§ 2.57 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Edward Heath)
When you agreed to recall the House, Mr. Speaker, there were three matters of moment in our minds, to which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has just referred in his statement an business—the future of the United Nations—
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
On a paint of order. May I point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that the acoustics of the House are still very far from satisfactory.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am very sorry. I will ask those concerned to make them better. In the meantime, perhaps Ministers and other hon. and right hon. Gentlemen would be good enough to keep their voices up.
§ Mr. Heath
When you agreed to recall the House, Mr. Speaker, there were in our minds three matters which have just been mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House—the future of the United Nations, the Congo and Berlin, and it is about these three matters that I propose to talk this afternoon. No doubt there will be other matters which hon. Members—
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
On a point of order. The right hon. Gentleman is now indicating that he proposes to deal only with the three subjects he has nominated. Is he aware that there is an understanding that we might have heard something about the Common Market? Does that mean that this debate is not to deal at all with the Common Market?
§ Mr. Speaker
It has nothing to do with me. The Motion, which the hon. Gentleman will find on the Order Paper, is, "That this House do now adjourn", and that governs the rules of order in debate.
§ Mr. Heath
I am never hesitant to talk about the Common Market, but as—unlike Mr. Khrushchev—I have not got two days at my disposal, I thought it better to confine my remarks to these three subjects. I was about to say that there are many other matters which hon. Mem- 13 bers may wish to raise in the course of the debate and that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, who has just returned from the United Nations meeting in New York, will be able to deal with some of these when he speaks tomorrow afternoon and, in particular, with matters which are at the moment before that organisation.
The House of Commons is always very moved by personal matters, be they great or small. It must therefore have been with very much of a sense of personal loss that hon. Members heard of the death of Mr. Hammarskjold during the Recess. Nor was it only his death but the tragic circumstances under which he died which made a great impact upon us. It is sometimes said that here in the House of Commons when we suffer loss we pay a very sincere and genuine tribute and then our affairs continue the same as before. That certainly cannot be the case with the death of Mr. Hammarskjold and the future of the United Nations. We all recognised that when it came to the end of his term of office we should have to face changes of one kind or another, but we now find we are facing them a great deal earlier than we expected.
Mr. Hammarskjold was a man with an immense sense of duty and, allied with it, an enormous capacity for hard work. He had a unity of purpose allied to selflessness. He showed great courage, never more than when he was being attacked by the Soviet Union in the Assembly last autumn. He had a constructive mind and great political skill. I recognised this when he came to the Foreign Office in May this year—which turned out to be the last occasion—to discuss with us matters affecting the Congo. I was quite convinced then that he wanted desperately to see the unity of the Congo and wanted to see it achieved peacefully. In both of these objectives we fully agreed with him.
I suppose it was inevitable that a man in his position should be a controversial figure. He was bound at times to come into conflict with national interests. At the same time he built up a position of great power and influence as Secretary-General and he used it in a personal capacity to good effect. In one respect, affecting our country, he used it in the mission he set under way—the de Ribbing Mission—to try to find a solu- 14 tion to the problems of Buraimi. Again he was prepared to use his personal position, on the flight to Ndola for the last time, to try to arrange a cease-fire agreement and a reconciliation between Mr. Tshombe and President Adoula.
Some people have questioned whether it may be entirely healthy for an international organisation of this kind to have a Secretary-General with such power, such influence and such personal position. I am sure that the Secretary-General himself realised this, but he would pose the other question: what alternative is there in an organisation of this kind where the Great Powers are divided? Where is leadership to come from in the day-to-day business of the organisation unless it comes from the Secretary-General himself?
I believe that there were three characteristics of his term of office, and as they all concern the future of this organisation I should like to say a word about each of them. He believed fundamentally in the Secretariat as a body of international civil servants. He withstood the attack of the Soviet Union and he argued against their proposals for a troika because he believed in this concept. It is a concept which is well understood by us. It is the nature of our own Civil Service transferred into international life. It is based on the integrity of the individual and a belief in service to an organisation which is greater than its component parts. This was the thesis he expounded admirably in the lecture he gave at Oxford earlier this year. I think we all recognise the difficulties inherent in this system, the difficulties of recruitment and the difficulties of establishing confidence in the integrity of this international organisation.
After all, if the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will not mind my saying so, it is only perhaps twenty-five years ago that there was sometimes questioning on the other side of the House about the nature and powers of our own Civil Service, particularly in relation to the nationalised industries; but that questioning has all disappeared. The same problem of confidence faces us in an international organisation; and the United Nations in its existence has done well to create this Secretariat, and it is, we believe. 15 the only sound one for an organisation of this kind
For these reasons, therefore, Her Majesty's Government wished to see after the death of Mr. Hammarskjold a permanent appointment with the same powers, the same position. But it rapidly became apparent that there would be Soviet objection to this. So a number of discussions took place in which we ourselves joined. There is now a wide measure of agreement that there should be a temporary appointment of a Secretary-General by the Assembly until April, 1963: and there also appears to be wide agreement that U Thant, the Burmese, should fill this position. At the same time, it is proposed that there should be a number of under-secretaries to advise the Secretary-General and that these undersecretaries should be chosen from different geographical parts of the world and not based on political organisations. We feel it is most important that this basis of selection of the under-secretaries to the Secretary-General should be retained. At the moment talks are going on about the details of these arrangements, about the terms of the relationship between the under-secretaries and the Secretary-General, and also about the geographical areas from which they should come.
We know that Mr. Hammarskjold himself had plans for broadening the basis of the Secretariat, and Her Majesty's Government can accept a solution on the lines broadly proposed at the moment. We do so on the basis that the Secretary-General's powers will not be compromised, there will not be a veto, not even in an administrative form. There is urgency now about this situation. We wish to see this temporary appointment made. It is easy to visualise situations arising in which the Secretary-General would have to take action, and nowhere more so than in the Congo.
The second aspect I want to emphasise is this. As an international civil servant, Mr. Hammarskjold naturally looked for the source of clear directions and clear policy, but again, with the Great Powers divided, where was he to look? He looked more and more for support for making and carrying through 16 policy to the neutral, unaligned, uncommitted countries. In Parliamentary terms, we might see this as looking for support to the Centre rather than to the Left or to the Right, but in international terms it is not so easy to visualise it in this fashion. One result of this development has been a feeling that the element of justice has disappeared from some policies and decisions, and that political arrangements or political expediency have taken its place.
For example, in recent weeks we may have felt that the attitude of some of the uncommitted countries towards the resumption of nuclear tests by the Soviet Government has increased this feeling. The Soviet Government, on 28th August, 1959, said that it would never be the first to resume nuclear testing. There were nearly three years of negotiation to try to reach a test agreement, yet, at twenty-four hours' notice on 31st August, testing was resumed. In the past six weeks there have been at least twenty tests in the atmosphere. Everyone must realise that it must have taken a long time to make the preparations for those tests. Her Majesty's Government deplore the resumption of these tests. They deplore the breach of faith, as they deplore the action itself. This great breach of faith, and the action, must, of course, colour our attitude towards other international events.
Her Majesty's Government remain ready to sign a nuclear tests agreement as put forward at the Geneva Conference earlier this year. That is Her Majesty's Government's position. Yet there has been no decisive condemnation of this Soviet action from some of the unaligned countries. One can well imagine what the reaction would have been—indeed, from some hon. Members opposite—if tests had been resumed by the West, and certainly if they had been resumed on the scale on which we are seeing them being undertaken at this moment.
What, then, is the explanation? Is the explanation that more is expected of the Western Alliance, that a higher standard is expected, than of the Eastern bloc? Or is it that fear of the Eastern bloc is greater than that of the West? Whatever it may be, it leaves a feeling that in the international organisation, with the multiplicity of neutral and unaligned countries, it is the West which may suffer.
17 There is this problem of support for the Secretariat and it emphasises, in particular, the problem of support for peace-keeping machinery. That is the third aspect to which I wish to turn. The last report of Mr. Hammarskjold recognised that the United Nations could either take a step back, and become once again only a forum for the exchange of views, or it had to move forward into the sphere of effective action with peacekeeping machinery. He did not underestimate the problems involved—the problems of recruitment, the problems of clear orders and directives, the problems of finance. But to be effective, peace-keeping machinery must, in the Government's belief, retain the confidence of the nations of the United Nations by remaining within the authority granted it by the resolutions of the Assembly and the Security Council. I will deal with that in more detail in a moment.
I think that there were those three characteristics of Mr. Hammarskjold's term as Secretary-General of the United Nations. They are far from academic considerations. The whole question of the international nature of the Secretariat is at the heart of the decisions being made at the moment about the new Secretary-General. The balance of the countries in the United Nations is at the heart of the sense of justice or the sense of expediency which nations may have. The peace-keeping machinery is in action in the Congo, and what happens there can have the greatest effect on the use of similar machinery in the future. Her Majesty's Government will continue their support for the United Nations and will endeavour to make it more effective.
Let me turn in more detail to the question of the peace-keeping machinery and its use in the Congo, the second matter which has concerned us during the Recess. The objective of the United Nations in going into the Congo was to prevent intervention from outside by the Great Powers, and Her Majesty's Government fully supported that. I have often stated in the House, as we have stated in the country, that the object of the Government's policy is to see the Congo united within its present boundaries and to see it rich and stable Her Majesty's Government have never 18 encouraged the secession of any province. They have not encouraged the secession of Katanga. Her Majesty's Government are not in favour of the secession of Katanga now. For these reasons—the prevention of outside interference, the restoration of law and order and the civil programme which has been carried out—Her Majesty's Government have supported the United Nations throughout with money, with transport for its forces, and in kind. We have always believed that in working out its purpose the United Nations should achieve a settlement peaceably and that force should be used only in the last resort.
I should like to quote to the House the two parts of the resolutions to which we have always attached particular importance. The first is in the resolution of 9th August, 1960, and the operative paragraph is paragraph 4:reaffirms that the United Nations force in the Congo will not be a party to or in any way intervene in or be used to influence the outcome of any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise.The second is the Security Council resolution of 20th-21st February, the operative paragraph being the first, whichurges that the United Nations take immediately all appropriate measures to prevent the occurrence of civil war in the Congo, including arrangements for cease-fires, the halting of all military operations, the prevention of clashes, and the use of force, it necessary, in the last resort.The delegate of the British Government at the United Nations emphasised in the debate on this resolution the phraseand the use of force, if necessary, in the last resort.It was only in the last resort, we felt, that force was justified.
Since the House rose, there have been several events of importance in the Congo. First, when we rose, the Congolese Parliament was meeting at Lovanium. The deputies from Katanga were not then all taking part. Shortly afterwards Mr. Adoula was able to form a Government with full Parliamentary support. We welcomed this. We had always urged that, as soon as it became possible, there should be restoration of Parliamentary government in the Congo, and Mr. Adoula, with a combination of 19 skill and patience, was able to reconcile many of the elements in the Congo in his Government. As a result, Mr. Gizenga became Vice-Premier.
At the same time, the United Nations was continuing to work for the expulsion of the mercenaries, which it was authorised to do under the resolution of 21st February. That, too, Her Majesty's Government have supported. Towards the end of August, the Central Government of Mr. Adoula promoted an ordinance in which they also said that it was an offence for mercenaries and political advisers to remain in the Congo unless given authority by the Central Government. The United Nations at this point felt that it had the resolution of the Security Council and also the ordinance of the Central Government to support it in its action of trying to remove the mercenaries from the Congo.
On 28th August, the United Nations carried out an operation to remove the remaining mercenaries in Katanga. Considerable numbers were expelled as a result of this and about 100 disappeared into hiding. Her Majesty's Government were fully in support of the mercenaries being expelled from the Congo. We had previously made our position absolutely clear.
On the other hand, the Government were greatly disturbed by some aspects of the way in which the operation was carried out and also by some of the tensions which were then growing in the Congo, particularly in regard to Katanga. In particular, they were disturbed by some of the evidence which they saw of the future deployment of forces there. Her Majesty's Government asked the leader of the British delegation in New York to make inquiries from the Secretary-General about the purpose and the scope of the operation which had been carried out, the extent to which force had been used and whether it had been used only in the last resort. He was also instructed to ask the Secretary-General whether this was meant to apply to mercenaries and political advisers only and not to civilian technicians, because the Government believed that civilian technicians were allowed to remain under the resolution of 21st February and were necessary to carry on life in Katanga.
20 The Secretary-General discussed this with the leader of our delegation. He said that he understood our anxieties and that he recognised the dangers which existed in Katanga, and he reassured us about the action which had been taken.
It has sometimes been asked during the last few weeks what right the Government had to make inquiries of this kind. We take the view, as I believe most countries of the United Nations do, that a member-Government has every right to ask questions of the Secretary-General and that perhaps a permanent member of the Security Council has a particular duty to ask the Secretary-General or the Secretariat about the actions which are being carried out in its name.
During the succeeding period, after this operation, tension grew. Therefore, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister decided to ask Lord Lansdowne to go to the Congo in order that he should himself study the situation and be in a position to report back to the Prime Minister. At the same time, Lord Lansdowne would be able to assure the Central Government that Her Majesty's Government's policy about the unity of the Congo remained unchanged. Lord Lansdowne would also have the opportunity of visiting our representatives there, and he arranged to go on to see Sir Roy Welensky after his visit to the Congo. Mr. Hammarskjold and Mr. Adoula, as well as Sir Roy Welensky, all welcomed the fact that Lord Lansdowne was to pay this visit to the Congo.
Before he could leave, however, on 13th September the United Nations carried out another operation. In view of what I have told the House about the nature of the resolutions passed by the Security Council on 9th August and 21st February, the House will recognise the dismay with which the Government learned that fighting had broken out in Katanga between United Nations forces and the Africans of Katanga. Communications had by now been broken off between our Consul at Elisabethville and ourselves.
It was, therefore, difficult to obtain any information direct, but a large number of statements were being made to the Press and being broadcast. From 21 these statements it appeared that United Nations forces had in fact attacked Katanga, had occupied Government buildings and, it was said in some reports, had attempted to destroy tthe Katanga Government.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
Bearing in mind that the resolution permitted the use of force but only in the last resort, will the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House who had the duty of deciding when that point had been reached?
§ Mr. Heath
That question had best be addressed to the United Nations. It is not for Her Majesty's Government to decide when that point had been reached, except to use their judgment afterwards. [Interruption.] I should tell the House quite frankly that it is not in my power to say whether it was the United Nations official on the spot, the United Nations official in Leopoldville, or the United Nations in New York; but if the hon. Gentleman will listen to the rest of the account, I think that he may receive an indication from that.
It was also alleged that it had been announced in Katanga by the United Nations official that this was the end of secession in Katanga. I am glad to tell the House that Dr. Bunche in New York last week specifically denied to my hon. Friend the Minister of State that such a statement was ever made by a United Nations official in Katanga.
We saw at the same time that it was announced in Leopoldville that the arrest of Katangan Ministers had been carried out by the United Nations under the authority of the Central Government. Fighting was going on in Katanga. The question we had to face was whether this was an attempt to impose a political settlement by force—if so, it would have been outside the scope of the resolution. In these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government instructed our Ambassador in Leopoldville to make inquiries there, because by this time Mr. Hammarskjold himself was paying his visit to the Congo and had arrived in its capital. The Ambassador asked the Secretary-General for information about the scope of these operations. I will deal with the replies in a few moments. After this, we saw the spread of fighting in Jadotville, where 22 the Irish company was surrounded, in Albertville, in Kamina and in Elisabethville. A new element was introduced, namely, the Fouga aircraft.
In these circumstances, Her Majesty's Government used all their influence to urge a cease-fire and a peaceful settlement of the dispute which existed. When Lord Lansdowne saw Mr. Hammarskjold on 16th September, Mr. Hammarskjold stated that in his view the operation had a limited intention; that the intention of the United Nations was to complete the operation of 28th August with the arrest of the remaining mercenaries; that this was within the terms of the resolution of 21st February and, therefore, it was not one which needed to be brought specificially to the attention of the Secretary-General. Mr. Hammarskjold also stated that none of these operations had been carried out under the orders or authority of the Central Government.
Her Majesty's Government accepted the assurances that Mr. Hammarksjold gave Lord Lansdowne. However, it was by now apparent from the fighting which was going on throughout the area that there had been at least a miscalculation or a misjudgment in the carrying out of the operation and in the judgment of the resistance which it would inspire from those in Katanga. Mr. Hammarksjold then went on to describe his plans to Lord Lansdowne. He said that he sought, first, a cease-fire. He proposed that he should meet Prime Minister Tshombe himself in order to arrange this. He also wished to meet Prime Minister Tshombe in order to effect a reconciliation between him and the Prime Minister of the Central Government. Furthermore, he believed that he was the person who would be able to achieve it. He chose Ndola as the meeting place and asked Lord Lansdowne, Her Majesty's Government and the Federal Government to help with the arrangements. The Governments did this as far as they possibly could. Then Mr. Hammarskjold left for Ndola, with all the tragic consequences which we know so well.
Perhaps I should here digress very briefly to say a few words about the accident. Immediately it took place a board was set up by law under the Director of Civil Aviation to make immediate inquiries. Associated with 23 it were representatives from the Swedish Government, the Airline Pilots Association, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the United Nations. It is hoped that the report will soon be available.
Nevertheless, malicious, and many of them unbelievable, rumours have been spread about this accident. In speeches in the country I have already denied any association of Her Majesty's Government or the Federal Government with this accident, but I wish to take this opportunity again in the House of Commons to deny any association of Her Majesty's Government or the Federal Government with this terrible accident. In view of these rumours, the Federal Government have already issued two interim statements saying, first, that there is no justification for the accusation either that the aircraft was fired upon or that there was an explosion while it was in flight, and, secondly, that there is no evidence that anyone inside the aircraft suffered gunshot wounds. When this preliminary inquiry is finished, a full Commission of inquiry will be set up by the Governor-General. It will be presided over by a judicial authority, and the United Nations, the Swedish, and other Governments, will be asked to provide representatives to serve on it. This is a change from normal practice which Her Majesty's Government welcome. If there are these rumours still continuing, much the best way is to put an end to them by an impartial judicial international inquiry.
Lord Lansdowne then went on to visit Sir Roy Welensky. Everybody in the House will realise the close contact between Northern Rhodesia in the Federation and the border of Katanga. It also has a very long frontier with the Congo as a whole. Sir Roy Welensky made his position plain—as he has done publicly—that he wishes Katanga to remain in a united Congo, that he was taking action to prevent the passage of mercenaries or arms to the conflict, and that he was urging reconciliation between Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Adoula. Her Majesty's Government are grateful to Sir Roy Welensky for the action he has taken in these three respects.
Cease-fire talks were then inaugurated between Mr. Khiari and President 24 Tshombe, and the arrangement of 20th/ 21st September came into action. The Commission was set up. It has now reported. Its report has been agreed between the parties and is now before the United Nations for ratification. In this matter there have all the time been a welter of conflicting reports, and the House will understand the great difficulty there was in trying to check them individually.
Recently, like every cease-fire agreement with which I have come into contact, there have been a number of accusations that the agreement has been broken. In particular, it has been said that the United Nations has organised a build-up of forces. We have naturally made further inquiries about this from the Secretariat in New York. Last week, Dr. Bunche gave my hon. Friend the Minister of State the firm assurance that the United Nations is not building up its forces in contravention of the cease-fire agreement.
We are glad to learn that Mr. Tshombe has arranged for a delegation now to go to Leopoldville to meet Mr. Adoula. We hope that this will be followed by a meeting between Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Adoula themselves. We believe that it is in the interest of both sides that there should be a reconciliation between them. The Congo itself needs the wealth of Katanga to remain a viable entity; Katanga needs round it the stability of the Congo as a whole in order to produce its wealth. There must be room there for conciliation. We hope that after a long period the Congo may now be nearer to a period of true peace and stability.
As I have already mentioned, this brings home again the need to secure the rapid appointment of a temporary Secretary-General in order to take firm charge of operations in the Congo.
I now turn from the tensions of Africa to the tensions of Europe—
§ Mr. Heath
The tensions of Europe are, indeed, important, and have lasted far longer.
Before turning to that, however, may I say one word in reply to the hon. Member who intervened earlier about 25 Europe and the negotiations that have just started. I only wish to say that I made a full statement to the members of the Governments of the European Economic Community last Tuesday about our position. This was well received as a basis for negotiations. It was arranged that negotiations proper would start in Brussels on 8th November. This date is a week in advance of what we had anticipated.
We are, of course, in full consultation with the Governments of the Commonwealth and with the E.F.T.A. Governments about this. We must now get down to the next stage, which is the detailed hard work of negotiation and which is bound to take considerable time—
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman would very kindly arrange for his important statement to be published as a White Paper. Meanwhile, so that hon. Members may study it—we have only had references to it in the Press—could he arrange for copies of it to be placed in the Library immediately?
§ Mr. Heath
I think that the right hon. Gentleman will realise, from his long experience of these matters, that these are confidential negotiations which involve the British Government and a number of other Governments—[Interruption]—and that in the course of these negotiations a considerable number of documents are bound to be prepared and circulated between the negotiating parties—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because we cannot carry on negotiations of this kind without detailed documents.
I think that the House will also realise that many of these documents are, at a later stage, bound to be concerned with particular industrial matters and interests as well as particular commodities and that it is not possible to carry on negotiations if all the documents are being published—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Nobody is asking that all the documents should be published. Is not the Lord Privy Seal aware that, in fact, some kind of a hand-out must have been given to the Press, because he is quoted as saying the same thing in many different newspapers? All we want to know is what the right hon. Gentleman actually did say.
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
Before my right hon. Friend answers that question, can he give an assurance and guarantee, even if he will not concede the point made by the Leader of the Opposition, that the High Commissioners themselves will be informed in detail of what my right hon. Friend did say?
§ Mr. Heath
I can give that assurance because I have already seen the High Commissioners in London and have given them very full information, verbally and personally—[HON. MEMBERS: "What about the House?"] Because the High Commissioners represent their Governments, whose interests are affected in these negotiations.
I can also meet the right hon. Gentleman's point because I, too, have noticed a similarity between reports in the Press. That information was, of course, given to the Press in summary form, which I shall certainly make available in the OFFICIAL REPORT—
§ Mr. Rankin
The right hon. Gentleman has just told us about these negotiations. In his statement he said that there had been full consultation with the Commonwealth countries. How can we on this side possibly engage in any discussion or come to any comprehension of or decision on these urgent matters that are embodied in the Common Market if we are kept unaware of the consultations that have been going on?
§ Mr. Heath
Because, as the Government have already announced and as was embodied in the Motion passed by the House last July, when we come to the moment of decision full information will then be given to the House, but there is a long-standing tradition in this House that while negotiations are carried on these matters should not be published.
I turn now to Berlin. The events there since the House rose for the Summer Recess are well known, and I need hardly recall them to the House. East Berlin was sealed off on 13th August by the East German authorities. That revealed both a lack of humanity in the East Berlin Government as well as the weakness of the East German régime. Since that time we have heard many speeches by Mr. Khrushchev—and, indeed, of his meetings with members of the Press as well—in which he has concentrated on 27 the problem of West Berlin, obliterating, as far as he could, any memory of East Berlin or of East Germany. This, Mr. Khrushchev describes as facing the facts of life. He can be assured that the West have no intention of trying to change this situation by force, however unpalatable some of these facts of life may be to Western countries and to all decent people everywhere.
But Mr. Khrushchev must also recognise that certain facts of life exist for the West also. When the House rose, I described to the House three essential elements for the West in this problem. The first was that the freedom and viability of West Berlin must be maintained. The second was that the Western Allied forces must remain there in order to defend the freedom of West Berlin. The third was that there should be free access to West Berlin for the Allies and, as a characteristic of freedom, for all who want to go there. I believe that the majority of the House supports us entirely on these three points, and, indeed, it has been noteworthy of the three party conferences this year that our three political parties have been united on those matters.
The danger that has been facing us over the past few weeks has been that the Soviet Government would not recognise the determination of the West to defend those three vital interests. The result of a peace treaty with the East German Republic would be—if the Soviet Government were prepared to hand over control of access, as Mr. Khrushchev has always made it plain that he would—that it would lead to interference by Herr Ulbricht and the East German Government in the access to West Berlin. As the West must defend their rights, there is then the danger, the grave danger, of war breaking out because of interference with access. That is the position, and that is a position which the Soviet Government must be brought to appreciate; and it is a danger that can be averted, but averted only by negotiating with the Soviet Government beforehand an arrangement acceptable to both sides.
Mr. Khrushchev has often emphasised his desire for negotiations but always on terms that he has put forward as a basis for such negotiations; that it should be a peace treaty with the so-called "two Germanys" and that West 28 Berlin should be a free city, as conceived by the Soviet mind. Therefore, when the House rose, the situation was that we were agreed on defending those three rights and, at the same time, ready to enter into negotiations on a basis acceptable to both sides.
The question has been: how should this be handled? Some have urged that a Foreign Ministers' conference should be called straight away. Others have suggested that a summit conference at Heads of State or Heads of Government level should be convened to carry out this negotiation. Some have suggested that the Government should publicly commit themselves to certain proposals for dealing with this matter, or comment on other proposals—for example, on the Oder-Neisse line. Others have themselves put forward proposals for moving the United Nations bodily to Berlin—which is, after all, a matter for the United Nations itself—or some of its agencies to West Berlin. Some have put forward proposals dealing with European security. Indeed, it is a matter to which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and others of his hon. Friends have paid great attention.
These are all proposals which have been put forward to deal with this situation, but two main tasks confront us; first of all, to make plain to the Soviet what is not negotiable, and, secondly, to find out whether a basis exists on which there is a possibility of negotiations being started. The Western Allies decided that the best way of handling this was to have preliminary discussions through diplomatic channels, and, therefore, advantage was taken of the General Assembly in New York for the American Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk, to meet Mr. Gromyko. Our own Foreign Secretary also had an opportunity of discussing this with Mr. Gromyko, as, indeed, had the President and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.
They hope that they have been successful in persuading Mr. Gromyko and, through him, Mr. Khrushchev, of the very real danger which exists of a head-on collision if their policy is followed. They have also explored the possibility of creating a framework in which negotiations can take place. It is too early at this stage, after those talks, to say 29 whether an acceptable framework can yet be established.
§ Mr. S. Silverman rose—
§ Mr. Heath
These talks have been carried out thoroughly on a desperately important matter between the Foreign Ministers, and both sides are now reviewing the progress which has been made.
The Allies consider these matters, among others, in the Ambassadorial Group, which is meeting every day in Washington to examine developments. The French Government prefer at present not to have a meeting of officials in Europe itself, but the consultations continue to be carried on in the Ambassadorial Group in Washington. The arrangement that at the moment there should not be a meeting of officials here but that they should be carried on in the Ambassadorial Group should not be given undue importance. The French Foreign Minister, M. Couve de Murville, made it plain in New York on 16th September thatFrance, your country, or any allied countries, all share this view of common sense that political problems must be decided in the normal way of discussion and negotiation.Recent events have been a question of the exact procedure which is to be followed. The view of Her Majesty's Government is that this process of probing and searching for a basis of negotiation should be continued, and we understand that the United States Government in Washington agree with this view.
The United States Ambassador in Moscow is at present in Washington, where he has been taking part in the process of assessing the position which has now been reached. He will shortly be returning to his post in Moscow. Our Ambassador in Moscow is being recalled to London for consultations of a similar kind, and when both have returned to Moscow they will be able to act as the appropriate channels for further contact, as opportunity offers and as Governments may decide.
Some hon. Members may have seen the statement made in Mr. Khrushchev's speech today that the date of 31st December was not necessarily firm and that he was prepared to see a flexibility in the date by which these matters are 30 carried through. We believe that the precedents show that the best way of establishing the possibility of negotiating is the way which the Western Alliance has adopted. The first steps towards the agreement which brought an end to the Berlin air-lift were taken by the Russian and American representatives at the United Nations. No one can doubt the need to find an agreed basis for the agenda of a conference before negotiations take place. Certainly, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite with experience of the Conference of Deputy Foreign Ministers at the Palais Rose in 1951 would not doubt the need to find agreement on the agenda and framework for negotiations before the Government went into them.
In these circumstances, the House will not expect me to go into more detail about the matters which have been discussed between Mr. Gromyko, the American Secretary of State and the Foreign Secretary. This much can be said; if Mr. Khruslichev is prepared to respect the true freedom of Berlin and the rights of West Berlin and the rights of these people and the rights of former allies, it should be possible to reach agreement with him. But if he is determined to consolidate East Germany so as to be in a position later to undermine West Berlin and thus threaten West Germany and the countries of Europe, he will not find it possible. The choice, in fact, rests with him.
I hope the House will support the Foreign Secretary in the part he is playing to ensure the defence of the interests of the West and, at the same time, to secure a basis for a negotiated settlement.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
Even before we adjourned at the beginning of August the international outlook had perceptively darkened. There was the evident deadlock in the talks on the banning of nuclear tests. There was, even then, the threat to Berlin. There was the insistence of the Soviet on the troika proposal for the United Nations; and there was a very unsettled situation in the Congo.
There is no denying that since we adjourned—in the last weeks—the international situation has further seriously deteriorated. While there is no need 31 to exaggerate the dangers of war, no one can deny that the hopes of peace have perceptively dimmed. We have had the sealing off of East Berlin, the reinforcement of troops on both sides, the resumption of nuclear tests, the clash in the Congo and the tragic death of Mr. Hammarskjold and the consequent possible dangerous effects on the United Nations itself.
The Lord Privy Seal referred to Mr. Hammarskjold. I will not say much about him today. I paid my tribute to him when he died. I knew Mr. Hammarskjold personally. I had known him since the days when we worked together in O.E.E.C. He was, in every way, an exceptional man. He had a machinelike energy and great diplomatic skill. He was extremely tough, yet very honest. I do not think that the United Nations could have had a better Secretary-General in these past difficult years. As the Lord Privy Seal said, Mr. Hammarskjold had a distinctive attitude towards the United Nations—an attitude with which the Lord Privy Seal agreed. His approach was, essentially, that the United Nations was not, and should not be allowed to become, just a forum, but must be an influence of its own and must exercise authority on its own, so that from it there might develop the beginnings, at least, of some form of world government.
There was a danger that—at the moment when the Russians were demanding a complete reconstruction of the United Nations—the death of Mr. Hammarskjold might have produced that effect, so that instead of a positive force for peace it would become just a place where nations and Governments could meet. I am glad to see that the latest news on this point seems to be slightly better. It appears that the Soviet Union are not pressing in full their original demands for the troika system. I can only hope that the difficulties which still remain in settling exactly how the Deputy Secretary-General or Under-Secretaries are to be chosen will soon be smoothed out.
I do not propose to say more about the United Nations and its problems. I will leave that to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) and my right hon. Friend the Member 32 for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who will be speaking tomorrow. Nor do I propose to say anything about the Congo at this stage, although the Lord Privy Seal dealt with this at some length. I think it would be better to wait and see exactly what he said about this rather tangled business rather than give any off-the-cuff remarks.
I would only say this to him. There is one very important question which he did not answer, and it is this. Does the agreement which has been made by the United Nations representative with Mr. Tshombe provide for the final withdrawal of the non-African mercenaries who are at present employed there? This is of great importance. If it does not so provide, it is hard to see how the United Nations can come out of this without a most serious loss of prestige which could have damaging consequences in other parts of the world.
It is always difficult in a foreign affairs debate covering a wide field to know whether to spread oneself and take up a number of different topics or to concentrate upon one. The difficulty about the first is that one never has time to say anything that is really worth saying about each topic, and one is very lucky indeed if the whole House is not asleep before one has got very far. I propose to avoid that danger today and to devote almost the whole of my speech to the Berlin issue. I feel that this is really at the moment the dominating world question and one which presses upon us most urgently.
Before I do that I want to make only a brief reference to two other things. The Lord Privy Seal touched for a moment upon the Common Market negotiations. I asked him at once if he would arrange for his speech to be made available to hon. Members. Frankly, I was astonished at his reply. After all, this speech, or at any rate a summary of it, has been published in the Press. Either the summary is correct, in which case there is surely no harm and no objection to publishing the speech in full; or it is an incorrect summary, in which case it is a very serious matter indeed, and not only the House of Commons but the world as a whole is being misled as to what the Lord Privy Seal actually said. I urge him to think about this matter again, because there are certain 33 things that he is reported to have said which may, I think, give rise to some concern.
Let me say at once that we do not oppose negotiations. We put down certain conditions that we thought should be fulfilled before we actually enter, if we do enter, into the Common Market. Let me say, too, that, having debated this matter in July, after the Government's decision, I would not think it right for the Opposition continually to intervene and try to find out what was going on all the time in every single talk that is taking place. But it is the right and duty of the Opposition to ask questions and seek assurances if it appears in any way and at any stage that the Government are going beyond their own statements to the House.
This is the particular question that is raised, I must tell him, by some of the things which the Lord Privy Seal is reported to have said. This matter will be dealt with tomorrow by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper in greater detail. Meanwhile, however, I repeat my urgent request. It is not fair to hon. Members to deny them the opportunity of reading what the right hon. Gentleman told the Council of Ministers. I hope, therefore, that he will think again on this matter and that the speech will be available later today or tomorrow morning in the Library.
The second matter which I must touch upon is the resumption of nuclear tests. There can be no doubt that this is a shattering blow to the hopes which all of us in this House had of proceeding at last to a disarmament agreement. Why did we place such special hopes upon these negotiations? In part it was because, slow as they were, they really made progress—very substantial progress. They seemed in sight of success; there were only three or four points outstanding. In part, it was because the Kennedy Administration had come forward with notable concessions to the Soviet Union.
But it was more than that. It was because we saw in the hope of this agreement, first, the possibility of stopping the poisoning of the atmosphere which had gone on before. Secondly, we hoped that it would at least freeze the stage of weapon development reached in Russia and the United 34 States. Thirdly, and perhaps most important of all, we saw here the opportunity at last for establishing effective international disarmament controls. It would have been a pilot scheme. Had it been agreed and had it been operated, it would have been so much easier, so we believed, to proceed to a general disarmament agreement.
I cannot question what the Lord Privy Seal has said about the fact that this, and the way in which it was done, was a breach of faith. When this sort of thing is done it cannot but have a very grave effect upon what is, after all, the basis of our hopes of international concord, and that is at least some degree of confidence in one another.
These tests have not been on a small scale. Twenty Russian tests have so far taken place, nine of them in the megaton range. It is reported that the total is some thirty-five megatons, which means that the total amount of explosion is already about the same as it was in the autumn of 1958 when both the Soviet Union and the United States were conducting their last major series of tests.
Surprisingly enough, there has not been a great deal said so far about the dangers of fall-out. I should like to ask the Government whether they have any information on this subject. If it is true, as I have read somewhere, that the dangers a few years back were greatly exaggerated and that we now know that we do not have to worry so much, we shall, of course, all be very relieved, but we are entitled to hear from the Government as soon as possible what their technical advisers say on this matter. There is, I think, in existence a scientific advisory committee which studies these things and I hope that we can have an early report from it.
The United States has also resumed its tests, but at least they are underground so far. At least they produce no fall-out and there have been three of them only. But, of course, as is not altogether surprising, the United States Government themselves have said that they may have to resume atmospheric tests, especially as the Russians refused the proposal that the United States made 35 that there should, even from now onwards, be an agreement not to have any tests in the atmosphere.
I cannot say that I am much impressed by the Russian explanations. They referred to France. In this House from these benches we raised time and again with the Prime Minister and with the then Foreign Secretary the question of the French tests and their relationship to the Geneva negotiations. I remember pressing the Prime Minister many times on the point that it would be wise to bring the French into these talks, because otherwise the tests conducted by France might have an effect on the agreement, and he always said "No, let us get an agreement first." That was his view, but I am bound to say that it was a view in which the Russians acquiesed. They made no protests at all at that time. They showed no anxieties. They made no difficulties. It was only right at the end, in the spring of this year, that they first mentioned the French tests in the negotiations, and it was only after their own decision was announced that they made any great thing of it. Anyhow, no one is going to take very seriously the idea that the Russians believe that the French tests threaten the Soviet Union.
I think that the whole affair is best summed up in Mr. Khrushchev's own words in January, 1960, and this is what he said:Should any of the States, in the present-day conditions, resume nuclear weapons tests, it is not difficult to imagine the consequences of this act. Other States possessing the same weapons would be forced to take the same road. An impulse would be given to resume nuclear arms testing … under any conditions, unlimited by anything … Should any side violate the obligations to which it has committed itself, the instigators of such violations will cover themselves with shame and they will be condemned by the peoples of the world.I turn now to Berlin. The Lord Privy Seal, very properly, referred to what has, I suppose, been the most important event since the beginning of August, namely, the erection of the barriers of steel and concrete on 13th August. No one who cares for liberty, no one who has any spark of humanity, can fail to have been profoundly shocked, angered and depressed by that event. If it is not so moving in terms of physical suffering as the repression of the Hungarian 36 revolt, it evokes in most of us the same kind of emotion, a sense of frustration that we could do nothing to help and a sense of indignation at what was being done. What a comment it is on the record and popularity of the Communist régime that, after fifteen years, when 3 million people had left, they could stop more millions leaving only by building a prison wall to keep them in.
It may be asked: could not it have been stopped? If one is thinking in terms of physical action, it was certainly no easy choice. But I put this thought to the House: is it not at least possible—some might say probable—that, had negotiations on Berlin begun earlier and had they been taking place in August, this step would not have been taken? It is as well to remember that waiting, hoping and merely standing firm does not always pay off.
Turning to the general situation, the first matter I mention is what seems to me to be the contrast between the situation in the West and the situation on the Soviet side. There is no doubt about what the Soviet proposals are—the Lord Privy Seal mentioned them—a peace treaty with both Germanys; a demilitarised, free city in West Berlin in which all four Powers may have their contingents, perhaps with United Nations forces as well; and what are called "guarantees of access" to the city. It may well be said that these are vague statements, but that, I think, is not surprising; it is very unlikely that, before entering negotiations, everyone would say exactly what he meant by various phrases. Nevertheless, when one contrasts the Russian point of view and the Russian proposals and attitude with the position in the West, the difference is seen to be very remarkable.
In the West, we have no agreed line whatever. We have even the latest example, which, I am sure, all of us deeply regret, that it appears that the French President refused to allow even a meeting of officials to take place this week. It really is deplorable for those of us who care for the Western Alliance that this sort of thing can take place. We have statements by different leaders. We have interpretations, often contradictory, by different newspapers. We have a confused debate between those, who are described by the "hards" as "soft" and those who are described by the "softs" 37 as "hard". We have charges and countercharges. Some say that those who are in favour of negotiation are appeasers and other say that those who believe in standing firm are warlike. Every practical proposal which has been put forward by one country or one Government or another seems to have been objected to by someone else.
Behind it all, of course, lie what, I suppose, are the two views of the Soviet Union, the one that the Russians are frightened of Germany and that, together with the satellite countries, their main concern is simply to assure their security; the other that it is not a matter of fear of Germany but of a deliberate attempt to detach first Berlin and then Germany from the Western Alliance in order to weaken N.A.T.O. Admittedly, it is extremely difficult to know which of these two versions is correct. Probably, both have an element of truth in them. But it all adds to the confusion on this side of the iron Curtain.
A great deal of all this, of course, is the price we pay for being democracies and for being independent States. As anyone who has had anything to do with it knows, it is very much harder for the democracies to negotiate than it is for dictatorships. But I cannot help asking whether it is not possible to do better. Is it really so difficult for the Western Powers to agree? I had hoped that the Lord Privy Seal this afternoon would feel able to give to the House and to the world a reasonably clear picture of what he thought we might agree upon. I should expect him, of course, to take into account the feelings of other countries, but, whereas there may be something to be said for everyone, whether German, French or American, keeping quiet until the private talks have taken place and agreement has been reached, if it can be reached, there is, from our point of view, very little to be said for Germans, Frenchmen and Americans speaking for their Governments and saying what they think and for the British Government maintaining an unnecessarily coy silence. This is why, although, of course, I know the reasons for it, I am sorry that the Lord Privy Seal did not feel that he could go rather further.
Of course, the Lord Privy Seal has a responsibility in the Government which 38 we do not have in Opposition. We are freer, and I readily admit that it is partly for that reason that I feel that I am entitled this afternoon to go into the matter in rather greater detail. I may even say things with which the Prime Minister agrees but which he does not like to say in public. I do not suppose that he will mind that.
We sometimes hear the phrase, "No war over Berlin". This is a most dangerous double-meaning slogan which wise and responsible people should avoid, for it can mean, "Let us have negotiations" or it can mean surrender.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
They are two quite distinct meanings, and, if one intends to talk that language, it is just as well to make plain which one means.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I think that my hon. Friend knows very well what I mean, and he will hear it again this afternoon.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I must put to the Prime Minister a question at this point. I say frankly that I was astounded, having in mind what I have said, by the Press conference which he held on the fairway to the eighteenth green at Gleneagles in Perthshire on 26th August. My hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) might even welcome the Prime Minister as a convert to his views, for this is what the right hon. Gentleman said:Nobody is going to fight over Berlin. The way it is going on is very worrying but nothing more.Then he said:I do not think there is going to be a war. Mr. Khrushchev is playing golf in the Crimea. Perhaps that is encouraging.Asked whether the situation in Berlin, with guns facing guns, frightened him, he replied,I think it is all got up by the Press. Nobody is going to fight about it.I really cannot understand why the Prime Minister, who is so reluctant to tell the House of Commons anything, should feel obliged to tell the Press such 39 things in those circumstances. Seriously, it is not the kind of statement we expect from a British Prime Minister at a moment of major crisis. Inevitably, statements of that kind create among our allies the suspicion that we are not standing by our alliances. Inevitably, such statements—even when they come from less prominent quarters—may encourage the Russians to risk unilateral action.
Perhaps the exact nature of our obligations in Berlin are not understood. I know from queries I have had that not everyone seems to appreciate the commitment we have. It is a very clear commitment. In October, 1954, the Governments of the United States, France and Britain issued this declaration.The security and welfare of Berlin and the maintenance of the position of the three Powers there are regarded by the three Powers as essential elements of the peace of the free world in the present international situation. Accordingly, they will maintain armed forces within the territory of Berlin as long as their responsibilities require it. They therefore reaffirm that they will treat any attack against Berlin from any quarter as an attack on their forces and themselves.Of course, this commitment has been repeated many times since, particularly as the crisis has evolved during this last summer.
But it is not only a matter of there being a perfectly clear obligation to defend ourselves against attack in Berlin should an attack come. There is something much more important than this. It is simply that, if we were to follow the path of surrender—that is to say, not to fight if attacked; and it is necessary to speak plainly on these issues—then I have no doubt that the consequences on the morale of the West in Europe and in America would be quite disastrous. In one country after another people would be saying, "It is clear that N.A.T.O. is a facade, and when it comes to the crunch they do not mean it. Therefore, we had better make our terms with the Communists as quickly as we can." Therefore, when we say that we have to stand by our obligations to protect the freedom of West Berlin, it is true that we are doing something more than that. We are preventing the break-up of the N.A.T.O. Alliance and therefore protecting our own freedom as well. I think it necessary to say this.
40 I now turn to the other side. I want to make it quite plain that, while I am wholly opposed to the surrender line, nevertheless intransigence such as we encounter in some quarters in Europe today is equally undesirable. To refuse to negotiate implies either such a strong position that we do not need to do anything at all but can sit quietly and just wait, or a deliberate exercise of brinkmanship on such a scale that it must be regarded as profoundly dangerous.
We have to recognise certain facts in this situation, whether we are Frenchmen, Germans, British or American. First, we have to recognise that the position in Berlin is a very exposed one as it is now. We have to recognise that it is quite on the cards that the East Germans and the Russians, without the use of armed force at all, could again make life in West Berlin almost impossible. This is a fact; there is no denying it. Therefore, I say—it is an important conclusion—that we do not like the present situation. It is very desirable, if we can, that we should get out of a position in which we are exposed to continual pressures all the time. When I say "get out", I must make it perfectly plain that I mean that we must be in a position in which we can change it so that those pressures cannot be applied. I shall explain in a moment what I mean.
The second thing that we have to recognise is that the whole future of Berlin is not something which can so readily be taken for granted. After all, if it is under constant pressure and constant threat, a lot of Germans will ask themselves whether they can afford to go on living there, investing there, and conducting their lives and businesses there. There is a real problem here which, of course, has become far more acute since the events of 13th August.
The third point is this. I suppose that it can be said—and I believe that this is the view of General de Gaulle—that, although we may have to negotiate in due course, the wise tactics are not to take the initiative but that it is better that we should wait. He would argue, "After all, we stand by the status quo. It is the Russians who want to alter it. Let them come forward with proposals" 41 [Interruption.] They have come forward with proposals, but not precise proposals for negotiation as yet.
The difficulty is that it seems likely that, if we followed that course, we should be negotiating under disadvantageous conditions, under pressures. For instance, could it be thought that it would make negotiations easier if Russia had already signed a treaty with East Germany? I do not see the argument.
If it is true that General de Gaulle is opposing negotiations and is making difficulties, while I recognise that he has many admirable qualities and that he is a man of enormous courage, and, while in certain respects, I have respected his handling of the situation at times, I do not think that intransigence of this kind should stop America and Britain and West Germany from proceeding with at least informal talks with the Russians. After all, this is not a matter of French national interest. It is a matter of the tactics to be applied in certain circumstances. However high our regard for the President—mine is certainly high—I do not think that he should be allowed to dictate Western policy in this matter.
I turn to the possible terms of an agreement. I believe that part of the trouble, and part of the trouble within the Alliance, is that our position is sometimes wrongly presented, both by the United States and by the United Kingdom. Again, this afternoon, the Lord Privy Seal presented it in what I believed to be the wrong way. He said, "We must insist on three things—the freedom of the people of West Berlin, the freedom of access to West Berlin and the presence of allied troops in West Berlin." Of course we want those three things, but when we put it in that way and say, "We shall negotiate on everything else", we give the impression that we are saying, "We shall stand on these but will make concessions on anything else." We are naturally giving the impression, I fear, both to the Germans and to the French, that this is going to be a retreat by us. I do not believe that this is necessary in the least.
What we should say—I have already implied it—is that we want a change from the present position ourselves because it is very unsatisfactory and 42 very dangerous. We want not merely guarantees over access to West Berlin. Quite frankly, guarantees are not enough. That is another dangerous word to use. What we want is better physical control over access to West Berlin. I do not say that we must have it, but we certainly want some form of international physical control over access to West Berlin. I think that most of us would agree that one of the more unfortunate errors made at the end of the war was not to provide for a proper corridor, internationally policed, of access from the West to West Berlin. Therefore, we want that. We want to get away from the present position and have something of that kind in its place. The question is: What sort of price are we prepared to pay for it? This is the way in which the matter should be approached.
As I said earlier, I do not expect the Government to go into great detail about what they would say, although I thought that the Lord Privy Seal was a bit unduly thin. We think that there are three things which could be done which might make a reasonable bargain. First, we believe that the time has come when West Germany might well be asked to accept the Oder-Neisse line, the present frontiers of East Germany, as the final frontiers. Secondly, we believe that the allies in the West should put forward and sponsor the plan so often discussed here and elsewhere for a zone of controlled disarmament with nuclear-free clauses on the lines of the Rapacki proposals. Thirdly, we say that some de facto recognition of East Germany is part of the price that we should pay.
I do not want it to be thought that in saying this I believe that we can just impose all this on the West Germans. Let me be frank. Public opinion here sometimes seems to me to be sticking rather in 1946 and 1947. We are, all of us, apt to think of the Germans as they were then, crushed, defeated—
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I must say this to my hon. Friend. They are not like that now; that is not the position today. Whether he or I like it or not, we must recognise the facts as they are, and the facts as they are that West Germany is a very powerful nation and is a nation 43 which has certainly built itself up with a remarkable economic recovery, now contributing some 350,000 troops to the N.A.T.O. forces. Therefore, there is no question of simply saying to the Germans, "You must accept this or that". We have to persuade them. It is in that spirit that I put forward these proposals.
I am glad that on the question of the Oder-Neisse Line there are signs, I think, that many Germans recognise this. After all, they have said many times that there is no question of changing the frontier by force. As long ago as 1956, both Mr. Brentano and Carlo Schmidt themselves went quite a long way in this direction, recognising that there would be no change by force. They thought that they could easily reach agreements with the Poles on any minor adjustments that there might be. They realise, too, I think, that this is not a matter principally of Russia. It is a matter of their relations with the other Eastern European countries, particularly Poland. So I do not think it unreasonable to ask for this and it is not, perhaps, a very great sacrifice if they were to agree to it.
Our second proposal is for a zone of controlled disarmament. This has a long back history and I will not go over it all again. It has been put forward by this side of the House, it has been suggested to a certain extent by Sir Anthony Eden—now Lord Avon—and it has been put forward again in slightly different form by Mr. Rapacki. It was referred to in the famous Moscow communiqué when the Prime Minister went to see Mr. Khrushchev, but, unfortunately, after that communiqué, and still more after the election that followed, it was thrown into the wastepaper basket. Mr. Khrushchev has picked it out again and he has reopened it. Only today, we learn that Senator Humphrey, with an influential position in the United States Senate, has recommended it. The case for it seems to me still a very powerful one, for it is one of the things that could be worked out and would be, plainly, not to the disadvantage of either side. We could take an equal area on each side of the Iron Curtain and make it as large as could be agreed upon. Within that area, we would then agree what forces there should be—again, as small as could be agreed upon. Certainly, I see no case for not having a 44 nuclear-free zone. I do not believe that this is in the least likely to be detrimental to the security of Europe.
§ Mr. Shinwell
May I direct my right hon. Friend's attention to a report in The Times about ten days ago in which Herr Strauss, the German Minister of Defence, made it abundantly clear in unmistakable terms that on no account would he or the Germans agree to an atom-free zone?
§ Mr. Gaitskell
I am aware of that report. I am not saying that the Germans agree to this. I started by saying that we must persuade them that it is not to their disadvantage. To my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) I would add that at the moment there is no new Government in Germany and what is being said there is, I think, said in the light of the fact that nobody dares to commit himself to any new statement of any kind. It is very unfortunate. I wish that they would hurry up and form their new Government. It would make things a good deal easier. I simply am not accepting that what one member of the former German Government said necessarily represents for all time the views of the German Government.
The third point is some degree of de facto recognition. This, it seems, is what worries West German opinion more than anything else. Why should it worry them? They argue that if we recognise the East German Government in any shape or form, we are recognising a Government that does not have the support of public opinion, that has never been elected and that is a dictatorship. That is true, but this argument applies to every Communist State in Eastern Europe—it is not something which applies to East Germany alone—and we recognise the other States of Eastern Europe. Admittedly, juridically, there is a big difference and I do not wish to burke that issue, but we are not here proposing de jure recognition. We are proposing a measure of de facto recognition.
Already, West Germany herself gives a lot of de facto recognition. After all, it is East German officials or police who control the civilian traffic from West Germany to Berlin. Is that not a form 45 of recognition? Trade agreements are made, it is true not by the Governments, but, in effect, binding the countries, between East Germany and West Germany. There is an East German office in Bonn. There are official contacts at all sorts of levels. I think it quite unreasonable and absurd that in West Germany there should be so much suspicion of this proposal that we are making and which has widespread support in the House.
There is one other reason which, I suppose, lies behind West German anxieties. It is thought that such de facto recognition in some way means that we accept the permanent division of Germany and abandon for all time any hopes of reunification. I want to make it plain, as far as I am concerned, that I do not mean that. I do not see why it should mean that.
There is certainly no great surrender involved in de facto recognition of a limited kind. If we are talking about what will help or hinder the reunification of Germany, there can be no doubt that the loss of West Berlin would be of far more serious consequence for the possible reunification of Germany than some degree of de facto recognition.
These facts must be faced. Unification by force is out. Unification can only come by agreement. But how can it come by agreement? It will not come by agreement if, as a result, either East Germany goes to the Western side or West Germany goes Communist. These are the simple facts which we have said again and again and all on the allied side must understand them.
Our view remains that in present circumstances the only way by which this could conceivably be solved is through some form of disengagement on the lines of the plan we put forward, a plan that would be fair to both sides and would relieve their anxieties. I admit, however, that in the immediate future there is no hope of this. The Germans themselves oppose it, the Russians are not in favour of it. Therefore, what are we left with? The only hope of reunification is a change in the Russian attitude and reduced fears all round. Why should a limited degree of de facto recognition make the slightest difference here? If anything, I should have said it would be more likely to lead to a reduction of 46 tension and, therefore, to some hope of movement towards unification than of anything else.
Last of all, I want to say a word or two about the United Nations and Berlin. I have no hesitation in saying that in the course of an agreement on this, if such an agreement can be reached, it would be desirable to have the United Nations associated with it. It may well be that the best way of dealing with the vital question of access is to bring in the United Nations to supervise it in some form or other, for the simple reason that once we have the United Nations there, the Soviet Government and the Fast Germans would, I think, hesitate before breaking an agreement of that kind.
Another proposal which, I also think, is well worth considering is the physical transfer of at least some of the United Nations Agencies to West Berlin itself, for this also would reinforce the confidence that we would have that access to West Berlin would be maintained. It would, incidentally, help concerning the future of Berlin. It would have a greater raison d'être; and, incidentally, if this were done, it would be more and more difficult for the barriers between East and West Berlin to be maintained. Therefore, it seems to me that this is also an idea which could be brought into the talks and he fruitfully pursued.
Up to now, inevitably I have dealt only with the gloomier events that have occurred. It is no use pretending that they are not gloomy. Yet not everything is gloomy. The joint American-Russian declaration on disarmament was extremely encouraging, even allowing for the important exception about control and what seems to most of us the really indefensible position that Mr. Gromyko has taken up in saying that he is prepared to accept inspection and control of what is to be done away with but not of what remains. But, even allowing for that, I rather hope that on further discussion some of these difficulties could be ironed out, because there is such inconsistency about that statement and other things which the Russians have said. I cannot help hoping that there is room for a change there.
Then there is President Kennedy's speech to the Assembly, certainly a remarkably fine one, and his emphasis 47 upon the need to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to strengthen the United Nations physically, his emphasis on the decade of development—a noble phrase, and one which, I am sure, inspires us all.
I am glad that the British Government unhesitatingly supported this speech and all that was in it, as, I think, they have been supporting the American plan for disarmament. I am glad, too—for there is no point in trying to score points over this—that in the main the American and British Governments have worked fairly closely together on the Berlin issue.
I wish that I could say that was the case everywhere and in everything. It is not always the case, and I must make this complaint against the British Government's policy.
We stand for freedom, it is said. We stand firm with our allies. We work together for peace with America. But when it comes to our performance in the United Nations on issues that are of great importance in Africa and in Asia we then see a very different scene.
I have looked up the record on this, and really it is disturbing. I will leave out of account the resolution on apartheid before South Africa left the Commonwealth. Thank heavens the Government changed their attitude on that. But on 15th March, 1961, a resolution urging the Security Council to appoint a sub-committee on Portugal's African territories with a view to implementing the anti-colonial resolution of December, 1960, failed to get the necessary seven affirmative votes. America supported it. Britain opposed it. On 23rd March a General Assembly resolution to discuss Angola was carried by 79 votes to two, with seven abstentions. America supported it. Britain abstained. On 7th April, 1961, a resolution relating to South-West Africa and condemning South Africa's refusal to co-operate with the United Nations and affirming the population's right to national sovereignty was carried by 84 votes to nil with eight abstentions. The Americans supported it. Britain abstained. On 20th April, 1961, the General Assembly carried a resolution urging Portugal to implement a policy of 48 colonial freedom. It was carried by 73 to two with nine abstentions. America supported it. Britain abstained. On 9th June the Security Council passed by nine votes to nil with two abstentions a resolution condemning killings and suppression in Angola. America supported it. Britain abstained.
What is there in the position of America and Britain which should lead to these differences? Is it the Government's argument that Portugal is a member of N.A.T.O.? But so are the United States and they vote against Portugal. Unfortunately, the impact which this makes on Africa and Asia generally is quite deplorable.
At the Tory Party Conference the Foreign Secretary said this:Freedom is under fire the world over. It happens that Berlin is in most acute danger, but if free men cannot defend an outpost of freedom it will not be very long before the flanks are turned and liberty is menaced everywhere.I agree with that. I have already said it. But we cannot draw a line between freedom in one place and freedom in another. Freedom, like peace, is indivisible. If we believe in freedom in Hungary, and in East Germany, then we must believe in it in Angola and in Rhodesia. Detention without trial is just as bad whether in Ghana or Hungary or Rhodesia.
If, then, the Government are to play the part which they should in international affairs today and exercise the influence which they should, then they will have not merely to preach freedom for one part of the globe and keep quiet about its loss or absence in another. It will not be enough for the new Leader of the House to proclaim his faith in the brotherhood of man—especially when it is followed by an overwhelming majority for a resolution calling for legislation to restrict what amounts to coloured immigration into this country. It is time these principles, if the Government really believe them, were put into practice. They are still a long, long way from doing that.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Sir John Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)
Those were very brave and forthright words which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition uttered on the subject of Berlin. I think that what 49 he said will be received with warmth by the whole House and will evoke a response in the country as a whole.
The right hon. Gentleman referred earlier to the very unsatisfactory nature of these long foreign affairs debates when we hop from subject to subject, and as he said it I was very conscious of the fact that I myself wished to address my remarks to the Congo. I hope that what he said will be noted in the appropriate quarters, and that in future, when we are having, on return from a Recess, a two-day debate on foreign affairs, some arrangements can be made through the usual channels for the different subjects to be discussed in separate half-days, or whatever may be appropriate. It certainly would make my task easier on this occasion.
I make no bones about devoting myself to the Congo. I have had a continuing interest in it not only since the crisis arose last year, but since I visited the Congo myself, in January. Like others, I was dismayed by the action which was taken in Katanga, in September. We are, after all, very much involved with the United Nations action. We are paying a part of the bill, and we are interested, perhaps more than any other nation, in peace—which is one and indivisible—in Africa.
There has been in the Congo for the past eighteen months a succession of outstanding events. The chronicle of what has happened is almost incredible. I am in the same position as other hon. Members when I complain about how difficult it is to obtain the truth of what has happened. If we read what has been said and written it is very difficult to discern the truth. I read in a newspaper the other day that, on the subject of the Congo, we have been told the truth but nothing like the whole truth and almost everything else but the truth as well. There have been accusations and counter-accusations, allegations and counter-allegations, entirely depending, I am afraid, on the newspaper one happens to read.
I was shocked, as others were, by the allegations of atrocities. I hope that in due course it will be possible for the International Red Cross to look into what happened and let the world have the truth. That is one source which I can trust and in which I have confidence. 50 Too many people, including the newspapers, when they discuss the Congo, are already committed in their views. They are largely airing their prejudices. It is fair to say that they are tailoring their reports to suit their ideologies or those of their newspapers.
There is one school which holds that everything which the United Nations does is right, Mr. Tshombe, its arch-opponent, is, in their eyes, a black Fascist or a Belgian stooge or a capitalist lackey, or one or other of the clichés which stream from the Left-wing generally. There is another school, not unrepresented by some members of my party, who look upon Mr. Tshombe as the bastion of freedom, an archangel who can do no wrong and as one who was maintaining a viable state in a chaos made worse by United Nations busybodies.
The truth lies somewhere in between. I speak as one who strongly supported the original entry of the United Nations into the Congo and who still does. It has a rôle to play now in the Congo and, I hope, in the future, in preventing similar outbreaks in other parts of the world. As my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal said earlier, United Nations action kept the Congo from being the scene of activity by the Great Powers. But I also speak as one whose faith in its fitness for its present task has been gravely shaken by recent events.
Whatever else is alleged against Mr. Tshombe, it is a fact that order was preserved in that country in a larger area than perhaps anywhere else in the Congo. While I deplore many of Mr. Tshombe's actions, and, in particular, his implication in the murder of Mr. Lumumba, which has never been made clear, and while I deplore many of his policies, I cannot but pay tribute to the fact that Katanga has been an area of peace and quiet. If one can get away from the personalities and get down to the basic causes of the conflict or disagreement there is between Katanga and the rest of the country, one must remember that this is a crisis which is peculiar to the Congo because of its history and its geography.
Few newspaper reports that one reads give the public any idea of the circumstances of that country and of its size—the size of India with only fourteen 51 million people spread over it. Katanga is remote from Leopoldville and Elizabethville is as remote from Stanleyville as we are from Budapest and further away, and in between these there are no built-up communities and sophisticated cities. There are small scattered pockets of Africans existing on a subsistence level, and one cannot judge what happens in the Congo by what happens in the three great cities. One is struck by the normality of life on the surface in the country. The fact remains that, despite all the stress and strife, probably half the people in the Congo have never been affected by the disturbance.
We have to make allowance for the fact that the Congo is not a nation in the true sense of the word. It is a hunk of rich land carved out of Africa, and the frontiers of that nation which the United Nations is trying to preserve are the limits that were set to the rapacity of Leopold II by the ambitions of other nations. They are not ethnic frontiers neccessarily and they are not frontiers of natural geography. Certainly, they are not frontiers with a long history behind them. Until we get hold of that reality, and realise that there was no other unity in the Congo that that based on submission to Belgian administration, we shall never understand what the disputes and the problem are about.
One cannot say that communications are non-existent, but they are very tenuous. There is only one airline which, I understand, is at the moment flying regularly and which joins the three centres of power. That is why, from the beginning of this crisis, the wiser heads have realised that the only hope lies in a confederation, and that is where the right in the dispute is undoubtedly on Tshombe's side and those who agreed with him at the Tananarive Conference.
It is alleged against him that he declared Katanga an independent State. When I saw him I was very surprised, having regard to the fact that he had declared this independence, when he said that he was always willing to submit to a stable Government in Leopoldville and he added the rather human remark that he had to have independence because, as it was, he could never get an answer to his letters to 52 Leopoldville. He has always been willing to submit, provided that a reasonable amount of autonomy is allowed for his Province.
I am not in any way pleading for a break-up of the Congo. I strongly support the United Nations effort to maintain its unity. I certainly do not plead for a Balkanisation of the Congo. Far from it. For the Congo, as for the rest of Africa, the only hope of progress is larger economic and political units, but a central authority must not be imposed. It remains true that the real background of this tragedy is that the Belgians there unwisely introduced strong unitary government as part of the basic law and constitution of the country. As I have said before, if only the same wisdom had prevailed in the Congo as prevailed in Nigeria much blood and suffering might have been saved.
As for the United Nations action in Katanga, there is no doubt that its recent effort has delayed the achievement of an understanding. Everyone speaks very highly of Mr. Adoula. He is probably the man with whom President Tshombe is most likely to be able to reach an agreement, and we must not judge all of Mr. Adoula's public utterances against Katanga by taking them at their face value. That agreement has been held back, at any rate temporarily, by United Nations action. Even if one accepts the legality of the United Nations effort in Katanga—and in my view it is very questionable, even in the terms of the rather woolly United Nations resolution in February, that this was force exercised as an ultimate last resort—what was staggering about the United Nations effort was the utter lack of wisdom in the planning of the action and the ineptitude of its execution. The trouble is that the United Nations personnel had no intelligence in Leopoldville about what was happening in Elizabethville. They were largely the prisoners of their own prejudices.
I accept what the Lord Privy Seal told us—that Dr. Bunche said that Mr. O'Brien's reported statement that he was there to suppress Katanga's secession was not really so, but if it was only to get rid of the mercenaries how can one explain the curious deployment of the troops? Was it really necessary to seize the General Post Office in order to get 53 rid of mercenaries? To the best of my knowledge, none was sheltering there. I have heard the explanation that the United Nations wished to seize the radio station in order to avoid incitement to violence. That is fair enough, but one does not incite violence from a post office. I accept the statement, however.
I do lot say that violence was the intention of those on the ground, but I believe that they believed their own propaganda—that Mr. Tshombe's was a puppet Government propped up by mercenaries, and that, at the first threat of United Nations action, he would be tumbled from power. The situation was never like that. In fact, Mr. Tshombe has the support of the overwhelming majority of his own people. If, by any unhappy change, the central Government are thinking in terms of taking action, of invading Katanga, let them remember that it will be a difficult and expensive operation, in the light of distances, and that it will probably be unsuccessful. They will face a continuing liability and a grave likelihood of guerrilla warfare. It will certainly not bring peace.
What the United Nations has now done is to kindle a sense of Katangan nationalism amongst Mr. Tshombe's own tribe, the Luanda. The flame has now been lit and will not be quenched—and it was all very unnecessary.
One can extract a certain wry humour from the situation. There is something a little droll in Indian troops being employed to implement a United Nations resolution when India, to the best of my knowledge, has consistently rejected United Nations resolutions on the subject of Kashmir. If one is a student of history one can extract even more humour from the fact that an Irishman and Irish troops are engaged in suppressing Katangan nationalism in the interests of Congolese unionism. If I carry the parallel too far, I shall find myself describing the Northern Irish as the "Balubas of the Union". If Mr. Tshombe had a very good public relations officer he could even suggest to him that he take "Sinn Fein" as his motto and refer to United Nations troops as "black and tans".
§ Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan
One must not bring colour into this.
54 Seriously, however, this operation in Katanga has been a mistake—of that, I am certain. It has badly hindered what could have happened. Now we have a cease-fire and the rather two-faced explanation of Mr. Khiari, in Leopoldville and in Elizabethville, as to what it means. Perhaps we shall hear a little more from my hon. Friend the Minister of State tomorrow about how much progress has been made by the cease-fire.
We should concern ourselves now with what is to be done in the future. Is the new Secretary-General to seek a new mandate for his future actions in the Congo? I suggest that it might be advisable now to send out again the Conciliation Commission, whose earlier efforts brought a breath of sanity to United Nations proceedings out there. It was through the efforts of the Commission that there arose the Tananarive Conference, and the Commission might now have a further rôle to play. At all events, I think that all of us would pray for a cessation of this strife and suffering in that unhappy country.
Before I sit down, I want to ask the Government one question. When I was in the Congo, in January, I thought that this country was admirably represented at our embassy there. We had an ambassador who was very popular with the Congolese. He had been sent out there before independence and had made himself very popular, amidst a rather difficult and shifting situation. He was posted away after fifteen months in the post.
Frankly, there are two reasons for posting an ambassador away. One is that he is no longer acceptable to Her Majesty's Government in his post, and the other is that he is unacceptable to the Head of State to which he is posted. In this case, neither of these reasons applies. He has gone to a new and very important post in which he will do very well, and he had certainly not lost the confidence of Her Majesty's Government, judging from the speech of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal during our debate on the subject in March. Nor was he persona non grata to the Congolese. One or two Congolese I have spoken to recently have each asked me why our ambassador was posted away.
My right hon. Friend, or the Minister who replies to me, may say that the reason was that after a certain time the stress of affairs in Leopoldville had 55 demanded that the ambassador be released. It will, then, come as a strange coincidence that, at one and the same time, the United Nations representative in the Congo, Mr. Dayal, whom the Head of State of the Congo had asked to be removed, himself asked officially to be released, and both the British and the American ambassadors left.
I find it very hard to believe that this is the long arm of coincidence, particularly in view of the fact that there have been attacks from irresponsible quarters, including the Observer, on our ambassador and his activities. This was reinforced by a Press release from India—Indiagram Press Release No. 85—on 19th September, reporting a Press conference held by Mr. Nehru on that day. It said that Mr. Nehru was asked:What is the extent of British obstruction in the Congo? Is it merely confined to protest to the United Nations?and that he replied:I do not know. In the Congo last year it was pretty obvious that there was obstruction. Their representative there was constantly obstructing the working of the United Nations. But that man had to go ultimately.This is not the first attack which Mr. Nehru has made on this ambassador, and I hope we shall have from the Government a categorical refutation of Mr. Nehru's statement. I hope that they will say that there is no truth in the allegation that our embassy or the ambassador were obstructing the United Nations. I hope we shall also hear that our ambassador was not posted away as the result—es is alleged in some rumours—of a compact between the United Nations and ourselves—that if Mr. Dayal went, our ambassador would go as well.
I felt hesitant about raising this matter, because we are always reluctant in this House to drag the affairs of those who serve the State into the public eye. But in the interests of the Foreign Service as a whole, and in the interests of this country, it should be made quite clear that we do not accept Mr. Nehru's remarks and that we resent them.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
I hope that the right hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) will forgive me if I do not follow him in his examination of the events 56 in the Congo. I would merely comment that, however regrettable the events of 13th September may have been, the blood bath which would have taken place in the Congo if there had not been any United Nations in existence would have been something too appalling to contemplate.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
Is not the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that more Africans were killed as the result of the United Nations operation in Katanga than were killed throughout the whole of the Congo during the whole history of Belgian rule there?
§ Mr. Henderson
I am astonished to hear that observation from the hon. Gentleman. I doubt very much whether there is any basis of fact in it.
I want to follow the example of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and confine my remarks mainly to events in Germany and Western Berlin. In his very powerful speech, my right hon. Friend emphasised very clearly that in searching for a solution of the German problem, including that of West Berlin, one cannot escape from the harsh realities of the position which today confronts us.
It seems to me that it is becoming increasingly evident that German reunification is completely unobtainable at the present time. As Herr Brentano, the Foreign Minister of the West German Republic, said last week, it is being prevented by the unyielding stand of Russia. Indeed, Mr. Khrushchev is himself on record as having told Mr. Walter Lippmann, the American commentator, that the Soviet Union would never agree to a non-Communist all-German Government and that the West would never agree to a Communist Government for all Germany.
At the recent meeting of the General Assembly, on 26th September, Mr. Gromyko made this statement:The wider the international recognition given to the two German States, and the sooner they are admitted to United Nations membership, the stronger will be the foundations of post-war peace in Europe. The United Nations would be displaying courage and foresight if it took a decision to admit both German States to the United Nations.57 This seems to me to make it abundantly clear that it is Soviet policy to secure the recognition of the East German Government and its admission to the United Nations. In furtherance of this policy, the Soviet Government now threaten to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany, although, as we were told this afternoon by the Lord Privy Seal, Mr. Khrushchev has today said that the deadline of 31st December is not unchangeable.
In spite of this background, there is no alternative, in my view, to entering into negotiations, difficult as they will be, if there is to be a peaceful settlement of the present crisis.
As to the signing of a separate peace treaty with Germany, or "signing a German peace treaty", to use the phrase that Mr. Khrushchev used again this morning, in my view the Western Governments should maintain their willingness to do so, but with an all-German Government and not with an East German Government or even with a West German Government. Nor should the Western Governments support the admission of East Germany to the United Nations. Entry into the United Nations would confer sovereignty upon East Germany under Article 2 of the Charter, and this would mean that the Western Governments would be parties to giving de jure recognition to the partition of Germany.
At the same time, we have to be realistic. We cannot, as my right hon. Friend pointed out, ignore the fact that there is a de facto Government in East Germany and that Berlin, East and West, lies within its borders, and that its land, air and water communications linking it with the outside world run through East German territory. Any agreement with the Soviet Government will have to have regard to this situation.
On the other hand, the main concern of the Western Governments is to protect the freedom of West Berlin. I re-echo the question asked by my right hon. Friend. Is it not possible to achieve an agreement which would meet some of these difficulties? Could not agreement be reached on the following basis?
First, the four Governments should agree to enter into a solemn obligation, binding and unambiguous, to protect the freedom, independence and rights of 58 West Berlin, including the fullest rights of access.
Secondly, Western token forces, as was suggested by my right hon. Frien, should remain in West Berlin. However, I would go a step further. I should like to see a United Nations token force stationed in West Berlin as well.
Thirdly—here I agree very much with my right hon. Friend—there is much to be said in favour of transferring a number of United Nations Agencies to West Berlin. I should like to see them in both parts of Berlin. In my view, a United Nations "presence" would be of considerable moral and political value as a safeguard against any interference with the freedom of West Berlin.
Again, I should like to go a step further. Both the East German Government and the West German Government should be associated with any agreement guaranteeing and operating the land, air and water communications into West Berlin. Again, I agree with my right hon. Friend that a guarantee per se might not be very much more than of paper value. It must be supported by something much more practical and very much more concrete.
§ Mr. Henderson
If the hon. Gentleman will restrain his impatience, I shall come to that.
I suggest that there should be a six-Power Commission composed of the Soviet Union and the three other Western Powers, the East German Government and the West German Government, which should implement the solemn guarantee by being given the responsibility for controlling the access routes into and from West Berlin.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
Is it not true that a solemn guarantee in respect of all these things already exists under the Potsdam Agreement? If that is to be broken, surely any other guarantee would be broken?
§ Mr. Henderson
I do not know whether there is a solemn guarantee in existence at present. I believe that a military agreement was reached in 1946 which provided for the full access to West Berlin of the military forces of the three Western Powers occupying their 59 zones in the city. But I want this guarantee to cover not only the military transportation of men, supplies, and so on, but the rights of the West Berlin civilians as well, which is very much wider than anything agreed to in 1945 or 1946.
I should also like to see increasing contacts between the two German Governments to deal with matters of common concern. A policy of mutual boycott does not seem to me to help either side. We have been told of a number of instances in which even today there are contacts between both sides in Germany. I hope that there may be many other fields in which it would be to the mutual advantage of both East and West Germany to achieve closer co-operation.
The Western Governments should, in return for the Soviet Government's guarantee of the freedom of West Berlin, agree to the de facto recognition of the East German Government, pending eventual German reunification. I should like to ask the Government whether it is intended that any agreement that may be reached with the Soviet Government will be registered at the United Nations under Article 102 of the Charter. I suggest that it is important that that should be done, especially if agreement can be secured for the United Nations presence in West Berlin.
I think that the more the United Nations can be brought into association with the solution of this problem, the better it will be for all concerned. In my view, there will never be stability in Central Europe as long as Germany remains partitioned. On the other hand, the Soviet Union will never agree to German reunification in the present conditions of European insecurity. Mr. Gomulka, the Polish leader, was reported in The Times of 13th October as having said:The menace of a revival of German militarism was a source, of present tension.These fears are shared, even if not publicly voiced, in many quarters outside Poland. The inescapable reality of the present situation is that the Soviet Union considers that the existence of East Germany under Communist domination is essential to the Soviet security 60 system. A reunited Germany, in its view, under a non-Communist Government, would be regarded as a threat to Soviet security. The key to the solution of the German problem lies through the creation of a European system of collective security, to which my right hon. Friend referred this afternoon, covering Eastern, Central and Western Europe.
The German problem, in my view, is bound up with the problem of European security and cannot be settled in isolation. It would be completely unrealistic to suppose that such a solution is near. But what is needed is a drive forward in the direction of an all-European security system. What steps can be taken? I shall not repeat the proposal to which my right hon. Friend referred this afternoon, namely, the need to establish a non-nuclear zone of controlled disarmament in Central Europe as a prelude to disengagement, but I should like to endorse and support what he said, that this is a very vital step which might make a very considerable contribution to the easing of tension in Central Europe.
Secondly, I should like to suggest the conclusion of a non-aggression pact between the countries of N.A.T.O. and the Warsaw Pact. I know that this is a solution which has been put forward on a number of occasions by Mr. Khrushchev, but I believe that it is something which ought to be very seriously considered by the Western Governments in the present situation. We have to find a way round the impasse which exists.
My right hon. Friend made it quite clear at the beginning of his speech that it would almost seem as though there were an unbridgeable gulf between the Soviet Government in seeking to secure the recognition of East Germany and its admission into the United Nations and, on the other hand, the commitments that we have, the undertakings that we have given to Western Germany in respect not only of its own security but also the security of West Berlin. I believe that the conclusion of a non-agression pact is very well worth considering.
Thirdly, the Western Powers should, as my right honourable Friend suggested, join with the Soviet Government in guaranteeing the Oder-Neisse line subject to any agreed adjustment. These arrangements, if they can be achieved, would, I believe, help to create a greater 61 sense of security throughout Europe, both East and West. They would contribute to the achievement of general disarmament and bring nearer the day when foreign military bases were no longer necessary. They would help to remove what is perhaps the major obstacle in the way of German reunification, namely, the fears of its neighbours. All this points to the need for an early Summit Conference. It is essential that Mr. Khruhschev should meet the Western leaders round the conference table. I hope that the new and dangerous theory of controlled brinkmanship will find little favour in other Western Foreign Offices. I think that it would be extremely dangerous if we had that theory, brought forward in the days of the late Mr. Dulles, now started again, with this adjective, which means that it is called the theory of controlled brinkmanship. That is not the way to solve the problems which face us in Central Europe.
There cannot be a Summit Conference which is likely to produce constructive results unless a basis of agreement has been worked out. Here, I agree with the Lord Privy Seal. I think that there is a great deal for his point of view, that it would not help for the Government to specify their various proposals in public at the present juncture. I believe that a basis of agreement has to be worked out. No doubt that is the object of the diplomatic negotiations or discussions that are taking place at present. I do not know, but it may be that a Foreign Ministers' conference will have to be held first to prepare the way for a Summit Conference. Certainly, every diplomatic effort should be directed to getting the essential agreed basis on which the successful outcome of a Summit Conference would depend.
I want to speak briefly on the subject of disarmament. Looming up behind the problems of Europe is the very vital problem of disarmament. Nuclear tests have been started in the atmosphere by Russia, and the United States has threatened to follow suit. It is most unfortunate and regrettable that France carried out nuclear tests while the Geneva Conference on Nuclear Tests was sitting. This has provided the Soviet Union with a pretext, or an excuse, for torpedoing that conference and for resuming its own tests.
62 Whether a pretext or excuse, one has only to read the speech made by Mr. Gromyko, in the General Assembly last month, in which he based the whole of his case on the fact that, while this conference at Geneva was in session, N.A.T.O. was carrying out these nuclear tests. Then, realising that that was a little difficult to justify, he went on to specify France and commented:Of course, France is a very important member of N.A.T.O.Whether the Russians would have torpedoed the conference on some other ground I do not know, but it certainly offered them a pretext or excuse for so doing.
Today, the earth's atmosphere is again becoming poisoned with radioactive fallout. Happily, there is now real hope of progress being made in the sphere of disarmament. The latest American and Soviet disarmament programmes represent, in my view, the greatest advance yet made. The main difference between them, as the Minister of State knows, relates to control, but that is one of timing and not of principle.
I should like to make one suggestion to the Minister of State for the consideration of the Government. Personally, I am not too happy about the proposals contained in stage one of the American plan. Although I believe that it represents the greatest advance yet made in the ten years of negotiations, I still consider that a more drastic measure of disarmament should be provided in stage one of the American plan which I now understand to be the Western plan.
The practical step is to get a resumption of the disarmament negotiations, and I hope that in the next few weeks it will be possible to secure their resumption so that some progress may be made.
§ The Minister of State, Foreign Office (Mr. J. B. Godber)
Is the right hon. and learned Member referring to the manpower proposals in that stage one, or to some other aspect, such as nuclear disarmament?
§ Mr. Henderson
The problem of manpower is an example. Five years ago, the Western Governments proposed that the initial ceiling of manpower should be reduced to between I million and 1.5 million. The United States 63 proposal is that the start should be at 2.1 million. I think that we have moved since the position five years ago and, I would have hoped, more in the direction of something much more effective than was proposed in the recent American plan. That is the only criticism I have to make and I put it forward merely as a constructive criticism, hoping that the Government will do what they can to secure something much more drastic in this first stage of the Western disarmament plan.
I believe that the world has now come to the point when, as President Kennedy said in his great speech a few days ago, mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)
I hope that the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) will forgive me, not for not following him, because I propose to do so, but for stating to begin with that he has not added much to the speech of the leader of his own party, a speech with which I was deeply impressed, a speech which showed enormous courage, great good sense and a very sound and practical approach. That applied to nine-tenths of his admirable speech, although admittedly in the other tenth, that with which he ended, he had to throw a few bones to the rather yapping, slightly mongrel pack which sits behind him.
§ Mr. Wise
The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) asks why I speak of bones. I say that they were bones because there was not meat on them. They were only bones, and I am afraid that those hon. Members will have to be content with them.
One of the great difficulties about a proposition from the other side of the House is that hon. Members opposite always insist on trying to announce the terms on which they propose to negotiate, before negotiation takes place. It may be helpful to contribute sensible suggestions to Governments, and, indeed, Governments need them. But that is much better done without letting the 64 other party to the negotiations know how far any political side in this country is prepared to go to reach agreement. It is very much better to start negotiation from scratch, without announcing in advance the points on which one is prepared to give way.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
Surely the hon. Member does not suggest that the sole purpose of the debate is to allow a string of platitudes to be issued from both sides of the House. Surely it is the duty of hon. Members to put forward constructive suggestions. I said that it was not for the Government to do so because they were going into negotiations, but I very much doubt that the Government always deprecate all suggestions coming from this side of the House.
§ Mr. Wise
The sole purpose of the debate is to provide Members of the Opposition with a chance of making speeches. I was never in favour of our premature reassembly from a Recess which we badly needed and in which we had a great deal to do.
In the past, negotiations have been bedevilled in this way, and, even with the best intentions in the world, they can still be so bedevilled. A matter of three years ago, there was a serious crisis in the Middle East. Having refused to have a summit conference of any kind, Mr. Khrushchev suddenly proposed an "omnium gatherum" of the United States, France, Russia, India and ourselves. The first reaction of hon. Members opposite was most unfortunate. It came from the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), who said:The Labour Party demands immediate, unhesitating acceptance of the proposal.Unfortunately, the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition backed him up and said that it was an opportunity not to be missed. However, neither of them had thought that that proposal was made to circumvent the United Nations, and Mr. Khrushchev blew the gaff a little later by saying that that was exactly what he had in mind—he wanted to circumvent the United Nations which at that time was the basis of our policy. Premature acceptance of a proposal of that kind from the other side cannot do good and must do nothing but harm.
65 The same thing applies in the present situation in West Germany. Not long ago, hon. Members opposite were making it quite clear that they were not prepared to support any suggestion that Germany, either united or disunited, should have the right to decide its own destiny. The late Mr. Aneurin Bevan said:Is it not obvious that mere reiteration … about free elections in Germany and the right of a reunited Germany to join any allies she likes is no recipe for a solution of this problem at all?That was supported again by the Leader of the Opposition, who asked:Is it the view of the Government that the West German Republic should … remain free to decide whether or not, if there is a reunited Germany, Germany remains within N.A.T.O.?" —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th January, 1959; Vol. 598, c. 34-5.]It is quite clear that if there is any form of a united Germany, if it is to be a sovereign nation, it must have the right to decide who its allies will be.
Giving away the position in advance does not help either the cause of a reunited Germany or the cause of solving our difficulties over West Berlin. Those difficulties have now come very much to a head, but, unfortunately, this habit of giving away positions beforehand still exists. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition carefully gave away nothing in his speech. Indeed, he made one of the most stalwart expositions of what our foreign policy in Europe should be that I have heard for a long time from either side of the House: but he does not carry his own supporters with him. About fifty of them have already signed a Motion saying that in advance we should concede one of the points which the Russians are likely to demand. Roughly the same number did exactly the same thing on the same subject about four years ago. I believe that at its conference the Liberal Party also conceded the same point in advance.
All that means is that the Russians now know that there is a substantial body of opinion in favour of concession, and that makes the negotiation a little more difficult than before. We may be able to reach agreement on Berlin, and I hope that we can. However, the suggestion that we should install a United Nations force as a substitute for the forces of the three Allied Powers who garrison West Berlin now is not likely to 66 commend itself to the West Berliners, for the military achievements of the United Nations have not been such as to give anyone great confidence in their capacity to garrison or defend a sector of Berlin.
But when we hear of another proposal, which is very seriously held by and which has some attraction for hon. Members opposite, the idea of this denuclear zone in Europe, we must, I think, approach the matter with a certain amount of caution. The idea is unquestionably a good one in very many ways. It would be delightful if there were no nuclear weapons east of the Rhine or west of the Niemen. But do we think, in fact, that nuclear weapons would be withdrawn to the other side of the Niemen if we started on a negotiation of this kind? I should be very doubtful.
We have another difficulty. It is that West Germany, which would be one of the countries in which there would be no nuclear weapons and in which, under this proposal, there would be a serious degree of disarmament, is also a member of the European Economic Community and is moving much closer to political union—indeed, much closer than some on this side of the House would really enjoy. It is moving very much closer to political union. Could we have that union with one part of it demilitarised and the rest of it not? We must face the dilemma either that we break up this movement towards the concentration of Western Europe into a form of United States or that we must abandon the proposals for the demilitarised zone. I do not see how we can have it both ways at the same time.
I do not believe that the Russians are all that keen—in fact, I am sure that they are not—to provoke too much controversy over the present situation in Europe. It has always been the case, of course, that when Russia has started a very strong agitation in one part of the world, we have found that she is not interested in that part at all and that the trouble has broken out somewhere else where no one expected it to. It may well be that this is another similar smokescreen.
Whether or not we have ultimately to recognise an East German Government, I do not know. But there are complications about that and our position is not as logical as one would like 67 it to be, particularly vis-à-vis the Russians who in diplomatic matters are great sticklers for the letter of the law even when they break it. After all, we recognise the West German Government to all intents and purposes and, therefore, there is no particular reason, under the letter of the law, why the Russians in their turn should not recognise the East German Government. Whether we should have recognised the West German Government is open to debate, but, unfortunately, we have given that excuse to the Communist Powers. Whether we should follow suit if the Russians were to say that they would recognise the West German Government and reciprocate by recognising the East German Government is another matter of great difficulty.
Though the West German Government may have faults, as, indeed, most Governments have, they are at least a freely-elected Government and are representative of their people, whereas in the case of the East German Government, were we asked to recognise them, we should be in the position of recognising a Government which is so unpopular that they have to use great military force to stop the migration of their citizens into another country.
§ Mr. Rankin
Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that we have recognised Turkey, which was not in a very different position?
§ Mr. Wise
The hon. Gentleman is now producing the example of our recognising Turkey. At least Turkey has not barred its frontiers to stop Turks getting away to other countries.
I know it can be got over by saying that the mere fact of recognising a Government does not constitute approval of their methods. That is true. We have recognised the Government of China, and presume that we do not approve of their methods of government. We merely recognise that they are the Government. But the same does not quite apply in the case of East Germany. This is not merely a question of de facto recognition of a régime. The point is that if we were to recognise that Government we should have to reckon with the fact that over the whole of Eastern Europe people who are striving against Communist government would say that in one case the West had given way. I believe that the moral 68 effect of this would be such that it would outweigh the practical considerations which make such recognition desirable.
I come now from this localised issue to another which, in my view, is the most important part of this debate, and that is the position of the United Nations and of how content we can be with its functions up to the present time. We have always said that our policy is based inevitably, and always must be, on the principles of the United Nations. I am wondering whether or not we can continue like that unless there is some very considerable reconstruction and redirection of United Nations thinking.
We have seen in the Congo a most deplorable episode of the first effort of the United Nations to impose on a distressed area some form of unity and government. It has been a most lamentable thing. It has not failed from a lack of good will on the part of the greater nations which constitute the United Nations. At least they have financed it. Some of the smaller nations which pay nothing towards the upkeep of this venture—indeed, one of the larger nations which pays nothing to its upkeep—have, in fact, throughout made the United Nations effort as ridiculous as they can. It has ended up with this ridiculous fiasco in Katanga. I regret to say that the United Nations troops showed that they were incapable of battle, incapable of discipline and unable to observe the normal rules of the Geneva Convention. Indeed, their most heroic episodes seem to have been confined to slapping women's faces in a laundry—a deplorable record of what should have been a disciplined force inspired with an international outlook and determined to make this international organisation function in a proper way. Nothing could have been further from that than what actually happened.
It can occasion nothing but distress to anyone, because all international organisations have their value, and when they make themselves ridiculous there is no nation which is not the loser thereby. I can only hope that this short venture is the last which the United Nations troops will undertake. We have heard indignant denials of some of the things which these troops are supposed to have done. No inquiry has been made, but we have had reports from eye-witnesses whom we have every reason to believe were 69 reliable. There has been no official inquiry into whether or not the troops did fire on the Red Cross. We have heard allegations that the Red Cross vehicles contained machine-guns, but we have had no evidence that they did, or even that the ones which were fired on contained machine-guns. We have had this situation owing to what one can only describe as a blood-thirsty Dublin corner boy who started the whole of this operation without, as far as anyone can see, any proper authorisation from the Secretary-General, who recently met so tragic an end.
We have seen double-dealing and bad faith by the United Nations representatives in the Congo. We have reached the stage at which, with the best will in the world, the Katanga Government dare not recognise a cease-fire agreement until it is ratified in New York.
§ Mr. A. Henderson
Does the hon. Gentleman not think that it would be fairer to all concerned if he were to specify the evidence of double-dealing and bad faith which he alleges against Dr. O'Brien?
§ Mr. Wise
Dr. O'Brien launched an unprovoked aggression against a nation which had no hostile intentions. He did it without warning. The first thing he did was to occupy strategic points by force and with a certain amount of bloodshed, all in the sacred name of stopping secession, which I do not believe is within the duty of the United Nations. I do not believe that there is any case for us in this House accepting that, particularly for those with progressive views who believe in secession anywhere except in the Congo, and who believe that Dr. Banda has every right to take Nyasaland out of a federation whereas President Tshombe has not. Bad faith has been proved time and again by this unprovoked aggression, and by the fact that as far as we can see the equivocation on the present cease-fire is unquestionably on the side of the United Nations, otherwise it would not be necessary to wait for confirmation from New York before proceeding with the general cease-fire agreement.
We have to think again about the United Nations. So many of the new nations are so inexperienced that they do not realise the purpose of an international 70 organisation. Many of them regard it as a political platform from which to appeal to their voters. The last thing they seem to want it to be is a serious organisation directed towards maintaining the peace of the world. Indeed, many of them are not interested in the peace of the world. There are African nations in particular with a strongly imperialist outlook who will use the United Nations with the idea of crippling those countries which might stand in the way of their expansionist ideas, while promoting subversion in the countries into which they propose to expand.
It is time that we looked at this with more caution. This country has not taken the problem of the United Nations seriously enough. We have accepted it as one of the many catchwords which occur after a war. We did the same with the League of Nations, and because we did not take it sufficiently seriously, because we allowed it to be made an instrument of French policies, in the end it broke down. I am afraid that the United Nations is heading in very much the same way.
This country is the most experienced of all the nations of the world in diplomatic interchange. We have not troubled with brinkmanship. We have no senators handing out ballpoint pens to enable people to write inflammatory speeches. It is up to us to take a much more serious part in trying to get this organisation straight before we wake up and find that it is too late.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
I should like to associate myself with the tributes paid to Mr. HammarskjÖld and to the work he did not only in the Congo but in the United Nations generally.
I intend to speak about Berlin, and will therefore not say much about the remarks of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) on the United Nations. I do not know what conclusion he was reaching. I agree with him when he says that we ought to take the United Nations more seriously, but, on the other hand, I do not see much point in calling Dr. O'Brien a bloodthirsty Dublin corner boy. I do not think that doing that is likely to make people think that we are taking the United Nations seriously.
71 There are great difficulties in founding an international force. I have experience of trying to recruit people to an international organisation. It is not easy, but that is no reason for dropping it. If the United Nations has made mistakes in the Congo, let us learn from them and try to improve the personnel and the procedure. To damn the whole organisation because of certain slanted views of what it is trying to do is unhelpful.
The hon. Gentleman said that the United Nations was trying to prevent the secession of Katanga. The United Nations has categorically denied that, and said that it was trying to carry out the resolution of the United Nations to remove foreign mercenaries. It may have gone about it the wrong way, but we should not distort what the United Nations has said.
The danger that we face is not that of immediate war over Berlin, but that we are at one of those moments when we may get set on a course which eventually takes us into a situation where there is no alternative to war. Everybody has said that we must negotiate. Even de Gaulle has said that, though he does not think that this is the right moment to do so. We might have been far happier now if we had started to negotiate earlier, and if we had taken some initiative in the West on what was obviously always the danger spot in Germany, Berlin.
If we talk about negotiations, I am not sure that we and the Russians mean the same thing. I am not clear that the Russians intend to have any "give" as well as "take" in the negotiations. Indeed, I am not clear about what concessions we think should be bartered one against the other. It has been said often enough, and it was said by the hon. Member for Rugby, that it is not helpful to give away one's ideas in advance. of negotiations. I appreciate that and consider it a valid point, but there is this to be set beside it, that the Government are to blame for not having fully instructed opinion in this country about the various courses open over Germany and Berlin.
If the hon. Gentleman wants some justification for this debate, he will find it in the speech made by the right hon.
72 Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. He set out the issues extremely clearly, and it was the sort of speech which can do nothing but good, and will strengthen the hand of the Government when they go into the negotiations.
There are certain points which can reasonably be made without prejudicing what I agree are extremely delicate negotiations with the Russians. First, we must be firm in our determination to defend the freedom of the West Berliners and free access to their city. It may be true, as the Leader of the Opposition said, that when the Lord Privy Seal set out the main aims of the Government he may have given the impression that other points were too easily negotiable, but at any rate those points which he outlined are not negotiable, and the vast majority of the people would agree about that.
Apropos of that, I think that we should not sacrifice our hopes for the future to the fears which arise from the past. Between the wars we made a great mistake in failing to support the Weimar Government in Germany, and we got something very much worse in its place. That was partly because we looked back to the time of the First World War and because, for very natural reasons, there were the strongest prejudices about Germans and German conduct. I believe that to repeat the errors made between the wars would only set us on the same course once again.
It has been argued—and I believe it was argued by Sebastian Haffner in an article in Encounter—that there is no immediate threat to the freedom of West Berlin. In a sense that may be true, in that the Russians probably see the situation in Berlin merely as a means of putting a squeeze on the West. But it is not entirely true, because, whatever the Russians feel, it is obvious that Herr Ulbricht and the East German Government want, as a first priority, to eliminate freedom in West Berlin.
Secondly, we have the revolting situation in Berlin of walls having to be built across the city to prevent the East Germans seeking liberty in the West. That must strike horror and disgust among civilised people everywhere. I am surprised that it has not evoked more horror and disgust among some so-called uncommitted nations who, as I understand, hope to exercise some moral force 73 in the world today. This is one of the more repulsive and uncivilised events that have taken place in my lifetime.
Thirdly, we must realise that the aim of Russia is still to divide the West. That has been her aim ever since 1917. It is still her hope not to go to war at all, but to profit from mistakes by the West, and from the disarray in the West. I have no doubt that she hopes to disrupt N.A.T.O. and drive a wedge between America and her allies, with a view to isolating West Germany and ultimately sucking it into the Soviet sphere of influence.
Following upon that, we must get it into our heads that nothing we do will make the Russian Communist Government actively like democratic government. I am sure that Mr. Kennan is quite right; fundamentaly, what the Communists object to is not what Western Governments do but what they are. The Russians believe that democratic Governments are the relics of an old, disappearing form of human society which is doomed in any case, but which it is their business to push out. This does not mean that we cannot have any negotiations or agreement with the Communists, but any such negotiations or agreements must be on fairly concrete matters, from which both sides have something to gain. We must dissuade people in this country from thinking that by being nice to the Russians we shall make them approve of the way of life we have in the free Western world.
Therefore, what sort of concessions or negotiations—given this premise—can we undertake? The Russians have made it fairly clear that although the East Germans may be primarily interested in eliminating West Berlin, they, the Russians, are interested in a more general settlement, if they are interested in any settlement at all. Here I slightly disagree with one thing that the Leader of the Opposition said. He put particular stress upon getting a guarantee for the access routes to Berlin, and probably the right to arm them. I cannot believe that the Russians will agree to that, unless it is as part of a much wider settlement.
As soon as we reach the question of wider settlements we come up against the question of German unity. It has not yet been mentioned in the debate that—as I understand it, at any rate—the West are pledged to work for 74 German unity. I may be mistaken, but I believe that that is the position. That runs clean against the difficulty—and this, surely, is our dilemma—that there is no possibility of the Russians agreeing to any form of German unity, in the strict sense, if it means that Germany is to be part of N.A.T.O. or the Common Market.
It is said that disunity is a fact. That is all too obvious. But while we may recognise that fact now, the real question at issue is whether we should still try to achieve some growing together of the two zones of Germany, or should be prepared to do things which will certainly give the Germans the impression that we are abandoning the pledge, which I understand we have given, to work for the ultimate union of their country.
A possible way out of this dilemma may be to look again at the suggestions made both by Mr. Khrushchev and Herr Brandt for a peace conference. I am not quite sure what has happened to Herr Brandt's suggestion. I do not know whether he has revived it since the election, or what the other parties in Germany are thinking, but this seems to be an opportunity for the West to take the initiative and to ask the Russians, "What are you going to do about your undertaking that there shall eventually be free elections in East Germany?" That undertaking was given by the Russians after the war, and this is the point from which the whole difficulty springs.
§ Mr. Grimond
That is the point. The dilemma does not spring from the tact that the allies went into Berlin; it springs from the fact that the Russians broke their undertaking to agree to a freely-elected German Government, with whom a peace treaty could be signed. It is therefore reasonable for the West to ask them again what their view is about some form of loosening up or some form of greater freedom in East Germany, to be followed up by a peace treaty. The Russians, or the Communists, have at least let up a little, and we should probe them about this question. The East German Government is an unpopular and incompetent Government, even by 75 Communist standards, and it must be causing the Russians a certain amount of embarrassment.
Until this is done it is difficult to agree to a de facto recognition of the East German Government, bearing in mind their record, the manner in which they arose, and the fact that we shall get very little in return if we recognise them prematurely. But if we could reach the stage of examining the possibilities of a peace treaty many other suggestions which I agree with—perhaps de facto dealings with the East German Government over Berlin, possibly some form of Rapacki Plan, and a recognition of the Oder-Neisse Line—could be eminently discussable in that context, to be followed ultimately by some confederal arrangement for the two Germanies.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
Leaving out the question whether the hon. Member thinks it desirable or otherwise, does he think that there is the faintest possibility of the Russians agreeing to hold free German elections?
§ Mr. Grimond
I dare say they will not, but I do not see why they should not be asked. We always seem to put ourselves in the wrong to begin with, or to assume that we are in the wrong. They agreed to free elections after the war, and they have broken their word. I do not see why they should not be probed about this. If we had behaved as we have done and agreed to this, and then gone back on our word, the Russians would have had no scruple about asking us continually why we would not agree.
§ Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)
It is because they think that we have a bourgeois morality, and we know that they have not.
§ Mr. Grimond
I do not think that that is an absolutely compulsive reason. I agree that this may fail. The Russians may refuse to have a peace conference or to make any concessions about the East German Government, although I would hope that they might make some concessions about that Government. Then at least we should know where we stand. We should know how much value to attach to the remarks which Mr. Khrushchev is always making about wanting a peace conference. Then I think we can assume that no German settlement is 76 possible on any reasonable grounds or on any interpretation of negotiations which means give and take on both sides. But at present I do not think that we have probed the matter sufficiently.
I believe that there is everything to be said for trying to associate the United Nations with the Berlin situation. It was noticeable that when Senator Mansfield made his suggestion that Berlin should be a free city it seemed to alarm the East Germans who set to work within the Communist bloc to squeeze out such a possibility. They are genuinely alarmed that the Russians may not think this proposal entirely unacceptable. I do not mean that the West should give up its responsibilities. I mean that United Nations Agencies should be put in Berlin, that United Nations observers should be stationed there, with United Nations personnel at the check points and on the roads. I think that the Russians or anyone else would be extremely unwilling to fire, so to speak, on United Nations personnel and that would be an added element of stability in the situation.
This may be half-way to making Berlin a free city, and under certain conditions I would not rule that out. I think that the objection lies in the term "free city" which has unfortunate analogies with Danzig and other cities where it was not a success. But, with Western troops and guarantees, it is a solution which we should seriously consider.
I have one last question for the Government. There is great disquiet about the position of British forces in Germany. At this time last year I asked whether it was true that they were becoming more and more dependent on nuclear arms and were virtually unable to fight any war without them. I was then assured that this was not the case. But from recent manœuvres there is a widespread suspicion that an incident in Germany might lead to nuclear war simply because we have not sufficient conventional forces. I hope that some Government spokesman will reassure us on that point. One of the dangerous factors in this situation is that at any moment an incident may take place on the frontier and, if such an incident must escalate into nuclear war, any proposition about the settlement of Germany must fall to the ground. I hope that we may be given an assurance from the Government that our forces in Germany are 77 capable of dealing with any incidents without recourse to atomic or nuclear weapons.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Neil Marten (Banbury)
The Leader of the Opposition, with what I thought was enjoyable and modest British exactitude, said that Berlin was in an exposed position and that we did not like it. That is very true and is something with which we must all agree. However, I should like to put in a plea that this country should not get too alarmed about the situation in which we are at the moment. Of course, we all realise that it is serious. As was said by the Leader of the Liberal Party, it is a miscalculation which is probably one of the greatest dangers. We all admit that we must not be complacent, but I cannot help feeling that perhaps the reassembly of Parliament a week early may have given a too alarmist view of the situation. I think that the Prime Minister was right to issue his tranquilliser on the golf course in Scotland. I believe that if the Press notes that during a great part of the debate this afternoon the Chamber has been very poorly attended it might put the international situation in a slightly cooler perspective.
We have lived through this sort of thing before, since 1945. I do not wish to bring up old statements, but we know that the Communists regard the collapse of our way of life as quite inevitable. That is an old and a stale statement, but because it is stale I think that, from time to time, we should remind ourselves of it. As we know, Lenin said that he would strike us down when he was strong and we were weak. He made that point while thinking in terms of conventional forces; he would strike us down with conventional forces. Now, with the hydrogen bomb keeping the balance of power and keeping the peace, they believe that the prospect of war is too horrible. And so, instead of striking us down with conventional forces, Communism is trying to eat us away with a form of cold co-existence—rather like the deathwatch beetle which is eating away the wooden arches in Westminster Hall.
We have plenty of evidence that this is happening. Looking back from 1945 we recall the coup d'état of Czechoslovakia and then the pressure of the 78 Berlin blockade and the liquidation of virtually all opposition in Hungary and the invasion of Tibet. Now we have the present situation. I believe that we should not become too alarmed about it because the present situation is part of the same pattern of pressure in various parts of the world and the problems of Berlin and Germany are part of it.
There is another pressure point which we have discussed today—that in Africa. I believe that Africa should be seen against the same pattern of events. Wishing to spread Communism throughout the whole world, Russia sees herself faced by two great economic blocs, that of Europe and of the United States of America. Which one can she eat first, because she cannot digest them both together? I believe that she will try to eat Europe first because geographically it is nearer. Russia cannot take Europe like she took Czechoslovakia because the days of such a coup d'état are gone. She cannot take it by a military assault and she is aiming to take it by siege. Russia could do so if her influence in Africa became so great that the raw materials, supplied by Africa to Western Europe to keep the economy going, were denied to Western Europe. I believe that this sort of economic disruption is the most likely way in which in present circumstances—although things may change—Communism can spread to Europe.
Is there evidence that this has been tried in Africa? I believe that there is plenty of evidence which hon. Members know about. We have the situation in the Congo where there was a definite attempt by Russia to get a foothold. Everywhere in Africa one can see anti-European trouble being fomented. We know of many examples.
Can we say that it is practicable that Russia will ever get there physically? If we look at the Middle East situation at the moment, it is apparent that this could happen. One often forgets the Middle East, as I think we have done in recent debates on foreign affairs. But look at the situation in Persia where there is pressure building up and where tension is great, where Mossadeq and his Tudeh Party lie waiting. That would make practical the advance of Russia towards Africa.
79 The implications for the C.E.N.T.O. Treaty are quite obvious. We move down to Syria, which has recently had a revolution. I believe it is still unstable. But I hope it will become stable because, surely, maintaining stability in the Middle East must be in our own interests and, indeed, part of our own policy. We look at Iraq, more and more tied up with Russia in her economy, and if the top blew off in Persia it could very quickly spread to Iraq. We know that the Russians would get in by proxy through the Kurds, who have been passing into that area. Again, what would happen to Jordan? Would that country wobble? I suspect that it might, and from Jordan we come down to Egypt. And, after all that would have happened by then, could Egypt stand up to it? If Egypt could not stand up to this pressure, presumably we should have Russia right on the doorstep, or even right in, Africa.
So I would say that this is not just a dream. It is a fear, but it also is a reality. That, I believe, is the strategy which lies behind the present situation. We have to ask ourselves how far we are prepared to resist this pressure. How far would we, as a country, be prepared to intervene? The Russians know that this could cause great division among our allies and might even cause great divisions in the Commonwealth. The strains involved are a reality, and I believe that the Soviet Union will do everything to exploit them and to divide the allies and the Commonwealth. Therefore, we must be prepared to face it. We must also go into this question and know how far our allies will support us and how far our Commonwealth unity will survive in such intervention.
I will conclude by saying once again that I believe that Berlin and the German situation, the Middle East, Laos and the situation in the Far East are all part of the same pattern which has been going on since 1945, or even earlier; they are pressures at various points of the world which we hope may not burst. They will continue until the Communists renounce their aims. I am afraid that this is a very gloomy prospect for the next ten or fifteen years. I think that our rôle is not necessarily just to defend our own way of life where it is attacked. We must spread our belief in freedom 80 until it is clearly shown to an uncommitted country that it has to choose between either Communism or freedom.
§ 6.14 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
The hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) began by almost deploring the fact that the House had been called back a week earlier, because it might give a wrong impression in the country and might lead to a spread of alarm and despondency. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman has done very much to cheer us up, because his speech was one long catalogue of the catastrophes that are facing the West.
The Lord Privy Seal, when he addressed the House in the opening speech, did nothing to undermine our conviction that we were absolutely right to press for an earlier resumption of proceedings in this House. In my view, the situation is extremely dangerous. I think that we all recognise that, but what I object to, coming from the Government at any rate, is the kind of moralising which we had at Brighton last week, and of which we shall no doubt have a spate from the Government Front Bench in the course of this debate. We heard the Foreign Secretary at the Brighton conference talk about the moral purpose of this country, and I quote his words:The nation must take a grip of itself, because this mood is out of character. It is not the nature of the British people. What we have to do is to replace fear and doubt and cynicism with faith, and re-create a sense purpose for the nation. I hope that this Conference will put Conservative values to the test and see that those values give a clear lead to the people.The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister gave the lead at Gleneagles, and my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was quite right to say that, for sheer inanity, coming from the Prime Minister, his phrase about the Berlin crisis just being got up by the Press would take some beating. The oil is very quickly going out of the lantern, and if that is the best the right hon. Gentleman can do in the face of what has been happening in Berlin, I fear for the future of the country and for the future of the Western Alliance. If, as one of his hon. Friends has said, our diplomacy is infinitely superior to that of the rest of the Western world, and if this is an example of it, all I can say is "God help us." 81 I feel that one has to emphasise the horror of the choice before us, and I was glad that my right hon. Friend talked about the danger of sloganising the issue by using such slogans as "No War over Berlin". I think one has to recognise that the Soviet Union, and I think a good proportion of the American people, are indulging at this moment in brinkmanship of the most highly dangerous order. When Mr. Dulles was engaged in this kind of exercise, he was quite rightly and properly condemned for it, and I think that we in this House would be failing in our duty if we did not condemn it, coming from Mr. Khrushchev no less than from certain quarters in the United States.
But it is very dangerous for us to say that war must be avoided at all costs. There are some people who would say, "Of course, you have got to avoid it at all costs, even if it means giving in at every step". Where does one draw the line, because the story of the blackmailer throughout the ages shows that he cannot be bought off? Therefore, as each crisis is avoided so the stakes go up until eventually the crunch must come. We have to make it abundantly clear that there must come a point when we give due warning that if another step is taken we cannot be responsible for the consequences.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Does my hon. Friend say that at this point he would agree to nuclear war and the suicide of the world?
§ Mr. Hamilton
I will answer my hon. Friend's question when he answers mine. All I am saying is that the responsibility for the crisis in Berlin at the moment lies fairly and squarely at the door of the Soviet Union and that we in the West must make it abundantly clear that we do not want war, but that if there is war over Berlin the responsibility is there, and not here.
§ Mr. Hamilton
When Mr. Mikoyan was recently in East Germany, celebrating the 12th anniversary of the setting up of the German Democratic Republic, these were the words he used:We share with you your pride in the successes you have achieved in socialist construction, in advancing your economy and culture, in improving the welfare of your people.He went on:Striking evidence of this is the success of the measures taken on August 13 by the government of the G.D.R., with the support of the entire population of the republic, to ensure the reliable protection of the borders with West Berlin and the Federal Republic.What were the measures to which he was referring? We all know. Some of us have seen them at first hand or via television and photographs—the creation of one big national prison. The symbols of success that Mr. Mikoyan was talking about are the barriers of barbed wire, concrete walls and bullets, as the diary produced by the Guardian a few days ago, the "Berlin Diary". shows. This is the crime sheet of an international criminal. The Declaration of Human Rights, which my hon. Friends and, I hope, all in the country support says:Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own.The East Germans, up to 13th August—and, indeed, some since then—have been exerting that right. They are still trying to exert it. The East German Government and the Soviet Union are showing a complete indifference to world opinion on this issue. I think that a similar kind of arrogance is being shown by the Soviet Union now in restarting nuclear tests. Today we have had Mr. Khrushchev saying that before the end of the month the Soviet Union is to explode a 50-megaton bomb with all the disastrous consequences to millions and 83 millions of innocent people the world over.
There will be no Motion on the Order Paper about that, yet the Government complain about the muted protests by neutralist Powers at Belgrade. Why? The Leader of the Liberal Party expressed the same thoughts. Why was this protest so routed about the Soviet Union restarting tests? Was it fear of a powerful and ruthless bully in the world? Was it because the neutralist Powers still think that they can contract out of this fearful struggle going on in the world today? Or was it because they feel that Russia and her system is no more evil and arrogant than that of the West as typified by ourselves and N.A.T.O.?
The truth, I think, is probably a mixture of all three. In my view we do far too little to convince those neutralist Powers that our system is not as evil, not as arrogant and not as indifferent to world opinion as is the Soviet's. We both engage very much in double-talk. My right hon. Friend, towards the latter part of his speech this afternoon, underlined that. It is no good talking about the brotherhood of man in one breath and seeking to take measures to exclude your brothers in the next, as was done at Brighton last week.
I will tell the House a simple story about the difficulties which arise from this dual use of words. I was in the Soviet Union about a year ago. Some of my hon. Friends were with me. We were treated in the most hospitable manner I think the Russians are well renowned for hospitality. We were taken to a football match in Moscow. It was obviously a needle match between a Moscow army team and a Kiev army team. The Moscow crowd was highly partisan and it reminded me of a Rangers-Celtic match in Glasgow.
The Moscow team was having a little the worse of the battle and the crowd was taking it out of the referee. The score at half-time was 1–1 and one or two irate spectators went to the referee on the field. The police were after them and pulling them back. In the second half ten minutes had gone by and the Kiev team was given a penalty by the referee. The crowd immediately hooted with derision, which changed to cheers when Kiev missed the penalty, but it changed again to derision when the 84 referee ordered the penalty to be retaken and Kiev scored.
Immediately almost the entire crowd of 80,000 rushed the field and started mauling the referee. I do not know what happened to him. He would be lucky to escape with his life. The game was abandoned, much to the embarrassment of our interpreter. When we came out of the stadium I asked our highly-indoctrinated young interpreter how she explained this and she said, "This goes to show that the people's justice must prevail."
That story underlines the difficulty we are up against in negotiating with people like this. I have several more stories, but I will not put them on the record. I shall use them for organisations in my constituency which will appreciate them perhaps more than this House would. I wish, however, to give another example.
In this ideological context we talk continually about the "free world", but let us have a look at some of our associates in the free world. Not many months ago we had the Prime Minister talking at the Dispatch Box of the "great Christian country" of Fascist Spain. We have had repeated support for the dictatorship of Portugal and only very recently we have had the Government supporting—or at any rate not outrightly condemning—what is happening in South Africa. It is no good our trying to convince the neutralist Powers that all the freedom-loving peoples are on our side as long as we associate with peoples of this kind, so long as we abstain from voting on or vote against resolutions in the United Nations which condemn this kind of activity in those countries.
I have mentioned the double-talk about the brotherhood of man. I frankly believe that these distortions in the meanings of words make negotiations extremely difficult and extremely dangerous, but the danger from not negotiating is infinitely greater. Whatever we might think of the Communist system, we still have to live with it, and probably will have to do so for a very long time yet. We must try to contain it. That inevitably means concessions on both sides. I again come to the point raised by many hon. Members in this debate. I think the time has come when there must be some de facto recognition of 85 the East German régime, just as we recognise a bad smell. One can put one's nose in the air, but so long as one is breathing one knows it is there. It is the same with the East German régime. It stinks, but it is there; therefore, let us accept it.
We recognise the régime in China and we recognise most of the Communist Governments in other parts of the world. Why should we not say that this is a fact, whether we like it or not, and recognise it, so long as we get the guarantees which the Lord Privy Seal and my right hon. Friend have said that we want? In return for recognition, we must seek guarantees about the freedom of West Berlin. I hope that there will be no talk of a free city. I do not like talk of a free city, because that brings in the double-talk and the double definition of what a free city means. We must have the safeguard of the continual presence of Western military forces, with complete right of access. I believe that there is a good measure of agreement on both sides of the House about what we want as a minimum requirement on the Western side.
May I end with a word on the Common Market concept, which I think fits in with what I have been saying. The Lord Privy Seal spent two or three minutes on it. Up to now I have had a fairly open mind on this question. I believe that anyone who thinks about these things must recognise that tremendous issues are at stake, but I look at it in an international context in these terms. In the world today we have two enormous powerful economic and military forces—the United States and the Soviet Union. I do not trust either of them very much, and I accept the concept of a third force. I should love to see Western Europe, the Commonwealth and the associated overseas territories get together.
I should not mind a hoot what kind of political sovereignty were sacrificed if world peace were thereby safeguarded. What is the good of saying, "We were bombed to hell but at least we maintained our national sovereignty"? What is the good of that? If we could get a force which would be much more powerful economically and militarily, and I believe morally, than either the United States or the Soviet Union, then world 86 peace would be much more surely safeguarded in those terms than it is at the moment.
The two major wars in this century have been largely due to the suspicions, fears and hatreds of small nations which were ripe for the picking by some would be aggressor in Europe. To the extent that we get rid of these small nationalities and get them into bigger units, we at any rate reduce the possibility of world war.
To those who say that this is simply polarising the forces of the world, I would point out that they will not be depolarised in our lifetime. There are powerful forces in the East, and we have every reason to make our forces as powerful militarily, politically and economically as those in the East. I see the Common Market in that context—as a contribution to world peace; and if national sovereignty is the price which we have to pay, then I do not think that it is too high.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) will not think me patronising if I congratulate him most warmly on the forthright remarks which he made about the position in Berlin. I feel sure that they are remarks which will be welcomed by the 2¼ million people who are sitting in that beleagured city, as will all the other contributions made on all sides of the House on this subject today.
I paid two visits to Berlin during the Recess. The first occasion was when the barbed wire was being replaced by what is now known as the "Chinese Wall". We have had some moving references to the distress, the frustration and the depression which the sight of that wall brings to all free people. We have heard just how great a condemnation it is of the régime which seeks to keep its people within its boundaries by such means.
I saw an even greater condemnation on the western border in the British sector, where we have a common border with East Germany as opposed to East Berlin. There, the second row of barbed wire was being put up, and a death strip was being cleared of trees. East German firemen were cutting down the trees, and there were East German police seeing that 87 the East German firemen did not escape, and armed Soviet soldiers seeing that neither the East German police nor the East German firemen escaped. One could have no great condemnation of a régime than such a situation.
When I was there on the first occasion the morale of the Berliners had been raised considerably by the visit of the American Vice-President, Mr. Lyndon Johnson, in spite of all the jokes about ball-point pens. But under the surface I found a widespread anxiety caused by the fact that the allied Governments had reacted so slowly and indefinitely to the erection of the wire. I fear that there are still some people in this country who believe that Ulbricht was entitled to put up first the barbed wire and then the wall to keep his people in, and that this does not affect allied rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is why the Berliners are so anxious now and so astonished that we should have accepted, or appeared to accept, the erection of this wall.
I wonder how many people in this country realise that before 13th August there were eighty points at which one could cross from West to East Berlin, or vice versa, but that now there are only seven, and that there is only one of these through which allied personnel can move. If that is not a drastic restriction of the rights of the Allies in Berlin, I do not know what is.
I suppose that it is now too late, but I ask whether we could not have challenged the right of the East Berlin police to hinder our progress and to prevent us from travelling to and from East Berlin at these various points as we are entitled. I ask whether we should have kept the border open if we had challenged the right of the East Berlin police at that time. I came back from my first visit convinced that we could have successfully challenged it at the time without risking a war, and I am not sure that intelligence reports which had come from the city by the time I returned two or three weeks later did not confirm that belief. It appears that the East German police were thoroughly anxious and nervous about the whole operation. They did not expect it to go unchallenged. They did not even know what they would do 88 if it were challenged. Now they have their tails up and are delighted. As the hon. Member for Fife, West said, they claim this as a great victory, and there are some people who are foolish enough to regard it as such.
But it is no use jobbing backwards. The barbed wire has been replaced by a very solid concrete wall, and it is quite a different matter to get that removed. Regrettably, we seem only to have protested and not even to have demanded that the wall should be removed. I should have preferred to hear that we had demanded that it should be removed and that Berlin should be restored to normal before we entered into negotiations, but I am afraid that I shall not be given that assurance.
One thing we can do is to make certain that we are not caught unprepared again. I recognise that we are at a disadvantage and that Herr Ulbricht can do what he is told by Mr. Khrushchev while our three Governments have to consult and then probably to consult the Federal German Government, too. But that does not mean that we cannot anticipate possible future moves in Berlin and have an agreed plan ready to put into operation at once.
I am encouraged to believe that this has now been done in the clear and firm statements which have been made in recent weeks by my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary and by President Kennedy. It is absolutely vital that Mr. Khrushchev should be convinced in his own mind that we do not intend to give way over Berlin against any future unilateral action of his. I do not think for a moment that Mr. Khrushchev wants to plunge Russia into war, especially with all the horrible consequences that are almost unimaginable in this nuclear age. But we must make quite certain that he does not inadvertently force a war on the world by thinking that we will give way on points on which we intend to stand firm. So I hope that we have made that abundantly clear.
It is also vital that the Germans should be convinced of our determination in this matter. They are watching the exchanges which are taking place today over the whole question of Berlin. If they begin to feel that the determination of the West is on the wane, an 89 exodus could very quickly start from West Berlin. It would not be long before that grew until the economy just withered and West Berlin died. Mr. Khrushchev would then have won the battle at no cost to himself.
This is a very real danger, particularly if we are not ready for the sort of moves which can be taken in this game. One is putting up the toll on the freight trucks which move up and down the autobahn into West Germany carrying the raw materials into the factories in Berlin and taking the finished products out. These factories could be made uneconomic very quickly by merely pushing up the tolls a little at a time. There are all sorts of little moves like that which could be taken. We must be absolutely certain that we do not allow Mr. Khrushchev or Herr Ulbricht or anybody else to get away with it.
I am depressed at the number of people who still ask, "Why should we worry? We do not want to risk our lives for 2¼ million Germans", and so on. The Leader of the Opposition referred to my noble Friend's statement at Brighton that if free men cannot defend an outpost of freedom it will not long before the flanks are turned and liberty is menaced everywhere. Apart from this, the Federal Republic of Germany is one of our principal allies and contributes a large proportion of the manpower in N.A.T.O. It is a matter of our own immediate self-interest alone, quite apart from anything else, to ensure that we retain the confidence of the Germans.
This is why I become so anxious when there is a great deal of rather loose talk about the East German régime. I am glad that this afternoon there has been an effort in the speeches to differentiate between unqualified recognition and a qualified form of recognition. If it is not sufficiently qualified, there could be very unfortunate repercussions throughout Germany. It would be regarded by many as the acceptance of a permanently divided Germany. That in itself would mean that it would be thought that the West had finally abandoned its avowed aim of German reunification. That feeling could lead to a feeling of disillusionment among West Germans. They would feel that the undertakings given when they joined 90 N.A.T.O. were being thrown overboard. Indeed, it might encourage them to move towards disengagement on their own, away from the West. That would leave a very dangerous and perilous gap in our defences.
Nor can we be certain that this would be the only result. If there were a feeling of disappointment in the Western Alliance, it might well grow into a belief that democracy had failed Germany. There are extremist nationalist elements which fortunately suffered a signal defeat at the recent elections, but they might well gain support in conditions in which the faith of the Germans had gone. If they felt that we had let them down and that democracy had let them down, they might gain support for a go-it-alone policy aimed at the final reunification of Germany by force, if necessary.
Therefore, we must not take the West Germans for granted. Nor must we forget the effect that any sort of recognition can have upon the East Germans as well if it is not carefully qualified. We know that the majority of them loathe the régime. This is evidenced by the fact that so many of them are still prepared to take incredible risks to escape from it.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I am sure that all hon. Members are very interested in the hon. Gentleman's speech, but will he elucidate what he means by the statement that there should be no talk of de facto recognition of East Germany unless it is well qualified? What does he mean by "well qualified"?
§ Mr. Goodhew
I am coming to that point. I am sorry if I have been rather slow in building up to it. If there is any question of recognition of the East German régime, we must ensure that it is on the basis that they are merely agents of Soviet Russia and that Soviet Russia is still responsible, as one of the four occupying Powers, for our rights in Berlin.
I am not sure that a mere reaffirmation of our rights in Berlin, which is one of the things we seek to gain—rights which we already possess—in exchange for some sort of qualified recognition of the D.D.R. will prevent Mr. Khrushchev or anybody else stirring up future crises from time to time when they want to. So long as Germany is divided and Berlin—West Berlin in particular—is an 91 island of freedom surrounded by a Communist-controlled State, there are two ingredients there for innumerable crises for anybody to stir up. They are ingredients which can be used by these people who talk so much about world peace and do so much to imperil it.
If we are to enter into negotiations with Russia on this subject, we must try to put forward definite schemes which will not only take Berlin off the boil but remove some of these explosive ingredients. We have heard a number of suggestions this afternoon, such as a permanent corridor through which West Berlin could be approached. We have heard non-aggression pacts suggested. The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) talked about the whole subject of free elections and tackling the Russians on how they feel about this now.
I, too, think that this is a good idea, because as recently as 1955 Mr. Khrushchev, together with the Heads of the other three Governments, signed a directive at the end of the Summit Conference in that year in which the Heads of Government recognised their responsibility for the settlement of the German question and the reunification of Germany. They agreed that the reunification should be by free elections in conformity with the national interests of the German people. If Mr. Khrushchev was prepared to agree to that in 1955, I wonder if today he would agree to a moratorium for a named period of years during which period the status quo should remain but at the end of which there should be a plebiscite to discover whether the Germans in both parts of Germany wanted reunification, on the basis that it would be done by means of free elections.
I know that it sounds rather improbable, but there is just a chance that Khrushchev would agree. After all, he believes firmly that in a certain period—he might believe the period to be ten years—capitalism will have succumbed to the onslaught, political and economic, of Communism. He might, therefore, believe that when the time came he would be in an advantageous position. If this were so, it would certainly ensure that the heat would be switched off for the moment, the explosive qualities of the situation would die down, and during the 92 standstill period many factors could change. We might find at the end of the period that, quite contrary to Khrushchev's beliefs, conditions were much more favourable towards peaceful reunification than we now think possible.
I fully appreciate that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal is not able to tell the House at this moment what sort of suggestions the Government propose to put forward. I would merely ask him to make quite certain that none of them even appears to close the door on the reunification of Germany. I believe that, if no such suggestions are made, we shall have this loss of face which could be against our own long-term interests just as much as against the long-term interests of the Germans.
We have been told about the danger of a peace treaty being signed before negotiations take place and, quite clearly, it is right that the Western Governments should have told Russia quite clearly that the Russians are still responsible for the rights of the Western Berliners and of the Allies in West Berlin whether they sign that treaty or not. It is most important that that should have been made clear.
It is tempting to say, as some do, "Well, Mr. Khrushchev is the one who wants the change; we are quite happy with the status quo. Let him tell us what he wants and what he is prepared to give in return and we will see whether there is any real basis for negotiation." I suspect, in fact, that that is the sort of thing that has been going on in these past few days, and that this probing we have heard about is just to find out whether there is a solid basis on which we can negotiate, but I am glad that there seems no risk now of anybody in this House, at any rate, doing other than insisting on the preservation of the three now famous rights of the West Berliners.
I hope that we shall also define the sort of moves we would regard as a direct attack on those rights, so that there may be no mistake in the mind of Herr Ulbricht, or anyone, of the consequences of taking certain actions. Above all, in all these matters we must make our position abundantly clear, so that there can be no possible excuse for misunderstanding.
Those of us who are old enough—and I think that most hon. Members now in 93 the Chamber are—to remember the 'thirties, and Hitler, know only too well how insatiable becomes the appetite of a dictator who finds that his demands go unchallenged, and that he is able to abrogate international treaties and agreements for his own gain and at the expense of other nations. In this way we have seen international law and order give way to international anarchy.
The wheel has turned full circle and we now have to face Mr. Khrushchev, who seems determined to cow us into submission if he can. It may be that if we show our determination to resist him, he will climb down. If he does, we must be prepared to negotiate on terms that will enable him to save his face. On the other hand, it may be that he has already committed himself to a point where he feels that he must challenge the West, regardless of the terrible risks, not only to the West but to his own people. Whichever is the case, we in the West must steel ourselves to meet the challenge. Retreat can end only in defeat and dishonour. In courageous and resolute steadfastness lies our only hope of an honourable peace.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
The hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) has dealt with the dangerous situation that obtains in Berlin at present. He ended by suggesting that it is conceivable that at any rate one of the Governments involved have reached the point of no return. I submit that that is the most dangerous kind of assumption for any British Government to make at the present time. However, before I follow the hon. Member further into the discussion of the Berlin situation I want to refer to another matter of very considerable importance which has not yet been raised in this debate.
We are debating general affairs of great importance, involving the fate of nations, but I think that it is in the tradition of the House that I should refer to the fate of three men who are at present being detained by the Government of Iraq. I refer to the three British soldiers who were arrested more than thirteen weeks ago, one of whom, Lance-Corporal Tooke, is a constituent of mine. He lives in the Sheffield area.
The House is well aware that those three men were arrested in circumstances that should have made it quite clear 94 that they were not engaged on any dangerous mission, but I am much more concerned now with drawing attention to the fact that although they have now been detained for more than thirteen weeks no decision about their future has yet been made by the Government of Iraq. It is important, and should be realised at home and abroad, that here we obviously have three men who, after a long investigation, have not been put on trial and who, when one examines the available evidence, probably ought not to be put on trial at any time.
I appeal to the Government of Iraq to release these men without any trial, and so show that whilst they have legitimate disagreements with our Government and arguments with various other institutions in which we have a hand, they, as a Government, accept that justice must be superior to all other considerations. I am one of those, and there are many others in this House—and not only on one side—who have welcomed the attempt of the Government of Iraq to modernise their country and to improve the standard of living of their people. There is quite a fund of good will in this country among a number of people for the things that General Kassim and his Government have been trying to do, but I must say that the treatment of these three soldiers will be decisive in determining how many of us look upon that Government in the future.
I know that Her Majesty's Government have been negotiating for the release of these men in an extremely difficult situation, but I say at once that, the Government's efforts not having led to success, the House and the country are entitled during this debate to have some detailed account of what the Government have been doing in the interests of these three men.
Quite clearly, there may be involved a certain element of maintaining the position of the authorities who made the arrest in the first place. I am not asking for any repudiation of their action, but I do say that it is essential that the Government of Iraq should release these men, and that we should then all accept that justice had taken its proper course.
I shall not then want to pursue the matter any further. I shall not be concerned with what might have been the original idea when the arrest took place. 95 I fully understand that the situation at the time was difficult from the point of view of the Government of Iraq. I wish that the men could have been released much earlier but, understanding the circumstances at the time, I think that it is in the best interests of the people of Iraq themselves that these soldiers should now be released.
Turning to the main burden of the debate, I want to comment on the Lord Privy Seal's speech. By far the most important part of it was his statement about his and the Government's reluctance to tell the House and the country the kind of things they regard as negotiable.
The Lord Privy Seal said that it had been the anxiety of the Western Governments to make clear to the Soviet Government that certain things are not negotiable. He took satisfaction from the fact that there was some hope in London and Washington as a result of the recent discussions with the Foreign Secretary of the Soviet Union at which he was made quite aware of the things that would not be acceptable to us. On the whole, I support that attitude, but that is not the whole story.
I support the attitude of the Government in saying that the people of West Berlin are as entitled to arrange their future political fate as is any other section or people of a divided country. But if that is all we say and if we refuse to make positive suggestions as to what we might negotiate about, then we are open to the serious criticism that we are supporting those who hope that negotiations will never take place.
Involved are much more than diplomatic tactics. The refusal of the British Government to say openly that they believe that the time has come to call a halt to the nuclear armament of Western Germany, and, therefore, keep nuclear arms out of Eastern Germany, makes no sense at all. It is clear that unless definite offers of that kind are made negotiations will not be successful.
All information received here suggests that there are some political leaders in Western Germany—in more than one party—who might be able to support such a policy, but they dare not come out into the open with such statements. There is, therefore, everything to be 96 gained by the British Government speaking out clearly in this matter; explaining things clearly so that the people there will have to disclose their attitude.
Without disclosing any confidences, it is known that in the recent general election, the two points mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—that is, the creation of a zone free from nuclear arms in Central Europe and the acceptance of the Oder-Neisse line as the frontier with Poland, were in the minds of many politicians. When talking privately with leading German politicians, one hears them say that these things must come but they add: "We dare not mention them during a general election campaign." That these facts are not mentioned is disturbing. It means that they know their own public and that they dare not tell the German electorate—on penalty of being defeated—about some of the facts of life about which the electorate should be told. This, however, does not absolve Her Majesty's Government, and in the interests of the people of this country it is their duty to look after the British people and to speak out in this matter.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I was in Western Germany at the time of the election. I heard two Ministers of the former West German Government—Dr. Adenauer's Government—say that they recognised that the Oder-Neisse line could not be altered by any use of force.
§ Mr. Mendelson
We have heard that for many years, and it is a little ridiculous to hear anyone say that the use of force is ruled out. That should be agreed before any negotiations start. We are dealing with the de jure recognition of frontiers or the recognition of the status quo as it is today. That is the crux of the matter. We must accept that there exist spheres of influence in Europe and that for the next ten to fifteen years those spheres will remain roughly as they are today.
The hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Albans spoke of self-interest and said that we must not do anything which might upset anyone in the Federal Republic. We have, however, a certain self-interest in this country in maintaining the peace of the world because it is here that our own people are concerned. 97 It must, therefore, not be our guiding line that we must not upset people where our interest in maintaining the peace of the world is concerned.
§ Mr. Goodhew
I was pointing that out. If we want peace we must be prepared to stand by agreements. But if we let it be thought that we are letting down our allies, then there might be a change of heart.
§ Mr. Mendelson
There is no question of letting down our allies. We must be sure that our belonging to the N.A.T.O. Alliance does not hand over the dictation as to peace and war to another Government, and that is the most dangerous situation we might have to face in the near future unless the Government take definite action.
It was indicated a few days ago in a dispatch from the Washington correspondent of The Times that after the last series of discussions between the President and Mr. Gromyko there was some hope that with the support of Her Majesty's Government the President would move into a position where serious negotiations between us and the Soviet Government would start. But The Times correspondent added:There is grave doubt in Washington as to whether the Federal Government are not going to put in a veto against any such negotiations".I would add that some of the things receiving support in Washington now involve changes in strategic and military planning in the heart of Europe.
I feel that it is my duty to refer to the difficulties and the dangerous position of our own forces in B.A.O.R. It is quite clear that the military strategy that has been pursued since 1957, with its complete reliance—and I advisedly do not say "almost" but "complete"—on having to use tactical nuclear arms against a conventional attack, has been supported not only by Her Majesty's Government but by circles beyond the British Government in the last four years, and it is a matter of simple honesty to say that at the very beginning. Whoever has supported this policy, it has been proven that unless we radically reorganise our forces in B.A.O.R. and change this dependence on the use of tactical nuclear weapons, we ourselves will be an obstacle to the implementation of the kind of plan to create a zone 98 free of nuclear weapons, which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition referred to this afternoon.
Anyone who has talked with members of our forces there will be conscious of the extremely difficult situation in which they find themselves. Whatever reorganisation takes place, it must occur in such a manner that while it is going on they are tided over until the fruits of the reorganisation are effective.
There recently has been an interesting adaptation in the attitude of the United States towards this problem. If I am correctly informed, there has been discussions in Washington at which the Chiefs of Staff in the American Administration have pressed for a strengthening of conventional weapons among the N.A.T.O. forces. This is something for which many of us had hoped and concerning which many of us have been critical of American policy. We are the first to recognise this adaptation of the President's thinking and we are hopeful for the future. I think that the statement by Senator Humphrey in Warsaw on the Rapacki Plan is connected with what has taken place in the American Cabinet. We should like to hear from the Government before the debate is finished where they stand in this matter. We should like to hear that Her Majesty's Government fully support any such reorientation and a firm statement that we are not in any way holding back or being doubtful about it.
May I now turn to one or two of the other things which are needed if a successful agreement is to be concluded. It must be realised that the resistance to the recognition of the Oder-Neisse line is very strong—much stronger than was hinted at today by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. Some time ago when I was in Bonn, in a conversation with one of the officials in the eastern department of the West German Foreign Office, I posed the question, "Why do you not accept ordinary diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia and Poland?" The answer I got was, "We are not interested in having normal diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia and Poland". The reason is quite obvious. The aim of the West German Government is to build up their own military forces into the strongest military force on the 99 Continent of Europe and to delay any diplomatic recognition of those two countries, which would imply the de jure recognition of the Oder-Neisse frontier and of the Sudeten frontier, until such time when they can dictate the terms of the final settlement.
There is no British interest involved in supporting such a policy. In fact, most of our people would abhor it if they were told by Her Majesty's Government that we were going to endanger any of our people in support of such a policy. I do not believe that the Government need any preaching from me or anybody else in wishing negotiations to start. I believe that just as in the situation in Laos, the British Government realise that whatever interest other people might have, our common interest demands successful negotiations which should begin speedily. But I do not accept the diplomatic manner in which the Lord Privy Seal explained away the obstruction that we met only this week. It is the duty of the Government to state clearly that although there may be reluctance in Bonn to allow negotiations to start and although there may be obstruction in Paris—in my opinion, in league with Bonn—the Government are quite prepared to go ahead with the United States Government and have serious negotiations with the Soviet Union to make peace in this dangerous situation.
My final point concerns the position of the East German Republic. The evidence is quite conclusive that one of the real difficulties is the terrible weakness of the Ulbricht régime. Support of the Ulbricht régime amongst the East German people is minimal. For some time there has been great danger of an uprising there.
One of the factors that must worry the West German Government and our Government is the fact that unless some arrangement is found by which the situation can be stabilised there and the freedom of the people of West Berlin maintained at the same time, events might take place that we would not be able to control. In that situation there is everything to be said for hastening negotiations and for saying quite clearly to all other Governments, "We must negotiate with the Soviet Union before they 100 conclude a peace treaty with the East German régime".
I derive some hope from my conclusion that the purposes of Mr. Khrushchev and of Mr. Ulbricht so far as Berlin is concerned are not identical. I am certain, because of the threatening tone that the Ulbricht Government adopt and the almost indecent propaganda that they are pouring out into West Berlin, that they need a major propaganda success in West Berlin. I can see no signs that Mr. Khrushchev has any such need or any such intentions. Three weeks ago Mr. Khrushchev made a statement in which he said that the Soviet Union is quite convinced and agreed that the freedom of the people of West Berlin to arrange their own affairs should remain, and that the free access of the Western Powers into West Berlin should also remain.
Two days later Herr Mahron, the Minister of the Interior of the East German Government, made a speech in the East Berlin Parliament. He said what Mr. Khrushchev had said, and added that they would have to see that the dissemination of news and the arrangement of broadcasting in West Berlin were reorganised. That is unacceptable to the spokesmen of this country, on both sides of the House, but at the same time it ought to be realised that this is a statement which diverges from the responsible pronouncement made by the head of the Soviet Government.
Further evidence of this has come to light today. Whilst the members of the East German Government have been saying all the time, "We know that in a few weeks a peace treaty with us will be concluded", Mr. Khrushchev has announced in his speech to the party congress that he does not intend to insist on any particular time table, such as at the end of the year or anything like that. This is a positive statement that he has made to the representative delegates of the ruling party in the Soviet Union, and I hope that before this debate is over we shall hear from the Government a positive response to this advance made by the head of the Soviet Government.
I realise that there is no guarantee that even if we start negotiations we shall get the results that we desire. I realise that in the future dangers may arise which will require from all of us a firm 101 resolve to see that things which are unacceptable are not accepted. But I think there is every hope of the negotiations succeeding if we make quite clear to the Soviet Union and the countries in the Eastern bloc that we have no intention of continuing the dangerous policy of building up the nuclear might of Western Germany and of revising the frontiers in Eastern Europe. I believe that if we can make that clear, we can succeed and save the peace of the world.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
I wish to allude to the speech of the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) and his plea to the Government of Iraq. I had not realised that the three soldiers who inadvertently crossed the border in a dust storm were still held in gaol without trial. Major-General Kassem, the Prime Minister and supreme leader of Iraq, and his Government should realise that those of us who are most friendly and well disposed to his country hope that he will listen to a plea from this House. Many of us have business connections in that country and have good friends there. Some of us were distressed by the events that happened in Kuwait, but we see no reason why those events should jeopardise or spoil Anglo-Iraqi relations which, considering everything, have been remarkably good since the revolution.
I usually try on occasions like this to speak on a subject about which I know something. I am sorry that I cannot follow the fine speech that we heard from the hon. Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) about the Congo. I have never been to the Congo. I have no first-hand knowledge of the place, except that my secretary reported the day before yesterday that one of her friends had been eaten there.
I should now like to consider the Berlin situation around which this debate is taking place. I, like the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) and others, asked for the speedy and urgent recall of Parliament and I am glad that Her Majesty's Government in the end decided that we should have this debate today. I made that request because I attended the International Conference at Belgrade. I went there as a political observer and I had an opportunity of talking to some of the 102 leaders of the non-aligned nations who attended the conference. Indeed, I do not think Europe has seen the heads of so many States assembled in one place and at one time. I know that some newspapers poured cold water on the Belgrade Conference and said that it had to do only with colonialism and things like that, but I say frankly that in the discussions which I had with people who attended the conference I found that the problem they were talking about was Berlin.
I agree with the words of President Nehru at that conference when he said that we stand at the cross-roads of human destiny. The contributions to the conference made by the Commonwealth Prime Minister of Ghana and the President of Cyprus were quite remarkable, but the most moving of all was that made in the interest of peace and international good will by Mme. Bandaranaike, Prime Minister of Ceylon. She spoke there as a woman and a mother, and her speech had a great effect on the conference that day. Although some of our national newspapers do not like to be involved with what they call the non-aligned nations—we remember that Mr. Dulles once said that those who are neutral are immoral—I believe that the non-aligned nations of the world have a great deal to do in helping us all towards peace.
I was agreeably surprised to hear from the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) one of the most sensible and powerful speeches I have ever heard in favour of the formation of a third force in the world to combat the imbalance which we have today. His remarks about polarisation were quite right. We shall have to get used to the fact that we must live with Communism for the rest of our days. Let us not, therefore, pour scorn on the efforts of the leaders of twenty-five nations who assembled in Belgrade. I suggest that history will probably recount and remember the Belgrade Conference as the first signpost to peace after the disastrous crash of the Summit which never took place. I am particularly thankful for the work of President Nehru and the other distinguished leaders who went to Moscow and to Washington after Belgrade.
What has happened to make the Berlin situation so acute and much more dangerous? The partition of the city of 103 Berlin, for that is what it is, has almost created two concentration camps. I fear, therefore, that any discussion of the unification of East and West Berlin or of East and West Germany is remote and academic, although, like other who have spoken in the debate, particularly the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Leader of the Opposition, we all hope that we shall find methods of uniting the city of Berlin, with some international status, and, eventually, uniting East and West Germany.
I support the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) when he said that he hoped, as I hope, that the Government will, at the end of this debate, even before they start negotiating, do their best to make clear now, and in negotiations thereafter, that we believe that, in the end, we shall see the unification of Germany.
What is the key problem which worries us all? It is the status and symbol of recognition of East Germany. One great Power bloc does not desire to recognise East Germany and another great Power bloc is determined that people shall recognise East Germany. Moreover, we must accept the fact—and I think it is possible to discuss these matters frankly—that West Berlin, unless sustained either by an international organisation or by other means, will over a number of years crumble and decay. There will be no purpose in conducting businesses in West Berlin and, in the long term, unless we quickly find a solution now, the city will become uneconomic and, I believe, will be a danger to peace.
West Berlin has been and is at present maintained by subsidies from the West German Government. One of the matters which will require the closest attention of our Government is how to maintain the economy of West Berlin. No negotiations must put us in a position where the economy of West Berlin is jeopardised. The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) and others who went with me on a Parliamentary mission to Berlin in 1959 will remember that that was one of the most important impressions we gained from our discussions within the city.
We are really in a terrible dilemma because, if ever people in this country or elsewhere thought that we were at any 104 time prepared to sacrifice the rights of those who live in West Berlin, at one blow the light for freedom would be snuffed out. Far more dangerous than that, if we did not show our resolve and will, some in the Communist hierarchy, not necessarily in the Soviet Union but, perhaps, elsewhere, might really believe—it would be a ghastly miscalculation—that we did not intend to maintain and support those who desired to live in freedom, in peace and in charity with their neighbours in West Berlin.
There are, I think, three elements in the Berlin crisis to be dealt with at once. First, we have the news, to which the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson) referred, that Mr. Khrushchev has said that he does not intend to sign a peace treaty with East Germany at present. This, of course, is a factor of cardinal importance. As matters have developed, I am saved from talking about that.
§ Mr. Yates
Yes, there will be conditions, but a major factor of the crisis which could occur tonight or tomorrow has, temporarily, been removed.
The second problem is the maintenance of the economy of West Berlin. I support the suggestion that one of the Agencies of the United Nations, the International Labour Office or some such body, should go into West Berlin to give the city a purpose. Otherwise, West Berlin will be there without a purpose and without an economy. I have read Mr. Khrushchev's open letter to the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and I note that he considers that discussions concerning West Berlin might profitably be considered along such lines. Have I got the point correctly?
§ Mr. Yates
That is always the trouble in dealing with people who talk two languages. It underlines what was said by the hon. Member for Fife, West about the difficulty we are in, when words used between two negotiators mean two totally different things. Anyway, I am presuming that the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Members who went to visit Mr. Khrushchev have obtained some idea that 105 Mr. Khrushchev is interested in an organisation or part of the United Nations being centred in West Berlin.
§ Mr. Shinwell
What Mr. Khrushchev said in his letter, among other things, was that he was in favour of creating a free city of West Berlin, with, perhaps, some United Nations institutions there and some cultural organisations. That is what he proposed. I understand that that is acceptable to hon. Members on both sides of the House—not to many, but to some.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
On 31st August, my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) and I asked Mr. Khrushchev about this matter, and he was specific and categoric about it. He said, "I have no objection either to having a special organisation of the United Nations move its headquarters to West Berlin or even to having the whole of the United Nations move its headquarters to Berlin". He did not say West Berlin; he said Berlin. He continued, "Last year I proposed at the General Assembly that the headquarters should be moved to Europe. I suggested Vienna or a town in Switzerland. I should be happy to add Berlin to that list". Those were the words of Mr. Khrushchev.
§ Mr. Yates
I hope that the right hon. Member for Easington and the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) will be able to enlighten us further on what Mr. Khrushchev said to them, because I consider that he meant what he said quite seriously.
Therefore, the second element involving West Berlin or all of Berlin, and its economy, is catered for.
The third major element is the recognition of the East German régime. This appears to have been the major stumbling block in negotiations so far. When the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) made a suggestion, which I think might well commend itself to the House, concerning the rewriting of the Berlin statute with the six parties involved, he had in mind some way round the problem which would mean that neither France, Western Germany nor the United States would have to recognise the régime of East Germany. 106 This statute or international commission would do the job and they would give their orders to the commission, not to the East Germans.
I think that some thought should be given by Her Majesty's Government to a solution on these lines. I have already spoken to other non-aligned ambassadors concerning this problem. I do not mind what the commission is or what statute is adopted for West Berlin or who runs West Berlin provided I am sure of three things—firstly, complete freedom for the people in West Berlin; secondly, access to it; and, thirdly, the right of the people of West Berlin to move in and out of and around the city.
§ Mr. Arthur Lewis (West Ham, North)
On a point of order. Is it not the case, Mr. Speaker, that neither you nor any official of the House should hear or take note of what may pass beyond the Bar of the House? You may have noticed that my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) was not in the House when he made some remark. Obviously the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) never heard the remark fully, and my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke came back into the House to take part in the proceedings. I am not going against this in any way, but I should like to know what the position is for future procedure, because I have never noticed it before.
§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Gentleman does not want a Ruling on a hypothetical situation, we might get on. The hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates), was giving way to some other hon. Gentleman who rose inside the House.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
I apologise. I was thinking aloud, and the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) heard me thinking.
The short point is that people cannot move in and around Berlin. They can only move in West Berlin. The precincts are very confined. That is one of the difficulties.
§ Mr. Yates
I am sorry that I caused same confusion. I thought that an hon. Member opposite wished to intervene. When I saw one of my hon. Friends come into the House, I gave way.
107 I agree with the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly). If eventually some form of new statute is negotiated for West Berlin and, we hope, for East Berlin, it might be possible to persuade the East Berlin and West Berlin authorities to work together, as was happening when we visited Berlin in 1959 but which "the wall" has now stopped. That was the only point that I was putting to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench.
I did not realise that the majority of hon. Members taking part in this debate were seriously disturbed that the Government were not taking sufficient initiative in this matter. It is extremely difficult for a Government to proceed or to try to find a basis for negotiation because, as the Foreign Secretary explained at the Conservative Conference, whatever he proposes to discuss or to negotiate, the Soviet Union, Herr Ulbricht or others hear about it, pocket the concessions and then raise the bid when they get to the conference table. I hope that anything that I have said will not prejudice the position in that way.
It is, however, regrettable that the foreign policy of ourselves and the United States should be subject to a veto by the West German Government or by the present Government of France. I therefore absolutely endorse on this occasion what the hon. Member for Penistone said. If we cannot get the co-operation of the French or German Governments, we must consider whether we ought to proceed to negotiate with the Soviet Union and the United States. Some will argue that this is the very thing that the Soviet Union wants and that it would be a breach of the alliance if we did so. I wonder whether that is the case. I do not wish to say anything more on this occasion, but merely to wish the Prime Minister, who, I feel, will take charge of the negotiations, a better result than the tragedies which befell the great Summit conference.
I hope that peace will come out of the international conference at Belgrade and that we in this country will show our initiative by realising that it is ridiculous and quite wrong to attempt to take sides in this dispute. Whatever happens, we must not give way on things about which we cannot negotiate yet we must attempt 108 to solve the Berlin crisis and, if possible, try to get a German peace treaty, which, alas, is long overdue.
§ 7.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Marsh (Greenwich)
One point on which I find myself in disagreement with the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates)—it is a common point—is the suggestion that the neutral and uncommitted nations have the influence in modern politics which many of us wish they in fact had. I should have thought that if recent events had proved anything, the explosion of the Russian bomb on the day before the Belgrade Conference proved conclusively that one thing in which the Russians were not interested was the opinion of the uncommitted nations. If they were interested, it was merely from the point of view of threatening them rather than of getting moral support from them.
In my view, this country and the Western Powers are heading for the greatest diplomatic humiliation which they have ever undergone. I do not think that there is any way of avoiding that diplomatic humiliation, because the policies which have been pursued by the West, and by Her Majesty's Government in particular, have made that almost inevitable. I think that we all agree that what we are prepared to defend and what we are arguing about is not the West German people or the people in West Berlin. The basis of argument is that the people of the West want to live their lives in whatever way they choose. In the same way, one can assume that the people of the Eastern territories wish to live their lives in the way that they choose. It is a mistake to adopt a high moral tone as if we are prepared to play Sir Galahad for any section of the world, because I do not think that that is true.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)
Is the hon. Member saying that the people of East Germany choose their way of life? Is he saying that if they had a choice, they would choose the Communist way of life?
§ Mr. Marsh
No. I would no more say that than I would make the same suggestion about the inhabitants of Portugal and a number of other countries on the Western side. If one talks 109 in terms of two great blocs, what they are in favour of is the maintenance of the status quo and the defence of their own system as it exists at the present time.
While I agree with the hon. and learned Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner) that many people in East Germany, as is shown clearly, disagree with their type of régime, it is a great mistake for us to become too pious about this, because there are many Governments in the Western Alliance and within N.A.T.O. whose democratic principles would not bear close examination.
The point which worries me most arising from this problem—and I do not think there is much between us about it—is that there is a point at which the overwhelming majority of people in this country and in the West—and, probably, in the East as well—are prepared to say "This far and no further." If the present positions are maintained, however, the problem does not exist.
One of my anxieties about this controversy is that there is growing evidence that the fear of being thought afraid is becoming greater than the fear of war. This is extremely dangerous. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said earlier today, one of the questions immediately asked today is whether a person is being soft, whether a particular view is hard and whether a person is reliable or unreliable. If ever we have reached a situation where it was necessary to examine the facts as they are and to weigh the issues which are involved, it is now.
My main point of disagreement with the Lord Privy Seal was when he said that we had today faced up to reality. The biggest problem that we have encountered is precisely that the West has not faced reality. The whole time we have been afraid of the charge of appeasement. The fear of being thought afraid has stultified Western diplomacy on this issue and all the other issues in the controversy between the East and the West.
Every time that the West has made a concession, it has been made too late. One of the major principles of negotiation is that one should never make a threat unless one is prepared to carry it out. We have made threats that we 110 clearly and demonstrably had no intention of carrying out. Every time that happens, the deterrent effect of those threats deteriorates considerably. We have produced a situation in which, whenever we have made a concession, we have held on to it until, in the end, we have made the concession in the face of threats and we have given up things that we said we would never give up. Instead of giving them up at a time when we could have profited from them and used them as bargaining counters, we have given away points and concessions after long argument and after events have shown that we were no longer in a position to carry out our threats.
§ Mr. Marsh
I believe that Her Majesty's Government and the Western Governments will face the realities of the situation, unpopular though that may be. As a result of this, we will make concessions which for many years we have said that we would never make.
The situation has changed. Had people talked in this Chamber twelve months ago about the recognition of the German Democratic Republic, even de facto recognition, it would have been greeted with cries of horror. I went around the House and tabled a Motion for the introduction of a United Nations presence to Berlin, not twelve months ago, but a matter of only twelve weeks ago. Some hon. Friends of mine on this side of the House, who are generally much more enlightened than hon. Members opposite, said that they could not possibly append their signatures to such a Motion because that would give the appearance that they were being soft.
Today, however, that is being suggested by an American Senator. We have respectable newspapers like the Daily Telegraph saying that it may be a good idea. In diplomacy, it is fatal to have a situation in which somebody says that he will not move on an issue when it could be used as a bargaining factor but that when events have proved that he can no longer maintain that position, he has to capitulate instead of negotiating. That is the situation with which we find ourselves faced.
111 The other problem which needs mention is the dangerous view which has grown up that it is still possible to fight conventional wars at any level. I do not consider this at all possible in the modern scene. If the recent military exercises by B.A.O.R. showed anything, they showed what most people thought was likely—that we could not fight a conventional war for any period of time.
It is accepted, surely, on all sides that the Eastern conventional forces are overwhelmingly superior to anything on the Western side and that the redress of the balance lies in the nuclear potential of the Western forces. In a democracy, however, if one were to start to fight a conventional war for a short period against those overwhelming odds, public opinion would not allow the Government to withdraw in the middle of it. Once the issue is taken, once the gauntlet is down, any major conflict in Europe or anywhere else directly between the two major Powers must inevitably escalate to all-out nuclear war within a very short time. It is extremely dangerous for people to talk as if it were possible to fight different types of war in the process, because I do not think that that possibility exists.
My main objection to the unilateralists' case is that it suggests that there is an almost acceptable type of war, that it is possible that if we get rid of one method of fighting war, there is, perhaps, another method which is unpleasant but not quite so unpleasant. The position which exists today is that if there is a major clash between the two major Powers, it will inevitably spread and will not be confined to divisional level where, after three or four days of virtual massacre, the statesmen would meet and would then say, "On second thoughts, we have changed our minds. Let us have an agreement. We can pull out." If anything happens, it will be followed through to the ultimate. We have to accept that that would be the inevitable result of any major clash.
We have talked a great deal about defending West Berlin. Again, we have to accept that West Berlin cannot be defended, nor is it possible to defend the access routes to Berlin. It is possible for the West to go to war over Berlin. It is not possible to defend 112 West Berlin militarily. Anyone who suggested that by any sort of conventional means we could defend this little outpost in the middle of hostile territory, or these narrow alleyways into Berlin, would be putting forward a proposition which was so clearly untenable that it would get little support.
Indeed, if we were to produce a situation to show that we intended to defend West Berlin itself in any conventional fashion, we could do so only with the enormous number of troops that would be needed by stripping the rest of the front. Any attempt to make it look as if we were prepared to fight a battle to defend the corridors into West Berlin, or to defend West Berlin itself, would result in showing that we were not serious about it at all. We could get sufficient troops only by withdrawing them from elswhere.
We have to accept the fact that we cannot provide West Berliners with defence. What we do is to make a clear, categorical statement that in certain circumstances the West would be prepared to join in all-out nuclear war if there were a further advance against their interests. I do not think we can go on talking as though we were going to defend them in the same way that one has defended other small areas in the past.
I do not think that because of that West Berlin would lose any security—by the placing of United Nations troops in there at present, because the only purpose of forces in West Berlin is not to defend West Berlin: it is to make a clear statement of Western interest in the freedom of West Berlin. This could be achieved just as easily by United Nations troops in West Berlin, backed up by a well-equipped, modern police force of the type which already exists in West Berlin; the same result could be achieved by United Nations troops as by British troops in West Berlin. I think that this is something which at least we could well consider.
I come back to the point that twelve months ago many of the things which, on both sides of the House, we accept today would have brought charges of cowardice and even worse from three-quarters of the House. It is one of our major problems that we have stood on a position and then backed dawn at a 113 time when we could have won concessions in return for some of the things which we could have offered—at a time when it was almost indecent to suggest that the West would ever retreat from a position in which it found itself.
It is quite clear, if anything at all is clear in this situation, that the West is going to change its policy a great deal in relation to Europe, compared with its policy as it has existed in the past twelve months. There is a great deal of talk about the Oder-Neisse line. Some of my colleagues are still talking as though de jure recognition of the Oder-Neisse line were today a major bargaining factor. I think that twelve months ago it was, but today nobody in this House believes that the West would support any attempt to bring back the lost lands beyond the Oder-Neisse line by force. Nobody believes that that is possible. Nobody believes that it is possible today to conclude an agreement with the Russians by offering them concessions which they already have, for the D.D.R. is to all intents and purposes already in receipt virtually of de facto recognition, which is virtually unavoidable. I have always thought that if there were plots among influential sections of the Western nations to support some aggression against the lands beyond the Oder-Neisse line they were thoroughly dangerous and mistaken. I should have thought that that line was fixed, certainly for all the foreseeable future.
On the question of free elections in Germany, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) made the point that this was something which we must aim for. It is probably a good aim, but does anybody who has been to East and West Germany see any possibility in the foreseeable future of the reunification of the two Germanys? Their economies would appear to be as incompatible as any two economies could possibly be; their political systems appear to have nothing in common whatsoever; and the idea that the East German politicians would ever agree to a system of a series of elections which would presumably mean political suicide for all of them seems so fantastic that it is difficult to understand why it is put forward.
I should have thought that we had now reached a situation where we must 114 stop pretending, where we have to face the situation which exists in Europe at the present time, where we have to face the realities and to argue only on the basis of those things upon which we really are prepared to stand firm, and to make it quite clear that we are prepared to stand firm on those issues. The biggest criticism which can be made of this Government is that all the way through the ordinary man in the street in this country has never had any idea of what the broad outline of the Government's policy really was in Europe, because we have been told that such and such was a Western interest upon which we could not give way to any degree at all, and then after a period of time when sabres were rattled we gave way. To the man in the street this is so bewildering that he cannot understand what is happening.
Those of us who support the Western Alliance think it essential that Britain should play a part in collective security, but that this should not mean subservience to individual nations. It is, above all, important that the Government should at this stage make it quite clear what are the major interests upon which the West must stand firm, and they must also make it quite clear that there are certain realities about the present situation which we must accept. There really is no point at all in the Western Governments going on trying to pretend that the situation which exists in 1961 is the situation which existed several years ago.
If we can change the status of Berlin by introducing United Nations forces into it, and attempt to lower the temperature that way, if we can achieve some form of disengagement, we shall have made a contribution to peace; but if we say that on this or that question we are going to stand firm and then six months later we do not stand firm, because we knew from the beginning we never could, we shall do a grave disservice to the cause of peace.
§ 7.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Edward Gardner (Billericay)
I think that the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Marsh) has put his finger on the true nature of the present conflict between East and West. I, for one, do not believe that this will develop into a shooting war. I believe that this is by its nature essentially a propaganda war; we could, if hon. Members liked, call it a struggle for diplomatic superiority. I 115 firmly believe that it is Mr. Khrushchev's intention, if he can achieve it, to inflict on the West a catastrophic and moral political defeat. I differ from the hon. Member for Greenwich in that I do not share his pessimism. I do not think that Mr. Khrushchev will succeed. I think we are acting late in the West, but I do not think too late.
About three weeks ago I came back from West Berlin and East Germany. One hears, and has heard for many a year now, of people who seem to think that it really does not matter very much if we lose West Berlin; that it does not matter very much if Communism does make some sort of advance in Europe. Well, I would commend to those people who view Communism and the danger of a Communist advance with indifference that they should take a train from Liverpool Street Station and travel on through Western German and into Eastern Germany to West Berlin. That would be a journey which would cure them of any indifference.
It is a journey which I believe to be one of the most illuminating anyone can make today. It is a sort of political kaleidoscope. One goes through the rich country of West Germany and goes by Marienburg, the frontier station between the West and the East, through the forests where it seems quite easy for anyone who wishes to move from East Germany to get into West Germany. But, of course, one soon sees why people do not take that route out of East Germany. The forests are mined and patrolled by East German soldiers with Alsatian dogs.
Many hon. Members have had the experience of going to Berlin over recent weeks. I was talking to an editor in West Berlin who told me that my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) had been in his office the evening before. There is no doubt that West Berlin is one of the most remarkable cities in Europe today. It is a dazzling sight. It has wonderful architecture and it has a vitality that is quite astonishing. One has only to walk down the main streets to be amazed by the sight in the evening of the neon lights and the general feeling of extraordinary wealth. But I am not as concerned about the neon lights or the prosperity 116 of West Berlin as much as I am concerned about the 2½ million people who live there.
I know very well that it is fashionable in many parts of the House to say that these people were our enemies at one time and that we should not concern ourselves too deeply over their future, but I cannot help feeling, and I could not escape the conclusion when I was there a few weeks ago, that in defending West Berlin and the way of life of those who live there we are defending our own lives and our own way of living. I am quite convinced, as I am sure many hon. Members who have been to that part of the world are convinced, that if we allow Khrushchev to have an easy victory over Berlin and if we are weakened in our resolve to see that the rights of access to and the freedom of Berlin are preserved, we shall begin the first step in letting down our own defences against a way of life which I believe is abhorrent to almost every person in this country and to most people in East Germany.
One feature of the crisis which I find particularly discomforting is the apparent lack of unity between the Western Powers. It has come to the surface recently with the French attitude over a meeting of Western experts in London and it is still to be seen in the attitude of the Federal Government, who apparently are wishing to hold to the Geneva peace plan of 1959 and are refusing to consider any possibility of any solution of the whole German question.
I feel convinced that the problem of Berlin in isolation is something that cannot be safely negotiated. I firmly believe that the Berlin problem can be solved only in the context of the whole German problem, and I believe that this is a reality which is recognised though not always spoken of or admitted by many leaders in West Germany. I am equally satisfied that one of the great dangers in the situation is the obvious weakness of East Germany.
I spent a morning in East Berlin recently talking to Dr. Dieckmann, the Speaker of the People's Chamber. It was a most illuminating hour and a half. We ate caviar together and drank some very pleasant German wine.
§ Mr. Gardner
He asked me if I would convey his kind regards to many hon. Members opposite and I shall do that later, but he said something which I thought really remarkable and which was a crack in the facade of the propaganda which the East German Government put out so glibly.
He was speaking about the wall that had gone up three or four weeks previously. One travels from West Berlin now to East Berlin by a train that runs above ground. It is probably an easier journey than travelling from Westminster to Holborn, because all the trains are nearly empty. On the way from West Berlin to East Berlin it was possible to see from the windows of the train the work going on in the building of houses and of roads and the new opera house which has just about reached completion. One saw intensive activity.
Dr. Dieckmann, speaking over the caviar, as it were, said that when the wall went up 60,000 East German workmen were prevented from moving daily from East Berlin to West Berlin and, as a result, all the construction work on roads and buildings in West Berlin had ceased. I thought that if this was an example of the quality of propaganda that was going out and of its reliability. I should not find it difficult to say that that sort of propaganda is utterly unreliable.
I wish I could say that I found the propaganda coming out of West Berlin convincing propaganda or that it had shown any signs of persuasiveness. I met a number of people who had just returned from Belgrade, from the Peace Conference which my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) attended. They were people from the United Arab Republic and the Congo and other uncommitted nations. We went to the town hall in West Berlin and saw an official there who was quite unable to produce any alternative to these people other than the policy of standing firm.
On the other hand, when we went over to East Berlin, the first thing that happened was that we were handed copies of the East German peace plan. The representatives of the uncommitted nations appeared to be very impressed by this, but I am quite satisfied that if we of the West had put any one of these 118 proposals, with the possible exception of two, to the East and had said "We will negotiate on these" the Russians and the East Germans would have declined to have considered them as a proper basis for discussion.
I cannot help feeling that we have a weakness here in our propaganda and, as I have said, I am convinced that this is a propaganda war. In all wars which depend on propaganda and which we now call cold wars, the dictator, the man who can make a decision and co-ordinate decisions and produce a given, firm result for a particular purpose, has the advantage.
In the West, we are utterly unco-ordinated in our propaganda. I cannot help feeling that just as the Services have their commanders in N.A.T.O. co-ordinating our military affairs, so the West should consider the possibility of appointing a Minister—I do not care what nationality he is, provided he knows his business—who would be responsible for co-ordinating the West's propaganda.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I too, have met some of those people who went to Belgrade and who later went on to East Germany. I met some in West Germany and in France, and they told me that the most wonderful thing about the West was the absence of propaganda.
§ Mr. Gardner
That is another way of looking at it. But I found that the reaction of these people was that there was an absence of constructive thought. The majority might well be excused for thinking that to be the case. This is not criticism of the Government—though I should not hesitate to make it if I wanted to do so—but it is a criticism of the lack of unity in the West. Lack of unity in propaganda can be remedied by having a Minister who would be responsible for bringing the propaganda services of the West into a co-ordinated system.
In my opinion, the most distressing danger at the moment comes from the resumption of nuclear tests. The Russian decision to resume nuclear tests was one of the most cynical and dangerous decisions taken by a major Power in this century or at any other time. It is all part, I believe, of the propaganda war, an attempt to coerce by fear the views of the uncommitted nations and of the West.
119 Does anybody in his senses believe that a country would threaten to set off a 50-megaton bomb—a power equivalent to about 2,500 times that of the bomb exploded on Hiroshima—with the intention of using it in a war? This is surely a part of the terror campaign, and I believe that we must recognise it as such, because if we are misled, if we are browbeaten by these tactics, then we shall suffer a defeat which will not only affect us but also our children and generations to come.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. George Craddock (Bradford, South)
Like the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates), I am very pleased that the advances made at the highest level enabled us to return earlier to debate this matter. Many people thought that it was a shocking thing that Parliament should be in recess for nearly three months while all these circumstances arose over West Berlin, East Germany and the decision by the Russians to resume tests. I am, therefore, very glad that this debate is taking place this week, but, nevertheless, the Government should have taken time by the forelock and recalled Parliament in September.
During the early part of the debate we had some very gloomy speeches from Members opposite, although I must say that the hon. and learned Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner) rather brightened the proceedings. I think that the gloom came because we had a gloomy speech from the Lord Privy Seal. It was a long time before we got anything from him at all, and I had the feeling practically throughout his speech that he was keeping something back. I felt that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition was right when he said that the right hon. Gentleman could have given a hand-out to us similar to the hand-out that was given to certain influential people.
In a speech in Yorkshire, I deplored the resumption of tests by the Russians, but I want to point out that during recent times the French have carried out several tests also. Did we deplore their doing this? I did not hear very much about it if we did. If it is wrong for one side to carry out tests, then it 120 is wrong for all sides to do so. It does not add up to sincerity to claim that the Russians are doing a very wrong thing while we are doing precisely the same thing.
We are trying to discuss foreign affairs in a vacuum. The conditions in the World spring from a number of sources. To think and act in military terms is the end product. The beginning lies in economic, financial and social circumstances. War is an instrument which is often unreasoning in determining a course of action. Very largely, our policies towards the Colonies and in foreign affairs stem from the bad policies of the Prime Minister.
We have failed considerably in foreign affairs. We no longer have the very high position which we once held in the world, simply because we have failed to keep the high moral purpose which we had not so many years ago. The appointment of a Foreign Secretary from another place, providing him with immunity from the criticism of the House of Commons, has been a national disaster. He seems to be a Foreign Secretary without the talents for the post, and in an international crisis, like a schoolboy of 14, barks political asperities which achieve nothing but take everything from the atmosphere which would make a settlement possible.
We have had some extraordinary international leaders in the past 150 years. In Europe, we find that they have shown a complete disregard for the general interests of their people and have certainly left me with the impression that their main interest has been to serve a small élite and powerful economic and financial groups. At the beginning of the nineteenth century and from the middle of that century to the turn of the twentieth century, they swopped sides in military fashion with the speed with which Lester Piggott swops racehorses. What does one expect to result? It is beyond all doubt that all must do their homework in these vital matters.
What weight—this is the kernel of this debate—can we give the United Nations? What can we do to further its work? So far the Western Powers have not shown up too brightly in trying to develop an international authority with international 121 law to regulate the behaviour of nation-states towards nation-States. We have done little in that field. It is true that we have done some propaganda, but in actual fact little has been done, and until the other day hardly any initiative had been taken by the Western Powers.
It has been said that it is imperative that we should look to the United Nations for the solution to our problems. We were all concerned about the recent Berlin crisis and the deepening international situation which arose during the Recess. Nevertheless, I believe that the proposals advanced before the General Assembly by President Kennedy on 5th September should be noted by us and given our fullest support.
President Kennedy said,Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.He also said this to ninety-nine nations:The events and decisions of the next ten months may well decide the fate of man for the next ten thousand years. There will be no avoiding these events. There will be no appeal from those decisions. We shall be remembered either as the generation that turned this planet into a flaming pyre or as the one that made its vow to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war. In an endeavour to meet that vow, I pledge you every effort this nation possesses.He claimed in that statement that he wanted a truce to terror and a bold new Western disarmament plan. I wish him every luck in all that he does, and I hope that he will have the co-operation of all the Western Powers and all the other Powers in the world.
I have been rather concerned about many speakers, particularly from the other side, who have made such a play on words concerning Communism and Communist States and societies. These do not just grow. They result from the circumstances which arise in different parts of the world, and we should have the sense to know that. It is our business to correct things and to give people a proper outlook, and if we play our part in this Parliament and in other Parliaments throughout the world, people will want a better, more decent life. But it depends on the other factors which I mentioned earlier—upon what we do in the economic and social fields and in our treatment of our fellow men.
122 I commend one or two other points which I think should interest the House, and which I believe could provide a reasonable solution to the problem facing us. My five points would be: guaranteed access to Berlin; recognition of the Oder-Neisse line; recognition of East Germany; no nuclear weapons or missile training for either East of West German troops; and military disengagement in Central Europe.
I trust that a policy such as that will be pursued. Efforts should be made to build up a United Nations organisation which will provide a world order and international law in order to regulate the behaviour of nation-States towards nation-States, just as we have local and Parliamentary machinery to regulate the behaviour of people within our own country.
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Like my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner), I travelled a few weeks ago through a great deal of Eastern Germany and through East and West Berlin, and also went into Czechoslovakia. Although I did it by road, I also obtained a fascinating impression of countries which are now being guided under a system which is very different from our own.
Undoubtedly the most difficult, even the most frightening, aspect of foreign affairs today arises from this absolute division of the world into the Communist and non-Communist blocs. In this, I suppose, Berlin and, indeed, Germany herself are but smaller editions of the whole, because they, too, are divided in this way. Admittedly there are, as my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) pointed out, the neutral, uncommitted countries as well, but they are not, by and large, Powers of the first rank.
It seems that, superficially—and perhaps not only superficially—the present division between East and West is complete—from central Europe to Vladivostock, from Siberia to Indo-China and to the very borders of India. One system prevails, which is very different from our own and is at variance with our democratic traditions. As many Members have pointed out today, those who rule those countries are able easily to make 123 firm decisions and firm changes in policy, while we in the democratic world, with many independent allies, and by reason of the fact that the Western world comprises countries with democratic Parliaments, are not able so rapidly to make decisions and change policies.
The horror of the present situation is enhanced by the nature of modern weapons and armaments. In discussing this problem, I agree with the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock) that we are perhaps dealing with one of the greatest perils which has ever confronted mankind. Every hon. Member must surely agree with that.
To that extent I concur with those who have said that it is remarkable that the protest about the recent Russian tests has been so muted. The hon. Member far Bradford, South pointed out that, after all, tests had been carried out by France. There was a far greater hullabaloo about the French tests than there has been about these much more extensive tests carried out by the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Gower
Generally in the world there was a far greater furore, particularly among the Afro-Asian nations. It is astonishing when one considers that France was carrying out comparatively small tests. Yet we have today learned that the Russians have a bomb which is the greatest that the world has ever known.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will, in all fairness, admit that the Sahara is rather near Africa.
§ Mr. Gower
I appreciate and take that point. Nevertheless, not only among the Afro-Asian nations but nearer home the row about the French tests was on a much greater scale than anything that I have heard about the Russian tests since I have returned to the United Kingdom.
Undoubtedly, as many hon. Members have said, one of the objectives of our foreign policy must be to protect the democratic freedom of our people. In this atomic age, this has to be reconciled with the preservation of life itself on this planet, and, in the circumstances, 124 I suppose that it is not surprising that there are some people, in Western countries at any rate, whose fears of atomic war overshadow even their concern to preserve freedom and democracy.
I am sure that hon. Members who read the Observer this weekend noted an account by one of the peace marchers who went into Russia and how, in that article, he described that they there discovered a good deal of sympathy with the aims of the peace march but found out that when any element of criticism was directed against the Soviet Government that sympathy quickly evaporated. There are apparently no such divisions there. But here, quite naturally, many people are considerably worried and concerned. Even those of us who in this debate are determined to maintain our defence in the West until a satisfactory international disarmament agreement is obtained are no less concerned about the dangers of nuclear conflict.
Profound anxiety about the future of the human race is by no means confined to those who support nuclear disarmament. May I therefore suggest, with diffidence, that without abating our vigilance in any way, without lowering our guard and, indeed, without sacrificing any important principle, we must increase our efforts to obtain that international disarmament agreement which we all want. Never let us weary of these efforts, however disappointing the results may appear to be and however obstructive other nations may seem to be from time to time. Without in any way weakening our position, let us continue, through thick and thin, to strive for such an agreement.
The next thing is that we should always reiterate our desire for peace. This desire may appear quite clear to us, but it may not seem so to those nations with whom we have to negotiate. Indeed, they are always protesting in terms of peace plans, even when the plans are not particularly peaceful. We should do far more protesting in this way, and then perhaps we might dissipate any legitimate doubts that they have.
There may be, and probably always will be, times when we have to speak firmly and not disguise our determination to stand firm. The present Berlin 125 situation is one of those occasions, but, even when we are firm, I think that we should be conciliatory and make it apparent that we are always ready to negotiate on reasonable and fair terms.
One yardstick by which we can measure the results of our foreign policy in recent years is whether the danger of world war has increased. This question is extremely difficult to answer. From time to time there have been so many changes, so many increases and lessenings of tension. Some people may be tempted to judge that, certainly in the last few weeks, the danger has increased, If we consider merely the growth of armaments and the adoption of attitudes, I suppose that we should be bound to come to such a conclusion.
Yet, in some strange way, it is probably fair to say that among the world statesmen and, perhaps, among many of the peoples of the world there has never been greater awareness of the perils which may result from world conflict on a total scale, and in that respect we may say that, although superficially at times the danger of war has tended to seem greater, the appearance is more apparent than real.
The second yardstick for measuring the success of our foreign policy may be the security of our country and the Western Alliance. On this basis, we may adjudge the value of our defence arrangements, of our treaties and the economic strength of the country. In this case, too, there is a good deal of evidence to support the conclusion that the countries of N.A.T.O., the countries of the West, are not really less secure than they were ten years ago. Let us recall that at that time a great deal of Western Europe was completely disorganised in its immediate post-war condition. Let us recall the economic weakness at that time of countries like Germany and Italy and let us recall how even in the richer countries of the West we were coping, or trying to cope, with those immediate post-war difficulties.
I turn to the third yardstick which I wish to adopt for the sake of my argument—to what extent in this period our foreign policy has succeeded in reducing the terrible division between East and West, if, indeed, our foreign policy can achieve much in that direction. What progress have we made towards co-existence, if co-existence is really obtainable? 126 In this respect I suppose that we must confess to some disappointment. On the surface, at any rate, the countries divided by the Iron Curtain seem more apart than ever, and that is a frightening thought. One of our troubles is that we find it difficult, if not impossible, to define the motives of Communist countries. For example, how much of Russia's post-war policy has been due to a desire to spread Communism? How much has been due to a fear of a resurgent Germany and how much due to a fear of the West? There is no way of knowing and we can only surmise.
But, unlike defence, in this sphere at any rate we can take what some people would regard as risks. Without sacrificing any of our principles and without taking any unilateral action to reduce our defensive strength, let us try to extend to Russia and other Communist countries more invitations to friendship and trade and let us seek to diagnose what may be the peculiar difficulties of countries in the Communist bloc.
I do not know whether my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Billericay visited more than one country, as I did, but I got the impression that there are great differences among the countries in the Communist world, as there are in the Western world. During my visit to East Germany and in Czechoslovakia I got the impression that whereas it may be thought that there is some master plan and all our efforts may prove to be in vain, some of those countries have very real problems.
I ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I say something about East Germany. As many speakers have pointed out, the action of the D.D.R. Government in building this wall between the two parts of Germany has been partly due to the loss of manpower, to the escape of 2½ million people in the last 12 years. However bad that may be and however much that may condemn the East Germans' system, one cannot ignore the fact that they have had a major currency problem. My hon. and learned Friend will recall that when we were in Berlin the official rate of exchange was one East German mark for one West German mark, but that in banks in West Germany four or five East German marks were offered for one West German mark, and I was told that 127 through the black market one could obtain six or seven East German marks for one West German mark. I do not doubt that this has placed a severe financial economic burden on the East German Government. There have been cases of people working in one part of Germany and living in the other, and vice versa. They acquire currency in the West and change it into East marks, thereby doing a great deal of damage to the economy. This, however, is no justification for what the East German Government have done. Their remedy should be to revalue the currency at a more realistic figure than one for one, but natural pride perhaps prevents this being done, as it would mean losing face in a big way.
The other conclusion at which anybody who visits these countries arrives is that the standard of living is lower than in most Western countries. The frightening thing is that probably this division between East and West is increasing rather than getting less. To meet that difficulty they need more trade with the West. I am disappointed that although trade between this country and those to which I have referred has increased, it has not increased at a greater rate.
Like some hon. Gentlemen opposite, I have been to trade fairs in Germany and Czechoslovakia. At those fairs one sees more representatives of industry and trade from other countries than from this country. One sees more representatives from Holland, from Western Germany, and from Italy, than from Britain. We could make a valid and real contribution to the easing of tension between East and West, and perhaps contribute to an improvement in the standard of living in those countries, if we tried to increase our trade with them.
The other thing which could contribute to lessening tension and helping to improve the attitude of the people in those countries towards us would be to allow more people to travel to them. The tragedy of these countries is that it is difficult, if not impossible, for their individual citizens to travel abroad.
§ Mr. A. Lewis
That is true, but is the hon. Gentleman aware that the British Government, under the influence of the French and West German Gov- 128 ernments, prevent those people coming here? Is it not wrong for us to stop them coming here even though they, quite wrongly, stop East Berliners from going to West Berlin?
§ Mr. Gower
I do not think that that is so. I know that it is almost impossible for them to visit even other Communist countries. It is virtually impossible for a private citizen in one of those countries to go on holiday to another Communist country. We are therefore dealing with a different set of circumstances.
§ Dr. Stross indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Lewis
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that long before the East Germans closed the border—I agree quite wrongly—I asked a friend of mine in East Germany to come to this country as my guest? He has relatives here, and I obtained the necessary permission from the Home Office. However, the travel office has consistently refused to grant him the necessary permit to come here. I could quote dozens of cases where this is being done by the Foreign Office. Is not that wrong?
§ Mr. Ede (South Shields)
During the past five or six years I have had considerable experience in trying to get people here from countries behind the Iron Curtain for various legitimate purposes—
§ Mr. Ede
—including holidays. There are other things besides holidays which make people wish to come here. I have always found the Home Office very co-operative in issuing visas. The difficulty is in getting an exit permit from the Communist country concerned, in cases where I would have thought 129 that, in its own interests, it would have been desirable for these persons to be allowed to come here.
§ Mr. Gower
I am supported by what the right hon. Gentleman says. That was the basis of my argument, before I was interrupted by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. A. Lewis). That does not destroy the validity of my first suggestion, that it is desirable not only that trade but that human beings should pass across these frontiers. I have a terrible feeling that if trade and human beings do not do so the two sides will become more and more separated and frozen into their completely different systems, and that there will then be a growing danger of bullets or bombs crossing the frontiers instead. To that extent I hope that the West—including this country—without abating its vigilance, lowering its guard, or sacrificing its principles, will go out of its way to increase trade with these countries and also to increase the opportunities for private citizens to travel in these separate countries beyond the Iron Curtain. This will not solve the "great divide" that exists, but it might be a contributory factor which will assist us to obtain some sort of a solution.
There is also a very great doubt in our minds about the extent to which fear has been a factor in the attitude of the East to the West. Examples of this fear have been expressed tonight—the fear of German resurgence and of the French atomic tests, although I cannot believe that those tests were on such a scale as to cause any fear. But when we deal with this great divide in the world—and here I return to my first theme, that Germany and Berlin reflect the division of the great mass of Eurasia into these two great blocs—we must not forget the human tragedy of individuals. There has been a temptation to do this, and to think solely in terms of nations. My hon. and learned Friend referred to Germany, and he will appreciate only too well the tragedy that the situation there involves for many families, with parents living in one zone and children in another, or brothers in one part and sisters in another, and even, in some cases, with husbands and wives separated by the falling of this tremendous barrier. It is tragedy on a personal as well as a national scale.
130 Let us hope and pray that the West, perhaps fortified by those spiritual qualities which we have dissipated in this generation, will move in a way which is consistent with democracy and the preservation of our own freedom, and will also move with a desire to arrive at a reasonable solution which may even influence those people beyond the Iron Curtain.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Dr. Barnett Stross (Stoke-on-Trent, Central)
I am sure that we have all enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). I found myself in disagreement with only one very minor point. I think he is mistaken when he says that people who live in Communist countries have difficulty in travelling to other Communist countries for their holidays or for other purposes. I say this because the hon. Member mentioned Czechoslovakia, which is a country that I know well. I know from personal experience how frequently people go from one Communist country to another for their holidays.
Moreover, the one real complaint that is offered to me by young people in a country like Czechoslovakia against their own system, their own régime and Government is that they are not enabled to hitch-hike—that is the word they use to me—to Rome, Paris and London for their holidays. They say, "We easily can and do go to all these other countries, but why should we not go to London for our holidays? We want to go cheaply; we do not want to have to save a lot of money and go in a group. We want to go on our own." That is why I say to the hon. Member for Barry, whose speech I enjoyed so very much because it was liberal and impressive to a degree, that I think that he was off the mark a little in that one minor detail.
I also agreed with him when he pinpointed, as he did, the most important thing, which is the preservation of life on our planet, as I think he put it. He said that we should never despair in our attempts to obtain general world disarmament but should keep on trying; that we should protest more that we want peace in the world. We all agree with him there, but he will remember that it is not many years since in some parts of the West the word "peace" was 131 regarded as a very dirty word; we could not possibly use it without accusations being levelled against ourselves. If the situation is now different, I am sure that we are all very glad that there is a change.
If we are to have peace in the world, if we are to have general disarmament, we have a right to look forward to cooperation from countries behind the Iron Curtain. The question is: if we genuinely seek world disarmament, will we get it? So far, it is apparent that the Russians are suspicious of arms control because, they say, "If you have inspection with arms control that, for us, means espionage. You will search out where we manufacture our arms and where we keep them. If, however, you are in agreement on general world disarmament, we will agree to international inspection." From that, it seems obvious to me that we can see the beginning of the emergence of a world police force.
We have to ask ourselves: is this true? It is surely worth trying to find out whether it is true. I know that the hon. Member for Barry will agree with me that it will be a very sad thing if we did not try to find out whether it is true, because if we are to get world disarmament we might as well begin to consider now what divides us.
I remember that in, I think, June of last year, the right hon. and learned Gentleman who is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a very remarkable and forthright speech in Vienna in which he appealed to people the world over, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, to do certain things. He asked them to promote the greatest possible interchange amongst themselves in the fields of culture, of science, and of general learning and, in particular, to exchange visits by human beings. This is what the hon. Member for Barry was talking about.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say something like this: "It is only if people do this"—and this was the Foreign Secretary speaking—"that populations can have some guarantee that they can prevent the nations arming in preparation for war or, if already armed, prevent them from declaring war". Those are almost the exact words of the then Foreign Secretary, spoken a year ago.
132 A group of Members of Parliament, four from the Government side and four from this side—and I was one of them—went to Czechoslovakia. We discussed the German problem with a group of the members of their Parliament. We all took the view that the German problem could not be solved in isolation; that it was better to accept that it was part of a world problem and that if we are to solve it and see that no other problem arises from it, we should solve the world problem. That means bringing peace to the world, and getting rid of arms, all kinds of arms, all over the world.
It is quite probable that every hon. Member will agree that this is a reasonable thing to argue. Certainly we gained the respect of the Czechoslovak hon. Members when we, as a team, pleaded that this was probably the best way to tackle the problem generally. If we had refused to argue the case—because we knew how sensitive they were about it—they probably would have had no respect for us. However, we made our point and gained their respect.
What divides us was put in a nutshell to me by a Deputy Prime Minister in Prague. It was said to me alone in his office. The gentleman, who is dead, said in effect: "We envy you in Britain enormously: the freedom you have, your powers to change Governments—your political freedom. But we have economic freedom which, we believe, we have given to our people. You do not have that measure of freedom in your country. We are determined to give our people political freedom and if we succeed in having both—economic and political freedom—our system will sweep the world.
I laughed and he said "Why are you laughing?" I replied: "I laughed because we are beginning to discuss economic freedom, if that is the term you use." I told him "I accept that we have a great measure of political freedom. But suppose we get a measure of planning that is acceptable to our people? Then our system will sweep the world." He clapped his hands and said, "Who cares who gets there first." This is the measure which appears to be dividing us. Are we to destroy the world for that? What madness that would be. Surely our duty in this generation is to see the world safe so that this 133 debate can continue for the next one hundred years. Let our children and grandchildren continue it and let us hope that they do a better job than we have done. Meanwhile, our job is to see that they can go on arguing.
Let us remember that in the minds of some people one of the greatest appeasers of the West in our age is Mr. Khrushchev. He knows what danger he is in and if he does such things as exploding huge megaton bombs then we may all disagree with him. It may be, however, that he considers that he has his future and his country's future to consider and that, however wrong his thoughts and judgment may be, it is possible to understand them. We have not been very understanding from his point of view. We sometimes forget that the Russians have a great ally called the Chinese—600 million of them—who are, perhaps, not as experienced as Mr. Khrushchev and his people, but who are rather violent in their expressions and terms—and they can become violent in their actions if we do not take the proper steps to bring the world to peace in our time.
I sometimes wonder whether it is necessary for human beings to repeat the extraordinary things we see in the lower forms of life. The lowest forms of life are moulds and viruses and in a teaspoonful of ordinary garden soil there are as many forms of life as there are human beings on this planet. They make remarkable weapons—streptomycin and penicillin, for instance—and all these strange weapons are made, not for our benefit, but to destroy each other when food is scarce.
They form themselves into bands, confederations and alliances, different groups of them and different species, and they struggle for food when it is in short supply. There is never any struggle when there is an abundance of food. When victory is obtained by one group by the utter destruction of their enemies, there is peace for a time. After a while if food again becomes in short supply, the regroupings occur rather like those we have seen in our own way of life. Former allies become enemies, former enemies become friends and the battle commences again.
Do we as human beings have to repeat a battle like this? Surely not, when for 134 the first time in the existence of this planet we have got the means whereby we can give food to everybody. But we cannot give food to everybody and arms to everybody. The Syrian's cannot eat arms. Neither can the Egyptians, the Israelis nor the Iraqis. Nobody can eat arms. It is food they want. We cannot have guns and butter. That is obvious. We can have guns and death or butter and life.
This happens not only among the moulds. We see it among squirrels and rats, in all the lower forms of life. They will murder each other if food is in short supply. Why cannot we as human beings at long last realise that the real war is a war on want, that we can join hands with our so-called enemies and come to terms? We think in such strange ways. In examining the way in which the brain works, it is fascinating to see how human beings can be full of aggression because they are brought up in a certain way.
One thing that I admire in Communist countries is the way in which they differ from the Fascists. They indoctrinate their people because they believe that what they teach is true. But factually in all forms of learning they never pervert objective truth—not now, at least. I think we can do a deal in the world. We can, as the hon. Member for Barry said, preserve our rights and our way of life and demand that ours is also a good way of living. We should respect our opponents and not be afraid to talk to them openly, easily and honestly. Let us hear less about propaganda and more about truth.
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. R. E. Prentice (East Ham, North)
My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross) has made some very profound observations on the situation, which I do not intend to follow. I should, however, like to make this one comment. I am very glad that in the earlier part of his speech he said something about the pressing subject of the disarmament talks. I do not think we have heard enough about that in the debate today. I want to make some reference to it myself a little later, and I hope we shall hear a lot more about it tomorrow. It seems to me that this debate suffers from two things. The first is that it is rather a belated reaction to a series of 135 crises, particularly to the Berlin crisis which came to a head a few weeks ago. The other thing from which it suffers is, as in most foreign affairs debates in this House, that we have to extend ourselves over a number of situations none of which we have properly examined in the course of the debate.
I do not want to go into a discussion on whether the House should have been recalled earlier, although I am inclined to think that it should have been, but I want to make this plea. If this House is going to make a real impact on the situation and if we are going to reflect the real public concern at the international situation in which we live, we ought in future to debate foreign affairs much more frequently—I would think at least once a month—and not merely in an atmosphere in which we are reacting to one crisis or another but in the sense that we are trying as a House of Commons to define the sort of world situation that we want to exist and the methods that ought to be used to bring this country and the world closer to that situation. It seems to me that the Government as a Government, and the House itself, to some extent, have been tending too much in their discussion of these matters to react to situations rather than try to master them.
I shall talk about two aspects of the kind of world at which we should be aiming. I shall discuss the need for a stronger United Nations and what should be done about that, and I shall direct attention to the disarmament discussions and the kind of attitude our Government should be taking towards them.
Earlier in the debate, we had from the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) what I thought was a most depressing speech about the United Nations. He made an attack upon the conduct of United Nations operations in the Congo. Of course, he was talking about certain matters in regard to which the United Nations has probably been somewhat vulnerable—I think many of us could citicise the handling of recent events in Katanga—but in what he said he seemed to be speaking for others in the House and outside who are really cynical about the United Nations. The hon. Member said that what he described as the failure of the Congo 136 —I do not myself believe that it has been all failure—was the result of the inexperience of the countries making up the United Nations. It was the result, he said, of our putting too much faith in the United Nations, and he suggested that, for those reasons, we should look again at the United Nations, seeming to imply that we should either leave it or cease to say that we based our foreign policy upon it.
There have been weaknesses in the Congo and elsewhere, but it is our duty to react to them by saying that we will learn from the mistakes. We should try to strengthen the United Nations because in that organisation there rests the best hope for stable peace in the future. On this side of the House, we have on many occasions urged on the Government various ways in which the United Nations should be strengthened. We have urged the establishment of a parmanent United Nations force. We have urged the admission of China. We have urged the reorganisation of the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations so that they reflect more adequately the present balance of forces in the world, and so on.
Probably, we can all agree that it is very good that, during the past few weeks, the Soviet bloc seems to have retreated from its advocacy of the troika principle and there now seems to be hope of having a new Secretary-General whose powers will not be too trammelled as a result of recent discussions. In my view, the House ought to hear more from the Government spokesman tomorrow about how they view this particular problem. We should urge upon the Government that they do everything in their power to support the strongest possible type of leadership in the United Nations.
There are two essentials. One is that the Secretary-General and all members of the Secretariat should be, in the best sense of the word, international civil servants. We should not accept any idea that they are delegates from a particular country or Power bloc. There seems to have been some rather unpleasant cynicism about this whole matter from the Soviet Union during recent months. Recently, along with certain other hon. Members. I attended in Rome a conference called by the East-West Round Table. The conference was 137 attended also by Senator Humphrey from the United States and by delegates from the Soviet Union and other countries. The Soviet delegates there tried to convince us that, in some way or other, it was impossible to have a neutral international civil service. One of them put it to us in these terms: "How can a man have an equal love for the Communist world, the capitalist world and the non-committed world? How can one man have three souls? It is impossible. Therefore, you are trying to sell us a fiction which can have no reality at all".
That contention has not been borne out by experience. It is not borne out by the service given to the United Nations by Dag Hammarskjoeld and by many officials of the United Nations at various levels, or by the service given in the past, I believe, to the League of Nations by men who were genuine international civil servants who put their loyalty to the organisation above any national loyalties they may have had.
The other thing which seems to me essential is that there should be real power in the hands of the Secretary-General and of his deputies to take initiative. One of the things which has made the United Nations a rather more effective body than the old League of Nations is that the senior officials have managed in recent years to take several initiatives which were not possible under the old system. I should have thought that this was true of many other international bodies as well. One in which I have been particularly interested is the International Labour Organisation. It seemed to me that that had a far more successful history between the wars than any other international agency and has, since the war, operated rather more successfully than other agencies of the United Nations.
One of the main reasons for this was that the first Director-General in the 'twenties, Albert Thomas, established the tradition that the Director-General should have real powers himself and should take initiatives himself. This tradition has been carried on by his successors. It seems to me that there are lessons to be learned here for the future of the United Nations. Mr. Hammarskjold was a man who succeeded in doing this. He upset every one of the great Powers in turn. He upset Britain over 138 Suez, the Americans over Cuba, the Russians over the Congo and the French over Bizerta. It is an index of his success that he became an unpopular man with the various great Powers and was prepared to put the spirit and letter of the Charter above national interests.
It should be said that, if there is to be a successful future for the United Nations—and possibly on that depends whether there will be a successful future for mankind—a tremendous debt is owed to the great man who has just died in such tragic circumstances. For the future, we must ensure that his successors have real power and are encouraged to use it, and I hope that the Government will affirm this as clearly as they can.
At the same time we should recognise that there is a serious lack of balance in the way in which the Secretariat of the United Nations is made up. To that exent, there was reason for the Russians and others to say that there was need for some reorganisation. I saw some figures recently which showed that, on 1st April this year, of the 61 posts in the United Nations Secretariat of Under-Secretary or its equivalent, 40 are held by people from either Western Europe or North America. In the lower ranks of the Secretariat, out of 1,332 posts, 816 are held by people from either Western Europe or North America.
I believe that there are many reasons for that. One is that for years the Soviet bloc was not willing that its people should take posts in the Secretariat. Another is that clearly many of the under-developed countries are not able to spare skilled personnel to fill these posts. There are real difficulties here, but it seems to me that there is an urgent need to recast the structure and to ensure that the international secretariat represents, as far as possible, the geographical distribution and, to some extent, the political distribution in the world. I understand that a committee has been sitting on this matter and that it will report during this General Assembly. I suggest that the Government should take the attitude at the General Assembly that there should be some change in this direction.
I now pass from considering the structure of the United Nations to one topic which, I am sure, we all hope will play a large part in the discussions of the 139 United Nations during the current session. I refer to the prospects for general disarmament. I thought that it was unfortunate that the Lord Privy Seal, in opening this debate, made practically no reference to disarmament except to condemn the Soviet tests. I am sure that most of us agree with him in condemning those tests, but the Government ought to be giving a more dramatic lead to public opinion in this country and throughout the world on this vital matter of general disarmament. There seems to be far too much apathy, far too much cynicism, in most countries, including our own, about this subject.
§ Mr. Prentice
Yes, apathy in this House, among other places.
It may be that some people, because of past disappointments and because of the failure of previous disarmament conferences, feel that the whole thing is rather hopeless. It may be that the Press of various countries, including our own, has failed to treat general disarmament as a newsworthy topic, and in that they are at fault. One instance that I have had pointed out to me recently was that when President Kennedy made his stirring speech to the General Assembly on 25th September, the New York Times, which normally one considers to be a rather responsible paper, referred to his disarmament proposals as a propaganda measure. It seems to me that that sort of cynical approach is far too common in the United States, in this country and elsewhere.
Public debate in this country has rather been concentrated on what I consider to be the sterile issue of whether this country should make a unilateral gesture. There are, however, many of us in this House, and outside it, who are as passionately concerned about disarmament as is anyone who has ever marched from Aldermaston or sat down in Trafalgar Square on a Sunday afternoon.
What we should be having is a debate on the real issues of disarmament and, above all, we should be told where the Government stand on these complex and vital matters which are at stake. We have reached a critical stage, a stage which possesses both increased danger and increased opportunity. On the one hand, 140 the last few weeks have seen an intensification of the arms race—the restarting of nuclear tests, the build-up of conventional forces by both sides in Europe and a general intensification of the whole thing. On the other hand, the last few weeks have seen the East and the West coming closer together than they have been for a long time in their stated positions for a general disarmament treaty. That is why I describe this as a critical stage. Both the dangers and the opportunities have increased.
In the joint statement issued by Mr. Zorin and Mr. McCloy a few weeks ago, there was a tremendous amount of common ground. Both of them, and both of their Governments, were saying that they believed in general and complete disarmament. There was no attempt to substitute any other formula of limited disarmament or arms control. Both of them were saying that they believed in the abolition of all weapons of mass destruction, the progressive reduction of all armed forces and the establishment of an international police force. They both expressed their agreement that disarmament should proceed by stages, and they said that every stage should be inspected. They said that before a new stage was started, both sides should be satisfied that the previous stage was being satisfactorily inspected. All that is a great and important advance and one which has not received sufficient attention in the Press of this country or, therefore, by public opinion here.
In that situation, I think I am right in saying, two major difficulties remain. One is the definition of the stages of disarmament, in which the two sides have a different emphasis. Clearly, the United States—and, therefore, ourselves—are more concerned at an early stage to get a reduction in the general level of forces, whereas the Soviet Union is inclined to put that off to the next stage and to say that we should get rid of nuclear weapons first.
The other and, perhaps, more difficult problem is that of the degree of inspection. When speaking at the commencement of the debate, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition spoke of the rather outlandish position on the part of the Soviet Government in thinking that every stage of inspection should involve inspecting the disarmament which has been carried out but without 141 the right to inspect what is left, and said that this was rather incomplete and something which we could not accept in that form.
In this situation, the British Government should be exploring ways of bridging the gap. I am not suggesting that we have necessarily to diverge from the American policy. But it is our duty, as, indeed, it is the duty of every major Power in the world, to have a team of the best brains in the country working on the technical problems involved, trying to see whether we can produce a formula which will bring the two sides, already very close, closer together so that a disarmament treaty can be brought about in the next few months. There ought to be a high-powered team within the Government—one would prefer to see a separate Government department under a separate Minister—working on the problems of inspection, of monitoring of tests, on the type of technical problems involved in equating a given amount of conventional disarmament with a given amount of nuclear disarmament which can be worked out without one side or the other getting a strategic advantage. All these problems are very complicated but they are very important and ought to be getting more attention than they seem to be getting, as far as one can tell, from the Government machine at the present time. I think we ought to have some comment on this matter from the Government tomorrow.
I put forward this view of the dilemma over inspection simply as a basis for discussion. I think first of all that we are bound to reject the Soviet view that we cannot have complete inspection till we get complete disarmament. That is something which we cannot concede, but I wonder if we ought not to be prepared to move a little from the stated position of the American Government, as shown recently, and be prepared to face some extra risk in all this, bearing in mind that the risks involved with incomplete inspection have got to be balanced against the risks of continuing the arms race, for if the arms race continues then we face far greater risks than we do in taking certain chances in reaching a general disarmament agreement.
The statement of Mr. Zorin and Mr. McCloy contained the formula that no one stage in disarmament should be started till the previous stage is being 142 inspected. I think we might add to that that the next next stage could well be started without having got into being the inspectorate for that stage. The idea I have in mind is that, say, stage 3 could start after stage 2 is being inspected, after the Powers have agreed how stage 3 should be inspected but before the inspectorate is in existence for stage 3. It seems to me that a certain amount of risk is involved there, more than we have been prepared to concede so far, but that that extra risk might well be taken.
I put this up for discussion, hoping again that we can have some Government comments upon it. We have to try to get a formula in which we can say that there would be a growing amount of inspection as there develops a growing amount of disarmament, till we reach the final stage of complete disarmament and complete inspection. I feel that so much progress has been made on this in the last few weeks that now we ought to be prepared—the British Government above all Governments should be prepared—to suggest a new initiative to try and to get over the hurdles which remain.
These remarks are, perhaps, rather tentative ones, but I feel that we ought all to be thinking aloud on this subject. It ought to be debated much more completely and much more often in this House, and, indeed, throughout the country. There should be a sort of grand debate on how we should approach this problem of disarmament, because of the tremendous importance of it and because, indeed, it transcends all other issues in the world today.
My conclusion is that in disarmament and in other aspects of international work, the strengthening of the United Nations, and so on, we ought to be seeing a much more positive initiative from Britain than we have seen in recent years. It seems to me that there is nothing incompatible between being a loyal member and an active participant in the Western Alliance and at the same time taking initiatives in other matters which are sometimes at variance with the day-to-day policies of our allies.
It seems to me that probably the cold war is going to continue for many years. When one studies the ambitions of world Communism that seems almost inevitable. However, the realities of 143 the nuclear age impose on all of us, whether we are Communists or democrats or anybody else, a joint interest in having a world disarmament agreement and in having a framework of world law in which we can conduct this struggle for power. We all have a common interest in survival no matter what other differences we may have. It seems to me that that fact is not sufficiently recognised and that the Government are not living up to the necessities of a situation in which that is the plain fact. I hope that both in this debate and in the months ahead we shall see some evidence of the initiatives I have been talking about.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ Colonel Sir Tufton Beamish (Lewes)
My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, in opening the debate, dealt with three main problems. First, he dealt with certain problems touching the United Nations, with particular reference to the extremely sad and most untimely death of Mr. Dag Hammarskjold. He gave the House the Government's views on the principles on which we should work in considering the replacement of the Secretary-General and the reorganisation of the Secretariat. I thought that his views were constructive and eminently sensible and I believe that the House thought so as well.
If I may say so to the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), I thought his views were full of the common sense which we have come to expect of him and that they were equally constructive. I noticed in particular that he said that the principle which must animate the United Nations in everything that it did was to stick carefully to the spirit and the letter of the Charter, and that will be my main theme with particular reference to United Nations operations in the Congo.
Secondly, the Lord Privy Seal told the House a little, but only a very little, for reasons which I think most of us understand, about the grave situation which has arisen in Berlin—the circumstance which no doubt was most in the mind of the Leader of the Opposition when he asked for the recall of Parliament. Because I am of the opinion that the Government's handling of the Berlin 144 crisis from the British point of view has been firm and skilful, I do not think that I can add anything that would be worth hearing to what the Lord Privy Seal has told the House. I find myself, therefore, in considerable agreement with two-thirds of my right hon. Friend's speech but on the other third, when he was talking about the situation in the Congo, I must say straight away that I have quite considerable reservations and some criticisms to make.
Before I come to that, I should like to be allowed to say to the Leader of the Opposition—and I am sure that this will not embarrass him, because he is not at all easily embarrassed—that he made quite easily the best speech that have ever heard him make, and I have heard him make a good many. His views on Berlin were forthright, constructive, and very courageous. I particularly liked the generous attitude he showed towards the Germans, more particularly the West Germans, of course, at this moment. I am reminded of the delightful, true story told to me the other day by a friend who had been in Wales. When a leading, prominent and well-respected citizen of Pembrokeshire, but not the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly) whom I do not now see in his place, was asked what he thought about the military training which the Germans have been going through in Pembrokeshire, he said that as far as he and many of his friends were concerned they felt that if they had to have any confounded foreigners in Wales they would much rather have the Germans than the English.
I thought, with great respect to the Leader of the Opposition, that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to overstate his criticism of the Government's attitude towards the situation in Angola and, lastly, I was a little surprised that he again put forward the plans for disengagement which we have so often heard from the party opposite. We heard once again about the Rapacki Plan. If time permits, I hope to have a chance at the end of my speech to make a few comments on that, although, during a foreign affairs debate in July, I spoke at some length on the subject of disengagement.
In the rest of my speech I wish to deal with the actions of the United 145 Nations in the Congo. As I have said, I have questions to ask and some quite severe criticisms to make, particularly of their actions but also, to a certain extent, of the attitude of the Government. It is just over twelve months ago that I went to Elisabethville for a sort visit. While there I met Mr. Tshombe and had a short talk with him. I also met some of his cabinet Ministers. I had an equally long talk with the United Nations administrator and the United Nations military commander—at that time an Irishman—and I also met many other people who were influencing events in Katanga, including the Belgian commander of the Katangan gendarmerie.
I came home with serious anxieties about what the United Nations was doing in Katanga. I expressed some of those anxieties in several letters to newspapers. In one of them—to the Daily Telegraph—I drew attention to the very thankless task which the United Nations was performing in Katanga, and, although I did not put it in inverted commas, I was quoting what the administrator told me in saying that that task involved "liaison but no cooperation with the Tshombe Government." That is a pretty vague instruction to give to anybody, and it was no surprise, when I discussed the problems facing the United Nations in Katanga, to find that most of the leading officials had very little idea about how to carry out their extremely difficult tasks.
I apologise for inflicting on the House a letter which I myself wrote but it does put my remarks in context. I wrote:My visit to Katanga convinced me that there is an excellent chance of avoiding chaos in the province if Britain and other free countries will use their influence in the United Nations to ensure that Mr. Tshombe's firmly established Government is not further weakened by unwarranted and unwanted United Nations actions arising from a directive which must be brought up to date without delay.That was twelve months ago, and the anxieties I felt when I came home from the Congo then are greatly increased today. Without striking an unduly critical note, I suggest that we should ask ourselves: what went wrong with the United Nations operation in Katanga between 28th August and the 13th September? I have tried to find the answer. I have gone to considerable pains and have burnt a good deal of midnight 146 oil in order to do so—reading, for example, all the resolutions, passed by the Security Council or the General Assembly, which gave directives to the United Nations, with particular reference to the military action it should take in the Congo.
The first of these resolutions was on 13th July, 1960, and I want to read the second paragraph, because reference has been made to that resolution in all the subsequent ones. This resolution made it clear that the United Nations task in the Congo was a limited one. The operative and most important paragraph reads:Decides to authorise the Secretary-General to take the necessary steps, in consultation with the Government of the Republic of the Congo, to provide the Government with such military assistance, as may be necessary, until"—I emphasise the word "until"—through the efforts of the Congolese Government with the technical assistance of the United Nations, the national security forces may fie able, in the opinion of the Government, to meet fully their tasks.Thus, the task given to the United Nations forces in the Congo was of a strictly limited nature.
The next resolution was on 22nd July, passed by the Security Council, and it was of no special significance. However, on 9th August another resolution was passed from which I will read the fourth operative paragraph:Reaffirms that the United Nations force in the Congo will not be a party to or in way intervene in 0r be used to influence the outcome of any internal conflict, constitutional or otherwise.Those are very wise words.
Next, there was a resolution of no very special significance adopted by the General Assembly on 16th September. Then we come to the resolution adopted by the Security Council on 20th and 21st February, 1961. That is the important resolution which included the words:and the use of force, if necessary, in the last resort.I think that most hon. and right hon. Members will agree with me that those words may well have led to the serious misunderstanding that arose. I was sorry that in that resolution the word "mercenaries" was used. It seemed superfluous. I understand the reason for its use, but as the resolution called for the withdrawal of all Belgian and foreign 147 military and para-military personnel, it seemed superfluous to use the word "mercenaries", into which a note of some prejudice often creeps.
The second part of the resolution contains a paragraph which I should like to read:Convinced that the solution of the problem of the Congo lies in the hands of the Congolese people themselves without any interference from outside and that there can be no solution without conciliation.Those again are very wise words. They simply repeated in different words the paragraph which I read from the first resolution adopted by the Security Council on 13th July, 1960.
The May resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are of no special significance. Security Council resolution 4741 is the key document here. It is the resolution which authorised the use of force in certain circumstances.
Last night, when preparing my speech, I read the verbatim record of the 942nd meeting of the Security Council, which began at 9.15 p.m. on 20th February and ended at 4.20 a.m. on 21st February—an all-night sitting.
To authorise the use of force by the United Nations is a new departure and, obviously, a decision of grave and very real importance. If the use of force is to be authorised, I think that the whole House would readily agree that the circumstances in which it could properly be used must be extremely carefully defined, and loose wording can be very dangerous indeed. But the wording of the resolution was very loose indeed.
Sir Patrick Dean, our excellent representative at the United Nations, made an admirable speech on that occasion. I wish to read a short passage from it, and I apologise to the House for the number of quotations. Sir Patrick said:Specifically as regards paragraph 1 of part A"—that is the paragraph embodying authority to use force in certain circumstances—I must explain that the interpretation which my delegation puts upon the words at the end of that paragraph, namely 'and the use of force, if necessary, in the last resort', is that force will only be used by the United Nations to prevent a clash between hostile Congolese troops. There can be no question of empowering the United Nations to use its forces to impose a political settlement.148 He thus made the position of the United Kingdom Government absolutely clear.
There is a most curious thing about that debate, which I have read with great care. I can tell the House that not only the representative of the United Kingdom but also the representatives of Chile, China, Ecquador, France, Turkey and the United States of America, as well as one of the three sponsors of the resolution—Liberia—went out of their way to say that they interpreted the words about the use of force in the same narrow way.
They all interpreted it, broadly speaking, in the same way as Sir Patrick Dean did in the extract from his speech which I have just read. Yet, in spite of the fact that eight out of eleven representatives in the Security Council put that interpretation on the words authorising the use of force, the resolution was passed, and it is perfectly clear that the other three members of the Security Council—that is, the Soviet Union and the other two sponsors of the resolution, the United Arab Republic and Ceylon—put a totally different interpretation upon it. Indeed, they made that clear from the speeches that they made on that occasion. I cannot help asking whether a mistake was not made in trying to put an interpretation on these loosely defined instructions rather than seeking to delete these words and, if necessary, holding the debate all over again.
I go on from here to remind the House that the Foreign Secretary and the Lord Privy Seal went to great pains shortly after this debate took place—indeed it was only a week later that the Lord Privy Seal spoke in this House—to make exactly the same point as had been made by Sir Patrick Dean. I should like to quote what the Lord Privy Seal said in the House on 22nd February:I must explain that the interpretation which sentative made clear that we did not consider the resolution gave the United Nations power to impose forcibly any solution, politically or otherwise, upon the Congolese …." [OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1961; Vol. 635, c. 485.]The Lord Privy Seal made similar remarks in a later debate in the House on 15th March, and the Foreign Secretary spoke in similar vein on 27th September 149 last, when he addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He said:Our support was conditional in that we insisted that force should not be used to impose a particular political pattern on the CongoPartly because of these very clear reservations that were made, it has been widely held in this country and abroad that the British Government were mainly influential in bringing about the ceasefire in Katanga between the United Nations forces and the Katanga forces. If that is true, and I believe that it probably is true, I feel that the Government should be congratulated on the effective and prompt action that they took. I think that it will be recognised that they were very helpful indeed to the Secretary-General who himself wanted to bring about the cease-fire at that moment, but I greatly regret that such steps as were taken to avoid the attempted coup d'état in Katanga were ineffective.
I find it very hard indeed to understand why no public warning of the dangers for the United Nations of direct interference in the Congo's domestic problems was given during August and the early part of September. I cannot help thinking that if such a warning had been given and if other like-minded Governments had given similar warning, quite apart from the action which the Lord Privy Seal has told us was taken in getting immediately in touch with the Secretary-General, it might have had the effect of steering the United Nations from the collision course that it was obviously following.
We have as much right as anyone else to express views on this subject not least because of the very generous contributions that we are making to pay for the United Nations operations in the Congo. I am not sure whether all hon. Members appreciate that the cost to the British taxpayer of the United Nations Congo operations is running at very nearly £100,000 a day, and that the total cost so far has been about £5½ million. I am not for a moment suggesting that that expenditure is bad. Nor am I necessarily criticising it. I am simply drawing attention to the fact that the cost to us is very heavy at a time when we can ill afford expenditure of that kind, and that is simply one of the reasons why we have every right to make 150 our views on this awkward subject very well known.
I next come to what really happened between the February resolution and the attempted United Nations coup d'état in September, although it began on 28th August. There have been so many remarks by leading United Nations officials quoted in various newspapers and so many of them denied that I hesitate to quote any, but in three different newspapers I found Mr. O'Brien reported to have said:We shall get Katanga bit by bit.I doubt very much that he said it. I cannot believe that he did and it may well have been denied, but that is only one of a number of remarks to that effect.
What happened on 28th August was clearly described a few days later by the Federal Prime Minister, Sir Roy Welensky, in the Federal Assembly in Salisbury when he said:There is no doubt that at dawn on Monday large numbers of United Nations troops in full battle kit and backed by armour took over the town of Elisabethville and other administrative centres in Katanga. Government offices were occupied, as were the military headquarters, the post office, the radio station and the airport. Road blocks were set up and Elisabethville became in a very short time militarily occupied town.I was in Ireland when the worst of these things was happening. On Wednesday 13th September, a newspaper called the Irish Independent carried a report from its Katanga correspondent, Mr. Gavin Young, which opened with a very sinister and significant paragraph. Date-lined Tuesday, 12th September, Elisabethville, it said:There is rising tension and a brittle calm in Elisabethville now as the Katangan capital lives its last days of independence. In the view of most observers here, the next few days of this dying Katanga summer will be decisive. They could also be bloody.That was before the fighting started and could have been based only on the knowledge which this journalist had acquired of what United Nations plans at that time were. What actually happened is all too well known and I do not want to waste the time of the House by describing it.
However, we should ask ourselves who was responsible for these mistakes, not in order to try to find scapegoats, because 151 that would do nobody any good. But the fact remains that the blunders made turned out as complete fiascos. So many statements and counter-statements have been made about who was responsible and who carried out whose orders and about what went wrong and what the orders were and who gave the orders and whether they were faithfully carried out that it is impossible, however hard one tries, to get to the bottom of it.
Dr. O'Brien and others concerned have blamed Leopoldville and Leopoldville has blamed the United Nations headquarters in New York, while the people in New York have denied that they were responsible. I have found it impossible to get to the bottom of the story.
I think, therefore, that a very important conclusion we should draw is that, with other countries, the United Kingdom should press for a report on what happened, and that in pressing for it we should co-operate with other countries who share the view that it is extremely important to get to the bottom of this question.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Does my hon. Friend know what orders were given to the United Nations units in Katanga at that time? It would be very helpful if we knew what they were.
§ Sir T. Beamish
I do not think that it would be helpful if I gave that piece of information. I have been rather careful in choosing my words in this part of my speech.
I think that it would do a great deal to re-establish the confidence which many people have lost in the United Nations if this report could be made on the lines I have suggested, and it would certainly help to re-establish confidence between Mr. Tshombe's Government and leading United Nations officials, which is an important matter as well.
May I now say a word about self-determination. I have noticed to a growing extent that many people who talk about self-determination seem to maintain double standards. They say things which when analysed are illogical, and often equivocal as well. One expects remarks to which one can apply those adjectives from the Soviet Union—[An HON. MEMBER: "And in the House of 152 Commons."]—and sometimes in the House of Commons as well, but certain other countries are equally guilty. Self-determination was right when Mali separated from Senegal, but it is wrong, for example, for Tibet. Self-determination is right for Nyasaland if it wishes to break away from the Central African Federation—something which I would greatly regret—but it is wrong for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. I could give many more examples. In the opinion of many, self-determination is right for Mauretania. Yet some other Afro-Asian countries think it is wrong.
§ Sir T. Beamish
The hon. Gentleman is kindly assisting me. That is the point I wish to make. It was the Leader of the Opposition who said today that freedom, like peace, is indivisible. I add to that that self-determination is also indivisible. One cannot have one rule for one country and another rule for another.
Having said that I am strongly against the Balkanisation of Africa, which would be a real tragedy, I conclude that we must try to apply the same principles in all cases. I hope, for example, to see the Central African Federation hold together. I would greatly regret it if it broke apart. Similarly, I hope that the good start which has been made in cooperation between Uganda, Tanganyika and Kenya will bear fruit, and that we shall before long see a prosperous, economically viable, and politically stable East African Federation.
Other large groupings may come together in the African continent of their own free will, but there was a curious United Nations angle on this, which perhaps ties up with some of the things I have been saying, when decisions were being made about the future of the British Cameroons, a territory which I visited about five years ago. The British Cameroons were given only two choices. It is all over now, so perhaps there is no point in mentioning it, but they were given the opportunity of either joining Nigeria, which many of them did not wish to do because there has for a long time been a good deal of suspicion between the people of the British Cameroons and the Ibos of Eastern 153 Nigeria, or the opportunity of joining the Cameroons Republic, the choice which the Territory made.
In the circumstances, I should have thought it only reasonable to give the British Cameroons a third choice—the choice of being independent. From my contacts with a number of friends there, in both the main political parties, I concluded that had the British Cameroons been given that choice by the United Nations they might very well have adopted it, at any rate for an interim period. It was a pity that they were not given that choice, and also, perhaps, that we did not manage to make our views prevail, although I believe we expressed the view that the Colony should be given that choice.
Where does Mr. Tshombe stand in this closer grouping of countries? I think that he has been much misunderstood. I had a talk with him on this subject twelve months ago, and I came away convinced that he is not isolationist in any way. I think he showed that when he went to the Tananarive Conference, and he certainly showed it at Coquilhatville where, unhappily, he was arrested, although, happily, he was later released. He presented a document there, a copy of which I have with me, which seemed to me both broad-minded and far-seeing, suggesting in great detail the lines on which a confederation of the Congo might be brought into being.
I very much hope that Mr. Tshombe will find it possible to move much closer to the other provinces of the Congo in the near future, although we should be making a great mistake if we thought that by his doing so the economic problems of the Congo were likely to be solved. Some very exaggerated figures have been put about concerning the extent to which the Katanga revenue benefited the Congo as a whole before the Belgians left the country. I understand that the more or less accurate figures are that the Central Congo Government relied only as to 20 per cent. of its revenue upon Katanga. In fact it received 40 per cent. of its revenue from Katanga, but half of it went back to that province in one way or the other. So, even if that basis were returned to, no one could suggest that the economic problems of the Congo, which are very serious, are likely to be completely solved.
154 In conclusion, I want to make two suggestions, arising largely out of what I have said, and both connected with improving the organisation of the United Nations. Surely what has happened in the Congo has strengthened the case for a permanent United Nations police force. As the hon. Member for East Ham, North said, the Soviet Union has been opposed to this idea for a long time, but perhaps it may come round to our way of thinking. We may be able to persuade it to agree. I believe that United Nations forces in Katanga were put in an extremely difficult situation. Their orders were not clear. They had never trained together. To a large extent they had the wrong kind of equipment. They had the wrong arms. They had inadequate transport, some of it of the wrong sort. Their aircraft were not modern, and were insufficient in number. Anyone imagining the task of trying to command a brigade consisting of an Irish battalion, a Gurkha battalion and a Swedish battalion, supported by Ethiopian fighters, might begin to realise what an incredibly difficult task was given to the United Nations soldiers and airmen who have been doing their best in Katanga.
My second point concerns the rules of procedure in United Nations debates. I am sure that you would blanch, Mr. Speaker, if you had been reading with me the report of the debate that took place in the Security Council, from which I made some quotations. There appeared to be very few rules, and much of what was said would have been irrelevant in any democratic Parliament. Some of what was said was not only violent but slanderous, especially the personal attacks upon the Secretary-General, and insinuations galore were made. I can think of nothing more valuable to the proper working of the United Nations than that its procedures should be reformed on the broad lines which are known and so well understood in so many Parliaments which practise democracy throughout the world.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Chichester-Clark.]