§ 3.55 p.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. George Brown)
I realise only too well that in so far as external affairs are concerned hon. Members are deeply preoccupied at the moment with the question of Rhodesia. As the House knows, I am very shortly to leave for New York, for reasons which were given earlier today, to present the British case at the United Nations. I should, therefore, like to take this opportunity of apologising to the House for the fact that this will mean that I shall miss most of to-day's debate, but I am sure that the House will understand that that is no reason for thinking that I wish to do the House a discourtesy.
Tomorrow, the House will be debating the whole issue of Rhodesia, but Rhodesia is not the only problem in the world, and it is not, I suggest, inappropriate that before starting the debate on Rhodesia the House should turn its mind today to a general review of foreign affairs. We have recently debated a number of particular matters of special importance in the international scene, but it is five months since the House had a general debate on the scene as a whole.
It is obviously not possible, and I shall not try, to consider, in the course of one speech, every major problem on the international scene. Some, like Gibraltar, we have recently debated very fully in the House. Others, particularly in the Middle East, are perhaps not best served at this moment by an analysis here. I want to start, therefore, by considering briefly the fundamentals of our foreign policy as I see them. This, I hope, will give focus and perspective to the particular issues with which we are concerned at the moment.
The basic question, what is the aim of our foreign policy, was, I think, well answered some days ago in another place by a very distinguished former head of the Foreign Office, when he said that the aim waspeace for its own sake and law and order to enable us to trade".But the quest for world peace is the hardest of all pursuits. A hundred years ago we could impose a pax Britannica. We could pursue inde- 1166 pendently the comparatively simple aims of ensuring that our trade routes were secured, and that the mainland of Europe was not dominated by any one Power. But today the technological revolution, and the development of the industrial power of the United States and the Soviet Union have totally altered the relationships between nations. Therefore, in this quest for peace we have to learn that we are, and that we must be, interdependent.
That is not the same as denying our own strength. Of course, whatever policies we pursue, whether in the United Nations, or in our alliances, or in any other groupings of which we may become members, our ability to pursue them effectively must depend to a large extent on the economic strength that we have here in Britain.
But whatever the strength of any one nation, in a very real sense all the nations of the world are interdependent. The problems of famine, disease and illiteracy, just as much as the pursuit of peace itself, are world problems, which the world as a whole must tackle. Our ideal, and it is a hard, practical, and I believe attainable ideal, must, therefore, be the creation of an effective world authority.
I said at the General Assembly of the United Nations, when I was there a short while ago, and I have said it in this House, and perhaps I might repeat it, that it is my view, and the Government's view, that the United Nations is not just something to be preached, but something to be practised. Those who believe in it, or say they believe in it, must consistently set the example.
Let me straight away use this occasion to pay tribute to U Thant, who has agreed to continue to shoulder the immense burden of the office of Secretary-General of the United Nations. The world owes him an enormous debt of gratitude for carrying on. I understand very clearly the difficulties with which he is faced. When I was in New York he was kind enough to talk to me very frankly about other difficulties of his own. The difficulties with which he is faced in that office arise partly from the lack of authority of the United Nations, partly from the lack of provision, both financial and logistical, to back it up, and also, 1167 in part, by the unwillingness of nations to be guided by its decisions.
Our own policy is clear: we will back it up; we will be guided by its decisions. Only by accepting that and declaring it, step by step, can the real authority of the United Nations be created.
I want to step aside now from the general pattern of my speech to introduce something new. It is in this spirit of co-operation with the United Nations that we are entering upon the final preparations for South Arabia's independence, which has been promised by 1968. I am glad to say that within the last few days my noble Friend, Lord Caradon, has succeeded in securing in New York agreement on the terms on which a United Nations special mission should visit South Arabia. The purpose of the mission will be to recommend practical steps for the implementation of the United Nations resolution on South Arabia which we, as a country, have already accepted.
We look to the United Nations mission to help us aid the federal government in preparing the way for independence. Our aim is to leave behind a stable and orderly country. At the moment, the main obstacle to this is the senseless and indiscriminate terrorism prevailing in Aden. It is senseless because we have already undertaken to withdraw from the base on the achievement of independence, and it is indiscriminate because it has already killed and wounded more Arabs than British. I again appeal to those responsible for this destructive policy to bring it to an end.
The House will know that Mr. Roderic Bowen has submitted to me his report of the investigation that I asked him to make into the procedures for the arrest, interrogation and detention of terrorist suspects in Aden. I have discussed the report fully with my colleagues here and with the High Commission, and have decided that the report will be published in full. I shall also wish to make a full statement to the House on the actions that we are taking. Unfortunately, for reasons of which the House will be aware, my immediate visit to New York today and the meeting next week make it physically impossible for me to make it, as I would have liked to do, in the im- 1168 mediate future, but the statement will be made and the report will be published before the House rises for the Christmas Recess.
Despite all that I have said about our work for and aim for a world authority, we must face one unpalatable fact, namely, that world peace today is kept by a balance of power. In this state of affairs we must work effectively through our alliances, and it is the North Atlantic Alliance which ensures the security of this country. Our commitment to N.A.T.O. has been emphasised on many occasions in the House. It remains as firm today as ever. I would not attempt to minimise the difficulties with which the alliance has been faced as a result of the French initiatives earlier this year; they have been very grave indeed. But in all that has happened since then the unity of the 14 has been a consistent and heartening feature, and we have taken a leading part in ensuring the continued effectiveness of the alliance.
The 14 have faced squarely the problems which the French actions have posed for them, and have taken the necessary decisions quickly and effectively. Most recently we have agreed on the move of the Council to Brussels, which was one of the hardest and most far-reaching decisions that we had to take. I want to make it clear that in all that has been done neither we nor other members of the 14 have in any way sought to act against France. We ourselves have, throughout this century, regarded France as a most important partner in many important undertakings, and we still hold that view. But we have been active in our efforts to keep N.A.T.O. strong and active during this period, because it represents for us the up-to-date and progressive way of conducting international relations whether in terms of politics or defence. It transcends narrow, individual nationalism. It enables countries of a similar kind to share each other's confidential thinking and it also enables them, while defending themselves against a possible menace, to move forward together towards the more secure, more peaceful and more united Europe that we all wish to see.
We ourselves are faced at this moment with a particular problem within the alliance, arising from the foreign exchange costs of our Forces in Germany. The 1169 facts, broadly, are that these Forces cost us, in foreign exchange, about £94 million a year. The most recent German offer of an offset contribution is £31½ million a year. The Germans, however, have said that they hope to improve on this offer, but the resulting gap imposes a very great strain on our economy and must be closed. Let there be no doubt that we are determined to play our full part in the defence of the free world, but we cannot—nor has anyone the right to expect us to—shoulder a defence burden of such an order that our economic health is gravely damaged. In the long run our whole effort in defence must depend upon the soundness of our economy. We must, therefore, be careful that the right balance is struck.
This problem is to some extent shared by the United States, and it is a matter of the greatest concern to Germany. That is why we have been engaged since 20th October in tripartite discussions on this subject. Inter-related with this particular question is the general question of force levels, and inevitably the tripartite discussions have come to concern themselves with this. These levels must not be determined by financial criteria alone. They cannot be considered in isolation from the whole strategic situation and assessment. These issues of strategy are the concern of the whole North Atlantic Alliance.
I take the opportunity of emphasising that nothing that we are doing in the tripartite discussions seeks to pre-empt decisions which the alliance as a whole must properly take. The three Governments have been at pains to ensure that N.A.T.O. has been kept fully informed of the progress of the discussions. The Secretary-General of N.A.T.O., Signor Brosio, or his representative, has been attending the discussions, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has been to Paris to give an interim account to the Permanent North Atlantic Council there. A full report on progress that we have made so far will be given to the Council for consideration at the Ministerial meeting which I shall be attending next week.
Whatever may be the outcome of the discussions, I want to assure the House that we shall proceed at all stages in complete accordance with our obligations under the North Atlantic Treaty and, the revised Brussels Treaty.
§ Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)
Will my right hon. Friend clarify one point? In the event of agreement not being reached and we ourselves carrying through the procedures and finding objection on the part of the signatories to the agreement, what will be our position in relation to these troops?
§ Mr. Brown
At the moment, we have obligations imposed upon us by the treaties, as a member of the alliance and a signatory of the treaties. We shall carry those through. The situation at the end of the day will fall to be considered when we know what it is. My hon. Friend's point is wholly hypothetical. There is no reason to think that we shall not be able to achieve what we want in one way or another, but we want our allies to understand that we shall do that in conformity with our obligations.
The strengthening of the alliance can be served in many ways, but none can be more important than the creation of a strong and a wider Europe. Such a Europe would bring to the alliance a greater strength, a greater share in the responsibilities of the alliance as a whole, and a more solid base of power on this side of the Atlantic.
There are many ways in which the initiative of this Government concerning our entry of the European Economic Community can be seen, but this strengthening of the whole Atlantic concept is one of the most important. The House very fully debated last month the question of our initiative about possible entry of the E.E.C. and I will not go over the same ground again. I believe that that debate, which I thought was noteworthy, marked an initiative of real significance for this country and Europe. To those of us to whom the ideal of European unity is one worthy of our greatest efforts, this great step carries with it the hopes of high achievement.
The House will remember that the first stage in the programme outlined then by my right hon. Friend was a conference of Heads of Governments of the E.F.T.A. countries. The purpose of that conference was to discuss the problems involved in moves by E.F.T.A. countries to join the E.E.C. This conference met yesterday in London. Before it, as it has been since the start of E.F.T.A., was the 1171 aim—one of the two main aims of the association—of the greater economic integration of Europe. To this aim, E.F.T.A. itself has already committed its own outstanding success—a free market of nearly 100 million people by the end of this year, far beyond the reasonable hopes of the most enthusiastic when we started.
However, beyond that market there is the prospect of the European market of nearly 300 million people, the combined markets of the E.E.C. and E.F.T.A. That would indeed be a strong basis for all our economies, a basis from which the unity of Europe could grow yet further. Against this background, the conference yesterday endorsed wholeheartedly the British initiative for determining whether the conditions are right for negotiating entry of the E.E.C. All countries, whether neutral or aligned, whether rich or not so rich, alike saw our initiative as carrying with it the hope of a further step towards the unity which we all desire, a unity in which all E.F.T.A. countries can participate in an appropriate manner. As we move forward, we will, of course, continue fully to consult our E.F.T.A. partners.
The next stage is now the discussions which the Prime Minister and I will be having with each of the Heads of Government of the Six. We will start on these visits encouraged not only by the E.F.T.A. conference, but also by the reactions of the E.E.C. countries to our purpose. I am glad to be able to tell the House that the first of our visits will be to Rome on 16th and 17th January and the second to Paris on 24th and 25th January. We are in touch with the other Governments of the Six about our visits to their capitals and the programme is taking shape very satisfactorily.
Europe does not——
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St.Edmunds)
Would the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, in addition to the visits to the six capitals, he and the Prime Minister will make a point of visiting the High Commission in Brussels itself and seeing Professor Hallstein, as well as the Governments?
§ Mr. Brown
I am certain that there will be a meeting between Professor Hall- 1172 stein and ourselves at some point in these negotiations.
As I have said before, Europe does not finish at the Elbe. Neither can our hopes for European co-operation end there. The countries of Eastern Europe are evolving. There is a change of political climate in Europe, and we, by reacting constructively to this new situation, are helping the process forward. I think that that needs to be emphasised. This process can lead to nothing less than the breaking-down of the barriers of the cold war.
To this evolution we in the West must react and are reacting constructively. We are doing this in N.A.T.O. The alliance is concerned not just with defence and deterrence but with détente. It is not stuck in the rut of the cold war adopting out-of-date policies irrelevant to the times. It has its defensive functions and they remain of great importance, but it exists, equally, to further understanding between East and West. We are doing this in our own bilateral diplomacy: by increased trade and by increased exchanges in science, culture, and education. We are doing this in our own initiative for a declaration on a code of conduct to which all nations of East and West will be able to subscribe. And we are doing this in the bilateral high-level exchanges between East and West which the present Government have pursued consistently ever since they came to office.
But amongst the many and complex problems that divide East from West in Europe, none is greater in any consideration of the future stability of this Continent than the division of Germany. I know the fears which some countries and many people feel about Germany. In the light of the tragic history of the last half century this is understandable. But I profoundly believe that these are not sound feelings on which sensible policies can be based.
The Germany of today—this needs saying if we are to get recent developments into true perspective—is a Germany in which public opinion in the great majority backs its genuinely democratic and internationalist leaders.
Here, I welcome the new German Government and, in particular, the new Foreign Minister, a very old friend of many of us here, who has a very courageous and distinguished past. I should like 1173 to say how much I look forward to working with him in his new Government.
The Germany of today does not stand for aggressive and resurgent nationalism, but it accepts and desires to be a part of larger European and international groupings. No realistic assessment of her position can fail to show her that in any European war her position in the centre would lead to her complete destruction.
The concept of a revanchist war does not, in the last analysis, stand up to rational examination. But we cannot pretend that fears of Germany do not exist. They do, and they lie, for example, at the very root of the problem of getting agreement on and signature of a nuclear weapons non-proliferation treaty.
The Soviet position throughout the sessions of the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee has been inflexible. The Russians have consistently said that no agreement could be reached on non-proliferation if N.A.T.O. adopted arrangements which could be such as to make possible what the Russians call "access" to nuclear weapons by the Federal Republic of Germany. Many times they have been assured by the Western side that there was no intention in N.A.T.O. to give control of nuclear weapons, or the right or ability to initiate the use of these weapons, to any non-nuclear member of the alliance.
That has been their position in the past. But now I am happy to say there are signs of movement in the Soviet position. This may have come about because the Special Committee of Defence Ministers, the so-called "McNamara Committee", in N.A.T.O. has itself made great progress in resolving the nuclear debate in N.A.T.O.—I do not know. But there is now a new prospect of agreement and my recent discussions in Moscow with Mr. Gromyko reinforced this impression. Indeed, the chances of agreement now are as good as they have even been since the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963.
I do not want to sound too optimistic; the prospects are delicately balanced. But here we have another field in which I can promise that the Government will pursue the importance of an agreement with all their energies. Agreement here would early us far beyond the immediate concern of non-proliferation, urgent and important as that is. If we succeed, it could create a new sense of trust from 1174 which East and West relations could benefit in a multitude of ways.
I referred to my talk with Mr. Gromyko, in Moscow. The discussion I had with him and Mr. Kosygin centred, necessarily and mainly, on the question of Vietnam, as my talks earlier, in New York and Washington, had done. Whatever our preoccupations may be with other matters—such as Rhodesia, our entry into the E.E.C. or any other subject on which we may feel enthusiastic—we must not lose sight of the fact that in Vietnam we face the most serious threat to the peace of the world today.
The repercussions stretch far beyond the boundaries of that country. Its consequences are felt not just by the countries immediately involved in the fighting, but in fields of diplomacy far removed from South-East Asia and its affairs. In a whole range of important matters, the war in Vietnam bars the path to progress.
Great Britain, as a co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference, has, as my predecessor said, a particular responsibility in all this. To me, this means that we cannot just look on while this savage war continues. It carries with it an ever increasing danger of escalation; more and more people could be drawn into it, and the threat of a major conflagration is present all the time.
The problem is not just to stop the war, but to stop it urgently. We must pursue consistently the means to stop it. This is and, I believe, must be, a major concern of British diplomacy today. I wish to take the House into my confidence and make quite clear just what I am after.
At the Labour Party conference, at Brighton, I put forward detailed proposals as to how we believed that a settlement in Vietnam could be achieved. They were based on the premise that there should not be, nor could there be, a military solution to this conflict. The proposals for discussions for a cease-fire and a political settlement were made in the full knowledge that they would not be immediately acceptable in every detail to all concerned. But they were proposals upon which I believed then, and I still believe now, that peace could be built, and offered those concerned a chance to lay down their arms with honour.
1175 I followed up these proposals at the United Nations, where they were warmly received. Both our allies and many in the uncommitted world thought that they were just and reasonable. The American reaction was encouraging. I have talked to President Johnson and to Mr. Rusk, and I know and understand only too well the strong pressures under which they must act. But they have consistently shown a desire to search for the means whereby an honourable settlement could be reached. Time and time again they have reacted favourably to peace suggestions, as they reacted to those which I made when I was there.
I talked to Mr. Gromyko, in New York, and he did not agree with my proposals. I then went to Moscow, without commitment, to see Mr. Gromyko again and Mr. Kosygin. We talked of other ways in which my objective of a settlement could be reached.
I told Mr. Gromyko that if he did not agree with the proposals which I had at first submitted, we should seek out first some measures by which the Vietnam conflict could at least be lessened in scope and intensity, and then, as a second stage, to approach a conference in the more favourable situation which would have been brought about by that first step.
Mr. Gromyko knows the possibilities. These matters are still under consideration and the House will understand if I do not go into details. But I put this situation very carefully and very plainly to Mr. Gromyko, and I emphasised with all the force at my command the urgency of the matter.
§ Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)
I thank my right hon. Friend for that detailed exposition. Because of the seriousness of this situation, will he try to make it plain to the Americans that the bombing which took place the other day, four miles from the centre of Hanoi, will not help in this situation? Is there any chance of him trying to get a Christmas truce that might be extended, as happened last year?
§ Mr. Brown
To answer the first part of my hon. Friend's question, the reports which we have are not very full or wholly confirmed. I would rather not comment on that aspect now, although I obviously 1176 deplore every act which increases the danger or violence; but I do that as far as both sides are concerned. To answer my hon. Friend's second point, I would rather not go into that matter because, if I did so, it would take me into some of the details of the discussions which I had in Moscow.
What matters in all this is communication. If we are to make progress on any of these matters there must be understanding, and there can be no understanding without a steady exchange of views.
It would be idle to pretend that the solution to the major problems—Vietnam, the future of Germany, the building of a wider Europe of East and West—are capable of easy solution. When differences are so marked it must take time for the gulfs to be bridged. But the start must surely be high-level discussions, perhaps over a very long period of time. The continual exploring of positions—of ideas and of possible ways forward—are the necessary ingredients which go to make up solutions.
That is what I am engaged upon and it is a comfort to know that the House is behind me in this task. I believe that the line to Russian thinking is open and I hope and believe that mutual confidence is beginning to prosper. In terms of Vietnam, I think that I can rightly regard this is real progress.
I have shown the Soviet leaders that we mean business and that, in the pursuit of peace, we are in deadly earnest. My aim now is that we should all go on from there.
§ 4.48 p.m.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home (Kinross and West Perthshire)
The right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary said that this debate on foreign affairs had been overlaid by the tragic situation in Rhodesia. I agree that most of the minds of hon. Members are on that situation. The right hon. Gentleman will himself be extracted in a few moments from our debate to go on one of the most miserable and unhappy errands that any Foreign Secretary can ever have been directed to undertake. Of course, we acquit him of any discourtesy. We understand, but deeply regret, the reasons why he has to go.
The Foreign Secretary began his speech by saying that he intended to deal with 1177 some of the basic themes of foreign policy. They were broadly, he said, to assist in the processes of gaining order and peace in the world—a world which, he rightly said, should become increasingly interdependent—and that the purpose of Her Majesty's Government was to help to achieve this interdependence through the instrument of the United Nations which, he said, was an effective world authority to which we must not only give lip-service but which we should help to practise collective security.
I have, of course, no objection to that goal. It is the common purpose of all hon. Members. But it is only realistic to recognise that there is much that the U.N. cannot do so long as there is the division between the Communist world and the rest and so long as there is so strong a tendency in the U.N. General Assembly for nations to use that Assembly to further their own national purposes in contrast to the purposes of all the nations together. For example, the U.N. cannot do anything to comfort Germany if that country feels exposed or to give Germany any feeling of security.
The United Nations cannot, of course, even give a feeling of security to the South Arabian Federation. So, while I join with the right hon. Gentleman in hoping that the British Government can assist the United Nations towards an effective system of international peace, nevertheless, for the moment, I believe that we have to look very carefully at the British rôle in the world in the context in particular of our associations with other nations, but in particular of our alliances.
Therefore, I should like to follow the right hon. Gentleman into three areas of the world in which I believe actions taken by the British Government can exercise a powerful influence on the prospect of peace and, indeed, may easily turn the scale as to whether there may in the future be peace or war.
On these areas, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who will be replying, a few questions. The first area is Europe. My question relates to N.A.T.O. and, in particular, to the British contribution to its military strength, of which the right hon. Gentleman spoke just now. It is clear that France's virtual 1178 withdrawal from contingency planning in the alliance, and the encouragements, at any rate, of a portion of America's strategic effort in the Far East, has left the Germans uneasy, and possibly in their own eyes exposed to increasing danger in the future.
Until now, Germany—and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that Germany is the key to the collective security of Western Europe—has been able to rely absolutely on the guarantee of instantaneous intervention by the whole N.A.T.O. Alliance if she were the object of aggression. Now, for the first time since the war, the Germans are apprehensive that events may face them with a choice, and the choice is unpalatable to the great majority of Germans. The choice is unilateral rearmament, with all the pressures that would inevitably follow nuclear rearmament, or, on the other hand, bargaining with her Eastern neighbours, including the Soviet Union—and bargaining from weakness, because she feels she might not be backed by the whole of the N.A.T.O. Alliance. They are stark alternatives, and I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that they are both repugnant to the great majority of Germans.
It is, therefore, of the essence of Europe's security and unity that the N.A.T.O. Alliance should understand Germany's problem and should act accordingly. The settlement of Germany's differences with Eastern Europe and with the Soviet Union is, of course, of the greatest interest to the allies in N.A.T.O.; but this must be a long process. There will be manoeuvre and counter-manoeuvre, and during that time the allies must make it possible for Germany to negotiate not from weakness, but from strength. She must, while she is negotiating with the Soviet Union, feel that she is secure.
If there is a reduction of forces deployed in Germany, in response to the political realities of lessening tension with the Soviet Union—and according to an allied military plan worked out by the Council of military advisers of N.A.T.O.—well and good; but if Britain were to withdraw some of her Forces for balance of payments reasons, and if, following upon that, the United States were to withdraw other units for her 1179 own but different reasons, then I believe that Germany's reliance on N.A.T.O. would crumple like a house of cards and the whole fabric of Western European collective security would disappear.
That is what is at stake, and that is why I think that the whole House will welcome the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman—and will in future hold him to it—that nothing in respect of the deployment of British troops will be settled outside the alliance, and that the British Government will proceed strictly according to its obligations under both the N.A.T.O. Treaty and the Brussels Treaty. If those two assurances are real, and if the right hon. Gentleman means what he says, then I think that the Germans can look forward to a position which is secure, and they can safely begin the process of lessening tension with their Eastern neighbours in trying to negotiate settlements for the future with the Soviet Union.
§ Mr. Orme
The impression which the right hon. Gentleman gives to hon. Members on this side of the House is that he is more concerned with the military arrangements than with a political settlement in Europe. I thought that my right hon. Friend was going on to a political settlement rather than a retrenchment of the military situation.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
I am all for a political settlement. The point I am making—and it is one to which the hon. Gentleman should give some consideration—is that a political settlement is unlikely to be arrived at unless Germany feels secure, and Germany cannot feel secure unless she is confident that she has the backing of the whole of the N.A.T.O. alliance. That is the point I am trying to emphasise.
I turn now to the second area of strategic importance, which is the Middle East, on which the right hon. Gentleman touched briefly in the United Nations context, but no more. In this area, in contrast to Europe, the Soviet Union feels that it is entitled to pursue wars of liberation. If that statement is challenged, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what the Government know about the importation of Russian arms and Russian agents into Syria, into Somaliland, and, of course, into Egypt 1180 In respect of their operations in the Yemen.
Somaliland is a particularly shocking example. Russian arms are going in very large quantities into Somaliland, as the right hon. Gentleman can confirm. That is stirring up fighting on the frontier of Kenya. It is stirring up great anxiety in Ethiopia, because the House would well understand that if Somaliland were to threaten to annex Djibouti, Ethiopia would be bound to react.
Therefore, a most dangerous situation is arising in that area, and the Soviet Union—although I think some hon. Gentlemen opposite have been inclined to discount this in recent years—has long had her eye on the turbulent nationalism and racialism of the Middle East. Through her intervention there, she has calculated that she can weaken the capitalist world. Do not let us forget that 60 per cent, of the oil supplies of the world come from the Middle East and 20 per cent. is under the control of the western nations. She has also calculated that this is an area in which if there is chaos Communism can thrive and gain control; and, of course, there is an instrument ready to hand in Colonel Nasser's Egypt, because he has proclaimed his intention of annexing the oil supplies from Saudi Arabia, of ejecting British influence from Aden and the Gulf, and of driving Israel into the sea. When the King of Jordan said a week or so ago that the Soviet Union and the Egyptians were to blame for the outbreaks of fighting in the Middle East, he was speaking to the facts which he knows and which right hon. Gentlemen opposite also know.
For the future, there are three stabilising factors in the Middle East. The first is a strong and confident Saudi Arabia; the second is a stable and strong Iran; and the third is a British presence in Aden or, alternatively, a South Arabian Federal Government able to undertake the defence of its own country.
Egypt now is being held in the Yemen—indeed, I should think that the Egyptians are near defeat there—but a new lease of life will be given to them, and a new stimulus to expand, if the British barrier to advance to Aden and the Gulf is prematurely removed. The extraordinary thing is that everyone—and 1181 in "everyone" I now include the Americans—seems to recognise this, and the damaging consequences which would flow from a premature withdrawal by 1968, except Her Majesty's Government. Already, dating from the British Government's announcement that we will withdraw in 1968, King Feisal is feverishly adding to his air force, the Shah of Iran is buying torpedo boats and aircraft, and Israel is so nervous that she lashed out with force against her neighbour.
I say most solemnly to the right hon. Gentleman that if we leave Aden before Egypt is out of the Yemen and before the South Arabian Federation is able to undertake its own defence with its own air force; if, by this withdrawal, Saudi Arabia is isolated, and Colonel Nasser is enabled to walk unhampered into Aden, and Iran tried to pre-empt Egypt in the Gulf, which Iran must do, and the Soviet all the time stirs this pot of trouble, all hell will be let loose in that area.
This is understood, I think, by almost everyone except Her Majesty's Government. I therefore beg the right hon. Gentleman, who comes comparatively new to this situation, to review the timetable of the British withdrawal, because the fact is, and everyone knows this—let the right hon. Gentleman ask the Service chiefs if he wants an opinion on this; perhaps he has done so—that the South Arabian air force cannot be equipped adequately to defend South Arabia by 1968. That is a certainty.
I therefore hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will be able to tell us that there is flexibility about this date of withdrawal. At the moment, the Government are coming up against trouble because they apply a guillotine timetable. In Rhodesia, it has failed them. Here, again, it will fail them—and, I suggest, lead to disaster. But if it were known in the Middle East that there was flexibility in the British programme for withdrawal from Aden, it would have an immediately pacifying influence throughout the whole area.
Under the heading of the three strategic areas, I should like to give notice of some questions that we shall put to the Foreign Secretary with increasing urgency. What are the Government's views and objectives for British policy in the Far East, and what are the instruments to make 1182 them effective? I approach these problems in this way. The Malaysian war with Indonesia seems to be coming to an end, but, at the same time, Her Majesty's Government have scrapped an aircraft carrier. So long as the Government are silent there is an inevitable suspicion that they have no policy for this area at all. We shall increasingly ask them what are the political objectives, and the military instruments they have in mind in order that those objectives may be achieved.
I am reluctant to conclude—there are so many opportunities in this area for the exercise of diplomacy and well-directed policy—that the Government have no policy for order and peace in this area, but I am bound to say that we have no evidence of it at the present time. We shall return to these matters after Christmas, and I hope that then the right hon. Gentleman will feel it worth while to debate the Far East, and will then be able to tell us the Government's ideas on policy and the military machinery necessary to achieve them. I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will, in particular, deal with this problem of the Middle East, because it is perhaps the most urgent problem of all.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of his intention to make contact with the leaders in our alliances and, in particular, with the Soviet Union. He went to Moscow with expectations high, and I was glad to hear from him today that he was not unduly depressed by failure to achieve any concrete results in his meetings. Meetings between Soviet leaders and British Ministers are a very good thing. Historically, the Russians have shunned contacts outside their country, and from this self-imposed isolation many unwarranted suspicions have grown. I am glad that Mr. Kosygin and Mr. Gromyko, following a visit to Paris, will be coming to London. Provided that the N.A.T.O. allies, if they negotiate singly, share their knowledge of Soviet intentions with the others—the invariable practice in past years, and something from which the strength of N.A.T.O. has greatly gained—the more contacts there are the better.
I doubt whether the Foreign Secretary could have expected progress on Vietnam, for the simple reason that the Russians are not at present in a position to deliver the goods even if they wished to do so. 1183 I increasingly feel that a truce leading to peace is most likely to begin with direct contact between North Vietnam and the United States and as the war drags on it is probable that a forum for negotiation will have to be created rather different from the previous Geneva conferences. Nevertheless, the Soviet-British co-chairmanship should be kept in being. It could certainly be useful and, indeed, no settlement is likely to be permanent of which Russia is not a partner.
The right hon. Gentleman was, perhaps, a little coy on disarmament. Perhaps he remembered some of the scathing attacks delivered from this bench by the Prime Minister upon us when we were in power, and perhaps he remembered the election prospectus of the Labour Party, to which he was a party. I will be content to recall to him only one quotation from what was said by Lord Chalfont. He said:It was up to Britain to put forward a completely new plan which would shake the two separate Powers out of their entrenched positions and start forward-thinking once more on comprehensive disarmament.It took the right hon. Gentleman 14 days to put Britain back into the main stream of world events after the tenure of office of his right hon. Friend the First Secretary. Is it not time he now gave Lord Chalfont a shake-up? I ask, because the plain truth is that in two years there is precisely nothing to show on disarmament at all. I hope that the Foreign Secretary is right about a non-proliferation treaty. Such a treaty would be valuable, if we could get it, and if that is peeping out of the pigeon-hole a little more than it was, that is a good thing.
We have had a chance briefly to review some of the all-over scene in the world. I think that these debates are usually more valuable when we can concentrate on one area. I therefore hope that the right hon. Gentleman will enable us to debate the Far East after Christmas. If, in the meantime, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster could give some hope that, in particular, in respect of the Middle East, the date of withdrawal from Aden is flexible, the Government could, at least in this debate, make a decisive contribution in the direction in which the right hon. Gentleman is looking to increase order and peace in the world.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. K. Zilliacus (Manchester, Gorton)
I shall not attempt to follow the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) over the whole field. I want to concentrate on two points. The first is the statement of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that the United Nations is not something to be preached; it is something to be practised, and we must deal with the fundamentals of our policy. The second point is the application of this in particular to Germany and Europe.
My view is that all parties since the war have, with greater or less intensity, fervour and conviction, expressed their adhesion to the principles, purposes and obligations of the Charter, but have based their policy on military alliances. At least I am consistent in this, because when N.A.T.O. was introduced for approval to the House on 12th May, 1949, I both spoke and voted against it, on the ground that it tore up the Charter, reverted to the balance of power, and started an arms race.
At that time we were told by the Labour Government that N.A.T.O. would make it easier to reach agreement with the Soviet Union in a spirit of conciliation and reason, an agreement which would unite Europe, strengthen the United Nations and open the door to disarmament. Looking back on everything that has happened since, it seems to me that I was completely right and that the Government were wildly wrong.
The great difference between my right hon. Friends and right hon. Members opposite is that my right hon. Friends really do believe in the United Nations. The only trouble is that they do not know what it means. They are schizophrenic on the matter. I must refer to something else said by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary. I have great admiration for my right hon. Friend's energy, his resourcefulness and his eloquence. If anybody could make a success of the policies to which we are committed, he would. Unfortunately, the policies are wrong and need changing. Having said this, however, I must say that my right hon. Friend will have the whole of this side of the House behind him in his mission to New York. We all hope that he will succeed in launching 1185 effective action to put a stop to Ian Smith and his merry men in Rhodesia.
My right hon. Friend said, in one and the same breath, that we must build up the United Nations and be guided by its decisions, and that peace is being maintained by the balance of power. I would say that peace has so far survived in spite of the balance of power, the arms race and the rival alliances, but it cannot survive indefinitely on that basis. The sooner we can transfer the mutual relations of the great Powers from the rival alliances to our common obligations in the Charter the sooner we shall start the business of making the world safer for peace.
I know that my right hon. Friend has only just taken on the job of Foreign Secretary. He has his briefs given to him. He expounds them in perfect good faith. At the Labour Party conference at Brighton he made a remark which made me sit up; he said:As U Thant has reminded us only recently, peace at this moment is maintained by the existence of military alliances. Accept this we must.I did not accept that as coming from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I thought that there was some mistake.
As this goes right to the heart of the point I am trying to press home, I will elaborate it a little. I rang up the United Nations office in London. Those to whom I spoke could not produce any such statement by U Thant. I rang up the United Nations Division of the Foreign Office. Those people too were not able to produce any such statement. They said that when their man at the General Assembly in New York came back he could put his hand on it. Their man came back, but he could not find any such statement.
So then I wrote directly to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. I had his reply. It appeared in Tribune last week. U Thant said this:If this statement was generally understood as implying that I have at any time supported the present system of military alliances, this would be a matter of regret to me. I cannot accept such an implication, nor could anyone who has heard or read my views on the subject.U Thant went on to quote a recent speech of his as showing what his views really are. In that speech he said this: 1186There is not a Government in the world, perhaps for the first time in history, which does not profess, in its own way, to be peace-loving. One hundred and seventeen Governments have ratified the United Nations Charter, which sets out the rights and obligations of peace-loving nations. There is hardly a Government in the world which is not committed to work for the peace and prosperity of its people. There is a view universally held … that the future of mankind lies in co-operation rather than conflict. Certainly the interdependence of nations is now a fact which even the greatest must recognize…But then wé turn the coin and see the obverse—he cynical side. The greatest powers are locked in an ideological struggle and in a balance of terror based on the most destructive—and most expensive—arsenal of armaments ever known. The lesser powers survive in this precarious balance either through alliances with either side or in the more complex position of non-alignment. The majority of the world's people live in poverty and backwardness, the helpless spectators of this spendthrift struggle of giants. And by far the greatest efforts and expenditures are still for wars which no one can win—not for the human problems and possibilities which it is within our power to solve and to realise if we have the vision, the patience and the will to co-operate. Is not this gap between stated ideals and actual practice truly cynical? And yet we all in some degree connive in the vast self deception.Unfortunately, my right hon. Friends are in this self-deception up to the neck. They have sincerely deceived themselves. They are not talking with their tongues in their cheeks. They really do not know the difference between the balance of power and collective security or between the United Nations and military alliances. But this policy is now coming to a dead end. It is becoming too expensive to maintain and it is no longer working. It is visibly breaking down, particularly in Europe.
I am glad that on Rhodesia we have at long last been compelled to do what we should have done from the start and treated this question of racial equality as a matter of international concern and gone to the United Nations to deal with it on the basis of the Charter. The ignorance about the United Nations is such that people use such phrases as "handing it over to the United Nations". The United Nations is not an entity which exists outside the Governments composing it. It is those Governments, plus their undertakings to conduct their mutual relations and international affairs on the basis of their obligations under the Charter.
1187 We do not hand over responsibility for a solution of the situation in Rhodesia by going to the United Nations. Our going there means that we exercise that responsibility on the basis of our obligations under the Charter and together with other countries. I hope that there will be no more of this appearance of being pushed backwards step by step into the United Nations and then hanging back when we get in there.
I hope that it is not a question of our applying sanctions so selectively that they are not effective and fearing to do anything to upset South Africa. We should go in for tough comprehensive sanctions and let sanction-breakers take their chance, in so far as we can get the co-operation of others. According to Press reports, the others, including the United States and Canada, not to mention the African members of the Commonwealth, are very willing to go all the way on oil sanctions.
As part of mandatory sanctions there is the obligation on all members of the United Nations, under Articles 49 and 50 of the Charter, first to give mutual assistance in the carrying out of sanctions and, secondly, to give special help to any member of the United Nations especially affected economically by the carrying out of sanctions. That last point applies to Zambia. The first point applies to us as well as to others. We should use this whole gamut of obligations and take the lead in putting forward bold plans for carrying them out.
In Europe, the need for departing from military alliances as the basis of our policy and trying the experiment of taking our stand on the Charter has become acute. First, there is the financial need. We have just heard the Foreign Secretary tell us that the best the Bonn Government can offer so far is £31 million in offset expenses for the B.A.O.R., whereas we are spending £94 million. That is rather more than the gap that existed in December, 1964, when the Prime Minister told the House that it was an intolerable position which we had to put right.
The Bonn Government are themselves in balance of payments difficulties, largely because of their excessive defence expenditure. The Americans are pressing them much harder than we are for even greater 1188 arms expenditure to offset the cost of American troops there. We cannot solve the problem on that basis. But we could if we chose to apply our own policies. I shall come to what that means in a moment.
I do not think that we shall get into the Common Market because our position is based on a paradox. On the one hand, we rely on the predominant influence of President de Gaulle to keep the European community from developing into a political union, and on the other we are banking on our ability to set aside his predominant influence and let us in while tied to N.A.T.O. and the American alliance. It is quite clear that he will not do it, and that he will veto our coming in on that basis. But the Government stick doggedly to N.A.T.O. and the American alliance. Owing to the disparity of power, that means a policy of subservience, because when one ally has 98 per cent. of the power it dictates to the other. That is the elementary logic of power politics when one does not have the power and the other fellow has.
What we could do and should try to do is to start at the other end, as it were At the very worst it would cushion the shock if and when the present probes and negotiations failed. At the best it could provide a context in which they might succeed or provide a more hopeful and wider-based alternative policy.
We should direct our energies to giving the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations, to which both East and West Europe belong—and the Soviet Union, the United States and the United Kingdom belong—sufficient power and authority. It has them on paper already and it is a matter simply of Government policy to make a reality of those paper obligations. It should be given sufficient power and authority to act as the economic link between Comecon in the East and the E.E.C. and E.F.T.A. in the West, and as an active promoter of economic and technical co-operation in such matters as developing East-West trade, banking, credits, finance, transport and communications, and the distribution of gas, oil, and hydro-electric power.
That would provide the economic under-pinning for the kind of foreign policy to which the Government are pledged on paper but have never carried 1189 out. Our policy for a non-aggression and settlement of disputes treaty between the Warsaw Alliance and N.A.T.O. Powers, accompanied by disengagement and measures of disarmament and followed up by collective security measures based on the Charter on an all-European scale, is a basis on which we know that the Soviet Government would immediately negotiate. They have said so again and again and Mr. Kosygin went so far on his recent visit to Paris as to reiterate the Soviet offer to scrap the Warsaw Alliance if N.A.T.O. were disbanded or fell to pieces. They have again and again proposed the winding-up of both alliances in the context of all-European arrangements on the lines I have outlined, which coincide with those to which this side of the House has been committed for some years.
Those two measures together would also supply the basis on which Germany could be unified within her existing frontiers and by stages. Again, that is a policy which was outlined by the Labour Party sore years ago and has never been officially abandoned although it has never been applied. Now is the time to press that policy. Acting on the principle which has also been officially proclaimed on this side of the House that defence must be the servant and not the master of foreign policy we should say to our allies and the German Government that we refuse to be committed to war by allies who fail to agree with us on how to make peace.
We should begin with the economic proposals, because they would win almost universal support. Increasing East-West trade and economic co-operation is now becoming the policy of the United States, France and the European Economic Community. It is a policy on which both sides of Europe could unit and on which we could give a lead that would undoubtedly be followed. The political corollary to that would also receive a great deal of support, in view of the growing failure of the present policy.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
Has my hon. Friend's attention been drawn to a resolution which was unanimously adopted by the N.A.T.O. Parliamentarians in Paris a couple of weeks ago, calling for talks between Parliamentarians of Western Europe and the War- 1190 saw Pact and other Eastern countries? If he has noticed it, would he draw it to the attention of his friends in Eastern Europe, because it might be a very useful contribution to what he has just said?
§ Mr. Zilliacus
I agree that that is important and encouraging. It would be the Parliamentary basis for working out the idea of an agreement between the two alliances. That sort of move is now in the air.
Let us examine a little more closely the revival of German nationalism, and the alarm that it has excited. I do not believe that it will as things are become a major menace because, (a) Germany is not strong enough—certainly not West Germany—to challenge the world; and (b) there is not the mass unemployment, the runaway inflation and the ruined and desperate middle and lower middle classes which were the raw materials for Hitler's Fascism. But it is an alarming symptom and conveys a serious warning.
The revival happened because ever since the war we have encouraged the West German Government to believe that they could achieve the reunification of their country and even the restoration of their 1937 frontiers thanks to N.A.T.O., that N.A.T.O. would enable them to bring in their allies for a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union to secure a settlement agreeable to the Bonn Government. That meant not a settlement within their existing frontiers but including what are now Soviet and Polish territories within the 1937 frontiers.
The idea has gradually sifted through that that policy is a non-starter. Neither the American Government, the British Government, still less the French Government—in fact no Government—is prepared to risk a third world war for the sake of restoring Germany's 1937 frontiers. The view of her allies is that she must recognise that she was defeated in the war that Hitler started and accept her existing frontiers. On the present basis unification is not proceeding. It cannot proceed except within the kind of European framework which I have outlined and for which this side of the House has stood for a long time. Some more moderate Germans are now groping towards that kind of policy.
I do not share the enthusiasm of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary 1191 for the new German Government. I think that the German Social Democrats have sold out to a pretty bad lot of people with whom they have joined up. Nevertheless, there are moves now in Germany by people who realise that they cannot get allied military support for unification under the threat of force, that they must negotiate for unification with the Soviet Government and that that means accepting their existing frontiers.
The policy for which we have officially stood on this side of the House for a long time, and which I have outlined, will offer a constructive alternative to the moderate elements in Germany. It will show them how Germany can be unified within an all-European framework, and how a reunited Germany in the United Nations can occupy a literally central and honoured and important position in working for integration, disarmament and peace in the whole of Europe. She can play a big and beneficent part in the world within that kind of framework and harnessed to purposes of that kind.
There are many Germans today who want to see that kind of development and who want to work for such a policy. By taking this line ourselves, we could strengthen those elements in Germany and put out of joint the noses of the nationalists who still cling to the belief that they can settle things by force on a "do it yourself" basis.
All this means that we consciously and deliberately put our obligations under the Charter, as we are bound to do under Article 103, before our obligations under military alliances, and that we go in for policies for winding up the alliances and replacing them by all-European arrangements based on the Charter. I believe that our rôle in the world, now that we are no longer a first-class military Power, should not be that of an off-shore island, a second Sweden, or that of an American dependency, and neither should we be swallowed up by a tightly-knit little group of politically motivated States in the west end of Europe.
We should be the first major Power with a permanent seat in the Security Council to take its stand effectively and genuinely on the obligations of the Charter, and to give a lead through the United Nations and through a united 1192 Commonwealth—for the Commonwealth nations can be united on this basis, as they are all bound by the Charter—for a fresh start in world affairs with the object of building up the United Nations into an assured guarantee of peace and as a corollary winding up the military alliances as part of the evil heritage of the cold war.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Sir Ronald Russell (Wembley, South)
I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate at the earliest possible moment which could be open to me, and I also thank the two Front Bench speakers for taking less than an hour of our time. I think that this is a record. It may have been born out of necessity, but it is nevertheless very welcome as it will allow many more Members to take part in this, as it is now, one-day debate than would otherwise have been possible.
I support the plea of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) when he asked for flexibility in the Government's policy to withdraw from Aden. This is absolutely vital. I hope that the Government will seriously reconsider their policy in this matter. I can imagine nothing worse than our leaving a vacuum in that part of the world, in its present troubled state with the menaces of Nasser hanging over the Middle East and with the threat to Israel as well.
Little has been said about Israel so far in the debate, but it is important for us to ensure the stability of that country, which has done so much to bring Western civilisation into the Middle East. I hope that everything will be done to prevent any threat from Nasser to drive Israel into the sea ever being brought into fruition.
My main reason for wishing to take part in the debate was touched on by the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus). Very unusually, I find myself in agreement with what the hon. Gentleman said in his references to the rise of the National Democratic Party in Germany, and its implications. I say "rise" because, happily, it is only a very small beginning at present. Let us hope that what has happened in Hesse and Bavaria will be a beginning and no more.
I express my gratitude to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for very 1193 promptly replying to a letter which I wrote to him last week and for being somewhat reassuring in his answer. I asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought that the party was nationalist rather than neo-Nazi, and he said:Its leadership certainly comprises a high proportion of ex-Nazis. In contrast to other German political parties, it adopts a non-committal attitude to Nazi Germany".This is dangerous, to begin with. It is almost unthinkable that any modern party anywhere in the world today could be non-committal to Nazi Germany and all its foul deeds, internally and externally, between 1933 and 1945. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:… in so far as it has a progamme, this is certainly Nationalist rather than neo-Nazi".Because I was not too happy about the Motion on the Order Paper signed by Members of all parties deploring this development and calling it a neo-Nazi movement, I did not sign it myself, but I feel that we should take heed of this rise of the N.D.P. in Germany. The Foreign Secretary told us that public opinion in Germany today backs its democratic leaders, that Germany is not aggressive and that there is no resurgent nationalism. In the main, this is fundamentally true, because, as the Chancellor of the Duchy points out in his letter, 89 per cent. of German votes go to the three main democratic parties, but I trust that we shall take a leaf from our experience in the 1920s and 1930s when not enough attention was paid to the threats of Hitlerism long before it became a force and eventually tricked itself into power.
We should beware of German nationalism as well. We are apt to forget that there was no Nazi Party in Germany in 1914, no party which believed in destroying the rule of law internally and descending to a savagery almost unknown in modern history outside the Iron Curtain. In 1914, German nationalism was law-abiding internally, but it was the exact opposite internationally, and this is what we must watch. Someone once retorted, when the Germans were deploring that everyone condemned them for having started the 1914 war, that history would not say that Belgium invaded Germany. We must pay heed to what happened in 1914 as well a s to what happened in 1939 in the light of what is, we hope, only a 1194 temporary rise of a menacing party in Germany today.
There is another comfort to be drawn from the German situation now. If in 1914 it was German nationalism, or, perhaps one should say, Prussian nationalism which was behind the warmongering activities of the then German Government, Prussia is now divided into four, part in the Federal Republic, part in East Germany, part in Poland, and part of East Prussia in the Soviet Union. Perhaps it was because they realised the danger of German nationalism, particularly of the Junkers of East Prussia and the damage they had done in two world wars, that the Russians decided to seize part of East Prussia and keep it under their control.
Just as I hope that we shall not bring troops out of Aden until we have left security there, I hope that we shall never bring home all our troops from the B.A.O.R. I hope also that the Americans never take all their troops out of Europe. I know that I shall probably provoke disagreement on the benches opposite when I say that, but I am convinced that the presence of allied troops in Germany is not only a trip-wire against aggression from the east, and, perhaps, against the seizure of West Berlin in particular, but it is a safeguard inasmuch as we should have troops there if German nationalism rose again to a dangerous level.
§ Dr. Hugh Gray (Yarmouth)
Does not the hon. Gentleman think that, if all allied troops were withdrawn from Western Europe and all Russian troops from Eastern Europe, this would contribute to peace?
§ Sir R. Russell
Not necessarily. I do not think that it would necessarily contribute to peace inside Germany. I would rather see the troops there. It was Stresemann who realised, in about 1929, that, whatever his peaceful intentions were, the first thing the German Government had to do, if it was to recover its sovereignty, so to speak, was to get rid of the Army of Occupation of the 1920s. He succeeded in doing that in 1930 and from then on we lost any hope of keeping Hitler or any other force out of power. We should profit from that lesson and ensure that, for the foreseeable future, British, American and other allied troops keep guard on the Rhine.
1195 The Foreign Secretary expressed the hope that the new German Government would be successful in carrying out sound policies in Western Europe. I am sure that we would all echo that. Dr. Kiesinger was once a member of the German delegation to the Council of Europe and most of us there were sorry when he left the delegation and was given in a sense a provincial post as Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg. Now that he has almost the highest office in the land, we hope that he and his coalition will give stability to German politics, as the Foreign Secretary said, and will help maintain peace in Western Europe.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker (Swindon)
I thank my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary for his speech and wish him all possible success with his mission to New York. I gather that, perhaps even while I am speaking, he will be catching a plane for the United States. He knows that the affection, loyalty and good wishes of everyone on this side—and I believe the whole House—go with him to the United States.
Last July, when U Thant announced his intention of not seeking re-election as Secretary-General of the United Nations, more than a hundred right hon. and hon. Members signed a Motion of confidence and support appealing to him to continue to serve world peace in the United Nations. A similar move was made in another place.
As Chairman of the United Nations Parliamentary Group, I was asked to write to him conveying the sentiments of the British Parliament. It represented, I think, the unanimous view of everyone at Westminster. Many of us remember vividly the wonderful speech that U Thant made in the Royal Gallery on his last visit to London, the brilliant way he answered questions and how impressed we were by his modesty, sincerity and courage. In the next five years he will need those qualities in full measure.
I am sure that it is once again the unanimous wish of Parliament that we should congratulate and thank U Thant, as my right hon. Friend has already done, for giving himself up to us all for another five years. Some weeks ago, I had the privilege of talking to U Thant in his 1196 office on the 38th floor of the United Nations building in New York. He was still undecided then about whether he would stay, and there were, I believe, three issues particularly on his mind where he wanted to see real progress—Vietnam, United Nations peace keeping and finance.
Outside, there was speculation that he had made some conditions about staying on—that, as well as assurances from the great Powers about their own conduct and their support for the Secretary-General and for the initiatives he might take, he would only continue to serve if there was real progress on at least one of these three issues.
It is not yet clear what progress there has been, what the conditions are which enabled him to stay. But on finance there are reports that the Russians and the French are now planning to repay part at least of their debts to the United Nations. On peace keeping, the Foreign Minister of Ireland and others have been making valiant efforts, and I hope that they have been supported energetically by the United Kingdom delegation, because if ever there was a nation with a vital national interest in effective international peace keeping, it is Britain now.
On Vietnam, all one can say is that, for the moment, in spite of my right hon. Friend's words of warning, the danger of escalation seems less and that both the great Powers principally involved undoubtedly want to see an end of the war. Last month I made a trip to the United States which, as well as taking me to U.N. headquarters, took me right across the Continent and back, from Boston to San Francisco, via Syracuse, Washington, Indiana, Denver, Colorado, Casper, Wyoming, and many other places. On Vietnam, I was surprised in America by two things. The first was, among informed people, by the strength of feeling against the war and American Government policy and, incidentally, the strength of feeling that Britain should play a more independent and more forthright rôle. Secondly, I was depressed by the lamentably ill-informed state of public opinion generally about Vietnam and international affairs.
Britain is importing many features of the American way of life. America is a wonderful country but I do not want to 1197 see our economy, our society and our habits modelled on the contemporary American conurbation—and God forbid that we should copy the American Press or American broadcasting. I wonder whether there is a worse informed public about international affairs in any developed country in the world.
At all events, on Vietnam, I believe that Britain may have a most vital rôle to play, perhaps more in helping America off the hook than in any other way. Moreover, the less we play the rôle of American satellite, the more we can really help the United States. Most of our peace-making work, I believe, must be done in private. I do not much believe in the efficacy of public appeals such as that which my right hon. Friend made at the United Nations Assembly, brilliant though his speech was. I believe that his real rôle over Vietnam will be much more the kind of job he was doing in Moscow, in spite of the fact that his visit was exploratory and he did not bring back any concrete results.
But the time may come when my right hon. Friend's services can be of the greatest value to the great Powers behind the Vietnam war; and I believe the services of the Secretary-General may at some stage be decisive. There is no reason why negotiations for a settlement must necessarily be preceded by a cessation of hostilities. There is a good precedent for exactly the contrary procedure. In Korea, discussions for the cease-fire which became the present settlement were begun while the fighting continued.
In such a situation I think that the Secretary-General's services might be of supreme importance in finding a settlement in Vietnam. It is also very possible that a U.N. peace-keeping force, perhaps built on the existing International Control Commission, which is still in Vietnam, but under United Nations command on the Cyprus or Gaza model, could play a most valuable rôle in facilitating the final withdrawal of foreign troops. This may well be a long way off and other preoccupations may have taken cur minds off Vietnam. But, because the end of the war in Vietnam is the key to all progress in relations between East and West—with China as well as with the Soviet Union—and eventually to disarmament, to help to end 1198 the war must be the major objective of British foreign policy as of the United Nations.
I do not accept the American Government's assessment of Chinese intentions. I do not believe that for many years revolutionary China will be a threat to her neighbours in South-East Asia. I accept U Thant's opinion about that. I do not accept the domino theory and I believe that the days are past when any non-Asian country, even one as powerful as the United States, can or should attempt by unilateral military action to maintain a political balance in Asia.
But, apart from the fact that the American campaign in Vietnam is a flagrant violation of the spirit and letter of the Charter of the United Nations, what is true of America in Asia is equally true of Britain in Asia, in Africa and in the Middle East—and this is where I disagree entirely with the hon. Member for Wembley, South (Sir R Russell) and with a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said. Of course, the problems of de-colonisation are exceedingly difficult for the former Colony as well as for the former imperial Power. No one can say that the new independent nations have made a success of governing themselves. Alas, democracy and freedom and law are in ruins throughout black Africa—in Ghana and Nigeria and Zanzibar and many other places as well as in Rhodesia and South Africa and Angola and Mozambique. No British Parliamentarian can be very proud of most of the Governments of the new Commonwealth, and there are several as well as Rhodesia with whom the Commonwealth link is of very doubtful value to the United Kingdom.
Reconciling British policies to the post-colonial era is, of course, extraordinarily difficult, difficult politically and economically and difficult for all kinds of practical reasons, but above all psychologically and emotionally difficult for the British. For those of us on this side of the House and even for our own Government Front Bench the process of adjustment to the facts of Britain's place in the world has not been at all easy.
1199 The facts are that the British Empire is finished, that no remaining colonial possession or imperial foothold anywhere in the world, Fiji, St. Helena, Aden, Bahrein, Gan or the sovereign base areas in Cyprus, or Gibraltar, serves any real exclusive British interest any longer. On the contrary, many of our imperial commitments, the struggle in Southern Arabia and our bases in the Indian Ocean, like Rhodesia, have been immense obstacles to our taking our proper place in the United Nations and in the modern world.
When the Foreign Secretary gets to New York, he will be reminded very vividly of how low Britain's stock is today and how unhappy many of the best, most loyal and most progressive members of the United Nations are about British policies. British defence commitments and British intentions—the Norwegians, the Swedes, the Canadians, precisely the kind of Government with whom we should be co-operating most closely in building a post-colonial world in which Britain could play a great progressive rôle.
British Ministers today, like Ministers in previous Governments, talk a good deal about British responsibilities towards people who were once subjects of our Empire, and, of course, there are problems, very difficult problems, about pulling out of Arabia and other areas still under British occupation, problems which are sometimes much more serious for the local people than for ourselves. But the British Government's chief responsibility is to the British people. The time has gone when Britain could or should take or claim sole responsibility for territories or peoples overseas. If there are difficulties about transition, and there often are, which require outside intervention, then the proper way is to call in other countries with equal interest in peace and stability in the area concerned, and to call them in through the United Nations. I believe that that applies to the Arabian Peninsula as well as to any other part of the world in which we still have an imperial or colonial responsibility.
Our experience over Rhodesia has illustrated this point very clearly. Personally, I tend to agree with those who 1200 think that two regiments of paratroops at the very beginning would have brought the collapse of the Smith rôgime. But not only did we not use force, we told the world that we were not going to use force and from then on we were in an impossible position. We were claiming exclusive responsibility for a problem which we had no power to solve. From that moment Britain should have faced the fact that we had no power and handed over our responsibility to the United Nations with a pledge to participate loyally in whatever action was decided. Perhaps the United Nations action would not have been very effective, but at least it would not have been any less effective than our own efforts, and it would have been far less damaging to Britain's relations with the Commonwealth and other countries.
I am sorry that I cannot accept the arguments on which our east of Suez policy has been based. As I understand them, there are three—that our military presence, or arrangements for its quick arrival, strengthen the United Nations; that we can answer appeals from Commonwealth Governments; and that we can prevent the Americans and Chinese from being, in the elegant phrase, eyeball to eyeball.
Frankly, I think that this last is nonsense. We are just not being our size if we imagine that flying Comets or Britannias from Lyneham in Wiltshire to Singapore has had any effect on whether Chinese troops enter Vietnam, or any effect on American or Chinese policy in the Far East. As for strengthening the United Nations, on the contrary, I think that our east of Suez commitments have been a grave political embarrassment at the United Nations and, from a practical point of view, if participation in United Nations peace-keeping operations were really the objective, our forces would be deployed quite differently. Moreover, it is not easy to believe in either the credibility or reliability of a military system whose communications are as fragile as ours are to the area east of Suez when they are entirely dependent on over-flying rights given by Turkey and by the Shah of Persia. Any dispute with either Government would mean that the only way in which we could reach Singapore would be flying west—about across North America and the Pacific 1201 Ocean. Incidentally, I suppose that this helps to explain why so often we have been so mealy-mouthed in dealing with Turkey over the question of the Greek island, Cyprus.
The final argument, that our east of Suez forces could help Commonwealth Governments, seems to me both out of date and entirely wrong, quite apart from the obvious comment that the Tashkent Agreement shows how little some Commonwealth Governments value Britain when they face really important international issues. I know that there is a precedent in that a few British bayonets saved President Nyerere and President Kenyatta from revolution. President Nyerere thanked us by soon afterwards breaking off diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom. Certainly this will never happen again. Indeed, it did not happen when the former Nigerian Government appealed to Britain for military help and we refused it.
Moreover, in the modern world there is no reason whatever why unpopular or unstable Governments in foreign countries, whether in the Commonwealth or outside it, should be propped up by troops from the United Kingdom. Our east of Suez policy, including our attempt to maintain a military foothold in the Persian Gulf, is out of date and does this country more harm than good.
I shall not now explore the American implications of that policy, except to say that many Americans and many people in this country, including many hon. Members on these benches, find it impossible to believe that the American desire not to be left isolated in South-East Asia and our economic dependence on America are not the principal reasons for our position east of Suez today. Incidentally, that position and the sterling area are likely to be the major obstacles, at least where France is concerned, and possibly fatal obstacles, to our entry into the Common Market.
Our east of Suez policy, our bases in the Indian Ocean to Singapore, our occupation of Southern Arabia and the Persian Gulf reflect thinking about Britain's place in the world and about the Commonwealth which are entirely out of keeping with reality in 1966. We are an important European country with no exclusive interests and no exclusive respon- 1202 sibilities on any other continent any longer. Our security and our hope of peace rest with the United Nations. Perhaps this is a frail hope. If it is, all our efforts must be deployed to make it stronger.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. G. B. H. Currie (Down, North)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) will forgive me if I do not comment on his argument, in the course of which he spoke about the greater part of the surface of the globe. He made a very wide-ranging survey——
§ Mr. Currie
—of the foreign affairs of the world as they face our country. I want to speak for only a short time on a very limited aspect of foreign affairs—the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East.
I was very glad that the Foreign Secretary deferred to these areas, but my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) devoted so much time to the problems of these areas that there is no useful contribution which I can make to what he has already said about the South Arabian Peninsula. I regret the withdrawal of British troops from the Aden base before firm arrangements have been made for filling the void which will inevitably be left there. I also feel that the withdrawal of our troops from this base constitutes a grave threat to the further northern parts of Arabia and could constitute a menace to some British interests which lie further north.
I should like to move from that area to the Middle East and to a very limited area in the Middle East. We see there the problems of the displaced Arabs, the attacks and counter-attacks which have been made across the borders of Israel, and we must make it clear to all who listen to us that it is our policy and duty to maintain the State of Israel. It should not go out from this House that there is any doubt at all as to the determination of both sides of this House to maintain the existing State of Israel.
Having said that, I must say that these constant attacks and counter-attacks create grave dangers throughout the whole of the Middle East and much further 1203 afield. Foreign Powers are sometimes only too anxious to take advantage of opportunities for the infiltration of influence, if not of something more sinister, because of the difficulties arising through such attacks and counter-attacks.
It is not my aim this afternoon to apportion blame for these attacks and counter-attacks. Obviously there are provocations, and I do not intend to enter into a discussion as to who originates them or as to the point where provocation should have ceased. All that I am anxious to do is to put forward a few thoughts as to the possible solution of the problems confronting us in the Middle East.
There is a grave possibility of an escalation of the attacks in this area. Only three weeks ago we read that 14 Jordanian soldiers, six Jordanian civilians and one Israeli officer were killed in an attack during which 400 troops and eight tanks were used. Obviously it may have been a retaliatory attack. This is surely the sort of thing that we want to do all that we can to prevent in future. According to a report attributed to the Israeli Foreign Minister, arising out of this event:The fighting and loss of life was beyond what was expected or planned.This was in the Daily Express yesterday, perhaps not always a very reliable paper but sometimes correct. It is indeed a tragic situation when attacks of this nature are planned by a responsible Government. No doubt there have been provocations, and our duty now is to try to bring about the creation of a new situation in which provocation ceases and in which these neighbouring countries live together in peace.
I have one new and constructive suggestion to put forward. We already have diplomatic relations with most of Israel's neighbours. There is only one country with which, unfortunately and tragically, we do not have diplomatic relations and that is the United Arab Republic. The name of President Nasser has already been mentioned in this debate, both in connection with the South Arabian Peninsula and in connection with events in the Middle East, on the frontiers of Israel.
1204 My suggestion, and I believe that there is a real opportunity in this direction, is that the Government should attempt to re-establish diplomatic relations with the U.A.R. We should enter into conversations with President Nasser and the leaders of the other Arab countries surrounding Jordan in an attempt to arrange discussions across the table between the Arab countries and Israel, with Britain represented. The conference should attempt to achieve a real peace in the whole of that area.
As I have said, the time is now opportune. I have had discussions with someone from the United Arab Republic who holds a position of responsibility. This is a suggestion which could contribute towards a settlement of the problems which we face in the South Arabian peninsula and in the countries of the Middle East. President Nasser is undoubtedly a person of great influence throughout Arab territories. If he could be persuaded to enter into the spirit of this operation, he could carry great weight in efforts to ensure stability and peace. This is my plea, that the Government should enter into the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.A.R. and in this way move towards a settlement of the Middle East problems.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Sir Barnett Janner (Leicester, North-West)
I had not intended to deal with the point raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Down, North (Mr. Currie). I had only intended to take up the time of the House for a short time on a matter which, I think, is of extreme importance. Since the hon. Gentleman has raised the point, however, I must say that he is perfectly right in his desire for a round-table conference between the Arabs and Israel. Time after time Israel has asked for this to take place.
As everyone in the House and, indeed, throughout the world, knows, she is desirous to be allowed to remain in peace so that she can carry on her cultural, economic and other peaceful developments. God knows, the people who are today living in Israel, particularly those who have gone there as refugees, have suffered sufficient not to desire anything in the nature of war.
There is no aggressive desire on the part of Israel. It is perfectly true that people 1205 from without are not yet realising what has been going on in Israel during the last 18 months or so. It has been something which no State could possibly have tolerated and could not have allowed to continue.
Mines have been laid in her country; people have been blown up. This and similar kinds of attack have been made almost daily. Unfortunately, some Arab States not only agree that such attacks should take place, but desire that they should continue to do so. Infiltrators have been trained and openly encouraged to carry on this kind of work. Is there any country which could allow for any longer the kind of incidents which have been taking place, deliberately, in respect of its country which has no desire or intention to be offensive or aggressive towards its neighbours? It is no wonder that this could no longer be tolerated by Israel and that something had to be done to try to stop it.
I was amazed that a resolution should be passed in the Security Council which did not mention that the citizens of the other side had been ruthlessly attacked not in mass attacks, but by infiltrators who had been allowed to come from various surrounding countries. No condemnation of these incidences was expressed by the Security Council, although these matters have come before the United Nations. The United Nations knows that the attackers came from certain countries, but the Security Council has not registered a single motion in respect of them.
I appeal strongly to all right-thinking people to consider the position and to do everything possible to ensure that the differences between the two countries are settled. Every Israeli Prime Minister and political leader has said that Israel does not want war or wish to attack, any other people. If the Arab nations were given to understand firmly that Israel has come to stay and is definitely staying with the accord and consent of the organisation U.N.O. which represents the civilised world and intends to bring understanding and peace among the people of the world, then I think that the Arabs who are now carrying on this aggression will discuss around a table the problems which face both peoples.
It is strange that I should now have to turn to a subject which I hoped would 1206 have long ago disappeared from the topics which we debate. Thirty-three years ago I made a speech in the House and I should like to quote from it. I said:I had hoped that it would not have been necessary to refer again to the tragic and horrifying actions of the Nazi rôgime in Germany.I could use those words today. I then continued:I had hoped that the forcible expressions of public opinion throughout the world against these occurrences might have had the effect of making those who are in power in Germany realise that the action which they were taking, and the manner in which it was taken, ought to stop, and that civilisation and civilised beings would not tolerate activities of that kind."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th July, 1933; Vol. 280, c. 408.]I went on to talk about what Hitler was advocating and how he believed that to win the sympathy of the masses "You must tell them the crudest and most stupid things" and how he told his followers that they should lie and use every subterfuge to deceive the world.
I hope that the House will forgive me for referring to these matters. I need hardly say that they have been agonising for me, for my Jewish co-religionists and many others who suffered the loss by the vice of the Nazis of 10 million people, including 6 million Jewish people, during the Nazi régime. We have often been asked to forget and forgive. I wonder whether people realise what is happening today in respect of the new neo-Nazi party which has suddenly reared its ugly head in Germany and whether the tactics being adopted by that party cannot be identified with those used when the Nazis were pursuing their vicious and uncivilised sub-human policies.
I have a book here from which I have quoted in the House before. Baron von Neurath sent a cable to the Catholic clergy of America at a time when protests were being made. It stated:According to Press notices here, delegates of the Catholic clergy will take part in the mass demonstrations in Madison Square, New York, and elsewhere, which have been organised as a protest against the alleged pogroms against German Jews. I beg to assure your Eminence most emphatically, that all such allegations are without foundation. The National Revolution in Germany, which has for its aim the destruction of Communism and the cleansing of public life from Marxist elements has taken place in exemplary order.1207Transgressions against this were remarkably isolated and insignificant.This is the usual sort of thing which many of us here are accustomed to and know all about.
§ Sir B. Janner
Thirty-three years ago. Unfortunately, I have to repeat these things in the House 33 years later.
The rise of this new party in Germany is serious to me, for in it I see the same signs as were evident when the Nazi Party started. Some people say, "Do not dwell on this. There are people in Germany who themselves are protesting violently against this kind of attitude and this kind of party". I agree that there are, and we have heard of the demonstrations which have taken place. Many young people are protesting, because they see danger in the rise of such a party.
Then there are those who say, "That being the case, why deal with this position? It will strengthen the hands of the neo-Nazi party if you attack it or give it publicity". That is the same kind of argument that was used when enlightened people in Germany were endeavouring to combat the rise of the Nazis. I remember it to this day. It was said, "Do not give them any publicity. Do not worry about them. They are not worth considering". By that type of policy we did not help the enlightened people in Germany at that time.
I do not wish to throw an aspersion on those who are anxious that this kind of party should not flourish or get any power in Germany, nevertheless I am bound to say that the opinion of the world should be made clear to our German friends—the Socialists, Liberals and others who want to restore the good name of Germany. It should be made clear that behind them in their efforts is world opinion, which, to a considerable extent, can be reflected from this House.
It is suggested that the new party is not one which represents the views of the Nazi party. In that connection, I want to quote something from The Times: 1208On August 29 this year a 10-man N.P.D. delegation visited the fortress of Landsberg, in Bavaria, and laid wreaths on the graves of executed war criminals. Speaking at the graveside, the leader of the delegation said: 'We remember today all those who, although innocent, lost their lives because of arbitrary judgment and the lust for power' …Whatever its public attitude, the party is inevitably under pressure, especially where it is strong in Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and parts of Bavaria, to pander to those who assume it to be a revived Nazi party. One of the key areas is Franconia, the Protestant enclave in mainly Roman Catholic Bavaria round the cities of Nuremberg and Bayreuth.The other day, there was a television interview with a number of young people who were being educated in a school near Nuremberg. Some hon. Members may have seen the programme. One of the questions asked was what kind of history was being taught in that school, and the answer was ancient history and modern history since the war, but that not until a young person reached the age of 19 in that school was anything taught of the Hitler régime.
Thus, the past Governments of Germany cannot be held to be not responsible in some way for the recrudescence of this kind of party if, during the years from the end of the war to today, they have not utilised the opportunity of endeavouring to educate the children in all their schools so that they might understand the shame and the horror of the world against the activities of the Nazis and so that those who were approached by the new party, the N.P.D., would refuse to have anything to do with the policies with which it was associated—although it denies such association—and would hang their heads in shame if they joined an organisation of that description.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
I realise that the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) feels very deeply about this, as we all do. Those of us who have been to Auschwitz and Belsen, as I have, well understand what he is saying. However, is he not being unfair to a lot of German youth? Over the past weekend, I have been very glad to see youngsters responding to the rise of the N.P.D. and standing up for German democracy.
§ Sir B. Janner
I have already referred to that. Perhaps the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) was not in the Chamber at the time.
I want to make it 100 per cent. clear that what I am saying today is not intended in any way to be against the views of the kind of person to whom the hon. Gentleman refers. On the contrary, I hope that we shall support them. If world opinion indicates that they are right—that is doing precisely what the hon. Gentleman is saying, and I agree with him; they are right—and if world opinion supports them in the way that it should have supported those who stood up in Germany against Nazism when the Nazi party began to rise, I think that they will find that they are helped in their fight against the revival of the horrible ideas which ultimately must come from the new party.
Let me explain why I think that. The leader of the party was approached on the question of the Jews. He says that he is not a Nazi. However, some of the persons who are members of the executive are amongst those who were actively concerned in these terrible events, some in high positions and some in positions of lower influence. When interviewed by a well-known correspondent in this country, their leader was asked, "What about the Jews?" He replied, "Leave me alone about the Jews. They are no longer a problem here. Only 32,000 of them are left." He denies that he is a Nazi himself, or that he holds any Nazi views.
Let me give one other illustration from what he is reported to have said:Hitler only made one mistake. He lost the war.
§ Sir B. Janner
I do not think that the hon. Gentleman intends to deny that what I say is correct. The difference between the hon. Gentleman and myself is that he thinks that by doing this we are not helping.
§ Sir B. Janner
I think that it is good for those in Germany who attack this party to know that throughout the world we feel the same about it.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths
Last weekend I had the opportunity of meeting Herr von Thadden, to whom the hon. Gentleman has just referred. I was asked by representatives of the Social Democratic Party and the C.D.U. in Germany not to do so and I did not on that account, because in their judgment—and they are responsible men, as much concerned as anyone in this House about this matter—it was wrong at this stage to give the publicity which the hon. Gentleman is now giving to this disgraceful party.
§ Sir B. Janner
The same kind of arguments were used 30 years ago, and at that time I disagreed with the contention similar to that now being put forward by the hon. Gentleman. I am not saying that I am 100 per cent. certain, but I believe that what I am doing is the way to help those in Germany who are opposing this party.
§ Mr. Bob Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Thirty years ago we were turning our heads, looking the other way, and pretending that Nazism did not exist.
§ Sir B. Janner
That is true.
There are two reasons which prompt me to think that these people are a menace, and that their influence may spread.
§ Sir B. Janner
On the contrary. I think that the kind of national policy which they are advocating is to some extent being advocated outside their party, not on the Nazi side.
Let me refer to two planks of this party's policy. First, its members are advocating the ending of war crimes trials. I do not know what would be said in this country if someone were to suggest that in five or 10 years' time we should end the pursuit of the train robbers because we should by then forgive and grant them an amnesty. After all, what did they do? They stole more than £2 million. Would any Member say, or would anyone outside the House say, that we should not continue to look for and prosecute them?
The policies being advocated by this German party, and, I am afraid, to some extent accepted by some other Germans, is that there should be an end to the 1211 prosecution of those who committed, not the offence of taking more than £2 million, but that of taking 10 million lives. This is one of the party's planks, and it is not altogether frowned on by others in Germany.
Another of the party's planks, which I condemn, and which I hope the German Government will condemn, is that compensation for the victims of the Nazis should be suspended or stopped. They say that those who have been broken in mind as well as in body by the Nazis should receive no compensation at least for some considerable time. I am not altogether sure that that kind of policy is not being advocated outside that party.
I know that the House will bear with me for having intervened in this way. A Motion on this issue has been signed by more than 94 Members. I hope and pray that the forces of liberalism and understanding in Germany will quickly crush this new party. I hope that German people will not be deceived by protests that these people are not Nazis. I hope that it will be realised that within its ranks and among its officers there are men at an earlier stage who belonged to proscribed organisations.
I hope that the protests which I have made—and I am sure that I am supported in these by many hon. Members in this House—will reach the ears of the German people so that those who are determined to crush this party will be able to say that the world is entirely with them.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Mr. Dennis Walters (Westbury)
The hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) has spoken very movingly about the plight of the Jews under the Nazis, and nobody who has any degree of sensitivity, and I believe no Member in this House, could not but share his feelings about what happened under the Nazi régime.
Before that, the hon. Gentleman spoke about Israel and the Arab countries. It is, I believe, precisely because of the feelings which one has about the unforgivable things which happened in Europe in the 'thirties that there has been so much understandable sympathy for the new State of Israel, but I suggest to the 1212 hon. Gentleman that it is wrong to think that among the Arab countries there is not some genuine fear of Israel's intentions. This may be unjustified, and I believe that it largely is, but it is wrong to dismiss it altogether.
There is in the Middle East fear on both sides of the frontier. During the foreign affairs debate in July I referred to the tension between Israel and the Arab countries and said that the policies of the two sides seem directed to a major clash, indicating that 10 years without serious fighting suggested a comforting impression of stability which was entirely illusory. Unfortunately, these remarks have been proved reasonably accurate by recent events, and it follows that measures to prevent a major clash have become even more urgent now.
One positive step which I believe could be taken is the strengthening of the United Nations presence in the area. At the moment, its presence consists of a corps of observers along Israel's frontiers with Jordan, Syria, and the Lebanon, and a force of about 4,000 men in U.N.E.F. on the frontier between Israel and the U.A.R., which includes the Gaza Strip. This sector, as hon. Members will know, had previously been the scene of savage raids and reprisals, and it is worth noting that since the setting up of U.N.E.F. it has been relatively quiet. The terms of reference of U.N.E.F. prevented patrolling along the three other frontiers, although it is precisely these frontiers which now produce most of the trouble.
The U.N.T.S.O. observers do not receive full co-operation from either Israel or the Arab States, and there is little that they can do when the incidents are the result not of some accidental and sporadic initiative, but of a definite policy by one side or the other. It would be difficult, but I believe not impossible, to alter the terms of reference so that observers on the frontiers with Syria, Jordan and the Lebanon could, if necessary, call on troops from U.N.E.F. to help them to prevent frontier incidents from becoming too dangerous.
In 1958, British troops intervened in Jordan. It is true that such open British support would be wrong today, and that King Hussein is right to rely on Saudi military support if necessary. On the other 1213 hand, the survival of Jordan is immensely important to us, because it is connected with the stability of the whole Arabian peninsula. On 1st December, the Financial Times reported that British economic aid to Jordan had been reduced by 300.000 dinars for the next financial year. British aid for the year beginning 1st January, 1967, will now amount to 1 million dinars. American aid, also, has been cut.
I would like to ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the Government are satisfied that aid at the reduced level is enough to keep Jordan's development programme going and to assure her that friendship remains. I believe that aid should be increased, if anything. Nobody would now question that in the Middle East we are faced with a highly explosive situation in which the danger of hostility between Israel and the Arab States is the dominant feature. A vacuum of power in this region would provide an irresistible temptation to aggression and a threat to peace which neither Britain nor any other Western power could afford to take lightly.
But Britain alone among the Western countries has a military presence in the area, based on Aden, and a defence treaty with the South Arabian Federation which the previous Conservative Government had agreed to maintain at the request of the federation after it became independent.
The present Government's decision to give up the Aden base and to announce that it would do so in 1968, when South Arabian independence was due, was a rash and premature action which has already had serious consequences and could have even more serious ones in the future. I was recently in the United States, with a Parliamentary delegation to the United Nations, and I visited Washington while I was there. I was impressed by the widespread feeling among informed opinion there on the desirability of reconsidering our decision to leave Aden by the date announced.
Instead of acknowledging defeat in the Yemen and withdrawing the Egyptian army of occupation from that country, as he undertook to do under the Jeddah agreement with King Feisal, President Nasser has kept the army there and has even raised its strength to about 50,000 1214 men. The terrorist campaign in Aden, directed and financed from across the Yemen border, has been intensified. There is widespread concern in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran about the developments.
The conclusions that I draw from this situation are, first, that a British military presence in Aden should be maintained—not as an open-ended and timeless commitment, but as a holding operation until the South Arabian Federation can assure its own defence and independence—secondly, that the key to that defence is to provide the Federation with its own air force—which is a task that Britain should undertake—and, thirdly, that we should do all we can to strengthen our co-operation with friendly Arab countries in the area and with Iran, who have an important part to play in buttressing the fragile balance of power in the Middle East.
It is sometimes suggested that our supplies of oil from the Middle East, which constitute a British asset of great economic and strategic importance, would continue to reach us even if we withdrew entirely from the area, because the Arabs would want to continue to sell us the oil. This assumption may be correct, but I suggest that it is a very risky and dangerous one. Moreover, we should recognise that, in a way, the oil companies are the custodians of Western interests in the area. They are under constant pressure from the oil providing countries for ever greater revenues.
The pressure is continuous and the demands seemingly insatiable. The oil companies must not allow themselves to be pressurised into accepting unreasonable requests, and if they do we must realise that it is the consumer countries which will suffer vastly and in a whole variety of ways. The oil companies are, in a fashion, the middle men between the oil-producing countries and the oil-consuming countries. It is in the interests of the West and, in particular of Great Britain, that they should receive support.
I do not believe that we should be forgiven if we abandoned the area to terror and chaos by irresponsibly creating a power vacuum. Our friends, representing as they do the forces of stability, would consider our action impossible to defend or to understand. Our continued presence 1215 for a time in Aden is almost certainly an essential requirement to guard against chaos and I hope that, together with our friends in the Middle East and the United States, we shall at least reconsider our timetable.
I now turn to the question of Britain's relationship with Europe in the immediate future. This is not a static relationship. The fundamental factors and influences, economic and political, as well as in defence, are constantly changing and the evidence is that the majority of these changes have not been in our favour. Those of us who believe that the future of Europe lies within the European Economic Community welcome the Government's recent statements of their intention to explore the possibilities of joining the Common Market, but we need constant reassurance that this is a serious intent.
The European reaction was clearly quite mixed. There are still plenty of Europeans—not only among the French—who are suspicious of our position. They must now be unequivocally persuaded that our intentions are sincere, and that we shall eventually wish to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the cause of Europe and as a true partner. But before the actual period of negotiations begins we must strive that much harder to put ourselves in the position of the members of the Community and to understand their views and attitudes.
It is clear now that, despite a host of practical and political problems, the Common Market is moving ahead and is doing so at a rapid pace. Of course, the harmonisation problems facing the Community are innumerable, and the permanent official establishment at Brussels frequently does not see eye to eye with their political masters in the council of ministers.
These, to some extent natural difficulties, and the delicate question of moving from purely economic agreement to the wider political aspects, lends some force to the argument that Britain should not blunder in at the wrong moment. On the other hand, it would be disastrous if we were to use these problems as an excuse to delay further. Several years from now the three communities will be fused into one structure. Subsequently, the end of 1216 the decade will bring the crucial phase, when the Common Market will yet again have to resolve the issues of establishing a direct budget for the supra-national commission and of giving power to the European Parliament.
I believe that it is vital that Britain should be in and should be able to influence that historic process. In advanced scientific application and technology, Britain has a tremendous amount to offer. One example is that of Euratom. It is disappointing that our current research agreement with Euratom is so narrow.
In more practical terms, we have access to supplies of evicted uranium, of which there are no sources within the Community at present. We are already supplying small quantities of fissile material, such as plutonium, for research. Surely the time has come for us to attempt much closer joint arrangements in preparation for our eventual membership. We should be able to capitalise on the desire of the member countries, particularly that of France, not to start major new research without Britain after the third research programme starts in 1968.
Finally, there is the vital matter of defence. One striking feature of the last few years has been the relaxation of tension in Europe and the diminished hostility between the Eastern European bloc and the Community. This does not, of course, remove the need for a coherent Western European defence strategy. We have much to offer the French, above all in terms of our nuclear contributions to the defence of Europe. Soviet fears, partly assumed, partly genuine, of Germany's access to nuclear forces can be placated effectively only if Germany and France were prevented from going it alone.
The M.L.F. concept is now redundant. It will be Britain's task to prepare a realistic set of new and alternative proposals. The wider question of our whole attitude to foreign policy is bound up with this. It is no excuse for us to repeat ad nauseam that the movement to greater unity in Europe will have nothing to do with our defence and foreign policy. Significantly, the Foreign Secretary's repetition of this claim in our debate last month on the Common Market was received with considerable hostility in Europe and the British Government are 1217 now under the test of their own sincerity. Let them show that they have the courage of their convictions and are not merely seeking the narrower but still considerable economic advantages of joining the Economic Community alone.
Brita in has a historic function to perform in Europe. It is that of directing Europe towards a share in worldwide responsibilities. This is too great a goal and an opportunity for it to be fluffed. The Prime Minister is quite good in his tactical manoeuvres. We find him a trifle exhibitionistic at times, but tactically he has not been a complete failure. But he has been disastrously unsuccessful in his strategy, whether it has been dealing with the economic situation at home or in his more recent dealings overseas, there can be no question that he has failed and failed utterly. I sincerely hope that he will not repeat this pattern in his strategy on Europe, and that he will be successful. We wish him luck, but we will certainly watch his progress with special care and attention and wariness.
§ 6.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Stanley Henig (Lancaster)
I also, should like to refer in some detail to the role which Germany must play in our foreign policy towards Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I also feel that it would be wrong if I did not give some support to the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) about the danger of Nazism in Germany. Of course, it would be wrong if we in this House or the country were to panic and if, in expressing our concern, we were to draw undue attention to the activities of the National Democratic Party. On the other hand, looking back on the history of 30 years ago, no one can say that people in public life in this country and other Western countries then did their duty either by themselves or by the people they represented.
Let us be clear: they failed completely because they never took seriously anything which happened inside Germany. I sincerely hope that the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths) is right and that the National Democratic Party is a nine-days wonder, but he may be wrong. I hope that, if so, we in this House and in the country will not be slow to raise our voices and warn our 1218 friends in Germany—many of us have friends in Germany—that this is not just a German question, for the people of that country, but a question which may affect all of us.
The question of European defence arrangements has been underlying the Common Market debate ever since the Prime Minister's statement. It is widely recognised now that one of the reasons for the breakdown in 1963 was the Nassau Agreement between this country and the United States. Far be it from me to make any comment about the degree of diplomatic skill shown at the time by those negotiating simultaneously with President de Gaulle—who was not likely to receive this with any sympathy—and with the President of the United State for the Nassau deal. None the less, it has been a tradition since then that, somehow, this caused the breakdown.
It is now said to the Front Bench of the party which was then in opposition that they should not make the same mistake, but should go in immediately for some defence arrangements. Let us be clear what this means. The suggestion is that we go to President de Gaulle and say, "Let us put our cards on the table. We will go in for some kind of nuclear deal with you and you will let us into Europe." This is what people are talking about, so we should consider this argument as it stands.
Although a new Member of the House, I have been for some time a pro-European and active in the European movement and I personally would find this price too high to pay. I would, in that case, far rather wait until President de Gaulle himself—who, I understand, on good authority, is not immortal—is no longer on the scene. What would happen? France and this country would make some kind of European defence arrangements involving nuclear weapons, Fine. We are confident of what this country's leaders will do with nuclear weapons, and I think that we can be confident that La Gloire is no more than just a sophisticated joke.
But what will happen in all this to Germany? There seem to be three possibilities. First, we could have a European defence force with nuclear weapons, of which Germany would be a full and equal member. This will satisfy Germany, though I doubt very much 1219 that it will make any one in Eastern Europe happy and it will terrify the Soviet Union. Anything more likely to keep permanent the split in Europe and Germany is hard to imagine.
The second possibility is that, although Germany helps to pay for this European defence force—after all, German wealth and economic power make up a good deal of Western Europe these days—Germany would not be in the defence force. I wonder how long the Germans would be content to carry on paying for something when they saw less from it than other Western European countries.
Then there is a third possibility, which seemingly has a lot of appeal. It is that Britain and France alone should have the nuclear weapons, a sort of Anglo-French arrangement, with the Germans being completely out of it—not a particularly good augury for our future partnership in Europe. The idea is that somehow we and one other country in Europe should make a package deal at the expense of the others, although this would not seem likely to make for stability. Considering these possibilities for our getting into Europe—the price that we might have to pay to get in—if one looks further, one comes up against all sorts of difficulties.
A second argument follows on. It is an interesting one, because a group of hon. Gentlemen opposite are, in effect, saying, "Let us make our defence arrangements with Europe, because N.A.T.O. is out of date; and we can then move towards winding up N.A.T.O.". Some of my hon. Friends also want to wind up N.A.T.O., although, to be fair to them, they wish to do so for rather different reasons.
Thus, we have a ganging up of people in different positions on the poor old North Atlantic Alliance. I describe it as "poor old" because in the eyes of many people the biggest crime committed by the alliance is that it has been successful. It was set up at a time when the Soviet Union was expansionist—which, I believe, it is not today—when Czechoslovakia had fallen, when other countries in Eastern Europe had been occupied and when it looked as though Soviet ambition would stop at nothing. 1220 Whatever else it might have done, the North Atlantic Alliance has stabilised the position.
Twenty years ago most pundits, if asked to predict, where the third world war would be likely to break out, assuming that there would be one, would probably have replied "Europe". I very much doubt today whether anyone would suggest that, and the existence of N.A.T.O. is one of the reasons for this state of affairs. However, some people go on from there to suggest that because war is unlikely N.A.T.O. is now expendable. I argue that N.A.T.O. is not expendable. We have a balance in Europe and while it might be said that, under certain circumstances, that balance might be changed, to give it up for nothing would be dangerous.
There is another consideration, which again revolves around the whole German question, remembering that Germany is the exposed outpost facing the Soviet Union, expansionist or not. Germany will not be particularly happy at anything which, by weakening the Western Alliance, sees to weaken the guarantees which it has. In such a situation Germany would have two choices. First, it might say, "France is not doing much for N.A.T.O., nor is Britain. Will the United States do more than it has done before? Will the United States make us its chief ally"? And Washington would have to consider that possibility. I have never fancied a situation in which, for any reason at all, Germany became the chief ally of the United States, but I will come to that later. The second danger is that Germany would feel some inducement towards breaking the Western European Union and, perhaps, begin to acquire some A, B, or C weapons, which would create no happier a solution.
That brings me to the question of the British Army of the Rhine, a commitment which we have undertaken very much within the context of the Western Alliance. It is easy, and probably right, to say that the foreign exchange costs of maintaining B.A.O.R. are very high and that West Germany has not shown many signs of wanting to meet those costs. I am not surprised at that, considering—and we tend to forget this—why B.A.O.R. was put there in the first place.
1221 B.A.O.R. was established there in 1954–55 because—and let us be frank about this—the French and others feared Germany rearming and being in N.A.T.O. unless there was a British military commitment. B.A.O.R. was, therefore, committed to that rôle, not to defend Germany but to make certain that the Germans did not become beastly again, and it is important that we keep this fact in the forefront of our minds.
It follows that this is a very good reason why we should keep our forces in Germany—both to stop the danger to which I referred and because, if we renege on our N.A.T.O. commitments, as the French reneged on theirs, Germany and the United States might seem like becoming a sort of Western axis, and, in view of recent developments, we should keep an eye on what is going on in Germany.
B.A.O.R. is expensive, but it is also expensive for us to have forces east of Suez and in Aden. It is expensive, and so, perhaps, are sanctions against Rhodesia. I have even heard it suggested, despite the great pretensions that some hon. Gentlemen opposite have for this country, that the cost of bringing sanctions against Rhodesia will be crippling to us and that we will be ruined if we go in for mandatory sanctions. That is a little hard to believe, but it seems to boil down to the fact that we must begin to define the rôle we wish to play in world affairs, remembering that we cannot possibly do all these things.
I have suggested that, as a stabilising force, we should stay in Europe. I say that because the cost for the contribution which B.A.O.R. is making to the stability of Europe—its cost in terms of foreign exchange or in any other way one likes to look at it—is remarkably small. However, I am much less certain about what we are doing east of Suez. Now that the confrontation between Malaysia and Indonesia is, happily, over, it does not seem that we have much more of a function there. There may he something in the argument that there should be another non-American force east of Suez, but I do not believe that it is likely to have much effect on what the Americans or anyone else in the area will do.
I hope that my right hon. Friend will elucidate on this point when he replies 1222 because in the last few months I have heard two views expressed about the possible intentions of Her Majesty's Government in this matter. One is that there is no long-run need for Britain to retain a military presence east of Suez. It is claimed, from that, that we can freely cut down on our commitments there so that, perhaps by about 1975, we will have no forces east of Suez. That is a highly sensible view, for although it is wrong to lay down datelines, that would appear to be a pragmatic approach which faces the realities of the situation.
The second view is that there is something for Britain to continue to do east of Suez and that that "something" will remain through the 'seventies, into the 'eighties and possibly even into the 'nineties. Perhaps there is, but I very much doubt that we will be able to afford to do it; at least, not on our own.
We must have a clear look at precisely what we are trying to do in the world and get ourselves into a position in which, when we attempt to do something we can be certain that, at that very point, we can apply sufficient pressure to ensure that we will be effective. Whatever may be said about the past, I do not believe that we can continue to apply effective force and pressures in the Middle East, the Far East and in Europe.
If we join the Community, new horizons and possibilities will emerge. If we think that a non-American second Western force would be useful east of Suez, then that presents a new possibility. We may go to our French, German and Italian partners and say, "We have been east of Suez in the past. We have fulfilled a balancing rôle there, but we can no longer do it alone. We think that, for such and such reasons, it is important that we should maintain a European military presence east of Suez." Our partners might reply, "Yes", or "No", but at least what they decide will be relevant because Europe could be a strong, effective military force east of Suez if it so wished. Far be it for me to argue whether or not Europe should wish to be such a force, for that is hypothetical. I am merely saying that inside Europe we can begin to move towards a situation in which we can exercise ourselves in world affairs.
1223 A similar question arises about the way in which we sometimes seem to go overboard on the subject of Vietnam, and here I take issue with some of my hon. Friends. One hundred years ago we could have sent gunboats to Vietnam to chase away the Americans, the Chinese and anyone else in the area.
That day has, unfortunately, passed. The Vietnamese war is, of course, the most serious menace at the moment to world peace, although it is not one which it lies in our power to do very much about. We can try to take the initiative to achieve peace there. It has sometimes been suggested that no one will take any notice of this country unless we dissociate ourselves from the Americans, so that we are neutral and are known to be neutral towards the conflict. This would lead to an imbalance, because our co-Chairman of the Geneva conference, the Soviet Union, would be no more neutral than we are at the moment. This is the kind of difficulty one is up against.
On the other hand—and here I come back to my main theme—I do not like the idea of this country adopting a "holier than thou" attitude. I cannot accept some of the rather slurring remarks made by one of my hon. Friends earlier in the debate about American public opinion. What would, in fact, be the effect of this country adopting a "holier than thou" attitude, publicly denouncing the United States, and saying that we should have nothing to do with them, because theirs was an appalling and dreadful policy?
Perhaps it would have no effect other than in making the gesture. But if it has any effect at all, what sort of effect would it be? Will the United States say, "The British must be right. We must withdraw immediately"? Will they come running to London and appeal to the Foreign Secretary? Will they say, "Quick, arrange a peace conference; we are ready to talk"? I really do not think so. Or will they say, "You cannot rely on the British. We are involved in something which we consider to be important, and they do this kind of thing to us in an area of the world in which they are not capable of doing anything".
If Britain adopts a hostile and critical attitude towards the United States who, as the most powerful nation, is naturally 1224 the main whipping boy for everything—although it is not half as bad as people make it out to be—the Atlantic world will be faced with turmoil which, with turmoils going on elsewhere in the world, we can ill afford.
This brings me back to the point I was making, that France—and I have not the slightest respect for de Gaulle's foreign policy, because it takes us back to a bygone age of nationalism—is not an effective member of the Atlantic Alliance. The French have not fulfilled their commitments and today I do not think that anybody would really trust de Gaulle or the French when they give a commitment.
It is these issues, connected very much with German internal stability, and the danger to Europe of a situation in which Germany alone appears as the loyal chief ally of the United States, which I should like to pose in this debate. Within the context of going into Europe—on which all political parties are now agreed—we have to make a firm decision on where we stand in world affairs. My belief is that this country must and will go into Europe, and European organisations will then be the context for how we act in the rest of the world.
Although, in future, there will no doubt be a European defence arrangement going beyond anything we have at the moment, the time is not now ripe—again because of the German situation—for making widespread agreements of a nuclear kind with de Gaulle. I hope and believe that both sides of the House will not give any reasons for de Gaulle supposing that anyone in public life in this country is prepared to make this kind of nuclear agreement.
I am certain that de Gaulle would let Britain in for this reason. If he believes that any substantive body of opinion in this country is prepared to make that particular concession, then, unless we make that concession, he will again torpedo the negotiations. I am quite sure that everyone, whatever his political colour, recognises that this would be a tragedy for all of us.
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. James Davidson (Aberdeenshire, West)
I hope to confine my remarks to the Far East, but, at the same time, I should like to make a plea that this country should stand much more firmly 1225 on her own feet in the field of foreign policy while at the same time remaining loyal to her alliances.
I was a little surprised when I led a delegation to the Liberal International in Copenhagen during the Recess to find myself accused of being a fellow traveller because I took it upon myself to criticise American action in Vietnam. Apparently the Russians think I am an enemy of the people, so I do not know where I stand.
Nevertheless, I do not believe that criticism of the United States is in any sense disloyalty. In fact, if it is constructive criticism, it is, I think, an act of friendship. We have suffered too long from a sickening sense of humility, and the present Foreign Secretary will do much to change that in regard to our foreign policy.
We have been very much the junior partners. I hope that we will pass out of this phase and even resort, on occasions, to using a little legitimate pressure on our allies to try to bend them towards our own opinions.
We have heard a great deal recently about our commitments east of Suez. We know that the annual cost of our commitment in Singapore amounts to about £235 million and over £70 million in foreign exchange. We cannot afford this—I am certain of that—but at the same time we have clear obligations, such as those towards S.E.A.T.O. S.E.A.T.O. includes, of course, Australia and New Zealand. I suggest that we might exert a little pressure on the United States and Australia and that if they want us to remain, at least for the time being, in Singapore, they should be asked to share some of the cost. We should use this as a lever on the United States and Australia, and possibly on New Zealand and on other members of S.E.A.T.O., to try to change their policy, which has been evident in the last few weeks, of obstructing the admission of China to the United Nations Organisation.
I should like to outline at least three reasons why I consider it to be extremely important that China should be admitted to the United Nations Organisation. The three are fairly obvious, the first particularly so. About 600 million people are in a sense disenfranchised from the only international assembly that works. Secondly, I believe it would enable us to 1226 bring to the surface in the international forum the differences which exist between the U.S.S.R. and China. We could bring this conflict into the open. We might get some more news than we have at the moment about the depth of their differences, the territorial differences over Sinkiang and the area of the Amur River, as well as the ideological differences which separate the Communist world.
Thirdly, it is difficult to see how a solution to the Vietnam war can be arrived at while China is still excluded from the United Nations Organisation. There is the supreme difficulty of bringing to the conference table all the parties concerned in the Vietnam war. Might I suggest that if China were in the United Nations and, at the same time, an intention was publicly stated of admitting representatives of a reunited Vietnam to the United Nations, there would be the possibility of a solution by a third party resolution, using the United Nations, the U.S.S.R., and China as channels of communications to Hanoi without necessarily convening a conference.
I believe that the first necessity is, obviously, a cease-fire. This includes the cessation of bombing by the United States, and the necessity for supervision of the 17th Parallel and the Laotian border by an international control commission agreed to by the Vietnamese. They have already opposed the presence of a United Nations force, but they have not come out against the presence of an international control commission—the same international control commission should supervise all Vietnam elections. The United States would have to agree to withdraw, within a specified time, from the acceptance by all parties concerned of the international control commission concept.
I turn to what I regard as the second corner of the Far Eastern danger triangle—Thailand. I was there recently for a few days after accompanying the official delegation to Singapore, and I confess that I have come back with a very much greater understanding of the affairs in that area than before I went there. We were fortunate to have talks with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and the Deputy Prime Minister in Singapore, and with others there who are well aware of what is going on behind the scenes. In 1227 Bangkok I was able to speak with senior officials in the Western embassies; with Thai and British business men who know the underground very well; with General Vargas, Chief of S.E.A.T.O. and his New Zealand deputy, Mr. Wraite, and with members of E.C.A.F.E.—the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East.
Following on these talks, I want to make several points—some fairly obvious. First, there are tremendous opportunities for British trade in the Bangkok-Thailand area, and I am quite certain that Lord Rhodes will put that view to the Government. I think that the Thais would rather trade with us than with our main competitors there, the Japanese, for obvious reasons—a point that British business men might wish to take into account.
Another point is that the Americans are using Thailand as a base for the Vietnam war, and that, I suggest, indirectly involves us, because the United States of America, Thailand and ourselves are all members of S.E.A.T.O. A third point is that Singapore still features very definitely in the contingency planning of S.E.A.T.O. We therefore have an extra commitment to consider when we are wondering whether, and for how long, we should remain in the Singapore base.
Communist activities in Thailand, both in the north-east and down on the Malaysia border, appear at the moment to be contained, but we should consider the possibility that this is only the end of Phase I of Mao Tse-tung's scheme of guerilla warfare. That possibility should be watched.
It was made perfectly obvious to us that the Government of Singapore would like us to remain there, for the time being at least. They would prefer a British presence to an American presence in the island. Further, I suppose that it is well known to most hon. Members that we have an immense investment in the complex of bases of all three Services in the area. Therefore, although we alone cannot carry the cost of the Singapore base, and although, in the long run, we will inevitably have to withdraw, we should be prepared to remain there for the time being provided that Australia and other S.E.A.T.O. countries are pre- 1228 pared to share the cost. It must also be remembered that if we get out of Singapore there is a real danger that it would be squeezed to death between its politically and economically unstable neighbours to the north and south—Malaysia and Indonesia.
After leaving Bangkok I was fortunate to spend two or three days in Delhi as a guest of the Indian Government. The area between Bhutan and Sikkim is, in my view, the third corner of the danger triangle in the Far East. The triangle also includes Burma. Not many people can go into Burma, but I met a British business man who is one of the few Europeans who goes in and out of that country, and he told me that the Burmese have tended to retreat from the twentieth century. This is the only consolidated opinion I could get on Burma.
The Indians are also worried about Assam—and incredibly fearful of the Chinese. There is no doubt at all that the 1962 invasion was a traumatic experience from which India has certainly not recovered. There is little immediate danger of Communism getting a hold in India, because of the depth of religious feeling but, because of that, the Indians have to pay for one type of security in terms of another.
They have vast and rather pathetic herds of uneconomic sacred cows. They have famine, and a vast storage and distribution problem. I suggest that if we were economically in a position to help India there would be two things, in a technical sense, that we could do. We could not only help with the techniques of human birth control, but could seek to persuade the Indians to extend these techniques to the sacred cows. By this means, religious scruples against cow slaughter might be overcome. Perhaps I ought to have consulted my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. David Steel) before flying this particular kite. This may sound a humorous reference, but it is a serious matter which, if remedied, would help to solve the enormous problems that exist in India.
A second method of technical aid, and one that we could possibly do more immediately, would be to help in the techniques of grain storage and distribution. I am informed on very good 1229 authority that about 20 per cent. of India's total annual output of grain is consumed by vermin—more than enough to feed the thousands of starving people in Bihar and the U.P. On a bright moonlit night I flew over those two provinces, lying in the plain of Northern India. Looking down on them, it was hard to appreciate that thousands of people were starving while there is in the world sufficient grain to feed them. This is a problem of storing and distribution, and of persuading the people of India to cast off inhibitions and face up to agricultural techniques in the mid-sixties.
I return to India's fear of China. Hon. Members opposite may be interested to know that an Indian politician told me that if the matter of a non-proliferation treaty came up, he did not see how we or anyone else could possibly expect the Indians to sign it when they were almost certain that the Chinese would also refuse to sign it. I took that as a tacit statement that majority opinion in such circumstances would be against a nonproliferation treaty—which, incidentally, seems to me to be a very long way off at present in both the European and the Asian sense.
There is no doubt that this country is at present somewhat too poor to play the part it should do in helping the underdeveloped countries. We certainly cannot do it alone, but I think that all hon. Members would agree that as a member of an enlarged European Economic Community we could. The centre of gravity of the so-called confrontation has swung to the east. Europe, for the first time in 20 years, is regaining self-respect and standing on her own feet—although I do not under-estimate the inherent latent dangers of nationalism that have been referred to in this debate.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of our European commitment, and I should like, in passing, to express the hope that if we are working towards cutting down the cost of our military commitment in Europe it will not be done, for instance, by reducing manpower and replacing it with an increase of so-called tactical nuclear weapons. That is a highly dangerous conception. This is not the time for a hesitant and cheeseparing approach to Europe, but a time to join with France—the other traditional pillar of European civilisation—in looking for ways to meet 1230 Eastern Europe, to lead Europe out of the wood, and to direct its latent nationalism into the right channels.
In regard to this Communist confrontation, I, too, like the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker), certainly do not subscribe to the domino theory of Communist expansion. Although I am as aware as most people of the activities of international Communism, basically I believe that China is in search of security, not world domination. I have always believed that the conditions for Communist progress are fairly simple ones. Communist progress takes place in the aftermath of a war. It takes place in an atmosphere of economic chaos. It is almost invariably motivated by an indigenous Communist movement, not an external one. It is an indigenous Communist movement which is usually inextricably tangled with the narrowest form of nationalism.
I have talked briefly of Thailand, Singapore, and India. In none of these three countries do these conditions of Communism exist at present. We can ensure that they never do by forging links of technical aid and trade and using all the means at our disposal to do so. In my view, we can do this only from a strong economic foundation, which can be obtained only by entry into the European Common Market.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Frank Hooley (Sheffield, Heeley)
I welcome the fact that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, in opening the debate, began from the proposition that we were committed to support the development of the United Nations. I was rather sorry that he did not develop this theme further before going off at a tangent and talking about N.A.T.O. and other matters.
I want to refer specifically to a decision of the General Assembly of the United Nations which was taken on 27th October of this year, which, I believe, is of very great and critical importance for that organisation. It was a resolution passed by 114 nations, with only two adverse votes, concerning South-West Africa. I shall quote some of the operative paragraphs of the resolution, which commanded the joint support of the Communist countries and the N.A.T.O. countries of the West.
1231 The essential paragraphs of the resolution are as follows:The General AssemblyDeclares that South Africa has failed to fulfil its obligations in respect of the administration of the mandated territory and to ensure the moral and material well-being and security of the indigenous inhabitants of South-West Africa and has, in fact, disavowed the mandate;Decides that the mandate conferred upon his Britannic Majesty to be exercised on his behalf by the Government of the Union of South Africa is therefore terminated and that South Africa has no other right to administer the territory, and that henceforth South-West Africa comes under the direct responsibility of the United Nations;Resolves that in these circumstances the United Nations must discharge those responsibilities with respect to South-West Africa.The resolution goes on to call the attention of the Security Council and other bodies to this decision.
This decision means that the international community has decided to assert its authority in defence of half a million people in South West Africa who have been disfranchised, oppressed and exploited by the very country which was originally appointed as their guardian. The decision is extremely important, because it must lead to a confrontation between the United Nations and South Africa itself. It is a challenge to both sides. It is a challenge to South Africa to accept the judgment of the world on its discharge of the mandate. It is also a challenge to the United Nations to assert its right to protect the inhabitants of that country if South Africa refuses to accept the world's verdict on its administration.
We do not at present know what South Africa's answer will be, or whether there will be any form of co-operation between the South Africa Government and such body as the Assembly may appoint to discharge the new function it has assumed. But if South Africa declines to accept its judgment, and to accept the authority of the international body, some form of sanction, some form of pressure, will have to be brought to bear to bring the South African Government into compliance with the world's decision.
In this matter, the attitude of the United Kingdom and of the British Government will be extremely important. It is well known that this country is a major external investor in South African industry. 1232 We have a stake amounting to about £1,000 million in South African industry. Our trade with South Africa has been built up steadily over the years and successive British Governments have blithely ignored the coming collision which was bound to occur in view of South Africa's apartheid policies. We have gone on building up trade and, indeed, have allowed South Africa to enjoy Commonwealth preference long after the time when she became a Republic and left the Commonwealth. We also have military commitments in the form of the Simonstown base.
The question which will face this country is: do we support the United Nations? Shall we back whatever decision the world community takes to enforce its guardianship over the people of South West Africa, or shall we continue to take our profits and ignore the views and opinions of the international community?
One very important aspect of this problem cannot be stressed too strongly. One can argue about the competence of the United Nations to pass judgment on South Africa's internal policies. It is arguable, and it has been argued over many years that apartheid, the social relationships of the peoples within South Africa, is debarred by the Charter from discussions within the U.N. or from action by the international community.
However, this argument cannot apply in any fashion to the problem of South-West Africa, which has always been, and which has been specifically ruled by the International Court to continue to be, international responsibility. The International Court has ruled very precisely that the United Nations is fully entitled to carry on the responsibilities originally held by the League of Nations under the mandate system.
Therefore, if South Africa refuses to accept or bow to the judgment and actions of the United Nations on South West Africa, it cannot do so on any valid legal grounds and the United Nations will face the challenge either of enforcing its decision or of falling into disrepute. In this respect, we have to guard very carefully our policy and attitude.
I believe that if the United Nations were to default on its obligations to the 1233 indigenous people of South-West Africa, if it were to fail to go forward from the resolution, to implement it and assert its authority, the African States would become disillusioned and would despair of the world authority, with possible fatal consequences for its future development. This problem is part of the problem of Southern Africa as a whole. The Congo has recently complained to the Security Council about the behaviour of Portuguese forces in Angola and about incidents on the border between the Congo and Angola.
Many African States have complained that Portugal is using N.A.T.O. arms to pursue the policy of oppressing the peoples in Angola and Mozambigue. Although one may reasonably acquit Portugal of apartheid or racist policies, she has, nevertheless, shown no inclination to permit her subject peoples in Angola and Mozambique to progress towards the kind of independence and self-determination which other peoples in Africa have now come to regard as their birthright.
I understand that tomorrow the House will debate in some detail the question of Rhodesia, and, therefore, I do not want to go on to that problem, although it is obviously closely related to the problem of South Africa and the Portuguese territories. I want only to say that if sanctions are asked for and granted under Article 41 this country will also do well to explore the provisions of Article 50 of the Charter, which specifically provides that if preventive or enforcement measures are taken by the Security Council any State which finds itself confronted with special economic problems shall have a right to consult the Security Council with regard to a solution of those problems.
That point was referred to earlier in the debate by my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) and it is extremely important, because in making use of international machinery, we are entitled to ask that other States should support us under the provisions of the United Nations Charter. I hope that urgent discussions will he embarked upon by Her Majesty's Government on the possibilities of commercial or monetary attack on this country by those who are anxious to support Mr. Smith's régime.
1234 I believe that Southern Africa is a testing ground for the United Nations and for world security. But it is not the only area in which the United Nations has a rôle to play. I welcome the statement by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary that he is inviting the active co-operation of the United Nations in the problem of the transfer of power in Southern Arabia. There is an excellent precedent for that kind of operation in the history of the U.N. The territory of West Irian in Indonesia was transferred from Dutch to Indonesian sovereignty by a special operation in which a small supervisory force of United Nations troops took part. I am glad to say that the troops were supplied by one of our Commonwealth countries, Pakistan.
That operation was carried out in a highly successful and civilised manner. I see no reason why a similar operation should not be mounted in Southern Arabia possibly making use of the same Commonwealth country that served so well on that other occasion. I am certain that a United Nations presence or force in Southern Arabia will do a great deal more to help the stability of that part of the world than the supply of highly sophisticated aircraft to Saudi Arabia. I much regret the Government's decision to supply that kind of aircraft to the Middle East.
Equally, I am perturbed and concerned by the logic of the Government's policy in apparently transferring our military presence from Southern Arabia to the Persian Gulf. I have not been able to obtain a clear statement from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on the extent of the military build-up now going on in the Persian Gulf, but my impression is that it is considerable and that we are building ourselves a substantial military position in that area. I do not understand the logic of abandoning the military position in Southern Arabia to build up the whole complex of problems over again in the Persian Gulf and I hope that this problem will be dealt with by the Minister at the end of the debate.
Action by the United Nations in Southern Africa and possible action in Southern Arabia highlight the lack of action in the Far East. We have had 1235 some comments on Vietnam in the debate, and while I welcome very much the proposals which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary made at the Labour Party Conference and again at the General Assembly, I could wish for a more vigorous diplomatic offensive within the United Nations as a means of getting those proposals on the move. I am glad that the speech was made at the General Assembly, but we should also have within the Security Council a vigorous initiative from the United Kingdom to get the machinery of the United Nations involved in the desperately difficult problem of Vietnam.
I find it difficult to understand what our unilateral military presence in the Far East is now supposed to mean. It is true that we have withdrawn a fair number of troops, and I understand that next year the process of withdrawal will continue. But it is not at all clear to me what the residual forces in and around Singapore will have to do, or what diplomatic influence they are supposed to exercise. If a stabilising force is required in that part of the world, the only useful stabilising force would be one brought together by Asian countries, and preferably under international command.
I believe that there is a possibility, if we would grasp it, of transferring some of our erstwhile imperial responsibilities to the United Nations by agreement, by careful negotiation, and using the kind of position which we acquired decades ago in Singapore and such places as a foundation for transferring imperial power to a new kind of power which we want to see developed—the power of the U.N. and of the international community. I do not underrate the difficulty of that process, nor do I suppose that it can be accomplished overnight. But it is a process which must begin somewhere and this country can give it a beginning. It can make a start because historically we have the residue of what are almost police posts around the world, which we cannot sustain militarily and economically, but which constitute a possible skeleton of an international service for keeping the peace, or at least supervising potential danger spots.
I hope to hear the Minister's views about the future of United Nations peace 1236 keeping as the British Government see it. There have been some interesting initiatives from Canada and Ireland on the financing of U.N. peace-keeping forces. What are Her Majesty's Government's views on these initiatives, and how far do they think it possible for the United Kingdom to support them, develop them and follow them up?
The United Nations is mankind's chief instrument for preserving the rule of law, promoting peaceful change and fighting poverty. I welcome the Foreign Secretary's renewed declaration of faith in this principle, and I look forward to a foreign policy which will implement it in the years to come.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) said that he had had difficulty in acquiring any information about the size and shape of the British military build-up in the Persian Gulf. I am not altogether surprised. One of the main supposed reasons for our leaving Aden in such precipitate haste is to save money. In fact, it is intended to spend in the Persian Gulf over the next few years twice as much money on buildings and accommodation as we spent in Aden during the last two years. Therefore, from the standpoint of economy, it is hardly surprising that the Government do not wish to see the information widely spread.
I imagine that some of the hon. Gentleman's remarks will not have made him over-popular with his own Front Bench, from which in these debates I regret the passing of the right hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart). I used to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman, when he was Foreign Secretary, not only on his forthright exposition of British policy east of Suez, but also on his explanation and, at times, defence of what the Americans were doing in South Vietnam. Indeed, I often thought that, if there were half a dozen members of the American Administration who could put the case with the force and clarity which the right hon. Gentleman had, the American Administration would be in a much more comfortable position today.
As a sort of obituary note, I thank the ex-Foreign Secretary for the speeches which he used to make. I am sure that 1237 he had nothing whatever to do with the rather squalid exchanges in the spring and early summer about the sale and use of British weapons in Vietnam. I am sure that that was entirely the responsibility of the Prime Minister. Hon. Members opposite can rest quietly. During my visit to Vietnam at the time of the last Recess, I found that British arms are not being used and, indeed, British arms are not needed.
Some weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting the Australian task force in Vietnam which is adding to the great Australian military tradition of courage and friendship. I asked the commander of the Australian base camp what items of British origin he had in his great stockpile. There are three. First, there is the floppy sort of hat which people use while going through thick underbrush. Second, there is an antiseptic cream which is useful for curing athlete's foot. Third, and far away the most important contribution which we make to the Australians, there is whisky.
In fact, the most important contribution which this country has made altogether to the Vietnam conflict in the last few years has been the supply of whisky. Our exports of whisky to this troubled country during the current year are likely to be as large as our entire exports to Vietnam, a mere three years ago.
Some of our contributions, of course, are non-alcoholic. Although at one time we were busy protesting that British arms could not be used in the conflict, we are at this moment, under our overseas aid programme, installing at the cost of several thousand pounds a night landing system on the main Saigon airfield, probably the most heavily used airfield now in the whole world and, as anyone who has been to Saigon will know, one of the main air bases in the entire country, which is used for very many military missions.
Rather oddly, we have reached a stage in our approach to the Vietnam battle at which we say to the Americans, "We will not sell you rockets for use in your aircraft, but we will spend several thousand pounds installing navigational aid systems at the airport which your aircraft use to guide them back when they have carried out their missions". This 1238 seems to be a rather odd separation of functions.
There are other aid projects which are less inconsistent and less ambivalent. Anyone who knows anything about Vietnam will agree that there must be a long period of pacification and anti-terrorist activity after the defeat of the Vietcong main force battalions and the main force battalions from North Vietnam, and that during this period the Vietnamese police will have an increasingly important role to play. At present, we have a mission of half a dozen policemen in Vietnam helping to train the South Vietnamese force, and a very good job they have been doing.
There are in this country men who have the right experience and the right seniority for giving training of this sort, and I know that they would be welcome in Vietnam. I hope, therefore, that the size of our police training mission will be enlarged substantially over the next few months.
I hope, also, that we shall be able to undertake the maintenance of a teacher training college in that troubled country, because so many teachers in the last few years have unfortunately been murdered by the Vietcong that there is a desperate shortage of teachers. A proposal is on the table and I hope that the administrative difficulties can be ironed out and the scheme go ahead.
I hope that we shall increase the material aid which we give to Vietnam, but I hope, also, that the Government will be a little more parsimonous than in the past with some of their diplomatic initiatives. Too many failures devalue future efforts and every one of the initiatives that we have taken in the last two years has been a failure.
There is also a suspicion that some of the gimmicks that have been launched have been thought out because of a necessity to produce a new initiative to paper over the difficulties in the Labour Party. If one is making a major diplomatic initiative, it is not a good idea to launch it at a party conference at a time when it is known that the party is bitterly divided on the subject.
I hope that we shall play a somewhat less flamboyant part than we have during recent months. I am sure that we have 1239 a rôle to play in helping to bring about talks and I am sure that we have a rôle to play in the conference itself. But I hope very much that the Foreign Secretary will be kept away from the conference, because I am sure that the rôle we have to play there is one of walking and talking quietly and that the ebullient personality of the right hon. Gentleman will not fit in to the rôle that should be rightfully ours.
At the moment, the right hon. Gentleman is off to make another initiative, a sad initiative, at the United Nations, on mandatory sanctions. The Leader of the House told us today that he had to fly away or we would lose the initiative at the United Nations. I am sure that it will turn out that we have lost the initiative already and that the form of sanctions introduced by the United Nations will go considerably further than the Government would have wished.
§ Mr. J. T. Price (Westhoughton)
I am following closely what the hon. Gentleman is arguing in a quiet way. Since he is launching a personal attack on the Foreign Secretary, who is not here, has he observed the usual courtesy of giving notice to the Foreign Secretary that he is doing so? If he has not, I would feel bound to defend my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Goodhart
I have said that the right hon. Gentleman is ebullient. I do not think that he himself would regard that as a grave personal attack. Nor do I think that, if I had sent him a letter saying that I intended to call him ebullient, he would have felt it necessary to delay his departure to New York so as to defend himself against this grave charge.
A great deal has been said about the damage that sanctions will do both to Southern Africa and to Britain. This evening, one might briefly give thought, also, to the damage that the sanctions policy may well do to the United Nations itself. I believe that there are only two alternatives. Either the United Nations sanctions will fail, in which case the prestige and power of the United Nations will suffer a damaging blow, or, if they are not to fail, then, in the not too distant future, we shall see not just a semi-blockade but even a full blockade of Southern Africa launched by the 1240 United Nations and carried out in large part by the Soviet Navy.
The possibility—I think that it is now becoming almost a probability—that we may reach such a state of affairs in the next few months would split the United Nations more dramatically than any of the peace-keeping efforts which have been launched in recent years. The course we are now about to pursue is, I believe, full of dangers for the United Nations as well as for ourselves.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Colin Jackson (Brighouse and Spenborough)
It is always a temptation in a foreign affairs debate to adopt a tour d'horizon approach, ranging from Paris to Peking or West Africa to West Iran, but I shall try to confine my remarks to the Middle East and some of the problems there, perhaps because the crisis in the relationships between the Arab States and Israel is mounting at such a rate that the United Nations may in the near future be much more concerned about a new outbreak of conflict in that area than it is at present in dealing with the question of sanctions against Rhodesia.
When I was at the United Nations in October, we had the reference to the Security Council of the Syrian-Israeli frontier dispute and a condemnation of Syria. Recently, the Israeli Government have been condemned for their actions in Jordan. It would appear that a pattern is beginning to build up quite similar to the 1956 situation, when the whole of the Middle East and world peace were disrupted by the Israeli-Arab conflict.
In particular, I am thinking of the dangers in Jordan to the Hashemite régime caused by the attack by Israel on Jordan, leading to grave discontent among Palestinian refugees on the west bank of the Jordan and to the situation in cities like Jerusalem and Jericho. Should this lead to the collapse of the Jordanian monarchy, to the disappearance from the international scene of King Hussein, one further complication could be an attempt by Israel, which has been represented in the Israeli Press many times, to move down the bank of the Jordan.
This would put this country and the West in an appalling predicament. There is no doubt that the Soviet Union would come to the aid of the Arabs and condemn Israel. What would be the attitude 1241 of this country, the nation that gave to the world the Balfour Declaration and which has so many distinguished members of the Jewish faith in its public life? How would we feel if a second move was made by Israel?
I suggest that urgent preventive measures are needed through the United Nations and I ask my hon. Friend the Minister of State to consider two points on the question of United Nations involvement. First, reference has already been made to the valuable job of the U.N. force in the Gaza Strip and there is a more limited observer force along the Syrian-Israeli frontier and also along certain sections of the Jordan-Israeli frontier.
When in New York I questioned whether we could increase the number of observers. We have had a number of examples of U.N. observers, some not happy, as in the action in the Yemen and the not terribly successful action in 1958 in the Lebanon-Syrian frontier dispute, but a thickening up of the observer corps, particularly along the Syrian-Israeli frontier, the mere presence of a limited number of U.N. observers, would he a deterrent. Very often these incidents occur not through some deliberate action, as with the unfortunate Israeli action in relation to Jordan, but through the escalation of an action by local commanders without any great self-control.
Secondly, I wonder whether, apart from the increase in the observer force along the frontiers, the Government would consider advocating as a sort of further sandbag provision the use of the U.N. force in Cyprus, not only for preventive action there, but for a possible movement to the South-East if there should be an eruption on the frontier. In 1958, when there was a grave danger of collapse, British troops were flown from Cyprus to Jordan. I do not think that eight years later we could now expect that to happen. The fear is that there might possibly be further border trouble which an observer corps could not contain. We have the Dkelia base and I have asked before whether we could turn it into the first full permanent U.N. base in the world, with Britain possibly making a contribution, particularly in the logistic sense.
I move on to the general question of armaments in the Middle East. The right 1242 hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) referred to the supply of arms by the Soviet Union to Egypt and the Somali Republic. One must make a much wider survey of arms supplies in the Middle East. There is the supply of arms by the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia and to Iran. There is the American supply of Lightnings to Jordan which has now been announced and there is the French supply of arms to Israel. I was recently in Algeria and saw the appalling build-up of Soviet arms there, including some missiles.
I should have thought that the time had come, through the United Nations, or the new British initiative which we hear talked about, for a conference on the cessation of the supply of arms to the Middle East. It is now reaching alarming proportions and when linked to the sense of frustration felt by the Palestinian refugee and to the Israeli tendency to say, "It worked in the punitive raid in 1956 and so we will repeat it in Jordan", one has a highly dangerous and inflammatory situation. In his book "On the Beach". Nevil Shute prophesied that the third world war would begin in a conflict between the Arabs and Israel. He was right about metal fatigue and we must make sure that he was not right in this sense, too.
I want now to refer to the situation further south, in the Arabian Peninsula. The Government have been asked to be more flexible about the date of our departure from the Aden base. I make a different suggestion, which is that we should make that date more definite. At present, we are told that it is to be 1968. It is difficult for our forces there to be absolutely sure about the time of the total wind-up and I think that they are right to aim for 1st January. We should give a definite date of departure. Dr. Johnson said that a sentence of death clarified the mind wonderfully, and the date of departure would give a further sense of urgency to the political negotiations in the South Arabian Peninsula.
We need Abdullah Al Asnag and Mr. Makawee back in the negotiations to speak for Aden. If they realise that there is a definite date for departure, then their sense of urgency will be increased. I would like to know what steps are being taken to contact those two leaders, who undoubtedly represent a considerable 1243 section of the Aden population and of Aden public opinion.
I support the views of my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) about a U.N. presence, an idea which was observed in West Irian. He mentioned Pakistan. We have had success in the acceptance of the general principle of a United Nations observer mission to Aden, but Britain will have to go further and the United Nations will have to go further in some form of limited military presence after the departure of the last United Kingdom soldier. There can be no answer in Britain's remaining indefinitely in South Arabia until 1970 or 1972. The tensions in the area will remain regardless of a British presence or absence. What is needed is to interpose a force between the rival Arab Powers and let them know that unilateral action on the part of one or other would not go unnoticed and unchecked by the United Nations and world opinion.
There are two other problems in the Arab world with which I want to deal. One has already been mentioned—the political future of the Persian Gulf. I, too, find it completely incomprehensible that on the one side we should be winding up a British Army base in Aden and on the other side getting more deeply involved in the Persian Gulf. The slightest knowledge of history would make it perfectly clear that, once switched off Aden, the spotlight of Arab nationalism will be switched to the Persian Gulf.
At the same time the idea now fortunately put forward by far fewer people than 10 years ago, that one can secure one's oil supplies only by military means is ludicrous. A major military intervention in the Middle East 10 years ago provided a major disruption of oil supplies. It is in the self-interest of the Arab Gulf States to make their oil available. There is a world surplus of oil and we are now in a buyers' and not a sellers' market. If the Arab States so conduct themselves in internecine strife that they reduce their oil wells to uselessness, they deprive themselves of their own interests and of their own revenues.
A delicate balance of power in the Arab Gulf will have to be worked out. The interests of Iraq, Iran, and Saudi 1244 Arabia, all oil-producing countries, will need to be balanced, but I am perfectly sure that a deepening British military presence will only exacerbate the situation.
I return to something mentioned by the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Currie), the resumption of diplomatic relations with the United Arab Republic. This would be to the interests of London as well as Cairo, especially bearing in mind our departure from Aden in the reasonably near future.
There can be no reason, however, for not making an essential pre-condition of this the ending of terrorism in Aden. It cannot serve the interests of Egypt any more than it serves the interests of any other civilised Arab territory. For far too long we have found our relations in the Arab world bedevilled by the historical sense of misunderstanding with the people of Egypt. The Egyptians have a real affection for this country but the present generation, their fathers and grandfathers, have lived under the shadow of a British military presence. I hope that with these new initiatives—we have already had an example in the meeting between the Foreign Secretary and Field Marshall Hakim Armer in Moscow—we can make progress and achieve diplomatic relationship status with the U.A.R.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Patrick Wolrige-Gordon (Aberdeenshire, East)
I would like briefly to follow the remarks of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Colin Jackson) in what he said of the Arab world, which I know slightly and which I love very much. I would agree with his assessment of the very serious nature of the situation which has arisen between Israel and the neighbouring Arab States.
I would also agree with him in what he has said about the valuable work done by the United Nations in that territory and in Cyprus and I would add that this points to the need for United Nations peace-keeping work to go further and to try to answer the hates and fears dividing people who might go to war at any moment as well as simply seeing that they do not go to war. If the United Nations does not begin to do that, then its work will always be sterile. It will always have to act in a peace-keeping 1245 capacity, at great expense and great inconvenience. I hope that it will attempt this rôle in future.
In considering foreign affairs I feel that there is a considerable desire in other parts of the world and in some parts of this country to have us diminish our rôle in the world as a nation. One can catch echoes of this thinking in a debate such as this. Many issues, such as making full use of the United Nations or even entry into the Common Market, are sometimes called in aid of this diminution of Britain's world rôle.
That process can go too far. Like every other hon. Member I fully understand the economic advantage to this country resulting from entering the Common Market. But that the argument for entering the Common Market can be used to diminish our national rôle, is, for me, no argument in favour of our entry, but against it. This country has for years played a rôle on the world stage, not merely the European stage. In many ways, it has been a very great rôle. During this time we made many mistakes, but we made many friends and friendship is the best international currency there is.
Britain's entry into the European Economic Community is bound to affect that currency, and we need to be sure that the effect is not bad but good. We are advised that entry into Europe need not disturb these relationships or our position. I must admit my concern at the apparent lack of thought on this matter by the present Government. In the debate last year, on 16th and 17th November the question was raised whether there was anything nobler in joining the Common Market than economic advantage for this country. The First Secretary, who replied, said that greater wealth brings opportunity for greater generosity and that greater material wealth need not be an ignoble aim. I agree with that.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Economic Community would help us to understand each other better. That is very probably true. The first point about greater wealth and generosity is not always true. If I had to choose between relying for my livelihood on the generosity of the rich or the generosity of the poor, I would choose the generosity of the poor every time. It is not always the case that as people become richer they become more generous. Sometimes 1246 the reverse is true, and there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that the wealth of the Common Market and of the West as a whole can be a considerable difficulty in our future relations with the rest of the world, unless those nations concerned make it absolutely plain that they do not seek greater wealth for themselves alone, but for the employment of that wealth in the service of mankind.
We may think as we stand or sit here, that that goes without saying and that is what we all would all do but if it should sadly continue that while the rich countries become richer and poor countries continue to become comparatively poorer, it will require a drastic change in attitudes and behaviour by Common Market countries to convince the rest of the world that they really mean to help others as well as themselves. There is so much needing to be done in the world and so much this country can do.
Consider India. It is a great nation for which we used to hold very considerable responsibility. There are now conflicting reports about the seriousness of famine affecting Behar and other States in India. Some reports say that it is the worst famine ever known. Certainly, there are men dying of starvation. I am told that the other day an Indian newspaper had a photograph of a farmer dying of starvation in Behar on one page and on the other the news that President Johnson was holding up further shipments of grain, which, I understand, he has now released.
What is Europe doing to meet those famine conditions? For that matter, what are Britain and the Commonwealth doing? It seems a bit hard always to expect America to bale out the Indian food situation. America is a phenomenally generous nation, but she has a lot on her hands. I understand that Australia has wheat available, but that she would need money for it to enable her agriculture to expand further.
Have we taken some initiative to help mobilise the resources of our Commonwealth, or of all the nations which could play a part in meeting that problem? We are quick enough to take problems which some of us think that we should handle ourselves to other people to solve. Why should we not do the same with problems which we do not necessarily have the means to handle? Mobilising 1247 the food resources of the Commonwealth and of the world, if possible, to meet the famine conditions in India is the kind of action which we should take straight away.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. William Molloy (Ealing, North)
I suppose that after the statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister yesterday it was inevitable that the debate should be truncated. It has been savagely truncated. Instead of our having two days to debate foreign affairs, we are to have only one. I hope that it is because of this truncation that the House has been so sparsely attended. I hope that it is not because hon. Members on both sides feel that, although they are Members of Parliament they can do very little to influence Government foreign policy.
We should realise that all other policies are more or less subordinate to our foreign policy. I know that one can argue that everything depends on our economic viability, that our economic viability depends on our technological ability and that our technological ability depends on our ability in education. So it goes on. The whole lot can be vitiated and wasted if we do not get our foreign policy right. We have not had it right for the past few decades. We certainly did not have it right in the decades before the last world war.
I will not be tempted to follow the argument of the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. WolrigeGordon), who spoke about the glories of Britain when we played an important part on the world stage. It depends on the angle from which one looks at the matter. I always found it very difficult to reconcile our glories with living in the valleys of South Wales, when my father and his brothers and my mother's brothers would go out looking for work, coming home and always being distressed when the dole ran out. I could not get a lot of warmth from the fact that, despite this poverty and distress, Britain was the head of the British Empire. It was not much encouragement to people, not only in South Wales but in Glasgow and other parts of Scotland and in Jarrow. Attempts were then made to sustain the same sort of arguments, and they were made to look ridiculous.
1248 Going back further, I always found it very difficult, particularly as I had been led to believe that I was living in a Christian country, to reconcile the fact that we were at the head of a big powerful nation playing an important rôle in world affairs with the fact that I was reading about the hard negotiations of early trade unionists in the Welsh and Durham pits to get reinforced brassieres for women drawing trams underground on their hands and knees and about the employment of child labour. It is about time that we dropped this sickening argument, because we know that it is "phoney". What is worse, the rest of the world knows that it is "phoney". We should dispense with it.
I was interested by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner). There is, of course, a resurgence of Nazism in Germany, with not merely the same names and the same faces but the same tactics.
§ Mr. Molloy
The hon. Member shakes his head. I feel very sorry for him, because after spending seven years in the Army at the time of the war my next five or six years were spent in Germany. Part of my job was to try to resuscitate democratic institutions. One of the things which we were warned about by the then British Government was not to have Nazis in influential positions. There was invented what was called a fragenbogen. People had to fill it in if they held a responsible position under a federal or local form of government and, later, the national Government. We discovered that, apparently, there were no Nazis they did not exist any more, and indeed never existed in the first place.
One of the contributory factors to this ridiculous attitude was that in the early 'thirties people were taking the same view as the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths). They were saying, "Let us pretend that they do not exist." We were awakened from that ridiculous dream by the bombs dropping on Great Britain. It is one thing to have a point of view, but it is another thing to maintain a view which has been maintained 1249 twice before and which has resulted in the most debasing efforts which one nation has ever made against another race and, indeed, against many other members of mankind.
I do not say this from any ridiculous anti-German point of view. The situation in the world is far too serious—I know that it is not serious for some hon. Members opposite, but it is serious to thinking people—to indulge in being anti-American, anti-German, anti-Semitic, anti-Arab or anti-anything else. I hope that the world has learned its lesson from this myopic attitude.
I say this in fairness to German youth. About 1947 and 1948 an organisation was started in Western Germany which was contributed to by all sorts of young people in Germany—people in the universities, miners, shop assistants, scientists, and so on. They acknowledged that for far too long the jack-boot and the uniform had dominated German life, and they said, "We shall have no more to do with this. We shall try to eradicate completely the influence of the uniform, jack-boot and militant posture in our nation."
Consequently, later, when the allies split among themselves and when we in this country, under a Labour Government, I am sorry to say, started putting out feelers for the creation of a German Army, German youth banded together in an organisation called the Ohnemich organization—the "without me organisation". What German youth was saying in many parts of Germany—and this has to be said in the House of Commons in fairness to them—was, "If the British, Americans, Russians, or anyone else want another German Army, they can have it, but without me." Regrettably their views were pushed to one side.
This was a wonderful opportunity which people in the West and the East refused to grasp. It might well be that it is now too late, but I hope that it is not. Immediately after the war many Germans said to me, "Why did you not speak out and say that this Nazi movement is a vile thing? Why did you pretend that it was not there? Why did you negotiate at the last moment when it was too late? Why did you not assist us to strangle it at birth?" This is the 1250 only safe thing to do. The Nazi movement now arising in Germany will grow. There is only one answer to it, and that is to strangle it at birth, or the bill which we have to pay later may be extremely excessive.
The world as a whole has got into a situation where the mere preparation for war is almost crippling it. It is having the same gruesome effect all over the world. In short, all the different pacts which exist, all the different defence measures, all the wonderful inventions either for dropping nuclear weapons or destroying the conveyor of the nuclear weapon before it gets to its appointed place—all this incredible, lunatic effort is slowly poisoning the remainder of mankind.
There is still so much to do to relieve hunger, poverty and disease the world over. When I see some of the pictures which come to us from time to time from Asia and Africa, I think of ways in which they could be turned to the advantage of suffering humanity. If it was possible to keep those pictures constantly before everyone who has a reasonable standard of living, any Government, irrespective of their political colour, would be banished swiftly if they did not pledge themselves to do something about it—even if it meant cutting down some of the ridiculous defence budgets indulged in by the Western world and, for that matter by the Eastern world, because the same criticism applies to both. Nothing disgusts me more than to see the parade of lunatic weapons on May Day in the capital of the Soviet Union. I know that they will argue that we started it, but argument along those lines must not go on any more. Instead, we should be arguing along the lines of who will stop it.
What is going on in Vietnam is an additional factor. The poverty which has existed there for years now has added to it all the ravages of war. When we hear people talking about solving the problem in Vietnam, I wonder where we are going. I hear those whom I understand to be called "intellectuals" talking about trying to find a solution to the problem. They talk about the difficult situation in North Vietnam and the difficult situation in South Vietnam, as if the South and the North could only get together, all would be well. They seem 1251 to accept that the ideologies of the Communists and the Americans are deeply steeped in the respective sides. One would assume that all the people who live in the South of Vietnam are devotees of laissez-faire capitalism and that all those who live in the North have passed their O-levels in Marxism and Leninism. That is a stupid posture to adopt. The fact of the matter is that the ordinary people in Vietnam, like ordinary people all over the world, are the victims of the machinations of unscrupulous politicians.
If one takes that argument right back to the beginning, one cannot escape the regrettable conclusion that, in the ultimate, if one must pick an aggressor in Vietnam, that aggressor is the United States of America. If the Americans want to show what they mean as a highly-civilised nation, they should set an example other than by such trifles as ceasing bombing over Christmas. What an appalling insult that is to anyone who sincerely holds the Christian religion. It is all right to be a good Christian on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and, after that, back to the old devil. If the Americans want to advance their case as a civilised and Christian nation, they should say, "We will be out of Vietnam, and every American youth will be home to celebrate Christmas". That is a real Christian and civilised action which the United States could take.
I want now to make a few references to the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker). Quite rightly, he pointed out that it is somewhat depressing when we give freedom to countries in Africa and Asia—as if it is ours to give—and they do not respond very well. I admit that it is a little distressing, but let us not set ourselves on too high a pinnacle. We in Great Britain did not achieve full democracy until 1927. There were all sorts of restrictions until then on whether one had the vote. The principle of one man, one vote did not apply completely in Britain until the General Election of 1927.
§ Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)
Would my hon. Friend not agree that in certain parts of the United Kingdom these conditions do not apply even yet, and the principle of one man, one vote is not acknowledged today?
§ Mr. Molloy
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and the gerrymandering the fiddling, the distinctions and the religious campaigning against ordinary people who are supposed to be subjects of Her Majesty in this country are disgraceful. We must not shout too loudly about the wonderful way in which we behave.
Looking back at our own history, for the last couple of hundred years we have groped towards democracy. We did not stride forth and achieve it. It was not there waiting for us.
§ Mr. Molloy
As my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) says, many people gave their lives for it. It was not achieved overnight. Let us not be too impatient about some of the developing countries in Africa and Asia who have not modelled themselves absolutely on the way in which we have behaved in the last 25 years. As Nye Bevan once said, "Let us not forget that they now stand where we once stood." If we can do that and show more patience, we may make a contribution to helping them.
It is no use trying to put the blame for everything on Communism. How much advance would many backward countries have made if Communism had not existed? How much has been given to placate them and get them on our side, rather than on Russia's or China's side? Would any of that have been done if China or Russia had not existed? Nothing like so much would have been done to help backward peoples if it had not been for the threat that they might turn to somewhere else where they could get equal assistance. That is not a particularly honest attitude for the nations of the West to adopt.
As I have already said, this debate has been truncated, so I shall turn finally to the situation in Europe as I see it. For a number of years we have had to put up with what are known as the N.A.T.O. Pact and the Warsaw Pact. The trouble with pacts is that people become enamoured with them. Earlier today one of my hon. Friends eulogised about N.A.T.O. It may be—I shall not disagree with my hon. Friend—that when it was originally conceived there was 1253 some good reason—although I have never been able to understand it—why the nations of Europe should get together, for instance, to prevent the Russians from overrunning Great Britain and the rest of Europe. This may be why it was thought necessary for the N.A.T.O. countries to get together, but I think that it is wrong to remain blinkered to that idea for all time. People change, attitudes change, and conditions change, and in so far as we were instrumental in creating N.A.T.O., people on the other side of the Iron Curtain did not trust us, so they decided that if the West of Europe was to have N.A.T.O., they would have the Warsaw Pact, and for the past decades we have been glaring at each other.
The picture is not so brutal today. During the past six or seven months some welcome suggestions have been made both by members of the N.A.T.O. organisation, and by members of the Warsaw Pact. Indeed, it has been said that it is about time we established in Europe a "European Peace and Security Council". When I talk about Europe, I am not talking about France, Germany, Italy, that massive country Luxembourg, and so on, which people like to call Europe. They call it the Common Market, and sometimes they like to call it Europe. As I understand it, there are many more countries in Europe. In Poland, in Hungary, in the Soviet Union itself, and also in Rumania, proposals have been put forward to form a European peace and security council.
Those suggestions were put forward at the same time as similar suggestions came from Norway and Denmark, and in a remarkable moment my right hon. Friend the previous Foreign Secretary—I hope that it was not a lapsis lingua— said something which almost suggested that that was not a bad idea. Why do not the Government take up these proposals? I hope that my hon. Friend will answer this point when he winds up the debate.
Quite serious propositions have been put forward by various nations. If they all came from one side of the Iron Curtain, I could understand a degree of apprehension on the part of the Government about having anything to do with them, but the important point to remem- 1254 ber is that these proposals for a security council in Europe have been put forward independently by nations on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
I think that that is a practical possibility. Why not establish such a council in Berlin? It might, in its initial stages, be a consultative council of all the countries of the Warsaw Pact and of N.A.T.O. Let us not jump at it too quickly. I think that if it were set up initially on a consultative basis, we could, by working together, by merely being together, make a contribution to establishing a form of our own little European United Nations. I do not think that this would be a bad thing at all, and I hope that my hon. Friend will consider this, too, when he replies to the debate.
Much has been said about the United Nations during this debate. It has not happened so much today, but there are some people who take every opportunity to run down the United Nations. When one thinks of some of the great problems of international politics, one realises that this organisation has not so far been the great success which we thought it might be, but it is the only thing that we have. I hope that the House of Commons will from time to time acknowledge the magnificent work done by the United Nations, through U.N.I.C.E.F., U.N.E.S.C.O., similar United Nations bodies, and so on. These are things of which mankind can be proud, because the United Nations is a world organisation, doing world good, and it deserves as much patience, tolerance, and generosity, as we in this country can afford to give it.
I support those on both sides of the House who have urged that it is about time we allowed the Republic of China into this world assembly. It is patently absurd for the United States Administration to pretend that Red China does not exist. I am not saying this because I am particularly enamoured with the régime which exists in Red China. A person like me would not last very long there, but the fact is that it is there, that it exists, and I would much prefer to talk to them, to negotiate with them, and to bargain with them, than to compete with them in flinging hydrogen bombs, and this is what it could lead to unless sanity is restored.
1255 We must take these things seriously. Unless the British Government adopt a much firmer attitude in their negotiations with the United States they will be letting down not merely this country but the United States. I believe it was Lord Attlee who said that the most dangerous enemy is the friend who constantly and sycophantically agrees with what one says at all times. It is in our negotiations and discussions with the United States that this danger exists.
I hope that by making forceful declarations and having the courage to speak our mind we shall be able to make a contribution to the great world dialogue. Perhaps we can make that contribution in such a way that we will reach the frontiers of understanding not in the glare of a nuclear explosion but through the arclight of world understanding. This is a terrible and awful alternative, but there is no other. Unless the nations of the world are willing to get together and forget about such idiocies as different religions and different skin colours—unless we drop this form of insanity, there is a danger of our reaching the frontiers of understanding in a nuclear explosion.
This country and this Government, if they adopt some of the policies in which they used to believe—if they resuscitate those policies and have the courage to put them forward on the world stage—will be able to make the biggest of all contributions to peace by putting sanity back on the agenda.
§ 8.37 p.m.
§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St.Edmunds)
This debate is being held under the shadow of a great and deepening crisis in Southern Africa. But that is not the only crisis that confronts our country and this House. There is crisis in the Middle East, where, under provocation, the Israeli attack on Arab forces has caused much greater bloodshed than anyone here can have expected. There is crisis in Vietnam, in that terrible war. There is crisis in India, where famine is stalking the land and may claim the lives of millions.
But, above all, there is the crisis in Rhodesia. I believe that our country is facing a very grave and serious tragedy there. I will say no more on that sub- 1256 ject now, butI feel bound to express my fear that our country will pay dearly for the failure of the talks between the Prime Minister and Mr. Smith.
Tonight, I want to talk almost entirely about Germany. The debate this afternoon and the one that took place in the other place have shown how deeply emotional a subject Germany is in this country. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) said quite flatly and without qualification that we are confronting a Nazi revival. He said that we should strangle it at birth. I am surprised to hear those over-simple statements coming from a Member who worked for some years in our Foreign Office.
We had a most moving speech from the hon. Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner). I pay tribute to him for the sincerity in which he couched his fears of a potential Nazi revival. I appreciate his sentiments for I have seen Auschwitz. In Dachau, immediately after the war, I saw marks on the steel walls made by men's fingernails in their agony. So I know what the hon. Member is talking about. Nevertheless, I ask him to accept that his description of a Nazi revival, together with that of the hon. Member for Ealing, North, is far too simple. It is not so easy as that to diagnose the N.P.D. problem.
I say this with some slight knowledge, having spent many years as a student in Germany and also working there in a most odd capacity for our Foreign Office. I have also spent much time reading Germany's literature and meeting some of its current politicians. I have, therefore, seen both that part of Germany which is half monster and that part of Germany which is half genius. I find it almost impossible to think of Germany without a love-hate relationship—
§ Mr. Griffiths
All I would say at this stage with certainty is that Germany is a great Power, that Germany is the key to Europe, as the Foreign Secretary said, and that today the Germany people are moving into a new chapter in their turbulent history, in a most uneasy, restless, and, for the rest of us, worrying mood. I shall speak about three separate aspects 1257 of this restless mood—first, the evidence of it, second, its roots and, third, its consequences for Europe and ourselves.
The evidence of German restlessness can be seen in the N.P.D. Yes, it is there, but let us not exaggerate it. I believe that the Foreign Secretary was right to take pains this afternoon to emphasise that the great majority of Germans are wedded at the moment to their democratic institutions. But the N.P.D. is certainly a sign of restlessness.
More important was the undermining of Erhardt's Government. This partly reflected the political "in-fighting" in Bonn, which has disillusioned many Germans with the very nature of democracy. But the main reason was that, psychologically, the Erhardt Government did not convey to the German people the same assurance of solidarity between Bonn and Washington, between Bonn and London and between Bonn and Paris, as did its predecessor, the Adenauer régime.
Another example of German restlessness is the current pressures in the S.P.D., the Social Democratic Party. Conspicuous among these are the disillusion of many of the party's left wing over the new Coalition. Many young German Socialists were opposed to Herr Brandt taking his party into the Coalition. Among the German Socialists' too, there is pressure, especially among the young, for a much closer relationship with Eastern Europe. Anyone who doubts that should have been in Berlin to see the enthusiasm of young Germans for the Brandt-Ulbricht conversations which were proposed earlier this year but which failed to take place.
Another example of restlessness is the incipient demand, from international Socialists of all people, who believe that it may be necessary for the Bundeswehr to be increased in size to compensate for possible allied withdrawals. I submit that here is evidence of the restlessness among the German people in all parties.
The second aspect with which I wish to deal is the roots of this restlessness and insecurity. Certainly, part of it is domestic, in the sense that there is a widespread feeling among Germans that the "Economic Miracle" has brought them a higher standard of living, but has failed to produce any new ideal or theme to Germany policy. The Germans are 1258 a people who appear, perhaps more than most, to need an ideological content, a theme, to which they can devote themselves.
Many young people in particular feel that the "Wirtschaftswunder" has failed to produce a "new ideal" on to which they can take hold. But there is an international root to this restlessness too. For, rightly or wrongly, many Germans feel that they have been made the "mugs" of the Western Alliance. I do not agree with their sentiments, but I feel it right to report them to the House. Specifically, many Germans, young and old alike, believe that Germany has contributed more to, but, in return, has received less from, the Atlantic Alliance than any other member.
As they see it, Germany contributes more ground troops to N.A.T.O. than Britain and France put together. Yet is not treated as an equal, either in the N.A.T.O. Standing Group or in nuclear sharing. Likewise, the Germans have refrained so far from making unilateral approaches to the Soviet Union on the subject of Eastern Germany and Eastern Europe. This self-denying ordinance which Bonn has placed on itself has been ignored by the other N.A.T.O. nations, most of all by France, which only last week was debating Germany's future in Paris, directly with Mr. Kosygin.
I suspect that even the Common Market has been something of a disappointment to many Germans, for they assumed that it would rapidly be extended to include the whole of Western Europe—the E.F.T.A. nations and the Six. In this cause, they have made numerous concessions to the French President but in return they have seen only the veto of Britain and the failure of the wider Europe in which many German business men had high hopes. In short, the Western Alliance, in German eyes, has given Germany protection, but not the security for which it has yearned. Neither has it brought progress on Germany's other national goals, notably reunification and the wider trading area which it seeks.
I mentioned a third point, namely, the consequences of this new and disturbing mood in Germany. Two visible movements of opinion going on simultaneously—a complex matter as are most internal international relations. One of these movements of opinion is towards a greater 1259 degree of German national independence. To some extent we can say that this is healthy in that Germany cannot, with its great power, be expected to adopt the follow-my-leader attitude, which has been the case for most of the last 15 years.
The other aspect of this return to national independence is much less attractive, namely, the admiration of many Germans for General de Gaulle. He has stimulated their nationalism while, at the same time, encouraging them to try similar overtures to the Soviet Union. One gets the impression that many Germans feel that anything de Gaulle can do in Moscow they can do better. This aspect of German independence is an unhealthy and dangerous thing.
Another movement of opinion in Germany is towards another "opening to the East"—something that has been part of the great German-Slav dialogue throughout history. This, too, has a healthy aspect, since little but good can come from better diplomatic and trading relations between Bonn and Moscow. We must all be in favour of that.
But there may be unhealthy aspects, too, notably the temptation for Germany to seek a new Rapello—something that, unilaterally, they may feel they are able to achieve in Eastern Europe. At the back of one's mind, one has the fear that one day a renaissant Germany and a Russia seeking to come to terms on its Western frontiers might once again seek to divide Eastern Europe in terms of their own national interests.
Where does the N.P.D. come into this swirl of forces? I believe that there is a danger that the N.P.D. could conceivably bring all, or most, of these diverse sentiments under the same roof. Should the next few months be characterised by immobilism within the grand coalition, which most people expect, and should they also be characterised by a spread of unemployment, which is by no means impossible, even in West Germany, it is possible that the N.P.D. could bring both the Right and Left-wing extremists in Germany into a wide-ranging opposition movement.
I say that this is possible. I do not believe that it is likely. Dr. Kiesinger and his Coalition may well propose to pros-scribe the N.P.D. It is more than likely 1260 that pressure within the Coalition to eliminate the N.P.D. from German politics will become very strong. In my judgment, it would be a mistake if the Coalition Government were to proscribe this organisation. Because although I understand only too well the fears expressed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester, North-West, I am bound to say it would be dangerous in the extreme if this N.P.D. movement were driven underground or left as the only opposition movement that could be mounted against German democracy.
§ Sir B. Janner
Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that he is saying precisely what I tried to bring before the House when I was speaking earlier? If a party of that nature is allowed to continue on lines similar to the Nazi party, the world may be confronted with a similar kind of reaction in Germany which existed then. I am very seriously perturbed about it.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I recognise and share the hon. Gentleman's concern. We differ in that I believe that it would be a mistake to proscribe the N.P.D. at this moment and to create from it martyrs on which extremism can thrive.
§ Mrs. Renée Short
Would the hon. Gentleman tell us what he thinks about the proscription of the Communist party in West Germany which took place in 1956?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I will reply to the hon. Lady immediately. I am not in favour of that either.
I come now to what Britain should do when confronted with these changing sentiments in Germany. The important thing is to provide restless and uncertain Germans with two simultaneous assurances. The first is an assurance of stability within the existing N.A.T.O. Alliance. The second is an assurance that constructive change in East-West relations can be achieved within the alliance, on a multilateral basis.
The stability which the Germans seek requires, in the first instance, that they should be able to see American and British ground troops remaining in Western Europe. German fears of American withdrawals as a result of the big lift capacity of the new aircraft, and 1261 their fears of B.A.O.R. reductions on economic grounds, are real. They can be seen and felt by anyone who travels in Western Germany today.
I believe that we should resist such withdrawals unless and until the Soviet Union is willing to match them. Otherwise pressure within Germany itself for the Bundeswehr to be increased will become irresistible. The Soviet Union, faced with such a situation, inevitably would respond by increasing the size of its own forces and those of Eastern Germany. This cannot be good for us, for Germany, for Europe, or for the whole world.
Secondly, there needs to be an assurance to the Germans that the alliance itself can be used as an instrument of constructive change in East-West relations. This is of course very much more difficult, but it is no less essential. It means encouraging exchanges between East and West, including Bonn and Moscow, while, at the same time, avoiding any policy démarches that have not previously been agreed by the alliance as a whole. It is, of course, difficult to do this. But I think that the time is now ripe for new multilateral approaches towards the nations of the Warsaw Pact.
Our suggestions should not exclude another look at the possible thinning out of forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain. I am glad that the Foreign Secretary confirmed that British forces would not be reduced in N.A.T.O. without clear-cut allied understanding. I am also glad that he went on to say that there was room and time for reconsideration of the level of Forces. These things must go together. But there must be a new look at the question of thinning out forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain. I think it right that another effort should be made to extend the non-proliferation treaties and that there should be another look at the question of nuclear sharing within the Western Alliance as a whole. It is possible, too, that we could persuade the new Coalition Government in Germany to recognise the Oder-Neisse frontier. I know that it is difficult, but I believe that with Herr Brandt as Foreign Secretary it is possible. In return, we should ask the Soviet Union to give equal guarantees of Germany's present frontiers.
1262 I can think of no better time than now to try these new overtures. None of them is inherently new. They have been around the European theatre for the last 10 or 15 years. But at a time when the German people have come to the end of the post-war era, when they are leaving behind the world of Adenauer and going into an uncertain future that worries many, it is essential that the Western Alliance gives them the assurance of stability within N.A.T.O., and the assurance that N.A.T.O., as an alliance, can provide an instrument for constructive change.
§ 8.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Edwin Brooks (Bebington)
In view of the time, the House will forgive me if I confine myself to the particular problem which emerges from the carefully-constructed contribution we have just had from the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)—the Oder-Neisse line. We have had exchanges on this subject on several occasions in this House, and hon. Members are familiar with the official view that no confirmation of this frontier can be given until a peace conference has been held and a peace treaty signed with Germany.
One can understand the reasons for this point of view, but it is now 21 years since the end of the Second World War and since this frontier was redrawn across the map of Central Europe. The hon. Member referred to the dialogue that has taken place between German and Slav over the last few centuries. If I may say so, this is rather a euphemistic way to describe some aspects of that history. Indeed, much of it has been a history of great pain and trouble.
One could argue that the geographical westward movement of the Polish nation which followed the Second World War is in some measure an act of historical retribution for the indignities which the Polish nation has suffered, and which reached an apotheosis in the tragic events of the Second World War. We have, perhaps, too readily forgotten that 22 per cent. of the Polish population died in that war and in some of the most appalling acts of genocide the world has ever seen.
We should recall that with the alteration of Polish frontiers we have seen emerge in Central Europe a nation that 1263 is politically more cohesive and economically more stable than the Poland of the inter-war years that it replaced. There is no longer the awful difficulty that the Polish corridor presented to the political geography of Central Europe in the 'twenties and 'thirties.
It may be that the movement westward of the German peoples was a tragic and dreadful event—one does not want to minimise the undoubted hardships that have been caused to those who had to flee from the so-called recovered territories which now form Western Poland—but we can recognise that whatever may be the rights and wrongs of the acts which led up to the defining of this frontier, it is a frontier that everyone in this House knows to be irrevocable and final—with the one proviso that it is irrevocable and final unless there is a war to change its shape and character.
It would be inconceivable to envisage this frontier being changed by any other means, because the lands which have been occupied in Silesia, Pomerania, and the former East Prussia by the Polish nation are now an integral part of that State. They are necessary to its economic strength. They give Poland an access to the Baltic, which has given her new industries along that coast. They have provided the possibility of developing the great Upper Silesian coalfield for the first time in some sort of integrated fashion which releases its enormous potential and which is such an enormous bulwark for the economic security not only of Poland, but of the whole of East/Central Europe.
Therefore, I believe that the time has come when it would be not only justice but a recognition of the realities of the situation for the British Government to declare that, no matter how long it may be before a peace conference is called at which the eventual fate or destiny of Germany may be decided and a treaty signed, it is the firm view of the British Government that the existing frontiers of Germany are irrevocable and final and that they will not be used as bargaining counters at such a peace conference.
I make this point also, not just in terms of Poland, but in terms of Germany, too. We have heard some argument today about whether it is right 1264 to characterise the developments in Hesse and Bavaria as symptoms of a resurgent Nazism. I am one of those who would be reluctant at this stage to argue that this is such a straightforward matter as some have argued. By one of the macabre and tragic ironies of history, the anti-Semitism which nourished Nazism in the 1930s is hardly today a basis for a resurgent Nazism in Western Germany.
Again, the conditions of material affluence in Western Germany today afford no parallel to the situation in Germany in the 1930s when so many of her people were stricken as the result of the inflation of the 1920s. But, then, history never repeats itself precisely. Although we can see all these contrasts, we are bound also to recognise the inherent dangers and difficulties which Germany and, indeed, Europe as a whole face today.
It has been said that this resurgence in the West German elections is a symptom, rather, of nationalism. Many of us, looking at Western Europe today, and not least our own country, can perhaps sense that there is a sort of hunger for authoritarian government abroad, that there is a feeling of disillusion with the processes and mechanics of democracy itself. Perhaps it is a particularly severe problem in Western Germany, given the way in which nationalism there may so readily take on the forms, and embody, perhaps, some of the principles, of those excessive forms of nationalism that came to power in the 1930's.
But, as long as we are not prepared to recognise the irrevocability of the OderNeisse frontier, so long shall we give nourishment and sustenance to those in Western Germany of the radical right who argue that this must be a bargaining counter, that this is not a final solution to the German problem. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds that, if we are to concentrate upon rooting out any possibility of Nazism, if we are to stop fertilising these roots of Nazism which undoubtedly lurk beneath the soil, then the time has now come when we should say that there is no future whatsoever in making the redrawing of the political frontiers of Germany as a whole something which can be a basis for political advantage in any West German election of the future.
1265 In looking at this problem I ask that we should not be too much ridden by protocol, but that we should recognise that among those democratic forces in Western Germany who are striving to contain this evil thing which is once again beginning to emerge there are many who would recognise that their position would be immeasurably strengthened if the British Government, together with the Governments of France, the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R., would say that at a future peace conference the Oder-Neisse frontier is not to be a bargaining counter—it is irrevocable.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
I apologise for limiting the speech of the hon. Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks). I should have liked to listen longer to his very interesting speech, and towards the end of my own I hope to touch on some of the matters he discussed.
I have listened as have many hon. Members, to many foreign affairs debates, and I have followed as a bemused spectator many journeys in fantasy around the world. Today's debate has covered a good deal of ground in every sense, but whereas in the past many of those loops around the globe seemed a little monotonous and apparently unconnected, however widely speeches have ranged today a new cohesion and connection has been apparent.
I believe that the reason is clear to many of us. It was mentioned by the Foreign Secretary and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), both of whom spoke of the interdependence of the world today. The technical advances of the last two decades have altered out of all recognition the sense of mutual interdependence among the nations of the world. As my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Wolrige-Gordon) pointed out, these startling advances have widened the gap between those who have fully shared in them and those whose share has so far been small.
It is only too evident that the future peace and stability of the world will depend largely on the willingness and ability of men and women who have won, and are continuing to win, increasing control over their environment to share that knowledge with, and export 1266 its mastery to, others who are less advanced. The main impact of these great technological advances on the world as a whole at present is the astonishing acceleration in the speed of communications and the consequently accelerated reaction on one side of the world to events on the other. The days when an upheaval could take place in another country without the most profound effects at home, provided it was not one's next door neighbour, are long gone.
The existence of ideological barriers and the facts of colour and race have continually been divisive. Their main effect has been to divide, but less attention has been paid to their simultaneous tendency to unite and induce a sense of identification between human beings who had no previous point of contact. The dividing force of colour, which we have seen very clearly since the war, has at the same time persuaded men and nations that they are intimately involved in problems of which they previously had no knowledge.
Meanwhile, the economies of many nations, especially those which are most highly industrialised, have become more and more dependent on certain raw materials, some of which come from very few sources. For obvious reasons, we have today avoided discussing in depth the question of Rhodesia, which will occupy the House for the next two days. But in the context of that question, which is in all our minds, perhaps the best example of scarce sources of certain raw materials on which the highly industrialised nations depend is that of Zambian copper. All these factors have created a political and economic interdependence more complete than the world has ever known. In those circumstances, isolationism has become an impossible concept, especially for a country like Great Britain.
I understood the hon. Member for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) to call for an end to British commitments abroad, or, at least, outside Europe. This call might conceivably have made some sense in the distant past, but it seems to make none now, and, paradoxically, it is now that the call is being made most loudly. I believe, and I think that most of us share this belief, that we in Britain are irresistibly caught up in the mainstream—I think that is the correct 1267 phrase—of world affairs. We are dependent on raw materials from many areas outside Europe, and we have an interest probably greater than that of any other country in a world at peace. By this I do not mean—and I do not think that anyone means—merely the absence of a third world war. All nations, presumably, have an equal interest in that. But it seems to me that Britain stands to lose more than any other nation from instability at any point in the world.
This continued and, indeed, more intense involvement in world affairs creates highly awkward problems for Britain because, while our involvement in world affairs has become total, our comparative ability to speak and act with influence has diminished. This is so partly because our power, not in absolute terms, but relative to that of other nations, has declined, partly because the area of possible conflict has widened, and partly because the nature and causes of possible instability have become, as we have realised only too clearly, more and more varied.
This is a debate on foreign affairs, not on defence, so it is not particularly appropriate to discuss in detail the proper means of, and the military provision for, maintaining stability throughout the world. However, my right hon. Friend concentrated our attention on three areas where, it seems to me and to many of us, I think, the need for clarity and comprehensibility in British Government policy is most urgent.
Reversing the order in which my right hon. Friend discussed them, I shall speak first of the Far East, as remote an area as can be from Great Britain and, therefore, offering the temptation for those of us who might be inclined to succumb, to divorce ourselves from commitments and responsibilities there. Nevertheless, I hold the strong conviction that in this part of the globe will come the main threat to world stability not only in the next few years but for the rest of the century and beyond.
My right hon. Friend and several hon. Members discussed specifically the conflict in Vietnam. I hope that the Chancellor of the Duchy, if he heard them, will deal with the rather bizarre views of his hon. Friend the Member for 1268 Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy). I shall speak more generally about that part of the world.
The creation of a belt of uncommitted States, backed, if it can be achieved, by a purely Asian South-East Asia Treaty Organisation, this in turn being reinforced by a powerful Commonwealth and American alliance in which Britain must play a part, have been stated from this side of the House as objects of our policy. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will signify his agreement. These should be objects of our policy, and they can be built on foundations which already exist. But the growth of a structure of this kind is certain to take time and, while it grows, we have to operate from the foundations themselves.
Our investment of power at the right time and place is necessarily limited, for reasons which we all know, but it is still capable, if applied at the right place, of preventing the later development of a much more dangerous and explosive situation.
If we are looking for examples, we find one immediately in Malaya, where the fulfilment of our defence commitments against Indonesian attacks played their part in frustrating the plans to seize power in Indonesia and therefore caused a setback to China's hopes of expansion in the area. It is, therefore, important that we have answers to two questions which bear the closest relevance to our present position in the Far East.
What is happening about the defence treaty with Singapore? The Secretary of State for Defence gave extremely little clarification when answering Questions on 16th November. Surely it is wrong for British troops to be stationed in Singapore with no clear definition of what their position is. Secondly, what is happening in Brunei? Are the Government conducting negotiations with the Sultan or not? If those negotiations are going on, will the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster answer a question which the Prime Minister refused to answer at the beginning of last month? It is whether or not the Government intend unilaterally to escape from the agreement with the Sultan.
The potential instability of the Far East is so great that I believe that Britain cannot evade her responsibilities and 1269 shrink from her proper share in the defence of China's neighbours against aggression, and, in answer to my right hon. Friend and also, I believe, in order to satisfy the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig), who asked a similar question, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to speak with clarity on the present objectives of our policy in that part of the world.
In the Near East, the potential instability is equally great because of the dangers which would be created by a vacuum of power, with its temptation to an aggressor and a consequent threat to peace, which neither Britain nor any other western country could lightly accept. If one casts an, eye at any map of the area, one sees only too clearly that, by it geographical position as the gateway to Africa—of which we have had evidence recently—the importance of the Middle East, great as it is at the moment, is likely to increase further in future decades.
Alone among the western countries, Britain has a military presence in the area. I have often wondered, as, indeed, my right hon. Friend wondered today, whether the Government begin to realise the encouragement they are giving to the ambitions of Colonel Nasser by their revocation of the earlier undertaking and the proposed surrender of the Aden base in 1968 when South Arabian independence is due.
The Foreign Secretary spoke of steps that were to be taken to ensure the development of a "stable and orderly country" but, in common with a number of my hon. Friends, in particular my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South (Sir R. Russell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury (Mr. Walters)—and I think that the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) also raised the point—I ask the right hon. Gentleman to be more specific and say clearly that Britain does not intend to desert the area until the South Arabian Federation is able to defend itself.
This would not be an open-ended or timeless commitment. It would finish just as soon as the Federation can ensure its own defence and independence. Britain's responsibility towards the Federation's own air force are clearly of the greatest importance and so are steps 1270 to strengthen our co-operation with friendly coutries in the area, particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran, because they can make an essential contribution to the buttressing of the fragile balance of power which exists in the Middle East.
All this would be explosive enough without the built-in tension between Arab and Jew. Apart from the various questions which the right hon. Gentleman has already been asked about this area, I have a number which I should like to put to him. My hon. Friend the Member for Down, North (Mr. Currie), my hon. Friend the Member for Wembley, South and the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Colin Jackson) drew the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the stability of Israel and its continuance as an independent nation and to the independence of other countries in the Middle East. What does the right hon. Gentleman intend to be put in the place of the Tripartite Declaration of 1950, which I understand all of us consider to be now moribund? I know that there have been discussions about a substitute, but I should very much appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's view about what ought to be put in its place.
The hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough referred to a possible agreement to limit the supply of arms to Israel and her neighbours. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to say something further about that, too. Thirdly, has any thought been given to the recent suggestion by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Isle of Ely (Sir H. Legge-Bourke) about another initiative towards a solution of the problem of the Arab refugees? Finally, in relation to Israel and the Middle East generally and attacks on the frontier, the subject of a considerable portion of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Down, North; to the extent that we rely on the United Nations at least to underwrite a guarantee of independence, have the Government considered asking for a change in the terms of reference of the United Nations Emergency Force in order to allow it or an expanded force to patrol Israel's frontiers with Jordan, Syria and the Lebanon as well as that between Israel and the United Arab Republic?
Am I not right in thinking that Israel has hitherto declined to accept United Nations troops on her territory?
§ Mr. Wood
There is substance in what the hon. Gentleman says, but I was asking whether the right hon. Gentleman had views about whether it would be possible to alter the terms of reference so that the emergency force could act more effectively in places where most of the trouble takes place. I understand—and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong—that it is not impossible—obviously apart from the considerations which the hon. Gentleman had in mind—for such an alteration to be made, with the result that observers of the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organisation on Israel's northern and eastern frontiers would be able to call on a formation from the emergency force to limit the extent of any frontier incident which took place.
Lastly, on Europe; I remind the right hon. Gentleman of the assumption made by both my right hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Eldon Griffiths), in a very thoughtful speech this evening, that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs undertook that there would be no British withdrawal from Europe, except in accordance with a predetermined allied military plan. The Foreign Secretary seemed to agree that that assumption was correct, but I would be grateful if we could have confirmation.
To my right hon. Friend's powerful plea I would add these three considerations. They are, first, that any economies threatened by the Government in this area would hardly be the best way to convince the Six—and here I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury would agree—that in the Prime Minister's words, we mean business in our attempt to join the European Economic Community. Secondly, Britain's weight in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is needed more, not less, in the light of the withdrawal of France; and, thirdly, our N.A.T.O. partners—and this subject has had a great deal of attention in our debate today—including the Federal German Republic, see the reecnt success of the National Democratic Party as an added 1272 reason for a strong British presence in N.A.T.O.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to confirm this. It seems to be a powerful reason for maintaining our position in N.A.T.O. rather than trying to decrease it, with all the other consequences that would be involved. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, will be able to satisfy us on this question, which I am quite certain he will realise is fundamental to the stability of the whole of Europe.
§ 9.26 p.m.
§ The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. George Thomson)
This foreign affairs debate has been sandwiched between yesterday's tragic announcement from Salisbury and tomorrow's debates in the House of Commons and the Security Council in New York. It has, therefore, been overshadowed by these events and has been quieter and more subdued than is normal with such debates in this House, though it seems to have been none the worse for that. I was struck by the same point made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood), namely, that despite the fact that we have been wandering widely over the face of the globe the debate has had a tidiness and cohesion unusual in foreign affairs discussions.
There have certainly been a great many interesting and searching speeches. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) dealt mainly with three areas, Asia, the Middle East and Europe, and set the tone for the debate, because everyone who has followed, in one way or another, has confined himself to the three headings given by the right hon. Gentleman. I would, therefore, follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridlington and take the same course, but in the reverse direction to the original voyage made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kinross and West Perthshire.
The right hon. Gentleman complained about Asia and said that we appeared to have no policy for the Far East. I thought that it was a rather curious complaint at this time, because our policy in the Far East this year, which we inherited from the Government of the right hon. 1273 Gentleman, of assisting our Commonwealth allies in Asia to keep the peace, has registered a remarkable success. The end of confrontation with Indonesia was in many ways one of the most remarkable examples that we have seen of the peaceful application of British military force. In the aftermath of that welcome ending of confrontation we are engaged in a radical reappraisal of our defence expenditure in Asia.
The right hon. Gentleman asked me if I could answer two questions about the defence treaty with Singapore and about Brunei. I have to tell him that the defence treaty in relation to Singapore is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence. As the right hon. Gentleman said, this is not a defence debate and I would prefer that the answer came from my right hon. Friend. Similarly with Brunei. This is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Affairs and I would rather that a detailed answer came from my right hon. Friend.
I would merely remind the right hon. Gentleman that we have treaty obligations to the Sultan in Brunei and that it is the habit of British Governments to fulfil their obligations. I hope that that reassures him. Meantime, while reorganising after confrontation, we have, as a major part of our policy in relation to the Far East, been continuing our efforts to contribute in any way that we can to a peaceful settlement of the Vietnam conflict.
One of my hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, West (Mr. James Davidson) expressed the anxiety that in doing this we should not confine ourselves to seeking to reactivate our own rôle as co-Chairman of the Geneva Conference. I assure the House that this is not in our minds. We do not mind what means are finally evolved to bring people to the conference table to produce a peaceful settlement. We have no vested interest in our position in this. The British Government are merely anxious to seize any opportunity which offers itself to make a contribution to this end, and I know that this view is shared on both sides of the House.
The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire went on to say that there had been a number of interesting and 1274 significant developments among the Asian nations. I very much agree with this. What we have been seeing in Asia over recent months is a deepening recognition by the non-Communist countries of the area that the jealousies between them must be forgotten if there is to be a real attempt to develop in security and peace the vast resources of the area and an advance towards prosperity which the energy and ambitions of the South-East Asian peoples can command.
Consequently, the aim of the British Government has been, and remains, twofold. First, we seek, in collaboration with our allies, both those in South-East Asia and those outside the region, to provide the South-East Asian countries with the sense of physical security which, from their own limited resources, they are not yet at this period in time able to provide for themselves.
At the same time—I emphasise this—we are actively supporting all the efforts being made by the countries themselves to collaborate in defence and economic and social activity and to encourage the recognition that collective strength and collective resources in Asia as much as in Europe offer a greater prospect of stability than the sum total of individual efforts.
For the British Government, these aims are not particularly new. We were the originators of the Colombo Plan, which was, I think, a pioneer effort in co-operative economic and technical assistance. In 1964, Her Majesty's Government pledged £15 million to be expended over the next five years on technical assistance through the Colombo Plan. Only 10 days ago a major step was taken in Tokyo, when the Asian Development Bank was inaugurated with the active and willing participation of the British Government as a founder member. We are contributing £10 million to the capital of the bank over a period of five years. Our contribution is considerable, because we believe that this new institution will fulfil a vital development rôle in Asia.
A number of my hon. Friends, as is customary in foreign affairs debates, have deep and genuine doubts whether we should have any active defence and foreign policy associated with defence in the Asian area at all. I cannot resist saying to my hon. Friend the Member 1275 for Swindon (Mr. Francis Noel-Baker) that I thought that I detected some inconsistency in what he was urging on me. He said that there was no longer a case for British defence activities outside Europe and then confessed that he would have used paratroopers to solve the Rhodesian crisis.
§ Mr. Francis Noel-Baker
At the moment, we have these forces at our disposal. It is quite likely that had they been used the Rhodesian affair might have been over. What I argued was that in future we should dismantle them. If we did not have them, we should not have been able to use them. There was nothing inconsistent in what I said.
§ Mr. Thomson
My hon. Friend and I are old colleagues and we share the same profound internationalist views. I am, I confess, always puzzled that those who say that the frontiers of Europe must not end on the Elbe should feel that the frontiers of peace-keeping end on the Elbe. We take the view, as the Government, that, in so far as we can play a rôle in keeping the peace of the world, we ought to seek to do it on a global basis.
There are two conditions to that. First and foremost, we must operate in terms of our total economic resources. A defence or a foreign policy which undermines our economic strength by excessive foreign exchange expenditure is utterly self-defeating. So that is the first condition for an effective overseas policy.
The second one is that, within our economic resources, we ought to see our peace-keeping rôle in global terms, for reasons which I have just given to my hon. Friends. There is constantly the difficult task of striking a balance between what we might like to do on the subject of peace keeping and what we can afford to do, keeping the balance between our obligations in one part of the world and another. Certainly, it is the Government's view that our obligations in Europe through N.A.T.O. take priority. But it would be quite wrong to go on from that position to concentrate on our European obligations to the exclusion of everything else.
That allows me to move from the Asian area of our discussions to the 1276 Middle East and to take up at once the points which were made by a number of hon. Members, among them the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Currie) and my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West (Sir B. Janner) about the deterioration that has taken place over recent times in the relations between Israel and her Arab neighbours.
Tension on Israel's borders with the Arab States has been rising, and outbreaks of violence and armed conflict have twice been discussed in the Security Council in recent weeks. Her Majesty's Government deplore all use of force in this area, and our efforts in the Council have been directed to urging that view on those concerned and to supporting the United Nations bodies working to reduce tension, particularly the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation.
The hon. Member for Down, North and the right hon. Member for Bridlington asked, in particular, whether it was possible to strengthen the United Nations bodies there. I think that Her Majesty's Government have been foremost in encouraging the United Nations in peacekeeping activities wherever they have been practicable. In relation to the Arab-Israeli quarrel, the Secretary-General, U Thant, has recently put forward suggestions about how the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation could function more effectively. We very much hope that the Governments concerned will do all that they can to co-operate with the Organisation and to put these suggestions into effect. I can tell my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) that the observers of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation operate on both Israeli and Arab territory.
In the meantime, we have been urging restraint on the Israeli Government and on the Governments of those Arab States where terrorists have been active. The disturbances in Jordan which followed the recent Israeli attack have been brought under control and the situation is much calmer. There have been no serious terrorist incidents in Israel in the past three weeks.
I was also asked whether, as a contribution to greater stability in the Middle East, efforts might not be made to reestablish diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the Government of 1277 the United Arab Republic. I would remind the House that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary told the House on 28th November that, when he was in Moscow, he had an informal word with Field Marshal Amer, the United Arab Republic's Vice-President. It would not, I think, be helpful if I were to attempt at this stage to forecast what results may flow from that approach, but it is a sufficient indication of the desires of the Government in this matter.
I would only re-echo the words which my right hon. Friend has used and which I was glad to hear used by my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Colin Jackson), in a characteristically well-informed speech on the point, that perhaps the most immediate step that could be taken to create the right atmosphere for the resumption of fruitful diplomatic relations would be for the United Arab Republic to use its influence to call off the campaign of terrorism and violence, which is one of the really big complications about peaceful progress in Aden and Southern Arabia.
Before I come to discuss the comments made on our policies in Southern Arabia, I should like to say a word about the general Middle Eastern situation. The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire drew attention to the growing Soviet influence in the Middle East and on the eastern coast of the African Continent. It is true that this influence has increased greatly over the last decade or so. I am bound to say to the right hon. Gentleman that some of the policies pursued by Governments of which he was a member greatly contributed to the opportunities which the Soviet Union had to increase its influence in that part of the world.
In any case, when we came to power we faced the situation in which several Arab States looked primarily to the Soviet Union for arms, supplies, and economic aid, and indeed for diplomatic support, and this situation has not changed greatly in the past two years.
The Soviet Union has strengthened its ties with Syria in recent months, though it remains to be seen how lasting this situation is. It would be wrong for the House to suppose that the Soviet Union has things all its own way in the Middle 1278 East, any more than any other country with interests there finds that it has things its own way. The Arab nations are fiercely nationalistic, and will never, I am sure, consent to be reduced to the status of Soviet satellites, or to become the prisoners of a Communist ideology which is alien to their traditions.
There is a strong tradition of Arab Socialism in the Middle East. The Socialism preached by Arab States is different from the Socialism which we know in this country, but, equally it is different from what the Russians call Socialism, and I think that the Russians, having got involved in the Middle East, have discovered that their path is by no means an easy one.
Nevertheless, we are watching very carefully the developments in this field, and we are aware that quantities of Soviet arms have been delivered to Algeria, to the U.A.R., and to the Somali Republic. In fact, the U.A.R. armed forces have been receiving Soviet arms for a number of years, and are now virtually entirely equipped by the Soviet Union. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are watching this situation very closely indeed, but the question which arises, and the question which was properly asked by a number of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough, is whether one can deal with this problem of the expansion of Communist influence in the Middle East by some agreement between the Western Powers and the Soviet Union to limit the supply of arms to the area.
Her Majesty's Government would be glad to see any effective international system of arms control. We continue to take the view that the arms race in the Middle East, first, contributes to the tension there, and, secondly, ensures that there is a vicious waste of scarce resources which ought to be used for construction, and not for destruction, but so far the Soviet Union, which really began the arms race in the area with the deliveries which I have just been mentioning 10 years ago, has shown no interest in seeing the arms race stopped, and as long as it supplies certain States in the area with massive quantities of arms, Western countries like Britain cannot deny to others the means of self-defence.
1279 I must tell the House—and I am sorry to give such a gloomy analysis—that at present we see little hope of being able to take any further effective steps on our own in the direction of being able to get international agreement about arms control.
In the meantime, I assure my hon. Friend the Member for Heeley, who expressed anxiety about our arms sales to countries in the Middle East, that we examine very carefully the requests which we receive for arms, to ensure as far as we possibly can that those that we sell are of a genuinely defensive character.
I now come to the question of South Arabia, and to the points made by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire, and by a number of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite. They were pleading that we should alter the timetable of our policy for withdrawal from Aden and South Arabia.
I would like to say, first, that the policy of Her Majesty's Government in this area involves no question of scuttling from South Arabia. We have given proper notice to the Federal Government that we shall be withdrawing our military forces when South Arabia becomes independent in 1968. We are assisting in strengthening the Federal Government Forces in readiness for independence.
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, we have contributed £5½ million towards the capital cost of new equipment, and are increasing our recurrent military aid to over £10 million a year—these are substantial sums—to enable the newly independent country of South Arabia to be able to stand on its own feet.
The independent South Arabia will have the best armed forces possible—including an air element—given the population of the country, its resources, and its ability to maintain those forces. This is the right thing to do, and it is not a fair subject for some of the criticisms which have been made of it. No country can rely on its arms alone to maintain its independence. What we, and all those with a real interest in South Arabia look forward to is an independent South Arabia, free from domination by any foreign country, meeting the aspirations of the people of the territory, and 1280 accepted on terms of equality by its follow Arab countries and the rest of the world.
That is the only real guarantee of a country's independence in the long run. But in view of the questions that have been asked I must tell the House that we will not and cannot delay the attainment of independence for South Arabia in the faint hope of building up a military power which can withstand all comers. The knowledge that independence is near should inspire all political groups to work together for the future and this resolution will itself bring strength.
The right hon. Gentleman put his case very moderately when he sought to persuade us to introduce what he called a measure of flexibility. I must tell him that in my view, in the circumstances pertaining in the area, flexibility would be the equivalent of uncertainty. It would mean a degree of uncertainty both for the Federal rulers and the people of the country, and also our Servicemen, who are pursuing a very difficult task. That does not seem to us to be the wise or right course to pursue.
§ Sir Alec Douglas-Home
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise what he is saying? He is saying that it is impossible for Her Majesty's Government to provide the South Arabian Government with an effective air force. If he will ask his Service chiefs he will find that what he proposes cannot be done with merely an air element, because that is not an effective air defence force. That being so, we may as well open Aden to the Egyptians.
§ Mr. Thomson
I do not accept what the right hon. Gentleman has said about this. Events are likely to prove our judgment right in this matter rather than the Cassandra-like judgments that he keeps issuing on the subject.
I wanted to report to the House, also, that progress is being made at the United Nations towards getting agreement for the sending of a United Nations mission to South Arabia. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reported to the House earlier, the Fourth Committee passed a resolution on 2nd December. It was passed by 100 votes to none, with only three abstentions, which means that there is hope that it will be endorsed when 1281 it comes to the General Assembly in full session.
In addition, there remains the question of the composition of the mission, which must be appointed by the Secretary-General in consultation with the Committee of 24 and ourselves as the administering power. My noble Friend, Lord Caradon, will be pressing for the early appointment of this mission.
I want to say a final word concerning the Middle East about our redeployment of Forces in the Persian Gulf. Some of my hon. Friends have expressed scepticism if not incredulity at the thought at a time when we are withdrawing from the Aden base we are adding to our Forces in the Persian Gulf. The position is that we are making a small increase in our Forces, stationed there. The reason we are doing so is to carry out our commitments to Kuwait and other States in the Persian Gulf towards whom we have treaty obligations. Part of these obligations were, of course, previously fulfilled from the Forces available in Aden, and, to continue them, we need a small increase in our Forces.
But, in addition to that, the Persian Gulf is a particularly vulnerable area in terms of the conflicting interests there and it is, in the light of our treaty obligations, important that we remain there and seek, as we have been doing, to persuade the rulers with whom we have these obligations to co-operate together to provide for themselves better prospects of higher living standards and a greater degree of viability in the modern world——
§ Mr. Heffer
What exactly does my right hon. Friend mean by "a small increase"? How small or how large is it?
§ Mr. Thomson
I cannot tell my hon. Friend at this stage. The final figures have not been decided, but if he cares to pursue the matter by Parliamentary Question I have no doubt that he will find it an interesting and, I hope, rewarding operation.
I turn now to the European part of our discussion. The right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perthshire seemed to fear that we were in danger of falling into an inconsistency in our attitude towards N.A.T.O., in saying that we 1282 believed in maintaining an integrated N.A.T.O at the same time that we are seeking foreign exchange economies in Germany The words which my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary used about dealing with this matter "in accordance with our obligations towards W.E.U. and N.A.T.O.", and going through the machinery of these organisations, are, of course, a very solemn obligation, which we shall honour.
I do not think that there is any basic inconsistency in the present position, although it has its difficulties. Our position is that our ability to play our part in N.A.T.O. depends absolutely on creating a strong economic base at home, which, in turn, depends on neutralising our foreign exchange costs. The Foreign Secretary has already reported fully on the tripartite talks and I do not wish to burden the House with much more detail. I will say only that a considerable measure of agreement has been reached in these tripartite talks on some of the wider political-military issues and a report will be made to the Ministerial meeting of N.A.T.O. in Paris next week.
There are, however, several difficult questions in this political-military sphere which remain for further study. On the financial side—the question of the actual offset arrangements—a good deal of useful work has been done in analysing and comparing the balance of payments positions of the three countries involved. I would, however, be less than frank if I did not tell the House that the progress of the tripartite talks has been a good deal slower than we would have wished, but, in view of the domestic difficulties facing the German Government over recent weeks, we were bound to accept that, in the end, this delay was unavoidable.
However, the urgency of the problem for this country has not diminished. By one means or another, we must stop this drain on foreign exchange. I hope that we shall soon be able to agree with our allies on a satisfactory solution.
A considerable part of the debate was taken up with a searching and sombre discussion of the significance of some recent electoral developments in the Federal Republic and particularly the successes recently achieved in the elections in Hesse and Bavaria by the extreme Right-wing National Democratic 1283 Party. In the light of past history, it would obviously be dangerous to dismiss the successes as of no account, but it seems equally important to get them in their proper perspective.
In the first place, the main feature of these elections has been the consistency with which the overwhelming majority of the German electorate has continued to support the main democratic parties. In Bavaria, the support was over 89 per cent. of the popular vote and both of the main parties, the Socialists and the C.S.U., actually increased their vote. In view of the long-drawn-out political crisis, which is now satisfactorily resolved, I think that we should regard this, in itself, as quite a remarkable symptom of stability and commitment to democracy by the German people.
Second, I should remind the House that there has been no evidence of any dramatic increase in the extremist vote. Since the war there has existed in Germany, as in other countries, minorities which have supported a variety of extreme Right-wing policies. The N.P.D. seems to be capturing and concentrating this vote, but without making any serious inroads into that of either the Social Democrats or Christian Democrats. For example, in Bavaria, the real increase in the extremist vote was only about 1 per cent. I am not suggesting that one can be complacent about the N.P.D.'s activities in the light of past history, but if one views the situation dispassionately one sees that it is obviously wrong to talk in terms of a Nazi revival or to regard the N.P.D. as a serious threat in present circumstances to German democracy.
I was in Hamburg a week or so ago and I found there, in my talks with some of the political leaders and others, a degree of vigilance and anxiety about these developments comparable with what has been expressed in this House today. In Hamburg, the N.P.D. vote in the last elections a few months ago was under 4 per cent., which is rather comparable with what extremist parties poll in a British General Election.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks) mentioned, in another context, that it was now 21 years since the end of the war. The proper time scale in which to see this matter is 1284 not the one mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, North-West—the comparison with the 'thirties—but in this way: twenty-one years after the First World War the Second World War had already begun and Hitler was in power in Germany. Twenty-one years after the Second World War we have an increasing degree of peace in Europe and a broadly-based democratic system in West Germany. This is the real measure of the difference between the two periods and it is this that we should cherish and support in every way practicable.
The Federal Republic is a firmly established democratic State and is a fully committed member of the Western Alliance. The evidence suggests that this accords with the wishes of all, but a small minority of the German people. We must try to keep this fact in mind and not try to obscure it by keeping alive past animosities, however well justified they may have been. To nourish these animosities and to advocate treating Germany as a perpetual outcast can only revive German resentment and help to create the very situation which we, whatever we say in this House and whatever may be our views, should want to avoid.
As I said at the outset, this debate has taken place at a very fateful moment. Indeed, it takes place during a period of intense and important international discussions. Our latest European initiatives have got off to a very good start, with yesterday's E.F.T.A. summit meeting, on which the Foreign Secretary has already reported. Tomorrow, there is the Security Council meeting on Rhodesia. Next week is one of the most important Ministerial meetings in N.A.T.O.'s 17-years' history and during the Christmas period there is to be a truce in the Vietnam war. In January, the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary will set off for their first meetings with the Heads of the European Economic Community Governments in connection with their approach to the Community. They will, as announced, go to Rome and Paris. In February, Mr. Kosygin will come here and Mr. Rapacki, the Polish Foreign Secretary, will also visit this country.
These discussions involve a search for peace on many different fronts, a search for greater European economic unity, 1285 for N.A.T.O. solidarity and for East-West detente for peace in Asia. In all these discussions we shall try to play an active part as a good ally to our allies, but, at the same time, without being afraid to play a distinctive and bold British rôle whenever we think that that will contribute to the a more peaceful and prosperous world.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.