HC Deb 30 January 1963 vol 670 cc952-5

3.49 p.m.

Mr. E. L. Mailalieu (Brigg)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to set up a world security agency in the United Kingdom to co-ordinate and inform Her Majesty's Government's efforts to supplant the ruie of force by the rule of law in world affairs and to provide impetus thereto. I am lucky, in a way, in that the hazards of parliamentary existence have allowed my subject to be sandwiched between two such important matters as the depression caused by events in Europe and the important debate which is to follow. I have always been struck that this country, which has more reasons even than most countries to wish to do away with violence in the settlement of international disputes and to replace violence by law, has four Government Departments—the Admiralty, the War Office, the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Defence—all planning for war, or, at least, not planning for peace, whereas we have not one governmental agency which is planning for peace, or whose primary object is to plan for peace.

After eleven years of office, it is, perhaps, not surprising that Ministers should lack the drive to think ahead, to plan for peace, because this is not an immediate election winner. Having made that little tilt against the Government, I may say that exactly the same consideration applies when a Government has been in office for six years. In fact, the main burden of what I wish to say is that even a brand new Government, coming freshly to their tasks, cannot possibly do the necessary forward thinking which we must do if we are to be able to pull our full weight in international affairs and in international conferences on disarmament and world security.

Every one of us knows the "dog's life" which Ministers must lead nowadays, chivvied around from pillar to post and with their own departmental chores to attend to. How can they do anything else on these general questions but drift—generally on a current which is not only not of their own making, but not of their own choosing?

Speaking of Governments, I must pay full credit to the present Government for the part they played in issuing the Declaration after the Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth had held their Conference in 1961. That Declaration contained a statement which might have been lifted from one of the documents of the Parliamentary Group for World Government, of which I have the honour to be honorary secretary. It was a magnificent declaration and it said: A substantial and adequately armed world force should be established to prevent aggression and to enforce observance of disarmament agreements, and an international authority should be created, in association with the United Nations, to control this force and to ensure that it is not used for any purpose inconsistent with the Charter. But the date of that Declaration was March, 1961, and there has been no adequate follow-up. I am not blaming Ministers for this because, as I have said, I do not think that they have the chance or the time, still less the machinery, adequately to follow things up or to work on details where they have adequately stated principles.

Under my Bill, there would be set up a special agency to concentrate, so to speak, under one roof those who are planning for peace, to co-ordinate their efforts, and to work out the details by which those excellent principles of the 1961 Declaration could be put into effect, so that at any moment a Minister could go to an international conference and be quite certain that behind him he had a plan backed by the highest technical authority.

The embryo is in the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' statement. The principles contained in that statement must be practical in themselves, because Prime Ministers in these days are hard-boiled toughs. They have risen to the leadership of their peoples the hard way and have had to stand up to criticism all the way. If fourteen or fifteen of them—however many there were in 1961 at the Commonwealth Conference—unanimously declare that these principles have a practical application, it seems to me that it should be taken pretty well as read.

But does this House remember that a very short time ago there were only one and a half men in our Foreign Office—

Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)

Who was the half?

Mr. Mallalieu

—whose duty it was exclusively to plan for peace, and only one in the Ministry of Defence, though admittedly a first-class man. That situation was altered as a result of the efforts of my right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker), but the provision is still highly inadequate for the forward looking thinking for peace.

As is so often the case, the United States has reached the post first in this matter and has already set up such an agency. I do not think it was an American Government idea, but they took it up: and in 1961 Congress passed a law setting up an agency for this sort of purpose. It has proved so successful that its appropriation has been increased during its short life out of all recognition.

The truth is that research on how to achieve peace needs more and not less manpower and effort than research on how to fight wars better than before. If the House gives me leave to introduce the Bill, then our priorities will be somewhat rectified and the agency which it would set up would be able to prepare and direct United Kingdom participation in any world security negotiations that there were, and to disseminate information upon these things, so that the Government would have support when they tried to put into practice schemes prepared here at home by this agency. The agency would also study the minimum law necessary not only to achieve peace, but to enable nations to go on developing their own individualities in peace; and it would study what machinery was necessary to achieve a safe disarmament.

So I ask Her Majesty's Government to set up such an agency as soon as may be, to take advantage of the better climate between the United States and Russia, which seems likely at present to achieve some progress towards a nuclear test ban. This progress must be matched by institutional arrangements for planning ahead for peace in all its aspects. I therefore ask the House to allow me to introduce the Bill.

I believe that if I am given permission we shall be brought appreciably closer to the goal which is near to the hearts of us all, namely, the goal of a world free of the scourge of war and of the burden of armaments, in which the rule of force shall have been subordinated to the rule of law, and in which international adjustments to changing conditions shall be able to be brought about in peace.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. E. L. Mallalieu, Mr. Strachey, Sir J. Pitman, Mr. G. M. Thomson, Lady Gammans, Mr. Thorpe, and Mr. Dan Jones.