§ 3.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)
The second day of this debate on foreign affairs is, inevitably, overshadowed by the statement made at the Soviet Communist Party Congress yesterday by Chairman Khrushchev that the Soviet Government intend to explode a 50 megaton bomb in about a fortnight from now. All of us are by now used to the tedious bluster about Russia's atomic striking power in which Mr. Khrushchev so frequently indulges, and I do not think that there is any evidence that anyone in the West has so far been deflected from his course by this type of rocket rattling.
§ Mr. Healey
I think that most of us would prefer to regard it as a sign of immaturity inappropriate in the leader of a great Power and particularly unbecoming in the leader of a Power which claims to be in the forefront of the struggle for world peace. I hope and believe that the Soviet Government will grow out of it in time; but the physical explosion in the atmosphere of twenty large atomic weapons during the last few weeks and the threat now to explode in the atmosphere a bomb with an explosive power of 50 megatons is something far more difficult to forgive.
Quite apart from the setback to all our hopes of disarmament, quite apart from the evidence of duplicity in negotiation, to which the Foreign Secretary referred yesterday, evidence which is bound to influence future talks with the Soviet Government on any issue, Soviet behaviour in these matters during the past few weeks has involved a direct and physical danger to everyone on this planet. The total fall-out from the bombs already exploded by the Soviet Government since they broke off the test talks is already greater than the fall-out from all previous tests carried out by Britain, Russia and America before the balks began. We have been told that certain laboratories in some parts of the world have found that radioactivity has increased 1,000 times since this series of tests began, and we are now told by Chair- 178 man Khrushchev that this radioactivity is to be increased at least by half as much again with the explosion of the 50 megaton bomb.
I ask Mr. Khrushchev to remember that, after this next bomb is exploded, babies will suffer not just in America and Britain but they will suffer in India, in Japan, in Ghana, in China and in the Soviet Union itself. As President Kennedy said yesterday, there can be no military justification whatever for the physical testing of such a weapon in the atmosphere. If Mr. Khrushchev believes that there is any political benefit to be gained from such a test, he is making a ghastly miscalculation. I hope that, in the next week or so, the rest of the world will unite in protest against the decision and will persuade Mr. Khrushchev to change his mind.
In the same speech yesterday, Mr. Khrushchev made some remarks about the Berlin crisis which offer us increased hope of a settlement. He said clearly, as he has hinted several times in recent weeks, that he would not inevitably sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany by the end of the year. Yesterday's debate showed wide agreement on both sides of the House on the general lines which a negotiated settlement of the Berlin crisis might follow. As my right hon. Friend gave utterance to his own thoughts on the subject, I could not help feeling that there was a great deal of agreement on the other side of the House, perhaps also on the Front Bench.
The general shape of an agreement which now, I think, is increasingly accepted as feasible in this country and in the United States is that the West's main aim in negotiations must be to achieve greater security of access to West Berlin than it has possessed during the past fifteen years and that, in return for this improvement in the Western situation, the West must be prepared to recognise the present frontier between East Germany and Poland on the Oder-Neisse line and must move some way at least towards de facto recognition of the East German Government.
For myself, I very heartily welcome the degree of agreement which now exists in the West on negotiations which would broadly cover these matters, and I do not criticise the Government at all for their reticence on details. Obviously, it 179 will be a very difficult and delicate matter to negotiate a concrete agreement along these lines and to balance a given degree of security for Western access to Berlin against a given degree of recognition by the West of the East German Government. But during yesterday's debate I felt that in some parts of the House there was not sufficient recognition that, although a settlement of the Berlin crisis along these line would represent a great improvement in the existing situation, it would still leave the situation in Berlin and Central Europe highly unsatisfactory.
In the first place, so long as West Berlin remains, as we believe it must, an island of freedom inside a Communist State, and so long as the area where this anomaly exists remains a major battlefield in the cold war, any settlement we reach on the Berlin situation by itself is bound to be unstable. The Western position is bound to remain vulnerable. There will be the danger of new crises any time the Soviet Government care to manufacture them, the danger that the Soviet Government may be tempted once again, as they have so often been in the past, to exploit the vulnerability of the Western position in Berlin. This, however, ever, is not the only reason why a settlement along these lines restricted to the Berlin problem itself is not likely to be fully satisfactory.
It has now become clear, since details of American and British thinking on the Berlin crisis have leaked out, that the sort of concessions which the West envisages in order to reach such a settlement will come as a tremendous shock to public opinion in West Germany—public opinion which has been nourished for years on illusions about the Central European situation deliberately fostered by its own Government and by allied Governments.
§ Mr. Healey
No, never by me. Many will regard as a betrayal any change in the Western situation on this issue. We have already seen reactions which some of us would regard as hysterical both in Western Germany and, sometimes, outside. I think that many of us were impressed by an article written by Sebastian Haffner who resigned from the 180 Observer because he disagreed with its policy on the Berlin issue and who expressed his view in a recent number of Encounter.
There is a danger that, if German public opinion is allowed to drift in the direction in which it is at the moment tending to drift, Russia may exploit a settlement on Berlin in order to split Western Germany from the Western Alliance. If she succeeded in such an attempt, she would gain far more than she would stand to gain even by wiping out West Berlin itself as an independent city. I believe, as I have said, that official Western policy over the last ten years is largely responsible for this danger, because the Western Governments and the Adenauer Government in Germany have been telling the German people that membership of N.A.T.O. would give them, not only security, which I believe it does and without which at the present time they could not have security, but also reunification; that in some unexplained way the steady piling up of military strength in the West would roll back the Soviet empire at least from Eastern Germany and would liberate the people living in the German Democratic Republic.
The Western Governments have also been at fault in refusing to admit in their speeches in public what they know and admit in their acts in private, namely, that Eastern Germany is in fact run by the régime in Pankow. We therefore have the extraordinary situation that, although privately even the Government in Bonn maintains continuous daily administrative contacts, for various purposes, with the régime in Eastern Germany, any Western move towards what is called de facto recognition of the existence of the East German Government is seen as a symbolic moral humiliation and something quite intolerable for German opinion to bear. I believe that the West should never have allowed itself to drift into such a false position. We in this country, at any rate, avoided drifting into this position on Communist China. We should never have drifted into it in the case of Eastern Germany.
I confess that I cannot blame the average German if he is shocked when those who conspired to implant these illusions, say "Wake up; be realistic. We never believed it, anyway. Why on earth did you?". There has been a 181 great deal of that spirit in much of the advice which has been given to the Germans, particularly in some of the British newspapers, both Left and Right, over the last few months. I think that the tone of much of British Press comments on the Berlin crisis in recent months must have seemed to many honest, decent, democratic Germans to be quite unforgivable.
I do not think that the situation has been in any way improved by the way in which Government Ministers have handled it. After all, for Germans and, I think, for anyone who cares for human freedom, the closing of the frontier between East and West Berlin on 13th August was one of the most monstrously inhuman acts carried out by any Government in the last fifteen years. There is no doubt that public opinion in Western Germany was stunned by this act and was equally stunned by the failure of the allied Governments to do anything about it.
This was an extremely difficult and dangerous situation. What happened? As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition reminded us yesterday, we had the incredible performance a week later by the Prime Minister on the Gleneagles golf course, a display of flabby and fatuous complacency which took us straight back to Neville Chamberlain, who, I gather, is shortly to be rehabilitated and put again in the Tory canon of saints by the new Chairman of the Conservative Party and Leader of the House. I do not think that the Foreign Secretary did anything effective to repair this damage by trying instead to imitate the late Mr. Foster Dulles and striking heroic postures of defiance to Communism, totally at variance with what I believe is his policy on Berlin.
We must offer the Germans—indeed, we must offer our own people—something more than this. We must recognise that the type of agreement which we hope to reach on Berlin will create a tremendous vacuum in German opinion by the shattering of many old illusions. I think that all of us welcome the evidence of a new flexibility in German thinking. For myself, I strongly welcomed the fact that two parties which campaigned in the last General Election on a more flexible policy about security in Europe and German reunification 182 received a majority of the votes. But this new flexibility and realism in German thinking will soon wither or turn sour unless Germany's allies can offer her some better prospect than that of continuous repeated crises over Berlin. It is not enough for us now to stand pat on the status quo because, first, it is not satisfactory to the West, and, secondly, the status quo is not in fact static. It is changing all the time, and it may change to our disadvantage. For this reason, the West must use the Berlin crisis as a catalyst to achieve a much wider settlement in Germany and the whole of Central Europe.
On this issue, there is no excuse for the silence of Her Majesty's Government. I am not asking the Government to reveal the details of their bargaining position in negotiations on Berlin. I am asking them to give us and the world some hope that they see some way to a general settlement of the myriad dangerous problems arising from the division of Europe and of Germany—a prospect more encouraging than that offered by the Prime Minister to his Party's conference last week, namely, a generation of ideological struggle, a generation of cold war. It is time that some Western Power took the initiative in making proposals for a wider settlement in Europe. I believe that this Government have the opportunity and the duty to do this, and I hope that they will do it.
There is no doubt that a final solution of the European problem must depend on the reunification of Germany. History teaches us that we cannot build a stable peace on the division of a great nation against its will. Incidentally, no one knows this better than the Poles. Moreover, the possibility of German reunification will remain alive so long as West Berlin is free. But German reunification can come only by the consent of all concerned. It is now finally revealed that it cannot come by force or by the threat of force. If it is to come by consent, then the political changes involved must not upset the military security of either side. In other words, Germany can be united only if in some sense or other a united Germany is neutral.
§ Mr. Healey
This is the beginning of understanding of the Central European problem. We on this side of the House have pressed this repeatedly over the last five years. The various plans for disengagement which have been put forward by this side of the House, in America. in Poland, and, indeed, from the benches opposite, all involved relating progress towards German reunification with progress towards new security arrangements in Central Europe which would depend on co-operation and not on competition between East and West.
I confess that, like my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, I see little chance of immediate progress on disengagement in the full sense of the word—at least in the near future. It has become clear that neither side is prepared to take the risks involved. Russia does not believe that a democratic Germany would stay neutral and the West does not appear to believe that a neutral Germany could stay democratic. I believe that Russia and the West are both wrong, but certainly this seems at present to be their fixed view.
For this reason, we must start by tackling the security problem on its own. I insist that this does not mean the end of all hope of German reunification, as has been so falsely said time and again in Western Germany. On the contrary, there is no hope whatever of German reunification so long as Germany is the theatre of an uncontrolled arms race between two powerful military alliances. It is equally true, however, and has become very true this year, that neither Russia nor the West can hope to achieve security for themselves by continuing uncontrolled the arms race in Central Europe.
There were some in Britain and in the United States, and in Germany earlier this year, who believed that it might be possible for the West decisively to improve its military posture in Western Europe without the Soviet Union taking compensating action which would wipe out this advantage. We have tried it this year and it has not worked. We have learned to our disappointment that if we try to reinforce our troops in Western Germany, the Russians will reinforce 184 theirs in Eastern Germany, and they will find it much easier to do so than we do on our side.
I believe, however, that Russia is beginning to realise that if the arms race goes on, there will be little chance of keeping atomic weapons indefinitely out of West German hands, even though all of us recognise that this would be a disastrous mistake and might provoke a most dangerous Soviet reaction. Therefore, it seems to me that the situation has arisen in which both sides might be persuaded that it is better to try to stabilise the situation in Central Europe and to achieve security by maintaining the present military balance at the lowest possible level under mutual inspection and control and by keeping atomic weapons out of the area where their immediate use would be inevitable, even in a local conflict.
Ironically, the United States Govern-meat has been trying to do exactly that over the last twelve months by unilateral action. But how much more prospect of success there would be if America sought to do it in agreement with the Soviet Union by bilateral arrangement so that similar steps were taken on both sides of the Iron Curtain. I believe that an agreement along these lines would be tremendously to the advantage of Western Germany no less than to her allies and the Soviet Union. Germany could only gain if her security could be achieved by this type of agreement rather than pursuing the present course, of which we had a graphic example in the exercise "Spearpoint", which has just terminated in Western Germany, in which the directing general said, or is reported as saying—I must add that qualification after what the Minister of Defence told us—that we plan to use atomic weapons the moment a war breaks out.
In fact, the first weapon to be dropped in the exercise was twice as big as the weapon dropped at Hiroshima and it was dropped on a West German city. I cannot imagine that anybody in West Germany can believe much longer that its security is better achieved by pursuing such a course than by seeking agreement with the Soviet Union to limit arms on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
I do not see this as a Western Concession which must be held back until 185 the bargaining on Berlin begins. On the contrary, such an arrangement for arms control in Central Europe would be equally in the interest of both sides, because both would stand a much better prospect of achieving security by co-operation in this area, an area where even the side with local superiority cannot dare to risk using that superiority to make political gains in actual war. I believe that such an arrangement would give West Berlin far greater security so long as it was still a democratic island in the Soviet sea. It would also open possibilities of political negotiation which are bound to remain excluded so long as Central Europe remains the focus of an uncontrolled arms race.
I believe that some such agreement is the only way in the long run of keeping atomic weapons out of the hands of Western Germany. I should like to see it combined with a general agreement against the production of atomic weapons in any part of Europe, which would be one of the most hopeful immediate steps that we could take to stop the spread of atomic weapons. Above all, an agreement on these lines would mean the first real break-through on disarmament.
We have had some talk during these two days about the predicament into which West and East have fallen in the disarmament discussions. We have all welcomed the joint statement of principles agreed between the Soviet and American Governments. We have all welcomed the disarmament plan which was put forward by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and we welcome most heartily the new disarmament plan which was put forward by President Kennedy at the recent session of the United Nations Assembly. If we are honest with ourselves, however, we have to face the fact, as was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and by the Lord Privy Seal yesterday, that agreement upon how control is to be organised is still a stumbling block around which no visible way appears. It seems to me obvious that so long as the Soviet Union is able to maintain its present military secrecy inside its own territory, it will be reluctant to agree to complete inspection until disarmament is also complete.
186 The problem of getting agreement on control is, however, far less likely to be an obstacle to any regional agreement in Central Europe. There are no real military secrets now of any kind, either in Eastern or in Western Europe. Inspection takes place. It takes place by various scientific methods of reconnaissance. It takes place, I dare say, also by the old-fashioned methods of espionage. But I do not think that either side is under any illusion that the other is ignorant of the main sources and location of its military strength and potential, on either side, in Eastern or Western Europe.
To formalise this by introducing publicly inspection teams would not threaten the basic military defence position of either Russia or the United States. Moreover, an agreement of this type in Central Europe would not require the co-operation of Communist China. I dare say that the real reason for the sudden collapse of the disarmament talks this year lies far more in Soviet unwillingness to tackle China on the issue of inspection against atomic tests than on any basic change in the attitude of the Soviet Government itself.
Of all parts of the world, Central Europe is that in which the mutual interest in arms control is greatest and where the sacrifice involved in arms control is smallest. Official proposals have already been made from the Soviet side, notably by the Polish Prime Minister, Mr. Rapacki, some years ago, proposals which were revised repeatedy to take account of Western objections. It is to me one of the most hopeful aspects of Mr. Khrushchev's marathon performance yesterday that he revived that concept of arms control in Central Europe and put it in the forefront of Soviet policy on Berlin. On behalf of Her Majesty's Opposition, I ask that the British Government should show the same courage within N.A.T.O. as the Polish Government have shown within the Warsaw Pact.
The Prime Minister told us and told the world two or three years ago when he came back from his visit to Mr. Khrushchev that he believed that was an idea well worth studying. I believe the time has come when it is an idea well worth fighting for diplomatically in public. I hope most sincerely that when the Prime Minister replies to us this 187 evening, he will at last have something positive and constructive to say to us about this.
Apart from all the other reasons which I have given, I believe that some arrangement between Russia and the West in Central Europe along these lines would be particularly valuable, because it is vital to engage Russia and the United States in co-operation in the world as soon as possible. Unless some co-operation can be started quickly the emergence of other Powers will make agreement between Russia and the United States far less important and valuable than it could be today, and before long the spread of atomic weapons to a large number of other countries might produce a situation which it would be beyond human power to control at all.
I should like to say a word or two about the United Nations. I found it extraordinary that yesterday we had an interesting speech by the Lord Privy Seal which referred at length to the United Nations and we had another from the Foreign Secretary in another place and neither of them spent one second in referring to the tremendous yawning gap in the United Nations created by the continued exclusion of the Chinese Government. I believe that we must take action during the next twelve months to get China into the United Nations.
It has been so often said in the past that if we were to do this we would appear to be acting under duress, but in fact China has made no military move of any kind for many months—indeed, years—now, and I believe—I say this in all seriousness—that there is an infinitely better chance of getting China into the United Nations now and the West will concede far less by granting it now than if we wait—and it may not be long delayed—till China explodes her first atomic bomb. That, I think, is the real deadline which is facing us in the world today. I believe that it is vitally important to try to solve this problem of China's relationship with the world community before she explodes her atomic bomb and so starts a chain reaction throughout the whole of the Far East.
On this, the position of the Government is, frankly, unknown to me. As I said, we have had no information about that in either of the speeches made yes- 188 terday either in this House or the other, and we have had only the most unsatisfactory and partial account of Government policy in previous debates. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will have something positive and concrete to tell us on this issue when he speaks.
But, frankly, the Government's attitude on the United Nations is unsatisfactory not only in relation to the question of admitting Communist China. I must say that I regret that the Foreign Secretary should have spent so much time in his speech yesterday, at a moment when the confidence of the uncommitted countries in our sympathy and good will is perhaps the most important pre-condition to the survival of the United Nations organisation as a whole, in a prolonged attack on the uncommitted countries on the ground that they observed what he called a double standard of judgment in world affairs. [HON. MEMBERS: "Do they not?"] I believe that the uncommitted countries—many of them—are open to criticism on this ground, and indeed on other grounds, on grounds of lack of internal democracy, and many others; but I do not think that in this particular respect they are much better or worse than all the rest of us; and frankly, the criticism of a double standard of judgment in world affairs comes worst of all from this British Government.
How on earth can the Foreign Secretary complain in public in the House of Lords about the reticence of the uncommitted countries on the atomic tests carried out by the Soviet Union when he never said a word himself about the atomic tests carried out by France during the negotiations over the last few years? How on earth can he complain about the silence of the uncommitted countries—some of them—on Hungary when he has himself observed a deafening silence on Angola, on Bizerta, on Algeria?
Against this background I deplore the tendency which seems to me to have been growing in leading Government spokesmen in the last few weeks to pose as crusaders for spiritual values in the struggle against the world's materialists. Frankly, I think this sort of posture striking comes no better from them than it did from Mr. Foster Dulles—especially when the temple of their religion is the bingo parlour and when their first beatitude is "You have never had it so good." [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]
189 This tendency of the Government, to attempt to apply a double standard in United Nations affairs, seems to me to have reached its peak on the Congo. So far as I could understand it from the Lord Privy Seal's speech yesterday and that of the Foreign Secretary in the other place, the basic case against the United Nations action in the Congo, the issue which perturbs them, was whether the United Nations was interfering in the internal affairs of a member State. And yet that was immediately after the Foreign Secretary in so many words at the Conservative Party Conference last week said:I cannot say … that the United Nations should stand aside from any conflict anywhere which might risk involvements in internal politics.No, he went on to say, because if he were to do that in the face of Communist exploitation of internal strifethat would be tantamount to authorising a Communist take-over of one small country after another.Really, the Government cannot have it both ways. If it is all right to intervene in internal affairs to prevent a Communist take-over then it is all right to interfere in internal affairs to prevent a capitalist take-over. [Interruption.] I would hope that the Government and hon. Gentlemen opposite would themselves be concerned at the almost unanimous condemnation of their policy in Africa and Asia, and in all the African and Asian countries in the Commonwealth, not only in Egypt but also in India, not only from Mr. Nkrumah—
§ Mr. Healey
—and also from Mr. Nyerere. The hon. Gentleman shows very little understanding about where the true interest of this country lies.
Indeed, the suspicion and mistrust of the Government's policy has reached the point where some individuals made the grotesque accusation that Britain was in some way involved in complicity in the death of Mr. Hammarskjold, an accusation which all of us on this side of the House would reject with scorn, but the Government must worry that their standing in these parts of the world has reached the point at which this type of accusation can be widely made and 190 widely believed, and I think the Government owe it to themselves and to the country to clear up some of the dark corners in the Congo business in a way which the Lord Privy Seal failed to do yesterday.
He concentrated mainly on the events of 13th September. I think we can be agreed that, whatever else may be said about the United Nations action on 13th September, a gross miscalculation was made by those responsible, a miscalculation whose consequences, I regret to say, have done the United Nations grave harm. I believe that some of the remarks attributed to Mr. O'Brien, if they were true, would imply an unjustified stretching of the mandate under which he was operating, and I am glad that they have since been denied, though I regret that Mr. Khiari has appeared to give colour to these statements by some of his remarks two days ago.
I appeal sincerely to the Government to clear the matter up, because none of us on this side or anybody on the other side of the House, outside the Foreign Office, really yet knows the facts. I ask the Government to clear up not what happened on 13th September but on 28th August and the days immediately following, because the key to the tragedy of the United Nations in the Congo was the failure of the United Nations forces to carry through to completion the measures for the expulsion of the white mercenaries which they began on 28th August.
Everybody who has studied the United Nations debates on this question and everybody who has followed what has happened in the Congo itself will agree that the presence in Katanga of large numbers of Belgian officers and of white soldiers of fortune from many parts of the world who gloried in the description of les affreux—the horrible ones—has been the greatest obstacle to United Nations success right through from the time when the operation began. There have been repeated resolutions for their removal, starting in July, 1960, and the strongest being the resolution by the Security Council on 21st February this year. It is astonishing that in August of this year, six months after the resolution of 21st February, there were still, according to the Belgian Government, nearly 191 400 white military and para-military personnel in Katanga in defiance of resolutions for which we and the Belgian Government had voted.
I confess that what I am about to say now is based on newspaper reports by United Nations officials and if the Government can correct my account I shall be only too grateful. As far as I have been able to discover, when United Nations forces moved into Elisabethville on 28th August they succeeded in clearing out nearly 200 of these white mercenaries without one shot being fired. What appears to have happened is that, immediately, United Nations officials in Katanga came under tremendous pressure from Western consuls in Elisabethville to stop this operation. They finally bowed to this pressure and agreed to leave the Belgian consul responsible for the withdrawal of the remaining white personnel. The Belgian consul failed. There were at least 104 white personnel left in Katanga on the terminal date of 9th September. Violent threats to United Nations security began to develop and there followed on 13th September the tragedy with which we are all familiar.
Did the United Kingdom consul in Elisabethville intervene directly on the spot on 28th August with the responsible officials of the United Nations? If so, why? The expulsion of these white mercenaries was strictly according to a mandate given at the United Nations in repeated resolutions and debates. No violence had been used up to that time. If Her Majesty's Government disagreed with what had been done, why did they not raise the matter in the Security Council and get another clear mandate?
They have no right to take the law into their own hands, which, according to my information, they did. After all, the United Kingdom itself, and the Foreign Secretary in his speech in another place yesterday, gave particular importance to Article 100 of the Charter which reads:Each Member of the United Nations undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities.Were not Her Majesty's Government seeking to influence them in the discharge of their responsibilities in Katanga on 28th or 29th August? If so, why? It seems to me, in the light 192 of this and in the light of the Lansdowne mission later and of the odd episode of the delay of transit facilities to the Ethiopian planes at the time when United Nations forces were under attack by the Fouga fighter, that there is all too much excuse for the very widespread belief that the United Kingdom representative intervened to prevent the expulsion of mercenaries, and that his intervention led directly to the catastrophe of 13th September; and no one can be blamed for speculating on the reasons for this intervention. I hope that the Minister of State can clear the matter up and say something about the attitude of Her Majesty's Government now to the removal of the remaining white mercenaries in Katanga, because this remains, as it was right at the beginning, the key to the solution of the Congo situation.
I do not believe that it is possible or desirable for the United Nations to impose a settlement in the Congo by force, but if the West wishes to prevent intervention from abroad by Communist Powers it is essential that its own conduct should be above suspicion and that there should be no excuse whatever for the suspicion that it is in some way conniving to permit continued intervention by white gunmen of behalf of vested economic interests.
It is a real tragedy that suspicion about Britain should now be so widespread—suspicion, let us admit, which has been nourished by British conduct on so many other issues, like Angola, and so on. It seems to me so tragically unnecessary that we should put ourselves at this time in the position of defending the remnants of white colonialism in the world when our own record is so superb in this respect with the liberation of 600 million people behind us. I appeal to Her Majesty's Government to rid themselves of this guilty compulsion to defend a colonialism which they themselves in the main have abandoned, and to allow Britain to stand out in the Continents of Africa and Asia on its own good record as the generous champion of freedom for all the peoples of the world.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)
I shall endeavour to deal with a number of points which have been raised so far 193 during the debate. I should like to say straight away to the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) that his speech fell a long way behind that of his own leader yesterday. He was pedantic and obscure on Berlin. He was damaging and untrue on the Congo, and that I shall seek to show in the course of my remarks. On Berlin, I do not propose to follow up the debate because my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be planning to deal with that when he winds up.
It is, of course, difficult in a debate of this nature, as a number of hon. Members have said, to get a cohesive debate because of the wide variation in the topics which fall to be discussed. I could not but be favourably impressed, if he will forgive my saying so, by the speech of the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) yesterday. It was a speech which we found most interesting indeed. I hope that that does not embarrass him too much. I hope to deal with a number of topics which have arisen and I will take up certain of the points made by the hon. Member for Leeds, East.
I should like to come first to one or two of the matters which have been in the forefront of my mind in recent weeks, as I have only just returned from the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. Perhaps I could refer again to the question of the Secretary-Generalship, particularly in the light of the article which appeared in The Times this morning and a good deal of comment in the debate yesterday. If I could make the position exactly clear in regard to the present state of affairs, it might help hon. Members to appreciate it.
Article 97 of the Charter provides for the election of a Secretary-General by the General Assembly on the recommendation of the Security Council. But it assumes that a Secretary-General would be in office until his successor had been elected. There is no provision for the appointment of an interim Secretary-General to avoid the paralysis of the organisation by a long interregnum while the Security Council considers its recommendation when a Secretary-General dies in office. There is, however, general agreement among a large majority of members at the present time 194 that there is nothing in the Charter to prevent the Assembly itself appointing an acting Secretary-General in these circumstances, although, obviously, in these circumstances the majority would have to be very large to give him sufficient moral support and authority.
My right hon. Friend referred yesterday to the discussions which have been going on behind the scenes and from which has emerged the proposal of one Secretary-General. It appears that U Thant is the most likely choice and that he will be supported by a number of Deputy-Secretaries. I met U Thant recently and was very favourably impressed by his capabilities.
One attraction in this proposal is that it follows to some extent the plan which Mr. Hammarskjold himself put forward for amendment of the Secretariat to take account of the large increase in the number of member States. It is important, however, if an agreement is to be reached on this basis, that certain points must be absolutely clear. The Deputy-Secretaries would be consulted by the Secretary-General himself on a geographical basis and would be responsible for advising him on political matters individually at his request. I emphasise those words. It is very important that there should be no question of the Deputy-Secretaries being in a position in any way to impart a power of veto, and, accordingly, any undertakings which the new Secretary-General may give in taking up his appointment should make this clear.
As to the exact number of these Deputy-Secretaries, this has been a matter of discussion during the last few days, and it is still not finally resolved. Mr. Hammarskjold's own plan called for five, and this number would seem to give the opportunity of providing an adequate representation. The important thing, however, is that it shall be clear that they represent geographical rather than either political or ideological groupings.
In this connection, I think that, possibly, some misunderstanding could have arisen from the reference by Mr. Adlai Stevenson at the weekend to these Under-Secretaries constituting a cabinet. He was not referring to a cabinet in the British sense of the word in any way. The intention is that they should be a 195 body of individuals available for consultation either individually or, of course, collectively if the Secretary-General himself wished.
I want to make it clear that our wish all along has been that we should appoint a Secretary-General rapidly, and we would certainly prefer that any additional arrangements should be entirely a matter for him to discuss after his appointment. We have to recognise, however, that there are a large number of countries which are very anxious that this appointment should take place, if possible, on some basis of common ground. It is, of course, also true that anyone who took over the Secretary-Generalship against the declared objection of one group of countries would be taking on this very onerous job under most unfavourable conditions. If, therefore, we can find a position whereby his essential independence is maintained and his ability to act and to control the Secretariat is not impaired, then it is our duty to make the efforts that we have been making—very real efforts—to help him to establish himself in the most favourable climate possible.
These difficulties which have arisen in regard to the appointment of a replacement for Mr. Hammarskjold highlight the very serious problems which confront the United Nations at the present time. There are those, of course, who say that the United Nations is a liability and that we should cease to play an active part in its operations. I believe that is a very mistaken view. Of course, the United Nations has imperfections, and, of course, there are times when we do not find ourselves in agreement with its actions, but I believe that it is significant that the Soviet bloc have tried consistently to wreck or to damage the organisation because they see in it a body which can obstruct their designs for world domination and their attempts to stir up trouble in countries outside their orbit. It can be an element in safeguarding the security of the smaller and the uncommitted nations, and it is our duty to help it so far as we can in this field. Moreover, if we and the other Western nations were to withdraw our support from the United Nations, we should not only be abdicating our duty but handing it over to become merely a sounding board for Communist propaganda and intrigue.
196 If it is to continue to function effectively, however, the very large number of small uncommitted countries must accept a full sense of responsibility towards it. The hon. Member for Leeds, East drew attention to what my noble Friend had said in another place, and also to what he had said in the United Nations, about the dangers of double standards. I will come to the hon. Gentleman's own double standards a little later on. I think that it was perfectly fair that my noble Friend should make this point, because it is all too often clear that there are occasions again and again when it is the West which is looked to to make concessions because of the feeling that it is no good asking the Communists to give way. That is a d. dangerous state of mind to get into, and it is really prevalent; one sees it from day to day in the operations of the United Nations. It is that sort of thing about which my noble Friend was speaking. He was not attacking these nations; he was calling their attention, in their own interests, to the fact that if they want to see the United Nations function properly they must adopt a fair standard That is all that he was seeking to do.
In spite of all the difficulties that I have mentioned, we must not forget that the United Nations occupies a central position in the eyes of very many of the new countries. We may at times become very impatient with the attitudes that it adopts and with its apparent unreasonableness, but I believe that we can yet see the United Nations provide a steadying and guiding influence on many of these new countries, which desire advice but do not wish to be committed to either of the Great Power blocs. This must be in the interest of world peace, and it must be right that it should receive our support.
I should now like to turn for a moment to the Congo. My right hon. Friend yesterday went through the course of events with great care, and I do not propose to go over all that ground again. My right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan), however, raised a serious point about our late ambassador to Leopoldville, and I should like to give him a categoric answer. Mr. Scott was certainly not transferred from Leopoldville because he had forfeited the confidence of Her Majesty's Government. I should like 197 to pay tribute to the outstanding way in which he performed his duties at this difficult post. Neither did he forfeit the confidence of the Congolese. Nor is there a vestige of truth in the suggestion that our ambassador in any way obstructed the working of the United Nations. or, indeed, that the United Nations ever suggested that he should be replaced—never. The fact is that Mr. Scott had completed his first tour at this exceptionally arduous post and had himself asked if he might be considered for transfer. His appointment as ambassador in Khartoum is ample evidence of the Government's high regard for his services.
§ Sir John Vaughan-Morgan (Reigate)
I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for his remarks, which I think he will agree are a complete refutation of the statement made on 19th September by Mr. Nehru.
§ Mr. Godber
Yes, Sir. As I say, I am only too glad to have this opportunity of giving an emphatic denial to any statements to the contrary from whatever source they may have come.
§ Mr. Tom Driberg (Barking)
While I join in the hon. Gentleman's tribute to Mr. Scott personally, may I ask him whether he is aware of a letter that I received from the Lord Privy Seal in which the Lord Privy Seal expressed the opinion that it was perfectly proper for Mr. Scott to have intervened to make propaganda against Mr. Dayal when he was in the Congo?
§ Mr. Godber
My right hon. Friend has told me emphatically that he did not make such a statement. Of course, it is proper for our ambassador to make representations, but certainly not to indulge in propaganda such as the hon. Member suggests.
§ Mr. Godber
There is a very big differance, as the hon. Member should know.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition yesterday asked about the agreement between the 198 United Nations and Mr. Tshombe on the withdrawal of mercenaries. That point was touched on also by the hon. Member for Leeds, East. The agreement signed in Elisabethville on 13th October makes provision not only for the exchange of prisoners—and I am afraid that I have still no confirmation that this has taken place—but also for joint teams to investigate alleged breaches of the cease-fire, for the return to the status quo of 12th September, for the free use of airfields, radio installations and so on. But mercenaries are not mentioned in that agreement. As far as they are concerned, the first point is that the resolution of 21st February is still in force.
Mr. Tshombe says that all mercenaries have been discharged from his forces and that he has invited the United Nations to arrange for their removal from Katanga. This the United Nations appears to accept.
§ Mr. Hugh Gaitskell (Leeds, South)
Is that a statement made by Mr. Tshombe in the last few days after agreement with the United Nations, or is it something which he said some time ago?
§ Mr. Godber
As far as I can recall, it is something that he said very recently. I have not the details of the occasion when he said it, but I am assured that that is the position.
The hon. Member for Leeds, East, in his reference to the Congo, talked a great deal about what happened on 28th August and immediately following. He informed us that the operation on 28th August led to the clearing out of nearly 200 mercenaries, and then he went on to claim that there had been pressure from Western consuls, who had interfered to prevent further operations of this nature. This was the damaging part of the hon. Gentleman's statement, and I should like to make a clear and emphatic denial.
Her Majesty's consul has never made representations of that sort. We did not seek in any way to prevent this operation from going on. Indeed, the operation of 13th September, as we understand it, was merely to carry on the completion of the task of getting rid of the mercenaries, which had started the previous day.
§ Mr. Healey
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether it is the case that at some stage the United Nations authorities in Katanga agreed to transfer responsibility for removing these men to the Belgian consul? If that is the case, how did it arise?
§ Mr. Godber
I am not informed on that point. It relates to the United Nations and to the Belgian consul, and I have no information about it. I have given the House the information as far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned. The position is as I have stated it. I am glad that what the hon. Member said in his speech gave me the opportunity to make an emphatic denial in this matter.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) dealt fully with Katanga and reminded us of many of the problems that have been thrown up by recent events there. I agree with him that, of course, we have the right to give our views freely. Certainly we have more right than the Russians, whose criticisms of the United Nations' actions appear in today's newspapers. If they would contribute their share of the cost of the operations in the Congo they might be more entitled to be heard. As to the quotations from Mr. O'Brien, my right hon. Friend said yesterday that Dr. Bunche had already assured me in New York that these had been denied. Here, however, I must interpolate my regret at the extravagant language used by my hon. Friend the Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) at one stage in regard to Mr. O'Brien.
As to Sir Roy Welensky, I should like to pay tribute to what he has done in seeking to prevent, so far as is humanly possible, the frontier of Northern Rhodesia being used in any way by mercenaries and others. In addition, I would pay tribute to what he is doing to try to bring Mr. Tshombe and Mr. Adoula together. Quite scandalous accusations of Rhodesian interference have been circulating, mostly in the form of rumours at the United Nations. Many times I have asked for confirmation of these rumours, but this was never forthcoming. Such rumours do much harm and are grossly unfair, particularly in regard to the death of Mr. Hammarskjold. Some of the state- 200 ments that have been made are shameful.
I would merely say that our position in Katanga is still as it has been most clearly stated by my right hon. Friend. We do not support, and have never supported, the secession of Katanga from the Congo. We want to see a peaceful and united Congo with Katanga playing its full part in that body.
Now I turn to the sombre question of nuclear tests, which has occupied a number of speeches at considerable length during the debate so far. When we last debated this matter, we were still endeavouring, in every possible way, to bring to a successful conclusion the conference at Geneva. Agreement had been reached on so much—so little remained.
Perhaps I can remind the House of the position reached by March last. Agreement had been reached on a control commission to be made up of representatives of Western, Communist and uncommitted nations; we had agreed on a single administrator to serve the Commission with five deputies. We had agreed on permanent control posts, manned by international staff, to operate the detection system. We had agreed on inspection visits by teams of experts to small areas where seismic instruments indicated that a suspicious event may have taken place. There was an agreed text for about two-thirds of a treaty on those lines, to consist of 24 articles and three annexes.
At that time, the Western Powers agreed to Soviet demands for equal Communist representation on the Commission. The major points of disagreement had resolved themselves simply into the size of the quota on annual inspections, the composition of the inspection teams and control posts, and the nationality of their heads. In March, however, the Russians sought to go back on the agreement on a single administrator, wishing to replace him by a troika.
In April, we and the Americans tabled a complete draft treaty. Discussions continued during the summer. At the end of August my predecessor and his chief United States colleague returned to Geneva with still further concessions to the Russian view.
201 The Russians, however, could conceal their real intentions no longer. On 31st August they announced their intention to resume tests. On the 1st September, their first test took place. During the succeeding six weeks, tests have continued with growing intensity. Already there have been at least a score, and we learnt from Mr. Khrushchev yesterday that the tests will continue to the end of this month, concluding with one of 50 megatons. The atmosphere has already been polluted at a faster rate than ever before. If they carry out this plan, then that process will be even further accelerated.
Last night, the United States Government made an appeal to the Russians not to carry out further tests. I was glad to hear what the hon. Member for Leeds, East had to say about that. The United States Government's statement was published today, and I call attention to the last paragraph:We believe the peoples throughout the world will join us in asking the Soviet Union not to proceed with a test which can serve no legitimate purpose and which adds a mass of additional radio-active fall-out to that which has been unleashed in recent weeks.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
Have Her Majesty's Government considered tabling a resolution in the General Assembly, to the same effect as the purport of the proposal by the United States Government, calling on the Soviet Government not to carry out this test?
§ Mr. Godber
I am not certain about that. The statement was made only yesterday. I can give no further information at present, but in our discussions last week we were pressing, in resolutions which we have tabled, for the resumption of the talks which were proceeding at Geneva. But I most warmly welcome the appeal which the Americans have made in this form, and I will certainly consider what the right hon. and learned Gentleman has said.
The Government entirely accept the suggestion, made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, that we must have a reassessment of the fallout position since the Soviet resumption of tests in the atmosphere, and that the results of this reassessment must be made public. They have already asked the Medical Research Council to 202 review the position. That is now being done and a statement on the results of this review will, I hope, be made before Parliament is prorogued.
Several speakers have referred to the French tests and the Russian use of those tests as an excuse for their action. The Leader of the Opposition yesterday very rightly poured scorn on that argument. This is where I take up with the hon. Member for Leeds, East the question of double standards. While his right hon. Friend was quite emphatic on the little part which those tests have played, in his speech the hon. Member appeared to be saying that we should have been as indignant about the French tests as about these latest Russian tests. He seemed to be taking the line which some of those countries we have been discussing have taken who apply double standards and who are only too ready to take this line, that one can blame the French as much as the Russians for these tests. That is quite unrealistic.
§ Mr. Healey
I think that, on reflection, the hon. Gentleman will realise that that is a ludicrous travesty of my position. Nobody has attacked the Russian resumption of tests more than I, nor more attacked their argument that they were justified by the French tests. I was saying that it was not for the British Government, who preserved a deafening silence over repeated French tests in the Sahara, to which African countries objected, to complain when the African countries maintained the same double standard in judging the Soviet tests. If the Minister of State has an answer to that contradiction, I will be interested to hear it.
§ Mr. Godber
The hon. Member is making my point for me when he talks about "repeated French tests", for that is to give the impression that there was a large number of those tests. He knows as well as I do that they were only four in total, compared with the enormous number of Russian tests. It is possible to use the word "repeated", but there is an implication that the hon. Member is seeking to build up the impression that the number was larger than it was. The hon. Member said that we did not do anything about the French tests, but I remind him that at the last session of the United Nations we fully supported a resolution calling for a moratorium to 203 which all States should adhere. We supported it, and, of course, it did not escape our attention that France had been testing at that time. It is perfectly clear and there is no need to pursue that further.
§ Mr. Healey
Will the hon. Gentleman say unequivocally whether Her Majesty's Government condemn the tests carried out by France in the Sahara? That is all we want to hear.
§ Mr. Godber
Why should we in this context? It was quite clear—and the hon. Member knows it perfectly well--that, as compared with the tests about which we were negotiating, these were extremely small tests carried out at that time. We took the view, as the Russians clearly did as well at that time in those discussions, that we wanted to get a firm treaty to which we and the Russians and the Americans could adhere and to which we could ask the French to adhere. That was the right line to take, and it was a perfectly coherent line and it is the line which we have followed in this matter.
As I was saying, the hon. Member gave the impression that he was talking about double standards, and I am glad that he has made it abundantly clear that he does not in any way equate the French tests with the Russian tests. I am glad that he has made that clear, but there have been those who have sought to equate them. It is true, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) reminded us yesterday, that Mr. Gromyko made a lot of play with this in his speech in the General Assembly. I was present and I heard that speech, and I can assure hon. Members that it was a very unconvincing defence of the Russian action. It was quite clear that he was seeking to defend something quite indefensible, and in doing so was clutching at straw, for there is no relation between the French tests and the massive series to which we are now being subjected, and I do not think that anybody thinks that there is.
§ Mr. Godber
I should be glad one day to know the principles of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes).
204 Where do we go from here? I repeat what I said in the United Nations last week—that we are still ready, with our American colleagues, to sign tomorrow the draft treaty which we and the Americans submitted in Geneva. We are ready to go back to Geneva tomorrow and reopen serious and determined negotiations with the Russians to resolve all outstanding points of difference so that we may sign a treaty together—a treaty to which we can all adhere with confidence, knowing that it carries with it effective machinery for inspection and control.
This is what we are ready to do, but I am bound to say that the American Government and ourselves must now think very carefully about our future attitude in the light of Mr. Khrushchev's latest speech and in the light of the Russian tests. Mr. Khrushchev made quite plain in his speech yesterday where he stands.
The Soviet Union for months past has been engaged in secret preparations for the present massive series of tests. These preparations have been free from any risk of detection. They were made while the Soviet delegate was protesting his Government's desire to sign a treaty banning all tests, and they were made in the face of the United Nations resolution, to which the Soviet Union subscribed, urging all Powers not to test.
I must emphasise that the only safeguard in the light of what has happened is a treaty, and our objective must be to achieve such a treaty in the shortest possible time. We are willing to do anything we can to achieve permanent cessation of tests under effective international inspection and control, but anything without those safeguards is utterly meaningless.
From the question of nuclear tests I will now turn to the wider question of disarmament itself. This is a matter on which we have expended much time and effort in recent years in an endeavour to make progress, and it has been mentioned by several hon. Members, in particular by the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) last night.
Our efforts in this field have been beset all along by pitfalls. The House will remember the short-lived discussions in the Ten-Power Disarmament Committee last year. We had held high 205 hopes of progress in that forum. These hopes were dashed by the rigid attitude adopted by the Russians in our talks. Then followed their precipitate departure from the conference table at the very moment when they knew that the West was bringing forward a fresh plan aimed to meet some of their criticism of our earlier proposals. We and our Western partners reported this set-back to our hopes to the Disarmament Commission last year, and the question was placed high on the agenda of last year's General Assembly. But although some valuable ideas were floated in the course of discussion, no real progress was made.
It was generally accepted that the impending change of the United States Administration meant that there could be no substantive negotiation until the new Administration could develop its thoughts on the highly important and complicated matter. The new United States Administration speedily reached agreement with the Russians on holding informal bilateral discussions this summer to seek a common basis for resumed negotiation. We welcomed this agreement as renewing the impetus towards meaningful negotiation which had so sadly spent itself last year.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Prime Ministers produced their most important declaration at their meeting in London in March. This showed a welcome unanimity of view throughout the Commonwealth on this vital subject, and it is the basis of our policy in this matter today. However, I was sorry when the Indian representative, Mr. Khrishna Menon, speaking in the General Assembly debate in the United Nations a fortnight ago, indicated that, while his Government had signed the Commonwealth Declaration, he did not wish to call attention to it because he felt that the Indian point of view was better expressed in the Sixteen-Power Draft Resolution submitted last session. I hope that in spite of this reservation the Indian Government and, indeed, all the other Governments of the Commonwealth will help us in seeking to further the principles so clearly laid down in the Commonwealth Declaration.
The next factor was the publication on 20th September of the joint statement of principles agreed between the United States and the Soviet Union 206 following their discussions which had been going on during the summer. This was a valuable development, but it is important in this context to remember that this agreement was followed by reservations on both sides, as hon. Members have recognised, on one important and particular point, namely, whether verification should be limited to the actual reduction in forces and armaments involved, or whether the level of forces and armaments remaining to each country after any agreed measures had been brought into force should be open to verification.
All disarmament plans, including those put forward by the Soviet Union, provide for agreed levels at each stage of disarmament. In order to ensure that these levels are not exceeded, it is essential that verification should relate not only to the process of reduction, but also to the levels of forces and armaments maintained thereafter and to the facilities for producing those armaments. The Russians, however, want to limit inspection to the actual reductions carried out. This would mean that the West would have to take on trust the figures given by the Russians for the levels of their forces and armaments before and after disarmament, and this we simply are not prepared to do. We are sure that means can be found to avoid the constantly reiterated Russians protest that any such verification of levels would amount to espionage.
This, then, is the position which has now been reached. There are elements of agreement on which it may be possible to build. No decision has as yet been reached on the forum in which further multilateral discussions should be envisaged. The American Government have put forward certain suggestions in this field, and no doubt it will be a matter which will be engaging the attention of this session of the General Assembly. We are ready and anxious to play our full part in any new series of disarmament negotiations. We are ready to negotiate in any effective forum.
Mr. Khrushchev has, of course, been saying repeatedly that he is ready to accept any controls that the Western Powers want, provided that they accept his plan for general and complete disarmament. This apparently magnanimous offer is not quite as good as it 207 sounds. We are, of course, perfectly willing to discuss his plan, but I fear that it is certainly not one that we could accept out of hand. Indeed, it would appear from it that the West would be placed at a serious military disadvantage at certain stages of the development of that plan.
We are ready to discuss this plan, but we would ask Mr. Khrushchev, too, to discuss the new American draft plan which President Kennedy announced in his speech to the United Nations last month. This is a comprehensive new plan designed to take account of many of the problems which have emerged during previous disarmament discussions. We have, of course, been closely consulted during the whole of the drafting of this plan, as indeed have other N.A.T.O. countries, and it has our full support. I believe that it provides a basis on which discussion can fruitfully go forward towards a real and effective agreement on disarmament which would be fair to all concerned. This is a valuable new initiative, and I believe that it deserves the close study of all concerned.
The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton last night was not quite so enthusiastic about it. He felt that it did not go far enough in Stage 1, particularly on the question of the level of forces. It is true that these levels are somewhat higher than had been suggested previously, but I think that this must be looked at in the light of present-day circumstances and the known level of forces. In the Soviet Union, for instance, where the forces are known to be well in excess of 3 million, a big reduction is called for.
There is also in Stage 1 this time more meat in the section relating to nuclear devices and nuclear delivery vehicles. These are useful things, and it provides a basis on which we could or could hope to get some sense of understanding and responsibility on both sides before going on to Stage 2. I think that that is the important thing here, and it is something which deserves support because it is realistic in its approach to this difficult matter.
It is our hope that agreement can speedily be reached on a forum in which fruitful and effective multilateral discussions can proceed on these matters. 208 This is a matter on which the Americans have made certain proposals in regard to a forum. We are ready to take part in any agreed forum. We believe that the ten-Power body could well meet again. We are willing to see it meet with additions, and we would be anxious to co-operate in any way where there was general agreement.
We all proclaim the need for general and complete disarmament, but no subject touches the security of nations more intimately than disarmament. In assessing immediate prospects in this field, it would be unrealistic not to take account of the present climate of international affairs. The Berlin crisis and the Russian resumption of atmospheric nuclear tests are but two of the factors which make it difficult to envisage at this moment a favourable climate for disarmament discussions. We should not, however, relax our efforts to get started on the road towards disarmament, and Her Majesty's Government will do all in their power towards this end.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
The Minister has rightly spoken of the great importance of the agreement made by Mr. McCloy and Mr. Zorin about the principles of a disarmament treaty leading to general and complete disarmament within a measurable time. The Minister also spoke of the difficulties which arise on both sides about inspection in the early stages. Are the Government asking their advisers to prepare a technical solution to this difficulty —no doubt there are technical solutions —and are they going to put it forward as a contribution to the talks at a very early stage?
§ Mr. Godber
We are willing to take such steps. We have made suggestions in this field in the past, but we have to try to make some progress and get something established, if only a forum, before there is any value in putting forward further suggestions.
We have a basis in these new documents and this agreement to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, but for heaven's sake let us see that we get something established before we seek to start any other initiative, even though, as the right hon. Gentleman implied, this could be the corollary to the other.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
We have many times set up new bodies. They have gone into discussions, and shortly after have said, "We want inspection. You do not". Each side repeats that formula. It would be disastrous if that happened again. Will Her Majesty's Government make a contribution on this point?
§ Mr. Godber
I will look at this again, but, in the light of our discussions in all these fields, including nuclear tests, it seems to me that we have already gone into this exhaustively.
§ 4.28 p.m.
§ Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)
I am sorry that the Prime Minister has an important engagement and has left the Chamber. I wanted to say to him that when he was engaged on his reshuffle he might have anticipated the performance of the hon. Gentleman the Minister of State. I hope that the reshuffle has not been completed. To stand at that Box and read an essay, not very well delivered, and certainly not very well prepared, with hardly a constructive item in it, is unworthy of the Government and unworthy of the hon. Gentleman, and is not doing justice to the House.
Some time ago some of us considered the advisability of asking the leaders of our party to approach the Prime Minister with a view to the recall of Parliament. What we had in mind was not so much a debate, although that was inevitable, but the putting forward of some constructive and fruitful proposals to deal with what some of us regard as the focal point of danger, namely, the Berlin crisis.
I agree that reference must be made to the problem of the Congo and Katanga and the deplorable decision of Mr. Khrushchev and the Soviet Government to resume tests on a vast scale, but we have to consider the immediate situation and try to get to grips with it, and, if possible, arrive at a partial solution—I will not say a complete solution—from which it may be possible to pave the way towards further negotiations and possibly partial disarmament. More than that one cannot expect at the present stage.
I want to dismiss at once some of the noble sentiments—not that I disagree with them; far from it—about total disarmament and world government, which 210 have been referred to in the course of this debate. They are fine, elevating and lofty sentiments, and there is not a single hon. Member in the House on either side who would disagree with the need for an approach to aims of that sort.
We are also in agreement that nobody wants war and that everybody wants peace. Of course, that is true, but these are becoming platitudinous statements. To my mind, it is far more desirable to deal with something that is concrete, something we can get our teeth into. I know that we cannot get our teeth into concrete, but I may be excused the metaphor, I think that my purpose is well understood.
It seems to me that what we are forgetting in the consideration of this problem of the Berlin crisis is that the essence of a partial solution—I shall not say a complete solution—is the acceptance of compromise. There has to be give and there has to be take, and that applies to both sides; otherwise, there can be no solution. The danger will become more acute, and that must be obvious to everyone.
I am bound to say that I have not heard a single word from the benches opposite, certainly not from the Ministers who have spoken on behalf of the Government, which indicates any acceptance of a compromise position. On the contrary,they stand firm and intransigent on previous declarations; but all that gets us nowhere. It is the status quo, "stand up for our rights" and a variety of other clichés and declarations. There is no possibility of a settlement emerging from that attitude.
To fortify what I have just said, perhaps I may quote, much as I dislike quoting, from the speech of the Lord Privy Seal yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman made the Government's position clear. He said:But Mr. Khrushchev must also recognise that certain facts of life exist for the West, also.We accept that, of course. There is no argument about it. He went on: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 211 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.Then, he went on, in a further passage, to say:This much can be said; if Mr. Khrushchev 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th October, 1960; Vol. 646, cc. 27–30.]That is all very well; that is the status quo. There is no indication of compromise there whatever. I repeat that the very essence of a partial solution is that we must get away from the status quo. I do not disagree for one moment with the concept of freedom for the people of West Berlin, but it has occurred to me, and this might be a malicious, mischievous or impish thought, that if the people of West Berlin want freedom, perhaps they ought to fight for it, instead of expecting other people to do the fighting for them. I am prepared to throw that into the pool of discussion, because if anybody stands in the way of a partial solution through compromise it is those in authority in the Federal Government. If anybody wants evidence of that, let me quote what Herr Strauss said. I rely on facts, not on my imagination.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I refer to it because my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, when speaking yesterday, brushed it aside by indicating that, of course, the West Germans had not yet formed a Government, and that there are good people there. There are good Germans, just as there are good Britishers, and bad Germans, just as there are Britishers who are not quite the "cat's whiskers". Let us face the facts on the basis of what is said by those in authority in the Federal Government at present, who are likely to be in authority when the new Government is formed.
I quote from a report in The Times of a speech by Herr Strauss, the West German Defence Minister. I read it because it is so important and so pregnant with potentialities of the most sombre character that I think the House ought to hear it. He said: 212The valid N.A.T.O. concept, and the plans deriving from it which are in the process of being worked out, allow it to be said unreservedly that no responsible Government authority of our allies is thinking of reducing the military deterrent in Central Europe. The elimination of nuclear weapons from the military forces which constitute the Western shield in Central Europe would mean nothing else than their weakening on the European periphery through a 90 per cent. reduction in their fire power. It would also not be compensated for by any corresponding reduction on the other side of the Iron Curtain, since the Soviet Union would retain the possibility, by contrast with the West, of re-equipping this so-called atom-free zone with nuclear weapons at any time, and of resuming its policy of atomic blackmail with more prospect of success than hitherto.That is Herr Strauss. What is the implication? He is having nothing to do with any disengagement, and nothing to do with any atom-free zone. By no means. If anybody on this side of the House, whether on the front or the back benches, who is under the delusion that Herr Strauss and his colleagues are likely to be driven off their present course, he makes a vast mistake.
But Herr Strauss is not the only one. There is the Foreign Minister, Herr von Brentano, who made a declaration of the intentions and aspirations of the Federal Government. What does he say? He was referring to the statement by the Foreign Secretary, Lord Home, and he went on to say that that statement showed that Britain intends to stand by her undertakings. He then went on to outline the German standpoint, which the United Kingdom Government have endorsed hook, line and sinker. He outlined the German standpoint in the East-West negotiations on Berlin, and said that the de facto recognition of the East German régime by the Federal Republic was out of the question, since this would mean de jure recognition.
Herr Strauss also said:All negotiations about a European security zone must be bound up with the solution of political issues. The question of security could not be settled on the basis of the division of Germany.He went on to say:The creation of a denuclearised or demilitarised zone in Europe should not be carried out at the expense of any one partner in the Western Alliance. Tension would not be eased by being prepared to acknowledge military supervision within a limited area. Any contact with East Germany, with the ultimate aim of a confederation of two German States, must be rejected with a clear 'No'. It would be the most mistaken way the West could tread.213 What intransigence! I am not objecting to their point of view, speaking from their own angle. I am concerned with the solution of this vexed problem in Central Europe. But that is the German angle, and there is not the slightest doubt that they are encouraged by the Americans.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that these are only spokesmen for the military, and that what he has been referring to is not the German point of view but the German military point of view?
§ Mr. Shinwell
It may be the German military point of view or the view of those in authority in Germany, civil or military It is not for me to say more except to quote from that declaration. I also say that the Germans are being encouraged in this attitude by the American State Department, and as for encouragement from the United Kingdom Government, I will let that pass.
That is the position, so that any question of compromise on the essential prerequisites of a partial solution is Jut of the question. We should take note of that fact. But we must find some way out, and I want to address myself to that problem. I was staggered, yesterday, to hear some hon. Members talking very big about war. They talked about, "Negotiations, but no surrender. None of that for us." Some said, "It is no use saying that at whatever cost we shall not have any war; and we must be prepared for sacrifices."
Perhaps I may quote somebody else on this subject—somebody else with greater authority than I have.
We are all very glad to see the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) here, and we hope that he is in good health and will remain so for many years to come. We all have a great affection for him, although we have disagreed with him many times. I hope that he will be interested in what Lord Montgomery said in a speech the other day. [HON. MEMBERS:"0h."] We cannot applaud a great field marshal one day and reject him the next. I have always regarded Lord Montgomery as a forthright person. I wish that I could say the same of everybody I meet.
What did Lord Montgomery say? It might not be palatable to some people, but it is quite palatable to me. I do 214 not know much about military affairs, but I am anxious to avoid war. Lord Montgomery said that the political leaders of the West had made it clear that if necessary they would go to war to uphold the integrity of West Berlin, and that it must be obvious to anyone who understood war that such action would mean the end of Western civilisation. He said that if the West used military force to keep open its communications with Berlin it would become involved in a military clash with the Russians; that would mean all-out nuclear war, which would result in the West Berliners losing for all time the feedom they now enjoy, and would bring them untold misery. If there is war, that is what will happen.
Some people say that we can have a limited war. I do not want to go into the question, which was raised at the outset of our deliberations today, of the alleged deficiencies in our military forces. If we are to have discussions of that kind we had better have them in secret. It is not possible to get the real facts by having a discussion in public. I know that many people do not agree with me, and want to have it out, but in a matter of this sort I do not want to have it out. I would rather try to correct the deficiencies, if possible.
Does anyone really believe that we can have a limited war in which Russia, the United States and Western Germany are engaged? Let us assume that we start with a limited war. What do we mean by that? I noticed that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said that if we are attacked there can be no question of surrender. He went on to say, however, that Russia does not require to attack, because she will get all she wants without doing so. The fact is that anything of the nature of a limited assault would be responded to by the most effective retaliation to begin with—by the use of tactical atomic weapons of a limited character. The path would then be clear for the use of nuclear weapons, and then the balloon would go up and disaster would follow. There can be no question about it.
If there were a conventional war, all the N.A.T.O. forces together would not be capable of withstanding an assault by the Russian forces for more than a 215 few weeks. Then the balloon would go up, on the basis of nuclear war, and that would be the end of it. We would not have solved the Berlin problem. There would be no freedom for the people of West Berlin, or for anybody. We must prevent this from happening. How are we to do it? That is the problem.
I am sorry that the Prime Minister has left, but we may be able to get an answer to my question. I hope that before the end of the day something constructive will emerge and a proposition will be made which will satisfy the majority of hon. Members and the people of this country, and that as a consequence a sentiment will be developed in the country and throughout Europe that there is a possibility of solving this problem, because we have taken the initiative.
When playing golf at Gleneagles the Prime Minister is reported as having said, "Nobody is going to fight over Berlin. The way it is going it is very worrying, but nothing more". I do not want to make fun of the Prime Minister about that. I know how easy it is to do so. We are all susceptible to that kind of thing; we are all tempted to have a go at the other side. Fun and games is all right, but this is a very serious matter, as I am sure everybody agrees.
I hope that the Prime Minister is right, and I hope that the Lord Privy Seal will convey my question to him. How are we to prevent trouble over Berlin? What is his idea for preventing it? Has he a constructive proposition? If so, will he convey it to our allies in N.A.T.O., the United States and West Germany—and will he also convey it to the Russians? In other words, shall we proceed expeditiously in the direction of negotiations on the basis of something constructive and positive? Surely this must be done.
I noticed the controversy about the de facto recognition of East Germany. This is no new idea. It has been suggested by hon. Members on these benches for many months. I have asked questions about it of the right hon. Gentleman himself. Many months ago I asked him whether Her Majesty's Government agreed to de facto recognition, and I got the blunt answer, "No".
216 That was unsatisfactory, but now many people agree that there should be de facto recognition of East Germany. But the West Germans will not have it. General de Gaulle will not have it. By the way, and in parenthesis, when I think about General de Gaulle dictating to us and refusing to have this and refusing to have that—before we are in the Common Market: if he can do this before we get in, heaven knows what he will do when we are in.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I wonder whether my right hon. Friend knows that a recent Gallup poll, in France, showed that there were 4 per cent. prepared to risk war over Berlin, but that everybody else was against it.
§ Mr. Shinwell
That is a valuable statistical observation. But, as everyone knows, I am an uneducated person, with no knowledge of statistics or economics or anything of that sort, so I must rely solely on the facts which are brought to my attention.
I wish now to turn to two other matters which I consider of equal importance. One is the question of the nuclear tests. We all deplore what the Russians have done, but some of us have taken action. Today, many of us signed a letter, which has been sent to the Russian Embassy, conveying to Mr. Khrushchev what we think about it. Why not do the same? Why do not hon. Members opposite have a round-robin? Why not take the initiative? The Government are not going to do it so hon. Members may as well do it —or try to persuade the Government to act. That is how to tackle the problem. There have also been protests from the Opposition Front Bench, but we have to go further.
I wish now to direct attention to what Mr. Khrushchev thinks is the solution of some of these problems. Some time ago some of us conceived the notion of addressing a letter to Mr. Khrushchev and to President Kennedy. Mr. Khrushchev, with his usual courtesy, has replied. President Kennedy has not thought fit to reply. But yesterday, 217 along with two other colleagues, I signed a letter to him. In it we sent him the full statement which was sent to me by Mr. Khrushchev and we asked for his comments. That is the way to get things stirred up.
The Government cannot do it. The Opposition Front Bench cannot do it, so we have to do it. I am not blaming my own Front Bench, I know that the occupants have a great deal of trouble —[Laughter.] I have been a member of the Front Bench on various occasions and I have a great deal of sympathy for the present occupants. I wish to assure my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) that there was no ill-intention in what I just said, none at all. I am concerned about solving these problems, as indeed we all are. It is well that we should know what Mr. Khrushchev has said.
It is easy to start by saying, "You do not believe him, anyhow. When there are difficulties you attack the Soviets". The right hon. Gentleman started off that way. If there is trouble, blame the Soviets. If there is more trouble, blame the Soviets. That gets us nowhere. They have a much more elaborate vocabulary than we have, so it is no use trying that one. We may not believe Mr. Khrushchev, but let us listen to what he says. This is an extract from the letter which he sent:I wish to assure you that… the Soviet Government is ready to undertake the efforts to reach an early agreement, which, as you propose in your letter, would ensure the guaranteed access to Berlin, the recognition of the Oder-Neisse frontier, the recognition of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, their admission to the United Nations, the prevention of the armed forces of the G.D.R. and the F.R.G. from being equipped with nuclear weapons and trained in the use of rocket-nuclear weapons, the disengagement of the armed forces of the N.A.T.O. countries and those of the Warsaw Treaty in Central Europe.Strangely enough, practically all these suggestions are contained in the policy of the Labour Party—disengagement; the Rapacki Plan.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) opened the debate with a very thoughtful speech. I thought it one of the most thoughtful speeches which I have heard for a long time. Some of his points required to be disentangled and were perhaps not so clear to me as 218 to others. But, nevertheless, he made a thoughtful speech. He referred to and emphasised the importance of the acceptance of the Rapacki Plan. That has been Labour Party policy for many months, indeed for many years now. In effect, what Mr. Khrushchev is saying in his letter is, "I accept the Labour Party policy".
There is nothing wrong with it. But what are we to do about it? We have to face facts, whether we like them or not. I have no particular enthusiasm for East Germany. I will go further and say that I have no enthusiasm for any German. But I recognise that they exist, and whether we like it or not, there will not be any reunification for some considerable time. When my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East spoke about reunification I was tempted to interject, but I did not, so now I will express my opinion. When we talk about reunification what do we mean? Do we mean West Germany and East Germany and the lost territories as well? There are some West Germans who want that. That is a remote achievement. There is no possibility of achieving it for a long time. Let us face the fact of the existence of East Germany. We had better accept it and come to some agreement about it, and if the West Germans are difficult it will not do.
I agree that there must be conditions —access to Berlin; freedom for the Berliners; freedom for the East Germans; freedom for all concerned. Also, it must be understood to be a beginning of negotiations for disarmament, and a solution to the whole problem. I accept that. But do let us make a beginning. Do not let us just sit waiting for something to turn up, or rely upon what President Kennedy and Wall Street have to say. That is not good enough.
I end as I began. I regret that the Prime Minister was not in the Chamber, because I wanted to address myself to him. I hope that tonight the right hon. Gentleman will rise to the occasion and present something constructive to the House. He has a great responsibility on his shoulders. I am in violent disagreement with him about domestic policies and many other matters, but I do not want to enter into that now; this is not the occasion to do so. But if the right 219 hon. Gentleman will try to find some solution of this problem and prevent war, we will support him in every way we can.
We have spoken about there being no surrender and things of that sort. It is quite irrelevant. The one thing which we have to do is to prevent this from happening; and as the Prime Minister himself said on the golf links at Gleneagles that war with Berlin was unlikely to happen, I will accept that from him. But the right hon. Gentleman must sustain it and fortify it by some constructive effort. If he does, we shall support him.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
We have all enjoyed the entertaining speech of the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). I feel bound to say that the tone of the speech he made this afternoon was very different from the tone which he used when he had great responsibility as Minister of Defence.
I agree that we should not be rigid in our attitude towards any of these negotiations and I do not think that anybody could fairly apply that adjective to my noble Friend the Foreign Secretary. I agree, of course, that we have to seize the initiative in negotiations where we can. On the other hand, I do not think that the word "initiative" should be so misinterpreted—certainly the right hon. Member for Easington did not misinterpret it in such a way—as to mean the making of one-sided concessions to the Soviet Union in return for the Soviet Union reducing the tension which they themselves have created.
When I listened yesterday to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition—a very forthright speech—I could not help wondering how different might have been the subsequent history of the 1930's if other Opposition speeches in those days had been as brave and realistic as that. With regard to the announcement that the Russians are to explode a 50-megaton bomb, that is no help to negotiations and I do not think it is of any military significance, but I agree with many hon. and right hon. Members that such an announcement is the height of double dealing. I look forward to hearing Canon Collins in the pulpit of St. Paul's Cathedral condemning the announcement, for I 220 think that on whichever side we sit we all agree that the Soviet Union takes the prize for the hypocrisy stakes.
§ Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)
I do not know what was the meaning of the hon. Member's reference to Canon Collins, but Canon Collins and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament were the first to protest about Russia exploding these bombs. The only difference between Canon Collins and the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) is that Canon Collins protests against all nuclear tests, whereas the hon. Member protests only against tests by countries with which he disagrees. Therefore, he is the hypocrite, not Canon Collins.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
The difference is that I am in favour of multilateral disarmament and Canon Collins seemed to be in favour of unilateral disarmament. I look forward to the strongest protest from the pulpit of St. Paul's Cathedral about the announcement of the Russians to explode the biggest H-bomb ever.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
Will the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) take it from me that I accompanied Canon Collins to see the Russian Ambassador and to protest and that no one has protested in more sincere terms?
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I hope to hear more about that from the pulpit of St. Paul's and also about what the Soviet Ambassador said.
I want to speak about the Congo, because I think that the reputation of the United Nations in the Congo is very much at stake. For far too long far too many people when faced with a rather intractable international problem have been prepared to say, "Let the United Nations deal with this problem," completely oblivious of the fact that the United Nations reflects the degree of agreement or disagreement about any given problem. I absolutely understand the reason why the United Nations sent a force to the Congo. Indeed, I supported that decision. They did so partly to prevent the Congo becoming a kind of Spanish civil war situation and also 221 partly to hold the ring so that in the process a united Congolese Government could be formed.
I am bound to say that the conception of a United Congo is a little optimistic. I entirely agree with the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) yesterday. Of course, the Congo as a unit, an entity, looks very tidy on a map in New York and probably on a map in Whitehall, but I am doubtful whether any one Congolese Government can succeed in welding together this huge territory with so few communications and few clearly defined boundaries. I think it a very optimistic conception, although we hope that it will come off. We ought not to apply the sort of standards of a European country to this huge slice of territory carved almost by accident out of Africa.
If the United Nations organisation were differently constituted and did not reflect disagreement, if the United Nations force could function on an enormous scale as an allied military government in the way in which allied military government functioned in certain territories towards the latter stages of the war, and if it held in its hand all the essential elements of administration for a matter of some years, I think there would be a chance of building up a united Congolese Government. It might be able to buy time to build it up, but we all know it cannot do that.
I was frankly shocked by the events which took place early in September. My view is that Mr. O'Brien's action—I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal confirmed this—went far beyond the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. I have a horrible suspicion that he was attempting, so to speak, to hand Katanga on a plate to the United Nations by the date on which the General Assembly was due to meet and that he used force in order to impose a political settlement. That is a very dangerous thing for a United Nations representative to do.
This is a slippery slope. If United Nations troops are to be used to force Katanga to stay in a united Congo because the economy of the rest of the Congo without the Katanga wealth makes no sense, are we to expect at a future date a United Nations force to 222 compel Nyasaland to stay in the Rhodesian Federation, supposing that Dr. Banda wants to secede it, simply on the argument that if Nyasaland went out of the Federation her economy would collapse in a matter of months?
This is not holding the ring. I quite agree that it is in Mr. Tshombe's own interests in the long run not to continue to seek independence. I do not see a future in Katanga's independence. It is in his own interests to stay in a confederation of the Congo, but it has to be done by negotiation, not by force. I was in Elisabethville for a couple of days after the European officers had been arrested but before the attack on the Post Office. I had a long talk with Mr. Tshombe and also with Mr. O'Brien. Both were extremely courteous, kind and helpful in every way. Both in their respective ways gave me every conceivable facility for which I could ask. Certainly I got the impression from Premier Tshombe that he was prepared to go into what he called a Congo confederation in the economic sense, provided the political framework was loose enough for Katanga still to exercise a reasonable degree of autonomy.
What I did not know before, and I dare say some hon. Members do not know now, is the very long tradition of a kind of semi-autonomous state which Katanga has had. I did not know that until just before the war—in 1934—Katanga had a Vice-Governor in Elisabethville who reported direct to Brussels, unlike any other Congolese Province. What is also certain is that although Mr. Tshombe is prepared to go into a Congo federation provided he gets a certain amount of independence, he is not prepared to negotiate under duress, and who can blame him in view of past events.
It may be unwise or foolish and even short-sighted to have separatist tendencies, but it is not a crime. There is a curious paradox. If one is Left-wing and the territory one claims to control has no money, one can seek independence and all the gods are on one's side. Everyone is anxious to help such a territory to be independent and to lend money to carry on for the time being. If, on the other hand, one is not Left-wing and the territory which one claims 223 to govern is far from being a liability but is a considerable asset, in some mysterious way one immediately becomes a stooge and very wicked. It is a very curious paradox.
In this respect, I must emphasise that Sir Roy Welensky, who is most unfairly and unjustly attacked in certain quarters in this country, and who is under fire about his attitude to Katanga, has made it plain over and over again that his advice to Mr. Tshombe is that he should stay in a united Congo. But, of course, Sir Roy Welensky is bound to react sharply, and anyone in his position could not do otherwise, to events in the Katanga, for the simple reason that if the situation in Katanga goes sour he has an enormous open frontier to guard. It is only a line on the map; at best it presents him with a considerable security problem and at worst it could present him with something much more serious.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Leeds, East is not here, because I want to say a word or two about the arrest of the European mercenary officers. I am glad that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State repudiated forcibly the allegation that the British consul in Elisabethville impeded the task of the United Nations on this occasion. I am certain that our consul, Mr. Dunnett, did not impede anybody in the United Nations at all. I should like to pay him a tribute. He was sent from elsewhere into the hurly-burly of the Katanga, very much out on a limb, a thousand miles from his embassy in Leopoldville, with very indifferent communications, and sometimes none at all. Communications with London were also difficult during the crisis. With great resource, cheerfulness and confidence he did extremely well. His was the one cheerful spot in a place which otherwise, thanks to the rather unfortunate action of the United Nations, was getting into something of a mess.
But if I were a European consul in Elisabethville and I were told that the United Nations' force intended to arrest all the European mercenary officers left in the gendarmerie and the army, I should immediately ask who would then be responsible for the maintenance of law and order. No consul could do less. 224 This is the point I want to make. The lesson of what happened is this: if the United Nations' officials in New York and the representatives of the various Governments there wish to send a United Nations' force to the Congo or any other African territory, or indeed anywhere else, in future to do the sort of job which the United Nations' force was asked to do in Katanga or in the rest of the Congo, then they must have some regard for the realities of life in the territory in question before they send the force and some regard to the kind of orders which the force needs and the kind of task with which it might have to cope.
My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal yesterday mentioned that Mr. Hammarskjold, whose death we all deplore, told Lord Lansdowne that the operation of the arrest of the mercenaries and the attack on the Post Office in Elisabethville had only limited intentions. This is perhaps the most striking indictment of the whole of the United Nations' action, because it is one thing to have a limited intention and quite another to limit the action to the intention.
When I saw Mr. O'Brien I wondered whether, however limited his intentions and however good those intentions may have been, he could control the inevitable result. If one arrests the European officers, leaving the Katanga gendarmerie and the troops without officers, then, as a United Nations' representative, whether one likes it or not, one is morally responsible for preserving law and order in Elisabethville. There is no other course that one can take. If one has 20,000 Baluba refugees crowded around one's encampment—I do not say that Mr. O'Brien encouraged them to go there; he did not discourage them—one must feed them; and that is quite a task with lines of communication a thousand miles to Leopoldville and by air-lift only. If one attacks Government buildings, the post office or the radio station because one wants to take control of them, one must take over and run the place afterwards.
Gurkha troops were used. Gurkha troops have fought with the utmost valour alongside British troops and for Britain in two world wars and in many minor wars, too. But I think that to employ Gurkha troops in Africa without 225 the restraining hand of British officers is unlikely to result in great economies in ammunition.
The final impression which I want to leave with the House in this sorry tangle of the Congo is that the United Nations force lacked both the experience and the personnel to do what it was trying to do. I hope that my right hon. Friend and other members of the Government who are responsible, so to speak, for British representation at the United Nations will read, mark and learn the lesson of the events in the Congo to ensure that in that particular form they do not happen again.
§ 5.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Desmond Donnelly (Pembroke)
An interesting point about the debate has been the difference in emphasis between Berlin and the Congo on the two sides of the House. Yesterday the Lord Privy Seal devoted most of his speech to the Congo and to the United Nations situation stemming from the death of Mr. Hammarskjold. The Minister of State did much the same this afternoon. If I may digress, the Minister of State opened with fighting words of attack on my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), but these were belied by the dull and dreary monotone of the brief from which he read in incomprehensible fashion to the House this afternoon. The best which can be said about his speech is told in a story of the late A. J. Balfour, who took the chair for a visiting junior Conservative Minister at a meeting. At the end of the Minister's speech, Mr. Balfour said that he would like to thank the visiting speaker. Unfortunately, he said, advancing years and increasing deafness had prevented him from hearing all that the Minister had had to say, and clearly they had been the most important parts of his speech.
The hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) also spoke about the Congo. I do not say that the Congo and the situation in the United Nations are not of profound importance in international affairs, but in terms of priority for our national interests and the survival of the world, Berlin must inevitably come first. For the few minutes for which I shall detain the House, I should like to try to make my modest contribution towards redressing some of this lack 226 of balance in the debate. First, I want to say a word abou the events which have taken place in Berlin since we last discussed the subject. Secondly, I want to say a word about the implications which flow from these events. Thirdly, perhaps I could say a word about the general situation in the cold war at the point which we have reached.
First, the events in Berlin. I believe that 13th August, 1961, will go down in history as one of the watersheds in European affairs. It is a date of very profound importance. What happened on 13th August has inevitably affected the course of events in Europe. It will do so for same time to come. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East spoke about the debate that is going on still in Germany, and which will go on for some time, on whether or not the West should have taken any action to prevent the sealing off of East Berln.
There is the view that the West should have sent its military forces to the Brandenburg Gate, ripped down the barbed wire and defences by force and insisted upon their rights and on free passage between the two parts of the city. This view is expressed by a number of people in Berlin, and, indeed, in West Germany as well, but all I can do is to give my own judgment about the situation as I saw it then.
The city was surrounded by Russian forces in very considerable strength. Four Russian divisions had moved into the outskirts of the city. There was a very tense situation in East Germany with floods of refugees leaving the country. If the Western forces had taken that precipitous action, there is no certainty that rioting would not have broken out in East Berlin. There is no certainty that West Berliners would not have gone to the aid of East Berliners. There is no certainty that a struggle might not have erupted throughout the city and across to the Brandenburg Gate. If that had happened, it is very difficult for any one of us to be certain that World War III would not have started there and then. Agonisingly difficult though the choice was, the Western commandants in Berlin at the time, in the light of the events as then known, in my judgment took the only possible, prudent course in a very difficult situation. I do not think that they could have done anything else.
227 Having taken that decision, we have to accept some of the implications that flow from it. The first implication that flows from it is that the former raison d'etre of West Berlin in the grey hinterland of Communists around is removed. Much of the inspiration that goes to the making of the life of that city a viable entity—and I am talking about West Berlin—has now been removed, and the result is that depression, uncertainty and a feeling of frustration has descended upon West Berlin. It will haunt the Western Powers throughout this winter—it is already with us now—with a major crisis of morale in West Berlin in the first instance and in Western Germany in the second instance, and it is going to spread.
What are the conditions of survival for the city? Various hon. Members have spoken about three specific conditions—freedom of access for travel by aeroplane. I agree that that is absolutely vital. Secondly, the retention of Western military forces in Berlin so that an attack on West Berlin is an attack on London, Paris, Washington or any other Western capital. That, I agree, is also right.
§ Mr. Donnelly
I entirely accept what the Lord Privy Seal says, and I am grateful to him for pointing that out. There is a third condition.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
Does my hon. Friend really accept that? My feeling when there was that Willy Brandt's police were more than capable of dealing with internal security.
§ Mr. Donnelly
No, I think that my hon. and learned Friend has misconstrued the point. The point is that there are bound to be situations in a trigger-tense capital of such a nature that certain elements may get out of hand. However strong the West German forces may be, this is an additional guarantee. I agree with what the Lord Privy Seal said.
228 Coming back to the point I was making about the new raison d'etre for Berlin, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition referred to the possibility of associating the United Nations with it. This, I think, is the best hope in the present situation. I would strongly support what he has said. I would underline it by saying that if other hon. Members are thinking of handing over West Berlin entirely to the United Nations and the United Nations guarantee, then I think that is unacceptable. We want Western troops guaranteeing the United Nations associated with the city. I do not believe that the United Nations as at present equipped or with the present fluid situation in the United Nations could possibly accept the guarantee of that city in terms which would be acceptable to the West.
Next, if one goes beyond West Berlin to Western Germany, one sees the crisis of morale, which is beginning to appear there, partly because of uncertainty about American intentions—as well as British intentions—towards Germany. I think that we have to be clear about one thing. German morale in fact, in the end, means European morale, and European morale means British security. Therefore, it is vital to the British national interest that we should be taking all practicable steps to reassure German public opinion.
How can we do it? I would first point out the difficult situation with any negotiations that take place about de facto recognition for Eastern Germany or about the Oder-Neisse line or about the future possible reunification of Germany. In all these issues, I do not accept the view expressed by one hon. Member yesterday that German public opinion is intractable about the Oder-Neisse line. I think that the Germans are too realistic for that. I do not think that they are intractable about de facto recognition. The West Germans at the moment are practising a form of de facto recognition all the time with the East Germans. Trade and postal arrangements take place and there is a water supply arrangement between the two sides of Germany and the two halves of Berlin.
I say that at the practical level de facto recognition is being practised now. This is also what we in the West are considering. It is the practical level 229 and not, the political, diplomatic level. It is only when we come to the political, diplomatic level that the problem arises, because it may be felt that we are giving up the ultimate aim of German reunification thereby.
Any consideration of other aspects brings one immediately to the Western military forces in Germany. It is no part of our responsibility to deal with the American commitment, but there is the British commitment. We saw the invidious situation last summer of the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining to the House that the British Government were asking the West Germans to underwrite some of the costs of the British military forces in Germany. It does not require very much political foresight to realise that, if the Germans are being asked to pay, they will also ask to call the tune. Our political influence in any German situation is always proportionate to our ability to sustain our forces in that country and pay for them ourselves. Paradoxically, very often those who demand the greatest political say are those who want to pay the least in terms of arms burden.
We must face up to this. The Minister of Defence today made a statement about the British Army of the Rhine. He knows, the Government knows, the House knows and the country knows, that the British military forces in Germany today are below strength and under-equipped. The whole world knows that. The British defence system today is grossly over-balanced and very glaringly deficient in certain aspects. It all stems from the 1957 White Paper. We have not got enough men. Despite all the money we have spent, we have not got enough modern equipment. We must either cut our commitments or take the hard political decision of extending military service and reintroducing conscription in this country. This is the only way if we are to play the same kind of part in the future as we have played in the past. There is no escape from this hard decision: it is commitments or conscription. There is no other way out of this difficulty in the next year or so. Sooner or later the House will have to face up to it.
Not only must we face up to the military implications of sustaining German morale. We must also do something about the political machinery to 230 make it possible. We cannot go on any longer with the present haphazard arrangement of meetings between various Western statesmen in the hope of arriving at a satisfactory constant plan for the conduct of Western policies in this dangerous period of the cold war. The example of 13th August is the classic illustration. The possibility of the sealing off of West Berlin was on the agenda of the Western Foreign Ministers' Conference in Paris, but it was not reached. The result was that there were no contingency plans about what should be done in the event of it happening. We cannot leave such problems as this—any hon. Member can think of a dozen other things which might happen in the near future—simply to haphazard ad hoc meetings from time to time.
On the other hand, there is, and has been for some time, the proposal of a Western political general staff to try to co-ordinate the policies of the Western Powers. I think that this is the only long-term practical step which we can take in our self-interest. Unless the Government are prepared to initiate this, we shall go on in this dangerous and uncertain situation.
I come to the actual situation in the cold war. Some people sometimes think that this is a new struggle in the world. In fact, it is a struggle of very long duration. It is a doctrinal struggle superimposed upon what was originally a geo-political struggle in the 19th Century. It was a Czarist Foreign Minister, not a Marxist, who said that the Russian people had a special function to replace the tired men of Europe and to lead the peoples of the world and Asia as well as Europe. Superimposed upon that has been the evangelical dogma of Marxism. If what Lenin said in 1917 is transposed to the position of the economic and military power of the Soviet Union today, inevitably—believing what they did, and believing it still today—this conflict was bound to arise. It will continue for a very long time.
There are three possible courses open. One is surrender. There are plenty of people always ready to make their accommodation. There are plenty of men with watery knees and jellied stomachs who are seeking for ways of accommodation at different times. There 231 are plenty of businessmen as well, the so-called national bourgeoisie, as the Communists call them—
§ Mr. Donnelly
I have seen one or two of the national bourgeoisie with political views of the alleged Right adorning some of the trade fairs in Eastern Europe—and being very well recompensed for it as well. Some of these gentlemen are no advertisement to the Western world, because they are perfectly clearly being bought by the Communist countries for personal gain. They reflect no credit upon this country either. There are also plenty of others Who are seeking accommodation. I do not believe that those who wish to seek accommodation, those who are the advocates of "Vichy Britain", are in a majority in this country, nor will they ever be.
§ Mr. Donnelly
The second possibility is that at some stage we shall be pressed into a corner, lose our nerve, and take some precipitous action which will lead to us committing suicide. That is probably the most dangerous course of all. There are too many advocates of that point of view in the United States of America at this moment for my peace of mind. Then there is the third and much the most difficult course—the course of prudence and determination to see this through and call the bluff of the Communist countries.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Mr. Khrushchev is a survivor. He has survived Stalin and I have no doubt that he intends to survive even my hon. Friend. I believe that Mr. Khrushchev, although he from time to time displays dangerous signs of paranoia, nevertheless has shown consistently over his long record that he is a man who intends to survive. He knows as well as we do that the consequences of a nuclear war will be just as disastrous for the Soviet Union as they will be for us.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Perhaps my hon. Friend would not mind rising to his feet at some stage. He is one of the most consistently bad-mannered Members of the House. It might help if he would make his own speech in his own time.
As I was saying, we are confronted with the most dangerous situation in the history of the world. We are confronted with a great political movement on the march, as in the 1930s. We are confronted with a political movement whose overt aim is world domination, as in the 'thirties. Yet, unlike the 'thirties, there are no narrow confines of nationalism limiting this new movement today. This, then, is the central challenge. Western civilisation may easily perish. The third world war may easily begin unless there is a new sense of prudence and determination in the leadership of the Western countries. In this situation there is only one answer—that is courage, and again courage, and once more courage, and finally prudence.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. John Eden (Bournemouth, West)
I count it a very great privilege indeed to follow the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly). He made a most stirring and thoughtful speech. In the short time I have been a Member of the House I have become accustomed, as have other hon. Members, to speeches of that quality from the hon. Member. I am sure that I speak for all hon. Members when I say that it was a very worth-while contribution to the debate. Since he has dealt with what is, after all, the major issue of concern for us all, namely, Berlin, I will begin my very few remarks by dealing with that subject.
Yesterday, in his keynote spech, my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal chose three subjects as being the major ones for him to deal with. He must be gratified by the fact that we have practically all, as it were, obeyed his whip and very few, at any rate so far, have strayed into other subjects. I give this little bit of notice that I shall be straying into another subject later in my speech.
On the question of Berlin—having been immensely interested by what the hon. Member for Pembroke said—I just want to add this. It seems to me that at the moment we are playing it the right 233 way. Personally, I am a great supporter of the way in which the Foreign Secretary and others under him have been handling this extremely difficult, tricky and drawn-out situation. They have played it long and played it cool. In the face of many severe threats and much bubbling from Mr. Khrushchev, they have been playing this with the greatest possible diplomatic skill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] I think that this is so.
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is a great mocker in all these issues. He can generally sit back and scoff at anything, but the fact remains—and this is my firm conviction—that he, like all of us, will owe a very great debt indeed to those who are at present handling diplomatically this situation for the calm judgment they have brought to bear in face of the endless threats coming from Mr. Khrushchev on this issue.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I only intervene to apologise to the hon. Gentleman if he thought that I was scoffing at him. I was not. I know that he approaches this question with the same degree of high responsibility as do most hon. Members, and if we differ in our conclusions that is something to be regretted. What I was rather amused about was the suggestion that three years of diplomatic wrangling in matters that are not in dispute but are only matters of opinion should be regarded as diplomatic skill. That seemed to me to be a little amusing. I think that the Government are manoeuvring themselves into the biggest diplomatic let-down in history.
§ Mr. Eden
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his apology.
On the hon. Gentleman's contention that we are probably going to be faced with a major and diplomatic defeat on this issue, I would say to him that in so far as manoeuvring is concerned the choice does not, of course, rest entirely with us on this side alone. To a very great extent, we are being led in this game by the moves being made by Mr. Khrushchev and would be led, if we were to follow him, along a path which would lead to a major disaster, not merely a major diplomatic disaster but a major military disaster for the West as a whole.
234 That is why I am not so concerned that we should be rushing to try to get a solution for the sake of wiping the slate clean on this issue, so that Berlin can no longer remain on the list of problems that have to be solved—as though we have to solve the Berlin problem within the time of a five-year plan or the lifetime of this Government.
I hope that when a solution is found it will be one which is honourable to the West and one which upholds the three major basic standpoints which have been put forward during the course of this debate by the Lord Privy Seal and others. Therefore, I am glad that we are, in fact, playing his thing long and cool, and hope that we shall continue to do so and not be rushed by any timetable laid down by Mr. Khrushchev or anyone else in arriving at a solution of the matter by a certain date. That is not the way in which we should be going about it, nor is it the way in which we are going about it.
Another good factor which has come out of this matter is that there has quite obviously been the closest possible harmony and agreement between this country and the United States of America. That is a very commendable factor for the West as a whole. On this issue it seems to have worked itself through the entire diplomatic chain of command and has not been left primarily to those at Ministerial level. There seems to be a very close accord and harmony on this issue between the United States and ourselves. That is very valuable for the strength and defence of the West as a whole.
This leads me to another short point that I wish to make on the matter of the United Nations. If we can achieve such close accord on an issue of such importance, as this issue is to the whole of the free world, outside the United Nations through our normal diplomatic channels and through discussions at Ministerial and diplomatic levels, then let us try to do the same on other issues as well.
This, I believe, is the correct answer which we should be giving to the impasse in which we now find ourselves collectively at the United Nations itself. It is far more important that we should have the greatest possible accord and harmony at all levels in the Western world, or in those countries roughly aligned in 235 a similar direction, than it is to try and bring all non-aligned and Communist nations to agree together in the United Nations as some, apparently, want us to do.
If we regard the United Nations as a debating forum, as so many have called it in the past, then let us stand up for the basic principles of debate and uphold the principle of free speech being allowed to take place in that forum as we allow it to take place here. I am thinking, in this connection, of the way in which we and America abstained on the vote of censure on the South African Foreign Minister the other day. We may not have agreed with his speech, or with the views that his speech represented, but the fact remains that he was perfectly entitled to make the speech. In my opinion, it is the worst possible thing for a public forum of that kind to condemn a man for having made such a speech.
As I say, we and the United States were the only countries which actually abstained on that occasion. Indeed, we should have been outspoken on the matter of the right of any representative of any nation to say at that forum exactly what he thought it right to say. If a man cannot say it there, where can he say it?
Another point concerning the United Nations came to my mind while the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) was speaking. He spoke about how important it was that Communist China should be made a member of the United Nations and said how shameful it was that not a single Front Bench speaker had so far made any reference to the absence of Communist China from the United Nations. The hon. Gentleman seemed to think that there was a sense of urgency about the matter because Communist China had not yet detonated a nuclear bomb. He believed that she was about to do so and that it would be more difficult after China had detonated the bomb than before.
I do not follow the hon. Gentleman's thinking. Does he think that Communist China, once a member of the United Nations, will not detonate a nuclear bomb? That is a naïve example of what is likely to happen, but is not borne out by Communist behaviour. It is not 236 a matter of urgency. This will come in time. We do not have to rush into solutions simply because something has arisen and because some people, having read the Press reports, want everyone else to realise how alert they are. Time is the best healer for a lot of these issues. Let us exercise a little judgment. I support what the hon. Member for Pembroke said—let us have courage in the face of these threats from Mr. Khrushchev and his friends.
The third issue mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal in his keynote speech was the situation in the Congo that has arisen out of the United Nations military intervention in Katanga. I am not at all happy about the part Her Majesty's Government have had to play in this. I have said so before. I refused to support the Government in a vote during our last debate on this subject. I am bound to say that while I listened with a great deal of interest to the catalogue of events that my right hon. Friend gave, and most ably gave, I did not detect, to my way of thinking, at any rate, a strong enough note of determination to ensure that such a situation could not arise again in any other part of the world.
I sincerely hope that we will learn some lessons from this event. It is not, as some hon. Members have said, the most vital of all the issues that confront us today. But it is vital not to allow these things to slip past as if they were of no consequence, because they can arise again in other circumstances and other parts of the world. I want to hear from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister tonight that he supports the plea made last night by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) for a properly conducted inquiry to get to the bottom of this situation in the Katanga.
How did it arise that local commanders or local representatives interpreted in this way the instruction in the February resolution? How did it arise that they have quite clearly persistently been working for the break-up of independent Katanga; that they have been preparing this military intervention to try to destroy Tshombe and Katanga? I should like to hear that we are demanding a full investigation, so that we may learn just what did take place—not so much in order that anybody might be 237 victimised for what has happened, but so that we may be sure that if this concept of a United Nations permanent force, an arm of the United Nations, a sort of third force on behalf of the neutralist and unaligned powers, is to take on and become a factor in world affairs, the lessons to be learned from this limited operation are well understood by those who will have any authority to control such issues in the future.
I am also disturbed by the apparent failure of the Foreign Office, and the Foreign Office alone, to listen to any warnings that this military operation was to take place. If some people tried at earlier stages to bring this to the attention of the Foreign Office they received a very patronising rebuttal—"My dear chap, we are taking care of this situation. It will be quite all right." It is not good enough that this situation should have arisen before it had been made abundantly clear on behalf of Her Majesty's Government that we would dissociate ourselves from anything of that kind if it did happen.
I cannot believe that the Foreign Office knew nothing about the building up of forces. I cannot believe that it knew nothing about the intentions of the United Nations. Yet we failed to make clear the position of Her Majesty's Government before this operation took place, with the result that we find ourselves a party to what was a very despicable affair indeed.
I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, if he cannot make a reference to this tonight, will at least have it clearly in his mind, and that he and my other right hon. Friends will ensure that just because the debates have passed and other issues have come forward this matter will not be left where it is, but that the Government intend to pursue it to the bottom and find out exactly what took place.
This issue of Katanga draws attention once more to some of the weaknesses of a forum such as the United Nations. We voted in February for what was, after all, a compromise resolution. We did not like it, and we said so in a speech of reservation, but we voted for it. So much goes on in committees there, so much goes on behind the scenes by way of accepting compromises, working out agreed resolutions and trying to find wording acceptable to this, that, or the other 238 interest to show a united front. We find that in the Council of Europe, and we find it in the United Nations. And we suffer from it, because we always pay for it in the end.
The fact remains that because we get ourselves manoeuvred into a position in which we have to end up by supporting a resolution with which we do not altogether agree it leads, or can lead, as it did in this unfortunate case, to a set of circumstances that are humiliating for us as well as for all others who take part in it.
I must apologise to the House for having spoken for longer than I intended, so, in a very few words, I shall draw the attention of the House, and particularly that of my right hon. Friends to a part of the world that has not, as far as I am aware, yet been mentioned in these two days. I say I want to draw attention, but that is not correct, because everyone is well aware of it. The Prime Minister will be particularly aware of it and will, I hope, be able to say something on the subject in his speech later this evening. I refer to the South-East Asian area, and I do so with a great deal more hesitancy than I ordinarily experience.
I have just come back from a very brief tour, during which I looked at some of our military and air force installations in Singapore. I do not for one moment pretend to set myself up as an authority, nor am I about to write a book on Singapore as a result of a few days spent out there. I may say, in passing, that from the Services' point of view it was a very salutary exercise. We are very well represented there, indeed. The men of the R.A.F. and the naval and military personnel are of high calibre, of extremely high morale, and are fully aware not only of the military and strategic significance, but of the political importance of their presence there.
I noticed in The Times a report written from Singapore on 16th October, which said that the Malayan Prime Minister is coming to this country on 7th November for discussions with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister about development towards the formation of Greater Malaysia; the merging of the territories of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, Brunei and Borneo. In that report, the Tungku Abdul Rahman, the 239 Malayan Prime Minister, was supposed to have said, in a speech to his House of Representatives, in Kuala Lampur, that he was coming to the United Kingdom for this purpose, and to seek agreement on the continued use of the Singapore bases, "but not for S.E.A.T.O. purposes"—
§ Mr. Eden
This is a very important matter indeed. This part of the world is vital to our interests. Singapore, and the retention of effective military bases there, is vital to the defence of South-East Asia. It is vital to the Commonwealth interests and I was heartened to see that Commonwealth forces are cooperating and playing their part in the defence of that area.
I merely ask this question in the hope that the Prime Minister may think it wise to make a strong answer tonight. Time is short and I know how important it is that the opinions of the newspaper readers in Singapore and Malaya are catered for as much as are the opinions of people who read the newspapers in this country. Surely, it is clear to every hon. Member that for the containment of Communism and for the defence of the British Commonwealth and the South-East Asian Treaty Organisation interests we must maintain an effective base in Singapore. I hope that we shall make this abundantly clear to the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya.
Having seen the extent to which the economy and well-being of the small island of Singapore itself depends on the existence of those bases, I am beginning to wonder whether it is, in fact, the very best solution we can imagine for that part of the world that Singapore should merge with Malaya. I am aware of the heavy weighting of the Chinese population in Singapore and I am also aware of the strong Communist element in that population. I am aware also of the fears which the Prime Minister of Singapore and of Malaya undoubtedly had should the situation deteriorate in such a way that there were ever to take place a Communist take-over in Singapore. But we are now responsible for the conduct of the Foreign and defence affairs of this city-island. I hope that we shall long continue to be so if there 240 is any doubt at all that the political situation in Singapore itself should go further Communist than it already is.
I hope that we shall not rush in for this idea of merger with the Federation simply for the sake of retaining in power any particular person or party. I hope that we shall see this mainly in the light of our overall defence obligations in the whole of South-East Asia and I ask the Prime Minister whether it is, in fact, the declared policy of Her Majesty's Government now to favour the early development of a greater Malaysia as conceived by the Prime Minister of Malaya. I would like my right hon. Friend to comment on this, realising that he bears in mind, as I do, that he has talks coming with the Tungku in November.
I say this because I have the impression that it is becoming increasingly important for us to make our views clearly known, in public, well in advance of any situation taking place. We have done this admirably in the case of Germany and Berlin. We have made it abundantly clear what are our views and on what points we are determined to stand and what would be the consequences to Mr. Khrushchev or anyone else who tried to force us to go against those points.
I got the impression in Malaya and other parts of South-East Asia, on a very fleeting visit indeed, that our views are not heard clearly enough there. We have very great responsibilities in that part of the world and we are likely to have to listen to a lot about South-East Asia before long. The situation which seems to be boiling up in Laos and South Vietnam is unhappy indeed and may lead to early conflict. I hope now, while there is still a chance, we will make our position clear beyond peradventure so that the men and women who read the newspapers there can understand just what are our views, what are our interests and be made aware of our determination to stand by them.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Greenwood (Rossendale)
Most of the points contained in the very engaging speech to which we have just listened were not acceptable to me and I hope to comment on them during the course of my remarks. But as the Prime Minister is present at this 241 moment I will begin my speech by saying how grateful we are to the Government for having agreed to the recall of Parliament on this occasion. I would temper my gratitude, however, with the observation that it was a pity that it took seven weeks and a steadily deteriorating international situation before the Government and the Opposition decided that the time had come for the recall of Parliament. If, as I believe, there is a growing cynicism, especially among young people, about the effectiveness of democratic processes and action we must admit that hon. Members on both sides are not completely free from responsibility.
In this debate we have heard a number of extremely valuable and constructive proposals, but the question I keep asking myself is: how can we hope to achieve any of these proposals until Russia's fears of a rearmed Germany have been allayed? I have no sympathy with the Russian political system, but I have great sympathy with the fears that they feel towards Germany. On this topic, and on a personal note, I recall that in the darkest days of the last war I was in Russia with Lord Monckton on a Government mission.
On that occasion, when the Government had been forced to evacuate from Moscow to Kuibyshev we saw what happened when a country's land was ravaged by an armed enemy like Germany. We saw hordes of refugees fleeing across the Caucasus in front of the advancing Germany Army. Unless one has seen that happening it is difficult for one to appreciate the real fear that there is in the Soviet Union of the possibility of further attack by Germany.
I believe that the Russian attitude on Berlin today is a reflection of the fear that they feel—fear which is not likely to be allayed by the kind of speeches that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) quoted in the excellent speech he made earlier. They are fears which are not likely to be allayed by the confirmation which, I think, was given by the Minister of Defence today that N.A.T.O. is now almost entirely dependent on nuclear strategy.
Earlier this summer Mr. Khrushchev explained to Mr. Walter Lippmann that he wanted the frontiers of both 242 Germanys to be settled so that if, in a few years' time, either of them moved it would be clear just where the responsibility lay. I believe that it was on that basis that Mr. Khrushchev drafted his memorandum to Mr. Kennedy in June.
In the turbulence of the last few months many of us have tended to forget what Mr. Khrushchev proposed on that occasion. May I remind the House of two paragraphs in the memorandum, which seemed to me to be very moderate in its tone. First:For the sake of reaching agreement on a peace treaty, the Soviet Union does not insist on the immediate withdrawal of the German Federal Republic from N.A.T.O. After the conclusion of a peace treaty both German States would for a certain period remain members of those military groups to which they now belong. The Soviet proposal does not link the conclusion to the peace treaty with recognition of the German Democratic Republic or the German Federal Republic by all parties to the Treaty.The other paragraph touches on the point mentioned by the Lord Privy Seal when he spoke about guarantees against subversive elements inside Berlin. The paragraph reads:The U.S.S.R. proposes that the most reliable guarantees should be established against intervention in the affairs of the free city by any State. As a guarantor of the free city, token contingents of United States, British, French and Soviet troops could be stationed in West Berlin. Nor would the U.S.S.R. object to the stationing in West Berlin of troops of neutral countries under United Nations auspices for the same purpose. The status of the free city could be registered at the United Nations and sealed with the authority of that international organisation. The Soviet side agrees to discuss any other measures which could guarantee the freedom and independence of West Berlin as a free demilitarised city.It seems to me from those proposals which were made as far back as June that Berlin was not in any real danger until people started talking about defending it.
I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) said about the regrettability of the closing of the frontier. But I think that the closing of the frontier is really the answer to the point made by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden)—that it does not matter when negotiations of this kind are protracted —because when we have negotiations about serious problems of this kind, the 243 longer they go on the greater the tension that is generated, the bigger the forces that pile up on either side, and the more likelihood there is of the closing of the frontier and the danger of incidents taking place.
I believe that many people, not only in this country but in the Western world generally and in the neutral countries as well, have been appalled by what seemed to be the stalling of the West and their evident reluctance to enter into negotiations. That is why, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington said, a number of us wrote a letter to Mr. Kennedy and to Mr. Khrushchev. My right hon. Friend has dealt with that part of the letter which relates to Berlin in some detail.
I should like to touch on the proposals which we made about tests, because, personally, I find it a little wounding when we hear remarks like the remark by the hon. Baronet the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) suggesting that some of us on this side of the House are not interested in denying the Soviet Union nuclear weapons, athough we are anxious to leave the West unarmed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
As soon as the announcement was made that Russia was to resume nuclear tests, a number of my right hon. and hon. Friends, including my hon. Friends the Members Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), Cannock (Miss Lee), Coventry, East (Mr. Crossman), my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) and myself, sent a telegram at once to Mr. Khrushchev expressing our shock and regret at the announcement, and saying that we believed thatany nation which takes the initiative in resuming nuclear tests carries a heavy responsibility in the eyes of mankind.After sending that telegram I spent two hours at the Soviet Embassy arguing with Mr. Soldatov against the Russion decision to resume tests. It may amuse my hon. Friends on the Front Bench to learn that Mr. Soldatov accused me of being an apologist for N.A.T.O. on that occasion. We certainly left the Russian Government in no doubt at all that we deplored and regretted their decision to resume tests. And some of my hon. Friends and I have today 244 sent a letter to the Soviet Government complaining of Mr. Khrushchev's speech yesterday about the 50-megaton bomb. I wish that there was the same indignation shown on the benches opposite at all nuclear explosions, from whatever source they come, as we have shown in respect of the Russian decision to resume the testing of nuclear weapons.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington quoted the reply that Mr. Khrushchev has sent to our proposals for dealing with the Berlin situation. It is quite clear that Mr. Khrushchev has accepted as a basis for discussion the proposals that we put in that letter. Why should not we start the talks straight away? It may be that hon. Members have perfectly legitimate doubts as to the sincerity of Mr. Khrushchev and the Soviet Government, but we cannot put those proposals to the test, and test the sincerity of the Soviet reaction, until we enter discussions and carry on the negotiations. I find it intolerable that we should now be in a position in which the French and German Governments are able to impose a veto on whether America and Great Britain have discussions with the Soviet Union about the future of Berlin.
Here, I should like to put a point to my right hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench, and I hope that they will take this opportunity of clearing up what was, no doubt, a misunderstanding when the Parliamentary Committee of the Labour Party met on 14th September. After the Parliamentary Committee had met, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Committee was supporting the Government's determination to defend the freedom of West Berlin, and it went on at a later stage to say:They also point out that all the N.A.T.O. Powers, as well as Britain, are involved, and that the consent of each would be required for any agreement which emerged from talks.I hope that that is not their point of view. It does not seem to me to be in accordance with the legality of the situation. I cannot see any hope of having a generally acceptable solution to the problem of Germany if the West German Government has to give its agreement to the conditions before they can become a reality.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition gave a very wise warning when he told us how careful we 245 must be in the words that we use. He said:We sometimes hear the phrase, 'No war over Berlin'I was not sure whether my right hon. Friend was referring to an excellent speech that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington made at the Labour Party Conference, or whether he was referring to an excellent demonstration which took place in Trafalgar Square early in September.
My right hon. Friend went on to say: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.… 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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th October, 1961; Vol. 646, c. 38.]That is a very salutary warning. It is a warning also that applies to the use of the word "defend" or the use of the word "surrender." I should like to know whether my right hon. Friends accept the possibility of the West resorting to war for what they regard as the "defence" of Berlin, or, when they talk about defending the freedom of Berlin, do they mean defending the freedom of Berlin by negotiation alone?
There is, in my view, one axiom of diplomacy which is that one should avoid using threats which cannot be carried out. If one uses threats which cannot be carried out, one gets into the position which the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West was talking about, of a serious diplomatic setback. I believe that because we have used words like "defending the freedom of Berlin" so loosely in the Western world in the last few months we are heading for the most serious diplomatic setback that we have had for many years.
I was, therefore, delighted when at the Labour Party Conference my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) seemed to me to give a lead to the whole nation when he said that one can fight about Berlin, but that one cannot fight for Berlin. When the Opposition spokesman winds up the debate tonight, I hope that we shall hear him say quite definitely that the Opposition rule out the possibility of supporting any war which might develop and that we are relying on negotiation alone.
§ Mr. Christopher Mayhew (Woolwich, East)
Would my hon. Friend clarify his own position a little more? Is he saying that in no circumstances would he resist military action over Berlin?
§ Mr. Greenwood
In no circumstances would I resort to war in an attempt to defend Berlin, which, I believe, is militarily indefensible. I believe that both sides of the House should realise that not one person in ten in this country would support war over Berlin.
§ Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)
While agreeing with my hon. Friend that Berlin itself is militarily indefensible, I must put this question. If our planes on the way to Berlin were shot down, or if some of our troops on their way from Helmstedt to Berlin were shot or injured, what steps would my hon. Friend take?
§ Mr. Greenwood
We can, of course, go on with this argument—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I am sorry if I have disturbed hon. Members. The point is that we have now got ourselves into a situation in which the West cannot rely upon conventional weapons and in which, if action is taken by the West, almost inevitably it will mean that nuclear weapons will be brought into play and, once nuclear weapons are brought into play, the destruction of our civilisation will follow.
I was on the point of saying that I had a good deal of sympathy with many of the points which my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East advanced, but I did think that he was, perhaps, a little defeatist about the possibility of disengagement. I should like us to regard Berlin as affording an opportunity for a much wider settlement. I should like to think that we were using the Berlin issue as a lever to attain real disengagement. Mr. Khrushchev's letter gives some ground for hoping that he would accept a nuclear-free Germany. We on our side—this is common ground between my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East and myself—should be urging the United States to accept the Rapacki Plan.
I believe that at this year's Labour Party Conference we took a further step towards disengagement. I was a little surprised that a newspaper like the Observer should announce, on 8th October, that Britain once more had a 247 virtually bipartisan defence policy. If we look at the defence policy of my party in the light of decisions taken at Blackpool, we find that V. are now against Britain remaining an independent nuclear Power, we are against fixed nuclear missile bases in Britain, we are against Polaris bases anywhere in the United Kingdom, we are against German bases, we are against the West using the H-bomb first, and we are in favour of enabling N.A.T.O. to abandon its nuclear strategy. That seems to me to add up to a policy which is much closer to my own unilateralist point of view than the point of view of right hon. arid hon. Gentlemen opposite. I should be surprised if Front Bench spokesmen on the Government side of the House announced tonight that that was their policy.
I believe that the only thing which will give us real peace is a genuine European security system. When I speak of a European security system, I mean one which includes both Eastern and Western Europe, in which all the Powers, whether Communist or non-Communist, agree to defend the integrity of any threatened country whether it be Communist or non-Communist. I believe that a real European security system of that kind, the kind for which the late Arthur Henderson campaigned before the war, would reinvigorate the United Nations, the strength of the members of which is at present dissipated on regional defence agreements which perpetuate the principle of the balance of power.
For N.A.T.O., I accept the formulation which Mr. Cousins adopted on the television the other night. I have never suggested that we should ignore our treaty obligations. One cannot scrap a treaty overnight. Nor do I think that bases in another country can be removed overnight. I think that, when the request was made for the removal of American bases from Morocco, the process took three years. When it was asked that Russian bases should leave Finland, the period involved was two years.
In my view, we should hold ourselves free to show that measure of independence within N.A.T.O. for which my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East asked earlier today, and we should hold ourselves free also to detach ourselves 248 from N.A.T.O. if the policies that organisation is pursuing threaten our security. I believe, also, that we should press the United States for a timetable for the removal of her nuclear bases from this country.
If we are to go forward on those lines—here, I think that we come to common ground among all hon. and right hon. Members, with the exception of a small number of hon. Gentlemen opposite—the United Nations must be strengthened. The Government have failed miserably in any attempts they have made to strengthen the United Nations. There comes a time in all organisations when the executive and the machine tend not to be truly representative of the membership. This is happening in the United Nations now.
Although the composition of the General Assembly is altering rapidly and radically with every month which passes, the composition of the Security Council remains the same. We should, therefore, seek to secure a change in the composition of the Security Council to ensure that China is made a member. I say to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, West that the longer we keep the Chinese Republic outside the United Nations and the longer we allow the minority Chinese Government to occupy the permanent seat on the Security Council allocated to China, the less cooperation are we likely to receive from the People's Republic of China and the more awkward and difficult becomes the task of welding China into the general world community which is, or which should be, the United Nations. The other change in the Security Council for which we should press is that one African and one Asian country should have permanent seats upon it.
I agree very largely with what my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice) said last night about the Civil Service of the United Nations. I thought that he made a very valuable contribution. The only other comment I want to make about the United Nations is to express the hope that we shall see a change of venue. I do not believe that the United Nations can operate at its most effective so long as it is located in a territory so heavily committed to one side as is the United States of America.
249 At the risk of being regarded as an old-fashioned Socialist, I conclude on this note. Last night, my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Dr. Stross), who, I think, has the affection of everyone in the House, made an extremely moving speech. He told us that the real fight in the world today is the fight against want, against disease and against illiteracy. The hard fact of the situation is that half the world's population today go hungry from the day they are born to the day they die. Although it may sound sentimental to say it, there are children in almost every country of the world tonight who will cry themselves to sleep because they are hungry.
Against that background, we in this country have spent over £20,000 million in the last fifteen years upon weapons of defence. How can we square our duty towards those hungary people with the reckless abandon with which we have spent that money only to find that now, sixteen years after the end of the war, we are more vulnerable than ever before?
As Socialists, we have a special responsibility towards the poor of the world and the young of the world. I believe that Britain's obsession with nuclear strategy and our squandering of the country's wealth are a crime against humanity. I pray God that, before long, this nation will come to its senses and drive from power a Government who have failed so signally in their duty to mankind.
§ 6.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
I hope that the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) will forgive me if I do not follow him. I had enough argument with him one day a fortnight ago to last for a long time, so it is best if I leave what he said and make my own speech.
A year ago—I am sorry to see that the Prime Minister has left—some of my colleagues and I tried to have the House recalled because we were extremely worried about the situation in Katanga. A year ago we tried to warn the Government that if the United Nations was determined to move troops from the main part of the Congo, where there was unrest and trouble, into Katanga, the result could be disastrous in the end for Katanga. Of course, the Govern- 250 ment took no notice of us, as is the wont of Governments, even when the advice which they are given is good.
I fear that I owe the Government, or one or two members of the Government, a slight apology, because last year, on 15th March, I rather shouted at them, perhaps partly because one had been saying things for so long but never seemed to be able to get through to wherever the recesses of their minds are receptive to points which are put to them. This evening, I shall try to use a slightly different technique and be almost as quiet as was my hon. Friend the Minister of State when he spoke this afternoon. I should like to quote from column 1513 of HANSARD for 15th March. Needless to say, this is a quotation from something that I said, and I hope that the House will forgive me. I said:President Tshombe is the only person who from the outset realised that if he was to keep the peace and be successful in running Katanga Province he would have to use those who had some experience of administration in the Congo, and the only people who have that experience are the Belgians.I know that it is too late to put the matter right, but I should be grateful if I could have a little attention from the Government Front Bench.
I continued:I therefore ask my right hon. Friend for an assurance that in paying these large sums towards the maintenance of these forces in the Congo we shall resist any move to carry out the last resolution"—I think that that was the resolution of 21st February:so far as it affects the withdrawal of Belgian personnel employed by President Tshombe … because I believe that real disaster will come if all the Belgians are withdrawn.At the end of my somewhat loud speech I made another plea. I had been talking about the United Nations, and I did not have the temerity to ask my right hon. Friend at that time if he would withdraw from the United Nations because I thought that he was too committed to be able to do so. However, I said:I think it would be unfair to ask him to do that, but I ask him to consider very carefully the implications of our getting rid of, of our being a party to driving out the Belgians from the Congo, for, after all, they are the only people who know anything about the 251 administration of the Congo."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th March, 1961; Vol. 636, c. 1513–16.]The result of all that was, as one might have expected, that we did not get anywhere and we now see the result of the Government refusing to face what surely to anybody was the most obvious fact in the Congo at that time, and that was this. There was one area in the Congo which was reasonably quiet, where law and order had not broken down and where the United Nations forces were not needed. If the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) wishes to interrupt me because he thinks that what I am talking about is funny, I shall be delighted if he will get up from his seat to do so.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
It was not an expression that I made about the hon. Member's speech. I was engaged in conversation with one of my hon. Friends.
§ Mr. Fell
I apologise, but the hon. Gentleman was looking in my direction and I was misled into thinking that he might be listening.
We have this extraordinary situation today in which, after all these warnings, we did not take strong enough action in the United Nations to make sure that this disastrous policy of driving the whites, the so-called mercenaries, out of Katanga was not proceeded with. The disaster arose in the first place from the determination of the United Nations to go into Katanga, and, secondly, from the determination of the United Nations, aided and abetted by Mr. Dayal, to insist on the withdrawal of all white advisers and white officers, and so on.
Firstly, it seems to me that there is no defence of the United Nations for what they have done. Secondly, there is no defence of the British Government for not listening to good advice which, surely, was obvious. It must have been obvious to a child who studied these matters at all. The British Government did not take any notice. We therefore had this tragedy.
What are the British Government doing now? A statement was made by the Secretary of State in New York on 22nd September. I shall not read all of it because no doubt most hon. Mem- 252 bers have read it. However, I should like to quote from the last two paragraphs, which state:We were thus deeply disturbed when fighting recently broke out in Katanga. We responded at once to the Secretary-General when he asked us to help to arrange an early meeting in Ndola. We hope that the cease fire which has now been achieved will lead to internal political reconciliation and the early establishment of conditions of peace and prosperity free from all external pressures.What does that mean? I do not know whether it means that it is hoped that it will lead to internal political reconciliation in the whole of the Congo or merely in Katanga. What does the Secretary of State mean when he uses the words "free from all external pressures"? If he means a Katanga free from all pressures by the United Nations, then I very much applaud that part of the statement.
The statement ends by stating:The British Government will continue to give its full support to the United Nations in their efforts to achieve this end.Why are the British Government continuing to give more or less carte blanche to the United Nations to go on disrupting law and order in the Congo? Why have not the Government made a statement, yesterday or today, in reply to the statement made by General Khiari? Have the Government studied this statement and the implications of it?
I should like to read one or two extracts from General Khiari's statement. It states:We do not consider"—he was talking about the clauses in the agreement which they hoped would be ratified at any moment and the ability of the Katangese to defend themselves against external attack—an attack by the Congolese Nationalist Army against Katanga would be an attack from the outside. Further, we do not consider that Katanga can make war against the central Government because the United Nations could control reinforcements sent into the Province. If the Katangese formed themselves into an army to fight the National Army"—in other words, if they defended themselves against aggression from the rest of the Congo—it would become an irregular armed band and immediately subject to being disarmed and interned.Who would do the disarming and the interning? What does this statement mean, and what do the Government propose to do about it?
253 This extraordinary and slavish following of an organisation which has proved itself incapable of doing anything well throughout its history is, to me, the most alarming feature of our foreign affairs today. We lean on the United Nations organisation every time that there is trouble. If it is possible for us to lean on the organisation as an excuse for doing nothing, we do so. We never, if we can possible avoid it, have an argument with any of our more powerful friends in the organisation. Mostly we do not have an argument with America in the organisation.
The United Nations organisation has been discussed a great deal, and I was delighted to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) coming round to the view which has been expressed by one or two people. I shall save hon. Members the embarrassment of reading another quotation from what I said a year ago about the United Nations organisation, but it affords one some hope that one or two hon. Members are coming round to the belief that we ought, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West said, to be relying more on whatever arrangements we can make between countries and between nations rather than on this amorphous mass at the centre, the United Nations organisation, which can do nothing.
I met somebody the other day who had been a representative at the United Nations for a few months. I cannot give his name, but he came back and he was a rarefied individual. The U.N. had altered him. He was one of the new élite. The only thing that could be done with him was to send him back, because it was the only place where he could any longer breathe. That may be an exaggeration, but it is not such an exaggeration as it sounds.
Let me once again say what I tried to say a year ago. One must go on saying these things because it so happens that in the event one is right. I do not want to go on saying "All right, then, I am right." When, however, will the Government recognise these things? To be logical about the United Nations, we can do one of two things. What is the U.N.? In the first place, we all know that the name is an anomaly, because by the time that the nations are united, we 254 will not need the United Nations organisation anyway. So that is a nonsense; but that is a minor matter.
If one is logical about the United Nations, one can say that it is a talking shop—a talking shop for the majority to get propaganda, air their views, have fights, have fun, become rarefied and become other people. Perhaps it does a little good for people to air their views, but I do not think that it has done much good in the last year.
On the other hand, one can say that the United Nations is for the protection of the world against war. If we say this, we must be further logical and say that, therefore, in the final event—and I have the greatest respect for people who at least are logical enough to hold this view—if it is to stop world wars, it must itself be armed with the whole paraphernalia of modern war, with nuclear weapons to a greater extent than any nation or group of nations in the world, because otherwise it is nonsense. Otherwise, it can only stop little people fighting each other. It can only oppress the Katangans. It can only mess about in little affairs in which the rest of the world does not want to dabble or because it might get unpopular by dabbling in them. Therefore, logically, the United Nations must be armed, and armed to the teeth.
Those who accept that view accept the greatest conceivable danger in that it will become a monster that they will no longer be able to control. It is difficult enough to control it now. Here we are, two or three countries paying practically the whole of the piper for the Congo operations and the United Nations force out there. What control do we have over the U.N.? Votes are rushed through at the Assembly. What control do we have over those votes? All the members can vote; they have as much right to vote and as much influence on what happens in Katanga, or the Congo or anywhere else, as we who are paying for the operation.
This, surely, is nonsense. When will the world wake up and stop chasing moonbeams all over the place? The U.N. is not doing any good. It failed at Korea because it was non-existent, because it simply endorsed America's stand and because Russia was not able to veto, because Russia was stopped or something. It failed everywhere else. A 255 few men stuck a line here and there, perhaps, after the trouble was over and have stayed stuck on the line and the trouble has not broken out again. But it has had no significant success of any sort.
Therefore, I plead once again with the Government to consider whether it is appropriate for the foundation of British foreign policy to be based upon this extraordinary, unhealthy organisation that has no loyalty, no individuality, no character and no unity of any sort. I beg the Government to think whether their future foreign policy will succeed and whether the world is to have any measure of success if all the time we hide behind this organisation.
Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal mentioned the Rome Treaty and the negotiations which are taking place. Some people may have got the wrong impression of what happened at the Conservative Party Conference last week. I was not there, because I do not like being a rubber stamp. Therefore, I was able, perhaps, to look at it in a slightly more detached way than the members who were there in the heat of the battle.
The Government, however, stage-managed this beautifully. It was one of the slickest operations that the Government have indulged in. More credit to them. They are absolutely right. They are the Government and it is their job to govern and to put across what they believe to be the right policies. If, however, anybody should think that the great masses of the Conservative Party favour our signing the Rome Treaty in anything like its present form, they would be making a great mistake.
I warn the Government that they must not loosen up. They must not relax their efforts to get into Europe or think that the country is suddenly behind them, because they will wake up one morning and find that the whole country, or large sections of it, is absolutely opposed to what they are doing.
To my mind, the major reason why, from one aspect, the Rome Treaty can never be signed by us unless it is redrafted is a very simple one. It is completely incompatible with the position of Britain as leader of the British Commonwealth. The two things are utterly 256 incompatible, and I should like to point out in a few words why I say this.
We have spent generation after generation building up the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth has now become a Commonwealth of countries which, politically, are absolutely free, which have no known ties and which are completely and absolutely independent and free. We are now talking about Britain, the centre of that Commonwealth, having to go into a fairly closely-knit political association in the heart of Europe.
I do not for the life of me see how it is possible to square our great defence of the way of life that we have built up in the Commonwealth of Nations with our surrender of sovereignty and our being tied—hog-tied—to a number of countries whose past has been somewhat doubtful and whose future may, indeed, be as doubtful as their past, although let us hope not. I cannot see that there is any possible reason for the Government to do this other than—now let us face it—the cold shower argument which the Prime Minister gave on Saturday.
Of course, there are people in this country, there are some industrialists in this country—thank heaven, not all of them—who want to see Britain go into the Common Market because this will put the British working man in his place. Let us face it. This is true. The people who say this are not by any means confined to one political party or another. They believe this cold wind will blow in from Europe and settle things. I say to those people that if this country has reached a stage where we are incapable of even making an effort to put our own house in order then we may just as well go out of business.
I would say this of the United States of America. America, in my opinion—look at it: I have a list of instances here, such as Abadan, Suez, G.A.T.T.—is pushing us into the Rome Treaty. America is trying to bring about, in my opinion, the dissolution of the British Commonwealth. I will go further and say that America is absolutely entitled to make a take-over bid for what is left of the British Commonwealth, for this reason, that if Britain is incapable of leading the Commonwealth, if Britain is incapable of having faith any more in what she has built up, then it is fair 257 game for America to say, "If Britain is weak, effete, faithless, gutless, let us take over for her." And that is precisely what I believe America is doing.
It was to me highly significant, although I think it has been denied that there was any connection, that the loan—of £700 million or whatever it was—from the I.M.F. was announced the day after it had been announced that Britain had agreed to seek admission to the Rome Treaty. I reckon that to be highly significant, but I cannot say more than that, for I do not know. But my suspicion is that America wants to get us into Europe.
The real malaise, and the real reason why a debate like this is pretty useless, is that, as has been said by other hon. Members this afternoon, our influence is declining almost weekly. The best, the most effective, contribution our Prime Minister made to foreign affairs during the holidays was to shoot grouse. [Laughter.] Hon. Gentlemen on that side may laugh. They may even be agreed about that, but they always laugh too soon. I means that; because I believe he was utterly right to try to bring temperatures down. [An hon. Member: "Whose temperature?"] What I am worried about is that we are showing no signs of really trying to face the situation. We have no faith in ourselves any more. All over the country we get various people saying, "We have got to face this: we are now a second-rate nation." We get generals saying it. I do not know whether we get archbishops saying it. I do not think so. Certainly we get politicians of all sorts saying it.
What is the secret of the strength of Britain or our weakness? Is it not in ourselves? Is it not in our faith? It seems stupid, I suppose, to go back to the days of Dunkirk, but what did we have then that made us strong? We had faith, surely; faith and guts.
§ Mr. Fell
Of course the hon. Member's guess was completely wrong, but Lord Beaverbrook has guts, too; a lot of guts.
However, the people I was going to mention were, first of all, President Tshombe—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes, President Tshombe, fighting against the United Nations, fighting against the whole of the Afro-Asian group. There are two kinds of fighting. I am talking about moral faith and guts. I am not talking about physical fighting. I am talking of his fighting against world opinion. He has stuck to his guns, and. weak as he has been, he has won— so far.
Then there is Sir Roy Welensky. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may laugh. They may say anything they like about Sir Roy Welensky. One thing they will not do is accuse him of not being a man of courage. Sir Roy Welensky has been up against the British Government for two years, fighting every inch of the way against the British Government, against African opinion all over Africa, against interference of American special ambassadors. Had he not stood by his guns—or suppose he had collapsed two years or a year ago and given way—do hon. Members think the Central African Federation would now exist at all? [HON. MEMBERS: "Does it?"] Well, I think it does at the moment.
I am merely giving these two instances of leadership of people and of what faith can do, and I am saying to the Government that if only we could regain some of our faith in ourselves, and faith in the things we and our ancestors before us at so much sweat and pain built up, then there is nothing this nation could not do to influence world affairs.
§ 6.58 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)
We have listened to a speech which was never dull. The speech by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) went over a wide range. As to its initial stages regarding Katanga, the hon. Member may 259 remember that last year I joined his warning, and I have some sympathy with what he had to say there, though not with his somewhat extremist conclusions.
I thought he became unfair when he was dealing with America. The American attitude with regard to us and the Common Market may be wise or may be unwise, but for America to urge us to discriminate against her—which is what she is, in fact, doing when she encourages us to join the Common Market—is, to say the least of it, quixotic. Indeed, I believe that it is a curious fact—and later I shall be commenting on its wisdom—that America is perhaps the one big nation which has really considered righteousness in making its foreign policy.
That may be the reason why America's influence is less than it ought to be, but as a fact it must be observed that the question "Is it right?" has been one which the Americans have fundamentally considered and have considered at the expense of their interests.
§ Mr. Paget
Yes, even Cuba. Compare Cuba and Hungary. It was a bad conscience on righteousness that prevented the Americans, who obviously had the power, going in and completing the job in Cuba, but the Russians, who are not interested in righteousness, did complete the job. I do not say that in terms of a useful ally that is necessarily a compliment to the Americans.
Perhaps the most significant and most dreadful decision made in human history—and only the future will tell us—was the Soviet decision to recommence nuclear tests and to start this atomic race, poisoning the atmosphere. I should have thought that that decision might have established one thing. In looking at the uncommitted world, the Americans and the Russians have had two different theories. The Americans have thought that the uncommitted world was influenced by righteousness and the Russians have thought that it was influenced by power. When, just on the eve of Belgrade, the Russians put it to the test, it seems to me that the Russians proved their point. They established that what the uncommitted world was concerned with was not righteousness, but power.
260 If one looks backs, has not that been so? When the Americans rescued Egypt—which I am sure they did—whether rightly or mistakenly for reasons of righteousness, what effect did it have on their cause? Their influence in the Middle East fell to the bottom. They were simply rated as an unreliable ally, whereas the Russians, when they dealt with Hungary, established in the eyes of these people the proposition that they were people to be reckoned with, that they were people with a will.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), in opening the debate, said that our reputation had fallen so low that in certain quarters we were even suspected of responsibility for the murder of Mr. Hammarskjold, which is, of course, an absurd charge. But I do not know in what terms my hon. Friend was thinking about reputation. If he was thinking in terms of influence, in vast areas of the uncommitted world, people's influence is measured precisely by their will and ability to dispose of those who have offended them. It is not by our virtues that we are judged. When we go to the United Nations we find double moral standards because they are not the real judgments. The real judgments are concerned with power. The moral judgments that go with it are merely the garnish.
Where the decision is firm, as was the Russian decision to recommence tests, the moral judgment is very soft indeed. But where the decision is at all wobbly, the moral indignation is tremendous. Those in the uncommitted parts of the world, whether they be Mr. Nehru, or Mr. Nkrumah, or Mr. Sokarno, or President Tito, or Colonel Nasser are not fundamentally concerned with judging righteousness. They are engaged in backing winners, and our misfortune at the moment is that the Russians have been allowed to look like winners.
Now I turn to Berlin. This is a power issue. It was, of course, a folly ever to go to Berlin, but that was in the different atmosphere in which idealists hoped for a different world. But, having got there, we should have reckoned early that our position was militarily indefensible. Nobody could open up those communications. Nobody could defend the air corridor. As for defending the 261 city, that is not a twenty-four hour possibility. That being so, it was not entirely wise for us to commit our prestige to the defence of what we know perfectly well is indefensible.
I have been to a number of conferences in Europe and at these conferences I have heard much heroism from the irresponsible. When the Oder-Neisse line is mentioned, people say that this is a test of freedom and that if we recognise the Oder-Neisse line that freedom has gone. But the Oder-Neisse line exists, and on one side live the Germans and on the other the Poles. It may be that the Poles came there as conquerors, but who did not? This is a question of dates. In our sensible Anglo-Saxon law possession by force becomes possession by right in seven years. The Poles have been there twice seven years. If the denial of this be a test of freedom then freedom's chances are slim.
Again, I am told that even the de facto recognition of an East German Government will destroy the solidity of the West, because the solidity of the West depends upon the assumption that there is no East German Government. But there is; and if the solidity of the West is as slenderly based as that, then the chances of the West are not too good.
Even if, on Berlin, we decided to play the hand on a busted flush we might at least come to the conclusion that if we were so to play it, we should behave as if we held four aces. How have we played it? When the Russians put up the wall we, if we were in this game, should have sent a tank through it, followed by a general in an open car who would have gone to the Russian headquarters to deliver his protest. We should then have sent him back another way to knock another hole in the wall.
If we are in this game, that is the way to play it, not by following the Prime Minister and saying on a golf course that there will be no war over Berlin. It may be said that this is an ambiguous statement. It may be an ambiguous statement from the mouth of some, but from the Prime Minister's mouth it is not ambiguous at all. It is surrender. If he knows there is to be no war over Berlin, it can only be because he knows what his position is. He can know that the Russians are not going to fight only if he knows that he is going to surrender.
262 Finally, there are these manœuvres. We have put on manœuvres in a situation in which we are pretending that we are ready to fight when our forces are 40 per cent. undermanned. We have put on a display of impotence; and we expect the others to take us seriously.
There are certain difficulties and certain easinesses about negotiating with a blackmailer. It is generally fairly easy to get an agreement this time because he always knows that he can come again next time. That seems to be the situation that we are in over Berlin. When it suits him he knows that he can come back. In a sense, international negotiations are always negotiations under threat of war, because, as Herr Clausewitz observed, war is a continuance of negotiation by other means. But it is not very helpful to negotiate upon a basis of a war which one will inevitably lose, and everyone knows that if there is a fight for Berlin we shall lose.
Therefore, what I say is that before we negotiate we must change this atmosphere. We must switch from negotiating with the background of a fight for the Berlin corridor, which we are in no position to conduct, to an area where we can win. What I would be saying now is, "If you use force to interfere with our communications with Berlin, then we shall immediately break all trade relations with you. Our ports will be closed to your ships". I would then say to every uncommitted neutral, "At this point you make a choice. Either you trade with the Communists, or you trade with the rest of the world. You cannot trade with both. Either you admit to your ports the ships of the Communists, or you admit to your ports the ships of the rest of the world You cannot have them both".
We should then be bringing the uncommitted nations into a context of power where we are supreme. We should have switched the issue from Berlin, where we must fail, to the oceans, where we must succeed. We should have refused the flank of Berlin, which is a flank which we cannot defend, and offered an alternative, which is a tremendous threat to the Russians, because there is not a single uncommitted nation which can do without our ships 263 and our trade and which could survive on only Russian ships and trade.
In this context we have brought the issue to where we shall win—
§ Mr. Paget
—and our warning to these people will leak back to the Russians. At that stage it will be the Russians who will want to negotiate, and that is right, because it is the Russians who are wishing to change the status quo. At that point let us by all means go forward with our concessions. Let us recognise the Oder-Neisse line. Let us recognise East Germany. They exist. For my part, I am glad to have seen the Western part of Germany choose Europe in preference to Prussia.
I am not too concerned about these things. They are things that we can then negotiate, but at that time we can do it from force and demand an effective exchange which will not leave us open to blackmail; that is, effective and real control of the communications with Berlin, of Berlin's defences and of Berlin's frontier. In that atmosphere and from that basis, I believe that we can negotiate successfully. But to negotiate on the pretence of an armed struggle for Berlin, which everybody knows we are not in a position to implement, seems to me simply to be folly.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
I do not want immediately to follow the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). I want to begin by remarking on the speeches by the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood) and my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell). They were both reactionary speeches which had a lot in common, and this is an interesting phenomenon that we find at the moment in both the extreme Left and the extreme Right in politics. I think it would be fair to describe the hon. Member for Rossendale as being to the Left of the Labour Party, and it would certainly be true to describe my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth as being to the far Right of the Conservative Party.
What I find interesting is that both viewpoints are very much the same. 264 Both hon. Members seem to share anti-Americanism. They have a certain lack of reality as to our influence in the world, and each hanker after neutralism. One wants to achieve it by unilateralism. The other would like us to achieve a sort of spendid anti-American neutrality on our own. Both speeches were splendidly irrelevant and quite reactionary.
I was fortunate—if that is the correct word—to be in Berlin over the weekend of 13th August. I arrived there on the Friday and spent the Friday and the Saturday being shown round first West Berlin and then East Berlin. I went into the refugee reception centre in West Berlin on the Saturday morning and was, therefore, in a position to have begun to get the feel of Berlin before the frontier was closed on midnight on 13th August. The next morning I went into East Berlin and had the dubious honour of being, I think, the only hon. Member of this House to be squirted by an East German hose.
The significance of 13th August has, I think, been to some extent underplayed and disregarded. It is, in fact, a watershed in the history of Europe.
There is something that I have noticed about the speeches which have been made in this debate, both in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition and the speech of the Foreign Secretary in another place, and I am certain that the Prime Minister will make the same remarks when he winds up. Indeed, practically every speaker has made this point. They have all started their speeches by saying that there are three factors affecting West Berlin on which we will not compromise or give way. They are: free access in and out of Berlin; the right of the West to have its soldiers in West Berlin; and the right of the people who live in West Berlin to live in freedom. These three points of view are unexceptional and perfectly reasonable but are irrelevant to the main issue that faces the West today, for we are not asked, and have not been asked, to surrender West Berlin. What we have been asked to do is to recognise the East German Administration.
It does not matter what form this recognition takes. It is the act of recognition which will be of significant importance. In my view, this is not a crisis 265 over the future of West Berlin but a crisis of the future relationship of the West with Germany. On this topic, there are two kinds of surrender. We can either surrender over Berlin or we can surrender over Germany. I do not think we are likely to do the first, but I think that we are much more likely to do the second.
If we concede the second, then the first will, in the fullness of time, follow. Both our political parties have, over the Berlin crisis, shown their standard reflexes. The Conservatives have immediately said they will threaten nuclear war in answer to a threat which I consider is non-existent, while an element in the Labour Party is prepared straight away to surrender to the same non-existent threat.
What did the East German authorities want to achieve in the weeks before the 13th August? I think that they wanted to achieve three things in West Berlin. They wanted to end the four-Power status of the city, to end free movement of Germans inside the city, and to absorb East Berlin into East Germany. This they achieved in fifteen minutes on the night of 13th August. As some hon. Members have pointed out, I do not think that the West would, even if it had wished, have been able at that time to use force against that fait accompli. What will be the significance now, on the future of West Berlin, of the loss of its three most important functions—because those three which I shall now mention were its paramount functions. The West Berliners have lost the knowledge that West Berlin was the symbol of the obligations entered into by the four Powers for the eventual reunification of Germany. It is no longer a refuge for the people of East Germany, and it is no longer a shop window, because a shop window is a function of free movement from East Germany to West Berlin and from West Berlin to East Berlin.
Even if Mr. Khrushchev were prepared to run the risk of nuclear war—and, because of the weakness of our defences, I can see that this is the only way in which we could defend Berlin against direct attack—there is no need for him to do it because West Berlin has been emasculated by what happened on the 13th August. If we add to this process of emasculation recognition of 266 East Germany, West Berlin will quietly wither away. There will be no real challenge at all to West Berlin, because its previous function will no longer be operative.
There is no doubt that we shall have to negotiate, but I have a sneaking sympathy for the point of view of the President of France in that he believes that if negotiations are inevitable there is no need to be overtly enthusiastic about rushing into them because the position of the West is one of great weakness. The result of the Government's actions up to date was shown yesterday by Mr. Khrushchev who, because we have not been over-eager for negotiations, has now once again changed his mind and says that he will not use the first months of next year as an opportunity to sign a separate peace treaty with East Germany. I do not think that he will ever sign a peace treaty unilaterally with East Germany, because this would involve the possibility of control of peace or war being granted to Herr Ulbricht, and I do not think that Mr. Khrushchev is likely to do that. Therefore, to some extent we can wait and play a long, very lonely and very gradual hand.
If we decide to negotiate, it may be that the Government will return having succeeded in reaching a solution on these lines: that the West, on its side, should recognise East Germany—accepting, as it were, the rape of Berlin—and that, in return, the Russians will give us the three essential factors on Berlin which I have mentioned, guaranteeing us something which we have enjoyed for fourteen years. We may also say that we will stop the broadcasting which is going on in West Berlin—thereby, to some extent, putting some control even on the freedom of speech of the people of West Berlin. What would be the significance of them if these were in fact the terms which the Government will one day arrive at? What would be the significance of recognition of East Germany? I think there will be two effects.
The first will be psychological. I think that it would be a psychological disaster to the whole of the West simply because, if the West stands for anything in the cold war, it stands for the right of a nation to make up its own mind about what form of Government it wants. But the right of self-determination would be thrown 267 over if we recognise the East German régime. Secondly, recognition would be a direct violation of the 1954 Agreement between Britain, France, the United States and West Germany.
Whether the bargain struck in 1954 was sensible or not is beside the point, but the Germans said that they would renounce the use of force in order to achieve reunification in return for our striving for the reunification of Germany and our never recognising East Germany. That was the bargain. It is no good saying that because the East German régime has existed, is existing and will exist, we should recognise it. It is because of these reasons that we entered into this bargain in the first place and undertook not to recognise it.
The effect of recognition upon the people of Germany would be very severe. They would feel betrayed and insulted. The Soviet Union in 1953 offered the Germans reunification at the price of neutrality. The Germans refused and signed the 1954 Agreement. We would be handing over to the Germans power perhaps one day to accept, first, another Soviet offer of reunification, on the promise of neutrality, and, secondly, when united, to become allied to the Communist bloc. That is the card which we should be handing over by recognising East Germany. We may well not want to do that, but let us at least realise what is at stake in recognising East Germany.
If Germany ever changed sides in the cold war, then I think that that would mean the defeat of the West in the cold war. If we ever reached the stage when we had to admit defeat and that we had lost the cold war, then a hot war would become inevitable. All this may be the price of recognition of East Germany. Nor is it any use pretending that Mr. Khrushchev, because he is perhaps emotionally anti-German, is prepared to come to some sort of deal with Britain, America and France at the expense of Germany. That is jejune. Nor is it any use pretending that he will refuse to overthrow Ulbricht if he can get the much larger prize, first, of West Germany and then of a united Germany. Ulbricht is in this context expendable, and if he has followed the lessons of the history of Russian foreign policy, he will know that.
268 If we have to negotiate, let us at least consider the fact that if we manage to get the terms which I have outlined, which might include the recognition of East Germany, the Government should not return from that conference to sell the idea that this is a victory for the West. Nor should the Opposition greet such a "victory" with hysteria or enthusiasm because we will only have had to accept such terms, because in the long run our position is basically a weak one. It will be in no sense a victory for the West, but a humiliating defeat.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
The hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley) seemed to be afraid that a settlement, which, among other things, involved the recognition of the existence of two German States, would mean a defeat for the West in the cold war. I suggest that we should strive for—and I believe we can attain—defeat of the cold war by the joint efforts of the West and East. That should be the point of view from which we regard this situation. I will illustrate what I mean by making what I believe to be the best contribution I can make to this debate—giving an account of the views of the other side, those with whom we have to reach agreement. In these matters, our own country's policies are our responsibility, those of our allies are our concern, and that of the other side is our problem.
This summer I spent six weeks in the Soviet Union, and my hon. Friend the Member for Deptford (Sir L. Plummer) and I had the opportunity of a 3½ hours' conversation with Mr. Khrushchev which confirmed and clarified the impressions which I had been gathering from talking with all kinds of people at every level.
After that, I had six days at the unofficial East-West Round Table Conference in Rome, a body of which this was the fifth meeting. It consists of fairly high-powered representatives from the Soviet Union and representatives, mostly at Parliamentary or ex-Ministerial level, from Western countries, excluding Western Communists, as there would be no point in having them meet their colleagues from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Towards the end of this meeting we had the presence of a 269 very important American for the first time, Senator Hubert Humphrey. He meant to come for the whole conference, but a deadlock between the two Houses of Congress about appropriations delayed him. However, he came in at the end and promised co-operation in future. I am sorry to say that we did not have any Parliamentary representatives from the Government side. I hope that that will be remedied next time when, I am sure, there will be members of Congress present.
But a fairly representative group from here was present. We had the services not of a Parliamentarian but of a very doughty international expert, Mr. David Floyd of the Sunday Telegraph, and of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), my hon. Friend the Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Prentice), my hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, East (Mr. G. M. Thomson) and myself.
The French delegation was very strong. It included M. Schmittelein, head of the Gaullist Party in the French Chamber of Deputies, General Billotte, ex-War Minister and also a Gaullist, Senator Hamond, a third Gaullist, and M. Jules Moch, the French Government representative in disarmament discussions for many years. Everybody was there in a personal capacity and the discussions were off the record and frank and revealing.
Naturally, when one talks to people like Mr. Adzhubei, Khrushchev's son-in-law and the editor of lzvestia, Ilya Ehrenburg and Alexander Korneichuk, who are Soviet Deputies, mostly members of the Central Committee, one realises that their views cannot be far from what the Soviet Union would be prepared to accept in negotiation. We discussed the burning issues. As a result, I would like to tell the House what I believe to be the basic positions of the other side with which we shall have to reckon in discussions and, secondly, what I believe to be the lines of possible agreement merging.
In our interview with Mr. Khrushchev on 31st August, he began by saying to us, "I am afraid I have some news to give you that is going to upset you. It is very disagreeable news. We have decided to renew tests". My hon. Friend 270 and I were thoroughly upset and said so and said exactly why we disagreed and still disagree with that decision. It was a very bad decision. I hope very much that the Soviet Government will listen to President Kennedy's plea not to let off the 50-megaton bomb.
I should like to tell the House the reasons with which we were presented and with which my hon. Friend and I disagreed. First, the contention was that negotiations on tests had originally been supposed to be something which we could get through fairly quickly so as to get on with disarmament. They were to form the prelude, or ante-chamber, to general disarmament discussions. Instead, negotiations had dragged on for years and were being used to sidetrack and leave in the background getting down to the question of disarmament. It was said that the link between the two must be restored.
The second point was that although the French explosions in themselves did not matter very much, they were setting a precedent and, if allowed to continue, meant that nothing would stop other countries also starting experiments, so that talk of banning nuclear tests became hollow and unreal.
The third was, I am afraid, in language which sounded extraordinarily like that which I have heard in the House and read in the Press for some time, but the other way round. It was the contention that the West was pushing the Russians around and that since 1958 the Soviet Government had proposed negotiations and a peace treaty to put a stop to an increasingly dangerous situation, but that all they got in reply was negatives and threats and that this time there were also war preparations, to increase the West's effectives, keep time-expired men with the colours, increase defence appropriations and so on, and that the Russians had to show that they were not prepared to be intimidated by that kind of thing.
In reply we objected that what was operating was not a desire for aggression but fear and suspicion and that the Soviet Government's act would increase fear and suspicion and might make Governments more and not less intractable and make negotiations more difficult. The answer was, "No; they will realise that we mean business and we shall get down 271 to serious negotiations". Then came the argument about hostages, with which hon. Members are familiar, as it has been made public, and which I shall not develop.
To the argument that tests were an evil in themselves, because they were a definite act of hostility, so to speak, towards human beings—they were poisoning future generations—we got a reply which I thought very characteristic. Mr. Khrushchev's reply was, "A man who is due to have his head cut off does not bother about his hair-do". What he meant was that he was worrying about the imminent danger of nuclear war, which would wipe out the present generation, and that seemed to him more urgent than what might happen to a few members of future generations. The argument behind that was that by resuming tests he would exert pressure on the West and make it more inclined to negotiate.
I detest that kind of power-political argument, from either side. I have always been against it and I still am. I do not believe that it is true, because I believe that it is fear and suspicion and not a desire for aggression on either side that is at work. To my mind, that was not a proper reply.
We then said, "This is going to indispose public opinion. Public opinion is a great force and it will make it more difficult for those who want a settlement to exert any pressure on those who do not". He said, "The trouble with public opinion is that it has been asleep and dreaming. It keeps on re-electing to power those who wage the cold war and pile up armaments. Public opinion needs a jolt. It has to wake up." He went on to say that unless we wake up soon—and this was the point at which he showed real and deep emotion—and unless we can get negotiations going, on our present collision course we shall end in catastrophe. People must understand that before it is too late.
The Leader of the Opposition made an effective and apposite quotation from what Mr. Khrushchev said in January last year about any Power which resumed tests. But I think that when we have said all that, we still have to remember one or two things to balance the picture. We have to remember that 272 it was the Soviet Government who first unilaterally stopped tests, and that the West went on testing bombs for some time. Even now the score is still on the side of the West in the number of tests carried out.
As to the charge that the Soviet Union had for a long time been preparing for tests, one of the Soviet Members of Parliament at the Rome Conference said, "Yes, of course we did, but so did everyone else. Look at the Americans. They began promptly. They got off the mark very quickly. Everybody knows that it takes months to prepare a thing like this, and they were all prepared to start testing." In proof of this, he said that on 6th September a message had been received from the President of the United States of America asking Russia not to go ahead with tests, and asking for a reply to the message by 9th September. But on the next day, 7th September, before the Russians had had time to reply, the first American test took place.
Do not let us make too much of all that, because the problem still remains, where do we go from here? What are we going to do about it? There was one passage in the unanimous report of this conference at Rome, a report concurred in by the Soviet members. Senator Humphrey arrived too late to have any hand in framing the report. In fact, he had not read it when he was discussing matters with us. It said:We consider it essential that, in order to relieve tension, clear the air and allay anxiety, the atomic powers should agree to stop all nuclear tests again, the moment the body charged with conducting the disarmament negotiations first meets, and to do so for at least the duration of the negotiations.The implication there is that the negotiations would make the banning of tests the first part of the first section of s general disarmament treaty.
It is much easier to allow an evil genie like this out of the bottle than it is to put it back again. I am sure that there will be a lot of jockeying and discussions before there is again a ban on tests. But one thing about this link-up with disarmament is that it enables negotiations to start immediately on banning the tests, independently of any progress made in general disarmament.
Another result of having this formal link is that it will bring in France. That 273 was made clear by the French participants at the meeting. It may be worth considering whether one should not attack the thing from that angle, because I think we all agree that the sooner we can get an agreement to get going on disarmament negotiations and start by imposing a ban on all tests, the better it will be for everybody.
We also had discussions on general disarmament. The Russians attached enormous importance to this, for three reasons. First, because they are afraid of the arms race resulting in the outbreak of war by accident. War is the last thing they want. That is one thing which is brought home to one when talking to people there. There is hardly a family in the country which has not had at least one member killed or wounded in the war. One sees people carrying the scars of the most terrible war wounds, and many people with artificial legs and arms. The Russians lost about 25 million killed and wounded—about half the population of this country—and about one-third of the country was devastated. There is no doubt about their passion for peace.
That passion for peace is supported in the Government because of cold, hard reasoning. They have dedicated all their resources and energies to a programme of reconstruction, and more than reconstruction. They have dedicated their resources to a programme for producing a new kind of society. They are very proud of their achievements. They have every confidence that they can go ahead. The first twenty-year programme says that success depends on peace, and the more money that is wasted on armaments, and the more complications there are in the international situation, the more the plan will be held up. On the other hand, if they could get a disarmament agreement, they could leap ahead with this tremendous plan, to which they are dedicating all the resources of the nation.
The third point is that they have complete faith in the superiority of their system. They believe that their success will be so dazzling if it is not interfered with, that if there is not a war the people of the world will turn to Communism.
I have mentioned this before in the House. I think that this belief rests on an analysis of what is happening in 274 the outside world that is one-sided and out of date. They do not realise how much has been achieved in the Western countries. They do not realise how effective our democratic system of Government is for carrying out changes, nor how much we are attached to our concept of freedom and democracy. That is all right. Let them believe that. This ideological belief, added to the human and practical considerations which I have mentioned, makes them anxious for peaceful co-existence. They do not want war, and have no intention of attacking anybody.
On the question of disarmament, the unanimous report, while stressing the extreme importance of disarmament and the difficulty of settling political issues in the midst of an arms race, went on to welcome the principles of disarmament concluded between Mr. McCloy and Mr. Zorin. It welcomed the agreement and enumerated the points it contained. Other nations were asked to subscribe to the plan. Dealing with the question of control, the report said something which I think is interesting and worth putting forward because this was accepted unanimously. It said:The principal issue still dividing the two sides is the question of controls. A form of control acceptable to both sides, because it takes account of their respective anxieties, can and must be found. One side is worried lest inadequate controls be taken advantage of by bad faith; the other side fear that excessive controls may be used as a cover for legalised espionage. A half-way house could be found which, by dovetailing the degrees of control and the amount of disarmament at each stage, would limit the risk of fraud and make controls at every stage appropriate to the scope and the nature of the measures of disarmament prescribed for that stage".Earlier the report underlined a point in the agreement, that before we pass from one stage of disarmament to the next, we should verify that the measures prescribed for the previous stage have been carried out. The discussion which took place suggested to me that the question of what is to be controlled and what is to be left uncontrolled is largely a question of semantics. It depends on what one puts into the first stage of disarmament. If we put in, among other things, the limitation of the number of effectives and of the quantities of arms of different kinds which States retain under the agreement, and so on, 275 obviously controls will be necessary to make sure that the limitations are being observed.
Mr. Khrushchev made an important point in this connection. Mr. McCloy, he said, had asked him whether he would apply the troika principle to control a disarmament agreement, and he replied, "No, I would not. I want control of a disarmament convention to be as free and effective as it possibly can be, and therefore I would be quite content to have this control exercised by one man, by whoever is appointed as executive officer of the commission or the body controlling the carrying out of the disarmament convention." On the other hand, he said, "I believe that the troika would be necessary for the command of an international United Nations force." That is a question which we need not bother about very much at the moment. Under the United Nations Charter, if a United Nations force is to be set up, it must be under a general staff appointed by the Security Council, where the unanimity of the great Powers is required. Then there is the question of whether it is to be a truly international force, or a number of national forces working together. But we do not need to worry very much about that point now.
I come now to the question of Germany and Berlin. I think it is important to realise that, from the Russian point of view, Berlin is only a side issue, and that even a peace treaty with Eastern Germany is a pis aller or second best. What they are concerned about is to get an agreement with the Western Powers which will remove what they regard as a growing danger to peace—the rearmament of Western Germany. They say that to combine the rearming of Western Germany with leaving open the question of the German frontiers, and leaving open the question of the unification of Germany, gives the maximum incentive to those who want to try to settle these questions by force, and who are pursuing policies which obstruct any kind of settlement by agreement.
They point to the fact, and I know it to be a fact because I have checked it from West German sources, that there is a juridical theory now widely held in 276 Western German legal circles that, since Western Germany is the only German State and Eastern Germany legally does not exist, therefore, Germans living in East Germany, or rather the régime governing East Germany, is in a state of rebellion against the German State. Therefore, imposing the authority of the German State on that régime, on Germans living in a state of rebellion, is merely an internal police matter and not a matter of international concern. We can see where that kind of theory could lead people, if it is taken too seriously. It is a very dangerous theory. It is merely a legal justification for certain attitudes of mind.
It is true that the West German Government, Dr. Adenauer and others, have stated that they merely want the unity of Germany by peaceful means, that they will recover their lost territories by peaceful means, and also that they want arms, including nuclear arms, merely for defence. But these two things might run together. There is a great deal in what Mr. Gomulka, the Secretary of the Polish Communist Party, said: to talk about Germany restoring her lost territories in Poland by peaceful means is like proposing to skin a sheep without shedding any blood or inflicting any pain on the animal. It is a rather ridiculous proposition. It is about time that Germany were faced with the necessity for reconciling herself to the final loss of the territories which passed out of her control as a result of the defeat of Hitler's aggression.
From the Russian point of view, the point about some form of recognition of East Germany—and they would like full de jure recognition, though they would settle for some form of de facto recognition—is important, because it would put a stop to these ambitions of reconquering Eastern Germany, or liberating it, which I think is the phrase used in Western Germany, and would make it necessary to unify Germany by some form of negotiations. That is the point of view which has been put forward from this side of the House ever since 1958. The official policy of the Labour Party has been that Germany should be united by the efforts of Germans from the two sides, including, at some point, free elections, within a framework agreed and guaranteed by the four Powers. That seems to me a reasonably realistic basis, and one within negotiating distance of the Soviet position.
277 There is a real danger here, and I think it is necessary to remind the Government that on 31st July I quoted a good deal of evidence in support of that. I gave evidence of the growing irredentist ambitions of the present rulers of Western Germany. They have grown with their growing military power. I cited warnings from Western German sources about rearming Western Germany, particularly with nuclear weapons, and also the alarm and anxiety expressed by the hon. and gallant Member for Worthing (Sir O. Prior-Palmer) in his speech on 1st November last. Finally, I quoted some passages from the late Mr. Aneurin Bevan's speech on 4th December, 1958. I do not want to repeat what I quoted then, indicating the danger from the growth of German nationalism, militarism and irredentism—the danger of rearming Germany, particularly with nuclear weapons. In that speech, Aneurin Bevan said:We do not believe that the present position is acceptable. We cannot go on as we are.After he had enumerated the dangers of the status quo in Berlin, he said:We do not wish the Government to say that the Opposition are united with them in opposition to the Russian proposals"—which are very much the same as today's proposals—in the existing context. We must do more. We must find a solution for the Berlin problem. But the solution for the problem of Berlin is a solution of the German problem, and a solution of the German problem is a solution of the European problem."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th December, 1958; Vol. 596, c. 1385.]It is in that context that I endorse what my hon. Friends have said about no war over Berlin. The cry "War for Berlin", although presented as a matter of defending the freedom of the West Berliners, is wrong, because that freedom is not in jeopardy.
The Russians are perfectly prepared to give any guarantee within reason—and I will come to that in a moment, because they seem to be fairly far-reaching guarantees—provided they could remove some of what even President Eisenhower recognised at Camp David as the "anomalies and dangers" of the status quo. If they could have full recognition of the Polish frontier, it would put a stop to irredentist ambitions. 278 The de facto recognition of East Germany—de jure recognition, if possible, but de facto if that is all they can get—would put a stop to the policy of re-conquering Eastern Germany. Above all, they want some agreement on disarmament and disengagement, depriving Germany—both Germanys—of nuclear weapons, and putting both halves of Germany and some of Germany's eastern neighbours within a zone in which nuclear weapons and bases were banned, conventional forces controlled and limited and from which foreign forces would be withdrawn. States in that area would not be allowed to take part in either of the rival military alliances, but both parts of Germany would become members of the United Nations.
There is not a lot between that view and the policy which has long been pressed on the Government and the country by the Labour Party. Nor is it very different from the programme originally proposed by the German Social Democratic Party, which was abandoned only because it received no support from the Western Powers. Even the Free Democratic Party—the Liberal Party in Germany—has also put forward a similar scheme. There is a strong minority in the Christian Democratic Party which is also prepared to settle for something of this kind.
Aneurin Bevan was right to say that there was strong support in Germany for a policy of this kind. If the West were to adopt it, put it forward, and reach agreement with the Soviet Union on it, there is not much doubt that it would be overwhelmingly endorsed in Germany.
In this connection we must overcome the stubbornness of our two allies. We shall have to wait to see what the new German Coalition Government says about it, but it is likely to be as stubborn as the previous Government, and certainly we have to consider the stubbornness of President de Gaulle. I would point out that N.A.T.O. comes into operation only in cases of unprovoked aggression, and if these two allies go on bulling ahead with their present policies, refusing to extend any form of recognition to Eastern Germany, refusing to negotiate on any changes, even in respect of what President Eisenhower called the anomalies 279 and dangers, of the status quo in Berlin, refusing to agree to any form of disengagement, or, in the case of Western Germany, to give up their territorial ambitions in Poland and Czechoslovakia, and become involved in a conflict as a result, we would be entitled to tell them that they could not be regarded as victims of unprovoked aggression, and that we should not support them.
That is what I mean by "no war over Berlin". I say that there should be no war in support of the present intransigent, arrogant, unrealistic, stand-pat and dead-end policies which our Government and other Western Governments have pursued year after year. The Russians are trying to make them shift on that. One way to make a stubborn mule shift is to light a fire under it. This method is not to be recommended; it is not humane, and it may produce bad results. But that is more or less the spirit of the present transaction.
The Rome Conference report on the question of Berlin—endorsed by some fairly high-powered Soviet M.P.s—puts forward the outlines of a settlement. It is a unanimous report. It was also endorsed by the Gaullist French participants at this meeting. It said:A settlement must obviously start by recognising things as they are, that is, the fact that the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic both exist. Conference, while believing that no obstacle should be put in the way of the two Germanies uniting whenever in the future they may wish to do so, is of opinion that the re-unification of Germany should take place only on such conditions that it would not threaten European security or world peace. From this point of view the re-unification of Germany would be made much easier by the establishment of a wide disengagement area in Central Europe.It goes on to suggest that there should be no nuclear weapons for German forces, whether or not they formed part of international forces, and that the existing frontiers of both German Republics should be guaranteed by the four Powers with special responsibilities in Germany, and the parties to this agreement should further conclude a treaty on the status of West Berlin. This treaty should guarantee the complete freedom of the inhabitants of West Berlin to choose whatever political, economic and social régime they wanted; it would contain 280 effective provisions, placed under the guarantee of the four Powers, for assuring freedom of movement both ways of persons and goods between West Berlin and the outside world. The relations between West Berlin and the German Democratic Republic should be those which are customary between good neighbours.
The conference hoped that there would also be an explicit United Nations guarantee for a settlement on those lines, and that it would include the actual presence in Berlin, permanently, in one form or another, of the United Nations itself. The report concluded that it would be highly desirable that both East and West Germany should become members of the United Nations.
I repeat that Senator Humphrey was not a party to this report and had not read it. But the views that he has expressed in private, and in public, in a television interview in Warsaw—which appeared in yesterday's newspapers—and also those expressed by Senator Fulbright, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, in a speech here at the end of September, give warrant for believing that the views of the Rome Conference report are within negotiating distance of the present American positions.
I draw particular attention to one passage from Senator Humphrey's interview in Warsaw, when he said that the United States were givingvery thoughtful and serious consideration to the Rapacki Plan for disengagement.When he was reminded that the United States had rejected this plan earlier, he said:That was by a previous Administration in the United States. There is now a new President, a new policy and a new disarmament programme.On the basis of what I have heard in private and read publicly, I am also reasonably confident that the American Administration is moving towards the position of advocating no nuclear weapons for any State not possessing them at present, including Western Germany, and would be prepared to extend some form of recognition to East Germany and also fully to recognise the present frontiers of Poland and Czechoslovakia. Indeed, I believe that the frontiers of Czechoslovakia are already recognised but not those of Poland.
281 The Opposition have long urged a settlement on lines very close to this. There is nothing in this which is incompatible with the policy that we have often pressed upon the Government and the country. That means that all the surrounding circumstances are such that it should be easy to reach agrement on them, if the Government are prepared to follow the American lead. I do not ask them to give a lead themselves; I am not asking for the impossible. But if Senator Fulbright reflected the views of the American Administration in his speech we can go a step further. Because he said that whereas he was quite adamant about the necessity for satisfactory international guarantees of the freedom and independence of West Berlin, and of access to it, he was prepared to explore the various Soviet proposals for doing so. He was not committed to the status quo as being the only satisfactory way of assuring that the freedom of West Berlin and access to it were preserved.
If this is true our Government must drop the third of their three points. They must not insist on the status quo in Berlin as being the only method effectively of guaranteeing the freedom of Berlin. They must be prepared to concede some form of change which would be mutually satisfactory and would remove some of the dangers of the existing situation.
On that point we should heed the warning of Walter Lippman, which appeared in the Press here on 13th October. He said that there are forces, particularly in Germany and France, exerting pressure on the President, and within the United States as well, which could immobilise him and make it impossible for him to negotiate. The effect would be to immobilise him on the brink of thermo-nuclear war. He says:The President's responsibilities are grave. But also grave are the responsibilities of those German, Frenchmen, and Americans who are tying his hands and doing what they can to prevent negotiations and to precipitate a show-down.We should take that warning to heart So far as the new American Administration are prepared to adopt a more open-minded and liberal attitude in these matters they should be assured of support from the Government. I do not like the self-righteous and bellicose tones 282 that we have heard from the Government Front Bench today and yesterday, and their total lack of constructive proposals. Do not let us take the lifting of the deadline for a peace treaty as giving licence for a fresh bout of dithering and disagreement. Up to now the price that we have paid for preserving N.A.T.O. has been to condemn ourselves to do nothing whatever to reach a settlement with the Soviet Union. When N.A.T.O. was originally founded, Ernest Bevin, speaking on 12th May, 1949, explained that the object of N.A.T.O. was to make it easier to reach agreement with the Soviet Union. The effort to preserve N.A.T.O. has now become an end in itself, for the sake of which, in order to appease de Gaulle and Adenauer, we are prepared to wreck any chance of reaching agreement. The sands are running out. Sooner or later there will be a German peace treaty if we do not negotiate. There is no time limit now just as there was not after 1958. But we have to do something about it.
The Lord Privy Seal was right in arguing that the effect of not negotiating before a peace treaty was concluded was that if it were concluded, the question would arise whether or not we recognise the authority of the East German Government to control communications with West Berlin. Dr. Ulbricht has said and Mr. Khrushchev has said that they agree about the full freedom of communications, but they want to conclude an agreement on it. In other words, they want the East German Government to be recognised. If we let slip the opportunity to get down to serious negotiations, sooner or later—and I hope later rather than sooner—we shall be faced with a situation in which either we have to extend some form of recognition to East German authorities in order to get their permission for the freedom of circulation—a permission which they say beforehand they will grant—or else we try to bull our way through by force. And in that case, as Lord Montgomery said yesterday, there will inevitably be a world war. About that he is quite right. I wish to draw attention to the fact that in the declaration of the Soviet Government that they were resuming tests, it was pointed out that it was an illusion to believe that even a small war with conventional arms, if it involved nuclear 283 Powers, would end short of a nuclear world war. From the moment that States start fighting neither will allow itself to be defeated by the other. Therefore the only thing to do is to prevent war altogether and to reach some kind of agreement.
My last point relates to Berlin and the United Nations. I had been given the tip in Moscow three or four weeks earlier, before seeing Mr. Khrushchev, that there was great significance in the passage in his aide-mémoire to President Kennedy—which was quoted by my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood)—in which he said that he wanted the United Nations to take part in the guarantees for the freedom of West Berlin and was ready to agree to other measures of that kind. I asked Mr. Khrushchev whether he would agree to a special organisation of the United Nations in West Berlin. As I said yesterday, he went further, and said that he had no objection to the United Nations headquarters being in Berlin. This is fairly close to what some American senators have proposed. I agree with the remarks of Walter Lippman, that on these lines we could give Berlin a new status which would make it viable.
I should like to see the United Nations headquarters in a sort of enclave straddling both the Berlins. That would still leave the road open for Berlin to become the capital of a united Germany. It would mean that a united Germany would be a member of the United Nations but not a member of any alliance. It would leave a good future open to a united Germany in Europe and in the world. I think those are the lines which we should follow and that on those lines we should get somewhere.
We had a big argument at the Khrushchev interview on the question of the troika. I am pretty confident in saying that the real object of the Russians is this: they say, "Yes, we accept the United Nations. We regard it as necessary and designed to promote peaceful cooperation and co-existence between States with different social and economic systems. It is the only common code of obligations and machinery accepted by everybody in the world. It has to be preserved and made to work. But up to now we have been in the position of a 284 Parliamentary opposition inside the United Nations—and we are one-third of the world."
From the Russian point of view the Western Powers have tried to keep the position of predominance in the United Nations which they acquired at the end of the war and which no longer reflects the real set-up in the world. Mr. Khrushchev admitted that, more or less, the General Assembly reflected a true distribution of nations in the world. But he claimed that the Security Council was still lopsided and under Western influence because of the exclusion of the People's Republic of China and the substitution of Formosa and General Chiang Kai-shek. He wanted that position corrected. He said that the gentlemen's agreement had been broken by which a member of a Socialist group was entitled to one of the elected temporary seats in the Security Council. He pointed out that the higher posts in the Secretariat were manned overwhelmingly by nationals of the N.A.T.O. Powers and he wanted that corrected. He stuck to the principle of the troika. But it was pretty clear even then—it became clearer in my discussions later in Rome, and has been confirmed in the United Nations General Assembly—that the Russians do not insist on that, but want the Secretary-General to be primus inter pares, to consult his chief colleagues before taking any drastic action.
I was an official of the League of Nations Secretariat for nineteen years and in my view, speaking as a former international official, that is a very important principle. I am all for international civil servants being independent, being international and owing loyalty to the world organisation and not to any Government. But I know from my experience in Geneva in the old days that higher officials have an onerous task to perform. They cannot be international in a vacuum. They have to be multinational. They have to know enough about the views and policies of their countries, and of the countries with which they are particularly concerned, to enjoy the confidence of those countries. They must be able to expound what those countries feel and want with authority. They do not take instructions but they must know what is going on. They then pool their knowledge with other officials, 285 and try to reach some sort of compromise. If they were isolated from those in power in their countries they could not function as interpreters and mediators between conflicting national points of view and work out an acceptable international compromise.
The danger of going too far and being too dynamic is that one gets let down by Governments. The Governments accept resolutions at the Security Council, but when the Secretary-General tries to carry them out he is not supported. That is what happened in the Congo and in Katanga. The Secretary-General received no real support and could not carry out what he was supposed to do. It is better to keep in close touch with leading officials who are themselves representative of the main countries and groups of countries in the world. I do not mind whether the grouping is political or geographical. Generally speaking, the geographical and political groups coincide.
Somehow or other we have to find the intermediate line between international isolation for the United Nations officials and the taking of instructions from their Governments. That is a hard line to toe. Do not let us be self-righteous about this.
I believe that on those lines, by thinking in terms of our grand objective as being the transfer of mutual relations of the two camps from the rival alliances and balance of power, to the United Nations Charter—which presupposes a common interest in peace and trade out-weighing any national differences between the permanent members of the Security Council—we shall safeguard peace, and that should be the grand objective of our policy.
The immediate solutions should be in terms of that kind of objective. I should very much like to see the whole situation between East and West over Germany and Berlin transferred to the United Nations, perhaps on the basis of an agreement first within the Security Council. We should appoint—this is only a matter of procedure and a bare majority is sufficient—a European Commission of the Security Council consisting of the four great Powers interested in Germany, plus some European members, including both Germanys. That, I think, would be the appropriate machinery for working out a settlement 286 on the basis of the Charter. It is very important to underline that—on the basis of the Charter. I think that on those lines we can not only get over the present crisis but can open the way to a better and brighter future for the whole world.
§ 8.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Kershaw (Stroud)
During the course of his peregrinations in Russia for six weeks this year the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) seems to have caught the infection of making extraordinarily long speeches which seems a characteristic of people in Communist countries. Nevertheless, he made an excellent speech representing, as usual very truly, the Communist and Russian point of view. I make no complaint about that. It is perhaps as well that we should know it. It might be just as well if some of us could go to the very large assembly now meeting in Moscow and put our view there. Perhaps we would not have the same kind of reception as the hon. Member has had in this House.
The hon. Member said, and I am sure that he was right, that the Russian people do not want any war. Of course not, but I rather wonder whether the Russian Government really want any disarmament. That is not at all the same thing. I believe that the arms race is part of the cold war which can be very usefully and effectively deployed by the Russian Government to serve, on the one hand, to stimulate their efforts and their position and, on the other, to lay on the capitalist countries a heavy burden which we all complain about, but which we know is harmful to our economies and national lives.
If it is said that that is an unworthy suspicion, we have had some indications recently, without going back further into history and quoting Marxist texts, as one could do, in the talk of the Russians at the conference in Geneva which has been taking place for about two years. One remembers that they walked out of the tests ban conference just when it seemed probable—indeed certain—that the West was to produce new proposals. The gap between the proposals of the Russians—their last ones—and the proposals of the West were quite narrow. It was known that new proposals 287 of the West were to be put forward. To my mind, and to the minds of many others, it was clear that one of the reasons why the Russians walked out of those conversations was that they feared they might, in all logic, have to agree to them. That is the one thing they would prefer not to do.
Then again, we turn to the proposals about control over disarmament. The hon. Member for Gorton read the conclusions of the conference to which he went in Rome. It seemed to me as he spoke that those proposals did not differ in any way from the latest proposals about control which the Russian Government have been putting forward, namely, that only arms which are to be discarded shall be checked and those which are to be kept shall remain hidden. This is not, as the hon. Member said it was, a matter of semantics; it is a matter of the utmost importance. Where trust between two parties is not complete it is necessary to inspect not only the arms which are being discarded, but also the arms which are to be kept.
A third reason why one might be tempted to wonder whether the good faith of the Russian Government is as high as we should like it to be is the way in which these atomic tests have been resumed only one day after the end of the atomic tests conference. There were the boasts yesterday of Mr. Khrushchev that he would continue the tests, finishing by the largest atomic explosion that the world has ever seen. I gather that the only reason why he is not going to explode a 100-megaton bomb is that it might "smash his own windows". One stands aghast at such dreadful levity in a matter like this.
If we harbour these suspicions we have some reason to do so. There seems to be little reason to make concessions in the Berlin problem if we are not buying for those concessions another concession on the part of the Russians which makes our position more secure, or gives us greater confidence about the future, in particular in relation to the Berlin problem, where we have so little room to manoeuvre and so little that we can expect to get in return as a consequence of negotiations. If we doubt the validity of the concessions we might get in return, or guarantees we might 288 obtain, we must approach such concessions very slowly and cautiously.
I dissociate myself from the line of thinking that we must have some positive initiative and a new move by the British or by the Western Governments this evening, tomorrow, or the next day in order to break this intolerable deadlock, as it is called, over Berlin, although it has continued without any intolerable results ever since the end of the war. Although I grant the difficult position of Berlin, which was so brilliantly outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley), and although, perhaps, the position in Berlin is, in the long run, hopeless, I do not believe that the whole Western position is necessarily hopeless in the course of time, or that time is against us.
The events of 13th August, when the wall was built across the middle of Berlin, struck a cold note of disgust and fear into many Western hearts, but it should also have sounded a warning to those in the East. One may doubt in the long run the possibility of the Russians maintaining the servitude of the peoples who have themselves so clearly demonstrated that they loathe and detest their rule and hope to break away from it. I believe it is a canker in the heart of the Russian empire which, in due course, the Russians will find difficult to overcome.
In thinking that the validity of the Berlin position has been gravely affected, I do not believe that we need accept that our position in Europe will be the weaker and that we ought to rush to get into negotiations. We should do what we can to salvage from the wreck, because wreck it may not be.
A most interesting suggestion was made by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) as to how we should recover ourselves from the Berlin impasse. He suggested that there should be a trade blockade of the Soviet States and that we should refuse to trade with any other country which had anything to do with them. The suggestion was that we should cut off Russia and her satellites and China from trade with all countries which were not willing to confine their trade to us.
Passing over the technical details of blockading half the world, even if we 289 succeeded I very much doubt whether it would be an efficacious way of bringing pressure to bear on the Soviet Union. The Russian trade surplus with the West at present is about £250 million a year. That is not very important in relation to the total economic life of Russia. Russian trade with the developing countries of the world in 1957–59 amounted only to 4 per cent. of the Western trade, a matter of about 820 million dollars a year. That is a fleabite to Russia and to many other countries. I do not claim normally to carry these figures in my head but by chance they are in a little publication which I have with me.
We must also agree that such a blockade and the forbidding of trade with the Soviet Union would inflict damage on some of our allies, a large part of whose trade is necessarily with the Soviet Union. I have in mind Iceland, half of whose trade is with the Soviet Union; Greece, 30 per cent. of whose trade is with the Soviet Union; and Turkey, 20 per cent. of whose trade is with the Soviet Union. A large percentage of Finland's trade is also with Russia, and she is in a particularly vulnerable position and might fall within the Russian Empire once again if we tried to impose this policy on her. I do not think that it is a practical policy or an alternative to the Berlin position.
§ Mr. John Rankin (Glasgow, Govan)
On whose authority does the hon. Member quote those figures about Russian trade? The figure which I have for eight months up to August, 1961, including exports, imports and re-exports, show a total trade of £100 million between this country and Russia. I do not know what the figure of £250 million a year represents or to which year it applies, but it suggests a very great increase.
§ Mr. Kershaw
I do not think that the hon. Member took my point. It is not a total trade of £250 million a year, but a surplus which the Russians have with the Western world. The figures are from an O.E.C.D. publication which has been issued for those years.
I do not think that, in the long run, we should inflict much economic damage on the Soviet Union by a blockade. We must remember that all Communist 290 economies, and perhaps the Soviet economy in particular, have a pronounced drive towards autarky, and that in the long run they would be able to get an very well inside their own borders without depending on us.
I wish to make one or two observations about the Common Market. There is not much point in going into great detail at present when negotiations have only just started, but there are one or two points which perhaps should be borne in mind. I have been told that while the United States is in favour of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market for the political returns which she feels might be available to Europe as a consequence, she has expressed herself to the Commission in Brussels as being strongly against any of the neutral countries being allowed to join the Common Market because there would be no political compensation, as she sees it, for the economic harm which such adherence might do to the United States. If that is so, I believe it to be a rather short-sighted policy on the part of the United States, because there is a great deal of room in Europe for the neutrals.
Europe has its characteristics, and an essential part of it are the neutral States. When we used to play boys' games—indeed, some hon. Members still do—we picked sides to take part in games, French and English, or something like that. The game then began. But when the game is warlike there is a good deal less fun than in some games. I believe that the neutrals in Europe have a distinct rôle to play. Sweden and Switzerland choose to be neutral. That is their affair. Perhaps they will change their minds. In a way I hope that they do. But I do not think that we need insist on it. Austria pleads that she has legal reasons for not abandoning neutrality.
I am prepared to argue that on a legal basis, but, nevertheless, Europe without Austria is inconceivable. We might also agree that Europe without the Republic of Ireland would be slightly different from the present Europe. I feel that it would be very hard, especially bearing in mind the position of Finland, if we were to insist that no country was to have any economic alliance with the great European organisation unless it declared itself for or against the West.
291 The United States is right to be worried about the economic consequences which might be caused to her by Europe surrounded by an outer tariff wall. I hope that in the outcome this outer tariff wall will be kept as low as possible. It is not in the European interest to inflict harm upon the United States or the British Commonwealth or upon the neutral countries in other parts of the world. We must make sure that this European arrangement, which can be of great advantage to many of us, is an outward arrangement, not turning in on itself and not exclusive in any way.
We have to bear in mind that the United States Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act is due to be recast in a new form next June. This is the Act which gives to the President and Congress the procedure and powers to negotiate tariff concessions and tariff changes with other countries, and the form in which it is renewed, and the question of whether it is in a liberal or illiberal form is of great importance to the future of the West. If we give provocation by raising against the United States our tariff barriers between then and now, we may expect very harmful effects to the Western world.
These negotiations, started in Paris and now to be continued in Brussels, will doubtless be long. We know that they will be complicated, but I hope that it will be borne in mind that, whether or not it will be possible to have a decision in principle before long, the longer the uncertainty whether the United Kingdom is to form part of the Common Market continues, the greater will be the harm inflicted both upon E.F.T.A. and the Commonwealth. If we do not go in—and we may not—then E.F.T.A. will continue. Therefore, our decision must be quickly known, because every month that goes by causes businessmen and others to put off decisions about investing or manufacturing within the confines of E.F.T.A. or of the Six, and that will certainly slow down business and make difficulties for us.
In the meantime, while negotiations are going on, I hope that we shall proceed as if E.F.T.A. were to continue and that we have tariff reductions agreed upon and do all that is necessary to keep E.F.T.A. in a healthy state. Just as we do not 292 insist that the Six stop their proceedings while negotiations continue, so we should continue working with E.F.T.A.
It seems to be generally accepted that the United Kingdom will join the Common Market. I hope that she does, but I think that the cries of triumph of those who agree that she should may well be premature. I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell), who moves in a world of his own, will find that the terms, when known, will cause many people with interests to protect, or interests at heart, to wonder whether their enthusiasm for joining Europe was misplaced. Nevertheless, it seems to be generally accepted that there is a good chance that this arrangement will be made.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the House on 31st July that, if we do not enter, we shall have to have, or may have to have, a drastic change in our foreign policy and commitments. Those phrases, combined with what my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said about the difficulty in payments across the exchanges, make one realise that there may have to be some rethinking about our commitments in N.A.T.O.
Even if we do get in, does this relieve us from the difficulty about our N.A.T.O. forces and from the cost of them? The Common Market is not a short-term remedy. It is a long-term remedy. Whether we go in or whether we do not has no immediate relevance to the cost of our forces in Germany and our balance of payments position. I very much hope that we do not intend to shuffle off our responsibilities upon our allies. If we do not propose to do that, and if nothing further is done, it looks as if a measure of conscription will be necessary or a much bolder use of reserves than has hitherto been thought possible, otherwise we shall have to have some alteration of our other commitments in the world apart from N.A.T.O.
I have a confession to make. This is not the sort of speech I have made up to now. Before the Berlin crisis I had long wished to reduce our continental commitments and resume our seaboard strategy. Under present circumstances this is clearly not possible. I do not believe that it is necessary. I do not believe that the anxiety about 293 N.A.T.O. and our ability to play our rôle, militarily and economically speaking, need be so great. We can get round it if we have a stronger political arrangement and political organisation within N.A.T.O. It is common knowledge that the lack of standardisation of arms and supply within N.A.T.O. has made it very difficult indeed for its commander to carry out his rôle and has cost all the member countries a great deal more money than they need have spent. N.A.T.O. could be a great deal more efficient if we had a stronger political direction from the top. That can come only from the improvement of the political organisation at the top of N.A.T.O.
I wish to give time for one other hon. Member to speak before the Front Bench speakers. I hope that great attention will be given to the possibility of giving a stronger political direction in N.A.T.O. so that we may save our money and have the forces we ought to have.
§ 8.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
In spite of the limitations now imposed upon me by the clock, I welcome the opportunity of making a few observations in this very important and historical debate. I cannot approach present-clay problems on an issue of this kind in the same cool manner displayed by many speakers. Millions of my generation who were at Poperinghe, Ypres, Arras, Cambrai and other places have laid in graves all over Europe while I have lived my life. I stand here strong and healthy in spite of the effects of life upon my physique, and consider myself a very lucky man because thousands, nay millions, as good as ever I was were mown down just as wheat is mown down by a farmer.
The result of that experience was that as a young boy, as I was in those days, I made up my mind to do all I possibly could to prevent a repetition of that terrible experience when I was 18 or 19. I threw myself into brotherhood meetings, League of Nations meetings, and trade union activity. I stand here after twenty-six years' membership of the House and claim that I have made my contribution. I stand here a more convinced Socialist than ever, believing 294 that our way is the only way out for mankind.
Most of my party do not agree with me—[Laughter.] There is no need to laugh like that. Most right hon. and hon. Members do not accept my interpretation of what is correct in life. I do not blame them for that, because we have reached a situation in Britain, in particular, when we can agree to differ, when we can hammer out our differences around tables and when we can reach mutually accepted conclusions on a compromise basis. If we all accept that that is good reasoning, that now represents the world situation, for never again can mankind afford to go through a war of the kind that I have been through twice.
Since the end of the last war, evolution throughout the world has been quickened by the scientific impact made on evolution by man's creative genius. In the industrial establishments where I was employed, as a result of the work of John Cockcroft and Dr. Allibone, we have now reached a situation when mankind can no longer afford a war. Is that good reasoning? Just as we have accepted the evolutionary process internally in our form of government, so now we have to apply it internationally so that we can save mankind and use the world's resources for mankind's benefit. In plain language, stripped of all side issues, that is the situation with which we are faced. Therefore, for a short time, I want to make a few observations on that basis.
We have now reached a stage when the supreme issue in life is how mankind can save itself from a catastrophe of the kind from which we could never recover. If that line is accepted—and the Government should accept it and, I am sure, do accept it as individuals—the time has arrived when, associated together, we should work out a constructive, positive policy that we can put before the world for its consideration. Just as my party does not accept my interpretation of what is right, so I have the satisfaction of knowing that from my point of view I am putting forward what is right. If, in the present situation of the world, the Government were to do as I have suggested, they would be respected even if others disagreed with them.
I found out in life that if one has the courage to speak out and to put forward 295 what he considers is right, it is only a matter of time before most people accept it. In the meantime, even if they do not agree with it, they respect one for putting it forward. That is the situation now in the world. If Her Majesty's Government, irrespective of political differences, would go to the United Nations and put forward a realistic, positive, constructive peace policy, they would be respected by the whole of the world.
It is in that way that I want to make a plea. I want to make a plea, first, to the American people. Many times before the last war, I found myself being opposed by hon. Members who are no longer in the House because they were not prepared to accept proposals made by a few of us who had for our object the improving of our relationships with America. I am confident that the ordinary American people desire peace just as much as any of us desire it. Unfortunately, they have been caught up in all this propaganda and have been, so to speak, chloroformed by it, and the result is that prejudice is being created which prevents them from applying reason to the world's problems.
As one who had great admiration for President Roosevelt, as one who made his contribution to his memorial, now standing in Grosvenor Square, I want to remind the American people that President Roosevelt placed on record on many occasions the ideas I am now putting forward, though, of course, he put them forward better than I can, and in the way one would have expected a man of his power and influence to do. I am sorry that due to my limited time I cannot give the extracts which I should have liked to have given from what President Roosevelt said. Even in the last hours he lived he put forward a number of constructive, positive suggestions which, if they were applied today, would enable us to make a new start in the international situation. After sixteen years of drifting, it is a new start which is required in the international situation.
Like my hon. Friends, I, also, have been in Russia. During August my wife and I met hundreds of ordinary Russian people and talked with them as much as we possibly could, but we listened to them mostly, because from ordinary people in particular, if one listens 296 to their point of view, one can learn a great deal. What I learned from most of them was that they are all proud of their country, proud of their achievements; they remember their cities being damaged as they were; they do not want that to happen again; they want to preserve peace, and they want to live in peace with the rest of the world.
One of the things which affected us more than anything else was the large number of women, compared with the number of men, we saw in the streets, and the touch of sadness in the faces of the young women as they were speaking to us. I shall never forget one young lady my wife and I were talking to, one of the most cultured and educated ladies in the best sense of the word it has ever been my privilege to speak to. She said, "My mother and I had to be evacuated out to Siberia during the war, and to recuperate we had to live at Baku." I said, "I was in Baku thirty-four years ago, and in order to let you have concrete evidence of what I saw, I remember seeing in the centre the names of the 26 commissars shot by a British general, General Thompson." She said to me, "My uncle was one of those. My cousin, his daughter, was one of those. My father had me called after my cousin."
That is typical of millions of Russians. Twenty million lives were lost. According to a Washington statement, made on 5th July, 20 million Russians were killed in some way in the last war. Had we had more time—and I am not going to take a second longer than I have agreed to take—I could have given the numbers in each country in Europe, the percentage of the inhabitants of each country, lost, and I could have illustrated the tragic situation which existed in Eastern Europe as a result of the last war.
I began by saying that millions of my generation now lie in graves all over the world. I could easily have been one of them and I am a very lucky man not to be. Between the two wars most of us made our contribution to prevent a repetition of that, but a challenge was made to all that was best in life. We had to face it, and the result was the Second World War. We are now in a world situation where as a result of the scientific impact made on evolution it is necessary that we should adopt a policy of co-existence so that we can all live and work together to avoid war and to 297 enable mankind to use our natural resources for the benefit of the whole world.
I hope, therefore, that even if these ideas are not accepted they will be thought about and that the Government will respond to the plea, made, in particular, by my right hon. Friend, and that when the Prime Minister concludes the debate tonight he will put forward positive, constructive peace proposals which the whole world can accept.
§ 8.56 p.m.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
The deeply sincere and moving speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) sums up the atmosphere in which the debate has been held. We are having the debate because we on this side of the House felt during the Recess that the situation in the world was building up in the most extraordinarily gloomy and discouraging way and that it was wrong that events should go on building up as they were without an opportunity for this House, representing the people of this nation, to be able to discuss the events and the issues involved, to see what view predominated among us about them and to try to bring under the microscope Her Majesty's Government's policies and actions and reactions to what had been happening.
Because the debate has largely tended to be about grave issues which have not become any less grave in the interval between the decision to recall the House and now, I want to make it perfectly plain to the Prime Minister that there is a great issue involved in the debate affecting Her Majesty's Government, their policy or lack of one, their action or inaction during the period which we are considering. Perhaps that enables me to start by making a protest which I should like to make with all the emphasis that I can. For us to have recalled the House to have a debate at this moment on issues as grave as these and not to have a serious, considered, deliberate exposition of the Government's position on the major issues until the debate ends, is not treating the House with respect or the issues with respect.
I say that with no desire to be unfriendly or offensive to either of the Ministers who have spoken, but it must 298 have been apparent to anybody who listened to them on this or the opposite side of the House that each was limited to the reading of a brief which for the most part consisted of a chronicle of events which all of us had read about in the newspapers or had otherwise known, and nothing beyond that. The Lord Privy Seal devoted so much time to issues important but peripheral in this context that he almost had no time at all for the central problems and the central theme. The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs this afternoon had a brief which was pretty adequately referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) when he followed the hon. Gentleman.
The Prime Minister has a great responsibility here. If he wants to have all the major issues of foreign policy in his hands in this House, the Foreign Secretary being in another place, and if the supporting Ministers are to be as limited in their approach as were the two whom we have heard, the right hon. Gentleman owes it to the House and to the people to rise at the beginning of the debate and make the Government's position clear and then let us have an informed and sensible debate about Her Majesty's Government's approach to the problems. It really is not good enough—
§ Mr. Brown
—in my humble view, for us merely to discuss the issues as though Her Majesty's Government's policies and outlook bore no relevance to them at all.
We have been concerned in this debate, naturally enough, with nuclear tests and disarmament in general, with the problems of Berlin and Germany, with the Congo, with the future of the United Nations, and, to a passing extent—and I hope to develop this in a moment—with the present position about the Common Market.
There is one thing that emerges in discussing all these issues which I want to speak about before I turn to them. Running through them all so far as Britain is concerned there is a most unhappily confused and distorted pattern 299 of British policy. The Foreign Secretary is, quite repeatedly now, denouncing other nations for their lack of standing up and their lack of clear policy, but I think that it is not at all unfair to say that there is a pathetic absence of constructive policy from Her Majesty's Government on all the great issues of the day.
We have been blowing hot and blowing cold, and sometimes not notably blowing at all, on every single issue. Take the Common Market. Take one theme—which is not central to the debate. Ministers are now making speeches totally contradicting what they were saying a short while ago. Perhaps one thinks of Berlin. Every other important nation which has had a point of view to put has put it. We have remained almost devoid of any public expression of what the policy ought to be. In the Congo we have added to the uncertainty, not the other way round, by our attitude to the United Nations and what went on there. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday when opening the debate, our reputation at the United Nations on such issues as Angola, South West Africa and so on is really quite abysmal.
The charge was made several times yesterday that it did not really lie with the Foreign Secretary, or, indeed, anybody else in this Government, to accuse other people—neutral countries, for example—of having double standards, of applying one standard to one Power bloc and another to the others, of applying one standard to one set of issues if it affects one set of people and the other way if it affects the others.
I am bound to say that, although the Minister of State made a brave attempt to deal with that challenge today, my right hon. Friend's criticism still stands absolutely. Her Majesty's Government cannot rebuke anybody for having double standards about the issues of right and wrong because they themselves through all recent times and all these grave problems have been doing exactly that. They have been applying a double standard. They have been condemning attacks on freedom in some areas and on some issues, and not only tolerating them in others, but throwing the cloak of their protection around them, as in the case of Angola.
300 It must be understood—the Prime Minister really has to meet this criticism—that we shall not be in a position to lead, to advise and to guide—in other words, to fulfil the great British tradition—so long as to lots of people in the world and many emergent countries our position is as equivocal on issues of this kind as it has been recently.
The main theme of this debate is summed up in the two great issues of the nuclear tests and of Berlin and Germany, but before I come to them I want to remind the Prime Minister of some questions to which we are awaiting answers, and which, because of the character of the Government's speeches so far, have been left for him to deal with. They are very important issues but are not the main ones.
First, there is Katanga. We listened with a great deal of interest to the Lord Privy Seal's recital yesterday of events in Katanga and of the Government's views upon them. In the interests of time, I shall not go over them again, or over what we think were the mistakes which the Government made about the rôle of the United Nations. But I wish to put two major questions again, this time to the Prime Minister—questions which were put to the Minister of State but which he was signally unable to answer.
Before doing so, however, I wish to say to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise)—whom I do not see present but who, no doubt, realises that I had hoped he would be here—that it is no use our paying tributes—which have coloured everybody's speeches—to the United Nations if we then, when we think something has gone wrong, descend into the kind of abuse of the institution and of the people working for it which he used towards Dr. O'Brien and the events in Katanga. That can only lead people to think that we are not sincere when we pay lip-service to the ideals of the institution. I think that we all of us want to dissociate ourselves from what the hon. Member said.
Two questions arise out of the ceasefire, about which we still have no news from the Government. I think that it was the Minister of State who told us about the statement by Mr. Tshombe that he had dismissed the mercenaries but had handed over to the United Nations responsibility for getting rid of them. The 301 hon. Gentleman was asked whether that statement by Mr. Tshombe was made before or since the cease-fire agreement of the 13th/14th October. It is tremendously important to know when it was made. We shall then be able to assess how much importance to give to the statement. Although the statement was included in the Minister's of State's brief, the timing was not
We gave notice to the Minister of State that we would like an answer. In order to be able to assess whether there was any meaning in that passage of his speech in which he referred to Mr. Tshombe's statement, we want to be told when the statement was made. We also asked about the stories, which I have seen in newspapers, that the United Nations had in turn passed its responsibilities on to the Belgian Consul. We ask now if the Government have any news about that. Are these stories true? It is tremendously important that we should know, because so much is entailed in handing this matter over to the Belgian consul. We should have answers to these questions, and I shall be glad if the Prime Minister will answer, so that we may know how the situation is developing.
I do not suppose that the Prime Minister will have the time, but somebody must tell us about the cease-fire agreement. It has been presented in two different ways. On the one hand, it has been presented as giving Mr. Tshombe what he wanted, while on the other hand we have had the peculiar Press conference by Mr. Khiari, on behalf of the United Nations, in which he seemed to be saying: "It does not matter what the agreement says on paper, the point is that the only people who can gain anything are the United Nations, and Mr. Tshombe is bound to be dealt with whenever the United Nations chooses to do so."
We should have from the Prime Minister tonight, or at an early stage, a much more realistic assessment of the position in Katanga than the Minister of State gave us today, when all he did was to read a recital of events without being able to assess them or to give us the information which would help us to do so.
Another non-central subject about which we are entitled to hear something from the Prime Minister was mentioned yesterday—the Common Market. It is not news to the Prime Minister that one 302 of the problems which many of us have in assessing the Government's position in this matter is a feeling that there has been a good deal of double talk by Ministers about it, as I said when I last spoke here on the subject. They say one thing to one audience and another to another audience. That still seems to be happening. The Government may or may not be right in what they are doing and may or may not be right in believing that in the end they will get the terms on which the country would wish to enter the Common Market. If they turn out to be right, the country will no doubt take note. But the country will not and ought not to be expected to put up with a succession of different standards of statements in answer to the same questions.
There is one problem which I put clearly to the Prime Minister tonight and which he ought to be able to answer in this, his major speech on foreign affairs. Speaking on this subject in the debate on 2nd and 3rd August, he said:I must remind the House that the E.E.C. is an economic community, not a defence alliance, or a foreign policy community, or a cultural community. It is an economic community, and the region where collective decisions are taken is related to the sphere covered by the Treaty, economic tariffs, markets and all the rest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd August, 1961; Vol. 645, c. 1490.]I would have thought that that was a clear rejection of the idea put up from below the Gangway on his own side, as well as elsewhere, that there were foreign policy commitments or implications involved in the Treaty.
I myself referred to what he had said and said that although I thought that those who objected to foreign policy commitments probably went too far in their claims about the degree of commitment involved, I thought that the Prime Minister was absurdly understating the position by saying that it was only an economic community and not a defence alliance, or a foreign policy community or a cultural community. However, he stuck to his view in the House and it is not unreasonable to suppose that he got the support of quite a number of hon. Members because he was so clear and firm about that.
However, the Lord Privy Seal has gone to the Six to make the opening statement. Yesterday, we had some 303 discussion about whether we could have a copy of that opening statement. I make no complaint about our not getting a full statement. No doubt there were references to tariffs and detailed negotiating positions and it was probably unrealistic to expect that we should get the full statement. The Minister has been good enough to make available to us the Press release which was issued on his behalf. Paragraph 11 of it says:… the United Kingdom had followed with close interest the progress of the Six towards greater unity in fields other than those covered by the E.E.C. Treaty.That means in matters other than the purely economic which the Prime Minister mentioned. It went on:The Heads of State and of Government of the Six had made an important Declaration on this matter at Bonn on July 18.I ask the House and especially the Prime Minister to note the next sentence, which says:The British Government shared the aims and objectives of those who had drawn up the Bonn declaration and would be anxious, once they joined the Community, to work with the Six in a positive spirit to reinforce the unity they had already achieved.What does the Bonn declaration say? I will not read it all, but only the relevant passages. The Heads of State decided:To give shape to the will for political union already implicit in the Treaties establishing the European Communities, and for this purpose to organise their co-operation, to provide for its development and to secure for it the regularity which will progressively create the conditions for a common policy and will ultimately make it possible to embody in institutions the work undertaken.It continues:To instruct their Committee to submit to them proposals on the means which will as soon as possible enable a statutory character to be given to the union of their peoples.If one gives a statutory character to the union of the peoples, then one is obviously going into institutional forms of a political union.
The Lord Privy Seal said, in effect, that we not only accept that, we share it. How can one correlate the remarks of one Minister who says it has nothing to do with foreign policy with the remarks of another Minister who says that we fully share the aim and objective of pro- 304 ducing a political union and giving it an institutional character?
The argument may be in favour of the Bonn Agreement, or against it. I am not discussing its merits. The Prime Minister got his vote in this House at the beginning of August by denying in categorical terms that that was involved, and the Lord Privy Seal got his applause when he met the Six by not only admitting that it existed but by saying that he shared it.
That is what I mean by double talk. It is going into two different assemblies hoping that neither will take notice of what was said at the other, and collecting rather easy support in both ways by contradictory words. We are entitled to ask the Prime Minister to clear that up tonight and to let our friends on the Continent know what we know, and vice versa, so that each knows what is involved.
I turn now to the central issues involved in the debate. The first is the tests, and the second the issue of Berlin. The Prime Minister is looking uneasily at the clock, but there does not remain at this stage of our two-day debate a great deal that one needs to say on these two issues because they have been so much the theme of every speech and there has been a remarkable degree, I will not say of unanimity because that would be too much to expect, but a pretty wide measure of agreement about the attitude we adopt to them.
I have said it elsewhere, and I do not want to repeat my view of the action of the Russians in restarting tests in the face of their absolute pledged word, and in the face of those, remarkably as it turned out, prophetic words which Mr. Khrushchev used in January, 1960, which my right hon. Friend quoted yesterday. The tragedy is that not only have they now made it impossible for anybody easily to believe their words about anything; they have, because of them, made it much more difficult for those who want to retain a belief in international agreements to persuade our allies that we should try to get agreement. One cannot easily be critical of somebody who says, "Look, during the time when they were pretending to agree with us and getting more concessions from us, they were obviously planning to restart tests". 305 One cannot be critical of someone who says that, and asks, "How do you expect us to go on?"
The explosion, or the threatened explosion, of this 50-megaton monster almost puts the seal on it. There can be very little military interest in an explosion of a 50-megaton warhead. One can therefore only marvel, puzzle and wonder at the enormous damage that is to be done to people living and still to be born as a result of the fall-out from that explosion, who may be penalised, punished and maimed for something for which it is pretty well impossible to see a military or practical advantage. One can only presume that this terrible infliction is being made on the world for reasons that have nothing to do with the actual explosion of the thing itself.
However, one hopes it is not too late for the effect of public opinion still to make itself felt on the Kremlin and on the Communist rulers there. One hopes that it can be heard. One hopes that even now they will say "We are not going to inflict this additional disaster upon the world." I can only say for myself that no doubt when they have finished their series they will come forward, as they did before, with another proposal about a moratorium, and I am sure that it will be the supreme cynicism of all if and when they do.
On the other hand, when we have said all this, and I say no more about it because everybody else has said all there is to say on the subject, you and I, Sir, and the people we are here to represent are still faced with the fact that the explosion of atomic bombs in the atmosphere is a wicked thing to inflict upon mankind. It is immoral, and it ought not to go on. Despite all the discouragements and all one's reservations about the possibilities, I can only conclude that we are bound and our Government are bound to go on seeking to give a lead in order to get tests, in the atmosphere, at any rate, banned once again, and to take all new steps to get an agreement made. Discouraging as it is, and not as hopeful as it once was, unless we go on with it bravely, nobly and loudly, I cannot see any hope for any of us or any hope for the future of the world. My conclusion is that the Government must go on with it just the same.
306 The other central issue is that of Berlin. Here, again, I have said elsewhere what is my view over Berlin and the terrible feeling I have of the wickedness of what has been done there. Divided cities are not novel in the twentieth century. Divided countries we have seen, and, frankly, we understand the historical background to the division of Germany, and there is no reason why any of us should be too mealy-mouthed to say that we remember what gave rise to it. Having said all that, there are some weapons that ought to be impermissible in a political conflict in the world and what has been done in Berlin, as my right hon. Friend said so movingly yesterday, clearly ought to be one of these. It is an absolute affront to human rights and human dignity. It has nothing to do with the issue being fought out there. It is making human beings absolute cynical toys and playthings in the political moves on a chessboard.
I say no more about it, simply because it has been said so much throughout the debate, and because there is nothing that I could add to it, but there is a question which we have to put to the Government, and I hope the Prime Minister tonight will take the same view as I have done. We do not require at this late stage in the debate a competition between the final speakers as to who can round off the criticisms that have been made by those who have gone before us. What we require from the Prime Minister at the end of the debate is a clear statement of Her Majesty's Government's view about what is the policy that ought to be pursued and what steps can now be taken.
It is no use merely uttering brave words and talking about being strong and standing firm. Of course we mean all that. As I said when I spoke on this subject a little while ago, my right hon. Friends and I take the view that while we cannot, in a literal sense, fight for Berlin—because it would, perhaps, be the first casualty of such a fight—nevertheless, if brinkmanship is to be pushed over the brink, we understand very well that human liberties and human rights may have to be defended on the issue of Berlin, and in honesty and fairness to ourselves and to the future we cannot stand aside from that conflict, whatever may be the difficulty of fighting it out over Berlin. We mean what we say about 307 that, and my right hon. Friend made it absolutely plain yesterday. But brave words and a strong stand alone will not do. From our point of view the situation is not all that good. The possibilities for us are not all that strong.
As Operation Spearpoint has shown only too well—and perhaps, in the new Session, we shall return to this matter—our military posture is not all that relevant to the problem of Berlin. But it is not a sign of weakness for us to say, "We must talk of negotiations." It is not a matter of surrender for us to examine the kind of package deal that it would be sensible to do. It is in fact a realistic recognition that if we do not want for ever to be talking of standing firm in what is militarily and politically a very exposed situation, it is the height of political intelligence and integrity to try to find a way out of the situation.
We need a change in the situation relevant to Berlin, just as do the other side, or at least as they say they do. We want from the Prime Minister tonight a statement of where the Government stand. My right hon. Friend has made it quite plain that in our view we might be able to do a package deal. As he said, we want better means of access; not simply guarantees about the means of access, but better means of access themselves. We could do with a change in the status of Berlin, and the idea of bringing the United Nations there, in some form or other, has much to commend it. The Oder-Neisse line is clearly a part of the price that we might be willing to pay if the package deal is available. There are many reasons for thinking of paying it—and the Poles are a very important one of those reasons.
There is also the question of a measure of de facto recognition of East Germany. I listened to the very carefully argued speech of the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley), but nevertheless, in my view, such a measure of de facto recognition remains a sensible part of such a package deal. I will not go into all the arguments now, because my right hon. Friend did so yesterday, but there is already de facto recognition of the East German régime. To some extent we all recognise it. I see no reason why an extension of that recognition should not be part of a package deal.
308 I said that I would not hold up the Prime Minister in order to repeat so much of what has been said. I hope that I have brought to the front again, out of this impressive debate, the outstanding issues on which Her Majesty's Government's past record has been extraordinarily confused and distorted. We have for too long been the leaders of the fourth group in the world. We have for too long been the leaders of the abstentionists in all the discussions in the United Nations and elsewhere on these issues, and we expect the Prime Minister, tonight, to give us some clear indication of Her Majesty's Government's views and policy on these issues.
§ 9.29 p.m.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)
At the beginning of the meeting of the House yesterday the Leader of the House made a reference to the death of one of his distinguished predecessors, and I should like to thank the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition for the very generous and gracious way in which he re-echoed my right hon. Friend's words. As possibly the oldest friend of Harry Crookshank—after a friendship of nearly sixty years, at school, at university, in the Army and in Parliament—perhaps I may be allowed to add my tribute.
The meeting of Parliament was fixed, after discussion with the Leader of the Opposition, for a period which, I think, is convenient. I was extremely anxious that we should not recall Parliament in August or September as a kind of panic measure and show a sense of great crisis. I think that the Leader of the Opposition shared that view. But I also felt that it was too long to wait until November and the debate on the Queen's Speech before we discussed these issues, and I think that this has been the right decision.
I was very anxious to avoid a sense of too extreme crisis or panic which I thought was rather a danger in August. Some people talked as if military operations were imminent, and so, if the words I used were infelicitous, I think that they were effective, for I think that the atmosphere has improved. In the three months we have had valuable discussions in New York—and I have had them also in London—to which I shall refer later and which, to my mind, marked progress.
309 If I may be allowed, on the first opportunity I have had, I should like to pay my tribute to the late Secretary-General, Mr. Hammarskjöld. We shall corporately be able to pay our tribute to him later. He had a single-minded courage to quite a remarkable degree and he was a great servant of the world.
Reference has been made to the problem which this has left for the United Nations and I need not go over that again. I am hopeful—this is a good sign, there are some good signs—that we may reach a settlement not altogether unsatisfactory and perhaps not altogether out of line with what we believe to be his own ideas.
What is vital is that the acting Secretary-General should be the Secretary-General with full authority and that the advisers, whether they come from this region or that, should be advisers, and that the authority should rest with the Secretary-General as it has done up to now. In that way, and, I think, in no other way, the United Nations can be a forum for discussion and in that way only can it advance to be an instrument for action. I hope, and there are signs, that we may have reached agreement on a reasonably satisfactory basis.
The Leader of the Opposition observed truly that in these foreign affairs debates there is such a range of subjects that it is very difficult to have a coherent theme; and that if one does not deal with some of them one is accused of trying to avoid them. If the House will allow me, I will go rapidly over some of them in order to concentrate on what I think are the most urgent and important.
We all have the same views about the Russian tests of the H-bomb and the breakdown of the test agreement, which was dealt with fully by the Minister of State this afternoon, and the prospect of disarmament and the new draft proposals on which the Americans and we have agreed with which he also dealt.
I think that my hon. Friend dealt completely with certain allegations about our intervention in the Congo which were quite untrue. Since the right hon. Gentleman has asked these questions I must deal with them shortly. It has always been our view that the Congo should be united and we have 310 played a very great part and undertaken very heavy financial burdens in support of the United Nations. We believe that there can be no solution by force, that the political solution should not be imposed by force, which, as I understood it, is the view of the hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). We have supported the United Nations throughout and our purpose has been to help the country to get going. It is a tremendous country with vast problems. It looked at one time that possibly it would be a kind of second Spain, where we would have the beginning of a new ideological war, and not only ideological but actual.
As to the particular questions which have arisen, there have been great difficulties, but I will answer a few points which the right hon. Gentleman raised. The first was an allegation, already dealt with, that our Consul-General had somehow interfered with the action—that was absolutely untrue—in regard to the dismissal of the mercenaries. It is true, according to our information, that the Belgian Consul was asked by the United Nations to undertake as far as he could the removal of them and that was successful, but a considerable number—about 100—disappeared and to that extent it has been unsuccessful. We have done nothing except to hope that this would be a successful operation.
Mr. Tshombe's statement, which was quoted, was made before 13th October, when the agreement under the mixed commission set up under the first ceasefire agreement was reached. It was, therefore, all the more impressive because it was made before the last cease-fire agreement was made by the mixed commission, and I hope that it will be carried out. Our view is that only by a joint action of this kind can the constitutional problem be dealt with and the central Government and provincial Government of Katanga can be reconciled. We believe that an agreed solution on a basis that they have to work out and the United Nations can help in is the only solution for the Congo.
I wish to say a word about another operation we had just before the summer ended, at Kuwait, which filled our minds at that time. Sometimes we talk only about failures and not very much publicity is given to a successful operation. 311 I believe it was a very successful operation politically and we carried out obligations we had to carry out rather similar to the one some years ago in Jordan. The anxieties, of course, remain. Nevertheless, the formation of the Arab force, fragile perhaps, is still significant and we wish it well. The technical side of the operation was efficient, speedy and admirably carried out by the forces employed and I think that a special tribute should be paid to the troops under very difficult conditions.
Passing from the Middle East, there was a point asked about by the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. Mendelson), who hoped that the Minister of State would have time to answer. It was about the three soldiers arrested in Iraq. The Ambassador has seen the Iraqi Foreign Minister several times and General Kassim. The Foreign Secretary raised the matter with the Iraqi Foreign Minister and the Iraqi chargé d'affaires only last Monday was given further representations. We are continuing to work for their release. That is the best I can say.
I pass to another problem, in another part of the world, which has caused us great anxiety, the South-East Asia situation. My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) spoke of this. I would only say that negotiations are, happily, still in progress. Our policy and that of the United States is in complete harmony. I think that I can say without exaggeration that the policy we are following is one we both feel to be right and sensible although there are dangers.
The situation in South Viet Nam is bad and the campaign against President Diem is dangerous. In Laos if we succeed, as we hope to succeed, in a détente in a situation which, a few months ago, looked perilously near breaking point, it will be due to negotiations long and patient. I should like to pay tribute to the patient work of our representative, Mr. Malcolm Macdonald, and to the work which Mr. Harriman has done side by side with him.
I turn to Berlin and Germany. I thought that the hon. Member for Leeds, East gave a very sympathetic account of what one would call German public opinion and the pressures upon it. Of 312 course, that is true. I read with interest the speech which Herr Strauss made not long ago. I thought that it was objective and courageous. He pointed out the rather ambivalent attitude which we all have, quite naturally, after two wars.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition urged us not to repeat the mistakes which were perhaps made by the victorious Powers after the first war. I agree with that. It is difficult. Of course, there are long memories, and, of course, such questions still touch the people deeply. I recall a phrase which has stuck in my mind which I think was used at Strasbourg or The Hague by a very great man. It was, "The past should be forgiven even if it cannot be forgotten. If it cannot be forgotten, it should not set the pattern of the future." We have to nerve ourselves to act accordingly. We must decide whether the West Germans are our friends and allies working together in N.A.T.O., W.E.U. and perhaps the Common Market; or are we to look on them as enemies as a result of two wars? We must make up our minds.
I also agree that it is very difficult and dangerous for us not to take into full account German public opinion. We must not be frightened of stating to them, certainly privately, our own views as to the proper course, but we must also be careful that we do not produce just the wrong reaction. In other words, if we expect loyalty from Federal Germany, we must be loyal to them. We must be particularly careful that there is not a kind of new myth created that there has been a betrayal of Western Germany by the allies—a most dangerous thing which might do grievous injury in the years ahead.
The story has been a long one. The first intimation of the impending signature of the treaty was in Mr. Khrushchev's statement in 1958. I was very anxious to try at least to postpone that crisis, and we had a partial success. After my visit to Moscow it was postponed. There were discussions. We need not go back on the reasons which led to the disastrous failure of the Summit meeting. But at any rate, we have gained a certain amount of time. Now it has been revived again in a form which quite naturally has produced a tremendous reaction from the people of 313 Germany, the people of West Berlin and their allies. If I may do so without impertinence, I should like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the help which and assistance which he has given in this great issue both in the summer and in his speech yesterday.
There has been much discussion of the area of negotiation. The Russians—I suppose all dictatorships—have considerable advantages. They have no allies; or, at least, their allies are pretty well in hand. They have no Parliament, they have no free Press, they have no pressure groups. We think that in the long run we have the advantages of freedom. Anyway, we have shown it in my lifetime. We may bend, but we do not break.
A number of proposals have been thrown up in the debate, before the debate and in all the articles which I have read, of possible ways of dealing with this problem on either the narrow or the wider front. They are all valuable, and I am grateful to the right hon. Member the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Leeds, East, who said that they would quite understand the reticence which the Government must have. While we are grateful for the discussion of all these different methods of dealing with the situation, if we committed ourselves at this stage I think that we should be foolish, and we might do just the wrong thing from the point of view of getting complete agreement with our allies on making effective negotiations when the time for negotiation comes.
Therefore, if I may say so, I think that the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Leeds, East had a more realistic view of what the Government should do in this situation than had the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), who has just finished appealing to me to make a definite statement of the plans, policies and proposals for a negotiated settlement which the Government would put forward. I can imagine nothing as foolish as to do that at this moment.
We have tried. Everybody has tried. When they were in office, right hon. Gentlemen opposite had the Palais Rose experience. Then we had the meetings at Geneva between heads of Governments and Foreign Secretaries. I attended both. 314 We thought that we had made some progress, because in 1955 at least we got out of the Russians an agreement for the reunification of Germany on the basis of free elections and agreed that this would contribute to European security.
In 1959, there was a long meeting of the Foreign Secretaries trying to negotiate an interim agreement on Berlin, which, at one time, looked rather hopeful but which did not reach a settlement. We shall, of course, go on trying. We must try to face what are the realities underlying the Russian policy. We believe that the unity of Germany should be at least accepted in principle. It was accepted by the Russians in 1955 and it should be accepted in principle.
We do not really know what the Russians want. They have gone back on the 1955 agreement, which I regret, and, although they pay lip-service to the unification of Germany, it is clear from what they say about the incompatibility of the social systems in the two parts of Germany that it really is to be put off indefinitely. Therefore, we cannot help concluding that the Russians wish to establish the final and irreparable division of Germany.
I think that the right hon. Gentleman and all who have spoken from the Front Bench opposite said a very wise thing about anything being finial and irreparable in the history of people. These are dangerous final decisions to set down. We also accept that if we cannot achieve unification of Germany by peaceful means now, we cannot, at the same time, be party to accepting as a matter of principle an imposed division. I think that that is the first principle we have to stand for.
Now I come to Berlin. The Russians say, or have said up to now, that if they signed a treaty with D.D.R. all the rights of the allies in Berlin automatically come to an end. That is bad law and quite unacceptable. But that, of course, does not mean that negotiation is not possible—not at all. As regards Berlin, the broad fundamental principles of any settlement are, I think, generally known and have had a very wide acceptance in all quarters of the House—broadly what we want. That does not mean that there are not very many variations as to the methods by which these objectives can be obtained and 315 made secure. Many have been suggested—the possibility of the United Nations presence, the possibility of improving the so-called guarantees and making a more effective system. Nor are wider questions, to which the right hon. Gentleman referred, excluded, but any settlement must be by negotiation and not by unilateral imposition. It is only in that context that the military dispositions of the allies are relevant.
Doubts have been raised about the B.A.O.R. and the strength of the British contribution to N.A.T.O. It has been said that units are not fully up to strength or fully in balance. It is not the Government's policy, and never has been, to maintain B.A.O.R. on a wartime footing in peace time. Plans exist to reinforce B.A.O.R. rapidly in an emergency. It could be ready for sustained fighting in a very few days, but it is not up to strength and cannot be wholly in balance without mobilisation.
The House knows that our plans for reinforcement rest on the use of various categories of reservists, but we have no right to call them up until we judge that the time makes it necessary. Naturally, I considered the situation, and whether the situation this summer required mobilisation, but I believe that it would have been a great error to have recalled Parliament and had mobilisation and all the proclamations at that time.
I must make it plain to the House that we shall not hesitate to call forward the reservists by proclamation if a further deterioration in the situation seems to warrant this step. But I must add that the circumstances in which such a proclamation would become necessary would require many other measures of an economic, military and political kind.
I remind the House, also, that in recent months we have sent considerable reinforcements to Western Germany of the type that the soldiers on the spot reported as being most useful. I need only mention the surface-to-air guided weapon regiment and the anti-aircraft regiments that are to follow, as well as the formation of the Reserve Division in the United Kingdom. We also sent air reinforcements. So much for mobilisation by Proclamation, which is the 316 only method of bringing the Army to full strength and in full balance.
The point has been raised by some of the Press and by the Leader of the Liberal Party whether the British and other forces were in a position to fight a war for a reasonable period without nuclear weapons. The hon. Gentleman expressed the fear that any incident, even a trivial incident, might lead to a nuclear war because the British and other forces had insufficient conventional weapons. I think that there is some misunderstanding and I feel that I ought to try to clear it up.
Of course, there is danger, in connection with Berlin perhaps and the access to it, that there might arise a military incident leading to a clash between the opposing forces. It might be at first on a small scale. It might become something rather bigger. It is clear that in these events we must try to contain that clash by conventional means. The object of the strategy and planning of all the allies has been to ensure that in such a period there would be a pause during which one would hope that the statesmen of the different countries could get together and find some possibility of solution before the full horror of war was launched.
That is the purpose. For this purpose the armies of the allies have been designed and B.A.O.R. is organised, equipped, trained and deployed to meet the defence plans of the N.A.T.O. military authority. But if we were to come to a long drawn out full-scale campaign that is quite another thing and raises wholly different issues. I would simply say, as regards the Press and any comment on the part played by B.A.O.R. in the recent exercises in Germany, that they have been in full accord with the accepted N.A.T.O. strategy and in full accordance with the directive of SACEUR—the Allied Commander-in-Chief.
Before I return to the problem of Berlin I should just like to say a few words about the point raised by the right hon. Member for Belper about the Common Market discussions. The right hon. Gentleman affected to prove, or to show, that there was some disparity between what I said here in the House of Commons and what my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal said in addressing 317 the Community of the Six. It is perfectly true that I said—I said it because it is true—that the E.E.C. is an economic community, not a defence alliance and not a foreign policy or cultural community.
But I have looked again at my speech. I laid tremendous stress all through on the fact that one of the main purposes, as well as the economic purposes was what I might call the political overtones and implications. The unity of Europe seems to those of us who support this policy to be absolutely vital for the survival of all western peoples. There is no contrast at all between what this particular Treaty deals with as a Treaty and the fact that the aims and purposes are that there should he the fullest maximum unity. Those are the aims to which my right hon. Friend referred.
People have different views on how they will be achieved. I remember that in that very debate, when I was describing the kind of views we held, one right hon. Gentleman opposite said, "I see you agree with General de Gaulle—the Europe des patries". A large part of my speech was devoted to the very question of the political unity. This is just a mares' nest which the right hon. Gentleman has found and brought up at a very unsuitable moment.
Now I return to Berlin. We have had talks with Mr. Gromyko, the Foreign Minister. We want a settlement by negotiation which will be satisfactory to all concerned. Unsuccessful negotiation would be very bad. We want a successful negotiation. For this, we need a favourable climate and in this respect both these talks and, I think, some parts of Mr. Khrushchev's speech have helped us.
The Russians, I think, now realise the seriousness of the situation, the unwillingness of the allies to surrender and their determination not to do so. I think that they also recognise that we know it will be necessary to negotiate and guarantee the status and access and that that can best be done before any question of a Russian treaty with the D.D.R. As I understand it. that as the point to which Mr. Khrushchev reverted yesterday.
There are many questions of terms that have to be discussed—what does "a free city" mean, what does the sovereignty of 318 the D.D.R. involve and what is meant by de facto or semi-de facto? All this has to be discussed. The views on these matters between our Government and that of the United States are absolutely identical. We work very closely together. The United States Ambassador, now in Washington, will shortly return to Moscow and Sir Frank Roberts, who is home for a short consultation, will return, and together they will find the most appropriate communication with the Soviet Government to advance the matters already discussed.
Then there is the position of the French and the Germans. I will be quite frank about it. There is no German Government; it will be very helpful when we get a new German Government. The French doubts seem to be on procedure rather than on substance, more of tactics than of strategy. They agree with us that there must he a settlement by negotiation. There may he some difference of emphasis as to the best methods of laying the foundations of such a negotiation, but I do not want them to be exaggerated.
We have, of course, been trying to narrow the issues to practical points to be negotiated. There are wide questions, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, and these are interesting, but to wider' the issues does not necessarily make them easier to solve, particularly because different Governments concerned naturally attach varying importance to the different aspects.
I sum up. As long as this great division between East and West remains, the situation in many parts of the world will continue to be anxious. But we need not become desperate. We must get accustomed to anxiety and not let ourselves drift or be pushed into panic. We must keep our alliance together. We must not let the Russians drive a wedge between us. We must not lose any chance of agreement, even if it be over a restricted field. But we must not be led too soon into too extensive a negotiation, nor must we shirk discussion of wider issues than Berlin at the right time.
Therefore, I would say—and in this I call to my help and support what has fallen from the Leader of the Opposition—I cannot give the details Of the proposals that we are to put forward. They have all been discussed. Much is 319 on the table. We discuss them all the time with our allies. We are working for negotiation. We must not be rattled into surrender, but we must not be—and I am not—afraid of negotiation.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne)
I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.