§ Mr. William Warbey (Ashfield)
On a point of order. As I wish to oppose the Motion for the adjournment so that the House can consider Motion No. 10 standing on today's Order Paper, would you, Mr. Speaker, indicate how that could most properly be done?
§ Mr. Speaker
The only way in which the hon. Gentleman can oppose the Motion now before the House is to speak to it. But that involves catching the eye of Mr. Speaker.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Michael Stewart)
In view of the statement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made a little while ago, I think it will be right for me to begin my speech this afternoon by a reference to those aspects of the Rhodesian problem which are particularly foreign 1709 affairs aspects. I shall try not to take too long about this in view of the many other topics which must necessarily be referred to in opening a foreign affairs debate.
On Rhodesia, despite certain optimistic prophecies—optimistic from his point of view—made by Mr. Smith some time ago, no nation has extended recognition to his régime. The policy of Her Majesty's Government of increasing economic measures against the Smith régime has been receiving a steadily mounting degree of support. The House will forgive me if I now read one or two lists. Certain countries have imposed a complete embargo on trade of any kind with Rhodesia, or economic dealings of any kind—India, Jamaica, Trinidad, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Israel. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have banned all imports from Rhodesia. Countries which will not receive any Rhodesian tobacco and sugar are France, Japan, the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. The degree of support, both over oil and many other aspects, given by the Government of the United States is well known and was further made clear by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today and the satisfactory assurances which we had from the Government of France concerning the oil embargo.
The hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine), who was here a little while ago, asked what was the hurry about the oil embargo. It may be remembered that the United Kingdom voted at the Security Council for a resolution which specifically mentioned an oil embargo among other measures, and it was our clear duty, having voted for that resolution, to take all the steps we could as soon as we could to see that it was put into effect. Indeed, when I spoke at the Security Council, I urged, in view of some of the problems which organising an oil embargo involved, that the Security Council should set up a small group of its own members to examine and report with speed on the methods of making an oil embargo effective.
I regret that that advice was not followed, but, as it was not followed, it 1710 was very clearly incumbent on us, in accordance with the terms of the resolution, to do our very best to make it effective. Therefore, we proceeded without delay to enter into the consultations which have brought about the result described by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister a little while ago.
I wish to express our thanks to those nations which have already shown in a practical manner their support for the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the Rhodesian question—and this is a list which will continue to expand. I trust that this example will be increasingly followed, that it will become plain to the world that it is the firm intention of the British Government to bring this rebellion to an end, and that the measures we are taking for that purpose will not be in any degree frustrated or hampered either by hesitation on the part of other Governments to deal with their own trade with Rhodesia, or by any rashness on the part of other Governments either to try to take part themselves or to give support to reckless, violent and ill-planned measures. I believe that if we can have steady and enthusiastic support for the measures which we are now taking and for such further measures as it may appear in our judgment of the situation to be necessary, then that continuing support of our purpose, the crushing of the rebellion, can be achieved with the minimum of danger to mankind.
It was entirely understandable that many of the countries which I have mentioned should take the action they have taken. Some of them are fellow members of the Commonwealth with us. Many are friends and allies. I must add this: I hope that some of those nations which have been most critical of our attitude toward Rhodesia will at least give us their support in comparable economic measures.
It is noticeable that of the nine countries which have either in whole or in part severed relations with us following the O.A.U. resolution, some have not so far taken any measures to obstruct their trade with Rhodesia. I mention, in particular, Ghana and the Congo (Brazzaville), both of which import significant quantities of Rhodesian tobacco and have not yet—I repeat, not yet—taken any measures to bar those imports. I 1711 hope and expect that action of that kind will come speedily.
As to the breaking off of relations, I think that it will now be realised by those who took part in the conference where that resolution was passed—and will be realised even by those who have acted on the resolution—that if this action of breaking off relations with us over the Rhodesian issue were to have any effect at all, it could only be the effect of giving aid and comfort to the rebellion in Rhodesia; and I trust, therefore, that the unwisdom of this action will be seen.
None the less, we should be prepared in this country to understand at any rate some of the reasons behind what seems to us to be ill-judged and inappropriate action. Behind the passionate impatience of many African States over this question there lies the long memory of every insult and injustice that has ever been done to a man with a black skin by a man with a white skin. We are having to conduct this affair against the background of a long memory of wrong and injustice.
I say to those who feel this impatience that one cannot deal with the present and the future wisely solely on a basis of memory of past wrongs, however deep. We have all of us, whatever the colours of our skins, to co-operate in getting this Rhodesian problem solved. Any further measures which Her Majesty's Government may find it necessary to take in pursuit of the policy of dealing with the rebellion will have to be taken in the light of what we judge to be wise and necessary. They cannot be taken as a result of pressure of the kind which it was imagined this breaking off of diplomatic relations would mean.
That is all I wish to say on the Rhodesian question. There are, of course, many other aspects of it, but I have tried to confine myself to those which were specifically foreign affairs aspects of the whole question.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
Would the right hon. Gentleman answer one point? He has mentioned several countries, and the Prime Minister at Question Time today mentioned the importance of the Netherlands in this matter. Is it true that under the Netherlands legislation that country cannot discriminate against any country?
§ Mr. Stewart
I think that that was not quite correct. I accept that this is a complicated question. I believe that it would not be correct to say that they could not discriminate.
§ Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)
May I ask a wider question on the same point? The right hon. Gentleman made an interesting and important observation about the nine countries which he listed as seking to interrupt their trade with Rhodesia. Has he made any study, or has any study been made, about their position; whether they have the legal powers effectively to interrupt their trade and whether they have the administrative machinery to do so? We know that in this country that only in a sense by the accident of the survival of the emergency legislation of 1939 was that action able to be taken here. However, it does not necessarily follow that that obtains in other countries. Has this matter been looked into?
§ Mr. Stewart
We have, since this business began, been collecting information both as to the intended policies of other Governments and the actual, practical results of any action which they might take. The legal position varies from one country to another, but I think that the right hon. Gentleman will find that the net effect, even when one has made allowance for the point he makes, will be to make a very substantial impact on the trade with Rhodesia. I do not think that the point he makes substantially detracts from the main effect. I agree that in not all countries is there the same exact correspondence between what the law says and what happens as here, as least in this kind of sphere, but I do not think that the point is of very great substance.
There is a concluding word I wish to say on the Rhodesia issue. The reason why one should refer to it in a foreign affairs debate is, of course, the fact that this is much more than a question between the United Kingdom and Rhodesia. It is a question on the solution of which will turn the whole matter of the relations between the different sections of mankind in future.
In the first speech I made to the House as Foreign Secretary I mentioned that one of the principles which Her Majesty's Government must pursue if they sought 1713 to work for peace was that of resolute opposition to racialism and that if we did not make it clear in our handling of the Rhodesian question that we were uncompromisingly opposed to racialist doctrines we should forfeit any real opportunity of influencing human affairs towards peace.
There has been much reference in the whole of the argument over Rhodesia to the phrase "kith and kin". Our kith and kin are mankind. These events in Rhodesia, and other events in the continent o Africa, are but one example of a general point that again I have attempted to make in an earlier speech. It is that we must recognise, we who live at this point of time, that we live in a world which is unquiet and which is likely to remain unquiet for a long time—a world in which there is an insistent demand for change, change in the relationships between different sections of mankind, white and coloured, change in political relationships, between former Colonies and former imperial Powers, and change in social relationships affecting land tenure, the distribution of economic power and the creation of social security.
The process of getting those changes through without causing violent upheaval in the world is the central problem which we have to face. It is a problem that will be with us for a long time. In some parts of the world there seem to be good prospects that these necessary —indeed, unavoidable—changes can be carried through with the preservation of peace and with regard to human liberty. In other parts of the world conflict already rages. But all these events, in a sense, are part of one picture of a world which cannot be quiet, cannot be stable, must move, must develop, must change, and in which our problem is to see that those changes are peaceful, are constructive, are consistent with human liberty.
Let me refer to those areas where, unfortunately, conflict actually rages and, first, to the terrible conflict in Vietnam. We have all become aware now, I think, of the cruelty of this war; cruelty not only in the sense that the carrying out of the operations of war is in its nature cruel, but cruelty sometimes by deliberate intent. We notice not only the cruelty but the great tenacity with which both 1714 sides continue the struggle. I want to refer to one episode in the war that illustrates both the cruelty and the tenacity. It is, in itself, a small episode, but one of very many such episodes.
A Vietcong force was besieging an outpost held by a small garrison of South Vietnamese Government troops. The Vietcong had captured some of the wives and children of the garrison, and ordered the wives to call on their husbands to surrender. The wives refused to do so. This illustrates, if anything does, the degree of tenacity with which this conflict is being waged. They and their children were shot down. When, finally, the relieving force came to the outpost, it was found that one woman had survived the holocaust. She was a woman expecting a child. She was taken to hospital, where she died. The child was delivered after her death, but itself died a few hours later. This is one episode of thousands.
There has, I know, been much comment about the ravages in North Vietnam of American air action. It is important, if we are to understand this matter, to remember at the same time the long campaign of systematic murder and terrorism carried out by the Vietcong. It is also necessary to remember the immense tenacity with which both sides have resisted the attacks made by the other. That is the kind of situation with which we are faced—
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I appreciate the terrible incident that my right hon. Friend has just outlined. Would he now explain to the House in as much detail a napalm bomb raid by the United States Air Force?
§ Mr. Stewart
My hon. Friend knows very well that the reason why I particularly chose this episode is the enormous publicity that has been given here and elsewhere to the effects of American bombing in the north—[HON. MEMBERS: "And the south."]—and, as my hon. Friend knows very well, I chose this episode so that we should restore the balance. I would point out, too, that when I have heard hon. Members describing the terrible effects of the bombing, I have never interrupted them or objected to their doing so. We should all be prepared to hear all sides.
But there is one conclusion, inevitably, that we draw from this, and that is the 1715 desperate necessity of stopping this conflict, because of its cruelty, and of recognising that because of the tenacity with which it is waged, it will not be stopped by outright victory by one side or the other. It is essential for humanity to stop it. It is particularly essential, as a matter of fact, to see that it must be stopped by recourse to the conference table.
On what basis could that be done? Both sides have at least this in common, that they say they want to see a settlement on the basis of the Geneva Agreements. This point has been made several times by the Government of North Vietnam and by the Government of the United States, and it was repeated recently in Mr. Dean Rusk's letter to Signor Fanfani. It is true that one may find some difficulty in reconciling respect for the Geneva Agreements with one of the North Vietnamese four points, which says that the future of South Vietnam must be determined in accordance with the programme of the Liberation Front.
It is difficult to reconcile that point with the reference to free elections in the Geneva Agreements—though I do not believe that this would necessarily prove an insuperable obstacle if once we could get the parties to the conference table. But there is this also to be noticed with the Geneva Agreements. If the things for which they provide, including free elections, are to come about, it is quite clear that they cannot come about until the fighting is stopped, and until North and South have some opportunity to recover.
That was why I put forward, some time ago, the sequence of events by which I believed a solution could be found—a cease-fire, a conference, a guarantee to North Vietnam and South Vietnam against interference from each other or anyone else and, once that was guaranteed, the complete neutrality of North and South and recovery from the ravages of the war. We would then be able to think with reality in terms of free elections, of the establishment of Governments that could be regarded as representative, and it would then be open to the people of North and South Vietnam to decide for themselves on their relationships with each other. That is how I believe that this matter could be dealt with on the basis of the Geneva Agreements; by those necessary steps which would make it pos- 1716 sible to carry out the Geneva Agreements.
We have now to ask: are the two sides willing to negotiate on this basis? There, I have to tell the House again, as I have told it before, that if we are to take the statements of the parties themselves, we have a clear statement by the United States and South Vietnam of their willingness to negotiate, and the clear statement by the Government of Hanoi of its unwillingness to negotiate —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] If hon. Members doubt that statement, let them read what has recently been said by the Government of Hanoi, where they say flatly that the presumed offer of negotiations referred to in the correspondence between Signor Fanfani and Mr. Dean Rusk is a complete fabrication.
I ask hon. Members to notice particularly what it was I said. I said that if we are to take the statements made by the two Governments it is clear that—as far as what they themselves say—America is willing to negotiate and Hanoi is not. Can it be true, as is sometimes argued, that despite these denials by Hanoi, there is a willingness to negotiate?
§ Mr. Warbey
My right hon. Friend keeps saying over and over again, as he has said many times during the past 12 months, that it is Hanoi all the time which is unwilling to negotiate. He has just again misquoted a Vietnamese news agency release. He has quoted one part of it only. It says that there was a fabrication. What it says was a fabrication is that Hanoi ever made a peace feeler or a peace probe. What the news agency confirms is that the North Vietnamese leaders did put forward in their discussions with Senor la Pira the terms on which they were prepared to negotiate a peaceful political settlement of the Vietnam question.
§ Mr. Stewart
But my hon. Friend has just said it over again, that Hanoi denied that it made a peace feeler.
§ Mr. Stewart
Notice that I do not say that Hanoi did not put forward a peace feeler. I say that they themselves deny it. I was just going on to raise the question: can it be true, despite these denials, that there is somewhere a willingness on the part of Hanoi to negotiate? It may be true. I hope so. But I am 1717 bound to say that there is only one authority that can give us absolute certainty on this, and that is the Government of Hanoi.
There are several ways in which this could be done. It could be done by proposals for both sides to abandon their hostilities and then come to the conference table. It could come by their coming to the conference table immediately and arranging the terms under which hostilities will be brought to an end. However, there must be on both sides a willingness to come to the conference table, either before or after or simultaneously with a cease-fire. What I do not think one could ask of either side is that it should be prepared to come to the conference table on the understanding that it has ceased its military actions unilaterally and the other side has made no corresponding move. I do not think it would be sensible or realistic to expect either side to accept a condition of negotiation on that basis.
§ Mr. Stewart
I have given way a good many times already. Some of my hon. Friends were concerned when I related Hanoi's denials that it had put forward peace feelers. I wish good fortune to anyone who can get Hanoi in the mood where it will negotiate. It may well be that there are moves and intentions of which none of us can have knowledge, but in the end the final test will be whether the Government in Hanoi are prepared to negotiate at all, either before or after or concurrently with a cease fire. What is not realistic is to say that one side must stop its military action without the other doing so. Then we could have a conference, perhaps of indefinite duration, on those terms. That at present is how the matter stands.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr (Rochester and Chatham)
My right hon. Friend has talked about what is realistic. Will he for a moment talk about what he really considers to be morally right?
§ Mr. Stewart
When in 1960 Ho Chi Minh called for an all-out struggle by the Vietcong against South Vietnam, I think that it would have been morally right for him to have refrained from doing so. In the dangerous world in 1718 which we live, a dreadful responsibility rests on anyone who unnecessarily shifts any dispute from the level of the comparatively peaceful, however uneasy, to the level of all-out conflict; and anyone who does that cannot foretell or control the range of the conflict that will thereby result.
§ Mr. Heffer rose——
§ Mr. Stewart
I really cannot give way again. What I believe would be morally right now is an agreement by both sides to stop all their military operations and come to the conference table. Is anyone going to say that that is morally wrong? I will give way now to ray hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Heffer
The point my right hon. Friend is making is that at a certain stage the North Vietnamese called for an all-out war. Is it not a fact that the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese Liberation Front only decided to participate in this sort of action once it was quite clear that the 1954 Geneva Agreement was not being operated and there was no intention of it being operated, and only at that stage did they take to arms to try to settle this problem?
§ Mr. Stewart
In the first place, if my hon. Friend is advancing that as the justification for starting a war, it seems to me a very inadequate one. Secondly, I repeat that if one talks of the Geneva accords, they provide for free elections throughout the whole of Vietnam. I put forward again this possibility. Let both sides stop hostilities. Let there be a conference. Let us get from that conference North and South Vietnam neutral, undisturbed, able to carry out the Geneva accords and determine their own future. Nothing that I have heard has ever convinced me that there is anything either morally wrong or practically absurd about those proposals.
The one thing I cannot accept is a proposal that one side should abandon the conflict without any regard to what the other side may do. It is that fact and that situation which the House, the country, and the world have to face.
There is one other possibility—that, if it is possible to arrange a Christmas truce, that might be extended and so a kind of de facto door would be open to a settlement. I repeat what my hon. Friend the 1719 Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said last week:We very much welcome the Christmas truce proposed by the North Vietnam authorities. It is a very short truce. We would hope that it could be extended to a length sufficient to allow the possibility of real negotiations to take place."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 884.]There is one other place where actual conflict rages, though mercifully on nothing like this scale. That is the conflict between Indonesia and Malaysia. There again, there are possibilities and rumours of possible negotiations. There was an offer from Mr. Subandrio to negotiate with the separate component states of the Federation of Malaysia. I do not think that could have been accepted, since one of the objectives put forward for Indonesia's action is to break up the Malaysian Federation. Malaysia could hardly be expected to start discussions on the basis that she was already broken up. The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, however, did reply that they were willing to negotiate with Indonesia once the aggression had been stopped.
For our part we should welcome any solution which would be acceptable to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia and in which possibly neighbouring countries might be concerned. I believe again, in common sense, that a solution of that kind is possible, but it will be very difficult to find it as long as the armed Indonesian action continues.
Turning from places where there is actual conflict to that realm of world affairs where we are dealing not with people with whom we are in conflict, not with people whom we want to regard as enemies, but with those who are not our allies and with whom we have many differences, I made a statement to the House not long ago about my visit to the Soviet Union. I now want to say something about relations between this country and the Soviet Union.
I think that we want those relationships to be at least of the kind that is described by the words "peaceful coexistence", but so that I shall not be accused of slurring over difficulties with a phrase I think that we should notice that one of our problems is that we and the Soviet Union do not always give the same meaning to that phrase "peaceful 1720 co-existence". As I understand it, and as I think we in the House generally understand it, it means that despite our profound differences in ideology and forms of government, we are nevertheless resolved to live peaceably side by side and indeed to trade, to have personal and cultural contacts and, it may be, to let history be the ultimate judge of which of us has made the wiser ideological choice. That is one view, that is my own view, of what one should mean by "peaceful co-existence". We have to notice that to the Soviet Union that definition might seem naive, that they have taken the view that it is consistent with peaceful co-existence that they should reserve the right to give help to Communists in any part of the world which they judge fit and to give their approval and sometimes their support to any conflict which they may decide is a war of national liberation.
This important difference as to what is meant by co-existence makes relations between us and the Soviet Union a complicated problem—a complicated one, but not an impossible one, because the Soviet Union, whatever our ideological differences, certainly has a very great and increasing interest in the preservation of the peace of the world. Indeed, every day that passes that tends to increase their standard of life, to make the preservation of peace worth more to all their citizens, that brings nearer within their grasp the immense programmes of social improvements, which they, like us, have stretching out before them—every day that goes on like that gives them a greater interest in the preservation of peace. We have then this considerable long-term common interest.
§ Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)
Would not my right hon. Friend agree that what he has described as the attitude of the Soviet Union to peaceful co-existence, that is, in maintaining the right to intervene at any point where it feels its own interest to be threatened, is precisely the attitude of the United States in, for example, Santa Domingo?
§ Mr. Stewart
Perhaps my hon. Friend will remember what I said about the action of the United States there—that I considered that although the original dispatch of forces had the sound motive of protecting lives, the size of the forces 1721 dispatched was quite out of proportion to that task. I think that I also said that in the kind of world which most of us would like to see, when Santa Domingo fell into disorder there would have been either tae Security Council or some international body to deal with it. Part of our problem is that we live in a world where that is not so and in which, therefore, there is the temptation to great Powers to take upon themselves a rôle of that kind. That is one of the things which we have been trying to prevent by strengthening the peace-keeping authority of the Security Council or, in default of the Security Council, of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
But the point which I was making was that this view of peaceful co-existence complicates our relations with the Soviet Union but does not make increasing understanding impossible because we both have a massive common interest in the preservation of peace. One of the lighter episodes in my visit to Moscow was an afternoon spent in discussing with the chairman of the Moscow City Soviet the housing, traffic and town planning problems of a great capital city. While differences of social system caused certain different problems, it was striking how many of the problems were the same. That is true over a wide field of social and economic activity and both countries have a pressing need for peace to try and solve that kind of problem. What we must do, therefore, is to look particularly for those special fields where agreement can be reached and not to lose patience too readily if results are not obtained in time. If we look back over the whole of the last 20 years we shall find that on a good many matters—the Austrian State Treaty was perhaps the most striking example—agreement has been reached between East and West after a long period of frustrations and disappointments.
As the House knows, one of the fields in which I am anxious to see agreement reached is the formulation of a treaty for the non-dissemination of nuclear weapons, not only because such a treaty would be valuable in itself but because I believe that it could be a platform on which further steps could be taken for the reassurance of those countries which are not nuclear Powers but might become so, and for the general pacification of the 1722 world. I should like to state quite clearly to the House how I see both the possibilities and the difficulties here. The Soviet Union not unnaturally, when discussing non-dissemination, lays particular emphasis on the anxieties which it has about the Federal Republic of Germany and argues, as I understand it, that we in N.A.T.O. may make arrangements which will involve disseminating nuclear weapons to West Germany.
What I believe is the right position about this, and the position which I endeavoured to set out in Moscow, and had the opportunity to do not only in formal talks but to a wider audience over the television, is that we shall not agree for our part to any arrangement in N.A.T.O. which gives to any non-nuclear Power or group of non-nuclear Powers a position in which by itself it could decide that nuclear weapons could be used. If one does not do that one is not disseminating. But it seems to me that, provided we safeguard that essential point, the countries of N.A.T.O. are free to make what reasonable arrangements they choose for the cohesion of the alliance which do not involve the dissemination of weapons. It is now for the Soviet Union to weigh the matter up and I trust that it will come to the decision that it can go forward to the preparation of an agreed draft to a treaty of non-proliferation.
I mentioned the natural anxieties which the Soviet Union has about West Germany, but there again that means "natural" in the light of past events and what Russia suffered at the hands of the Nazis. But it is right to remember that she was not the only country that suffered at the hands of the Nazis, and that we cannot build for the future if we continually try to base present policies on a belief that nothing has changed or ever will change.
The other thing which I should like to mention about my talks in Moscow——
§ Mr. Stewart
I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me, but I have taken a rather long time and I must not delay the House too long.
§ Mr. Donnelly rose——1723
§ Mr. Stewart
I cannot give way now.
The other thing which I should like to mention about my conversations in Moscow was the evident anxiety of the Russians that these talks should be continued; that was specifically mentioned in the communiqué. In diligently reading a translation of the Russian Press after the talks, I found that although many remarks were sharply critical of British policies, the talks were described by Izvestia as having been useful, businesslike and having made a positive contribution to the discussion of Anglo-Soviet relations. I hope that that verdict is a correct one and that the process, necessarily long, sometimes burdensome, of reaching closer understanding will steadily continue.
Whatever we do, whether it is helping an ally in actual conflict, as we help Malaysia, or whether it is the process of trying to promote agreement between East and West, Britain has to recognise today that she cannot do these things entirely single-handed and that her real influence in the world today has to be done through certain groups—through N.A.T.O., through the Commonwealth, through the United Nations and through relations with Europe. It was a matter of great regret to me that I was not able to attend the recent N.A.T.O. Ministerial conference, but I was glad to notice the heartening unity which there was there, in particular the amount of unity and support for our policy towards Rhodesia and the increasing readiness of the nations in the alliance to notice the importance of events outside the confines of Europe.
At the United Nations, we have had indeed a difficult session, but it has been something of a triumph that the session was able to be held at all and that we weathered the storm which some months ago threatened to destroy the organisation itself. The problem of the peace-keeping authority of the Security Council or the General Assembly still remains unsolved. We still hold to the view that without prejudice to the authority of the Security Council, there is a place for the General Assembly in making sure that, where necessary, peace-keeping operations can be carried on.
It has also been possible as a result of work in the United Nations for the 1724 Disarmament Conference at Geneva to be resumed. We have been concerned there with proposals with which the House is already familiar and which I need not repeat here. Britain has also played a creditable part in the expansion in the economic and social work of the United Nations.
I regret that as a result of what I can only call a piece of irresponsible spite, the particular item which we had put down for consideration at the Assembly—the peaceful settlement of disputes—will now have to be further postponed; but we shall persist and take it up as soon as we are able to do so.
As to our relations with Europe, here again I do not want to weary the House with repetition. I only say that together with our partners in E.F.T.A., we have made a move towards the countries of the Common Market which is welcome to them and the fruition of which waits upon the solution of the difficulties inside the Common Market itself.
As to relations between Britain and the Common Market, Britain is ready and willing to join the Common Market provided that certain British interests can be safeguarded. Those are mentioned in the five conditions which the Labour Party set down. I have stated, and I repeat, that some of those conditions are now easier of fulfilment than they were at the time they were made, although it is clear that considerable difficulties remain, particularly in agricultural policy.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I do not want to misrepresent or get an inaccurate rendering of what the Foreign Secretary has just said. Are we to take it that, accepting that there are difficulties, the Government regard agriculture as the chief obstacle? Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say what he regards as the chief obstacle to our joining the Six?
§ Mr. Stewart
I mention agriculture because it is one of the most knotty. I shall not make a list and award marks for difficulties, but that is obviously one of the most difficult. In another of the conditions—the safeguarding of the interests of our E.F.T.A. partners—the situation has altered by the much greater willingness of our E.F.T.A. partners to consider a move of this kind, whereas the agricultural difficulty has not melted to that extent.
§ Mr. Gilbert Longden (Hertfordshire, South-West)
Would it not be true to say that the position of the Government which the right hon. Gentleman has just outlined—that we are ready and willing to join the Common Market if British interests can be safeguarded—was exactly the position of the last Administration?
§ Mr. Stewart
I am not answering for the policies of the last Administration. Look what happened in the history of the Common Market and the Conservative Party. First, they tried to snub the European Economic Community and failed. Then they tried to get into it and failed. After that, they sulked. I do not wish to pursue the question of the relationship between the Conservative Party and the Common Market any further.
§ Mr. Edward Heath (Bexley)
I do not wish to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but if he is going back into history he should go back to the time when the Labour Government turned down entry into the Coal and Steel Community.
§ Mr. Stewart
That is true, but is the right hon. Gentleman ascribing the attempts first to snub and then to get into the Common Market and their failure to the action of the previous Administration? Is he really saying that? I do not think so. I might have mentioned also the complete failure to refer to this topic in the election address of the Conservative Party at the last election. I do not see why the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Longden) should want me to pronounce about his party's attitude when they themselves want to preserve silence about it. If we want to get on good terms with the countries of the Common Market, the least said about the last Administration, the better.
I mention these problems which are in our immediate minds—Rhodesia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Europe, the Soviet Union and East-West relations—but I believe it to be important, and I say this after nearly a year as Foreign Secretary, not to get so preoccupied with the problems which are so immediate that one must necessarily mention them in a speech to this House as to ignore the things that are rising up on the horizon —not, one hopes, problems, but sometimes great possibilities.
1726 In that connection, I want to mention certain countries, one of which, Japan, I have visited, and another group of countries, Latin America, which I hope to visit early in the New Year.
The emergence of Japan as a country working with a democratic form of Government and anxious, after its experiences, to play a peaceful part in the world is something of which I think none of us has yet taken the full measure. We shall have to bring this factor into our thinking about Asian affairs. Similarly with Latin America. We not only have there an area of great importance and interest for its own sake, but in 20 years' time there will be 600 million people living in that part of the world, and probably, in consequence, there will be a great shift in the axes of power and interest in the world. It is also an area of which in 1914 25 per cent. of the imports came from this country. In the years between the wars that proportion was halved, and it has now been halved again. It is time, I think, that we renewed our interest in that part of the world. If find that I shall be the first British Foreign Secretary to have visited South America.
I understand that many years ago when the people of Uruguay first established their country's independence, they sent a message to the British Ambassador in Brazil, saying they wished to come under the British Crown and enjoy British laws and institutions. The Britannic Majesty's Ambassador in Brazil forgot to forward the communication to his home Government. But who shall say whether this was negligence or foresight? We do not want more responsibilities than we can manage.
However that may be. I hope and trust that the visit that I shall make there will be of value. I shall be meeting in Lima our ambassadors in the Latin American countries. I shall then go on to visit Chile and Argentina. Later on, my noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs will be visiting a further considerable number of Latin American countries.
Finally, I have emphasised again and again that we live in a world that is constantly changing, and that if any of us expect to live in a quiet and stable world, we are certainly going to be disappointed. The immense disproportion between the technical skill of mankind 1727 and the comparatively primitive nature of man's political institutions means that we are going to live for a long time in a world of great ferment with one problem arising as another appears to be solved. I have been reminded of the words of one who is, in my judgment, one of the great English tragic poets:The troubles of our proud and angry dustAre from eternity, and shall not fail.Despite that, I do not believe that that is a reason for facing the future without hope or courage. What it means is that we cannot think of foreign policy as the turning of a single key in a single lock and the door to a garden of complete peace immediately it flies open. We have to think of it as the steady pursuit of peace-loving policies, and for a country like ours, not now among the very greatest countries of the world, it is a matter of example, as well as of policy.
If we can present to the world an example of a country which itself believes in democratic institutions and can make a success of them and solve social and economic problems with them; if we can present the example of a country which neither underrates its responsibilities nor overrates its powers but has judged how it can most effectively contribute to the solution of world problems; if we can present the example of a country which upholds the rule of law and, further, of a country which will give as much as its means and its wisdom permit to help raise the standard of living of the poorest nations of the world—if we can pursue a policy based on those ideals steadily and consistently, then I do not think we need leave the quotation at the pessimistic point where I left it just now:The troubles of our proud and angry dustAre from eternity, and shall not fail.Bear them we can, and if we can we must. Shoulder the sky.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Christopher Soames (Bedford)
If I may start by welcoming the Foreign Secretary back with us from his illness, we hope that the effort that he has made to come here has not in any way detracted from his travelling along the road to a quick recovery. We are grateful to him for the way in which he has given us his views on some of the great events of 1728 the day with his usual and welcome clarity.
The right hon. Gentleman began by referring to Rhodesia. I do not intend to follow him in this because, consonant with what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said when he raised the matter with Mr. Speaker, my right hon. Friend intends to deal with this in detail tomorrow after he has been able to give full consideration to the statement made by the Prime Minister today.
The last foreign affairs debate in this House, last summer, was inevitably dominated by the situation in Vietnam and the question of the Commonwealth Peace Mission. Anxieties over the conflict in Vietnam still weigh heavily upon us, but it is certainly time that we had a more wide-ranging debate to take stock of the hopes and fears which are upper-most in our minds, and how we should wish to use our influence to mould events in the latter half of this decade, for the years between now and 1970 must seem from the perspective of the Foreign Secretary's chair to be fateful years in which decisions of immense importance in world terms are likely to be taken.
Will, for instance, the N.A.T.O. review result in a strengthening or a weakening of Western unity? Will these years see a spread of nuclear weapons, or can we look for a non-proliferation treaty? Is Europe to proceed along the course it has charted for itself with growing economic and political unity, or is the greater European interest going to be subordinated to individual national interests? Is Britain to become an integral part of Europe, or shall we be watching its development from the sidelines? In the Middle East, can we look for a period of greater calm and stability? In the Far East, can we look for the end of the present confrontations in Vietnam and Malaysia, and perhaps to the creation by the free world of a permanent multilateral organisation to guarantee the freedom of the independent States of South-East Asia? These would seem to me to be some of the major questions which loom large, and I should like to offer some thoughts upon them and ask some questions of the Government.
First, in the Far East, it is surely now common ground, as the Foreign Secretary said just now, that unconditional discussions offer the only route to a negotiated 1729 peace in Vietnam. We agree with the Government that it has been abundantly clear for many months that it is the insistence of the Government in Hanoi on preconditions which has been the one factor inhibiting the opening of negotiations. While the monsoon season was on, one felt that this insistence was prompted by the hope of the Hanoi Government that the military advantages which the rainy season brought to the guerrillas would bring important victories to the Vietcong. However that may be, it must now be clear to them that to continue the war will lead not to victory for them but only to greater death, destruction and tragedy both in the North and in the South. We must hope that this will lead them to a major reappraisal of their attitude and to a decision to come to the peace table. This, I believe, is thought to be the nub of the problem by my right hon. and hon. Friends, by the Government and by the majority of the party opposite.
§ Mr. Warbey rose——
§ Mr. Soames
If I may continue, I think that what I have to say will touch upon the point that the hon. Gentleman no doubt wishes to raise. The firm impression at Question Time in recent weeks, made by the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) and some of his hon. Friends on the Left wing of the Labour Party, does not lead us to believe that they agree with this assessment. It seems to be their belief that, in some ways, it is lack of a desire by the United States Government that is preventing the convening of a peace conference.
The Government, to their credit, and the Foreign Secretary again today, have made it abundantly clear that they in no way share that view. As we see it, the United States Government are fully prepared to agree to end hostilities at any time and to come to the conference table without preconditions. The best contribution which hon. Members opposite could make to the cause of peace in Vietnam is not constantly to pull at the American coat tails but to bring to bear any influence they may have on the Hanoi Government to persuade them that the only way to restore peace to their unhappy country is to agree to come without preconditions to the conference table.
§ Mr. Warbey
If the United States Government are willing to end hostilities 1730 and come to the conference table, and have been so willing, as the right hon. Gentleman claims, for a long time, can he explain why it is that the latest attempt to get peace negotiations going between Hanoi and the Americans and other parties—the attempt in which Professor la Pira was involved—was frustrated and answered by the bombing of Haiphong?
§ Mr. Soames
When I first read the reports of this incident, my first reaction was that perhaps the Hanoi Government were putting out peace feelers and I hoped that that was so. But the next day it was made perfectly clear that this was not the view of the Hanoi Government. I am quite clear in my mind that if the Hanoi Government wish to talk peace they will find the means of making that abundantly clear throughout the world.
§ Mr. Warbey rose——
§ Mr. Soames
I am quite aware that the hon. Member will not be dissuaded from what he believes, which is something completely different, but I assure him that it is firmly believed by this country as a whole that it is only an agreement to come to the conference table by the Hanoi Government without preconditions which can lead to peace.
Meanwhile, we would like to know the Government's reaction to the request which Mr. Dean Rusk is reported to have made at the N.A.T.O. conference in Paris last week for medical aid in Vietnam. We are all deeply disturbed by the sufferings of the Vietnamese people and I ask the Government to consider, perhaps with other Commonwealth Governments, whether a Red Cross mission, be it from this country alone or one in Commonwealth terms, could be sent to Saigon to give succour and aid, especially perhaps to children.
§ The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will recall that, on 9th December, in reply to a Question, I said that we had already sent a very distinguished medical representative to Vietnam to see what could be done through humanitarian assistance, such as medical assistance.
§ Mr. Soames
That was before Mr. Rusk's request to N.A.T.O. and I hope that the Government will be able to tell us more about it during the debate.
1731 I do not believe that there is any difference or lack of understanding between the British and United States Governments over the desire to end hostilities and bring about a peace conference in Vietnam or about how it should be brought about, but I wonder whether there is equal understanding on what should be the long-term policies of the two Governments in South-East Asia.
We cannot yet tell when the Hanoi Government will agree to talk peace. Nor can we as yet see the end of the confrontation with Indonesia in which we are involved in Malaysia, although, as the Foreign Secretary said, there are perhaps some hopeful signs there and certainly the forceful manner in which the Indonesians have dealt with their Communist Party must give us heart and hope in this situation, especially for our troops out there who have done their job so well in such difficult conditions.
But even when hostilities in Malaysia and Vietnam are over, pressures and dangers will remain in the Far East. One has only to read the speeches of the Chinese leaders to see that they have every intention of maintaining whatever pressures they can on the independent States of South-East Asia. Of course, it is our hope that over the years China will agree to renounce war as a means of achieving her ambitions and will seek peaceful co-existence. But as yet the reverse is true and so we must face the facts that flow from it.
§ Mr. Orme rose——
§ Mr. Soames
I would sooner get on. Many other hon. Members wish to speak. The facts that flow from this situation call for cohesion of policy and decision by the free world in the Far East and this has been hitherto noticeably lacking. Faced after the war with the threat of Communist expansion in Europe, the free world responded by creating N.A.T.O. This has resulted in a degree of international unity of purpose and action, both political and military, which, though by no means perfect, has hitherto proved remarkably effective under the stresses and strains of the last 15 years.
Today the threat to world peace from the expansionist policies of China, backed, as they will be, by increasing nuclear strength, presents potentially the gravest danger to the rest of the world. 1732 Yet there is so far a total lack of any concerted plan within the free world to meet this threat in the long term and no vestige of any agreed political purpose. But these are sorely needed.
In the long term, the contribution which this country could or should make to this need in economic and military terms is bound to be small in relation to the total requirement. The United States has no desire to be left on its own and to carry all the heavy responsibility of decision-making. I believe that we have the opportunity of exerting an influence out of all proportion to our physical contribution over decisions that will prove to be of the greatest moment —decisions which could determine perhaps whether the free world pursues policies which could lead eventually to co-existence with China or policies which could lead to a collision course.
Yesterday, in the Press, it was reported that this thought was in the Prime Minister's mind when he had some discussions in Washington with President Johnson and I hope that tomorrow the right hon. Gentleman will tell us whether he agrees with what I have said and if so, what initiative he has in mind to take with the United States and other Governments to get agreement on long-term political objectives in South-East Asia and on the decisions which would need to flow from such an agreement.
§ Mr. David Ennals (Dover)
Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that we should increase our defence commitments in the Far East? If he does, how does he square that view with the views of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who is the Opposition's spokesman on defence?
§ Mr. Soames
I did not talk in terms of what our military contributions should be in the long term in the Far East. I was making the valid and important point that the long-term situation in the Far East was one which we should look at in concert with our allies and that we should endeavour to bring about as cohesive a policy for the free world as a whole in the Far East as we have succeeded in doing in Europe.
§ Mr. Orme rose——
§ Mr. Soames
No. Many hon. Members wish to speak and it is already late.
1733 I wish to turn now to the Arabian Peninsula. Although the situation in Aden has deteriorated since we last debated these matters, events in the Yemen have taken a notably better turn. The agreement which King Feisal, with great diplomatic skill, arrived at with President Nasser, under which all Egyptian troops will be withdrawn from the Yemen during the course of the next 12 months, to be followed by the holding of free elections, could go a long way to relieving tension in the area. If the Haradh conference could be brought to a successful conclusion, there would seem to be good prospects thereafter of a government being set up in the Yemen which would take a responsible view towards an Aden Federation.
In our view, the Government were right to suspend the constitution in Aden. Indeed, they had no alternative. But they surely felt at that time, with hindsight, that they should have acted sooner in taking a grip on the terrorism and subversion which had been allowed to take a mounting toll of British and Arab lives. It is vital that the Government should demonstrate beyond doubt to all concerned that they are determined to stamp out terrorism and to carry out the policies agreed at the London conference in the summer of 1964. Given that and given the withdrawal of Egyptian troops from the Yemen, could it be that we are within sight of reaping the benefits, at last, in the form of greater peace and stability in the area, of the policies which we have pursued in the Arabian Peninsula over the years, with all the difficulties and burden of cost which they have placed upon us? In the meanwhile, an essential factor is a strong British military presence in the area. We believe that it is the Government's duty to maintain a level of forces which leaves no doubt of our determination, or of our ability, to fulfil our responsibilities there on behalf—let it be well noted abroad—not only of ourselves but of the common good.
I turn now to N.A.T.O. Even those who in the past have been the bitterest opponents of N.A.T.O. must at least admit that the policies which the West has pursued, of a combination of strength and good will, have been successful so far in notably reducing tension between East and West in Europe. Now that the 1734 split between Moscow and Peking appears to be deep and lasting, the Soviet Government must look East as well as West. It has lost that central control of a solid Communist bloc which was formerly so valuable to it in dealing with a group of Western allies who had to concert their plans in common.
Moreover, the Russian leaders seem to have drawn the firm conclusion that war must be ruled out as a means of achieving world revolution. Indeed, this is the main charge which Communist China now hurls against them. These are all good reasons for the Soviet Government to seek a lowering of tension on its European and Atlantic flank, not from any idealistic or sentimental motives but strictly for reasons of self-interest—and they are none the worse for that.
This must not lead us to forget that the Soviet Government remains as adamant and as unyielding as ever on many of the major issues which still divide us, and to dismantle our defences or to squander our collective unity in N.A.T.O. would leave the West wide open once more to Soviet pressure.
At the same time, N.A.T.O. is now clearly undergoing serious stresses and strains within it which must be resolved. First, President de Gaulle has made it clear that changes will have to be made in the arrangements of the Alliance if France is to remain in it, and he has shown his hostility to command integration which is a very bulwark of the Alliance. This could raise serious problems for N.A.T.O. Secondly, there is the highly important problem of nuclear sharing in N.A.T.O., which in turn is inevitably linked with the question of a non-proliferation treaty.
There never has been and nor is there any difference of view between the two sides of the House on the urgent need for a non-dissemination agreement. But the Russians made it clear some while back that they would refuse to join in any non-dissemination agreement unless Western plans for an international N.A.T.O. nuclear force in any shape or form were dropped. They insisted, as I understand it, that any such scheme must mean extending control over nuclear weapons to non-nuclear European allies and to Germany in particular, in spite of all the steps taken by the right hon. Gentleman to dissuade them of this.
1735 It was against this background that the Foreign Secretary expressed some views at a Press conference in New York early last month which were and are of the greatest interest. He said:M.L.F., A.N.F., or other possible arrangements within N.A.T.O. for consulting about strategy as a whole, they are only useful if they add to the efficiency of N.A.T.O. We have got to ask ourselves of any particular proposal on the one hand how far does it add to the efficiency of N.A.T.O. On the other hand, to what extent might it be an obstacle to a major advance in agreement between ourselves and the powers of Eastern Europe.It is I think an open question at the moment whether M.L.F. or A.N.F. really have the balance of advantage when you weigh up how much they add to N.A.T.O. or how much they might endanger the possibilities of an agreement with the East. I think N.A.T.O. has to look at this whole matter now with a fresh mind.That is what the Foreign Secretary is reported to have said in New York and it showed a considerable change in Government thinking.
A year ago, after featuring prominently in the election campaign their decision to abandon our independent nuclear deterrent, the Government put forward their ideas of an Atlantic Nuclear Force. As I see it, it seemed to them that it would serve three purposes. First, they presumably regarded it as a serious contribution to the discussion on nuclear sharing. Secondly, they saw it as providing, as it were, a receptacle into which they could place much of our existing and future nuclear deterrent, thus making a semblance of fulfilling their election pledge. Thirdly, by avowing that meaningful discussion of the proposals must await the German elections, which were 12 months after the Government first announced their A.N.F. proposals, they won a year's respite from criticism by their Left Wing that their deeds were not matching their words and promises about disposal of our deterrent. Yet, hardly were the German elections over than the Foreign Secretary was casting doubt on the value of the whole proposal. I had hoped that he would tell us more today of whether it had been finally abandoned, or whether it was still on the table as a live proposal.
There is surely no room for disagreement between us that more nuclear- 1736 sharing machinery in some form is necessary in the interests of preserving the unity of the Western Alliance. To ignore this need or to barter it for the possibility of an agreement with Russia on a non-dissemination treaty would be totally irresponsible.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton) rose——
§ Mr. Soames
The question to which we should address ourselves is whether a solution can be found to the nuclear-sharing problem to the benefit of the Alliance as a whole which is not incompatible with the conclusion of a nonproliferation treaty. There are three propositions on the table. There is the M.L.F., there is the A.N.F. and there is Mr. McNamara's proposal for a special committee which would ensure a greater sharing of all nuclear planning through the committee within the Alliance. Of the three, it has been apparent to us for some time that the committee solution has much to commend it and that the creation of a new nuclear force, be it A.N.F. or M.L.F., has many disadvantages.
Three spring readily to mind. First, it would not appear to be either necessary or sensible from a military point of view to create a new international nuclear force. Indeed, the support for this concept from military advisers within the Ministries of Defence of the Alliance, other than Germany, is, to say the least, hard to find. Secondly, the Foreign Secretary apparently takes the view that to create such a force would make a nonproliferation treaty even harder to get. It may prove impossible to resolve N.A.T.O.'s nuclear sharing problem without jeopardising such a treaty, but we certainly owe it to ourselves and to succeeding generations to find if we can a solution which is or should be compatible with the wider agreement on nonproliferation. Our third objection to A.N.F. or M.L.F. is that the problem of nuclear sharing which now confronts us in Europe will arise later, whether we like it or not, in other parts of the world; so the solution which we decide upon in Europe is likely to set a precedent for other parts of the world. I do not believe that a number of mililateral nuclear naval forces with mixed manned components sailing the different oceans is likely to 1737 commend itself as a whole to the British people.
These three reasons have seemed to us for some time now to be very real disadvantages to what is termed the hardware solution to the nuclear sharing problem.
On the other hand, the theme of a more intimate sharing of nuclear planning within the alliance through the special committee would seem to us to have the seeds of a solution which could, and I believe should, be acceptable to the alliance as a whole, and indeed, the recent debates, in the Bundestag seemed to show that the Germans were themselves coming around to this view. It would also be a solution which would certainly not be regarded by the Russians as incompatible with the non-proliferation treaty if they have a real will to achieve one, and it s also one which could set a good and workmanlike precedent if and when similar problems have to be resolved elsewhere in the world.
Therefore, it is our hope that the Government will give their full support to the committee proposal even though in losing the A.N.F. they would lose the receptacle which they consider would be internationalising our deterrent, to use the Prime Minister's word. It would seem now that the best chance of winning the twin prizes of a solution to the nuclear sharing problem and the non-proliferation treaty would be through the committee proposal, and it is, therefore, our view that only if this proves incapable of satisfying the N.A.T.O. Alliance, and only then, should the question of an international nuclear force be reconsidered, and it would be our hope that the Government, in the weeks and months ahead, while this is being discussed at great length in Washington and in the European capitals, will put their weight behind the committee proposal.
Before leaving this question of nonproliferation I must say a word about the Foreign Secretary's visit to Moscow to which he referred again today. The statement which he made on his return showed., as we saw it, that he had not, in fact, been able to make progress on any of the major issues between ourselves and Moscow. I do not believe he can be blamed for that, because it is quite clear to us that this was not the moment at which we could hope for anything much 1738 more than civilities. Perhaps the Foreign Secretary was expecting this, but, nevertheless, for one reason or another, he thought it wise to make his visit, and I am sure his appearance on television explaining the facts of life of nonproliferation and nuclear sharing to the Russian people was worth while and valuable.
But the question which I want to raise is about the proposed meeting between Mr. Kosygin and the Prime Minister. If so little progress was made on the major topics on the Foreign Secretary's visit, what is expected to come out of the Prime Minister's meeting with Mr. Kosygin? What is the aim of the meeting? What would it settle? About what? And is the Foreign Secretary of the opinion, following on the talks which he had in Moscow recently, that a meeting in the near future is likely to be fruitful and helpful? If so, if we can really make progress with a non-proliferation treaty, if sufficient preparatory work has been done to make the Government feel that now is the time for a personal meeting between the Prime Minister and Mr. Kosygin, then, of course, we would welcome it, but we find it hard to imagine what good such a meeting can do at this point of time while Russia is taking the line she is over Vietnam and the extent to which this is affecting the relationship between Moscow and London.
I hope and believe at least that the Prime Minister realises that we would fully understand if he decided to postpone the meeting till the time seemed more propitious, because I believe that meetings between heads of Governments, unless the preparatory work has been done and unless it looks as if something beneficial can come out of them, can he not only nonproductive but even counter-productive.
Lastly, a word on the situation in the E.E.C. The withdrawal of the French Government last June from the discussions on the Commission's proposals for a common agricultural policy and her refusal thereafter to participate in the Community's business faces the Community with its gravest crisis yet. There is, I believe, general agreement in this House that we wish the Community well in its endeavours to resolve these differences in these circumstances as it has in the past. 1739 However, five countries, other than France, have taken up an unequivocal attitude. They have affirmed their determination to pursue the fulfilment of the Treaty of Rome and invited the French to attend a meeting of Ministers to discuss how this may best be achieved, and now that the Presidential elections in France are over it is reasonable to suppose that the French Government's attitude to the continued progress of the E.E.C. will be made known shortly. Then events could move fast.
The Government must be aware that our friends in Europe who are anxious to do all they can to facilitate our eventual joining of the E.E.C. have in the present situation an exceptionally delicate and difficult hand to play, but how can we expect them to keep our interests in the forefront of their minds if they are uncertain of what is the present Government's attitude to our joining the Common Market if and when the opportunity occurs? This point has been put to me and to my hon. and right hon. Friends time and time again and recently by our friends in Europe, and the Government must surely be aware of it.
It is indeed small wonder that there is deep uncertainty on the Continent as to where the British Government stand. The Prime Minister is on record as saying that arrangements we could have got during the Brussels negotiations were unacceptable. The insistence by the Labour party on its three conditions is generally interpreted, rightly or wrongly, as being wholly negative. It is not sufficient for the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary merely to say that some of them seem to be getting easier. He thought that E.F.T.A. minded less if we joined the Common Market, but that was the situation years ago.
Then what is all this about agriculture? Does he mean that he does not think that the agriculture support system within the E.E.C. is such as to enable our home agriculture to flourish, or is it purely a question of the levies and the transference of the levies to Commission funds? These generalisations that the question of British agriculture does not look any easier, and so on, tend to be interpreted woefully on the Continent.
What about the question of having a total independence for all economic plan- 1740 ning? How can that be fitted into an economic treaty? The Government must realise that what they have to do, if they wish to join the E.E.C. at some time in the future, is to create the impression in Europe that they desire to do so. At present the position is one of total uncertainty. The Conservative Party's desire to see Britain join the Community is clearly understood in Europe, but where, it is asked, does the Labour Party stand?
During the next few months, decisions of great moment affecting the future of Europe are likely to be taken. If the Government take the opportunity to make it clear where they think Britain's interests lie in regard to Europe—and I hope that the Prime Minister will take that opportunity tomorrow—this debate will have been both timely and worthwhile.
§ 5.52 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Henderson (Rowley Regis and Tipton)
First of all, I should like to reassure the right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) about the proposed visit of the Prime Minister to Moscow. What does he think that the Foreign Secretary was doing, amongst other things, during his recent visit? He was doing the same thing as Conservative Foreign Secretaries did when they went to prepare the ground for a visit by their Prime Minister. I am quite sure that when the Prime Minister visits Mr. Kosygin, as I hope he will be able to do in a very short while, the ground will be fully prepared.
The right hon. Gentleman dealt with the question of a non-proliferation agreement. I found myself in a measure of agreement with him when he indicated that he was prepared to sacrifice the Conservative concept of an M.L.F. which they accepted from the United States and also the A.N.F. which was put forward by Her Majesty's present Government, provided that it would be possible to secure such agreement on the basis of what is called the nuclear committee proposed by Mr. McNamara, the United States Minister of Defence.
The difficulty is that the Russians have made it clear time and time again that they are not prepared to enter into any non-proliferation agreement if there is an arrangement in N.A.T.O. which provides for the access of West Germany to the nuclear weapon.
1741 I would not be averse to putting forward the view that the committee proposed by Mr. McNamara does not give any access, certainly to the nuclear trigger. But the difficulty will be to persuade the Soviet Government that that is the position. All that I can say, as I have said before, is that I believe that the securing of a non-proliferation agreement is so vitally important that no question of new nuclear arrangements should be allowed to stand in the way.
Under the present arrangements in N.A.T.O., the deterrent which is largely under the control of the United States is sufficient for all purposes of safeguarding the security of the West and of making its contribution as a deterrent towards maintaining the peace of the world. But that is the problem that we are going to have to face if we ask the Russians to accept the concept based on what the right hon. Gentleman called the McNamara proposals.
The other point which he made and to which I would like to refer is his suggestion that we should enter into a cohesive policy with the United States in order to contain what he called China's expansionism. The Americans might say that that has not been a good proposal because of the precedent that already exists. Many people in this country condemn the Americans for having troops in Vietnam, yet they are there under a treaty to which we are a party —S.E.A.T.O.—at the invitation of the Government of South Vietnam and in accordance with the provisions of that Treaty, one of which is that any one of the three former territories which composed Indo-China should be eligible for protection in the event of aggression.
One of the main problems with which we are faced today is what I call the covert or hidden form of aggression and what others call "movements of liberation". One could imagine China or some other country one day forming a liberation front with a view to "liberating" this or any other country. I believe that we have to face up to what is a practical problem, because already we are told in the newspapers that a liberation committee has been formed with respect to Thailand, and presumably if the United States were to pull out of South Vietnam so that the whole of South Vietnam fell into the 1742 hands of North Vietnam with China behind her, we would probably have to face up to the same problem again in Thailand.
When we talk about having arrangements with the United States to contain Chinese expansionism in the Far East, the right hon. Gentleman stresses political rather than military arrangements, but I believe that they should be economical as well as political, because it is the failure to raise the standards of living of the teeming millions in the Far East and Africa which makes those areas such fertile ground for Communist propaganda.
I want now to say a word about Rhodesia, and I would like to say how much I welcomed the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the imposition of an oil sanction against Southern Rhodesia. Those of us who attended the Commonwealth Parliamentarians' conference in Wellington a few weeks ago could not help being impressed with the way in which the African delegations were almost supercharged with emotion about the Government's refusal, rightly in my view, to use force against Southern Rhodesia. But they expressed doubts time and time again whether the British Government and the British people were really more than halfhearted in their desire and in their policies to end the rebellion headed by Mr. Ian Smith.
A resolution was passed by the United Nations Security Council a few weeks ago which indicated that the oil sanctions should be imposed. We have been told by the Foreign Secretary that our Government proposed the establishment of a committee to consider ways and means of dealing with the situation, but that that committeee has not been constituted. I believe that oil sanctions more than anything else, would convince sceptical Africans—short of using military force of course—that we have a common objective. It would convince Africans, Asians and other people who are concerned with the rights of humanity that we are determined to prevent those in charge of the de facto government in Rhodesia getting away with what they have sought to do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Philip Noel-Baker) was in this House in 1935, at the time when the League of Nations imposed an 1743 oil sanction on Italy because she had brutally invaded Abyssinia. I can only hope that we are going to secure more genuine co-operation from those who are in a position to make their contribution to a successful imposition of oil sanctions than was the case in 1935.
I propose now to say a few words about South Vietnam. I do not propose to go into the background of this terrible conflict. I believe that it is another example of the fact that until the world is prepared to honour its international obligations situations may arise where, in defence of the security of the free world, it is necessary for a powerful country like the United States to take the kind of action that she has taken in South Vietnam. It is not a question of arguing whether United States troops should be in Vietnam or not. In my view what we have to do is to realise that until all the countries of the world honour their contractual obligations, this is the sort of terrible situation in which we will find ourselves.
The trouble in this case is that an international agreement has been breached, and indeed breached by both sides. The North Vietnamese breached it in 1962 by sending their regular soldiers and trained and equipped guerrillas, into South Vietnam. South Vietnam did not carry out one of the provisions of the agreement arrived at at the Geneva Conference in 1954, namely, the provision that within two years there should be consultations between the two parts of Vietnam with a view to free elections leading to reunification.
The problem with which we are faced today is that of getting back to the essentials of the 1954 Agreement. I do not believe that there is a wide abyss between the North Vietnam Government and their published four-point programme on the one hand, and the statements made by President Johnson and other spokesmen for the United States on the other. I have looked very carefully at the four-point programme put forward by the North Vietnamese. There is no real evidence to suggest that the United States has to accept and implement all four points before North Vietnam will agree to a conference. The sooner the North Vietnamese agree to attend a conference, the better it will be for them, because at 1744 the moment they are mainly responsible for the war in that area. I believe that those four points are put forward as the basis on which North Vietnamese representatives would rest their case at a conference, but of course at such a conference there would be representatives from the South Vietnam Government and, as at any conference, they would have their basis for negotiation.
The North Vietnam Government have said that they want all foreign troops out of the country, and all foreign bases removed. They want the people of North and South Vietnam to have the right to elections. Whether they will be free elections in North Vietnam I do not know, but that is what they say. They want changes so that the people of both parts of Vietnam can decide their future. President Johnson has said that the United States Government are in favour of free elections under international supervision. Mr. Dean Rusk has said repeatedly that the United States Government are not interested in maintaining their troops in South Vietnam after peace has been restored and reasonable guarantees have been given for the people of South Vietnam. It therefore seems to me that there is a basis for a conference.
Reference has been made this afternoon—and it has been referred to also in the Press—to the controversy about whether the United States on the one hand, or the North Vietnam Government on the other, have put out feelers for peace. I believe that we are getting a poisoned atmosphere as a result of the maladroit handling of this question of getting the two sides to attend a conference, and I hope that my hon. Friend will reply to the point that I have made about the doubts and misgivings which I and many other people have about the way in which this matter has been handled.
We were told that in August of last year U Thant, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as a result of a proposal that he had made, was able to secure from the Government of Hanoi a readiness to enter into discussions, and that the United States Government rejected that suggestion because they did not think it was genuine. Why did not the United States Government find out whether it was genuine or not? Surely it is far better to test a suggestion like that 1745 than to continue the carnage, bloodshed and death that is going on and affecting thousands of men, women and children in Vietnam?
We are told later that U Thant had told the United States that he would propose a ceasefire, and that he offered to allow the United States' authorities to settle truce lines and the terms of that ceasefire. We then heard that that proposal, too, was declined by the United States Government.
We have now heard about the letter from Signor Fanfani, and the reply by Mr. Dean Rusk. What was the object of publishing those letters? They are being used almost to prove that the Government of Hanoi are privately suggesting that they want peace, and then putting them in the position of having publicly to repudiate any such suggestion. No one need suggest that the North Vietnamese Government have put forward a peace offer. I hope that through diplomatic channels, and without undue publicity, we can get contact between Washington, Saigon and Hanoi, which may result in a meeting between representatives of the three Governments.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
It is possible to criticise the Americans for not publishing anything about the supposed earlier peace bid, and also to criticise them for not publishing anything about the supposed peace feeler that has come to them via Signor Fanfani, but it is surely difficult to criticise them both for publishing and not for publishing, in precisely the same speech.
§ Mr. Henderson
I am sorry, but the hon. Member has it wrong. I did not criticise them for not publishing the two proposals made in August last year. I criticised them for not accepting them, and that is a very different thing. I hope that I may be allowed to criticise the Americans, having always made it clear that I think that they are absolutely within their rights, under S.E.A.T.O., to have their troops in South Vietnam. Surely I can criticise them when I think that they are acting in a maladroit way, as they have been acting in their handling of these peace proposals.
Pope Paul yesterday made a call for a Christmas truce. I believe that that call would be welcomed by every man 1746 and woman in the civilised world. It is vital that at a time of good will like Christmas there should not be this bitter, fierce conflict raging in Vietnam. Most hon. Members know that if a country goes into a war it has to accept the consequences, and that even if the country is on the weaker side it must still accept the consequences. I would like to see the United States indicate another suspension of bombing. They did this for five days in August. They may say that they had no response then, but let them try again. Let them relate it to the truce for which the Pope has asked, and in respect of which I understand that the Government of North Vietnam have made some offer. Let them make it clear that they will suspend their bombing for a specified period—much longer than five days—not as a condition of anything, but in the hope that some response will come from North Vietnam.
There may be no response. North Vietnam may continue infiltrating their guerrillas into South Vietnam, and may go on encircling strongpoints. But let the United States make it quite clear that they will suspend any bombing following this truce—if it can be arranged—and will stop sending in reinforcements. We would then expect North Vietnam to make its contribution by stopping its infiltration. This effort may fail, but is it not worth trying? Is it not worth a supreme effort to end this deadlock?—because that is what it is. Neither side is able to extricate itself from the terrible morass that has been created in that country. Is it not worth while, in the interests of millions of ordinary men, women and children whose happiness has been destroyed for the time being as a result of this terrible conflict?
I hope that in the not too distant future we may be able to reconvene the Geneva Conference. If I were able to reach the Government of the Soviet Union in Moscow I would appeal to them to play their part in co-operating with Her Majesty's Government in their attempt to secure a reconvening of the Geneva Conference so that, once more, an attempt could be made, based essentially on the 1954 Agreement, to restore the unhappy country of North and South Vietnam to a condition of peace.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Royle (Richmond, Surrey)
I am glad to be able to follow the right hon. and learned Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson), as I had the privilege of following him when I made my maiden speech six years ago. Hon. Members on this side of the House admire the way in which he has supported his Front Bench in its policy on South Vietnam in past months. We have been interested to hear some of his ideas for getting peace negotiations going and finding some way of bringing to an end the war which has been going on in Vietnam for so long. We all have great admiration for the Foreign Secretary personally. We have all greatly admired, during the past year, the staunch support that he, together with the Prime Minister, has given to our Allies throughout the world, and particularly the courageous way in which he has followed up the Government's policy of supporting the United States in South Vietnam.
All who know Vietnam well—and I have been there on two occasions—recognise the difficulties, and the confusion that must exist in the minds of many people who have not been there in understanding the difficulties, which the Americans and the South Vietnam Government face.
Secondly, I welcome the Foreign Secretary's comments on his visit to South America. I know that the fact that he plans to hold a conference of British representatives in Lima, Peru, will be greatly welcomed by the Peruvian Government and people. They are probably closer to us than any other South American nation. They have traded with us for many years. Indeed, it was a British admiral who obtained their independence in 1820. It is nice to think that the first Foreign Secretary to visit that Continent should be holding an important meeting of our ambassadors in Lima.
Those of my hon. Friends who are interested in foreign affairs must, however, view with gloom the Government's lack of success in the past year. We have had an able and interesting speech from the Foreign Secretary, but he left us with the impression that he thought that his efforts had been—or would be in the near future—crowned with success around the globe. We all remem- 1748 ber the Prime Minister, prior to the election over a year ago, making it plain that if a Labour Administration were elected to power they would make Britain count in the world, implying that the Conservative Government had not done so. What has happened over the past year?
I want to return for a second to Vietnam. Although the Government have supported American policy there their efforts for peace cannot be counted as having been crowned with success. There was the suggestion that there should he a Commonwealth Prime Minister's mission to North Vietnam, but it never got off the ground. To many hon. Members on this side of the House, and to many people throughout the country, it appeared to be a political gimmick on the part of the Prime Minister to quieten the members of the Left wing of the Labour Party.
There was then the suggestion that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance should go to Hanoi. This also seemed to be an unwise move, because in foreign affairs it is surely always wrong to send someone to negotiate with another country unless the ground has been prepared. His mission inevitably failed. This point was made this afternoon by my right hon. Friend regarding the Foreign Secretary's visit to Moscow.
To turn to Malaysia. Here, confrontation continues, and it was under the present Administration, during last year, that Singapore broke away from Malaysia, presenting the British Government with a very serious situation in South-East Asia. As far as I can see there are no signs yet of Her Majesty's Government making any move to strengthen the position of Malaysia, politically rather than militarily, in her confrontation with Indonesia, in face of the very grave challenges which she is going to have to meet during the years ahead.
I thought it extraordinary that the subject of Kashmir was not mentioned by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon. Here, for the first time, there was a full-scale war between two Commonwealth countries; the argument that this is a foreign affairs debate and we ought not to discuss Commonwealth matters cannot be applied to Kashmir, because the interests 1749 of China and the Soviet Union make it very much a foreign affairs problem. We on this side of the House who know and are interested in Asia wonder what the Government's policy is on Kashmir. Is there any thinking going on by the Government to see how this difficult problem could be resolved? Most of us were shocked that the Prime Minister made no apparent move to try to bring the two sides together when the war was at its height. Here were two Commonwealth nations fighting each other, for the first time in history. Who was the man who brought about peace between them? Not the Prime Minister, not the Commonwealth Secretary, not the Foreign Secretary. It was U Thant, the Secretary General of the United Nations.
It is depressing to find and to hear of the bitter hatred which seems to have been left behind, particularly in India, as a result of the Government's attitude on Kashmir. Among the suggestions put forward for solving the Kashmir dispute is one of making Kashmir an independent State, guaranteed by both India and Pakistan. This agreement could be reached with the aid of the Soviet Union. There are many other proposals, and I would like to know what the Government's thinking is on this. The Himalayas is the one place in the world where the Soviet Union and Great Britain could join with the United States with the aim of setting up some new security arrangement, a new guarantee for the countries of South East Asia, against the ever-spreading might of Chinese Communism. I hope that some thought will be given to this.
Another country not mentioned at all by the Foreign Secretary was Cyprus. Those of us who know Cyprus well were surprised that there has been no move made for the last twelve months by the Government or any suggestion or any policy put forward in an attempt to find a solution to this grave and difficult problem in the Eastern Mediterranean. Particularly since so many of our troops and their families are living on the island and we are subscribing troops to the United Nations force stationed in Cyprus. What is the Government's attitude to this? Are we going to support a renewal of the U.N. force after the end of the year? It is strange that no statement has been made public on arranging 1750 a round table conference between Turkey, Greece and the Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, since matters have been dormant for so long. The Turkish-Cypriot community is living in grave difficulties and the problems and miseries which are being suffered by much of the Turkish population on the island are grave. I do not think that this is fully recognised by Her Majesty's Government.
Over the weekend I have done a certain amount of research about statements made by the Labour Party on foreign policy over the past year or so. One of the matters which has concerned me has been the problem of disarmament. I am sure that the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs remembers this statement very well:First and foremost will come our initiative in the field of disarmament. We are convinced that the time is opportune for a new break-through in the disarmament negotiations, releasing scarce resources and manpower desperately needed to raise living conditions throughout the world.We shall appoint a Minister in the Foreign Office with special responsibility for disarmament to take a new initiative in the Disarmament Committee, in association with our friends and Allies. We have put forward constructive proposals:I know the hon. Gentleman will recognise that extract from the Labour Party manifesto, and no doubt he views with gloom the lack of success in achieving any of the promises mentioned in it. But one promise has been achieved. There has been the appointment of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, as Minister of State responsible for disarmament. I do not think that this received the 'overwhelming support of the hon. Gentleman, because at Question Time last week he seemed to consider that the sole achievement of his noble Friend had been to set up a disarmament section of the Foreign Office.
- (i) To stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
- (ii) To establish nuclear free zones in Africa, Latin America and Central Europe.
- (iii) To achieve controlled reductions in manpower and arms.
- (iv) To stop the private sale of arms.
- (v) To establish an international disarmament agency to supervise a disarmament treaty."
On this side of the House we have viewed with great concern the lack of any progress made by the Minister of State in charge of disarmament. We 1751 read in the Press of him swanning here and flying there. We read that he was in Japan only a fortnight ago, lecturing at the university. We read in vain for any sign of a new disarmament initiative by him. We are not sorry that there has been no setting up of nuclear free zones. I do not agree that the setting up of such zones is practicable, but all of us wish to see some progress made in multilateral disarmament.
I realise that this foreign affairs debate has been somewhat overlaid by the Rhodesian situation and the statement made by the Prime Minister. I also understand that during the past few weeks, since U.D.I., Government policy has tended to be dominated by the Rhodesian question. In spite of this I must make two more quotations. One is from the Labour Party manifesto dealing with the United Nations. It reads:…our most important effort will be concerned to revive the morale and increase the powers of the United Nations. Every year that has passed since the Conservatives came to power has seen Britain's influence in the United Nations decline.Having seen on television the walk-out of delegates in the United Nations when the Prime Minister was making his speech last week, it did not make one feel that Britain's influence in the United Nations had increased, and it hardly supports the view that a Labour Government has enabled Britain's voice to count for more in the United Nations.
At the Labour Party conference this year the Prime Minister claimed, during the debate on foreign affairs on 29th September, that Britain was leading in disarmament and that no nation was doing more for the United Nations. He claimed that Her Majesty's Government had made the Commonwealth, "a positive instrument for world peace". Over the weekend I was surprised to read in the Sunday Times a quotation by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker). He said, in his constituency, that Britain might be better off without someill-assorted, demanding partners in the Commonwealth. Sentiment apart, the Commonwealth must give real practical advantages to all its members, including Britain. If it does not it is merely a damaging hangover from our imperial past, which if Britain wants to participate in the modern world, we must bury and forget.1752 Those who understood that the Labour Party supported the Commonwealth through and through must have raised an eyebrow at this comment.
I confess to sharing, reluctantly, some of the views of the hon. Member for Swindon. Those of us who have always felt and believed that the multi-racial Commonwealth which has been set up following the ending of the British Empire would be a force for good will and peace between the richer white countries of the Northern Hemisphere and the dark and poorer countries of the Southern Hemisphere must be depressed and concerned that this is unlikely to happen during the years ahead.
Today's debate is on foreign affairs. It would therefore be wrong for me to talk about Rhodesia at length. But it would also be wrong not to touch on Rhodesia before I move on to the main point which I want to make, which is to do with Europe. Over the past weeks I have reluctantly supported Her Majesty's Government in their policy on the unilateral declaration of independence by Rhodesia. I have done so having travelled widely in the old Federation of Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Southern Rhodesia.
But I confess that I have grave doubts about the wisdom of the oil sanctions announced this afternoon by the Prime Minister. I think that all of us are opposed to the use of force to settle the Rhodesian question. The Prime Minister has made clear to the House on numerous occasions that he is also opposed to the use of force. Therefore, it has always seemed to me that it would be wisest to take those economic measures which made it unlikely that they would escalate rapidly into forcing this country to retract that policy. The introduction of oil sanctions must lead to the point of escalation at which we might well have to use force, which, I think, is turned down by both sides of the House as a means of defeating the illegal Government in Rhodesia.
Secondly, I have grave doubts about whether the sanctions can be effective. They can be effective only if they are supported by both Portuguese East Africa and the Union of South Africa. So far it seems most unlikely that they will support them. What do we do if they do not support them? Do we go on to blockade the port of Beira and the 1753 ports of South Africa? Have we the ships to do this on our own? If not, do we bring in other countries to help us out? If we are resisted by the Portuguese or the South Africans, are we prepared to open fire? This is the beginning of a dangerous escalation which will give concern to all those who have been supporting the Government.
Thirdly, there is another aspect which gives us, all great concern. The Government's contingency planning from the beginning of U.D.I. seems to many to have been deplorable. No contingency planning appeared to have been taken before U.D.I. to set up a radio station which could broadcast successfully to Rhodes a. Only a week or ten days after the announcement of U.D.I., were hurried, last minute, arrangements made to set up a radio station in Bechuanaland. I am doubtful whether even now it has started to broadcast.
Added to this, we read in the newspapers over the last fortnight of new committees and of rushed visits by Ministers to Zambia and other parts of Africa to get contingency planning going—whether to carry petrol and oil into Zambia, to improve the roads, or to discuss new methods of bringing economic sanctions to bear. This has given the impression to those not in the Government that there has been a disastrous lack of contingency planning by the Government over the last six months to deal with a situation which might arise on the unilateral declaration of independence.
For these reasons, I confess that I have grave reservations and doubts about the announcement made by the Prime Minister this afternoon.
Lastly, I turn to the main point which I want to make, and that is to do with Europe. It is, and must be, in Europe where this country's future lies. Those of us who feel, and have felt strongly for many years, that this is vital were depressed by the grave damage done to E.F.T.A. after the announcement of the import surcharge. Many of us felt that this was a mistake and that the matter was badly handled by lack of consultation. But that is water under the bridge. Those of us who were hoping to see some sign of a change of attitude by the Government in their policy towards the European Economic Community were depressed and confused by the Foreign 1754 Secretary's extraordinary statements this afternoon.
Many of us believed that there was a distinct shifting of the Prime Minister's views on this matter. In the past he had put forward the view that a choice faced this country between supporting the Commonwealth and going into Europe. Those of us who are keen Europeans and believe that we should join the E.E.C. realise that there is no choice involved. But we got the impression over the past few weeks that there was a definite move of Government opinion. I was hopeful that the Prime Minister might be changing his mind and preparing his party, and those of his party, and indeed of my party, who perhaps were not keen on joining Europe, for a new initiative to enter the Common Market. But today, I regret to say, these hopes seem to have been dashed, because the Foreign Secretary appeared to indicate that he was standing firm by the five conditions put forward by the Labour Party for negotiating with the E.E.C., and we all know that some of those conditions make it impossible for negotiations even to start.
I am happy to say that I do not think that the Minister of State shares the Foreign Secretary's views on this matter. I have a feeling that he is more flexible than the Foreign Secretary. I formed the impression today that the Government were back-tracking and not standing ready to take an initiative on this important issue as soon as possible. It was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) this afternoon.
In spite of the President of France, and in spite of the difficulties within the E.E.C., I believe that there are still hopeful possibilities. It was said by the Foreign Secretary this afternoon that the Tories were keeping quiet on the prospects of joining the E.E.C. This is untrue; it is quite wrong. Not only have pamphlets been published by many different groups in the Conservative Party in favour of joining the E.E.C., but in the party political document "Putting Britain Right Ahead," which was discussed at our party conference in September, we made it clear that we felt that we should prepare immediately by making our domestic policies ready for signing the Treaty of Rome as soon as the opportunity arose. This is our view. It is my view personally. The 1755 Foreign Secretary should get it into his head that we on this side want to join Europe as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. Heffer
Would the hon. Gentleman clarify what he is saying? On the one hand, he says that it was damaging to our relationship with E.F.T.A. when we imposed the import surcharge, while on the other he says that we should independently enter the E.E.C. Does he mean that we should enter without consulting our E.F.T.A. colleagues?
§ Mr. Royle
I have never said anything of the sort, and the hon. Gentleman knows that only too well. We have always said that we would, of course, carry out E.F.T.A. colleagues with us. I believe that the members of E.F.T.A. wish to join the E.E.C. and that they have even been carrying out parallel negotiations on their own account.
We have suggested that we should sign the Treaty of Rome, and I personally consider that the bridge building about which we have heard from the Prime Minister from time to time is useless; it is a complete evasion of the real issue. I was glad to hear the Foreign Secretary say at Question Time the other day that, on the question of our joining the E.E.C., he took no Hart in this bridge building, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman had made his views plain to the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
Is it not possible that the Foreign Secretary appeared to be hardened a little this afternoon on the question of our joining the E.E.C., because when the Prime Minister heard about what he had said the other day he called for the Foreign Secretary and straightened him out on this matter?
§ Mr. Royle
My hon. Friend has no doubt put his finger on it as usual.
It is wrong for hon. Members to make destructive criticisms of the Government and not at the same time make some constructive suggestions. It is primarily for the Government to make the constructive suggestions and for the Opposition to oppose, but we have not forgotten that when hon. Gentlemen opposite sat on this side of the House they kept telling us that we should make more constructive proposals.
1756 How can we make progress in the coming weeks before the chance comes again to apply to sign the Treaty of Rome and join the E.E.C.? The Foreign Secretary said that we must try to use our influence through groups throughout the world, and I welcomed that statement. Why, therefore, cannot we make greater use of the Western European Union? I confess to an interest here, because I am a member of the British delegation to the W.E.U. It is the one organisation in Europe today where the Six, the members of the E.E.C., are members of an organisation with ourselves—the Seven of us.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys), at the recent W.E.U. meeting, produced an impressive report, Document No. 354, which was passed virtually unanimously by that W.E.U. Assembly.
§ Mr. Royle
As the hon. Gentleman says, virtually unanimously, because he voted against it. In a European assembly of seven nations, the hon. Gentleman was the only one to vote against it. Other Government members supported it.
I hope that the Foreign Secretary has read that impressive document produced by my right hon. Friend. It contained two main points, apart from the reorganisation of the Command Structure of N.A.T.O. and nuclear proliferation on the defence side, with which I will not deal today. The first was that greater use should be made in obtaining closer cooperation in the purchase of arms in Europe. The House will agree that Europe has not been receiving its fair share of the arms ordered throughout Europe and in the N.A.T.O. Alliance and that we have been suffering from United States domination in this field.
I do not consider—and this confirms the theme of my right hon. Friend's document—that we will be able to keep abreast in Europe of scientific and technological progress unless we secure a fair share of allied armament orders and that interdependence does not just mean dependence on the United States, with no "inter" at all, which has been the situation. We must use W.E.U. and endeavour 1757 to bring European purchases of arms in America progressively more into balance with American purchases of arms in Europe. A European armaments board should be devised with this end in view. There may be good reasons why Her Majesty's Government are against this being done, and I would be grateful, if this is correct, that the reasons should be announced.
My right hon. Friend's suggestion was underlined by the Plowden Report which was published last week. It was made quite clear in that that we must get closer to Europe and closer to the aircraft industries of the Continent, notably France and Germany, if we are to obtain a fair share of the Alliance's armaments orders. My right hon. Friend's suggestion is a good one; it should be carefully studied.
The fact that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation was able to conclude the Lightning deal the other day is a typical example which underlines what my right hon. Friend was suggesting. My right hon. Friend the Member for Preston, North (Mr. J. Amery) and my hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) started the negotiations over the Lightning deal in the Conservative Administration two years ago. They struggled and pressed for the Saudi-Arabian Government to buy Lightning fighters. That struggle was taken over by the present Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation, and I have been glad to read that he has succeeded.
Success was reached, however, only because the Americans finally agreed to a package deal; that they would provide the Hawk missiles while the British industry would provide the Lightning fighters. Perhaps one of the reasons why they shifted their position was the chance of selling the F111 to this country. However, it became more and more apparent that we were not going to achieve the sale until the political pressure was altered by the U.S. We must combine with our friends on the Continent of Europe if we are to get a fairer share of the purchase of arms throughout the N.A.T.O. Alliance.
The second point which was made in my right hon. Friend's document was the suggestion that we should use the W.E.U. 1758 for close and continuous co-operation and consultation while waiting for the opportunity to join the E.E.C. I am sure that this could be done, and I urge Her Majesty's Government to look extremely carefully at that suggestion.
We realise that it will be some time before negotiations can start again for our joining the E.E.C. Most hon. Members now realise that Britain's future lies in Europe, in the E.E.C., both economically and politically. This is 'where we must finally go and, as has been made clear today, events have moved very fast and will move even faster in the months ahead. I pray that Her Majesty's Government will be prepared to take advantage when the next chance comes for us to join our destiny with our friends, on the Continent of Europe.
§ 6.49 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I hope that the hon. Member for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle) will forgive me if I do not comment on the wide variety of subjects he mentioned, because I wish to concentrate on the three hot spots in the present international situation and in our foreign policy.
The first is the question of the inclusion of Western Germany in some capacity in some form of international nuclear force. On this isssue I confess that I am in a state of considerable confusion about the policy of Her Majesty's Government as of today, let alone what it might be tomorrow. Nor do I feel that the Foreign Secretary's sibylline utterances on the subject this afternoon clarify the situation.
It is worth putting on record the phases through which this policy has passed. The first, while we were still in Opposition, was the statement made on two occasions by the then Leader of the Opposition, the present Prime Minister, in this House on 31st January, and again on 3rd July, 1963. He then said:We are completely, utterly and unequivocally opposed, now and in all circumstances, to any suggestion that Germany, West Germany or East Germany, directly or indirectly, should have a finger on the nuclear trigger or any responsibility, direct or indirect, for deciding that nuclear weapons are to be used."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st January, 1963; Vol. 670, c. 1246.]I have emphasised the second half of that statement because only on the 14th 1759 of this month I referred to this statement and, in reply, the Prime Minister said:I referred in July, 1963, to the idea of a German finger on the trigger. I also criticised the then current scheme for an M.L.F., which we have opposed."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1965; Vol. 722, c. 1082.]The House will probably agree that this is an incomplete rendering of what was said on those two occasions when, on the first occasion, this was put forward as a categoric statement. And on the second occasion the Prime Minister said:I have used exactly the same words at Washington and in Moscow. This is the policy of our party."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1963; Vol. 680, c. 393.]He went on to give a very convincing explanation of why the Labour Party felt it necessary to take this strong and categoric stand. He explained that his visits to Moscow had convinced him that the Soviet Government were unalterably opposed to any form of participation by Western Germany in any kind of international nuclear force in N.A.T.O., and that to go ahead with such a policy would make it impossible to get agreement with the Soviet Union either on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, on disarmament or disengagement, or on a political settlement in Europe.
The present Prime Minister, in that statement when Leader of the Opposition, went so far as to say that this might become the point of no return on the road to the next world war and that he therefore rejected that policy out of hand. But on 17th December, 1964 the Minister of Defence said:We offer Germany participation in the ownership, management and control of a new strategic N.A.T.O. nuclear force on terms of absolute equality…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1964; Vol. 704, c. 603.]Try as I can, and with the best will in the world, I cannot reconcile that statement with the previous statement, that it is the policy of the party to exclude West Germany, or any part of Germany from…any responsibility, direct or indirect, for deciding that nuclear weapons are to be used.The third phase in the situation was an interview given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on the eve of his leaving Moscow on 3rd December, when he said:I have tried to impress on the Soviet leaders that Britain does not contemplate giv- 1760 ing Western Germany access to nuclear weapons.What I want to know is: was the first of these two apparently contradictory statements made for consumption in Bonn, and the second for consumption in Moscow, or do they both mean the same thing—and, if so, what is the common thing they both mean? I ask that because, frankly, I do not understand.
I never forget, of course, the difference in these matters between the Opposition and the Government. On 14th December last the Leader of the Opposition made his position quite clear when he asked:Will the Prime Minister now give an assurance confirming what he has said on previous occasions, that the measures necessary for the nuclear defence of the West will take priority over other political measures, such as the obtaining of a non-proliferation agreement?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1965; Vol. 722, 1082.]The right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) has today made the same point.
So, at any rate, we know where the Opposition stand. They are prepared to sacrifice any chance of reaching agreement with the Soviet Union for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, or any other issue likely to lead us to peace, for the sake of stepping up preparation for nuclear war against the Soviet Union. I must say that I understand that position, although I do not agree with it. The Prime Minister rejected this view on 14th December, but said that we were trying, at one and the same time, to satisfy Western Germany's demand for inclusion in the management of nuclear weapons and to reach agreement with the Soviet Union. If one could square the circle I have no doubt that that would be a successful endeavour. But I think that it is now time we stopped trying to do incompatible things and took a straight and clear course for peace.
When, on 12th May, 1949, in the House of Commons, the Labour Government put forward the N.A.T.O. Treaty, Mr. Ernest Bevin, as Foreign Secretary, advanced the thesis that through N.A.T.O. we would strengthen the United Nations and make it easier to reach a settlement with the Soviet Union based on reason and common interest which would unite Europe and open the door to disarmament. Unfortunately, the Government of that day proved tragically wrong.
1761 I have always referred to N.A.T.O. as "Labour's Folly". I still think that it is "Labour's Folly", because it does not stand for anything that we stand for or believe in. But at any rate, they got their priorities right then. They quite clearly looked on N.A.T.O. as a means, and the attainment of a peaceful settlement with the Soviet Union in Europe, as the end. Now we have reached the situation where, in the eyes of the Opposition, the preservation of N.A.T.O. has become an end in itself, for the sake of which we must be prepared to sacrifice any reasonable chance of agreement with the Soviet Union.
Although the Government have not gone as far as that, I think that they have already gone too far in that direction and are trying, obstinately and long after it has become perfectly clear that they were right in saying that the two things are incompatible, to go ahead with this business of having Germany in an international nuclear force under N.A.T.O., although this must hold up any chance of a settlement in Europe and is, in fact, continually aggravating the situation in Europe.
I hope that in this debate we shall get a clear statement that the Government put the attaining of agreements on disarmament, on disengagement, on a European political settlement, on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and all the rest, before preserving the Alliance; that the Alliance is not an end in itself, and will not be clung to as a means which destroys the end. It is a wrong means, and we should start realising that.
The second hot point is our world role east of Suez. On this, the Prime Minister was very categoric in the House on 16th December of last year. He then said:…when we argue about our right to a central place, whether in the Alliance, whether in the United Nations, whether in world affairs generally, about our influence, about our presence at the top table and all the rest of it, let us recognise that our rights depend on this world-wide rôle, that it is a distinctive rôle and that no one else can do it.Therefore, the Prime Minister said:…whatever we may do in the field of cost effectiveness, value for money and a stringent review of expenditure, we cannot afford to relinquish our world rôle…our 'East of Suez' rôle…"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1964; Vol. 704, c. 423–4.]1762 He expressed his confidence in our world rôle which, he saidno one in this House, or indeed in the country, will wish us to give up or call in question."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th December, 1964; Vol. 704, c. 421–5.]He said that he was tremendously impressed by the readiness with which the United States Administration appreciated and welcomed our unique world rôle.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister's confidence proved to be misplaced. There has been a swelling volume of opposition to this east of Suez rôle, not only from within this party, where it is growing and going far toward the right of centre, but also in the Liberal Party; and, if I understood what the Shadow Defence Minister said at Brighton, for which he got into a lot of hot water, he also took a critical view.
We now know why the United States accorded the Government's willingness to shoulder this burden such a flattering acceptance. In The Times on 14th January the Washington Corresponsdent explained that the U.S. Administration thought the Government were being foolishly extravagant in the middle of their very serious balance of payments deficit for, as they put it,proceeding with the construction of Polaris submarines and embarking upon what threatens to be a costly military operation in defence of Malaysia. Yet neither the Secretary of State nor the Secretary of Defence would have it otherwise in South-East Asia. Indeed, the Royal Navy could be called McNamara's Navy because it is doing precisely what the Secretary of Defence wants done East of Suez to avoid higher defence costs for the United States. The claim of successive Governments in London that Britain is a world power is suffered at least partly because it is in the American interest.Further light was cast on the American view of Britain's world rôle in a report, this time in The Guardian, on 1st July from Washington, on the talks between the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the United States Defence Secretary, Mr. McNamara, who was twisting the Chancellor's arm and trying to insist that we must really keep up all our defence commitments east of Suez and that the United States was unwilling to step in and take over if we pulled out. The correspondent said that the reason for this was not that the United States could not in fact afford to do so, but, as he put it,for internal political reasons, because it is judged that the American people are getting 1763 tired of being shot at from Vietnam and the Dominican Republic while playing the part of international policeman.The latest phase in the drama was the further report in The Guardian, from New York this time, last Friday on what it called the haggling going on between the Prime Minister and the United States President, in which, according to the report, our Government were asking the United States Administration to say which cuts in defence commitments we might make and which they would not have us make. It seems a rather odd position to me, but that was apparently the position. The reason was that it had now been discovered on a review of existing defence commitments that they would amount to £2,500 million in the next defence budget, and the Government were rather anxious —in fact, very anxious, for understandable reasons—to cut that down to £2,000 million in real terms, as they have promised to do, although no doubt with the rise in prices since last year that would mean a bit more in £s.
A compromise, according to the Press, has been reached. It has been discovered that, after all, our role east of Suez is not so unique as we had supposed. It is not only we who can do it. The United States can do it, too. So the end of the haggling apparently is that we become incorporated in the Far Eastern policy of the United States, in the service of what The Times has referred to as the new Monroe doctrine. I call it the policy of inverted Trotskyism, of permanent counter revolution; a policy of universal intervention to prop up régimes too reactionary to be tolerable to their own peoples without outside support, which the United States generously provides, whether it is in Latin America or in Asia or in any other place which offers itself for the operation.
We are seeing this policy in action in Vietnam. I have to say a few words about the past of this, because the Government have been peddling such a very distorted version of what happened, and it has been so uncritically accepted, in the service of our policy of supporting this war, that it is as well to get the record straight. It was in 1950 that Mr. Dulles took over the French colonial war in Vietnam and turned it into an ideological war against Communism. It was fought by the French until 1954, but with the 1764 United States paying three-quarters of the expenses and threatening to withdraw Marshal Plan aid from France if France ventured to make peace.
Finally, came the defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu. Mr. Anthony Eden refused to go along with Mr. Dulles, who wanted to atom bomb the besiegers of Dien Bien Phu, even at the risk of bringing in China. Consequently, that policy was abandoned. Eden's phrase is still to be remembered—that he refused to support a bad policy for the sake of preserving the alliance. I wish I could hear those sentiments from our own Front Bench today.
Instead of a nuclear war in that part of the world on that occasion, we had the 1954 Geneva Agreements, which laid it down—we were a party to those Agreements; we are still a party to those Agreements—that Vietnam is one country, whose sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity must be respected; that the military demarcation line is provisional and must in no circumstances be treated as a political or territorial boundary; that there should be free elections in Vietnam within two years under international supervision; and that there should be no increase in existing foreign forces and bases and they should all be gradually withdrawn as part of the final settlement and the whole country be militarily neutralised.
Mr. Dulles refused to sign that agreement, on the ground that it would lead to an 80 per cent. victory for the Viet Minh. Ho Chi-Minh had pressed for those very elections, offered every facility for the expression of different points of view, and accepted full international supervision. It was the other side who rejected that, because they believed they would lose the elections. But Mr. Dulles gave—at least, Mr. Bedell Smith, his substitute, gave—a very categoric undertaking on behalf of the United States. He said that the United States wouldrefrain from the threat or the use of force to disturb the Geneva Agreements, in accordance with Article 2, Section 4 of the Charter of the United Nations dealing with the obligation of members to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force".The next step was that the United States proceeded totally to disregard this undertaking. It had at that time imported its own puppet, Mr. Dinh Diem, 1765 who had been residing in New Jersey for 17 years, and made him Prime Minister under the French-supported quisling Emperor Bao Dai, who had served under the Japanese first; but he was not fussy, neither were the French nor the Americans. They took him over. The Americans made Dinh Diem Prime Minister and very soon had Bao Dai out. He preferred his old existence in the night clubs of the Riviera, anyway.
The Americans then proceeded to step up their take-over in South Vietnam.
On that, a very distinguished American, Senator Wayne Morse, has put the legal position clearly. It needs putting clearly, because it governs the whole situation and it has been glossed over or misrepresented. He said:Immediately upon the signing of the 1954 Agreement, the United States began to support the national government of South Vietnam in a big way. In the decade following 1954, the United States for all practical purposes made a protectorate out of South Vietnam…Each time we increase the number of American boys sent to that country…we violate the Geneva Agreement of 1954. Every jet plane, every helicopter, every naval vessel we furnish South Vietnam or man with American servicemen is a violation and so is every military base and airstrip we have constructed there…as early as its report covering 1956 the International Control Commission found both North and South Vietnam had violated the accords of 1954. the latter in conjunction with the United States military aid activities…The second point that needs establishing is that the South Vietnam National Liberation Front is an indigenous movement which arose out of the local conditions in South Vietnam, to wit the fact that the Dinh Diem Government, contrary to what was laid down in the Geneva Agreements and with the encouragement of the Americans, began a fearful persecution of all the Liberals, Demo-crate, Radical Socialists and Communists who had supported the Vietminh. There were about 2 million in South Vietnam and their leaders were under fierce persecution.
The second step which he took was that he undid what the Vietminh had done in distributing the land of the big landowners to the peasants. He introduced a land reform unique in history in being the only one supported by the landowners and opposed by the peasants. He restored the land to the landowners with a provision that they should not charge 1766 their tenantry more than 25 per cent. of their crops by way of rents. This was ignored and the landlords went back to the good old days of charging as much as the traffic would bear. The third and final element was that the people were cheated of the promised free election to settle the issue.
This was the foundation of the revolt. Long after the bombing had begun we still have the testimony of Senator Wayne Morse and other reliable American sources that the whole claim that the South Vietnam National Liberation Forces were either being armed or manned to more than an insignificant extent from the North was simply false. Most of their arms were captured American arms, exactly as the Chinese Communists did when they were fighting Chiang Kai-chek. The real reason for the bombing of North Vietnam was to prevent the collapse of the South Vietnam régime.
Equally false is the claim that the United States have always been ready for unconditional negotiations. Senator Wayne Morse made a drastic comment on this last February which again exposes facts which have been persistently denied and distorted. He said that no doubt President Johnsonwould negotiate with China and with North Vietnam but not with the Viet Cong who of course are the enemy. Such a position enables the United States to take a public posture in favour of negotiations without any real chance that the offer might lead to negotiations. But never in any presentation in public or in private have I heard any indication from Administration spokesmen that this country is ready right now to sit down with the Viet Cong and to make major concessions in return for major concessions on their part. It seems to be the view of the Administration that our offer to negotiate with the non-enemy is a mark of our national benevolence. But I wonder how benevolent we are to the people of Vietnam. It is our power and our money and our military might that continues the war in Vietnam".The truth is that, legally speaking, the United States has no right to be in Vietnam at all. Its whole position in South Vietnam is that of an aggressor in violation of its own undertakings to respect the Geneva Agreements and in violation of its own obligation to refrain from force, as laid down in the United Nations Charter. Also, legally speaking, North and South Vietnam being part of one country it is not legitimate to treat 1767 any help from North Vietnam to South Vietnam as a case of international aggression.
§ Mr. C. M. Woodhouse (Oxford)
Would the hon. Member elucidate that comment by commenting on the remarks made by his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rowley Regis and Tipton (Mr. A. Henderson) a short while ago to the effect that the Americans had every right to be in South Vietnam by virtue of the South-East Asia Treaty?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
The South-East Asia Treaty was concluded without the participation of either North or South Vietnam. No Powers have the right to give themselves the right to intervene in the internal affairs of another country. In this case they are all bound by the Charter of the United Nations, the obligations of which override those of any other treaty. The United Nations Charter explicitly forbids interference in the internal affairs of another country.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
Would the hon. Member exclude the right of a sovereign Government to invite another nation to come to their aid?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I do not recognise the South Vietnam puppets imposed and paid for by the United States and propped up on United States bayonets as a Government of any kind.
In all the unhappy record of Government support of this ghastly war one of the worst features is their repeating of what everybody now knows is false, namely, that it is the Hanoi Government that do not want negotiations. The truth is that the Hanoi Government, being under heavy bomb attacks by a world Power which is piling up a huge military build-up in South Vietnam, is in no position to say this. Hon. Members should read James Cameron's accounts of the character of the fighting and should remember what we felt like in the blitz. In this situation the Hanoi Government are in no position to say that they are prepared to negotiate with what they regard, and I regard, as an aggressor in occupation of a large part of their country and who is bombing them. It is therefore true that the first step to make negotiations possible is a suspension of the bombing. I regard the bombing as contrary to the laws of humanity and the 1768 laws of war and believe that it should be stopped anyway.
Another point, and we should be clear about this, is that the Vietnamese are fighting for the implementation of the Geneva Agreements. They were promised those agreements. The United States violated that undertaking and the whole policy of the United States has consisted, first, in denying the Vietnamese the right to decide on their own future by free elections and, secondly, to try by force of arms to partition their country and impose a puppet Government made in the U.S.A. This talk of unconditional negotiations by the United States is only part of the utter humbug in which this subject is wrapped.
President Johnson's speech of 7th April began by treating North and South Vietnam as two sovereign States and saying that the object of the United States was to defend the independence of South Vietnam. That to start with was a complete misrepresentation of what the Geneva Agreements say. In the second place, Mr. McNamara the other day confirmed that one object of the United States is to crush what he calls the Vietcong in South Vietnam, that is, the S.V.N.L.F., to make an "independent" and "non-Communist" South Vietnam.
The Times correspondent from Washington on 18th November followed that up by stating:…it has now emerged that President Johnson's offer of unconditional discussions to bring the war to an end is not so unconditional as he said in his Baltimore speech. There are at least two conditions.The first is that political recognition of the National Liberation Front as part of a final settlement is unacceptable. The second is that it cannot be permitted to retain a territorial base similar to that given to the Pathet Lao in Laos.These conditions, it was learned today, are not open to negotiations; the Administration is not prepared to negotiate without their prior acceptance. The reason given is that political recognition is the first objective of the National Liberation Front, and indeed is what the war is all about. A possible future situation in which the National Liberation Front could take part in a coalition with non-Communist parties is not permissible.Very well, we know where we are. It has been fairly obvious for a long time.
The United States is not piling up these vast forces, air and naval bases, and so on, just because of its passionate 1769 desire for free elections or democracy in South Vietnam. To know exactly what that means, all one has to do is to look at its record in Latin America, starting with Santo Domingo.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have no power to prevent interventions, but they prolong speeches and 80 hon. Members wish to take part in the debate.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I will draw quickly to a conclusion, Mr. Speaker, as I was doing in any event.
I believe this whole policy to be immoral and disastrous. We should stop basing our policy on the American alliance and instead base it on the Charter of the United Nations and on the principle proclaimed by the Labour Party, that the first principle of defence is that defence should be the servant of foreign policy. That was stated by the present Minister of Defence then "Shadow" Minister, on 4th March last year.
That is a sound principle. It means that we should draw the attention of our N.A.T.O. allies to the fact that we are not obliged to support them whatever they do. We should table our proposals for a European settlement, disengagement and all the rest, and tell them that we want to negotiate on those proposals. If the Soviet Government accepts them as a basis of negotiation and our allies refuse, we should draw their attention to the fact that we are obliged under N.A.T.O. to assist them only in case of unprovoked aggression, that we consider their present policies provocative and, therefore, that we will take our forces out of B.A.O.R., demobilise them and close down the Polaris base.
The same argument applies to the Far East. We should test the sincerity of the American professions. We should say to them, "Will you cease the bombing? Will you genuinely accept the Geneva Agreements as a basis of negotiation"—and that means the unification of Vietnam and the military neutralisation of Vietnam, including the withdrawal of all foreign forces. We should ask, "Will you make the first object of the negotiations a ceasefire and follow that up with negotiations for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from South Vietnam"—and that in 1770 U.S. eyes includes any North Vietnam forces. Only when that process has reached a point where the remaining foreign forces cannot be used to extort a settlement contrary to the Geneva Agreements——
§ Mr. Warbey rose——
§ Mr. Zilliacus
—can we begin negotiations on the substance of the question, i.e. how to implement the Geneva Agreements. We should make this stick by saying that unless we reach agreement with the United States on some such basis of settlement, we will pull out of S.E.A.T.O.
That is what taking our stand on the Charter means. That is the only basis on which we can exert a powerful enough influence to change the course of events.
If we do not change the course of events, if we do not lead the forces of opposition in the world, including American opposition, to this policy, I do not see any halting point this side of an escalation into a war with China and world war. Therefore, let the Labour Government give a lead for peace and stop acting as the camp follower of the United States through thick and thin.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Dodds-Parker (Cheltenham)
I have listened to the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) at greater length than to any other hon. Member in past years when he and I were in the House together. Although we probably share the same aim of peace in our time, I do not think that there is anybody with whom I agree less on the means to pursue it. That does not mean, however, that I have not listened to the hon. Member or been the subject of his attacks, although I have always felt that he displayed greater benevolence to the Government when he was in opposition to it than he does to his own Front Bench.
I shall take to heart, Mr. Speaker, what you said about being brief. First, I wish to touch upon the foreign affairs aspects of Rhodesia, to which the Foreign Secretary briefly referred earlier this afternoon. I join other hon. Members, on both sides, who have welcomed the Foreign Secretary's return. We hope that the right hon. Gentleman's health will stand up to what is, possibly, the most 1771 taxing job in the Government. I congratulate him on a number of achievements to which I will refer.
The aspect of Rhodesia which worries me most deeply is the question of sanctions. I was at Geneva at the same time as the hon. Member for Gorton. He was in the League of Nations when I first went there in 1935. If I had known him, I would have sought his advice but not necessarily have taken it. Having seen sanctions applied in the Ethiopia disaster and then not enforced, for two years I was involved in trying to enforce them: my memory is that everybody cheated except the British. Despite what was said at the League of Nations, it was the British alone who really tried to enforce the sanctions.
§ Mr. Zilliacus
May I say that I was a League of Nations official at the time and I went through all that? What happened was that Sir Samuel Hoare, as Foreign Secretary, gave instructions to the then Mr. Eden on the Sanctions Committee not to take the lead and not to agree to any measure which might involve a danger of war with Mussolini. That made Mussolini the invisible chairman of the Sanctions Committee.
§ Mr. Dodds-Parker
That is quite different from my recollection of the papers which I was seeing as another form of civil servant. When the papers are published in due course, we can see which version was right. The House will remember Sir Samuel Hoare saying in the House of Commons that "not a man, not a ship and not a gun" was moved by anybody but the British in trying to enforce sanctions.
Surely, it is by now generally agreed that sanctions are probably ineffective unless there is a full system of navicerts, which requires a naval blockade, which, I understand, although I am not an international lawyer—perhaps whoever answers for the Government will clarify this—means in effect some form of declaration of war. It is my fear of escalation, in the first place, and, secondly, that we will find that if the sanctions do not work they will be counter-productive, that makes me most deeply apprehensive about what may come out of this latest step.
1772 I hope that when the Prime Minister gives us more information about this, he will give us some assurances and spell out in more detail what exactly he is seeking to affect by the sanctions. The Foreign Secretary talked about "crushing the rebellion", but exactly how? Could we not at the same time follow up the suggestion made by the Prime Minister soon after the start of this episode nearly six weeks ago that he might send out a delegation—the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association was mentioned—to keep in touch? What worries hon. Members, I think, on both sides, is that there seems to be no contact. We have lost it. We should make an attempt to get into contact again. All of us, I am sure, regard U.D.I. as an irresponsible decision affecting far more throughout the world than the affairs merely of the United Kingdom and Rhodesia. It is on this account that I mention the point of sanctions on this occasion.
My right hon. and hon. Friends have mentioned some of the immediate, tactical problems facing us. I want to look beyond those to some of the aspects of future policy, and organisation to implement it. Since I first came to the House our overseas policy on general lines has been national policy, agreed to and established under Mr. Ernest Bevin in the years after the war, when he and others on our Front Bench had served together in the Coalition Government.
The two aspects of that policy that I shall mention have been supported and carried out by all parties. The first side was our defence of our freedom through N.A.T.O. and the alliances to the East. and the economic support of it by O.E.C.D., G.A.T.T. and E.F.T.A., all within the United Nations. The other aspect of policy that we have all in general supported is decolonialisation with aid to the territories which have succeeded the colonial rule, leading to the latest form of support, U.N.C.T.A.D., which is "trade and not aid".
Looking back to 1945, I feel that we have succeeded beyond our imagination in the first of these two objectives—material reconstruction after the war, and defence of freedom—both of these within the N.A.T.O. area. As to the other area of policy, I hope that Rhodesia will be the last major problem that faces us, 1773 though one can see a number of minor ones ahead. But in this area the constructive period of the last ten years in particular leaves lamentably much to do. We left a power vacuum which I think we underestimated. I certainly did. I hoped and believed, probably foolishly, that the United Nations would be able to take more account of these vacua, and prevent international Communism moving in. One hoped and believed that internal law and order was more stable. Above all, possibly our greatest miscalculation was the population explosion and the shortage of food, a factor which in the next ten or fifteen years will, I think, be paramount.
But there are two aspects which concern us now. I thought of these when listening to some of the remarks of the Foreign Secretary, when he was painting on a broad canvas some of his hopes for the future, which I believe the whole House will share, for all of us have to make up our minds on what in broad terms are the needs and the best future for us in this country. We must, of course, keep ourselves viable in the United Kingdom, not just for our own material benefit, but for all those in the Commonwealth and elsewhere who still depend considerably on this country; and, beyond that, see how we in Parliament can get support for those policies in Britain and in the world outside.
Again talking in broad terms, I believe that the House accepts in general a closer association with Europe. Whatever may be the details over which we disagree, I think that there has been in the last five years a very much greater area of agreement. As the Foreign Secretary said, the five points seem to be less difficult than they were. Our aim—that of substantially the whole House, I believe—is for Britain to be part of Europe and for Europe to be the second pillar, in President Kennedy's words, of the Atlantic Community, not just an independent Europe but part of the Atlantic Alliance.
The ways and means we shall debate for a long time to come. It was Senator Fulbright, talking at Strasbourg in the Spring, who said:If you think all problems cease with union, come to Washington and see what happens afterwards.1774 I think that we can look forward to many years of delightful debate on ways and means, but our ultimate aim must be to carry as much of the Commonwealth and of our allies as we can.
The second aim to which the whole House will subscribe is that for the time being—one cannot look more than a few years ahead—there is a need for Britain "east of the Suez", in the jargon of today, for our Commonwealth and, again, our allies, through the many alliances there, to help them to protect themselves not only against outside aggression but also against internal subversion, which is the scourge of the modern political world outside the N.A.T.0,. area. Again, we shall no doubt argue between the two sides and within both sides about how this can best be carried out, but I am certain that the alliances from C.E.N.T.O. to A.N.Z.U.S. will have to be consolidated and possibly reorganised; on the economic side we must support U.N.C.T.A.D. with greater energy than has been shown in the last 12 months by this country. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition got this going with great energy about 18 months ago, but I believe that here again is an area for United Kingdom effort to which we have not been giving our full attention in the past few months. But aid from the material side is, I believe, even more valuable if we can give education and training, because here in helping people to help themselves lies the greatest outlet for our efforts.
Even though these suggestions may sound somewhat platitudinous, I believe that we still have to carry substantial centres of public opinion with us to achieve a greater degree of influence, as my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle) commented just now. In Parliament we have to vote supply. It has rather horrified me in the last 12 months how we put huge sums of money through Parliament very often with the minimum of discussion. I believe that by having greater Parliamentary discussion of these things—we know that the Estimates Committee works very hard—we might be able to use these sums to greater effect.
Now in Europe we have two leading institutions of which we do not at the moment make the greatest use—the Council of Europe and the Western European 1775 Union Assembly. I have had the privilege of being a member of both in the past year after an absence of some years, and I have been very much impressed by the considerable community of aim among European Parliamentarians—except some of our French allies—in particular the aim to bring the United Kingdom into closer association with Europe. Many of these individuals have had very long Parliamentary experience, and I think that they regard the United Kingdom's failure to take more advantage of the past 15 years or more as one of the great tragedies of those years. I feel that this is so, and history will in due course tell the story of which of us is particularly to blame.
But what I think the whole House is interested in is: what do we do now? What can we do to speed up our association? France for the moment is holding up closer association, but I hope that after yesterday's election we may see a greater speed. My information from France is that there is growing realisation there that France is becoming isolated, and I do not think that the French wish to go further out in that direction. Some hon. Members may have heard Mr. Maurice Schumann on the French television last night. So I think we may hope to see greater flexibility in the French approach in the next few weeks or months.
I suggest that we can call in aid the institutions which I have mentioned. Their functions are only exploratory, initially. Their members discuss without commitment, but once they have discussed a subject and collected a consensus of support, it is sent to the Council of Ministers for Governments for action. I find a growing frustration among members of all parties and from all countries at the apparent failure of Governments to take action on the reports which are put to the Ministers. I think that most hon. Members are aware of the system of reports. I believe that it is a good one, in which all parties and nations discuss the issues and reach general agreement, and vote on them.
These reports are more than outline resolutions. They are drawn up by former senior ex-Ministers of great experience and knowledge of all the realities, both practical and political. So when the Ministers receive these reports, 1776 with their recommendations, they can, I believe, count on considerable support not only in their own Parliaments for them but in the rest of the area concerned, be it in the Council of Europe—the 18 nations—or in the seven members of Western European Union.
I have a particular sentiment for the W.E.U. Assembly because I had the privilege of being at the Foreign Office when it was set up in 1954. In the latest series of reports the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman) was an excellent rapporteur on the economic side. I want to draw the Government's attention, however, again to Document No. 354, which has already been referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey. This was drawn up by my right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys). I also want to refer to the report drawn up by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading (Mr. Emery), dealing with defence outside the N.A.T.O. area.
These two reports contain, in effect and in essence, proposals which cover the major part of the United Kingdom's future policies in N.A.T.O. and beyond. I am sure that Ministers will have seen them. What I want to find out is what the Government's advisers are doing about them. As my hon. Friend pointed out, Document No. 354 was a unanimous report, with the exception of one dissenter from the benches opposite, who is not here at the moment.
There are two points I want to re-stress, because I do not think that we can over-stress them. The first is the recommendation about a European Armaments Board. This seems to me particularly vital at the moment. Last week we had a debate about the F.111. That is the sort of subject which should be considered by an Armaments Board in Europe in order to see whether we could produce aircraft of this type in Europe. At present, the Minister of Aviation is working very hard, according to the newspapers, but it is not the same thing as having a European Armaments Board to which such a project could be referred. I believe that it is a truism to say that an aircraft industry is the basis of modern technology. What I am afraid of is that after what has been done to our aircraft industry in the last twelve months, 1777 we shall find ourselves without one in a year or two, and thus without a basis for modern technology.
I believe that here is a practical and urgent suggestion of which the Government should take account, for it would help the European aerospace industry to survive in the period ahead. At the same time, it is most important for the Government not to underestimate the political result of such an industry and Armaments Board. The fact that we took a lead in this while we still had a substantial aircraft industry would have a political effect out of all proportion to the results which I believe can be obtained.
The second recommendation, also on page 33 of Document No. 354, is where the rapporteur talks aboutevolving a common European approach to the problems of N.A.T.O. and other international issues.This links up with the report of my hon. Friend the Member for Reading on defence outside the N.A.T.O. area. I shall not go into details about that for I have already said what I think the aim should be. But it is a little depressing to find out how little our allies in Western European Union have done to participate in the suggestions which have been made.
Last June, at the W.E.U. Assembly, the British were accused of dominating the debate. Many members of the Assembly expressed interest to me after the debate, but we could not get them to take part in it. I ask the Government whether they see any signs of participation by these other countries of W.E.U. In the days that face us now, except for Australia and New Zealand, there is mighty little help outside the N.A.T.O. area to efforts made by the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the debate on the Territorial Army last week, the Secretary of State for Defence told us a little of what had been going on at N.A.T.O. and the interesting discussions there. He did not tell us anything about this aspect of the discussions—it would be interesting to know. According to reports, too, the Prime Minister, while in Washington, raised the question of joint forces in the Indian Ocean. Whether or not the subject was discussed between him and President Johnson, it seems an excellent idea to many of us. In particular, we want to know what the Government are doing to 1778 implement the recommendation that they should take the initiative in evolving a common European approach to the problems which face us outside the N.A.T.O. area.
There is no time to discuss the two other areas in which I am particularly interested, but I should like to mention them briefly. I welcome the helpful attitude of the Government to the application of Yugoslavia to join the European Free Trade Area. I have been advocating this in private for some time, with some coyness on behalf of our Yugoslav friends and diffidence on my own. I think that this could be a most useful move.
I also congratulate the Government on the new association with Southern Ireland. I have always found the Southern Irish particularly helpful at the United Nations and the Council of Europe. Perhaps I might one day go back there. My grandparents left in 1922. I have never found anything but the greatest friendship from the people of Southern Ireland, and I am sure that this new agreement will be a very useful step.
I believe that some hon. Members opposite might sink their out-of-date feelings towards Spain and try to get a closer association between Britain and Spain and thus be able to find perhaps some sort of solution to the problem of Gibraltar. I spoke about that issue last July and shall not go into it again tonight.
The other area on the other fringe of Europe that I wish to refer to is the Warsaw Pact area, including Russia as far as the Urals. I congratulate the Foreign Secretary on following the initiative taken by the last Government and developing personal contact with Governments behind the Iron Curtain. As has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames), Germany is still of paramount importance in the affairs of Europe. There are the great problems of the reunification of Germany and its nuclear rôle in future. I think that there is growing realisation in all these countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain that the final solution must be reached in agreement and not in conflict. This realisation has grown particularly fast in the last three years.
One cannot repeat too often that these countries are an essential part of historic 1779 Europe and certainly still feel it themselves. They are now being threatened from elsewhere than Western Europe, and I think that we shall be able to work towards some association. But in doing so we must never suggest that we are dropping our guard until full agreement on disarmament is reached.
My last point concerns what we are to do about using to greater effect first the Council of Europe, which has been a most useful forum for discussion and agreement among Parliamentarians, and second the Western European Union Assembly. Governments of both parties are always saying that they want to cooperate more closely with Europe. In W.E.U. we have an organisation consisting of the Six and the United Kingdom. It should be and could be an ideal forum for discussion and agreement of the type which I have mentioned and yet at the last meeting, I am sorry to say, no United Kingdom Minister was present. There was only one junior Dutch Minister, our admirable allies always. I can assure the Foreign Secretary that these bodies include those who believe in forward thinking and forward planning.
When I was at the Foreign Office, the Western European Union Assembly was just starting, but, as far as I remember, we never failed to have a Minister at the Council of Europe. Ministers do not need to make long speeches—ten minutes is long enough for anybody, there or anwhere else—but Ministers would be welcome among the members of the Assembly and it would be of great benefit to the House and the country for us to have Ministers there.
I say to the Foreign Secretary—and not just to him, but to any Government of whatever party—that more and more Parliamentarians will regard the presence of United Kingdom Ministers at the Council of Europe, or the Western European Union Assembly, as the real test of the United Kingdom Government's sincerity about Europe. I beg the Government to take this matter more seriously and to look at and act upon the practical suggestions which are made by those Assemblies.
§ 7.51 p.m.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
The purpose of this contribution is to sug- 1780 gest that our military presence in Malaysia and Singapore postpones rather than advances the long-term objective of stability in Southern Asia. The mosturgent matter is our relationship with Indonesia, with her 105 million people, one of the world's great nations.
In September, it was the opinion of the Dayak leaders and the non-Communist leaders of the Sarawak United People's Party that should British troops be withdrawn from Borneo, Indonesia would not attempt a military take-over in Sabah or Sarawak. I shared that view before the events of 30th September and I share it today. The right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) was perhaps on rather dangerous ground for jumping to conclusions about the favourable nature of the present Indonesian regime. Perhaps it is too early to say.
I have no doubt that every British Minister would like to believe that my informants are correct in their judgment. From interviews and correspondence which I have had with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Defence, I have ample evidence that they dislike, indeed, loathe, the Borneo war no less than I do. The issue between us is whether, in calling for our total military withdrawal from Borneo within weeks, I am being naive.
If constantly reiterated claims by Indonesia that she has no territorial ambitions outside the former Netherlands East Indies are discounted by Britain, certain question have to be discussed. First, why is it that Indonesia has made no move against Portuguese Timor, an obvious area for her supposed ambitions? Secondly, it is argued that Indonesia has behaved aggressively over Western Irian. West New Guinea was part of the Netherlands Indies and there were complex arguments about the timing of a possible "White Australia" policy affecting all other than indigenous Papuans, and in the eyes of many observers, including Robert Kennedy, Indonesia had a pretty good case.
Thirdly, those who argue as I do are told that we must realise that when confrontation started in the spring of 1963 there were no British troops in either Sabah or Sarawak. That is literally true. The overworked British Ministers genuinely believe that it was Indonesian 1781 armed intervention in Sabah and Sarawak which first brought British troops on the scene.
This belief is deeply misleading. Between 8th September and 16th September, 1962, a so-called rebellion broke out in the tiny but oil rich State of Brunei. It is not denied that Azahari who led the rebellion was perhaps an adventurer, and yet in the view of many observers, not least the constituents of myself, my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Hugh D. Brown) and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Kelvingrove (Dr. Miller)—the men of the Cameron Highlanders who actually quelled the rebellion—it had massive popular support.
This is not the place to examine the virtues or otherwise of His Excellency Sir Omar Ali Saifuddin Wasa'dul Khairi Waddin, K.C.M.G., Sultan of Brunei. Sufficient to say that he certainly is not a democrat. From Djakarta it may have appeared that the distinction between Western forces in Brunei and Western forces in Sarawak and Sabah was blurred. Indeed, I would understand it only too well if the Indonesians objected merely to the possibility of Western forces in Sabah or Sarawak and I have a shrewd suspicion that if many of my hon. Friends were young Indonesians, they would object to the possibility of Western forces in the Northern Borneo territories.
What is factual is that it was only at the time of the Brunei revolt that overt hostility to the Malaysia project first appeared. In May, 1963, British Forces were still in Brunei. Unless one ridicules anything that the Indonesians say in an official capacity, it is significant that Dr. Sudjarwo told the Security Council in 1964 that the revolt in Brunei had been the turning point in Indonesia's attitude towards Malaysia.
Fourthly, even so, it is said, the Indonesian claim that Indonesia moved several brigades into Kalimantan at very great cost and inconvenience to guard against the so-called Malaysian encirclement of Indonesia cannot be entertained by any sane person. But a prominent Indonesian was asked in my presence how his country with 105 million people could possibly be sincere in feeling herself threatened by a country of eight million 1782 such as Malaya. "Why", he was asked very toughly, "was there all this talk of 'crush Malaysia'"? He made it quite plain that the quarrel was with the British and not with the Malayan people. He said, "Look at it this way. Do you agree that America with her 180 million people is the most formidable fighting force on earth? How is it, then, that the American felt themselves threatened by Cuba? It was the forces behind Cuba, and so it is with us".
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-on-Tweed)
Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that we had any kind of ambitions towards Indonesia?
§ Mr. Dalyell
Personally, I do not believe for one moment that we have, of any kind, but however this Cuba analogy may appear to the strategists here in the House of Commons, it does hold water when seen from the rice roots around Djakarta to which politicians in Indonesia are sensitive; they really do see Malaysia as a puppet State—rightly or wrongly, it is their belief. My right hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Berwick-on-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) seem to have left out of their calculations the profound Asian suspicion of Western sponsored security arrangements. There may be an uncomfortably exact comparison between the feelings of the Indonesians today and those of Bolshevik Russia between 1917 and 1921 when the Russians believed that Western Europeans were ganging up on the Revolution. To echo the Foreign Secretary here—I will not say parody him—the background is the memory of every injustice of a man with a white skin against, in this case, a man with a golden skin—the background of the Dutch colonial empire, in its ruthless system of land tenure which was a very different proposition from the British in India.
I cannot think of anything more calculated to drive the Indonesians against their will into the arms of Peking than the prospect of an Anglo-American nuclear force swanning around at large in the Indian Ocean. The notion of bases at spots such as Diego Garcia appears to be a fruitful source of instability in southern Asia promoting the very cancer of distrust.
So I urge on my right hon. Friends a direct approach to Indonesia on the basis of mutual respect, offering, first of all, a 1783 sincere willingness to withdraw all military forces from Borneo, probably with the promise of a reassessment of voting in Sabah and Sarawak, perhaps supervised by an Afro-Asian commission; secondly, a positive—and it is not out of the question—Malaysian-IndonesianBritish co-operation in preparing educational and technical help to tribes such as the Ibans, the Land Dyaks, Kalabits, Puans and Muruts whose tribal areas extend both sides of the ethnically topographically and artificial frontier between Indonesia and the British Borneo territories.
Is this a gamble? No, in my view, it is not a gamble: it is a calculation. If we want stability we should make this kind of approach, showing a genuine effort to understand the, admittedly, unusual Indonesian political philosophy, to welcome their recent attempts at currency reform, and to have serious discussions to see how in some way we can help ease the terrible economic problems which would face any government—any government—in Java. And when the Foreign Secretary lays down strict conditions about armed Indonesian action having to come to an end, I think perhaps it is a question of putting carts before horses, and there should be a mutual agreement here, and not an insistence upon a particular onesided timetable.
The chief objection to such an approach—I have to face it—may be the attitude of the Government of Malaysia, but the time has come when Britain must obtain certain clarifications from Tunku Abdul Rahman. Perhaps he should be asked to come to London, as the distinguished and honoured guest that he always will be in Britain—but, none the less, we must reason together with the Tunku on certain matters.
First, are the Tunku in particular, and the Malays in general, really serious about the Borneo war? I have a lot of evidence, some of which has been given to the Government, to the effect that the Malays regard the confrontation as primarily a British war and not a Malayan war. In particular, I ask this specific question, has Tunku Abdul Rahman ever suggested to a British Prime Minister, the former right hon. Member for Bromley or the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) or 1784 my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), that given training facilities for Malay troops, Britain can fade out of both the bases on the Malay Peninsula and at Singapore? Because it seems a not unreasonable thing to suggest that if one has 27 per cent. of unemployment among young men in some of the big towns of Malaya, rather less, admittedly, in the rural areas, if they have training facilities, it might seem there would be a possibility of a phased British withdrawal, on the formation of a larger Malay army.
Secondly, it would help to have a categorical assurance from the Tunku that he is giving no help to former Indonesian rebels at present living in Kuala Lumpur who may have designs of severing Sumatra from Indonesia. A clear understanding on this would be helpful because it matters in Djakarta.
Thirdly, we must say this: "Tunku, since 50,000 British troops are risking their lives on your behalf in appalling conditions in Borneo and on service in the Straits, do you not think you might have told us in advance about the secession of Singapore from the Federation?"
Fourthly, we might tell Tunku Abdul Rahman very bluntly that, his Government being responsible for imposing curfews in central Sarawak, on the innocent and guilty alike, they are inevitably creating another Cyprus situation for the British in Borneo. Though it is true that it was the Sarawak Government who decided on a curfew between 7 o'clock in the evening and 6 o'clock in the morning as a punishment for the brutal murders of 27th June, none the less let us be clear that the odium here accrues to the British, whose arms are seen to legitimise the Administration. Do not curfews, we might ask him, make rebels of farmers who were not previously rebels? After all, any farmer in this House on whom curfew is imposed, if he had, for example, to go out to attend sick animals or to look after animals farrowing, would very soon be forced to hide outside his compound, and as soon as people start hiding in jungles it strikes me that they become rebels, even if they were not rebels already.
Fifthly, we should earnestly ask the Tunku whether he sees any future for the territories of Borneo inside the Federation other than as part of Maphalindo. In no 1785 hostile spirit the question has to be put, and we could point out to him that to many people in Borneo the Malaysia concept has gone sour, not least because the promised rural development foreshadowed by the Cobbold Commission in 1962 has not taken place. But we welcome the recently published Malaysian Plan, 1966–70, and the promise on page 11 to give priority to transport, communications and utilities in the Borneo States. This should be welcome and is to their credit.
But some frank, though friendly, I hope, speaking has to be done with the Malays, and the Tunku might well be wise to ignore protocol and prestige and enter into negotiations with Indonesia, allowing Sabah and Sarawak to do the same separately, or at least to have representatives present as observers, when he discusses the Borneo territories with the Indonesians. Above all, any temporary attitudes struck by the Malay Government should not be allowed to foul our relationship with Indonesia. Yet we must recognise that even if the Borneo war is brought to a rapid conclusion our long-term relations with Indonesia will never be quite healthy till we have stated our timetable for a phased withdrawal from Singapore.
Are there, then, other reasons, apart from Indonesia, for remaining in Singapore? Trade, perhaps? Well, sufficient to say that the Dutch, surely the most detested of all colonialists, are flocking back to Indonesia as managers, technicians, traders, teachers, and if the Dutch, and the French and the Germans and the Italians are trading all over Asia, I do not see why the British should not do so, or why we have to maintain some military force in order to trade.
Or is it that we remain in Singapore to contain China? Well, we have the views of Joan Robinson, Joseph Needham and others that China is not expansionist. Their biases, I admit, are well known, yet they are reinforced by other people such as Professor Trevor Roper and Sir Robert Matthew, people who are not known for their Left-wing tendencies. They come back with the same view. Above all, supposing China was expansionist, I cannot think that the British base in Singapore would do much 1786 to determine the direction of her calculations.
Or is it on account of the Americans that we keep the Singapore base? Since America looks to Indonesia in the long term to form a non-aligned power in South-East Asia and the only power in their view to counteract China, that is an altogether unlikely proposition.
I am aware that the former idiotic activities of the C.I.A. and the plane shot down over the Moluccas soured American-Indonesian relationships, but of late, happily, they have been better, and the Americans can take no joy from either confrontation or Indonesia's suspicion of Singapore.
Is the argument, then, that we are in Singapore because Lee Kuan Yew wants us there? If so, why does he want us? It is hardly because there is any serious possibility of an amphibious assault, either against Singapore or the Malay mainland, other than of a pinpricking nature. In the words of a non-aligned diplomat recently returned from Djakarta,If Britain believes in the possibility of a full-scale invasion of the Malay mainland, she will believe in fairy tales.Obviously, Lee's main concern is economic, in a situation where British Forces provide some 25 per cent. of his gross national product.
§ Viscount Lambton
Does the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) think that possibly the Singapore Government desire troops there in order to prevent the Indonesian Government invading them?
§ Mr. Dalyell
That is not the view expressed by many people in Singapore. I think the point is that economic aid to thriving Singapore may or may not be justified, but, whatever the position, the preservation of a base is simply not a cost-effective way of doing it. It would be far better to spend some money on helping Singapore's transition from a commercial to an industrial city.
I would guess that the presence of a British base is not sound from Lee's own point of view. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed raises the question, and I would wonder what goes on in the heads of young Singaporeans, 65 per cent. of whom are under 21 years of age, when they look at the fine residences 1787 in the ample acres of the British base covering a lush and significant part of their own overcrowded island. If the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed thinks that my judgment is so wide of the mark, how does it come about that, faced with a dynamic administration such as Lee's, with a housing record second-to-none in Asia, the clumsily-led Barisan Socialists can get 40 per cent. of the votes on a straight Marxist ticket? That is the sort of question that the hon. Member has to answer, and it is certainly not as clear-cut as he makes out.
So all this is about Britain's place in the world, and I am just asking that we should learn the lesson that France learned 12 years ago at Dien Bien Phu and what the Americans are now learning so painfully in Vietnam—not to meddle in Asian affairs by having permanent bases.
Before summarising, there is one argument that I rather hesitate to use, and I wait to be convinced about it by my hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell), my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) and my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Barnett), who have done a lot of work on it. I am rather sceptical about whether, in the short term, any withdrawal from the Far East would significantly help the housing and education programmes to which we are all committed. I would prefer to conduct the argument in terms of foreign policy rather than in the short-term benefit to the British economy.
In summary, first we should have a direct approach to Indonesia on a basis of mutual respect and immediate withdrawal from Borneo within a given space of time and in consultation with the Malays. Secondly, we must reason together with the Tunku, and particularly about the internal position in Sarawak. Thirdly, we should withdraw or give a time-table for withdrawing from Singapore, give up the purely delusive military influence that goes with bases and substitute the real influence that comes with technical, commercial and educational co-operation.
Fourthly, this is the time to give two and a half months' warning to the Government that if on 1st March it comes about that we take up the option on the 1788 F111 for reasons that appear to be solely connected with the Middle and Far East, I for one will feel unable to support that decision in the Division Lobby.
Finally, I have a point that I find personally disagreeable, but, before I put it, perhaps I might say that no one in the House has taken more interest than I have in Latin-American studies, and urged the teaching of Spanish in schools, about which I have had Adjournment debates. South America is extremely important, but I do not think that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary is spending his time well by going there.
It seems to me that a Foreign Secretary should conserve his strength and be here in London to take charge of the Foreign Office. A Foreign Secretary should spend his time in the Recess either having a well-deserved holiday or studying critically the briefs that are put up to him by the Foreign Office. There are many Foreign Office knights who love to see Foreign Secretaries, both Conservative and Labour, chasing off all over the world. But, without being impertinent in any way, I would prefer to see my right hon. Friend spending his time, with some leisure, studying critically the briefs that are put up to him on Vietnam, on Malaysia and Indonesia, and on relations with Europe.
However, if he goes to Lima, perhaps he could find the time to come back via Djakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and find out for himself precisely what is going on.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ Sir Hamilton Kerr (Cambridge)
As I intend to take the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and talk for less than 10 minutes, I hope that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) will forgive if I do not follow him up on some aspects of Far Eastern policy. Like many of his hon. Friends, he seems highly critical of Government policy and, by inference, of the Foreign Secretary. Perhaps he feels about him as Disraeli felt about Gladstone when he said, "If Mr. Gladstone fell into the River Thames, it would be a misfortune. If some one hauled him out, it would be a calamity."
These debates allow us a brief opportunity to take a hard look at the realities of the present world. Listening to the 1789 speeches of hon. Members, one tries to form in one's mind a clear picture, firstly, of what we are trying to do, secondly, what means we are using to try to attain our objectives and, thirdly and perhaps most important of all, to form a clear picture of the exact priorities that we wish to obtain. It is on that question of priority that I wish to base my few remarks.
It is a strange fact that in the world today it is the nations that have been conquered which have made the greatest effort. France had her country twice fought over and her railways and bridges shattered by bombardment. In Germany, the night attacks by the Royal Air Force and the day attacks by the American Air Force reduced her industrial cities to stinking rubble. In Japan American Flying Fortresses reduced to charred ashes the great Japanese industrial cities. We, on the other hand, never had the misfortune of being conquered or occupied. We never heard the roar and rattle of German tanks down our roads. We never heard the tramp of German boots in our cities. Nor did we have to read the disgraceful headlines of a doctored Press. But, as a result, it seems that we came out of the war a victorious nation, perhaps feeling that, having won the war with our allies we could carry on exactly as before. Sometimes, in my more depressed moments, I feel that we are almost in a drugged dream about ourselves, and that we as a nation have lost the gift that we used to possess of clear sight.
It is a commonplace that today we look out on a world of two great power groups, two great Powers which are able, by the weight of their armaments, by their atom bombs, by their guided missiles, to shatter the world in a few seconds—two great powers whose immense economies, with resources in the soil and in the factories, outstrip the rest of the world. We find also a great group of neutral Powers, the so-called Afro-Asian group, sensitive as all young nations, very vocal at the United Nations, which are balancing their forces first one way and then the other.
At first sight this might seem an alarming picture, but if one looks at the military situation, I come to the conclusion that the danger of atomic war is receding. We are told—the Foreign Secretary will know this better than I do—that Russia maintains about 750 ballistic missiles in 1790 East Europe, but should she use these, the forces of retaliation from the United States and her allies would be so formidable in the form of a shower of inter-Continental ballistic missiles, short range missiles, and Polaris submarine missiles, that the Soviet Union would inevitably be destroyed.
If one looks at the military picture, at so-called conventional weapons, it does not seem that an attack on Europe is imminent. We are told that the Russians have in Eastern Europe about 25 so-called light divisions. Opposing these are 12 German divisions, five so-called heavy American divisions, and in addition the French and British contributions. The Russian force, therefore, is not strong enough to obtain an immediate victory in the course of a lightning attack.
For many years I have had ties of kinship with the United States, and at present have the honour of being one of the joint secretaries of the British American group in this House. I have a very clear instinct that—by slow but inevitable steps the United States and the Soviet Union are moving to an accord, and I shall try to give the reasons for this apparently mad statement.
First, I believe that Russia realises the growing danger from Communist China. The Chinese have never been a seafaring people, and their easiest area of expansion would be through the thousands of square miles of Mongolia. In addition, inside the Soviet Union various factors are at work. First and foremost, we are told by experts from the United States and from Europe that Russian production, though excellent in certain aspects, is only about 40 to 60 per cent. of that of the United States. We are told that the new and powerful governing classes in Russia, having with their forefathers, sacrificed the comforts of life to obtain the benefits of the revolution, hydro-electric plants, tractor factories, and powerful armaments, are demanding more consumer goods in the form of better standards of living, better food, better houses, and better clothes for their wives But the fact is plain that the Russian economy cannot support the two aims of immense armaments and an increased standard of living of consumer goods, therefore my instinct tells me that in the course of time she will move to an accord with the United States.
1791 Have we any possible fear of the repercussions of such an accord? Will the interests of Europe suffer? I believe not, under one condition, namely, if we proceed—and this is the priority which I wish to stress tonight—to organise European industry on a continental scale similar to that of the United States or Soviet Russia.
During the war I had the opportunity of visiting great factories in the United States to write descriptions of them for our people here. I saw Detroit able to produce as much armaments as an entire continent. I saw the great factory at Willow Road producing a Liberator bomber every hour of the day and night on an assembly line a mile long and composed of 800,000 parts. I saw the great Rivera Rouge plant producing a jeep every minute of the day and night. I saw the Pratt and Whitney factory at Hertford, Connecticut, producing engines for Liberators and Flying Fortresses, and I thought at the time that if Emperor Hirohito, Hitler and other Nazi leaders could be given a free pass to Detroit alone, they would quickly have sought an agreement for peace.
I believe that the one hope for Europe and ourselves is to organise industry on a continental scale. If we do not do that we cannot blame the Americans if they invade our markets. It is like trying to stop a tidal wave. As the danger of atomic war recedes, it is our first duty to organise European industry on a Continental scale.
Those are my three brief points. I believe that the danger of atomic war is receding. Secondly, we must organise European industry on a continental scale. If we do this, there will be nothing to fear eventually from Russian American accord.
§ 8.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Edmund Dell (Birkenhead)
My hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) tried to dissuade my right hon. Friend from going to Latin America. He did so in a very interesting speech, and I should like to take out that point to try to encourage my right hon. Friend to persist in his current intentions, despite my hon. Friend's remarks. If my right hon. Friend goes there, I think he will find that the rate of increase of the 1792 Latin American population is not perhaps as great as he said in the course of his speech. I suspect that even the virility of Latin Americans will not be capable of producing 600 million Latin Americans in 20 years' time. Nevertheless, they are increasing fast. Their importance in world affairs is already great and is becoming greater, and I am sure that it is of the highest importance for this country to make our relations with Latin America very much closer and more friendly than they are at the present, and at the same time to develop much more trade between us than has been our recent experience.
I have intervened in this debate because I want briefly to discuss the connection between our foreign policy and our economic resources. Since the war we have been learning slowly the implications for our foreign and defence commitments of the fact of scarce resources, and perhaps the greatest of all the dilemmas which have confronted our post-war Governments have been those which have set economic necessity against defence commitments. This is a dilemma which, unfortunately, has not yet been successfully resolved.
Britain has a slow rate of economic growth, and perennial balance of payments difficulties, and she now has an enormous volume of debts which she has to pay off. Yet the demands placed upon her by the international situation have been as great as, if not greater than, any which she has had to face before in peacetime. The Times, in an editorial today, referring to this debate, says:The lessons of history make it necessary for Britain always to make the utmost use of her strength within those limits"—the limits referred to being those of prudence and book-keeping—rather than accepting them as an encouragement to an easy life.I am not speaking of an easy life. I am not speaking of promises concerning social security. My hon. Friend has referred to the importance of housing, but I am not speaking of that. I am speaking of getting out of debt and achieving the minimum rate of economic growth without which this country cannot maintain its defence capacity.
In Europe and in the North Atlantic the logic of our scarce resources has largely, although not entirely, been faced. As one hon. Member has said, we are 1793 working through groups. We have an alliance which is of a new kind. In the old days nations brought to alliances a full complement of defensive weapons. They could, if necessary, withdraw and still retain an all-round defensive armament, which meant that in a real sense they could be independent. In this new type of alliance—N.A.T.O.—no one, except perhaps United States of America, provides a complete defensive equipment. Certainly to do so would be far beyond United Kingdom resources.
We supply a component—not the whole thing, but a part—which means that we have sacrificed some sovereignty and the right to the determination of an independent foreign policy. We can influence alliance policy; we cannot decide it. We cannot withdraw from it without threatening the security not merely of our allies but of ourselves.
I wonder whether we have understood the logic of scarce resources in our policies east of Suez. There used to be an idea of an independent "east of Suez" rôle for this country—a rôle which would give us a seat at the world's top table. This idea included such proposals as a nuclear guarantee for India which would make it unnecessary for her to manufacture her own atomic weapons. I do not believe that the Indians would find such a guarantee from this country credible. In any case, the idea of an independent rôle for this country east of Suez is fading under the influence of the Defence Review.
The Defence Review makes explicit a principle long implicit in our affairs—that commitments must be limited by resources. The £2,000 million target expenditure for 1969–70 means that there are certain commitments which we cannot undertake, however desirable they may be. This £2,000 million—and in my opinion the figure is too high, although I am prepared to accept it, in the circumstances—must not be exceeded. I suspect that the Government are finding that the £2,000 million is even more restrictive of commitments that they can accept than they originally thought. I think that they are finding that even after the most favourable assumptions about getting out of Aden in 1968 and about the end of the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia, what is left after 1794 making essential provision in Europe is very small indeed.
Certainly it is not enough to provide for an independent rôle for this country East of Suez—a rôle in which we would provide a complete military force, equipped with its own aircraft and aircraft carriers. I suspect that the Government are finding that it is barely enough for a significant component in an alliance. We shall hear more about the results of my right hon. Friend's visit to Washington tomorrow, but it is the implications of this situation that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been to Washington to discuss.
The American attitude seems fairly clear. They want us to remain East of Suez, first, because they find the Indian Ocean and the area beyond to be a very lonely place and, secondly, because there are certain areas—the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean and East Africa—in which they believe we can do things that they might find difficult. The British Government, too, seems to want to remain, because to do so is a qualification for a seat at high table; because unless we do so the Commonwealth will lose a great deal of its substance, and because it is East of Suez today that the current major dangers to peace exist.
In short, the Americans want us to stay and the British Government wants us to stay. But the Defence Review shows, first, that we cannot afford an independent role and, secondly, that we can afford, at best, only a small component in an allied force.
Therefore, the proposal emerges for some sort of integrated or co-ordinated defence system in the area, in other words for a N.A.T.O. type of alliance east of Suez for which every one, again with the possible exception of the United States of America, provides merely a component, and in which some sovereignty and the right of independent determination of foreign policy is submerged. There is something of a dilemma here. It is our apparent independence in the area that equips us for the special rôle which the United States of America wishes us to perform. If we lose that appearance of independence we lose that special rôle and hence much of the reason for being in the area at all. Moreover, there are some very specific questions 1795 which must be asked about this proposal. The right hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames) put one of these questions, namely what are to be the political objectives of such an alliance, of such an integrated or co-ordinated defence system, if it is created?
I would like to put some further questions. Can this country provide the effective components for two such different forces in Europe and Asia? Can we share sovereignty in two such different alliances in different parts of the world without conflict arising as to where our prior commitments lie? Will we not be under continual pressure from our alliance partners east of Suez to add to our contribution? Is not such pressure an inevitable result of the very instablility in the area which calls for our presence there in the first place? Could we hope to meet such demands without unacceptable diversions from our commitments in Europe? Would it be possible to make such transferences from Europe without the most dangerous political consequences to our position in Europe? In the end we must be sure that we give primacy to British interests and that means that primacy must be given to our commitments in Europe.
Will we not be drawn reluctantly but inevitably beyond the £2,000 million limit which the Government have placed on defence expenditure in 1969–70? Perhaps this dilemma can be put a different way. We would have two pillars, one in Europe and one in Asia. To both of these we would have pledged our support. From the pillar in Europe we could not, in any circumstances, withdraw our support. From the pillar in Asia we would not wish to withdraw our support, at any rate without preparation. But, and this is the difference with the Asian pillar, if Britain were forced by an economic crisis to make a choice, it would be from the Asian pillar that we would withdraw, because for us Europe must have priority over Asia.
It would be utterly dishonourable to enter into commitments which we cannot fulfil, or for a longer term than we could fulfil them. The Government must ensure that whatever rôle remains to us for a few years east of Suez, is one that we can sustain and from which we do not have to withdraw precipitately, leaving 1796 behind us a vacuum which it might take a war to fill. It might be best if those two pillars could be brought together to sustain joint burdens. Unfortunately, for the moment, that does not seem likely and if it cannot be done we, too, will have to withdraw.
Meanwhile if our commitment is genuinely and severely limited and does not escalate we can perhaps stay a little longer. I fear that inevitable pressures will force costs upwards and in that case, if we cannot bring these two pillars together, we will have to go. We are a country with a world view, but without the resources to sustain a world role. I do not ask that we should put blinkers on and ignore the existence of problems merely because we cannot tackle them. But unless we husband our resources we shall end not as a participator in the determination of events but as a helpless victim of them.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
I should like to say how much I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell). I wish to take up many of his points later in my speech, and I hope that if the hon. Gentleman is not too hungry he will be able to hear what I say on them.
I should like to make the briefest reference to the happenings in Africa. It seems to me that Her Majesty's Government are now determined on a course which makes negotiations with an alternative Government in Rhodesia almost an impossibility. They are, therefore, committed to bringing down the Government without there being an alternative Government in sight. The consequences of this will, I fear, be grave both for Europeans and Africans, for as long as both South Africa and Portugal remain neutral the Smith Government have the power to hold on until they can bring the country down in ruin or establish an authoritarian State. I should not have thought that either of these ends was one towards which a Labour Government should be working.
I wish to speak about a very different subject, which is our foreign policy east of Suez, and if on occasion I stray into the field of defence I hope that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will forgive me since the two subjects are dependent and indivisible.
1797 There is an open belief on the other side of the House and, occasionally, a muted belief on this side of the House that we should contain ourselves West of Suez, which, for some reason or other, has become a sort of magic zone beyond which we should have no responsibility and from beyond which we can suffer no repercussion. It is surprising that many of those who hold this view neglect the fact that it was the object of Her Majesty's late Government, and, I am sure, of the present Government, to withdraw from direct responsibility whenever possible. Both parties have had a joint purpose to work towards this end—to create individual States and to support free nations independent in every sense of the word.
We can point—I speak of the area loosely designated as east of Suez—to the newly created nations of India, Burma and Pakistan. When we conceived the Malaysian Federation six years ago, it was not our intention that we should have 50,000 men under arms within the area. Neither has it been the intention of any politician of any party, as far as I know, who has had anything to do with the creation of the Aden Federation that this should result in anything but a reduction of our direct responsibility.
At the same time, we have carried out, especially in the Middle East, a policy of support and stabilisation of independent nations, and the success of that policy is surely to be seen in the peace which exists in the Trucial Coast and the Persian Gulf. For the first time we may confidently say that the star of President Nasser, who, after all, has been the great troublemaker in the area, appears to be on the decline, and his partial withdrawal from the Yemen has lost him great face. The growing ascendancy of King Feisal could give the area a leader who policies were not founded on conquest and revolution.
If this peace continues, the need for British armed presence is reduced. But could anything be more damaging to the achievement of this hope than that we should withdraw too soon, for even the suggestion that we might do so could, by reviving the forces of opposition, unnecessa7ily prolong the period of our armed presence?
Nevertheless, the fact remains that a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite, in loud tones, and a number of my hon. 1798 Friends, in muted tones, still believe that we should withdraw west of Suez and abandon, and reconsider, our alliances from Suez to Hong Kong. I will consider the arguments from each side of the House in turn, for they are quite different.
The argument from some hon. Gentlemen opposite below the Gangway is that they do not believe in our foreign policy east of Suez, or, for that matter, in our foreign policy west of Suez either. In other words, the supporters of this view do not believe in a foreign policy which is based on strength and they would like to see the £2,000-odd million per year which we spend on arms to give our foreign policy some meaning reduced and the money spent domestically at home. Defence expenditure has always been the pot of gold at the end of the Socialist rainbow. However, their argument is not purely self interested. It is also idealistic, pacifist and, above all, perennial—for precisely the same argument was used to great effect in the 'thirties to encourage this country to disarm when Hitler and Mussolini was arming.,
§ Viscount Lambton
I thought that the hon. Gentleman hoped that we would be able to spend less money on defence.
In any case, as well as being used in the 'thirties, the same argument was used in the 'forties to dissuade the Labour Party from manufacturing the atom bomb. It is used again today, and I have not the slightest doubt that it will continue to be used with perfect sincerity by hon. Gentlemen opposite who believe that the world can be ruled by good intentions. However, perhaps the fairest estimation of the value of this argument is that while it sways the Labour Party when in Opposition, it has very seldom influenced their policy when in power.
§ Mr. Philip Noel-Baker (Derby, South)
We believe that the world should be ruled by law whereas the noble Lord appears to think that nothing but military power counts for anything.
§ Viscount Lambton
I was not saying that. I recall that the right hon. Gentleman was a Member of the Government 1799 who took the decision to manufacture the atom bomb in the years after the last war.
I turn to the muted argument sometimes used by some of my hon. Friends to the effect that we should concentrate on the defence of Europe and abandon our foreign policy east of Suez. How simple would our problems be if we could solve them in this way. But how can we accept such a 19th century argument when we are engaged in a global cold war and are faced with the same challenge and challengers in all parts of the world? How would this suggestion fit into the context that it proved impossible to put limits on either of the two great European wars and how could it make technical sense to guard merely one avenue in Europe against Communist aggression and leave all the other avenues east of Suez open for the same enemy to go down unopposed?
Let us have a brief look at our commitments east of Suez. The situation in Hong Kong is totally different from that of the Middle East. It is often suggested that we can make economies both in manpower and expenditure there because the garrison could never be a match for the Chinese Army. Who has ever suggested that it could be? Who has ever suggested that it was? Certainly no one in China, and certainly no one in Hong Kong.
We keep troops and preserve our influence in China, not to wage war there but to keep internal security in the event of riots. When a few years ago there were riots in Kowloon, practically the whole garrison was needed to keep order. Do we want to risk losing what one can only describe as an ear on China's face, which is of almost inestimable value in allowing us to have some comprehension of what is going on in China? Would it, therefore, be sensible by making reductions here to risk the overthrow of the garrison and its consequent reinforcement by a bigger force?
Let me turn to another area east of Suez where we really participate most—the Malaysian Federation and Singapore. As I said earlier, it certainly was not our intention when we created the Federation six years ago that we would have militarily to underwrite it as well. This we have been forced to do by the direct 1800 confrontation from Indonesia, sometimes supported by China and sometimes supported by the U.S.S.R.
At this moment, of course, the confrontation has ceased, but it would be an optimist who thought that this was anything more than a momentary lull. There is nothing more tempting to a State with internal troubles than to divert attention to a neighbouring nation which it alleges threatens its own security. Successive Governments of Guatemala have played this game with great zest in British Honduras, and Menderes largely maintained his rule in Turkey by a concentration on the Cypriot issue. So whoever wins in Indonesia, it is likely that this confrontation in Malayasia and Singapore will recommence and as the Chinese Prime Minister of Singapore has made it plain that he will not accept American aid, we shall be called on to give it or risk the Peninsula falling under Communism.
At this point I would digress to say that there are those who believe that we can have influence without presence. This is, alas, untrue. My second digression deals with a report that the Labour Government—Her Majesty's Government —are asking that we should share our responsibilities with America. Although any discussion upon this subject is obviously premature, it is relevant to point out that if our Forces became too integrated with America, China would resent very strongly our presence in Hong Kong and Singapore would bar our presence from the island.
Apart from these digressions, we must consider what would be the other implications of our withdrawal. Not only would Singapore and Malaysia be undermined, but the whole American effort in Vietnam would be isolated and we would shatter the whole Anglo-American Alliance. Are we prepared to do this? Are we prepared to argue that it is even remotely sensible to retire to Europe and give the East over to Communism, and to pretend that in Europe we can isolate ourselves from world politics?
I would argue that there are the very best of reasons for the closest association with Europe but, surely, the most valid criticism of Europe today is that it is becoming inwardlooking in a changing world, and our aim in joining it should 1801 be to turn its energies outward, and not to use it as a retreat from responsibilities which we cannot avoid.
There are other arguments which traduce our efforts by arguing that only by national willpower will nations of the Far East and Middle East resist Communism, that they cannot be supported permanently, and must make their own decisions. This is true, but I would argue that nations should at least be given the chance to decide what their future is to be. If we withdraw at the moment, we should take away support from countries which are taking their first uncertain steps, such as Malaysia or Singapore, or which are, as in the case of Aden, not yet born. If we withdrew guidance, it would mean their destruction and we should never know whether they could or could not have supported themselves. Surely we should not risk such an overwhelming loss that could occur to the free world by merely being logical and arguing that we cannot afford our present defence expenditure and that as a result we should withdraw from four-fifths of the world.
I would remark, in passing, upon the doubts of relying upon logic as political law, for unfortunately in politics pure logic is sometimes pure nonsense.
Before we commit ourselves to withdrawal, there are two questions which we should seriously ask. Could we afford to fight the last war? Can we afford to lose the cold war?
In conclusion, I should like to make it clear that it is my aim, as I am sure it is the aim of all hon. Members on both sides of the House, to advocate economy east of Suez wherever possible. But that must surely be done within a responsible framework and avoiding false economy which could produce great expenditure later, for there would be nothing sillier than withdrawing totally when it is possible for us to economise and retain our influence.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Is it not a fact that Tunku Abdul Rahman asked either the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) or his predecessor the right hon. Member for Bromley whether it would not be possible on receipt of certain training facilities in Malaya for Britain to make a fairly quick and complete withdrawal of troops? 1802 This fact or non-fact, whichever it is, is the noble Lord's argument be answered.
§ Viscount Lambton
The hon. Gentleman cannot honestly ask me to answer for my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) or for the former right hon. Member for Bromley, who is no longer in this House. After being interrupted by someone who made one of the strangest speeches I have ever heard in the House, I return to what I was saying. It is dangerous and a political fallacy to try to look too far into the future. I believe that we should look, as Sir Winston Churchill once said, far ahead but not further than one can see. We must not lose sight of the fact that we are at this moment engaged in a cold war in which the Communists probe and test for any weakness in the Western Alliance and, when they find it, be it east or west of Suez, use it for their own advantage.
We live today in a contracted world where in a strategic sense each country is each other's neighbour so that no nation may point to another and say, "The internal affairs of that State are no concern of ours"; for if we do we will isolate ourselves from the struggle upon which the future of the free world depends and leave America isolated and alone to bear the whole responsibility of positive Communist aggression, while we will do nothing but rest safe behind the American reared barriers of Europe with our heads in the sand.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Ioan L. Evans (Birmingham, Yardley)
This debate has been wide-ranging and the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) will forgive me if I do not follow him in dealing particularly with the east of Suez issue. On the general question of defence expenditure, the noble Lord misrepresented the views held by many of us on this side. We believe that expenditure on defence should be in keeping with our economic resources. We argue that, with a balance of payments deficit of £800 million, as we had last year, it is foolish to talk of increasing military expenditure.
When we talk about trying to solve international problems we should have 1803 more regard to our economic rather than our military strength. This question of linking defence commitments with international affairs is relevant, because we cannot separate economics from foreign affairs or defence. Our attitude to defence and economic questions is shaped by our attitude towards other countries, and our attitude towards other countries is equally determined by the strength of the economy, which in turn determines what we can spend on defence.
I should have liked to deal with both long-term and short-term problems. It is a pity that in a debate like this discussion ranges so widely. In future, when we have a two-day debate, we might consider dealing with specific issues like Rhodesia and Vietnam on the first day and on the second day dealing with long-term problems which in these debates we tend to neglect.
There are many areas of possible conflict in the world at present. Reference has been made to the problem of Rhodesia. It is right that this should be dealt with in a foreign affairs debate because it is no longer a domestic matter. It certainly affects our relations with other countries. We find them lining up to break off political relations with us because they think not that we are doing too much but that we are not doing enough to break the evil Smith régime.
There will be far-reaching results from what is happening in Southern Rhodesia. If the illegal Smith régime were to succeed temporarily—and we all know that it will not succeed permanently—a serious, explosive situation will develop in Africa. Indeed, it is already developing there. Some hon. Members liken the situation in Rhodesia with the Suez situation, but it is quite different. It is true that on Suez there was division in this country, but at the time the Government sat on one side of the fence and on the other side we had the United States, the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations, all condemning the actions of the then Government. But on the subject of Rhodesia we find the United States and the Soviet Union, the Commonwealth and the United Nations on one side of the fence, all condemning the Smith regime's actions in Rhodesia, together with the present Government and, I hope, the Opposition condemning 1804 it. If, therefore, we can succeed through economic sanctions in bringing about in Southern Rhodesia a new Government pledged to multi-racial government, and if this is done without bloodshed, a new chapter will be written in the history of the assertion of the rights of man and a solution will be found to this complex problem.
Another part of the Commonwealth is involved in conflict. I refer to the tragic situation in India and Pakistan. It is tragic to find these two countries, both members of the Commonwealth, involved in military conflict. Instead of dealing with the problem of poverty, they are whittling away their resources on unnecessary military action against each other. I hope that they will come to realise that a greater enemy—hunger and famine—faces them both. In their situation, surely, they should come together round the conference table to resolve their differences. I was in India when independence was granted. I thought then that the division of the sub-continent was the real solution of the problem, but we have to hope that those divided countries will come to move together in facing their problems.
Another area of conflict in South Africa, a country dedicated to halting the wind of change, in which, for the time being, it has succeeded. It has, however, created an insufferable political stench. The situation beneath the surface is boiling and the people of South Africa are sitting on a volcano.
Other hon. Members have dealt at length with the area of conflict between Malaysia and Indonesia. Recent developments in Indonesia and Singapore could, perhaps, lead in the near future to preparations for talks between Malaysia and Indonesia. There should, perhaps, be an initiative to bring Indonesia back into the United Nations. It was the only nation to leave the United Nations, and I hope that an initiative will be taken by the Government to bring Indonesia back, because in this way we might well resolve the difficulties in that area.
Another area of conflict is the two islands of Cuba and Dominica. This raises the important question of whether countries have the right to have a Communist Government if that is their choice. What right have people outside those 1805 islands to say, "No, you should not have that sort of government. You should have a Government which is to our liking"? We must face the fact that although we might disagree with the political system which those countries are developing, it is the system which their people prefer.
Another possible area of conflict for some time in the Middle East will be between the Arab countries and Israel. I know that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has been in Egypt and I hope that the Government will use their good offices in bringing these countries together, because I believe that the people of Israel are trying to create a new Jerusalem, trying to find a national home for the Jewish people. I hope that we will increase our efforts to bring the Jewish and the Arab people of that area closer together.
Here in Europe, the real point of conflict is the problem of East and West Germany. We would all agree that the real solution would be to try to bring about a united Germany, but there are precedents for divided countries. It was a Labour Government who recognised that what was formerly India had to be divided into India and Pakistan. A war was fought to ensure that Korea remained divided. The Americans are fighting in order that Vietnam shall remain divided. I need not remind hon. Members that we have among us hon. Members from Northern Ireland. We are prepared to accept the division of Ireland. Why cannot we think of accepting the idea of a divided Germany for many years to come? If we could accept and recognise both the East and West German Governments, this would ease the situation in Berlin and would lead eventually to both of them coming into the United Nations.
In the Far East, there are China and Formosa. People talk about the years ahead. We have to recognise that one person in five in the world is Chinese. Both the previous Government and the present one have recognised the Peking Government and we support their desire to come into the United Nations. In supporting their desire, however, it is not enough for us simply to say that we will vote for them. We must not insist upon a two-thirds majority vote at the United Nations. Surely, a simple majority 1806 should be sufficient. It is important that all nations should be represented in the United Nations. China, with one in five of the world's population, should be represented there.
Vietnam has been dealt with at length today and doubtless will be dealt with again tomorrow, but it is now perhaps the most serious point of conflict in the world. It is important that the Government, who, I know, have done much to seek a peaceful solution to the problem, continue to do their utmost to bring an end to this horrible military operation, in which gas and napalm are used. When we see photographs of the bodies of little children mutilated by napalm bombs, we should use every effort to try to bring this conflict to a conclusion.
We might have criticisms about the North Vietnam Government and criticisms about the Vietcong. But who do we find leading the South Vietnam Government? It is General Ky, who has said that the man that he most admires is not President Lincoln, President Kennedy or President Johnson but Adolf Hitler. I should have thought that he was hardly a leader of a country with whom we would like to be associated.
I turn to the long-term problems. I believe that in a debate of this kind we should not only deal with the short-term issues but try to contemplate some of the problems which are likely to emerge at a later stage. One of the fundamental problems is world poverty, and linked with that is the problem of colonialism and racialism. The last war was fought against the "master race" theory, the thesis of Hitler—belief in the herrenvolk. Unfortunately, such ideas are being put forward today in a most sophisticated way in Johannesburg and Salisbury. Those who fought against the belief in racial superiority in the last war will have fought in vain unless we seek to reject that belief in racialism, which has been expressed in the House in a roundabout way. We now find that colonialism is nearing its end. In Southern Rhodesia today we are listening to one of the last swansongs representing the desire of a group of people to keep others under political subjugation.
Now that the Government are continuing the task, started by the previous Administration, of turning the old Empire into a new Commonwealth. I think we 1807 might constructively consider the smaller territories which are too small to become politically independent. In the years ahead we might consider handing them over to be administered by the United Nations. If we could bring the scattered islands in the Pacific and other parts into United Nations' responsibility, it would be a step forward.
As to the serious problem of world poverty, there were many people in former colonial territories who thought that once they obtained political independence they would solve their problems. They now know that independence itself does not solve economic problems. Having gained political freedom, they now have to work for economic freedom. Two-thirds of humanity is suffering from poverty. I am pleased with the Government's action in setting up the Ministry of Overseas Development. I hope that all the industrialised nations in the Western world will establish similar ministries so that in our cabinet rooms we can discuss what we can do in the more developed areas to help the people in the undeveloped areas.
I return to the points made by the previous speaker. He said that we might talk of building up our economy but that we should at the same time maintain our military strength. I believe that as a nation we shall not be economically strong in the next few years unless we reassess and review our defence commitments. The world is living under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. A nonproliferation treaty should be our first priority.
I was pleased that the Prime Minister, in his United Nations speech, made one of the main features the need to try to get the world away from the haunting fear that in the not too distant future it might destroy itself. We should remind ourselves of what H. G. Wells wrote in his book "The Shape of Things to Come" in the 1930s. He predicted the end of the world in 1966. That is a sobering thought in December, 1965.
Modern fiction writers have vividly presented the agonising situation in which we live today. For example, there was Nevil Shute's book "On the Beach" and the recent American film "Fail safe". If we are allowed to see it, no doubt 1808 the B.B.C.'s production "The War Game" would also show the real dangers of nuclear warfare.
Today, two-thirds of humanity are living in want. Yet the world is spending about £50,000 million in an arms race for a war that no one wants. Such is the illogical situation. Indeed, the leading nations spend more on armaments than the total national incomes of Asia, Africa, and South America.
The other main problem to which we must address ourselves is East-West relations. The main ideological struggle has been between Communism and capitalism and we have the situation in which one-third of the world is Communist, one-third supports capitalism and the remainder in between is undecided. I believe that if the conflict is between Communism and capitalism, then a plague on both their houses.
I believe that the world has something to gain from both these "isms". John Stuart Mill, in his "Essay on Liberty", posed the social problem which faces humanity. He said that the great social problem was to bring about common ownership of the means of production and distribution while maintaining the maximum amount of individual liberty. I believe that it will be through democratic Socialism that the world will eventually be able to have common ownership of the means of production and distribution plus individual liberty.
The veteran French Socialist Léon Blum said that one cannot have Socialism without democracy nor democracy without Socialism. It is certainly true that one can have a form of one without the other, but, like love and marriage, one cannot have genuine democracy without Socialism nor genuine Socialism without democracy. If the planned economies of the East can develop a more democratic political system and if we in the West can develop planned economies while maintaining democracy we shall be moving towards greater world understanding.
The hon. Member for Cambridge (Sir H. Kerr) made the interesting suggestion that we should try to organise ourselves on a continental basis in trading organisations. The re-election of President de Gaulle would seem to point towards this being done. When speaking of Europe it is important to realise that it extends 1809 from Gibraltar to the Urals and we should try to bring the European Economic Community, the European Free Trade Area and t he Comecon countries closer together and eventually to an outward looking United States of Europe.
Finally, wholehearted support of the United Nations should remain a cornerstone of our policy. We must support it in all its ways. We must create more effective peace-keeping machinery and see that Governments support it to a far greater extent. We must see that it develops more agencies and extends its activities. In such a way can we take steps towards bringing about the world government which, in the end, is the only true way to bring about world disarmament and lasting peace.
§ 9.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Peter Kirk (Saffron Walden)
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. Joan L. Evans) quite rightly said that one of the great problems of a debate of this kind was that it tended to be very discursive. I think that it is fair to say that his own speech illustrated that point, for he covered a great deal of ground which I do not now intend to follow because of the short time for which I have promised to speak. I want to address myself to one problem which has been worrying me more and more over the past months and years. It is the steadily deteriorating situation, as I think it to be, within the Atlantic Alliance.
By this I do not mean that we are any less determined than we were in 1948 or 1949 to defend the way of life which N.A.T.O. was set up to defend. What I am worried about is that the methods by which we are now choosing to do it seem to be less and less appropriate to the situation which we have to face. We appear to be still ready, still in a posture, to meet with a greater or lesser degree of efficiency a land-based attack in Western Europe, although I think that all of us know that the possibility of this actually happening is so slight as to be almost completely remote. We appear also to be ready to defend our way of life by the use of the nuclear deterrent—and I am sure that that is right—extending over the European area a nuclear guarantee based on the American Strategic Air Force and the Polaris fleet.
1810 What we have not overlooked but done absolutely nothing about in alliance terms is the fact that the threat with which we are faced now seems to lie outside Europe and while we have three alliances, only one can be regarded as effective, and that covers only Europe and the Atlantic area. I do not think that the proceedings in Paris last week of the North Atlantic Council, interesting although no doubt they were—and we all regret very much that the Foreign Secretary was unable to attend them and we hope that he is now completely recovered —clarified the situation to any great extent.
For example, there has been a complaint by hon. Members opposite—and although I do not share it, I can understand their concern—about the lack of connection between our policies in various parts of the world and the policy in Vietnam. I can understand that they can see a certain distinction. From time to time, there has been complaint about the lack of connection, or lack of cooperation, between our policies and United States policy in Latin America. From time to time we might have made a complaint about the lack of connection between our policies and American policy in the Continent of Africa.
The conclusion which one must draw from this, and the conclusion which many people draw but which nobody seems to do anything about, is that we are operating on an alliance system designed for a situation of 16 years ago but which has now radically changed and that the most urgent need in our policy today is to rethink not simply nuclear questions or simply our policy towards this or that country, but the whole basis on which N.A.T.O. was set up.
Let there be no mistake—N.A.T.O. itself has succeeded splendidly. It has been the one great outstanding success since the end of the war, and it has succeeded because the countries which came together to work in it worked for a common goal in a limited field and knew what they were doing and had full consultation going on the entire time. It is probably true to say that they knew each other's minds better than any other group of nations almost in the history of the world.
1811 Of course, having succeeded it is now beginning to break up. This is inevitable. Anything as successful as this alliance is bound to reach the point where people ask what is the point of going on, believing that they have won. I do not think that we have won. We have won the limited operation in Europe and I give great credit to the part which successive Governments in this country have played. But we have not won throughout the world and certainly if we take the wider concept of what N.A.T.O. is intended to be, we have not won in the sense that we are keeping the peace throughout the world. We are keeping the peace in Europe because of N.A.T.O., but we are not keeping the peace in Asia, or in Africa, or in Latin America. In addition to this, there is another divisive element in N.A.T.O. which I know my own Front Bench when I had a very small say in these affairs was very concerned about, and that is the growing imbalance inside the alliance between one country and the rest because of nuclear power.
All this, it seems to me, tends towards one conclusion—or, perhaps, two. First we have to tackle the question of nuclear power and control. Various attempts have been made to do this. The Americans put forward their idea of a multilateral force. It did not seem to win much approval. Our present Government put forward their idea of an Atlantic nuclear force. This seemed to win even less. Now Mr. McNamara has come up with the idea of a committee—no doubt an excellent idea, but I cannot see that it is going to achieve very much, unless once again we realise that any solution to this problem posed in purely European or Atlantic terms is bound to fail, for this problem, like many another, is global. I am not, as the House knows, I think, a Gaullist in any sense of the word, but General de Gaulle has pointed out to us more than once with his unshakeable logic that we are just as much likely to be blown up by a nuclear holocaust which starts in Vietnam as by a nuclear holocaust which starts in Europe. Therefore, in this sense, our security is indivisible.
What we have, therefore, to consider is that surely any system of nuclear control cannot be confined to the Atlantic area but must be one covering the whole of 1812 the interests of what we like to call the Free World throughout the world, so that no decisions can be taken—we hope no decisions can be taken—in the nuclear field, which are bound to affect all of us, without our having at least a say in those decisions and how they are reached.
This is, of course, a pretty wide ranging proposition. I realise to the full that it depends upon a degree of co-operation throughout the alliance and particularly from the United States which is unlikely to be reached in the near future, but I do not think we should fool ourselves as we have been inclined to do, from time to time, by the belief that we can settle this thing on a kind of small experimental basis, by insisting on some kind of nuclear control among ourselves inside the Atlantic alliance imagining that we have then solved the problem. Because we have not. What has been a problem inside Europe and the Atlantic area is rapidly becoming much more than a European or Atlantic interest.
That is one problem, and it leads inevitably to the second, and the second is that nature of the alliance. I think there should be only one. We have three at the moment, as I have said, one of which is effective, one of which is virtually dormant, and one of which, S.E.A.T.O., seems to be of very little effect. The one alliance must be an alliance covering the world world, and it should contain not only the European and North American countries which it contains at the moment but such Commonwealth countries east of Suez as choose to join, and it would consist, I would hope, of Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan, being members of existing defence agreements with us or the United States, and possibly some other Far Eastern countries such as Malaysia, and as many of the African States as would care to participate. This would be an attempt to construct a multilateral defensive alliance not directed at any specific target but directed to a kind of N.A.T.O. operation in which there would be as much exchange of information as possible, as much exchange of policy as possible to try to ensure throughout the world the sort of settlement which we have de facto at any rate achieved in Europe.
I think there is one concomitant of this. I apologise for bringing in what I 1813 know is my King Charles's head. Nevertheless I think it fits into the pattern. It is that the predominant power of the United States within this alliance has got to be balanced by another power of equal at any rate economic strength, and this can only be, so far as I can see, through a tightly knit European community. So I hope we would be members of it. The European economic community was thought of in purely economic terms, but I would not think of this community primarily or purely in economic terms. It is also a political exercise, and always has been, and although there were regrettably, attempts both in my own party and in other parties to stress the economic matters I am certain that we on this side in the main have not pretended—I have not—that it was anything other than political. Nor can we now.
I must admit that Government policy on Europe seems to me to be totally incomprehensible. I listened with the greatest possible care to the Foreign Secretary, but the only thing that he did was to repeat the five conditions which he knows make it impossible for us to join the Community, and yet at the same time he said that the Government wanted to join it. Then he proceeded to attack the conduct of the Conservative Party. I have attacked it often enough in past years, but it does not lie in the mouth of any hon. Gentleman opposite to attack it in view of the performance of the Labour Party in the past 10 or 15 years. In my opinion it is time we stopped all this raking over of ancient history——
§ Mr. M. Stewart
If the hon. Member thinks that it would be best to stop raking over ancient history, I would point out to him that I only referred to it in response to an intervention from an hon. Member opposite.
§ Mr. Kirk
Several matters were raised at that moment, including the responsibility of the Labour Party itself when it was in power before, so it does not lie in the mouths of hon. Members opposite to criticise the Conservative Party, even though individual members of it were pressing for unity with Europe.
The European Community is not one that can rest finally on the niceties of economic matters. It is something that one has to accept whole or not at all. One of the things that worry me at the moment I must admit, is that with the 1814 crisis which the Community is going through at present there is a danger that at some stage France or one of the other five may turn to us and say, "We cannot go on like this. Will you be prepared to start from scratch, and we will renegotiate the whole thing and possibly come up with something on a wider basis, like E.F.T.A.?" If that happened, it would destroy the whole basis on which the Community was built and the whole reason for our going in at all. It is not just a trading basis. It is an attempt, the first of its kind in the world but I hope not the last, to create a new international order.
It is possible to take objection to the details. We can all take objection to detail in all these matters but, on the principle, I would have thought that almost any Member of the House who cares about international law and order would be prepared at least to accept in principle that it is the way the world is going to be organised in the future. Unless one can start on a regional basis, one is not likely to get it on a worldwide basis. That is why Europe is the vital key and has been for years, though we do not seem to have realised it, to the future world organisation that we seek.
I would like to believe that it was possible, but I do not think we can move straight away from the present system of divided nationalisms immediately into some kind of embryo world order. Things do not work in that way. The only way in which it can be done is to start with an area which is roughly comparable economically, socially and culturally, and build up from it.
I have been making two points, I hope fairly clearly. The first is that the state of the alliance as such must be a matter of very grave concern to all, whether we approve or disapprove. The present state of disintegration is not such as can bring joy to anyone's heart except that of a potential enemy.
Secondly, we have rising up before us, with difficulty, a new system of international order which, whatever the details may be, is in principle the way in which world order to going to develop. It is surely up to us at this stage to try and marry those two facts together and, from them, to devise a policy which makes sense in the second half of the 1960s instead of a policy drawn up for the second half of the 1940s.
1815 That is not to say that N.A.T.O. was ever wrong. It has succeeded. It has been a great success story. But now is the time for N.A.T.O. to give way to something bigger, closer and better. I hope that the Government and certainly, when shortly we return to power, our Government, will devote their efforts towards that end.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Mr. Reginald Maudling (Barnet)
This debate today, the first day of the foreign affairs debate, has been overshadowed of course by the critical situation in Rhodesia, which has led to a rather unusual situation. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition proposed that, for the convenience of the House, today we should discuss general questions of foreign affairs and tomorrow we should concentrate on Rhodesia, and by and large that is what has happened. There have been some references to Rhodesia, but generally the debate has ranged very wide across the globe, from Latin America to the Far East.
There is, I understand, and this is why I am speaking at this late hour, to be no Government response this evening. I am not quite sure what plans the Government have for replying to the important points which have been made during the debate from both sides of the House. The Prime Minister will be speaking tomorrow, and I think that the House is expecting to hear from him both his views on Rhodesia and something about his talks in America, about which the Foreign Secretary did not enlighten us, no doubt for very good reasons. The debate tomorrow will be largely about Rhodesia, and I am not quite clear at what stage tomorrow the Government will reply.
In view of the importance of Rhodesia, I think it will be found that most of the speeches tomorrow will tend to concentrate on this point, and I think it will be expected, certainly by this side of the House, that the Government's answer to tomorrow's debate should deal thoroughly and extensively with the problem of Rhodesia, which we regard as of critical importance at the present moment.
In the event, today's debate has ranged very wide. The Foreign Secretary dealt with many problems. On this side of 1816 the House we admired his particularly stout defence of the Government's position in Vietnam, a position which we support, though I gather not everyone else in the House does.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Bedford (Mr. Soames), speaking from this Bench, explained our position on Vietnam and went on to give a particularly penetrating analysis of the question of European defence organisation. He posed to the Government some questions which are of the highest importance and to which, surely, in the course of this foreign affairs debate some reply must be given. The A.N.F., the M.L.F. and the McNamara proposals are of fundamental and urgent importance, and it is very important that the Government should give some response.
§ The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Thomson)
The right hon. Gentleman seems to be asking that tomorrow the Government should simultaneously answer the points which have been raised today and yet confine their remarks to Rhodesia.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am pointing out the dilemma in which the Government have left themselves, hoping they will find some way of getting out of this peculiarly difficult situation.
§ Mr. M. Stewart
The practice of not having a Government winder-up on the first day of the debate was commonly adopted by the last Government. As to there being a dilemma, the subjects dealt with in tomorrow's debate will be entirely for those who catch Mr. Speaker's eye to choose. It is not for the right hon. Gentleman to lay down whether Members shall confine themselves to one subject or another.
§ Mr. Maudling
That is a very good bit of protocol, but these are exceptional circumstances, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it.
It is interesting to note that during the many speeches made during this debate speakers on this side of the House concentrated very much on the European problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey (Mr. A. Royle), my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Dodds-Parker) and my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Kirk), who made a particularly 1817 interesting speech about Europe and the relationship of the European problem to the global Western defence problem, have raised issues of the highest importance. From the other side of the House we have heard some interesting and vigorous speeches, particularly about the Far East. We had the rather peculiar speech of the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell), and I shall refer to that later when I get to that stage of my remarks.
All I wanted to say in opening was to put a proposition about what seems to me to be the background to foreign affairs at the present moment, and how that background has been changing quite significantly. Obviously the purpose of any foreign policy must be to achieve a universal system of law and justice that is working and enforceable. On that I think everyone would agree. As my hon. Friend the Member for Saffron Walden pointed out a few moments ago, there is no possibility of that at the present moment. There is no prospect in the foreseeable future of a comprehensive and effective system of international law. We must therefore base our policies upon achieving harmonious relations among the great Powers. That is the only possible basis of foreign policy.
What is important is to recognise that the great Powers situation has changed considerably in recent years. It is no longer a matter of a clash between East and West—a clash between the Western world, led by the United States and the Eastern world, led by Soviet Russia. There are now four great Power units —the United States, Western Europe, Russia and China. It is a quadrilateral pattern of power, consisting of four units and not two.
Our objective, therefore, must surely be to achieve agreement between these four great Power groupings, or, if it is not possible to achieve agreement, at any rate to seek to achieve a working balance. At the moment the balance of terror, as it has been called, is operating. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Sir H. Kerr) referred to it. Let no one despise the importance of the balance of terror. An adequate supply, even if not an overwhelming supply, of modern weapons can be an adequate deterrent, but the mere power of the weapons them- 1818 selves, as they grow stronger and come into more hands—such as those of the Chinese—is leading people increasingly to think that they may become too powerful ever to be used.
Thoughts are turning again to the question how a deterrent can be provided under the umbrella of nuclear weapons, and the temptation to aggression which can arise in this situation of nuclear stalemate.
The four great Powers to whom I have referred differ in many ways. Russia and China are still revolutionary—old in civilisation but young in power—and at different stages of their revolution. China is still in an expansive phase—although I know that the hon. Member for West Lothian does not agree; he should ask the Indians what they think about it—and thy; Russians are at a stage of consolidation. The main purpose of Russian policy is to consolidate the present situation and avoid further adventures.
In a way the United States is still a revolutionary and expansive power. I am often struck by the similarity in conditions in the United States and the Soviet Union. The United States have had thrust upon them a world power and influence which they did not go out to take. It has been presented to them, and in my submission they are carrying it with great strength and integrity of purpose.
Finally, there is the European power concentration or unit—older, in many ways, than America, and older, in a sense, than the Communisms of Russia and China. Europe has passed through a phase not of expanding but contracting world power and, to some extent, influence, and through it at a time of greatly increasing material comfort in her own countries. All this bears very much on our attitude to foreign policy, the determination of our peoples to carry out really vigorous foreign policies and the need to explain to them consistently why these policies are necessary and why the burdens they involve in terms of our comforts are equally necessary.
In the situation of these four Powers the greatest danger clearly is an alliance between the two revolutionary Powers—Russia and China. Here there is the possibility of expansive and explosive development. We must always bear that 1819 in mind, and our objective must be to secure agreement between the United States, Europe and the Soviet Union. Here, as the Foreign Secretary and my hon. Friend have said, we have in common the same desire, to maintain peace and to avoid the disturbance of international relations by aggressive tendencies. We must work for a tripartite agreement and understanding between Western Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union.
But even if we cannot get this at the present time, in the meantime, above all, we must aim to maintain the integrity of the West and co-operation between Western Europe and the United States. This is the first point which I wanted to make, and I think that it underlines everything which we discussed in a foreign affairs debate—the maintenance of the integrity of the Western Alliance must come first. If it does not, if it is undermined, it will be very difficult to see what else we can do effectively in any part of the world. We must judge all our actions and policies in foreign affairs against this problem of the four great Powers and against the problem of achieving a possible harmony and, failing that, achieving a balance between them. Every thing which the great Powers do, every shift among them, creates new problems in other parts of the world and everything we do in other parts of the world affects the relationship between the great Powers.
Vietnam is obviously the most urgent of our problems. The future of the Commonwealth, with the danger of Chinese penetration in Africa, the danger of Chinese pressure on India, the United Kingdom's relations with Europe, the redevelopment with N.A.T.O., the question of the A.N.F., the question of our relations with the European Community, our relations with Latin America and Japan, all of the things which the Foreign Secretary has mentioned have to be looked at against this background of the need to establish a balance in what is now a world of four major Power units.
I want to say one or two things about Vietnam. We entirely support the line taken by the Foreign Secretary in this debate. We believe that it is a problem arising from Communist aggression. We accept also, and I think that the evidence 1820 is clear, that the United States is prepared and anxious to have discussions without conditions, but that this willingness to discuss is not shared by the people of Hanoi. It is logical that the Americans should wish to have discussions. They are not in South-East Asia to gain treasure, they are not in South-East Asia to expand their boundaries. They are leaving their treasure and their blood in Vietnam. They are there not for aggrandisement or enrichment of the American nation but because they believe that they must oppose the aggression of the Communists against South Vietnam.
The Foreign Secretary rightly said that there is no outright victory to be gained in this battle. When I spoke in the summer with Mr. Kosygin he told me that the Americans could not win. I told him that the Americans would not lose. This is the situation. The collapse of the American position in Vietnam would send ripples of disaster over a very wide area of South-East Asia, an area in which we have great commitments. We have our commitment to Malaysia and I was surprised to hear what the hon. Member for West Lothian had to say about that. He seemed to think that the so-called confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia, which I would describe as invasion, was the fault of the British. I must say that was one of the most extraordinary arguments I have heard. If he looks at the history of the development of Malaysia and what was said by the Indonesians from the start, he will know that this has been one of the most obvious acts of aggression in the recent history of the world, and we must deal with it on that basis.
§ Mr. Dalyell
The right hon. Gentleman will remember that his Government sent in battalions of British troops to put down, somewhat roughly, an uprising in Brunei, which, though it may have been led by an adventurer, was nevertheless a popular movement. If that had happened near our shores, we might have reacted in the same way as the Indonesians.
§ Mr. Maudling
It has nothing whatever to do with the invasion of Indonesia. I was in Kuala Lumpur last year when the first Indonesian paratroops were landed on Malaysian territory. If that is not invasion, I do not know what is. We 1821 have a most serious obligation in that part of the world and I hope that no one, on either side of the House, would cast any doubt on our intention to carry out our obligations to the people of Malaysia.
§ Mrs. Anne Kerr
Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that not only was his Administration arming the Indonesians but also that the United States was doing so until very recently, if not until now?
§ Mr. Maudling
I think that that intervention, is even more irrelevant than the previous one. The object in Vietnam must be to start negotiations. It must be clear that any weakening of the American position would make negotiations not more likely but less likely. That is why I believe that this Government, in maintaining general support for the American position, are doing the right thing in the interests both of this country and of South-East Asia as a whole. I am delighted that the Foreign Secretary has rejected the criticisms so generously showered on him by his hon. Friends below the Gangway.
There is clearly great need for the maintenance of British influence east of Suez and for collaboration between Britain and the United States in that part of the world, as my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) pointed out. We have large interests in that part of the world, and so has the whole Western world, which would suffer if there were the collapse of the Western position and if as a result expansive Communist forces spread across possibly the Indian sub-continent to many other areas of South-East Asia. We and the United States are bearing a burden in that part of the world which is of great importance to our friends in Europe as well.
The significance of Vietnam to the position and morale of Berlin should not be overlooked. In the burden that we are carrying we are entitled not only to understanding but to practical support as well.
That is all I wanted to say about Vietnam. I want to turn for a little while to the problems of Western Europe which seem to me to stand out from this debate as being the most important problems we have discussed. Clearly the future of N.A.T.O. is in question. Clearly, too, the 1822 success of N.A.T.O. to date has been remarkable. The fact that the focus point of danger has shifted from Europe is a tribute to the effectiveness of the N.A.T.O. system. Therefore, we must always start by remembering how important N.A.T.O. is and not by assuming that the dangers which N.A.T.O. was brought into being to deal with have necessarily passed for ever. We must maintain the integrity of N.A.T.O. and, at the same time, recognise that changes in the relative balance of economic power between America and Europe and in the relevant area of threat to the Western world, call for changes in the character of the N.A.T.O. Alliance.
Since N.A.T.O. was formed, Western Europe has become relatively more powerful economically in relation to the United States. That must be recognised. I do not accept the thesis that in order to be partners with the United States we must be just as powerful as they are. This is not true. I do not think that two partners have to be of equal size and power. What is true is that there must be no domination of one partner by another. But it is equally true that both partners must respect the views and interests of the other and must totally devote themselves to the interests of the alliance or partnership. This is the true purpose of partnership, and it must be reflected in changing the structure of N.A.T.O. to come into line with the changing balance of economic strength and economic potential in the N.A.T.O. area.
N.A.T.O. will have to be changed to reflect the movement of the threat to the Western world from the immediate position in Europe to the position in the Far East. If N.A.T.O. is to be effective world wide, the other important development must be a move forward in our relations with Western Europe.
In my concluding remarks, I want to return to the question of our relationship with the Common Market countries which has been referred to so often today by my right hon. and hon. Friends and which, to my mind, is crucial. As the House is well aware, the Community is going through an extremely difficult period with the tension between the French and the other five partners in the Community. It would be the worst possible thing for us to succumb to side with 1823 the French against the other five or with the other five against the French. Perhaps the particular English genius in political matters could help to solve some of the problems which are confronting the Six.
It is clear that some degree of political integration is essential for an effective economic community. If we are to have an effective economic community, there must be central control of economic policy and background. On the other hand, I do not think that this represents in practice any need to move towards a federal system in political terms. The problems of Europe can do with more examination on a pragmatic basis. I do not think that they should be examined entirely, as they tend to be, on bases of theory or philosophy. Our relations with the Six are really of immense importance, and I must stress what my right hon. Friend the Member for Bedford said about the effects in Europe of the attitude which has been taken by the present Government to the question of our relations with the E.E.C.
Building bridges is not enough. Bridge building may be all right from a temporary point of view, but knocking down barriers and so on—or whatever the particular analogy the Prime Minister favours at any time—are purely temporary measures. The only effective solution to the problem of Western Europe is the entry of Britain, and other Western European countries into the E.E.C. Clearly, this has been inhibited by the present or recent attitude of General de Gaulle, but I think there are some grounds for hoping that even that inflexible attitude may become more flexible in the future.
However, we will not make progress or deserve or expect to make progress if, in the meantime, we are not preparing ourselves for moving forward into Europe. We could do that in two ways; by building up such collaboration as we can across the tariff barriers—working to reduce barriers on particular items, individual products and so on—and also to make the W.E.U. and the Council of Europe more effective, as my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond, Surrey and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham pointed out.
1824 These are, of course, temporary matters and will mean nothing to the people of Europe unless there is a clear determination on the part of this country and Her Majesty's Government to seize the first opportunity that shows itself for us to join the Community. And the five conditions just will not stand up to that. The Foreign Secretary was, I thought, a little uncomfortable today about the five conditions. He said that some of them were getting easier to solve—he spoke of agriculture, E.F.T.A. and about the Commonwealth—but these were all dealt with effectively in the negotiations which were conducted by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. The really difficult conditions among the five are those about independence of foreign policy and the right to plan our own economy.
§ Mr. Maudling
Hon. Gentlemen opposite exclaim "Hear, hear", but that is precisely why the people on the Continent of Europe believe that the present Government are not sincere in what they say on this issue. It is all very well to talk about maintaining our own independent foreign policy, but this afternoon the Foreign Secretary told us solemnly that we must recognise, in the modern world in which we live, that we can only operate through international groups. If one is to operate through an international group, how can one at the same time maintain the integrity of one's foreign policy? We believe that this is inconsistent one with the other.
The main objection is the condition about planning the economy. The Prime Minister has said what he thinks about the Common Market [Interruption.]—I am always ready to quote the right hon. Gentleman—and about the basis of the Treaty of Rome; that the whole basis of the Treaty of Rome is anti-planning, a competitive economy and so on. If he really believes that, how can he possibly say that we should join the E.E.C. only if we can maintain the integrity of our National Plan? These are the differences between what the Government say and what Europe understands to be the necessity of the forward march of the E.E.C.
In this foreign affairs debate let the Government not underestimate the 1825 damage that could be done to our prospects in Europe if they persist with the so-called five conditions to which they seem to be tied as though with an albatross around their neck. No one in Europe will take us seriously if the Government continue on that line, and, until they do take us seriously, our prospects for the future are dim.