§ 4.1 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. R. A. Butler)
I hope that in this debate we shall be realistic and take note of some of the fundamental changes which are taking place in the world. Our diplomacy must deal with the problems of the future and not of the past. In the Communist world, we are witnessing de-Stalinisation and heightened friction. Meanwhile, we in the West have been through a rapid sequence of decolonisation coinciding with a period of greatly reinforced allied strength.
All this period of movement has presented a great challenge to our diplomacy, which we have kept flexible and resourceful. These qualities have been very much needed since, for our size and resources, we have become deeply involved in a variety of testing situations to a more widespread extent than any other Power, including the two colossi, the United States of America and the U.S.S.R. With the support of the House, it is my conviction that we shall emerge from these testing situations with credit.
I should like to pay a tribute to our allies and to the alliances which have been such a great help to us in this period and will be so in the future. I should also like to refer to Anglo-American solidarity, to which I should like to pay a special tribute since I have enjoyed so much of the friendship and help of our American colleagues.
In this debate, much of the interest will centre on the circumference, whether in the Far East, Indo-China, Aden or the Eastern Mediterranean, but I will deal first with the centre. At the centre, for more than a decade the West has been preoccupied with building up a reliable defence against threats to the security and integrity of our American and European N.A.T.O. allies. These threats culminated in the Berlin and Cuba crises. They were met with strong resolution and a refusal to be flurried. We can now legitimately say, and I say so after attending two N.A.T.O. conferences, that the issue of the main confrontation is no longer in doubt provided that we maintain our defensive power. This power includes the maintenance and possession of our own 1127 nuclear deterrent as a basis of our foreign policy.
I will now say a word about the Communist world. Changes are taking place in it of a nature which it is hard to estimate exactly. The myth of Communist solidarity has gone. Even the most professional apologist can no longer discern in Communist practice the application of an inspired theory, which is scientifically worked out, of universal validity and transcending national differences.
Even the most deeply hypnotised onlooker can hardly believe now in a relentless advance along the paths of history by a single centrally-controlled Communist juggernaut. Indeed, many Communists, not only the Yugoslavs, now preach polycentrism and the need for differing approaches to national Communism. All this is specially important in relation to Eastern Europe, and towards Eastern Europe generally we have been pursuing a forward policy.
During the past year, the trend towards greater flexibility has become much more noticeable. This poses problems for the Soviet Government. Mr. Khrushchev himself has admitted that the Eastern European countries have become like children who are now too big to spank. This, together with the open split between Moscow and Peking, explains the important statement published in Izvestya last week thatnationalism has now become the main danger for the Socialist commonwealth ".I believe that we in this country can take credit for perceiving with promptness the change in Eastern Europe. We have decided to raise the status of our missions, we have liberalised our trade, we have increased cultural exchanges, we have shown readiness to adapt our policies and, I assure the House, we shall continue to encourage the evolutionary trends apparent in Eastern Europe. The House is aware of our policy of trade with the area generally. We have just renewed our trade treaty with the Soviet Union, which should increase our trade with the Soviet Union. Hon. Members will be aware of the financial guarantees which are now available to do business with the Soviet Union and other countries.
1128 Of course, the main schism is between the Soviet Union and China. The two major Communist Powers are now deeply divided. They are divided by conflicts of national interest and by ideological disagreements on the international and internal policies which Communist States ought to adopt in the modern world. They are openly competing with each other for influence in the developing countries, in the Middle East, the Far East and in Africa. As if this were not enough, internal developments in the Communist countries obstinately refuse to conform to the pattern laid down in the sacred books. Far from there being a crisis of capitalism in the West, it is in the Communist world that the problems of economic growth are proving intractable.
Of course, we are not surprised. We have never believed that the system envisaged by the Communist economists would be very successful at producing the goods, but we take no satisfaction in the spectacle of the consumers in those countries going short and we are pleased to see that the economic assumptions are coming under discussion.
Taking all this situation into account, it is not surprising that in negotiating with the allied Governments the Soviet Government have shown little disposition to make such changes in their policy as would permit progress on the major questions of Germany and disarmament. On both these questions, British diplomacy has been playing a leading part. We are fully aware of the aspirations of the German people. Conversations have been proceeding between the Federal Government of Germany, the United States, France and ourselves on how best to approach the problem of the integration of Germany and to secure a future for Berlin which is in accordance with our pledges to the West Berliners.
The House will probably agree that there is no easy or quick solution to these problems. There is, however, no reason why they should not be approached bit by bit. We may be able to make progress on procedure—that is, machinery for discussing these problems—before we can decide the issues themselves. In this connection, the House will have seen that on 12th June, the Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship and mutual assistance with the East German régime.
1129 This has not changed the situation in any way. Our rights and obligations with regard to Germany and Berlin remain firm, and we have made it clear that no unilateral act by the Russians can modify our continuing obligations and responsibilities or in any way affect the rights of the Western allies.
Now, as regards the disarmament negotiations, we have also been active. The main difficulty, as I have said before in this House and at the Geneva conference, lies not in producing new plans but in arriving at any detailed negotiation of the plans already on the table. That is why, when I was at Geneva, I made some proposals about getting down to these matters in committee work.
I notice that the main discussions which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had in Moscow related to disarmament questions. He brought back eleven points from the Kremlin. Moses was content with ten from Mount Sinai.
§ Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)
The right hon. Gentleman has got his analogy a bit mixed. We did not bring them back; we took them there.
§ Mr. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman also took great pride in exhibiting them when he brought them home. Despite the fact that these are not written on tablets of stone, most of them are generally well known to us since we have been making our own progress on them. I will give the House the following examples.
First, we want to contain the further development of nuclear weapons, and that is the essential aim of the proposals for a comprehensive test ban treaty. Second, we support what is, in fact, the President of the United States' plan for freezing the production of nuclear delivery vehicles. Third, we have already supported the bonfire—that is, the earlier physical destruction of some armaments. I suggested an additional number of armaments when I spoke on 25th February at the Geneva conference. Fourth, we have put forward proposals for observer posts. Fifth, we have put forward proposals for improved verification. Sixth, we propose to pursue the possibility of signing an agreement on non-dissemination and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
1130 As I shall be dealing with peacekeeping, with nuclear-free zones and with the master plan about which the right hon. Gentleman spoke so much, this leaves few proposals which I have not covered. It is, therefore, not surprising that Lord Russell complained in a recent letter to The Times on 1st June that he could at present detect on a number of points no appreciable difference between the policy of the Opposition and that which I have described as our own approach.
On disarmament, I want to pursue this question of the master plan. If this means finding a compromise between Soviet and American ideas, this seems to me rather a dangerous misrepresentation of what can be achieved. It overlooks the fact that we have played a key part in framing the Western plan. It is our plan as much as the Americans' plan, and, having put it forward, we cannot immediately go back on it.
As regards peace-keeping, we have already made a number of specific proposals to this end. These include an increase in the size of the staff of the Secretary-General's military adviser, the preparation of contingency plans and studies of previous peace-keeping operations.
We have welcomed the steps taken by certain countries to earmark stand-by forces for United Nations' peace-keeping. I am sure that all of us who were able to talk to Mr. Haekkerup, the Foreign Minister of Denmark, when he came and gave a talk on this subject in the House will realise what a valuable contribution in this matter has been made by the Scandinavian countries. There is room for further constructive initiative of this kind. This is a subject which, I think, might be discussed constructively at the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference.
But, as I say, the best way to keep the peace is to be strong.
§ Mr. Butler
The right hon. Gentleman is to speak later, and I am sure that he can develop the point then.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker
The Foreign Secretary has said something very interesting about the master plan. Would 1131 he perhaps quote and explain what the Prime Minister said about the master plan in Geneva two years ago?
§ Mr. Butler
As the Prime Minister will also be speaking, I should not like to get in the way of either him or the right hon. Gentleman.
As I was saying, the only way to keep the peace is to be strong, and that is why we intend to maintain our own nuclear deterrent—and make no mistake about it. What made the partial test ban agreement possible was that we negotiated from strength, realising our own strength.
This brings me to a discussion of the multilateral force. In trying to negotiate a non-dissemination agreement we have, so far, come up against a blank wall in the Soviet argument that a multilateral force such as is now being discussed in the N.A.T.O. forum is inconsistent with non-dissemination and would open the way to the acquisition of control over nuclear weapons by the Governments of countries which contribute to the force. We recognise that the project is intended to serve the twin causes of European integration and Atlantic partnership, and we share the belief that the nuclear defence of Europe is not to be found separate from the United States, but in partnership with them.
For this reason, and because we want to consider the military aspects further, we are taking part in the discussions on the multilateral force, but we have not yet decided to join the multilateral force. Our discussions are without commitment as to ultimate participation. We have made certain constructive proposals to improve the concept of the force in the military sense. But whether we decide to join the force or not, we have repeatedly said that it is non-disseminatory. In any multilateral force there would be more fingers on the safety catch than there are now, not more fingers on the trigger. If the Russians have any doubt about this, then their best assurance would be to sign a non-dissemination agreement now. This would give them the formal assurance that they want that a multilateral force could not lead to dissemination.
I should like to mention one more specific proposal which has been the 1132 subject of much careful thought by Her Majesty's Government. This is the Polish proposal for a freeze of nuclear warheads within a limited zone in Central Europe. There are, as we see it, a number of military and political difficulties in any attempt to limit within the main area of East-West confrontation the freedom of either side to dispose of its military resources as it wishes, and the problems of inspection would be very considerable.
However, we welcomed the opportunity of studying the Polish proposals in detail, not only with our allies, but also in February with Polish officials. As I have suggested, there are various major difficulties about these proposals in their present form, but we have replied to them fully and are ready to resume discussions with our allies and with the Polish Government if this appears to be useful.
I should now like to say a word about Europe. I noticed that in one of his weekend speeches the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition asked us to say something about Europe. The right hon. Gentleman is becoming even more "Expressive" on this subject than that newspaper.
Our picture of Europe is set in an Atlantic frame, and it is this belief in European integration within an Atlantic partnership which we share not only with the United States but with the vast majority of our European allies.
Since our last foreign affairs debate. I have taken part in two meetings of the Council of Western European Union and two meetings of the Atlantic Council. In both these organisations we are working to make our view of the European and the Atlantic partnership prevail. There is no doubt that, whatever our relations with the rest of the world may be in the future, Britain will always remain a European Power. We continue to believe in the need for an ever-growing European unity.
As I see it, we have a rôle to play in Europe. This rôle can be played effectively only if we go further than simply exchanging views: we must seek conscientiously to work out a way of living together and common policies in the world with our European allies. This is precisely what we were discussing at the Western European Union on the 1133 occasions when I have been there, and I shall be going to the next meeting next month.
This is not an easy task since entry into the European Economic Community has not been open to us. It has not been since the Brussels negotiations broke down in January, 1963. I should like to add that we can expect to resume negotiations only if there were a real political will among all the countries represented that they should succeed. Meanwhile, we are doing all we can to strengthen the fabric of consultation through the Western European Union and through the normal diplomatic channels.
The House will be glad to hear that our trade with Europe is flourishing. Trade between us and our fellow members of the European Free Trade Association—E.F.T.A.—has expanded from £780 million in 1959 to nearly £1,150 million in 1963, an increase of 47 per cent. in five years. We have also maintained a very high level of exports to the Community itself, France, Italy, Germany and Benelux. In recent months, however, we have begun to feel the effect of tariff discrimination in Europe. This we are trying to remedy by making a success of the Kennedy round of tariff negotiations, which must have a major place in our European and worldwide policy.
Besides this—I think that we shall hear more and more of this tariff problem as the months go by—there is a wide feeling in Europe, reflected in the recent declaration of M. Monnet's Action Committee, that Britain should be associated with any resumed movement to create closer political union in Europe. I have stressed at all the meetings which I have attended that if any conversations take place we want to be in on them from the start. So far, no formal conversations have been held.
There are, of course, a great variety of suggestions, ranging from Professor Erhard's view that the Six countries may need a political roof for their own activities, to other and wider ideas of a looser association between some members of the European Free Trade Association and the Six, or between the Six and other countries outside. Our ideal remains that there should be a strong and united Western Europe and we are convinced that Britain can and should play a part in this without jeopardising her world- 1134 wide interests. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that such interests would be impaired were we to shrink from our rôle in Western Europe.
I now come to what I described earlier as our involvement, our widespread involvement, with the countries of the Middle East, Asia and the Far East. We maintain our bases whether in Cyprus, Libya, Aden, or Singapore because we believe that they play a vital part in preserving stability. They help to deter Communist aggression against our allies in CENTO and S.E.A.T.O. and they enable us to honour our commitments to our particular friends in each area.
In all these areas we have worldwide interests and historical responsibilities which we cannot and will not ignore. We are determined to defend the integrity and independence of Malaysia, which is as entitled to its independence as any other country. We are likewise determined to honour our obligations to the States of South Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and defend them—as in the case of Kuwait, in 1961—against any predatory neighbour.
So much for the general. Now for the particular. I wish, first, to refer to Cyprus. My right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary and I have been engaged in talks with the mediator and with Mr. George Ball, the United States Under-Secretary. Our aim has been to prepare the way for a practical and lasting solution and a series of talks are now to start in Washington which, we hope, will result eventually in the mediator being able to put forward a solution which is practical and acceptable to all the different interests concerned. We shall keep the closest contact not only with the United States Government, but with the United Nations and U Thant, the Secretary-General.
I should like to refer to some features of the local situation in Cyprus. We have drawn the attention of the United Nations Secretary-General to the continued buildup of arms and military forces in the Island by both sides. We have also drawn his attention to the steps taken by the Cyprus Government to introduce conscription to the Island. This has been done contrary to the constitutional procedure which would require the approval of the Vice-President. We have also 1135 pointed out that in our view it is in contravention of the Security Council resolution of 4th March, which called upon all member States to refrain from any action or threat of action likely to worsen the situation in the sovereign Republic of Cyprus or to endanger international peace.
There has also been an increasing tendency among the Greek Cypriots to attack the rôle played by the British troops in the United Nations peacekeeping force. This is particularly unjust and deplorable when one considers the immense services rendered by British forces to the Cypriot people as a whole in helping to bring peace to Cyprus since last Christmas. I am sure that I speak for the whole House when I say that the behaviour of our troops, who have been operating under particularly difficult conditions and have frequently been exposed to gross provocation, has been beyond all praise.
The existing mandate for the United Nations force expires on 27th June and the Security Council will be considering this week whether or not to renew it. I understand that the Secretary-General will be producing a report on the present situation and the Security Council will no doubt wish to take this into consideration before deciding what further action may be necessary. We have made it clear to U Thant that we regard the United Nations force in Cyprus as providing a vital contribution to the maintenance of peace in the Eastern Mediterranean and that we greatly hope that the Security Council will decide to renew its mandate for a further period. If so, as we have informed the Secretary-General, we are prepared to make a further financial contribution of 1 million dollars towards the expenses.
As my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary informed the House on 2nd June, we have also told the Secretary-General that we remain anxious to do all we can to help the United Nations force to fulfil its mission. Before entering into a firm commitment to provide a British contingent for a further period we shall wish to be satisfied, particularly in view of the hostile attitude shown to our troops, to which I have just alluded, that our continued participation 1136 in the force is generally supported by all the other countries concerned.
The Secretary-General has pointed out that the original three months' period recommended by the Security Council for the stationing of the United Nations force does not apply to the mediator, upon whose efforts no time limit has been set. We do not yet know when the mediator will be producing his recommendation, but, as we have repeatedly made plain, we remain ready to offer our full co-operation in helping to promote any recommendation which is likely to prove acceptable to the main parties concerned.
Now let me look at South Arabia. Here, we wish to ensure the completion, in an orderly and constructive fashion, of the evolution to independence of the Federation of South Arabia. This is something for which we hold an historical responsibility, which we cannot and will not ignore. Our base at Aden is important not only for our defence commitments in the Persian Gulf, also in the area, but for Commonwealth and Western defence links across the world. The base has assumed renewed importance in relation to our ability to meet requests for assistance and co-operation from the emergent nations of East Africa, as we have so recently seen. We intend to maintain our base in Aden and look to the support of the House in this determination. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition has not been put off by the whiff of grapeshot from Mr. Mikardo on this subject.
Hostility to the Federation and to our position in Aden arises immediately, of course, from the conflict in the Yemen. Her Majesty's Government still think that the best policy is to keep out of the Yemen conflict. There has, however, been abundant evidence that subversive effort from the Yemen has been directed against the Federation in a variety of ways, of which support for the Radfan revolt is only one example. We are in process of quelling that revolt and we shall fight subversion wherever we find it.
As regards other interference with the South Arabian Federation, I should like to tell the House that, thanks to our determined attitude, there have been no further incursions into our territory and no repetition of incidents. We rightly attach first importance to diplomatic 1137 action. At the United Nations, the Security Council resolution of 9th April invoked the Secretary-General's good offices in the difficulties between the Yemen and the Federation. We said in the debate preceding that resolution that we wished to see demarcation of the frontier, where there has been difficulty, and the installation of United Nations' observers. The Secretary-General and his staff have urged our suggestions on the Yemeni Republican authorities, but I am sorry to say that so far there has been no positive response, although there are signs that the recently reconstituted Republican administration may show greater interest than previously.
I now come to Indo-China, where we have no intention to permit the objectives of the settlements of 1954 and 1962 to be undermined by the Communist advance. I have told Mr. Gromyko, who shares my responsibility as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference, that we accept in principle the Polish proposals for a preliminary meeting at Zurich to seek means of restoring the 1962 settlement in Laos. Our Ambassador in Moscow is now trying to reach agreement on the terms of the invitations to such a meeting. If he is successful we shall be assisted in our deliberations by the Canadian, Indian, Polish, and Laotian delegates.
Consultations in Vientiane are still in progress and the reports and recommendations they produce will be invaluable to us if the Zurich meeting takes place. The Vientiane consultations also have the function of giving the Communist Powers time to reconsider their initial demand for a full-scale Geneva conference with no prior conditions.
I should also like to say a word about the problem of Cambodia and Vietnam. Our aim remains—and here we agree with the French Government—to ensure the neutrality of Cambodia. This problem has temporarily been transferred, at the instigation of the Cambodian Government, to the United Nations in New York. Until the Security Council has received and debated the report of the Commission it has appointed for this purpose, there is nothing I need or should say about Cambodian differences with Vietnam.
In South Vietnam, the cruelly unnecessary insurrection is still fomented from outside and still combated, with generous 1138 assistance from the United States, by the legitimate Government in Saigon, Because of our preoccupations in Malaysia we can offer little assistance beyond administrative advice and technical aid, but we wish these gallant people and our American friends every success in their long and arduous struggle.
On Malaysia and Indonesia, our policy is governed by the same twin principles as in Laos. That is, determined solidarity with our allies and the patient search for a just and peaceful solution. When I visited our Japanese and Philippine friends last month I explained to them that it is for the Malaysian Government, not for us, to decide whether a settlement with Indonesia is possible and what its terms might be.
Our rôle, apart from encouraging the negotiations which it was my privilege to do when I was in the Fast East, is simply to help Malaysia defend herself against arbitrary aggression meanwhile, thus ensuring that her representatives enter the conference room on a secure and equal footing. I emphasised in Tokyo and Manila that if there was to be an agreement between Malaysia and Indonesia it must be based on acceptance of the independence and integrity of Malaysia. We shall do nothing to urge agreement against the better judgment of the Malaysian Government themselves.
These frank statements fortified Senor Lopez, the former Foreign Secretary of the Philippines, in his efforts to secure Indonesian acceptance of satisfactory conditions for a further meeting of the Malaysian, Indonesian and Philippine Governments. As I speak it is still too early to predict the prospects of success for the negotiations, but a Foreign Ministers' meeting is likely to be held and I hope that that will be followed by a summit meeting of the leaders of the countries in Tokyo. The Indonesian Government must bring themselves to accept the fact of Malaysia's independence, but as long as Malaysia feels herself threatened and seeks our help she will have it.
We have treaty obligations laid down in our agreement on external defence and mutual assistance and we intend to honour them. I was glad to be able to be in these capitals at an 1139 important time and to take some part in encouraging this meeting which is to take place. What I think must strike anyone who has the arduous duties of a Foreign Secretary at present is that, while not for a moment abating our determination to defend the independence of Malaysia or any other country with whom we have treaty obligations, the art of diplomacy must be used to buttress our resources and defence services at present.
These, then, are some of the problems which I in conjunction with my colleagues have to deal with all over the world. The very extent of our commitments makes it vital that our diplomacy should work hand in hand with our strength and our resources, the one supplementing the other. This combination of flexibility and strength has been the feature of our policy in the Far East, the Middle East, and the Eastern Mediterranean. In this way Britain is and will remain a great international Power, but we must be forever active and ready to undertake any mission that may be necessary in the cause of peace.
I ought to tell the House that Mr. Gromyko has extended an invitation to me on behalf of the Soviet Government to visit the Soviet Union. I look forward to going to Moscow for talks with him as my fellow co-Chairman and with Mr. Khrushchev some time around the beginning of the Summer Recess. So the House will realise that there will be no rest in our search for understanding. In that task and in the whole range of problems I have outlined we depend on the support of the House as a whole and the support of the British people, confident that the broad lines of British policy are national and should be and will be reinforced by the will and resolution of the House.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker (Smethwick)
I listened with very great interest to what the Foreign Secretary said. I do not think that it would be unfair to comment that he said very little new at a time when, as he pointed out, the world is changing, and landmarks with which we have become familiar are shifting, and we have to do a great deal of new thinking.
1140 I shall be taking up many of the points made by the right hon. Gentleman during the course of the remarks I intend to make, but there are a couple of things I should like to comment on now as they will not fit in to what I have to say later. I quite agree with him that the treaty between the Soviet Union and East Germany affects nothing whatever but merely seems to give Herr Ulbricht paper satisfaction. The impression with which we came back from Moscow on this matter is that Mr. Khrushchev does not want to stir up trouble over Berlin. He said that the building of the wall had made this problem much less acute from their point of view.
On the question of the Common Market, I think that the right hon. Gentleman transcended his own high-powered standards of ambiguity. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has asked, and he did so again a day or two ago, simple and clear questions on this matter. One is that the present Government should not commit us to new negotiations on the basis of the terms that were negotiated by the Secretary for Industry and Trade, and also that the Government should give us a clear statement that they will not agree to terms which would prejudice our trading relations with the Commonwealth. I hope that we shall have from the Prime Minister just enough plain speaking to give us plain answers to those very simple questions.
I do not think that ever in peace time have our forces been so widely committed in so many different parts of the world and so tightly stretched. One thing that all these activities have proved is the immense value to us of conventional weapons. I do not think that there is one single action in which we are involved in which the possession of nuclear weapons has had the slightest influence one way or the other, but these actions have certainly shown how gravely we are in need of better conventional weapons. In Malaysia, in Aden, for instance, our men are crying out for helicopters, equipment that they very badly need. We would be in a much better position today if we had laid out our defence expenditure differently.
I should like to say a word or two about one or two of the commitments and involvements that we 1141 are in. I think that it was absolutely right to go to the aid of India and Malaysia. We simply must face the need to carry out our obligations to Commonwealth countries when they ask us for aid and also to carry out operations of a peace-keeping nature which we are invited to participate in by the United Nations.
As to Aden, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) has just come back from there, and if he catches your eye, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, he will be able to talk with fresh knowledge about this problem. I want to say only a few words. As an Opposition we clearly do not, in the way that the Government do, know all the facts. We do not know, for instance, the range of aircraft and all the technical matters, but on our present information we think that it is right and desirable to keep the base in Aden. It is necessary to aid Commonwealth nations that ask us for our aid and to take part in peace-keeping operations. But any question of maintaining the base is at root, of course, a political question. We cannot, in the long run, hold any base anywhere against the opposition of the local population. That is a lesson that this country under the present Government has learned at the cost of hundreds of millions of pounds.
My own view is that if we wholeheartedly accept the will of the people of Aden as expressed in elections, it should not be too difficult to negotiate a freely accepted continuation of the base, which is of very great economic importance and some security importance to the people of Aden. But we would not succeed in doing this if, as it appears possible, it is the Government's intention to create a Federation in which undemocratic sheiks and emirs dominate a democratic Aden.
On Cyprus, I find the situation here extremely unsatisfactory—very grave indeed. Not only must the United Nations mandate be renewed, but, as the right hon. Gentleman implied, it must be very greatly strengthened, and we must not automatically commit our forces to a second term of service unless the mandate is properly strengthened. The United Nations forces must have the power and the weapons to restore and maintain order. We cannot allow the situation to go on in which British troops are 1142 humiliated and in which we are subjected to the kind of attack to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. The lives of British and other United Nations forces must be properly protected.
The sinister disappearance of Major Macey and Private Platt is yet another proof that there is no effective Government at all in the island. I am sure that I carry the House with me when I say that we regard the question of the disappearance of these two men as a matter of the highest gravity and that Archbishop Makarios would be extremely unwise to ignore our very strong feelings on this matter.
In any case, it seems to me that the British contingent is too large a proportion of the whole force. This tends to put us in a position in which we have responsibility without authority, and we must press very hard indeed for other United Nations forces from other countries to be sent to Cyprus so that we can run down or reduce our own contingent.
I made it clear yesterday, in exchanges at Question Time with the right hon. Gentleman, that we are not at all satisfied by the attitude of Her Majesty's Government to the treason trial in South Africa. The right hon. Gentleman himself made strong and proper statements of his views, but it is the public stand of the Government that is equivocal. The Guardian wrote today, and I wholly agree with it, thatWherever the worldwide revulsion against South Africa is made articulate, Britain's voice is the feeblest.Can the Prime Minister, or someone else in this debate, explain to us why we refused to vote the other day at the United Nations because the matter was sub judice when, on a previous occasion when it was sub judice, we voted in favour of a similar resolution of the United Nations? We demand that the Government should, without equivocation, express the overwhelming abhorrence felt in this country about this trial, both at the United Nations and by representations to the South African Government that the sentences passed under a monstrous law should be remitted.
It is in the light of the general feeling of horror on this matter that I must come back to the question of the export of arms to South Africa. We should forthwith stop all exports of arms. We should 1143 go further, I think, and draw up a list, with our allies and, if possible, with other Powers, of strategic goods whose export to South Africa should be banned.
May I say a word about Laos. Here again, my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East will be able to report freshly to the House. In Warsaw, Mr. Rapacki told me of the plan he was about to publish for the calling of the preliminary six-Power conference of which the right hon. Gentleman has told us. I am very glad that the Government are favourable to this. I told Mr. Rapacki that I thought it was a very valuable idea which we ought to back, although it must, I said, be a preliminary to a full 14-Power conference and not a substitute for it.
My right hon. Friend and I had fairly detailed talks about Laos with Mr. Khrushchev. Considerable differences of course, appeared about our analysis of the problem, the attribution of blame and on some immediate policies, but we agreed, after a good deal of discussion, that our general objectives seemed to be close. The Soviet Union unquestionably wants to maintain the Geneva conference settlement and it wants a neutralist Government in Laos, and—this was reiterated on a number of occasions with emphasis—under Souvanna Phouma. It seems to me that here is a favourable factor in this difficult situation.
There is one other point which I want to make which, in my view, is not sufficiently emphasised, namely, that China seems to be being extremely careful to avoid a direct confrontation with the United States of America. It is not, in fact, behaving in an imprudent, arrogant or dangerous way. It is behaving with considerable prudence. We for our part must strongly oppose any idea of taking the war to North Vietnam, which would risk the very confrontation which must be avoided.
The right hon. Gentleman said that all these and other events, difficulties and actions which will figure in the debate are occurring against a background of a world situation which is very rapidly changing and which, as the Foreign Secretary said, involves us and our allies, and indeed other alliances in the world, in very great challenges. It is clearly necessary to analyse these changes with very great care.
1144 It seems to me that the Prime Minister has been taking too simple a view of what is happening. He constantly repeats that the one new factor is that the Soviet Union has given up aggression as an instrument of policy. I think that that is true, and that it is important. But something more profound than that is happening of which it is only a part and which he never goes on to discuss.
What I think is the great fact today is that at Cuba both these super-nuclear Powers made the final discovery that we cannot use nuclear weapons because they are weapons of suicide. As Mr. Khrushchev said the other day, with his usual vigour, "If your reach for the push button you reach for suicide". This is a question of both Powers; it is not merely that the Soviet Union has taken aggression out of its instrument of policy.
This recognition by the two super-Powers has had the curious consequence of very greatly limiting their capacity for action. They now command too much power. They command weapons which are so destructive that they cannot be used, and they cannot get into positions in which the other Power might think that they might be drawn into using them. The direct corollary of that is that the liberty of action, even of military action, of the smaller Powers has been enhanced. When either of the great super-Powers is faced by these new kinds of independence, it is nonplussed, it is hamstrung, by the superfluity of its own power.
This relative shift—unexpected, I think, if we look back a year or two—in favour of the smaller Powers is having effects in the third world, in the neutralist developing world within each alliance, and, of course, upon the relations between the alliances. First, perhaps, I might look at our own alliance, N.A.T.O. We regard the Western Alliance and our alliance with the United States as the sheet anchor of our defence and foreign policy, but it must, of course, be adapted to the prevailing circumstances. This is one of the consequences of these very great changes which are occurring in the world. N.A.T.O. today is a very different kind of alliance from that which it was in 1949, when there was a war-shattered Europe. The whole internal balance is changing. There are many strains, of which the attitude of General de Gaulle is the most extreme symptom.
1145 The problem facing us is: how should we adapt N.A.T.O. to the new conditions of the world? I regard it as a very disturbing factor in the alliance that the United States is pushing its proposals for the multilateral force so very hard. This was, after all, originally intended and presented as designed to meet the need of the allies. Now it seems to be something which is going to be thrust upon the allies whether they want it or not.
I think that it is high time that the Government gave us an answer on this matter. They have had access to all the facts. They have had a very long time to consider the matter. The suspicion is inevitable that the reason they are not giving an answer is that they are frightened that they might split their own party because of the answer which they give. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I am not saying that this is the fact. I am saying that the suspicion is bound to arise, because it is known that there are different views on this matter on the Government side of the House. The suspicion is bound to arise.
When we were in Moscow we made two points about the M.L.F. I said that as long as Soviet intermediate range ballistic missiles were trained on British and European cities, this was bound to encourage the forces in Europe which the Soviet Union most fear and to which we are opposed, namely, the forces which want the M.L.F. and even want an independent European deterrent. We also said that we do not oppose the M.L.F. on the ground that Germany would get a finger on the nuclear trigger. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that the maintenance of the American veto with that of the other participating Powers would exclude this.
We are opposed to the M.L.F. on other grounds which we find overwhelmingly conclusive. It is, in our view, an elaborate pretence which will divide the alliance. Especially will it divide the alliance if there is any intention of going on with a purely American-German weapon. It will not long satisfy the appetite which it is designed to still and which it would itself stimulate—the appetite in Europe towards the desire for independent nuclear weapons. It will unquestionably make the negotiations on disarmament more difficult. It 1146 will divert expenditure in Europe from conventional to nuclear forces, and it will tend to consolidate the Eastern Alliance at the very time when there, too—and much more than in the West—ties are beginning to loosen.
But the problem which the M.L.F. seeks, in my view ineffectively, to solve is a real problem. We do need a greater real sharing in nuclear policy inside the alliance as a whole. This will not be easy to achieve, but if the United States gave as much thought to this as it is giving to the M.L.F., I have no doubt that some way could be worked out between, us which would give the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and France when it wants it, a real share in the shaping and the control of nuclear policy in the alliance. I am sure that in the end this, and not a little pretence substitute for it like the M.L.F., is what we need; only this kind of reorganisation will maintain the vigour and unity of N.A.T.O.
Here, I should like to make a point of some seriousness. We are approaching two important elections, one in this country and one in the United States, which will overlap to a considerable extent. All of us must, of course, be extremely careful not to get mixed up in the American election, just as we do not want to get the Americans mixed up in ours, but I must say that any Conservative attempt to exploit any aspect of the United States election politically will cut both ways. There is already a tendency for some Conservative circles and newspapers to say, "Labour's defence policy involves dependence upon the United States. What would happen if a particular President were elected?"
What is said is not true, but it is a very dangerous argument indeed. What is the Government's policy on the Polaris submarine but to hand over control of our next nuclear weapon, as they plan it, to the United States? It would depend upon the United States' President and Congress for provision and maintenance, for new technical improvements, and for the replacement of the missiles which would be in the submarines. There could be no greater dependence upon the United States than the policy proposed by the Government.
1147 I say in all seriousness that we would be much wiser if we dropped this kind of argument between us, but if we are attacked we will counter-attack and we will not do either ourselves or the country much good and we will get involved in an American election. But, of course, if we are attacked, we will counter-attack. It would be much wiser if we kept out of this kind of argument. [Interruption.] We are perfectly happy to have it, if it is wanted, but if hon. Members think about this they will realise that it would not be a very wise argument to have.
§ The Prime Minister (Sir Alec Douglas-Home)
No one is thinking of using the kind of argument the right hon. Gentleman has used, but he started the argument by saying that he would get rid of our nuclear deterrent.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
The right hon Gentleman's predecessors started it by saying that they would buy a weapon from the United States and be dependent upon the United States for it. This is an argument which cuts both ways, and we can have it out on the hustings; and we would enjoy it if we had to do it, because we have a very good argument, but we would sooner not do it.
Now I want to say a few words about the other alliance, which is in much graver difficulties than any difficulies we are facing in the West. As the Foreign Secretary said, the central issue is the Sino-Soviet dispute. I thought that Mr. Gromulka was right in the speech he made yesterday or the day before yesterday when he said that at root this is a struggle between two great Powers for hegemony inside the Communist world. I heard the same kind of analysis advanced in Roumania.
In my view, this split is deep and lasting, and it is having very many important effects. As I was told during my recent trip to Communist countries, one of the most important new factors is that neither China nor the Soviet Union can any longer rely on the automatic support of its lesser allies. A new national Communism is arising, and this is all the more disturbing because the Warsaw Pact was so closely dominated by the Soviet Union. The relaxations that come from this are all the more difficult for them.
1148 The position of Roumania, where I recently was, is particularly interesting and significant. It was lagging behind the other Warsaw Pact countries in this kind of development. It is now rapidly getting into the van. In Roumania, one constantly hears the word "sovereignty"; it comes in all the time. Indeed, it is figuring in the public polemic across the air that is now taking place between the Soviet Union and Roumania. I think that "sovereignty" used like this is a new word in the Communist vocabulary. At any rate, it was not a very commonly used one.
The main difference between the Soviet Union and Roumania is on the nature of COMECON. It is an issue about economic policy. The Soviet Union wants to turn COMECON into a kind of Common Market with majority voting, central organs, and all the rest of it. Roumania is using arguments which were only too familiar to us at the time when the Government wanted to take us into the Common Market. They say, "We do not want to become a province in another State. We do not want to hand over the control of our affairs to remote bureaucrats who are not answerable to us". Such arguments as these, which are extremely familiar to us, are being used.
Similar things are happening in all other parts of the Warsaw Pact, except East Germany. I have a feeling that Mr. Khrushchev is in some danger of having half a dozen General de Gaulles on his hands before very long.
We must conduct our own alliance policies, including our attitude to the M.L.F., and so on, with this kind of development in mind. There are great opportunities opening out for Britain to get closer relations with these Eastern European countries. I draw a distinction—I may say that I made it in all the capitals I was in—between East Germany and the other countries. I regard the other countries as being in a completely different category. East Germany is a puppet State which has to build a wall to keep its citizens in. The other countries are true nations, and one draws a true distinction between them and East Germany.
In regard to the rest of the Eastern European countries, we have great opportunities, but we must act with 1149 great prudence. Although I think that the Eastern bloc is significantly changing—indeed, I think that it would not be an exaggeration to say that it has changed from a bloc into an alliance—none the less, it is still an alliance to which its members attach very great value indeed, and it would be a fatal error on our part, or on the part of our allies, to try to seduce any country from this alliance through getting better relations with it.
However, I repeat that we have very great opportunities. I was a little sorry to notice the rather mocking tone, the almost gloating tone, in which the Foreign Secretary described the developments which are going on in the other alliance. I do not think that is the right kind of approach. Eastern European nations are, I think, more susceptible than ever to Western public opinion. I was very upset and surprised to find that we have not got a single British correspondent in Bucharest. We do not get news: we do not get ordinary bread and butter daily news coming out of these countries. It seems to me that our Press and our agencies should remedy this situation.
The chief form in which our ties are getting closer is in trade. They are much more willing to have trade with the West. The problem is not to sell them things, it is to buy things from them so that they have a balance of payments. We may here have to call in the help of the International Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and so on.
I would here like to ask a question about the stories of a negotiation for the sale of a British nuclear power station to Rumania. Was this vetoed here by the Government? When the same proposals were made to the United States, did they not look on them with considerable favour? If that is so, I should like to ask why we do not take rather more initiative in these matters and why we do not take as much right as the United States to propose, when it is proper, amendments to the embargo list. We are entitled to an answer on this. There has been a very great deal of talk about it, both in Rumania and in many other countries.
I think that there may be one very dangerous consequence of the Sino-Soviet dispute. The Foreign Secretary touched on this. This is the sharpened 1150 competition between them in the third world. It is already clear that Mr. Khrushchev, for instance, is talking much more toughly about a revolution in other parts of the world than he was a year or two ago. This is a very marked change. I think that they would be gravely tempted to competitive exploitation of any social unrest or revolution which occurred in Africa or Latin America.
This could involve us in very grave problems. I think that there are some things which we can do in this connection. Obviously, we must give the highest priority to aid to developing countries. We are grateful to the Secretary for Industry and Trade for the statement today on the United Nations Trade and Development Conference. It will take us a little time to work out exactly what has been achieved at the conference, but, clearly, the right hon. Gentleman played a very valuable and important part by his persistence in pursuing compromises, and we would like to congratulate him on that.
I think that we have to go further still and that it is, above all, necessary to get the relationships right. This seems to have improved at Geneva, but very often Western aid has poisoned instead of improved relations with the countries to which the aid has been given. We must increase and strengthen our contacts with and influence in Latin America. It seems to me that we are very lagging indeed there. We must do everything we possibly can to end the dangerous isolation of China, the isolation of China by both East and West, and render China more accountable to world opinion. It seems to me that the time has come when we must go forward and establish full diplomatic relations with China and do all we possibly can and use all our influence to gel China into the United Nations.
To conclude, I want to say that the supreme objective of foreign policy must be the achievement of disarmament. Since the Test Ban Treaty, the momentum which was then got has been lacking. The main purpose of the visit that my right hon. Friend and I paid to Moscow was to try and find out the next most promising line of advance to get the momentum going again. We, like the Foreign Secretary, support, and strongly argued in favour of, President Johnson's 1151 proposal for a freeze of nuclear delivery systems and a bonfire of bombers, but I must regretfully tell the House that the impression we both came back with was that the Soviet Union is not prepared to agree or even to negotiate about this. [An HON. MEMBER: "The freeze, or both?"] Much more the first, the freeze, than the bonfire; but I am only relating the impression with which we came back.
The most hopeful lines of advance seem, first, to be an anti-proliferation agreement, and I agree with the Foreign Secretary that it would be wise for the Soviet Union to sign such an agreement and then try to apply it to the M.L.F. That would certainly be sensible. Apart from the M.L.F., there appears to be a good possibility of an anti-proliferation agreement being reached.
I also think that there is a fair chance of an agreement on a variation of variant of the Gromulka plan for freezing nuclear weapons in an area of Europe. When we were there I told Mr. Rapacki that we welcomed this as a first step to a larger plan, but I pointed out that the area in the West could not be limited to West Germany, that it must be extended in the West and East and that the plan should apply to missiles as well as warheads, partly to get a better inspection system, but, also, that we wanted to attach to his proposal the idea of control posts against conventional surprise attack.
The most important hope of advance lies, I think, in the idea of a minimum deterrent. The Soviet Union seems to be genuinely interested in this and it would certainly open up very important prospects for an advance towards disarmament. We also discussed the possibility of an international agreement controlling the supply of arms to the Middle East, but I did not see that we were getting far with that, although we discussed it along with the possibility of a United Nations convention which would both ban the sale of private arms and involve the registration by States of any deliveries of arms they made to any country, making them public.
One other general impression we had was that the Soviet Union seems to be keen to preserve the improved atmosphere in East-West relations and not to disturb it.
1152 Although there are obviously many difficulties, possibly with setbacks ahead, I am not altogether unhopeful when I look into the future, for it is my considered opinion, after the talks we had and having thought a good deal about the subject, that when the British and United States elections are over there may be a real chance of a breakthrough in disarmament. That is a chance we must take, a chance we must not miss.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
I rise to make my maiden speech with a good deal of humility and trepidation. I would like, first, to pay a tribute to my predecessor, Sir William Aitken, who was popular and respected both in the House and in Bury St. Edmunds. The best tribute I can pay him is to do my utmost to serve the people of Bury St. Edmunds in the same way as he so successfully did for 12 years.
It is not easy for a newcomer to this House to follow such distinguished speakers as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). I would like to draw attention to one issue where they showed agreement: that at the centre of affairs in the world there appears to be an improvement in the atmosphere between East and West, whereas on the circumference—in Malaysia, the Middle East and elsewhere—conditions have not so far improved as at the centre.
We are right to consider some of the reasons why the improvement at the centre is not matched on the circumference. It may be that the improvement we have noticed in East-West relations has arisen in large measure because the Western Alliance, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, has stood shoulder to shoulder against Soviet aggression. One of the main reasons why that improvement has not been matched on the circumference is the U.S. and the United Kingdom are less well co-ordinated in their policies for such areas as Malaysia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
Why are Britain and America in some ways divergent on these subjects? The biggest factor is that there has 1153 been in the world, including in America, a very great change in the last 10 years—10 years which I have had the experience of living mainly in the U.S. On many subjects, from time to time we achieve a meeting of minds; the fact that I was able to serve for nearly 14 years as an editor of many large American publications is one small and humble illustration of the kind of special relationship on the person-to-person level that can and does exist between this country and the U.S.
But there are taking place in America today profound and important changes. One might illustrate them by speaking of America's having to face up to military vulnerability. Ten years ago in the United States it was possible to think of a strategy based on the "Fortress America" concept. At that time it was virtually impracticable for any foreign State even to consider an attack on the American heartland. That is no longer the case, and one of the most important psychological factors among the American population today is the gradually widening awareness that New York and Cheyenne, Wyoming are as vulnerable as Bury St. Edmunds and Newmarket. That is a fact which is greatly affecting thought and policy in the United States.
The second consideration of change worth considering is that the economic paramountcy of America, with which we were all glad to live 10 or 12 years ago, is no longer a fact of such obvious acceptance in the world at large. I remember only too well those days when not a week went by without some European Prime Minister flying across the Atlantic and virtually asking, "Brother, can you spare a dime?" Those days are no longer with us, and one of the other important factors in American psychology today is the fact that more and more American Ministers are flying to Europe to ask the rich banker nations on this side of the Atlantic for support for American economic policies; for example in the Alliance for Progress Plan. Along with these changes towards military vulnerability and the move away from economic paramountcy, there is in America a political altercation, the result in part of the racial difficulties in the Southern States. It is no longer easy for America to gain global acceptance of her strictures on the colonial policies of other countries.
1154 With these three changes in the American political body, there has been a reaction in Washington which has turned in two distinct directions. On the one hand, there is the reaction to the fact that the United States no longer is so easily able to achieve its objectives today, whether in Cuba or, as in the past, in Korea, or whether today in Vietnam. One recognises that the great power of the United States is not able so easily now to achieve the political purposes which Washington sets.
This has created among some Americans anger, frustration and anxiety, and it has led to some cases of very extremist views being expressed on one side of the American scene. We must recognise that one of the factors in the American scene—and the right hon. Member for Smethwick touched on this—is the emergence of a political sentiment which looks, rather nostalgically perhaps, for the possibility of using big stick policies in the world.
On the other hand, and much more wisely, there is in America a tendency to react to this new situation of dwindling power in a way that tries to come to terms with the new realities as they exist. I think one might associate the name of Senator William Fulbright with this attempt to bring American policy into reality with the facts of life today.
The object, surely, of British policy must be to ensure that the Fulbright side of American policy and not, if I may venture the name, the Goldwater side of that policy shall be uppermost in the conduct of American and Alliance policies. I therefore suggest with the greatest respect that if we want to achieve this there are three principles on which we might well found our policies towards America, and I say this with deep affection for the United States.
First, I believe, it is necessary that we must speak very plainly in Washington on behalf of British interests and if I may say so with the deepest respect, our present Prime Minister has done this. I should like to quote the words of a very senior member of the Johnson Administration after the Prime Minister's recent visit, when he said:The Prime Minister said to us the one thing of all things that we did not want to hear, namely, that Britain would continue for its own reasons to trade with Cuba. We did not like to hear this, but we respected him for saying it. We have taken it on the chin and we accept what he says.1155 That is a quotation from a very senior member of the American Administration, and I think it shows that plain speaking to the Americans is something that they appreciate and that if we do more of it we shall be understood and appreciated for saying what we believe.
The second principle, I suggest, in our relations with America is that we should get much more mixed up together with them in our economics and technology. If I may say so in a speech which I hope is uncontroversial, I was on the second day of sitting in the House surprised to hear hon. and right hon. Members deploring the fact that a recent investment of American capital in the British motor industry was in some ways injurious to our interests. I have lived in the United States for many years, and I have been deeply conscious of the way in which British capital and technology have gone into the United States. I think I am right in saying that on private account we have something like 3,000 million dollars worth of shares in American industry and that on public account the British Government are very substantial investors and have done rather well from the American Stock Exchange boom.
It is worth noting that we own on Government account considerable shares in General Motors, in Eastman Kodak, and, I am very glad to say, that there is investment in at least one film studio and in one of the largest manufacturers of doughnuts. My point is simply this, that we should not conclude that because the British people like to watch American television or because hundreds of thousands of our teenagers wear blue jeans, or because the Americans come here and put their money into industry in this country, that this nation is becoming the 51st State of America. We should have more self-confidence than that.
I suggest that if the Alliance is to mean anything—and it is the heart of all our policies—it must involve the free flow back and forth of capital and technology, and, indeed, of scientists, too. That is what the Alliance must mean and not merely be an endless series of English-speaking dinners.
1156 The third and last of the principles that we should apply in our policies towards the United States is that we must retain sufficient power so that we enjoy the Americans' respect. I believe that, just as the Americans appreciate plain speaking, they also understand power. In the Anglo-American Alliance we must therefore have enough British power to deter an attack on our island and to ensure that we are not subjected to international blackmail: Above all, we must ensure that our voice is listened to in Washington.
It is possible to say many things in the United States, but it is not always easy to be heard, and the condition of being heard is that one retains that measure of power. We do not require to hold on to power for reasons of prestige or grandeur. We can leave that to General de Gaulle. We should retain this measure of power vis-à-vis the United States because we have something to say and because we have as a country something to offer. I believe that in the two areas mentioned by the Foreign Secretary earlier, both at the centre and on the circumference, that what Britain has to offer is something rather special.
At the centre, in the contest with the Soviet Union, I believe that it is the patience and the plodding, often in the face of great difficulties, of British Governments that enabled us gradually to bring together East and West in order to sign the Test Ban Treaty. So that if there is now an improvement in the international climate at the centre this Government can take a measure of credit for it. I believe, too, that on the circumference, whether it be in Malaysia, East Africa or elsewhere, this country has equally something to offer as we have seen in the actions of British troops in recent months and, indeed, years.
I would say that the problem that confronts us beyond the cold war is the problem of how to relate the poor world to the rich world and, somehow, to bridge the gulf which exists between the haves and have nots in the world. I think that this country, with its experience of having sent overseas for centuries men and women who have brought order where there was no order and law where there was no law, has something to offer.
1157 To conclude, I would reiterate the three or four things which are paramount if we are to refurbish the Anglo-American Alliance and make certain that it enables the security of the world to be maintained. The first is that we must have a hard, new look at it unsentimentally and with modernity. If we do this we can expect the Americans to do the same. We can hammer out some general policies so that whether it be in Malaysia or the Middle East we diverge less and share common priorities.
The second thing is that we must continue to talk straight and expect to be talked straight back to. The third is that we must get more mixed up together. I believe that in an age of jet aircraft and Telstar communication satellites it would be absurd to seek to limit, or to seek to stop, the great flood of capital and technology bringing the two sides of the Atlantic together. If we sought to do that we should be untrue to what has been the history of our country and to its future, too. Finally, it is essential that we maintain a measure of power in order that in the United States we can retain respect and maintain that working partnership which alone means a true alliance.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Grimond (Orkney and Shetland)
It is a great pleasure on behalf of the House to congratulate the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), to whose maiden speech we have just listened. The command and the fluency of the hon. Gentleman would not have disgraced his late mouthpiece. We should, perhaps, commiserate with the Prime Minister on having a lost pen, though he may have gained a voice. I sincerely hope that we shall hear the hon. Gentleman very often, particularly on the subject which he has chosen of Anglo-American relations.
I found myself in agreement with a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman said. He came near to being controversial, though he did not specify what sort of power we were to retain in order to enable our voice to be heard most clearly in Washington. We should no doubt disagree as to the type. Again, I thought that he trod on dangerous ground when he recommended Government investment in. private companies. I noticed among the companies that he mentioned 1158 was not News Week, but I thought it a most admirable speech and one delivered with the greatest confidence and in a most agreeable manner.
The hon. Member thought that while international affairs had improved at the centre they had deteriorated at the periphery. I put the situation rather differently, It; seems to me that both the Communist and non-Communist worlds are now facing the same problems, and this, in itself, is encouraging. I believe that these problems are very largely connected with what we may call the breakup of the old Power structure or, as Mr. Kennan has called it, polycentrism; the decline of various empires, and the change of the structure of various sovereign Slates. We see this in Eastern Europe and in the Commonwealth—and across the Atlantic in the break-up of the Monroe doctrine.
This seems to me to be the new situation with which we must contend and towards which we must have new policies and new departures in our thinking. Unfortunately, we must face the fact that this change does not come about through any sudden, new-found, widespread belief in democracy, but has been brought about very largely by a rise in nationalism. Many of the current difficulties in foreign affairs are due to racialism, where they are not due to nationalism. If we are to contend with that sort of situation—the situation, for instance, in Cyprus, Malaysia and British Guiana, and, indeed, the situation that the Communists have in Eastern Europe—we must look at the whole structure of Government and international action.
To begin with, many of our problems are not soluble at all in terms of the old sovereign States, yet, as has been said, there is a demand for sovereignty in Eastern Europe and in Africa today. I do not think that the problem—of trying to control nuclear weapons, or the questions that lie behind the idea of the multilateral force, are soluble at all as long as we think of disparate sovereign States completely controlling their own affairs. In regard to the multilateral force, for instance, if we think in those terms, we come back to control, and we cannot get round the fact that someone has to press the button. If we think in terms of new groupings and a new spread of power, we shall be in accord with what is happening in the world.
1159 The growing distance between the rich and the poor countries is something to which the Prime Minister himself has constantly drawn attention, and it is certainly one of the most worrying features in the modern world. We shall not tackle that problem until the rich countries feel that they have an interest in sharing their wealth and, furthermore, feel that they share some sort of common citizenship with the poorer countries. Otherwise we are in exactly the same condition as most European countries were in the eighteenth century, when poverty was regarded as something to be treated by some sort of charity. Until we got the deliberate national policy of spreading wealth we never got the type of affluence we now have; that came about partly because people saw that it was in their own interest, and partly as a result of a fellow feeling for citizens of their own country. We do not have that feeling throughout the world, but the sooner we get it the better.
The particular difficulties that face us stem from the common difficulty that the world faces of the rise of nationalism, of the strife between different races, of the growth of new centres of power. We find that, historically, we have been left responsible for law and order and defence in certain places where it is now clear that the type of Government should be changed; where the reasons for our presence and the reasons why those places are governed as they are have completely changed.
For instance, we went to Southern Arabia to protect the route to India against pirates. This is no longer a reason for our presence there. Again, the situation in Africa, British Guiana and Malaysia has changed completely. Furthermore, these particular places are relics of imperialism. Their frontiers were drawn, not to accord with their own natural boundaries, but because of agreements between the various imperial Powers.
In this situation, what should be the first object of our policy? To my mind the object is clearly to enable a peaceful change to take place in these places. That is to say, our object should be to achieve change without leaving a vacuum into which other Powers will flow, possibly leading to a crisis. In the 1160 old days the world usually relied on war for change. War is now too dangerous a method of change, but we have not yet developed, either in the United Nations or elsewhere, any other method of change.
Our aim, for instance, in Southern Arabia or British Guiana is not simply to maintain the status quo. It is very revealing that a Conservative Secretary of State should himself say that our responsibilities in British Guiana are an embarrassment. It is very encouraging that it should be made absolutely clear that we are not in Cyprus to defend any imperial interests or to maintain things as they have been for the last 50 years, but that we are there to maintain peace and to try to find a solution to the problem—and not necessarily a solution on the old lines of the last 20 or 30 years.
The question then is: how are we to achieve orderly change without leaving a vacuum? One question that has so far not been touched on is on whom the responsibility lies. Is it the responsibility of the Foreign Office or is it the responsibility of the Commonwealth Relations Office to deal with this type of problem? There seems to me to be the strongest argument for at least having this made crystal clear, and, having read the debates on the subject, I would say that there are strong arguments in favour of combining the two Ministries into one. But we should be informed quite clearly whose responsibility it is.
Secondly, and here I follow the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds, we should have better co-operation between ourselves and our Allies. For instance, as the hon. Member mentioned, we have claimed our right to trade with Cuba, and we are sending lorries there. Now, there is a British firm, though it has a large American investment, which is talking of selling lorries to Indonesia. We do not know as yet what the Government's policy on this will be, but there is no doubt that the Indonesia-Malaysia war may drag on for a very long time. If it does, we must consult our Allies on how it is to be conducted, and it is extremely important that at the very outset we should be quite clear about this sort of question of how far we will trade with nations of which one or other Ally disapproves.
1161 We have had this question over long-term credits for Russia, and we may have it over the arrangements by which the Spaniards will have the know-how of our frigates. We have it over nuclear reactors in Roumania. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there should be the very closest consultation between the Allies on these matters. Furthermore, when dealing with Eastern Europe, it is most important that we should not appear to be competing with each other in encouraging satellite States to break away from Russia but should have a common policy towards Eastern Europe.
As I say, I do not believe that the troubles in the world, and I regret it in many ways, are due to any great upsurge of democracy. For instance, if we look at the Aden Peninsula, it is difficult to urge that we should have some sort of democratic system in the Federation. I find it very difficult to visualise a sort of Parliamentary system working there in the near future, though it may come in time.
§ Mr. William Yates (The Wrekin)
The right hon. Gentleman surely has been to Libya and knows that Libya was made independent in 1950 and has a democratically elected Federal Government.
§ Mr. Grimond
I feel it possible to have a type of régime in the South Arabian Federation which is more acceptable to the people there, but a great deal of the talk about it implies that the population are engaged in the same political controversies as we are engaged in and are concerned with the same political ideas and dogmas, which I very much doubt. I doubt very much whether the population are even appraised of the importance of the present war. Many of them are accustomed to sporadic fighting. War is more familiar to them than peace. We should not translate our methods of political controversy to other parts of the world where they have little relevance.
I should have thought that in the Aden Peninsula we have to look in the long run into the question whether we shall have to find some satisfactory heir to the old relations which we had with the sheikhs. I think that in the forseeable future the ideal is that there should be a growth of sensible pan-Arabism and that the Arab countries should be encouraged to get together.
1162 I have always thought that it is totally false for this country to set up in any way as the enemy of pan-Arabism. This may mean in the long run coming to terms with President Nasser. I do not approve of what President Nasser's planes are doing in the Yemen, nor what the Yemen Government are doing, but the old Yemini Government were not above reproach. They indulged in such things as flogging, public executions and slavery. Looking at it in any dispassionate terms, we must hope that that part of the world will become attached to its natural colleagues, the Arabs who live in the surrounding countries. No doubt we shall then be able to buy oil on a commercial basis.
More difficult is the question of the Aden base, because there we have responsibility to the United Nations and to the general peace-keeping functions of the Western nations. I do not believe, therefore, that we can give up the base, although in the long run we may be able to get some arrangement with the indigenous people for its maintenance, perhaps even under the United Nations.
In Cyprus, it seems to me that we must have some arrangement with the neighbouring countries which will relieve us of responsibility. In an article in the Guardian this morning an hon. Member suggests that Greece might take this responsibility. I do not feel that that is the only way. I think that we should exploit further some joint arrangements between Greece and Turkey, though it looks as though Greece must play the part in the long run. But Cyprus must find her place in some arrangement involving her neighbours.
On the subject of Cyprus, I should like to refer to the question already raised by the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) about Major Macey and Driver Platt. Have we any further information about them? It is indeed a most unfortunate incident that they should disappear without trace and apparently without the Government of Cyprus being able to do anything to protect them or people who in future may be in the same position.
I should like to look now at a similar type of problem that faces Russia. The Observer published last Sunday an article by Mr. Kennan, with whom in general I 1163 agree, but I confess that in this article there was a certain amount of muddled and wishful thinking. I do not believe that what has happened in Eastern Europe is due to what the West has been doing to any considerable extent. Mr. Kennan himself has rather forgotten his own warning that the Russians and the Communists dislike us for what we are and not for what we do. There is truth in that. Further, Mr. Khrushchev, with all his virtues and his appreciation that there must be no nuclear war and his increased tolerance within Russia, is a Communist and has always made it clear that he believes in the domination of the Communist Party in whatever country it is in power. I cannot see any diminution in that belief.
Furthermore, I do not believe that we shall have any great effect upon the Russians by loosening our own alliances. On the contrary, I think that the movement towards unity in Europe was one of the things which impressed the satellites in Eastern Europe. In that context, too, I do not think that Mr. Kennan appreciates the changes which have taken place in European countries. Mr. Monet's group has put forward proposals for making an approach to the satellite countries. There is a notable change in German thinking. While in the days of Dr. Adenauer any approach to Eastern Germany was regarded with extreme suspicion we now have the situation in which Dr. Erhard, who has been travelling in Europe and America, is urging that we should keep together to make some approach.
The time has come when it is possible that we can bring in West Germany itself into an approach, and when there will be no question of going over the head of West Germany to Moscow but a question of getting West Germany to put forward proposals to lessen tension between Eastern and Western Germany. There are signs that a crisis may be brought about by an attempt by the East Germans to improve their position. This would put a great strain on West Germans. They would be under extreme temptation to go in and help, and this might lead to a disastrous form of war.
Our own attitude to these changes in Eastern Europe—to the demand, for instance, of the Rumanians that they 1164 should not be under the industrial orders of Russia—should be that we should take advantage of this to increase trade and tourism and to infiltrate ideas of justice and liberty. But we should not take advantage of this either to increase the tensions of the cold war or, indeed, to subvert their Government. If we did that, we might solidify the position in Eastern Europe, which is the last thing that we should do.
I agree with Mr. Kennan and with Senator Fulbright that it is extremely wrong to regard all manifestations of Communism as an equal menace to us. There are many varieties of Communism, and not only Russian and Chinese. There is the Yugoslav variety, and every country is developing its own variety. We should try to infiltrate into them reasonable ideas of liberty and justice and impress upon them that we, too, have many of their problems and that we are anxious to help and not to hinder them in their solution. I am sure that this would be the right policy for the West, and I believe that we can take a more positive initiative about it, but we should delude ourselves if we thought that we could achieve quick results.
When Mr. Kennan warns us that we have offended many people in our own Empire by failing to understand their aspirations and he equates this with what we may be doing in Eastern Europe, I cannot follow him. I do not believe that people in Eastern Europe are likely to blame us for their condition, nor do I believe that they would have any justification for doing so. I feel that there may now be a chance of getting into touch with them, but we should be clear that we do not simply want to encourage nationalism or make mischief within the Eastern bloc. What we want to do is encourage in the different countries of the Eastern bloc the growth of the same values as we try to pursue in the Western bloc. Just as I believe that this should be done in consultation among Allies, particularly, of course, consultation with our American Allies, so do I believe that it is on this sort of approach to world affairs that our prestige should rely.
I do not deny that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds may be right in saying that we can talk to the Americans because we have a certain amount of power. To end on a controversial note, 1165 I believe that the sort of power which we ought to apply is political power and conventional arms. If the hon. Gentleman believes that the sort of power which enhances our prestige with the Americans is nuclear, then I say that he is wrong.
§ 5.50 p.m.
§ Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)
I am delighted to follow the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) in the very generous and wholly deserved tribute which he paid to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) on his quite admirable maiden speech. Everyone on both sides of the House, I am sure, greatly enjoyed it. Speaking for myself and, I feel, for a good many other hon. Members who have been in the House some time, I found my hon. Friend's clarity of expression and felicity of phrase causing a good deal of envy in my breast. The whole House will look forward eagerly to hearing speeches of equal quality from my hon. Friend in the near future.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) once again tried to imply that the proportions in our defence expenditure had gone wrong. He implied that the Labour Party would spend more on the conventional and less on the nuclear. This was roughly the line of argument followed also by the right hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland in his concluding remarks. I have not looked up the figures lately, but my recollection is that about 10 per cent. of our defence expenditure goes on the nuclear and about 90 per cent. goes on the conventional arm. I shall be corrected if I am wrong, no doubt.
I am sure that if we now have a world which is firm at the centre, in the middle of Europe, as my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary said, this is because we have spent 10 per cent. of our defence expenditure on the nuclear weapon. If it had not been for that 10 per cent., there would be no firmness at the centre. If it had not been for that 10 per cent., there would probably have been no nuclear test ban treaty.
If the Opposition intend to spend less on the nuclear and more on the conventional weapon, this suggests to me 1166 that they are very close to playing with the idea, if not actually proposing it, that it would be a good thing to reintroduce conscription. Is that what they mean? The House and the country would like to be told before the end of this debate whether that is what they have in mind.
Rather obliquely, I thought, the right hon. Gentleman also alleged that we on this side of the House would follow the party opposite in proposing to abandon the nuclear deterrent. We propose to do no such thing. It is not who manufactures the deterrent that matters. What matters is who controls it. This was a mistake which the right hon. Gentleman ought to have known better than to make.
The right hon. Gentleman's suggestion in relation to South Africa was quite surprising. All of us in the House are deeply concerned about the events at the Mandela trial. There is no one in the House, wherever he sits, who does not deplore the system of apartheid, both on moral grounds and on every other ground, and who does not deplore what happened at that trial. But I thought I heard the right hon. Gentleman suggest that we ought to consider applying to South Africa a strategic list. I do not think that I misheard him. The prospect of sharing a strategic list, as he suggested, with allies—presumably, in this context, this would mean the Soviet Union—would be quite interesting. If this is really what the right hon. Gentleman is asking for, what it amounts to, in a slightly shaded form—I am not using the word "shady"—is economic sanctions.
The purpose of a gesture of this kind, whether it be called limited economic sanctions or the imposition of a strategic list, would be to bring about a political objective, namely, to ameliorate or liberalise, whatever one calls it, the policy of apartheid in South Africa and to try to secure better conditions and less discrimination against the coloured peoples of South Africa. That would be the object of the exercise, of course. Does anyone seriously imagine that the application of a strategic list upon South Africa, in conjunction with allies, is likely to achieve that result? Is it likely to make the South African Government more liberal? Is it likely to 1167 persuade them to be less tough in applying the policy of apartheid?
Limited economic sanctions are a very dangerous weapon. I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman looks so startled. Just before he returned to the Chamber, I was saying—I have no wish to misrepresent him—that I understood him to be asking that the Government should consider applying a strategic list of goods to South Africa—in conjunction with allies—I think that that was the phrase he used—as a kind of political weapon to apply pressure against the policy of apartheid. That is what I thought he said. If he did not, I withdraw it. I went on to say that this is really, in one form or another, economic sanctions.
§ Mr. Gordon Walker
I conceive of this simply as an extension or completion of an arms embargo, as, indeed, is the embargo list upon exports to Communist countries. It is merely an extension of the arms embargo. It is not in any sense an economic boycott.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
It is not in the same category as an arms embargo, nor is it applied for the same purpose. The object is quite different. Before the right hon. Gentleman returned, I was saying that I thought that a policy of that kind would be unlikely to achieve the desired result. It would be more likely to irritate the South African Government rather than otherwise, and I do not for a moment think that the best interests of the coloured population, the Africans themselves, would be best served in that way.
I remind the House that very limited economic sanctions applied against Italy at the time of the Abyssinian war converted that war from a thoroughly unpopular venture in Italy into a national challenge. According to my recollection, the party opposite broke off diplomatic relations with Spain, as a gesture, shortly after they came to power in 1945. Did that make the Franco régime any more liberal?
Moreover, if one wishes to follow that sort of line, one must apply it universally, without discrimination. If one proposes to take a moral line of that sort, one cannot apply it in the places where one thinks one will get away with 1168 it and not apply it in those where one thinks one will not. Does anyone suggest that we ought to restrict, diminish or cut off economic aid to Nyasaland because nine Jehovah's Witnesses were murdered for the crime of not voting for Dr. Banda? Where does one stop? If this is the line which the Opposition intend to take about South Africa, I beg them to realise that there must be some co-ordination between the head and the heart.
I turn now to the subject of Cyprus. Here, up to a point, I agree with a good deal that the right hon. Gentleman said. The situation in Cyprus is very bad. If it deteriorates further, it will have immeasurable repercussions. We have counselled moderation upon the Turks, and the Turks have accepted our advice. This, to my mind, imposes upon both us and the Americans a very heavy moral obligation to ensure that Turkish vital interests are not penalised by reason of the restraint they have shown.
What has happened? Is the United Nations force in Cyprus holding the ring, pending negotiations? I do not think it is. As I see it—I may be wrong—the United Nations force has been an almost passive witness of the gradual erosion of the whole Turkish position step by step, and in this process British troops have unwillingly been participants.
I agree with what has been said on both sides of the House already, that the House and country owe an immense debt to the British troops for the restraint, good humour, discipline and courage which they have shown, but I think they have been absolutely disgracefully treated by President Makarios. They have been asked to operate in circumstances which are deplorable and humiliating. When we get to the stage where a British officer and his driver, both attached to the United Nations force, are simply kidnapped and disappear into thin air and nobody can find them—largely, I suspect, because the United Nations force, as the right hon. Gentleman said, has not the power of search—this is something which even Gilbert and Sullivan never conceived.
When the Cyprus crisis broke out, it was the Labour Party which was rather 1169 critical of the Government for not seeking straight away a United Nations solution. I wonder whether hon. Members opposite think like that now. When the crisis broke out, speed was the essence of everything and Britain alone could act speedily. We had troops on the spot and troops which could be moved quickly, and moved quickly they were, to the credit of the Government. I believe that if they had not been moved quickly into the area it is likely that there would have been a war between Greece and Turkey.
Moreover, we were perfectly entitled to act on our own both as a signatory of the original Zurich Agreement and as a N.A.T.O. Power. But Archbishop Makarios did not want speedy action. He wanted delay, and if delay was his essential ally, naturally, a United Nations force was his essential weapon. Inevitably in the assembly of a United Nations force weeks would have to elapse before the troops of the various nations could be got together from the four winds of heaven and put down in Cyprus, and even after the lapse of a number of weeks they were operational only because of the facilities we offered them from the British base.
Once the United Nations force was assembled with the British element in it, the Labour Party began expressing all sorts of anxieties. It must have been obvious that uncertainties would be bound to arise directly there was a United Nations force. Of course they would. The Labour Party asked "Were the orders clear?", "Who was in command?", and "Could the British troops defend themselves and, if so, under what circumstances?" The right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) went so far as to suggest that heavy tanks should be used to dismantle road blocks and strongpoints—a very sensible suggestion, too. But the trouble with a United Nations force—let us be frank for this is inherent in the origin and composition of a United Nations force—is that it has never dismantled a strongpoint or a roadblock either in the physical, literal sense or in the metaphorical sense if that strongpoint or roadblock has been erected by a majority. No minority has much to hope for from the United Nations today, unless the minority has a propaganda value of 1170 an anti-colonial nature within the ambit of the General Assembly.
I invite the House to contrast the immense pressure which we and the United States and, to a lesser extent, the Secretary-General rightly put on the Turks not to land troops, though, as a matter of fact, under the original treaty they were entitled to do so to protect their own minority—that pressure has, happily, been successful—with the comparable lack of pressure applied to Archbishop Makarios not to proceed with conscription or to buy heavy equipment, which he is not entitled to do. The truth is that the United Nations, to put it quite frankly, is being taken for a ride by Archbishop Makarios, the Prime Minister of a newly independent Commonwealth country which would be bankrupt within a month but for the revenue accruing from the British base and the subventions from Her Majesty's Government.
This cannot go on. I am sure that all hon. Members will agree that some solution in the form of a rather more practical method must be reached fairly soon. The trouble is how to get a solution. I agree that the original Zurich Agreement has stood no chance of lasting very long. But various other solutions are being canvassed in the Press and elsewhere. One is the solution of partition. I do not think that Cyprus is a very easy place to partition. One would have to swap the population about a good deal. I also believe that if in the present heat we attempted a serious partition of Cyprus, quite apart from the physical and economic difficulties, we should have to have a kind of permanent Gaza strip right along the frontiers on the island.
A second solution which is discussed is called double Enosis. If I understand the term, it is another form of partition. There would be the Greek portion of the island belonging to Greece and the Turkish portion belonging to Turkey, so that we should have an international frontier running down the island. I do not know whether that is feasible. I should have thought it very difficult for the same reason as before.
The third solution put forward appears to be to hand the whole island over to Greece—which is single Enosis 1171 —and compensate the Turks territorially elsewhere. I do not know whether anybody could tell me where else they could be put. What other islands are there in the same strategic position as Cyprus? If they are to be compensated on the mainland, it would mean giving them a large slice of Thrace.
All these solutions which are being mooted really involve a transfer of population in one form or another, particularly the last solution—a transfer of population on something like the 1922 scale. That in itself is a kind of major surgical operation. One can do a surgical operation on a patient when his temperature is normal, but it is much more dangerous to do it when the patient's temperature is 104°F. I hope that the foresight and skill of my right hon. Friend and his colleagues in N.A.T.O. and elsewhere will lead them to appreciate the urgency of the problem.
To end, I very much hope that the British Government will not be party to a settlement which does not commend itself to the Turkish Government and take into account the vital Turkish interests. This is not a simple minority problem. There is a very considerable historical, geographical and strategic element in it. The Turks are very staunch allies in both N.A.T.O. and CENTO, and if they were to feel that some solution was being bandied about which did not take into account Turkish vital interests and that they were being let down by their two major allies in N.A.T.O., America and Britain, the effect on Turkey would be very bad indeed, with a consequent effect which would be even worse in both N.A.T.O. and CENTO.
§ Mr. A. Woodburn (Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire)
I have listened with interest to the hon. Gentleman's analysis of the situation and his very clear elimination of all the solutions that have been proposed to the problem of Cyprus. I was looking forward to the moment when he would suggest that was the solution. Now that he has rejected all those alternative solutions, has he any idea what the real solution is?
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
What I said was that I hoped that no solution would be seriously considered which did not 1172 commend itself to the Turkish Government and take into account vital Turkish interests.
§ 6.9 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
I find myself in partial agreement with what the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) has just said about the functions of the United Nations peace force in Cyprus. I think we are all anxious, certainly if the British contingent is to remain, that the powers conferred upon the force should be strengthened and that it should have the right to move road blocks, disarm irregulars and so on. But I strongly disagree with his criticism of the United Nations.
I think that that criticism was untrue. The hon. Gentleman adduced no evidence to support his charge that the peace-keeping force had given all its aid and its favours to the Greek Cypriots at the expense of the Turkish Cypriot minority. According to information I have had, that is not so. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman felt it necessary to criticise the United Nations in this way.
§ Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe
I said nothing of the sort. I said that the U.N. force was almost a passive witness of a process of erosion of the Turkish position.
§ Mr. Henderson
If the hon. Gentleman looks at HANSARD tomorrow he will find that he made the statement that the Turkish minority had little to thank the U.N. peace force for during the time it has been in the island.
The hon. Gentleman also challenged the Opposition about the nuclear deterrent. Time and again we have tried to make our policy clear, but the more we speak about it the more the Government ask what we mean. We put forward the proposal that in course of time, after the R.A.F. bomber squadrons have run down—which will be some years from now—rather than build up an alternative nuclear force, whether with Polaris or the TSR2, we should concentrate our efforts on building up our conventional Forces.
The hon. Gentleman suggested that this means that we shall have to reintroduce conscription. Nothing of the 1173 kind. We would seek to build up the qualitative efficiency and fire-power of our Forces and that does not necessarily mean that there would have to be a great increase in personnel. The mere fact that we would make our conventional Forces more efficient does not indicate that we should have to ask the country to accept conscription again.
Why do we take this position? The Prime Minister knows the answer as well as I do. I have had the opportunities to acquaint myself with the huge air power of the United States. I have visited Cape Kennedy and have seen a great deal of U.S. strength. There is no doubt that the U.S. today is in possession of nuclear striking power sufficient to kill humanity two or three times over. In the position that will arise in a few years' time, there is no reason why we should not leave that responsibility to the United States.
If we persist in maintaining our nuclear deterrent there is no reason why France, Germany, Italy and a dozen other countries should not say, "If Britain has the nuclear deterrent we should also have it." As we want to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons, that is our second reason for taking up this position.
§ Mr. Julian Critchley (Rochester and Chatham)
If the Opposition are so keen to stop the diffusion of nuclear weapons, especially to Germany, why do not they support the M.L.F.?
§ Mr. Henderson
Because it seems a most unfortunate policy to follow during the sittings of a disarmament conference. What is the point, at a time when we are seeking to reduce armaments, of building up another force of this kind? I am not aiming my fire at Germany alone. I say that no other country need have nuclear weapons provided that the U.S., on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other maintain the stalemate which exists at present in nuclear forces
The Foreign Secretary has now left the House, but I am glad that the Prime Minister has remained. I listened to the Foreign Secretary with great interest and I must confess that I had a measure of concurrence with some of the things he said. But I was disappointed at his throwing over of the Prime Minister.
1174 In March, 1961, the Prime Minister, as Foreign Secretary, made a speech which I have quoted many times since. I thought that it was a very constructive suggestion. He said that in his view the American and Soviet disarmament plans might be amalgamated into what he called a master plan. I thought it a very good idea and I hope that the Prime Minister will not throw it over.
§ The Prime Minister
My idea of a master plan is not one which automatically takes a half-way house between the Russians and the Americans, which is what the Socialist plan would do.
§ Mr. Henderson
I would agree with the Prime Minister in talking about a "half-way house", but surely the position is that, if the Soviet Union and the United States each put forward a plan, two plans are in existence. Neither the Soviet Government nor the U.S. Government will give up their plan. Therefore, if we are to break the deadlock we must get a third plan. I do not mind changing the term "master plan" to "third plan".
I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have provided a third plan. If not, it is time they did. I am realistic enough to know that, during the next six months, there is little likelihood of any substantial progress in disarmament, but I see no objection to producing, even if only as a basis of discussion, a third plan or a master plan which would, in due course, break the deadlock existing today.
I realise only too well—we must all accept it—that the world problems are complex and complicated. The picture is more sombre than for some time. I do not think I am exaggerating in suggesting that the world is a simmering cauldron of violence and fear. This to me only intensifies the urgency of the problem of disarmament and, even though we may have to wait until after the elections in the United States and Britain, I still regret that the Government have not shown the initiative that they might have done in producing a third plan.
I said that I thought the world was faced with many complex and complicated problems. One of the most difficult is the apartheid policy in South Africa, manifested in the recent trials that have outraged the conscience of the 1175 world. The South African Government appear to take the view that they are covered by Article 2(7) of the United Nations Charter which provides that the U.N. shall notintervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any country.I do not believe that the fathers of the Charter, in drafting that provision, ever contemplated that it would allow any nation to carry out a policy which breached the principles of the Charter itself—a Charter which seeks to protect human rights and the fundamental liberties of every individual, irrespective of race, creed or colour. Therefore, I do not believe that the South African Government should be allowed to interpret Article 2(7) to exclude consideration by the United Nations of this line of conduct which outrages the conscience of the world.
At the Security Council yesterday, there was a debate on the proposal to impose economic sanctions against South Africa. Sir Patrick Dean, our representative, expressed our Government's doubts as to the advisability of such a policy. I share those doubts. I do not think that the way to handle this problem is to embark upon a policy of economic sanctions which would bring misery, unhappiness and suffering to millions of innocent people and which would have behind it the sanction of force. Having said that, I am sorry that our representative at the Security Council did not put forward alternative proposals, which merit attention and which come within what are called the peaceful settlement clauses of the Charter.
Why could not the Government have proposed, under Article 34, which authorises the United Nations to carry out an inquiry into any situation which threatens international peace, that the United Nations send a mission of inquiry to South Africa to make this investigation? Under Article 36, the Security Council would then have power to recommend to the Government of South Africa necessary adjustments in its policy. If I am told that there is no means of compelling the South African Government to respond, I refer the House to Article 6, which permits the expulsion of any country which is acting in contravention of the purposes and principles of the Charter. I should have thought that sustained 1176 moral pressure on those lines might eventually cause a change of mind and heart among the South African people and might well have brought about the change to which Sir Patrick Dean referred yesterday.
I should now like to deal with the position in the Middle East. In reply to a question put to him yesterday, the Foreign Secretary said that the Tripartite Declaration of 1951 was still in force although, as he put it, it was inactive. I wonder whether that is so. Since the Suez campaign, the 1951 declaration has become very much less effective. The situation has changed considerably and I do not believe that the three Governments concerned would in any event operate the Declaration if there were an emergency in the Middle East.
§ Mr. W. Yates
President Kennedy made a statement to Congress saying that the Tripartite Declaration was operative for the United States.
§ Mr. Henderson
Let me be fair; the Foreign Secretary did not repudiate the Declaration but merely said that it was inactive. Of course it is inactive, because the situation with which it was intended to deal does not exist. I am not saying that it is not legally binding, but I very much doubt whether it is the political instrument which it was considered to be five or 10 years ago.
After all, we all know that the Egyptians have received powerful armaments—submarines, aircraft and tanks—and have the services of many German scientists who, we are told, are developing and may be producing forms of rocketry. The balance of armaments to which the Declaration refers has become very much an imbalance. I do not mix in Israeli Government circles, so I do not know what Israel has been able to secure as a counter-balance to what Egypt has secured from Russia and Czechoslovakia.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Israel has the finest of the three armoured divisions available in the Middle East and has a reactor on which French scientists are working.
§ Mr. Henderson
I have seen, perhaps more than the hon. Gentleman, something of the Israeli forces and I am not worried about what would happen if there were an invasion of Israel by any of the 1177 forces which the Arab countries could put forward. But an arms race is going on in the Middle East and we do not know to what it will lead. Do we believe that the Arab countries will be able to drive 2 million Israelis into the sea? Of course they will not be able to do so.
I suggest to the Prime Minister, amplifying what my right hon. Friend said earlier, that we should propose to the Governments of the United States, France and the Soviet Union that the four Governments should enter into an agreement for the regulation and control of arms supplies to all the countries of the Middle East, coupled with a declaration, similar to that of 1951, that the four countries would do their utmost to safeguard the peace of the Middle East by siding with any country attacked by the other side. If that were possible, the problems of refugees, water supplies and even boundaries could be discussed in an atmosphere very different from that now existing. I ask the Prime Minister to give this proposal his serious consideration.
My final comment is that the racial conflict, which is causing so much trouble in various parts of the world, is not the main threat to world peace and world stability. Yesterday, the Prime Minister himself put his finger on what many of us believe to be the major problem. It is that the world is divided into haves and have-nots, two-thirds have-nots and one-third haves. The extraordinary thing is that the more we do to help the have-nots, the greater the difference there is in the standards of living of the two-thirds as against the one-third.
In this changing world, this is a situation which cannot endure indefinitely, and I wonder whether this will not be one of the major topics at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. I believe that the British Commonwealth of Nations has a great contribution to make in the affairs of the world, not only in the maintenance of world peace and not only in the cause of disarmament but in this great constructive crusade to raise the standard of living of 2,000 million people who are today living on the margin of misery, poverty and subsistence. On this aspect of the debate I wish Godspeed to the Prime Minister in the conference which is to take place next month. Let us 1178 hope that the Commonwealth countries will agree to lead this great crusade in favour of world social and economic justice.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Listening to many of the able speeches which have been made this afternoon, one is reminded of agents for Cooks, because one speaker after another has gone round the world from one country to another, and looking at my speech I find that out of necessity I shall have to do very much the same.
In his last great speech at Gettysburg shortly before his death Abraham Lincoln said:We are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.Those words are very applicable today, for the whole world is now engaged in a great struggle, and the Western world is deciding whether its system, which is conceived in freedom and so dedicated, can long endure. The world has changed quite immeasurably in the last 100 years, and science has made every country each other's neighbour. The Western world is now challenged by that portion of it which believes in totalitarianism and the denial of free thought and action.
I would have thought that such a challenge would have united ourselves and our allies and caused us in this last decade to have had at least a measure of agreement on foreign policy. But such has not been the case, and although the differences which have divided the Western world have been the splitting of hairs compared with the differences which has separated us from the Communist bloc, during the last 10 years we have never ceased to divide and bicker amongst ourselves.
The question which I should like to ask this afternoon is whether that can be changed; whether we can get some greater unity. In a way, I think that things are more hopeful now than they were, for 12 years ago the Western world was faced by China and Russia who were engaged in promoting identical policies by every method except a worldwide war. That is not now the case, and there exists a deep bitterness between them. Yet deep as that rift is, it has 1179 never caused either country to turn actively towards the free world or to abandon schemes and the instigation of petty wars for the destruction of the Western world.
It means that at the moment we have to face two underground enemies, China and Russia, both determined on our overthrow and on the political conquest of the new and inexperienced countries. Surely in a sense their division is our opportunity, and we should take advantage of it by achieving now a unified Western policy which would not only check the advance of Communism, but cause its retreat.
As I have said, the world is divided into two power camps, those who believe in individual freedom and those who do not. But there is also the third bloc of multitudinous new nations, many of whom are uncommitted, and who will be the future battleground of the world, for many of them are little more than vacuums which cannot stand on their own and which will, inevitably, under the force of economic circumstances, have to throw in their lot with one side or the other. It is, therefore, all the more important that we should face this opportunity united and not divided.
Of course, there are many difficulties in the way of establishing a common Western policy. Indeed, while countries retain their individuality it will probably never be possible. This in itself may be desirable, but surely it is not necessary that there should be such disarray as there has been in the past. If we look at our Western bloc at the moment, we can find hardly any joint purpose which is shared by France and the United States while, as the right hon. Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) and my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) said, Turkey and Greece are nearly on the verge of a war. As there is this unnecessary division in Europe and among our allies, ought not Britain and the United States to make some attempt to establish at any rate a measure of a common policy and achieve or set in motion the machinery which might enable the two countries to have one?
That would be an advantage to both sides, for while the United States is the 1180 greatest Power in the world, and a country to whom we all owe our survival, this country still has many great links and associations with the emergent nations. If we could establish closer consultation, contact, and purpose between ourselves and America, it would not only be to our advantage, but would be an example to Europe and would illustrate the value of close cooperation.
Curiously enough, I believe that our chances of achieving a joint policy with America are better now than they have ever been, for in the past, despite everything that was good in it, the very nature of British Empire was antipathetic to American idealism, and was something which America, despite her own interests, found that it could never justify or support wholeheartedly. But we must be frank with ourselves and admit that the British Empire no longer exists. The challenge that faces us today is whether we can get what comes after it allied with the Western nations. Therefore, surely it is worth while making an attempt to see whether Britain and America can cease frustrating one another, as we are doing in certain parts of the world, or, equally bad for our own interests, damning each other with faint praise.
I would argue that now is the time when we should try to do this, and what I should like to try to do this afternoon is to examine those parts of the world where we are contradicting each other, where America has cause for complaint and where we have cause for complaint, and where it is possible to bring to an end the disunity which exists.
I should like to begin by referring to our position in the Far East, to which my right hon. Friend referred this afternoon. It is common knowledge that for many years our trade with China has annoyed America. It is possible to argue that we are right and that they are wrong, but at the same time it is important to look at the whole Far Eastern scene as one problem and not as a series of problems.
If we do that, we can see that America is very nearly at war with Vietnam and Laos. She clearly believes that unless she proves her determination to fight, and is indeed prepared to do so, the 1181 whole of old French Indo-China would come under the Communist sway, and that Thailand would follow, which would leave the Malaysian Federation, which we have built up, like a nut between the pincers of Indonesia and China. Therefore, whether one likes it or not, if one analyses the situation, the fact is that we are engaged in commercially helping a country with which America is on the verge of war.
Before making any comment on that, let us look at what is happening further south in Indonesia. The main purpose of Indonesian foreign policy at the moment, as outlined again and again by President Sukarno, and as carried out by warlike threats and warlike action in Borneo, is the destruction of the Malaysian Federation—the preservation of which is one of the main justifications for American intervention in Vietnam.
At the moment Indonesia receives a certain amount of economic aid from the United States. In the past it has received a great deal. Only a few months ago Mr. Robert Kennedy, the American Attorney-General, came here after visiting Indonesia and argued that the problem out there should be settled by the Asiatic nations alone. Fortunately he appeared later to change his mind. Nevertheless, the visit was made. President Sukarno received encouragement, and he will continue to do so because he continues to receive American aid. This must blunt his belief that he is faced by a united West.
So it is clear that in the Far East Britain and America are spending huge sums of money attempting to stop the advance of Communism and, at the moment, America is on the verge of war with China, with whom we are building up trade, and we are engaged in a guerrilla war against Indonesia, which still receives friendly aid and diplomatic visits from America. Were it not so serious, the contraditions of the situation would be laughable. Judging the matter from any angle, it is difficult to see how either of us is actively helping the other. Each is carrying out policies which makes the task of the other more difficult. Thus, even in an area of joint interests, the two countries at the moment have no unity of purpose or common policy.
I turn from the huge area of the Far East to the much more limited zone of 1182 Cuba. Here again, there is disagreement between ourselves and America. America believes that Cuba should be subjected to a complete economic blockade, and that America's allies should join her in carrying out this blockade. We do not agree with this view, and we are continuing to trade with Cuba. Once again, the question arises whether it is wise to frustrate American policy in spheres vital to her for a limited advantage to ourselves.
Let me carry the argument further and consider another country where our aims appear to differ from those of America—British Guiana. There we have the phenomenon of a desire on the part of the United States for the continuation of British colonial rule, the reason being, that, if we leave, there will be a chaotic vacuum in that part of the world. America believes—and she has good reason to do so—that this would result in the Communists establishing a foothold on the South American continent. Despite this, we have been pushing on independence, and in the last year it has seemed almost as if we have been trying to get our own back on the Americans for hurrying us on elsewhere. It previously seemed doubtful whether the British Guiana constitution could succeed, and the present crisis suggests that it will not.
Once again, should not we consider falling in with American opinion, despite the difficulties which that course will inevitably bring, if, in return, the United States are prepared to fall in with our wishes in other parts of the world? Might not we consider the world situation as a whole and of our confrontation with the whole Communist world?
Having dealt with three areas which are of vital importance to American policy and in respect of which they believe we should align our policy with theirs and where no alignment whatever exists at present, I now turn to a part of the world which is of vital importance to us and where we appear to be receiving less than absolute American cooperation or support. I refer to the Middle East.
There is often a danger of hon. Members—especially on this side of the House—regarding the Middle East as an area of permanent importance. It may 1183 well be that if the reserves of natural gas under the North Sea fulfil their promise the importance of the Middle East will be greatly diminished. But that is something for the future; all that we can say at the moment is that the oil reserves there are of vital importance to us, and we must presume that at any rate in the foreseeable future the oilfields of the Trucial Coast, Iraq and Persia will mean a great deal to this country and should, if possible, remain under independent Governments. It is also important for America that Saudi Arabia should remain independent.
There is no doubt that President Nasser thinks precisely the opposite. There is no doubt, also, that he is steadily attempting to achieve his hardly-concealed ambition to dominate the whole Arab world. It is, therefore, obvious that his aims are directly contradictory to those of this country and those countries in the Middle East which wish to maintain their independence.
For years Egypt has bitterly attacked us on the radio, and war propaganda has been waged unceasingly against us throughout the Middle East, and yet in the past the whole Nasser régime has been saved by American loans. At a moment when the whole stability of his régime is doubtful, which is not only threatening us but Israel and therefore the whole security of the area, America continues to support him. Why, despite our interests, does America wish to maintain him in power? Apart from that, there is his active intervention in the Yemen.
All these examples make it quite clear that in certain areas we are frustrating America and in other areas America is working against us. The importance of Cuba, British Guiana and China to the Americans, must be offset by the importance of the Middle East and the maintenance of the Malaysian Federation to us. Considering what is at stake I should have thought it essential that instead of this disunity, somehow or other we should have been able to achieve a joint policy.
We have been unable to do that. Sometimes we have acted separately, sometimes in unison and sometimes 1184 without any, but hardly ever have our actions been taken as the result of any forethought or anticipation. The time has come to bring this situation to an end. We should consider the suggestion made many years ago by a former Prime Minister—Lord Avon—that we should establish a tactical committee, not dissimilar to the war-time Anglo-American Chiefs of Staff Committee, to take a long-term look at the world situation.
This committee would, of course, not have the right to decide, but it would advise and anticipate. I believe that at least it would be an attempt at co-operation. Looking back once again to the last war, very often England's and America's ideas were not identical, but as a result of joint consultation they nearly always worked together effectively. Why should this be impossible in peace time? We have a joint purpose. Could not we see, therefore, whether it would be possible to join together in the implementation of our plans? The chief sufferers of our disunity are ourselves and not the Communists.
Had we acted jointly, I do not believe that the situation in various parts of the world would be as serious as it is today. Look at Cyprus, where it was perfectly plain for many years that the constitution was breaking down. Had Britain and America concentrated on a plan, we should not be on the edge of a Turko-Grecian war or find the Eastern axis of N.A.T.O. divided. If one takes a look around the world one can be sure that the future will hold many similar shocks and changes for us.
Let me give examples. Have we a policy prepared if Nasser launches an attack against Israel? Libya is now an extremely important country with oil reserves. Early this year the King resigned. A day or two later he came back to his throne. That is typical of the confusion which exists throughout the whole country. During the past decade there has been a large-scale infiltration of Egyptians into the country. What will happen if a plan has already been made for a country already racially divided into three sections to be physically divided between Egypt and Algeria? Are we prepared for that? What would be our action if the present official Government called to us for aid? These are the problems which face us today and what is so alarming is 1185 that we do not know what our joint policy is. I am not saying that there is no close liaison between ourselves and America—there is. But should not we establish first with America and, leading from that, with Europe, machinery by which we could plan and anticipate? After all, is not planning and anticipation the basis of every successful operation?
It is difficult to see what harm such an advisory committee could do. I believe it possible that it could do an enormous amount of good. It could greatly decrease the spheres of disagreement. It could enoble us to be prepared to take positive action and it could enable us to have a general policy in spheres where at present we are divided. In the past many of the Anglo-American misunderstandings have been unnecessary mistakes. I am sure that we all hope that this will not recur. Therefore, I hope that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, at some time in the future, will attempt to initiate talks with President Johnson concerning the establishment of such a joint advisory committee to try to give the West the unity which it has lacked in the past.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. E. L. Mallalieu (Brigg)
The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) has taken us on a tour of the world looking at the individual danger spots, and he found the situation alarming. I must say that I found it alarming too, and not only because of the nature of the troubles in the danger spots. I found it alarming also because of the sort of remedy which I felt the hon. Member would apply to those problems, except in one instance when he said that there should be consultation. That is, of course, immensely important, though I do not know why it should be limited to consultation with America and then with Europe.
§ Viscount Lambton
I said I thought that we should start with America. There is not enough unity in Europe.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
Evidently the hon. Member wishes to go further, which is exactly what I want. The mere fact that he has to look at these problems in isolation and finds them alarming but does not look beyond to see what could possibly be the remedy—except consultation in what I thought a rather 1186 imperialistic manner with America and later with France—is indeed alarming from another point of view. However, I do not think he is the only source of alarm.
We listened to a speech from the Foreign Secretary which I felt was a really frightful performance. The trouble with Ministers is that whatever good intentions they start with, they very soon get so bogged down with a round of ceremony and appalling drudgery of detail that they are just unable to see the wood for the trees. The longer they are in office, the worse it becomes. Their plight becomes one in which they are quite unable to follow through any conclusion, any idea that they might have. In fact, I think it true to say that the Front Benches of the world are groaning under the weight of unimaginative drudges. It is not always their fault, as I have tried to explain. It is because of the circumstances in which we live today, with so many problems on our hands and so much attention to detail.
I found the speech of the Foreign Secretary a puffy, flabby wedge of platitudes. Oh yes, he was donnish. He gave the impression from time to time of missing his blackboard. He took us round looking at each problem in isolation and he left us with no suggestion at all about how the whole might be painted. He did not have any picture to show of the world as a whole in spite of the fact that he travelled so far in his tour.
What is this world picture which I feel that Ministers are incapable of seeing, not because of any lack of intelligence or ability but because they have been placed in Ministerial positions and have been there for far too long? Is it the world of South Africa or Southern Rhodesia? Is it South Arabia, or South Vietnam? Is it the difference in the social systems of the East and the West? Is it even the difference in the economic level between the struggling newer Powers and the more long-established industrial Powers? I should be the last person to suggest that all these things are not of extreme importance. I cannot imagine the world really being at peace with itself until these matters have been dealt with.
In my submission these are only the colours. I make this assertion, that if 1187 there were the political will among the greater Powers in the world today, steps could be taken which, in the space of 10 years only, might make war impossible. These steps of a mechanical order have already been taken in such a way as, for instance, to make war absolutely impossible between Scotland and England, or between the States of the American Union or between the Cantons of Switzerland. It was a matter of mechanics, and these mechanics have been effective in preventing war. No one, certainly not I, is suggesting that we can alter human nature by mechanical arrangements, but it is possible—it has been demonstrated to be possible—to make war impossible in certain spheres. I regret that what we heard from the Foreign Secretary this afternoon failed to show any glimmer of understanding that such things might be brought about if an imaginative lead were given.
If only four of the great Powers came together and willed it, there could be a world federation in the measurable future. I believe that the idea of world federation is already in existence in a great many countries—I should say the great majority of small countries, even if it is not in the bigger ones. If the smaller ones knew that the bigger ones willed that machinery they would fall in behind them. I am not just talking from imagination. I have had the good fortune to visit a great many of the countries of Africa, for instance. There is not a country in West Africa, with the possible exception of Ghana, which would not fall in without a murmur, except to cheer the bigger Powers, if they would give a lead in that direction.
Yet it is very nearly four years since that very remarkable Conference of Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth in which they made the statement which, in effect, said that we cannot expect to maintain world peace unless we have a world authority capable of maintaining and enforcing world law. It was a most remarkable statement. Her Majesty's Government were a party to it. What have they done about it since? I know of nothing, except possibly two very unfortunate incidents which have happened this year. Both relate to the Foreign Secretary. In answer to a 1188 Question yesterday he said that he was going to refer to this matter today, but he did not do so.
Twice this year the Foreign Secretary, with a great blaring of trumpets and all the publicity he could muster from Press conferences and so on, has said, "I am going to such-and-such a conference"—in one case the Geneva Disarmament Conference and in the other the Cento Conference—" to make a breakthrough in this matter of a permanent world police force." On one occasion he failed entirely to mention it at the conference and on the other he virtually failed to mention it. I suppose he did this under the shadow of the oncoming General Election. I suppose he gathered whatever personal kudos was to be gathered from making statements of good intention, and, maybe, he gathered it for his party. I do not know, but these two incidents, coupled with a lifetime of elegant and fine scholarly utterances by the Foreign Secretary which have earned the admiration of opinion in this House but which have always been completely lacking in follow-up by appropriate action, give me a complete lack of confidence that he will lead us anywhere.
On the contrary, they lead me to believe that he is someone who has never believed in anything in his life and that, therefore, he is the last person on earth to lead a nation of idealists such as we are, although we have our feet on the ground in practical matters. He is the last man on earth to lead us at this time when these great changes are coming about on the foreign scene. He shows himself unable to take any notice of them at all, except that he says he will take note of them and gives us a donnish lecture about all these matters being under constant review. This, I feel, is a complete and absolute tragedy.
If the human race is to survive this century we have got to have a world federal government. It is no use just pointing to difficulties in Aden and South Vietnam. Of course there are difficulties, and always will be, about foreign affairs. The difficulties are extremely intractable and they become more so through misunderstanding caused by language and upbringing, but we must see the picture as a whole. That, I am afraid, the present Government have 1189 failed to do. There must be, what they called for nearly four years ago, a central authority having as a minimum the power to have a monopoly of arms and to make war impossible.
Only so can we achieve that general and complete disarmament which everyone thinks is a prerequisite to a stable peace. Only so can war by accident be prevented by the complete elimination of arms right down to police level in the hands of sovereign States. Only so can the disparity in economic fields between the have-nots and the haves be done away with satisfactorily. I imagine that very few people think now that either Khrushchev or Johnson is going to start a war voluntarily. We all know that they will lean over backwards to prevent any war starting lest it escalates into a bigger war. What we are likely, far more likely, to see is a huddle between them in their efforts to stop the further spread of nuclear weapons.
I am glad that Her Majesty's Government are going to push in behind that with any weight they may have in international affairs, but no one can be sure—all the "hot lines "notwithstanding—so long as nuclear weapons are in the hands of sovereign Powers that there will not be a war by accident. It that happened we all know there would not be a single human being on this planet who would be unaffected, not even if he stayed in a cave in Mongolia for years on end. That gives us every reason to hope that even the Chinese, who are often regarded as a complete stumbling block in the way of this plan for general and complete disarmament, that even they, since they are intelligent people—at least as intelligent as we are—will have the sense to see that it is in their interests, exactly as it is in the interests of the Russians and everyone else, at all costs to get to the central problem of general and complete disarmament.
I have no doubt that, apart from the ones I have mentioned such as being bogged down in detail, the main reason which stops Her Majesty's Government going ahead with a tremendous drive in this direction is that other people will not follow it. What reason can they have now for thinking that the Soviet Union will not act in its own interests? Is it not in its own interests to survive and do away with nuclear war? They were 1190 the first to say that they wanted general and complete disarmament because they believe that we could not entirely abolish war and the fear of war unless we have complete disarmament. There may have been reasons some time ago why it was prudent to consider that the Soviet Union was not sincere in its expressed desire for general and complete disarmament, but that is no longer the case.
I hope the House will bear with me for a few moments while I tell hon. Members of something which happened in Switzerland this year, in the heart of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference. I know that many on the Front Bench—perhaps I should say the Front Benches, I do not know—have perhaps a rather poor opinion of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. If they have they should bear in mind that it was due to discussions in the Inter-Parliamentary Union that the World Court came into existence. It was very largely due to discussions in the Inter-Parliamentary Union that the League of Nations became a fact with its descendant in the United Nations.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union consists of ordinary independent Members of Parliament for the most part, Members who are not briefed by Governments and who have an independent expression of a point of view—for the most part, but not all. They have, of course, their constituents tugging at their coat tails and are an extremely progressive body on the whole and enlightened.
This Easter the whole of the Iron Curtain countries—in fact, their decision was unanimous—and the others agreed to something which I would have thought was quite unbelievable, at any rate from the Iron Curtain countries, even a couple of years ago. Each hon. Member can put his own interpretation on why this happened. They agreed to do things with regard to peace-keeping machinery. They agreed that ultimately, in the second stage, there must be, if we want to have general and complete disarmament, a world law as distinct from international law which applies only to Governments—a world law applicable to individuals, so that if an individual was found manufacturing arms contrary to the treaty he could be dealt with. That world law must be against violence and against the 1191 possession of arms without the permission of the central authority.
Secondly, there must be world courts, not the International Courts, to interpret and apply that law, and, thirdly, there must be a force to impose that law. That is in the ultimate. To those three things, in a package deal, the Soviet Union delegates have agreed, and they cannot at the Inter-Parliamentary Union or anywhere else agree to something which is absolutely contrary to what their Governments say, although we can. They agreed to these three things in the ultimate. In the immediate future, they agreed to the setting up as soon as possible of a United Nations emergency force, not only of general staff at the United Nations—military, medical, legal, administrative and scientific—into which cadres troops could be fitted, contributed by national Governments. It agreed not only to that but that there should still be this world law against violence and the possession of arms without the authority of the emergency unit, and legal machinery to deal with such things as the breakdown of law and order, as occurred in the Congo.
§ Mr. W. Yates
The Secretary of State for Defence, in Geneva, put forward some ideas on a court for world delinquency. I should like the hon. and learned Gentleman to be more specific as to how the culprit would be arrested, who would charge him and how the machinery would work. That seems to be an important factor.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
I appreciate the hon. Member's desire to understand exactly what I mean. I am afraid that I cannot give him the full details which would take me another 10 minutes or so. I can say that the charge would be made by these legal cadres in the case of the emergency force. If it had been in existence at the time of the Congo and the chiefs of staff there and the Staff Committee of the United Nations and the legal men had planned it in advance, it could have gone into the Congo with 50 times more effect than it did, in circumstances which we know about only too well. My point is that here are the Iron Curtain countries agreeing to something which some of us in this country had been working at and pleading for during the last 10 years. We 1192 have talked to them in the Inter-Parliamentary Union about it for nearly as many years as that, and we might as well have talked to blocks of concrete until this year.
Everything seems to have changed. But what has changed with the Foreign Secretary? All that he says is that we must note this change and be prepared to deal with it. No attempt at a lead has been given and no indication as to the path along which he hopes to go, still less any indication of the goal to which he should be leading us.
For far too long too many people have been thinking that they will arrive at disarmament by merely going to disarmament conferences. It is apparently the argument that they themselves are good and that if they sit round the disarmament conference table they will be able to persuade other people that they are good and the other people will then disarm. Of course they will not. Nearly 40 years of disarmament conferences have shown that this will not happen and that there will never be disarmament of sovereign States until someone has sufficient vigour to put forward an alternative system of security to that which people think that they have at present by arms.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Wilson (Truro)
Is it any good disarming unless we find some alternative methods to force to settle disputes? Must we not have a world law generally accepted as to how the disputes are to be settled?
§ Mr. Mallalieu
I thought that that was precisely what I was saying. We must have this world law both in the immediate and ultimate stage, and we must have the machinery to interpret it and enforce it. That is the most important thing.
I should like to feel that in view of this change which appears to have come about amongst the Iron Curtain countries the British Government would propose and press precisely what these countries have now agreed to. Is that too much to ask? I am certain that if the British Government did it, all of us on this side of the House would be prepared to forgive them for clinging on to office to the last possible legal moment contrary to the wishes of the electorate—but I do not expect to be called on to exercise that forgiveness.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Humphry Berkeley (Lancaster)
In the absence of the Leader of the House, I should be grateful if the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs could draw his attention to the somewhat unsatisfactory nature of this debate. In the first place, it is quite deplorable that we should not have had a foreign affairs debate in this House for a year. It also seems to me to be wholly inadequate for us to be discussing over a two-day period problems as remote from each other as Berlin, Indo-China, Cyprus and Cuba. I do not think that it is possible for us to have a very coherent debate in these circumstances.
It is quite remarkable when one thinks that just over a year ago we continually had debates about the Common Market. It is right that we should have regular debates on certain defined subjects within the foreign sphere, and it is certainly not true to say that foreign affairs have suddenly ceased to be important since the Common Market negotiations ended. Yet that might well be the view of anyone who looks at the amount of time devoted by this House to debating this subject. When I think of the number of utterly worthless subjects on which this House spends hours discussing—subjects that are, I suspect, of little interest to hon. Members and of even less interest to our constituents—I think that I may ask the Leader of the House to be slightly more accommodating in regard to foreign affairs debates in future.
Precisely because one could roam over almost anything in this debate, and because I believe this to be unsatisfactory, I propose to devote my remarks exclusively to Cyprus. I visited Greece, Cyprus and Turkey a few weeks ago. I had the opportunity of having discussions with Greek and Turkish Ministers—the Prime Minister of Turkey, the Deputy Prime Minister of Greece—and all the major interested parties on the Island of Cyprus itself.
Cyprus is, as it happens, the only place to which I have ever been that appears to be worse on the ground than it is from afar, and when I recall that I have been to Aden, the Yemen, Zanzibar and other strange places, that is really saying something. One gets the most appalling sensation of evil, which 1194 is the result of ungovernable hatred having broken out between the races.
I do not think that there is much point in jogging back to see which race was responsible for this breakdown in human relations; both races in Cyprus have behaved at times rashly, at times with folly, at times provocatively. What we must do is look at the events that have taken place since January, if only to teach ourselves certain lessons in case a peace-keeping operation of this character has to be undertaken again. It is at this point that I find myself in disagreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe).
It was, of course, correct for us to send in our troops when we did—there was no possible alternative—but I believe, and I said so within a few weeks of this crisis breaking out, that it was a cardinal error on the part of our Government to assume that this was a problem that could be solved either by Britain or by Britain and Greece and Turkey—or even by N.A.T.O. I therefore feel that the first diplomatic mistake we made was not only in not taking the matter to the United Nations but, in the early stages, resisting the taking of it to the United Nations.
There are two quite separate problems to be dealt with in Cyprus. They are interrelated—and, indeed, one follows on from the other—but they are separate, and until our minds are clarified as to what the problems are we are liable to fall into the same confusion that has in some sense affected the United Nations itself. The two problems are, first, pacification and, secondly, the eventual long-term solution.
We shall not get a solution of any kind even being considered until pacification has been achieved. This, in my judgment, was the basic weakness in the appointment of Mr. Tuomioja, the mediator, with the terms of reference he was given when he was appointed. His terms of reference were to sound out the communities and report back to the Secretary-General about the areas of agreement between the communities that might lead to an ultimate political solution.
As I saw for myself, there is no physical contact between the communities. The bulk of the island is controlled by the 1195 Greek Cypriots, but a sizeable portion of Nicosia, and almost all the territory along the road from Nicosia to Kyrenia is in the hands of the Turks. I had to pass through nine separate armed road blocks, manned, on the one hand, by illegal Turkish police armed with Sten guns and, on the other hand, near Kyrenia, by Greek-Cypriot irregulars in rather bizarre uniforms, also armed with Sten guns. My passport had to be produced, my car was searched. There was no freedom of movement whatever. The two communities are not in communication with each other by writing, or even by telephone. When I went to see Dr. Kutchuk from the Ledra Palace Hotel I had to drive myself, because no taxi driver from the Greek quarter was prepared to chance his life in the Turkish quarter.
The clear deduction from this appalling breakdown in human relations is that until peace is restored no progress whatsoever can be made. It is no good talking, as I did, to Mr. Inonu in Turkey. I saw him two days after 32 Turks had been kidnapped. Eventually, eight of them were returned, but 24 of them have not been returned and we can only assume that they have been murdered. It is no use expecting the Turkish Government to be politically able to discuss, even if they wished to, ultimate solutions for Cyprus as long as their people in Cyprus are beleaguered and in a state of mortal physical danger. Therefore, if we can, in our minds, separate the question into the short-term problem of peace-making and the long-term problem of political settlement, we come to what is the absolute crux of the matter, and that is the rôle of the United Nations.
Various hon. Members have suggested in this debate that in some way or another the United Nations mandate is inadequate. I believe this to be the case. At the present time, the United Nations has no power to search. It has no power to disarm. It has no power to take down road blocks. The only power it has is that if it happens to see a fight breaking out it can try to stop it.
I am quite convinced, therefore, that we must see with clarity that the power that is likely to be effective in this strengthened mandate is the giving to the 1196 United Nations of complete control over all military and police operations on the island; that is to say, to give it the power to disarm all the irregulars, whether on the Greek or the Turkish side, and to give it physical control over the Greek police and the Turkish police, but with the United Nations making use of the two forces. The urgent, prime task is to make the United Nations force take over the patrolling of the Nicosia-Kyrenia road, charge it with the obligation of removing the road blocks, and give the Turkish community guarantees of protection by the United Nations force against any attempt on the part of the Greeks to move into their part of the territory.
That seems to me to be the essential need, and I hope that in New York our Government will insist that unless this over-riding mandate is given to the United Nations we shall feel compelled to withdraw our contingent from the force. I think that we have had enough humiliation as it is. I never felt happy about the idea of British troops acting in a peacemaking rôle in Cyprus where, after all, we have in the past been militarily involved in a somewhat unpopular way. But if our men are to be there, we must be there in reasonable circumstances and under a strong and effective mandate. I therefore hope that the Foreign Secretary will see that when the question of the mandate comes up at the United Nations, Sir Patrick Dean is given instructions to insist that without a strengthened directive we do not believe that the British contribution to this peacemaking force can any longer be effective.
We must ask ourselves whether this mandate would be acceptable not only to the Greek and Turkish Governments but to the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. Let us take, first, the Turkish Cypriot community. These people have now reached a state of appallingly low morale. They are be-leagured, beaten and frightened. They see only two possibilities ahead of them which can prevent them from being massacred. The first is a Turkish invasion, which is obviously what they would like best. The second is United Nations help. I believe that they are in a state of such despair at present that the Turkish Cypriots would accept an overriding mandate of this kind.
1197 What about the Greek Cypriote? I think that Archbishop Makarios would obviously have reservations on a strengthened mandate at present. On the other hand, he must recognise that any solution for Cyprus to which the United Nations is a party is bound in the long run to favour the principle of majority rule. Archbishop Makarios excuses the arming of some 30,000 irregular gangsters with Sten guns on the ground that they are necessary to protect him against an invasion from Turkey. Again, if the United Nations were to assume military control over all operations in Cyprus and if the United Nations were to indicate that invasion, from whatever quarter it came, would be resisted by force, the public ostensible justification for Makarios arming these irregulars would immediately be swept aside.
I know that it has been said—my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor said it—that the Turks have a right under the Treaty to invade. We should be quite clear what their legal right is. Under Article 3 of the Treaty of Guarantee each of the contracting parties has a right to take action to carry out one objective, and one objective only—that is, to restore the constitutional position of the existing Cyprus Constitution, and for no other reason at all. If the Turks were to invade to bring about partition, they would be committing aggression. If they were to invade to bring about federation, they would be committing aggression. If they were to invade to bring about a double Enosis, they would be committing aggression. It is only in this strictly limited sphere that a Turkish or a Greek invasion could have any legality at all.
As now none of the parties in Cyprus and none of the interested Governments favours a return to the 1960 Constitution, it seems to me that any invasion of Cyprus could be interpreted by the United Nations, quite rightly, as an act of aggression. It is essential for the United Nations to do two things. The first is to undertake to protect each race—such a United Nations guarantee would be of far more value to the Turks—and the second is to undertake to prevent outside intervention. I believe that this is the only argument and the only action which may force Makarios to agree to the disarming of his irregulars. It is the key to the restoration of law and order.
1198 This is the preliminary. It is necessary to separate in our minds what the two problems are. Pacification is the first problem. If law and order can be restored; if we can arrive at a situation in which people are no longer kidnapped, if we can get the sandbags down in Nicosia and the road blocks down on the Nicosia—Kyrenia road; if we can get a situation in which a Greek can go into the Turkish part of Nicosia without being murdered and a Turk can go into Kyrenia without being shot, then a situation will be created in which some sort of relationship begins to exist between the races, and only then will it be possible for us to consider what the long-term solutions may be.
What both parties and all Governments will have to consider is that, if the United Nations, which is the only body which can now do it, takes on to itself a direct commitment of this overriding kind, the United Nations becomes the most directly interested party in achieving a settlement in Cyprus. Both sides must recognise this before it happens.
My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor sketched around the long-term solutions. This is a matter which we can spend some months thinking out, if only we can get the United Nations mandate straight. I am convinced that no solution in Cyprus can conceivably work which perpetuates indefinitely the racial distinction between Greek and Turk. Under the existing Constitution, the now unworkable Constitution, a Turk who stole a motor bicycle had to go before a Turkish court and not a Greek court; a Turk convicted of murder had to go in front of the Vice-President for reprieve and not the President. At every stage of the Constitution he was legally defined as being a Greek or a Turk. Therefore, at no time since 1960 when independence came was there any movement to bring the races together. On the contrary, on each of my six visits there in those three years it imperceptibly became clear to me that the races were growing further apart.
Nor can one ever have a solution in a territory which has a majority of 82 per cent. and a minority of 18 per cent., which in effect gives a power of veto, and therefore a power of government, to 1199 a small minority. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor quite rightly said that we ought not to look for a solution in Cyprus which would humiliate our Turkish friends and bring about gross hardship to the Turkish-Cypriot minority. When visiting Cyprus at present one cannot fail to give all one's sympathy on the parlous position of the Turkish minority.
What are the guarantees that the Turkish minority needs? What would prevent the Turkish Government from undergoing a humiliation? What any racial minority requires is, first, the opportunity to live in peace, the opportunity to practise its religious faith, to abide by its local customs, to educate its families according to its traditions, and to have legal defined rights in the sight of the law. These are the fundamentals which any racial minority must require. These are the matters which we have tried to ensure that Europeans in our former African Colonies have retained after independence has been achieved. This is the whole object of producing Bills of Rights.
What will be in the basic interests of the Turkish Government in Ankara? Is it really going to be in their interests to have partition in Cyprus, with a frontier which is ill-defined, which probably cannot be easily defended and over which there will always be fighting? Is it in their interests to have in Cyprus an independent Cypriot Government with overwhelming power, neutralist in theory but heavily impregnated with Communism in practice? Is that in the best interests of Turkey—to have this, only 40 miles from the Turkish mainland? Or might it conceivably be in the best interests of both the Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish Government to have a Cyprus united with Greece, ultimately part of N.A.T.O. with a N.A.T.O. presence and base and a Turkish contingent as part of that presence, part of a country implacably opposed to Communism and determined to keep Communism out at all costs? Is that not perhaps in the long run the argument which might most appeal to the Turkish Government?
What about the Turkish Cypriots? Might they not in the long run have more favourable treatment under a Government ruled by a metropolitan Power which has 1200 had to deal with the problem of Turkish minorities before? Might not a more comfortable life be assured to those who wish to stay? I give no dogmatic answer to these questions. Indeed, I have indicated that these are questions which can be discussed only when temperatures are lowered, when lives are no longer in danger and when peace is restored.
It is because, having been there, I am confident that peace can be restored only by the United Nations having this overriding mandate, and because I believe that we—as a result of our historical ties with Cyprus and our military involvement with that country, along with our base in Cyprus—are as interested as anybody in securing a favourable outcome of this problem, that I ask the Prime Minister to see that Britain takes the lead to achieve this mandate, which alone can bring peace when the matter is debated in the Security Council a week from now.
§ 7.42 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Sorensen (Leyton)
The debate has ranged over a wide field and I am sure that hon. Members will forgive me if I do not immediately follow the corner of overseas problems which the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley) discussed in his admirable speech, which was made obviously out of his own experience. I wish to deal with one aspect of foreign affairs which, although it has been touched on, has by no means been exhausted. I refer to the Arabian Peninsula, particularly the Yemen.
Some years ago I had the advantage of going to the Yemen before it had become as prominent in the news as it is now. It was a very fascinating experience for me because the Yemen was, and still is, a kind of medieval remnant left over from the past. I soon discovered, from talking privately with some citizens of the Yemen, that behind the superficial peace of the country—a peace secured largely by intimidation and cruelty—there were smouldering fires waiting to burst into flame at any moment. Those fires have now burst into flame and the result is that the Imamic régime has passed, although the present Imam, the successor to the previous Imam, then the Crown-Prince and now the claimant to the Imamate, has a certain number of Royalist troops in the mountains. A Yemeni Charles the First prevails in one 1201 part of the country, while Yemeni Crom-wellians rule the towns.
In the cities and towns—in, for example, Taiz and Sana—there are Republicans still retaining a certain strength. Were it not for the 30,000 to 40,000 Egyptian troops now in the Yemen it might not be possible for the Republicans to retain what they have won, but I am convinced that both the Royalists in the mountains and the Republicans in the towns are at one in demanding that at some date there should be a union of their own country with what they call the Southern Yemen.
When I talked with the Yemenis I discovered it was their burning conviction that the southern part of the peninsula, adjoining their country, had been forcibly taken from them in bygone days and that it should be restored to them. In 1839, when we acquired Aden Colony and then secured the hinterland which was later called the Protectorates, the territory was certainly acquired by force—not from the Imam of the Yemen but, rather, from the Sultan of Lahej. It is important to recognise this because just as the Sultan of Lahej broke away from the Imam and set up his own domain and authority—and we recognised him in the original agreement we had with him, no doubt under duress—I submit that we should also recognise that there has been a revolt against the Imam, a more modern Imam, in the Yemen.
This has lead to the establishment of the Republican régime in the towns and we are, therefore, as entitled to parley and negotiate with the Republican régime, seceded from the present Imamate, as in 1839 we parleyed and entered into an agreement with the secessionist Sultan of Lahej. Certainly it was an acquisition on our part to serve our interests. There was, of course, a reason or excuse for this acquisition, which was that our sailors, when shipwrecked, had been maltreated. We know enough about such events to know that that was the occasion rather than the real cause—and that on that occasion we secured a valuable station for commercial and strategic purposes. We secured it by defeating the troops of the Sultan of Lahej and, under duress, the Colony was acquired. Later we entered into arrangements with a number of 1202 chiefs to secure a valuable and necessary buffer between Aden Colony and the Yemen.
When Britain is condemned, as often she is, for such an imperial acquisition—and I admit that it was such to serve our own interests—we should point out that many of the critics do or have done exactly the: same. The Yemen itself was not once what it is now. It grew from humble beginnings. At one time a number of nomadic chiefs dwelt in their own lands, travelling from place to place, but by force, absorption agreements and a variety of means the Yemen came into being. Much the same thing happened, but on a larger scale, to form the British Empire, which grew and expanded throughout the world. I mention this because it is not for any country to point the finger of scorn at this country for having been an imperial nation in the past. It is the way things happened. It is the way in which human nature behaved in the past. All nations and all people were involved in the same process, but in the course of time we learned greater wisdom.
It was done for reasons of expediency, and for the same reason of expediency I maintain that it is essential today to recognise the existence of the new Republican régime. I know it can be and has been said that it is difficult to ascertain who has the controlling power in the Yemen. All one can say is that in the cities and other urban places where people dwell, rather than wander around or live primitively in agricultural pursuits, the Republicans are strong. That being so, we must make up our minds whether we wish to support the Royalist régime, which may still be strong in the mountains, or whether we wish to support the Republican régime in the cities.
Can there be any doubt that our interest as a democratic country must be with the Republicans? Much might be said for withholding recognition until such time as one or other of the rival forces can prove their strength, but I say that it is in our interest and both wise and expedient that forthwith we recognise the Republican régime. I hold this view for one or two reasons. First, I believe it would assist the Yemenis themselves to increase their resistance to the infiltration of their 1203 country by Egypt. There are 30,000 to 40,000 Egyptian troops in the Yemen. Possibly they came there in the first place at the request of the Republicans to help them defend themselves against the Royalists in the mountains. Possibly, as I have admitted, with the withdrawal of the Egyptian troops the Royalists would become dominant, aided no doubt, by Saudi Arabia in one way or another, and overthrow the Republican régime.
But that does not alter the fact that by recognising the Republican régime we should give some assistance to those Yemenis who are becoming increasingly critical of the presence of Egyptian troops in the country. Although one can admire much that Nasser has done—and he has done a great deal—and while on the other hand we can criticise much that he has done, the fact remains that there is much fear in some parts of the Middle East that Egypt may be taking the place of the old Ottoman Empire for which there was formerly great detestation. If that is so, it seems to me that we can encourage the Yemenis to intensify their national consciousness and to strengthen their resolve not to be subordinated to Egypt if we recognise the Republican régime.
The second point is that by recognising that régime we go a long way towards meeting those who in what they call Southern Yemen and what we now call the South Arabian Federation claim that they desire union with the Yemen—and certainly large numbers do. These are by no means confined to the Yemenis who have infiltrated from beyond the border. In Aden itself, undoubtedly the great mass of politically conscious men—I do not say "women", because they hardly seem to count in this context, unfortunately—are desirous at some time of union with the Yemen. That being so, we should recognise it as a desirable aim which we should assist, which may not be attainable immediately but which nevertheless is a desirable and laudable aim on the part of the Arabs both in Aden and in the Yemen.
There is such a fact as Arab-consciousness, a strange thing maybe but very powerful. I stress this because I disagree with those who are inclined to explain all the conflicts between nations and communities on economic grounds. Economic factors are very 1204 powerful. No doubt they are embedded in the conflict at present in the Arabian Peninsula, but they do not represent the only factor. We human beings have multiple motives and multiple components in our behaviour. There are economic, cultural, historic, psychological and religious factors.
In the Arabian Peninsula there is the intense factor of Arab-consciousness. We must think of that and recognise it as a fact. It may not go very far, and it may not succeed as it is hoped that it will succeed. One weakness of the Arab world is their apparent incapacity to implement the union which they so ardently desire. But it does not alter the fact of Arab-consciousness, and if we recognise that as a fact it seems to me we shall go some way towards encouraging a greater understanding between Arabs and Britain by admitting the aspiration which they have, in the Yemen, in Aden Colony and in the Federation for ultimate union, as desirable.
§ Mr. W. Yates
Would the hon. Member say whether their aspirations run counter to British interests in that part of the world?
§ Mr. Sorensen
I was about to come to that. On the contrary, I do not think that they run contrary to British interests. I touch on a matter which will be debated at some other time after what I hope will be the fortunate conclusion of the present conference in London, but I anticipate it, I think justifiably, by saying that one reason why we are hesitant about recognising the Republican régime or this aspiration for ultimate union of the Yemen is our belief that by so doing we may lose very powerful interests in Aden Colony, particularly in respect of our military base. Certainly, in consistency with our own democratic professions, we must lay it down that we cannot hold on to that base, no matter how valuable it may be to us, against the will of the people. If there is no real desire on the part of the population of Aden that we should be there, obviously at some time we must clear out. If we do not, we should be betraying the very principles we have openly and justifiably proclaimed and implemented in other parts of the Commonwealth.
1205 Reference has been made today to the fact that the Empire has almost gone and that just a few fragments remain. Personally I am glad it is being replaced by what I think is the nobler concept of the Commonwealth. But be that as it may, we are bound by our own consistency to apply to Aden what we have applied elsewhere, which means that we recognise that we have no right to remain in possession of any part of the Arabian Peninsula against the wishes of the people.
But I do not think that there is any real clash in this matter at all. I am quite convinced that once we demonstrate our consistency, particularly in the ex-Colony of Aden, and show that we desire it to be independent and self-governing, then two facts will flow from this. The first will be the recognition that from an economic standpoint the base is of immeasurable value to the people of Aden. A large number have found employment directly or indirectly from the base and from British troops and British interests there. Secondly, I think that they will also appreciate that by the British remaining in Aden Colony for a while, they can look to the British, as others have looked elsewhere, for protection against any possible attack on them by the feudal lords and rulers of the Protectorate.
For those two reasons I believe it would be possible to negotiate freely between an independent self-governing Aden, on the one hand, and ourselves, on the other hand. Both sides would, I think, gain by an agreement, freely negotiated, by which, on the one hand, we retained the base for a certain period and, on the other hand, there was general economic benefit to the people and Government of Aden.
Between the Aden and the Yemen there is the amorphous East-West area with upwards of a million people living in effete feudal ways, with a number of rulers with considerable power—although this varies between tribe and tribe. It is important that we appreciate the resentment on the part of the more politically conscious people of Aden that they, with a certain measure of democracy, should be forcibly linked with those more feudalistic and perhaps reactionary communities in the Protectorates.
1206 Therefore, whilst recognising the right of Aden to be free and independent, we should give the Protectorate rulers notice that our present agreement for protection will at some time come to an end, so that they can thereby be induced to make terms, on the one hand, with Yemen and, on the other, with a democratic self-governing Aden. I hope, therefore, that in this small part of the world the Government will be bold and will take the initiative. I believe if they announced that we will recognise the Yemen Republican régime and if they did all they could to induce the Royalists to negotiate with that régime to secure a united Yemen, and also establish an independent Government in Aden, this would go a long way to encourage friendship and confidence between ourselves and the democratic forces of Southern Arabia and lead to a new situation in which none would lose and all would gain.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)
The hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) made, as usual, a constructive and humane speech. He spoke from personal experience and I think it was a rather dangerous personal experience of the Yemen and of Aden. I do not fully agree with what he said and will offer my own comments on it in a moment.
No reference has yet been made from this side of the House to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). I object to his attack upon my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He made a personal attack upon my right hon. Friend's character and he made an attack on his speech. He chided my right hon. Friend for not being able to see the wood for the trees, but having listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Member I was unable to see the wood for the wool.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, and indeed the right hon. Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) and other speakers from both sides of the House, including my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), who treated the House to such an admirable, able and eloquent maiden speech, have drawn the attention of the House to the repeatedly changing 1207 international scene. The 1960s are very different from the 1950s. Cuba was a climacteric and the lesson of Cuba was that the nuclear deterrent does indeed deter. No longer are most of the nations of the world panicked or polarised into one or other of two blocs. There has been a revival of diplomacy. The "hot line" between the Kremlin and the White House is an earnest of the tentative Soviet-American rapprochement which is hopeful but which also could prove dangerous for those Powers which are in the middle.
The Communists, particularly in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, emulate aspects of Western capitalism. North American corn rescues Premier Khrushchev from some of the consequences of a collectivism which has achieved something more than the Czars ever achieved, namely, famine from the River Elbe to the Pacific Ocean. China, described by Napoleon as a "sleeping giant", has awakened. He is stretching his limbs along the Himalayas. Napoleon said that when this "sleeping giant" awoke he would "astonish the world." To use the jargon, Communism is no longer monolithic, it is polycentric. In the Muscovite church there is a pope and an anti-pope, but which is the Leninist pope and which the revisionist pope I would hesitate to say.
Europe is in renaissance and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds said, it is now European bankers who lend to the Americans. The right hon. Member for Smethwick urged us not to try to intervene in the United States Presidential election. I think that we politicians can safely leave that to the Press, but that the coming changes in the United States are matters of which in this House we have to take note though I believe that at least some of the fears expressed are exaggerated.
I remember some supposedly well-informed people expressing grave anxiety when General Eisenhower succeeded Mr. Truman. They feared a dangerous lurch in United States foreign policy. It did not so prove, but I think that the British people are entitled to consider and we in this House are entitled to consider, whose finger would be on the trigger if a Socialist Government came into power, which is unlikely, and phased out the British nuclear deterrent.
1208 There are other changes in the United States. The terrible racial problem will not be resolved by the acceptance or rejection of the Civil Rights Bill. The racial virus has spread and may prove worse in the harsher conditions of the Northern cities than in the more lackadaisical and segregated South, and the eyes of United States statesmanship will inevitably be turned inwards. On this racial question we who do not have to deal with it should at least try to understand rather than to condemn. This applies both to the United States and to the Republic of South Africa.
Today Europe is relatively stronger and North America is relatively weaker, and the West confronts a Communist empire whose decay and disunity can probably be arrested only by Western folly and weakness, or by a change of dictatorship or doctrine either in Moscow or in Peking.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
No, I do not think so. I am referring to disunity in the Communist camp, but what has not been brought out in the debate so far is that perhaps there is in this very disunity in the Communist camp a new source of danger to the West. In Latin America, in Asia and in Africa the Communist Powers, China and the Soviet Union, are competing for the allegiance not merely of the Communists but of the uncommitted. China and Russia are each on their mettle to prove who is the lustier anti-imperialist. The cold war may well have ended in Europe, but there is a lukewarm war, as our soldiers well know, being waged by proxy in the mountains, jungles and deserts of other continents.
A gentleman called Mr. Gafurov, Director of the Institute for Asian Peoples in Moscow, has denied that it is Soviet policy to stand for peaceful co-existence between "imperialism and the oppressed peoples". There is still, I believe, a sinister geographical symmetry to Communist strategy. The Communists, whether they are in competition or whether, sometimes, they are in collusion, are still trying from South America to envelop North America, not necessarily by military means, and to roll up Europe from Africa. It is significant, and it symbolises this symmetry of Communist 1209 strategy, that the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation has extended its scope to Latin America.
Mao Tse-tung has said:Once Asia and Africa are separated from the capitalistic centres of Europe, the European continent will completely collapse economically. This capitulation will be a natural consequence of the above-mentioned events. The crisis in Europe will be followed by complete economic insolvency and industrial catastrophe ".It was not a colonialist, it was not even a neo-colonialist, but it was a brilliant and farsighted African statesman, President Houphouët-Boigny of the Ivory Coast, who, as long ago as 1959, gave warning of the Communist ideological and political penetration of Black Africa. M. Houphouët-Boigny said:Africa, like China, is an under-developed continent. But if Africa is under-populated, China is not; she is over-populated ".Africa, he concluded, must be the extension, the prolongement of Europe, not the extension of Asia. Mr. Chou En-lai, I understand, is to return to the continent where, on his last visit, he announced that "the prospects of revolution are excellent". His experts are in Brazzaville. They are in Usumbura. They are helping Mulele in the Congo. On 30th June the United Nations Forces are to leave the Congo, regrettably, in much the same state of chaos in which they found it.
In this country, we all welcomed the visit of General Mobutu, who is a brave, talented and enlightened leader. It is our hope that Great Britain, with other European Powers, will be able to assist him with equipment. Now that Katanga, despite the late Dag Hammarskjöld's statement that only token United Nations forces would enter the province, has been duly reduced to the surrounding level of incoherence, people are taking a more dispassionate view of Mr. Moshe Tshombe. Indeed, some people are complaining that he has too many Left-wing friends in Brazzaville. Mr. Tshombe has recently been elected President of the Conakat Party, which is the most important and representative of the Katanga parties, and it may well be that, should he return to the Congo under amnesty, he will be able to join hands with other responsible leaders in Leopoldville.
Soviet Russia, thanks largely to what has happened in the Yemen, about which 1210 the hon. Member for Leyton spoke, now has a "red route" from the Caucusus, through the Yemen, to the Horn of Africa. The Chinese, apart from the Russians, are busy in irredentist Somalia. In Zanzibar, 300 Tanganyika police confront the People's Liberation Army, which is Russian-trained and armed. It remains to be seen who took over whom when the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar was proclaimed.
Cuba, Zanzibar and Cyprus—there is a Communist strategy of islands for the penetration of continents. Cairo figures for Moscow, and with Moscow, in the Cyprus situation. It fishes in the troubled waters of the Eastern Mediterranean. I have myself been a critic of United Nations operations, but I pay tribute to those countries and troops who are undertaking this impossibly difficult task in Cyprus at the moment. But I think that the Government were right, and the Opposition were wrong, when the Government preferred that the situation should be handled, so far as international forces were concerned, by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to which the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey belong. That is now the past, but N.A.T.O. should not disinterest itself in the future of Cyprus. The southern flank of N.A.T.O. is at stake, and CENTO's sheet anchor is the Royal Air Force squadrons in the sovereign bases.
It was, perhaps, a little unfortunate that the Leader of the Opposition chose the moment he did to visit Premier Khrushchev in Moscow. We understand that the right hon. Gentleman wanted to discover Premier Khrushchev's views. Premier Khrushchev had made his views on the Middle East quite clear in his utterances in Egypt and elsewhere. In his opinion, "the unity of the Arab peoples is called upon to serve" the anti-imperialist camp. Arab socialism is a weapon for the overthrow of Arab monarchy, whether in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Yemen or Southern Arabia.
What is remarkable is that it is the West which has been financing the Arab Socialist movement of President Nasser. In 1962, the total foreign aid received by Egypt amounted to 357 million dollars, of which 247 million were provided by the West. Last year, the total foreign aid received by the United Arab 1211 Republic amounted to 305 million dollars, of which the West provided 257 million and the Communist countries 54 million. The National Bank of Egypt, in a recent report, and the United States Development Agency have concluded that the plight of the people of Egypt is only better than that of the Arabs of the Yemen. In other words, after the Yemen, the real standard of living of the Egyptian people is the worst in the Arab world, despite the substantial aid which has been provided largely by the Western Powers.
This is not entirely the fault of President Nasser. Egypt has a fearful problem of population pressing upon resources. But part of the trouble has been that the aid which Nasser has received from the West has been spent upon armaments, upon military adventures, upon Nazi technicians and propagandists, upon assassinations and attempts at coups d'état, upon terrorism and subversion in the Middle East and Africa.
In speaking about the Yemen, the hon. Member for Leyton said that the Royalists were holding out in the hills. I would say that the Royalist resistance in the Yemen is one of the most remarkable and positive factors in the Middle East in recent years. The Republicans, on the other hand, said the hon. Gentleman, are holding the cities. Of course, it is in the cities where one finds the Egyptian army of occupation.
I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Leyton, who said, in effect, "Let the people of the Yemen decide". Yes, indeed—let them decide their future. But how can they decide their future when there are 30,000 or 40,000 foreign troops on their soil?
The hon. Gentleman urged Her Majesty's Government to accord recognition to the Republican régime. It is true that the United States recognised the Salal Government, but what is sometimes forgotten is that the United States made clear that its recognition should be dependent upon the withdrawal of foreign forces from the Yemen. This is what we should press for. Then, certainly, let the Yemeni people come together. I believe that they would come together. I believe that they may well have been united, 1212 despite tribal and other differences, against the cruel and repressive occupation by Egyptian military forces.
It has been noticeable in the debate that Nasserism has been less highly regarded on the benches opposite. We owe to Tribune a report of President Nasser's interview with Dr. Gerhard Frey of the neo-Nazi Deutsche National und Soldaten Zeitung, in which President Nasser, according to this report, rejected any "peaceful solution of the Israel problem." Furthermore, President Nasser is quoted as saying:the lie about six million murdered Jews is not taken seriously by anyone, not even by the simplest man here in our country.This is quite a serious report.
§ Mr. John Hynd (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us the date of that declaration.
§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
I am quoting from Tribune—not the current issue; the one last week. It is a recent interview. I have not the exact date, but it is recent. I am not sure that the exact date is particularly relevant to the discussion. The views of President Nasser on the question of the "final solution" of Hitler are not important. Whether or not there can ever be a peaceful solution to the Israel problem is the important matter, and I direct the attention of the House to it.
This is very serious, because, although last December Premier Khrushchev called for agreement renouncing the use of force for the settlement of territorial and frontier disputes, an official spokesman of the Soviet Union has made it clear to Sheik Sabah, the Foreign Minister of Kuwait, that Israel's frontiers are not covered by President Khrushchev's declaration. Some people say that there will be a point of danger in the Middle East when Soviet technicians are taken away from Aswan. I do not know, but what I strongly feel is that if the Western Powers leave the Middle East in any doubt about what their intentions would be in the case of an act of aggression, we might find ourselves drifting into very great danger indeed.
I do not want to repeat what has been well said on both sides of the House about the importance to the people of Aden and to our interests of 1213 the Aden base. The Leader of the Opposition has certainly set a good example to his party in this matter. He has spoken of a British rôle of putting out brush fires across the world. Our forces have been doing this, and doing it with courage, patience and skill. But with this policy of the Leader of the Opposition goes the policy of abandoning the British nuclear deterrent which enables our forces to operate across the world without our being subjected to supreme blackmail.
I would, therefore, sum up the Leader of the Opposition's strategic policy as the chores for the British and the control for the Americans. At this hopeful moment Britain has much to give and much to do, but the Liberal and Labour parties offer the nation an ignoble choice between exposure to Communist blackmail and subservience to a changing America.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
I want to echo the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Berkeley), who regretted the arrangements made for this debate. Perhaps the Prime Minister will bear this in mind and have a word with his right hon. Friend about it. This is a debate when we paint a broad canvas. It is extremely difficult to get down to any detailed examination of specific areas without a degree of criticism of not participating in a debate. My experience in the House has been that when I have taken part in a debate I have usually debated in the fullest possible way, but this evening I want to restrict myself—I ask other hon. Members who have participated to forgive me—to the Aden issue. I, along with other hon. Members, have been trying for some months to get a debate on the situation there and its implications to our people.
My hon. Friend the Member for Leyton (Mr. Sorensen) was very reasonable. He argued his case for the recognition of the Yemen and the recognition of the situation in Aden and the necessity of the situation with Aden in a very reasonable, logical way. But I do not think one can be reasonable in dealing with this situation and in dealing with the present Government, 1214 because if there is a situation in the world with regard to which I am thoroughly ashamed of the actions of the British Government and in the name of the British people, it is the crimes that we have committed in Aden and the Protectorates.
I would caution the Prime Minister about the dangers in pursuing a policy in respect of which he has created a situation in which he has negated every political principle that the Conservative Party and the Labour Party have been advocating for the last 50 years. What have we done? We have imprisoned without trial, denied freedom of assembly, denied political freedom, denied the rights of the trade union movement in every possible way, bombed men, women and children needlessly, and destroyed food in an area where people are near starvation. This is the record of the Conservative Government in the past six months or more.
I know that the question of the base is involved. I know that the question of oil is involved. But in this country we have been advocating the rights of the individual in every possible way—the right of the individual to stand trial if he is charged and the right of the individual to walk around free in the knowledge that the knock on the door will not be the knock of the secret police. We have said that there is no currency in the principle of forcible deportation of people from our territory. This is the type of policy that we have pursued.
I want to sum up the position of Aden and the crimes of the Conservative Government by making reference to the leading article in The Observer on 7th June. This is not a revolutionary political newspaper. It is a sane, very staid newspaper which ranks as a quality newspaper and has a reputation for objective analysis of political issues. The leading article said:It is no longer the white man's burden that brings British forces into action in Radfan. It is the fear that unless we hold on to our last imperialist bastions such as Aden we shall lose the advantage of cheap Middle East oil, payable m sterling. What is now happening in Arabia stripped of humbug really means killing persons in their own country for money.That is the view of one of our leading newspapers about the policy being pursued by the Government. Quite frankly, I am ashamed that anyone can say of 1215 Britain, of any set of men governing Britain, that this is the policy being pursued.
The Foreign Secretary said that he wished to touch upon the situation in Aden but said so little about it that it would have been as well had he not mentioned it. I cannot say that my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) was any more explicit. I would have preferred him to say precisely what I am saying about the situation. I do not believe this to be a matter of electoral advantage. It is a moral issue that must be faced by at least one political party in the country.
It may be that our base in Aden is essential. I am not arguing the pros and cons of that question. No one is arguing about the base. It is a false issue. When I was in Aden earlier this year I met representatives of every political school of thought in Aden Colony. No one argued that we should withdraw from the base, not even members of the People's Socialist Party, most of whom were in gaol at the time. Indeed, I had to go into prison to meet the leader of the party, Abdullah A1 Asnag. He and I discussed not only the state of emergency but other issues.
My colleagues and I were concerned about the implications of independence. We discussed with a number of people the possibility of the continuance of Aden as a Colony if the British withdrew. But no one there argues that Britain should get out. They are arguing the simple proposition that Britain should negotiate with representative people of the Colony for the use of the base, just as we have negotiated leases of bases elsewhere in the world.
However, Her Majesty's Government have decided that they are not bothered about democracy, or about the Aden T.U.C. or about the views of the People's Socialist Party, although that party is by far the most influential political organisation in that part of the world. The Government have decided that, whether the Adenese want it or not, there is to be a federation of Aden Colony and the Aden territories. In practice, they are bolstering the sheiks and sultans, and a federation of this kind will never work.
§ Mr. Loughlin
As the hon. Member says, it is bogus. I do not think it possible to operate a federation in which one tries to mix a number of States where representative institutions are primitive in the extreme with a Colony which has a degree of European sophistication and development of democratic political institutions.
In the territories, the concept of subversion is that tribesmen are given political leaflets. That was what one of the sultans told us. He accused the People's Socialist Party of subversion of his tribesmen. I asked for an illustration and he said that it was distributing leaflets among them. We discovered that these were ordinary political leaflets.
If one considers most of the States within the Protectorate, it is true to say—and I want to be careful here—that an element among the tribesmen is politically conscious to a greater degree than for many centuries. At the same time, there is no democratic organisation within the tribal areas. The sultans are intent upon ensuring continuance of a situation in which democratic institutions will not emerge.
I do not want to be unfair, but I must say that, as far as I can see, the policy pursued by the British Government, advised by the High Commissioner—who gave me the impression that he thought he was Lawrence of Arabia—is the continuance of the present situation with the intention of imposing upon Aden Colony not the will of its people but the will of the sultans and sheiks of the Protectorate, bolstered by British power.
In these circumstances, do hon. Members opposite imagine that the political organisations which have emerged in the Colony of Aden are likely to tolerate the imposition of the will of the sultans and sheiks? The penalty for their refusing to do so has been their suppression. The People's Socialist Party and the Aden T.U.C. boycotted the last general election, with the result that only 27 per cent. of the people eligible to vote, even on a restricted register, took part. The people of Aden are determined to ensure that the Colony develops politically as we have developed, that they have trade unions and other political organisations so that they can develop democratically. All they have received in return has been suppression by the British Government.
1217 In an attempt to ensure that the Federation should continue against the will of the majority of the people of the Colony of Aden and, so far as I could see, against the wishes of an increasing number of tribesmen in the Federation, there is now a conference in London. Of course, there is a political solution to this problem. We cannot continue with our military operations. If it is suppressed, the Radfan tribe will be quiet for a time and the next nutcracker operation will be against the Hadhramaut tribe, for this is an uprising not against Britain but against the ruling sultans and sheiks. I challenge the Government to state the reason for the Radfan uprising.
§ Mr. Loughlin
My information is that the political adviser sent for the headsmen of the Radfan tribe to tell them that they were to come into the Protectorate under the Emir of Dhala. They said that they would be prepared to participate in the Protectorate as they were, under the seven beadsmen, but were not prepared to be subject to the Emir of Dhala. They were told that they were going in under the Emir. This is why they are in revolt, and this is why the Radfan tribesmen have been bombed and why women and children have been killed.
The London conference is a conference of the sheiks and nominated members of the Federal Legislature representing no one but themselves, and yet the one political organisation in the Colony of Aden which has the support of the majority of people is excluded from the conference and not recognised by the British Government.
What is the good of setting up another huge constitutional conference to determine that we shall not have any further general elections; that we shall produce a system of elections which does not involve the franchise at all? What is the use of holding a conference in London to try to solve the problem in that area when the only people who, in the end, will constitute the Government of Aden and the Protectorates are excluded from it and are hounded daily by what have now become the secret police in Aden? There is only one solution to the Aden 1218 problem. I think that in the end there will be a linking up of South Arabia with the Yemen. I do not think that the Canute-like attitude of the British Government can stop that tide rolling on, no matter what happens.
We have to try to safeguard the interests of the British people, and at the same time give the people of Aden and the Protectorates the opportunity of evolving their own political democratic organisations in the proper way. We have a responsibility to these people. We have been in control of their destinies for 125 or 130 years. We have a responsibility to make good some of the deficiencies which have existed for far too long. We have a responsibility to try to bring to this part of the world social services, education, and decent housing. When I was out there I saw houses which made me ashamed to think that we had been associated with this part of the world for so long. I was ashamed to see the conditions under which some people were living. We have a responsibility, not to the sheiks and sultans, not to the oil companies, but to the people of Aden and the Protectorates, and it is about time that the Government faced it.
§ 8.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Michael Clark Hutchison (Edinburgh, South)
Like the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Loughlin), I should like to devote some attention to Aden, and to the civil war in the Yemen and its effect on the South Arabian Federation.
I spent five years in the Aden Government, and I have kept up my interest in that part of the world. I can honestly say that most of the speech of the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, West was utter nonsense. In fact, it was complete balderdash.
Until the commencement of the Second World War material progress in Aden was fairly slow, and desperately slow in the Protectorates. Thereafter, the area took on a new lease of life, due largely to the expansion of air communications, to the enlargement of the port, which is now used by 500 ships a month, and to the building of the large oil refinery which was begun when Abadan was taken over. A great deal has been done in Aden and in the Protectorates in education, including 1219 technical and political education. First, the local people took part in their own local government, then in elections for the Legislative Council, and now we have a system of Ministerial responsibility and government on democratic lines.
During this period relations with the Yemen were reasonably good. Tribal raids took place, but they were not serious. The border was never closed, even if such a thing was possible in that wild and mountainous country. Thousands of Yemenis came into Aden to work, and very often as many as 60 per cent. of the patients in the Aden hospitals were Yemenis. This demonstrates clearly the friendship of both Britain and Aden with the Yemen. This is a fact that should be made known in U.N.O. and stressed elsewhere.
It may be that as the sheikdoms and sultanates of the Protectorates were formed into a federation and material advances were made, especially in roads, education and the provision of medical facilities—and such projects as the cotton-growing scheme at Abyan—the Yemenis looked upon these things with concern, perhaps tinged with jealousy, but there was no fundamental hostility.
In recent years, however, the climate of opinion and relations between the two countries have become very much worse. I blame this entirely on President Nasser. He has very grandiose dreams of becoming undisputed leader of the Arab world. No doubt he has his eyes on the oil revenues of the Persian Gulf and elsewhere. Clearly a British base in Aden and the material and political development in the Protectorate stand in the way of his achieving his objectives. It may well be that some years ago Al Bad'r, when he was Crown Prince of the Yemen, had some sympathy with Nasser and his aims, but when Al Bad'r became Imam or King he looked at affairs rather differently. For example, he refused to join the United Arab Republic or to declare his hostility to the kings and other so-called imperialists in the Middle East.
This led to the breaking off of relations between the two, and the engineering of the coup d'état in Sana in September, 1962. Sallal, leader of the rebels acting under Egyptian orders and with 1220 Egyptian aid, failed to kill or capture the Imam. Since then the war in the Yemen has been continuous. In my view the Government were absolutely correct in refusing to recognise the Yemeni Republicans, and the Americans were much too hasty in doing so; in fact, I do not understand their attitude in the matter. If left alone there is no doubt that the Royalist forces in the Yemen would come out victors.
In the early stages of the civil war both sides received outside help—the Royalists from Saudi Arabia, with arms and money, and the Republicans from Egypt, with money and men. The Saudis have every right to give aid under the treaty of 1956 between Saudi Arabia and the Yemen. The Egyptians have no such treaty, and their actions are nothing more than a gross interference in the internal affairs of another country. Last year an agreement was made between the Saudis and the Egyptians, in an endeavour to localise the war and bring it to an end. The Saudis promised to cease supplying arms and the Egyptians agreed to withdraw their troops, now numbering about 30,000, and to stop bombing villages.
As I see it, and from reports that I have received, the Saudis have stopped giving aid, but Nasser has not withdrawn a single soldier; indeed, he has reinforced and changed his troops. The United Nations mission in the Yemen has proved entirely ineffective. It has posts on the Saudi border and it has done nothing whatsoever to stop indiscriminate bombing by the Egyptians or to ensure that the Egyptian troops are withdrawn. That is the position today. Clearly Britain is involved and must be deeply concerned. While there is war in the Yemen and attempts at subversion among the tribes of the Protectorates it is impossible to build any solid hope of making firm and undisturbed progress in the Protectorates or with the development of the South Arabian Federation.
The question therefore arises, what action should Britain take? In my view, we should make it very clear that there is no question of our moving from Aden or reducing our influence in Southern Arabia but that, on the contrary, we intend to strengthen it. For more than 120 years this country has had close and happy connections with Aden and since the 1880s we have had treaty rights 1221 and duties with the Protectorate States. Certainly these are not to be interfered with or adversely affected by a paltry dictator from Egypt. There must be no desertion of our friends.
Secondly, in my experience the people in Aden and the Protectorates are very keen on the development of their lands, on making progress with education and in other directions. We should make it clear that we favour this and are prepared to assist with finance and knowledge. Thirdly, I suggest that further contacts, be made with the Saudi Arabian Government to see what suggestions they may have for further assistance to the Royalists force if Egyptian troops are not soon withdrawn. Lastly, we should press at the United Nations for the implementation of Nasser's agreement to withdraw troops. It is absolutely useless being on the defensive in this matter. We should take the initiative and call Nasser to account. I very much hope that my right hon. Friend will take all these points into account when considering his future action in this part of the world.
§ 8.57 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
I wish to follow the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Clark Hutchison), if I understood his closing words, about the United Nations. We are having what I suppose may be the last debate on foreign affairs in this Parliament. I remember that in the first debate after the Second World War, while the sound of the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was still reverberating in our ears, Lord Avon, speaking at this Dispatch Box, said that the United Nations was humanity's last hope. I want to talk about the United Nations.
What have the Tory Governments done since 1951 to strengthen that hope; To uphold the sanctity of the U.N. Charter as binding law; to make the International Court, the General Assembly and the Security Council the instruments for the settlement of all serious international disputes; to ensure that the United Nations has the money and the manpower to expand its work as the need of international society require; to give powerful, consistent British leadership in building up its general work; and, above all, to pro- 1222 mote the early and comprehensive disarmament agreement by which, as the Commonwealth Prime Ministers said three years ago, all else will stand or fall?
I will not try to survey the Government's 12-year record—Suez, Cyprus, the volte face on disarmament in 1955, the abortive Summit of 1960 and all the rest. I will try to deal with matters of recent interest; to illustrate the Government's present thinking and their actions as they ask the electors of the country to give them another lease of power.
Everyone has been thinking of South Africa in these last grim days and weeks and of the grave world disaster that is so plainly looming there. Who can believe that for many years Tory Ministers here and Government delegates in New York were proclaiming that apartheid was a matter of domestic jurisdiction, that under Article 2(7) of the Charter South Africa could do exactly what it liked? Who would believe that only three years ago the then Prime Minister was doing his utmost to prevent a Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference even discussing the question of South Africa at all?
We can only guess how much this lamentable and shortsighted error has done to stiffen the South African Government in their obstinate resistance to the U.N. Coming from Britain, with our traditions, and our Commonwealth connection, it may have been a very powerful factor in preparing the blood bath we may have to see. And how lamentable it is that even today Britain's condemnation of Friday's great injustice has not been spoken loud and clear.
Looking at Cyprus in 1964, who would believe that year after year Government spokesmen argued in the General Assembly that Cyprus also came under Article 2(7), that it fell within our exclusive domestic jurisdiction and that all others must keep their mouths shut? What a long, ghastly tragedy might have been avoided if, instead of using 40,000 troops in an attempt to keep the Cypriots in perpetual colonial subjection, we had said from the very start that the rest of Article 2 applied; that the matter must and would be settled by peaceful means; that we would neither use nor threaten force. If we had asked the General Assembly to help 1223 us to make the general political settlement that was required, who knows what might have happened?
As late as Christmas, when trouble flared in Cyprus, my right hon. Friend the Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker) urged at once that it should be taken to the U.N. For months, while things got worse and worse from day to day, the Government insisted that N.A.T.O. must be used. When at last they decided to go to the Security Council, I urged on the Foreign Secretary that he should go himself and use his gifts, which we all respect, and the prestige of his great office to seek a settlement. Remembering his work in the Central African Federation, I thought he might succeed. But he gave me the usual stereotyped reply:The Government have every confidence in Sir Patrick Dean".Of course we all have confidence in Sir Patrick Dean. But General Smuts said in 1919 that we did not want a League of Nations that would simply be "a fifth wheel to the diplomatic coach". In the first decade of the League I watched our senior Ministers—Lord Balfour, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Lord Cecil, Arthur Henderson—the eminent father of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson)—working in the League Assembly and Council, settling disputes just as difficult as Cyprus is today. If Cyprus is some day settled it will be by the U.N. I hope that the Foreign Secretary will give the time and effort which he gave to Central Africa to clearing up the tragic mess in Cyprus for which the Government bear so great a share of blame.
§ Mr. Victor Goodhew (St. Albans)
The right hon. Member is surely not suggesting that when this trouble blew up at Christmas the United Nations could have got troops to Cyprus anything like early enough to have prevented a war between Greece and Turkey?
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
If we had gone at once to the United Nations we could have saved two months. If we had made it plain from the very start that we were giving our full support to the United Nations action, perhaps other Governments would have come forward much more quickly.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I must sit down at 9.30.
The point that I am making applies to all important U.N. work. In the General Assembly, in the Councils, in the Agencies, the I.L.O., F.A.O., W.H.O. and all the rest, our Ministers ought to play a large and leading part. The statement made today by the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade greatly strengthens what I am trying to say. If at Geneva he has saved the economic conference from failure, he has rendered a great service to us all. But no one could have done it without Ministerial authority and prestige, and the whole episode shows, in glaring contrast, the meagre rôle played by Tory Ministers in U.N. affairs.
I am convinced by four decades of watching, studying and taking part in international institutions that what I have said is true at the highest level of Ministerial responsibility as well.
The Prime Minister made a speech the other day to which The Guardian gave a heading "Excessive Summitry". We have not had much summitry in the last 12 years—two Summits, both abortive, leaving no trace of valuable result behind them. Let us have no more Summits of that kind. But the heads of Governments are deeply concerned with international affairs—they have to be. Apart from lesser matters, they hold in their hands the keys of nuclear war. It is grotesque, almost incredible in the jet-aircraft age, that they do not meet at regular, indeed at frequent intervals of time. I am convinced that the plan put forward by the Leader of the Opposition is practical and right. The heads of Governments should lead their delegations to the General Assembly of the U.N. They should meet both within the framework of the U.N. meetings and in private gatherings outside, as they desire. They should personally launch the big new projects which they hope that the U.N. will carry through, leaving other Ministers in the General Assembly and the Secretariat to work out the details and to execute the decisions that may be made. If they do that, they will get to know each other 1225 and each other's point of view. They will make contact with the leaders of the middle and the smaller Powers, they will gain a picture of world politics as they really are and they will contribute very powerfully to the authority and the efficacy of the United Nations.
Let me turn to another aspect of the Government's policy in the United Nations. How have they treated humanity's last hope when it comes to paying the bills? Let us get it in perspective. The total United Nations expenditure—the budget, the Congo, U.N.E.F., Sinai, Arab refugees, the lot—is 0.2 per cent. of the world expenditure on arms. Our contribution is 0.06 per cent. of our expenditure on arms. Yet how often have we heard complaints from the Conservative benches about this heavy burden?
Let me give some recent and topical examples of the Government's parsimonious approach in matters in which, as an ex-colonial Power, our responsibilities are great. Last year U.N.E.S.C.O. organised a fund to give financial aid to its new African members in education. Education is the very key to their future welfare. The Government gave U.N.E.S.C.O. £35,000. To the F.A.O.'s Freedom from Hunger Campaign, the success of which is vital to our own prosperity in years to come, they gave £55,000.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
To the F.A.O. World Food Programme they gave five million dollars spread over a period of three years.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. If the right hon. Gentleman does not give way, the hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) must not remain standing.
§ Mr. Goodhew
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I am sure that he wishes to be fair to the House. Surely he will not pick out our figures in isolation but will compare them with the contributions made by other countries. This is surely an indication of how well-meaning we are in the whole affair.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I answer the hon. Member. If other Members of the United Nations do not do well, that is no reason why we should do badly, too. I answer him again. We have not been more generous than many other nations. I will give examples and I will give reasons why we should be more generous ourselves.
I come back to what I was saying. To the F.A.O. World Food Programme the Government gave 5 million dollars spread over a period of three years. To the Children's Fund, to U.N.I.C.E.F., with hundreds of millions of mothers and children in the Commonwealth needing what U.N.I.C.E.F. can give, we contribute £335,000 a year, what we spend on arms in 90 minutes.
§ Mr. Goodhew
Surely the right hon. Gentleman intends to be fair to the House now. He has had a second opportunity. Will he tell us what is the total out of which this sum is taken? Let us get some idea of perspective. It is no good his lambasting this side of the House and ignoring the rest of the world.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I have given the hon. Member three opportunities, and I will try to be fair to the rest of the House.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
As I did not understand his last intervention I am afraid that I cannot make an answer to it.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will listen, and he will be able to interrupt better if he does.
1227 In 1960 we voted for the United Nations Development Decade and for the proposition put forward by the Secretary-General, U. Thant, that the Technical Assistance Fund and the U.N. Special Fund should between them be given 150 million dollars a year by 1962 and 300 million dollars a year by 1970. We are nearly half way through the decade. The Government up to today had increased our contribution by 2 million dollars. The total that we give to this stupendous U.N. task is 10 million dollars a year.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Today the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade has told us that we are to make an increase.
§ The Prime Minister
I think that the right hon. Gentleman is being less than usually fair. Therefore, my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Mr. Goodhew) is certainly entitled to make the protest that he is making. The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well that in our total support of the United Nations we fulfil every assessment, that our support of the United Nations is second only to that of the United States and that the Soviet Union and the Communist bloc give no support of any kind at all.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Of course I shall deal with the Prime Minister's point. Let me say at once that if the Communists give no support, that is a reason why we should give the more. I was saying that the total which we have given to the U.N. task of the Special Fund and Technical Assistance has been 10 million dollars a year. Today the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade 1228 told us that we are to make an increase. It is a death-bed repentance, and we will wait to see what it may mean in cash.
I take one other example, which the Prime Minister will certainly recall, the sorry story of our contribution to President Kennedy's U.N. bonds. Up to now we have bought 80 per cent. of our appropriate share, the share based on our assessment for the U.N. budget. The United States has bought 150 per cent. of its share. Italy has bought 200 per cent. The Scandinavian countries have bought 200 per cent. up to 250 per cent.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
I know that the Government make the reply which the Prime Minister has given and which I foresaw.
§ Mr. David James (Brighton, Kemptown)
Would the right hon. Gentleman indicate the scale of Labour munificence in these international affairs if the Labour Party were to take office?
§ Mr. Speaker
If the right hon. Gentleman does not wish to give way, the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. David James) must resume his seat.
§ Mr. Speaker
If that was so, the right hon. Gentleman withdrew his invitation by seeking to continue his speech. Mr. Philip Noel-Baker.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
Mr. Speaker, I was most anxious to hear the hon. Member, because I went to Moscow with him and I have for him a great regard, but I am afraid, in view of what the clock is doing, that I must get on. I was talking about President Kennedy's bonds, and the answer which the Government make when we say that they do not do very well by the financial needs of the United Nations. The Government say, "Yes, 1229 we paid for the Congo, even when we have disagreed with what the U.N. has done. We have paid for Sinai, for the Arab refugees, and we are the second-highest contributor to U.N. funds". Of course, we are the second highest contributor. We pay not only for ourselves but for the remnant of the British Empire. We are the second richest country in the world. Much of what the U.N. is doing is helping to liquidate the responsibilities which we have had in times; gone by. Of course, we are the second largest contributor. But we do not do well enough.
And as unfortunate as the miserable figures which I have quoted has been the whole attitude of the Treasury delegate at the Fifth Budget Committee of the General Assembly—questioning every new item of expenditure, making all the smaller, poorer Powers feel that we grudge every dollar and that whenever we can we want to cut the budget down. Either the United Nations is humanity's last hope or it is nothing. If it is; humanity's last hope against nuclear war, its budget and expenditure must expand rapidly year by year.
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
It is fantastic to think that the United Nations' peacekeeping functions in the Congo, Cyprus or elsewhere should be hampered, delayed or limited by the lack of money. I wish that we could make the whole world see, by strong, new British leadership, that we regard our contribution to the United Nations work as the most productive of all the public expenditure we make. If we did that, we would help to solve the United Nations' biggest problem, be on far stronger ground against the Russians, and we would revitalise the whole of the United Nations' essential work—
§ Mr. Noel-Baker
The United Nations will never have adequate resources for these vast social and economic tasks until we get disarmament. And on this subject I still believe that what the Prime Minister said two years ago to the Committee of Eighteen is the only sensible approach. I quote his words, to which 1230 my right hon, and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton referred. Speaking of the Draft Treaties laid before the Committee by the United States and Soviet Governments, the Prime Minister said:All the elements of a Disarmament Treaty are in the plans before us. The task of the Committee is to move towards general and complete disarmament as quickly as possible, from nought per cent. to 100 per cent. We on the British side intend to keep open minds. We support the United States plan, and we helped to frame it. We are not pressing specifically or exclusively for its adoption. What we must find is a master agreement, drawing on what is best in all the proposals before us".He went on:We begin to see much in common between the Russian and the American plans. If we can work on this common ground, we should be able to produce a master plan of our own, which could lead to the physical destruction of weapons, beginning now, and going on till the business is complete without a check".This afternoon the Foreign Secretary called that a dangerous approach. The Prime Minister will settle that one with him tomorrow afternoon. Certainly our delegates in the Committee of Eighteen have thought it dangerous. I search their speeches and I find nothing to suggest that they have tried to take the best of both plans. I find that 90 per cent. of all they say is trying to prove that the Western plan, in all particulars, is right and that the Soviet plan, in all particulars, is wrong.
I give some trifling but significant examples from the last few months. At the beginning of March, after six weeks of effort, the American and Soviet co-chairmen reported that they could not agree on an agenda for the Committee—on the order in which a dozen or so collateral measures should be discussed. Of course, it did not matter in what order they were discussed. If the Committee had met every day instead of on two mornings, from 10.30 to 12—a three-hour week—it could easily have discussed them all. But when the co-chairmen reported their fantastic failure, the Soviet delegate proposed that the full Committee might perhaps take up the question of the agenda. The British delegate opposed the Soviet suggestion. He insisted that the agenda be sent back again to the co-chairmen, who, in six weeks, had certainly exhausted all they had to say. That 1231 seemed to me, when I read it, to be cold war, and a rather shocking waste of time.
The Soviet delegate proposed as a "collateral" measure that the Committee should recommend to all the Governments a budgetary reduction of from 10 per cent. to 15 per cent. in what they paid for arms. I doubt myself whether that was a practicable proposal, but it had considerable support. The British delegation, of course, was against it, and when the Soviet bloc proposed a compromise resolution simply inviting all Governments to reduce their armament budgets, the British delegate rejected even that extremely modest plan.
Let me deal very briefly with three important points from this year's debates. After the Moscow Test-Ban Treaty, I asked a leading member of the Government what he hoped for next to keep up what is called "momentum". "Observers", he replied. "Good", I said, "But you will never get observers unless you give some armament restrictions in exchange ". Well, the Government have offered absolutely nothing in exchange. Their idea of keeping up momentum was to wait nine months and then to put in a paper, ENDC 130, dated 26th March, entitled "Observation Posts"; a paper so general, so thin, so ambiguous that it could evoke nothing but suspicion in any Soviet breast. If that is their idea of negotiation on observers, they had better start again.
I am afraid I think that the British delegates have shown a singular defeatism about Mr. Gromyko's offer to retain a minimum nuclear deterrent until the end of the third stage of the disarmament process. It was Americans at a Pugwash Conference—I was there—who first proposed it. It was from them that the Soviet Foreign Minister took it up. Throughout the world it has been recognised as a very promising plan. In the Committee, General Burns of Canada has made a sustained effort to face the real difficulties and to highlight the real merits of the plan. He has had no help from the British delegates at all.
On 7th April last—I have it here—the Minister of State made a speech in which he almost reduced the argument to farce. He made it plain to my mind, 1232 and certainly to the Soviet's, that he was not taking Mr. Gromyko seriously at all. If he thinks that I do him an injustice he will say so; but I ask, if he wants a minimum nuclear deterrent, why does he not put forward a plain concrete proposal which will iron out the difficulties he sees in what the Russians have proposed? It is now two years since this plan was first put forward. Spinning words and asking questions does not help to get a practical result.
By far the most important event in the Committee in 1964 has been President Johnson's freeze. I think the Russians have been very wrong not to give it serious consideration; but I must say that I think they have been encouraged by us. Of course, as on other matters, the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State gave the President's proposal a verbal welcome in the Committee of 18. But the Minister of Defence said in the House of Commons, with ferocity, that it would not apply to us. He said:There is no question and no proposal whatsoever that the United Kingdom should in any circumstances forgo the five Polaris submarines."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th February, 1964; Vol. 690, c. 481.]The Prime Minister went even further. On 17th March he said that, of course, he was ready to discuss the President's plan, but he went on to say:…it will not affect our Polaris programme or the American programme of missile construction."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 17th March, 1964; Vol. 691, c. 1179.]Mr. Fisher, the President's spokesman, said in Geneva that the plan would stop the construction of 1,000 American I.C.B.M.s, of any B70 bombers, of any more B58s or B52s. It would halt the planned improvement of the B58s and B52s, and the introduction of the Polaris A3. Mr. Fisher claimed, as I think rightly, that it could be an immense and an immediate step towards the ending of the spiralling arms race in the most costly and most dangerous weapons that exist.
The Prime Minister says that it would not affect the American programme, and that in any case, by jingo, it would not apply to us. What has happened to the fine hopes of taking the best of both plans, and making a master plan for physical disarmament, beginning now, which he voiced so eloquently in Geneva two years ago? Alas, it is all too plain. 1233 Having reached the highest point of power, where he could make his will prevail, he has simply given up to the forces of inertia that oppose him.
President Johnson makes new proposals; the Prime Minister has surrendered in advance.Certainly we should go on with our Polaris programme…the Prime Minister told us, thereby postponing disarmament for at least eight years, and he added:We shall not arrive at an international disarmament scheme in the forseeable future."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th April, 1964; Vol. 693, c. 232.]He also said:…I am not in control of the pace of the Committee of 18's deliberations."—[OFFICIAI. REPORT, 17th March, 1964; Vol. 691, c. 1180.]No, indeed, he is not. His delegates have hardly played a useful part at all. On what, three years ago, the Commonweath Prime Ministers called the greatest and most urgent question in human affairs, Britain's voice has sunk to a timorous, plaintive whisper. And that is one reason why his fellow-countrymen will turn the Prime Minister out in three months from now.
§ 9.32 p.m.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Peter Thomas)
I should like first to add my congratulations to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) on a maiden speech which for content and for the eloquent way in which it was delivered was undoubtedly admired and appreciated by all who heard it. My hon. Friend brings to the House considerable experience and knowledge. I personally would fully endorse his view on the paramount aim of strengthening in every way the human, material and political ties which exist between this country and our closest Ally, the United States. I fully endorse also what he said about Senator Fulbright. All those who know him would agree that he expresses admirably the new and growing views on international affairs which are abroad in the United States. I am sure that everyone on all sides of the House looks forward to hearing my hon. Friend again.
After having started on that happy note perhaps I can say this about the 1234 speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mr. P. Noel-Baker). The right hon. Gentleman is a person who is held in high regard not only in this House but far afield. I personally have held him in high regard on many matters for a long time but, and I am saying this very frankly, tonight I do not think that he was up to his usual fair standard. I was surprised that he took this opportunity to exaggerate, with venom, matters which might be at issue between us. I was surprised, for instance, that he used phrases like, "a tragic mess in Cyprus today for which the Government bear so large a share of the blame". I am sure that he will, on reflection, wish that he had not exaggerated the situation to that extent.
§ Mr. P. Noel-Baker indicated dissent.
§ Mr. Thomas
In the same way, what the right hon. Gentleman said about United Nations finances went, as I am sure he will accept, beyond that which is normal in a debate when one wishes to say that the Government should do more. In many respects, indeed, we should like to give more to United Nations agencies. But to suggest, as the right hon. Gentleman did, that the amount we were giving was paltry was quite wrong. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister pointed out, we are the second largest contributor, and our contributions to the United Nations funds and agencies are much welcomed by all members of the United Nations and bear very good comparison with those of other countries.
I wish to apologise to the House for not being able to be present for quite a large part of the debate. However, I heard many of the speeches, and I can say—I hope that I shall be accepted as doing so without any degree of patronage—that there has been a high standard of debate on this the first day of our two-day foreign affairs debate. Various questions have been asked. I shall attempt to answer some of them, but I cannot answer them all. There is another day tomorrow. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will be speaking, and winding up will be my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary.
I take, first, one or two of the matters raised in particular by the right hon. 1235 Member for Smethwick (Mr. Gordon Walker). He asked two questions about Europe. He asked for an assurance that, in any new negotiations for entry into the Common Market, we would not be committed to the terms of the previous negotiations. Second, he asked for a pledge that, in any new negotiations, Commonwealth trade would not be prejudiced.
In response to the first very hypothetical question, I can only say that it is pointless to talk of the terms of negotiations when none are in sight. As to the second, we should at all times do our best to preserve Commonwealth trade to the maximum possible extent. Obviously, no Conservative Government would want to curtail trade with the Commonwealth or with any of our trading partners. But I do not see the value of trying to express this objective in the terms suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. He knows very well that, in a free economy, one cannot predetermine levels of trade by pledges or by any other means. Trading patterns are continually changing. Some traditional markets, such as that for cotton textiles in India, disappear, and new ones take their place.
The Commonwealth and the Common Market are not, and never have been, regarded as alternatives by this Government. One of our highest tasks has been to foster the Commonwealth, to preserve its values and to safeguard the interests of its members; but precisely how these objectives can best be achieved in a set of hypothetical negotiations at an unspecified date in the future is, again, something which can only be decided at the time and in the light of all the relevant conditions.
At the moment, it is obvious that the basis for further negotiations does not exist. Moreover, it is not possible to foresee the precise situation in which a new opportunity might arise. In the circumstances, I suggest that it would be a waste of the time of the House to discuss hypothetical terms. If a further opportunity does arise, then will be the time to consider the conditions. In our view, it must be for Parliament as a whole to decide, in the light of all the circumstances at the time, what those conditions should be.
§ Mr. H. Wilson
The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that before the last General Election Ministers gave a pledge that they would do nothing in any negotiations to interfere with the free entry into the United Kingdom of Commonwealth food and raw materials. Since we are at a time in our history when we have to look five years ahead—all of us—and we are throwing questions across the Floor at one another, what my right hon. Friend was asking the Prime Minister was whether they will repeat that pledge in regard to any negotiations which might have to be undertaken in the new Parliament if by any chance right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite get back.
§ Mr. Thomas
No, Sir. At the time when these things were said, negotiations were either taking place or about to take place. The question is wholly hypothetical at the moment because no negotiations are in sight.
The right hon. Member for Smethwick also asked about the multilateral force. He said that we have now had an opportunity to go into this matter and that we should come clean, I think he said, or, perhaps the expression was, tell the truth about the Government's policy towards the multilateral force. I can only repeat what my right hon. Friend said earlier today. We have agreed to take part in an objective examination of the American proposal for a mixed-manned nuclear force without commitment as to our eventual participation in such a force. That is still our position, and there is no mystery about it. Our eventual decision will depend on a number of factors, not least the shape of the proposal when the negotiations are completed. But one thing that one can say quite clearly is that, whatever these proposals are, it is clear that it is not intended that they should involve dissemination.
Another matter raised was our attitude towards the Rivonia trial. Our attitude was described yesterday at Question Time by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. However, perhaps I can just mention the charge made by the right hon. Gentleman that there is a discrepancy between our favourable vote on last autumn's resolution in the Assembly and our abstention in the Security Council last week. There is no 1237 discrepancy. As my right hon. Friend said yesterday, we abstained last week because of the timing of the resolution and the possible adverse effects which its passing at that time and our vote in favour of it might have had on the verdicts at the trial. It is quite clear that these considerations did not exist at the General Assembly eight months ago.
The right hon. Gentleman also raised the subject of trade with Eastern Europe. In particular, he asked whether we had applied a veto and so prevented British firms from competing with American firms to supply a nuclear power reactor to Rumania. This is not so. Rumanian interest in a reactor became known to us on a visit of experts here early in the year. At that time, as they were told, in the present circumstances an export licence could not be granted. That was a pure statement of fact.
Since then the Rumanians have voted for the adoption of the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguard scheme for large power reactors. This simplifies the removal of the present embargo on the export of the plant, and, as we have made clear, we favour seeking modification of the embargo to facilitate the export of individual reactors subject to proper safeguards. But until the countries concerned in the embargo see fit to lift it, no deal can be made. This applies equally to American firms, which are thus in no favourable position over British firms. I certainly agree with the right hon. Member for Smethwick about the value of trade with Eastern Europe generally. We should certainly seize the present opportunity for increasing both trade and contacts. I am happy to say that current figures show that we are already moving forward.
I have a quarter of an hour before the end of today's proceedings, and I should like to refer to the second part of the speech of the right hon. Member for Derby, South about disarmament. It gives me the opportunity to state once again that disarmament is one of the over-riding aims of our policy. We are pledged to work for it, we have worked for it, we are working for it and we will work for it with determination and zeal.
Our ultimate objective, as the right hon. Gentleman says, is an agreement for general and complete disarmament 1238 which will put an end for all time to the costly and perilous competition in armaments. I agree with him that this competition reflects the long accumulation of distrust and suspicion that today divides nations. It also constitutes one of the main causes of the divisions between them. We believe, just as passionately as he does, that disarmament is a worth while goal towards which we must all strive. We say that, incidentally, not in a spirit of idealism. We say it because, in the nuclear climate of today, it is the sanest form of realism.
One thing is clear. The task of reaching a comprehensive disarmament agreement can never be an easy one. It is, of course, a revolutionary objective. Success would be without precedent in human history. It is, therefore, misleading and a disservice to all those engaged in the complexities of the disarmament negotiations to minimise the problems that face us or to suggest that there are simple solutions to them and, indeed, to show irritation and to some extent venom when progress is somewhat slow.
Disarmament raises far-reaching issues involving our nation's security. Decisions in such matters must be weighed with considerable care and great deliberation. Despite the vital importance of our ultimate objective, about which we are all agreed, we must not allow ourselves in our enthusiasm to take risks and gamble with the security of the nation. To do so would be criminal folly.
There are, therefore, serious obstacles to rapid progress. This does not mean that I am pessimistic. In spite of our understanding of these difficulties, we approach our task at Geneva of working for comprehensive disarmament with patience, detemination and real hope. Meanwhile, in the shorter term, we are continually searching for areas of lesser agreement, such as collateral measures which will lead to lessening of international tension and pave the way for wider agreement.
The right hon. Gentleman appeared to urge that, in order to make progress on disarmament, we should take the initiative at Geneva and put forward a compromise British plan which would, so to speak, split the difference between the United States and Soviet plans 1239 already on the table. We doubt the wisdom of this approach.
The suggestion that Britain should take an independent initiative overlooks the fact that we were closely associated with the preparation of the American plan. In such a vital matter as disarmament, we must move forward in concert with our Allies if we are not to undermine the structure of the alliance on which the security of the West is based.
When one is in Government, it does not mean that one loses ideas or the desire to take initiatives. It means that it is one's responsibility to put these ideas forward first between the Allies and to explore them before one puts them forward before the world. That is what we are doing. We have a continuing series of consultations with our Allies.
When I was in Geneva last week, Mr. Zorin came to see me and we had a long talk. I took the opportunity to make clear to him that we, as members of an alliance which has proved of the greatest value to us in preserving peace, could not be expected to take an initiative contrary to the policies of that alliance. Such an initiative would be of no practical value in reaching agreement. In any case, the Western plan offers a sound basis for negotiation. It is our aim to draw the Soviet Government into a detailed discussion of the issues arising out of the two plans and to try to reach areas of common agreement with them.
It was in that sense that Mr. Dean Rusk, for instance, spoke at the beginning of the conference of amaster agreement for general and complete disarmament, drawing upon the best of all proposals present in those two programmes submitted and in those which come from other quarters".Later on, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said something similar. I take it that that is what right hon. Gentlemen opposite have in mind when they call for a master plan.
It is quite clear that when they spoke as they did my right hon. Friend and Mr. Dean Rusk intended to summon the conference to honest negotiation and did not intend for us to put forward a compromise plan which would overlook the fundamental differences which underlie 1240 the major questions at issue in this conference. There are differences on the key questions of the reduction of nuclear delivery vehicles, verification and peace keeping, and these are differences which, unless the Soviet attitude changes, afford little opportunity for compromise.
I have spoken of the need for determination and great patience. It is worth recalling that the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of August, 1963, was preceded by more than four and a half years of negotiation at Geneva. We endured the shock of the Soviet decision in 1961 to resume tests, on a massive scale, in the atmosphere, and we continued to negotiate. In August, 1962, a British and American proposal to end nuclear tests in the three environments without international verification was put forward at Geneva, and for nearly a year was disregarded by the Soviet Government. Yet, in 1963, we were able to achieve a treaty which had precisely the result which we put forward. We should do well to remember this at all times when we find agreement with the Russians difficult to reach and our proposals apparently unacceptable to them.
As my right hon. Friend has said, we believe that the prospects of success in the disarmament negotiations would be much better if the conference agreed to adopt more businesslike procedures. Something is needed besides the general discussions which have so far occupied the conference. These have identified the questions at issue. Now we need to get down to informal discussions of these problems and possible solutions to them.
We have therefore urged the establishment of informal working groups at the conference. There has been considerable support for this idea from the representatives of the non-aligned Powers as well as from the Western delegations. Let us hope that during the present session the Soviet Union and its allies will change their attitude and see the merits of such an approach. I am happy to say that there are signs that they might. At the same time, it is essential not to lose sight of certain key principles. Luckily, there is a wide measure of international agreement on these principles. They were set out both by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in 1961 and by the United States and the Soviet Union in their joint statement later that year. My right hon. 1241 Friend restated them when he visited Geneva at the end of February.
The difficulties which arise are due to a dispute about how the principles should be applied. To settle these difficulties is the fundamental task of the Disarmament Conference, but I am convinced that no international disarmament treaty could be agreed if it failed to observe these principles, and perhaps I should remind the House of them.
First, there is the principle of balance. A disarmament plan must be phased and balanced in such a way that at no stage does any State gain an advantage. This may sound simple, but I am sure that on reflection right hon. Gentlemen will agree with me that the complexity of modern, armouries is such that it is no easy task to work out a scheme which does justice to the interests of all.
Secondly, there is verification. There must be strict and effective international verification and control of the disarmament process. Again, this may sound simple. Indeed, I am happy to say that the Russians have admitted the need for it in principle. But, again, there are wide differences about how much verification is needed to be effective and about the points at which verification constitutes a danger to national security. This is a problem which demands much thought and study. We, like the Americans, are giving close attention to it and we hope to produce proposals soon, but these will not succeed unless the Russians are prepared to relax their present rigid attitude and to start to discuss possible compromises.
Thirdly, there is peace keeping which was mentioned by the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). Disarmament must be accompanied by reliable arrangements for the maintenance of international peace and security in a disarmed world. Today we are increasingly aware of the need for strengthening the peace-keeping capabilities of the United Nations. How much greater, then, will be the need when nations discard their weapons? An effective and reliable peace-keeping force will provide the only answer.
To those that I have mentioned I would add just one more, and that is building up confidence. Disarmament 1242 is not an objective which can be pursued in isolation. It forms part of our foreign policy as a whole. Progress in solving the grave political problems on the international scheme would certainly help create the right atmosphere in disarmament negotiations. The reverse is also true.
The successes that we have achieved during the last 12 months—the hot line, the partial nuclear test ban, the agreement not to place nuclear weapons in outer space, and the declaration on the cut-back of the production of fissile material—have all contributed greatly to the lessening of tension.
All these agreements, of course, are limited in scope. Even taken together they are in. no sense a substitute for disarmament, but they are steps in the right direction. They have brought a new feeling of hope, respect and confidence into the relations between East and West, not only for disarmament matters, but on a much wider plane, and I agree with those who have spoken today that the momentum must not be lost.
The best hope of moving forward now lies, as I have mentioned, in the field of confidence-building collateral measures. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has already mentioned those on which we particularly hope to make progress.
The right hon. Member for Derby, South talked about the minimum nuclear deterrent, and the right hon. Member for Smethwick, too, said that the Russians were very interested in the idea of a minimum nuclear deterrent, or what they call a nuclear umbrella. So are we. It is a stage which we must reach in the course of executing the disarmament treaty, though not at such an early stage of disarmament as the Russians sometimes suggest.
We welcome the Russians' apparent willingness to explore the question, and we hope to make progress, but it is far from certain that this will be swift. I had the impression from talking to Mr. Zorin last week that the Russians might insist that our discussions in detail and in depth of this question will take place only if we discuss, their own type of umbrella. This begs the question. Any discussion in depth must take account of all points of view, and, as the right hon. Gentleman 1243 knows, Western ideas are significantly different. We must ensure that they have an equal part in the negotiations.
In his opening speech my right hon. Friend referred to the importance of an agreement on the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons, and to the Soviet objection. Such an agreement has been a major objective of Her Majesty's Government's policy. I can assure the House that this remains our objective. We recognise that if the Russians continue to argue that the multilateral force is an obstacle to agreement our hopes of progress are blocked, but the fact that the Russians say this does not make them right. We are still hopeful that they can be satisfied that any arrangements which may be made for a multilateral force would be compatible with the non-dissemination principle, and that only such arrangements are envisaged. As long as the M.L.F. provides, and is seen to provide, for the nuclear Powers in it to retain the right of veto over the use of nuclear weapons in the force, no question of dissemination can arise.
As for the Russians, we ask them earnestly to consider their own interests once more. We hope that on reflection they will perceive that, whatever they may think about the M.L.F., their interests would be best served by an agreement on non-dissemination. That would substitute a precise international agreement for the present de facto coincidence of policies and allay their anxieties, whether well founded or not, about the possible evolution of the M.L.F.
The session at Geneva has just begun. We have hopes of progress from it. There is much work for us to do. We for our part are determined to make the best of the opportunities for progress in the months ahead. If all our partners in the negotiations were of a similar mind, the outlook would be good.
§ It being Ten o'clock, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.