this kind. What is more, Sir Roy Welensky, in whom I have complete confidence, is absolutely against action of that kind already, and has repeatedly said so in public. He has taken action to prevent any aircraft going into Katanga. I can assure the hon. Member of that.
§ Mr. Healey
I am grateful for that assurance, although the assumptions on which the assurance is based will not be treated with quite so much conviction on this side of the House as they are on the other.
I now want to say a few words about Berlin. I do not want to deal with it at length, because we did that in the last debate
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
When the hon. Member says that his side of the House will not treat my right hon. Friend's assurance with the conviction with which hon. Members on this side treat it, is he imputing that he has no faith in the words of Sir Roy Welensky? If so, will he come out in the open and say so?
§ Mr. Healey
All I wish to say, frankly, is that the statements reported as coming from Sir Roy Welensky on the Katangan situation have been considerably contradictory, over recent months. Hon. Members on this side do not have the same certainty of Sir Roy's neutrality in the Katanga affair as some hon. Members opposite have—or perhaps I ought to say that our concept of neutrality is very different from that of hon. Members opposite.
I now turn to the question of Berlin. In the last fortnight we have had dramatic proof that negotiations on Berlin are urgent. First, we have had the absurd episode of the passes, to which the Lord Privy Seal rightly devoted much time. This shows the immense dangers of continuing competitive "brinkmanship" on the Berlin issue. Secondly, we must have learnt in the last few weeks that time is not on the side of the West in the Berlin affair. Refugees are now going from West Berlin to West Germany and not from East Berlin to West Berlin. This is a tragic fact, and it is an inevitable consequence of the uncertainty about their future which is felt by the men and women of West Berlin.
We must accept the fact that, in the long run, the morale of the West Berliners may break unless we can offer them some more stable basis of survival than they can hope for if the present crisis continues indefinitely, with no attempts at negotiation. I was disappointed by what the Lord Privy Seal had to say on the question of negotiations this afternoon. Although in some respects he was making apologies for not pushing proposals which a year ago he would have rejected outright—and this at least was progress—he was far less positive about Her Majesty's Government's policy than hon. Members on this side of the House would wish.
My point—which I also made a fortnight ago—is that it must now be clear 360 that if we enter into negotiations on the Berlin issue and those negotiations are restricted to the future of West Berlin, even if we get what we want in terms of a bargain about access, as against recognition of the D.D.R., or whatever it may be, the physical situation will remain almost as unstable as before. West Berlin will still be an island of freedom in a Communist sea, and for that reason will still be a bone in Mr. Khrushchev's throat. If he finds that bone too intolerable he will still have the physical capacity to break his word and to subject the West to the same sort of blackmailing pressure as we have had twice now—in fact, as we have had for four solid years out of the last thirteen.
West Berlin is bound to remain a hostage in Russia's hands unless we can broaden the area of discussion to cover Central Europe as a whole. I believe that the only way in which we can broaden the discussion is to raise the question of security. Hon. Members on this side of the House believe as strongly as we ever did that a final settlement of the Berlin problem will depend on German reunification, and that this can come about only through some form of neutralisation of Germany and the disengagement of forces there. I admit, as I did several weeks ago, that the prospects of either side negotiating on this basis today are very small. On the other hand, the possibility of negotiating on arms control in Central Europe remain alive and real, in spite of what the right hon. Gentleman said in his speech.
Some people have quoted a speech by Secretary of State Rusk over the weekend as rejecting the possibility of arms control. In fact, he did not reject it. I have read the reports of his speech with great care. What he rejected was disengagement with the neutralisation of Germany and the creation of a demilitarised buffer zone between the two sides. I am not now suggesting that; I am suggesting what the Prime Minister had in mind when he signed his communiqué with Mr. Khrushchev some years ago, and what Sir Anthony Eden—as he then was—had in mind earlier, namely, leaving the forces of the two sides confronting each other across the frontier of a divided Germany—because so long as Germany is divided, unless they confront each other there the danger of violent revolution 361 will remain. I suggest that the troops should stay where they are, but that their deployment, their arms and their number shall be controlled mutually by both sides.
For all the reasons I gave when I last spoke on this issue, I still believe that this is the one real point at which there is the possibility of making a break-through, not only on the Berlin issue and the future of Central Europe but on the far greater issue of disarmament as a whole.
Why do not Her Majesty's Government at least say in public that they are in favour of this—if, indeed, they are? The Lord Privy Seal made a great deal of the need to persuade and educate allied opinion. Why does he not start? This is our complaint. It is no good saying, in 1961, after the H-bomb explosions, that this is not the time to raise the issue. He has had years in which to do so. Years have passed since the Rapacki Plan was first put forward. Five years have been almost completely wasted. I suggest that the Government might now have the courage of their convictions and explain to their allies that they favour this approach, and also explain it to their own public and to their own benches in the House of Commons, who have not the slightest conception of what is going through the Government's mind at present but who always cheer remarks against arms control, although their Government are in favour of it. Why do not the Government take some action in the direction of initiating negotiations?
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
The hon. Gentleman referred to the Eden Plan, as if it was a normal disengagement plan, but he knows that that plan proposed a demilitarised zone after German reunification based on free elections and east of a reunified Germany. Is it not rather important for the hon. Member to get his facts right?
§ Mr. Healey
I am quite prepared to give a little talk on the Eden Plans— there was not one but at least two, and possibly three. One was the concept of a zone east of a United Germany. One was the concept of a small area of arms control, or possibly demilitarisation in the middle of Germany. Various proposals were made at various times. The 362 main point about these plans is that, although they were made dependent when put forward on some progress towards German reunification, they did concede the technical feasibility of this approach to the problem. If, as right hon. Gentlemen opposite do, we reject the possibility of German reunification now, we are left simply with the possibility of arms control as the only realistic proposal for changes in central Europe of any type. None of the political arguments against disengagement—and I admit fully that there are political arguments against as well as in favour—applies to a zone of controlled armaments in Central Europe.
Our real complaint against the Government on this issue of Berlin is not that they do not want the sort of things that we want, and not even that they do not see the problem in the way that we do. In the debates we had in July and a fortnight ago and in the last three days it has become clear that there is a tremendous amount of unity in the House and in the country on the Berlin issue. The great majority of us are prepared to fight for Berlin, if the Russians make us fight. But the great majority of us also believe that it is possible to negotiate a settlement of Berlin and that this should be our main aim. Our complaint against the Government is that so far they have not shown the courage of their own privately held convictions, and at the beginning of a new Parliamentary Session I appeal to the Government to take their courage in both hands and give to the Alliance and to the world a real lead.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
I wish to say straight away that I agree with what the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) had to say about the People's Republic of China. My right hon. Friends here know that quite well. I do not altogether agree with what he had to say about Germany, but I will come to that later.
There are many aspects of the Gracious Speech about which I should like to talk, but if I am not to abuse the privilege of having caught your eye, Mr. Speaker, I must confine myself to three. The three parts of the Gracious Speech about which I wish to say a few words are the improvement of relations between East and 363 West, the Royal visit to Ghana and immigration.
During the Recess I had the pleasure of visiting Poland to address the Polish Institute for International Relations on "The Commonwealth of Nations". As I think hon. Members will know, it is very difficult to meet a Pole without almost immediately finding oneself discussing the problem of Germany. We all recall that the proximate cause of the Second World War was the German invasion of Poland. After six years of appalling vicissitudes, very gallantly borne, Poland was rescued from the Germans. But because the liberating armies were Russian, some people imagine that the Poles have emerged from the frying pan only to fall into the fire.
The Poles do not see it that way, and nor would I if I were a Pole, because all that the Germans did to Poland when they were in occupation bears, of course, no comparison whatsoever with Poland's present state. What I am leading up to is this, that the Poles are genuinely and, I think, naturally apprehensive of the reunification of an armed Germany, and so am I.
I did point out to my Polish friends that Poland is not the only country which has cause for these fears and I explained why the West had rejected the idea of the permanent occupation of Germany and had, instead, decided to restore sovereignty to their three zones upon the stringent conditions of the London and Paris Agreements. I believed then, and I still believe, that that is the safest practicable way of controlling the West Germans, by welcoming them as equal partners in a purely defensive alliance.
I also told the Poles firmly and repeatedly that in my view their Soviet-inspired fears of a Nazi revival and of West German revanchismwere greatly exaggerated, and incompatible with Dr. Adenauer's regime: and, should the future show different tendencies, I thought it proper to say that Germany's allies would not tolerate any attempt to reunite that country by force. But when it comes to the suggestion, as it has come, that free elections should be held in the Soviet zone of Germany, that is another matter, for everybody knows that the people of East Germany—who have to be made to enjoy 364 Communism behind bars—would kick Ulbricht and his co-stooges out at the first opportunity, and vote to join up with the Federal Republic.
I cannot believe that the West is wise to persist in a policy which would have this result. The difficulty, of course, is that we are pledged to our allies, the Federal Republic, to make reunification the cardinal aim of our policy and 1 fully appreciate that if we are to change that policy it can only be with the full and freely given consent of our allies in the Federal Republic.
That is why I must say that I regret that Her Majesty's Government have shown no signs whatever of even considering with our allies the suggestion which I made in this House in May, 1960; for if the Soviet Zone, or the German Democratic Republic, if hon. Members like to call it so, with a reunited Berlin as its capital, could be recognised as a separate independent sovereign State whose neutrality is guaranteed by the Powers after the pattern of Austria, then the following benefits would flow. This is where I cannot agree with the hon. Member for Leeds, East, or with his right hon. Friends, that the reunification of Germany is something we should aim at.
These are the benefits which would flow from such a plan, could it be agreed. First, the German question would be solved. Secondly, the East Germans and all Berliners would be able freely to choose their own Government. Thirdly, there would be not only a"demilitarised"but actually a neutral zone between Poland and West Germany which I believe that the Poles are quite justified in demanding and which might in time be extended southwards. Fourthly, the line of the Oder-Neisse would finally be recognised as Poland's western boundary. I believe that that is long overdue. After all, the Germans lost the war and they should not complain if they lose some territory too. Finally, I believe that relations between East and West would be vastly improved by such an arrangement.
I do see and sympathise with what was said by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal about timing. Unfortunately, the unbridled licentiousness of the Communist nuclear tests make this an unpropitious moment at which 365 to appear to offer concessions. But I think that we must avoid both extremes of reaction to this bomb, for both fear and pride are bad counsellors. We must certainly not throw away all our defences as those would have us do who are yellow and would rather be red. For it is the bomb and the fact that both sides have the bomb that so far has kept us, and I believe will keep us, from war.
But we must also refuse to be diverted from negotiations. I believe that the time is ripe for a new Western initiative and I am quite happy to leave these matters in the hands of my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary who, only the other day, said to Mr. Gromyko, "There is a case for change—but for change by consent".
I should like to say a few words about the projected visit of Her Majesty to Ghana. In my talk to the Poles about the Commonwealth of Nations, I had to account for what it is that holds twelve independent sovereign States in this unique association. It is no longer a common Sovereign; it is no longer mere sentiment, which always goes by the board if trade interests conflict. By quoting tributes and expressions of loyalty to the Commonwealth idea which have been paid from time to time by all the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth, I arrived at the conclusion that we all share a certain fundamental unity of view, a legacy from this country, as to the freedom and worth of the individual citizen and the purposes that government should serve.
As the Canadian Finance Minister said only the other day in, of all places, Accra,We do not base this institution"—that is, the Commonwealth—on uniformity. We have unity of purpose and we pursue the common goals of freedom, peace and respect for the dignity of the human individual.But, as has been said before, this is essentially an era of the double standard, and which one is applied at any given moment seems to me to be purely a matter of expediency. That can be seen every day at the United Nations. So, although this fundamental unity of outlook is not shared by the present Government of the Union of South Africa and is not practised by the 366 present President of Ghana, only one of them has had to leave the Commonwealth. Therefore, I asked my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the other day what steps are being taken to lessen the risk that Her Majesty's visit to the people of Ghana will not be misconstrued as implying approval, or, at least, condonation, of the present policies of Ghana's President, which, nobody can deny, are in flagrant contradiction to the ideals for which the Commonwealth stands.
From my right hon. Friend's reply, I have to assume regretfully that no such steps are being taken. Perhaps The Timesis right when it says thatthe conclusion must be that the issue of principle has been too long shirked for the moral case for the cancellation"—of the visit—to be based on it now.Lastly, a word on immigration. I want there to be no doubt where I stand on this issue. I was sorry to hear much that was said from the benches opposite about this long-overdue Measure. "We have always done it", they say, much as any died-in-the-wool Tory might say. We are always being urged not to put the clock back. In this case, however, we are urged from the other side of the House to keep the clock put back. But times have moved since the days when this country could afford to be open to everyone. We now have 52 million people here and we are 790 people to the square mile.
§ Mr. Longden
In 1953, immigrants from the West Indies numbered 2,000. Last year, they numbered 50,000. Last year, the immigrants from India and Pakistan numbered 2,500. In the first half of this year, they numbered 16,500. Our prolonged efforts to get the Commonwealth Governments to co-operate have broken down and, obviously, some control will have to be imposed. Therefore, why leave it until too late? Why, abovfc all—and here I agree with what the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) said yesterday—was the subject not thrashed out at Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conferences? Surely, some agreement could have been arrived at by now which everybody would have accepted as being fair.
367 So far as I understand the Government's proposals, they will apply to every race, colour and creed. Secondly, they will not apply to students. Thirdly, if a job is available, an immigrant will be as welcome as hitherto to fill it. And if there is not a job available, who would want anybody, in his own interests, to come here?
As for housing, we have insufficient resources to house our own people, and I put them first. It is estimated that our population will increase by 4½ million people in the next twenty years, and if we are to keep pace with their housing needs we ought to be building houses at the rate of 400,000 a year.
§ Mr. Longden
That would cover only our own needs, never mind those of any immigrants.
Surely, the worst of all arguments against the new Bill is that it will be interpreted as a colour bar. Of course, it will be misinterpreted by our enemies. Every move that we take will be misinterpreted by our enemies, but I hope that that will never prevent a British Government from doing what they believe to be right in the interests of this country.
§ Mr. M. Foot
When the hon. Member talks about the interpretation of this Measure by our enemies, does he regard Mr. Manley as an enemy of this country? He has denounced this measure in the strongest possible terms.
§ Mr. Longden
I do not think, with great respect to Mr. Manley, that he knows what this Measure contains. We only knew ourselves last night. Our friends will know that we have no option but to do this, and everybody in the world knows that when our coloured fellow subjects do come to this country they are subject to no legal discrimination whatever. Therefore, I support the Government in this Measure.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I disagree with the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) about the proposals of the Government to control immigration. I disagree primarily because their pro- 368 posed Measure is irrelevant to the main problem which faces us concerning immigration. As I understand the Measure, it will not prevent people coming into this country if they can find a job. The hon. Member himself admitted that.
It is common knowledge that about 95 per cent, of the West Indians who come to this country find jobs. It is common knowledge that we would have difficulty in manning the hospitals and the London Transport services if that flow did not come. Therefore, we may presume—because, I suppose, ultimately, the "pause", as it is called, will one day end and, even under the present Government, the economy will begin to expand again—that more jobs will be available and, therefore, as I understand the Government's proposals, immigration will continue. What the Government have made no proposals about is housing. It is the consequent overcrowding which is the problem. Therefore, their proposals are totally irrelevant to the only problem raised by immigration.
I agree with the hon. Member that it is extraordinary that this issue has not been discussed in the Commonwealth, but, surely, it is not too late, even now, for Her Majesty's Government to propose a Commonwealth Conference on Commonwealth migration.
§ Mr. Longden
If it is so difficult for the Government to provide houses for the immigrants who come to jobs, is it not wise to stop those without jobs from coming?
§ Mr. Grimond
As I have said, the Government's proposals will not touch the problem, because the great bulk of those who come get jobs. Therefore, under this new legislation they will continue to come.
The hon. Member also said that there was no question of colour bar, for the reason, I suppose, that Ireland has been carefully included among the places from which immigration is to be controlled. Do the Government propose to resurrect once again the frontier between Southern Ireland and Ulster? Is that where the check is to be made? I would have thought that most undesirable. Or, which is even worse, is it proposed that every Ulsterman who 369 comes into this country must prove that he is not an undesirable immigrant from Southern Ireland? I do not believe that the Bill in its present form will work. I do not deny that there is a housing problem and a Commonwealth problem, but I do not think that the Bill in any way meets it.
I also wish to follow the hon. Member in talking about some of the international events upon which he has touched. At this stage, it is useful to look for a moment or two at the background of these events and to the lessons which we might learn from them.
The most favourable explanation that has been put forward for these mammoth Russian tests is the internal position of Mr. Khrushchev. It has even been suggested, rather paradoxically, that were it not that Mr. Khrushchev is trying to be more reasonable in some directions it might not be necessary for him to go in for these tests. In fact, it has been suggested that Mr. Khrushchev is the equivalent of the Bow Grouper in the Russian Communist Party and that he has to placate his Right wing. I think that it is possible that he is being accused of appeasement and that the tests, at least on a charitable view, are a sort of counter-blast to the opposition. That fits much which was said at the Communist Congress and the general state of Russian politics as we know them. These tests, too, may be possibly at the instigation of his military advisers.
If there is any truth in these suggestions which have been put forward from both sides of the House, the tests clearly do not alter the balance of power in the world at all, nor do they call for any drastic answer by the West in the form of carrying out further nuclear tests on our side. I am delighted to hear that the Government make it quite clear that they are not going in for a retaliatory series of nuclear tests. The tests, however, also seem to have had the further purpose of frightening the uncommitted nations as well as the Western Alliance. They have, no doubt, a purpose in trying to destroy morale and cause dismay among our people. To some degree they have succeeded, though not in this country.
For my part, at any rate, I greatly regret that members of the United Nations did not respond rather more 370 quickly and forcibly to this wholly inhuman act by the Russians. But once the first shock of this Russian behaviour has worn off, and we look back on the history of Russian diplomacy, it may not seem quite so surprising. After all, we had the Soviet-Nazi pact, we had their behaviour outside Warsaw during the war, and we know that they are completely ruthless in pursuing their aims at all times. I think that it is, therefore, more useful on our side to take a look at how this will affect us, and at the effect it has had on Western opinion, rather than go on expressing rage and astonishment.
I have been astonished at the amount of anti-American feeling which has become manifest in the last month or or two. I do not say that it is very big in total, but there are a great many people in this country who seriously say that the blame for the international situation is shared as much by the Americans as by the Russians, and they are even inclined to include the British Government in it.
I am not an upholder of the British Government, but it seems to me that the mere fact that these things can be said is a most extraordinary reaction to the Russians' behaviour of the last two or three months. No one in the West has undertaken the massacres that have gone on in Russia over the years and, on their side, the Russians have not offered anything like the Marshall Plan that the Americans have undertaken. The mere fact that these things are said ought to make us look at the Western policies and the policies of our own country to see how this delusion could have even begun to arise.
We are told that the cold war is largely a struggle for men's minds. This struggle, no doubt, is carried out at various levels. The Russians have made it quite clear that the level to which they attach the greatest importance is the level of hard, power politics and that when it comes to pursuing their own ends they do not care what those who meet in Belgrade may think. Surely that is one lesson—that the suggestion that the uncommitted nations can exercise moral suasion on the Communist countries is a delusion.
That being so, what should be the West's answer to the Russians? The 371 answer is not to copy them, but to learn from them. The answer is to promote our own political reforms and improve our own political institutions. The answer of this country should be to concentrate on building up our economy and political strength and making our influence felt in that direction among our allies.
We should not shy away from the realities of the situation, even if this means offending some susceptibilities and saying some unpleasant things. The first thing which we must face is that there are differences of view within the Western Alliance which cannot be wished away. It is all very well to say that we ought to have a united foreign policy, but there are quite serious and sincere differences of view within the Western Alliance. In the case of Berlin it is these differences and the desire for secrecy in advance of negotiations which are given by the Government as an explanation of why they cannot make their policies and their purposes clearer.
I fully accept that there is some weight in that argument, but let us look at the opposite side of the picture and see where this argument has landed us. Mr. Khrushchev has made it plain for years that he intends to sign a peace treaty with East Germany. He has also made it clear that he is willing to negotiate and he, to do him justice, has not been afraid to make proposals. He has made proposals for a free city of Berlin and he has made proposals even for allowing United Nations to go there.
What have the West said in reply? They could have said, "We do not believe you and we do not intend to negotiate". But they have not said that. They might have said that they would defend the position as it was last July to the death, but they did not say that, either. They said that they were prepared to negotiate. But when are they prepared to negotiate? For the first time today we were given an answer by the Government on that point. We were told that they had made proposals for negotiations, and presumably these will take place as soon as the Russians and our allies are ready to come to the table.
But what have we gained for all this delay in putting off our concrete pro- 372 posals? The Prime Minister a few days ago said that in 1958 he may have postponed the crisis. He may have done so, but what use did we make of the time which we gained? What is the situation now? We have a wall in Berlin, we have lost one major trick in these negotiations and we have gained no compensating advantage whatever. Every day we risk more serious incidents. We now put tanks up to the zonal frontier, but at the time the wall was erected we did nothing. Since then the wall has been erected, and one main feature of Berlin has disappeared, I suspect for ever.
I think that any negotiations entered into now will be much more difficult and much less rewarding as regards Berlin and that we have to face a vista ahead in which the Russians and East Germans are able to put on the squeeze more and more. We know that people are beginning to leave Berlin. We can see that to keep West Berlin going will be extremely difficult. In addition, we have the pressure on Finland and no doubt in the course of time there will be pressure in the Middle East.
In this situation it is reasonable to press the Government to be a little more forthcoming, granted their difficulties, for the sake of Western opinion, about what their proposals are. I cannot help thinking that some proposals have been constantly made on which the Government could express an opinion without giving anything away. For instance, they could tell us whether they have any proposal to ask the Russians about their 1955 undertaking in respect of the East German regime. They could give us some clear indication, if they are not in favour of a demilitarised zone in Europe, at least whether they are in favour of nuclear disengagement. They would give nothing away by saying that we were in favour of withdrawing nuclear arms from a zone in Central Europe, if it could be agreed.
Finally, are they in favour of United Nations participation in Berlin and, if so, have they proposed it? I do not see that they would give anything away by telling us these things. The situation in Berlin is much more like a game of chess than a game of bridge, in that the moves which may be made can be foreseen and have now been mulled over a great deal. 373 I can see that our other allies may resent our raising these questions, but I think that the time has come when they must be raised at least within the Western Alliance, in spite of the possible differences with other members of the alliance.
This seems to lead directly to the need to look at the situation and to see what are the Government's intentions about this Western Alliance and about Europe and the Common Market. We should like to know a little more about the negotiations on which the Government are embarked. Again, I fully appreciate that they cannot tell us anything about the details, but we must press them for their view on the move towards political unity. The Bonn Declaration was a declaration that the Six would pursue the political unity of Europe, and we know from what has appeared in HANSARD that the Lord Privy Seal has said that we are in favour of that and that we are prepared to share most of the objectives of those who have drawn up the Bonn Declaration.
But when the Prime Minister was asked what this meant he referred vaguely to "I'Europe des patries".What did he mean? The phrase was invented by President de Gaulle, implying a confederation of Europe in which the European Governments would run the various practical matters. Is that what the British Government favour? Presumably they will begin these negotiations with some broad ideas on how they want Europe to be run politically. Are we to take it from the Prime Minister's remark that this is the direction in which he foresees the political coming together of Europe? I do not want to pursue that at the moment, but it raises very important problems in respect of democratic processes within Europe in the years to come.
§ Mr. Grimond
I think that the confederal idea as envisaged by de Gaulle will lead to a greater abrogation of sovereignty and to more problems than some of the ideas of those who are called the European federalists.
I feel, however, that we ought also to press upon Europe to take some of the 374 emphasis off the defence aspect and to put it on the political aspect. I do not think that the European movement was ever intended to be a defence arrangement. It was never intended to be an anti-Communist alliance, and I should hate it to become that.
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not think that that is true historically, and I am glad that the Lord Privy Seal would deplore that happening. But I believe that during the next ten to fifteen years it will be extremely important to improve the machinery for Western consultation. This surely is a vital lesson from the last few months. I think that the Council of Foreign Ministers ought to be resuscitated, that it ought to be made a more effective body than it is now, and that it ought to meet much more often; and I think that it might well have a secretariat.
I also believe that this movement could be usefully widened across the Atlantic, and I hope that in the course of time, if the President accepts the proposals made by Mr. Herter and Mr. Clayton which are reported in the Guardianthis morning, the Government will welcome that and will use it as a method by which to broaden the European community into an Atlantic community. I hope that they will take it as an opportunity to bring in the old Dominions—Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This could be a most important initiative. I agree that at present it is only on the economic side, but it could be used as a door for doing what I am glad to see the Lord Privy Seal himself wants to do.
I hope that we have now reached the stage, under the impact of the events of the last few days, and of the last few months and years, at which we shall shed a lot of our illusions. While we must try to achieve more genuine unity in the West, I do not think that it is much good trying to keep various countries together in a certain form of organisation merely for old times sake. I (regret the departure of South Africa from the Commonwealth, but it is better that she should go than that the Commonwealth should be a sham and should be hamstrung, by having her in.
375 I think that it might be as well if Portugal left the Western Alliance, not because I object to the Portuguese and not because I am nasty to them, but because I do not think that they are in tune with the Western Alliance. It may be that other countries are in that position, too, in the Commonwealth, and I return to the remark made by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West that in the future it may be impossible to retain them in the Commonwealth if the Commonwealth is to have any meaning.
I hope that we shall shed the illusion that we can be a first-class nuclear Power. During all this trouble in Germany, what good it has done us to have a fourth-rate nuclear arm? We should have been far better to have mobile forces in Germany. The Government talk about the tail of the Army in Germany, but that is entirely misleading; it is the legs of the Army in Germany which are missing. The Government talk about time for mobilisation and say that it is not necessary to have units up to strength because they will be able to mobilise. But in accordance with the conventional strategy at the moment, if it is to be a force at all it must be in the field at once. I hope that we shall give up the illusion of nuclear grandeur and the illusion that we can drift into Europe without facing the political implications.
The Government must give the country information far more clearly about the implications of Berlin and our relationships with the East and also about the implications of what they are doing in Europe. I hope that we shall give up the illusion of grandeur altogether and substitute for it an attempt to use our influence in civilised ways among the nations with whom we are allies. All these matters require firm decisions by the Government now, but, above all, they also require that the Government should take the people of this country rather more boldly into their confidence.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Gravesend)
May I, without impertinence, congratulate the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) on his recent elevation, which I am sure has given great pleasure to all his many friends in the 376 House. Perhaps as a humble backbencher, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I may draw attention to the fact that one-third of the Liberal Party now belongs to the Privy Council, not only a higher proportion than that of any other party in the House but, as far as I have been able to discover, a higher proportion than there has ever been in the House. We rely on you to safeguard the rights of other back-benchers against what looks like being a considerable imposition on our patience.
At one time I thought that I should have to start my speech by saying that I did not propose to follow the right hon. Gentleman, but halfway through his speech I realised that I proposed to follow him very closely indeed and to agree with a great deal of what he said. One of the great difficulties about any foreign affairs debate is that it is liable to be discursive. A foreign affairs debate on the Gracious Speech is liable to be more discursive than most, and a foreign affairs debate on the Gracious Speech only a fortnight after the last foreign affairs debate tends to be quite impossible. I am glad that the Lord Privy Seal is back in the House, because I propose to pursue fairly closely a point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland.
I do not wish to press the Government about details on the forthcoming negotiations any more than does the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland. But I have gained the impression from some recent travels that things will perhaps be a little easier than we thought at one time. There has been a much more friendly attitude on the part of some of the Governments of the Six towards our reservations. All I wish to do is to wish my right hon. Friend the very best of luck, regretting only, as I have done before publicly, that he and his friends did not start doing this four or five years ago when many of the troubles to which I now wish to refer and to which the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland referred could have been avoided.
I want to refer to the political content of these negotiations. It is now universally realised that the economic aspects of the Treaty of Rome are, if I may quote the catechism, only the outward and visible sign of an inward 377 spiritual grace, that the main drive behind the treaty is political, and that the Six themselves are now beginning to develop something along the lines of a political community. This first became apparent some time ago. It was first crystallised in the Bonn Declaration, to which much reference has been made today.
At the time many people were rather vague about exactly what the six Governments meeting in Bonn had in mind. I think what was contemplated was something in the nature of a fairly regular meeting of Ministers, with a secretariat, but without any particular overriding powers, whose job it would be to try to work out some kind of common foreign policy. I should have thought that this is something to which we could not possibly take any exception. Indeed, it is something which, at the urging of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we did in fact start doing through Western European Union some eighteen months ago and with considerable success.
However, what the French Government had in mind has in recent days become slightly more clear. I hope that my right hon. Friend will not mind if I draw attention to a dispatch from Bonn yesterday morning which set out not only the fears of five of the six Governments, apparently, but also the desires of the sixth. This is the dispatch concerning the draft proposals put forward by the French Government to the Fouchet Commission. One might say that this is not a matter of any wild importance because the French Government are only one and the Fouchet Commission is only preparatory, and so on. I do not know whether my right hon. Friend has seen the French draft or whether the description of it given in this dispatch is accurate, but what is interesting from the dispatch is that the draft is almost the only one which is being considered by the Fouchet Commission and the Commission is apparently under some sort of pressure to bring this draft before the Heads of Government at their next meeting in Rome next January.
The Timessays:The French draft, in itself, remains true to the principle of the Europe des Patries, 378 and thus clearly parts company with the supra-national concept enshrined in the existing European communities and in the Brussels commission.Having said that, The Timescuriously goes on to refer to it as a federation and says:The federation is to take the form of an indissoluble association, open to all members, past, present, and (it is emphasised) future, of the Common Market, the Coal and Steel Community, and Euratom.Its organisation would follow broadly the lines of the existing communities, with a council, a commission, and a parliament. The council would include the heads of Government and the Foreign Ministers of member states and would meet regularly every four months. Its permanent seat would be in Paris.Later the dispatch contains this passage, and this is where it becomes completely confused:The commissions of the existing European communities would be taken over by the new federation. Their members would take part in deliberations of the council, when any questions relating to their field of competence came up for discussion.This is a very important point. It is absolutely true that any community of the kind envisaged here would have to be the subject of a new treaty and that in such a new treaty we would have a say in the negotiation. However, it should be made plain at this point that it would be a pity if any far-reaching decision of this kind were taken before the conclusion of the negotiations at present proceeding between us and the Six. I admit frankly that I am—I have never concealed the fact—a European federalist and therefore would not object to any of these things, but the plain fact is that the proposals contained in this document, if the report of The Timesis accurate, are different from what we had been led to believe was the desire of the French Government. For instance, I had never understood that there was a proposal to take over all the existing commissions and indeed, as far as I can see, to weaken to a certain extent the political content of the existing commissions under the Treaty of Rome.
All these points must be cleared up, in the interests not only of ourselves but of the Six. I realise the very delicate position the British Government are in on this matter. Not being members of the Community at the moment, they can take no part in the negotiations now proceeding on this point. Nevertheless, 379 it would be wise if the Six and our Government realised that it would be better if the fundamental negotiations took place after the conclusion of any agreement which we may choose to make with the Six, which we can make and which I feel sure we shall make.
There is another reason for this which is perhaps important in the wider context. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden), I have had the privilege of lecturing recently to the Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw and also to a similar body in Prague. My subject concerned the Common Market and Britain's relations with it. All the way through the discussions, particularly those in Warsaw, the fear was expressed that by going into the Community we would strengthen the conception of a little Western Europe, as opposed to a little Eastern Europe. I believe that our entry into the Community will make this fear less likely to be realised than more likely. If I did not think that we were going into the Community with the intention of making it outward-looking, I would not support the move to enter.
It is of importance that the political implications of this also should be considered in an outward-looking way rather than from an introspective point of view and that we should try, so far as we can, although it will be very difficult, to leave some kind of opening towards the East so that the countries of Eastern Europe do not feel completely shut out. It is a paradox, which most people are too polite to mention, that the Federal German Government have for some time been pursuing two completely contradictory policies—on the one hand, claiming reunification and, on the other, going into a Community which certainly in the short run has made reunification more difficult.
I very much hope that the long-term aim of an all-European Community is not forgotten. However, if it is forgotten and if we try to settle down in a rather cosy tight little union of our own in the West, we shall only store up trouble for ourselves in the future and perpetuate the division of Europe for a very long time.
I agree with the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland that, in addi- 380 tion to an opening to the East, it is important that we should have an opening to the West. It is highly unlikely that it will be possible at this stage for the American Government to contemplate any kind of political link with Western Europe beyond what is contained in Articles 1 and 2 of the North Atlantic Treaty, but the possibility of an economic tie-up is certainly interesting and should be explored. It is of vital importance that it should be explored.
I hope, too, that in considering this matter the British Government are thinking about the type of organisation which they want to see in Europe after we join the Community. Too many people imagine that we shall just join the Community, that that will add one more country to the Community, and that we shall all go on as before. I sincerely hope that this will not be so and that an attempt will be made by the Government to clear up the really appalling mass of organisations now littered all over Western Europe. For instance, I can see no reason why Western European Union should continue after we have joined the Community. It will no longer be necessary: the military side can be taken over by N.A.T.O. and the political side can be taken over by the Community. Neither can I see why the Council of Europe will be necessary, because most of the neutral countries which do not become members of the Community will be associated with it in some way. In the long run I hope that O.E.C.D. can be absorbed into the framework of the Community and that something can be done to bring some kind of order into this mess.
There is one point where the negotiations now proceeding impinge possibly even more immediately than before on the world situation as a whole. Finland is an associate member of the E.F.T.A. She is clearly the member of E.F.T.A. for which the greatest difficulty arises, except possibly Portugal, which is a special case on its own, both politically and economically, in any final settlement which is arrived at. Nevertheless—the Six must realise this perhaps even more so than ourselves, though we must not forget it either—it is of absolutely vital importance that in our justified enthusiasm to achieve membership of the Community we do not 381 forget the vital necessity of keeping our link with Finland as close and tight as possible. We know that for reasons beyond their control any kind of political link must be ruled out, but we have started the economic link through E.F.T.A. which is of vital importance to Finland, particularly when it now appears that they are coming under some kind of attack from the Soviet Union.
I hope that it will be impressed on the Six that this is a point on which we cannot be expected to compromise in the course of these negotiations, that it is in the interests of the Six, as much as of ourselves, that this particular link or association with Finland must somehow be preserved, not only for the benefit of the Finns, but in order to keep this opening towards the East which is of the greatest importance.
I have gone into this matter in some detail, not so much because it is the most important matter facing the House, but because I think that the decision of the Government to apply for membership is possibly the most important foreign policy decision which has ever been taken. While the long-term political developments may appear to be slightly more removed from the scene, they have great relevance.
If anything has been proved from the events of the last three months or so, it is the need for a greater unity in the West itself. We have seen the appalling mess which arose when the French Government decided that they did not want to take part in the preliminary conversations on Berlin. That sort of thing will occur so long as we do not have a clear idea of what we want to do, what we should do and how we should do it. If the creation of some kind of political community—not necessarily in line with what was stated in The Times—will help to obviate that, then this will be one of the most important steps on the future development of the community.
Perhaps it will not be impertinent of me, as one who has criticised the Lord Privy Seal in the past for being too slow, to hope that on this occasion he will go too fast, that the negotiations will be quickly concluded and that we may get on with the building up and consolidating of a real European union growing very real roots.
§ 5.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
It would be tempting for me to follow the argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk) in his references to the Common Market and the present negotiations, particularly since I take a view strongly opposed to that which he adduced. It is, however, interesting that the hon. Gentleman should now discover—and I do not say that he had not realised it partially before—that there is a considerable question—and it may be that the hon. Gentleman's visit to Poland has done him some good—as to whether the Common Market is not going to intensify the division of Europe rather than assist in removing that division.
The hon. Gentleman appears to have come to apprecate that there is a growing difference of opinion on this matter among people who know a lot about how German policy is directed and the ends it seeks to secure. However, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the candour of the first part of his reference to this matter.
He said clearly that the economic aims of the Common Market were subordinate to the political aims, although the Leader of the Liberal Party did not seem absolutely clear on that point. If we are to go into the Common Market —and I am opposed to it—we should do so with our eyes open, knowing exactly what is proposed. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman quoted some of the proposals for setting up a European Parliament which would govern these affairs.
I have never been able to remove from my mind something that was said by the Lord Privy Seal during our debate on the Common Market a few months ago, when the right hon. Gentleman made some reference to the method by which a Parliament for Europe might be composed. He made the suggestion, which somewhat horrified me, that possibly a Parliament for Europe should be selected by the Whips. It would therefore be a Patronage Secretary's paradise, a sort of seraglio of eunuchs. Europe will not be served by such an institution. Without going further into the arguments put forward by the hon. Member for Gravesend, and while this matter is of extreme importance, it must be 383 remembered that there are other topics which are of equal, if not greater, importance at the moment.
§ Mr. Frank Bowles (Nuneaton)
Before my hon. Friend leaves that point, I interrupted the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) and said that the Lord Privy Seal had said:It will help to unite Europe in a barrier against Soviet Russia.The Lord Privy Seal denied that. That was reported in the Daily Expresson 13th October last.
§ Mr. Foot
Perhaps what he said at the Conservative Party Conference was more candid than what he said here. He does have his candid moments.
I should have thought that most hon. Members would have come to the House since Parliament reassembled conscious of the fact that we face possibly the most dangerous international situation with which the world has ever been confronted. I can hardly say that the numbers attending the debates in the last two days provide convincing evidence that for the majority of hon. Members that is the case. We know why our numbers are not very great yesterday and today. The main reason is that the Opposition has not sought to put down an Amendment to the Gracious Speech relating to any question of defence and foreign policy. This is a deplorable state of affairs, for reasons I shall elaborate.
I should have thought that all hon. Members would consider that the international situation is one of extreme danger, partly because of the Russian explosions and partly because of some other events. I would have hoped that the Government would have made some attempt to analyse the international situation both in relation to the explosions of the Russian bombs, what happened at the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party in Russia, and in relation to all the other international events. We have not had such an analysis. Certainly we did not have it from the Lord Privy Seal today. Even less did we have it from the Prime Minister in his most deplorable speech two days ago. There has been no attempt whatever to examine what is happening in other parts of the world or to analyse the 384 causes of the explosions. There was an attempt made by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) today, and I believe that that was the first attempt to do so on the part of the Opposition Front Bench.
Most of the contributions to date have been politically illiterate, making no effort to relate what has happened to what has gone before or to the other developments that have occurred. Why has Russia exploded these bombs? I deplore and denounce the explosions, perhaps more than anyone and with more justification. Nevertheless we must see why they have happened. The Prime Minister says that it is a political act on the part of the Russians and that it had nothing to do with military measures. It was a terroristic act, he says, and that is the general claim made by most of the illiterate newspapers which make as little attempt to understand what is happening in the world as do the Government.
A terroristic act with no military significance, the explosions are called. One answer was given by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) yesterday in his quotation from the Economist.It is perfectly possible that one military advantage of having a bigger bomb is that one can hit a Polaris weapon or that one would have a better chance of hitting it.
If that be true, then the bigger bomb has some military advantage. There was no attempt on the part of the Minister of Defence to answer the question. Instead, Government spokesmen continued their pretence that the only explanation they cam discover is that it was some maniacal decision or act by Mr. Khrushchev and the Russian leaders. But the Minister of Defence, curiously, a week or so ago repudiated or contradicted the explanation which the Prime Minister gave for the Russians exploding the bomb, or series of bombs. The Minister of Defence did not do it in his speech yesterday. It may be that he thought that it would be unseemly for him to repudiate the Prime Minister so quickly. He has the faculty which Lloyd George attributed to Stanley Baldwin of being able to stumble on a truth and then pick himself up as if nothing had happened.
On 24th October, when there were questions on a statement by the Minister 385 of Defence about the tests and the right hon. Gentleman was asked why he thought they had been made, he said:If one has to guess—and it can only be a guess—why the Russians have carried through this series of tests, I think that the best guess is that they have realised that they are behind the Americans in the development of nuclear weapons."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th October, 1961; Vol. 646, c. 752.]That seems to me a feasible explanation, but, if it is true, why go round talking about terrorist acts? Why go around saying that it is monstrously callous in a different sense from that in which the explosion of American bombs is callous? It appears to be the view of the Minister of Defence that the reason why the Russians have exploded these bombs is that they felt themselves inferior in nuclear power to the Americans. The Americans have told us, both before the last explosions and since, that they still possess overwhelmingly greater nuclear strength than the Russians. Is that true or not? If it is true that the Russians were greatly inferior in nuclear strength to the Americans, it may be that they have made the explosions to try to catch up with the Americans. If that is so, they are doing what the Americans and we do.
There are some of us in the House and many in the country—a growing number, as the Prime Minister recognised yesterday—who condemn all tests on humanitarian grounds. However, if the Minister of Defence's explanation of why the Russians have done it is correct, Her Majesty's Government have no grounds for complaining. The Russians are doing exactly what they did.
§ Mr. Foot
I shall deal with both of them. I should like there to be an agreement, but it happens to be the fact that the Americans had conducted many more explosions in the atmosphere than the Russians prior to these tests. I shall give the right hon. Gentleman the figures. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to know why the Russians exploded their 386 bombs in the atmosphere, one answer is —it is not my answer, but Mr. Khrushchev's answer, which should be understandable to the right hon. Gentleman and to the Americans—that they are doing what the Americans did before.
Let me quote official estimates by the Americans included in the statement made in The Timeson Monday from that newspaper's Washington correspondent quoting official statements made by the Government in Washington:An official estimate has it that the Soviet Union has now exploded a total of about 160 megatons compared with 130 megatons released by the United States, Britain and France. It states that the Soviet Union has deposited more radioactive debris in the atmosphere. The comparison given is that the radioactive fission product of all Soviet tests is about 7,328 lb. compared with the Western total of 7,250 lb. The present series of Soviet tests is estimated to have generated 6,050 lb.If that is correct, it means that the filth content, if I might translate these technical terms into simple language, was 7 to 1—the Americans having contributed seven times as much filth as the Russians prior to this series of Russian tests, partly by explosions in the atmosphere. That, therefore, puts a rather different complexion on the matter.
When the Americans, together with the British and French, were in the position of having poured seven times as much filth into the atmosphere as the Russians, many of us protested. We said that that was callous and inhuman and that it was poisoning the atmosphere. We still say it. However, the Government say it only when the Russians do it. How many protests did the Government make when the Americans had poured seven times as much filth into the atmosphere as the Russians? Not one. How can they expect anyone to believe them now?
If anyone believes in the balance of terror theory—I do not believe in it; I think that the balance of terror is much too precarious for anyone to put faith in it, and that it is a fallacy for people to put faith in it—the recent Russian explosions have restored the balance. East and West have exploded almost the same amount of megatons as each other. As I say, if anyone believes in the balance of terror, the Russians have been restoring it, and the Government must not complain too 387 harshly when they restore it. The Government are not in a position to make such a protest.
In his reply to the question whether Britain was to continue with tests, the Prime Minister said that if we find ourselves in a position of military inferiority we shall have to go on with the tests, even those in the atmosphere. He said, as the Lord Privy Seal said, in effect, a minute or two ago, that they would try to confine them to underground tests, but he also said that if the Government found that in order to rectify a position of military inferiority it was necessary to carry out tests in the atmosphere, they would do so. Others have replied in similar terms.We know that it is impossible to beg for peace and tranquillity for the peoples …by preaching love and tolerance. We are compelled to answer military threats by strengthening our country's defence capacity. We have no other alternative.That is what the Government believe. But those are the words of Mr. Khrushchev. When Mr. Khrushchev protests about people exploding bombs in the atmosphere, I think that he is a hypocrite. But members of the Government Front Bench are hypocrites, too, because they do exactly the same thing.
The Lord Privy Seal referred to the way in which the Russians exploded their bombs. Although the explosion of the bombs is terrible enough in itself, in some respects the thing which contributed most to the unsettlement of the political atmosphere throughout the world, leaving aside the other atmosphere, was the timing and the way in which it was done. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman: I think that it is deplorable. It is interesting to try to discover why it should have happened. Surely those who want to discover what is happening in the world and how we can deal with it should consider the matter.
Mr. Khrushchev made the statement a year or so ago which was quoted by the Leader of the Opposition a week or two ago condemning any possibility of anyone starting up tests and branding anyone who started up tests as someone who would be handed down to the shame of future generations, a quotation which he took from a newspaper called 388 Tribune.We published it first. I am glad that my right hon. Friend has his copy delivered punctually. Clearly Mr. Khrushchev was not intending to explode bombs then. It would have been too foolish. Therefore, at some point Mr. Khrushchev thought that there was a possibility of reaching either a general test agreement or that it would not be necessary for the Soviet Union for any military reasons to go ahead with it. That is a feasible assumption.
Somehow or other, Mr. Khrushchev and others changed their mind. It appears that Mr. Khrushchev changed his mind fairly rapidly. There had been preparations for explosions before, but there have been preparations for explosions before in the United States, as the Lord Privy Seal knows. The fact that they made preparations for explosions while the test discussions were going on was not the worst crime. Both sides decided to make preparations to renew the tests.
What is the explanation? I do not know, and we can only guess, but I think that much the most intelligent guess that has been offered to the House so far has not come from the Government Benches and certainly not from the Leader of the Opposition either, but from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) in the debate today. He sought to analyse what is happening in the Soviet Union—the fight against the anti-party group and between China and the Soviet leaders. That is nothing new. We should have known about this for years. We have known that something of the sort has been going on for years. It has not cropped up this month or last, and anybody studying these affairs could see after the death of Stalin that there has been a major discussion about policy continuing in the Soviet Union.
I remember the speech made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) in May, 1953, two or three months after the death of Stalin. It was much the most intelligent speech of any on this subject from the Conservative Benches, but it was never followed up. What the right hon. Gentleman said was that here there were great and profound changes obviously taking place in the Soviet Union, and that the major task of the British Government should be to 389 explore these changes, to see how we could use them for the benefit of the world and our diplomacy. That was the appeal made by the right hon. Member for Woodford, but it was never followed up. The attempt of the right hon. Member for Woodford in 1953 to start negotiations with the Russians was destroyed by the other members of his Government. Instead, this country drove ahead as fast as we could with the plan for the rearmament of Germany.
I remember being told by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East that if only we would rearm Germany discussions with the Russians would be much easier. The terrible feeling which I have about this situation is that we have missed our opportunities. If we look back, it was a merciful deliverance for the world, not only that Stalin died, as he was bound to die eventually, but when some people in the Soviet Union were prepared to try to change the whole course of Soviet policy. It was a merciful deliverance, and we should have aimed our policy, as a major objective, to try to encourage that development. We have done the exact opposite.
§ Mr. Heath
I am following the hon. Gentleman's argument with the greatest interest, but surely he is wrong on this topic. My right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford put forward his proposals just before he ceased to be Prime Minister, and they were followed through by the present Earl of Avon in the Summit Conference of 1955. That was followed by a further Summit with my right hon. Friend the present Prime Minister taking part, and the Prime Minister himself went to Moscow two years ago to try to get negotiations going again, which was followed by the abortive Summit.
§ Mr. Foot
I must bring the Lord Privy Seal up to date in his history. In fact, if he looks back, he will find that I am perfectly correct. After the right hon. Member for Woodford had made his proposals for trying to seek an agreement or negotiations with the Russians in 1953, it was killed by Lord Salisbury and company. Everybody remembers the story. The right hon. Gentleman was still Patronage Secretary then, and perhaps did not follow these things closely, because we do not expect Patronage Secretaries to worry about 390 the future of the world. The right hon. Gentleman now has higher responsibilities, I will come back to that point in a minute, and I will not forget it. It is a big jump from 1953 to 1959, but I will deal with what the Prime Minister said in 1959, when he went to Moscow, in a moment.
When one looks at this situation, I believe it is more desperate in some respects than ever before. What we wanted from the Government, and what I hoped we might have had in much clearer terms from the Opposition in this debate, was some attempt, not merely to curse the Russians for these abominations and explosions. I agree with denunciation if people would only curse these abominations by others as well.
We ought to have had the British Government putting forward a whole series of proposals to escape from the present dangerous situation. Some are very simple. Take the question of tests. Why do not the British Government give an absolutely clear declaration that we will never embark on any further nuclear tests? Why not? Instead of that, we have the statement of the Prime Minister, which was a mass of equivocations, and, as a result, we have a statement by the Washington correspondent of The Times,in describing the protests against the Russian explosion, saying that we are starting a move to resume tests. This is what the Washington correspondent said:Mr. Macmillan's statement in the Commons yesterday is regarded as significant international support for a resumption."—that is, a resumption of tests. This is how the statement of the British Prime Minister is regarded in Washington. I think it is a most deplorable thing that a British Government do not try at this moment to resist any pressure to restart the tests and that we do not assist by saying that we shall never start any tests of our own. I am sorry that this matter has not been pressed strongly by the Opposition. After all, the Opposition are committed never to start these tests, and I do not see why they should not have put down a vote of censure on the Government about that, if they really mean it.
Let us take the question of some of the bases in this country—Thor missile 391 bases. We were told by the Government yesterday that in August we were very near to mobilisation. The Government considered mobilising the Army and certain reservists to be sent to Germany. They decided not to do it, and I think they were very wise not to do it, but they came very near to it. It was a very serious situation, and, as one of my hon. Friends has said, if we had had a mobilisation of that nature it might have been considered as an act of war itself, and we might have been involved in a war. Yet, we have these Thor missiles here, and they are first strike weapons which can be used only as first strike weapons. Unless they are used as first strike weapons, they are useless.
The Leader of the Opposition has agreed previously that that was a perilous situation for this country. The peril of mobilisation made it worse. We might have had a situation building up suddenly about Berlin, when all the time we have these useless Thor weapons in Norfolk or wherever they are constituting magnets for attack, and, apparently, nobody in this country worried about it. In regard to the Polaris weapon, the Government have not got control, do not decide whether they are to be used and whether they are to be fired. As the Economistsaid this week, it may be that one of the purposes of a much bigger megaton bomb is to deal with a weapon like Polaris. Yet this Government are so neglectful of the interests of the people of this country that they do not take any action about these matters. The Opposition are also committed by their conferences to be against the Thor missile and the Polaris missile, yet they do not do anything about it in votes of censure on that subject.
Take the question of the supply of nuclear weapons to Germany. A previous speaker from the Government side reported the feeling about nuclear weapons being supplied to Germany and also the feeling in Poland about the rearmament of Germany. As the hon. Member has just been to Poland, he knows what it is, and I can well imagine it, without having to go there. A week ago, the American Government signed a further agreement for the supply of nuclear weapons to the German forces. If the dangers of these weapons being 392 let off are even only one-tenth as appalling as those described in the brilliant and devastating speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas) yesterday in regard to the danger of these tactical atomic weapons being let off—if the danger is only one-tenth of that which he described, then I think that having these dangerous weapons in the hands of American, British or other N.A.T.O. troops is bad enough, but to put them into the hands of German troops is to take part in an act of provocation.
Yet the Government make no protests, the Opposition made hardly any protests, and it is the official policy of the Opposition to protest about it. I should have thought that to supply nuclear weapons to Germany was a perfectly sufficient ground for a vote of censure on the Government, because the Government permit these things to happen. Yet we have had no protest at all. They have agreed to provide Western Germany as part of N.A.T.O. with these weapons, but they make no plans about any measures which ought to be taken to limit the dangers in an already explosive international situation.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East has already dealt with the matter, but I will say it again briefly. The Lord Privy Seal's answer this afternoon about proposals for a nuclear-free zone and disengagement in Europe were most disingenuous replies. He said that the time is not propitious. It never has been propitious as far as the Government are concerned, except at one moment in 1959 when the Prime Minister was in Moscow. He agreed to it being put in a communiqué, but otherwise has done nothing about it. He has abandoned it. He abandoned it almost as soon as he got back to this country. Yet the Leader of the Liberal Party was saying just now that he could not understand how people could look at the world today and place any blame on the Americans. According to his mythology, the Americans are the saints and the Russians are the devils. That is his liberal vision of the world scene.
How does the Leader of the Liberal Party explain the question of the Rapacki Plan? If a nuclear war does start we shall, in all probability, never 393 find who was responsible for starting it. It will never be discovered. But even supposing that people could ransack all the books afterwards and discover how it started, what would they discover was the West's reply about the Rapacki Plan, a proposal put forward by the Polish Government in good faith and a proposal which could have kept the nuclear weapons out of the areas where they are at present and suggesting that these weapons should be removed from a larger territory in the East than in the West? These proposals were absolutely rejected by the American and British Governments.
The Lord Privy Seal cannot deny this. It is no good his saying that the moment is not propitious for these proposals. His Government have been adamantly opposed to them from the beginning. Why? Because the military chiefs say that they must pile these nuclear weapons into Germany and therefore will not begin to look at any plan for a nuclear free zone. This is the real reason. In other words, the foreign policy of America, and therefore Great Britain, is governed by the decisions and the requirements, or the supposed requirements, of the military chiefs.
Coming back to the Leader of the Liberal Party, he is supporting the Western Powers which, on the major issue of a nuclear-free zone, have refused even to discuss what the Russians have proposed and what Mr. Khrushchev proposed again only a few weeks ago. Moreover, the right hon. Gentleman is exonerating the West entirely when it is the West which is preventing negotiations on the most critical issue of the moment—Berlin.
I have been longer than I expected to be, but I was interrupted by the Lord Privy Seal. I was encouraging him to try to go further. In his speech the other day—I do not need to add much to what was said so well yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire—the Prime Minister said that although some of us on this side of the House represent a large number of people in the country we were pro-Russians and did not care for the name of England—we hated it. Well, I do not think that the Prime Minister is in a particularly good situation to 394 question the patriotism of other hon. Members of the House. His career as Prime Minister started in the dishonour and deficit of Suez. He was responsible for introducing the White Paper in 1957-58 under which the British Government committed themselves to the most shameful proposition that any British Government has ever put forward, that we in certain circumstances would be the first to use the H-bomb. The right hon. Gentleman is responsible for that.
As was revealed from both sides of the House yesterday the Prime Minister has been responsible for leading us into the situation where we are more defence less than ever before in our history. This is so on any test. Whether we take the test of those of us who are nuclear disarmers and who say that we cannot defend ourselves with nuclear weapons or whether we take the test of hon. Members opposite who say that we must have sufficient conventional weapons, this country is more defenceless than at any time in its history. This is not the time for a petulant and pathetic old man to come along and accuse other people— [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] Yes, and even worse, if possible, than listening to the Prime Minister is the hardship we must suffer in listening to the statements of the Foreign Secretary—a kind of bellicose Bertie Wooster without even a Jeeves to restrain him.
We have a situation in which the world is in greater crisis than ever before, and yet the British Government have less to say than ever before on all the major issues of the day, less to say about tests, less to say about nuclear-free zones and less to say about how we can deal with the German problem. The British Government have abdicated. This is no time for the Government and the Prime Minister to come along and attack the patriotism of other hon. Members. Of course, the right hon. Gentleman complains that other people outside the House oppose the whole of the nuclear strategy, oppose it as a monstrous crime, for that is what it is. The Prime Minister thinks that it is wrong when the Russians engage in it but not wrong when anyone else engages in it.
I am glad to say that not only in this country but all over the world—we saw it again in the papers this morning— there are growing numbers of people who 395 are protesting about the whole nuclear strategy whether adopted by the Americans, the British or the Russians. MT. Nehru said the other day—I wish that the statement could have been made by a British Prime Minister—that in two or three years' time India would have the power to make the bomb but was not going to do so. That is the kind of leadership which the world wants.
It is largely because instead of leadership we get in this House, not only from the Government but very often also from the Opposition Front Bench which refuses to put down Motions on the major issues of the day and refuses to challenge the Government on issues which matter even more than those on which they have put down Motions, complacency and hypocrisy that other people outside the House have to adopt other ways to make their protests. But they are going to continue their protests, and certainly the exhibition which we have had from the Prime Minister this week will encourage them to go on with their protests more strongly than ever.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. W. R. van Straubenzee (Wokingham)
The House always fills with interest when the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) chooses to address it. It would not be proper for me to enter into the domestic controversy which the hon. Gentleman has sought to stir up on his own benches. As I was looking at him and listening to him I could not help thinking that his words and his gestures resembled one of the famous three witches of Macbeth, stirring their cauldron of trouble.
I am prepared to leave the hon. Gentleman to his task, but when he reads his speech tomorrow morning I doubt whether he will be as proud of it as he would have us believe. The argument behind the hon. Gentleman's mathematical statement is that in some extraordinary way because the filth released into the air by the Russian tests was mathematically equal to that released into the air by the American tests it made the Russian tests that little bit less reprehensible. This was a very clear inference in what the hon. Gentleman said and he must not be allowed to escape from it.
396 The fact is that all those who are trying to find an excuse for what the Russians have done will seize gladly and with joy on what the hon. Gentleman has said. He has done scant good for the very cause which he was professing to put forward. It was so easy for him to brush aside the major point made by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. Had the Americans carried out these tests when, quite plainly, they had made preparations for doing so while still talking round the table then there might have been very real reason for complaint from the whole world.
Even had the underground tests been taking place while the Russians were round a conference table, then perhaps there might have been some ground for complaint from the other side. But to try to find some kind of excuse or gloss for what the Russians have done is not fitting for a Member of this House.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
The hon. Member has referred to the fact that a number of years ago the Americans put the same amount of filth into the atmosphere. Will he say what protest he registered at that time?
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
I raised no protest at that time and I am not saying that I did. I do not stand here in a white sheet.
The hon. Gentleman will surely see that if he accepts—which I do and he does not—the validity of the doctrine of a nuclear deterrent, it was right and reasonable to ensure one's superiority of weapon, or at least parity of weapon, and to go on from there. It then follows that it was a wise and proper initiative to seek an agreement for the control of testing and the control of nuclear armament, and that was precisely the position that we reached.
We reached it by the common agreement of the whole House, that this was one of the most encouraging initiatives that had ever been made in this field. In fact, these were the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition—I recall them now. It was in the course of those negotiations that this latest series of tests suddenly burst upon the world. The situation this time has absolutely no parallel with what went before it.
397 I should like to say a word on a comment made by the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), in opening the debate. I would agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Long-den) that the time has long since passed when we ought to admit the State of Communist China into the United Nations. There is a widespread feeling throughout the country that this is long overdue, and I think that the reasons which he adduced added powerfully to the arguments.
I hope that if the members of my own Front Bench have any doubts about the wisdom of this policy, they will hesitate no longer. Indeed, there are many advantages to be gained from having the Chinese Communists in some public position of council where some of the differences which are at the moment kept behind the scenes might be more publicly aired.
I want to offer some thoughts on a subject which has interested many speakers, namely, the question of Berlin. So often in this country we overlook the fact that the Russians are essentially an Eastern and not a Western people, and that they and their Government have an attribute which we do not possess, namely, that they have the power to wait. They have the ability to take plenty of time over their negotiations. Any hon. Member who has taken part at the lowest level in some form of bargaining in an Eastern bazaar—and many have—knows two things: first, that in no circumstances does one pay the price which is first asked; but, more relevant to what I want to say, one takes endless time over the negotiations.
In this present situation we suffer from two weaknesses. First, we are in a hurry. By its very nature, the debate this afternoon has revealed this fact. The Government have been pressed, and not only from the benches opposite, for some initiative, for revealing what is in their minds. Always there is pushing, probing and questioning.
It is the right function of this House —I am not complaining of it—but it is a disability under which the Government with whom Her Majesty's Government negotiate do not suffer, and I must confess that I would hope that we as a 398 House, and, indeed, the country, would be prepared to take a longer view of the period of negotiation which will surely be necessary over Berlin and the German question generally. We shall suffer if we try to be in too much of a hurry. We shall be wise to remember that we are dealing basically with an Eastern people.
The second disability from which we suffer is that every move we can possibly make is first of all discussed and disputed, canvassed and written about quite openly and publicly over here. Obviously, on balance, we gain immensely. We gain strength from this and all that it represents. I am not questioning that for a moment. But it also means that every combination of moves and every possible initiative can be thought about carefully on the other side first, and that this is a weakening factor on our side. My noble Friend the Foreign Secretary was somewhat criticised for a remark that he made on this point at the Conservative Party Conference, at Brighton. For my part, it struck me as very sound common sense and I found no objection to it whatever.
But when that is all said, there are positive advantages to be gained for us in negotiations over the Berlin question. The thesis that I want to put before the House is that we should be prepared for very modest negotiations on what outwardly seem very modest matters, and should be quite content with very modest agreements. I want to outline what I mean by this. I should have thought, for instance, looking at if first from our point of view, that it was an enormous advance for us to secure in some physical way access to West Berlin.
This is not a matter which will strike the headlines in the sense of making a great deal of difference to the ordinary man in the street or to the country as a whole. It is not an earth-shattering matter. It does not go to the root of the differences between East and West. But if we were able, out of negotiation, to secure physically our access on the ground to West Berlin this would be a very great advance.
I do not believe that we have appreciated in this country—the ordinary man in the street, that is to say, as opposed to hon. Members who study 399 this question—the extraordinary lack of any form of agreement covering our access to West Berlin by land. I appreciate that it is different when one comes to the air corridor, but I think it is a fact that there is no written agreement covering our access to West Berlin, other than a general statement of intent adopted at the end of the war and the recollection of an American major at the conclusion of a committee meeting at the end of the war. When one considers that American rights over the British Zone of Germany were tied up in every particular and every detail, every comma and full stop, it is a rather sad commentary upon the state of mind of all of us at the end of the war. From our point of view, I suggest, it would be a major achievement of negotiations if out of them there came a physical guarantee—I emphasise the words "physical guarantee"—of our access by land to West Berlin.
The next point I raise may sound a small one, but I believe it to be important. I should like there to be a straightening out of the boundaries between West Berlin and Eastern Germany. Some hon. Members may have done as I have done and gone on patrol with British military policemen around the outer boundary of the British sector of West Berlin. Attention at the moment is focussed on the central division within Berlin, but, during the past few weeks, I have had in mind those patrols of British military policemen.
At that time, they were extremely lightly armed, faced with the almost impossible task of patrolling and keeping inviolate a quite astonishing borderline which followed just the old municipal boundaries of the city of Berlin, going through farmyards, sometimes cutting habitations in half, and so on, with all the possibilities of mistake, misunderstanding and episodes of one sort and another.
Having done my time in the Army, I had not until then looked upon the Royal Corps of Military Police with any great affection.
Mr. van Stranbenzee
I gather that my hon, Friend has even less affection for them than I have. Nevertheless, my view 400 of British military policemen changed immensely in their favour after I had done an hour or two in their company on that very difficult task.
Negotiation, of course, implies give and take. It would be absurd if that were not so. It must more than ever be said that there is a body of opinion in this country which is prepared to accept some measure of recognition of the East German regime, and that opinion is not in any way confined to the other side of the House. It is not a palatable thought, and there are very few hon. Members who would pretend that the East German regime is anything but a sham.
But it exists. The West Germans certainly treat the East German regime as though it exists. I find a little difficult to swallow the protestations of some West Germans who try to pretend that, politically, East Germany does not exist while doing everything they can to trade with the East Germans and, indeed, getting cross with us when we sometimes beat them at trade with East Germany itself.
I had an interesting experience at a conference in Königswinter last March. It was attended by hon. Members from both sides, and I am sorry that the hon. Member for Leeds, East is not here, for he made a very distinguished contribution to it. I remember being an enfant terribleat the conference, in company with, strangely enough, a leader writer, I think he is, of the New Statesmen.It was a curious coalition for me to find myself in.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
The hon. Gentleman remembers the incident. He knew that it meant no conversion, and I hope that it will not undermine my position in my own party.
At that conference we pleaded for the recognition of East Germany, and we were firmly sat on from on high and from all possible directions, including our respective parties, and, of course, by the Germans. What interested me, however, was that, when one was in private, by oneself, an appreciable number of German politicians—I do not exaggerate; it was a small number, but an appreciable proportion—came up and, after making sure that there was no one to overhear, said, "That makes a lot of sense, but you cannot expect us to do it in an election year."
401 In this House, we are not able to throw bricks at other politicians. We all understand the difficulties that West Germans of all parties were in during their election year. But now their elections are past, and I do not think it would be unreasonable for the rest of us in the Western Alliance to ask the West Germans to reconsider carefully some of the bases upon which they have been approaching the East German regime. Equally, in fairness, it ought to be said, as I remember the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) said last time we debated the subject, that, particularly in West Berlin, we run a grave risk with the morale of people who are, after all, our allies in N.A.T.O. This change, fundamental for them, can be made only by agreement. I accept that quite definitely.
There is a third difficulty, a very unpalatable one, which we must face. When one is trying to keep up the morale of one's own people, it is extraordinarily difficult to show why the British should, as it were, run any risk of going to war over Germany. To say that is to over-simplify the issue, of course, but there is a deep-seated anxiety in the country that, in some way or other, there is a risk of our being led a dance by people towards whom so very recently we had every cause to have feelings of quite another kind.
My views on the German problem are frequently ventilated, at any rate to anyone who will listen to them. I make no apology for them. They are quite simple. I myself shall never trust the Germans again. I know that I ought to take a different view, but I am human in my approach. I have many individual friends among Germans and I do not for a moment make the same mistake of tarring all with the same brush, but I believe that the Germans have the fatal weakness of liking to be led. I do not look upon the perpetual division of Germany as a tragedy which ought to be avoided at all possible costs. But, having said all that by way of background, I insist that there is far more at stake in West Germany in general and in West Berlin in particular than fighting for the Germans. It is a matter of far deeper significance.
It should be said, also, that this is likely to be a difficulty for the Russians. 402 It cannot be easy in Russia, when matters are discussed in the collective farm, the collective meeting, or whatever forum one uses to get at public opinion, to explain to a Russian why it is that he may be involved in the defence of part of a nation towards which he had every reason, in the immediate past, to have deep fear. Thus, this may well be an equal difficulty for both sides.
Summing up on Berlin, I appeal to the House to be content, both when negotiations are in train and when they are concluded, with very modest results. Let us take things slowly. Above all, let us not be in a hurry. We might slowly make progress on what otherwise seems an intractable problem.
I turn now to the European Economic Community. We listened with great interest to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and to a typically informed contribution, if I may say so, from my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Mr. Kirk). I am on record as being what I call an extremely watchful Common Marketeer. I voted without difficulty in favour of the Government opening negotiations, and I am certain that that was a right decision. Somehow, we must clear out of the way the indecisions of the present situation; whichever way those negotiations may come out, it is better to know one way or the other.
I am equally certain beyond doubt that if my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and his team can negotiate terms that are politically acceptable, he will have made one of the greatest contributions of any statesman to the life of this nation, for to associate Britain and the Commonwealth politically—and I so much agree with all those hon. Members who have said before this that it is the political problem that is the kernel—with Europe in an acceptable form will, indeed, be an immense move forward for everyone concerned, not least ourselves.
In all this talk about integration, and the subjugation of our common interest, and all the rest, I always keep quite unashamedly in mind the interests of the United Kingdom. I have much anxiety about the state of mind of some of those who are likely to become our partners on the continent. I want to draw attention, if I may—and I now deal with the 403 federal problem, which has been discussed already this afternoon—to a report which emerged from the Congress of Christian Democrat parties in Western Europe. After all, the Christian Democrat Party is likely to form the largest single party in any European Assembly, whatever form that might take. It is, as one has to remember, overwhelmingly Catholic-dominated, and the state of mind of those who make it up is not just to be shrugged aside.
Speaking to that congress, the Secretary-General of the International N.E.I, said:Whatever the terms and conditions attaching to the contingent membership of Great Britain and of other European countries, the six must couple this admission with political undertakings, which, although modest, need to be precise and irrevocable, reminding these new partners that, on joining the six, they are binding themselves to accomplishing with them the long march that is to lead us to a veritable federation and to political unity.I am not for one moment suggesting that the words of one secretary-general of one of the great parties in Western Europe will determine the outcome of negotiations. My point is to suggest respectfully that there are important trends of thought in Western Europe on the part of those who are intent, somehow, on getting us into a federation; and that it is particularly this danger that it is our duty to bring to the attention of the country and, as I think, on which to warn the Government.
I want to make my position perfectly plain. I have no sort of doubt whatever, I have no doubts or anxieties about the approach of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. I do not, by inference, in any way suggest that he has in some way said one thing to one group and another to another group—as has, I think, been most unworthily suggested by, at any rate, one of my hon. Friends.
I am, however, deeply concerned that having negotiated terms acceptable economically—which, I believe, will prove possible—we shall, if we are not extremely astute, find ourselves inexorably drawn into a federal political structure in Western Europe. At this early stage that is all one need say except, without an apology, to add that when the terms are produced, many hon. Members on both sides of the House will look at them very critically indeed from this point of view.
404 The great difficulty in this field is that when one seeks to put before audiences the political reason for being extremely cautious—which, in my judgment, is overwhelmingly the Commonwealth reason—one is accused of being Blimpish, old-fashioned, 1897, Diamond Jubilee, and the rest, and the trouble is that the views I hold so strongly have allies—such as the Beaverbrook Press, which does more harm to them in one issue than all the Communist Press put together.
I have no desire to go back to 1897 and the old "Empire" complex—I have no shame about it, but it is wholly irrelevant and out of date in 1961. I am, however, concerned that the Commonwealth has the particular component which makes it of immeasurable value to us in the modern world. The problem facing the United Kingdom and other nations in this half of the century is not such parochial questions as Western Europe, but whether, as white men, we shall survive in a world dominated by colour, and whether we shall survive in a world where the coloured populations know grinding poverty and, broadly speaking, are getting poorer.
Here, to our hand and to our use we have, through this astonishing association of people—bridging colour—the opportunity, which we use today but could enormously add to, of political influence with nations of colour. To my way of thinking, this modern, streamlined association of people is a very practical, up-to-date concept for 1961, and neither party loyalty nor anything else will persuade me to vote for anything which, as I think, tends to weaken the political powers of the Commonwealth.
That is why I beg our European friends not only to see that there is no possible chance of the majority of British people voting for a federal solution of Western Europe, but to appreciate, also, that, without the Commonwealth, the addition they gain of the United Kingdom is but a truncated and small part of the whole which ought to join with them.
Nevertheless, in this problem of the Commonwealth and the poverty of the coloured world we have an immense challenge. Here, I want to make what, 405 in comparison with what I have been saying, may seem a rather parochial plea to my own Front Bench. We have all heard people say, "What youth needs is a challenge." I have frequently been at meetings where Government speakers and others have been urged to place a challenge before our young people—and it is usually left there. One of the problems is to find exactly what the challenge ought to be. Surely, here, in this problem of the under-developed nations of the world, we have precisely the challenge which our young people are so well fitted to meet.
I want to draw the attention of my own Front Bench—and neither of my hon. Friends now sitting there at present has Departmental responsibility for it— to a quite remarkable organisation, which has no idea that I intend to say this this afternoon, and for which I have no responsibility at all. Voluntary Services Overseas is doing quite remarkable work in this field. It is a typical British organisation, inspired by a man of tremendous breadth of vision and force, but an organisation that is working on a financial shoestring.
I have not the figures—I did not even ring up the organisation to enquire the exact figures for fear those running it might ask me not to speak as I now speak—but my recollection is that about 200 or so of our school-leavers from every type of school, who are either journeying abroad or are working overseas at the moment are involved. I can think of one from my own constituency, who is working in a school in Fiji. Another is working in a home for deprived white boys in South Africa—one could hardly imagine a more poignant situation. Those young people are coming back with reports behind them of quite remarkable successes; there is the occasional failure, because they are human but, overwhelmingly, a very great contribution is being made.
I would like to hope that those Ministers now present on the Government Front Bench—who have not, I repeat, any Departmental responsibility—might feel it possible, when the Government reply is made, at least to express a word of commendation for what is being done there: and, preferably, to see whether it is not possible, even in these days of 406 financial stringency, for us as a nation to grant a slightly larger measure of financial support to something that is so infinitely great.
I have imposed upon the House for longer than I thought. I shall not comment any further on that side of things except that in relation to colour I should perhaps say that I approached the Gracious Speech with great anxiety when I read the words which apply to proposed legislation for controlling immigration. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, South-West I do not welcome this legislation at all. I have no doubt that it is necessary, but I do not welcome it.
I must confess that to end an era in which it was the proud boast of any man of any colour that he was a British subject and could move freely to and from these islands in a world which is so full of restrictions is a matter to me of very great regret. I appreciate the very short time for which the legislation will be brought in and I appreciate the care taken to look after the students who come here. What a tremendous contribution to world relations we make in this country through our young people from all over the world being educated here.
I see the protection for that and, although my constituency is not affected, I recognise that in many parts of the country—let me face it—this raises very real social problems, problems recognised frankly on both sides of the House. But I still very much regret it. I regret it more because it seemed to me, because of the words used in the Gracious Speech, that one of the greatest causes of people coming to this country was not to be tackled at all.
I refer to the immigrants from the Republic of Ireland. I realise now, having studied the Bill which has been laid before the House, that my early misgivings were not justified, but, in view of certain comments which were made earlier, when there was questioning whether control of immigration from Eire would be possible, I say this. I feel a very strong sense of duty, for instance, to West Indians. I feel a strong sense of duty to a West Indian for he is a member of the Commonwealth and accepts its obligations. I feel absolutely no sense of obligation or of duty to the Republic of Eire, which, it has always 407 seemed to me, seeks to gain all the advantages of Commonwealth membership without any of its obligations.
Had it been—or, under pressure, if it should be so—that the Government were tempted to remove white immigration from Eire from this Bill, frankly it would be very apparent to all that the only substantial immigration that was to be controlled was that of colour. That is not a situation which many of us on either side of the House, in modern Britain, would be prepared to countenance. I trust, therefore, that any doubts which the Government may have on these matters may be very speedily removed.
My contributions to these substantial and weighty matters have dealt with comparatively small items, but I firmly believe in the doctrine put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Avon, that in international matters we should sort out the small and try to make progress with them. It may be that the value of the debate today is that back bench Members on both sides can bring forward the sort of problems with which progress can be made and for which mankind is so longing.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) has made an interesting, careful, honest and, if I may say so, great speech. I could not agree with him on everything. I certainly could not agree with him when he said that some of the points he made were small ones, for he raised very many great and fundamental points.
In the latter part of his speech the hon. Member referred to the Commonwealth. He said that he regretted the paragraph in the Queen's Speech dealing with immigration, but felt that it was necessary. He referred, also, to the fact that over the years any man who lived in the Commonwealth could boast that he could go to any part of the Commonwealth. The words of Paul are recalled, "Civis Romanus sum", "I am a citizen of Rome". The phrase"Civis Britannicus sum" could have been used in the last century. I deplore that passage in the Queen's Speech dealing with immigration. It deals a 408 fundamental blow against a long-cherished principle of the British Constitution and of the British Commonwealth.
The hon. Member dealt, also, with a very important question, the need for clarification about physical access to Berlin. He told us of a time which he had spent in the company—I hope not in the custody—of the military police. He told us how he had gone round another part of the border of West Berlin. I share that experience with him for I also served there with B.A.O.R. I had the doubtful privilege of taking part in a military exercise at Gatow under the conditions he mentioned. There are undoubtedly problems there which, I hope, may be clarified, because there may well be difficulties in future in that part of the boundary.
The hon. Member told us of the views of German politicians about the Oder-Neisse line and recognition of East Germany. Undoubtedly, some of those remarks which we have heard in the last two years were made while fully bearing in mind the imminence of the West German general election. I saw Herr Willi Brandt more than a year ago and came from him dissatisfied with some of his views about the future of the Oder-Neisse line and East Germany. One thing I did not like at all when I was in Western Germany was the constant reference to Eastern Germany as "Middle Deutschland," which was always translated as East Germany. Probably I read too much into that.
After making those comments on the hon. Member's most interesting speech, I shall proceed with my own and I must refer, first, to the resumption of tests by the Russians. In this House we have heard condemnation of those tests from hon. Members on both sides. I wish as strongly as I can to add my condemnation. For two or three years there were no tests. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition the other day quoted Mr. Khrushchev's own words spoken in January, 1960, Khrushchev stands condemned—even convicted—by the people of the world out of his own mouth by those very words.
It ill-becomes Mr. Khrushchev, who has referred to the violaters of obligations being covered with shame if there 409 were a resumption of nuclear tests, to pray in aid, as he did a few weeks ago, the name of the Almighty when he said, "We hope to God that we shall never have to explode a 100-megaton weapon. "A few weeks later he proceeded to explode a 50-megaton weapon.
I do not wish to be emotional about this issue, although it is very easy for a Welshman such as I am to become very emotional about it. I look at it from two hard, practical reasons. They are among the reasons why I find myself perturbed at resumption of tests. I am the father of a very young daughter who is in Wales. She is just over a year old and is still to a considerable extent dependent on milk. Therefore, hon. Members will respect me if I speak with some feeling. I also come from a family which produces milk in a substantial way in Wales. I have thus a dual practical interest in what may happen in the next few weeks as a result of contamination of the atmosphere.
I had the privilege a year last May to raise in an Adjournment debate the question of the pollution of the soil in this country as a result of strontium 90, and on that occasion, in the early hours of the morning, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health gave to me and to two or three other hon. Members gathered here at the end of a finance debate an assurance that there was no harm at that time in the amount of strontium 90 in the soil Yet, apart from the outrage from which we are now about to suffer, in Cardiganshire and many of the Welsh counties, in Scotland, in Cumberland, and in many parts of the western side of the country, this dreadful plague is three and a half times what it is in the eastern part of this country. It is no wonder that we in Wales and the West in particular are really and deeply concerned with the resumption of tests by Russia. Now we have this additional and immediate hazard from iodine to the young.
The most significant thing that has happened as a result of the resumption of tests by the Russians is the great disillusionment about having diplomatic negotiations at all. As one who believes, and believes strongly, in negotiation, I find that it is one of the things I have to fight for with my fellow young people. 410 It is a really serious consideration in the minds of many people whether there is any point in negotiating agreements and arrangements when they are so blatantly broken such a very short time afterwards. I can but barely recall the days of 1935 and 1936 and 1938, the "Munich" days, when scraps of paper were torn up, but that seems to me the only parallel I can draw, from what I have read, with this tearing up of another scrap of paper.
We have heard conflicting reports as to the value of the 50-megaton test. Some say it has no military value. If it has no military value Khrushchev had that test either because of great internal pressure in Russia, either within his own party or from China—that is one suggestion which has been made as to the reason for the 50-megaton test—or because he has started on a piece of terrorist activity—that is the other suggestion which has been made—and is in this as mad as Hitler ever was. If that is the right conclusion, then we are dealing with a dangerous man in a very dangerous situation indeed.
However, it follows, as I understand it—I may be wrong in this—that if there is no military value in testing the 50-megaton weapon as opposed to a much smaller weapon the argument for the resumption of testing by the West is almost demolished. If we condemn Khrushchev's test as political and not military, that erodes the West's case for restarting testing on military grounds, and I hope that the Government will seriously consider this aspect of the case and that we in Britain will never on any account restart the testing of nuclear weapons.
We have heard in the last few years of the might of the United States and of the value of its deterrent. We have heard of that in the last few weeks. If the West, if the United States in particular, has confidence in the quality and value of its deterrent, if the statements which have been made are true, there is no need to resume tests. If the United States does resume testing then that in itself will cast serious doubts on the real effect and value of its deterrent.
I dare not ask what will happen if Khrushchev himself continues this business of polluting the atmosphere. I shudder to think what might result if this planet were made unbearable to live on and what steps might be taken.
411 I proceed to another aspect which, even though it is primarily a defence matter, since defence is so connected with foreign affairs, I hope I may be entitled to deal with. I, like several other hon. Members, am seriously concerned with the situation in B.A.O.R. I am not attacking B.A.O.R. in any way, but I want to ensure that it is strong enough to carry out the functions which are allotted to it instead of being given tasks according to the strength which it happens to have at any one time.
I have some experience of B.A.O.R. I served in it in 1954 and 1955 and I took part, as a very junior umpire, in the exercise which took place then, an exercise equivalent to that which it has just had. It was the major exercise of the year, called "Battle Royal". I have very strong opinions how effective that exercise was, but I am not going into ancient history. We should be well aware of the fact that it is not only recently that B.A.O.R. has become very much—in my opinion, unduly—dependent on tactical nuclear weapons. That goes back to even before 1957. The exercise in which I took part in 1954 was based to a considerable extent on the nuclear weapon.
The Secretary of State for War was asked yesterday whether B.A.O.R. could be asked to take part in a full-scale military operation without the use of nuclear weapons. "Yes", he said, "for a limited period". I and several other Members of this House would dearly like to know what he means by a limited period, because that really is the test of the value which can be attached to his answer as to how long B.A.O.R. can function with conventional weapons.
The hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth) discussed establishment and endeavoured to the best of his ability—I respect him for it—to defend the Government. He told us that no formation is ever up to establishment, and then he discussed what happens after it goes into action, the losses of casualties and the delays before, if ever, it comes up to establishment. He said it carried on. It was typical of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's attitude, but, if I may say so with respect, I think he has made 412 this mistake in this analysis, that those deficiencies arise usually after a unit has gone into action. Every endeavour is made beforehand to bring a unit up to establishment. The crux of the charge which has been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is that now, before any unit goes into action, there is gross underestablishment in B.A.O.R. That is a very different thing from what happens after a unit has gone into action.
§ Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he was going to raise this matter, and I am glad that I am able to be here. Of course it is a good thing to be up to establishment, but the point I was making was that in actual practice units very seldom remain at full establishment and must be able and ready to operate at any establishment, whatever it happens to be at the time. That is the point I wanted to make. My right hon. Friend said that B.A.O.R. could function for a limited period. The length of the period, of course, depends on the amount of the opposition. But it would be ready to function for a limited period. The limit of that period, of course, depends on the scale of the operation. I agree with everything the hon. Gentleman has said, but I would just like to make that point.
§ Mr. Morris
I am very grateful to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I think he might add that the length of the period depends not only on the size of the operation but also, and inevitably, upon how many men the force actually has.
When my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper made a very large number of points of criticism yesterday he may only have touched the surface of many of them, but I am quite sure that he drew blood on many of the points. We must remember that he was only in Germany for a few days. I wonder, if he had been there several months, how many possible defects in B.A.O.R. we might have heard of. However, I am not making any attack whatever on B.A.O.R. What I want to say is that I hope the Government will realise that there is genuine concern 413 among many Members as to what is happening there and that if there is anything wrong it will be rectified as soon as possible.
I also consider whether the policy of the N.A.T.O. "pause" in the use of B.A.O.R. forces can stand up to examination. I understand from the Prime Minister that before B.A.O.R. could properly function we should have to have mobilisation. If the idea is that B.A.O.R. should be strong enough to ensure that there will be a pause and if there must be mobilisation before B.A.O.R. could properly function, then I say that mobilisation would take too long to enable B.A.O.R. to maintain the pause.
The Prime Minister very effectively said in the House that the shortages were in the tail and not in the teeth, but obviously the Prime Minister did not know what he was talking about and the Secretary of State for War gently qualified his remarks in the debate last night. I want to make what I hope is a practical point on the issue of disengagement which we have preached for many years. When I was in the Army and we used to patrol the frontier of Western Germany in the region of Helmstedt and Brunswick it was the policy that when a British officer took men towards the frontier they were not taken actually up to the frontier itself. It was only the Control Commission officer who went to the frontier. The men were kept away. That was disengagement in practice on a very limited scale. That was done because relations between each side on the frontier, between those in charge on the West German border and the Volkspolitzei, at that time were not good.
When I consider the complicated frontier of Berlin I fear that a terrible incident might happen as a result of bringing up tanks and men at such a short distance from one another. I thought that one part of the Lord Privy Seal's speech on this issue was regrettable. He told us about the different orders governing British and American practice. I hope that this will be rectified. I understand that negotiations are going on and I hope that they will clarify the issue and that there will be one set of orders for showing passes for the 414 British, the Americans and everybody else.
§ Mr. Morris
Nothing could be more conducive to incidents arising than for there to be different sets of orders for different people passing through the same checkpoint. I look upon West Berlin as a possible flashpoint, as a place where incidents might happen which might develop into something much greater and drag the world into an immense conflagration and I would ask whether it would be possible to withdraw both men and tanks from that small sector of the border.
§ Viscount Hinchingbrooke
If we have arrangements for passes which are convenient and agreeable to the East German authorities and the Americans have arrangements which are not so agreeable or vice-versa,to put them on the lowest level may do more harm than good.
§ Mr. Morris
I do not follow the noble Lord's argument. I can only see difficulties arising where different people pass over the same borders with different orders about showing passes. Undoubtedly somebody will take a stand one day, as has happened in the last few weeks. Such a stand might give rise to a terrible incident and we do not know where it might end. I cannot see any logic or reason in it and I do not think that the Lord Privy Seal or the Government can argue that there should be different orders for different people going through the same checkpoint.
I am deeply concerned about many aspects of B.A.O.R. and I hope that these matters will be rectified. I condemn the extension of conscription—for that is what it is—as ineffective and wasteful. The reimposition of conscription is an admission of the complete collapse of the Government's defence policy of 1957. The independent deterrent has gone, and now the Government have failed to make up the numbers they require in the Army without having recourse to conscription.
In the last few days we have heard many accounts of the bullying of little Finland which has now begun. I deplore it as much as anyone. I had the privilege of visiting Finland earlier this year with several hon. Members. It is a land not without tensions. There is a substantial 415 Communist minority in its Parliament and there is an intricate constitution. I was there at the time when the Finns were discussing whether Finland should join E.F.T.A. As a two-thirds majority was required, the Communist minority was strong enough to vote to block the entry of Finland into E.F.T.A.
The tension was considerable because no one knew how the Communists would vote. Certainly no one knew on the evening before the vote was taken, when we have the privilege of dining with representatives of all the political parties. The loud campaign of the Communists in the previous weeks had led one to take the worst possible view. In the end they did not vote and Finland simply became associated with E.F.T.A.
The House is well aware that the present difficulties between Finland and Russia arise from the foreign policy pursued since 1948, that is, the Paassikivi line, under which Finland does her best to avoid provoking the U.S.S.R. while at the same time preserving her own national integrity. Russia has a quite favourable trade agreement with Finland and the present President, Dr. Kekkonen, has pursued this line with greater flexibility towards the U.S.S.R. for many years. Because of this he has been under attack for a long time from both the Left and the Right. Russia is now attempting to invoke the Treaty of 1948 whereby she claims joint Finno-Russian measures to meet any attack by Germany or the N.A.T.O. allies, presumably including ourselves. I was glad to hear the Lord Privy Seal say that Finland has nothing to fear from us, and I am sure that that goes for all the N.A.T.O. allies.
I have tried to analyse why at this moment Russia has sent a note to Finland. At worst, she is attempting to swallow up or dominate Finland. I hope that that is not the right interpretation. If it is, Finland may well become the next flashpoint in Europe, the next Berlin. The other possible approach is that early in January there will be presidential and Parliamentary elections in Finland and if President Kekkonen, who obtained office by only two votes last time, is defeated, his successor may pursue a line very different from the Paassikivi line. I may be wrong, but it may be the purpose of Soviet diplomacy to 416 try to influence the Finnish people so as to ensure that in the election the policy of the present President is pursued and continued.
Many of us in this House and in the country have a high regard for the Finnish people and I very much hope that we shall not have an incident there and a Berlin-type flashpoint. I do not expect a statement from the Government tonight on this issue, but I hope that when there is anything of value to tell us they will keep us informed and will also keep in touch with Finland over this matter.
§ 6.40 p.m.
§ Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)
I am sure we can all sympathise with the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) in what he said in the earlier part of his speech about the anxiety which people living in the higher parts of Wales must feel if there were too great a covering of radioactive dust in the future, and we would agree with him in his strong repudiation of testing by the Russians. But I hope that he will also agree with us and strongly reject the callous and brutal propaganda of the nuclear disarmers at the present moment in printing 30,000 red labels bearing the word "radioactive" for putting on milk bottles. Surely nothing could spread more alarm and despondency among mothers and expectant mothers at a time when there is no danger at all.
We have had some very well-informed speeches today on the details and solutions of our immediate problems over Berlin and the nuclear tests. I hope the House will bear with me for a few minutes while I deal with the rather longer-term problem of our struggle with Communism. The incidents that we have been discussing are only incidents in a struggle which may go on for twenty-five years or more. One of our tasks in foreign relations is to prove to the world that our system of government and our way of life are to be admired and copied and are superior to those of the Communists.
During the summer Mr. Khrushchev boasted more than once that Communism will dominate the world in due course. He was not talking militarily; he was talking politically. That is a frequent boast of the Communists. I have asked myself what alternative we have in opposing that idea in the world. 417 That has led me to consider what is the reality today of our democratic system, which we believe to be successful and which we believe to be the right way to govern, as the true alternative to Communism. The need for that was borne in on me very strongly recently when I was in Brussels at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference and met many Parliamentarians from all over the world.
It is no good our putting out to the world an image of our system of government which is not true or is out of date; or fobbing off the world with a version of a nineteenth century liberal democracy which does not really exist today in this country. We have asked the rest of the world to imitate our Parliamentary system as a panacea for their troubles, but although we have taken it to Africa, India, Pakistan and Malaya, to mention a few examples, Parliamentary democracy does not flourish there or, indeed, exist at all in some of those parts of the world.
First of all, whatever may have been the political history of the last century— the "two nations" of Disraeli, or the idea of two parties of equal power alternating in government through the swing of the pendulum—that really has not been true of this century.
It is strange that in the last sixty-one years there have been only two periods of really radical government—the Liberal Government of 1906 to 1910 and the Socialist Government of 1945 to 1951. For nearly fifty years out of the sixty-one, Governments have been either Conservative or coalition, so that although there is an appearance of a two-party system alternating in government, there is not really the actuality of it.
I was brought up in the belief that Parliament was sovereign and absolute, the "grand inquest" of the nation, and I should still like to believe that, but it is not so except when Parliament and the Executive agree, or on those most rare occasions when the Government are defeated by Parliament. The seven years that I have been in Parliament have convinced me that a much more powerful influence than Parliament is the Cabinet, fortified by a powerful Civil Service and a strong party machine. Only in minor ways often is Parliament 418 able to modify Cabinet legislation, and only occasionally is it able to make much impression on policy.
If the British people were really dissatisfied with succeeding Governments working under those conditions, we can be sure that they would have rejected those Governments at the polls. But that has happened only three or four times in the last sixty-one years.
I believe that this lack of rejection comes about not only because the Cabinet is supported by a powerful Civil Service but because before nearly every piece of important legislation is submitted to Parliament, the interests, organisations, local authorities and other bodies outside Parliament are consulted in a general way. Thus, in vulgar language, the bugs are got out of the Bill before they reach this House. We know—we have to admit—that 90 per cent. of the legislation presented in the Gracious Speech will, in fact, pass through this House. Therefore, we here in Parliament have to accept the position that we are often longstops, making secondary changes, and not always frontline troops airing new grievances of which the Government have never heard.
The third reason why the Executive carries on in such strength in this country is that we have built up a series of tribunals, courts of appeal and arbitration boards where the rights of the individual against the Executive may be tested without the aggrieved individual ever coming to Parliament. The proposal for an ombudsman, made by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Dr. D. Johnson), would take that trend a stage further.
So I suggest that our present system of Government is not pure nineteenth century democracy, as is so often supposed all over the world, but one of a Cabinet acting through Parliament and supported by a strong Civil Service, with certain built-in checks for the protection of the individual. Therefore, the value of the vote as envisaged by the democrats of the last century has greatly decreased. In my view, it needs a new John Stuart Mill or a Dicey to explain in popular and yet precise terms just what has happened in the last twenty or thirty years.
419 More clearly, this is seen in local government, where the voters are only 30-40 per cent. of the electorate. Yet on a local issue of great importance, where perhaps a ten-storey block of flats is proposed to be erected in a quiet residential district, there is a great volume of protest, and, as a result, changes are often made in the proposal. Yet the councillors are not often thrown out of office; they yield to democracy before that is necessary. In that connection I ask hon. Members to look at the recently published book, "The Bored Electors, "by Christopher Martin.
The secret that I think we can impart to the world as an alternative to Communism is that we are trying in this country to set up a system of responsible government, responsible to the nation. It is worth noting in passing that that was indeed the slogan or motif of the Conservative Conference at Brighton this year. I do not for that reason claim that it is a one-party idea. But I do say that what we have to face is that, with so many other distractions, entertainments, hobbies and sports, the people are not giving to politics the close attention that the well-informed electorate gave to it in the last century, when voters read long columns of Parliamentary speeches in the daily Press.
As today only about 10 per cent. of our population regularly attend churches and chapels, so only about 10 per cent. take a keen and sustained interest in politics. This does not trouble me as long as we consider and meet grievances as they arise. But, in return, if the Government are to be responsible, then the electorate must be responsive. I do not believe that the Government should be responsible only to the people who voted on polling day; they should serve the interests of the nation, past, present and future. That takes us some way from the other, rather outworn, theory of the mandate.
To return to the responsibility of the electorate we should stress "privilege" in Government as well as "rights", because many of the things that the electorate receives in the form of welfare services and the like are indeed privileges of a sophisticated society dependent upon the earnings of the nation at home and all over the world.
420 The Leader of the Opposition put the point very well on the opening day of this debate when he said of radioactive iodine:My last thought on this subject is simply that we, at least, are fortunate in being able to protect our young children, because we have the means to do so, but there must be millions and millions all over the world who have not these means. "—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 31st October, 1961; Vol. 648, c. 19.]The electorate and the population as a whole would do well to consider in what a privileged position we in this country live in many respects.
The short point I want to make—and I am asking my right hon. Friends to consider this in our propaganda overseas—is that there should be a rethinking of the image of the governmental system we put before the world. We should show that what the British people prefer is a strong Government, with a conscientious and incorruptible Civil Service, consulting the interests of all, and with protective devices for the individual, and that, above all, such a Government Should aim to be responsible and gain respect and response from the electorate.
In this picture, of course, Parliament and elections have a vital part to play, as everyone realises, but we should be deceiving ourselves and the rest of the world if we were to put forward to the world that the emergent countries will solve their problems by adopting parliamentary democracy alone. What they have to have as well, to constitute a true alternative to Communism, is a good, well-trained Civil Service, along with protective machinery for the individual.
§ 6.51 p.m.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
The hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) lamented the fact that the public no longer reads our speeches as it did in the days before mass communications. One is tempted to make the obvious retort, but I must confess that I was a little puzzled when he talked about rethinking images. Certainly, the attempt of the Conservative Party to do rethinking has not created a very impressive image in the mind of the general public so far.
§ Mr. Warbey
I want to depart from the hon. Gentleman's learned discourse on democracy in the modern world and 421 come to some of the issues which confront us rather more urgently at the present time. I want to begin with a brief reference to the Common Market. As the Lord Privy Seal has so courteously stayed throughout this debate, he may be able to answer one or two questions about it.
The determination of the Government to enter the Common Market and, along with that, in the course of time to permit the free entry of unemployed workers from Western Europe into this country, stands in dramatic contrast with the proposal to prevent unemployed workers from the coloured parts of the Commonwealth entering the country.
§ Mr. Heath
I must correct the hon. Member straight away. The arrangements for the mobility of labour between the Six at the moment are that a job must first be notified to the nationals of the country and then, if no one is available after three weeks, it can be notified to nationals of the other five countries.
§ Mr. Warbey
I am aware of that— that is why I said "in course of time". The right hon. Gentleman will be well aware that the Rome Treaty lays it down that the aim shall be, over a period of, I believe, seven years, to achieve unrestricted mobility of labour.
§ Mr. Warbey
That is the aim, and it is set out clearly. No doubt the detailed arrangements have to be worked out. In any case, even in the transitional period the limitations which would be applied would be far less severe than those it is proposed to apply to Commonwealth entrants, who will have to show either that they have jobs offered to them or that they have special skills and, in addition, will have to have a permit from the Ministry of Labour. This proposal will operate as a colour discrimination because it is, in the main, people without special skills, and who have no jobs, who come here from the coloured parts of the Commonwealth at the present time.
The contrast is, therefore, a very dramatic one. At the time that the Government are preparing to open the door to the people of Western Europe, they 422 are preparing to close it to large sections of the people of the Commonwealth. That is characteristic of the Government's attitude towards the Common Market problem, which shows quite clearly that they are prepared to weaken and to break our Commonwealth ties in order to enter a closer union with the most reactionary parts of Europe.
The right hon. Gentleman has tried to suggest—or did so earlier, when we were entering into negotiations—that there was no question of our entering into a federal political union with Western Europe. Yet he has now admitted that he, on behalf of the Government, has declared formally that they accept the objectives of the Heads of Government in drawing up the Bonn Declaration. Of course, he can equivocate about that. He can say, "I did not say that we accept the objectives of the Bonn Declaration itself, but only that we accept the objectives of the people who drew up the Declaration."
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman draws a distinction between those two propositions. If he does, then he is guilty of doing what he has been accused by some people of doing—of saying one thing to one group of people and another thing to another group. I wish that we could, first, have it made perfectly plain whether or not the Government subscribe to and accept the objectives set out in the Bonn Declaration itself. I would have thought hat that was the ordinary meaning of the words he used in Paris the other day, and they will be so interpreted in Europe.
If I am right—and the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong —that means that the Government have already accepted the idea of the creation, around the Common Market, Euratom and the Coal and Steel Community, of a political union of the countries in these Communities, that that political union shall have an institutional framework for the union of these peoples, and that, furthermore, the object of the political union shall not merely be to integrate their economies but also to develop common foreign and defence policies.
I remind the right hon. Gentleman that in the Bonn Declaration it is specifically stated that the purpose of this 423 political union is to strengthen the North Atlantic Alliance. He can correct me if I am wrong in my interpretation, but if I am not wrong then it is clear that the Government are headed if not for a federal then at least for a confederal political association with Europe. 'In essence, they have accepted the French and German thesis on the subject.
I understand that the French have already put forward fairly precise proposals for a statute of a European Union. In these proposals they have laid it down that the political union shall have a common foreign policy and a common defence policy; that this political union shall have the usual institutions in the form of a Council of Ministers, an advisory commission, and some kind of Parliamentary Assembly. They have also laid it down as a condition that every country which joins the European Economic Community, which signs the Rome Treaty, shall also agree to enter this political union. I believe those to be facts and, if they are wrong, the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Privy Seal has had an opportunity to correct me, but I observe that he has not done so up to now.
§ Mr. Heath
There is a great deal that I could say about what the hon. Member has been saying, but I can say this now quite clearly. I have always made it plain to the House that there are no arrangements for political organisation in the Rome Treaty itself. I have always said that if those are required, they have to be organised separately. The hon. Member has been stating as facts certain things about the proposals of the Fouchet Committee, but those proposals are not yet even being considered by Governments.
§ Mr. Warbey
That may well be, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is now saying that the Treaty of Rome itself does not contain these political provisions.
§ Mr. Heath indicated assent.
§ Mr. Warbey
That is perfectly true, but on top of the Rome Treaty there has now been superimposed the Bonn Declaration, which is a declaration binding the six member Governments of the E.E.C., drawn up by their Heads of Stale, committing them precisely 424 to the establishment of a political union with the appropriate political institutions. The Government have said that they subscribe either to the Declaration itself, or to the intentions of the people who drew up the Declaration. One way or the other, the Government have now gone beyond seeking admission to E.E.C. and subscribing to the Rome Treaty and have reached the point of declaring that they are prepared to join this political union at the same time. That is now the situation.
§ Mr. Healey
Is it not the case that the right hon. Gentleman himself said this afternoon that, in accepting the Bonn Declaration, the Government accepted the obligation for entering into the political work and trying to develop it from whatever stage it had reached, as a result of the work of the Fouchet Committee, when Britain became a member of the Community? In other words, if the proposals mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) have become the basis of the Six when we join, we are obligated to act in that sense.
§ Mr. Warbey
I am prepared to allow the right hon. Gentleman to continue this interesting intervention, but, apparently, he is not willing to do so, nor to reply to my hon. Friend or myself. This is an extremely important matter. We are concerned with the whole future of our people and with our relations with Europe and the Commonwealth. We want to know exactly where the Government stand. By the admissions and the silences of the right hon. Gentleman, we now know that the Government are committed, or prepared to commit themselves, in order to join the Common Market, to joining a political union with the West European countries, involving this country in being committed to the same kind of foreign and defence policy as France, West Germany, Italy and the others. That is the position which de Gaulle and Adenauer—
§ Mr. Heath
The hon. Member must not draw false conclusions of this kind. I stated the position quite clearly, because in my speech I actually quoted the words I used. I did not interrupt again, because I have handed my notes back to my office and do not now have them with me. The position was stated quite clearly in the quotation from my speech. The hon. Member must not put false words into my mouth.
§ Mr. Warbey
I do not wish to put any false words into the right hon. Gentleman's mouth, but it is clear that the Government have accepted the Bonn Declaration and the essential purpose. The details are still to be worked out, but the essential purpose is the creation of a political union, and a political union of which the main objective would not only create and foster an economic union and economic integration, but also the integration of foreign and defence policies.
§ Mr. Warbey
I recognise that perfectly well. That is why a number of us on this side of the House have put forward as one of our objections to Britain's entry into the Common Market the fact that the real purpose and the real force behind it is not the promotion of some kind of economic integration, but the giving of political teeth to the defence association of N.A.T.O. in order to put us into a position in which we are permanently committed to having a foreign policy in common with people like de Gaulle and Dr. Adenauer. That is the aim of de Gaulle and Adenauer and I am sure that that is the price which the country will have to pay if we are taken into the Common Market by the Government.
De Gaulle is not unshrewd. He is now working on a policy which, within the limitations imposed by current Western policy and, above all, by American policy, makes a certain amount of sense. He wants this close political association. He does not want a full federal form, but what he calls the Europe ties patries.But, of course, for de 426 Gaulle, "La patrie c'est moi". What he envisages is a situation in which the foreign policy of Western Europe is decided by the six Heads of State meeting in concert.
That is a situation which not only takes away all real sovereignty from this country in matters of life and death, but makes it impossible for us to pursue an independent foreign policy and also a policy in association with many of our partners in the Commonwealth. Nevertheless, de Gaulle is aiming at this association, coupled with some limitation on the possibly growing strength of Germany. That is why de Gaulle is opposed to negotiations with Mr. Khrushchev over Germany.
De Gaulle would like to see Mr. Khrushchev sign a peace treaty with East Germany, because that would mean that the division of Germany had become quasi-permanent. De Gaulle would like to see this, because, with Germany divided, Western Germany would be faced with a continuing threat from the East and would be compelled to seek its security with the West. This is the calculation, and, on a short-term view, it has its merits. Its great demerit is that in the long run it is incredibly dangerous for the future peace of Europe and of the world.
Unlike many right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite who are now prepared to accept the division of Germany, I do not want to see her remain divided. I believe that this carries the seeds of great danger for the future. We cannot permanently divide what is essentially one people without developing over the years an overwhelming sense of national grievance which will eventually express itself in violent forms.
I believe that that is the grave danger facing Europe. It is a long-term problem, but we must begin to tackle it now because we all know that there is only one way in which to get a reunited Germany peacefully and safely. It is by having a Germany which is neutralised in the cold war; which is not a member of either of the two military blocs; and whose armaments are limited.
That is the only possibility for achieving a reunited Germany. If any right hon. or hon. Member can put forward any alternative possibility for achieving 427 it, he is welcome to do so, but nothing else is on the cards. Therefore, those who oppose disengagement proposals such as arms limitations in Central Europe, the Rapacki Plan, and other proposals in the same direction, are the people who are keeping Germany divided and storing up frightful dangers for humanity. They are also the people who are preventing a solution of the Berlin problem, because it cannot be solved except within the context of a solution of the problem of Germany as a whole.
There are still some illusions about. The hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) said that we should have more modest aims in our negotiations. He favoured negotiations, but wanted them to be modest. He wanted us to concentrate on trying to get guaranteed access to West Berlin. I do not think that we could get that from the Russians. Although Mr. Khrushchev has talked about guaranteed access to West Berlin, he has not talked about guaranteed access for Western military forces to West Berlin. One illusion which we had better get out of our minds is that if Germany remains divided, with Western Germany remaining as part of the Western military bloc,it will be possible to retain a Western military and espionage enclave 100 miles inside Communist controlled territory. We had better get that out of our minds right away. It is an impossible proposition.
In talking about proposals for West Berlin, Mr. Khrushchev has always talked about a "demilitarised free city", the possibility of the presence of the United Nations, perhaps even of United Nations or neutral troops, or, as a last resort, the presence of four-Power troops. The Western Powers quite rightly will not accept this last proposal. Therefore, in essence, this comes down to saying that if they were forced to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany the situation would eventually arise in which the Western military forces would have to be withdrawn from West Berlin because it could remain as a centre of espionage and a military outpost 100 miles inside the Communist part of Europe.
§ Mr. van Straubenzee
As I raised the point to which the hon. Member referred, will he say why he thinks the 428 removal of troops from West Berlin by the West is not negotiable and we have to accept that, while, at the same time, he quite understandably expects us to negotiate and give up certain rights which we possess? Why should we start these negotiations by accepting his thesis at one point and not at another?
§ Mr. Warbey
We do not possess any rights. Let us not talk about the idea that one can maintain the status of a conqueror sixteen years after the end of a war. We cannot maintain rights of that kind. No international law would sanction that. We are there by the right of force. It is a valuable military and espionage position for the West, and we intend to stay there. Equally, if Germany continues divided with the frontier between the Western and Eastern military blocsrunning where it does at the moment, we cannot maintain a Western military position in West Berlin.
§ Sir T. Beamish
The hon. Gentleman said that we did not possess any rights in Germany. This astonishes me, because he said earlier that he was in favour of a neutralised and disarmed Germany, which, of course, would involve maintaining occupation troops in Germany ad infinitum.Will he say under what right we would maintain those troops in Germany?
§ Mr. Warbey
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has put a lot of words into my mouth. I was referring to the so-called military rights in West Berlin. That is the first point.
My second point is that a disarmed and neutralised Germany, guaranteed by treaty, after an initial period of inspection during which one would inspect the reduction of the German armed forces, the removal of nuclear weapons, and the gradual withdrawal of occupation forces on both sides, would be embraced in the whole regional security system of the United Nations.
This is the only way in which we can solve the problem of Berlin and Germany. Therefore, those who oppose an approach to this solution along the lines of the Rapacki Plan, eventually with disengagement and neutralisation, must bear the blame if any trouble should occur in Europe or fall upon the people of West Berlin. They will be the victims 429 of Western intransigence, and in that situation it will be quite intolerable, and also politically impossible, for our people to fight for Berlin.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
Surely the hon. Member appreciates that long before all this trouble started what really prevented the reunification of Germany, and what has continued to perpetuate the division between East and West, was the refusal of the Russians to allow free elections in East Germany. That is where the problem began, and that is where the blame lies. It is useless for the hon. Member to attack the West for not trying to make things convenient for the East.
§ Mr. Warbey
We could go back a long way into the history of negotiations over Germany, but I think that everybody will recall that at the time when the West was insisting on free elections in Germany it was also refusing—as it still refuses—to contemplate the possibility that, when it was reunited, Germany should cease to be a member of any military alliance. Under those conditions it is not surprising that the Russians would not accept free elections in East Germany, or Germany's reunification. Nobody can honestly blame the Russians, when they recall the dangers to the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia and the rest of Eastern Europe that would clearly arise from a strengthened and rearmed Germany, as part of an anti-Communist Western Europe.
§ Mr. Warbey
We might have got something like that if the disengagement proposals had been accepted when they were first put forward. If we had obtained disengagement and the neutralisation of Germany there would have been a withdrawal of Russian troops from Hungary, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe.
I am astonished at the hypocrisy of those hon. Members opposite who claim to have an interest in the liberation of Eastern Europe from Communist control, but have never taken one serious step in the direction of making that liberation possible. They have had the opportunity offered to them on a plate. 430 Time and time again the Russians have said that they are prepared to accept proposals on the lines of the Rapacki Plan. They have repeated that they are prepared to accept disengagement proposals, to take nuclear weapons out of East Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia, and to withdraw Russian troops back to the Russian frontier. This has been offered time and again, but it has been turned down by the West because the military leaders of the West have insisted on maintaining this advanced position in West Germany and Berlin, and are still doing so. That is the crux of the problem at the moment.
That is why, instead of saying, in essence, that we support the present Government in their conduct of the current negotiations and their present foreign policy in relation to Germany and to the general international situation —as my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) seemed to be saying today, and as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition seemed to say on Tuesday—we should be saying quite emphatically, as an Opposition, that the Government are guilty, along with the Americans and the West Germans, of not taking those steps which would make possible a reasonable settlement of the Berlin and the German questions.
We should be saying, also, that because they are guilty of not taking those steps we cannot possibly contemplate calling upon our people to fight for Berlin. On the contrary, we should be saying that we will advise them that they cannot and must not do so. We should also say that unless, in the near future, the N.A.T.O. allies are prepared to put forward, as a reasonable settlement of the German question, the proposals which I have outlined, and which are now familiar to the whole world and are accepted by the uncommitted countries as a reasonable basis for negotiation, we can no longer remain committed to our military obligations under N.A.T.O. in Europe.
§ 7.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Humphry Berkeley (Lancaster)
Earlier on, I felt somewhat tempted to try to answer some of the extraordinarily comic ideas put forward by the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey), but in the last few minutes of his speech 431 he seemed to arrive at such a point of air-borne unreality that there seems little purpose in doing so Indeed, under the traditional latitude that is allowed to us in these debates, I propose to speak about a quite different subject, namely, the relationship between this country and some of our new partners in the Commonwealth and some of the newly emerging countries in Africa.
I wish to do this because, during August and September, I spent some weeks in West Africa, in Commonwealth countries and in newly-independent countries, and I feel that we ought to give careful thought to the way in which we should approach these countries, and to our attitude towards them and our understanding of their aims. I can assure my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs— if he needs the assurance—that problems may look very clear in London but they appear quite dramatically different in Accra, or even Lagos or Dakar. I can most dramatically illustrate this view by referring to the statement of the Foreign Secretary at the United Nations, and subsequently in the House of Lords, in which he talked about the double standard which the so-called neutralist countries adopt.
The Foreign Secretary was quite correct in saying that a double standard is adopted, although when he said this I do not suppose that he assumed that he was making the most profound analysis of the century. It is the most natural of human emotions to view with indulgence the grosser eccentricities of our friends while viewing with distaste the minutest departure from propriety of people whom we count as our enemies.
Curiously enough, it is precisely of a double standard that our friends in West Africa accuse our Government. For example, in a country such as Nigeria, which is by no means hostile to Great Britain, many Ministers and politicians said to me, "How is it that you expect us to condemn and to be horrified by the Russian nuclear tests and yet you remain totally silent over the French atomic tests in the Sahara?" They say, "How is it that you expect us to be horrified by the brutal putting down of the uprising in Hungary and yet you 432 remain strangely silent about Bizerta?" They ask, "How is it that you should expect us to deplore the lack of freedom in East Germany and in Eastern Europe when we hear no sign of disapproval—indeed your attitude appears to be quite the reverse—regarding the actions of the Portuguese in Angola or the French in Algeria?" There is no doubt whatever that our friends in these newly emerging countries in West Africa believe that we are guilty of precisely the same sort of double standards of which we have accused them.
Of course, there is no doubt—perhaps we should be flattered by this—that the newly emerging countries in Africa expect a somewhat higher standard from this country than from some others. I remember spending about three hours a few weeks ago discussing the Northern Rhodesia constitutional proposals with the Foreign Minister of one of the West African Commonwealth Territories. Hon. Members will not be surprised to learn that it took three hours for these to be discussed. At the end the Foreign Minister said to me, "All I can say about these proposals is that somehow they do not seem to me to be quite British." What he meant by that was that they did not seem to him to be quite fair. I doubt very much whether this same Foreign Minister would say to the Soviet Ambassador about Russian nuclear tests, "Somehow this does not seem to me to be quite Russian." One has to accept the fact—in many ways it is very flattering—that they expect a much higher standard particularly from the British—I refer particularly to our Commonwealth Territories—because they have come to expect the fair dealing and justice from us which they received during the years in which we governed them.
I think, nevertheless, that it is an unhappy situation when one speaks, as I did only last week, to a Northern Nigerian Minister—and the Northern Nigerians are, I suppose, the most pro-West of all —and he said to me, "It always seems to me that you people are prepared to sacrifice the interests of Africa. You will create a fuss at the curtailment of liberty in Europe or even in Asia. But you will not raise a voice when this happens in Africa. You will make a fuss about atomic explosions there, but not 433 in Africa." I believe that there is a good deal of emotional force behind this argument, and this is something which we ought to recognise.
Another cause of deep misunderstanding between ourselves and the newly independent countries of Africa has been our apparent attitude towards Katanga. I was much reassured by the speech of the Lord Privy Seal in the emergency debate on foreign affairs a fortnight ago. I was in West Africa when my right hon. Friend made a speech in his own constituency in which he set out the record of the British attitude and actions in the Congo during the last few months I think that his statements of policy are unexceptionable and indeed impeccable. Nevertheless, the fact remains that there is in Africa widespread feeling not merely among the people of Ghana and Guinea but also among the Nigerians that our policy in Katanga has been tortuous at times, evasive at times, and at times tending towards the encouragement of the secession of Katanga. If in his speeches the Lord Privy Seal has managed to dispel that idea, so much the better. But it illustrates to us the need for more frankness and candour in our approach to this situation.
We saw recently the conference of the non-aligned States in Belgrade. I must confess that I have been a little disturbed at what I understand to have been the reaction of the American Administration towards this conference. I understand that the American Ambassador sent reports to his Government indicating that a great many of these territories had virtually ceased to be unaligned and had substantially gone over to the East. As a result the American Government may be reviewing its foreign aid programme. I would not accept that interpretation at all. The most extreme speech in the Belgrade conference of which I read the text was that of President Nkrumah. I found in it a great deal with which I disagree. But it is perfectly plain that he is far from accepting the Khrushchev line, either on the Secretary-Generalship or on the question of Germany. If, as I say, has was the most extreme and most Left-wing of the speeches of the non-aligned leaders, it is perfectly apparent that the majority of them would go a great deal less far than he did.
434 When one recalls that the conference delegates included an emperor, three or four princes, a metropolitan archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church and an old Harrovian Commonwealth Prime Minister, it does not seem to me a very promising recruiting ground for budding Communists. I think it important for us to draw one or two conclusions. First, that maddening though the uncommitted countries may be to us at times, it is their genuine desire to be uncommitted. It is also quite possible that they are equally maddening to Mr. Khrushchev. For example, the fact that he was unable to secure the vote of a single member of the non-Communist blocover the motion censuring Mr. Hammarskjold must have been very galling to him. The fact that President Nkrumah sent him a telegram appealing to him not to explode his 50-megaton bomb, after having been his guest at a Black Sea resort for some weeks, must have made Mr. Khrushchev wonder whether he had made the progress with President Nkrumah which he had supposed.
The uncommitted countries may well be a source of irritation to us from time to time, but there is a genuine desire on their part to be unaligned. In my opinion, they will be driven into the Communist camp only if we are foolish enough to assume that they have gone there anyway and try to cut the aid to them which in some cases we have committed ourselves to provide. If I may give a single example, nothing could make a Communist regime in Ghana more probable than the cancellation of the promised American and British aid for the Volta Dam. One can only hope that, having learned their lessons in the case of the Aswan Dam, the Americans will not do anything so foolish.
I wish to say a word about the United Nations. I have always very much regretted the distinct air of hostility which exists towards the United Nations among certain sections of the population of this country. With all its failings in the Congo, and despite what I regard as a grievous mistake of judgment on 13th September, its activities in the Congo have been on the whole helpful. If we recall that shortly after the United Nations got there, there were the régimes of Kasavubu, Ileo, 435 Lumumba, Mobutu and "King" Kalonji and that now, with the exception of Katanga, we have a single Congolese Government, I think this is a ground for saying that the United Nations has played a valuable conciliatory rôle in the Congo.
However, I think the Government might take a more courageous line in their conduct at the United Nations. I regard our voting record in the General Assembly in the last year, to say the very least, as an extremely timid and evasive one. I do not like quoting from the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition. However, in his very remarkable speech in the foreign affairs debate a fortnight ago, with most of which I agreed, his catalogue of our votes in the General Assembly—on the question of South West Africa, on the question of Angola and on the question of urging Portugal to pursue a policy of advance in her colonial territories— showed a most dismal and deplorable record.
No doubt the excuse will be given that it would have been an embarrassment to our N.A.T.O. colleague and ally to act otherwise, but when the United States finds it possible to vote in favour of those resolutions it seems distinctly lacking in courage for us to refuse to do the same. I am hoping that after the offer which the Foreign Secretary made a few weeks ago, to keep the United Nations informed of the progress in our few remaining Colonial Territories we shall cease to feel that colonialism for us constitutes any embarrassment at the United Nations. I think it vitally important that if we find ourselves in a situation, unhappily, where colonial policies which are wholly alien to the kind of colonial policy we have pursued are discussed we shall have the courage to say what we think about it, and also to vote in the right way.
No one regrets more than I do the decline in British power in the last forty or fifty years. I should be very much happier if we were still the most powerful country in the world and if the peace of the world were maintained by the British Navy and the British flag, but that is not so. We must face the fact that the United Nations is an organisation in which large numbers of small countries have put their faith. There is not a 436 country in Africa which does not have this belief and faith in the United Nations and in the power of the United Nations to help solve international problems.
This it seems is the very milieu in which we ought positively to excel. The Prime Minister is fond of drawing an historical analogy between the position of ourselves and the Americans today with the position of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The object of this comparison, I think, is to illustrate that we have the diplomatic experience while the Americans have the power. Through our diplomacy we can exert a helpful and moderating influence on our allies. If we can do that with our allies, how much more should we do it at the United Nations where these skills are required more than anything else? In order to do this, however, we have to have courage and clear-sightedness and we have to understand where and why these new countries believe we are being evasive at present.
A final matter to which I want to refer is not one which comes under the Department of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It is a matter which is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Secretary, but I hope my hon. Friend will be kind enough to inform the Commonwealth Relations Secretary of my remarks. On the occasions when I had visited Africa—and they have been some dozen times in the last few years, and I have visited thirteen different countries—I have found what seems to be a very real difference in quality between the Foreign Office representatives in African territories and Commonwealth Relations Office representatives.
When one makes a generalisation of that kind, it is bound to be unfair and wounding to certain people. There are undoubtedly members of the Commonwealth Relations Office Overseas Service who are doing an excellent job, but in general they are of a markedly inferior calibre to Foreign Office representatives. I suppose the reason for this is that twenty years ago there was not a Commonwealth Relations Office Overseas Service worth talking about. It is true that there was the white Commonwealth, but the relationship with Australia and New Zealand and Canada was so good and intimate that it did not matter terribly much who was occupying 437 subordinate positions in our missions in those territories. It seems quite staggering, however, that today, with Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone independent and with Uganda and Tanganyika coming to independence next year, we should have diplomatic representatives in our Commonwealth Relations Office missions who are inferior, as undoubtedly and demonstrably they are at the moment, to our Foreign Office representatives.
One simple fact illustrates this point. I believe we have twelve overseas Commonwealth missions at the moment. No fewer than six of those are not headed by Commonwealth Relations Office staff. Four are headed, or will be headed, by politicians. I say to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, who has now come to the Front Bench, that I consider the choice of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) for Ghana is a brilliant one. I am sure he will do well out there. The fact remains that we have four politicians, a Foreign Office man, Sir Paul Court Booth in India, and Sir John Maud in South Africa. I know that South Africa is not now in the Commonwealth, but it was when Sir John went there. This seems to illustrate the point that there are not at present people of a suitable calibre to be heads of our C.R.O. missions.
Another matter which in some ways I find even more extraordinary is that there was no country in the world with a greater reservoir of experts on African territories than ours. After all, we have had and still have in East and Central Africa and still in certain countries in West Africa people who have lived their lives in those territories and seen them grow from complete dependence to responsible Government, to full internal self-government and the complete independence. Any other country—the Americans or the Russians, for example —would give anything to have this reservoir of knowledge and experience in Africa. The Americans are sending dozens of people to Africa to try to make them experts, yet we have people of talent and experience who have lived there for fifteen, twenty or thirty years.
I understand that the Commonwealth Relations Office takes the line that it is not appropriate to take into the C.R.O. 438 such people since they are branded as colonialists. I cannot think of anything more short-sighted. We are to establish perhaps ten Commonwealth missions in Africa during the next five or six years. Are we to allow all those colonial servants who have spent their lives in Africa to leave the Overseas Colonial Service and to fill our Commonwealth Relations Office missions with people who do not know Africa at all? This seems to me to be a most extraordinary position and one which, I hope, the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will look into.
I hope that, in my enthusiasm, I have not overstated the case, but there is a problem there and I think that it is one which merits investigation. It seems to me that at the very moment when Russia is making great attempts at inroads into the continent of Africa, sending out high-powered teams of technical experts and high-powered ambassadors and making a number of promises of aid. many of which they will not fulfil, we are seriously allowing our position in Africa to go by default.
Wherever I have been in that continent, whether in British Commonwealth territories or in the newly independent territories, the British colonial record is admired and it is also recognised that we are giving what aid we can, and with this record behind us it would be the height of folly if, by evasion or lack of sensitivity to the things that matter to newly independent African countries or by unnecessarily appearing to support reactionary colonialist regimes, we dissipated that good will. We have the chance of being the only white people with any enduring influence in Africa if the right policies are pursued, and I beg the Government to see that they are.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward J. Milne (Blyth)
The hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) will forgive me, I hope, if I do not follow him in his remarks in this very late stage in the debate on the Gracious Speech. I hope that his own Front Bench will pay some attention to his criticism of our voting at the United Nations on colonial matters and also his strictures on the Commonwealth Relations Office.
The right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) has described these 439 debates as "the grand inquest of the nation". Although it is not the place of a back bench Member, who counts his membership of this House merely in months, at the moment to make the suggestion, I think that if we had the whole of the Government Front Bench present during the course of the debate a great deal more value might be derived from it.
I listened with a great deal of interest today to the opening speech of the Lord Privy Seal and I must say that I was very disappointed. I think that in foreign affairs debates we are suffering a great deal from the fact that two or three years ago the Prime Minister took it upon himself to be the instigator of Summit talks—talks with the leaders of the various nations, and so on—and cast more or less a spell over the rest of his Front Bench colleagues. The Lord Privy Seal today was very much like Columbus, in one of his more famous journeys, in that when he set out he was not sure where he was going, when he got there he did not know where he was, and when he came back he did not know where he had been.
In many ways we are back again to 1938—to the situation where a Conservative Government had once again lost grip of the situation. This, of course, can be extremely dangerous. In the troubled world of today we do not want to create the impression, and we should never create the impression, that things ought to be done drastically rather than by negotiation. We do not want to run into the position in which people are saying, "We have put up with these talks for long enough. We have tried this and that and we really must get moving." So we have from this foreign affairs debate, as from many others, gained very little indeed.
I am certain that people from one end of the country to the other will be as disappointed by this debate as they have been with its predecessors. In the Gracious Speech, reference is made to the question of the Common Market. I should like, on behalf of my own constituency, to link it with what I consider is a regrettable omission. There is nothing in the Gracious Speech which refers to the question of the underemployed areas of the country. When 440 we examine the question of Britain's entry into the Common Market, we find that firms dealing with a wide range of products and commodities have already sited their factories in the Common Market countries.
When I move round my constituency and look at the areas of under-employment in the country, I often think how much better our economy would be if the factories which I have mentioned as being sited in the European Economic Community had been sited in the north or north-west of England, or in the parts of Scotland that are requiring them. Then, many of the problems which we are discussing in foreign affairs as well as in home affairs would be a great deal nearer solution than they are at present.
I claim the indulgence of the House to deal with a matter which, although not directly concerned with foreign affairs, has greatly disturbed a considerable number, if not all, of my colleagues on this side of the House. I say, in linking up this subject with foreign affairs and with a foreign affairs debate, that the type of promises to the people, and the manner in which the Government keep those promises, often reflect the type of respect and consideration that the Government will get in their deliberations with other nations abroad.
In saying that, I am referring to the omission from the Gracious Speech of any reference to legislation on shops and offices along the lines of the Gowers Committee Report. I followed with interest the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) yesterday on this matter. I trust that the Front Bench representatives of the Government will convey my comments to the appropriate Minister.
Before coming to the House, I was an official of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, and from outside the House I used to watch with some amazement the manner in which, almost entirely from this side, attempts were made to get legislation moving but were thwarted by the Government. I was foolish enough to think that possibly when I arrived here there might be some improvement, but when I listened to the Gracious Speech I realised that conditions had not improved in any way.
441 The proposals of the Gowers Committee are in no way Utopian, and it cannot be said that they could not be implemented within the nation's economy, because they are merely in line with what some of the best employers are already doing. If one studies the balance sheets and the profits accounts of firms in the distributive trade, one sees that it is well within the scope of these firms to carry out these measures for the benefit of their employees in the distributive trade. It would have a great prestige value, and it is possible in some ways to argue that it would assist our export trade, too, because here is a side of our economy which has an effect on the tourist trade of this country.
In legislation along the lines of the Gowers Committee Report, Britain has been a long way behind, and still is behind, the advanced countries of Europe. When I meet my trade union colleagues from Europe, mainly from the Scandinavian countries, they tell me that, in the main, they deplore the standard of hygiene and the general working conditions in our shops and offices and the distributive trades. Yet we are told that these people are looking to Britain for leadership and are hoping that Britain will move into closer relationship with them.
The omission from the Gracious Speech of such legislation is all the more to be deplored when we look at the background and the Government record in this matter. In 1955, the recommendations of the International Labour Office were along the lines of the Gowers Committee's Report. The Government then issued a White Paper accepting the recommendations of the International Labour Office, with certain small reservations, and yet nothing was done about them. It is not without significance that 1955 was a General Election year in Britain and that the Tory manifesto of that year tried to get in on the ground floor and to tell the office and shop workers in Britain that something would be done to improve their conditions.
The Tories said in their manifesto— and I hope that this will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Department: 442Legislation will be passed to promote a steady improvement of conditions for workers in offices and shops.As right hon. Gentlemen opposite recollect, the slogan at that election was not, "You have never had it so good", but, "The future beckons with a golden finger". That golden finger has not beckoned for the shop and distributive workers of Britain since 1955.
In 1959, my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) piloted a Private Member's Bill into the House of Commons on this point, only to be told by the Government that this was not the way to tackle the problem. If a Private Member's Bill is not the way to tackle it, then the Government could, and, on the basis of their promises, should, have dealt with the matter long before 1959. The Home Secretary on 25th June, 1957, speaking on behalf of the Government, said:I have indicated that the ideals which inspired the Gowers Committee remain our own."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1957; Vol. 572, c. 59.]The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour was even more enthusiastic, because he said,The Government are committed to seeing that progress is made as quickly as is practicable in improving working conditions in the spirit of the Gowers Committee."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th June, 1957; Vol. 572, c. 162.]That is the recent history of the case, and on this occasion it is appropriate that it should be brought to the notice of the House, because this is a problem which is as old as the shops and offices themselves. Between 1923 and 1936 no fewer than eleven Bills were brought to the House of Commons, all from this side of the House, and ultimately, in 1946, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), then Home Secretary, set up the Gowers Committee. In 1952, following the issue of the Gowers Committee's Report, the Government were quite categorical and we were given a promise of something about to be done. Yet at the end of 1961 we are told by the Government that nothing will be done in the coming Session on this matter.
The Home Secretary's words, in welcoming the Gowers Committee's Report, are on record, on 1st August, 1952:The Government have considered the Report of the Gowers Committee…. and 443 are in sympathy with the general tenor of the Committee's recommendations on this subject… The Government are, however, anxious to prepare the way for legislation… so that there may be no avoidable delay in introducing it as soon as the economic outlook justifies it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st August, 1952; Vol. 504, c. 208.]We should have noticed the rather ominous closing words in the Home Secretary's remarks:as soon as the economic outlook justifies it.We thus find ourselves moving through a complete decade of Toryism since the Report was brought to the House of Commons, and yet nothing is to be done on this very important aspect of legislation in the forthcoming Session. A decade of repeated betrayal is more than the office and shop workers of Britain are prepared to accept. I sincerely trust that, although this matter is a little outside the scope of the debate in which I have introduced it, it will be brought by the Government representatives very closely to the attention of the Departments concerned, for it is an extremely important matter.
§ 8.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Turner (Woolwich, West)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne) will forgive me if I do not follow him in the topics which he mentioned in his speech. Throughout the last two days it has appeared clear from all sides that the House, and I believe the public at large, have been concentrating their minds on the issue nearest home—the state of affairs in Europe and particularly in Berlin.
I have always believed that there was a far graver danger of a conflict coming about in the Far East than in Europe. It has always seemed to me that in this era of atomic weapons and faster and faster communications it matters little whether one is in London, Tokyo, Bangkok or Berlin, for in the event of a conflict all are likely to be involved. It has been refreshing today to hear the Far East mentioned at least twice. I wish to concentrate my remarks on foreign affairs on the Far East, particularly as they affect the Commonwealth countries in South-East Asia.
One of the grave dangers is that the Americans, through lack of experience and not from the lack of the will to learn, have never appreciated or man- 444 aged to understand, even in part, the Chinese and Asian mind. Like the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and some of my hon. Friends who have spoken in the debate, I am wholeheartedly in favour of the admission of Communist China to the United Nations at the earliest possible opportunity. The reason for this view is that I have spent most of my business life dealing with the Chinese in South-East Asia. I do not believe that it is ever possible for any European to get inside their minds.
During the course of this debate hon. Members on both sides of the House have stressed the fact that we understand very little about why the Russians and Mr. Khrushchev himself have carried out these atomic tests. How much less are we likely to understand what the Chinese are trying to do in South-East Asia and in the Far East as a whole. At least, we presume that most of the Russian leaders are somewhat Europeanised in their approach. Their mental thinking must be somewhat akin to our own. Any hon. Member who has had experience of dealing with the peoples of South-East Asia and the Far East will readily appreciate that their mental processes are completely different from those of the Western peoples.
I believe that the only nation which has a real understanding of, and is appreciated by, the Chinese is the United Kingdom. We have had years—in fact, centuries—of experience of dealing with them. I will give the House only one example of how we understand them and come out on top on numerous occasions. It is a pity that this country, the House and the world as a whole have not made a deeper study of the complications which can arise in the Far East. Many hon. Members may know that in Hong Kong there has been over the years, and to an increasing extent owing to the large number of refugees, a shortage of water.
For some time the Communist Government have been offering the Hong Kong Government free water. Those who appreciate the Asian mind know that to an Asian nothing is ever free; there is always some price for it. The one who pretends to give it free fills the mind of the other with grave suspicion. The Government of Hong Kong, naturally, refused to accept free 445 water. They offered to pay for it. We got nowhere. If we were to get the water, both sides—the Communists and our own—had to build a pipeline. I forget how long the pipeline was. It is sufficient to say that the pipeline we had to construct on our territories was longer than that which the Communists had to construct on their territories. The negotiations failed and we got nowhere.
However, we proceeded with all our power and skill to complete our pipeline quicker, faster and more efficiently than the Communists. We succeeded in getting our pipeline to the border and in a position to pump water out of one of the Chinese rivers. Having announced this, negotiations were reopened within a matter of hours. We are now paying for the water. This is an example of how the Communists—the Chinese; I am thinking about the people and not about the regime—understand things and can be the best and finest people to negotiate with, provided that they realise that the people with whom they are dealing are speaking from strength and are not fools.
This is surely the position in the Far East at the moment. Whatever the individual political views of the Chinese may be, whether they be anti-Communists or pro-Communists, one thing is absolutely clear. They are Chinese above all else. Whatever their political views may be, they are very proud of the fact that even their political opponents have created a world Power in China.
I believe that much of the unrest in the Far East is due to the fact that the Chinese are determined to demonstrate quite clearly to the millions of overseas Chinese living all over South-East Asia that they are a great nation. I do not believe that there is any hope of lasting peace in the Far East until the Chinese Communist Government are admitted to the United Nations. This would relieve world tension. It is absolutely essential if we are to have lasting peace. I also believe that it would have a remarkable effect on the present tension in Europe.
I turn now to a subject in South-East Asia which is closely tied to the recognition of Communist China. That is Tunku Abdul Rahman's proposal for Greater Malaysia. Those hon. Members 446 who have followed events since the granting of merdekato the Federation of Malaya will remember that the Tunku had very strong views against the possibility of ever bringing Singapore into one nation with the Federation. This was largely because of racial considerations. The total population of Malaya and Singapore together would have given the Chinese a slight majority over the Malays and would have left about 700,000 Indians and Pakistanis holding the balance. Even a statesman of the ability of the Tunku has found that world events are moving very fast. As hon. Members will have noticed, in recent months he has come forward with his plan for Greater Malaysia.
The union of Singapore with the Federation of Malaya is a commonsense thing which could readily have been enforced in 1946. It was impossible at the time of merdeka,but it has come to be a practical reality today because of the march of events. When Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the Chief Minister of Singapore, won the elections, not long ago, people all over the world said that an extreme Left-wing Government had come to power. What they tended to forget was that the Chinese are, first and foremost, practical businessmen and economists. No matter how Left-wing some of the politicians in the present Government in Singapore may be, they are practical and able men who realise that Singapore and its whole future depends on trade alone. To separate Singapore from the Federation of Malaya, as was done after the war, was rather like removing London from the United Kingdom.
When one has a vast proportion of trade flowing through the main port which is not in one's territory, one must, of course, run into difficulties. Therefore, I wholeheartedly welcome Tunku Abdul Rahman's conversion to a view which I have held for a long time; that it is essential that Singapore be federated in one form or another with the Federation of Malaya.
To act as a counter-balance to this, the Tunku has put forward strong proposals that the Crown Colonies of North Borneo, Sarawak and the independent State of Brunei federate as well. He sees in this a chance of gaining a balance with his own Malays and Malaysians 447 in the Borneo territories to upset the Chinese majority.
Hon. Members who have had the good fortune to visit these territories will appreciate that while there is a sizeable number of Malays in Sarawak and in the Malay State of Brunei there are a majority of indigenous people in Sarawak and a large majority of indigenous people in North Borneo who have no connection whatever with Malaya or with the Malays. I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government can possibly entertain the thought of making a bargain with the Tunku, turning North Borneo and Sarawak into a Federation of Malaya, without first consulting the people of North Borneo and Sarawak. In Sarawak, developments on political lines have progressed and local government covers the entire territory.
I was present earlier this year on the first formation of one of the county councils of councillors from the urban districts created throughout the area. In North Borneo, on the other hand—which is a happy and peaceful country with many Chinese but in which the loyalty is to North Borneo itself—I do not believe that it will be possible, within a year, to hold elections in either of these two territories to enable the people themselves fully to judge the implications of joining a federation with Malaya and Singapore.
Of course, they have ties—economic, transport, currency and various other things—but I am convinced that, given the time, the people of these territories will wish to join in federation with Singapore and Malaya. But Her Majesty's Government would be wrong indeed if in order to strike a bargain with the Tunku over Singapore and the Federation, the territories in Borneo should be pressed on at too rapid a pace. 1 am certain that the people there are not prepared to be rushed into a merger with Malaya and Singapore.
What is the basic reason for doing this? As I have said, it is to counter-balance the Chinese against the Malays. But what is to be the future? Here, we return to the question of foreign affairs and the recognition of Communist China. Then, what is to be the future of our great base in Singapore? One sees in the ex-States of Indo-China various insur- 448 rections arising, Communist-inspired, and we heard this afternoon that here is a situation very much akin to that which we had in the Federation of Malaya.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was wrong—if I heard him correctly—when he said that if European troops be involved in this internal trouble in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, or wherever it may be, it would turn the whole population against the Europeans. I am sorry to say that this is the kind of fundamental mistake that so many people make. It shows a lack of understanding of the Asian and Chinese mind.
The Chinese are business and practical people. The situation is very much akin, as I have said. When Commonwealth troops went in after the arrival of Sir Gerald Templer, there was no turning of the peoples of Malaya, of all races, against the Europeans. British standing in the Federation of Malaya became higher than ever.
What happened? One man managed to convey the message to the people of Malaya that he intended to win and those people—Chinese, in particular, who had been sitting on the fence intending to support the side that was going to win; and that was the Communists to start with—decided that we were going to win, and we won the battle.
This is a matter of gaining the hearts and understanding of the people themselves. It would be foolish if, when negotiations are opened about the possible merger of Singapore into the Federation of Malaya and the Borneo territories as well, we were to assume that automatically—as I gather the hon. Member for Leeds, East was suggesting —we shall not be able to use this base.
The Tunku recognises and appreciates only too well that Malaya was saved by the fact that there was the Commonwealth. He realises that Malaya combined with Singapore can only be safe providing the rest of South-East Asia remains firm and neutral. This is the tragedy of the situation; politics in dealing with the Chinese and similar peoples in that area may lead to a lack of considering practical things like assets and actions. I have always felt, 449 and I have said so, that our American allies made great mistakes. We have made them, also, as have other Western countries.
It is far more important to trade than to grant aid. When we grant aid in money or munitions, or whatever it may be, there is a tendency in these territories for the money and the munitions never to sink down to the people who really matter. Aid in the form of development of roads and irrigation for rice is first-class if it is administered from start to finish by those who are granting the aid, but to grant sums of money is useless. It may be that we do not want some of the products they have available but if we buy those products, at least we know that the people who actually produce them are getting something as a result of the purchase.
It may be preferable to dump those products in the Pacific Ocean rather than take them to the United States if the United States feels that it would upset some of its own industrialists but, in dealing with these people, I have always believed that we have to be quite certain, putting it crudely, that the ordinary people's bellies are full. If the bellies of the ordinary people of South-East Asia are full, half of the political difficulties disappear overnight. As I said at the beginning, these people, and particularly the Chinese, are practical, sensible people, interested only in getting on with their work. This is something we have to remember.
In all this, if the steps I have outlined are followed I am certain that the situation in South-East Asia and in the Far East as a whole can be improved almost overnight, but we have to remember that we are dealing with people who do not think on the same lines as we do, and as long as this country, in particular, is prepared to use the ideas and understanding of those people who have made a life study of the Chinese and their ways of life, I am sure that the situation can be completely transformed.
When we come to these negotiations about Singapore and its base, let us remember that it is essential, not only for the free world but for South-East Asia as a whole, and that we speak from strength in the interests of all the countries concerned.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, North)
The hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Turner) has made a closely reasoned, well-informed speech, from which it was obvious that he must have lived and worked among the Chinese, the Malayans and the other nationalities for many years. He has made a great contribution, because not only have those of us who have heard him appreciated his speech but those who read it tomorrow morning will also appreciate it.
I hope that influential Members of this House will apply the logic of his speech, which is that it is time that the mighty Chinese People's Government should take their rightful place in the United Nations. If I understand the hon. Member aright, he advocated that. The time has arrived when, irrespective of the party that makes up the Government, the British Government's representative should support that point of view in the United Nations.
It is many years since I took part in a foreign affairs debate. I do so now because I am becoming increasingly uneasy at the trend of events in foreign affairs and at the relative agreement that exists in the House. I represent those great industrial areas which, in the main, keep our exports going. I have taken part in two world wars. I have studied history. I know that thousands of the best of our sons, most of whom were as good as any of us are, lie in graves all over the world. I know how easy it could have been for some of us to have been among them at 18 or 19 years of age, yet here we stand, having enjoyed life, with strength and power to use our intelligence and physique. Therefore, the time has arrived when working-class representatives in this House should assert themselves and take part in debates in this character.
I also feel compelled to speak because, having listened to both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, my view is that neither of them touched on the issues that face us today. I shall later refer to what I have in mind, but I want, first, to draw attention to the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in my name and in the 451 names of many of my hon. Friends, which reads:… at end add—But humbly regret that the Gracious Speech contains no proposals for a peace treaty with Germany and a European settlement based upon the acceptance of the results of the second world war.These are the points which have given rise to a reasoned Amendment of that kind, and they are the points to which the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition should have addressed themselves in this debate.
My first questions are these. Who started the two world wars? Who lost the two world wars? Who financed the country that lost after both wars? Who has rebuilt that country? Who has poured out the wealth with which to rebuild the economy of that country again? Which country is, indeed, the greatest military menace to Europe? These are the realistic questions with which we are all faced, and they are the questions to which this representative democratic assembly should have addressed itself this week. I will revert to those questions and answer them myself later, but, before doing so, I want to place some evidence on the record for the consideration of all who read today's debate.
It has been my privilege to visit the Soviet Union on three occasions, first, in 1927, when the conditions there were indescribable. I visited it again six years ago, travelling right through Siberia and into China, and last August I spent a month there and talked with thousands of people and to many people holding positions in representative capacities.
My political record is such that it needs no defence, so that I need spend no time on that, but having had the privilege of travelling in the Soviet Union I want briefly to place on record a few observations for the consideration of all hon. and right hon. Members in this House and for my fellow countrymen outside, in particular. The reason why the Soviet Union is in existence is because of the terrible treatment of the Russian people prior to 1917. Just as our fellow countrymen from Yorkshire were sent to Norway in 1940 and 1941 ill-clad, ill-equipped, with no machine guns—and what a story we could tell 452 about that if there were time—so millions of men in Russia were sent into the trenches in the First World War ill-clad, ill-equipped and merely committing suicide. Later on, as a result of the State not feeding the people, they became heartily sick of centuries of ill-treatment, just as they did in China and as they were doing in India until Britain took the initiative in the way it did and just saved the situation. So, in the case of the Soviet Union, the world chain of capitalism snapped at its weakest link in 1917, and just as that new regime was being born, Britain, France and the United States tried for several years to strangle that new State before it had a chance.
It was soon after those days that it became my privilege to go there and to see the results of what had happened. I saw many women with tears in their eyes, women whose boys had been spared in the terrible war but who had been lost in the wars of intervention. The people cannot forget those days, and those memories still affect the outlook and policy of that mighty country to this day.
Now that the science of physics has been harnessed to war, it behoves us to approach our 1961 problems not in the old stage-coach manner, not in the clever manner of many debating societies in certain centres in this country but in a realistic, manly, mid-twentieth century manner, remembering that it is not possible to threaten people as one could a few years ago.
Therefore, the first lesson that I draw is that, the leading States of the world having so harnessed and perfected the application of physics to warfare, we are now faced with a new world situation, and it behoves the world, and our own country in particular, to learn the lessons that the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) brought out with regard to our treatment of other people. We should understand other people, as the hon. Member said, and should not constantly indulge in wholesale criticism. We must try to understand other people, live and work with them and listen to them instead of being guided by those whose interests are elsewhere.
While travelling in Russia I was surprised at the pride which people had in their towns, cities and economies—and there are some useful lessons to be learned from what I am about to say and which 453 should be applied in this country. Stalingrad is now a place of beauty with modern buildings, wide roads, many of them tree-lined, with park avenues running through the centre and with not a matchstick or piece of paper to be found anywhere. The same applies to Rostov and a number of other places. Nearly everyone with whom one converses finishes by saying, "We do not want any more war. We hope that you will use your influence when you return home to plead with your fellow-countrymen that there should be no war again."
I believe those people because they are ordinary people who have been through what we have experienced in two world wars. In fact, what we have been through is nothing compared to the experience of the ordinary Russians. They have experienced two world wars, and the scorched earth policy has been applied several times. They were involved in the civil wars. They have lost millions of their fellow-countrymen, a fact which I hope to prove later from official figures. Therefore, one can understand their suspicion. One can understand why they look at things as they do. As the hon. Member for Lancaster suggested in his realistic speech, it is up to us to understand these people and not constantly to indulge in criticism. Those are just a few preliminary observations to set in perspective what I am about to say.
In my view, Britain can no longer approach its problems as it has in the past. Throughout almost all my life, we have been protected by the sea, by our Navy and have had no fear of invasion. During the last war we were in the dreadful position of being confronted by a mighty military machine on the other side of the Channel. We have no need to be reminded of what our people went through, but that is nothing compared with what we could face today.
The issue is survival or suicide for our people. Geography no longer protects us. Well-known scientists have said that there is no protection against modern weapons. Our people can survive only if our problems are approached realistically, and it is only that kind of approach which can make possible a contribution by Britain in world affairs which will enable our 454 people to survive and our country to maintain itself. In my view, we should put the interests of our own country first.
This Government seem likely to remain in office for at least another two years, and, in accordance with the realism of which I am speaking, I wish to make a personal appeal to the Prime Minister. The right hon. Gentleman had a very good record in the First World War. I remember when he used to speak from the benches below the Gangway opposite, adopting an independent and realistic approach to our problems based on his experiences during the First World War and events thereafter. It took some strength of character to make the stand he did in those days. He had a great record in the Middle East during the First World War. If anyone doubts that, let him go to the Library and read about it there. During his visit to the Soviet Union, the Prime Minister made a realistic approach to our country's interests and the need to improve international relations. This, again, is on record in the Library.
I ask the Government now, in that spirit, to go to the United Nations and exert a greater influence there, putting forward constructive proposals, including the kind of proposal made by the hon. Member for Lancaster, proposals which could make a better contribution towards the salvation of our own country, the reduction of world tension and the reduction of expenditure on armaments.
Those who endanger world peace, whether by speech or policy or in any other way in the 1960s, no matter who they are, will be charged with crimes against humanity in days to come. I charge Herr Strauss in particular with that crime at the present time. Mankind is now faced with its greatest problem of all time. It is not a problem of a year hence but of now. It is because of that factor that we cannot approach it in the manner adopted by some hon. Members in the last three days.
In eighty days in the last world war, the V.1s damaged 1 million houses in England. Their maximum range was only 200 miles. Then the Germans perfected rockets—the V.2s—with a range 455 of 2,500 miles. Later, other countries worked on something equivalent to V.3s, carrying an atomic bomb, with a range of 3,000 miles. The Russians' latest rocket will travel approximately 7,000 miles.
I have listened to one hon. Member after another condemning this and that country and this and that man. As I have done so, I have remembered how unrealistic our approach has been to our problems. I have remembered that what gives rise to our expenditure on armaments is not man's badness but his political differences, out of which arise world tension. It is this which reflects itself in the world's colossal expenditure on armaments, and this is the problem which, sooner or later, man must solve if he is to save himself.
That is my approach to the problem, and I present a few facts taken from official sources to show what we have gone through even in the recent past. According to the official figures, the roughly estimated total military and civilian casualties in the last war, taken as a percentage of population, were as follows: United States, 8 per cent.; United Kingdom—and let the American Press, television and radio broadcast this and remember that it was the second such colossal expenditure in our lives— 1.3 per cent.; France, 1.8 per cent.; Germany 14.3 per cent.; Poland 17.5 per cent.; Czechoslovakia 7.4 per cent.; Yugoslavia 12.per cent.; and the U.S.S.R. 8.3 per cent.
The American Press stated on 5th July that the Russians must have lost at least 20 million people in the last world war. Now I give the figures of those killed per thousand of population: The United States, 1.4; United Kingdom, 8.0; Soviet Union, 40.0; Yugoslavia, 108; Poland, 220.0.
I am reminded of an experience which I shall never forget. I was once friendly with a well-known Manchester surgeon who was a devout Roman Catholic. He knew of my political outlook, but he was always coming to my house or telephoning me or asking me to go and see him. Two years ago I was a member of a Parliamentary delegation to Warsaw, When I returned, I found this surgeon was dying in Salford Royal Hospital. He asked me to see him to give him a 456 report on the position in Poland. I told him that on the Monday morning of my visit I had pulled back the curtains of my room in my hotel and had seen crowds of people passing by, people of all ages, so many of them that they might have been going to the Cup Final at Wembley. They were going to mass, commemorating an historic day in the life of Poland.
My surgeon friend asked me how in that case I accounted for their loyalty to Russia. I said that that was a good question which I had asked of many people in Poland, ordinary people as well as those holding influential positions. Every time in different words I had received the same reply. It is that the Poles know their history, know how they have suffered, know who overran their land and who destroyed their agriculture and their lovely cities like Warsaw. They will not run the risk again and they will be loyal to the country on which they can rely for some security. After the figures I have just quoted, one can readily understand that explanation.
With all the energy I can command, I must emphasise that the ordinary people of the world are heartily sick of uncertainty and war and are calling increasingly upon their own people, people born of them, people of their own flesh and blood, people who still live in the houses where they were born, to speak in the way in which I am speaking tonight. I plead with this House to assert itself so that we can approach our problem not in the outdated manner which has been adopted but in a realistic mid-twentieth century way, knowing what is overhanging us—a shadow darker than mankind has ever known.
Having been involved in two world wars, I can answer the question which I posed at the beginning of my speech. It was Germany that started the first two world wars. I take second place to no one in my criticism of British imperialism, but I still say that it was Germany that started those wars. Now the Germans are again being built up as a mighty military machine while Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Estonia and Lithuania watch with fear the increasing strength of the German menace. I share their concern, because, 457 having listened to men like Strauss broadcasting on our television network, and having listened to the B.B.C, agreeing to the Germans broadcasting in our country, while the kind of people to whom I belong are never given the opportunity of doing so, what construction are we to put on this kind of thing? We are bound to be concerned, faced as we are with the prospect of the country which started two world wars—and lost them—being built up with American and world finances standing on the threshold of dominating Europe in the so-called economic Common Market. This prospect increases our concern.
I spent a few weeks in the Soviet Union. I saw women who were sad because of the loss of millions of their people. I saw many young women. One of the things my wife stressed more than anything else was that the ordinary people there were no different from us. When one talks to young women there, one notices a touch of sadness in their conversation as they relate how many of them have no husbands because their young men were taken away in the war. They have rebuilt their towns and cities with wide roads ornamented with double lines of trees, and they do not want them destroyed again.
That brings me to this report in the Guardianof 25th September, 1961. Mr. Robert Kennedy, the United States Attorney-General, said that there was no question but that President Kennedy, his brother, would use nuclear weapons to save the freedom of Berlin if necessary. I stand here as coolly and calmly as I can and place on record for Mr. Kennedy's benefit that we have organised our councils of action in the past, and that we will organise them again if we are faced with a threat of this kind.
Those who care most dare most. That is why this country, with its relatively small population, has made a proportionately greater contribution to the progress of man than most other countries in the world. Our country is admired by the Chinese, by the toiling millions in India and by millions of people in other parts of the world. If we who live in these times are to be worthy of what our countrymen of days gone by did towards the progress of mankind, we too must make our contribution. That 458 is why I have made constructive proposals to the Prime Minister and others for their consideration.
This is the position in which we now find ourselves. There is a saying that none of us can see ourselves as others see us. The same applies to countries, and I have made a practice of listening carefully to thousands of people in many countries in Europe. I am confident that this is the line they want Britain to take. This is the line which they believe Britain took in another setting in two world wars.
I stand on good ground here, because twenty-two years ago the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill), Lord Cranborne, Lord Avon, Ronald Cartland, a giant of a man and one of the finest characters I have ever known, who lost his life on the beaches on the other side of the Channel, and a few hon. Members on this side of the House, who saw that the tide was running against us, had the courage to speak out and to put forward constructive proposals, which ultimately proved to be correct. I believe that the time has arrived when groups of Members in this House who really mean business should be prepared to assert themselves in order that, sooner or later —and the sooner the better—we can bring about a situation in which the House can agree upon a policy of this kind irrespective of the political differences which exist among hon. Members.
This is the thing that we need to aim at, so that we can have confidence in our representatives at the United Nations and so that, instead of their being charged—as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition charged them, when he gave his list—with voting against this, that and the other, they will be worthy of Britain's past and will carry on in a way which is in harmony with Britain's history and with man's progress. In that way we may save our country and make our contribution towards assisting mankind to save itself.
§ 9.7 p.m.
§ Mr. F. M. Bennett (Torquay)
The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) has an almost unique position in this House, in that he is 459 so deservedly popular, personally, and in that he always speaks with such sincerity that he gets away with what most of us would regard as the most outrageous views. We find ourselves as fond of him at the end of his speech as we were at the beginning. I hope that he will accept that as an explanation of my reason for not following him into all his remarks.
I venture only one slight correction. He said that he is a student of history. It would be worth his while to read a little more of the recent history of Poland, because I do not think it fits in with his theories of the causes of the sufferings of the Poles during the last war. I know that they suffered the most brutal atrocities from the Nazis, but if he talked a little more to the Poles I think he would find among them a certain amount of recollection of the way in which the Russians, when they advanced parallel with the German forces, also engaged in considerable atrocities.
If, today, the Poles are loyal to the Soviet Union, I suggest that it is for a more cynical reason. They have come to the conclusion that they hold an almost impossible geographical position in Europe and that, for the time being, the Soviet Union is the stronger force and that they should therefore put themselves on the side of the bigger boys. If we had gone through what the Poles went through and had been battered alternately by the Russians, Communist or Tsarist, and by the Germans, we should probably not feel differently ourselves.
I was delighted to hear my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal put into rather better perspective the recent events in Berlin which have caused so many headlines in the newspapers, and in respect of which accusations of the wildest sort have been made about Western provocation. I was interested, too, to note that the Leader of the Opposition agreed that in these conditions incidents of one sort or another were bound to arise, and that those incidents could easily be magnified out of all proportion. It so happens that I spent a few days in Berlin last week, and had the good, or bad, fortune to be there while these incidents were tak- 460 ing place. I was on the frontier when some of the incidents in the Friedrich-strasse were taking place—[Interruption.]I did not hear that comment from the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), but doubtless he will carry on his usual running commentary from a sitting position.
One thing of which we were reminded today is that neither the Americans nor the French, nor ourselves—nor, for that matter, the Russians—have, so far as entry from one sector to the other in Berlin is concerned, being doing anything other than abiding by the normal practice which has obtained for some considerable time. It was not a matter of the Americans suddenly deciding not to show their papers nor of the French suddenly deciding not to do so. Until a week ago this was the accepted practice, and when Russian civilians came into the Western zone the same practice was adopted. I do not think that our different attitude showed any greater spirit of flexibility or other virtue. We simply decided, after some difficulties a little time ago, that should we be travelling in cars we should be prepared to show our papers and proof of identity, without parting with them as I did myself when I crossed into the Eastern sector.
Until a week ago, the East Germans had not demanded that the Americans should produce their papers, nor had they made any demands on the French. There was not a sudden piece of provocation which caused them to do so. It was a case of the normal practice which had long obtained being followed. It was the East Germans who made a provocative action by suddenly demanding something which they had not required until recently. It is interesting to note, as the Lord Privy Seal told us, that it would appear that in future everybody may agree to show proof of their identity, although we do not recognise that the city is legally divided, and we are not bound to hand over passports for stamping or for inspection when moving from one sector to another.
While I was in Berlin, I had an opportunity to go round the wall which was built between the East and the West. I suggest to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South that it is well worth while to inspect this wall in order to 461 appreciate the other side of the picture and the measures that the Russians and the East Germans have found it necessary to take in order to keep people within their Communist "paradise". One finds that not only is there a high wall with a double bank of barbed wire on the top, but all the time, and even as we are debating in this House tonight, bulldozers are knocking down building, trees and farm houses in the area behind the wall where another barbed wire fence composed of dannert wire is being erected. There are searchlight towers and machine guns are mounted for twenty-four hours of the day, and any luckless individual who tries to get across is likely to be shot before he manages to creep through to capitalism or freedom on this side—-whichever description hon. Gentlemen opposite may use.
Going to the French sector of the city —I know that accounts of this have appeared in the newspapers, but it cannot be properly appreciated unless one sees it—one finds a situation where the sector boundary is the actual buildings on the side of the road. The pavement and the road may be in the Western zone, but the buildings are in the Eastern zone. After the wall was built, scores, indeed hundreds, of East Germans crawled through first-floor windows in order to scramble on to the pavements and into the Western sector. Almost immediately these windows were bricked up. But East Germans who still wanted to get across started to climb out of second-floor and third-floor windows. These also have been bricked up as far as the fourth floor. But some individuals have tried to jump even from the roofs of buildings in order to get across. One of the most pathetic sights which I saw while walking along the pavement boundary was that every few yards there was a small cross and a few flowers to mark the place where somebody had fallen to his death or been shot to death and collapsed on the pavement.
Those are events which are going on today and are affecting indivdual human beings not connected with polities. When I was there an elderly woman jumped out of a fourth floor window. She was not a capitalist but an ordinary working woman who decided that conditions were intolerable for her and she wanted to escape to West Berlin. We should under- 462 stand the very human tragedies with which we are dealing. They are not concerned with whether Germans or Russians have been wicked in the past; they are human tragedies whether they belong to one race or another.
There was one heartening thing—the only one—about my tour round the wall. As one looked behind it one saw so much work going on building another bank of barbed wire and another and evidently so many marks being spent in order to preserve the so-called sanctity of the frontier between East and West that one came to the conclusion that the Russians and East Germans are not planning any sudden coup in the near future. I suggest that they would not be going to these lengths in building and rebuilding and devising new methods to prevent people getting out if they contemplated suddenly attempting to storm the whole city by force. On the contrary, I got the impression that the East Germans and Russians have made up their minds that this is to be a long-drawn-out seige in which perhaps by playing the rôle of attrition they may try to break the morale of the West.
There is a danger here, and one can sympathise with this. Ordinary men and women in West Berlin feel a lack of security, and some are leaving for the greater security of Western Germany. We may find that we are defending a moral position with the population leaving in increasing numbers. Therefore, when the British Government come to negotiations, and whatever methods we take to increase the security and safety of West Berlin, I hope we shall also think not just in negative terms of guaranteeing security by military means but that we shall have a positive reason for being there.
Although it may be impracticable to think of moving the United Nations as a whole to Berlin, it might be feasible to move some of its agencies, and that would be a positive reason. One excellent suggestion was that the Commission on Human Rights might be moved to Berlin, although that is hardly likely to find favour with those from East Germany at the negotiating table if and when we reach it.
I say one final word on Berlin and the prospect of negotiations. We often hear from one side of the House or the other 463 the suggestion that one of the things we might do as a quid pro quofor greater security in Berlin is to recognise the Oder-Neisse frontier. I have the gravest suspicion—apart from other difficulties—whether this is as important from the Russian point of view as we think it is. It is a useful propaganda point to claim so long as we are not granting it, but, in reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, we must remember that one of the reasons why the Poles are so devoted to the Communist cause at the moment is that until that frontier is recognised they are always in fear of another bargain being made between Germany and Russia at their expense. Once that fear disappeared and they realised that they had permanently the territory which used to belong to Germany, Poland might take a more independent line than she has taken up to now. I found very wise people in different positions in Berlin and elsewhere who doubted very much whether the Russians were really as keen on recognition of the Oder-Neisse frontier as their propaganda suggests.
It had been my intention to talk for only a few minutes on Berlin today, but. in view of the developments in the Congo, I feel bound to make some remarks about that. The Foreign Secretary has recently made one or two speeches about his fear of a double standard in political morality at the United Nations and internationally today. I hope that the U.N. itself, and even more so ourselves, will not fall into the same error. In the present difficulties in the Congo it is very hard to justify bringing pressure to bear on a section of the inhabitants to remain or become united with the whole of the Congo against what might well be the wish of the people as a whole.
I simply cannot understand a standard of political morality which says, for example, that it is wrong to force even a loose federation on the people of Central Africa against their will but that, on the other hand, Katanga is so economically important to the Congo as a whole that its people must be forced, whether they like it or not, to become part of the Congo. I do not see how one can relate these two contentions. There are only two possible arguments so far 464 as I can see in favour of Katanga, whether it likes it or not, remaining a part of the Congo. The first is a geographical one, that it is part of the Congo. That is solely an historical accident. It is the fact of how far the Belgians got before they got up against the British. The Kingdom of Katanga existed long before the Belgians were seen there. Ethnologically they look rather eastward than westward. It is an historical accident that Katanga has been a part of the Congo. The other argument is the economic one.
Yet if these arguments are to be taken as overriding the wishes of the local people, we had no right to agree to the partition of Pakistan from India. If it is said that because an outgoing colonial Power once occupied a certain area, the people of that area must for economic reasons stick together throughout Africa and elsewhere we ought to be doing very different things from those which I am very glad we are doing elsewhere in order to take account of the wishes of local populations. Whereas it is eminently desirable for the good of the Congo as a whole that Katanga should remain in it, I hope that we shall deprecate and do every thing we can to avoid decisions being taken on economic ground by the United Nations or on perhaps less reputable political grounds in order to force the people of that particular part of Africa to belong to any other part of Africa simply because it suits our bill.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
Is it not a fact that Katanga is run by the Unione Miniere des Beiges and that this has nothing to do with local African self-determination, but has to do with Belgium and other big business?
§ Mr. Bennett
The hon. Gentleman has got so besotted with his prejudices that he does not realise that the lawful Government of the province of Katanga was freely elected—as freely as that in any African territory ever has been—and that Mr. Tshombe's Government was duly elected. What Mr Tshombe's Government did afterwards is entirely a matter for him and his Government. I can only tell the hon. Member that there are plenty of African and Asian States which employ very large numbers of European advisers. In Ethiopia, Nigeria 465 and elsewhere there are plenty of examples of European advisers being employed, and where large businesses contribute much of the country's financial return. The hon. Member is typical of those hon. Members of his party who always support self-determination unless it turns out to be self-determination of a country friendly towards Britain and the West.
I close on this note. At the moment in the Congo we are facing an increasingly difficult position. The Government's difficulties are very easy to understand, because we have no direct rôle there but only a rôle through the United Nations. Nevertheless, I hope that I can rely on my right hon. Friend to see that, at least as far as our influence can be exerted, the people of the Katanga or elsewhere in the Congo are allowed precisely the same opportunities for determining their own future as those which successive Colonial Secretaries have tried to obtain for those territories which we administer.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I had not hoped to have the opportunity of making a contribution to today's debate. While I welcome the turn of events which enables me to make a contribution—because naturally we all feel that we have a contribution to make, but the opportunities for making it are rare —on broader grounds I regret it. Every speaker who has taken part in this debate, on whichever side and from whichever point of view, and every speaker who took part in the two-day debate a week or so ago when the House was recalled because there was an emergency which did not entitle us to remain on vacation as long as we had decided to remain on vacation—everyone who took part in that two-day debate and everyone who has taken part in the debates yesterday and today has done so under a sense of historic importance.
It is said—I suppose truly—that the world today stands nearer to a catastrophic war than at any time since the end of the last war. I doubt whether there is any Member of the House who would dissent from that view, nor would he dissent from another view: there have been emergencies before and there have been world wars before, but if we cannot preserve the peace of the world now, 466 today and in our generation, the catastrophe with which we are all faced is incomparably more tragic and more final than anything which has happened before in human history. I hope that it is not too melodramatic to say so. I hope that it does not disturb people too much to have it repeated so late in the debate today.
It is true, absolutely and literally true, that either we learn to live together or we all die together; either we learn to solve our problems, whoever bears the main guilt for their creation, or there will soon be no problems with which any of us will be concerned. In circumstances of that kind, where this is not a matter of an individual eccentric view, some odd attitude which an individual may take on his own behalf, but everybody's view, what do we have? Look at the benches on this side of the House. Look at the benches opposite. Does it look as though this sovereign House of Commons is really seized with the tragic importance of the crisis with which the world is today faced?
§ Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)
A possible explanation is that although the whole world is very concerned about the crisis, most of the people of this country have very cool nerves and are not as disturbed as is the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Silverman
Then why are we having this debate at all? I can understand from some of the contributions from the Government Front Bench that the people who made them did not wish to speak at all. This was largely true of the Prime Minister's disgraceful speech yesterday. If the hon. Member thinks that we ought not to be debating it, what is he doing here? What is the House here for? It is a pity that in order to make a quick debating point the hon. Gentleman thought it wise to interfere.
I do not know what he thinks about it, but most of us take the House of Commons seriously. We think that we have the job to do. We think that in a democratic Parliamentary system it is precisely for the sovereign democratic representative assembly to deal with the problems of the day. I regret very 467 much that when we are having a debate of this character, in such a context, there should be not only a virtually empty House but that three-quarters of an hour ago there was only one Conservative back bencher and not many Front Benchers. It is not only regrettable that we should have a debating Chamber so denuded of representatives; it is also extremely regrettable that the debate is not to be wound up by an official speaker on behalf of the Opposition and an official speaker on behalf of the Government. So little importance is attached to such a debate at such a time that both Front Benches abdicate their responsibilities and leave it to the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) and myself to carry on the debate, in case the House of Commons should go home too early and we should all be called to account in the country and in the world for our levity and irresponsibility.
The hon. Member for Torquay painted a moving and human picture of Berlin. We all listened to him with sympathy. He described what he saw in these immediate past days. I shall see it myself tomorrow. Other Members have seen it. We have all read about it. We have all heard descriptions of it. We all know what a tragic situation it is. Our hearts and sympathies go out to the people who have to make their homes in Berlin—in East Berlin or in West Berlin—in these circumstances.
Does any hon. Member think that this can go on for ever? Berlin is a divided city. It owes allegiance to nobody. It exists by itself, half a town in half a country. It has been made the sport and the plaything of forces outside Berlin and outside Germany. Its peoples are the tools, the instruments and the playthings of world policies and world conflicts, which they had their share in creating but which they are not solely responsible for creating. The Germans did not divide Germany. The Berliners did not divide Berlin.
There must obviously come a time when this anomalous situation, involving so many people in living conditions of this kind, which must be utterly intolerable, will have to come to an end. If it must come to an end, must we not all take some responsibility for how and when? Is it enough to sit back 468 and say that we are ready to negotiate and that we will never surrender? Surrender what? There is a lot of empty, loose talk about fighting for the freedom of West Berlin. The West and East Berliners will thank heaven on their knees when they are free of the lot of us.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
When the hon. Gentleman gets to West Berlin tomorrow I hope that he will listen to the description of the allied forces that is given by the West Berliners, where they are referred to as the protecting forces and not as the occupying forces. The hon. Gentleman has been talking about them wanting to get rid of these forces, but I hope that he will seek that description.
§ Mr. Silverman
I hope that the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Good-hew) will have the patience to hear me out. There is no one else anxious to make a contribution and he will either listen to what I have to say or go else where.
I am saying that we share a responsibility for what is an intolerable situation, for a situation that cannot go on for ever and we therefore share a responsibility for deciding the time and conditions on which this anomaly is removed. That is all I am saying and I do not think that it justified that unfriendly interruption.
How did it come about? Never mind the blame and censure or the degree of responsibility. We all know what happened. We insisted on unconditional surrender in Germany. I was called a pro-German for opposing it. The unconditional surrender meant that there was no German Government. There was no one with whom to negotiate or with whom to deal. There was no German authority which could accept authority for a country that had been destroyed by war and in which the very fabric of society had almost dissolved away. We had no plans or ideas. We did not want to know any Germans.
What did we do? We could not start discussing among the allies in any detail what to do, so a rough and ready method was taken; that all the invading armies—Russians, French, Americans and ourselves—stay where we were on German soil and assume responsibility. That we did by agreement.
469 Let me remind hon. Members in passing that the only Russian Government with which they ever maintained any kind of friendly relations was Stalin's Government. There were real agreements with them at that time. We made an arrangement, but, of course, it did not apply to Berlin and so we made a separate deal about Berlin. We said that all four would be there but that we would not divide Berlin. The rest of Germany would be divided into French, American, British zones, and so on; but in Berlin the four-Power control would apply through a commission with a rotating chairman.
That came to an end because we quarrelled about economics—about currency. The Americans and French decided on a reform of the currency. Britain was against it and so were the Russians. But the British gave in. They agreed with their French and American allies and introduced this currency into their zones and, in that way, their zones became gradually fused into some kind of entity with some kind of unified economic control. Berlin became divided because we insisted— legalistically, we may have been right, but in every other sense we were idiotic —on carrying this new German currency, not into East Germany—we did not want to do that; we knew that we could not, that we had no right to do that—but into a part of Berlin, and this is how the division came about.
I do not know who was right or wrong; certainly, the Germans had nothing to do with it. Now, what has happened? Sixteen years after the end of the war, the Russians come forward with a proposal. They say, "Is it not time to make peace with Germany now? Ought we not"—to use their own language—"to draw the line under the Second World War? If we are trying to do better, can we go on continually in what is technically still a state of war with Germany?" Is there anything wrong with that? Is it really so wicked? Is it something that we really must oppose at all costs?
The Russians say, "Let us sit down at the table with everyone who is concerned—with the Americans, the French, the Russians, and the British, and the East Germans and the West Germans— and see if we cannot hammer out a treaty of peace with all Germany. We 470 may fail, but why in the world should we not try? "What was there so evil, so cynical or sinister about this proposition?
But the Russians went further. They said, "Very well, if you feel that you cannot do that, we accept your decision. Some day you will. Some day it will have to be done, but if you feel that you cannot do it now—all right, leave it alone; but, in that case, we, the Soviet Union, will have to normalise our relations with East Germany as you have normalised your relations with Federal Germany. "Was this so shocking a proposition—I hear one voice say "Yes": no one else does—
§ Sir T. Beamish rose—
§ Mr. Silverman
No, I am sorry—there are only fifteen or sixteen minutes left, and I want to put a view that no other hon. Member has put, and I am sure that the hon. and gallant Gentleman, who usually poses these questions realistically, if differently from me, will agree that it is useful to hear another point of view. However, I give way to him.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. There is a great difference in the two Germanys. Western Germany has a freely elected Government, and East Germany does not.
§ Mr. Silverman
And Portugal does not, and Angola does not, but Portugal is in N.A.T.O. If we were to say that we would never take into cognisance any Government or any country that had not a democratically-elected Government, N.A.T.O. would disappear overnight. There are some nations in N.A.T.O. that have, and there are others that have not. We cannot regard it nowadays— although I wish we could—as a sine qua nonthat we cannot have diplomatic relations, or make a treaty, or pursue peaceful co-existence with any country that has not an elected Government.
The Soviet Union itself has not a democratically-elected Government in the way we understand it in this country. Does the hon. and gallant Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) therefore say that we should not have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, or live at peace with it? Of course he does not— he is far too sensible. I admit that is not a very high compliment; I hope that everyone is too sensible to adopt such a 471 doctrinaire approach to a difficult and critical subject.
We have to deal with nations as they are; with China as well as with Spain, and with East Germany as well as with Portugal. We cannot draw these fine distinctions—no, not fine, but deep distinctions according to whether we are in sympathy or not in sympathy—
§ Mr. David James (Brighton, Kemp-town)
Does the hon. Gentleman draw the same sort of distinction about South Africa?
§ Mr. Silverman
We are in peaceful relations with South Africa, and no one is proposing to go to war about it. No one is proposing to break off diplomatic relations, and no one is proposing to say that we do not recognise the South African Government. We say that until South Africa has a very different outlook on what we regard as basic human freedoms, South Africa is not a fit part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. That is a very different story.
I am not proposing that either the Soviet Union or East Germany should join the Commonwealth. That is not the point. What the Russians have been saying is, "If you cannot join with us in making a treaty with all Germany, we understand your position and we will not press you about it, but we will normalise our relations with East Germany, just as you have normalised your relations with the Federal Republic of West Germany." For the life of me, I cannot understand this attitude of mock heroic sacrifice in order to prevent what seems, on the face of it, a not very unreasonable proposition.
They go a little further. They say," Of course, if we make a peace treaty with East Germany, that means that the occupation statute comes to an end." Here is where the trouble begins, because if we are to maintain, even for a period, a West Berlin which is free of East Germany and which is free to live the life which its own citizens wish to live, we shall have to find a better basis for it than the right of conquest sixteen years ago. What is wrong with that? Would it not be very much better for West Berlin to have a status guaranteed by international law than for it to depend on the presence of foreign troops whose 472 only right there is that they conquered the country sixteen years ago?
So they come forward and say, "We are not going to interfere with their rights, or with access to it. We are proposing to put this into a treaty to make it a free city." Hon. and right hon. Members on either side of the House may say, "It is all very well to say this, but how do we know they mean it? What guarantee will we have if they alter the occupation statute and the occupation basis that these fine words about not interfering with the freedom of West Berliners and not interfering with access will not gradually or quickly be eaten away? What guarantee is there?"
I can understand perfectly well—I do not say that I entirely agree, because I have not got enough information on it to agree or not—the Government of this country or of any Western country, or the Government of West Germany, saying, "We are not satisfied with the guarantees that you offer", but if we are not satisfied with the guarantees that are offered to us, are we not under some obligation to say what we would like instead?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
The hon. Member has been asking a number of questions, and I hope that he will allow someone on this side of the House to answer them.
§ Mr. Silverman
I have ten minutes left, and I propose to use them. The hon. Gentleman has had his opportunity all day. I have not competed with anybody. Well, I will wait until hon. Gentlemen have gone.
§ Mr. Silverman
Because there is not enough time.
I say again that I can perfectly well understand any Government in the world that is not satisfied with the 473 guarantees offered. I can understand that view. But they must come back and say what they want, what they prefer, what guarantees would be good enough This could have been said at any time since November, 1958, when the proposal was first made. But we have done nothing. We did not even react.
What is the Government's position today as we undertand it? I can understand if it may be little different from the position that they have enunciated on the Floor of the House of Commons and in public speeches. I can understand that, too. But what are they actually saying, nonsense as it is and little as they can possibly believe it?—"We are going to fight to the death for the freedom of West Berlin." But nobody threatens it." We are going to fight to the death for the freedom of access to West Berlin." Nobody threatens it. This is common ground.
The position of the Government, apparently, to the outside world and to the citizens of this country is that they are ready to go to the utmost limits, including nuclear war. They are not going to give way. They are not going to make any concessions. They are never going to surrender. All that is perfectly plain. There is no doubt about it at all. There are just two small things which they have forgotten. One is, what for? The other is, what with? This is offered as a serious policy. At least, if one is going to destroy the world and the human race, it might be fair to give them some inkling, before one does it, of what the reason is.
Why do not the Government come out perfectly plainly and straightforwardly and say, "Unless we can get suitable guarantees, such as so-and-so and so-and-so, we do not accept your sincerity in offering us the freedom of West Berlin and freedom of access"? But, as has been said by the Prime Minister and others, there is a wide variety of proposals as to how these things can be guaranteed. He listed a lot of them. The only thing he did not tell us is which one he preferred. He has not told us yet. Why ever not? Is there anything to be ashamed of in the guarantees that we are asking for, or is it that we do not really care two pins about the freedom of the West Berliners or even of access to Berlin?
474 Is it that what we really want to do is to preserve a jumping-off ground 200 miles inside the Warsaw Pact territories? I do not believe it for a moment. I do not for a moment believe that that is true. At least, I hope it is not, and I do not believe it is. But if the Government do not tell us what they are willing to take these catastrophic risks about, then they leave the field wide open for every kind of cynical or sinister suggestion as to what their real motives are.
What is the other thing they say?— their only contribution for six months to the controversy?—"What the West must do is to convince Mr. Khrushchev, his Government, his country and his party that we really mean business, and unless we can get a solution that we think satisfactory—we do not yet know what it is and we have not made up our minds; there is no agreement between us—we really mean business about nuclear war". They have said the principal object in the last six months has been to persuade the Russians that they really mean this kind of attack in this kind of circumstance. It may be that they have succeeded.
It may be that they have convinced Mr. Khrushchev that, unless they can get their way, they really mean nuclear war in order to get it. Then, on their theories, what did they expect Mr. Khrushchev to do? How does one react to such a threat? We have been saying for years that nuclear weapons are not military weapons at all and if we ever use one the whole thing will have failed, that their purpose is a deterrent purpose.
I like words of one syllable, if I can have them, rather than words of three syllables. It is fright. Or, if two syllables are preferred, terror. Convince the other side that if he does something which one does not like, one has bigger and more powerful weapons than he has, and, therefore, he will not do it. It is on that ground alone that any rational person has ever attempted to defend nuclear weapons. Thus, if we have convinced Mr. Khrushchev that, in certain circumstances, we are prepared to attack him, then, on the Government's own argument, theory and teaching, he is bound to say, "Then I shall have to show you that I have more powerful weapons than you have".
475 But it does not work. My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was perfectly right the other day —not today, though he was right in many respects in his speech today—when he said, in protest against the Russian bomb, "Khrushchev had better not think that he is frightening us. Nobody in the West has ever altered his policy because someone else rattled a bomb". He is quite right. I hope that no one ever will.
§ Mr. Silverman
But it is equally true on the other side. If their bombs do not frighten us, why should our bombs frighten them? This is really the reductio ad absurdumof the whole nuclear argument.
It has been shown, when put to the test, that the theory that people can be prevented from doing things one does not approve of by being frightened with hydrogen bombs is not true. It is not true when the West says it to the East, and it is not true when the East says it to the West. What is true is that, if we go on saying it, if the two sides go on saying it to each other, trying to get the edge over one another, in the end something that nobody wants, that nobody intended, will inevitably happen by inadvertence or accident. Someone loses his nerve. Someone makes a wrong judgment, someone receives the report of an earthquake and thinks it is a bomb, or someone sees a plane coming over, as happened in Canada, and comes to the conclusion that it is a nuclear attack.
If the only answer is to get down to business, first get rid of nuclear weapons. They are of no value at all. They only increase the dangers in which we all are. Get rid of them, and, in any case, get round the table as quickly as possible. Let all the Governments get round the table and put their card on it. Let each ask the other side to say what it is he wants to negotiate about. Let us tell the other side what it is we want from them by way of guarantees. If the negotiation fails, if the conference is abortive, as, unfortunately, so many have been, then we shall have to start again, 476 and think again, no doubt; but no one has any right, having regard to the situation in which we all are and for which we are all responsible, not to make the attempt.
Let us get rid of the bellicosity. Let us get rid of the view that all right is on one side and all wrong is on the other. Let us recognise that we have common interests, in spite of our differences, and get round the table to settle those differences.
§ Debate adjourned.—[Mr. G. Campbell.]
§ Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.