§ 3.30 p.m.
§ Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I beg to move,That this House, noting the faults and successes of the United Nations and the view of its Secretary-General that, if it is to have a future, the United Nations must assume some of the attributes of a State, in particular the means to act in areas of actual or potential conflict, calls attention to the need for reforms in the United Nations in particular by the creation by like-minded States, as suggested by the Prime Minister of Canada, of a small peace-keeping force on a permanent basis.Next year the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter will be celebrated. Therefore, thought is now being given to the United Nations. It has grown from its original strength of 51 nations to the 115 of today. I believe that both sides of the House hope that U Thant's treatment in hospital will soon see him about fit and well again. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] There are many, however, who are wondering whether some treatment should be given to tthe United Nations itself.
How far has Hammarskjold's view that the United Nations should bethe dynamic executive instrument to resolve and avert conflictssucceeded? I think that we all know the answer to that. Yet world order is surely the only hope for mankind. We either have to adapt today's potential or perish like the overscale reptiles of another age, and all that may be left of our civilisation is the fossilised promise of the present.
I still believe that the Defence White Paper of 1958 was right when it stated, in paragraph 8:The ultimate aim must be comprehensive disarmament by all nations, coupled with comprehensive inspection and control by a world authority. Nothing less than this makes sense. That may seem a long way off. But it is just as well to recognise it and proclaim it as the final objective.I believe that my object today is easier than that, for, in the words of Burke,… as it is the interest of government that reformation should be early, it is the interest of the people that it should be temperate. It is their interest, because a temperate reform is permanent, and because it has the principle of growth. Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further improvement.1065 Although world order may seem a long way away, the flashpoints of anarchy are all round us and, I believe, should be dealt with now.
Before I say what I think might be done, it is worth while looking at what the United Nations is today. It certainly shows no signs of being a world Government. It is more like a colosseum of competitive national views. It is slow to act; it is pulled this way and that, it is a mass of lobbies and horse trading. Yet what some regard as the T.U.C. of Governments is still the most likely weapon of hope for man. Because it is the wish of major Powers not to be done down by little ones, the veto remains with the five permanent members. It has been used three times by this country, four times by France, and no fewer than 102 times by the U.S.S.R.
No divided State like Germany or Vietnam can become a member of the United Nations. China, with one-fifth of the world's population—how can one plan the future without such a Power?—is represented by Formosa. Yet that Pacific Island—and, if the majority of the 10 million people in that island wish for separate status I have no objection to it—has the veto. It is rather as if the House of Commons were controlled by the remnants of the Duchy of Normandy, in the English Channel.
It therefore seems to me that the United Nations is a long way from being either universal or united. It is also very hard up. It is rather in the position of the impoverished nephew dependent on rich uncles who like either to disclaim relationship or refuse to pay what they should pay under legal covenant. On 30th September this year the arrears for the special account of the United Nations emergency force and the ad hoc account for the United Nations operation in the Congo totalled, in United States dollars, 112.3 million. The organisation's cash resources totalled 24.8 million, and its deficit was 113.3 million.
Who should lose the vote through default is now an immediate issue. I, like, I believe, the whole House, was pleased to hear the Answer given earlier today by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs about the views of Her Majesty's Government on this matter. One is pleased that as yet there has been no fundamental break, but I for one believe 1066 that covenants should be honoured. Perhaps countries would be readier payers if the insurance value of the United Nations were to be improved. However, I believe that it would be wrong not to mention the successes of the United Nations. It has acted as a safety valve and as a conciliator. It could be said that without it we might have had a major war. Largely in the guise, or uniform, of America, it certainly saved South Korea. It saved faces over West Irian and over Suez.
In 1957, when the present Lord Privy Seal was Chairman of the Commission, on which also sat Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett, the hon. and gallant Member for Croydon, North-East in the last Parliament, and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, an all-party pamphlet was produced by Federal Union in which these sentences appeared:If a permanent force had been available in October, 1956, to be sent to Sinai as soon as the war started, an armistice would probably have been agreed immediately by Egypt and Israel, and there might have been no Anglo-French intervention. Indeed, had the Israelis been able to call on effective United Nations protection against possible attack, they could hardly have claimed any justification for their offensive.The various agencies of the United Nations have also had successes, but, despite the reputation of the major ones, like the I.L.O., F.A.O., U.N.E.S.C.O., and W.H.O., there are still 700 million illiterates and the population explosion of the world goes on. Possibly the most successful agency is the World Bank and its financial associates. Yet still there is no investment code and no scheme to insure what new private capital may be invested in developing countries. The great gap between the rich and poor countries is as wide as ever. I believe that it is true to say that all the loans so far made by the World Bank amount to less than one-tenth of the world's annual expenditure on arms.
It is as well to bear in mind some of the failures of the United Nations. It has not as yet freed succeeding generations from the scourge of war. The balance of terror, and not the United Nations, keeps the peace. It has failed to take action in places like Berlin, Cuba and Hungary, although it has succeeded with U.N.E.F. in guarding the frontiers of Israel with the Arab world and, to begin with, in the Congo with 1067 U.N.O.C. I wonder whether, if United Nations troops had still been there or if there had been today some emergency force, the recent massacres in the Congo would ever have taken place.
The United Nations has also helped in the Middle East, in Laos and in Cyprus, but none of these actions has been an unalloyed success because they have been largely symbolic and part of the forces concerned have been withdrawn at the whim of the national Government concerned. Only a permanent force can prevent this. Nor has the United Nations replaced war by law—by a law that should be known in advance and enforceable upon corporations and individuals as well as upon governments.
I believe that the powers of The Hague Court should be strengthened. There is as yet no international habeas corpus act and little sign of getting one. In international affairs, the individual is forgotten. Therefore, the United Nations, which is no world Government, is no international Parliament, either.
The representation on the United Nations is odd. One hundred and eighty thousand Icelanders have one vote, so have 440 million Indians. The U.S.S.R. has three votes—Russia, White Russia and the Ukraine—whereas the United States of America, with 50 states, has only one. We are told that this is for historic reasons. Somehow, it seems to me, history will have to become less square. Because of these difficulties the United Nations lacks power, although, admittedly, it has a considerable moral influence.
What, then, are the major defects which could be rectified in the set-up of the United Nations as it is now? They are, first, lack of finance, and, secondly, lack of a ready police force. Some country should take the lead in trying to remedy both gaps and I hope that that country will be Great Britain.
First, as to finance. The United Nations is never certain of its income. I agree that the bulk of its revenue should come from member countries, but some revenue could come to it as of right. With so many nations now laying claim to vast new territorial waters, the whole concept of the high seas seems to be in jeopardy. It is, surely, a British interest 1068 to prevent the closing rights of way between oceans.
The doctrine of the high seas is really one of anarchy. Any action can use them, as any man in Saxon times could use the common land. Instead, however, of hunting, as we do today, the seas, quite soon we may be farming them and also exploiting the seabed. Why not do so beyond territorial waters by licence from the United Nations? This would save a lot of quarrels in the years to come.
Is it impossible to make a small levy on the increase of world trade through either the world's canals or international airports or in some other way? All except those countries which want to see chaos have an interest in building up some such orderly finance.
Even more important is the power to act swiftly. In four places this year—Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda and Cyprus—British troops did a first-class and quick job, but I wonder whether all white faces would be acceptable there should the occasion again arise. Many other areas there are, too, of potential unrest. Should they explode, what action could the United Nations take? What could it do to help Malaysia?
The United Nations has no troops of its own, no power to administer territory and no military staff college. Any ad hoc United Nations force has no agreed common language, no military planning and staff group, no standard regulations and, above all, no standard terms of reference or operating orders. All the basic rules for such should be agreed now and incorporated in a statute.
Canada, Denmark, Finland, Holland, Iran, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden have said that they are willing to earmark troops for the United Nations, but unless these troops train together they will not be very effective. To that end, I welcome the recent action to improve efficiency by the holding of the 21-nation conference in Ottawa on the technical aspects of United Nations peace-keeping operations.
In any event, how can we visualise disarmament, the agreed principles of which were accepted in the U.S.S.R.-U.S.A. joint statement of 1961, until at least an embryo international peace force has come into being?
1069 Is it not time to look at the views of Mr. Lester Pearson, the Prime Minister of Canada, as they appeared in the magazine Maclean's of 2nd May this year, when he said:… in 1945, when the United Nations was born … we were inspired by high hope and, for a few brief but brilliant days, felt that perhaps this time we had learned the tragic lessons of earlier failures, and that international force behind international law might be established to save the world from another such scourge as that of the Second World War.The United Nations Charter seemed a better instrument for this purpose than the League. It gave the Security Council power to make decisions and enforce them. The members of the United Nations undertook to make armed forces available to the Security Council. These forces were to be organised collectively under a military staff committee.—a military staff committee which met on 29th October this year for the 507th time merely to drink sherry and to adjourn becauseThe Soviet veto destroyed the usefulness of the Security Council in maintaining the peace.Why? Does the U.S.S.R. fear imperialist intervention in another guise? It is, surely, in Russia's interest, as it grows richer, to reduce the danger of little wars which might so easily grow into large ones.
After referring to the birth of N.A.T.O., Mr. Pearson went on to say—and I quote three brief extracts:There is similar need for a new initiative today, but one to be taken inside the United Nations itself. If the United Nations Assembly, as such, refuses to take that initiative—if it is unable to agree on permanent arrangements for a 'stand-by' peace force—then why should a group of members who feel that this should be done not do something about it themselves? Why should they not discharge their own responsibilities individually and collectively by organising a force for this purpose, one formally outside the United Nations but ready to be used on its request? …The forces provided could only be called into action on the request of the United Nations through a resolution passed for that purpose. But the forces would be ready for such a call …Cyprus has once again demonstrated the need for a high degree of preparedness.If there was a small international police force, national Governments would be less likely to have to allocate their own forces, which in many cases are stretched to the limit, for the United Nations. To 1070 start with, in any permanent United Nations force troops would, I agree, have to be allocated by individual nations, but, as the Congo showed, these troops can often be hurriedly withdrawn either because one nation which has contributed troops does not agree with the decisions of the United Nations, or because there is an internal crisis at home.
In the end, I believe that the world will have to have an individually recruited, permanent, multi-racial—on the lines of the old French Foreign Legion—multi-coloured force serving on long-term engagements, highly paid and honoured. It will have to be very carefully chosen if it is to be the corps d'elite of the world's regiments. But nations which agree—and this does not only apply to the minor Powers—to allow their own nationals to volunteer for recruitment should do so on the understanding—and this must be made quite clear—that those individuals should never be called upon, or could refuse, to fight with their kith and kin. It is from these nations that we shall have to build up such a force—but it will take a long time.
Meanwhile, like-thinking nations, that is those who believe in establishing such a force, will have to allocate some of their own troops. Control is the major problem. A comparatively small force of, say, 20,000 men—that size of force could not unbalance the present world order—could affect the politics of some small individual States. Therefore, it should never be used except by request of the legitimate Government which might fear a coup d'etat by subversion or a direct attack by a hostile neighbour. It should never be used, I submit, except for a short time, while an election could be held, to bolster an unpopular régime. There are, I must admit, many difficulties. But even with such provisos, the Secretary-General may not be given power by the United Nations to allocate the troops in time.
Yet what is the alternative—the drift to anarchy, the little conflicts which might engulf us all? I believe that this is not a cloud-cuckoo-land scheme. It does not pretend other than to cope with more than small posses of unrest. But a nation should make a start to try to cope with these international problems. No 1071 nation, so far I know, in the great forum of the United Nations has been prepared to say, possibly for fear of being voted down or scoffed at unofficially. "This is what we believe". I believe that it is time that Great Britain did.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
May I use two of my precious minutes to say how grateful I am and, I believe, a great many other hon. Members are to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who has made a speech of very considerable importance to the House. We are grateful to the hon. Member for bringing this matter before the House, and also happy with him that he has the chance today to do that so early in this Parliament, and grateful also for the particular quality of his speech. It was one, I feel, that will be long remembered here.
I can only say that almost equal to the joy that I feel in seeing the hon. Member standing up and saying that from the other side of the House is my gladness that there should be sitting on the Front Bench on this side of the House one who, I believe, will match what has been said not only by equal words and thoughts, but by all the power of action that he has at his command.
The hon. Member for Wavertree has been talking to us about a police force. I wonder if I might, first, for a very short time, try to separate two ideas which there are about a world peace force. Like the hon. Member and like so many other people in so many countries throughout the world, I believe that there is no real hope of establishing peace—a secure and stable peace—unless we arrive at a state of general and complete disarmament of sovereign States.
We have all been trying to achieve just this for very many years. I would submit to the House that instead of going baldheaded for disarmament in disarmament conferences, there is a much more practical way of arriving at the same result, or rather the result that we hoped to arrive at by the conferences but have so far failed to arrive at, and it is the line set up by the hon. Member.
Unless we can get an alternative system of security ultimately to that of arms, no sovereign State will disarm. I think that we all more or less accept 1072 that now. Yet, we are not arriving at this alternative system and that is where the importance of the hon. Gentleman's suggestions to us this afternoon comes in. He is saying that, ultimately, we must have a permanent United Nations or world force to enable disarmament to take place and to keep the peace thereafter, but he is saying that, in the meantime, if we are not yet able to arrive at that state of affairs, let us make a beginning of the march on the road towards that goal.
Let us see if we cannot arrive at a practical system of a world force which will be operative, certainly I would say not to avert a world war in cases where the great Powers are confronting each other, but in an infinitely smaller field as a first step; in the field, that is, where there is a trouble spot in the world and where the Government of that trouble spot invite in the United Nations.
What are the conditions upon which such a force might well be brought into being in the very near future. Because I believe that that is possible—I believe that that is the position—in spite of the past experience in regard to the general staff committee at the United Nations. What are those conditions? Are they not just those same conditions which will ultimately have to obtain when we do have the real world force permanently in existence, individually recruited, owing its allegiance to the world?
Just the same conditions as that force will have to have ultimately will apply also in this first step. There will have to be a law under which that ultimate force will work, a world law which will have to apply not only to Governments, as international law does at present, but to individuals, so that if you are armed, or manufacturing arms, contrary to the decision of the world in this matter, you, as an individual, will be able to be taken up. But that is the ultimate, as I say. There must, even in that ultimate case, be a world law which the force will operate and under which it shall operate, and world courts as well.
These three things are inevitable ingredients in the bringing together of this final world force, but I submit that even now, with this much more limited force, it is necessary to have these three things, the law, the courts, and, of course, the 1073 force. We are talking about setting up the force at the present time.
Take, for instance, the case of Cyprus. How much more easy it would have been for, for instance, the Irish Government to have said, "Of course we will send in troops immediately" had they known what those troops would have been in for when they got to Cyprus, had they known whether or not it was to be permissible for them to disarm people who were obviously thwarting, or, at any rate going against the object of the United Nations' presence in that island; if they had known that they were able to disarm Greeks and Turks under a pre-existing law, a world statute agreed to by all the Governments in the United Nations. Had they known that they would have said at once, "Of course, here are our troops. Send them in." Whereas, as is well known, they had some very proper hesitations about sending their troops in again, as they had done in the Congo, without knowing in advance what they were in for.
And, too, the Government of Cyprus would have had a very much clearer idea of what they were in for, in inviting in the United Nations, had there been this law beforehand.
I submit that the very first thing that the United Nations will have to tackle—that is to say, that we, and our allies, colleagues, friends, whatever they may be called, in the United Nations, all shall have to tackle—is the arrival at an agreement at this minimal world law under which the world's force shall operate. I believe that it would be a quite simple law, in theory, though probably it would be rather long in practice; and, in effect, it would say there that is to be no violence, and that there is to be no possession of arms in the areas to which it applies—for instance, in Cyprus, if it were invited there; no possession of arms without the permission of the central world authority. If it were something of that order I believe that it would be effective.
Now it is said that because, in times past, the Russians have used vetoes about this sort of thing, because the staff committee has not succeeded in doing anything more important than drink sherry—which I, unfortunately, have to admit is the case—there is no hope now that things could be done if a real lead were made by a powerful Government, an 1074 influential Government, morally or militarily powerful, or, indeed, by a whole number of perhaps individually less significant Powers.
I believe that that is not so, and I call in aid for this purpose the results last Easter of the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference, in Switzerland, which was confirmed by the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union this year, in Copenhagen. At those Easter conferences of the Inter-Parliamentary Union there was taken into account a report by a commission of six representatives from six member countries of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, a report which was a result of many days' work and intensive study of just this very thing. One of the most important members of that six-man commission was none other than the Russian delegate, a highly distinguished judge who has attended Inter-Parliamentary Union meetings for many years now.
That commission adopted unanimously a resolution which I have drawn to the attention of the House before. It is very short, and I should like to bring it to the attention of the House again. It said this:Considering that it will eventually be necessary"—"eventually", that is the second stage of the world force—to arm the world force as part of an agreement for general and complete disarmament of sovereign States; secondly that in the meantime the United Nations must have at its disposal a unit composed of legal, military, and technical persons capable of being sent in accordance with the Charter and with the agreement of the Governments in the troubled areas to those areas when they present a danger to peace: Calls upon the Secretary-General of the United Nations to take the necessary steps in conformity with the provisions of the Charter (1) For the appointment of key persons to make plans for its operation and form the cadres from which from time to time may be added military and other effectives made available to it by member States; (2) To establish a statute immediately under which such a unit should act".That is the whole doctrine both as to the first stage and as to the ultimate stage which has just been put so eloquently before us by the hon. Gentleman; and it was agreed to by the countries behind the Iron Curtain. In those circumstances it just cannot be said that this is Utopia. This is something right down to earth.
I submit to the Government—I do not think I need to press them, but I think that I can tell them this—that the whole 1075 world is watching waiting to see what will happen at the United Nations, because it believes, as I do myself, that we really are on the edge of using this machinery to the fullest extent to which it is capable of being used. The people in many countries of the world—the Association of World Federalists, of which I have the honour of being the General Secretary, in The Hague, with no fewer than 2½ million paid adherents in Japan alone, and with branches in countries all over the world—are looking to the Government to see that our feet are set firmly on this road towards the ultimate goal of the law, the courts, and the power in the world force.
I believe that if the speech of the hon. Gentleman were followed, and real efforts were made now at the United Nations to take these first halting steps in that direction, the hopes of mankind in the present Government would be justified.
§ 4.9 p.m.
§ Sir John Fletcher-Cooke (Southampton, Test)
I rise to intervene in this debate with the usual measure of trepidation and craving the customary indulgence of the House, which the House is wont to accord to those who speak here for the first time.
I am proud to represent one of the two constituencies, the one called after the River Test, into which Southampton is divided. Southampton, which was raised to "the title and dignity of a City" by Her Majesty the Queen on 11th February this year, has had a long and honourable history, too long to recount to the House; but I may perhaps be permitted to refer, as a background to what I shall say later, to one or two of the highlights of the history of Southampton.
The city has always had close contacts with the Continent of Europe, from the days of Claudius, when the Romans built a settlement and port connecting up with their communications network on the Continent. Under the Normans, these continental connections and associations were strengthened and extended. In Tudor times, Southampton's contacts with the outside world spread even further afield.
I need not stress Southampton's share in the subsequent development and opening up of what is now the Commonwealth and the new world across the Atlantic; and, for fear of giving offence 1076 to hon. Members who represent the great sea port of Plymouth, I will not dwell on the contention that it was from Southampton that the Pilgrim Fathers set sail, merely putting in at Plymouth to replenish their supplies.
More recently, Southampton made a vital contribution to the national effort in both World Wars, though payment was exacted for this in the shape of considerable damage caused by heavy Nazi bombing
It is against this background of my constituents' contact with and lively interest in the world outside that I am emboldened to make this debate on the United Nations the occasion for my maiden speech in the House.
But first, Mr. Speaker, I must record the great pride which Southampton takes in the fact that my friend, the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Dr. Horace King), has been elected as your Deputy. My only regret is that this evidence of the House's collective wisdom has deprived me personally of a regular pair, which would, indeed, have been very convenient, having regard to the many and varied civic occasions which take place in Southampton.
I stand here, Mr. Speaker, as the successor to Mr. John Howard, who is known to many hon. Members on both sides of the House. But I can assure you that it was hardly a source of encouragement to me when I came to know that the strains and stresses of representing Southampton, Test for nearly 10 years had so impaired Mr. Howard's health that he felt unable to contest the last election. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will wish him a speedy and complete recovery.
I have indicated that the growth and prosperity of Southampton has been built up over the centuries as a result of its contacts and connections with developments overseas, and it is, therefore, natural and appropriate that its citizens should be deeply interested in the wider world beyond our shores. This is reflected in the existence in Southampton of an active and virile branch of the United Nations Association, of which branch I have the honour to be a vice-president.
But there are other reasons, too, why I think that it might be appropriate for me to make my maiden speech in this 1077 debate. The first is that I noticed, while listening to other maiden speakers from both sides of the House, that the majority of hon. Members present were those who had not yet made their maiden speeches, and I felt that if I deferred my maiden speech too long I should find myself addressing a virtually empty House. Indeed, the attendance today suggests that I have perhaps under-esti mated the number of those who have already made their maiden speeches.
The second reason is that I have had the privilege as a civil servant of representing the Government of the day as a member of our mission to the United Nations during two periods since the end of the war. The first period, between 1948 and 1951, was under the previous Labour Government, and the second period between 1957 and 1961, was under the previous Conservative Government.
I must confess that I could not detect much difference in the attitude of those two Government to the United Nations and their approaches to its problems. Indeed, the only difference which I can recall is that at the General Assembly in 1949—on 15th November of that year—none of the Labour Ministers or Members of Parliament who made up the United Kingdom delegation to that Assembly found it convenient to address the plenary meeting of the General Assembly held on that day, and it fell to me, as a comparatively junior civil servant, to speak for His Majesty's Government in plenary session on a matter of policy, an occasion, I must say, which I found far less daunting than addressing the House.
Under the present Government, of course, no such situation would ever be allowed to arise, for the Government believe that the influence of Britain at the United Nations can be strengthened by representational changes purporting to signify that they attach greater importance to the United Nations than did their predecessor. I venture to doubt the validity of this belief, for it is surely what we say and do at the United Nations rather than who says it and does it which will indicate the measure of importance which this country attaches to United Nations' affairs.
1078 I turn to offer some thoughts on the substance of the Motion. The Charter of the United Nations is a written document, and it is nearly 20 years since it came into force. During those 20 years the world has changed out of all recognition, and yet the Charter has never been formally amended as provided for in Chapter 18. This gulf between the provisions of the Charter and the world in which we live has widened ominously. It is true that certain changes in the practices and procedures of the United Nations have occurred during this period to take some account of the growing disparity between theory and reality. But this piecemeal process has totally ignored some fundamental changes in the world situation, and where it has taken account of other changes, it has perhaps created more problems than it has solved.
Perhaps I may be permitted to draw attention to a number of fundamental weaknesses in the organisation of the United Nations today and to suggest that, while all these weaknesses call for early remedies, some stem from the fact that the Charter has not been amended at all, while others flow from the fact that it has been informally amended without considering all the implications.
The Charter of the United Nations is popularly regarded as being a radical and forward-looking document. Many consider it as more appropriate to a day which has not yet dawned than to the circumstances which prevail in the world around us. But I personally believe that many of its weaknesses derive from the fact that it is not forward-looking enough and that much of its spirit and many of its provisions are too firmly rooted in nineteenth century thinking to make it relevant to the second half of the twentieth century. It is unrealistic not because it foreshadows a reality which has not yet arrived, but because it reflects a reality which has long since passed.
Perhaps I may give some examples. It must never be forgotten that the final draft of the Charter was completed before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, and thus those parts of the Charter which deal with the use of armed force to maintain or restore international peace and security—and the key word is "international"—can have a relevance only in the world which came to an end on 6th August, 1945, when the first 1079 atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, not far from where I was involuntarily residing at the time.
Indeed, most of the articles of the Charter dealing with military matters suggest a leisurely deployment of forces during a nineteenth century campaign rather than the realities of the thermonuclear age. The air is full of the pungent smell of horse manure rather than the acrid stench of incineration. Here is one sphere which calls for early examination, though the difficulties are very great indeed.
There are other parts of the Charter which are, perhaps, even more out of touch with reality. It is clear that the founding fathers of the United Nations never foresaw the speed with which the new nations of Asia, Africa and the Caribbean would break on the world. They certainly did not contemplate that in 1964, 20 years after the organisation came into being, territories which were not even independent nations at that time would form the majority of the member States of the U.N.
Nor can they be blamed for this, for those articles of the Charter which deal with trust and non-self-governing territories contemplated a far more leisurely progress towards independence than has occurred. When the drafters of the Charter included such phrases asProgressive development towards self-government or independence as may be appropriateand when they indicated clearly that economic, social and educational advance should form integral parts of the move forward, they undoubtedly had in mind a long-drawn-out process which would ultimately produce a steadily increasing number of new States possessing the basic characteristics of those States which had attained nationhood in the nineteenth century.
Two of those characteristics are of vital importance, and I will return to them. They are, first, the power to preserve law and order internally, and, secondly, at least a reasonable measure of viability economically.
I turn now to one of the informal amendments of the Charter to which I have already referred, namely Resolution No. 1514 of 14th December, 1960, which provided, inter alia, that 1080Immediate steps shall be taken in trust and non-self-government territories or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories without any conditions or reservationsThe same resolution included the following passage:Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence".Bearing in mind the circumstances prevailing in 1960, and taking account of the head of steam which had been built up over the rush to independence at that time, there is, perhaps, something to be said in favour of those who sought to bring the United Nations in touch with what was actually happening, for it must be admitted that, rightly or wrongly, the more gradual approach as set out originally in the Charter had long since been abandoned.
Those who took that line—perhaps because they chose to do so by a hasty resolution of the General Assembly and not by means of a deliberate and considered amendment of the Charter, which might have revealed some of the consequential dangers—were basing their good intentions on a fallacy. The fallacy is this.
Just as the United Nations started as an organisation which was dominated by the West, so, too, the Charter is essentially a Western document. It was drafted and sponsored by those who live in and belonged to a Western environment. Because of this, it embodies the Western concept of the sovereign independent State. This is reflected not only in the name "United Nations", but in almost every article of the Charter, particularly in Article 2(7).
This Western concept of a sovereign independent nation State, as it developed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, was regarded as the ultimate in political thinking. But surely it is true that the newly independent States of Asia and Africa do not fit neatly into this matrix. They are fundamentally different from their earlier counterparts in the West. They differ in many respects.
I will touch on only three of the fundamental differences. The first is that the earlier Western-type nation States were, for the most part, mono-cultural. "We who belong" were quite different from "those who do not belong".
1081 Greeks emphasised their Greekness, Germans their Germanness. Each had markedly different characteristics which they emphasised to distinguish themselves from others. But the vast majority of the new States are multi-cultural. Indeed, many are multi-racial as well. In Africa, for example, Tanganyikans—and Tanganyika embodies a wide variety of cultures—do not go about emphasising how different they are from Nigerians or Senegalese. On the contrary, they take great pains to emphasise what they have in common as Africans.
The second difference is that almost all of the Western-type nation States came into being as the result of the application of organised force. From the war of American Independence down through the wars of Greek, Italian and German liberation—including the wars of liberation in Latin America—military force was the midwife at their birth. But there are no African or Asian George Washingtons, Garibaldis or Bismarcks. They have no great indigenous military father-figures. This absence of a military tradition associated with the coming of nationhood, though it has had undoubted advantages, has, I suggest, also had a profound influence on the internal cohesion of these new nation States.
The third difference is the idea of fixed geographic frontiers, which is essentially a Western idea. Those who inhabit the new States have for centuries had a healthy disregard for man-made boundaries. Their concept of a political unit is far less geographical than ours in the West. The various attempts at unions in West Africa, unsuccessful though they have been, the various transformations through which the United Arab Republic has passed, and even the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar represent attempts at political groupings which have no counterpart in the Western world, with its insistence on a single focal point of sovereignty covering a particular and well-defined geographical area.
As a result of this and other factors, the new sovereign independent States are faced with fundamentally different problems from those facing the older sovereign States, particularly as they have been encouraged to come into being as separate political units at an earlier stage of economic, social and educational development than was originally contemplated by the Charter.
1082 The fallacy underlying the intentions of those who accelerated this process was to assume that political independence would automatically give them all the characteristics and cohesion of the older sovereign States. But the distinguishing features which I have enumerated, coupled with the acceleration in the move to nationhood, have given rise to two problems which are not normally found in the older nation States, however large or small those may be, namely, difficulties in preserving internal law and order and lack of resources to get off the economic launching pad.
The United Nations, which is largely responsible for creating these problems, must face up to the need for remedying them. I believe, therefore, that in the not too distant future the Charter will have to be amended to take formal cognisance of these and other facts. But, until that can be done, attention should be focused, as is suggested in this Motion, on taking steps to create a United Nations peace-keeping force on a permanent basis.
My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, when he addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations as Foreign Secretary on 1st October last year, made that point very clearly. Since then, recent events, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree has pointed out, in East Africa, in Cyprus and in the Congo have underlined the need for this as a matter of urgency. I hope that this House will make it clear to the world where we in Britain stand in this respect.
The United Nations devotes much of its energies to action designed to ensure that the coloured peoples are not maltreated by white peoples. The United Nations should be prepared to widen the scope of its efforts, and to establish machinery that would provide that no peoples, even if they be white peoples in the Congo, shall suffer at the hands of others.
I apologise for speaking at some length, and I trust that my faith in the indulgence of the House to a new Member will not have been misplaced.
§ 4.31 p.m.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Dover)
My first privilege is to congratulate the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) on his maiden speech. I 1083 delivered my own maiden speech only two weeks ago, and I hope that he will not feel it condescending of me if I say that I thought that he made a very significant contribution to our debate. It was a very thoughtful speech, which drew from his long and distinguished service to this country in the Colonial Service. I know that there will be many occasions when hon. Members on both sides will welcome contributions from the hon. Member.
I wondered at one moment in what part of the Commonwealth the hon. Member was serving in 1956. He said that he had some difficulty in recognising differences in attitude to the United Nations on the two sides of this House. No doubt, the hon. Gentleman was very busy at that stage in important service on behalf of the country, and newspapers did not get through to him.
Secondly, I should like to tell the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) how very much I welcome the fact that so early in the life of this Parliament we are able to have a constructive debate on the future of the United Nations. In the limited amount of time at my disposal, I shall not speak in the broad about the United Nations, except to say that I believe that in that organisation lies our main hope for peace in the world, and that it will be through the United Nations and through disarmament that we will achieve our goal. That said, I want to direct my thoughts to the particular problems of peace keeping.
This is a very apt time to have this debate, because it is the time when the United Nations is faced with the financial crisis not of just how to pay for its previous peace-keeping actions, but of how it is in the future to pay for its peace-keeping function. Again, we are holding this debate in the shadow of the tragic events in the Congo. There are probably many of us on both sides of the Chamber who feel that if the United Nations Force had stayed there, if the member States had been prepared to finance it to stay there, we might not have seen the tragic loss of life. Some of us gave warnings of what might happen if we allowed the United Nations Force to pull out before its task was completed, and we have seen the consequences of that action.
1084 As the hon. Member for Wavertree has said, there have been real achievements in peace keeping. He mentioned the United Nations Emergency Force in the Middle East and the current operation in Cyprus, and I could also mention a number of other instances in which United Nations observers have prevented a bad situation from growing worse. I remember that a few weeks after the United Nations had sent its observer group to the Lebanon, when it was reported that Syrian troops had moved into the Lebanon, I was in the frontier area.
The observers had reported that there was no sign of Syrian forces in Lebanese territory, but everyone on the spot said that before the United Nations observers arrived hundreds upon hundreds of Syrian troops had been there. As soon as it was known that the observers were coming they had got back into their buses and had driven back over the frontier. It is clear evidence that observers can perform a function without ever firing a shot.
This debate is also important because most of us feel that the main danger of war in the world does not spring from a direct confrontation between the forces of the Soviet Union and the other Communist countries and the forces of the West, but that it is likely to develop from a brush fire situation in which both sides become involved. It is, therefore, of prime importance that we should improve the peace-keeping machinery of the United Nations.
It may be thought that I am too realistic—that I have not set my eyes far enough forward, and that I am not optimistic enough. There are many things one would like to see done but the world situation does not allow us to do them. I do not think that the original concept of Article 43—the allocation of substantial forces by members of the United Nations, and the placing of their contingents under United Nations control—is "on" in the conceivable future. Until we have made progress in the process of disarmament I do not think that we shall be able to establish an international force that can in any way perform enforcement functions.
Neither do I believe that we can yet achieve the small permanent peacekeeping force which is, I believe, in the 1085 minds of some hon. Members on both sides: the idea that we should have in permanent existence an emergency force of between, perhaps, 5,000 and 30,000 troops to carry out functions such as those that were carried out in the Middle East, the Congo and Cyprus. I do not believe that we are yet ready for that. There is no sign that the majority of the Governments of the world—particularly the Soviet Government—are prepared to give this authority to the United Nations. In fact, it is the political objections to the better organisation of our peacekeeping needs that are more serious than the financial ones.
It was because of the difficulty of creating such a force that the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Lester Pearson, put forward the proposal referred to by the hon. Member for Wavertree. The United Nations should examine that proposal—a group should be established to study it—but I confess that I have serious doubts about it, and those serious doubts are reflected not only in the article which Mr. Lester Pearson wrote, but in the very wording of the Motion.
The weakness in the Motion is the thought that we can establish for the United Nations a force of like-minded States. The thing about the United Nations is that it draws from all countries; there is nothing like-minded there. We can see that N.A.T.O., the Warsaw Pact or some other regional treaty brings together like-minded States-the United Nations does not do that. There is the danger, whether it is done through the proposals canvassed by Mr. Lester Pearson or others, of establishing a force that is not representative of the main forces of the world and thinking that it can do the job of the United Nations.
I remember, also, looking back on some of the reports and words of the late Secretary-General, Mr. Dag Hammarskjoeld, that in many of the challenges that come before the United Nations the situations are quite different, and we might find that to be like-minded in one situation does not mean to be like-minded in another. Dag Hammarskjoeld said in the report which he made to the 1961-62 Assembly:The Congo experiment has strengthened my conviction that the organisation of a standing 1086 United Nations force would represent an unnecessary and impractical measure, especially in view of the fact that every new situation and crisis which the Organisation will have to face is likely to present new problems as to the best adjustment of the composition of the force, its equipment, its training and its organisation.What, therefore, can we do? My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) said that we must make a beginning, and I agree. It may be that the first steps will be only limited, I mention two in particular. First, we must make more effective stand-by arrangements. We must make certain that there are more countries which have specially recruited trained forces ready on call by the United Nations. This was reflected in the "Uniting for Peace" resolution back in 1950, which said that member States should maintainnational armed forces elements so trained, organised and equipped that they could promptly be made answerable, in accordance with the constitutional processes, for services as a United Nations unit or units.We have seen the beginning of this. Canada, as has been pointed out, has a Regular Army battalion available on call by the United Nations. The Netherlands has a marine corps unit, Finland has an infantry battalion and the Scandinavian countries together have a force of 3,000 properly trained troops recruited for this purpose. It is extremely important that we should see that other countries are prepared to undergo this preparation.
The task of a United Nations force is a very difficult and onerous one. It calls for tremendous control and often the training adequate for ordinary Army functions may not be enough in the difficult situations with which a United Nations force is presented. It is also extremely important that we should try to persuade every non-like-minded State to take part. It is important that Brazil, India and Yugoslavia should take part and that other countries—those which are in the Communist world and those which are not—from all continents, including Africa, who could make a contribution to collective security.
My second proposal is not new. It is that there should be at United Nations headquarters, recruited by the Secretary-General, a trained staff as a nucleus of a permanent force. I hope that it is not impermissible in this House to quote one's 1087 own words. In a pamphlet I wrote in 1959 I said:There would need to be a nucleus of officers and men concerned with questions of command, military equipment, feeding, welfare and law. Such a nucleus … should be permanently available at U.N. headquarters and be on the U.N. Secretariat, thus individually recruited. The staff officers concerned should be in close contact with contingent commanders of the stand-by troops.There one has a picture of a headquarters group of staff ready to meet a situation arising and dangers as they emerge so that the United Nations would be ready logistically to face these challenges in different parts of the world with contingents ready and on call.
What about the contribution which Her Majesty's Government can give to this task? It has been said that it would not normally be wise for one of the five major Powers to be involved in a peacekeeping force. This may be so in normal circumstances, but Cyprus proved not to be a normal cirmumstance. No one, on either side of the House, would say that the British troops who were part of the United Nations Force in Cyprus did not perform extremely important functions. But there will be other situations in which it would be quite inappropriate for British forces to participate. Each situation may require different contingents to fulfil the political challenges that are met.
Britain ought to declare its willingness to train certain of our forces to be available if required. It may be that we might concentrate not so much on combatant forces, but that some of our technical services—some of our engineers and signallers can be contributed so that we could have signallers who have been trained in several languages available for service. We must offer to provide transport and other logistic support when called upon. We might offer training facilities to those from other countries who are being trained for United Nations service.
My last consideration concerns the complicated question of finance. I do not want to deal at this stage with the difficult issue now before the Assembly. Like other hon. and right hon. Members, I welcome the clear statement which was made earlier this afternoon from the Government Front Bench that we would stand firmly by the collective principle. It may be that way will be found for 1088 compromises from both sides which will meet the difficulty. We hope that it will. I hope that no one will suggest that we should rush into a situation which might produce a collision course.
When we look at the question of financing future operations we recognise that, while finance appears as a huge looming problem, in fact the demands made on any major State are diminutive compared with the demands already made to meet national defence expenditure. We are not here dealing with huge sums of money. It must be established that if a headquarters nucleus is approved and recruited it must be on the United Nations budget and paid for by all the member States. The stand-by contingents when called upon must be paid for out of the United Nations budget and paid for by all member States. But we should be prepared to accept differences in apportionment. The principle has been accepted that countries with small ability to pay might be asked to pay a relatively smaller amount. We should be willing to look at proposals for not sticking rigidly to United Nations budgetary proportions.
There are also situations in which only a few member States might need to make contributions. The United Nations force which went to West New Guinea and the one which went to the Yemen—I am not suggesting that it was a successful operation—were established and paid for not by all member States. Very serious consideration should be given to the proposal, already voiced in this House by my hon. Friend the Member for Ash-field (Mr. Warbey), that there should be a United Nations peace fund and that it should be possible for individuals and organisations to make their modest contributions to peace-keeping even if those payments were of only a token nature.
I hope that during the course of the present United Nations Assembly the United Kingdom will show a very positive attitude to the problems of peace-keeping. I hope that a lead will be given from Her Majesty's Government. I hope that they will indicate their willingness to support and assist United Nations peace-keeping operations. I hope that we shall specifically propose that there should be established a headquarters planning group such as that to which I have referred. I hope 1089 that the Government will welcome the initiative of Mr. Lester Pearson and others involved in the Ottawa conference and call upon the United Nations to examine the consequences. I look forward at the end of this debate to a reassertion of the positive attitude of Her Majesty's Government to this most vital question.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
If my memory serves me correctly, which it may not do, the first time that I met the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) was in the United Nations Trust Territory at Tanganyika, when I decisively beat him at a game of croquet. Speaking about the United Nations this afternoon, I thought that the hon. Member hit decisively and put the ball squarely through the hoop.
It is about a year ago since I made my maiden speech at the United Nations, where I had the honour to be "our man" on the Third Committee which deals largely with social and humanitarian problems There I have been succeeded by the noble Lady, Baroness Gaitskell, whose warm humanity will, I know, make a sharp impact on the delegates.
The Third Committee, with its emphasis on racial relations, is of the greatest interest to the newly emergent countries. When serving at the United Nations it does not take one long to realise that it is the new nations that dominate the scene. In fact, as Sir William Hayter, an acute diplomatic observer, said, the United Nations is really the place where small Powers send their diplomats to practise anti-great Power diplomacy.
The one reform of the United Nations which at the moment grips the imagination and the interest of the new nations is the making over of the councils and, indeed, of all the component parts of the United Nations in the shape of the General Assembly, where new nations have already achieved a substantial majority. I do not think that there is any particular diplomatic or democratic justification for this. As has been so ably pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), the difference in size between the nations is very striking.
1090 At present, black Africa has 34 votes in the General Assembly and a population of 200 million, whereas India, with one vote in the General Assembly, has a population of 400 million. The disproportion in votes between India and Africa is 1 to 68 and I would point out that should she ever become a member of United Nations Communist China has a population more than 3,000 times greater than that of Malta, the last country to be admitted to membership of the General Assembly.
We must recognise that this wish to make everything in the image of the General Assembly is the driving force for reform in the United Nations at the moment, but it does not necessarily make for great efficiency. The Third Committee, on which I served, had representatives of every single member State sitting around the table. Last year, the main discussion was on the preparation of a draft declaration on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. An able and satisfactory draft on this subject had already been prepared for us by the Sub-Committee on Human Rights of the Economic and Social Council, but the fact that there were 112 members of the Committee meant that every nation had to put forward one or more amendments, if only to justify its status and the presence of its representative. We spent more than 150 hours debating this document.
Some of the amendments submitted were, frankly, completely unintelligible. I remember that at one point I virtually acquired the chairmanship of this Committee because I brought with me to the meetings each day a copy of the Shorter Oxford Dictionary. Our chairman was a Chilean lawyer who prided himself on his knowledge of the legal meaning of English words. He would rule that a word meant one thing and I would look it up in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary and find that it meant the complete opposite. I would then raise my hand on a point of order and my version would be accepted. One African delegate came up to me half-way through the discussion and said, "How can you stand the maltreatment of the English language which is going on in this Committee?"
By the time we had spent 150 hours discussing the amendments to this declaration, the document had lost all cohesion and form. This was meant to be 1091 a document to give a moral lead to the world. Children in the Andalusian high levels may be learning the declaration by heart at this moment, but so far as I know, the only time that it achieved any public recognition was when it was printed in toto on page 34 of the New York edition of the New York Times. Then it disappeared from sight altogether.
Unfortuately, this lack of clarity and intelligibility is creeping into documents which are of rather greater urgency and importance than a draft declaration on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination. I doubt very much indeed whether, in the future, in any United Nations intervention which may conceivably emerge we shall have in the Security Council or the General Assembly a political directive which is understandable. I think that this will be because of the blurring of the language which comes when one has so many "cooks" stirring the pot, and also because of the fundamental and political divisions which separate the member States. I doubt, therefore, whether, in the future, we shall have more political guidance from the Security Council or the General Assembly any greater than we did over the Congo or Cyprus. That means that the responsibility for guiding the destiny of the United Nations Forces falls back on the Secretary-General and on the commanders of the United Nations Forces in the field.
It must be recognised that in recent months the lead which has come from the Secretary-General's office has been largely a negative one, although it has not necessarily been the worst for that. That, in turn, has put still more responsibility on the shoulders of the United Nations field commanders. I had the privilege and pleasure of listening to the speech made at the United Nations last October by my right hon. Friend the present Leader of the Opposition, in which he said that if certain operations have to be undertaken it was surely better that they should be undertaken officially. This means that we must try to have greater training for those who are likely to be chosen to be United Nations force commanders and those who are likely to be chosen to serve on the staffs.
This, for all practical purposes, means mainly Indian and Swedish commanders. 1092 I do not myself believe that we should shirk establishing a United Nations defence college. At the moment there is a N.A.T.O. Staff College. I do not see why there should not be a small United Nations staff college with a special place for those who are likely to be called on to command operations.
However effective the peace-keeping force may be, it will not help very much if the entire United Nations goes bankrupt. The clash between the Soviet Union and America on the payments that the Soviet Union owes to the United Nations has emphasised the danger of the bankruptcy that faces the organisation. Indeed, the strain has been so great that the Secretary-General has retired to hospital with a suspected ulcer, even before he has had the pleasure of meeting our Prime Minister.
One good item, however, may emerge from the present financial crisis. That is a sense of new reality, because sitting in the delegates' cocktail lounge at United Nations headquarters it is easy to absorb the idea that in the long run the United States will foot the bill for everything. As one sees the riches of America moving up and down the East River, it is easy for this myth to gather force. In each year up till now there has been at the back of delegates' minds a feeling that, whatever they did, in the long run the taxpayer of the United States would dip their hands into their pockets and shell up. Now, as a result of this direct confrontation between the United States and ourselves and the U.S.S.R., it is plain that there is a limit beyond which the United States will not be pushed and that it is not prepared to be a bottomless well. I hope that this will bring a new sense of reality into the financial thought of the United Nations. Once this has happened, a move can be made towards the imaginative proposals advanced this afternoon by my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree.
I believe that what is needed at the moment is not so much a new constitution or new powers or new committees or even a new army, but rather a new sense of reality and a new determination to make the organisation as it exists work. If, rather than tinkering with the machinery, an effort could be made to get a new spirit of urgency behind the 1093 organisation as it is at present, I think that the present crisis will not have been in vain.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrew, West)
I do not wish to follow all the facets of the argument advanced by the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart). However, I will take up his suggestion that what is needed is a new determination and a new sense of reality towards the United Nations. I do not believe that the answer lies in the nature of the organisation we want to establish. I believe that what needs close examination are the conditions we face in the world as a whole. That having been done, we should then decide how the concept of a "snuff force" can fit in.
The General Assembly has changed in two main respects. First, it was in process of formation before the hydrogen bomb, and even before the atomic bomb, was developed. Thus, since its formation the situation has altered dramatically. Secondly, the organisation was in existence long before the newly emergent nations started to be admitted to it. It must be realised that the organisation came into being before man put into his hands the possibility of a rapid and early self-liquidation. The effect this has had on the organisation needs to be examined.
We live in a world basically dominated by two world blocs. There is what has been described in the dreadful phrase "a balance of terror". One of the troubles with the balance of terror is that decisions are taken out of the hands of diplomats and placed in the hands of no person at all, but into the structure of the weapons system. One thing we must achieve is to take decisions away from the mechanical response of weapons systems and place them again in the hands of diplomats. We must ask ourselves whether a snuff force, however it would operate—I have reservations about the phrase "like-minded States" —can assist us to do this.
I believe that it can assist us, because, although the danger is the existence of the weapons systems, no war is caused solely because of the existence of weapons systems. War comes about by a response to a flashpoint, a human situation which sets the mechanical situation 1094 in motion. It is when the flashpoint is reached that such a body could have some effect. It would give time for diplomacy and for conference. It could bring about a climate in which the world was no longer dominated by fear. The creation of such a force would not of itself solve the major problem which has developed in the two bloc confrontation, but it could remove the tensions and the danger of political escalation, the danger that a side issue might escalate into a two bloc confrontation.
§ Mr. Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)
Does the hon. Member think that if such a force existed today it would be able to handle the situations in Rhodesia and Indonesia to the satisfaction of those people who think about these things?
§ Mr. Buchan
I was going to deal with that point later, but if the hon. Member wishes I will deal with it now.
I think that one of the difficulties is what I have included in my notes as the "democratic difficulty". In Africa, there is not only the Rhodesian situation. This is not only an international situation, but an internal problem. If we move further south we meet the problem of South Africa. The emergent nations will be worried and mighty worried about the use of such a force in what they regard as a justifiable revolution in that country. When one is on the other side of a situation the perspective is different, and the fear may be that such a force could be used to preserve the status quo and sometimes an unjust status quo.
I am not clear that it can necessarily be used in such a situation, but I am clear that unless we take steps to develop the right kind of situation we shall never solve the problem. To be valuable it must be democratic. It must be reflective, particularly of the nonaligned nations. It must be universal and effective. It must be created in such a way that it can be moved in quickly. The situation in Cuba, for example, showed how little, when the crunch comes, the diplomats can affect the situation except those in the two main blocs. We stood aside and waited for the Cuban situation to develop. One would have hoped that, given this kind of force, time could be given for the diplomats to work. This is almost a plea for a field for manoeuvre.
§ Mr. Buchan
The parallel I was making was the failure of any other nation to have a decisive say, except for the two forces confronting each other. The fact that it has worked out successfully might remind us of the dangers of this kind of situation. The Congo situation is the kind of situation in which this approach could be useful. Despite my reservations, I hope that this is the kind of direction in which we can move in the future.
§ 5.14 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
May I first thank the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) for having made this debate possible. May I also add my congratulations to those of other hon. Members for his lucid and constructive speech and, perhaps not least, for its brevity. My closest experience of Private Members' Motions is of the two occasions when I was fortunate to come first in the Ballot, and the opening speech on each occasion lasted for at least an hour. The hon. Gentleman set a good example.
I should like to refer to a conversation that I had some days ago with the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke). I asked him whether he knew when the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) was likely to make his maiden speech and on what subject he would speak. He indicated that he thought the hon. Member would speak shortly and that it would be on a matter of which he had personal experience, probably foreign affairs. All I can say is that Darwen's theory has been Test's performance. The hon. Gentleman has drawn on his wide experience to give us a speech which I hope will be the first of many which the House will hear.
In the annual report to which he wrote an introduction some weeks before he died, Dag Hammarskjoeld said that in his view the member nations of the United Nations held one or two different concepts, both conflicting, as to what its purpose should be. He said that there 1096 are those who regarded it as a static conference machinery firmly anchored in the time-honoured philosophy of sovereign national states in armed competition. And, secondly, there are those who regarded it as a dynamic instrument to resolve conflicts or, better still, to forestall them from arising at all. From the debate it would appear to be the general view of those who have participated that the United Nations should be regarded in the later category and not the former. Indeed, I would say that it is the instrument for the ultimate organisation for a world authority.
Very often there are those who criticise the smaller nations in the United Nations. I do not intend to be more controversial than I can possibly help. I think this came out, however, in he speech by the Leader of the Opposition at Berwick. All I would say is that the criticisms of those nations would exist whether or not the United Nations existed. The advantage of the United Nations is that those criticisms are concentrated through the medium of the United Nations but they are not polarised to demand support for an Eastern or a a Western bloc.
The interesting thing is that new nations have been able to regard the United Nations as a forum for political expression without having to associate themselves with the Western or the Eastern bloc. Indeed, when the Troika dispute came about and Russia was clearly threatening the survival and the independence of the Secretary-General, it was the loyalty and pressure of the new neutral nations, as much as any, which forced Russia to withdraw from that brink. Many of the new nations have made a great contribution, which expressed in terms of their economic poten-tialities has been formidable, towards the United Nations forces. One thinks straightaway of the speed with which Ireland, Tunisia and oher nations were prepared to supply troops for the Congo expedition. Indeed, I would remind those who would criticise the smaller and newer nations of the visitor to the United Nations General Assembly at the time when Mr. Khrushchev was banging the desk with his shoe. He turned to his host and said, "Tell me, who are the new nations in this Assembly?"
Therefore, the critics of the United Nations, who are angry with those who 1097 challenge the national policies which others happen to think are right, are in a sense criticising nations who would in any event be there with their criticisms. But they are able to do this in a way in which they can dissociate themselves from the power blocs in world politics. This is tremendously important.
The Motion refers to reforms, and I should like to refer to one or two matters which have not perhaps been touched upon as much as the need for an international force. I should also like to mention a useful report which has been produced by a working party of the United Nations which deals with many of the matters which ought to be recalled. In the last Parliament I had the honour to be the Treasurer of the United Nations Parliamentary Group and it is, therefore, not inappropriate that I should turn to finance as the first matter with which I should deal because finance seems to me to be the whole crux of the problems facing the United Nations.
Unless the financial problem can be solved the United Nations will be powerless. In fact it will go bankrupt. The United Nations bond issue was a temporary palliative and nothing more. I agree with the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) when he says that the present confrontation between Russia and America over Russia's non-payment of dues, which at the moment amounts to about 52 million dollars, indicates that America is not prepared to go on paying the major share of the running expenses of the United Nations if other nations, like Russia and France, are not prepared to meet their obligations. In fairness to the United States, it should be said that it would be very difficult for the President of the United States to persuade the American Congress to continue to make appropriations if other Powers were in default. Therefore, one should have a fair amount of sympathy with the present position which the United States is taking over this matter.
I take the view that if it is to be permanently solvent the United Nations cannot exist without having some power of taxation. I believe that the United Nations should have some power of taxation, the rate to be agreed by the General Assembly, equivalent to between l½ per cent and 2 per cent. of the gross world product. It might well have to be apportioned 1098 by ability to pay, having some reference to population and so forth. I believe that we must reach a time when there is one budget for all expenditure.
The Congo expedition highlighted the position that if a member nation does not approve of a particular operation it may then, if not have the right, deem itself to have the right to opt out of its financial obligations. To regard this in the context of a member State, it would be a very odd situation if individual taxpayers in this country were prepared to refuse to pay their contribution on the ground that they disapproved of this or that measure. One might almost say that 3 million Liberals would be entitled to refuse to pay taxation until they were adequately represented—although there might well be something to be said for that. I am certain that we must have the knowledge that there is a regular sum of money coming in to finance police operations without having the Secretary-General flying all over the world, cap in hand. We must also put the technical fund and other specialist agencies on a financial footing. This is priority number one for the future of the United Nations.
§ Mr. Fell
I am grateful to the hon. Member for having given way to me at all. I am a little worried about what he has said. Everybody would agree with him to the extent that if all the nations of the United Nations agree in advance that they should pay X percentage or £X towards an operation or the upkeep of the United Nations, then whatever happens they should pay. I am a little worried whether the hon. Member is advocating that the United Nations should be able to say to member nations "You are going to pay X percentage or £X regardless of whether you believe or not in a particular operation".
§ Mr. Thorpe
The fact that it worries the hon. Member—and I do not mean this offensively—does not surprise me. It would be logical. We know his viewpoint on these matters.
I am only saying that if this international organisation is to work, all its members will have to agree to some decisions with which they are not wholeheartedly in agreement. This is the essence of national government and eventually it will become the essence of international government. All I say is 1099 that member nations will have to be assessed, and there must be machinery by which member states will know what is expected of them a year or two in advance, so that the Secretary-General can have some idea of the scope on which he must plan. There may well be peace-keeping operations which may offend the Katanga lobby or other lobbies in other parts of the world. This is inevitable, but if we are to have an organisation which has any future or any financial solvency this can only be on the basis of individual contribution.
§ Mr. Fellrose
§ Mr. Thorpe
Although the hon. Member prefaced his last intervention by an expression of his gratitude, he has had a fairly good innings and he may be able to catch your eye later, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
On the second point of a United Nations force, the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan), to whose speech I listened with great interest and much sympathy, underestimated the United Nations activities at the time of the Cuba crisis. It is perfectly true to say that it was a naked confrontation between the United States and Russia, but I think that it can be said that the Secretariat of the Secretary-General played a great part in providing a forum. I agree that one could have wished that there had been a United Nations presence which could have been flown in, but the Cuba affair was an indication of the success of the Secretariat in helping to iron out problems in any part of the world.
As the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) said, Korea, the Gaza Strip, West Irian and Suez were occasions in which the United Nations played a great part in peace-keeping operations. One has only to be in Jerusalem and see the barbed wire going down in the middle of the road to realise that only United Nations presence prevents the outbreak of what could be a serious incident on either side of the border.
I do not agree with hon. Members who feel that a process of earmarking troops is necessarily the way to build an international force. It may well be that we shall have to settle for this as second best, but, as the hon. Member for Wavertree has said, they must learn 1100 to train together and live together as a force. One of the great difficulties is that the forces which are earmarked are not necessarily the forces which the emergency demands. For example, I believe that the Canadians had paratroopers earmarked and filled up with various typhoid and yellow fever shots. They were ready to take off, but when the crisis arose they were not the type of troops required. We must therefore work towards the idea of international recruitment. I believe that on that point there is little difference between us.
One of the miracles of the United Nations has been the way in which we have built up an international civil service. When one talks to people in the United Nations who are attached to the various agencies one finds that they have become internationally minded. They seem to have dropped most of their national prejudices and have become international civil servants. This is comparable to a High Court judge who while practising at the Bar may have been violently partisan and have expressed strong political vows but who when he becomes a judge, though there are exceptions whom I will not mention, takes on a different persona. I think that this is true of international servants and this is the sort of dedication one would wish to expect from an international police force.
As for the General Assembly, we might well get away from the fact that everything has to be carried by a two-thirds majority vote. We could easily have a simple majority on issues like the admission of members, the credentials of delegates, and the election of nonpermanent members to serve on the Security Council This might well be something which could obtain general support. But having said that, we should have to consider the introduction of a system of weighted voting. As hon. Members have said, it is ludicrous that Malta, for example, should have the same say as India or, perhaps some day, China. This change might well lead to larger delegations but perhaps that would be acceptable and it might well be that those delegations, as they do in the Council of Europe, could represent different shades of opinion within member nations. To my mind, one of the interesting features of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg 1101 is that representatives there think not so much nationally as politically, and one sees the various political groups coming together and overcoming national barriers.
This leads me to the Security Council. The Security Council was created at a time when there was a handful of member nations, and we must accept that its numbers will have to be increased. I should like to see the number raised to about 18 members.
The great weakness in the Secretariat is that there is no deputy to the Secretary-General. It is vital that a deputy should be appointed to take over in difficult situations and to guarantee that we do not have the agony of delay which followed the death of Dag Hammerskjoeld some time ago.
The hon. Gentleman mentioned the International Court of Justice, and again I agree. The resolution of 1947 laid down that member nations should adopt the optional clause to submit to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice under Article 36, but there are many nations which have not adopted it. I hope that we shall see the International Court of Justice giving far more advisory opinions. The advisory opinion which it gave on the non-payment of dues was of great importance, and I believe that the use of advisory opinions can have the effect of taking certain political questions out of the forum of the United Nations and settling them on a quasi-legal basis—
§ Mr. Fell rose—
§ Mr. Thorpe
The hon. Gentleman must contain himself—taking much of the political sting out of what are very often quasi-legal problems.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
The hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) has made three interventions. I hope that he will take note of the conventions of the House.
§ Mr. Thorpe
Turning to the economic position, with the terrifying prospect that the world population will double in, 1102 perhaps, 40 years, it would be interesting to know the Government's views about giving greater assistance and impetus to the Development Decade. Our own contribution is very much less than 1 per cent. and very much lower in ratio to our national income than that of almost every other donor State on the Development Aid Committee. I speak subject to correction, and it will be interesting to hear about this.
It is generally agreed now that China must be a member of the United Nations. One cannot ignore one-fifth of the world.
I hope that the Government will take the initiative in regard to the Resolution passed by the General Assembly on 16th December 1963, about giving assistance to the victims of apartheid in South Africa. This was a new development for the United Nations and one which I warmly support.
For the future—perhaps this is too much in the realms of idealism—I should like to see the General Assembly consisting of the appointees of member nations, as at present, charged with the political issues, the issues which are likely to cause a flare-up in any part of the world, and I should like there to be also a directly elected assembly, elected by the people of the world, dealing with the cultural, economic and social problems which engage a valuable part of the United Nations activities. One would then have a bicameral system within the United Nations, and one could turn the secretariat into a small executive to carry out decisions. In this way, we could really work towards a world authority.
One of the first actions of Her Majesty's Government was to appoint as their representative a man who was widely respected at the United Nations and who has given great service both as a representative of this country and as a civil servant of the United Nations. His presence will, one feels, have the same effect as the appointment of Adlai Stevenson did in improving the image of his country at the United Nations. This country has played a great part in the United Nations, in taking political initiatives and in always being forthcoming with our contributions. We have had less happy experiences at times, which I shall not dwell on now, possibly voting in lobbies where many of us would have 1103 preferred not to otherwise. I hope that the Government will regard the reform of the United Nations, and particularly the reform of its finances, as one of the foremost problems which they have to face in foreign affairs. If they do that, the whole House will, I am sure, send to the noble Lord who now represents us its best wishes for his success and for the future of the United Nations.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)
One of the virtues of the Motion is that it directs attention to a situation as it exists now. I think that this is the first time that such a Motion has come before the House this Session. Whatever has happened in the past, whatever support should or should not have been given to the United Nations, we are asked to set that on one side and look at the situation as it is now. The Motion calls attention to the United Nations, "its failures and successes". This is quite right, but, if the matter were left there, we could probably debate those points for the rest of the Session. The Motion concentrates on a particular aspect of the subject raised in the latter part.
The first question I put is this. There is a reference tothe creation by like-minded States … of a small peace-keeping force on a permanent basis.I take it that this means by the United Nations as a whole, not by separate sections of like-minded States within it. If this is the intention, I imagine that there is no difference between us. One of the strange features of this debate so far has been that normal party divisions along the centre—with a little enclave on one side—have, so far as I can see, disappeared. We are all in favour of a radical reform of the United Nations, some of us being more in favour than others.
I welcome and support the Motion, particularly as it was moved by a representative from the City of Liverpool, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney). I have the honour to represent part of Liverpool, a seaport which, like its Members, looks outward, away from its own small environment and troubles, across the Atlantic and to the world as a whole. We have political differences in Liverpool, and it is seldom 1104 that all Members from Liverpool agree, but, when we do agree—and we seem to agree on this point—our agreement is the stronger because of, or in spite of, the differences which we have at certain times.
I have three points to raise, and in this respect my speech may be a little different from those of other hon. Members. I shall not try to tell the House what I think on this or that. I wish to raise points on which I want information, and I hope that succeeding speakers, notably those from the Front Benches, will be able to help me with answers.
We talk of the "United Nations", and we are inclined to assume that its nations are united rather than accept that the aim of our policy should be the creation of a situation in which they are united in fact, not just in name. As a name, "United Nations" is misleading.
When we talk of a "small peace-keeping force", are we thinking of a volunteer force, a sort of glorified Foreign Legion? Are we thinking of mercenaries—another name which seems to be developing an unpleasant meaning—or what are we thinking of? Are they to be national units?
§ Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)
We are in great danger of taking the word "mercenaries" entirely out of context just because a particular association happens to have got stuck to it. One could call them crusaders. They would still be mercenaries. They are, in fact, a volunteer force made up of people from different nations who have to be mercenaries because they have to be paid.
§ Mr. Ogden
That was the point I was making. The crusaders were not entirely as holy as we try to make out. The fact that one calls something a certain name does not mean that it is either good or bad.
Are we to say that we want national units seconded permanently or ready to be made available for particular occasions? What do we mean when we talk about a volunteer force of national units? If we are thinking of national units, are we prepared to give up some of our national sovereignty? The cry that we get from certain persons at certain times is about national sovereignty, prestige projects and so on.
1105 When we talk of a United Nations peace-keeping force, are we thinking of certain task forces which are in themselves independent? Will they use normal peace-time bases or will they require permanent bases of their own? If they require permanent bases in various parts of the world, are we prepared to give up some of our own bases? I think it would have been an excellent idea over the past five or ten years if we could have transformed some of our own bases into international United Nations bases. These are points on which I should like to hear the views of both sides.
Then there is the use of the force, provided that it comes into being at all. If it does so, will it be by invitation from member Governments, or will it have the right to go in whether or not it is invited by a particular national Government? If we talk about creating a United Nations force, are we decided on the terms on which it can be used? Will it override national Governments? Will it have its own nuclear arms? Is our aim that at some stage in the future it will be the only nuclear power?
If we think that the United Nations must be strengthened, we can achieve that only by giving up some of our own power and strength. At the same time, we must realise that, because we have been prepared to give up some of our strength, in the long run we shall be the stronger for it.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Sir Harry Legge-Bourke (Isle of Ely)
If every hon. Member approached the topic with the common sense that the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) has just done, how much better the United Nations would be! The hon. Member has put his finger on one point which I believe is of the greatest importance, the point stressed in the terms of the Motion tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney). He has stressed the importance of considering the issue of sovereignty. I think that sometimes the electorate and even some hon. Members forget that of all the matters concerned in politics none is more frequently concerned than sovereignty. Indeed, one could argue that politics is about sovereignty, be it the sovereignty of the individual, the 1106 sovereignty of the State, the sovereignty of Parliament and so on. Sovereignty is the vital issue.
Listening to the debate, I have been reminded of something which the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) could bear in mind, that what we are dealing with is "Not So Much a Programme or a Way of Life." A programme has never yet been conceived, and we have not yet devised a new way of life. We are still concerned with the sovereignty of the community and of our country and with whether or not the United Nations should have a sovereignty of its own. The hon. Member for West Derby was right to ask the questions that he did and right to ask those questions of the hon. Member for Devon, North when he puts forward the suggestion that we should have a permanent force and have these new powers given to the United Nations.
Are we in this country prepared to sacrifice more sovereignty than we have already had to surrender by force majeure? I am not. I have always believed that the electorate returns hon. Members to this House primarily to encourage one Government or another to increase the national sovereignty of our people as far as possible in the lifetime of a single Parliament.
§ Mr. Thorpe
If that is so, can the hon. Gentleman justify the fact that after the 1959 General Election, without any prior commitment, and, indeed, taking the contrary view, he supported a view which would have given Europe—I supported it—far greater sovereignty than anyone has ever thought we should be likely to hand over?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
The hon. Gentleman has got me wrong. I had always believed that France would prevent us going into Europe, but I believed that our nation had become so divided on the issue that we had to try. The miracle to me is that France let us go on trying so long.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I did my best to say that I never thought that it would work. Nevertheless, the country was still obviously divided about it. It cut right across all parties. There are members of the Liberal Party who go around being 1107 anti-Common Marketeers. All I say on that particular irrelevance is that nothing surrenders sovereignty until it is deliberately given away by this House and by Parliament, and it is the surrender of sovereignty that we have been forced to agree to that has weakened our bargaining power now.
I always feel that the United Nations is paved with very good intentions, but all too often the people who go there are those who were so aptly described by Mrs. Adlai Stevenson the last time her husband ran for President. In a book called "The Egghead and I" she wrote:When a man is unable to governHis wife, his children, his nurse,He takes a particular pleasureIn running the universe.I think that many of us in the House of Commons are also guilty of that sort of thing from time to time.
However well-intentioned men are today—and I would not for a moment question the sincerity of those who serve the United Nations—the issue that confronts us is: do we believe that the individual should be encouraged to be a better individual living more closely in line with the highest moral code, or not? Every time a Government is made bigger, every time an international agreement is welded into an international organisation, some people somewhere down the line, and often all too many, say "Very well, I can leave that with them and need not bother."
It is the besetting sin of democracy and of the world today that the stronger one makes a Government the more people think that they themselves need not bother as individuals. I believe that if we look back over the record of the United Nations we see the same thing happening. All too often we see the over-riding of the rights of the individual.
One of the biggest decisions which the United Nations ever took, and it was one which I did my best to prevent it taking in so far as one back bencher in opposition in the 1945 Parliament could possibly do so—it was one of the first decisions that it took, and it was one of the worst that it took so far as justice was concerned—was the one over Palestine. I see the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) sitting opposite. He and I have often 1108 debated this at great length in the past, and I do not want to go over all the ground that we have covered. However, I would emphasise that we all have to face this about the United Nations—and this has been said by men who have served at very high levels in the United Nations—that we may get out of the United Nations some decisions which will work but let no one suppose for a moment that they will be just, because they will not.
I have always believed that the only future that world peace has is a future based on justice and that if we try to jump over justice, or avoid it, or leave it on one side, however workable the decision may be, it will not be just, and, particularly, it will not be just to the individual citizens affected.
§ Sir Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. I disagree with his statement about Israel. Does not he agree that the example that is being set by Israel today is outstanding, as far as the United Nations is concerned, both culturally and in every other sense?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
The only people who can answer that question effectively are the 1 million or more Arab refugees. Until the problem of the refugees is settled, that decision by the United Nations will never be justified before posterity.
The hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals), who is not, I regret, in his place, proceeded to praise various members of the United Nations overseas forces or organisations for what they are doing on the Syrian frontier or for what they could have done in the Congo and elsewhere. But I wonder how many world disputes since 1945 would not have happened at all if demagogues had not known that there was a forum before which they could turn minor issues into world issues overnight.
This is a problem of the United Nations that we must face. Is the organisation not in itself an open encouragement to demagogues to misuse it? When they do misuse it, is there not grave danger of their blowing up into international issues what are really local problems?
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu
Does not the hon. Gentleman's argument about the United Nations also apply to Parliament?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
Of course, that is true. But that is no argument for taking an issue to a greater forum, although it may be an argument for keeping it away from this forum. This is one of the great problems democracy must face. The question is whether democracy works better because, automatically, anyone who has a demagogic nature can air an issue in public. I doubt whether this does result in democracy working better. If an hon. Member and I have a dispute with each other, is the best way of settling it to go into the nearest market place and ask the B.B.C., the Press and the newsreels to watch us? I do not believe that it is. I believe that we could probably solve some problems much better if we got together quietly and talked them over, perhaps even with a little alcoholic stimulant.
The speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) confirmed my worst fears about what goes on in the United Nations. I wonder whether any hon. Members have read the remarkable book "A Shade of Difference", by Allen Drury. It is a sequel to "Advise and Consent", of which an admirable film was made. I read the book with the greatest fascination. I think that M 7. Drury is a very experienced Washington correspondent with some idea of how the United Nations goes about its work.
What my hon. Friend says more than bears out the stories about the ramifications behind the scenes at the United Nations, and how any sensible decision emerges therefrom is an everlasting source of wonder. But how my hon. Friend can support this Motion I do not know. If his description of how things are done on the inside of the United Nations is true, then the United Nations is not fit to be put in charge of a peace-keeping force.
The main burden of the Motion is whether there should be a peace-keeping force permanently in existence and run by the United Nations. I say at once that to have such a force with the United Nations not possessed of sovereign power would be nonsense. If we want a force of that kind, then the United Nations has to be given sovereign political power in the use of the force.
1110 Who would exercise that power? Would it be the Security Council? But who are the members of the Security Council? They are representatives of countries some of which may be the countries against which the force might have to be used. The more one follows the logical consequences the more preposterous this suggestion becomes. No one would doubt the sincerity of my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree, in putting down his Motion, although he has Government experience which, one would have thought, would have deterred him. But I say to him that the Motion is a great deal more dangerous than it looks at first glance. He is really saying that he wants the United Nations to become a form of world government.
§ Mr. Tilney
I would ask my hon. Friend one question. Suppose this country had been unable to respond to President Makarios's request last Christmas for assistance in Cyprus, and suppose that there had been an international force available. Would my hon. Friend have denied the use of that international force and preferred a Turko-Greek war?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I am always careful about answering hypothetical questions which bear no relation to the reality of an event already past. An international force did not exist. Nor was it a question of British forces not being available. It may be that, had an international force existed, and had the United Nations been possessed of powers which it has not got today, I would have thought differently about the situation from what I think about it now after the event.
§ Mr. Tilney
Would my hon. Friend now therefore withdraw the United Nations Force and let the Greeks and Turks fight it out?
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
That is not my solution to the Cyprus problem. We are getting very wide in the debate. If my hon. Friend wishes to debate with me what I would do in Cyprus I answer that what he suggests in his question is not my solution. My belief is that the Cyprus problem is essentially political rather than military and that someone must keep peace long enough to enable a political decision to be arrived at. I leave it at that, except to add that I believe that Britain is the country most 1111 suitable to maintain law and order in Cyprus, difficult though that task has been, as we all know.
Now I return to the issue of a permanent standing force for the United Nations. Who would order its use? How would it be trained? Who would pay for it? How would it be manned? If Britain were to contribute manpower, how could we do it without imposing conscription again? These are all questions that must be answered by the Government, who, I understand, intend to accept the Motion. The House is entitled to know the answers.
In the present situation, the contributing countries to the United Nations, especially those who are members of the Security Council, could be those against which the force might be used. The United Nations, in its present form, is incapable, however, of managing a force of this kind. Therefore, do we want the United Nations to be reformed in such a way as to enable it to operate such a force? I hope that my earlier remarks have established the fact that I would not wish to see the United Nations so reformed.
I believe that international cooperation is the only possible way for the future of the world. But where is that co-operation to come from? Where are the foundations upon which it must be laid? The foundations are science and technology first of all, coupled with a trade policy which enables every country to be as strong as possible. There are not many things which the United Nations has done of which I approve, but there is one thing that it has done twice in the General Assembly.
In December, 1957, and August, 1958, the United Nations passed a resolution endorsing the five principles which had been drawn up by India and China and, I think, later subscribed to by the Soviet Union, which were as follows: mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty; non-aggression; non-interference in internal affairs of an economic, political or ideological character; equality and mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence. Those principles have twice been uanimously endorsed by the United Nations. The United Kingdom, the Soviet Union and the United States voted for them.
1112 What has been done to implement any of those principles? Virtually nothing. Just so long as countries go on using any international organisation—be it the United Nations or any other—for purposes inconsistent with those principles, just so long will that organisation endanger world peace rather than improve it. If we believe in the individual liberty of man, and if we believe that the more we tend to take away the responsibility of individuals the less likely they are to be ready to exercise a sense of responsibility, then it seems to me that what we want to do in order to encourage international co-operation is to stress the importance of the individual's approach to life and of the individual's sense of responsibility by individual people, by countries and by members of groupings.
However, the bigger we make it the more difficult it will be for the individual to preserve any self-respect, let alone act with individual responsibility.
§ Sir D. Glover
If my hon. Friend carried his argument to its logical conclusion, surely he would bring in a Bill tomorrow to disband the police force.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
This is exactly how the argument is distorted by those who are dedicated to internationalism.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
I am not suggesting for a moment that there is not need for machinery to deal with the scoundrel. We must have such machinery. The question is: how do we control it? That is the issue here. The question before us is whether the United Nations, by its past conduct, has shown itself fit to do this, and my argument is that it has not, tragic though that is.
I was weaned in war, like a great many hon. Members. I have lost members of my family in war, as I know many hon. Members have. I detest war with a loathing which I defy anybody to match. However, if I felt that the United Nations was the best hope of preserving peace, I would support it with all the vigour at my command. All that I am now prepared to do is to say this: as long as the United Nations exists, Britain must be a member of it. If while a member of it 1113 Britain can improve the behaviour of the people in it, well and good, and all power to us for being able to do it.
I imagine that from what I have said no one will believe that my hopes that we shall succeed are particularly sanguine. More is the pity. But let us not imagine that it is safe for the world to go on trusting in the United Nations, judging it only by its past record, and not facing the realities of our time. The best thing that we can do to strengthen the peace of the world is not to throw our whole concept of national sovereignty into the international melting pot. Rather it is to strengthen our own forces and to exercise our influence as strongly as we can.
The only hope that we have of doing that is to ensure that we have a sound economy so that we can afford to do it. The strength of a nation's foreign policy depends on the strength of its economy. So long as we have trade policies which are outdated—and heaven knows ours are that—and so long as our economy is geared less efficiently than modern science and technology would enable it to be, so long are we endangering the peace of this country and of the world. However good the international organisation, nothing is a substitute for what we ourselves can do, and in doing it we ought to exercise our own personal sense of responsibility.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I must apologise to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who moved the Motion—he will read this in HANSARD perhaps—that I could not be here to listen to his speech. I was taking part in a luncheon in honour of Mr. Judd, who is retiring from the post of Director-General of the United Nations Association. I hope the hon. Gentleman will regard that as an appropriate and sufficient explanation.
I will not comment much on what the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) said, although in the few and scattered remarks which I can make by ten-past six I will try to answer one or two of his most important questions. He will not expect many hon. Members to agree with his essay in nihilism.
1114 I should like to say how much I share the view of the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), who speaks with such authority from the Liberal bench, about the Security Council and, as I think, the Economic and Social Council, too. The Security Council should now be increased in number. I hope that the British delegation will propose and urge that in the Assembly which has begun. I saw the Council of the League of Nations increased from eight to ten and then to fifteen members. It was a far more effective body when it was larger. I see no reason why the Security Council's number should not be increased to 18, which the hon. Gentleman proposed. I would increase the number of the Economic and Social Council to 20 or 25. I believe that its long sessions would benefit by a wider representation of the almost 120 members of the United Nations.
All the United Nation's work, in the General Assembly and, as I think, in the Security Council and its agencies, is parliamentary work and should be done, not by civil servants—it is not fair on them—but by people with parliamentary experience and training. As for demagogues, I would say to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely that in any assembly demagogues pretty quickly find their level, and in the General Assembly more quickly than elsewhere.
I hope that the Minister of State who is to reply to the debate will go to the General Assembly. I am sorry that he is not there now. I understand that the Opposition would give him a pair. I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Sir G. de Freitas), who has been nominated to the delegation, will likewise go. It is planned that he should go only in the Parliamentary Recess, but I cannot believe that the Opposition would not give him likewise a pair.
On finance, I hope that hon. Members will make a great effort to try to get into true perspective the money which we spend on the United Nations—£12 million a year, or if one adds the financial institutions in Washington, £23 million. But when one adds the financial institutions, as the Leader of the Opposition did in the summer, we must remember that they saved us from disaster after Suez and that they are helping to save us from disaster now. We get an immense return for the trifling sums which we spend.
1115 I read some words of the Secretary-General, in which he states that the cash position is "precarious" and that there is a "pressing need" to meet new demands by member States for expanding work programmes. It is "not possible to find in mere budget reductions a remedy for the grave financial situation." On the contrary, adds the Secretary-General, member States must be prepared to accepta reasonable rate of increase in the annual budget estimates".For an international force there are already contingents totalling 3,000, a balanced force organised by the Scandinavians. The Dutch and Canadians are following suit. Without any amendment of the Charter, the Secretary-General can recruit a general staff on terms which put them in the same position as the Secretariat, with exclusive loyalty to the United Nations alone. I was present at a conference in Moscow when a Labour and a Conservative Member jointly proposed that system to the Russians. Our Russian colleagues—they were not Ministers, but they were representative people—did not say "No".
I would say to the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) that such a force can be controlled, as it has been controlled, by a committee of the General Assembly. What happened over Suez, what happened over the Congo and what is happening in Cyprus? There is control by a committee of the General Assembly and it works, above all, on disarmament, quite well. It is on these developments that, I believe, future peace depends.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir (Aberdeen, South)
We are indebted to my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who has given us a chance to debate United Nations reform. I think that the whole House would wish me in particular to say how much we enjoyed the maiden speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Test Division of Southampton (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke). I am sure that his brother, who already sits in this House, will have been particularly proud of him today. My hon. Friend seemed remarkably cool in delivering a maiden speech, much less unworried than I feel at this my first 1116 canter over the foreign affairs course from this Box.
My hon. Friend the Member for Test said that he had considerable experience of serving at the United Nations. Having had the luck myself to be a delegate to the Assembly in 1960 and 1961, I agree with my hon. Friend that it helps to give one an insight into the problems which are included in the Motion which is before the House, namely, the failures and the successes of the United Nations and the need for certain reforms.
I am glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree spoke in particular of the successful operations of the United Nations, namely, those of the specialised agencies, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart). My hon. Friend served on the Third Committee, as I did, but he must have been quite a nuisance if he spent, with others, 150 hours on one subject. The specialised agencies undertake valuable work, which does not often command the headlines, and they command considerable sums of money.
The right hon. and learned Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) has told us that the total United Kingdom contribution to all purposes of the United Nations is nearly £24 million. He proposed the enlargement of the various agencies to reflect the growing membership of the United Nations. When we on this side of the House had responsibility for the United Kingdom delegation, we made exactly that proposal, but, as the whole House knows, Russia blocks any suggestion of this kind until Communist China is seated.
The detailed part of the Motion refers to the need for a small peace-keeping force on a permanent basis. On this, I must from this bench express considerable reservations, as has been done from both sides of the House. I suggest, however, that the purpose underlying the Motion is acceptable, because this was the original intention of the founders of the United Nations and Chapter VII of the Charter lays down the methods by which such a force could be created.
The United Nations really had only one great crusade, and that was Korea. That operation was possible only because, in the first place, Russia walked out of the Security Council and did not 1117 exercise her veto; secondly, the aggression was reported by United Nations observers on the spot; and thirdly, American troops were at once available, backed by a Commonwealth force. After that, the Security Council, meant to be the Cabinet of the world, became deadlocked by the Russian veto. That was how the "Uniting for Peace" Resolution was born whereby power passed to the Assembly.
The Motion draws attention to the ideas of the Canadian Prime Minister on a permanent peace-keeping force. The United Nations is fortunate in having so loyal and distinguished a supporter, untiring in his efforts, to meet the practical and political problems of any form of peace-keeping force. Mr. Pearson recognises that it would be best if the United Nations could carry out the obligations in this respect laid down by the Charter, but he also realises, that for various reasons, these are unlikely to be achieved.
He therefore suggests that a few "middle" Powers should agree to combine in a force outside the United Nations but within the purposes of the Charter; that those countries which subscribe would commit forces over and above their standing commitments; and that those forces would have their own military planning staff, who would be kept ready to respond to a resolution from either the Security Council or the Assembly to keep the peace in any country which requested their presence.
My hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree has suggested certain variants and has called in particular for a force, part of which might be a Commonwealth force, and recruited on the basis of volunteers, as was done for the French Foreign Legion. It is, therefore, important to recognise at once the difference between the permanent powerful force for the enforcement of peace at outlined in the Charter and the sugestion of Mr. Pearson, those also from certain Scandinavian countries and those of my hon. Friend. This appeared to be recognised particularly by the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals). He thought, as I certainly do, that the smaller forces which are really the subject of today's Motion could undertake only limited police duties in the world as it is today—what my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree called: "to meet small posses of unrest".
1118 It was proposed by the Canadian Prime Minister that the "middle" Powers should undertake these duties because in certain circumstances the great Powers are not acceptable. The whole House will recognise that if any force is to undertake these duties, a force comprised of "middle" Powers could not control or contain the great Powers. The disparity in strength between the "middle" and great Powers becomes greater as the months pass. Since the United Nations Charter was devised and it was assumed that the permanent members of the Security Council would always be united, nuclear power has altered for ever the balance of power. This was particularly recognised by the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). It has won an uneasy peace and it is today the surest way of protecting civilised society from surrender or war. Therefore, until a real detente is won—an agreement to disagree—followed by gradual and fair measures of disarmament, the small international police force cannot grow into the greater peace-keeping force of the United Nations Charter.
Several hon. Members, in all parts of the House, have recognised that that small force would meet many difficulties. A notable example on this side of the House was the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke), who appeared to be completely against such a force. I mention also the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) and the hon. Member for Renfrew, West (Mr. Buchan).
There are the practical problems of training men together from six or more "middle" or uncommitted countries—for instance, to choose a base which is acceptable to all, to learn widely differing techniques of operations in jungle or desert, logistics and civil administration. Above all, there are the acute problems of political control: how to be sure that the internal responsibilities of member States are not violated; that Governments are not kept in being who would otherwise be deposed. Even the "middle" power of Canada, as her Prime Minister makes clear, has the problem of acceptance.
I remember that when the Canadian troops were to go to the United Nations force in Suez General Burns described the conversation that he had with President Nasser, and he relates how the latter 1119 had some misgiving about Canadian participation because he said:Canadian soldiers were dressed like British soldiers and were subjects of the same Queen".This, he thought, would be confusing in the extreme to the Egyptians, and so it shows that even the Queen's Own Rifles of Canada sometimes have the problems of acceptance. Above all, there is the tenuous political control over the operations of a far-flung force which must take decisions on the ground, yet must receive guidance, even directives, from the Secretary-General in New York who at these times is invested with the powers that often a Roman Emperor was never given. Perhaps it would be appropriate at this time if I said that I am sure on behalf of all hon. Members we hope that the Secretary-General U Thant will soon be on the way to recovery from his illness.
Even, of course, the recruiting of a foreign legion has special problems. The French Foreign Legion, with the tradition of 130 years, did not demand French nationality. In 1943, in North Africa, when the Legion faced the German Army, its German members were offered postings to the rear if they wished, rather than fight their own nationals, and many did exactly that.
Then there is the serious problem of finance. If this small peace-keeping Force is only to be subscribed to by those who joined, as the Canadian Prime Minister suggests, with no doubt acceptable voluntary contribution, does it not mean that the "middle" or so-called uncommitted nations, which form its ranks, will always be head over heels in debt? It is the present Secretary-General who said at Denver in April of this yearIt is often suggested that the time has come for a permanent international peace-keeping Force to be established under the United Nations. Obviously this would be a great step forward, but I do not believe that the time has yet come for such a radical advance.However, in this country we have always responded to the United Nations' call for help. With our world commitments, I doubt whether we would ever be able to allocate particular units in advance, and I think that it would be of particular interest to hear from the Minister of State tonight whether he feels that the new Government could allocate particular units in advance, or, if not, whether they 1120 would consider that which we considered, which was whether we could have ready certain supporting columns which would meet the difficulty of the non-acceptance of one of the great powers. We have, of course, called several times for the strengthening of the Secretary-General's military staff, and we are the second largest contributor to the United Nations finances for peace-keeping operations.
Today I asked a Parliamentary Question of the Minister of State on Her Majesty's Government's attitude to Article 19 of the Charter which lays down that any member State which is over two years in arrears for subscriptions to the United Nations for all purposes shall be deprived of their vote. I think that the House as a whole must have been impressed by the firmness of the Minister of State's assurance that the Government accepted the principle that all operations, whether peace-keeping or not, as laid down by the International Court of Justice were in fact a burden on the assessment of individual nations.
When I went on to ask the Minister of State whether he could give more details of what has happened during the two months' postponement, he said that it was a very difficult and delicate matter and he did not feel at the moment able to enlarge upon it. I suggest to this House that when we have a debate on the United Nations reform, of which one of the major problems is, of course, finance, the Government should be, able to give us some idea of what they will do during the next two months. What will happen, for instance, to their attitude to the Afro-Asian proposal, 59 nations in all, that this subject shall be shelved completely, not discussed again, in order that the Assembly shall vote and work normally? Surely this House is entitled now, as always, to have some knowledge of what is the thinking of the Government.
I ask the Minister of State to address himself to this problem when he comes to reply, because these are vital matters and must affect any considerations for a police force which is under discussion now. Of course, this is a new situation. The Government have appointed a Minister of State in the person of Lord Caradon to represent this country at the United Nations, and then seem to imply that this is an improvement on previous arrangements. But we had a permanent ambassador who was there all the time, 1121 and we sent, in addition, a Minister of State to lead delegations at the United Nations, quite apart from any invitation to the Foreign Secretary. I would, therefore, say that the position of Britain, represented only by a Minister of State and not by an ambassador and a Minister of State, has in fact been demoted and not enhanced, as in our time.
I shall not speak longer on this issue, except to say that I think we should all agree against assigning to the United Nations powers which are beyond its capacity. Because the United Nations must be saved from its friends as well as its foes. After all, the Charter makes plain that the United Nations is an association of sovereign States. It is not a sovereign body in itself; it is not even an alliance.
The United Nations is still young, but nineteen years old. For myself, I am quite sure that it is a unique forum in which one can work with the leaders and potential leaders of 115 countries in a way in which one cannot conceive that one could otherwise do so. To all those who express doubts about the United Nations, surely it is a remarkable achievement that so many countries of differing beliefs and race can agree to meet and debate those things about which they care most. If we seem only to edge but very slowly towards a mutual perception of our common needs, at least we try, and, perhaps, by so doing, we shall at last learn to accept each other for what we are.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Thomson)
It is quite clear from the immense interest which has been shown in this debate that the whole House is grateful to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) for giving it the opportunity to debate this Motion, and, if I may say so, for the extremely thoughtful and forward-looking way in which he introduced it.
Like the noble Lady the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) and other hon. Members who have spoken in the debate, I also would like to offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for Southampton, Test (Sir J. Fletcher-Cooke) on his excellent maiden speech. It seemed to me to be thoughtful and witty and urbane and a pleasure to listen 1122 to. He is a most distinguished former overseas civil servant, and I am quite sure, in the light of his speech, that we all look forward to hearing from him again and to his becoming an equally distinguished Member of this House.
The Government are particularly glad that the first foreign affairs debate in the new Parliament should be devoted to the subject of the future of the United Nations and to the possibility of its growth and its becoming a more effective world peace-keeping authority. The United Nations, as the House, I think, knows, enjoys a central place in our thinking about Britain's foreign policy. That is evidenced by the fact that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, immediately on assuming office, made special appointments in the new Government of a Minister of State to lead the United Kingdom delegation to the United Nations and a Minister of State to lead the team at disarmament talks.
The noble Lady has begged leave to doubt whether this is an improvement on the arrangements under the previous Government. I would only say that perhaps the best immediate judges are those who are actively participating in the affairs of the United Nations themselves, and certainly these appointments have roused a great deal of interest and enthusiasm at the United Nations as an earnest of the desire of the new British Government to support and strengthen the work of the organisation for peace.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas (Conway)
Was not my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeen, South (Lady Tweedsmuir) right when she said that the effect of the appointment of a Minister of State to the United Nations means that he has replaced a grade 1 ambassador and that that, in turn means that our representation in the United Nations will be a grade 1 ambassador less?
§ Mr. Thomson
The hon. Gentleman is simply repeating, perhaps with less charity, the arguments we have had from the noble Lady. I, for my part, am saying that as of this moment the best way to judge this matter is by the kind of impact there has been at the United Nations itself. I do not think that there can be any doubt, looking at the matter objectively and apart from personal opinion, that these changes have been extremely welcome at the United 1123 Nations, or that it is accepted there that the new British Government in fact, in their all-over thinking on foreign affairs, give greater emphasis to the United Nations than the previous Government did. I think that this is a fact, and it is now up to us to live up to those hopes which we have inspired at the United Nations.
No country, in our view, has a greater interest in peaceful, stable and prosperous conditions throughout the world than the United Kingdom. Ever since the First World War, it has been clear that a peaceful and prosperous world can be secured only by developing an international instrument capable of preventing conflict, and I think that this is the historical evidence which weighs so heavily against the arguments put by the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke). We believe, for our part, that it is only through the United Nations that such a system of international prevention of conflict can be developed. We believe that the United Nations can be a powerful instrument for constructive change in the world. We believe it is one of the most important ways in which the gap between the rich and poor nations of the world, of which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wavertree spoke in his opening speech, can be bridged.
I have been asked by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) to give some more information about what the Government are doing about our contributions to the United Nations development decade. Despite our present economic difficulties, and despite the fact that there is a dispute over the future financing of the United Nations, the Government have already pledged themselves to increase their contributions to the United Nations technical assistance programmes.
We are, in fact, the second largest contributor to the Development Decade programmes of the United Nations. I can tell the hon. Member for Devon, North that, according to the United Nations' definition in regard to a country's giving 1 per cent. of its gross national product for aid policies, we are just about the 1 per cent. mark. It is true that France does better than we do, but we do much better than most other major Western 1124 countries, and I think that that is the general position.
Now, what I have said about the importance we attach to the United Nations and about how its support is in the interests of this country ought, I think, to be so obvious that it hardly needs stating, but this is why I was particularly glad that the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Ely intervened in this debate. I think that the danger of debates in this House about the United Nations is that they attract nothing but the enthusiasts for the United Nations and give less than an accurate impression at the time of the opinion throughout the House of Commons.
I would not have stated the obvious if it had not been that we do find it difficult, as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Devon, North reminded us, to forget the speech which the present Leader of the Opposition made at Berwick, when he was Foreign Secretary in 1961, in which, with a great deal of close reasoning, he openly doubted whether it could be in Britain's interest to support the United Nations.
§ Lady Tweedsmuir
Will not the Minister agree that that was a very balanced speech? It surely is not right that this country, above all, should uncritically accept everything the United Nations does? Criticism can be friendly. That was exactly what it was, and it was constructive, too.
§ Mr. Thomson
I have just finished reading that speech again, very carefully. It was a very considered speech. It was a speech which did us immense discredit in the eyes of the world. There is no doubt about this at all.
I was about to go on to say that I was glad to notice that neither in the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wavertree, nor in the speech we have just listened to from the noble Lady on the Opposition Front Bench, was there any sign that those views of the present Leader of the Opposition in 1961 are still being reflected. There was some grumbling from below the Gangway, but I hope that we can take this to be a sign that the opinion of the Conservative Party about the United Nations has significantly shifted, and that the Government, when they proceed to develop their programmes for strengthening the authority of the 1125 United Nations and for a greater and more imaginative participation in the work of the United Nations, will enjoy the support of the Opposition.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
Was not the main criticism made in my right hon. Friend's speech to condemn a tendency of certain members of the United Nations to advocate force for the resolution of conflicts between nations, and would not the hon. Gentleman agree that any such tendency should be condemned?
§ Mr. Thomson
I do not want to get too much bogged down in an attitude I had hoped the Conservative Party was leaving behind, but the point of the speech to which my attention was drawn was this, that the Leader of the Opposition said:This question which many sober and responsible observers of the practice of the United Nations are asking is, whether we can continue to urge support of the United Nations and whether the United Nations of the authors of the Charter has had its day.Those are extremely grave words to be used by the Foreign Secretary of Britain.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas
The hon. Gentleman is not being fair, in that he is only reading an isolated passage from a very well-considered speech. In fact, the matter which my right hon. Friend condemned most and criticised was, as I say, the tendency of certain members of the United Nations to advocate, through resolutions of the United Nations, force for the settlement of disputes between nations.—[HON. MEMBERS: "Suez."]— This was, in particular, about a resolution over Goa.
§ Mr. Thomson
I think that all members of the United Nations have their faults, in terms of their record of support of that organisation and I do not want to make an unduly controversial speech. But I do believe that the Leader of the Opposition's speech showed lack of an imaginative response to the changing nature of the United Nations and to the changing nature of the world in which we have to live and in which I think Britain has an immensely constructive contribution to make.
While, admittedly, the United Nations remains an imperfect preserver of peace, we in this country must continue to safeguard cur own interests and security in association with our allies, and consistent 1126 with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. But let there be no uncertainty on this point: the Government do not belong to the doubters or fainthearts about the United Nations. We believe that it is the hope of the human race, and we shall work constantly to strengthen its work for peacekeeping, for disarmament and for economic development.
We shall be ready at any time to look at proposals, which are practicable, in agreement with our friends and allies, to improve the Charter and organisation of the United Nations. It is the Government's particular objective to do everything they can to strengthen the peace-keeping capacity of the United Nations.
Although, in our view, the previous Government may not always have fully entered into the spirit of the United Nations, it must be said in all fairness that all British Governments have always observed the letter of their financial obligations to the organisation. In the past, we have paid our full share of the assessed contributions and have also made voluntary payments to peacekeeping operations which have taken place so far.
We are playing a prominent part in Cyprus. In addition to providing troops and their support, the present Government have recently agreed to airlift another national contingent free of charge as an additional contribution to this United Nations' effort. I should like to pay tribute to our troops in Cyprus in their r rôle as United Nations' soldiers. It has not often been an easy rôle but they have shown characteristic patience, cool-headedness and good humour, and we in the House are proud of them.
It would be idle to pretend that it will be easy to work out an effective peacekeeping system. The conflicting and strong views of all members of the United Nations have to be reconciled. The Soviet view is that peacekeeping lies within the sole purview of the Security Council. Our view is that the Security Council has a primary responsibility for peacekeeping, but that it must be possible for the General Assembly to act if the Security Council fails to do so. This is the root of the present political and financial crisis. The Soviet Union and its allies are refusing to pay their share of the expenses of the peacekeeping 1127 operations in the Middle East and the Congo. As the hon. Member for Devon, North indicated, the General Assembly upheld with a large majority the advisory opinion of the International Court that these expenses of these peace-keepings operations should be considered expenses of the organisation.
As I explained at Question Time this afternoon, the Soviet Union is over two years in arrears in its payments, and under Article 19 of the Charter in our view is liable to lose its vote in the General Assembly. I want to emphasise to the House that in our view this is not a cold war problem, and we are not approaching it as such. It is a vital matter of principle for all who believe in the strengthening of the United Nations. We believe in the collective financial responsibility of the United Nations and the right of the General Assembly to assess the contributions of member States.
At present, the General Assembly is in session in New York. The noble Lady pressed me to go into greater detail than I did earlier this afternoon, but I hope that she will understand that my reticence to go into detail is simply a desire, which I am sure the House shares, that the negotiations going on at present should come to a successful conclusion, There is an understanding to the effect that issues other than those which can be disposed of without objection will not be raised while the general debate proceeds. In close co-operation with our friends, we are trying to reconcile those opposing views which I have mentioned in the negotiations which are taking place. With the United States, we put joint proposals to the Soviet Union as far back as last March.
Her Majesty's Government are working on three lines. First, we are seeking a solution of the immediate financial crisis, without which no progress can be made. This involves not only clearing up the legacy of the past but also making satisfactory arrangements for the future. This means an agreed solution to the problem of payments for operations with which certain members do not agree. We wish—I emphasise again—to achieve a settlement which will not be a victory over the Soviet Union but which will be seen as a success for the United Nations as a whole.
1128 Secondly, we see the need for the strengthening of the permanent United Nations headquarters military staff, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Dover (Mr. Ennals) referred. As the Secretary-General said in the introduction to his annual report, there is much which needs to be done to ensure better, more efficient and more economical peace-keeping operations in the future. In our view, this is a task for an enlarged military staff. At present, it is too small for this purpose, although its achievements under the direction of General Rikhye have been remarkable, given this lack of resources.
Thirdly, we are giving wholehearted encouragement to those countries which have earmarked forces for United Nations duties. The Canadian Government, which has been in the lead in this matter. was host to an international meeting on United Nations peace keeping in Ottawa from 2nd November to 6th November. Twenty-two countries which had contributed to United Nations peace-keeping operations took part in this working meeting on the technical and military aspects of peace keeping.
As the noble Lady has explained, we could not be a participant at this meeting because the permanent members of the Security Council were not taking part in the conference. But we regard the conference as of the greatest importance and, like the noble Lady, we very much support the initiative of the Prime Minister of Canada in this matter.
While we are at the moment playing our full part in United Nations peace-keeping through our participation in the Cyprus operations, we are also looking into what it would be possible for Britain to do in this respect in the future. This is a matter about which the noble Lady asked me for further information. She will appreciate that what we can do has to be agreed with our friends and has to be agreed with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. We are anxious to do only what the United Nations feels that it is helpful for Britain to do, but we are studying closely ways in which this country may make assistance more readily available when required for United Nations peace-keeping operations, with particular emphasis on the provision of logistic support. Lord Caradon, at the United Nations, is keeping in the closest 1129 touch with Commonwealth representatives on this and other United Nations problems.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
Will the hon. Member go a little further and answer this question? If the present recruiting programme for the Armed Forces which we require for our own safety does not produce the number of men needed, are the Government seriously considering whether they would be prepared to conscript men to serve with the United Nations?
§ Mr. Thomson
I hoped that we might avoid getting on to that issue. The Government have said that we do not believe that the kind of military commitment which faces this country, either in the national sense or in terms of a United Nations commitment, involves any question of conscription.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way, because I have been trying to raise this among other matters for the last three hours. It concerns Chapter VII of the Charter. That chapter includes the forcible sanction machinery which, as the House knows, cannot be put into operation unless and until special agreements have been entered into by the five Powers. I have been told for several years now that Chapter VII cannot be implemented because the Russians refuse to enter into those agreements; and that was the position until last July. But on 10th July last there was a letter—I have a copy in my hand—from the Russian representative to the Secretary-General advocating that these special agreements should be entered into. What are the Government's views in response to that offer?
§ Mr. Thomson
I am sorry, but I should require notice of that question. Perhaps the hon. Member would care to put it down on the Order Paper, if he wishes. Otherwise, I shall write to him fully at the conclusion of the debate.
The Motion speaks of setting up a permanent international force which would be ready for immediate employment in areas of actual or potential conflict. As the noble Lady said, we must first of all draw a distinction between the kind of force involved. On 1130 the one hand, there is the force which would ultimately be used as a peace enforcement force, by the United Nations and which could be provided only after the achievement of a very substantial degree of disarmament—the kind of force which could intervene in the great Powers' struggles. One must try to distinguish between that, on the one hand, and what one regards as a fire brigade force, on the other. There has been general agreement in the debate that what we are discussing is the second type of force.
Even with this more limited type of force one must draw a second distinction—between a permanent force, directly recruited, and a force built up on the basis of standby arrangements by the earmarking of forces by members of the United Nations. The noble Lady set this out in her speech extremely clearly. As to a permanent force for fire brigade purposes, this is the ultimate aim which Her Majesty's Government fully support. We are urgently seeking means to move towards this.
However, both the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Prime Minister of Canada, who are both referred to in the Motion, have themselves said that they consider that the time is not yet practicable for the achievement of that kind of permanent force. Mr. Pearson has proposed, as a next best—and I think that it is conceded to be a second best—that all member Governments should have elements in their armed services which are earmarked, trained and equipped for United Nations service. That is the standby force I have been mentioning.
A standby force of this character seems to us at present the most practical way of making progress, especially if it could be combined with a strengthening of the headquarters members of the United Nations military staff. The Secretary-General has stated that we must strengthen the system we have and develop the means which are currently at our disposal to deal with present dangers. This, as I have said, is the approach being made by Her Majesty's Government. We will pursue this aim, not in any starry-eyed or head-in-the-air way that ignores the rocks on the path we must tread, but persistently and boldly.
1131 Apart from the immediate financial problems, there are immense practical difficulties. As U Thant stressed, if one were to move towards a permanent international force this would, as the hon. Member for the Isle of Ely pointed out, involve a substantial surrender of sovereignty by nations.
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
I appreciate my hon. Friend's point about having standby forces comprised of various nations under the United Nations. Would such a force ultimately become, if not soon become, a mixed-manned force? Would my hon. Friend go so far as now to subscribe to the idea that if there were standby forces of all nations within the United Nations, those forces would eventually comprise a mixed-manned force?
§ Mr. Thomson
There are all sorts of technical variations involved in this. Certainly a permanent force would be a mixed-manned force. It would be a force not of mercenaries but of crusaders, a word which has fortunately crept into the debate.
§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
My hon. Friend has been talking about a standby force which might be used for what he described as fire brigade activities. As most people, when talking about fire brigade activities, generally think of military or police force activities in Asia, Africa and Latin America—in other words, the third world—can my hon. Friend say what consultations have taken place with the countries in the third world concerning the possible use of such a force and the circumstances in which it might be used?
§ Mr. Thomson
These kind of consultations are going on actively at the United Nations. One of the advantages of having a man with the record and distinction of my noble Friend, Lord Caradon, is that he has a great degree of good will among those members of the United Nations which my hon. Friend mentioned. But we cannot make practical progress until the immediate financial problems of the United Nations have been got out of the way.
I was saying that the problems involved in building up this international force present difficulties of very great complexity. They involve a great deal of 1132 study about how such a force would be directed, its basis in international law, its composition, the rules for its use and the evolution of an accepted body of international law on the basis of which it would operate.
These are a few of the difficulties which require much study. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu) developed some of the difficulties in his speech. He faced up to some of them in arguing that, in the end, the operation of an international force of this character involves an apparatus of world law in its enforcement as well as in its military intervention. These matters will require a great deal of study.
All these problems must be solved if we are to achieve a world which is safe for humanity. We believe that we will do this by building on what has already been achieved, by building with all the ingenuity and energy we possess. We believe that this country still has an immense influence in the world in these matters and a great contribution to make in constructive peace making through the U.N.
As a first step, we hope to help in setting up a workable system using national, earmarked contingents which will be able to swing into action to deal with crises such as the recent tragedy in the Congo.
§ Mr. R. A. Butler (Saffron Walden)
When the hon. Gentleman refers to earmarked contingents, does he mean that we will earmark contingents of our Army here?
§ Mr. Thomson
No, Sir. I have not gone as far as that. I thought that I had explained that we were fully supporting the work that was being done by the Prime Minister of Canada and were actively exploring whether we can assist in this work in a way that is suitable to the U.N. in particular by looking at the possibility of providing logistic support. That is where the matter stands at present.
I make no apology for ending this extremely interesting and useful debate by quoting from the manifesto on which the present Government were elected just over 50 days ago:For us"—1133 we said—world government is the final objective—and the United Nations the chosen instrument by which the world can move away from the anarchy of power politics towards the creation of a genuine World community and the rule of law.It is in the spirit of that extract that I welcome the Motion and recommend the House to accept it.
§ Question put and agreed to.
That this House, noting the faults and successes of the United Nations and the view of its Secretary-General that, if it is to have a future, the United Nations must assume some of the attributes of a State, in particular the means to act in areas of actual or potential conflict, calls attention to the need for reforms in the United Nations in particular by the creation by like minded States, as suggested by the Prime Minister of Canada, of a small peace-keeping force on a permanent basis.