HC Deb 24 May 1962 vol 660 cc729-808

Question again proposed, That this House do now adjourn.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. H. Wilson

It seems that the stars in their courses are trying to prevent us debating foreign affairs today.

I was saying, if I remember aright—I hope that the House will—that all of us had the right and the duty to consider the rightness of the American decision in relation to such issues as the Geneva Conference, and I referred to the neutrals' proposals and said that I myself had expressed the view that a delay should occur to enable these to be examined. As I said, they were rejected by Russia.

I know that it will be said, as American leaders have said, that the United States is ahead of the Russians and so does not need to test. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that. This is not like a race where one runner can be half a lap ahead of the other and then the other spurts ahead. The problem is now becoming qualitative as well as quantitative. A break-through, or prospective break-through, in antimissile technology, the unknown effects of high-level megaton explosions on both missiles and anti-missiles or warning systems—these things can in a qualitative sense completely destroy any quantitative balance or quantitative superiority.

I come now to two specific issues. First, the test in outer space. I am glad that President Kennedy is looking at this again. We know the defence arguments in favour and the scientific arguments against. It is not only a question of interfering with scientific observations. We still know too little about space radiation, what causes it and its pur- pose in the scheme of things to be sure of the effects of disturbing the belt of radioactive particles. I think that the Prime Minister has a real duty to ensure a confrontation of British and American scientists on this question.

Secondly, and more dangerous, there is the proposal to send an intercontinental ballistic missile 6,000 miles from California to the Eastern Pacific containing a megaton warhead. This really is dangerous. Apart from the danger that it may miscarry—and this is always a possibility—what possible answer has the West if Russia then decides to retaliate with a missile carrying a 10-megaton or 20-megaton warhead? This could open the most dangerous chapter of all in the nuclear test race. We should make our view absolutely clear that this proposal, at least, should be dropped.

I think that it will be within the recollection of right hon. and hon. Members that part of the time since I began my speech we have spent outside. I do not wish to detain the House very much longer.

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

Before my right hon. Friend leaves the subject of hydrogen bombs, may I put a question to him? I am very interested in the argument about the Blackpool resolution. I must be dependent upon my right hon. Friend for the facts, because, as he knows, I was not there.

Is my right hon. Friend saying that the unanimous decision at Blackpool, on the motion of the National Executive and unanimously accepted, meant that the decision to oppose the American tests was conditional upon the Russians abandoning the series which everyone knew they had already started?

Mr. Wilson

It is not for me to construct for the benefit of a solicitor the wording of a resolution which was, I thought, very clear. What we said was that we deplored the Russian opening of the tests. We said that we regretted the Americans feeling obliged to start underground tests, and we then called on both parties, on all the Powers, to stop tests. What happened, as I said—I gave the figures—was that, immediately afterwards, there were the 37 Russian tests including a 57-megaton bomb and a 30-megaton bomb. I gave, clearly, I hope, the argument thereafter. I do not know how far, Mr. Speaker, you would wish to hear us pursue post-Blackpool arguments here. I can assure my hon. Friend that these matters are quite likely to be discussed not at Blackpool, but at Brighton, where not you, Mr. Speaker, but I, shall be presiding over the debate.

We undertook to raise today the question of N.A.T.O. and the Athens Conference. I still cannot understand what has happened to the Minister of Defence, who has had the most clear series of warnings that he should be here. Indeed, he said that he would be here. It is no secret that for a year and more the American and British conceptions of defence policy have been getting further apart. The precise issues were analysed by my right hon. Friends and myself in the defence debate.

First, there was the difference of view about the value of Britain's so-called independent nuclear deterrent. Secondly, a related matter, there was the urgent desire of America—again underlining a point we have repeatedly pressed—to strengthen the conventional forces of N.A.T.O., particularly in Germany, as against the very low priority that Her Majesty's Government gave to this task.

Thirdly, there is the difference of view about the rôle of tactical nuclear weapons in N.A.T.O., the dangerous over-reliance in defence thinking here on these weapons, as against the American insistence on having sufficient conventional strength to enforce a pause and to delay the transition to nuclear war long enough to enable everyone to think again. Fourthly, there is America's desire, the cardinal aim of her policy, to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, an aim seriously prejudiced by Britain's futile insistence on having its own nuclear weapon.

I am sorry that the Minister of Defence is not here. He has had plenty of opportunity to be present. We have had enough interruptions today to enable him to get here.

I now come to Athens and one of the clumsiest exercises in diplomacy and public relations in our history. If the Minister of Defence has failed to build up our national defences, as we believe he has, none will under-rate the dedicated work which he has put in to build up his Department's public relations network. His firepower may be weak, but the broadsides of his public relations department, if frequently misdirected, are frightening in their impact and recoil.

This is true of the whole Government, from the Prime Minister downwards—or sideways. I suppose that it is a measure of a century's progress. Whereas Lord Palmerston would have met a threatened crisis with a squadron of frigates, today the Prime Minister and his colleagues throw in not the Navy, but a squadron of public relations officers.

On the eve of the Athens Conference. our American allies were suitably softened up—this must have been the idea—with Ministry of Defence claims that the United States had suddenly come round to the British view on defence. Newspaper after newspaper, the following morning, printed headlines that the Americans had caved in and were accepting the British view on defence. The Daily Herald fell for it. I quote its main headline: Kennedy swings over to British H-line". It went on: After months of bickering behind the scenes, Britain has now talked America into accepting our defence policy". This was the story even in the Daily Herald.

The Americans, when they read this, were incredulous and then angry, and they deployed their own not inconsiderable public relations forces—hand-outs and discreet briefings of British defence correspondents. Days later we had the final communiqué. There was no evidence of American capitulation, no change in N.A.T.O. nor in American policy. The change which took place —a fundamental one—was in British policy.

The reason why the Minister, who, I am sorry to say, is not with us, was so coy about this was that British policy had lurched strikingly in the direction which we on this side of the House have been urging for years. It is still far from going the whole way with us, but it has gone in this direction. Then we had the odd case of my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), who follows defence matters with a dedication which we all respect and admire. He tabled an innocent Question to the Minister. Of course, all of my hon. Friend's questions are innocent, genuinely seeking information. What does the Minister do? He prepares an anodyne reply adding nothing to what. the House knew. But before he gave the Answer in the House, with that broad strategic sweep which we always associate with him, he summoned a Press conference, referring in the notice, most unusually, to my hon. Friend's Question. While the House is told nothing, the defence correspondents are given full and, to them, surprising information. I invite hon. Members to read the defence correspondents in leading newspapers the next morning.

Of course, what emerged from that Press conference, although it was never said in the House, was a series of sorry admisions that the Government's defence policy was in ribbons, with the Rhine Army being increased from 51,000 to 55,000 by 1964, ultimately reaching 75,000. Where in this year's White Paper is there any suggestion of building up the Rhine Army in this way? Indeed, the House will recall that the whole philosophy of the White Paper was the other way about—keep them here; men on Salisbury Plain are as good as in Germany.

There was not a word about the arithmetic, or from where the men were coming. There was not a word about the economics of it. The White Paper, in March, clearly related our inability to meet our European commitments to a famine of foreign exchange. Now, apparently, foreign exchange is no problem.

I will leave my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) to develop these points. All this means, and should mean, a fundamental change in our over-dependence on tactical nuclear weapons. Up to now, the British Government's policy has been to use tactical nuclear weapons dangerously to save soldiers. Now there is a complete change in this policy. The Minister stood up in the House and denied that there had been any change. He said that there was no difference between what he told the House and what the defence correspondents extracted from him.

The truth is—this has to be said—that the Minister has been less than frank with the House. The House is getting heartily sick of the way in which Ministers regard our Parliamentary institutions, and the absence of the Minister of Defence is a further proof of this. We were told that he would be accountable to the House. Where is he —at a Press conference? This is the attitude that we are getting all the time. Ministers think that their first duty is to Press conferences and not to this House. Information is regularly denied to hon. Members on security grounds which is then given at Press conferences to defence correspondents immediately afterwards.

I make this challenge to the Minister of Defence, if someone is able to locate him. The Press conference to which I have referred was tape recorded. Let the right hon. Gentleman place the full transcript—no editing and no "cooking"—in the Library of the House. If he refuses to do this, I suggest that he will be guilty of grave constitutional impropriety in that he refuses to make available to hon. Members information which he has already given outside.

Even after eleven years of this "ad mass Government", I hope that we have not yet quite got rid of the accountability of Ministers, not to the Press, but to the House of Commons. We are not in the Common Market yet, and this House is not the French Assembly. We shall expect the right hon. Gentleman to answer this challenge in this debate.

Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

Where is he?

Mr. Wilson

Can the Lord Privy Seal tell us where he is? A lot of messages have been sent for him. This is making a mockery of the debate. We have given notice that this matter would be raised. We asked that the Minister of Defence should reply to the debate, because this point would be raised. Although he told me that he would be here, he has not shown up. Can the Lord Privy Seal say where he is? We sent out messages for him a few minutes ago.

Mr. Harold Davies

For the information of back bench Members, is my right hon. Friend telling the House that he gave notice that this question which the Minister is not here to answer would be raised?

Mr. G. Brown

I did so as well.

Mr. Wilson

That is certainly true. Both my right hon. Friends did it. Several messages have been sent since I got up to speak. I think that the Government will have to provide additional time out of their own time so that this debate can be properly conducted. Would either the Lord Privy Seal or the Minister of State tell me what has happened to the Minister of Defence, so that we can get on?

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)

On a point of order. Have back benchers no remedy at all in a grave Parliamentary situation such as this? Have the Opposition no remedy? Cannot we send for the Minister and adjourn the House until he comes?

Mr. Speaker

We are discussing whether the House should adjourn. I cannot help the hon. Gentleman. I have no power to compel Ministers to come here.

Mr. Wilson

We are in an extremely difficult situation. This concerns the rights not only of back benchers, but of the whole House. Since we have sent repeated messages and Ministers on the Front Bench refuse to answer my question, would you, Mr. Speaker, accept at this stage a motion for the adjournment of the debate so that the Minister of Defence could be sent for?

Mr. Speaker

We are discussing the question of adjourning now, are we not?

Mr. Wilson

Is it in order to move a motion that the debate be adjourned?

Mr. Wigg

Does my right hon. Friend realise that I put on the Order Paper a Motion of censure on the Minister of Defence?

Mr. S. Silverman

That no longer matters.

Mr. Wigg

I beg my hon. Friend's pardon?

Mr. S. Silverman

I did not wish to interrupt my hon. Friend, but, since he has asked, I will tell him the answer. There have been many occasions over recent months when Motions of censure were regarded as what the Leader of the Opposition would call "peanuts".

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am confused about what is happening. There seems to be an intervention on an intervention, which is seldom a successful method of debating.

Mr. Wigg

I put a Motion on the Order Paper which was a censure of the Minister of Defence for having a Press conference and failing to tell the House.

[That this House deplores the action of the Minister of Defence in summoning a special Press Conference on Wednesday, 9th May at which he gave information regarding an increase in the strength of the British Army of the Rhine, following the decisions of the recent Athens meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, information which he failed to give this House in answer to a question by the honourable Member for Dudley earlier on the same day.]

I understood that the Minister of Defence would be here today to answer this charge.

Mr. Wilson

I hope that by this time the Government Front Bench are in a position to answer my question about the whereabouts of the Minister of Defence. He was given every warning that he should be here so that he would be accountable.

Mr. Warbey

On a point of order Some of us understood that today we would have a debate on foreign affairs. Some of my right hon. and hon. Friends seem to think that we should also have a debate on defence. As things are going, we are having neither a debate on foreign affairs nor a debate on defence. Would I be in order, Mr. Speaker, in moving, That the Question be now put?

Mr. Speaker

No. I would not accept the Motion.

Mr. Wilson

Obviously, we must get on. The Government have behaved regrettably to the House in this whole matter. It has been said for many weeks that this debate would be on foreign policy and defence. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Oh, yes. That statement was made by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. This afternoon, both the Leader of the House and I said that the reason why we could not have the earlier debate satisfactorily was that only the Foreign Office Vote had been put down and we wanted to discuss defence as well as Foreign Office matters. That was clearly understood. That was why my right hon. Friends and I asked for the Minister of Defence to wind up the debate.

Mr. Shinwell

If it was the intention to debate disarmament, the N.A.T.O. structure, Thailand, Berlin and a variety of other Foreign Office questions, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether it was the intention also to debate defence? Was not that a subject that required almost a whole day for debate?

Mr. Wilson

My right hon. Friend knows perfectly well that when these matters were discussed it was felt desirable that we should discuss N.A.T.O. and the Athens Conference. This could be done only by bringing in the responsibility of the Minister of Defence. Having pressed the point, I leave it at that. I trust that before the debate is ended—

Mr. Stephen Hastings(Mid-Bedfordshire) rose

Mr. Wilson

We have been interrupted enough. [HON. MEMBERS "Give way."] I now press the Government

Brigadier Sir John Smyth (Norwood)

The right hon. Gentleman has said several times that he gave warning to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence that he would raise this matter and that he asked him to be present. At what time did the right hon. Gentleman give that warning to the Minister of Defence? As far as I know, the Minister of Defence had no warning whatever from him.

Mr. Wilson

I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member does not want to mislead the House. The Minister has several messages. He himself told me last night, when I asked whether he would wind up the debate, that he would not do so and that he might be a few minutes late for the opening of my speech. For reasons known to the House, I was a few minutes late in speaking today, but the Minister still has not arrived. He certainly knew of this.

I bring the point to a close. There are many other issues that some of us would like to have raised concerning the events that we have had to face, but there is one question which I want to put to the Lord Privy Seal. We have referred to the shape of N.A.T.O. following the Athens Conference. I believe that in some ways it is more hopeful. It is a hopeful factor, for example, that nuclear arms have been clearly refused to the Germans and all that that means. We have now heard, I hope, the end of a strategic nuclear element in N.A.T.O. itself.

The right hon. Gentleman knows, however, that there are many anxieties in Europe, particularly as a result of recent speeches by President de Gaulle and by Dr. Adenauer. At this hour, I do not want to go into the Common Market question—we shall be debating it in a few days' time—but I conclude by saying this to the Lord Privy Seal. We know what President de Gaulle has said in recent weeks. We know the danger to the N.A.T.O. Alliance of a possible split between the developing Paris-Bonn axis and their partners in the Six and also between the Paris-Bonn axis and the Anglo-Saxon Powers.

The danger which I foresee is that Common Market negotiations will be brought in as a bargaining weapon affecting the whole future of our security. It may be that President de Gaulle will erupt upon the scene, as he did in the Free Trade Area negotiations, and break them off, and that will be that. But I see a greater danger. I fear that we may reach a situation in which the President allows the negotiations to continue until a state of near-agreement is reached and that at that point he will come to the British Government and to the American Government to barter his assent to Britain's entry to the Common Market in return for Britain and the United States agreeing to transfer to him nuclear "know-how" and nuclear secrets, to make France a more formidable nuclear Power and, perhaps, also to alter the constitution of N.A.T.O. in practice so that there will be a three-Power directorate of France, Britain and America.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be on his guard against such a development. It would be a dangerous thing for this country if these economic negotiations were to be bartered against such vital decisions for our security and for the future cohesion of N.A.T.O. I believe that no one in this House would contemplate such a surrender and I hope and trust that no British statesman would barter for an economic potage the birthright of peace.

6.37 p.m.

Mr. James Scott-Hopkins (Cornwall, North)

I, too, like the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), regret that my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal did not have time at the beginning of his speech to paint a larger canvas of the background to the decisions which Her Majesty's Government have taken, and are taking, in foreign policy. One of the things which I now begin to understand is the anxiety of hon. Members below the Gangway to have the debate confined to foreign policy. The way in which the right hon. Member for Huyton brought in defence matters and raised the hare concerning the whereabouts of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence broadened the whole debate and was an attempt to squash so many subjects into it that it is difficult to be compact. As a matter of interest, I should like to know why the right hon. Gentleman's colleague the "shadow" Minister of Defence is not present. He is conspicuous by his absence.

My right hon. Friend's remarks at the beginning of his speech about the reasons for the action that the Government had taken and the purpose underlying their actions in foreign policy are of the greatest importance. One must realise the basic purpose of foreign policy and judge its results by whether those purposes are fulfilled. In my view, the two main purposes are, first, that all foreign policy must be directed towards ensuring the security of the State in any eventuality, and, secondly, to advance both economically and politically the lawful aspirations of the State.

Therefore, if we examine the various foreign policy actions taken by my right hon. Friends, particularly concerning Thailand, we must judge them by those two purposes. I entirely agree with the action taken by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in dispatching troops to Thailand at the request of that country, the troops in this case being a squadron of the Royal Air Force.

It is incontestable from what one has heard in the House this afternoon, as hon. Members on both sides will surely agree, that there has been, and is, a threat to the security of Thailand and that the Thais were, therefore, completely justified in asking for help from those to whom they were bound by treaty. This, I think, was the right action, and we have ourselves taken the right action in supporting our friends to whom we are bound by treaty.

There are no two ways about it, in my view. The threat which exists in the neighbouring country of Laos, which is undoubtedly engineered, or at least backed up, by the Chinese Communists, presents the greatest possible threat to the security of this part of the world. If, by our action by going in to support the Thai Government, we can do anything to bring stability to that area, I am quite certain that we shall have taken the correct action.

There is not very much time, and there are a great many hon. Members who wish to speak. I should like now to turn to the next point which has been covered in the debate—that about Berlin. Once again, it has been extraordinary that, throughout the speech of the right hon. Member for Huyton, until he came to the passage about N.A.T.O. he was in complete agreement with the policy of the Government right the way through. This is very encouraging to this side of the House, and, indeed, it is one of those things on which we must congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on having the good sense to realise that we are pursuing the right purpose in our Foreign policy, and particularly with regard to Berlin, where there has been a grave threat, not only to our security but also to the security of the West, by the Russian actions recently. This has been resolved by the firmness shown by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, although I am not all that sure whether the action in East Berlin can be taken entirely in isolation.

In my view, a very grave situation exists today in Eastern Germany. At the moment, the economy of that country is crumbling, and of this there is no doubt. Mr. Khrushchev is having to prop up its economy to a very considerable extent and the fact that most East German industry and trade is tied up with Western Germany is a relevant factor. Nevertheless, Mr. Khrushchev has to prop up this régime. The length of time for which he is prepared to go on doing this and the extent to which he will have to do it, is a matter for speculation, but, undoubtedly, the East Germans have got themselves into an extremely difficult situation. If, like all desperate men, they should decide that action has to be taken, there is only one way in which it could be taken to cover up their inadequacies in their own country, and this means action against the West, and, particularly, against Western Germany.

Therefore, I ask my right hon. Friend urgently to consider whether it is not now time to make some gesture towards supporting at this moment the East German régime, though not perhaps by financial means. If it is allowed to get into a desperate state, in which Mr. Khrushchev cannot be asked to support it any more, it will have to turn on Western Germany. In this case, it might possibly be to our advantage in the foreign field if we were to recognise the East German Government in some form or another. On the Berlin situation we have held firm in not giving recognition, although, in point of fact, as my right hon. Friend knows, there is de facto recognition in all that really matters between East and West Berlin and ourselves. The policy of the Government in this field has undoubtedly achieved the right result in securing that we do not have war over Berlin.

I should now like to turn to the situation of the other European country which is outside the E.E.C., and that is Spain. I believe that the time has now come, regardless of the political set-up inside Spain, to remember that Spain must be considered as one of the European family and that her application to join or to be associated with the Common Market countries, should be supported by my right hon. Friend and this country. It is quite true that we do not approve of the internal Government of Spain and that General Franco is to all intents and purposes still a dictator, but, indeed, it is the people of Spain who matter. We must look to the future, and I think that, from our own point of view, from the defence and the economic points of view, Spain must once again be considered as part of the European Continent. If the other countries of Europe want to take us into E.E.C., Spain must come into association with the growing European family. I personally have no reason to like the régime in Spain, but, nevertheless, I think the time has come when we cannot always be looking over our shoulders, as many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite do, but must look to the future.

I think that one of the most difficult problems that the Government have to face, certainly in the European field, is the position of the neutrals. I think that, at the moment, when all these negotiations are going on between the Common Market countries and ourselves—and here I must not trespass on what we shall be talking about in two weeks' time, although I join with my hon. Friend who mentioned the fact that that debate will take place during the Western European Union meetings, and, unfortunately, I shall be there—the position of the neutrals in regard to this field of negotiations and our association with E.F.T.A., must give rise to the greatest anxiety.

If we cannot have some sort of association for them with the Common Market countries, I think we have a duty to stay out of the European Economic Community. They are extremely anxious about their own position politically, and in being tied up politically with the Common Market countries. This position can be upheld, certainly as far as Austria is concerned. It is impossible for Austria to move from the position of special neutrality which has been created for her since the war. So far as the Swiss are concerned, there may be great advantage to us if they could retain a certain amount of their neutral status, particularly as Switzerland is a country which is so often called upon by many of the developing countries to settle disputes because it is completely untainted by any of the old European colonial ideas.

I am quite certain that these two countries cannot manage to survive within the European scene unless they can find some form of association with the Common Market which would help them to get their economies integrated to the greatest possible extent with those of E.E.C.

This leaves on one side the Swedish problem, and here I have a feeling that in this case they may be moving slightly more towards some looser form of political integration with the Common Market countries.

We have had the warning that the situation in South-East Asia is very precarious; the Communist menace there has already shown itself in Laos, and is now showing itself in Thailand. But there is another small country in which again this pressure is being shown and which could be extremely dangerous. I ask the indulgence of the House for mentioning this matter now, but it is vital that in our foreign policy regarding the South-East Asian position we should pay great attention to the position of Nepal, acting as a buffer State between the Chinese in Tibet and the Indians in India.

If this State should go Communist I think that the result would be disastrous for the West in South-East Asia. The position at the moment is that the King of Nepal is managing to get enough support to keep the règime stable. This support depends to a large extent on Gurkha troops and those who have retired and gone back to live in the hills of Nepal. It is these men who have taken money into the country and keep the economy going because there is no industry there worth talking about. They are fiercely loyal to the King, and if the present position were undermined in any way the result would be disastrous for the West.

At the moment the Nepalese Government and King are managing to keep the position stable, but if the Chinese were to lean a little heavily on them I think that the position could deteriorate rapidly. The result would be disastrous for our position in Nepal and would be reflected throughout the whole of South-East Asia. I hope that my right hon. Friend will remember this should such situation ever arise, but I hope that it will not.

I think that in foreign affairs the Government are doing the right thing. This applies particularly to their policy with regard to disarmament. Abortive negotiations have been going on in Geneva for many months, and my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs has shown tremendous patience in keeping the negotiations going.

One of the most encouraging things to come out of the negotiations is the fact that our position is being made clear to the uncommitted countries of the world who are there and can listen to what is going on. It is being made clear to them that we are absolutely sincere in our desire to have general disarmament with verification. The Russian position, too, is becoming equally clear, that under no circumstances are they prepared to have any form of general disarmament.

I hope that we can manage to continue to talk to the Russians to try to make them realise that this disarmament must start in a small way, perhaps with the abolition of nuclear tests, and lead to general disarmament, but it is useless to make disarmament proposals unless provision can be made to verify not only the disarmament which is said to have been completed but that which still exists.

One of the interesting things to emerge from this debate is the difference of opinion which exists between right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench and their hon. Friends below the Gangway. These hon. Gentlemen, together with hon. Members of the Liberal Party, have consistently put forward proposals for unilateral disarmament. One fact which they have refused to face is that this would mean sheltering under the wing of the American deterrent and, if this happened, would necessitate us reintroducing general conscription to enable us to fulfil our obligations.

Mr. Eric Lubbock(Orpington): Rubbish.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does the hon. Gentleman want to intervene, instead of merely making comments from a sedentary position?

Mr. Lubbock

The hon. Gentleman referred to us sheltering under the American umbrella. Does he think that it appears in this light to the Norwegians?

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

That does not seem particularly relevant to what I said. If we can get verification accepted by the Russians, we must go on to general disarmament, starting with nuclear weapons, but so long as the Russians are reluctant to accept our proposals it is vital to the security of this country that we should continue to have the nuclear deterrent.

I conclude by saying that the Government's foreign policy will secure both the things that I have mentioned. Firstly, it will secure for this country a state of security in which we can live and work in peace. Secondly, it will secure our economic and political future and ensure that our influence is properly and rightly felt throughout the world.

6.55 p.m.

Mr. E. Shinwell (Easington)

The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins) will not be surprised to learn that I disagree with almost everything he said, but he can console himself with two reflections. First, that I have not the least doubt about his sincerity, and, secondly, that this has been the most unsatisfactory debate on foreign affairs that I have heard since I entered the House forty years ago.

This debate has a most unsatisfactory background, not because of any inactivity on the part of hon. Members on this side of the House, but because of the Government's refusal last Thursday to agree to a debate on the proposal which was then mooted by the Government to dispatch some of our forces to Thailand.

I do not propose to speak at any length—which will no doubt afford a great deal of satisfaction to many hon. Members—because in a foreign affairs debate of so comprehensive and compendious a nature as this one it is obviously impossible to speak with any kind of relevance to any of the topics with the exception of one or two with which one is primarily concerned.

Nobody will deny that the Lord Privy Seal is one of the most amiable Ministers in the Government. It is true that his answers are usually unsatisfactory, but that in no way vitiates his desire to be amiable. I found the right hon. Gentleman's speech very unsatisfactory indeed. It consisted of the usual jargon about disarmament and references to N.A.T.O., which showed that he completely misunderstood What happened in Athens. I disliked particularly—and I know that the right hon. Gentleman will not like this—what I regard as the fortuitous deception—I will not say that it was deliberate—relevant to the decision of the Government to dispatch forces to Thailand.

Last week, a suggestion was made by hon. Members on this side that we might have a debate on this subject. The Government refused to accede to this request. They have a huge majority in the House, and they did not require the adventitious aid of anybody on this side. Nevertheless, I was surprised to find that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and a few of my hon. Friends decided to support the Government in the Tory Lobby. This decision was unnecessary. It made no contribution to the successs of the Government, and in my judgment was a mistake.

It is true that two of my hon. Friends, out of a natural loyalty to the Leader of the Opposition, voted with him in the Tory Lobby. From what I have heard since, I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) voted with the Government because he did not wish to impede the proposed debate on education.

However important educational advance may be, I cannot understand how anybody could imagine that an education debate, with no vote at the end of it, could be more important than the question of sending forces to a foreign country, with the prospect—certainly by no means as remote as some people imagine—of inflaming the situation in South-East Asia.

Let us consider the Government's position. This afternoon questions were asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) and myself. The right hon. Gentleman was asked to advise the House about the request—which, according to him, came from the Thailand Government—for the dispatch of our forces. The right hon. Gentleman indulged in a jumble of words which I could not follow. I propose to direct a question more specifically to the Minister of State. I put the question as categorically, specifically, emphatically and deliberately as I can. Will the Government produce evidence that either S.E.A.T.O. or the Thailand Government made a request to the United Kingdom to dispatch forces to Thailand? That is a challenge. I shall not be fobbed off with a lot of words or jargon of the kind to which we are accustomed on occasions when questions are asked.

Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the national news agencies, both here and in Bangkok, and the majority of our national newspapers, have no knowledge of such a request? I have handed that notice in to my Front Bench. I, too, will expect a proper answer at the end of the day.

Mr. Shinwell

I can only support what the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mr. W. Yates) has said by reading from the columns of The Times of 18th May. It vindicates my observation about the fortuitous deception on the part of the Government. If I were to call it deliberate deception I might involve myself in some difficulty. The Times is a reputable organ, unlike the Guardian, which has departed from its old-time radical democratic traditions. I hope that I shall be forgiven for mentioning the Guardian, because it never mentions me. It is now one of the most biassed newspapers in the country.

Mr. Warbey

Although it has departed from its former radical position, nevertheless, on this question, even the Guardian is opposed to sending troops to Thailand.

Mr. Shinwell

The operative word is "even". How it happened I do not know. My case against that newspaper is that it is biassed. It was originally one of the greatest newspapers in the world. One used to read its columns with conviction that what was contained in them was being told without bias or prejudice.

However, I turn to a more reputable newspaper, which I hope hon. Members will take notice of. It said: The United States made a new appeal today for other S.E.A.T.O. countries to send troops to Siam, although Marshal Sarit Thanarat, the Siamese Prime Minister"— who is regarded by knowledgeable people as the military dictator of Siam— is reported to have said that his Army backed by United States forces is strong enough to stop any Communist incursion from Laos. The United States plea was made at a press conference here tonight by General Paul Harkins, United States military assistant commander in Siam and South Vietnam. He said it would be useful to have troops from other S.E.A.T.O. nations in Siam: the presence of other troops would heighten the show of solidarity by S.E.A.T.O. in the face of pro-communist moves in Laos. Marshal Sarit Thanarat is said to have told his Cabinet yesterday that all S.E.A.T.O. countries except France were willing to send token forces to Siam, and had been thanked for their offers. No formal request has yet been made for assistance. Siamese Foreign Ministry sources said that the United States had possibly suggested to S.E.A.T.O. members that they should send some troops and that Siam would have no objection. They pointed out that Siam had not formally asked the United States to send Marines, but had agreed when America suggested it. I suggest to the Government, including the Prime Minister and the Lord Privy Seal, that without any request they offered to send a token force of Royal Air Force fighters. Whether the Thailand Government have accepted the offer we do not know, but if they have we should like to have evidence of it. In particular, we want evidence that the Thailand Government, either through S.E.A.T.O. or directly, made a request to the British Government to send them, and that it was not General Harkins who made the request. The whole of what happened last Thursday is associated with the truth of what actually occurred in relation to Thailand.

Of course, if we are to send forces, let us send useful and substantial forces. Let us not make ourselves a laughing stock. The force that is to be dispatched —when, we do not know—is apparently one that was engaged in an exercise and came back to the United Kingdom or Singapore. Now it is going to Thailand again. What will it do when it gets there? The Prime Minister says that it will have a stabilising influence, but it will have nothing of the sort. It is not to be compared with the huge forces at the disposal of the United States, which have already been sent there.

Why did the United States send forces there without being requested? My right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson), in a speech which was made in his usual able fashion, said some things with which I am in fundamental disagreement. He referred to the United States activities in Laos and the decision to send forces to Thailand. He seemed to whitewash the United States. I take another line. I believe that the motivation for America's intervention in South-East Asia is dictated by one factor alone, namely, her desire to contain the Republic of China.

There is some justification for this. The Americans have announced their intentions over and over again. Everybody understands the American ideology. I do not say that they are insincere, or lacking in conviction, but we must realise that the American ideology at present—it has been the same for a considerable time, but it is more pronounced than ever—is to destroy Communism, to arrest its growth, or to weaken it in some fashion. I suggest that this cannot be done by military means. I have never thought that it was possible to destroy or weaken Communism by military means.

I was a member of the Labour Government which had to face awkward situations in Abadan and Malaya, and I said this over and over again. If we want to achieve success in our efforts to prevent Communism becoming the ruling factor throughout the civilised world—or the uncivilised world; it depends on one's view of the matter—then it seems to me that the only way to do so is by economic, industrial and sociological means. There is no other method. And after all, there are vast funds, materials and resources at the disposal of the United States which could be used in a sociological, industrial and economic fashion to achieve success in halting the advance of Communism more easily and expeditiously than by adopting military methods.

I believe that to be the cause of trouble there. I fail to see why we should associate ourselves with the United States in that effort. We do not like Communism any more than they do. But I do not believe that anything our country can do, either by military means or by any other means at our disposal, will succeed in thwarting the efforts of the Communist countries throughout the world.

I want to turn to one other matter, but before doing so I must say another word about the origin of this debate. I have been looking up the records and perhaps the House will be interested. Last week the Government refused a debate, presumably on the ground that they have the sole prerogative of determining whether troops or forces should be dispatched. There are precedents of which I think the House should take note. In case I am challenged later, let us take one which is extracted from the archives of the Labour Government. There is no secret about it, no question of violating the Official Secrets Acts.

In the case of the Korean adventure, hon. Members will recall that the United States took action and the Security Council responded by condoning that action. Then we were asked to make a contribution, and we agreed. But I can tell the House that on 29th June, 1950, almost simultaneously with the decision to send forces—there was a token force to begin with which was built up into the Commonwealth Brigade, and we sent one or two naval vessels—there was a debate in this House. That is one example.

Now I come to other examples since the present Government came to power. In the case of Suez, on 30th October, 1956, there was an announcement in this House about the British ultimatum, and a debate took place upon it. It was also debated on two subsequent occasions, on 31st October and 1st November. It was on 31st October that the first air offensive began.

Take the case of Jordan. There was a debate in this House on 17th July, 1958, which coincided with the sending of British troops. But there was also a debate on the situation in the Middle East on the 16th, before the request from Jordan for British intervention was received. The debate is relevant to the decision to send forces—

Mr. S. Silverman

And on the 17th there was a vote.

Mr. Shinwell

That is not in my record, but I have no doubt that the hon. Gentleman is correct.

Take the case of Kuwait, which is much more recent. There are varying views about whether that adventure should have taken place. Some regarded it as a "phoney" adventure and some believed that the suggestion of Iraqi aggression was conceived by people with sinister motives. I will not enter into the merits of the question. All I wish to say to the House is that an announcement was made on 28th June, 1961, in both Houses, of the willingness to send British support if a request was received from the Ruler of Kuwait. On the 30th a request for military assistance was made. Two days later there was a debate in the House of Commons. I think that is conclusive, and if the Minister wishes to challenge what I have said, let him do so at the end of the debate. If that is right, there is no justification at all far the Government refusing to have a debate on the subject of dispatching troops to Thailand.

Mr. S. Silverman

Or for the Opposition's refusal, either?

Mr. Shinwell

I am not discussing at this stage the question of whether forces should be sent. That is a matter for debate. Incidentally, the Government refused a debate last week and now we are having it, so that they might as well have had it last week—

Sir Kenneth Pickthorn (Carlton)

And very few of us are having it.

Mr. Shinwell

I am sorry, I did not catch that.

Sir K. Pickthorn

I said that very few of us are having a debate.

Mr. Shinwell

I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman—or I should say the intellectual gentleman—not "learned" but "intellectual"—may have an opportunity later to take part in the debate.

I have concentrated on one aspect of the subject. I am not dealing with disarmament, with N.A.T.O. or with any other subject, but merely with the subject of Thailand. Having done that, I leave it to the House to judge. That is a subject which we should have been discussing last week and in my view the Government will have to discuss is before long.

What will happen there? Will there be trouble? Is there aggression or evidence of it? I do not believe that there is. If there is, let the evidence be produced. It is no use the Prime Minister coming along and saying that Royal Laotian Army troops were scurrying through the frontiers of Thailand, which meant that sooner or later the Pathet Lao forces would follow them up, and that would be an act of aggression. There is no evidence of it at all —none whatever. It has now quietened down. Indeed, it was quiet before it quietened down.

I am not saying that the British Government and the British people should not support occasional efforts to resist aggression. I am all for the independence of small countries, and of this country which is now being threatened. By the way, I noticed that the hon. Member for Cornwall, North, in addition to discussing disarmament, N.A.T.O. Thailand, and all the rest, began to discuss the Common Market. I suppose that that is because, as the hon. Gentleman told us, he cannot be present when we have a debate on the Common Market.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

In point of fact, I did not discuss N.A.T.O. nor did I say that I wished to discuss the Common Market at any length.

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. Gentleman did discuss the Common Market and I suppose that he was entitled to do so as long as Mr. Speaker permitted it. I understand that the hon. Gentleman will not be present when we have a two-day debate on the Common Market—two days to discuss one subject and only one day for half-a-dozen subjects—but we shall bear his absence, to use a hackneyed phrase, with the utmost fortitude.

I repeat my challenge to the Government and I hope that the Lord Privy Seal will learn about it. Let the Government produce evidence that they were asked to send troops. Let them state the terms of the request and give us the date. Let them do that, and then the Government will have vindicated themselves. If they cannot, the Government stand condemned.

7.18 p.m.

Commander Anthony Courtney (Harrow, East)

I am glad to speak after the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and I am sorry that so much time was taken up discussing procedural matters which have no relevance to foreign affairs, which is the subject of the debate. I would excuse myself for not following the right hon. Member for Easington, but I wish to take up a point raised by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) and by his right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). I refer to the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of which there are reports in today's newspapers. I wish to bring that into the special context of what I propose to make the main burden of my speech, which is the pressing and acute problem of Berlin.

The right hon. Member for Easing-ton may perhaps remember the time to which I refer. It is twelve years since I wrote a long paper to the Chiefs of Staff deploring the tendency I saw in Germany in those days of the United States authorities to make a rather rapid issue of the rebirth of the West German Wehrmacht. If there is substance in these allegations in the newspapers regarding the activities of the C.I.A. in South-East Asia and if my right hon. Friend believes as a result that it is desirable to make representations to our American friends and allies, I suggest that he might add also that the danger could well exist at present in Germany.

I should like to throw out an idea on the very pressing and dangerous question of Berlin. I hope that I shall not repeat too many of the very wise things which have been said on both sides of the House. I suggest that we clear our minds for a few moments by considering the Berlin question not simply as a political matter but as a military problem. I suggest this because the peculiar circumstances of Berlin and the brutality of the situation which faces us there are such as to make it a question which can, and may in my view, well be settled by force—either physical force, economic force, or—heaven help us if this happens —armed force.

We have seen physical force in operation on a number of occasions over the last year. I refer specifically to 13th August last year when the physical wall was set up behind which are incarcerated 2¼ million West Berliners. We have seen economic force in the imposition of the barge dues on traffic passing on the Mittelland Canal and on the Elbe. This was an imposition two years ago by the Russian authorities through their East German satellites.

I remind the House that a Zollgesetz is under discussion in East Germany—it may even be passed for all I know—by which tariffs and duties could be placed on goods in transit by land from West Berlin to Western Germany. This would make the economy of West Berlin quite insupportable and could eventually strangle the Western sectors of the city.

I hardly like to touch on military force. We all remember the interference, quickly ceasing, and, using new techniques—what we used to call "window" during the war, the dropping of metallic leaflets in the air routes to and from West Germany to West Berlin.

I suggest that for all these reasons we can justifiably consider the matter as being one of military more than political importance in the sense of the word which I have just given. A corollary of that, if we were to accept it, is that we should take Berlin in our thinking outside the context of foreign affairs. We should not, or we should try not to, when dealing with the Russians allow Berlin to be introduced as one particular card in a widespread game of international politics. I am a pessimist in these matters, and I must confess it. Should my estimate of the situation be correct and should eventually by one of the three aspects of force which I have mentioned, or by a mixture of them, the Berlin problem be settled to our disadvantage, we might in the meantime, by having treated this as a purely political issue, have given way on other points and have given concessions on other matters of political policy which could not be redressed afterwards.

I will take the attention of the House for a few minutes back to the origins of this deplorable situation which we face so continually in Berlin. Three-power agreements were signed in London in 1944. These were solemnly negotiated agreements on Berlin in which the Soviet Union participated. Hon. Members will remember that France was not then a signatory and did not come in until the London confirmation of these agreements in the following year.

I think it is fair to make the point that our American allies must accept a very major share of responsibility for these agreements, as they must accept the responsibility for political and military decisions taken in 1945 which might have redressed part of this situation. These agreements left 2¼ million Berliners 110 miles behind the Western frontier of the Soviet zone of Germany in the two Western sectors, as it was at first decided, and in the three Western sectors as it eventually became. The London Agreements were signed in good faith. There was no reason at that time to think that the Soviet Union herself was acting in anything but good faith in connection with these agreements. These agreements, as we all know, were confirmed at Potsdam in the following year. That was a treaty which guaranteed the economic and political unity of Germany. Included in it was a second negotiated settlement of the Berlin problem—as we thought—signed in good faith by the four Powers now concerned.

There was no reason at that time to suspect Russian good faith. When eventually we started to learn a little more about our Russian ex-allies we started to know them a little better. The Russians are adept, when they wish to go against an agreement entered into, at first making it unworkable and then causing circumstances in which the other party, having signed the treaty, can be shown to be in the wrong. I have put this badly, I suspect, but the Slavonic mentality is one with which I have had a great deal to do. I admire immensely the technique by which they perform these convolutions.

Since the Berlin blockade, which was ended in April, 1949, by a third negotiated settlement on Berlin, signed solemnly by the four Powers concerned, it has been shown to all of us that without enforceable guarantees, in the Western sense of that word, it is not possible to rely on Russian good faith in signing treaties and observing them, at least in questions touching Germany.

Perhaps I may remind the House of the rather remarkable conjunction of events in that spring of 1949—not only the agreement which ended the blockade, the third negotiated settlement on Berlin, but the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty and—this is very important and has a bearing on the first—the final victory of the Communist forces in China. Sometimes in assessing Russian motives, which I have a feeling we do too little, we neglect such aspects of foreign affairs as this kind of coincidence.

In Russian terms there are 2¼ million hostages for somebody's good behaviour 110 miles behind the lines in the cold war which faces us at present. This is not new. The breaches of faith which brought it about are no new thing either. It is by no means unknown to this mentality. But it would be wrong of us to associate this type of behaviour only with Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union. If we hark back in history to the Congress of Vienna, we would remember that Tsar Alexander solemnly signed a document giving independence to Poland. We all know what happened subsequently. It resounded to the heavens all through Western Europe as an illustration of the perfidy of Imperial Russia when signing treaties and the utter lack of reliance which could be placed upon a Russian signature.

Mr. W. Yates

My hon. and gallant Friend is advancing a very interesting point on foreign affairs. I understand that the United States Government are now negotiating with the Soviet Union on a most intricate problem concerning Berlin. Is my hon. and gallant Friend saying that the Americans are just wasting their time?

Commander Courtney

I was just going to deal with that point. We are now approaching the fourth negotiated settlement of the Berlin problem in which we and the Americans principally are going into action on the political level, to resolve this dreadful problem —and it is a dreadful problem. Those of us who know Berlin, West Germany and Königswinter and who visit Soviet Russia as frequently as I do, realise what a fearful problem it is. I personally —and this is the answer to my hon. Friend—am afraid that in the present circumstances, as I see them, I do not see it as a realistic conception to produce a negotiated settlement on Berlin which would provide concrete guarantees without which we must not sign.

Mr. S. Silverman

What should we do then?

Commander Courtney

I am dealing with this question broadly and I do not wish to take the time of the House by suggesting easy solutions to what is a desperately intractable problem.

On the hard facts of the situation, when we think in terms of possible force and think of it outside the context of pure negotiation, we have two advantages. The first springs from the presence of Western troops in Berlin, the stabilising effect that this has, and the remarkably fine duty which I believe they perform there. May I mention the Commandant of the British sector of Berlin, who has just left his job after two years, Major General Sir Rohan Delacombe, who, in my opinion, has performed a signal service to the cause of world peace during his tenure of that terribly difficult appointment?

We have the military danger of attack, although I do not believe that it is very real, and we have always the danger of an incident—perhaps of tanks confronting each other across the Friedrichstrasse check-point, which may lead, through a process of escalation, to what we all fear moist in this world. The presence of these troops, while we have them in Berlin, is one of the great factors operating, in my view, in our favour.

The second has been touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins), who is, unfortunately, not in his place, and that is the rocky state of the East German economy. It is, I think, true that Soviet Russia has found it necessary to bolster up the East German economy to keep it functioning at all, and there is good reason to believe that the high level of inter-zonal trade between the D.D.R. and West Germany is all-important to the D.D.R. Unfortunately, the figures are not published officially—I wish they were; that is one of my complaints against the West Germans. It is clear that without the continuance of that inter-zonal trade—brown coal and potash one way and capital goods the other way—the East German economy would crumble.

I am in agreement with my hon. Friend when he says that it is in the interests of the West and of this country in particular to support East Germany economically. Where I do not agree with him is in the way we should do it. Here I must declare my interest because it is my business to deal in commercial affairs with the Socialist countries of Eastern Europe, and I hope that that business will not fold up as a result of what I am saying today.

I believe that we should, in our own interests, support a high level of inter-zonal trade because if we are right, and if the East German economy is being bolstered up principally by that inter-zonal trade, and if, as I believe the 2 Billion ostmark loan and Russian guarantee to support the East German economy is not sufficient for its purpose, then it is in our interest to see that the level of inter-zonal trade continues.

The second factor which tells in our favour is this. The one major event which could break the flow of inter-zonal trade, and so as a corollary disrupt the East German economy, would be action by force, physical, armed or economic against West Berlin, and for that reason I believe that despite the alarms and excursions which go on so frequently, time may well be on our side

I turn to the Russian attitude to this great problem. I think that one hon. Member on the Front Bench opposite may have more experience than I have in this matter. I think, however, that I am the only hon. Member of this House who is able to say that he was in Moscow in 1941, listening to the German artillery outside the city. To spend any length of time doing that gives one an impression of Soviet Russia which is necessarily unique. We used to say in the Military and Naval Mission that the honeymoon of about six months between ourselves and the Russians which obtained at that time was much too good to last, and, as we all know, it did not last

Looking at the German problem through Russian eyes, and particularly this question of Berlin, I think that the Russians who have their roots deep in history feel that they are at the end of a long road—a road which perhaps started in the 13th and 14th centuries with victories over the Teutonic order of knights. One of the first was when Alexander Nevsky defeated the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. It is no accident that one of the first Orders of Gallantry created in 1941 was that of Alexander Nevsky. With two world wars behind them and with the clear effect of their appalling mistake, recognised by the Russians, of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939, with 12 million Russians dead as the price they paid, do we in this House really think that the Russians, with their grip on Berlin, will not squeeze the last drop of usefulness out of the 2¼million German hostages in their hands?

I speak on these lines because anyone who deals with the Russians and knows them cannot fail to see it. What action should we take about it? I think that action with the Russians is facilitated by the fact that they are human beings. They have fears—a tremendous fear of Germany is one of them—fears which we share in the opposite direction. They have a particular fear of nuclear weapons and, great people as they are, they are very afraid of these things. But they also have an ability to laugh at themselves.

I like a story about the Armenian radio, which is typical of Soviet jokes at the present time. To the question, "What will the citizens of Soviet Armenia do in the event of a nuclear attack from the West?" the reply was, "In the event of an attack by the capitalist Powers each citizen of Soviet Armenia should dress himself in a white sheet and walk slowly and quietly towards the cemetery." Supplementary question. "Yes, comrade. We understand this is a useful measure of socialist defence, but, please, why slowly and quietly?" Reply. "Fathead, to avoid panic, of course."

Speaking in a foreign affairs debate, it is necessary to try and be constructive. What action can back-bench Members urge on the Government? What can we urge my right hon. Friend to do in these circumstances? I suggest that with our experience in this country, and also with the fact that, barring two accidents, we have never been at war with Russia for the whole of our history, we are in a good position to influence our allies in the common front which we are making to the Russians, particularly over the Berlin problem.

If I could suggest a line of aproach to my right hon. Friend it is, could he not tell, say, the French to be a little less intransigent over the question of talking to the Russians? Could not we ask him to ask General de Gaulle for a moment to neglect French logic, which we all know and admire so well, and to be a little irrational and perhaps a shade more human in approach to the Russians? To the Americans could not we say, politely, that this is primarily a European matter, that we have been Europeans for many hundreds of years, and could not the Americans perhaps forget the great prestige issue by which they think of Berlin as the confrontation between two great colossi in the world today? Could they not get it out of their minds that difficulties at the Friedrichstrasse checkpoint should always be backed up by tanks and by sending battle groups along the autobahn? To repeat the point which I made earlier, I think that my right right hon. Friend will be well advised to remind his American opposite number of the misgivings which we have in Ger. many, too, regarding the operations of the central intelligence agency.

To the West Germans we might say, could not they be a little less inflexible in their attitude to this appalling problem, perhaps in repudiating the thoughts which lie behind the Hallstein doctrine? Could not they come here a little more and listen to the amount of time spent in a foreign affairs debate in the House of Commons on purely German problems? The debate this afternoon has ranged over the world, and I think that it would do our German allies good to know that there are frontiers in the world to discuss other than the Oder Neisse line.

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

I have found the hon. and gallant Member's speech most interesting, but earlier he said that there was no point in negotiating an agreement with the Russians at a time when they were already in default on their agreements. Is not what he is saying almost exactly the opposite?

Commander Courtney

The two things are consistent. If the hon. and learned Member waits for my argument to evolve he will understand it. I am discussing extracts, not negotiations, and I am telling my right hon. Friend that he might give a little advice to our German allies in this respect. Could they not treat the East Germans, their own kinsfolk, not as the pariahs which they seem to regard them at present? They trade with them to the extent of about£80 million a year. Could not that be developed a little more? If we are sending a junior Koenigswinter delegation over to Berlin in the comparatively near future, could not the West Germans perhaps facilitate arrangements for our team to talk with the East German F.D.J.? I think that contact between the young might prove one of the most fruitful means of resolving these problems, while at the same time negotiations between Governments remain as difficult as I have said previously.

What shall we say to the Russians? I have great faith in the Russians' common sense. They are realists. They do not think as we do. They cannot be trusted, as we have seen, to fulfil agreements entered into under Western conditions. My right hon. Friend was right to quote a passage from Mr. Khrushchev's speech in Bulgaria stating that while Socialism and capitalism existed in the world there could be no quarter between the two systems.

I am sorry to have been rather long and also rather pessimistic, as normally I am an optimist. But I am not an optimist about the Berlin situation. I believe that the Government's policy in respect of the German and Berlin problems is right. We should be grateful to my right hon. Friend, and particularly to his noble Friend, for all that they do and are continuing to do to resolve this terribly difficult situation. I pledge him my support in any action that he may take in the matter.

7.47 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)

I do not propose to follow the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney) in dealing with the problem of Berlin except to say to the Lord Privy Seal that I wish well the exploratory talks which are taking place between the United States and Soviet Governments with, I hope, the full approval by Her Majesty's Government of the United States Government's proposals

This debate has ranged over a wide number of topics and many countries. As a result, I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who has described this debate as about the worst foreign affairs debate in the forty years during which he has been in the House. I have been here for about the same period and, like him, have taken part in many of these foreign affairs debates, and I cannot remember one as ragged and scrappy as this.

I hope that in future there will be some limitation put upon the number of subjects which are dealt with in a foreign affairs debate, and I also hope that it will not be found necessary to mix defence topics with foreign affairs in a debate of this nature. I hope that I shall set an example which has not altogether been set by some previous speakers, for I shall confine what I have to say to under ten minutes. I believe that the more hon. Members speak for only a short time the more are able to catch Mr. Speaker's eye.

I want to deal first with the problem of Laos. Frankly, I do not see how we can avoid supporting the Government or any other Government in so far as they are seeking to implement obligations which have been undertaken in a treaty such as the Treaty of Manila. Subsection 2 of Article 4 provides that if there are fears in one of the member States about the possibility of aggression certain arrangements can be made under the Treaty, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington made the point with much justification that the Government have only themselves to blame because they have not produced evidence to the satisfaction of many hon. Members which justifies them in carrying out their obligations under subsection 2 of Article 4 of the Treaty of Manila.

It is not sufficient for the Prime Minister this afternoon, when he was asked whether this matter would be referred to the Security Council, to indicate that this action was being taken under Article 51 of the Charter. The Lord Privy Seal knows perfectly well—indeed I put a Question to him the other day about it—that under Article 34 the Security Council has to deal with any situation which may lead to international friction. If the United States Government, Her Majesty's Government and the other Governments concerned considered that they had to take this action because of the danger of inter- national friction, a fortiori there should have been a case for taking the matter to the Security Council under Article 34.

We must not be misrepresented in the criticisms we are making. My criticism relates to the failure so far on the part of any of the Governments concerned to bring this matter before the Security Council.

Mr. Heath

May I interrupt the right hon. and learned Member on one point purely as a matter of fact? I misunderstood him when he put the Question the other day about Article 34, but Article 34 is not mandatory. It says the Security Council "may" take action, not "must" take action.

Mr. Henderson

I am quite prepared to accept the correction from "must" to "may", but the Security Council is composed of a number of member States and any one of them could bring the matter before the Council.

Mr. S. Silverman

Referring to the Treaty of Manila and the obligation of the United Kingdom under it if a request for aid is made—I do not deal with the question of whether any request was ever made—is there an obligation on the Government of this country to accept that there is a real threat of aggression, or to find out the merits of the claim, whether it is real or bogus?

Mr. Henderson

I should imagine that normally a Government would have taken the necessary steps in consultation with other Governments to satisfy themselves about the facts of the situation and whether they justified the action being taken.

Another point I want to deal with is the Nuclear Tests Conference at Geneva. Most of us have been disheartened and discouraged by the lack of progress at that Conference. The main stumbling block appears to be failure to secure agreement on the question of verification. The Soviet Union, I understand, say that they will not agree to on-site inspections and the United States Government and Her Majesty's Government will not agree to enter into a treaty unless there is some provision for on-site inspection in cases of doubt.

I hope we shall have some light thrown on the difficulties tonight by the Minister of State. I understand that the difficulty is that there is a fundamental, or very deep, difference between the Soviet scientists and the Western scientists. The Soviet scientists take the view that it is possible by existing means of verification under national control to verify every conceivable kind of test at high altitude, atmospheric, under the sea or underground. On the other hand, the Western scientists have advised the Western Governments that it is not possible in every case to verify tests by existing means of verification.

If there is this fundamental difference between the schools of scientists in the West and in the East, why do the Government not propose that these investigations should be referred to an impartial body of scientists appointed by the United Nations? Let us have a completely impartial international body of scientists investigating the scientific facts in relation to the feasibility of detecting whether tests of any kind have actually taken place. If as a result of a report by this international body of scientists it was established that the Soviet scientists were right in their view that all tests could be verified by existing means, that would seem to be a justification of the Soviet attitude that there should be no test ban treaty providing for on-site inspections on their territory. If on the other hand this impartial body of scientists establishes that only in a certain proportion of tests could it be definitively established that tests had taken place whether at high altitude or underground, there would be an overwhelming case supporting the views of the Western Governments at Geneva that in case of dispute there should be on-site inspection.

I ask the Minister of State, can we be told if Her Majesty's Government accept the proposal of the neutrals, that in cases of dispute in the circumstances I have outlined an impartial international body of scientists should be given the responsibility of carrying out these on-site inspections and they should not be appointed by the British Government, the United States Government, the Soviet Government or any other national Government? I believe that would go a great way to reassure the Soviet Union.

I make a final point on the question of disarmament. I agreed very much with what my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) said this afternoon about the closeness that has resulted in the formulation, first by the Soviet Government and secondly by the United States Government, of very comprehensive and detailed schemes for securing general, comprehensive disarmament. I believe that an examination of those two schemes shows that there is a great deal of common ground. There are differences of timing—whether bases should he eliminated in the first stage and whether there should he total elimination of vehicles of nuclear delivery in the first stage or the second stage and so—on but I believe there is a sufficient common denominator of agreement on paper to justify an actual agreement in future.

The whole thing is bedevilled by lack of confidence between the East and the West. These major problems of bases, the extent to which nuclear vehicles are to be eliminated in the first stage and the question of manpower, cannot be dealt with in what I call the "committee stage". I believe the only way in which we can make a substantial advance is for the heads of Government to get together. If the time has not come for a summit conference, why cannot President Kennedy, Mr. Khrushchev and our Prime Minister go to New York next month for the meeting of the General Assembly as heads of their delegations? There need not be the formal organisation of a summit conference. The fact that they would be in the precincts of the United Nations headquarters would provide them with opportunities for discussions with each other which might result in a greater basis of understanding and agreement to give their Foreign Secretaries and delegates instructions to get on and make further advances at Geneva. That is the way in which we should seek to deal with this problem in the next few weeks.

I believe that in spite of all the disappointments in the past few weeks, and in spite of the ten weeks of wrangling at Geneva, there is still a ray of hope. If both sets of Governments—East and West—will only be as genuine in their actions as they are in their speeches and their letters, we can look forward to some progress along the road to general disarmament.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

I shall follow the good example of the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), and speak for only a short time. With great respect to him, having regard to the considerable time that he has been in this House, I would differ with him in that I think that a far-ranging and far-reaching foreign affairs debate is quite a good thing. Problems are continually arising all over the world, and it is quite proper to bring into a discussion on foreign affairs the question of the means of power at one's elbow to implement one's own foreign policy.

Although I disagreed almost entirely with the right hon. Member for Easing-ton (Mr. Shinwell), I found, as always, that he provides the House with a great deal of entertainment. I thought that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) would probably do better to turn his attention once again to financial matters. I was not at all impressed with his remark that it was futile to insist upon an independent deterrent. Our foreign policy hinges on our possession of an independent nuclear weapon.

I found great difficulty in understanding the official Opposition line, and the line, as far as one can understand it, of the Liberal Party, which is to abandon our own independent deterrent. I find that extremely puzzling and illogical. Over a number of years we have at last succeeded in building up a really effective independent deterrent, but most hon. Members, I do not say all of them, in the two parties opposite now say that having achieved that effective independent deterrent at some considerable expense to the taxpayer, we should at once abandon it, do without it, and shelter behind whatever deterrent the Americans may be prepared to use to protect this country.

I want to dwell for a moment on the strange anomaly that it should be the Labour Party that advocates abandoning an effective independent deterrent, and sheltering behind an American one. The foreign policy of the Labour Party is very far removed from that of the American Government—

Mr. Harold Davies

I should hope so.

Mr. Farr

One would think that if the Labour Party really thought that at some time in the dim and distant future it might win a General Election and have to provide a Foreign Secretary, it would like to have a certain amount of power at its elbow so that its voices would be listened to at the conference table on matters of international import. The Labour Party may not have any particular advice to offer for solving international problems, and may not be particularly concerned about them, but one would think that just in case it was called upon, for a time, to run our foreign affairs, it would like more than a penny or a twopenny whistle to blow on when announcing its views.

Even stranger to me is the very muddled thinking of those who advocate complete unilateral nuclear disarmament. A section of the Labour Party, and a large corps of other people, periodically march from Aldermaston and to American air bases, and generally kick up a row. I have never seen one of those marches, but I have seen photographs of them, and films of them on television. I think that hon. Member on both sides will agree that what strikes one most about the vast majority of them is their real youth. With all due respect to one or two hon. Members here, there are very few greybeards amongst them; the vast majority are in their 'teens—aged, perhaps, 16, 17, or 18.

Like many other hon. Members, I have been canvassed by them, and I know that they are really sincere in their belief—

Mr. S. Silverman

I speak as one of the non-greybeards who took part in marches from time to time; my beard is yellow. Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that whether the unilateralists are right or wrong, they answer his earlier criticism of the official policy of the Labour Party and of the Liberal Party? He complained that if we abandon our own nuclear weapons without committing ourselves to the abandonment of nuclear weapons generally, we put ourselves in the somewhat embarrassing and dishonourable position of not bearing the burden ourselves but of allowing our friends and allies to bear it for us.

To cure that criticism, we can go one step further, and say that not merely will we not have these weapons ourselves, but we will not be defended by them by any other country. That might be right or wrong, but would he not give the unilateralists the credit for having satisfied his major criticism of that policy?

Mr. Farr

I am much obliged to the hon. Member for that very relevant interruption. I was about to elaborate a little on what I said earlier. I hope that I have made it quite clear that I believe that the vast majority of those younger people in the C.N.D. movement are sincere, and truly believe that they are—perhaps in a feeble way—doing something to try to bring about a better world; and to try to abolish, in their own way, however misguided it may be, the terrible threat of a nuclear war.

The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) said, "Surely it would be much better if the whole world, East and West, abandoned the nuclear deterrent. We should then have a far more peaceful place to live in. Surely it is far better to do that than to have unilateral disarmament by this country." I do not agree with him at all. I think that idea accounts for there being so many very young people in the C.N.D. movement, because, when they reach the age of maturity—19, 20, or 21—

Mr. S. Silverman

Or 99.

Mr. Farr

—they suddenly think, "That is all very well, but what am I walking up and down here for? What happens if we are successful, and we get the whole world to abandon nuclear weapons?" One does not have to be a mathematician to see that if we in the West, together with the Russians and France, abandon the nuclear deterrent we will be faced with a vast concourse of armed conventional strength. The Eastern countries—including Russia and China—today have a population of more than 1,000 million people on whom they can draw. It seems simple enough to me that if it came to a conventional showdown without the threat of a nuclear exchange we should very soon go under, as would all the countries of the West, and we would be swamped by a yellow tide.

I wish to make a plea for the possible inclusion of Red China in the United Nations. It is obvious that there is trouble at home in China. It does not need a clever person to know the old dodge used by the leader of any nation when there are difficulties at home. It has been done many times—the drawing of a red herring across the trail so that the people's discontent at home is temporarily transferred and focussed on an enemy abroad. It may be that the comparative peacefulness of Red China might not last. After all, in twenty years' time Red China will certainly be a nuclear Power.

Mr. Harold Davies

Within a couple of years.

Mr. Farr

I said certainly in ten to twenty years' time, possibly within two or three years. In any ease, she will undoubtedly have a population of 1,000 million people. When those two factors are combined we get the most powerful nation on earth with which to contend and unless we do something about her entry into the global debating chamber of the United Nations we shall make a farce of that organisation and its proceedings.

8.13 p.m.

Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)

I shall be brief because a number of hon. Members wish to speak. While I intend to comment on the interesting speech of the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Fan), and particularly on his reference to hydrogen bombs and our nuclear policy, I wish to deal first with Thailand, because the general feeling in the House is that there is a lot of information we still require on this issue from the Government.

One of the unsatisfactory characteristics of a foreign affairs debate in which we range like some great Cook's tour over the world is that it gives the Minister, with the best will in the world, insufficient time in which to deal with all the questions raised. I would have thought that of all the questions facing us the one about which the House of Commons was entitled to the fullest information was that concerning the dispatch of British troops to any theatre in the world. I wish to make it clear that we are not satisfied with what has been said by Government spokesmen and they must not be surprised that we on the Opposition benches feel that, after Suez, we cannot trust this Government, especially in foreign affairs. It is for that reason that a number of questions must be answered by them.

The performance of the Prime Minister last week was extraordinary and possibly without Parliamentary precedent. He came to the House and said, in effect, "I want to tell hon. Members that if we receive an invitation to send troops to Thailand we will accept it, but we have received no invitation yet. I thought I would tell the House this because I am sure that it would like to know what our response will be if we receive an invitation." The Prime Minister might have said, "We do not know how many troops we will have to send or from which wing of the Forces they will come—the Army, Navy or Air Force."

He did not tell us for how long the troops would be there, what was the purpose of the visit or what formal request was expected. No, the Prime Minister merely said that if an invitation was received the troops would be sent out. One might almost say that it was cadging for an invitation. We heard from the Lord Privy Seal that the formal invitation to Britain to send troops was received only yesterday. This is an extraordinary piece of Ministerial behaviour, and I am tempted to ask whether the Prime Minister intends to give a weekly projection of what might happen the following week in the event of certain other circumstances happening.

We want to know the specific nature of the fears expressed by the Thailand Government; whether the contingent of British forces will be exclusively under British control; what is to be the relationship between our troops and the 5,000United States troops who are already there; where they will be stationed and whether they will be on the Thailand-Laotian frontier or will merely remain in the capital as a token force. We should also like to know to what extent they would be involved in the event of a frontier incident. These are the sort of questions to which the House of Commons is entitled to an answer. I will say no more about Thailand, although much remains to be said. I realise that other hon. Members wish to speak.

Regarding the Athens-N.A.T.O. Conference, the defence policy of the Liberal Party has been referred to accurately by the hon. Member for Harborough and inaccurately by the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Scott-Hopkins). To suggest that the policy of abandoning the independent British nuclear deterrent is synonymous with unilateral disarmament is wholly untrue and, since the hon. Member for Cornwall, North has a Liberal candidate with only 900 votes behind him, I suggest that he does some research.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Would the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) not agree that doing away with the H-bomb and handing over that side of defence to the Americans is virtually unilaterally disarming ourselves regarding the H-bomb?

Mr. Thorpe

There might be some sense in that conclusion if that was the Liberal Party's policy. The hon. Member's argument is purely academic, but I will educate him in this subject, if only for home consumption in North Cornwall.

The Lord Privy Seal, in an extremely interesting passage, said there were two factors which existed in regard to nuclear weapons. The first was the feeling on the part of certain European Powers that in the event of a show-down America, which is, of course, the predominant nuclear Power in the West, might feel that their territories were expendable. The Lord Privy Seal implied that this was one of the reasons why there was a feeling of insecurity among some of the European partners in N.A.T.O. and the reason why some nations felt that they should possess their own independent nuclear deterrent.

The second was that there was a feeling that far greater information could have been exchanged between the nuclear and the non-nuclear N.A.T.O. partners. That is, I suppose, another reason for an independent deterrent. I do not agree with it, but it is none the less a reason. The hon. Member for Harborough used what I choose to call the "prestige argument"—that without it one is at a Wis. As Aneurin Bevan once said, it is like going naked into a council chamber. I do not accept this because I believe that the weapon is a deterrent only if it deters.

Since the 1957 White Paper said that in the event of nuclear war there is no defence of Britain, it follows that Britain would not independently use it but only in concert with her allies. If there is any hon. Member who would be prepared to see Britain use it independently the sooner we know about his views the better for the safety of the country. The last time that we independently used force was with conventional weapons at Suez in 1956, which is not regarded as the most conspicuous of our military successes.

Mr. Farr

The hon. Member has spoken for ten minutes and has said very little. What he said, however, was what was not the official Liberal Party policy in connection with the nuclear deterrent. This was in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall, North. Would the hon. Member be kind enough now to tell me and other hon. Members who are very interested what is the official Liberal Party policy? I should dearly love to know.

Mr. Thorpe

If the hon. Member does not know by now I must despair of him.

Mr. Scott-Hopkins

Does the hon. Member himself know?

Mr. Thorpe

The hon. Member for Harborough asked the question and I assume that he would like an attempt on my part to answer it.

I was about to say that the Athens Conference is a very real move towards the defence policy which the Liberal Party have been advocating and it has been accepted now by the official Opposition. It is that the deterrent is of value only if it is a Western deterrent as opposed to a British, French or Italian deterrent, which will be created in five or ten years, and that we must work towards the deterrent power of the West being placed in joint N.A.T.O. control.

Mr. G. Brown


Mr. Thorpe

The right hon. Gentleman may disagree, but this is a view which many distinguished strategists have taken, including Field Marshal Sir John Harding, who is highly regarded as a strategist. He says that the nuclear bomb possessed by Britain has no deterrent value whatsoever and becomes a weapon of deterrence only when possessed by the Western Alliance as a whole, or alternatively by the United States. I suggest that what the Lord Privy Seal said about the Athens Conference removes, or begins to remove, the fears which have prompted other Western Powers to try to manufacture their own independent nuclear deterrent.

Just as I prohesied in May last year that by July of last year we should be applying to join the Common Market and this was howled down by both sides, so I now prophesy that in eighteen months this Government will have completely abandoned the idea of an independent nuclear deterrent. I believe that the Athens communiqué is a very useful step in that direction.

Mr. G. Brown

I do not disagree with the hon. Member about the independent deterrent, but is the hon. Gentleman advocating that control over the strategic nuclear weapon should pass from the White House to what he called joint N.A.T.O. control?

Mr. Thorpe

There will always remain a White House control, obviously, because it is an American weapon. I am also suggesting that N.A.T.O. as a whole should possess a nuclear weapon and that the decision about its use should be a N.A.T.O. decision.

Mr. Brown

Oh, no. Ask the Liberal Leader.

Mr. Thorpe

It is clear that the effect of the Athens communiqué is that it is removing the argument in favour of independent nuclear deterrents being possessed by the European Powers and it is a move towards a joint Western bomb in the possession of the Western Alliance. Whether the Americans would give up theirs remains to be seen, because theirs is a credible weapon and ours is not.

Mr. Brown

What about the N.A.T.O. one?

Mr. Thorpe

That is credible, but an independent British deterrent is not. [Interruption.] Other hon. Members wish to speak and I have given way.

Mr. Brown

But not to me.

Mr. Thorpe

The right hon. Gentleman is not at a bye-election now. He is in the House of Commons.

It is in Berlin that we find the sharpest division between the Russians and the free world. In this country there has been a tendency—though not on the part of Her Majesty's Government or on the part of hon. Members—to regard the 2 million West Berliners as being expendable in an overall political settlement. There was a time when the Prime Minister was saying on the golf course that all this had been got up by the Press. Opinion in Britain was very soft on the responsibilities we have towards the people living in West Berlin. Just as there is a danger of being inflexible and rigid—the argument which was levelled against John Foster Dulles—there is also a danger in weakness and appeasement on Berlin.

The two dangers, I should have thought, was of a military flare-up and on the question of access. As to a military flare-up, I agree with the hon. and gallant Member for Harrow, East (Commander Courtney) that this is not an immediate likelihood, and I should like to share with him in paying a great tribute to the calm bearing and judgment which have been displayed by the British forces in West Berlin. It is a situation totally different from that which the average military would find, for a particular incident could lead to a flare-up at any time, and they deserve considerable credit.

As to access, the American 13-nation plan was a great step forward, because in suggesting that the two Berlin City governments should be represented we have an acceptance of an East and West Berlin association, which it is true Herr Ulbricht has not accepted, but in Which, without the bedevilling question of recognition, one was able to associate both halves of Berlin. One would have thought that Dr. Adenauer, in opposing this so violently and saying that he would prefer the Pankow men, as he referred to the D.D.R., was stirring up for himself far greater trouble, because by being so inflexible he was making more likely the signing of a peace treaty with East Germany independently and thus a far greater association with the East German Government.

The American plan, now officially killed, was a step in the right direction. When it was initially raised it had a far friendlier reception than the previous plan, but Herr Ulbricht, for what he is worth, and who presumably speaks only on instructions, put forward an alternative plan under which the nations would be only a court of appeal in case of dispute and would have no executive power.

The Lord Privy Seal said that he was pleased that there was a lull but that this did not mean that the Government would not try to take the initiative. We have heard nothing during the debate from the Government about their intentions with regard to Germany. Do they want to see a demilitarised zone in Germany? Are they prepared to give way to the Norstad plan for overlapping screens and inspection posts? What initiative are they prepared to take with regard to the U.N. presence in Berlin, which was, I think, raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) at least two years ago?

As the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) said, we have not heard even a passing reference to the Rapacki Plan and the idea of nuclear disengagement in Europe. To what extent is de facto recognition of the D.D.R. to be used as a bargaining counter in negotiations? How firm are the Government prepared to be in persuading the Germans that the question of regaining the lost territories is now purely academic, though it is still one of the real political issues which, I think, the Russians are frightened about?

I believe that immobilism, which is what we have had in West Berlin, may be a necessary posture, but it is certainly no substitute for a coherent policy. I hope that, when the Government reply, we shall have far more information about Thailand and a far clearer indication of what they intend in regard to a Berlin settlement.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Hastings (Mid-Bedfordshire)

I am still as fogged now about what the Liberal Party's defence policy is as I was before the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) spoke.

Perhaps it is a pity that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) was not present. He asked for a defence debate, and we very nearly had one. It now seems that we are to have two nuclear systems instead of one in Europe. In addition, the British nuclear deterrent with one finger on the trigger is incredible, but a N.A.T.O. deterrent with, presumably, fifteen fingers on the trigger, is credible.

Perhaps, before the next General Election, these things will become a little clearer than they are now. The contribution by the hon. Member for Devon, North, amusing though it was, has done little to help the country as a whole to interpret Liberal policy.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman on one point. He paid a well-deserved tribute to the bearing and performance of our troops in Berlin. I was there recently myself, and I heartily agree that events there place a tremendous strain not only on the troops, but on our officials in many branches of the foreign service. It is a war of nerves the effect of which falls as heavily on those in Berlin, perhaps, as at any other post abroad, and they deserve the tribute which the hon. Gentleman justly paid to them.

It has been said that this debate goes too wide. I hope that the House will not be irritated when I say that I intend to take it a little wider. I shall try to make my remarks as short as possible, concentrating upon one aspect of foreign policy which, although it is a little outside the matters mentioned already today, is, I believe, of the greatest importance.

My right hon. Friend said in opening that Communist aims do not change and that the statements made in Bulgaria recently by Mr. Khrushchev bear this out. I agree entirely. Mr. Khrushchev said, in addition, only a few days ago, that "by a law of social development" the world would ultimately live under Communism. This, despite tributes paid in this debate to the Russian character and despite optimistic signs from time to time, is still the basic Marxist philosophy. Until it changes, we cannot afford to relax for a moment.

What should our policy be? As I understand it, the policy of the Government is to remain everywhere firm, but, at the same time, reasonable. This I entirely endorse. It is difficult, but not impossible, to remain reasonable and to appear as such in the Assembly and corridors of the United Nations, in the chanceries of the world, and at international conferences, such as the present Disarmament Conference, but I wish to deal briefly with another level of the struggle, a range of activities in which it is less easy for the West to compete.

I refer to subversion and the use of what the Communists term "front organisations", what Lenin, that master strategist of Marxism, referred to as the "transmission belts", that is to say, the means by which the engine of the party manipulates and drives the mass of innocent people without their knowledge of what is really going on. These organisations are ubiquitous. They are, of course, already largely discredited in Europe where they are well known.

I need name but a few: the World Peace Council—how innocent it sounds —the World Federation of Trade Unions, the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the International Union of Students, the Women's International Democratic Federation, and so on. There is a list of professional-seeming front organisations, too. I will mention only one, because of what I have to say later, the International Organisation of Journalists.

Discredited largely in Europe and in the Western world, these front organisations are not so discredited or so well understood in all countries of the world, among the newly emergent countries and those which have gained their independence recently. It is here that the danger from this form of activity lies.

There are three main limbs to the Soviet offensive into the newly independent world and the underdeveloped countries of the Far East, Africa and Latin America. I wish to take Africa as my theme, because it seems to me to be the theatre in which we in this country, and, indeed, Europe as a whole, can affect the situation positively and make a real contribution more than we can in either of the other two areas, despite the talk we have had tonight, and rightly so, about the situation in the Far East.

On the evidence as I understand it, I believe that the Russians' plan in Africa is this. It is not to produce ideological converts—the complexities of the Marxist-dialectic have little to say to most Africans—but to train cadres, or teams, or groups of Africans in all the methods of subversion so well known and practised by Marxists and to place them, as time goes on, in influential positions so that when the time is ripe they can take over these countries one by one by, if necessary, violent revolution. This, the Communists have made plain, is in their view, justified. They said so last year at the Congress of 81 Communist parties in Moscow.

The main lines of action in this scheme seem to me to fall, first, in the trade union field in independent Africa and, secondly, in the student sphere. I shall try to deal briefly with these two and to impress what I believe is the danger of it on my hon. Friend the Minister of State.

First, trade unions. On 25th April last, Moscow Radio announced that there was a school for trade union militants open in Moscow at which there were more than 30 activists from African trade unions. There are other schools of this nature spread behind the Iron Curtain. One is at Bernau, in East Berlin, another is in Prague and another in Warsaw. I understand that there are others, but I am unable to give their whereabouts. Perhaps no one else this side of the Iron Curtain can give them either.

Not only trade union work is taught in these schools, indeed, it plays a fairly small part in their curricula. Other things are taught, such as subversion and Marx-Leninism. The first course launched at Bernau in 1958 lasted two years. Students came from Zanzibar, Somalia, Ghana, Ceylon, Sierra Leone, Kenya, the Sudan, Mali, the Congo, Togo, Morocco, Guinea, Senegal, the Cameroons, the Central African Republic, Niger, Algeria and Mauretania. Eighty graduated in 1961. A third course is in process, and all but three of the students on it are reputed to be Africans. To give one more example of this activity, there were 94 representatives from Africa at the World Federation of Trade Unions' conference in December last. They included, sad to say, representatives from most of the independent Commonwealth countries.

In Africa itself, as opposed to these front organisations working outside the continent, there is the All-African Trade Union Federation. There are six secretaries, or there were when the first executive committee was set up, three of whom were trained by the World Federation of Trade Unions. From what is known of that organisation, this means, in ordinary common sense, that these three are Communists.

What are the aims of the All-African Trade Union Federation? It started in all innocence. Many Africans who went to the first conference genuinely believed that it would not be affiliated to one side or the other. But, as things have turned out, its aims are these: first, to combat by any means it can the efforts of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which, to those not versed in these matters, is the equivalent trade union federation working in the free world which has a school at Kampala in Uganda and which does much useful work. Some is not as useful as it might be perhaps, but, nevertheless, of use, and it is a target for the activities of the A.A.T.U.F.

The second aim is to influence the trade union congresses of the emergent, newly independent countries, and, indeed, those countries not yet independent, to affiliate themselves to this Communist front organisation rather than to the I.C.F.T.U. There are straight examples of this activity in Rhodesia to my certain knowledge. There is a considerable influence over A.A.T.U.F. from the Ghana T.U.C. and Mr. Tettegah plays a prominent part in its activities. All this seems to me to add up to a fairly clear pattern.

I want to pass from that to the other activity I mentioned, namely, the question of students and the lure of education for the African and the way in which this, also, is being exploited by Communism. The trade union activity is, of course, effective, but not, perhaps, so much as this. Anybody who knows independent Africa is readily and immediately aware of the understandable longing everywhere for education. It is this which is being exploited. Certain standards are required for African students who go to Western universities and this is understandable; with universities and colleges behind the Iron Curtain, no qualification is required for Africans. This is understandable, because the Iron Curtain countries are not interested in education for these students, but in indoctrination and in teaching subversion and Marx-Leninism.

Numbers of African students make long and sometimes illicit and hazardous journeys to get into the pipeline which takes them finally to universities behind the Iron Curtain. They go through Entebbe, up to Khartoum, and on from there. I understand that during the last three-year period, there have been between 500 and 600 from East Africa alone.

It is arguable, and one reads it in the Press, that although this activity may be going on and is unfortunate and unpleasant from the Western viewpoint and, perhaps, from the point of view of the Africans concerned, nevertheless there are ten times more students in Western universities than there are behind the Iron Curtain. It is also argued that a few of them—because only very few so far have come back—have expressed dissatisfaction because they were badly treated and that they did not appreciate the course. That, however, is no reason why we should in any way be complacent about the situation.

After all, this effort is only three years old. If no more than a small proportion of those taken behind the Iron Curtain come back convinced by the doctrines they have been taught, Communism will have a formidable spearhead in Africa. We must also remember that African students who spend their time in Western universities go back with an education limited to academic knowledge; but those who come back from behind the Iron Curtain are trained exponents in a revolutionary technique. This is a very different affair altogether.

I do not want to burden the House with more on front organisations. I have discussed the main lines, but there are others. For example, there was a meeting not long ago of the International Organisation of Journalists, so-called, at Bamako, in Mali, at which there were delegates from almost all the French territories of independent Africa. It was said that the principal aim was "to further the great work of liberating Africa". Applying the Communist interpretation to that, it seems to me to have little to do with journalism.

There has also been a congress of the same sort organised by the International Women's Democratic Federation, also in Mali, with delegates from all over Africa—Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa, Mali, Morocco, Somali and Kenya. I do not wish to dwell upon it, but there is also the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, with a Chinese and a Russian representative upon it, sitting in Cairo. There is another organisation known as the African Association in Cairo, which pays particular attention to so-called liberation movements in Central Africa and the South. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) disagree with me?

Mr. S. Silverman

I do not know. What I am wondering is what this has to do with the debate.

Mr. Hastings

If I interpret correctly what the hon. Member says, he thinks that the Communist penetration, which is making steady headway throughout Africa, has nothing to do with the foreign policy of this country. In my view, that is not the case. That is why I am trying to describe what I believe to be a particularly menacing aspect of our foreign affairs problem. If the hon. Member does not like it, I quite understand. I am not giving way again. I am sure that the hon. Member's ideas and mine on these subjects are radically opposed and that any exchanges will make little difference and will bring us no closer together.

I should like, in conclusion, to make one or two specific recommendations. The first concerns the co-ordination of Western policy in Africa. Surely, we will not be able to contain this menace unless we can co-ordinate our policies, particularly between the countries of Europe and the United States. What sense does it make for the Americans to support us as wholeheartedly and sympathetically as they have done for years in Europe, and yet at the same time to pursue policies in Africa which, to say the least, are often opposed to ours?

Surely, with our experience of that continent, it would be better for us to work out a viable policy together. I feel that here the advantage lies with us, and I hope, if it is not happening already, that the Government and my right hon. Friend will be doing their best to pursue this and ensure that as far as possible American policies in independent Africa are in line with those of ourselves, France and the other European countries concerned.

The next recommendation I have to make is concerned, paradoxically enough in a foreign affairs debate, with our own T.U.C. I had the good fortune not very long ago, when serving abroad, to watch the work of a British ex-trade union official working with the Foreign Office in an emergent country on trade union matters. I believe that his work was vastly useful, and I hope that some means can be found of encouraging or facilitating our T.U.C. to send representatives abroad to work more actively than perhaps it is doing at the moment among the emergent trade union movements in independent Africa.

The I.C.F.T.U. does good work, and I quite see that for our T.U.C. it is difficult, since it is a member of the I.C.F.T.U. At the same time, its view of these things is different. The T.U.C. believes in an organisation built up from below rather than large headquarters with masses of typewriters, and so forth, but with nothing beneath. I believe that the T.U.C. has a very real contribution to make in this field. I am sorry that I cannot interest the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. This is a matter which should concern the Labour Party, and I hope that something can be done about it.

Thirdly, I should like to see my right hon. Friend take an interest in the promotion of an African Institute in this country. The Russians, not very long ago, set up an African Institute under Professor Ivan Potekhim, on which they have spent a large amount of study and money, and even with our experience we could afford to follow their example that far, anyway. A great need is for the provision of books for students in the new emergent countries, books which are written in the languages of those countries. They need books on history and politics, presented in African terms. It is little use sending political analyses based on Greek or Roman example, or upon the history of this country. They do not understand it, and are not interested. They have to see the lessons of the West presented to them in terms of Africa. There is a great stream of Marxist rubbish which is flowing steadily into Africa from the other side of the Iron Curtain, and I ask my hon. Friend to pay a serious attention to it.

In conclusion, I apologise to the House, and to any hon. Member who has found my remarks out of context in this debate, for spending time on Africa, but, surely, if we—and by we I mean the West, and particularly Europe—lose Africa to Communism, we will lose all hope in the long run of the great economic expansion that could take place, and also the basis of our defence policy. It concerns us more than the other two areas of offensive which I have described. Perhaps I should tell the House that in 1939 the Foreign Office had two missions abroad in Africa, in 1946 it had three, and today it has 18, which is a measure of the growth of our interest so far as foreign affairs are concerned.

We cannot solve this problem alone, because investment on a vast scale is needed, and that is one more very good reason for pursuing the integration of Europe as fast as we can—the best way of achieving a concerted policy. We have at least five years, and perhaps ten, but not more. If we manage to play our cards aright we can do much to ensure the future of these countries in prosperity and liberty. If we do not, then assuredly they will fall a prey to the skein of falsehood and intrigue which is steadily being woven across Africa by Soviet Russia and international Communism.

8.50 p.m.

Mr. Harold Davies (Leek)

Time is short. I wish that the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings) would not come to the House and be didactic, arrogant, and, incidentally, illogical. He advised the House to note how Russia was accepting coloured university students, yet only today we were cross-examining Treasury Ministers about the lack of money for universities which are having to cut the number of students and cannot afford to give places to British students, let alone to colonial ones.

Mr. Farr

On a point of order. Is it in order for the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) to sit on this side of the House instead of on the other to support his colleagues?

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir Robert Grimston)

There is not a point of order.

Mr. Davies

I am glad to see my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) sitting on the benches opposite. Not only was the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire didactic, arrogant and illogical, but he showed that he was out of touch with the facts of life.

Mr. Hastings rose

Mr. Davies

I will not give way. Time is short and I propose to sit down after eight minutes.

I want now to get to the nub of the debate. As an ex-official of the Foreign Office, the hon. Gentleman was no doubt in the Foreign Office at the time of Suez and was probably one of those who agreed with the Suez action. If his speech today was an example of the kind of brief given to Ministers at that time, we can understand why Britain was in such a mess. That deals with that part of the debate.

We expected today to be dealing with something that concerns the people of Britain. I am referring to the movement of troops. The people of this country are concerned not only about the movement of forces, but about the fact that no information on this subject has been given to the House of Commons. The S.E.A.T.O. Treaty has twice today been misinterpreted in the House, and the charges made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) have not been contradicted.

These forces were asked for not by Siam, but by the United States of America. This is apparent from a report in The Times of 17th May. That day, under the dateline "Washington, May 16th", there was a heading: U.S. asks Britain to help in Laos. Dispatch of token force sought. It went on to say: The United States has asked Britain to send a token military force to Siam."— I ask the House to note that the request came from the United States. The request was made yesterday afternoon"— that was 15th May— when Sir David Ormsby Gore, the Ambassador, called at the State Department. … The official view is that the request must come from the Siamese Government … I will not quote the whole report. I have said enough for the record. The fact is that the inspiration for this move came from the United States of America.

Some of us on this side of the House know Indo-China, and have had the good fortune to visit Laos and Thailand and know the area very well. The background to this story is that after the Geneva Conference of 1954 a neutral Government was established in Laos, and Prince Souvanna Phouma, who was leading the Government, came together with his half-brother Prince Souphanouvong and formed a first-class little Government. I was in the area when this happened.

There was then a free general election. The International Supervisory Commission examined the position there, and so far we have received eleven reports from the Commission. Not one has been debated in the House, because the official view of the Foreign Office is that it is our duty, as co-Chairman, only to receive reports. So we are in the fatuous position in which we can receive reports, which cannot be debated by the House. But when the Pathet Lao increased their representation the United States Central Intelligence Agency immediately started interfering in Laos in order to upset the neutral position, trying to change the position in South-East Asia. I reported this fact to hon. Members as a result of information given to me by the Embassy in Laos.

The New York Times and other American newspapers, after the change of Government in Laos, said that the Government in Laos were appealing to the United States, and had agreed to ask for the help of S.E.A.T.O. The position has developed entirely as a result of the action of Foster Dulles when, in a fit of pique at Manila, he created the Manila Treaty, later known as the South-East Asia Treaty Organisation. There was a vital debate in this House about the Treaty, to which the late Aneurin Bevan objected, and in respect of which he divided the House.

In October, 1950, the New York Times said: America has a right to demand a dollar's worth of fight for every dollar which it spends. Putting it more crudely, it was saying, "We supply the brass; you supply the lives." The American glossy magazines Look and Life from time to time send experts to Indo-China. On 24th April, 1961, Life said: Laotian civilians, even less warlike than the soldiers, watched with only mild interest as troops set up weapons in their muddy streets. To U.S. advisers, stepping up their airlift of military experts and equipment, the big question was how to get the equipment used. 'Now all we have to do', said one Western observer, is to make Laos fight.' In June, 1961, Look said: The millions we have spent in Laos have been wasted. Much of the money wound up in the bank accounts of corrupt politicians through whose hands American contributions have passed. Not only have the people of Laos not benefited, but we"— the Americans— have harmed ourselves, possibly beyond redemption. As a result of my travels through the United States, I know that millions of decent Americans do not want war in South-East Asia. They do not know what is going on there, and are shocked and annoyed when they see that men like Syngman Rhee and Chiang Kai-shek and the members of the South Viet-Nam Government themselves are wasting dollars which could be put into the provision of food and into ploughing up the fields, and making equipment to create a new type of Asia.

If it is not careful this country will be led into another Korea. When we heard the drooling and hypocritical speeches made at the time, some of my hon. Friends and I protested against the war in Korea. The truth about Korea has not been written. I wrote an article in a periodical, when Syngman Rhee had not been heard of. He was supposed to be a democrat but no one will defend his democracy today.

Millions of soldiers, including hundreds of thousands of poor American lads, gave their lives thinking that they were fighting for democracy. If we hear again the kind of rubbish we heard from the so-called official agency it may be completely misleading to the people.

We have a duty to make it clear to the British people that at least the Labour Party will not go into the Lobby in support of a Government that might recreate another Korea in South-East Asia.

S.E.A.T.O. is not a Treaty. It is an apology for a treaty. It has nothing to do with real defensive democracy or freedom. It is built up on the false political analogy and analysis of some of the China lobby and interests in the United States beginning primarily with the late Foster Dulles.

Mr. W. Yates


Mr. Harold Davies

The hon. Member may say "Oh" as long as he likes, and since he has said it, we had better quote Sir Anthony Eden, from page 113 of his book, "Full Circle". The hon. Gentleman has asked for it, and he is going to get it.

I will quote from page 113 of Sir Anthony Eden's book. He is the man who got a neutral Laos and has been praised by many, including Chou En-lai, for the work he did over the settlement of neutral Laos. I think that it did much to cause his ill-health. But he did a first-class job of work for the country. He said: Meanwhile, Mr. Robertson (U.S. Assistant Secretary of State) whose approach to these questions is so emotional as to be impervious to argument or indeed facts, was keeping up a sort of 'theme song' to the effect that there were in Indo-China some three hundred thousand men who were anxious to fight against Vietminh and were looking to us for support and encouragement. I said that if they were so anxious to fight I could not understand why they did not do so. The Americans had put in nine times more supplies of material than the Chinese and plenty must be available for their use. I had no faith in this eagerness for the Vietnamese to fight for Bao Dai". That is my position, too. I have no faith in the fact that this is supposed to be a true battle for democracy. There is only one answer. So long as the United States has a silly and foolish foreign policy that keeps 650 million people out of the comity of nations, out of the United Nations, there is no hope of getting round the table for discussion.

We on this side of the House demand that China be allowed to come into the United Nations. China must be there to discuss this area in her sphere of influence side by side with the Soviet Union. China is a great Power. Do not let us create xenophobia against China as we created it against the Russians. That may lead to the end of civilisation in this nuclear atomic age. For heaven's sake let the British people say, "We want no more Koreas. If 'Uncle Sam' wants to 'go it alone,' let him."

9.3 p.m.

Mr. George Brown (Belper)

I cannot agree with the last words of my hon. Friend the Member for Leek (Mr. Harold Davies). In fact, in Korea we played a part; not a very happy part for us, but it was a part that we had to play. I should not be able to say, while Communists behave as they do, that there may never be other Koreas. This is not a thing we choose. It is forced on us. We have to get a clear distinction between those who force the pace and those who have to accept the consequences.

I wish to start my reply to this debate with a protest of which I hope note will be taken somewhere. It is about the absence, the total absence from the debate, of the Minister of Defence. He consistently treats this House with contumely. He does the very minimum in the House and the maximum outside. He absolutely insulted the House a week ago by coming here to answer Questions and giving us no information and then calling a Press conference an hour later where he gave a lot of information.

I understand that the hon. and gallant Member for Norwood (Sir J. Smyth), while I was not in the Chamber, challenged my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) about whether he had informed the Minister of Defence of what he proposed to say. Let me make this plain. At my request my right hon. Friend the Opposition Chief Whip talked to the Patronage Secretary yesterday afternoon. He told the Patronage Secretary not only that we should like the Minister of Defence to be present but also that we should prefer him to answer the debate. So that there should be no misunderstanding, I rang the Ministry of Defence very early last evening. I could find only the duty clerk. So I conveyed a message to him and asked him to ensure that the Minister had it last night. He undertook to do that. My message was not to ask the Minister to come. It was to ask him to answer.

Further, my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton happened to see the Minister of Defence personally in the precincts of the House last evening. He told him the same thing. So we all gave the message. The Minister of Defence has ostentatiously stayed away from the House today. It is not that he is busy. Last week my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition told the Leader of the House on business questions that one of the major issues to arise would be what happened at the Athens Conference. In the days when I was a Minister, which were not very long, the one thing that Mr. Attlee, as he then was—Lord Attlee as he now is and as he will long remain, we hope; we hope that he will be completely well soon—laid down for us was that our first duty was to the House of Commons.

This Minister has not just been away; he has deliberately stayed away after every kind of representation to him—personally and in every way—asking him to come because we wanted to question something in which he was involved. His failure to come—his definite refusal to come—is a contempt of Parliament, and the Prime Minister and the Government ought to pay some attention to this. We are questioning why he went out of the House to give information to the Press. The Lord Privy Seal disputed that he said what we were alleging that he said. The only man who can answer is the Minister of Defence. I suspect that it is not without significance that he is the only man who has chosen not to come down here today.

No one should get the idea that defence has nothing to do with foreign policy. Defence is both the extension and the condition of foreign policy. What the Minister of Defence does conditions as well as extends what the Foreign Secretary can do. This must be pursued. It will be pursued again. It will be pursued by Questions and in every way open to us. The House of Commons has been contemptuously treated today by a Minister whom we have every right to call to account and to whom we gave every notice that we would call him to account. If a private Member, having been given notice by another private Member, failed to turn up, the House would be very critical of him. We should be much more critical of the Minister of Defence. All that I was going to say I will say in his absence. I regret saying it in his absence. It is not part of my nature to do so. But I must make it clear that he is the man who has stayed away. Therefore, he must face the consequences.

I also regret—I may as well say this, being a blunt man—the course She debate has taken. I do not believe that the debate has taken this course because of what has been said in it. I heard some cheers a little while ago when somebody said that it was the worst foreign affairs debate he had heard in a long time in the House. There were some cheers down here. Debates in the House are not only a matter of who speaks. They are very much a matter of atmosphere. If a very few hon. Members, for reasons which have little to do with foreign affairs, choose to use the first hour of the afternoon totally to destroy the atmosphere, the subsequent debate is naturally spoiled. The responsibility for the spoiling of this debate rests on half a dozen Members. Outside this House they do not mince their words. They can be very rude.

Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)

So can you.

Mr. Brown

I repeat that they can be very rude. I want to say to them that I do not know what they think they are doing, but they are certainly destroying great occasions when the issues of life and death that affect this nation are under consideration. They ought to be convicted of it, as they quite clearly are.

Mr. Michael Foot(Ebbw Vale)rose

Hon. Members: Sit down.

Mr. Brown

I shall not give way; I am answering back.

I want to face some issues—I have deliberately taken less time than I would normally—which, I think, are important. I say to the Government that on these issues we still need some answers. The first is the related question of Laos and Thailand. I will deal first with Laos, but, of course, they are totally connected. In my view and that of my hon. and right hon. Friends, this is unquestionably an area where a neutral Government is an absolute requirement for what ought to be the aims of our policy. There are some areas about which we could say that it would be sensible to have a tough, firm and pro-Western Government, but that would be silly in the circumstances of Laos.

Souvanna Phouma seems to be, so far as one can understand the complicated politics of that area, the only man who can run a Government there. It would be silly to hanker after Right-wing forces in Laos. I am not saying that our own Government are doing that. What I am saying is that they must put enormous pressure on their colleagues—I mean specifically their American colleagues—to make quite sure that this is understood.

I share the discontent that other people have expressed on reading The Times report this morning about the C.I.A. activities in that area, which seem to run contrary to the State Department. I understand that our Government cannot stand up here and publicly condemn its ally. That, of course, would be absurd. I should like to ask the Minister who is to reply for as clear an undertaking as he can give that our views on this are being made perfectly plain in the White House to the American Administration. It would be quite ridiculous if we did not somehow, within proper confines, let our American friends understand—and there is no suggestion that I am anti-American—that this endangers the whole Western world and cannot go on, especially when it is in such a dangerous area.

On the other hand, I would say to some of my hon. Friends, "Do not get this out of perspective. It is not only the C.I.A. which goes off the rails. The Communists do this particularly in this area and the only difference between them and the C.I.A. is that they seem rather better at it". Do not let some people talk as if it were only the C.I.A. which does this sort of thing.

Mr. W. Yates

Who gave the order to the Communist Pathet Lao to take Nam Tha?

Mr. Brown

I do not know who gave the order but I suspect that there was a good deal of incitement on the other side. When we talk about this we should be quite clear that this is being done by the other people all the time, and jolly cleverly indeed. I should like to ensure that a very clear warning is given in all quarters that the build-up going on in Thailand at this moment will not be allowed to encourage obstructionists in Laos. We must see that the people whose names are so freely used do not assume from this that they can go on in that way. As far as we can stop it, they must not be allowed to make this assumption.

I turn to Siam. Questions have been asked by my right hon. and hon. Friends which I think had better be answered clearly. The main question was whether we were asked to help. I understand that we were, first of all, at the Council meeting, where the Thailand representative read the communiqué from the Prime Minister of Thailand, making a general appeal to what I think he called their friends to consider their plight. I think that those were the wards. That was the first appeal, and I gather that we considered that appeal. I understand that in the last few days when it came we had an actual request to go in. This must be made perfectly plain, because it will answer the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who has left the Chamber. He wanted to know, have we gone in after the receipt of a direct request?

Let us get it clear that I endorse, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition did, the going in; if we were asked to go in, there was no choice but to go in. I have taken this view about other occasions in the past and I have not altogether been in agreement with my party. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) pointed it out roughly in his Tribune article. But when you have an obligation, you honour it.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

The right hon. Gentleman may regret it.

Mr. Brown

I may regret it. I may regret many things, but I honour them at the time I have to fulfil them. What I regret is not the honouring of them; if I regret anything, it is ever having made the commitment. But I do not fail to honour my commitment, having made it, when I am called upon to pay. In this case I am not only honouring it but I feel sure that I shall not regret it, and I will tell the House why.

This is a very important area to the world, a very important area to the West. Hon. Members have only to look at the map to see how very important the area is. If one is a democratic Socialist—and I am—one can see what the consequences to democracy and democratic Socialism would be if that area were wholly taken over by the Communists. I endorse it, but I must have, and the House must have, an assurance from the Government that we were asked and that we therefore responded. I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) left the Chamber so quickly. He was pretty free with criticism and I wanted to answer him. I did not agree with his view about the limitations. He did not say "limitations", for he said that there was no case for military intervention anywhere. I do not agree with that. Having regard to his record as Minister of Defence, I was a little surprised that he said it. But I will go this far: military intervention by itself is not enough. There are other things which we have to do. Military intervention might hold the field; one hopes that it does. But I will suggest to the Minister some positive policy things which we have to do. First, we must, with our co-Chairman, reconvene the Geneva Conference on Laos to deal with the alleged breach of the cease-fire. We must reactivate the International Control Commission to examine on the ground what actually happened. We must do our best to put pressure on our allies, and on the U.S.S.R. and China, to put pressure on these princes—I have never known so many princes in my life—to act together in the forthcoming negotiations. Finally, I attach enormous importance to this: if the threat develops or looks like developing, we must report it to the Security Council and summon the Security Council, otherwise we shall be in a very dangerous and, I think, silly position. We have to take these positive political steps as well as the military steps.

With that I leave Laos and turn to the second issue, which I regard as of tremendous importance, the tests. Here the situation is changing and it would be very silly to discuss it as though it were not changing. The fears we had about fall-out just do not seem to be borne out any more. This came out, not about the American tests but from the Russian tests. We thought that things would happen, but they did not in fact happen. It is no use blinding our eyes to the facts. I do not know if it makes the situation any better—although, of course, it makes it better in that people do not suffer from the tests. I was surprised to read the Guardian article from which I gathered that there was no trace at all in Britain of any fall-out from the United States tests, just as there was less from the Russian tests than we had expected. We must keep in mind that this is not quite the problem which a year ago we thought it might be.

The position of hon. Members on this side of the House was made perfectly clear by my right hon. Friend, and I hope that it is no longer challenged. A lot of quite unreal things are being said outside this House. We condemned, and still condemn, the breaking of the moratorium. That was our protection. It was broken, and Mr. Khrushchev himself said that if any one nation broke it then it would be inevitable that other nations would start tests. Those were his words which I quoted at the Labour Party Conference, and, of course, it turned out that he was right. He having broken it, someone else started. We in the Labour Party regretted that the others felt they had to start, but he was quite clear that that would happen, and so it did. He broke it knowing that it would happen.

Since then the Labour Party has kept straight in line on this matter. We condemn and we regret it. We called upon all to stop. My right hon. Friend, when he went to America, used all the influence he had with the Administration to get them to stop. We exerted all the pressure we could upon them in an effort to get them to hold off while yet another attempt was made to get an agreement, and, even if it were thought that the Russians had an advantage, nevertheless, to agree to do that if an agreement were forthcoming.

That failed, not because the Americans did not try but because the Russians would not pick it up, as they did not do at any stage. All this talk about guilty men in which people sometimes jolly easily indulge is wholly contrary to the facts. There was nothing—and there can be nothing, unless we are unilateralists—which justifies saying that if the others go on and on we will never feel that we have to restart. Nothing that happened at Blackpool and nothing in our conference resolution justified that, but we did press for holding off. We pressed for the extension of the holding off even beyond the first date in order that attempts should be made to start talks again.

This is our position, and remains our position. We have been quite honest, clear and genuine about it. Of course, gentlemen who are unilateralists are entitled to say that we should stop any way, but they are not entitled to attribute that position to us because we are not unilateralists. Some of them would do better in granting to us the same moral considerations that they claim for themselves. The only hope for the world is a real international agreement, but let us make quite clear to the Russians that this must mean some on-site inspection. I do not see how an agreement would not include that. The more we say this to the Russians the better I think it will be because they have a great interest in stopping some day. I do not think it would be any advantage to the idea of getting an agreement on tests to slip out on this.

I now turn to my third point, which is the one we had hoped to make to the Minister of Defence, and would have been the major part of the winding up of this debate had that Minister condescended to come. I refer to the Athens Agreement. I repeat what I have just said—defence is to foreign policy as foreign policy is to defence. The Defence Minister is part of the foreign policy team. It is quite stupid to treat those as separate Departments. Each can buck the other up; each can destroy the other's attempts.

What are the issues that arise from Athens? It is no good hoping to get a reply from the Minister of State, because he has been busy on other things. He may well read out a brief, but that is a poor substitute for a reply to a debate, and we do not ask him to do that. We shall ask elsewhere. Serious issues arise from Athens, and one is the issue on which I earlier intervened in the Lord Privy Seal's speech—the question of the provision of nuclear weapons to N.A.T.O.

In every document we have had a reference to the commitment of nuclear weapons to N.A.T.O. What does it mean? Is it all window dressing? The Lord Privy Seal today said that nothing has changed about control; that control remains where it was before. In that case, it is all window dressing. We cannot provide nuclear weapons to N.A.T.O. or commit nuclear weapons to N.A.T.O. unless we commit the control. If we are not committing the control we are not committing the weapons and, in that case, it is all window dressing.

What so often worries us on this side is that our Ministers say one thing in Europe, or America, or wherever they happen to be, and a totally different thing in this House. We are now confusing everyone. Ministers are getting away with it over there, and they are getting away with it here because in each country they tell the right thing—but they are completely confusing foreign policy because no one quite knows where they are.

If we are committing nuclear weapons to Europe, to N.A.T.O., I will totally oppose it. I think that it would be entirely wrong. I was fascinated to hear the spokesman of the Liberal Party, speaking with the approval of his leader —[Interruption.]—say tonight that we should have a N.A.T.O. deterrent—[Interruption.]—Oh, yes. Polaris, Minuteman, a three-quarter megaton weapon—not under the control of the President of the United States or the Prime Minister of Britain, but under the control of fifteen nations, some of whom are very big and powerful and have great political issues to settle, and some of whom are very small. If I may say so to the Liberal Party spokesman, he should give a great deal more thought to consequences before he opens his mouth on the subject.

This, however, we must make clear to the Government. Instead of saying one thing to us and another to Europe, they should come clean. We should know whether they mean that strategic or middle-range ballistic missiles should be committed to Europe—or provided to Europe; they use both words. What do we mean by "middle range"? If we are talking about Davey Crocketts, those weapons that an infantry man might carry, that is one thing—although I understand that those weapons do not exist at the moment, because they have been withdrawn—but with Polaris, with a three-quarter megaton head, and with Minuteman with a half-megaton head—or whatever it is—we are talking of very big stuff We only use those strategically, and they should not be in the hands of N.A.T.O. But, apparently, reading the communiqué, we agreed to that at Athens. We should get this clear.

Do not let us forget that the Second Allied Tactical Air Force and our own, as things now stand, will start nuclear warfare before anyone else gets going. We talk about the equipment and conventional arms of the soldiers on the ground—and I realise that some consider that this is a defence matter that should not be in a foreign affairs debate —but these air forces will start nuclear warfare before the soldiers even get going. One cannot run a foreign policy directed to one strategy if one is deploying and equipping one's air force to be run in a different way.

Foreign and defence policy cannot be placed in two separate compartments. That is why the Minister of Defence should be here. Whatever the Lord Privy Seal and the Foreign Secretary think they are doing, the Minister is committing us to something and he should be here for questioning.

The question of B.A.O.R. must be cleared up. The Minister has never told the House that we are to increase the number of men involved from 51,000 to 55,000. Nor has he informed the House that there is a risk of the figure reaching 64,000 or even 75,000. Was this information given by the Minister to Pressmen. As has been mentioned, the right hon. Gentleman summoned a Press conference. A circular went out—I know this and I know his Chief Press Officer, who would not have done this without authority—with a special letter apologising for a previous date not having been kept and saying, in effect, "The Minister wants you to come, nevertheless, at 5 o'clock tomorrow."

Having got them there, we do not know what the Minister said but every one of those Pressmen, like The Times correspondent, reported the following day that a triennial review was going on and that the number of men would be increased certainly to 55,000 and possibly higher. It is not credible that that could have happened unless the Minister said it. We have been told that a tape-recording exists, and while the Leader of the House was not here earlier when I spoke about the Minister of Defence I trust that he will read my remarks in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The Minister of Defence who treats this House so cavalierly and whose veracity we doubt—and not we alone, for this is the attitude in Europe and America too—now knows, if he did not know earlier, that a tape-recording of his Press conference is in existence. I repeat the request that was made earlier; will the Leader of the House see that that tape-recording is transcribed with no "cooking"—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cooking?"] I mean no deletions—and the transcription placed in the Library? We shall then be able to question the right hon. Gentleman, for he has kept diplomatically away from the House tonight.

There are many other points which I should like to raise, although I have dealt with the major issues that have been spoken on in the debate today. I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman who is to reply because to some of the questions he cannot possibly give an answer. However, that is not our business. It arises out of the way in which this Government choose to arrange their business.

The main aim must be a disarmament agreement and we are nearer to it than it might have appeared possible on other occasions. There is room for movement and I trust that the Government will put all their energies and efforts into getting this movement by us and the Russians, for we cannot do it without them, towards the centre so that we may look forward to a disarmament agreement that will be real and effective and provide the only way out of this problem.

9.35 p.m.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. J. B. Godber)

I would at least agree with those last few words of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) if I cannot agree with some of the rest of what he said. Certainly my hope is that a disarmament agreement can be arrived at. I hope to refer to that subject later in my speech.

I must start, however, with a reference to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks and those made earlier about my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence. I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has felt it necessary to speak in this way about my right hon. Friend. I have little doubt whatever that my right hon. Friend could quite easily speak for himself, and there is no need for me to stand up in his defence. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] This is a foreign affairs debate, whatever anyone says. The right hon. Member for Belper was reminded from his own side of the House of the need to talk about this matter from the foreign affairs aspect. Defence is closely linked with foreign affairs, but it is not the same thing and the right hon. Gentleman must understand that distinction. I would also remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Leader of the Opposition last Thursday, when talking about today's debate, specifically brought in the question of disarmament.

Mr. G. Brown

Also Athens.

Mr. Godber

I agree, and it was for that reason that I was summoned from Geneva specifically to speak on that point, and it was only yesterday that a request was made to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Brown

Last Thursday, certainly, and I believe the previous Thursday, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said to the Leader of the House in questions on business that Athens would be one of the major issues in this debate.

Mr. Godber

The right hon. Gentleman has not understood what I have been saying. I said that the Minister of Defence was approached only yesterday after arrangements had been made that I should come back to deal with this. I am naturally sorry that I should have to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman by appearing at the Dispatch Box, but he should understand the reasons for this.

Mr. H. Wilson

We are grateful to the hon. Gentleman for coming all the way from Geneva to speak to the House. That ought to be said, but the conduct of the Minister of Defence was raised in the House on successive Wednesdays after the Athens Conference. He was given official notice of the points to be raised. He need not have come to wind up the whole debate. He need only have come to say "Yes" to our request that a transcript should be placed in the House of Commons Library so that we could study what was said in the House as compared with what was said to the Press. Can the hon. Gentleman tell us why the Minister of Defence has not even shown up, let alone spoken in this debate?

Mr. Godber

I was explaining the reasons why my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence was not winding up the debate. As to why he is not here at this point, I understand that he had a word with the right hon. Gentleman last night—

Mr. Wilson


Mr. Godber

Yes, and that a discussion took place privately between the two right hon. Gentlemen, so I am informed. My right hon. Friend said that he would try to get in, but I understood that he explained to the right hon. Gentleman that he had a very full programme and while he would do his best he could give no undertaking. That is what I have been told, and the right hon. Gentleman must pursue the matter on another occasion. I can only give the information as given to me. My right hon. Friend, I understand, said that he would come if he could, but he gave no undertaking.

The other point is that my right hon. Friend during two Question Times recently has gone very fully into matters which hon. Members have raised, and, with regard to this specific Press conference, this is a most extraordinary proposal that has now been put forward. My right hon. Friend is being asked to provide a transcript. I should have thought of a Press conference, of all things, that it was not very necessary for anyone to provide a transcript. I should have thought that there was ample evidence and ample cross-checking of what was being said. My right hon. Friend has distributed a concise report of that conference.

Mr. G. Brown

Very concise.

Mr. Godber

It has been published, and there were plenty of Pressmen there who I am sure would have said so if they did not agree with it. This is an attempt to blow the thing up in a ridiculous way, and I very much regret that this has been done. I see no need whatever for such a transcript and no reason for it at all.

Mr. Paget

Will the hon. Gentleman—

Mr. Godber

No; I have not time to give way further on this matter. I want to make a constructive speech in reply to points made in the debate.

Mr. Paget

This is lying and cheating, and the hon. Gentleman knows it.

Mr. Godber

That is a gross misstatement to make and quite intolerable.

Mr. Paget

Then publish the tape.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman must not say that. There are other methods, if he wishes to do it, but they are out of order now.

Mr. Godber

I think that I will leave that point there. I agree with hon. Members in various pants of the House who have said that there has not been opportunity for this debate to develop as, I think, we should all have wished it to develop. To that extent, I agree with something which the right hon. Member for Belper said in winding up. It is a great pity that, with so much to be said, there has not been opportunity to say it. As to whether there were too many subjects chosen for the debate, that is not a question for me.

I wish to deal very briefly with the points made about the Athens meeting —there will be ample opportunity to take them up again—because I thought that the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) gave a very imaginary account of what, so he said, was decided at Athens on defence matters and of the duties carried out there by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence.

As my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal clearly explained, the defence decisions at Athens were concerned with improving consultation and the exchange of information on nuclear policy. They were not concerned with matters of basic policy. That is a very important distinction, which was, I thought, made abundantly clear by my right hon. Friend when he spoke earlier. I should have thought that the communiqué made the matter perfectly clear. It is said in the communiqué that the balance between the conventional and nuclear forces must be the subject of continuous examination". In other words, this is going forward, and it will be examined within the triennial review which is now under way. There will, therefore, be plenty of opportunity for further discussion of it on later occasions.

Another question now under consideration by the N.A.T.O. Standing Group in Washington is General Norstad's proposal for a more forward strategy, that is to say, one in which the N.A.T.O. forces aim to engage an aggressor decisively as near the N.A.T.O. front line as possible. The Standing Group will, no doubt, make its report to the appropriate N.A.T.O. authority in due course, but this is a matter of discussion at present. That is the point I make now. There is a great deal more work which must be done before we come to these crucial decisions on these matters.

Meanwhile, it is clearly in the interests of the Alliance that it should be seen and understood that there are no fundamental divisions on the broad strategic concept. I emphasise that because of comments which have been made in regard to the British and the United States position in this regard. This is why, as long ago as last November, in the debate on the Address, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence made plain that we support General Norstad's proposals, subject, of course, to the normal consultation and discussion within the Alliance. As to the British contribution, the position of Her Majesty's Government, that we wish to fulfil our obligations to the Alliance, was made plain in the defence debate.

When the right hon. Member for Belper was winding up, he referred to the strength of B.A.O.R. This has been referred to before and the figure of 55,000 was given by my right hon. Friend in the defence debate. His references to it can be found in column 334. There is no mention of 75,000 at all, and my right hon. Friend assures me that he never made that reference.

Mr. H. Wilson

What about the Press conference? He said it there, did he not?

Mr. Godber

As far as I know, he did not.

Mr. Wilson

Let us see the record.

Mr. Paget

Let us have the tape.

Mr. Godber

I have already dealt with that point, and I do not propose to go over it again.

The right hon. Member for Belper then asked further questions about what my right hon. Friend said this afternoon in regard to the arrangements for these weapons, whether they had been, to use his word, committed "or earmarked or in any way provided. They have been put in a position—one can use what words one likes—where they will—[Interruption.] A word of that nature implies that they are provided there for that use. The main point is that the control of them remains the same at it has always been. That was made quite clear by my right hon. Friend this afternoon when he said or implied—I will re-read what he said—that there would be no alteration in existing arrangements for authorising the use of nuclear weapons. But it has provided that assurance and guarantee which was required by some of the European members of N.A.T.O. —this has to be faced by right hon. Members opposite—that these weapons would not be withdrawn from their requirements in case of need. That assurance is there.

Mr. Thorpe rose

Mr. Godber

I am sorry, I cannot give way. Time is getting on and I have a great deal more to say.

I wish to say a few words about the question of Laos and Thailand. I think that I should deal first with the specific question asked by the right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell). Nam Tha fell on 6th May. On 15th May a communiqué was published by the office of the Prime Minister for Thailand in Bangkok stating that the Thai and United State Governments had agreed that some units of the United States force should be stationed in Thailand. In 16th May there was a special meeting of the S.E.A.T.O. Council at which the Thai representative drew attention to this communiqué of 15th May and invited other friendly Governments to give consideration to Thailand's situation.

In view of this and of the provisions of the Manila Treaty, we consulted immediately on the measures which we could take, and it was made clear on 17th May by the Prime Minister in this House—I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is following the dates—that we would be prepared to make the Hunter squadron available if the Thai Government were to request this.

On 23rd May the Thai Foreign Minister conveyed orally to Her Majesty's Ambassador in Bangkok the formal acceptance of the Thai Government of our offer to send a squadron to Thailand. In signifying acceptance, the Thai Foreign Minister asked Her Majesty's Ambassador to convey to the Foreign Secretary an expression of the Thai Government's appreciation and thanks. That led up to the statement by the Prime Minister in the House today.

That is the sequence of events. It is abundantly clear that it is exactly as was stated.

Mr. S. Silverman rose

Mr. Godber

There are matters in regard to tests with which I must deal.

Mr. W. Yates

Will my hon. Friend lay—

Mr. Godber


Mr. Yates

—the document in the Library?

Mr. Speaker

If the Minister does not give way, the hon. Gentleman cannot persist.

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order. If a Minister is asked when he received a certain request and what were its terms, and when he gives an answer which clearly shows that he never received any request at any time from anybody, do not our rules of debate permit us to ask further questions about the matter?

Mr. Speaker

I have no power to dictate to a Minister what he should say in the course of his speech. It follows that no point of order for me arises.

Mr. Shinwell

This confirms my suspicion.

Mr. Godber

I wish to take up a question asked about Thailand and Laos. In discussing the origins of the recent fighting in Laos, certain hon. Members referred to a build-up by Government forces at Nam Tha. I do not deny that this could have taken place.

The factor that we should not overlook, however, is that the Communist forces attacked the garrison at Nam Tha and that they occupied the town and pursued the garrison to the South. Those are the facts. [Interruption.] I am talking now in relation to Laos. Elements of the garrison retreated in disorder across the Thai frontier. The Communist move took them well across the ceasefire line in the area of Nam Tha, at least forty miles beyond the cease-fire line. That is my information. Therefore, this was a clear breach of the undertaking they had given that they would not take advantage of present circumstances to improve their positions.

That evidence of bad faith on the Communist side at a time when all [...]hoped that the remaining differences among the nations might soon be resolved has clearly had a serious effect upon confidence. The build-up was certainly nothing comparable to the actual fighting and pursuit of the troops.

Many other issues have been raised with which I should like to deal, but it is essential that I should say one or two words concerning nuclear tests in relation to some of the comments which have been made. The right hon. Member for Huyton and, I think, the right hon. Member for Belper both made the point that while they opposed all tests, once the Russians had tested we could not say that the United States should not test. Both right hon. Gentlemen made quite clear that the official Labour Party position was that reluctantly they could not disagree with the need for these tests.

Of course, there was reluctance on the part of President Kennedy, just as there was on the part of the Prime Minister, too. Nobody wished to get involved in this sordid race again. After the Russian build-up of last autumn, however, it became inevitable, particularly as the Russians, even after their series of tests, refused consistently to come to an agreement.

It is necessary that the House should be quite clear in regard to this, because sometimes one gets rather garbled stories about just why the Russians would not agree. The treaty put forward by the Western Powers in April, 1961, had in it only the minimum safeguards necessary to secure that the treaty was implemented. All the talk about espionage does not bear examination. The numbers of people involved would be infinitesimal in regard to the territory concerned. It is abundantly clear that this was purely a manœuvre because the Russians did not wish to sign a treaty.

When we met in Geneva on 28th November last year, when I met with the Russian and American delegation, we were confronted with a situation in which the Russians rejected absolutely the findings of the 1958 experts committee. They wished to start an entirely new basis of discussion in which they wanted to say that national detection systems alone were sufficient for atmosperic tests, under-water tests and high altitude tests, but not for underground tests. They left out underground tests and proposed a moratorium for them. There is no international consensus of scientific opinion to justify that stand.

The right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) asked specifically what was our position in regard to calling another meeting of international scientists. Our position is that we have asked for it. I have repeated that request again and again at the recent discussions at Geneva until I am almost tired of saying it. I did it again only on Tuesday.

Mr. A. Henderson

Scientists to be appointed by the United Nations?

Mr. Godber

That is not an aspect that we have chosen. What I have done in response to the eight-nation memorandum is to suggest that the uncommitted nations should bring forward their scientists to meet with others, so that it would not be simply the East and West meeting together. They indicated that in cases where they had adequate scientists, they would certainly not be opposed to doing that. The Russians have consistently refused in every way to have anything to do with such a body. They refused time and again, but this is essential if we are to make progress on the basis of the eight-nation memorandum.

I want to say a word or two about the eight-nation memorandum, because it is really the key to the whole problem at the moment. This was put forward by the eight neutral nations after they had heard or read a number of our discussions in the sub-committee, and it is based on three things. First, on a system of detection which would be based and built upon existing national networks—not relying on national networks but based and built upon them—so that it was an international system of detection. Second, it proposed an international commission of highly qualified scientists which, again, is very similar in idea to what had been proposed in our April, 1961, treaty. The third and key point was the point about on-site inspection, and here I was glad to hear what the right hon. Gentleman had to say about this, because this is the key to any solution of it.

The wording in relation to on-site inspection in this document makes it difficult to get a complete picture, because it is so involved. Eight nations got together and tried to get a compromise document. They say in paragraph 4 that the parties to the treaty could invite the Commission to visit their territories for on-site inspections, and, in paragraph 5, that the parties should consult as to what further measures, including verification in loco, would facilitate the assessment and the parties concerned would, in accordance with this obligation, give full co-operation.

It can just be argued that there is no specific obligation here, but I think it is stretching things to argue that. We have said that this implies, and we feel certain that it does imply, the obligation of on-site inspection but the Russians keep saying merely that they accept inspection within the terms of paragraph 4 of this document, but will not go on to elaborate it. Only the day before yesterday at Geneva, I asked them to specify where they stood in relation to that as a genuine indication of good faith. I asked them to say on how many occasions a year they expected to invite inspection, but they have refused to answer that question. They said it was unwarranted. This is the difficulty we are up against.

I still hope that we shall get a treaty on nuclear tests. Obviously, the Russians are going to start testing again, and I hope that once they have done that it may make it easier. Our Mexican colleague has suggested that we should start negotiating a treaty to come into operation at a future date. If that were possible, I would welcome it warmly, and I have suggested to our Russian colleagues again that this is something we should look at.

On disarmament, I would say that we have made some progress, but it has been very hard going—very difficult slogging. Our Soviet colleagues are putting forward their ideas with great vehemence and insistence, but they seem entirely unwilling to consider any compromise on any of the main things. Very briefly, the Western plan is for a 30 per cent. cut across the board as the first stage. The Russian plan is much more selective. It provides for a 100 per cent. elimination of nuclear delivery vehicles —which is anything which can carry a nuclear bomb, in the first stage. It provides for a reduction of conventional arms, linked to a reduction in manpower of 1.7 million, but it is very unspecific in regard to that. The whole emphasis is on nuclear arms, and the great difficulty is that of verification. Here, I have challenged the Russians to show their genuineness by coming forward with a realistic suggestion of some way to solve the deadlock between those who say that verification must be in relation to the destroyed armaments alone and those who say it must also cover remainders as well. We have put forward a compromise plan—a zonal inspection plan that provides for inspection to increase by percentages as the disarmament process goes forward, but the Russians refuse to consider this. They will not put forward any suggestion of their own—

It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.