§ LORD DAVIES rose to call attention to the implications of the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, and to urge the necessity of establishing an Inter-Allied Commission before the conclusion of hostilities to consider these implications, and to submit proposals for the closest collaboration of the United Nations in post-war reconstruction through the establishment of an international authority; and to move for Papers.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion on the Paper standing in my name. I need not remind your Lordships that we are now almost entering upon the fourth year of the war. Naturally our attention is concentrated upon the military measures of the United Nations, but one cannot help feeling that this development of our strategy and of opposing a united front to the common enemy should not be confined to military measures alone. That is why I offer no 196 apology for having put down this Motion. I believe that strategy in its widest sense includes not only military efforts in the field but also the progressive development of our war aims. It is the combination of the spiritual and the material forces which is essential to securing complete and decisive victory over our enemies. I need not remind your Lordships that this combination is described as morale. Napoleon's dictum was that the moral is to the material as three to one. Therefore these two things—the military effort and the development of our war aims—are complementary and should be conceived in an offensive and not merely a defensive attitude.
During the past year the United Nations have made considerable progress in the declarations of their war aims, and we have read two historic documents. First of all, in the Anglo-Soviet Pact there are several allusions to the common war aims of the Russian Government and ourselves. May I be allowed to quote just three paragraphs in that Treaty? In the Preamble it says:
Desiring, moreover, to give expression to their intention to collaborate closely with one another as well as with the other United Nations at the peace settlement and during the ensuing period of reconstruction on the basis of the principles enunciated in the Declaration made on 14th August, 1941, by the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of Great Britain to which the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has adhered:
Then Article III says:
The High Contracting Parties declare their desire to unite with other like-minded States in adopting proposals for common action to preserve peace and resist aggression in the post-war period.
That, I think your Lordships will agree, is a very important declaration on the part of the Soviet Union and on the part of the Government of this country.
§ The most important declaration of all, however, is Article 8 of the Atlantic Charter which has been endorsed by all the United Nations. I think your Lordships agreed some time ago, during the debate that we had on the Atlantic Charter, that this was one of the greatest steps forward which had been taken to enunciate our war aims since the beginning of the war, because not only does it lay stress upon defensive measures which will have to be taken, but it also sets forth the positive aims which animate the United Nations in this great struggle. I 197 would point out that the Atlantic Charter is not merely a unilateral declaration, it is a multilateral pronouncement which has been endorsed by all the United Nations, and so it differs from a some-what similar declaration made before the conclusion of the last war when President Wilson enunciated his Fourteen Points. The essential difference seems to me to be this, that in that case it was a unilateral pronouncement coming from the head of the Government of the United States whereas the Atlantic Charter has been endorsed by all.
§ There is another feature, I think, which these two declarations have in common—namely, that they are somewhat vague and nebulous in the proposals which they put forward. They are aspirations rather than definite proposals, and so one wonders what are the implications of those Articles. I cannot help feeling that the next step to be taken is the clarification of the implications contained in these Articles, especially in order to maintain the unity and solidarity of the United Nations. It is suggested, therefore, that steps should be taken towards this clarification, and to define precisely what the implications mean, before, and not after, the conclusion of the war. It seems to me that it is very much easier to secure a common measure of agreement now than it would be if you wait till hostilities have come to an end. We remember that there was supposed to be general agreement about the Fourteen Points but when, at the end of the last war, it came to defining what these points meant and to working out their implications, it was discovered that this unanimity no longer existed. There was a great deal of discussion as to what these points and the declarations that had been made really meant when it came to transforming them into actual results.
§ Your Lordships will remember that during the last war a number of slogans were used and vague promises made, and one cannot help feeling that in these days the people now demand something more practical and more tangible. They want to know how these promises and declarations are going to be implemented. We were told during the last war that it was a war to end war, we were told it was a war to destroy militarism and to put an end to the system of international duelling. We were also told it was a war to restore the freedom of the small countries that had been overrun. The two specific 198 instances were, of course, Belgium and Serbia. We were further told that the war was being fought to make the world safe for democracy, and, alluding to our domestic problems, we were told that this was to be a land fit for heroes to live in. I cannot help feeling that we are now fighting for very much the same principles and very much the same objectives as we were fighting for during the last war, but people are now becoming rather more sceptical than they were in those days. For that reason they are rather apt to look sceptically at slogans and declarations and aspirations unless they are also told how these things are to be really accomplished and what institutions will be necessary in order to implement them. That seems to me to be what might be described as the dry rot of morale—this horrible scepticism which has entered into people's minds; for, while I am sure the vast majority of people are prepared to recognize the good intentions of the Government, of the leaders of public opinion here and the leaders of the Governments of other Allied countries, they are anxious to know how these promises and aspirations are to be actually carried out.
§ There have been pronouncements by individual Ministers and leaders both here and in the United States, notably in the speeches we read a few days ago of Mr. Sumner Welles and Mr. Cordell Hull, and Mr. Eden and the Leader of this House, Lord Cranborne, in the debate we had the other day. In all these pronouncements the speakers showed that they realized the importance of clarification, and their speeches were really attempts to suggest clarification of the Articles of the Atlantic Charter. If I may be allowed to draw your Lordships' attention very briefly to some of the implications, I will do so not in order to elicit replies from the Government or answers to the questions which I shall venture to put, but merely by way of illustration to show how important it is that there should be some body set up—an Inter-Allied body—that will discuss all these points and reach some measure of common agreement.
May I for a moment venture to draw your Lordships' attention to some of what I call these implications? The second Article of the Atlantic Charter deals with the problem of territorial changes and
lays down the principle that there should be
no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely-expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.
One naturally asks whether these changes are to be brought about by some sort of plebiscite, which has been one of the methods employed in discovering the wishes of populations concerned. This obviously needs most careful inquiry and investigation. There have been a number of plebiscites, some of them absolutely fictitious. For instance, the plebiscite which Hitler carried out in Austria was an absolute sham. Coercion and pressure were brought to bear and it was a complete sham and delusion. I believe the most successful plebiscite was the one carried out in the Saar where, your Lordships will remember, an international police force was dispatched in order to maintain law and order and prevent pressure and coercion being brought to bear upon the inhabitants of the Saar who were asked to register their votes. I believe that was most successful. But the whole subject is surrounded by all sorts of difficulties, and it would appear only sensible that an Inter-Allied Commission should inquire as to how plebiscites can be carried out in such a way that people can give a free and untrammelled vote. One of the experts on the subject is Miss Sarah Wambaugh, who has written a book about it. She was, I believe, actually on the spot when several of these plebiscites were carried out. She has given her impressions of the difficulties and her opinion as to how they can be overcome. That is one subject for investigation.
Then we come to Article 3 of the Charter. That has to do with the way in which peoples are to choose the forms of government under which they desire to live. The Article says that the signatories
wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.
One naturally asks what is going to happen at the end of what is described as the short-term or transitional period when the wish of the people will be ascertained. How is that to be done? Is it to be done by national assemblies, elected and summoned to draft the new Constitutions, or will the ad hoc Governments during the transitional period be entrusted with this
task? Will any reservation be made about the full assumption of sovereign rights? One cannot help feeling that that was one of the points which Mr. Cordell Hull had in mind when he made his speech the other day—that sovereign rights will be employed in order to secure what is described as the international mechanism to prevent future wars and to maintain co-operation between the nations. Article 4 deals with access to raw materials and one would like to ask whether that involves free trade and free access to raw materials everywhere. That in itself is a tremendous subject which requires to be most carefully investigated. Next we come to Article 5, which alludes to economic conditions, and one would like to ask whether the implications of this Article can be achieved through the medium of some world confederation, through the appointment of ad hoc Commissions to inquire into the various aspects of these economic questions, and whether the International Labour Office will be brought in with the experience and the knowledge which it has already accumulated.
Article 6 is very important because it has to do with preventing future wars. It says:
After the final destruction of Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want.
That is a very noble aspiration and one naturally asks what sort of peaceful procedure there is to be for the settlement of all disputes, whether they happen to be juridical disputes or political disputes. We are told there is to be a police system. If so, how is an International Police Force to be recruited, armed, maintained and controlled? One would like to ask what is the meaning of "freedom from fear and want." Does that mean equality in the sight of the law, the right to work, the right to a minimum wage and a minimum standard of living, and if so, is there to be some new charter of the rights of man?
Article 7 is a very short Article, which says
Such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance.
One naturally asks whether that means the freedom of the seas, and whether the
freedom of the seas can be construed in the sense that President Wilson himself interpreted it when he said there should be
Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas outside territorial waters, alike in peace and war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenant.
I am afraid that in the past freedom of the seas has not been construed in that sense. It would be a great step forward if we could be assured by the noble and learned Viscount who, I understand, is going to reply, that Article 7 does mean the freedom of the seas in the sense in which President Wilson interpreted it. And coming to the last paragraph of all, Article 8, one would like to ask whether this implies a complete abandonment of the use of force under a permanent system of general security. The Article speaks of "the abandonment of the use of force." Or does it mean that in order to rid themselves of the crushing burden of armaments the peace-loving nations are prepared to pool their armaments for police purposes under the control of an international authority?
§ I hope I have said enough to show that all these questions ought to be investigated and that they should be investigated jointly by representatives of the Allied countries. That means the setting up of some Inter-Allied Commission which would carry out these investigations and this research. Now one cannot help feeling, also, that it must involve a considerable amount of time. Therefore, such investigation ought to be started as soon as possible because, after all, it means the preparation and the drafting of international legislation for the world for many years to come, and that, obviously, is a tremendous task. We do not want a repetition of what happened at Versailles, when these things were all rushed through in the course of a very few months, and when decisions were taken sometimes, perhaps, without that due deliberation and consideration which they should have had. With regard to the procedure, it is common procedure in our own domestic affairs in this country, when legislation is contemplated in regard to some specific subject, to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole subject objectively before Bills are drafted and legislation introduced. One cannot help feeling that the same principle really applies in the case of such important 202 matters as those to which I have alluded, the implications of the Atlantic Charter, in order, if possible, that the representatives of all the United Nations may be able to discover some common denominator of agreed policy and agreed programme which, of course, they can afterwards submit to their respective Governments before any action is taken.
§ Your Lordships will probably say this is a matter which concerns the Governments and nobody else, that it concerns only the Foreign Offices involved. After all, we must admit that Ministers in every Department of State have their time absorbed in trying to win the war. That is obviously their first duty, and obviously their first preoccupation. Therefore they have no time to examine these things objectively as they should be examined. Is it not sensible, therefore, that they should delegate this duty and this responsibility to appropriate persons who have the time at their disposal to study them, and if necessary to take evidence from bodies which have been concerned in these matters in different countries, and then to make suggestions as to how these matters and problems can be dealt with? At the moment, so far as I know, the only thing we have done is to give the Paymaster-General a general direction to inquire not only into reconstruction problems in the international sphere, but also into our domestic problems as well, and to make proposals for reconstruction after the war. One cannot help thinking that this is a tremendous load to place upon the shoulders of any one person or of any one Department. In the last war the domestic problems of reconstruction were dealt with by the Minister of Reconstruction, my noble friend Lord Addison, and they were separated from the international problems. So what I venture to suggest is that now is the appropriate moment to refer international problems, if it is thought feasible, through Sir William Jowitt, through the Paymaster-General's Department, to an Inter-Allied body which will be invited to study them and to make some definite proposals.
§ At the end of the last war, or before the end of the war, early in 1918, it was suggested that an Inter-Allied Commission should be set up at Versailles, corresponding to the Military Missions which were functioning there at that time, to deal with the post-war problems, and to work out 203 the implications of the Fourteen Points and the other pronouncements that had been made. It was also suggested, I think, that ex-President Taft, who at that time was Chairman of the League to Enforce Peace, in the United States, should be invited to come and take part in the discussions of this Commission. Unfortunately, however, these suggestions were vetoed by President Wilson at that time, and nothing came of them. But action was taken by the Foreign Office, which set up what was called the Phillimore Committee. Early in 1918, acting on a suggestion put forward by my noble friend Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, shortly after he became a Minister in 1916, the then Foreign Secretary, Mr. Balfour, appointed a Committee "on the League of Nations." It was composed of the Chairman, Sir Walter (afterwards Lord) Phillimore, Professor Pollard, a constitutional historian, Sir Julian Corbett and Dr. Holland Rose, both naval historians, Sir Eyre Crowe, Sir William (now Lord) Tyrrell, and Mr. (now Sir) Cecil Hurst, legal adviser. The last three were important members of the Foreign Office, but the bearers of the first four names I have read out were persons who had no particular connexion with that Office and were called in from outside.
Under their terms of reference the Committee were directed
to inquire, particularly from a juridical and historical point of view, into the various schemes for establishing by means of a League of Nations, or other device, some alternative to war as a means of settling international disputes.
and, if they thought fit, "to elaborate a further scheme." As your Lordships are aware, the Phillimore Committee entered with zest into the problems which had been set them. They examined all the proposals that had been put forward for the prevention of war, starting with Sully's Grand Design, and working down through the centuries, and at the end of it they submitted to the Foreign Office and afterwards to the Commission of the League of Nations, the Commission at Paris, their Report. That Report, I think the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, will agree, formed the basis of discussion in the League of Nations Commission. I feel it would have been better had there been at that time an Inter-Allied Commission which would have secured a considerable measure of common agreement
before, and not after, the whole matter was referred to the Peace Conference in Paris.
§ Your Lordships will remember that in the debate the other day there was general agreement that there must be two periods after the war, a short-term period and a long-term period. That is also emphasized in the Atlantic Charter. The short-term period would deal specifically with the economic questions which are bound to arise at the conclusion of the war—the rehabilitation of the occupied countries, the feeding of starving populations, and so on. It would be concerned with immediate measures which will have to be taken as soon as the war is over. The long-term period must deal with the political machinery which is considered to be essential for dealing with the prevention of future wars. I cannot help feeling that the time has now come to make preparations for those two periods, and there must be some co-ordinating link between the Committees or Commissions which deal with them.
We are told that we cannot do that because the isolationists would be up in arms. I think it is probably true that they would be up in arms, but are we always to be scared of the isolationists? There are isolationists in this and other countries as well as in the United States of America. I was very interested to read a lucid speech delivered the other day by Mr. Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress, at Cambridge, and perhaps I may quote a few words from The Times of 31st July last, which reported him as saying:
Isolationism in America was dead; but old isolationists never really died; they merely dug their toes in in a new position. Where the old isolationism opposed the country's determination to face the war, the new isolationism opposed the country's determination to face the peace.… The isolationists were isolationists still, and still sought the insulation of their country—by which they meant the insulation of the status quo within their country—from the history of the time. If they must have war they would have a war which would alter nothing and accomplish nothing; a war which should have neither social effects nor political implications—a purely military exercise.
I do not think that we have to bow down to these isolationists, but we do have to face them, and we have to fight this new phase of the policy of appeasement, just as we had to fight another phase of it before we entered this war.
§ There is one last observation which I wish to make. If an Inter-Allied Commission does produce interim reports from time to time on all these implications of the Atlantic Charter, I believe that that will tend to strengthen the morale of the United Nations and, on the other hand, to weaken and undermine the morale of the Axis peoples. I was reading the other day an interesting little book published recently called Last Train from Berlin, from which I gather that the morale of the German people is gradually deteriorating. I believe that reports from a Commission such as I have ventured to suggest would hasten that deterioration. I therefore appeal to the noble and learned Viscount who is going to reply on behalf of the Government to consider this matter very carefully. The failure of the League of Nations has disillusioned many people, and what the common people of this and other countries want to know is how these promises and declarations which are incorporated in the Atlantic Charter are going to be implemented, and how the rule of law is going to be firmly established in the world. I beg to move.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, the Motion before us says, in effect, that it is desirable to have an elaboration of the implications of the Atlantic Charter and of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty; in other words, my noble friend suggests that a more detailed peace policy ought to be agreed upon by the Government, and ought to be announced by them, so far as they thought it right to do so. I am in entire agreement with my noble friend in thinking that some further steps towards the formulation of a peace policy are extremely desirable, and I am strengthened in that view by a speech made on July 25 last by Sir Stafford Cripps, who spoke of the importance of "the interpretation of the generalities of the Atlantic Charter." That is really the same preposition as the proposition of my noble friend. It is, I think, very generally desired in this country that some such general statement should be made, and I have every reason to believe that it is very much desired in other countries also, particularly in America. I agree with my noble friend in thinking that it would have a beneficial effect in increasing the morale and the desire for victory of the United Nations, and in diminishing the desire to resist on the part of enemy countries.
206 I am bound to admit, however, that I am not quite satisfied that my noble friend's proposed machinery would be the best way of dealing with the subject, at any rate at present. He suggests an Inter-Allied Commission. Many of your Lordships have had some experience of international gatherings; I have had some, and others have had much more. I think they will agree with me when I say that an Allied gathering, whether it be called a Conference or a Commission, unless it has some very definite statement put before it, is not likely to reach any very useful results. I do not know anything more futile than general discussions on these subjects in an Allied gathering. It usually leads to speeches by people who are most anxious not to commit themselves to anything, and who therefore make very eloquent general observations which are pretty nearly valueless. Moreover, there are practical difficulties in my noble friend's proposal which I am not sure that he has fully considered. We have at present in this City, I am glad to think, a great number of eminent persons who are natives or citizens of Allied countries. But they are not really in the position to say completely what their countries want, because their countries are at this moment in the occupation of a foreign conqueror. Though it would be invidious to mention particular countries, I think that if anybody passed in review the kind of countries that we should wish to consult, the kind of people who would be available to be consulted, he would agree that very great practical difficulties would arise in forming any Commission that could be regarded as having any considerable international authority.
In addition to those objections, I think there is a preliminary that we ought really to cope with at this moment. The first thing that is important in any action we take is that we should know exactly what it is that we wish to put before the world as the proper settlement after the war—not in detail, I agree, but in general lines; and I observe that Sir Stafford Cripps in the speech which I mentioned agrees with that, thinks it is very important that there should be further interpretation of the generalities of the Atlantic Charter, and holds the view that the speeches to which my noble friend has alluded, the speeches of distinguished Ministers and others in this country and 207 in America, have been important steps with that object. I agree as to their importance, indeed I think that some of them at any rate are of the very first possible importance; but I cannot think they are enough. I should have thought we ought to be quite clear that there is working somewhere in the Cabinet, or in any other form of inquiry that may commend itself to the Government, a really formal elaborate investigation of the many problems which will arise in settlement of the peace after the war. We are told that the Paymaster-General is dealing with it. I understood on the last occasion when we discussed these matters that the Paymaster-General was engaged in an inquiry, particularly into economic and other similar questions. That is indeed a very important matter, and I hope that the inquiry is being pressed with all vigour. But we shall have to do more than that. We have to make up our minds what is to be the broad general nature of the peace that we are going to ask for: to put it quite shortly, what is the practical kind of answer we make to the German claim for a new world order, which they have put before the peoples of the world as their object in this war.
I confess that I think it is certainly a matter for the Government to consider, as my noble friend suggested, whether some kind of British Committee might not be constituted to investigate the matter. He referred to the precedent of Lord Phillimore's Committee, a very able and influential Committee, which certainly did admirable work, but only investigated, of course, one particular aspect of the question, and, if he will allow me to say so, never reported to the Commission and the Conference, but reported strictly to the British Cabinet. But if that was not thought a good plan in existing circumstances, I have sometimes wondered—if it is not too revolutionary a suggestion—whether this House might not appoint a Committee of its members to consider this question. We are fortunate in having as members of this House gentlemen who have a great deal of knowledge and experience in a great number of subjects which would come up for discussion in any international conference. I do not think it would be at all difficult for anyone to draw up the list of a Select Committee of this House which could give very 208 important advice and assistance to the Government on these questions.
I quite recognize the force of what my noble friend said, that during the war it is difficult for actual Ministers to find time to make really thorough investigation of these subjects, and some body or other ought to exist which would be able to present for the consideration of Ministers either a plan or some alternative plans on the subject. But I do not want to go into that at any length because I agree with Sir Stafford Cripps that the speeches which have been delivered have done a great deal to clear matters up. Sir Stafford mentioned six eminent persons, and I notice that five of them were Americans and only one was a British speaker. And he did say that the speeches of President Roosevelt, Mr. Cordell Hull, Mr. Sumner Welles, Mr. Wallace and Mr. Perkins had all added a great deal to our knowledge and to our appreciation of the force of the Atlantic Charter.
I think personally that of all those speeches none can compare in importance with the one recently delivered by Mr. Cordell Hull. It was an immensely important speech, if I may say so without impertinence. It was delivered, of course, by one whom we should call the Foreign Secretary of the United States. It was delivered after consultation, as we are now informed, with the President; indeed, it has been stated in the American Press that every paragraph and every sentence was discussed between them. Its intrinsic value, as I think everyone who has read it would admit, is very great. It has not in fact been published anywhere in this country in full. I think that is very regrettable. But even in the extracts that have been published you can see of what immense importance it really was. And it is the more important because quite recently the American Ambassador has stated in public that this speech represents the views not only of Mr. Cordell Hull, it represents the views of the American Government. As I understand their Constitution, it is not always the case that a Minister who speaks in the United States speaks for the whole American Government, but in this case he did. His statements must be taken as definitely embodying the policy which the American Government approve. And not only so, but this speech—and I am going to draw attention to some of the things he said—has been very widely welcomed by the people of 209 the United States. Practically the whole Press, with the exception of one or two extreme insolationist organs, has expressed its approval of what he said. Therefore it does mean something—a great diplomatic event, to put it no higher than that—a great world event I should say—which we ought to consider most carefully in any action we are going to take in this matter.
I hope your Lordships will permit me to run very shortly through this speech—not the whole of it, but those parts which seem to me to make practical definite suggestions as to what our peace policy should be. In the first place, he lays down the principle that the price of peace is the acceptance of international responsibility. That is a very important statement, particularly by an American statesman, and no doubt it is very largely directed to American opinion. In other passages he does not conceal his judgment that America made a great mistake in retiring after the conclusion of the last war without taking part in the elaboration of the peace settlement. I think that is true of other countries besides America. I do not want to go into past controversies, but I think it is true it was not sufficiently recognized, either in this country or in other countries, that if you are to have any enduring peace settlement it must be at the price of undertaking international responsibilities. That seems to me a statement of policy by the American Government of the utmost importance.
The next statement he makes is that no internal progress—I think what he means by that is any progress in internal reform, in what we hear so much of as social and economic reform in this country—is practicable in any permanent way while there is a fear of external attack. He therefore laid it down that whatever great advance you may be able to make in internal reforms—and it is most certain that a great deal of attention will be devoted to that matter at the end of the war—that will not do by itself. You have got to have something more than that if you are to have any prospect of permanent improvement. You must have some form of established peace before you can hope for any form of permanent progress. That also seems to me a matter of vast importance for us to realize and consider, whether we accept it or not. Next—and this of course is also of the first importance—he says there must be an international agency to keep the peace, by 210 force if necessary. My noble friend suggests something of the kind in his Motion; he suggests the establishment of an international authority. He has the warm support, apparently, of the American Government for that proposal.
I hope your Lordships will recognize that it is a little difficult for me to speak on this subject without making what will only be a passing reference to what I, myself, believe to have been the very unfortunate policy we pursued in the interval between the two wars in not giving sufficient support to the international authority which had been brought into existence and which was, as I then thought and still think, the only hope for the maintenance of peace. However, whether that is true or not, here at any rate you have the judgment of the American Government that some form of international agency is absolutely essential if you are to preserve peace, and that agency must be prepared to act, not only by remonstrance or diplomatic means, but if necessary by force. I do not say the international agency is to be bound to act, but it is to have the right to call upon force for the maintenance of peace if it is to be effective for that purpose. Surely our experience on the outbreak of this war is clear enough support for that doctrine. For reasons into which I shall not go, we were unable, or thought ourselves unable, to utilize the international authority which had been brought into existence, and when the Germans finally decided to invade Poland, and we decided to support her, we had nothing to back us at all, according to the view that was then taken of our international position.
What did we do? We recognized immediately it was very undesirable that we should try and bear the whole burden of this war on our own shoulders, and we sought to obtain from this country or that country—from Poland itself and from other countries—some kind of support in our effort. We had France of course. We thought France was going to support us, and we tried to get others. What happened? There were no prior preparations for any such action. The Germans marched first against Norway and then against the other countries, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium, and having overrun them, taking each of them in succession, turned her forces on France and overran France. So it went on until she had overrun the very large portion of 211 Europe she at present occupies more or less effectively. We did not avoid international action by the course that was followed. International alliance in some form was found to be essential, but we had made so little effective preparation for it, or had been able to make so little effective preparation, that when the blow was struck we were forced to make our preparations at the last minute. That seems to me a completely satisfactory defence of the dictum of Mr. Cordell Hull that there must be created an international agency to keep the peace, by force if necessary.
In the next proposition to which I wish to refer he deals with the suggestion that this involves a destruction of national sovereignty, that if they are to be absorbed in one international body the various nations will have their national sovereignty destroyed. There was no question in Mr. Cordell Hull's scheme of any absorption, but there is undoubtedly some kind of obligation by which the countries that come into this arrangement would be bound to use their strength in support of the general object of keeping the peace, by force if necessary. He says—I think very ingeniously—that so far from this interfering with national sovereignty, it is the only way in which national sovereignty can be preserved—that coming to an agreement with one another to take such action will preserve national sovereignty, and will not in any way interfere with national sovereignty itself. I think that is also an interesting and very important, at any rate argumentive, proposition. It throws additional light on what he conceives to be a proper solution of our difficulties after the war.
He goes on to other matters, some of them of great importance. I wish only to mention them in passing. One is that he very strongly supports the existence of an international court, saying in substance—I forget exactly how he puts it—that the supremacy of the law is essential for freedom and for safety, and that therefore you must have an international court to expound and, as far as it is able to do so, enforce that law. He strongly recommends the international court being preserved and strengthened. The last practical proposal I came across that he is making is for what he calls the surveillance—supervision, I suppose—of the Forces of the aggressor nations, 212 nations that have shown themselves to be aggressive in policy. I entirely agree with him that there will have to be that supervision, but I do not personally think that is enough. He does not say anything to the contrary of that opinion, and certainly I think most members of your Lordships' House would say unquestionably that, whatever else we do, we must disarm the aggressive nations and keep them disarmed until it is quite clear they have abandoned their aggressive policies. I think that would be regarded as the minimum of what we ought to do in such cases.
No doubt as part of that system you will have to have surveillance, and that again is evidently to be carried out, according to Mr. Hull's conception, by international authorities. At the conclusion of this part of his speech he makes some general observations, not exactly recommendations. He utters a very impressive warning to those who think that the victory will immediately inaugurate a very extensive and beneficial reform of social and economic conditions. He does indeed strongly advocate a policy of social justice, he does indeed say that that ought to be pressed to the utmost; but he also says that it is not a thing that will come of itself. It will be the result of continued and very strenuous effort, and must flow from a recognition that individual interests, and even individual national interests, must be subordinated to the interests of the whole if you are really to build a new and more satisfactory system than that which has existed. Finally, he returns to what he argued with great force in the earlier part of his speech. The preface of all this, the foundation upon which all this must be laid, is victory; and therefore we must concentrate on winning the war.
I do hope—and I venture to address this aspiration to my noble friends opposite—some means may be found for printing the whole of this speech and making it available for the public. I do not wish to go into the details of how that ought to be done. I would be very glad to discuss it if any of the Ministers wish to hear me on the subject, which is very unlikely; but if they should wish it I should be delighted to do anything I can to help. I think it is so important a speech, such an immense landmark in the history of the policy of the United States and, as I think, the policy of the world, that we 213 ought to have the whole speech printed and made available. At present only a very small fraction has been printed. This is not a criticism of our Press. The Press took up a large part of its space to print what it did print, and in these days the Press could not be expected to do more, but there was still a great deal more which to me at any rate was quite unknown until I obtained an authorized copy of what Mr. Hull had actually said.
I make that observation and I make another observation to which I hope I may perhaps receive some kind of answer. I have sketched very briefly the kind of policy which Mr. Cordell Hull approves. I hope I have sketched it fairly; I have done my best. It seems to me a very important and a very pregnant policy, and I think the people of this country ought to know, as authoritatively as possible, if it can be in any way accomplished, what is the Government's attitude with regard to these proposals of Mr. Hull, or rather of the American Government. I do not ask, of course, that the Government should pledge themselves to accept every detail. I have not attempted to deal with a great many of the details, but, taking the broad policy which I think is a perfectly coherent, intelligent policy, as I have tried to sketch it, I think this House has a right to know, and the country has a right to know, what is the attitude of the Government with regard to that speech. I hope very much that my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, who I believe is to reply, will be able to say it is thoroughly favourable to Mr. Cordell Hull's speech, and that the Government accept it, but if they do not I venture very respectfully to say that the least they can do is to issue a statement comparable to Mr. Hull's statement saying what their policy is going to be.
My noble friend in moving this Motion made some observations about the importance of that from the point of view both of our people and of our Allies. I really have nothing to add. I entirely agree that it is of the greatest importance to both one and the other, and I believe our people, who are fighting magnificently, would fight even better if they knew quite definitely to what they might reasonably look forward as the result of the war. I can conceive a young man going into battle ready to sacrifice his life and saying to himself: "Well, I should do it with more confidence, more 214 happiness, if I felt that whatever happened to me I was going to prepare a better place for those who come after me." I believe that feeling is tremendously widespread and tremendously deeply felt in this country and in Allied countries, especially those countries which are suffering those incredible horrors that are going on, the horrors that we have been told are occurring in Poland and elsewhere. Surely we ought to be able to say to them: "Well, bear up; we recognize how horrible are your sufferings, but we are going to win and we are going to establish a new system in the world in which horrors like those you have suffered will never be allowed to recur." I think they are entitled to that, and I am sure it would be a great consolation to them if we felt able to assure them of that fact.
What about our aims? My noble friend Lord Selborne yesterday spoke, I think with great eloquence and truth, of the importance of propaganda in Germany. I am not going back on the discussion that took place on that particular Motion, but I believe the whole House agreed that it was of great importance that we should tell the Germans what it is that they may look for if we win, whether it is really true, as Goebbels and others assure them, that we are going to destroy them and submit them to the kind of treatment they have been meting out to other countries, or whether, after taking all possible precautions against renewal of their attack, we mean to proceed not to try to oppress or destroy them—in other words, get them to understand the Cordell Hull proposals. Surely it would be a great satisfaction to them to know what was going to happen and that, if they could get rid of and destroy their present misleading Government, they would really have a possible future to look forward to. I hope I have not expressed myself too warmly on this point, but I feel that there is a danger in every war that in the anxieties and excitement of fighting people should think fighting is the whole thing. That is not true and everyone in their hearts knows it is not true. What is really important is to know what will happen as a consequence of our victory. Our victory is only a step towards something much more important than the victory itself. Therefore I say we ought to make that as clear as we can. If we could really convince the world that we are out to defend the weak and establish an honourable and just peace, I am 215 sure our military effort would be immensely strengthened and that victory would be rapid and overwhelming.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, your Lordships had a full debate on a very similar subject two months ago on a Resolution placed upon the Paper by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, but I am sure you will not demur to my noble friend Lord Davies having put down this Motion for to-day because it is one of prime importance, and it is one that has already evoked a most valuable speech in addition to his own from the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, who speaks on this matter with a breadth of knowledge and an authority with which few of us can compare. With what the noble Lord has said I find myself in a very full measure of agreement, and I trust the Government will pay attention to his specific request that the speech of Mr. Cordell Hull should be made available to the nation in full. Indeed, I hope that other similar addresses made on behalf of the Governments of the principal Allied countries will be published by the Ministry of Information for public knowledge. The noble Lord expressed regret that no comparable reply had been made from this quarter, but it happened that the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Eden, spoke on the very same day as Mr. Cordell Hull, covering the same ground and very much in the same spirit. I hope the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack may be able to add something and perhaps to draw attention to the similarity between these two speeches made simultaneously on the two sides of the Atlantic.
My noble friend Lord Davies has given many years of incessant labour and generous resources in the advancement of the cause which he has been pleading to-day from no other motive than a philanthropic desire to be of service to mankind. I think he has the right to know that his work has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by those who are labouring in the same cause though perhaps along slightly different lines. We shall all agree with what he has urged to-day that it would be disastrous to leave the post-war position to an expectation that a mere general good will among mankind, taught by the lessons of their own disasters, may bring about automatically a better state of the world. It would be fatal, I believe, if we were to 216 pursue straight away a policy of sweeping away all regulations and controls, expecting that the enlightened self-interest of the individual would work out in the universal welfare. There must be, after the war, a rational organization in some form both of political and of economic affairs; otherwise there will prevail an anarchy which will be utterly disastrous; and there would indeed be a danger that we may enter upon another period in the history of the world such as that which prevailed during the centuries when Roman civilization collapsed under the blows from barbarians in Germany and elsewhere.
I think the whole of your Lordships' House will agree with the main principle which the noble Lord advocates so tenaciously and with such persistence. We should agree also, I think, that the shape of the new organization must be considered in advance and that it should not be left to those who are in power at the moment of victory to decide just what political and economic institutions should be established. Those who win wars are not always the best qualified to construct the peace. The men who are most powerful with the sword are not always those who are skilful with the trowel. It is right that there should proceed this vast discussion which is now going on in most countries of the world as to what we should desire the post-war situation to be, that alternative plans should be prepared beforehand, and that in such preparation the Governments of the United Nations should participate. But when my noble friend asks your Lordships to agree to the establishment of a formal Commission, of the nature of a Royal Commission, to represent the Allied Nations, I confess I feel some measure of scepticism, just as does the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil. Royal Commissions, the members of which are all citizens of the same country, are by no means always unanimous, but when you have a number of persons drawn from different nations the danger of disunion becomes all the greater.
The international conferences that have taken place in our time have all failed, unhappily, giving rise to so much disagreement that their results have proved to be futile. When the noble Lord speaks of a Commission being appointed to arrive at some common measure of agreement, it might possibly mean some measure of disagreement. I remember being told about an incident which is 217 alleged to have happened in Tangier. Tangier, like most towns of oriental character, had no names for its streets and, as it was under international government, it was decided to appoint a Commission representative of the States concerned which would decide upon the nomenclature of the streets. At the first meeting the Commission, so it is said, agreed with unanimity that the streets should be named after those who could be considered, again with unanimity, the most eminent figures in the history of mankind. Several months then elapsed and it was found that the Commission had only agreed on the name of one street, which was to be called Adam Street. It might well be that an International Commission dealing with these exceedingly difficult and complicated questions in which many various interests are concerned would not achieve that measure of speedy unanimity which the noble Lord desires.
The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, has just suggested that it might be possible for some organization to be established for the formulation of our own proposals, and the Phillimore Commission during the last war has been suggested as a precedent. That may perhaps be advisable, but there would be great danger if such a Commission were to sit and arrive at conclusions, and to formulate them and to publish them before there had been the fullest consultation with the Allied Powers. Nothing could do more harm than the idea being spread throughout the world that Great Britain was deciding by herself what should be the future shape and constitution of the world. In the United States and Soviet Russia and in many of the smaller States there would be a feeling of resentment if anything were published which could be represented as being in the nature of a cut-and-dried scheme upon which British opinion had already, by itself, come to an agreement. The noble Lord's suggestion that there should be a Committee of this House appointed to consider the matter is an interesting one which I have not heard previously made. But that, too, is open to the same objection that I have just advanced, and, furthermore, it would be very difficult for such a Committee effectively to invite evidence or consultation from nationals of other Powers. However, it would be interesting to learn from the noble and learned 218 Viscount who sits on the Woolsack what the Government think of this proposal of a formal Commission. I confess I should feel some surprise if the Government were to say that they would welcome a step which would take that precise form.
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, I do not want to interrupt but perhaps my noble friend would allow me to point out that the Phillimore Committee was not a Commission at all. It was a Departmental Committee which sat in secret and reported to the Foreign Office. The Foreign Office then reported to the Cabinet. Nothing was said about it at all until the Peace Conference met, I do not know if anything was said even as early as that. I am told that it was later.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, I do not know whether the same procedure would be possible for a Select Committee of this House. I do not know whether the House would be satisfied to think that they had appointed a Committee which would sit in secret, arrive at conclusions which would not be published to the world and which might or might not—I do not know—be published to the 700 members of this House. However, this is a matter to be reflected upon rather than to be hastily agreed. Certainly it would be all to the good for Technical Commissions and Committees to be appointed here, and to deliberate upon particular aspects of the problems, economic and political, that will arise. There is every reason to believe that various inquiries of a private character are being made in that sphere under the general direction of the Paymaster-General, Sir William Jowitt, who has been charged with that particular duty, and also on behalf of the Foreign Office and other organs of the Government.
The only other observation with which I wish to trouble your Lordships refers to the final words of the Motion now before us. The noble Lord asks that the Commission that he desires should be appointed with a view to the preparation of measures for post-war reconstruction through the establishment of an international authority. The words "an international authority," rather suggest that there is to be a single authority which is to cover the vast field that would have to be covered after the war. I suggest that the matter is not so simple as that, and that perhaps the post-war pattern will 219 be a good deal more complicated than most of us now envisage. There may, in fact, have to be several kinds of organization for several different purposes—for example, with respect to disarmament and to ensure the continuance of disarmament and the availability of force, which, I agree with the noble Lord who has just spoken, is an essential measure. It may be that one form of organization will be necessary for that alone, for the disarmament of the aggressors and to secure such conditions that the world may evolve in peace and tranquillity. That could possibly be best effected by alliances of the great military Powers and one such alliance is in fact, so far as this country and Russia are concerned, already in being by reason of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty. And other Powers would, no doubt, be prepared to collaborate, let us hope also the United States, when the time comes to arrive at final decisions.
With regard to organization for what may be called political purposes, already some of the lesser Powers have taken definite steps, as your Lordships will be aware. Poland and Czecho-Slovakia have already agreed upon the principles of a confederation between them. Yugoslavia and Greece have done the same. It is possible that these groups may attract neighbouring States and so add to their numbers. But these are not federations be it noted; they are confederations, which are quite different things. It may be that there will be several such confederations in different parts of Europe and different parts of the world, some or all of which may be linked together by some organization developed within them. That is not for us in this country to decide, it is for the countries themselves to decide. They are already moving in that direction and it may be that there part of the pattern of the post-war world will be found.
Furthermore, there is the League of Nations, which might cover the whole field and include not only the Allied Powers but also the Axis Powers, in order to deal with cultural and economic questions and perhaps minor political issues which may arise. There must be an international court, as Mr. Cordell Hull has clearly stated, for dealing with the juridical side; and although the juridical side is important it is only a minor part of the whole, for the problem is not only how to 220 determine what is International Law and how to enforce it, but also to secure that International Law shall be what it should be. You must have not only a court of law and a police force, but also a Legislature which is able to modify the law, before you can have a complete international system. Then the economic organs that are required must not be confused with any of those that I have mentioned. You may have to have economic organizations such as a Bank of International Settlements for dealing with the problems of international exchange, and for the organization of commerce and transport. Therefore we may find that "an international authority" such as is indicated in this Resolution will not by any means cover the field, and that the solution to the problems with which we shall be faced will be far more complicated and will have to be achieved far more gradually than by the setting up of some single organization at a given moment. It will have to be effected by stages. We have not reached the stage of precision, though it is all to the good that proposals should be ventilated and that opportunities should be given for the clarification of ideas.
§ VISCOUNT BENNETT
My Lords, I desire to make only two points in this debate to-day. As a matter of fact, I had not intended troubling your Lordships with any observations at all. There is no difficulty I find, when one talks, for instance, to Service men from the Dominions and to those in this country who are engaged in the great conflict, in determining what they are fighting against internationally. There seems, however, to be some difficulty with regard to the question of what they are fighting for. I should therefore welcome a statement from the Government as to what we are fighting for, and it would be welcomed by the people who live in that part of the King's dominions in which I was born. I myself have a very clear idea of what we are fighting for, and an authoritative statement by the Government as to what we are fighting for would not conflict with what was said just now by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel.
There is no difficulty in understanding the implications of a treaty, but the Atlantic Charter is not a treaty. The Atlantic Charter is nothing more than the expression of hopes and aspirations on 221 the part of the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of this Kingdom. In the United States, legislation to enforce one portion of the declarations in that Charter can become effective only by the approval of a two-thirds majority of the Senate. I take it that that is the reason why there was a treaty with Soviet Russia but no treaty with the United States, because it was by no means certain that the result might not be the same as was found in connexion with the approval of the action of a former President of the United States in regard to the League of Nations. Nothing, in my judgment, could be more fatal, as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has just said, than the idea that we were undertaking, in this Kingdom, to draw up the terms of peace to be made with the Axis Powers. That would be resented not only by the overseas Dominions, which have equal status with this Kingdom, but also, and equally, by people in other lands who are associated with us in this war.
In fairness to the Government, that position must be kept in mind. I need hardly remind the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, with whose speech I was so much in accord, that in the last war the President of the United States—not the Secretary of State—laid down Fourteen Points as being essential, and those Fourteen Points were accepted by the world at large as aims to be attained as a result of the war. Those who are familiar with the historical side of the matter will recall that, when the Germans agreed to the Armistice terms, they stated that they relied on those Fourteen Points. Nothing would be more fatal than for us to make declarations regarding our views about the peace terms, and then to find our defeated enemies saying that they relied on the statements which we had made, statements to which we might not be able to give effect because they were our declarations, and not the declarations of all those engaged in this conflict against our enemies. I think that that is abundantly clear. In the declarations made by President Wilson, he was quite firm and clear as to what the objects to be attained were, and as to the methods to be used in attaining them; yet, when the Peace Treaty was finally drawn up, one of the complaints made by the Germans was that it disregarded the principles of the Fourteen Points, and it will be recalled 222 how strongly they made that objection on one or two occasions. In all fairness, that must be kept in mind when we ask the Government of one of the countries at war to take a step which might be, and would be, misunderstood by others of the warring nations associated with it.
The important point to keep in mind, however, is that the Atlantic Charter is only a declaration of hopes and aspirations on the part of the President of the United States, and that action by that great country, if it is to take the form of a treaty, has to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate, while, if it is to take place in the economic field, there have to be conferences and compromises between the Senate and the House of Representatives until conclusions are finally reached. There is always a danger of our position being misunderstood if the Government here were forced to take the view which has been suggested, for it would indicate to the world that we were going to determine what the peace terms were to be; and our Russian Allies, and other countries as well, are equally concerned with ourselves as to the terms of peace.
What has been said regarding the speech of the United States Secretary of State is highly to be commended, but it must not be forgotten that, while the Secretary of State expresses the view of the Government, he does not, under the Constitution of the United States, express the will of the American people, which can be indicated only in the manner to which I have just referred. We should be careful, therefore, not to attach too much importance to speeches made by public men in the United States with respect to matters of this kind. In this country the Prime Minister can bind the Government, and in binding the Government can bind the country, or else go out of office, in an endeavour to give effect to the conclusions at which he has arrived. In the United States that is not the case, and we must always keep that fact in mind when we are dealing with matters of an international character with which the United States is concerned.
For instance, within the next few weeks there will be Elections in the United States for all the members of the House of Representatives and for about one-third of the Senate, as well as for a consider- 223 able number of Governors of States. Undoubtedly, public opinion at the moment is very much concerned about the result of those Elections. Many of your Lordships will have read an article in one of the great journals of this country which pointed out that the Elections were engaging public attention to a very great extent at the present moment, and that, whether one liked it or not, the President of the United States must always be regarded as the head of his Party. In the nature of things he has to think in terms of his own Party; if he does not do so, he will be upbraided by his own supporters. That is the case even in time of war, as was pointed out by Lincoln in the 'sixties, when he was compelled to run an election in the midst of a war.
In those circumstances, I think it would be an extremely ill-considered act for the Government to do other than merely express views as to what we are struggling for. To say what we are struggling for is one thing; to say what we are going to endeavour to impose on somebody else is another thing. We can with great justice point out what we are struggling to do, and what our hopes and aspirations are, but it is another thing for us to say that at a Peace Conference, or anywhere else, we are going to insist upon this or that, when as a matter of fact we may not be in a position to make our views as effective as they are within this Chamber, for instance. When we meet to negotiate peace, it is obvious that we shall be only one of many countries, and not always, I dare say, the dominant one.
I associate myself with much that Lord Davies has said, and I should like to associate myself with what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said as to the great contribution which Lord Davies has made to the cause of peace. I would refer especially to his contribution in the country where I was born, where his books have been much read, and I think with great benefit to those who have read them. As for the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, no words of mine can express the admiration and regard in which he is held for the consistent course which he has taken in using every method which human ingenuity can devise to maintain the peace of the world. If there has been a failure to attain the ends which he had in view, I think it may be 224 attributable to a fact that we must not overlook to-day, and that is that under the Constitution of the great Republic that is associated with us in this war the President does not bind the people—not even the President.
Bearing in mind those facts, I venture to bring them to the attention of your Lordships that my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack may not, by reason of the very strong arguments that have been adduced in favour of making a statement, make any premature statement that would have the effect of inducing our enemies to believe that in so speaking he was speaking for all those who are at war with the Germans; for, great as is the authority of this Kingdom and of the Government of this Kingdom, it is not greater than that of the Governments of the other communities that constitute the British Empire. In function and strength and power it is greater, of course, but it has no greater power than the other four Dominions of equal status to make statements that bind the world at large, and it certainly has not as great authority as two of the other belligerents that are associated with us in this war, considered in point of weight of material resources and of the forces they can put into the firing line to make effective our united efforts to achieve victory.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT SIMON)
My Lords, we shall all agree that the question which my noble friend Lord Davies cut upon the Paper raises matters of the greatest possible importance, and the debate that has taken place, though not a very long debate, has included a series of speeches which, I think, must have impressed all who have been present—speeches which indeed have amplified and added to the topics that were raised by the question itself. My noble friend Lord Davies was good enough to say in the course of his very interesting remarks that he really did not expect that the spokesman for the Government would give cut-and-dried answers to all the queries which he raised. Indeed, if anybody were to attempt to do so that would amount to little less than announcing, on behalf of His Majesty's Government at any rate, not only the elaboration of our ultimate peace aims, but even of the methods by which it was hoped to arrive at the future government of the world. The noble Viscount, Lord 225 Bennett, has usefully warned me not to be led away by these seductive suggestions, and while I wish to make my contribution as well as I can in positive terms, I recognize the great importance of caution.
Indeed, the caution is all the more needed because these documents to which the question refers, the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, are of course international documents; and, while that certainly does not absolve either the Government or the Legislature or the people of this country from trying to form concrete resolutions about the topic, it does make it excessively dangerous to advance, without pre-arrangement, explanations and propositions that perhaps might be challenged. I recalled having read—and I looked it up before I came into the House—an observation made by the Prime Minister in another place when last September he returned from the United States with the Atlantic Charter. It was the first report to Parliament after that great achievement, and I copied out his words. He was at once asked, of course, for explanations and amplifications, and the Prime Minister said:It is a wise rule that when two parties have agreed to a statement one of them shall not thereafter, without consultation with the other, seek to put special interpretations upon this or that passage.That, I am sure, we shall so far all agree with. That is not to say that there is not a process of further interpretation going on, not only, if I may be allowed to remind your Lordships, in the speeches made by statesmen abroad, but also in speeches made by statesmen in this country also. I hardly think that quite enough attention has been paid in the course of this debate to what my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has said on this subject, and I am going to call attention to one or two passages.
Here are these two international documents, each of them when it first appeared gathering the attention of the whole world. I do feel about them—and I think it will probably be a general feeling—that these two documents, the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Soviet Agreement, belong to that small class of documents which have the penetration and the power which partake of the nature of positive, masterly action. Whenever a collection of international documents is made in the future, going right back to the beginnings of time, 226 I doubt very much whether there will be any document which is recognized as having the possibilities of more permanent influence and importance than the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Soviet Agreement. Several passages in the Atlantic Charter have been referred to, and I will not delay by doing what I had intended to do and call attention to their significance; and while I agree that they are expressed in general terms—such things must be in general terms—I do not think I should entirely agree with the expression used by my noble friend when he described them as vague and nebulous. I think an honest reading of them gives them the most profound and definite significance. But I do not think any quotation has been made this afternoon from the Anglo-Soviet Agreement and I will, if I may, make one or two extracts to remind the House.
But let me first say, here confirming what was said by Lord Davies, that of course the most significant and the most hopeful feature of the Atlantic Charter is exactly this: it is not a unilateral declaration, it is really a pledge of co-operation; and co-operation, be it observed, not only in framing plans for peace but in carrying them out. If that is achieved, then no praise could be too high to give this document. Everything that has been said about the Atlantic Charter since then by American statesmen confirms the resolve and intention of the American Government to act in that spirit. I recognize very fully the important qualification mentioned by my noble friend Lord Bennett, which we must never forget, arising from the special structure of the Constitution of the United States; but these are very powerful men who are making these declarations and, as far as one can read, the effect of their speeches is exercising an enormous influence inside their country as well as outside it. In a word, Anglo-American co-operation now and hereafter constitutes the best hope for the world.
Now as to the Anglo-Soviet Treaty. It, also, is a most remarkable document, and a few passages from it are really worth quoting in this connexion. Consider one or two of its recitals. It recites the desire of Soviet Russia and ourselves to "contribute after the war to the maintenance of peace." It expresses the intention of the signatories to "collaborate"—there is the word again—"closely with one another as well as with the other United Nations at the peace settlement and during 227 the ensuing period of reconstruction on the basis of the principles" of the Atlantic Charter. In connexion with the quotation made just now by my noble friend Lord Cecil from Mr. Cordell Hull, let me remind your Lordships of the contents of Article III of the Anglo-Soviet Treaty. I need not say that I make this quotation without the smallest desire to suggest that Mr. Cordell Hull's declaration was not of immense importance on this question, but merely to show that it is in line with what has been said by others. Article III runs in these terms:The High Contracting Parties declare their desire to unite with other like-minded States in adopting proposals for common action to preserve peace and resist aggression in the post-war period.And Article V says:The High Contracting Parties … agree to work together in close and friendly collaboration after the re-establishment of peace for the organization of security and economic prosperity in Europe.I do not think that these are merely vague declarations. They are declarations in general terms, but their meaning is perfectly definite, an I it they are carried out, implemented in full effect, there are very good grounds for hoping for good results from the contents of these two great documents to which Lord Davies has referred.
Then comes the reference already made in this debate, especially by my noble friend Lord Cecil, to the recent speech of Mr. Cordell Hull. In order that I may not forget it, let me say at once that, after hearing his suggestion about giving that speech further publicity in this country, I took the opportunity of trying to communicate with the Foreign Secretary. I have been unable to hear from him personally, but I have heard from others in his Department, and I shall take upon myself the responsibility, which I think in the circumstances properly attaches to me, of saying on behalf of His Majesty's Government that we gladly accept Lord Cecil's suggestion, and we shall discuss with the Ministry of Information ways and means of making this most important pronouncement more widely known. It may be that some other statements should also be similarly quoted.
Returning to Mr. Cordell Hull's speech, I could not help wondering whether the Constitution of the United States, which leaves important members of the Execu- 228 tive to prepare their declarations and to emit them without the smallest possibility of their ever being invited to answer any question in the Legislature, on the whole contributed or did not contribute to the united policy of a country. At any rate, Mr. Cordell Hull enjoys that advantage, and there are occasions, I dare say, when some Ministers of the Crown in this country envy him his privilege. I should like to quote two passages which I have myself extracted, having read the speech in extenso when I first had the opportunity of doing so and having re-read it again to-clay. Certainly the American Secretary of State does put these things in the most powerful manner. Here is the first passage:No nation can make satisfactory progress while its citizens are in the grip of constant fear of external attack or interference. It is plain that some international agency must be created which can, by force if necessary, keep the peace among nations in the future.And here is the second passage:There must be international co-operative action to set up mechanisms which can thus ensure peace.I extract these passages, though in substance they have been already quoted to the House, partly because I feel that they are immensely important, and partly because it was with reference to these passages in particular that the Foreign Secretary in this country made a statement. It is only right that we should realize how very precise Mr. Eden's statement was. I know very well that my noble friend Lord Cecil had not the smallest intention of omitting it, but he did not give it much prominence. Mr. Cordell Hull's speech was on July 23 and, as one would expect, in another place questions were at once put to the Foreign Secretary as to his view of what Mr. Cordell Hull had said. These two particular passages which I have just read are the two on which the questions were based. The Foreign Secretary replied:As I have made plain on previous occasions—I think my right honourable friend was referring partly to a speech he made at Edinburgh some time ago which is well worth reading—it is the view of His Majesty's Government that international authority after the war will require to be backed by international force. We are in entire agreement with the United States.229 I do not think that I add anything to the precision of that declaration if I repeat it here, but I am able, of course, to say, having had the opportunity of talking to the Foreign Secretary earlier in the day, that that is the declared and decided policy of His Majesty's Government.
There was an observation made by Mr. Cordell Hull which was referred to, though not, I think, quoted, which is important in this connexion. "International agency," I quite agree with my noble friend Lord Samuel, is not the same thing as an international agency," but one gets a very false conception if one supposes that what Mr. Cordell Hull or the Atlantic Charter or ourselves have in view is simply the sweeping away of national sovereignty and the substitution of some new, all-embracing, universal international force. That is not the conception at all. Mr. Cordell Hull in that speech pointed out that the Atlantic Charter does not propose to substitute international authority for sovereign rights and self-government. The conception is that sovereign rights and self-government will be preserved and made, as far as self-government is concerned, more authoritative and complete. The aim is not to impose, by a kind of reverse Diktat, international authority on the world after the war. The conception is not that we should aim at forcing upon as many people as possible the dictates of some international organ, but rather that we should aim at getting agreement between as many sovereign communities as may be, each of them, we trust, enjoying rights of self-government, so that as the result of consent, not as the result of externally applied force, this international authority is able to speak in the name of all well-disposed people. That is the conception, and in the same way I think you will find in Mr. Cordell Hull's speech that he uses language which shows he does not conceive of this international authority as being imposed by force, but rather as being in the nature of a cooperative unity which will secure that the wrong-doer is effectively repressed and that aggression is effectively checked.
The other passage which was also in Mr. Cordell Hull's speech, and about which my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made reference on the same occasion, has to do with an international court of justice. May I be allowed here, because 230 I have known it a long time, to associate myself with Lord Samuel and Lord Bennett in saying that I know well how much disinterested and devoted labour Lord Davies has given to this particular aspect of the matter. Mr. Eden said: "His Majesty's Government are entirely in favour of the establishment, or reestablishment, after the war of an international court of justice." He did not develop that in detail, and I think wisely so, when he was invited, as is the fashion in the House of Commons, to say more about it. Replying to supplementary questions, the Foreign Secretary said, "My language was of set purpose guarded on these subjects" and it must be, for the reason mentioned by Lord Bennett and other reasons too.
If I may detain your Lordships for a short time, that is a branch of the subject in which I myself take the most intense interest, and I would like to say just a word about the functions and the conception of an international court of justice. I think a great many devoted reformers sometimes fail to allow for the necessary limitations under which such a court acts, and it is for that very reason that what you have to aim at is not one thing but two. One is the international court of justice, and the other is the international force, power, influence, which will, in case of need, bring about a better world. An "international court of justice" and an "international agency to keep the peace" are not really one thing; they are really two things. I do not think that any real benefit can be done to the cause of peace in the future by exaggerating the range that can be covered by an international court. It is very important to realize what it can do, but it is also very important to realize what it cannot do.
For example, an international court cannot take upon itself to make changes of frontiers. If you are to imagine an international court that existed for the last sixty or seventy years and asked it to award a decision as to whether Alsace-Lorraine belongs to France or to Germany, if the international court acted, as it would be bound to act, according to existing treaties, it would give a decision either one way or the other way according to the date when it was asked to decide. A court of justice, whether it is a municipal court or an international court, is not charged with the duty of altering 231 people's rights and awarding things to people who have not got them. It exists for the purpose of interpreting and applying impartially agreements which have been made, or the principles which lie behind the Common Law; and so in the case of an international court. An international court may perfectly well be asked—was asked after the Treaty of St. Germain—whether the Anschluss with Austria was consistent with the treaty of peace, or inconsistent with it. That is a legal question which it could decide. An international tribunal of the days long ago, at the time of the Alabama dispute, could be set up for the purpose of determining whether we ought to pay compensation for breach of International Law in connexion with that particular unfortunate episode. But you cannot appeal to Judges as judges for the purpose of determining what changes ought to be made in territory or the like.
It is manifest, my Lords, to no one more manifest than to a man who has now undertaken a little the discharge of a judicial office, that many matters of dispute, many causes of controversy in the world, are not necessarily settled to the general satisfaction merely by telling people what their existing rights are. A just judgment does not necessarily lead, even in the municipal sphere, to contentment all round, and the permanent court of international justice necessarily confines itself to deciding things that are susceptible of judicial treatment. I think myself, being a warm partisan of the whole conception of international justice, it would be most unwise to treat a court, however independent, as specially qualified to solve what are really political problems. Nothing is morely likely to bring the whole scheme of a permanent court into disrepute than the suspicion that distinguished jurists who sit on it concern themselves with anything except impartial judgment on the basis of the law as they find it. That is the fundamental reason, in my view (and I think Lord Davies agrees), why you do not get the whole way by talking about international arbitration or an international court. You want an instrument which Mr. Cordell Hull and the Atlantic Charter call an international authority whose duty it would be to keep the peace by the use, if need be, of force to repress the aggressor, and which would have wide enough functions to try 232 to adjust from time to time these disputes that arise betwen nations and neighbours, which at any rate, in spite of all the efforts made by the League of Nations, have not been successfully disposed of by that body. I think Lord Cecil, whole life-work for the League is honoured by us all, would agree that the weakest feature in the whole of the Covenant of the League was the Article which it was hoped would have the result of peacefully adjusting frontiers. It was an Article which could operate only if there was complete unanimity, including the countries on each side of the frontier involved.
This brings me to the last point which, after all, is the really essential point raised by Lord Davies. The question is how far these all-important matters, involved in the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Soviet Treaty, can be promoted by international consultation now. Let me first say that it must not be supposed that these topics, or some of them, are not already the subject of very close study by this Government, and doubtless by other Governments also. I noticed in the answer which the Foreign Secretary gave the other day in the House of Commons, that he said amongst other things, and he has confirmed it to me independently, this. "These things," he said, "are being examined and discussed." So I can say that, in respect of some spheres of postwar co-operation, unofficial exchanges of ideas between different Governments are already taking place.
But I have to say that in the view of His Majesty's Government the establishment of an Inter-Allied Commission suggested in this question would be altogether premature. All experience goes to show—and I think this was the point made by my noble friend Viscount Cecil—that the success of an international conference depends largely on a great deal of preparatory work of all sorts behind the scenes. You are likely to get into the most awful trouble if representatives of different nations are summoned to meet before there really is a programme of work to be laid before them. I think my noble friend Lord Davies, whose zeal on this subject we all admire, recognizes that we could hardly expect the heads of the great Governments at the present moment to devote much time to it. But how far can these matters be carried to a definite issue in the hands of subordinates? President Wilson's Fourteen Points were the 233 points of the President of the United States, nobody less, and when we are dealing with such tremendous issues as these, definitely involving great countries which in some respects are so far away from one another, at any rate in geography, as China, Russia, ourselves and America, is it a very practical plan to say at this present stage that you should constitute an Inter-Allied Commission to which delegates from the Governments might go? It seems to me it is not. I do not really think that it a very practical suggestion now to suggest that you should constitute a formal body which, if I understood my noble friend rightly, should take evidence on these matters from various countries.
But I now wish to put the other side. I entirely agree with my noble friend and others who have spoken—and here again I am speaking with the confirmation of the Foreign Secretary with whom I have discussed the subject—that these questions cannot be left without further development till the end of the war. That would indeed be a most foolish and fatal course. Their very complexity, novelty and difficulty are enough to show that that cannot wisely be left to happen. It must be before that. I have no more means than any of your Lordships of estimating how long the interval may be before the war comes to an end. Like the rest of you I am only interested in asserting that as far as we are concerned it can only come to an end in one way. But I think when we are considering the course of events a man would be sanguine to the point of absurdity if he supposed the result which we are determined ultimately to obtain was going to be obtained very quickly.
Here again comes in the wise advice of Mr. Cordell Hull. He did not propose any commission of this sort. On the contrary, he concluded this remarkable utterance of his by saying, what I venture with much less eloquence now to say myself, that the whole future of the world depends upon winning the war. If the war were not won no discussion about the future would be worth a row of pins. And, my Lords, at the moment when von Bock is hammering at the gates of the Caucasus, at the moment when Rommel and his highly mechanized army is on Egyptian soil, at the moment when Japan has spread her forces over so much of the Far 234 East, how can the leaders of the Allied Nations be called upon to devote their thoughts to an Inter-Allied Conference even on these important questions? I think that was in the Prime Minister's mind when, on returning from America after joining in signing the Atlantic Charter, he deprecated the too-great formulation of plans for after the war and said—I quote his words—''the end of the war is not in sight."
I would stop there if it were not for one observation made by my noble friend Viscount Bennett. He thought—and he speaks with great knowledge of what is passing in the minds of many of our best friends and fellow subjects—that there were many people, perhaps in the Fighting Services, still asking what we are fighting for. Is it not plain that this world-wide conflict with all its horrors and sacrifices is being fought with the double purpose of delivering mankind from slavery and of establishing a better world hereafter? Each of these two purposes supports and sustains the other. We remember how Cromwell declared of his plain, russet-coated captains that "they knew what they were fighting for, and they loved what they knew." That was so long ago that such a quotation no longer smacks of controversy, but at least it is true, I think, of everybody fighting in this country to-day. I would put it in a phrase which I read somewhere a day or two ago that "the United Nations are fighting to crush brute force, and to secure freedom for all mankind." The first of these purposes is in itself a task which is far, far, from having yet been achieved. It calls for every ounce of energy in every one of us. The immensely difficult business of planning for the future, the future for which we hope, is not being overlooked, and I feel that this debate reinforces its importance. But for the reasons I have given, reasons which I hope will commend themselves to your Lordships, His Majesty's Government cannot feel that the present situation makes the setting up of a formal Inter-Allied Commission appropriate at this time.
§ LORD DAVIES
My Lords, may I be allowed to thank the noble and learned Viscount for the speech which he has just delivered? I cannot help feeling that all the speeches made in this debate when we read them in cold print in the Official 235 Report will be found to show that the speakers were really in favour of some sort of collaboration between representatives of the United Nations to elaborate the implications of the Atlantic Charter. My noble friend Viscount Cecil said that nothing useful could be done until a statement had been put before a Commission of this kind. As I tried to point out, the statement already exists. It is the agreement in regard to the Articles included in the Atlantic Charter. That is the basis for discussion in this Commission. He was quite right when he said the Report of the Phillimore Committee was a Report to our Government, not to the Allied Governments, but it did nevertheless form the basis of discussion in the League of Nations Commission which was constituted at Paris.
With regard to a point made by my noble friend Lord Samuel, from what he said I gathered that he rather feared the risk of what he called disagreement. I think we now realize that you never can get unanimity on every particular subject. All I pleaded for was an attempt to find a common denominator and the maximum agreement which could be secured. It is not a question of publishing a report. Obviously if this Commission was in being it would report to the respective Governments before anything could be published in the Press or to the general public. I think the noble Viscount also rather cast some doubt on what he described as "an international authority." He also pointed out, if I may be allowed to say so, the difficulty which would arise if there was only a law in force without some means of changing that law from time to time, so as to bring it in accordance with the requirements of the times. Therefore it seems to me that any authority must in the very nature of things become an authority, not merely an alliance, which, after all, is something as old as the hills. The Hivites, the jebusites and the Hittites all formed alliances and we know that there have been alliances throughout the centuries one after another. If we are going to be content with alliances I fear that there is not much hope for the future. I think that what my noble friend had in mind is some kind of international authority, a confederation of the League or a federation or whatever you like to call it.
236 I am greatly indebted to my noble friend Viscount Bennett for his remarks. He pointed out the dangers that might arise from any unilateral declaration or from any suggestion of what he described as dictating to other countries. The whole object of this Commission is to prevent any unilateral declaration, to prevent any idea of one country dictating to another. Agreement has been reached already to the extent of these eight Articles in the Atlantic Charter. The noble and learned Viscount who replied on behalf of the Government admitted that there are these other problems and questions which at some time or other will have to be debated and solved, and, therefore, it seems to me that my noble friend's speech was really in support of the Motion now before the House.
I will not take up the time of your Lordships any longer except for the purpose of thanking the noble Viscount once more for his reply. After all, the methods for the future government of the world, as he admitted, are tremendously important and cannot be allowed to remain unexplored. He said that he did not know when the war would come to an end. None of us do, but we remember that the end of the last war came very suddenly. Indeed it came before most people expected it would come. We were caught unprepared, and had it not been for the Report of the Phillimore Committee there would have been no document ready as a basis of discussion when these things came to be discussed a few months later. The noble and learned Viscount also said that the Atlantic Charter and the Anglo-Soviet Treaty are two historic documents. I am sure that we all agree that they are. But a little more than twenty years ago many of us thought that the Covenant of the League of Nations was an historic document which would help to produce peace and justice in the world. I think therefore that it is vital that we should make sure that this historic document does, and will be able to, carry out the intentions and aspirations of those who are joined in it. There are many other points one would like to refer to, but there are other Motions on the Paper for discussion. I therefore beg leave of the House to withdraw the Motion standing in my name.
§ Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.