HL Deb 25 May 1944 vol 131 cc945-1000

VISCOUNT SAMUEL rose to call attention to the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, it is obvious that in the present situation three subjects are primary: first, the military effort on land, sea and in the air; secondly, the preparation of the postwar world and the methods by which we can avoid the recurrence of so great a tragedy; and thirdly—necessary for both of the others—the solidarity of the alliance and association of the United Nations. I might have added a fourth topic, the preparation of the post-war Britain, but on that I have had occasion to address your Lordships in many debates, and, no doubt, further occasions will offer in the future.

As for the military effort, Mr. Roosevelt said a few days ago that Great Britain is at this moment the mightiest military base in the history of the world. The battle for Europe is about to break in all its fullness—that "triangular battle," as Field-Marshal Smuts described it, in the East, the South and the West. The bow is bent, the arrow is aimed, and we are all waiting with bated breath, expectant. But this military effort would not be practicable, and this country could not be the base which it is, if it were not for something less dramatic but not less essential, and that is the industrial and financial effort which we have made. Little has been said in appreciation of those who, behind the scenes and also in the public eye, have been responsible for what is really a marvellous achievement. We are finding, and have long been finding, a sum in the neighbourhood of £100,000,000 a week for the purposes of the war. That sum, in the year when I first stood for the House of Commons, now close upon fifty years ago, was just reached as the total revenue of Great Britain for a year; and yet within a single lifetime it is found to be the weekly expenditure which this nation has been obliged, and has found it possible, to provide. Too little has been said, I think, in tribute to those who have made this possible. In particular, I think that your Lordships would wish to express satisfaction that four members of this House have taken so prominent a part in this successful achievement—at the Treasury, Lord Keynes and Lord Catto; in the remarkable War Savings campaign, Lord Mottistone and Lord Kindersley.

To-day, however, we shall not be dwelling on the war effort, whether it be military or financial or industrial, but rather on the political aspect, and especially the developments of the future, on what is to happen after the war in Germany and Europe and how the peace of the world is to be safeguarded. To-day we have been reading the admirable speech made by the Prime Minister yesterday, one of the finest surveys which even he has delivered in a series of memorable and historic orations. That speech will have forestalled, no doubt, many questions which some of your Lordships would have been proposing to address to the Government, but there still remain various points on which some of us would desire to comment.

The Prime Minister, we were all glad to note, spoke in terms of special friendliness to the French. France was struck down suddenly and decisively. Someone—I forget who it was—gave the good maxim "If you fell down yesterday, stand up to-day." That is the maxim on which the French are now acting, and the brilliant achievement of their Forces in Italy at this moment shows how powerful are the forces of recuperation in that great nation. The Fourth Republic of France is now in embryo. The Prime Minister gave reasons why the French Committee of National Liberation could not at this moment be recognized by the Allies, to use his own words, "as the full, final, lawful embodiment of the French Republic," and certainly the present conditions do not allow its recogi- tion in any such sense I think, however, that the French Committee itself asks for no more than that it should be recognized as the Provisional Government of France, and as subject to such action as the French nation may take when liberated, in full freedom and of their own motion and on their own responsibility.

The visit of General de Gaulle, who is, we are glad to know, about to come to this country, may help to clear the air; but if the time were not far distant when recognition could be given to the French Committee of National Liberation as the Provisional Government, I think that such a decision would be welcomed very widely in this country. Indeed, the opening of the campaign in Western Europe, wherever it may be, may soon make it essential for a decision of that kind to be reached, and perhaps the problem will be a case of being soluitur not indeed ambulando but pugnando.

Then the Prime Minister spoke of Greece, and of the better prospect of Greek unity which now exists. Disunity has always been the besetting vice of the Greek people. It was so, of course, in classical times, and brought about the downfall of Hellenic civilization; and when, after two thousand years, the spirit of Greek independence began to revive again during the war of liberation from Turkey, the disunion among the Greek people made that struggle last for years, while Byron was eating his heart out at Missolonghi, and before and after that time, and ended only after years of suffering and distress through the intervention of the Western Powers. Once again we have seen, during this war, most lamentable civil strife among the Greeks. We rejoice to think that this has for the present been brought to an end, and most sincerely in this country, where there are very many friends of Greece, we hope that this new unity will be staunchly maintained.

More difficult is the question of Poland, to which the Prime Minister gave much attention in his speech. The history of the last two hundred years has shown that Poland cannot live if she has enemies in both Russia and Germany. If she could make friends with both, that would, of course, be the best solution; but it is vital for Poland to be on terms of friendship and good will with the one or the other. Since in present circumstances it is obvious that there can be no friendship and good will between Poland and Germany, it is essential for her to arrive at a friendly understanding with Russia, even at the cost of considerable sacrifices. After the Teheran Conference the Prime Minister used this language in speaking in another place: It was with great pleasure that I heard from Marshal Stalin that he too was resolved upon the creation of a strong integral independent Poland as one of the leading Powers in Europe. He has several times repeated these declarations in public and I am convinced that they represent the settled policy of the Soviet Union. That being so, the atmosphere should be favourable to a friendly understanding and agreement between Poland and Russia.

How whole-heartedly the Poles are engaged in this war has been shown by the contribution they have already made at sea and in the air, and within the last few days in the victory at Cassino, where we are proud to think that when the Allied troops entered that ruined monastery flags both of Poland and of Britain were hoisted side by side. It is also excellent news that the underground movement in Poland has been instructed to co-operate in every way with the advancing Soviet troops and that that is now being done.

Perhaps I may be permitted to express the hope, with regard to conditions in Poland after the war as well as in other countries, that some relief may be given to the Jewish people who have been suffering in Poland and elsewhere under the Germans, under a unique crime, more terrible than any known in the modern history of the world, worse even than the massacres of the Tartar invasions in the Dark Ages, for now these cruelties are inflicted in cold blood and piecemeal and by a nation which till lately occupied a foremost place in Western civilization. I hope that when the time comes for the restoration of Europe the miseries that have been suffered by the Jewish people will not be forgotten, and that whatever remedy is possible in future may be applied.

In Poland the problem of frontiers is, of course, the one of chief difficulty, and it is so in many places, because we find frequently in Europe a conflict between two principles, one the principle that a frontier should be placed along lines determined by race, language and tradition—the principle of national racial boundary, based upon self-determination; and the other the principle that nations are entitled to have good strategic frontiers against possible enemies. These two principles sometimes conflict. It is impossible in the present state of the world to ignore altogether the second, the strategic factor. That could only be done there wee an absolute assurance that there would be no future wars and that there would be a general disarmament, but no one can say that such an assurance is possible. We may hope that there may be a prevention of wars in the future. We may work towards it, it may be our intention to achieve it, we may even have faith that it will be done; but nobody can deny that there is a risk that it may not be accomplished, and that other wars may occur. That being so, the strategic factor must be taken into consideration.

There are two Articles of the Atlantic Charter—and I am very glad that after three years the Prime Minister yesterday reaffirmed the importance of the Atlantic Charter as a basic statement of policy for the world—which touch this point. The first is Article 2 which states: They— that is the Governments of the United States and the United Kingdom— desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned. No territorial changes without the assent of the populations concerned: that is the principle of self-determination. The other is Article 6, which declares that the President and the Prime Minister sought a peace which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want— words that have become very famous. This second Article brings in the point of strategic frontiers, because by granting self-determination under Article 2 to one people and establishing ethnological frontiers you may rob some other people of their freedom from fear by depriving them of a proper strategic boundary. That is the fundamental difficulty. A conflict may arise between the aims of Article 2 and the aims of Article 6, both of which are perfectly sound but which may not in a particular case coincide. For example, it may be that East Prussia is a case in point, or the Sudetenland, or again the frontiers of Finland or the Baltic States.

Then there is another complication. We are accustomed in the new military language to read of "hedgehogs," a tactical device by which a force remains behind and permits itself to be surrounded by the enemy, holds out as long as it can, curled like a bristly hedgehog, in the hope that later it may be rescued by some favourable turn in the tide of battle. But this idea of the military hedgehog has been anticipated by the Germans in establishing what one might describe as racial hedgehogs—sending considerable populations of Germans to other countries to live in the midst of another population and to remain there isolated and so far as possible self-dependent, but ready in case of necessity to join up with the main body if some military crisis were to arise. That was deliberately the policy of Germany with regard to the Ukraine where there are very large colonies of that sort. It was the policy of Bismarck in Western Poland. East Prussia in earlier days was founded to some extent on that principle, and the Baltic Knights were sent to the territories around the Baltic Sea; and even across the Atlantic in Brazil unquestionably there was a policy of that kind to establish a large homogeneous population to maintain German influence in South America. And since the advent of the Nazi régime in Germany, as we know, a special Department of that Government has been established in Berlin with the particular purpose of getting into close communication with these German racial hedgehogs in different parts of Europe and of the world and of maintaining their Teutonic spirit and their co-operation with they German motherland during the war.

That is a factor which has got to be taken into account when we are dealing with these questions of boundaries and of the right of the population concerned to determine what the future of a particular territory may be. Hitler withdrew a large number of German Balts from certain Baltic territories at the beginning of this war, or before the war, and provided them with homes in conquered territory in Poland, and the principle that he has himself adopted may have to be pursued in other cases in that part of Europe. I happen to have had occasion to visit Greece not long after the transfer of population of Greeks from Asia Minor into continental Greece and of Turks from Greece into Asia Minor, and it was remarkable to see how effective that transfer had been and how successful it was practically in all particulars. It is possible that such transfers of population may have to be applied in certain territories in order to solve these extremely stubborn and difficult problems that have troubled Europe for so long.

In this connexion there is one phrase used by the Prime Minister in a previous speech which has given a number of people a good deal of concern. He was referring to the Teheran Conference, which had been held a short time earlier, and he used these words: Marshal Stalin and f also spoke and agreed upon the need for Poland to obtain compensation at the expense of Germany both in the North and in the West. That phrase, "to obtain compensation," is one that does not seem to be quite in accordance with the spirit of the Atlantic Charter and similar declarations. It rather recalls the power politics of the early part of the nineteenth century and the eighteenth century, when the balance of power was regarded as the dominant principle in international politics—a balance of power which, pursued from the time when William III became King of this country until the end of the Napoleonic wars, kept this country at war in order to preserve peace for as many years as it did preserve peace; a policy which was one of continually shifting alliances and persistent war. That now is being superseded, we hope, by a policy embodying in some form or other the principle of collective security.

When the Prime Minister said that Poland is to be compensated for the loss of territory to Russia in the East by gains of territory at the expense of Germany in the North and West, he seems to be departing, as I say, from various articles of the Atlantic Charter. If, in the case of East Prussia or the Polish Corridor, a case can be made out on merits for transfer of territory, then by all means let it be done, but if no case can be made out on merits, it is difficult to justify giving compensation against the principle of self-determination and regardless of any question of strategical frontiers merely because certain territories, hitherto possessed by Poland, may have to be transferred to Russia, particularly since it is the case that these territories are inhabited very largely by Ukrainians and White Russians and a case can be made out strictly on merits for the transfer of that territory to the Soviet Union. That is a matter on which the Leader of the House, when he comes to reply, may be able to give us some word of reassurance.

Next, the Prime Minister, at the end of his speech, spoke of the world organization which is to be set up after the war. He had previously spoken of the need for a Council of Europe and what he then called a world institution, and now he has elaborated that somewhat further. There will be very general rejoicing that this matter has been brought so prominently into the forefront and that assurances of that kind should have been given by the Prime Minister of this country. We on these Benches would most strongly endorse declarations of this character. It was a saying of Voltaire that "Such is the condition of human affairs that to wish for the greatness of one's own country is to wish for the harm of its neighbours." That was regarded since the time of Machiavelli as the normal doctrine inspiring international diplomacy. It certainly was the doctrine held by Fichte, Treitschke, Bernhardi, and all the German militarists. The Atlantic Charter adopts the opposite principle, and proclaims that if you wish for the greatness of your own country you should wish for the prosperity, greatness and well-being of your neighbours. To achieve that it is not sufficient to proclaim that doctrine; it is also necessary to provide the political and indeed military agencies in order to ensure it.

Possibly some of your Lordships may still be sceptical as to the need of establishing some world institution pursuing the purposes, though probably with a different constitution, of the League of Nations. One has often heard it said, "The League of Nations was a great failure and we may hope we shall not be led along that path again." No doubt there were many faults in the constitution, composition, membership, and powers of the League of Nations which one hopes will not be repeated; but some organization of the kind is surely indispensable. Those who advance that sceptical view—what alternative have they in mind? Is there any alternative? Should we not be left merely to anarchy and incessant war, to a period to which Nietzschke looked forward—Niatzschke the great philosopher so highly esteemed by the Nazis and Fascists, who said, "Perhaps we may be on the eve of several centuries of great wars which will be regarded by later ages as the heroic period of mankind."? He looked forward to that with glee and satisfaction. In order to prevent that, you must have a world organization, and that world organization must be backed with sufficient force to prevent such calamities.

That force in the present situation and during the transition period, no doubt, must be mainly provided by the three great Powers—the British Commonwealth, the United States of America and Russia—but that cannot be the permanent pattern of the world organization. That must be transitory. It is true that these three great political units comprise one-half the population of the world; but only one-half, and there is the other half to be considered. We cannot adopt the principle that, in perpetuity, three countries should rule and sixty should be subservient and submit. The other countries would certainly not agree to such predominance. The scheme is not feasible even if it were desirable, but even if it were feasible it is certainly not desirable.

My last point refers to the third of the main aims of our time—namely, to preserve the solidarity of this great alliance and association of the United Nations, not only during the campaign but in the period of construction afterwards, for upon the maintenance of that solidarity and unity all else depends. For us, the nucleus of the alliance of the United Nations is, of course, the British Commonwealth. In several debates members of your Lordships' House urged in past years and months that there should be a meeting of the Prime Ministers of the Dominions to concert a common policy. That meeting which was advocated with so much energy and enthusiasm has now been held, and we all rejoice that it should have been so truly successful. We may congratulate the Government on that, and especially the Leader of this House as Dominions Secretary, who did so much to conduce to its success. We were glad, too, as a House of Parliament to join with the House of Commons in giving a cordial welcome to Mr. Mackenzie King, not only as Prime Minister of Canada but as representative of the Dominion Premiers. These fellow members of the Commonwealth are not conscripted Allies like the satellites of Germany. They all have come into the war of their own free will, and were at liberty to remain out of it if they had so desired. They were free to leave the ranks in the forward march of mankind and to fail in duty to the liberties of the world, as, unhappily, Eire has done. They chose the nobler part of sacrifice and determined to be what Wordsworth called "The bulwark in the cause of man."

Next closest in association with us is the United States of America. There we have all read with great interest Mr. Cordell Hull's admirable declarations of policy to which I think we would agree with cordiality and without qualification. It is remarkable perhaps that the best books about the present world situation have lately come from America, such as Commander Agar's A Time for Greatness, Mr. Wendell Willkie's One World, Mr. Walter Lippmann's United States Foreign Policy, and the book of Mr. Stettinius, whom we were so glad to welcome here, on Lend-Lease. They together form an admirable survey of the spiritual, political, military and economic factors which are involved in the present situation. Then, as part of this great alliance, we have our twenty years Treaty with Russia.

The point which I would wish especially to impress upon your Lordships, if I may, is that these great questions which are now in debate, and several of which will be raised in the House by various members during the present discussion, cannot be settled only by these great Powers. The occupied countries, the perimeter victims all round Germany, are surely entitled to the fullest voice in determining such questions as those of East Prussia or of Rumania (which is mentioned on the Order Paper to-day) or any questions of that character. For my own part I have never supported, and do not to-day support, any attempt to bring pressure upon the Government to make declarations of policy with regard to questions such as those at the present time. It is right, of course, that individual members should express their own opinions. It is all to the good that discussions are going on throughout the world on these and similar questions. There is a flood of books, pamphlets and articles pouring out from the Press in spite of paper restrictions. All this helps to form opinion and gradually opinion will crystallize. The British people and members of the British Legislature surely are entitled to form and express their own opinions. The part that this country has played and the political good sense which we hope we possess entitle us to express our opinions, and no doubt here in this Legislature and in this House noble Lords will express their opinions freely and strongly.

I believe my noble friend Lord Vansittart will gird on his oratorical sword and buckler and lay about him with his accustomed vehemence and my noble friend Lord Noel-Buxton, perhaps not of such a bellicose temperament, will do his best to withstand the onslaught. All that is wholesome and healthy, but the House as a whole ought not to be pressed to declare itself upon such subjects as East Prussia or the frontiers of Rumania. If the American Senate, for example, were to put itself on record on questions such as those, or some branch of the Soviet Legislature at this stage should do so, we should have a feeling of some surprise, and if that is true of the House, it is true also of the Government and to an even greater extent. It should be after, and not before, inter-Allied agreement that the Government should make statements upon these matters. Any attempt to clarify one point, whether it be the Atlantic Charter or whatever it may be, might introduce confusion at another point. In satisfying some they would certainly alienate others and if the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, to-day is reticent when pressed by some of my noble friends to make specific declarations I do not think that that will be a ground for criticism.

This House, during the war, has pursued a course not of indifference to great events but certainly one of prudence, and I believe that when the time comes in the future to take stock of the course of events in these critical years, men will say of both Houses of the British Parliament that, while ready to offer the stimulus of criticism, they did so in a spirit of responsibility and they had, at the same time, helped to give steadfast support on fundamentals to a Government in which they had confidence and to offer wise guidance to the nation.

Moved, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty for Papers relating to the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government.—(Viscount Samuel.)

LORD NOEL-BUXTON, who had given Notice that he would call attention to the statement of M. Molotov, on the entry of the Russian Forces into Rumania, repudiating annexationist intentions, ask whether His Majesty's Government is in agreement with the statement as expressing a principle of general application, and move for Papers, said: My Lords, I have a separate Motion on the Paper but I have been advised that I should make my remarks at this stage and, with the leave of the House, I will venture to do so. In the recent statement of the Imperial Conference the emphasis was on a world organization to maintain peace, and that supreme achievement might be undermined at the start by the creation of conditions at variance with peace, such, for instance, as annexations contrary to the wishes of the people concerned. Therefore I make no apology for calling attention to the Russian declaration repudiating the acquisition of territory. My noble friend Lord Samuel touched on territorial questions in regard to Poland, but I felt the matter I am raising to be of such extreme importance that I put down a special Motion as appropriate to a matter of paramount urgency.

Let me first say that I realize the undesirability of debating questions of territorial settlement at this stage, but a change of policy in this respect having been announced, it could not pass, as my noble friend has already shown, without comment in the Press and in Parliament. I am well aware that at this period His Majesty's Government cannot be expected to go into any detail and none of us will expect a statement of any length upon the question I am raising. I would add that I do not wish to claim that I am speaking officially for the Labour Party. Various opinions are held in every Party. When the Russian Armies reached Rumania, M. Molotov, the Soviet Foreign Commissar, declared that the Soviet Government did not pursue the aim of acquiring any part of Rumanian territory or of altering the social structure of Rumania as it exists at present. One is also reminded of M. Stalin's words of November 6, 1942, in which he proclaimed, as part of the programme of the United Nations, the equality of nations and the inviolability of their territories. The Prime Minister, commenting in the House of Commons on April 4 on the Molotov declaration, said: It is, I am sure, likely to be a great help in the common war effort.

Those of us who know Rumania may feel satisfaction on account of that country but the importance of M. Molotov's words is evidently much greater than that. They were regarded as of course applying elsewhere, and I hope His Majesty's Government regard the declaration as one of general value. The Press suggests that it was so regarded by the public both here and in America. For instance, the Evening Standard of April 3 quoted its Washington correspondent as follows: Congress members to-day welcome the Soviet announcement that they have no territorial resigns on Rumania … A prominent member of the House Foreign Committee said: It strikes me that the Russian announcement conforms to the Atlantic Charter and the goals for which we are fighting …' Public disapproval of a policy of annexation was equally shown in regard to the proposal that Poland should be supported in annexing German lands to the North and to the West. The profound gravity of this unexpected policy was widely felt. It was naturally assumed to apply at all events to East Prussia and to Upper Silesia.

The widespread interest shown in regard to M. Molotov's announcement about Rumania proves that the public anxiety regarding annexations in Germany expressed after the Prime Minister's speech of February 22 was not prompted by the desire to be kind to Germany, as opponents put it. Those who make that suggestion are missing the mark. I myself indeed am probably moved by even stronger loathing of Hitlerite Germany than they, because I have been concerned with victims of Nazi atrocities for many years before the war. I have seen something of concentration camps and Nazi methods of education. They filled me with disgust. Nobody feels more strongly than I the necessity of the total extirpation of Hitlerism. The terms to Germany must be hard. There must be disarmament which is absolutely paralyzing. Germany must, of course, be helpless before the overwhelming predominance of the Allies. Among other things she must be compelled to accept responsibility for economic restoration of the devastated regions and to supply labour on a great scale where she has perpetrated such atrocious destruction. Germany has moved great populations with every barbarity and of course she must wholly restore them. But if the avoidance of what I may call anti-national annexation sounds like being kind to Germany the answer is that the paramount aim is a durable peace and annexation as I see it would not contribute to that end.

The claim of Poland is of course overwhelming. There has always been keen sympathy with Poland because of her hard fate since 1772, when the first partition occurred. Sympathy has been vastly increased by the appalling sufferings of recent times. Quite apart from the question of compensating her for her territorial losses there is the utmost desire to compensate her for the atrocious methods used against her by Germany. The enormities perpetrated naturally aroused a universal wish to avenge her wrongs. But our business is to lake long views of Poland's interest and to remember that such views can be obscured by the emotions of war. Compensation by transfer of lands and populations to alien rule or the deportation of peoples from their homes is not the appropriate method. The German population concerned is solid. Germany would seek recovery at the first opportunity. Hostility would be ensured. We all feel the right of the Poles to the fullest life, but for the sake of that life their greatest interest is peace in the future.

Poles are divided on this annexation question. Some of them foresee the danger. British sympathy with Poland cannot be too great. We ought to be ready to make sacrifices for Poland. I suggest that the true form of compensation would be economic aid from the Allies and restitution by Germany in kind. We ourselves ought to take a full share, especially in financial help. The guarantee which we gave in 1939 adds greatly to our obligations.

I want to urge the extreme danger of disregarding the principle of self-determination on such a large scale as is anticipated. I submit that our support of annexation would be open to the gravest objections both from the point of view of war diplomacy and from that of a durable peace. In regard to war diplomacy our policy has been helping to hasten the German collapse, by the Atlantic Charter and by the Prime Minister's own utterances. He has many times alluded to the distinction between Hitlerite Germany and the Germany which could earn our respect. Let us not hamper the policy till lately pursued by announcing a different view.

Most important of all is the effect of annexation on the future. We cannot too clearly distinguish between the interim period and the final settlement. Peace in the transition period is to be ensured by predominant force. The durable settlement will require acceptance by the members of what the Prime Minister called a "European partnership." We are profoundly indebted to him for keeping the prospect of such a settlement before the peoples of the world and insisting that it must be prepared for. The danger of annexations which defy the wishes of the population is amply proved by history. In reply it is now suggested by some that history will be disproved, that the fever of nationalism will die down, so that Germany will accept the loss of German lands. That is surely wishful thinking and a precarious hope to bank on. The history of Poland, where national sentiment only grew stronger as the result of partitions, shows the reverse to be true.

Can any precedent be advanced showing that loss of homeland is accepted by the nation which loses? I have heard the case of Sweden and her loss of lands south of the Baltic advanced as a notable case of a nation resigning itself to loss of territory, but that is not a parallel at all. The population was not solidly Swedish. The population of East Prussia is solidly German and that country has been German for a century and a half. The provocation to revenge in this case would be intense, especially as it would probably be followed by forcible deportation of the most galling kind. If we keep our eyes fixed on the day when a permanent settlement is to be planned, we know that it must go with the acceptance of the territorial settlement by each member of the partnership of nations of which the Prime Minister has spoken. I do not see how we can get away from that. Minor adjustments may of course have to be made in the interests of economy, of strategy and of good and defensible frontiers, but here we are dealing with something much bigger than that.

I know of course that a case can be made for the annexation of German lands. It is said, for instance, that the separation of East Prussia and Upper Silesia from the Reich would be a guarantee that Germany would be powerless. The use of that argument shows that the question of lasting peace is being forgotten. The argument would be relevant to the interim period, if such a guarantee were needed, but peace in that period will be preserved by the great Allies. It is the permanent order that we are concerned with. The Prime Minister has foretold the day when Germany will be a partner in the European group. Control cannot then be directed against Germany any more than against other States. That moment of greatest importance, on which we must keep our eyes, may be many years hence, but we cannot be too much in earnest about it.

I may be asked what solution to the Corridor problem is to be hoped for with frontiers left as they are. There is an answer given by some authoritative experts which is, at least, very interesting. It is that if further deprivation of territory is not carried out Poland and Germany will see it to be in their interest to be on good terms, and an exchange between the Corridor and Posen on the one hand, and East Prussia on the other, may be voluntarily made. That is the ideal solution, if we can hope for it.

Another point made by supporters of annexation is that other incentives to revenge will, in any case, be present. My answer is that no incentive is so powerful as loss of territory. If we imagine ourselves in a similar position, we know that we should never settle down to the loss of any part of these islands. At the first opportunity, however distant it might be, we should organize recovery as a matter of course and honour. The humiliation of defeat, or even of disarmament and control, might in time be forgotten, but no nation can forget deprivation of part of its homeland.

It is urged also that Germany is fixedly aggressive, like an individual person who has a malignant mania which nothing can change. The analogy is wrong. Every nation is divided. The advent of aggressive actions is a question of the degree of support. It depends for its chance of success on the greater or lesser support of masses of people. Hitler's aggression depended on the success of a movement. He might have failed to get power if incentives to revenge had not greatly aided him. The men who devised the 1919 settlement were very clever, but they were not far-sighted enough. They thought that Germany would settle down under its provisions, but in fact that settlement lee on to the Hitler movement and, indirectly, to the present war.

In the treatment of Germany, the Allies will have a profoundly difficult problem to deal with. Risks are involved, whatever course they adopt. They will be tempted to resort to a policy of permanent subordination. Is it conceivably a sound plan to throw over the teaching of history, and to defy the principle of government by consent? Victorious States have often been tempted that way. They have thought that what was morally wrong could be politically expedient, and they have suffered for it in the end. It is the great Powers who are specially responsible for the application of long views. Such views are less easy for smaller States which have suffered cruel wrongs. Such views are difficult for all of us. Feelings of wartime are not easily harmonized with cool deliberation. It is inevitable that there should be strong feelings. But about lasting peace we ought to be deliberate because strong feeling is apt to cloud cool thought.

The need of compensation has been given as the ground for annexation proposals. A better guide is the most expert opinion obtainable on the probable effect in the future of each particular territorial change. The utmost deliberation must be devoted, if we are to make worth while the incredible heroism and sacrifice and loss of life of the Forces.

In view of the real danger that short-sightedness may prevail against wisdom, it is very good to know that the Prime Minister sees the situation in the light of history and with a view to posterity. In March of last year he spoke of the time when the true greatness of Europe would be restored, of a Europe in which all the main branches of the European family would be partners. He led us to think of a Council of Europe under a world institution. We were to look, after a period of control, to international machinery which would bring peace through integration. We were to work for a world in which not only Hitlerism, but recurrent war, would have vanished from the earth. Yesterday the Prime Minister reaffirmed this forecast in even more emphatic language. He spoke of restoring the glory of Europe as family of nations and a vital expression of Christendom. He said that there must be room in this new great structure of the world for the happiness and prosperity of all, even the guilty, vanquished nations. That clay when the nations can live in peace, co-operating with their diverse gifts and characteristics in the common task, may be far remote; but it is now that the foundations of the future world are being laid. Let us hope and pray that the commitments made to-day will not vitiate the new order.


My Lords, I should like to say briefly but decidedly that I agree with my noble friend who has just spoken on the question of Poland and the possibility of giving German territory to her after this war. It does seem to me that to do so would be to sow the seeds of further conflict. I would also like, if I might, to congratulate the noble Viscount who opened the debate, and say how much I share his sentiments with regard to considering a more lasting peace and not only the temporary period which must ensue after this war.

However, I should chiefly like to draw the attention of this House to-day to an equally important question, that of Greece, which I think is now in an extremely critical condition. I should like, on behalf of my noble friends on these Benches—who I believe are with me in this—and I hope on behalf of members of this House, to welcome the unanimous resolution by which the Congress in Lebanon has declared for a united Greek Government. That is a great step forward in the affairs of that unhappy country. I also think that we should congratulate Mr. Papandreou on his extremely able handling of this Conference, and the representatives of the various Parties in Greece, on having subordinated their various opinions and feelings to the one most important need, the need for national unity against the common enemy. I must remind your Lordships, however, that the fact remains that there is only a resolution. We have not yet seen the Government formed and we have not yet seen how the newly-formed Government will work in practice. If I feel that I must voice some misgivings and doubts on this question, it is only in the hope that by discussion to-day, we may perhaps realize our mistakes in the past and avoid mistakes and perhaps disaster in the future; because if this national unity should be broken up it would indeed be a disaster, not only for the Greek people but also for ourselves.

My first doubt arises from the conviction that something is wrong in Cairo. Something must be very wrong. We find that a smoke-screen of censorship has smothered all reports on the Greek situation, and all that comes through are a few communiqués which, far from being reassuring, are very much the reverse. So drastic is this censorship that twenty-three accredited war correspondents have recently signed a letter of protest which they have sent to the British Commander-in-Chief, the British Resident Minister, the American Commanding General and the American Minister. In this letter they claim—to quote their words—that on Greek affairs no comment is allowed unless it reflects official policy; no facts can be presented which happened before the recent troubles or the latest change of Government. They further claim that correspondents are in danger of being used just as mouthpieces for official views and propaganda. Officially accredited war correspondents are responsible, sensible, decent people; they would never object to any censorship based on valid security grounds. For them to take this extreme step means that the situation must be very bad. Indeed, an American correspondent with an international reputation, Edgar Mowrer, managed to get a message through, which was published in the New York Post, in which he says: Don't believe anything of the news which we are allowed to cable from Cairo regarding Greek affairs and mutinies in Greek Army and Navy. That is very strong.

The first question that one naturally asks is: What is it that the Cairo authorities are trying to hide? What is the state of affairs in Greece or in the Middle East which they do not want the world to know? It cannot be security reasons, I feel convinced, which have led to this position. What has really happened which has caused these terrible mutinies, this revolt in the Greek Armed Forces about which the Prime Minister told us in another place, and revolts not of a few sailors but of officers as well as men? What is it that has induced even Admirals to write letters of protest? Even the famous First Brigade revolted, the flower of the Greek Army, who fought with us at E1 Alamein and of whom General Montgomery said: They did magnificently. They are first-class troops and I never want better men. Such men would not revolt unless provoked beyond measure.

The American broadcaster Moorad, speaking on the Columbia Broadcasting System from Cairo, bears this out. He says: The heroic Greek soldiers and sailors could not revolt for no cause. There is big history behind these mutinies. The American public is entitled to be truthfully informed what is hidden behind all these troubles. Furthermore, we are hardly reassured when it appears that so many advisers on Greek affairs have, whatever may be the reason, gone away from their posts and taken up other work. I refer to such men as Mr. Bowman, the Vice-Consul in Athens, who did such magnificent work during the German attack on Greece, Mr. Sebastian, the former British Consul-General in Athens, and so on. What has happened to the famous Brigadier Eddie, who originally organized the guerrilla movement in Greece, and to other advisers on Greek affairs such as Professor Wace, Lord Glenconnor and Captain Noel Baker, to mention a few? It seems that there must be something very wrong.

I suggest to your Lordships that the real trouble may lie in this—and I advance this theory in order to help in dealing with the future situation. I think that the real trouble lies in the chasm dividing the Greeks in Greece from the exiled Government, who must inevitably be out of touch with the situation in their own country and with what is going on in Greece to-day. I am afraid that it is only too natural that this exiled Government should be terrified lest, when Greece is liberated with the aid of the resistance movement, the E.A.M., there may not be any great demand on the part of the people of Greece that they should return. The Greeks in Greece remember bitterly the Metaxas dictatorship, which in many ways was second only in ruthlessness to that of Hitler or Mussolini. The Royalists in Greece have been reckoned by Mr. Tsouderos at 10 per cent. The Times, Cairo correspondent puts them at only 5 per cent. In any case I feel sure that these recent mutinies have been caused by the genuine fear among the officers and men of the Greek Army that by fighting for this exiled Government they would be, in effect, restoring a Fascist dictatorship to Greece, and that by their efforts the Greek people would be taken out of the frying-pan of German Nazism into the fire of a national Fascist dictatorship. To those who have suffered from such a dictatorship, this fear is an overwhelming one.

If you accept this view, the reason for all the difficulties and strange happenings becomes plain. We see why all the reports of the many victories which the E.L.A.S., which is the Army of the National Liberation Movement, have been suppressed by the Greek Government in Cairo. We see why there has been no mention by the B.B.C. of Greek victories for so long, although we hear of the magnificent fighting of Marshal Tito every other day. I am very glad that we do, but it is lamentable that we hear so little of Greek achievements. All that we do hear is of drastic reprisals taken by the Germans on the wretched population. It explains why the Army of the E.A.M. is always referred to as a small band, when in fact the E.L.A.S. forces must number nearly 50,000 men and probably there would be many times more if arms were available.

It also explains why the propaganda of Goebbels, that the E.A.M. is run entirely by Communists and financed by Jews, is so often repeated and believed. Actually, when we examine the constitution of the Political Committee of the E.A.M. we find that out of nine members one, and one only, is a Communist, Mr. Santos, Secretary-General of the Communist Party of Greece. The others are mostly ex.-politicians or university professors, such as Professor Svolos, who was professor of law at Athens University, and Professor Angelopoulos, who was also a professor at Athens University. Cooperating with the Committee are such men as Professor Kouzis, an ex-member of the Monarchist Government of 1935. In the same way, if you examine the names of the Army commanders you find that they are all reputable soldiers of very high standing who have served in the old Greek Army, such as Colonel Saráfis, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the E.L.A.S., and Colonel Mantákas and various other people. Again, I think there is only one Army commander who has Communist leanings. I particularly emphasize that because this has been used as very strong propaganda. Of the other guerrilla organizations the one under Colonel Psaros, of about one thousand men, has already mostly gone over to the National Liberation Movement, and that under Colonel Zervas, of about three thousand men, already last February made an armistice with the E.A.M., and the first condition of the armistice was that all those in his band who had been collaborating with the Germans should be expelled. It is interesting to see that Colonel Dertilis, who was Colonel Zervas's right hand man, is now in command of the Quisling security battalions which the Germans have organized to fight against this resistance movement.

Some of your Lordships may think that it has been unnecessary and out of place to go into these facts and into the errors of the past, but I submit that at this critical juncture of Greek affairs we must know how we stand, and we must know the facts. All along the National Liberation Movement, the E.A.M., has pressed for a united National Government. Your Lordships will remember the delegation which arrived in Cairo last summer and was expelled from there—they pressed firmly for it. Unfortunately we have always backed up King George of Greece and his Ministers, both in this refusal and in all other matters. If we go on doing so, it is bound to prejudice national unity. If the exiled Government will work with all other elements in Greece so much the better for everyone; but if by any chance they will not do so, then I do beg His Majesty's Government to give their support on the side of the democratic movement, the side where our interests as well as the interests of the Greek people really reside.

As a start I would earnestly beg His Majesty's Government to press for an amnesty for those soldiers and sailors who have revolted. I do not want for a moment to minimize mutiny or revolt in time of war: it is a terrible thing, which cannot be countenanced. But this is no ordinary revolt; this embraces the whole forces, including commanders, Admirals and other officers, and is even supposed to have the approval of certain of the King's Ministers. It is a reaction of the whole Greek force urging a greater unity and a greater drive against the common enemy, the Germans. And I think it would be indeed a sad start to this new Government if they began by killing off a large number of these soldiers, leaving bitterness and anger, instead of enthusiasm and hope. The fate of Greece, and I think perhaps of ourselves, is in the balance; so I do earnestly beg His Majesty's Government to effect a change of policy and give every help they can to these most gallant people.


My Lords, I do not propose to attempt to follow my noble friend who has just sat down in the interesting speech he has just made about the Greek situation. One can, however, agree very heartily with his last sentence. The Greeks deserve very well of this country. Of the many deeds of heroism that have been recorded in this war there are scarcely any finer actions than those which have taken place in Greece in defence of the common principle of freedom. This debate is, very naturally and essentially, governed by the speech which the. Prime Minister made yesterday, and I must say that I think we once again owe a great debt of gratitude to my right honourable friend for the broad lines on which he put that speech. He emphasized right through, and very eloquently in the peroration, that whatever we do after the war must be governed by the necessity of preserving peace, if we can possibly do so. I think that is the most essential thing that we should keep in mind when we have to test any of the various proposals of policy or administration that are put before us in the course of the next few weeks or months.

Therefore I personally desire to express my great gratification for what he said in his summing up of his whole position. He really laid it down that this was a great opportunity for building a new world, and that that world must be built upon peace. He had just described before that the kind of world organization which he recommended. I need not go into it, but he recommended a Council and Assembly of the Nations, the Council to contain—possibly to contain nobody else—the three great Powers, but at any rate to contain the three great Powers, and the Assembly to contain all the other Powers. They were to work together for peace, though of course the great responsibility for peace must rest primarily on those who had the power to prevent war, and therefore primarily on the three great Powers, or, if you add China as far as Asia is concerned, the four great Powers. The formation of this organization, which seems to me, if I may say so with respect, the right thing to do, is to be buttressed by an alliance with Russia, which has already been concluded, and by some not very clearly defined understanding with the United States. I do not mean that as a criticism, because it is obvious that you cannot define it very clearly.

I note that in describing all these separate items the Prime Minister explained, very rightly, that it was impossible to go into detail until the other Powers had been consulted, and that nothing could be worse than any appearance of an attempt by this country to dictate to other Powers as to what the world organization should be. But I notice with great agreement the phrase that he used to this effect, that we must undoubtedly in our world structure embody a great part of all that was gained to the world by the structure and formation of the League of Nations. That is a sentiment with which I am in hearty agreement. Indeed, I may say I found myself in complete agreement with all that he said in that peroration.

I recognize that the work that the world organization will have to do may be of a very far-reaching character. As the Prime Minister said, its primary duty will be to preserve peace, but it will have a great many other things to do as well. We all know that there are a certain number of people who think that if we establish some form of social reform in the world that would put an end to war altogether, and that we need not bother about any machinery for keeping the peace. I am afraid I do not share that view in the least. I see no ground for thinking that social reform by itself will preserve peace—no ground in principle, no ground in history. But I do say—we all say—that there are many things that ought to be done and some of these things can only be done by international effort. Therefore you ought to create a very strong world organization which will be useful in the first instance to preserve peace, and in that it will have the support of the vast mass of opinion throughout the world; and having secured that, and established the position of authority, its advice al other social and economic questions is much more likely to be heeded. We have had debates in this House on a number of these social reforms. I need not even mention them, as they are well in your Lordships' minds; but I do believe hat though social reform may not be the cause of peace it ought to be among tae fruits of peace. That is all we can ask in general principles in this connexion.

I observe that in dealing with other questions in detail the Prime Minister always put it on the ground of what would He the best way of preserving peace. He spoke of territorial changes, and very wisely declined to go into any detail as to what territorial changes would be recommended at the peace conference. I say "wisely" because it is impossible to know, until you see the exact situation of the world, what territorial changes, if any, ought to be made. May I say for myself that I hope there will be as few territorial changes as possible? It seems to me that very seldom in history have they done any good, and often they have done a great deal of harm. For that reason I hope there will be as few. as possible.:1 therefore welcome all the more the Prime Minister's endorsement of the principles of the Atlantic Charter, which he declared to be a signpost directing us as to the road we should pursue in our search for peace. A great deal has been said in debates here and outside about whether the Atlantic Charter really represents the policy of the Government. I confess that as I read the Prime Minister's speech I can have no doubt that it does represent the policy of the Government. One must recognize—it is an observation frequently made, but it requires to be frequently made—what the Atlantic Charter is. It is not a treaty, it is not an agreement with anyone. It is a declaration, a unilateral declaration, if you like, made originally by America and this country, and afterwards assented to by the United Nations, indicating the principles on which they are proceeding and the principles on which they hope to make peace.

The particular Article read by Lord Samuel which governs the case in regard to the charge that the Government have not adhered to the Charter, is very carefully worded. It is this: They desire to see no territorial changes that (lo not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned. It is worth noting the extreme care with which that is worded. The accounts which we have read outside as to the methods by which the Atlantic Charter was drawn up show that it was a subject of very great care by those who signed it in the first instance. Therefore we are right in seeking to know exactly what it. says. It does not say that there must not be any territorial changes, but that they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the wishes of the people concerned. I take it that that is the general line we wish to pursue, that there should be no territorial changes except with the consent of the governed. It does not mean that in no circumstances and under no conditions can any territorial changes be made, if there are other grounds for making them, such as those indicated by my noble friend Lord Samuel, which will conduce to the peace of the world.

In that connexion I would draw attention to the language used by the Prime Minister yesterday. He was dealing with the proposal to give compensation, which I quite agree with Lord Samuel is a very unfortunate phrase to have used He put it this way. He said there is no question of Germany enjoying any guarantee—that is under the Atlantic Charter—that she will not undergo territorial changes if it should seem that the making of such changes would render more secure and more lasting the peace of Europe. I submit that that is all which a responsible statesman can say, but that does not alter the fact that, generally, the principle that changes of territorial sovereignty should not be made without the consent of the inhabitants is sound. It is sound not as a matter of justice or anything of that kind, but sound because it is the foundation on which a durable peace is most likely to be based. Therefore I personally hope that the Government, when they come to reply, will be able to give us a very definite assurance that that still is the policy of the Government, and that if any modification is made in it in connexion with East Prussia, that can only be because there is a clear proof that it is desirable on the grounds mentioned by Lord Samuel.

The Prime Minister also assured us that there was no desire to interfere in the internal government of other States, and that it was a fantastic aspiration that we should induce all other countries to adopt a form of democracy similar to, and as successful as, our own. But he did say that Nazi and Fascist countries should not be allowed to retain in any degree their Nazi or Fascist Government, not because it was undemocratic, but because it had proved to be a danger to their neighbours in the world. That seems to me a sound ground on which to put it. I notice that the Prime Minister did say that he thought other countries should not be allowed to adopt Governments that were not democratic. I confess to being a little nervous about that, because I should find it very difficult to define exactly what was and what was not a democratic Government. Certainly you can find instances of what was not a democratic Government and you can find some instances, no doubt, though not so many, of what certainly was a democratic Government, but the great majority of the Governments appear to be a kind of compromise between the democratic form of Government and the non-democratic form of Government. Nowadays there is scarcely any country which is so retrograde that it has not got at any rate a tinge of democracy. Therefore I would prefer to see some phrase like "Governments which have the consent of the governed," rather than the question-begging phrase "democratic Government."

Lastly, for I do not wish to detain the House at any length, I do welcome very heartily and very convincingly the peroration of the Prime Minister's speech. There, it seemed to me, he put the case for a new world based on peace and the prevention of aggression as the thing at which we ought to aim. He gave a very splendid description of the advantages which he hoped would flow from such a course. He said that peace can only be based on justice or, as he put it more accurately I think, the rule of law, and that it must be backed by force. I believe that is a perfectly admirable statement of the policy that we ought to pursue, and the reason why I welcome this statement of the Prime Minister so much is that I think that conception, the rule of law backed by force, is the one that we ought to establish as far as we can in the minds of the people of the whole world. It is a want of appreciation of that truth that has brought us into our present disastrous position. After all, whatever happens to the war it is in itself a terrific disaster. Therefore I welcome very much what the Prime Minister said.

If you are to carry through a really effective system of education of public opinion, and I think you must do that, you want two things. You want, first, a clear, definite policy which anyone can understand. The Prime Minister's speech goes a certain distance in that direction. I quite recognize the difficulty of going farther or faster, but the more clear and the more definite you are the more likely you are to obtain the assent, or at any rate the understanding, of the people you are addressing. The second thing is that it must be put forward as a very definite part of the policy of this country and, if possible, the policy of the Allies. I believe that on the success of that education really depends the peace of the world far more than on anything else. I do not think the exact form of the world organization matters so very much. There are some things which, it seems to me, would be very wrong and some things that would be better still, but I do not think it matters so very much. The thing that really matters is that the world should understand that peace is attainable but it is only attainable by effort and in the last resort only attainable by force. If those propositions get really hammered into the sense of the people of this country in the first instance, and the people of the world in the second, then I think we have a real chance of a permanent, or at any rate a very lasting peace, with all the advantages which the Prime Minister so eloquently described.


My Lords, it was said of old that he who gives quickly, gives twice. That is not quite accurate else we would all have acquired a deeper sense of virtue. What is accurate is that sometimes in diplomacy he who gives slowly gives not at all, and that I think is partly applicable to some of our recent dealings with France. To the uninitiated like myself the dividing line between the Committee and the Provisional Government is a rather technical one. In any case the claim to be a Provisional Government is not very alarming because the word "provisional" covers practically every contingency. But it is something more than a claim. It is in fact a jait accompli, and as such the French have proclaimed it. I think therefore we may get little credit when we, in turn, as I hope, recognize the Committee. Speaking of Turkey yesterday, the Prime Minister said the Turks had been rather over-cautious. It seems to me that in our own whimsical way we have been a little over-cautious too. In any case we seem to be in rather a curious relationship with a country which the Prime Minister rightly described yesterday as being fourth in the Grand Alliance, and I venture to hope that in our future dealings we may perhaps persuade our American Allies to be a little more forthcoming in these matters.

I did hope, indeed I confidently expected that it would not have been necessary to mention Greek affairs in today's debate seeing that formulæ of agreement have already been found in the Lebanon. However, since the subject has been introduced by two speakers, that drives me into saying a few words on the subject which may put it perhaps in its proper perspective. Greece was bathed and clothed in imperishable glory when she was overwhelmed by the powers of darkness and after that various groups of resistance were formed, some of them round professional officers, those the most competent men, trained, disciplined, disinterested. But other groups were formed also, not necessarily military. They did well at the beginning and indeed later also, but in time political tendencies began to prevail somewhat, and then these political tendencies developed a curious affinity with that aristocratic autocrat Sir Anthony Absolute, who, as your Lordships will remember was, as he said, compliance itself when he was in authority. "Nobody," said Sir Anthony, "is more easily led when I have my own way." Therefore it seems to me that situation led to terrorism and the injection of political virulence and violence into the Armed Forces, and that in turn led to this deplorable mutiny. The noble Viscount who opened this debate referred to Byron and while he was speaking there came back to my mind two lines of his: For what is left the poet here? For Greeks a blush, for Greece a tear. And if the poet had been living a fortnight ago he would have re-written those lines. But not now, for I hope that tear is wiped away and that we shall hear no more of these unhappy features now that we are at the beginning of a new era.

I have been a little critical of our policy towards France but I should like to say at once how very greatly I welcome the Prime Minister's declaration of yesterday in regard to the Atlantic Charter. I welcomed it so warmly that when I first heard it I thought it would be unnecessary for me to make any further comment on the subject at all, but on thinking it over I would like to take the matter rather further than the Prime Minister had time for yesterday, for I have an impression that possibly even the Government do not recognize how strong their case is. I am perfectly certain the public do not and therefore perhaps I may render some service and make some people feel happier if I demonstrate in a little detail that the Government's case is not only strong but impregnable. I must ask your Lordships to cast your minds back to the 8th January, 1918, when the fourteen points were first promulgated. They were mocked and rejected by all Germany from right to left. They did riot shorten the war by one day and they were only remembered in the autumnal hour of defeat. It would have been quite open to the Allies to say that those terms were no longer available. They would have been wiser still not to have agreed at all. At long last they have learnt wisdom, for unconditional surrender in itself stultifies any notion that the Charter can have been integrally applicable to our enemies. That is probably one of the reasons why so many Germans and pro-Germans have been working steadily against unconditional surrender. I hope we shall soon hear the last of these activities.

I said the Charter was not "integrally applicable." As a matter of fact only one Article is applicable to our enemies and that is Article 4. But Article 4 is a platitude. The Germans have always had access to raw materials. Their trouble was that they did not want to pay for them. As a matter of fact they have had far too much access to war material, and many of us intend very firmly that they shall never have that access again. The Charter goes back not nine months but three years—three years in which the Germans have converted Europe from a continent into a blood swamp. It is not open, never has been open, to German and Japanese savages to say, "Let us wait and see for three years, during which we will kill another thirty million people, and then say, 'Kamerad, the Charter.'"

It is not open, and if it ever had been open either directly or by implication it has long ago been nullified by the holocaust, but there never was any direct or indirect indication that the Charter was applicable to our enemies. If it had ever been suggested that under Article 3 the Germans were entitled to re-elect this Führer or any other führer dear to their hearts, I would have been here in five minutes to protest, or anyhow as quickly as was permitted by our procedure. But there never was any question of that. Article 3 was not applicable to Germany. Though I feared some misuse of its loose wording, I always understood the Charter as an honourable understanding between Allies, not an insane and unauthorized commitment to our enemies. Similarly as regards Articles 1 and 2 the Charter constitutes a self-denying ordinance on the part of the major Allies renouncing territorial aggrandisement and the imposition of any territorial changes undesired by Allied but occupied countries. Therefore the declaration of the Prime Minister yesterday is doubly welcome—doubly because it is a glimpse of the obvious. The Charter does not preclude change at the expense of the felon Reich.

The Prime Minister said Germany would have to submit to any changes considered necessary to the security of Europe. I hope that when he said that he had in mind what I had in mind. It so happens that the detachment of East Prussia from the Reich is the only conceivable way in which you can ensure to Poland free and safe access to the sea, unless you are going to revert to the timorous absurdity of the Corridor. It happens, moreover, that to detach East Prussia from the Reich is the only way to ensure against future war. I would remind your Lordships that that was the nest in which were hatched and fledged the first and worst illegal armies after the last war. East Prussia in German hands is further a guarantee that the Poles can never in any circumstances defend themselves successfully. Article 6 of the Charter promises the peoples that they shall dwell "in safety within their own boundaries" and "can live out their lives in freedom from fear." If anyone desires to argue I am quite prepared to argue that failure to detach East Prussia from Germany would render both these promises incapable of fulfilment and would in fact be a breach of the spirit of the Charter.

Here comes a point in which I am not in agreement with the Prime Minister and perhaps the disagreement may ease the mind of the noble Viscount who opened this debate. I do not regard this as being in any sense a question of compensation for Poland, compensation for the loss of some 50 per cent. of her territory. East Prussia is a vital necessity to Poland and I hope she will be treated generously in this matter. Our Russian Allies have shown great generosity and magnanimity in the terms offered to Finland and in the declaration to Rumania to which Lord Noel-Buxton referred, and I say that it is unthinkable that greater magnanimity should be displayed towards two of our enemies than towards the first of the Allies to resist Germany. As to Article 7 I say nothing because I do not understand what it means, and I do not believe anybody else can, but in regard to Article 8 that again is proof I think that there is no contract or bargain with our enemies. It is the most valuable article in the Charter and it imposes in a very statesmanlike way a unilateral obligation on the aggressor and the vanquished.

Now, my Lords, I would like to take this topic to a little higher ground than the misty lowlands of expediency. Why is it that in this country and in the United States there are so many people ever ready to fly to the help of strength? There is a religious body which is called the Little Sisters of the Poor. There is in politics a body which might well be called the Little Brothers of the Strong. Their creed consists in the literal interpretation of the text "Whosoever bath, to him shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath." How could that be more crudely exhibited than in the attempt to interpret the Charter in favour of the strong and against the weak? I would like to take the matter a little higher still. I have often noticed in the course of my life that when the necessities of the strong conflict with those of the weak moral courage is apt to wander and the weak fall out of favour. Honest criticism gets out of hand and goes beyond bound or reason. Men are very frequently inclined to be the most critical of those whom they have wronged and that seems to be so in the case of oft-partitioned Poland.

During the past year I have hardly heard a good word for Poland. On the contrary there has been some pretty steady sneering. I think it is about time that stopped. I feel that we should think more frequently of the Poland who, out of her thirty-four million original inhabitants, has already lost nine million by deportation and massacre, and we should think also more frequently of the Poland who has played such a glorious part in Southern Italy and earned the thanks of General Alexander. I submit that it will be a poor prospect for a brave new world if gratitude and sympathy are to become a drug on a political market. Be to her virtues ever kind; Be to her faults a little blind. will not make a bad motto for all the Allies, in their dealings with each other both during aid after the war, and I recommend it most specifically to some among our Allies, both great and small, who are already a little bit inclined to be critical of us. There is too much ill-informed criticism which often tends to degenerate to mere crabbing; and on that I would only say that there is no decoration more ignominious than the Iron Cross of a Whispering Campaign.

In this great matter and in all the other great matters that lie ahead of us, we are confronted with a perfectly clear choice, and we have got to make the choice. We have got to choose between murderers and the murdered. That was quite clearly put by the Czecho-Slovakian Foreign Minister, Mr. Jan Masaryk, at the meeting of the I.L.O. at Philadelphia, in a speech which showed up like a good deed in a naughty world compared with the new appeasement of the American delegate, Mr. Watts. Mr. Masaryk said, and I am quoting his words: The peoples of the occupied countries will not understand unless their cause is given priority, definite and lasting priority, over the aggressors. I hope that we shall all reflect on that stark sentence, and then upon the consequences of two generations of appeasement. I make full allowances for the intoxication of good intentions. But men at whiles are sober, And think by fits and starts, And if they think, they fasten Their hands upon their hearts. If we fasten our hands upon our hearts we shall hear little more of the notions and emotions arising from the idea that good can ever come from considering one's enemies before one's Allies.

I should like to thank the Prime Minister for what he said in regard to Turkey. I was particularly gratified to learn that those who have borne no part in the struggle will find no place at the peace table. As a personal matter, I would like to put in a plea to him now, when we are moving towards the end of the fifth year of this war, to abandon the use of the term "Hitlerite." It means just nothing, and I am afraid that he has caught it from the Russians. It is not the strongest gambit in Russian propaganda and it leads to endless confusion. No one talked about "Kaiserite" in the last war, and I think you will find that no one in Germany now talks about "Hitlerite" except Hitler himself, and perhaps not he.

I confess that I was a little perturbed to learn that the suggestion was put forward yesterday in another place that Goering would be a suitable person to sign an armistice. His proper place is not at the end of a pen but at the end of a rope, and that is where we mean to have him, and many many others like him. That brings me to the Motion that stands in my name to-day—["to call the attention of His Majesty's Government to the slaughter of forty-seven British officers at Stalag Luft 3"]. As it affects policy and propaganda I ask leave of the House to speak very briefly now in order to economize your Lordships' valuable time. I need hardly say that I am referring to the murder of forty-seven British officers at Stalag Luft 3. Firstly, I say it is murder, and nothing else, many reasons. We all know the old German pretext and cliché "shot while attempting flight." That formula was in use for many years before the war. It is the hoariest, the most brazen and the most flimsy pretext for massacre. We used to jeer at it in pre-war days. It is time that we execrated it now.

Secondly, it is possible but improbable that forty-seven officers tried to break camp at once for the very simple reason that mass exit affords the least, and not the best, chance of flight. Thirdly, it is in any case quite impossible that forty-seven men, if they were attempting flight, should have been shot dead without one of them being wounded. These men were obviously not moving or at a distance. I think they were lined up and mown down. The executioner fired at close quarters and made no mistakes. Fourthly, nothing on earth would persuade me, or millions of others, that, even if these officers were attempting to escape, the Germans could have found no other means of preventing the escape of men who had nothing but bare hands and brave hearts. Fifthly, I draw your Lordships' attention to the fact, that, so far as I am aware, all these men belong—or at any rate the majority belong—to Bomber Command, and we know that such men have been frequently threatened in the German Press before.

Sixthly, the butcher birds knew well enough that this was butchery and that is why they tried to conceal it for so long. I am President of the Prisoners of War Relatives Association. I have not had time to consult my organization but I know that some of my colleagues at least will be in agreement with me when I say, in advance, that I will not accept any explanation or extenuation put forward by the Huns through the Protecting Power. That will be merely a collection of lies. The Germans are incapable of the truth in these matters. By all means let the Government exhaust the formalities of diplomacy and call for a report. But do not accept it. I know these people too well. I was head of the Prisoners of War Department for some time during the last war. I have a vivid recollection of German cruelties and I now have a different course to propose. I feel strongly that His Majesty's Government should conduct their own inquiry into this matter, and that for that purpose it will be necessary to put on trial, after this war, the entire German personnel of Stalag Luft 3. I should like to see His Majesty's Government give instructions that that should be broadcast and broadcast freely to Germany in German, and that we should add that the same level and impartial justice will be meted out to the personnel of any other camp where British prisoners come to harm. Further, since I see, in yesterday's Press, that the Germans are again threatening to try any shot-down officer by a Peoples' Court and we know what a German People's Court means, we should include in these announcements another to the effect that any German who sits in trial on a shot-down British aviator will himself be brought to trial after the war.

We are not dealing with rational or civilized human beings; we are dealing with something far more savage, and I venture to say that nothing milder than the deterrent which I have here suggested will have any effect. I know well that what I have suggested involves a change of tone and content in the propaganda policy of His Majesty's Government towards Germany; but this House and the Government know well enough—I have said this in the House many times—that I do not think very highly of our propaganda to Germany. I think it has been far too weak throughout. It is not too late, even now, to turn the new page, which I have so often in this House requested should be done. I hope that it will be turned, and forthwith; and I ask that to-day.


My Lords, I shall not detain your Lordships for long, because at this stage of the debate there is perhaps not much left that can usefully be said before the Leader of the House speaks on behalf of the Government, and I am sure that all of you, after the speech which we have just heard from the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, are in no mood to think of far-forward-looking acts which might be interpreted as appeasement in the settlement of Europe. We have now got from the Prime Minister, as was so clearly indicated by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, a clear definition of what we want, and that is that the peace of the world must be founded upon force, and that force must be interpreted through justice. Those are the points for which we have been waiting, and I am certain that in our propaganda the emphasis on those points has been lacking. To-day, therefore, I welcome what has been said—I am not going to repeat it—by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, in emphasis of what the Prime Minister said yesterday, and I should like to support what has been said by Lord Vansittart about the need for the most careful investigation of this horror in Stalag Luft 3.


My Lords, I should like, with the indulgence of the House, to say a few words on the subject of Poland. This question has already been referred to, at greater length than I had expected it would be, by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and what he said has been endorsed with great emphasis by Lord Vansittart. We all of us take particular interest in countries with which we are specially familiar. It so happens that in the twenty-two years of the life of the Polish Republic I have visited Poland more often, and have had more relations with Poles, than probably any other member of this House. It is because I have had so much contact with Poland, and because I have had business and personal relations of great intimacy with almost every succeeding Polish Government during the life of the Republic, that I wish to endorse the generous terms in which Lord Vansittart gave expression to the feeling which we have in this country for Poland, the country which alone among our Allies has produced no co-operator at all with the enemy.

It is on those grounds, and on the grounds of the gallantry of the Polish aviators and soldiers in every sphere where it has been possible for them to oppose the enemy that Poland calls for special consideration. The Prime Minister emphasized in his speech yesterday the difficulty of the position, and made the appeal that no words should be said which might lead to delay in the settlement for which we all hope. However, when voices are permitted in this country which are critical of Poland, there is no reason why voices should be suppressed, above all in this House, which express sympathy with Poland.

Let me take one illustration. With regard to the United States, it has been with propriety urged by the Prime Minister that during these past two years, because of the help which we have had, we should refrain from anything which might involve the risk of discord arising in the relations of the United States and Great Britain. It has been said that our trade should to some extent be sacrificed if necessary for that purpose. I know the United States well, and have spent a large part of my life there. I do not believe that it is necessary for us to suppress our feelings with regard to the United States; it is better for us to say frankly what we think, and they will not think any the less of us for doing so.

It is on those grounds that I make the appeal that, in this crisis in the relations between Poland and one of our Allies, there is no reason why we should fail to emphasize that magnanimity is the quality most called for at the moment. There is no reason why, when we see the danger of unilateral decisions with regard to territory in advance of the peace settlement, and in disregard of the principles which have been enunciated by this country and by the other Allies, we should suppress our views. We hope that just w one great Ally, the United States, will expect us to speak frankly, so another great Ally will not take offence if emphasis is laid on the fact that we hope for adherence to those principles, and that we think that on the part of both sides in this dispute—and no less in the case of Poland—there should be an elastic yielding towards the speedy bringing about of a solution, the lack of which is causing such anxiety to the friends of Poland and such hazards to the whole cause of the Allies.


My Lords, I think that it is very natural that your Lordships should have wished to hold a debate upon foreign policy, for, after all, it is a great many months since foreign affairs were last specifically discussed here, though, of course, we have very often reverted to them in the course of our debates on the conduct of the war. Since foreign policy was last discussed, many events have occurred in various parts of the world, and the vast war efforts of the Allies, as I think my noble friend Lord Samuel said in his opening speech, have been increased and further coordinated. From time to time in the past there has been, I know, pressure both in this House and outside for a declaration on the part of the Government of their foreign policy. There has even been in some quarters a suggestion from time to time that the Government have no foreign policy. That may have been true at some periods in our past history; I really do not think that that is true now. To-day the aims of British foreign policy are very clear and very simple.

First of all, there is the immediate object—to bring about victory in the present war at the earliest possible moment. And, closely allied to it, there is a second object, to ensure a just and enduring peace when the present struggle is over. It is the achievement of these two aims which dictates every action of the Prime Minister, of my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary, and of the Government as a whole. They are equally important objects, but of course they do not always entirely coincide. For after all, the short term aim, the winning of the war, might easily tempt a nation to enter into binding commitments which might easily prejudice their long-term policy, which is to find a peace settlement that will endure. That has happened in the past. I think it happened to a certain extent during the last war, and it is absolutely essential that we should not fall into that error this time. It is for that reason—if I may say so with satisfaction which I think will be shared by other noble Lords—that in this war we have not entered into any secret engagements of any kind. Anything that we have signed is known to your Lordships and to the rest of the country.

I would emphasize this danger of allowing our war-time policy to conflict with our peace-time policy. I would emphasize it in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, who in an extremely interesting speech this afternoon pressed very strongly for immediate undertakings which conform with his own personal views, views which he is entirely entitled to hold. A few weeks ago the noble Lord asked, in a Motion that he put down, for certain assurances with regard to the application of the Atlantic Charter to Germany, and at my earnest request—and I think I represented the views of a great majority of your Lordships—he agreed to postpone that Motion. I am extremely grateful to him. But he has in effect returned to-clay to the attack, if I may say so, from a different angle; his approach is different but his objective is the same. I am bound to tell him clearly and unequivocally that His Majesty's Government cannot give him the assurances for which he asks. It would be, I suggest, madness for a Government to do such a thing at the present juncture.

The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, very wisely pointed out the immense and conflicting problems which are raised in the course of fixing frontiers, ethnographical problems, strategic problems, and I personally would add economic considerations. All these have to be taken into account in weighing the merits of the decision that has to be taken in each particular case. A general, vague unilateral declaration by one country in the middle of a war on questions of that delicate nature would, I believe, be absolutely reckless, and extremely embarrassing to our Allies. If we want an enduring peace settlement—and of course we all of us do—we and our Allies must keep our hands free so that we may reach whatever conclusions the situation demands when the time comes. That is the view of His Majesty's Government, and it is, I believe, the view of our Allies. To quote one example, Mr. Cordell Hull, the United States Secretary of State, in a recent speech, said this: There has been discussion recently of the Atlantic Charter and of its application to various situations. The Charter is an expression of fundamental objectives, towards which we and our Allies are directing our policies. It points the direction in which solutions are to be sought. It does not give solutions. It charts the course upon which we are embarked and shall continue. That course includes the prevention of aggression and the establishment of world security. The Charter certainly does not prevent any step, including those relating to enemy States, necessary to achieve these objectives. Those are extremely wise words from a most experienced statesman.

As my noble friend Lord Cecil of Chelwood said in the very thoughtful speech which he delivered to your Lordships this afternoon, no one wants territorial changes for themselves; they are not an objective of policy; but nobody could absolutely rule out the necessity for territorial changes if there are preponderant reasons for them. As Lord Noel-Buxton said this afternoon, the fact that the Russian Government, with the full assent of His Majesty's Government, made certain propositions to the Rumanian Government in a particular situation, does not nullify that general principle of policy which was enunciated by Mr. Hull. Lord Noel-Buxton himself in a a recent letter which he wrote to The Times said: No tragedy could be greater than that the coming settlement "— by which I understand he meant the peace settlement— should not be durable. The supreme danger is that it will contain needless incentives to war. I think we should all accept that as a guiding precept for the Allied Powers at the peace conference. But for that very reason do not let us tie ourselves up at the present stage to rigid obligations towards our enemies, whether territorial obligations or other obligations. The only result of that would be to prejudice the achievement of the objectives which both the noble Lord and the Government and all of us alike have in view.

Now I would like to return, if I may, and apply those two main principles of foreign policy, which I defined earlier, to the situation in the various countries which have been mentioned in the debate and the policy which His Majesty's Government are adopting towards those countries. Clearly—I think this will be generally agreed—what matters most both for the present and the future is that our relations with the two great Powers that have emerged as giants from the present struggle, the United States and Russia, should be preserved intact, friendly, confident and close. At the present time, happily, we can say that these relations remain really excellent. They were cemented by the Moscow Agreement and by the Teheran talks, and both as to the broad strategy of the war and the character of the world organization which is to be set up when the war is won, we have established a harmony of outlook which is an extremely good augury for the future. The European Advisory Committee set up under the Moscow Agreement is getting down to work and has already studied a number of problems relating both to the armistice period and the post-armistice period, with a view to recommendations to Governments.

The importance of a good understanding—what the Prime Minister called a fraternal association—between ourselves and the United States needs no stressing by me in this House. It is probably far the most important factor both in winning the war and in preserving the peace after the war. The fact that the United States was not a member of the League of Nations was undoubtedly the greatest weakness of that organization, and if the United States had failed to come into the present conflict the doom of civilization would almost certainly have been sealed. But she has come in—she has come in horse, foot, and artillery, with all the vast weight of her productive and military machine. With unerring judgment, she has recognized the vast issues involved and, happily, there is increasing evidence that when our enemies, are defeated, she intends to continue to play her full part in preventing a recurrence of this catastrophe. On that, so far as I can see, the leaders of all Parties in the United States are at present united.

Already a joint examination of our post-war problems, our political problems and our economic problems, is beginning, and in addition the British and American Governments are working hand in hand for a solution of all the short-term problems which are constantly boiling up as a result of the war. In connexion with this exploration of the present and particularly the future, I should like to pay tribute to the recent visit of Mr. Stettinius. It was of untold value in clarifying our minds—both, I hope, his mind and certainly our minds on this side of the Atlantic. In addition, of course, apart altogether from our diplomatic relations and contacts, we are—and perhaps this is the most important factor in cementing relations—fighting side by side. We are fighting in Italy, and in this connexion I understand the news has just arrived on the tape that the Fifth Army and the Forces on the Anzio Bridge-head have joined up. Soon we shall be engaged side by side in even greater operations in another theatre of war. This very close companionship, which is based on common interests and which is cemented by common suffering, I truly believe will not easily be dissolved.

The same, I feel confident, is true of our relations with Russia. Her great victories of the last months have been greatly assisted by our land operations in Italy and by our air operations over Germany, which contained over the whole of that period so large a proportion of the German Air Force. Moreover, we are at the present time in daily communication and consultation with the Russian Government over innumerable issues affecting both countries, and these consultations have almost invariably been fruitful in their results. I do not say that there are not occasionally different angles of outlook on certain individual questions, both between ourselves and the United States and between ourselves and Russia. That is inevitable even between firm friends, and I believe it is right that it should be so. A cotton wool association, in which it would be impossible for either partner to speak his real mind to the other partner, would be both unreal and fundamentally dangerous. What is important and extremely encouraging for the future is that there has been no problem yet where it has not proved possible to exchange views quite frankly and freely without any deterioration in our relations—that applies both to the United States and to Russia—and there have been very few problems on which agreement has not been reached.

If I might give one instance of the satisfactory collaboration which has taken place, I would point your Lordships' attention to the agreement signed on May 16, just over a week ago, in identic terms, concerning the arrangements to be made for civil administration and jurisdiction in Holland, Norway, and Belgium when they are liberated from the enemy. The agreements with regard to Belgium and Holland were signed by Great Britain and the United States on behalf of the United Nations and were concurred in by Russia. In the case of Norway an identic agreement was concluded between all three Powers. That is a very good example of the close collaboration which exists between the signatories to the Moscow agreement. Examples of the same kind could be multiplied in other fields.

Perhaps at this point I might address myself very briefly to the difficulty between Russia and Poland of which mention has been made by a good many speakers in this debate. This, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, is one of those questions for which a solution has not yet been found. We should all of us be very wise to use great discretion in speaking of it at the present juncture. Indeed all those noble Lords who have spoken to-day have shown that discretion in a marked degree. But may I at least say this? It has been suggested—not this afternoon, but it has often been suggested that it would have been wiser if His Majesty's Government had kept aloof from this problem altogether. I really do not think that would have been a practical course for us. After all, we are an Ally of both countries, each of which has had so glorious a record in the war, and at a time when it seemed possible that there would be a serious clash between our two Allies, it was natural, nay, almost inevitable that we should offer our good offices to resolve the differences between them. Indeed, we have every reason to believe that our attempt was welcomed by both the Governments concerned. Unhappily that attempt failed, and all we can do at present is to make it clear, as the Prime Minister did yesterday, that we would welcome any arrangement between Russia and Poland, however it was brought about, whether directly between the Powers concerned or with the help of His Majesty's Government or any other Government. We are not proud about this matter; we are only anxious to help in any way we can.

Exception was taken by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, to the word "compensation" used by certain members of His Majesty's Government in connexion with the Polish-Russian negotiations. I do not think myself it is necessary or right to quibble too much about words. One man will use one word, another man will use another word. It is perfectly clear from the Prime Minister's speech yesterday that it was not his intention in any way to undermine the Atlantic Charter. In fact, he expressed very firmly his adherence to that document. What I suggest is important in any settlement that may eventually be reached is that if Poland is to survive—and I have no doubt we all wish the Polish nation to survive—she should be given "an ample seaboard and a good, adequate, and reasonable homeland in which the Polish nation may safely dwell." That is very important, and anything less than that, in my opinion, is likely to sow the seeds of future trouble. I could not help thinking, as I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Noel-Buxton, that he almost seemed more concerned about the future of Germany than he was about the future of Poland. Let us not forget that we owe a great deal to Poland—more than we can ever repay. I hope we shall never neglect her interests or abandon her in order to appease our enemies.

I should now like to turn for a moment to the situation of our other Allies in Europe. First I would say a word about France. Almost exactly four years ago, France suffered, I suppose, the most terrible military and political catastrophe that has ever afflicted any great nation in modern times. To-day we rejoice to see her recovering from that blow. She is very much back in the war. Her troops have fought with indomitable courage in Italy. Their record is as fine as that of any troops in that campaign, and her powerful Navy, including the "Richelieu," which, as your Lordships know, is one of the most modern battleships afloat, is taking her full part with the Allies in the war at sea. Moreover, the widespread underground forces in Metropolitan France are risking their lives daily to promote the cause of freedom and may, we may hope, have a yet more important part to play sometime not too far ahead. Finally, the great productive areas of French Africa are providing us and our Allies with the sinews of war. In fact, the Committee of National Liberation, as the Prime Minister said yesterday, has become the fourth partner in what the Prime Minister called the Grand Alliance.

If we are not yet able to recognize that Committee as the Provisional Government of France, I hope it will never be thought anywhere that it is because we do not appreciate the great part she is playing but because, as has been said I think to-day, and certainly was said yesterday in another place, they have not yet had a chance of proving that they represent the French nation. In the case of other countries which have been occupied by the enemy, countries like Norway, Holland and Belgium, the constitutional Governments, which have been chosen by the whole body of the people, are still with us. They are the constitutionally chosen Governments. That, unhappily, is not the case with France, and until circumstances allow the French people to choose their own Government I am afraid it is inevitable that the difficulties of the present position will not be entirely resolved. There must be what one may call a twilight period. The real remedy, and the only final remedy, is to free France of the enemy and enable the people of France to decide what Government they want. It must be to that object that all our efforts must be directed. We wish to see her restored to her former greatness as soon as possible. France has an essential part to play in Europe and every step we can take to restore her will be a step towards the security of the Continent.

I think it was the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who referred to the situation with regard to the administration of France that is likely to arise immediately after the entry of the Allies. This question has, as I think the noble Viscount knows, been for some time under discussion, but unfortunately the negotiations between the Supreme Commander and General Koenig have had to be temporarily suspended because of the ban on diplomatic communications. We are trying to make arrangements to get over that difficulty. In any case, the Prime Minister announced yesterday that General de Gaulle himself is coming over here in the near future and we may hope that that visit will give an opportunity for a settlement of this and various other questions which are still outstanding.

I would now like, if the House will allow me, to travel a little farther away to the South-East, to the Balkans, and say one word upon the situation in Yugoslavia and in Greece. There is very little I need say about Yugoslavia, because the Prime Minister dealt so fully with the situation there in his speech yesterday. It is, as your Lordships know, a difficult and tangled situation, which cannot be compared with anything that exists in this country. It is impossible for anyone to approximate the various sections of opinion there to the political Parties here. The country is far too distracted for that. But there are signs of a definite improvement which we may hope will ultimately lead to the unification of the country. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, he has received a message within the last few days from King Peter to the effect that he has dismissed the Government of M. Pouritch and is at present engaged in forming a smaller Cabinet for the purpose of assisting all active resistance in Yugoslavia and uniting, so far as possible, all the fighting elements in the country.

One of the important results of this change is, as I understand it, that it involves the disappearance from the Government of General Mihailovitch, who has hitherto been Minister of War. As the House knows, the British Government lately decided to cease the supply of arms to General Mihailovitch, and this decision has caused a certain amount of questioning in this country. The reason is really an extremely simple one. Whereas in the early stages of the war General Mihailovitch was the leader of resistance against the Germans, he has recently adopted a far more passive role. He is hardly fighting the enemy at all, and indeed there are indications that some of his subordinate commanders are in exceedingly close touch with the enemy. As our policy throughout has been to assist those who actively oppose our foes, we accordingly transferred our full support to Marshal Tito, who is gathering an ever greater support from his countrymen in the great fight that he is making against the Germans. It will be our object in any way that is possible to continue and increase that help to Marshal Tito. I should add that in the policy which we have adopted towards Yugoslavia we have been in close touch both with the United States and with Russia and that our policy has their full approval.

Now, my Lords, I would like to say a word about Greece, a question which was the subject of a very full speech by the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon. I am afraid he is not at present in his place but no doubt he will read what I have to say. Lord Huntingdon, like Lord Noel-Buxton, put down a Motion earlier in the week on this subject and I asked him to postpone it until after the Prime Minister's speech. I should like to take this opportunity of thanking him for his courtesy, but I think he will agree, and that all your Lordships will agree, that it was a wise course. There is much information available to-day which would not have been available had we had this debate two or three days ago. I am sure we shall all of us have welcomed the opening words of Lord Huntingdon's speech in which he gave his good wishes to M. Papandreou and the Government which he is now forming. But I must say I got the impression that the noble Lord was still harbouring unfounded suspicions that sinister influences were affecting our policy towards Greece and the attitude of the British people towards that country.

I remember that on the last occasion when the noble Earl spoke on this subject, he was under the impression that the E.A.M. was the only organization which was fighting the Germans. But it is clear from what the Prime Minister said yesterday that this is not the case. On the contrary, the excesses of the guerrilla bands which have been under control of E.A.M. were so terrible and came to constitute such a menace to the ordinary people of Greece, that the Germans were able to recruit security battalions from the Greeks themselves in order to preserve law and order. That was clearly a lamentable situation; in fact conditions of civil war existed in the country. Ultimately, the situation became so bad that drastic steps had to be taken to try and achieve some measure of national unity.

Some time ago, therefore, M. Tsouderos, who was at that time Prime Minister, sent invitations to all the political Parties in Greece, including the Communists and E.A.M., to send delegates to Cairo for discussions there. Before replies were received the regrettable mutinies broke out to which Lord Huntingdon referred. I do not propose to say anything more about them to-day, because they were dealt with pretty fully by the Prime Minister yesterday. But one result of these was that M. Tsouderos, who felt unable to cope with this new situation, resigned and was succeeded by M. Venizelos, a son of the great Greek leader whom Lord Cecil of Chelwood knew so well at the time of the last war. He succeeded, with the help of British troops, in quelling the mutinies. He also announced that he proposed to follow the same policy as that instituted by his predecessor and steps were taken to bring as rapidly as possible delegates of all the political Parties from Greece to the Middle East.

On April 15, just over a month ago, M. Papandreou himself arrived in Cairo. M. Papandreou is a man of extremely strong personality and he has the great advantage that he has lived in Athens practically throughout—I think altogether throughout—the German occupation. He was therefore in a particularly strong position to rally the distracted elements in Greece. He became Prime Minister on April 26. On May 10 the delegates assembled for a Conference in Lebanon. As the result of that Conference, which I understand was notable for some extremely plain speaking by all Parties concerned, a unanimous conclusion was, in the end, reached, and all Parties alike adopted M. Papandreou's programme, which had two aims, first, the formation of a National Government, and, secondly, the reorganization of the Greek forces in the Middle East and the guerrillas in Greece itself into a national army. I am quite certain that noble Lords in all parts of the House will rejoice in these developments in a country to which the Allies owe so much, and will wish me to express to the Greek people our good wishes for a happy issue out of their present difficulties.

At a time like this, I could not but feel regret—though I recognized his good intentions—that the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, should have found it necessary to rake over so many old ashes of the past. That type of action is only too liable to start new fires and I had a feeling, as he spoke that no one would regret his speech more than M. Papandreou himself. I cannot think it will be of much assistance to him in his new and difficult task. We have a new Government in Greece. My feeling is, do let us allow them to do their own job. It may seem to your lordships that I have devoted rather disproportionate time to the affairs of one country, but I felt it due to the noble Earl, Lord Huntingdon, who had postponed his debate, that I should give as full an account as I could of the situation as it has developed there.

And now, what about the European neutrals? The position of neutrals anywhere in a world war is undoubtedly an extremely difficult one. The fence on which neutrality obliges them to sit is so uncomfortably narrow that it is extremely difficult for them to balance themselves without wobbling over one way or another. Your Lordships will perhaps remember the story of the Irishman in the early days of the war who when told that his country was neutral asked who she was neutral against. That shows the difficulties that beset earnest neutrals at a time like this. But clearly those countries can hardly be regarded as truly neutral which, whilst receiving the necessities of life from one side, are supplying the sinews of war to the other side. It is for that reason that we all of us, I am sure, warmly welcome the recent agreement with Spain, which has removed numerous causes of friction between her and the Allied Powers. That agreement, I suggest, should not be regarded as a victory of the Allies over Spain, but should be regarded rather as the victory of Spanish common sense over German pressure. We have hereditary bonds of friendship with Spain, which date from Napoleonic days, and I think we may all hope that those bonds of friendship will be strengthened and renewed by the agreement just reached.

We may also hope that it will be followed by a similar agreement with our ancient Ally Portugal. With regard to Turkey, I can only say this. No doubt we have all welcomed the step which the Turkish Government have taken in stopping the supply of chrome to our enemies. We can only echo the Prime Minister's deep regret that, in the wider issues of peace and war, their extreme caution should have compelled us to modify our policy of assistance to her. I believe Turkey, too, will come to regret it as the day of Allied victory draws steadily nearer.

If I may now pass to the other side of the world, I feel it would be wrong to complete a review of foreign policy without making some reference to our relations with our gallant Ally China. Battered and bruised by over seven years of war, the Chinese people continue to hold up their heads with unfailing and dauntless courage. Cut off as she is from the outer world—entirely cut off except by the air at the present time—China labours under far greater difficulties than any other of the great Powers. But she has never shown any sign of abandoning the struggle. To-day, she is not only resisting a new Japanese offensive in Honan which aims at threatening vital rice producing districts but is also pushing forward in Burma in conjunction with General Stilwell's forces which have just gained such outstanding successes as your Lordships know, in the north of that country. China has had a long and bitter trial, but with the defeat of Hitler and the concentration of Allied forces against Japan we may hope that her sufferings will soon be at an end.

At this point, I would like to say one word about a matter which has been raised by my noble friend Lord Vansittart. It does not fit into the main stream of the argument of my speech but I feel your Lordships will wish me to reply to what he said. He at the end of his speech adverted to the question of the shooting of a number of Allied officers which was announced in this country last week. I think that all of us will share to the full the indignation which he expressed this afternoon. I do not think there is any action which the Germans could have taken which would have exposed more clearly the savage brutality of the Nazi régime. Inquiries into the exact facts are, as the noble Lord knows, still going on and it is difficult for me to say any more to-day. In any case the proposals which the noble Lord put forward this afternoon will clearly require, as they deserve, very careful consideration. I think we may say this—it will represent not only the views of the Government but of the whole House—that it must be our object to ensure that those responsible for this brutal crime shall be held responsible for it when the time comes.

I would also like to say one word with regard to what the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said about the position of the Jews. I understood the noble Viscount to refer rather to the situation of the Jews when hostilities end than to their situation at the present time. I would fully agree with him that there has been no greater tragedy, probably in any period of the world's history, than the horrors which have been inflicted upon the Jews now over a long period of years. I am quite certain that His Majesty's Government will wish, in any way practicably possible, to afford the Jews some help in repairing the horrors they have gone through. If there are any steps they can take, in conjunction with other countries, to enable the Jews to recover from the sufferings through which they have passed I feel certain they will be willing to do so.

Now I have finished my tour of the countries of Europe and passed as far as China. I hope that your Lordships will feel that the picture I have painted is encouraging. I feel it is myself. I do not want to overstate the case, but I think it is a definitely encouraging picture. In the nature of things our foreign policy at a time like this cannot be clear cut. It must be capable of constant adaptation to meet changing circumstances. The world is rent and torn by the earthquake through which we are, at present, passing and any country must feel its way very cautiously through the ruins. Moreover, as one of the speakers this afternoon has said, the diplomatic position is bound to be affected, and constantly affected, by the actual course of hostilities. A vital battle won, in one area or another, may alter the whole situation in a few hours. To-day we are witnessing what we all hope will prove to be a great victory in Italy. As I think General Smuts pointed out, a success in that area may turn out to be just as important, for the purpose of winning the war, as any success won in Eastern or Western Europe. Soon, even greater operations are impending in another theatre of the war. We may indeed be nearer the end of this terrible period of history than we know. It is right that in circumstances of this kind we should look forward and prepare for all eventualities.

Several speakers in the debate this afternoon have referred to the world organization which is to be set up after the war. They did not press the Government for details, and I am grateful to them for that. As the Prime Minister explained in the debate in another place yesterday, this is not a question upon which it is possible at the present stage to go beyond the bare outlines. Discussions which were envisaged under the Moscow Agreement have to begin, at one level or another, at an early date, and it would not be at all helpful if any of the participating Powers were to take up public positions before the talks started. The Prime Minister indicated that there must be a World Council to prevent war. I agree most warmly with what the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, said on that head. The prevention of war is the foundation on which you must build social reform or any other advance. People who say that social reform is the foundation on which to build peace are, in my view, putting the cart before the horse. If we can once obtain peace, all these other things will be added to us. The Prime Minister also said that there would presumably be a World Assembly. I understand that these two simple main proposals have the full support of my noble friends Viscount Samuel and Viscount Cecil of Chelwood.

While it is impossible for me to go beyond these elementary propositions at the present moment, there are one or two points which I might try to clear up. The first was made by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who expressed the hope that the rights of small nations would be firmly safeguarded in the new organization which is envisaged in the Four-Power Pact. I do not feel that he has cause for serious anxiety. If he will look at Clauses 4 and 5 of the Pact he will see what the signatories have unequivocally stated. I quote their exact words. Clause 4 states: That they recognize the necessity of establishing at the earliest practicable date a general international organization based on the principle of sovereign equality of all peace-loving Sates and open to membership by all such States, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security. Clause 5 states: That for the purposes of maintaining international peace and security pending the reestablishment of law and order and the inauguration of a system of general security, they will consult with each other, and, as occasion requires, with other members of the United Nations, with a view to joint action on behalf of the community of nations. Quite obviously, if the four great Powers are to have the main responsiblity for maintaining peace, they must be given adequate authority to perform their tasks. But it is not intended to leave out of account the rights of small nations.

I would also like to deal with a point made by my noble relative, Viscount Cecil of Chelwood. I understood him to say that he had seen statements on behalf of His Majesty's Government or other Governments to the effect that it was hoped that, after the war, nations would have the form of democratic government they wished. What, he asked, in this context, does democracy mean? Did it mean that we should impose on them our form of government, a sort of Westminster model, as it were?


My Lords, I merely drew attention to the fact that the Prime Minister said that that was not our intention.


That is quite correct. I am not an expert in words, but it is evident that that would be an impossible proposition for His Majesty's Government to put before the world. We naturally like Parliamentary democracy of our own type, but that view is not universally taken, and it is not the desire of the Government that it should be universal. Some even of our Allies have very different forms of government from ours. As I understand it, what democratic government means, in this particular context, is a form of Government freely chosen by the masses of the people, and a Government that allows free discussion by the people of all matters of national interest. There are some Governments at present such as those of Germany and Japan which are supported by the mass of the people and yet represent a serious danger to other countries. But so long as a Government represents the will of the people and allows free discussion by the people of the country of all matters of national interest, no danger to that country's neighbours should be involved. It seems to me that we can accept any form of Government so long as it represents the will of the people of the country concerned and, as I say, so long as it allows free discussion of all public questions. Such a Government, I am convinced, does not involve danger to neighbouring countries.

To return for a moment to the world organization. The main purpose of the United Nations, at the present stage, is not to lay down any rigid plan, but merely to explore possibilities and clear our minds. Herein, I suggest, lies the importance of the meeting of Dominion Prime Ministers which has just concluded. I make no apology for mentioning the meeting of the Dominion Prime Ministers in a foreign affairs debate, for the members of the British Commonwealth together constitute a very powerful influence for good in the world. The meeting took place at a crucial moment. It gave opportunity not only for review of the present but for a glance forward into the future. I think that no one who took part in those meetings, as it was my good fortune to do, could have failed to be impressed by the complete unanimity which prevailed on all questions of international policy, and also the sober recognition of the part which the nations of the British Commonwealth must play in moulding the future. And indeed, the British Commonwealth—that strange, unprecedented combination of self-governing nations, bound, not by visible bonds, but by ties of the spirit—is in a unique position at the present time.

There are bigger nations, greater nations in that sense, but no other Power which occupies exactly the same situation. Sprawled over the whole world, the British Commonwealth partakes of the qualities both of the Old and of the New World. It is firmly based in the past by its traditions and its Constitutions, and it looks out fearlessly into the future.

Nearly a hundred years ago, in 1859, Lord Beaconsfield spoke some penetrating words which I should like, if I may, to quote in full, as they represent a very remarkable prophecy of what has happened since and of the position in which we find ourselves to-day. It is a longer quotation than is customary in a speech, but I think your Lordships will feel that it is justified. This is what he said: Remember always that England, though she is bound to Europe by tradition, by affection, by great Similarity of habits, and all those ties which time alone can create and consecrate, is not a mere Power of the Old World. Her geographical position, her laws, her language and religion, connect her as much with the New World as with the Old. And although she has occupied not only an eminent, but, I am bold to say, the most eminent, position among European nations for ages, still, if ever Europe by her shortsightedness falls into an inferior and exhausted state, for England there will remain an illustrious future. We are bound to the communities of the New World, and those great States which our own planting and colonizing energies have created, by ties and interests which will sustain our power and enable us to play as great a part in the times yet to come as we do in these days, and as we have done in the past. And therefore, now that Europe is on the eve of war, I say it is for Europe, not for England, that my heart sinks. How truly history has vindicated Lord Beaconsfield's judgment! One can but wish that his advice had been taken by the countries of Europe.

To-day ancient Europe, which is the custodian of the traditions of civilization and the guardian of all her treasures of beauty and art, is a mere litter of rubble and broken hearts; but England, or what we should now call the British Commonwealth, stands erect and undefeated. It is for us, above all, who are not only old but also new, to come to the rescue of Europe, to help her and lift her up when the present agony is over. That, to my mind, must be one of the prime purposes and main objectives of British foreign policy. It is a tremendous task, but it is a task which we cannot shirk; for on the success or failure of ourselves and our Allies must depend the whole future of the world.


My Lords, as I have already intimated, I do not propose to move the Motion standing in my name on the Paper.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, has assured me that His Majesty's Government will give consideration to the concrete proposals which I have put before the House to-day with regard to Stalag Luft 3. I hope that by that he means early consideration, for in my judgment there is no time to lose. In these circumstances I shall not move my Motion today, but shall await the answer which I shall receive from the Government before considering any further action.


My Lords, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.

Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(Lord Winster.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.

House adjourned.

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