HL Deb 11 October 1944 vol 133 cc457-96

3.18 p.m.

LORD WINSTER had the following Notice on the Paper: To ask His Majesty's Government whether they agree to this country joining with the British Dominions, the United States, the U.S.S.R., the Chinese Republic and other Allied Nations in establishing an effective international authority equipped with machinery for the peaceful and impartial settlement of all international disputes and with an International Police Force, under the control of the authority for the restraint of aggression and the maintenance of law and order; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Motion which I rise to introduce has an intimate connexion with the ideas which the late Lord Davies more than once brought to the notice of your Lordships. It is to me particularly sad that the noble Lord should have died at a time when so much of what he proposed is coming into general discussion and in fact is obtaining a very large measure of acceptance. I wish very much that the noble Lord were here to take part in this debate to-day. A governing document in considering the subject of the Motion is the Moscow Declaration of October 13, 1943, when Britain, the United States, Russia and China recognized "the necessity of establishing at the earliest possible date a general international organization based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all peace-loving States, and open to membership by all such States, large and small, for the maintenance of international peace and security." This Declaration embodies an immense aspiration and one that can only be realized by public opinion in all countries exerting its influence upon rulers who, otherwise, I fear will produce only insincere and ineffective schemes.

We shall not get an active, vigorous public opinion in these matters unless the public is kept fully informed. Unfortunately, all the world over Governments are apt to be concerned to keep the public in ignorance on the big issues which affect peace and war. Witness the confession that the truth was once not told to the public at a General Election for fear that the General Election might be lost. In any case it is difficult to divert the public mind from those domestic issues whose implications press so closely upon us in peace-time. We all pay lip service to the word "peace," but we are taught that we must not only seek peace but ensue it. What are we prepared to do to ensue peace? What is really at issue in such conferences as that at Dumbarton Oaks is not questions of machinery and of organization but the question of what nations are prepared to sacrifice in order to try to secure peace. Are they prepared to sacrifice something of their sovereign rights? Are they prepared to agree not always to be judges in their own cause? Are they prepared to relinquish policies of territorial aggrandisement and imperialism? Are they prepared to renounce discrimination against races and peoples or the control of trade by trusts and monopolies? Are they prepared to oppose the alteration of frontiers at the instance of power politics? All these are very hard questions and many to whom they are put will turn sorrowfully away. If the answer to them is "No," then the old causes which have drenched Europe and the world in blood over and over again will continue to operate and will once again produce war.

If the nations are determined to let their national interests alone determine their foreign policies then war will continue to be the instrument and the extension of those policies. Surely a great duty lies upon statesmen to explain to their peoples that only if the answer "Yes" is given to these questions can we hope for any real safeguard against war. These to my mind are inescapable facts. So long as the answer to the questions remains "No" then in my opinion organizations such as that envisaged by the Moscow Declaration will remain very largely academic. With this in mind, look at what has taken place at Dumbarton Oaks. We must not be disappointed that all the difficulties encountered at that Conference have not been solved. It will have been a great achievement if the difficulties have been fairly faced. What seems to be envisaged is an international organization with a Security Council of eleven members, consisting of representatives of Great Britain, America, Russia and China, and ultimately France, with the representatives of six other nations as non-permanent members to investigate disputes and decide on action. There is to be a General Assembly to consider general principles of security and to vote on the expulsion of States, but for practical purposes the Security Council of eleven members is the hub of the business. It seems to me that in practice this organization will be one for keeping small boys in order by prefects who themselves are exempt from the rules that they administer. It seems to me improbable that small nations will be greatly attracted by such an organization in which the great Powers will be judges in their own cause and will claim the right to enforce judgment on the small and weak. I fear that in many cases the decisions would not be either impartial or disinterested.

No conclusions were arrived at at Dumbarton Oaks on two vitally important matters. The Dumbarton Oaks Conference took place on the high official level and these matters must now go to the Ministerial and Head of the State level. I am not surprised that decisions on these two important points were not arrived at by the officials. These two matters were the veto and the vote, and the report is incomplete on these two points. As regards the veto there was a very lively dispute as to whether the great Powers represented in the Security Council should have the power to veto the machinery of restraint being set in action against themselves. Here we come right up against it. Having evolved a body of law to preserve peace are the great Powers to be set above that law? If so, then either their function is reduced to one of conciliation or else you have enshrined the doctrine that might is right. If such a right of veto by great Powers against action in respect of themselves is to be made the working rule of the organization then it means that altruism will prevail up to the point where a nation's self interest is touched and no further. There altruism will end.

It was said that Russia desired this power of veto and that the United States and ourselves were prepared to renounce it. Russia has a long memory. Russia probably remembers those unpleasant words Cordon sanitaire and remembers the proceedings in the League of Nations in December, 1939. In any case Russia alone knows how far the foreign policies locked in her breast may bring her into conflict with other nations. The Head of the Russian State can make his own foreign policy while in greater or less degree the President of the United States and our Prime Minister must have regard to public opinion. For that reason perhaps the Russian delegate was able to enunciate a view more realist than that of his fellow delegates and was able to make a declaration savouring somewhat of power politics.

That question of veto is bound up with the equally important subject of the vote. Is the vote of a small nation to be of equal value with that of a great Power? In other words in matters of international ethics are small nations to have an equal voice with the great? They certainly seem to me to have an equal interest in the orderly and correct solution of such problems especially in these days of total war and Blitzkreig. The advent of the air weapon has peculiarly affected the position of the small nations. Time was when a small country by virtue of its geographical position or the valour of its inhabitants could face up to its foes and preserve independence in the face of great odds. The aeroplane has changed all that. It is a very expensive weapon only available in larger umbers to a wealthy State and against it the small State is powerless. Neither geography nor valour, nor may I say neutrality, will avail the small country against the air weapon. In fact, the small nation can only balance matters now by means of intrigue with a great Power and we know that one of the likely causes of dispute arises from that. Very many people think that the small nations may have to group under the wing of an appropriate great Power, preserving their languages, their laws, their education, their religion; but not possessing armed forces or the right to direct foreign policy or having their own currencies or fiscal systems.

It is out of these ideas that arises the policy for preserving peace by a means of organization based on a regional system of States, each system maintaining peace in its own sphere but all of them functioning under the supreme authority of a world organization, that supreme organization being empowered to employ force when the peace of the world, as opposed to the peace of the region, is threatened. Well, those ideas, I do not need to say, are subject to a great deal of criticism. But what emerges from past experience is that equal voting at an international table does not put a small nation on an equal footing with a big nation for any very great practical purposes. The great Powers alone dispose of the armed forces, and of the money, and of the material resources which enable force to be employed. Consequently they expect to have the say-so in these matters, and are reluctant to concede equal voting power to their poor relations. This is a difficulty which is inherent in the fact that an international organizaton must consist of States varying very greatly indeed in status and resources. It is certainly difficult to argue that Greece should have an equal voice with Russia in a matter affecting Bulgaria, or that Panama and Haiti should count two votes against the United States in a matter concerning Japan.

But the problem goes rather deeper than that. By the order which is proposed by the Dumbarton Oaks Conference the nations of the world will be segregated into two classes—the great Powers and the rest. If it is considered ridiculous to say that Greece shall rank with Russia in the superior class, then it is equally ridiculous to say that, in the lower class, Albania ranks equally with Brazil. It is for these reasons that I feel how loose and ambiguous the Moscow Declaration was when it spoke of the "sovereign equality of all peace-loving nations." The fact is that, from a nice point of view, there is really no solution of these and kindred difficulties when you are attempting to set up this international organization for the preservation of peace. If there is good will to perform the tasks which the international organization is called into being to perform, then the thing will work. If there is not good will then it will not work, however ingenious the adjustment of the machinery which you devise.

I see that The Times of September 20 said: The unity of the great Powers is, in the long run, the only basis on which the security of small nations can rest. I am afraid the run might be very long, and if the security of small nations is to rest on the unity of the great Powers they may find themselves resting on a bed of Procrustes. Even to-day, in the throes of war, you will find that there is as between Britain and the United States on the one hand and Russia on the other, in regard to the treatment of a small nation—an Allied small nation—Poland, about whose independence the war began, a disunity of purpose which cannot be concealed. The Times goes on to speak of "the intimate and indestructible dependence of security on power." What happens when a great Power, member of an organization for the promotion of security and action against aggression, can veto its actions being inquired into when it is itself threatening security? I agree that it is possible to exaggerate the importance of this question of the vote. I, myself, have always regarded the ballot box as Pandora's Box, not as the Delphic Oracle. A community must agree fundamentally about many great principles before it can usefully also agree to let those matters about which it is in dispute go to the vote.

In an international organization for the maintenance of world security such as we are contemplating, there must equally be a fundamental agreement about certain vital matters. If there was a dispute, such as I have spoken of, between the great Powers it would indicate such a cleavage of opinion on these fundamental matters that really it would matter very little whether you had a vote of not. If a great Power is not prepared to co-operate for peace at the expense of what she considers to be her self-interest then no machinery will avail, and whether you vote against her or not will make very little difference. In such circumstances you are confronted with two alternatives. Either you must allow her to go her own way, in which case you can add your new peace organization to the long list of its defunct predecessors, or else you can proceed against her. If you do the latter and succeed then you are getting somewhere in the struggle for peace. But are you really prepared to go that far? Are you prepared to go to the length of proceeding against a delinquent great Power? If you are not then do not set up your Potemkin village of an international organization, for by erecting what can only be a sham you will be doing the cause of peace very great harm indeed.

In fact, to wage war seems to me to be child's play compared with waging peace. I think that must be why the problems of peace have always attracted better brains than the problems of war. Even with a war on, it is difficult enough to maintain a Coalition for waging war. To get a Coalition for peace with a peace on is even harder. We are told that the hope of peace lies primarily in an enduring understanding between Great Britain, the United States and Russia. Well, I dare say such an understanding could be a very potent factor indeed in the cause of peace. But Congress dances and international relations are far more of a Paul Jones than a quadrille. The partners are continually changing. The Allies of today are the enemies of next year. Moreover, any grouping of Powers inevitably provokes a counter-grouping, sooner or later, and then war breaks out again.

I think it would be a mistake to place too much reliance for long-term plans for the future upon the inevitable continuance of a grouping of Powers which has come about for war purposes. It may be a very sad thing, but the only cement which seems effective in international relations is either fear or mutual material interest. The greatest mutual interest should, of course, be peace, but, unfortunately, that idea does not seem to work. I suppose there are too many obstacles deep-rooted in human nature for that to be so. But if you are trying to effect peace by means of some international organization you must remember that this is certain: peace cannot be enjoyed unless Governments enter into binding agreements to fulfil obligations entered into in the cause of peace. Covenants which have escape clauses or emergency exits are worse than useless. It is one thing to construct a machine for the preservation of peace, but what matters is to be able to fill the tank with the petrol of honest intentions.

I am not at all sure that what has been proposed at Dumbarton Oaks does not contain something in the nature of escape clauses and emergency exits. Nations are to be asked to keep Air Forces in instant readiness for combined action, but these Air Forces will remain under their own control. The same proviso applies to the sea and land forces which eventually are to back up these Air Forces which are kept in instant readiness; they also will remain under the control of their national Governments. We are told that the Security Council will determine the size and the degree of readiness which these forces are to assume, and that a military staff will plan and direct the armed action and command the forces; but if these quota forces are to remain under the control of their own Governments, there can be no certainty that they will be available when required.

The machinery involves delay, and, once there is delay in such matters, shuffling begins. Machinery which does not operate instantly has a tendency to break down. The nation provoking a dispute will be acting under one supreme authority; the restraining forces will not. I think that a Hitler would certainly gamble on this security organization fumbling and failing to function. It can function effectively only if its action is swift and automatic; if the forces remain under the control of their own Governments there can be no guarantee that the action will be swift and automatic. The military staff of the Security Council, who are to plan the armed action, will have to do so on the basis of forces which they cannot be entirely sure will be at their disposal when the day comes. The idea of an International Police Force has been set aside, but contrast how that would operate. An International Police Force would supply the security organization with an adequate force under its direct control, under a Commander-in-Chief able not only to go into action immediately but so to dispose of his forces in advance as to discourage though is of aggression. An International Police Force would provide for quick arid automatic action by overwhelming force; it would exercise a strong deterrent effect. Its armed forces would be centralized under one control, and a small nation would not find itself directly embroiled with a large and powerful neighbour, but would be acting through a more or less impartial organization. The International Police Force being freely enlisted, no nation would be able to protest against its nationals being sent to fight in an alien quarrel.

This idea of an International Police Force has sometimes been dismissed as an idea of cranks. I find, however, that in another place no fewer than ninety-eight Members of Parliament of all Parties have put their names to a declaration calling for an International Police Force. I can cite the support of the Prime Minister. Nobody in war-time would think for a moment that it would be fair to hold the Prim Minister to every word that he said as an independent Member of Parliament, now that he is not only Prime Minister but our negotiator with Heads of Stales during a war; but Mr. Churchill, who has a very vigorous intellect and is also extremely robust where British national interests are concerned, was President of the British Section of the New Commonwealth Society, which seeks to promote an International Police Force and an International Tribunal as a means of promoting International Law and order. He was very active in the work of the Society and of its Parliamentary Group, and addressed many meetings of that group on the subject, as I well remember. I only recall those facts to your Lordships' memory in support of my contention that, whether there are good arguments against the idea of an International Police Force or not, at any rate those ideas cannot be dismissed as the ideas of cranks, for they have enlisted the support and encouragement of people who by no stretch of the imagination could be called cranks.

In conclusion, let me say this. I have spoken of a world organization for the preservation of peace and security, but any such organization must have something more dynamic about it than the mere employment of force to preserve order. To restrain aggression is a negative task; we have to think of constructive tasks as well, of raising world standards of living by fostering international trade and commerce. The two tasks are in fact complementary, and each promotes the accomplishment of the other. There is to be a section of this new organization which is to deal with social and economic matters. That is all to the good and is most important, for the preservation of peace and security must go hand in hand with the improvement of the standard of living throughout the world.

I may have dwelt unduly, perhaps, upon the difficulties which confront these Dumbarton Oaks proposals. I do so only because I feel that it is necessary to face the difficulties, and not be led away by an attractive idea without giving it sufficient thought and consideration and analysis. But, whatever the difficulties, the hope of enduring peace must be the torch which beckons us on. In a nutshell, the problem which confronts us is this: Can the United Nations apply to the organization of peace the ingenuity, the skill, the foresight, the effort, the sustained resolution which have enabled them to build up the most deadly and efficient war machine which the world has ever seen? Can they apply all that effort to the organization of peace? If not, I fear that the words of the philosopher will come true and we shall find that man's inability to control the machines which his brain enables him to construct will result in those machines destroying man. I beg to move for Papers.

3.5o p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Winster, placed on your Lordships' Order Paper some time ago this Motion for submission to-day. Yesterday there was published to the world the conclusions of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, and the coincidence enables this House to be the first legislative assembly to express an early impression of the general scheme. We have to remember that this is a draft and not an agreement, that it is the work of officials of the various Governments, and not of Ministers, and it represents the views of four great Powers, and not the opinions of the United Nations in general. Therefore, it would be premature for this House to arrive at definite conclusions, and I am sure that none of us would expect the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, when he replies on behalf of the Government, to go into further details or to make any additional declaration. Certainly that cannot properly be done before the other nations not represented at Dumbarton Oaks have expressed their views; and for the Government here to do so might indeed be considered disrespectful to our Allies.

But, accepting the scheme for what it is, I feel sure that your Lordships in general will give to it a cordial welcome. Certainly, speaking here on behalf of the Liberal Peers, I feel confident that I can promise for it their heartiest support, for the Liberal Party as a whole has already advocated, here and elsewhere and on many occasions, a policy closely analogous to that now presented. In particular, my noble friend Lord Perth who is beside me, and who will soon address your Lordships, must see with much gratification, remembering the fourteen years of his life which he devoted to the League of Nations as Secretary-General, and remembering, too, years in which it seemed that all that work might become futile and lost—my noble friend, I say, must see in these proposals that the general conception of the League of Nations is restored to prominence and widespread approval. However, learning by experience, the experience of the twenty years of the League's work, this new scheme presents many important differences from the Covenant of the League of Nations. On the other hand, it has far greater similarities. I share the feeling of regret, already expressed by Lord Winster, that we have not still with us Lord Davies, who for many years devoted his chief energy and many of his resources with persistency and enthusiasm to the advocacy of plans closely resembling these which now seem well on their way to realization. And within the last few day there has died a great citizen of the world, Mr. Wendell Willkie, a man farsighted and courageous, who wrote recently an admirable book the essential message of which was conveyed in its title, One World, and whose essential purpose is embodied in the proposals now before us.

This plan far transcends, of course, all Party differences, and it far transcends all national frontiers, for all men everywhere, except in the spiritually blinded Axis countries, are saying universally, "Above all things we must do something to stop wars such as this which is devastating the world." What can we do except just such measures as these? Some say that they are inadequate, that what is needed is the formal constitution of an international federation. The term "federalism" is often loosely used to mean any form of permanent organized co-operation among nations; but, properly used, federation means a definite thing. Federal States, such as Switzerland, the United States of America, Brazil, Canada, Australia, all have one feature in common—namely, a central Legislature and Government which conducts their international relations and their measures for defence. Imagine such a principle applied in this case. Imagine a central Parliament and a central Government consisting of Americans, British, French, Belgians, Dutch, Poles, Russians and all the rest, dealing with the international relations of all of them, and their defence, and, in addition, with the taxation and expenditure necessary for purposes of defence; while at the same time this Parliament at Westminster would be in session, the Congress at Washington, the Chambers in Paris, and all the other State Legislatures, would be functioning, but none of them with any voice in, and presumably not even allowed to discuss, any questions of international relationships or of peace and war. I am quite convinced that such a system could not survive its first crisis. Perhaps some day in the future, whether near or distant, such a scheme of the federation of mankind may come into being, but I think that for us that must be left to future statesmen still in the nursery. The Governments to-day have wisely rejected this plan, and none more definitely than the United States through the voice of President Roosevelt.

As to the actual proposals which are before us, I should not dream of detaining your Lordships by attempting any general survey, but I would rather draw attention to some of the salient points. First of all, the scheme is not all-inclusive. It proposes to embrace at the beginning the presens Allies, who have been known as the United Nations, and indeed it takes the term "United Nations" as its designation. It provides, of course, for the admission of all peace-loving States, but obviously could not now include countries with which we are at war. That limited scope of the scheme is inevitable and necessary. Secondly, it recognizes frankly the facts of the present world situation, and those facts are these, that mankind is divided into rather more than sixty separate States, which have their own histories, traditions, institutions and ways of life. That is a fact, and a fact not likely to be changed in the near future. But at the same time power, apart from Germany and Japan, is concentrated mainly in the hands of the great States, three of them at present, soon to become five. Now nothing could be worse than a system which left military power in one hand and placed political control in another.

And the main problem which has to be solved by those who are dealing with these matters is how to reconcile the fact of the sixty States being political entities, and the three, four or five great States having in their own hands overwhelming military power; end that problem has had to be faced when constituting the two bodies proposed to administer this great scheme, the Security Council and the General Assembly, and in dealing with the relations between them. It appears to me that this problem has had to be faced definitely and frankly, and I can conceive no better means of reconciling those two factors than are proposed in this scheme. A critical paragraph in the document is in Chapter V, Section (B), paragraph (1), which says: The General Assembly"— that is, the body representing all the constituent States—. should not on its own initiative make recommendations on any matter relating to the maintenance of international peace and security which is being dealt with by the Security Council. That is the smaller executive body representing eleven States, including the five principal ones. That reserves to the smaller body, the Executive, the right to withdraw any matter from the General Assembly on the ground that it is itself in process of dealing with it. It means that a very large measure of control over the whole machine will be vested in the smaller body. That may well be justified on the ground that the power rests mainly with them and therefore, if they hold a view definitely on some particular matter, their view cannot be allowed to be overridden by the mere majority vote of a large number of smaller Powers who have less ability and less capacity to carry out any resolution that may be agreed upon. That particular paragraph appears to me to reserve effective control to the Executive, but no doubt the Executive will take into account the opinion prevalent amongst the general body.

The whole scheme has the virtue of elasticity. It does not attempt to foresee every eventuality, and no doubt matters such as these will be dealt with ambulando as they arise, and with the necessary tact and discretion. The right course is to plant a sapling and let it grow rather than compare it with a machine that is complete in all its parts at the outset and must work ever after in accordance with the mechanism that has been provided. With regard to the membership of the Council, a point to be welcomed is that France, although her Government has not been fully recognized, is to be one of the permanent members in due course. "In due course" naturally means as soon as she has been able to establish a constitutional representative Government. France is like a person who has been suffering from a grave illness and is convalescing. A person who is convalescing is often more sensitive, and is entitled to every consideration and active encouragement, and we may hope that long before the council table is set up, France will be ready to occupy the chair already reserved for her.

One important matter has been reserved for further consideration as agreement was not reached at Dumbarton Oaks, and that is the method of voting in the Council. In the League of Nations, as your Lordships will remember, the rule was that unanimity had to be achieved before any matter of importance could be dealt with by the Council. That is not to be continued here, but in many matters a two-thirds majority is required. It is understood that at Dumbarton Oaks the representative of Russia asked that the rule of unanimity should still apply in critical matters in which the four great Powers were themselves concerned. We have no official information as yet on that point, and for my own part I should be disposed to await a fuller statement of the facts and the arguments pro and con before attempting to reach any conclusion.

For the rest, I would only refer to three other points very briefly. Chapter VIII, Section (A), is one of great importance, and I would remind your Lordships of what paragraphs (1) and (2) say. They deal with what has been usually known as the policy of peaceful change: The Security Council should be empowered to investigate any dispute, or any situation which may lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute, in order to determine whether its continuance is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security. The next paragraph says: Any State, whether a member of the organization or not, may bring any such dispute or situation to the attention of the General Assembly or of the Security Council. That is an exceedingly important provision. It will probably be agreed that the weakness of the League was its slowness to grapple with problems where some reform was necessary.

Frequently those engaged in the peace movement with its various developments have emphasized the need of maintaining law, of having proper declarations of what the law is, and proper enforcement of the law by some police force. Always the relation between States is compared with the relation between individuals, who are compelled to refer their quarrels to a tribunal instead of settling them themselves by methods of violence, by duel, or whatever it may be; but it is too frequently forgotten that the real causes of dispute are usually not legal disputes at all and are not governed by any existing law, but are questions of policy. Whether a particular frontier should be drawn with reference to strategic considerations or racial considerations, whether the principle involved is one of security or one of self-determination, and which should be given precedence in any particular case, is not a question of law to be settled by a tribunal or enforced as a matter of police. It is purely a question of policy that may be dealt with by other means. Here you have, perhaps, the embryo of something in the nature of an international legislative body, as apart from an executive or judicial body, which is able to effect changes by consent which the conditions of the world make desirable.

Another provision in Chapter VIII is one for the encouragement of regional organization in various parts of the world. That is a matter of great importance. That section includes this sentence: The Security Council should encourage settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements or by such regional agencies either on the initiative of the States concerned or by reference from the Security Council. This contemplates that the work of such a great international authority should to a large extent be decentralized and, by so doing, its administration will become far more practicable.

The most important of all the new provisions is undoubtedly that now we are to have a definite force available to carry out the decisions of the governing bodies. I do not share here the regret of my noble friend Lord Winster, who seems to think it would have been better to have an International Army set up from the beginning rather than rely upon contingents to be sent by the various Governments. An International Army comprising units from a number of different States, under its own General Staff and commanders, and therefore a self-contained organization with its own discipline, would also give rise to very many difficulties, perhaps difficulties greater than those which my noble friend thinks will apply to the scheme now put forward. In a time of crisis various States might be more slow, and not more quick, to organize action by an International Army in which their own nationals were serving and might be called upon to lay down their lives than if they had some voice in sending the contingents which were ready and designated to be called upon.

Nor do I regret that there is not constituted, though many others but never I myself have advocated it, a standing International Air Police Force. In the first place an Air Force is of little value without bases. It must have bases either in or near the territory concerned, and the notion of some centralized International Police Force starting from Switzerland, or wherever it may be, and suddenly swooping down upon a recalcitrant State, doing destruction upon it and then darting back to its base, is one that I think few strategists would greatly welcome. Nothing has proved more essential by experience of this war than the necessity of the closest co-operation between the forces of land and sea and air if effective measures are to be taken. But this scheme does provide that there shall be ready at hand contingents of the Air Forces of various nations already earmarked and ready to act when called upon, not indeed as a Police Force but rather as something in the nature of a Fire Guard Service, always ready and prepared to go to quench the beginning of a conflagration when it appears. Such spasmodic, temporary action might be organized by the Air Force alone, but the doing of anything effective to carry out the resolution of the Security Council must depend upon the co-operation of the three forces and not upon the air alone. It has been the great failing of democracy all through history, both in domestic affairs and in international affairs, that free Governments have been so intent upon liberty that they have neglected too much their own strength, fearing force as the agent of tyranny or aggression. They have undervalued the need of force for ensuring their own safety. Now for the first time that great defect is being remedied and the democratic nations of the world, the peace-loving nations, will have at their hand sufficient force to be a security for peace.

During, the present war three documents of fundamental importance have been made public. The first was the Atlantic Charter, the second was the Anglo-Russian Treaty of Alliance, and the third is this present plan of international organization for the maintenance of peace. And this third is to my mind the most momentous of the three. Its acceptance must impose upon the British people and Commonwealth extensive duties and obligations that may well prove to be very onerous, but I believe that the British people and Commonwealth are prepared to fulfil those duties and to undertake those obligations. I think this House should express its gratitude to our own Government and to the Governments of the United States of America, Russia and China for having formulated these proposals and, by so doing, having rightly interpreted what in our times is the predominant wish of mankind.

4.14 P.m.


My Lords, the debate in which we are engaged to-day is undoubtedly on a subject of the most vital importance not only for our own country but for the world. I hope myself that this is only a preliminary debate and that we shall have other opportunities of discussing in detail the actual proposals made at Dumbarton Oaks and of hearing in detail what we can scarcely expect to hear at present, the views that the Government hold on each of the proposals that were there made. The debate was initiated by a very interesting speech from my noble friend Lord Winster and, if he will pardon me, I do not propose to follow him in detail in his discussions of the general situation because he indulged a little too much, as it seemed to me, in generalities. I cannot help feeling that it would be a very good rule for those who wish to reform the world after the present war, if they were always asked to state their opinions in such definite form as was adopted by the Dumbarton Oaks Conference and others—a definite form which will take account of all the details and difficulties that will unquestionably be involved in any plan for the reorganization of the world and the maintenance of peace.

Therefore I will only say this about the general thesis or précis that my noble friend laid down. I agree most heartily with him on one proposition which I think is one that we must all regard as fundamental—namely, that it is no use constructing any organization of an international character unless it accords with the fundamental opinions of the nations who enter into that organization. That is the basis of anything you can do that will be useful. It is, indeed, the basis which I think was very largely followed in the efforts we made to establish peace by means of the League of Nations. Where I do not quite agree with my noble friend—at any rate I am not sure I agree with him—is in doubting whether such fundamental propositions exist. I am sure they do. I am quite sure that the fundamental opinion which is held practically by the whole of mankind, at any rate by the whole of civilized mankind, is that peace is essential and must be maintained, and that the only alternative is the destruction of everything that is of importance to human nature.

The second proposition which I think is also equally generally agreed is that peace cannot be maintained by the efforts of any one nation. It is too big a thing. The forces are too widely scattered and are too important for any one nation to deal with them all, apart from all other objections to that system. Therefore there must be some form of international organization if you are to do anything for the maintenance of peace. I believe those propositions are held with almost unanimity. I notice with great interest that in all the discussions that have been taking place and in all the propositions that have been put forward, the general form of the international organization is also substantially agreed. It is almost practically laid down that there must be two bodies in that international organization, one which represents all the members of the organization, the other which represents a restricted number of those members and which will therefore be able to act with greater promptitude and effect than the larger organization. So far there is nothing which controverts in any way the principles on which the League of Nations was established and which, on the whole worked, as I venture to think, with a marvellous degree of success. But it is said, and said with truth, that where it failed was not in wanting what is called peace but in that its coercive power was not sufficiently strong and sufficiently available.

I will just say in passing—I am not going into it—that as a matter of fact if you look at the powers entrusted to the League they were very considerable and if they had been put into force all might have been well. Very briefly, it may be said that a breach of the Covenant of the League was deemed to be an act of war with all the members of the League; it involved the blockade of the defaulting member and whenever armed force was necessary it was to be provided by the other members of the League. Again I know that ingenious criticisms have been made as to the wording by which that was enforced, but I have no doubt myself that that was what was originally intended and I have no doubt that any fair-minded man would admit that that was the substance of the coercive clauses of the League. The real difficulty—and do not let us forget it—was not that there were not sufficient powers but that when it came to the point some of the most important Powers were unwilling to enforce them.

Really I think that is the problem we have to meet and on that point I find great satisfaction in the recent statement made by the Prime Minister which is very precise. He said quite definitely that this war could easily have been prevented if the League of Nations had been used with courage and loyalty by the Associated Nations. That is a very important statement from a gentleman who is not only Prime Minister but has a very large experience of the international difficulties that have affected the world, who has studied them very deeply and written various books on the subject quite apart from his position as Prime Minister. Therefore, the main problem it seems to me that we have to face as far as the maintenance of peace is concerned is how we can guarantee that the important national forces of the world will be used when the moment comes for the maintenance of peace. That is partly a question of public opinion. If there was a public opinion in all the nations as strong for the maintenance of peace as it is for the maintenance of the territorial and commercial interests of each country there would be no difficulty in suppressing aggression by appropriate machinery. Public opinion is very important, but it must be organized and it must be instructed. In my judgment publicity in this matter is of the last importance. I do not agree with everything said by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, yesterday, but I do agree with him in the proposition that publicity is of the greatest possible importance in the maintenance of peace and for many other purposes in international matters.

It is said that in addition, and I accept the view, we must have a somewhat different organization from that attempted in the League in order to make it more effective. I think it is rightly felt that the essential condition to its being effective is that the five great Powers, or four, whatever their number may be, should have under their control the greater part of the international strength of the world, should realize their responsibility for peace, and should be prepared to act vigorously for the maintenance of peace when threatened by aggression. We must put fairly and squarely on the shoulders of these Powers the first responsibility— not the only responsibility—for the maintenance of peace. That is done I think by the document now before us. I have said that I do not think this is the moment to go in great detail into the Dumbarton Oaks Conference but perhaps your Lordships will allow me to say a few words upon it. In the meantime may I insert this question? I hope the draft report is going to be printed and circulated as a Parliamentary Paper. It is very inconvenient that at the present moment you can only get it through the Press, though the Press publication has been admirable.


It is to be laid as a White Paper.


I am very much obliged. What are the proposals to increase the availability of the forces of the world for the maintenance of peace? The first thing is the creation of a Security Council. That is a new conception, that there should be a special international organization whose primary duty should be the maintenance of peace. That was not so in the League. I can see great reasons why it was not so, but I think it is clear this will be a decisive improvement. Here there will be a body whose chief business is the maintenance of peace, who will be furnished with something in the nature of a Military Staff Committee—I do not feel sure that I quite grasp what is proposed —and they will have definite rules and no doubt a definite scheme which can be put forward at a moment's notice to deal with any danger to the peace of the world. I should have been glad if the Dumbarton Oaks scheme had gone a degree further, if it had been made a condition of membership of this Security Council that the Powers concerned should enter into a very definite and positive obligation that they would use the whole of their strength in order to suppress aggression. I think it is implied in the document, but I should be glad to see that expressly stated because I think it would be a great thing to get before the people of the world exactly what the thing means. If there was this very precise obligation people would see that there was this obligation to maintain peace expressly in addition to the general obligation of the members of the larger body, the Assembly, that is contemplated. Subject to that, I most heartily support the idea of a Security Council and the general conception that there should be a distinct body whose business it is to keep the peace.

Then there is the question how this body, which as your Lordships have already heard is to consist of five permanent members and six elected members, is to decide on any question. There is talk about a two-thirds majority for important questions. I do not think that really covers the difficulty. It means you would have to have eight at least on one side and three on the other, and if the three consisted of important countries I think that would make a great difficulty in the working of the machine. If you are going to say, as has been suggested this afternoon, that at any rate the five principal Powers must be unanimous before anything can be done, then you are faced with the proposition that in this supreme question of the peace of the world any one of the great Powers can issue a veto and decline to have any action taken for the maintenance of peace and the suppression of aggression. If one of them happens to be the aggressor I feel quite certain that veto will be used. That, I must say, I think is a very great difficulty, and I think so all the more because quite evidently unless one of the great Powers is the aggressor, or sympathetic to the aggressor and prepared to support him, aggression cannot, in any circumstances, succeed. Aggression by one of the smaller Powers would not be a danger to the peace of the world unless it was going to bring in its train the support of one of the principal Powers. That matter, therefore, is one which will have to be faced and dealt with. Up to the present I have not been able to think of any machinery which would be quite efficient to do that unless you can go as far as my noble friend Lord Winster apparently wishes to go, and set up some form of international federation. But that I am afraid is really outside the region of practical politics at the present time.

In this condition, I venture to hope that the Government will think carefully whether, in the future meetings of this body or in future efforts to draft a scheme, it is not really better to consider the machinery which prevailed under the League in that respect. Under the League every member country was severally and individually bound to suppress aggression. It was also bound to act with others in the general purposes of the League. But its actual obligation was to suppress aggression, whatever other members did. That of course was open to the objection that one of the smaller Powers at any rate, or indeed any other Power, could not act by itself effectively in the suppression of aggression. Therefore, by custom, if not by the express terms of the Covenant, there was a kind of understanding that they could not be expected to act unless they were going to be supported by a sufficient number of their colleagues. That is not a very satisfactory position, and I quite recognize that something more will have to be done. I hope very much that the Government will consider whether something of the sort which I suggest is not really the best way out—that is a special and individual obligation on each Power to maintain peace added to a general obligation on other Powers to support one another in that operation.

The necessary provision for this would need to be very carefully considered and drafted, but my impression is that something of that kind should be worked out. It might be the answer to the difficulties with which you are faced the moment you propose to use coercive power in any international matter. I know it is said outside, and I think my noble friend Lord Winster has said something to the same effect, that this scheme was really devised only to keep the smaller Powers in order, and that the larger Powers were left free to do what they pleased. I am quite sure that that was not the intention and I doubt whether it was the meaning. But I should like to see a rather more definite acknowledgment of the ultimate power of the Assembly. It exists, for the Security Council is directed to act on behalf of the Assembly, and, therefore, no doubt, to report to it what has been done. But I hope that that obligation, and that connexion between the two bodies, will be made more clear.

I do want to say here, with regard to observations which I have heard about the powers of the smaller countries in the League, that it was not the case that the smaller countries added to the difficulties of the League. It was the greater Powers that were always creating difficulties in actual practice, and the reason, I think, is that when the smaller Powers met in the larger Assembly they were more amenable to the public opinion of the world and consequently more prepared to act for peace, which is the strongest feeling in world opinion, than the smaller and, to some extent, more secret body of the Council. I need not say anything to-day about the Military Staff Committee. That seems to me to be quite right and sound in principle. I hope that it will be more fortunate in efforts to get assistance from the military authorities than the League ever was during its existence.

There is only one other point which I think is important in considering this question of what coercive power the new body would have. That is the express power given to the Secretary-General to call attention to any situation which, in his judgment, threatened aggression or made aggression likely. That I think is a very valuable power, and I hope that it will be preserved in full force. As to the rest of the scheme for international organization, I note that there is to be a Social and Economic Committee. Everybody, I suppose, will say that that is quite right. It is to be a kind of focus of all the different social and economic activities of the new body. But there is one point on which I should be glad to have some information if the noble Leader of the House can give it either to-day or on some future occasion. What is his conception of what is to be done regarding the International Labour Office? I should be most bitterly sorry if anything was done to destroy that body, which has been extremely successful and has been a very remarkable instance of useful and effective international co-operation. I do not imagine that it is intended to destroy it, but I should very much like to know what is proposed with regard to it.

In that connexion, may I just ask a further question? The conception of the machinery, as I understand it, is first of all the Assembly which covers everything. Then there is the Security Committee which covers questions directly affecting peace. Next come a number of bodies—some of which are in existence and some of which are not—which are to be concentrated in the Social and Economic Committee which deals with all social and economic questions. I do not at present see in the document—perhaps because it is not yet complete—anything in the nature of the Security Council which is to deal with political questions of a non-contentious character. For instance, a matter which the Council of the League spent an immense amount of time over was the organization of Danzig. I cannot say that it was a very successful effort, because all the people who lived in Danzig were of different opinions except on one point which was that they did not wish to have any interference from outside. But there are many other questions of a political character and no doubt they will have to be dealt with by some organization. But that is not stated here.

I am afraid I have gone even more into detail than I intended because I was anxious to start discussion and consideration of this question, which we really ought to be considering most deeply and fully. I entirely agree with what my noble friend Viscount Samuel said in support of this scheme. I think it is a good scheme. I think it is evident that there is a good deal more to be worked out in it. It is possible that some of the provisions will have to be modified. But, broadly speaking, I think that it conforms to the test which the Prime Minister put the other day. It is in accordance with the spirit and principles of the League clothed with the necessary authority. I think that that is a very good phrase, if I may say so without impertinence, which accurately describes what ought to he the objects of any new organization.

In conclusion, I want to repeat what I said at the beginning, that for this plan to succeed popular support is essential. That is the problem. I believe that there is no difficulty in getting that popular support. My experience, which was considerable at one time, of speaking to popular audiences on these subjects was that there was the deepest interest in them, and it was only when people began to lose courage and to think that the scheme was not going to work that they at all modified their enthusiasm on the subject or exhibited some doubts as to whether we were on the right lines. If, however, that support is to be created and made effective, the Government must do their part. The people must be told as much as possible—publicity is essential—and the Government must be prepared to make it clear that they are going to do their utmost to make this plan a success and that they will risk everything, or almost everything, in order to see that it is a success. A mere vague, colourless statement by the Government or by their representative that they support the idea is not enough; they must make it clear that this is the essential feature of our foreign policy, and that we must stand or fall by its success or failure.

The Government have at their command an immense machinery for this purpose, not only national but international. They have representatives in every important country in the world. They ought to ask those representatives to make it clear that the British Empire, and the United Kingdom in particular, stand for international organization for peace. I have a melancholy recollection of many efforts made by myself and others to induce Governments in the last thirty years to take some action of that kind, and it never was successful. I believe that that failure was one among the many causes which made it difficult to use the League when the great storm arose. I can only conclude, therefore, by an earnest appeal to the Government to stretch to the very utmost their power of giving information and to tell us exactly what is going on and what is in their mind, as far as it is possible to do so. I also ask them to make it clear to the world at large and to the people of this country that they do intend to strain every nerve to make this a success. It is the last possibility that I can see of maintaining the peace of the world. If they do that, then I am sure that, either in this form or with some modification, the international organization of peace can be attempted, and attempted with success.

4.44 P.m.


My Lords, the two noble Viscounts, Lord Samuel and Lord Cecil of Chelwood, to whose speeches we have just listened, have dealt with the main question which is before your Lordships so exhaustively that it would be, I feel, a work of supererogation on my part if I were to attempt to add anything to what they have said. I should like, however, Ito state that I am in complete agreement with their views about the proposed new international organization. The Dumbarton Oaks agreement seems to me to be an admirable International White Paper, and the scheme, when it assumes its final form, will, I hope, be rounded off—it has certain rough edges to-day— and the gaps which exist will be filled in. That is to be done through the international talks which are to be held in future. I believe that in these discussions the co-operation of the smaller Powers will be most valuable, and that they will give great assistance in this phase of polishing and expanding the scheme and balancing the various factors involved.

There are two observations with regard to the agreement which I should like to make, however, in view of the speeches which we have heard. First of all, I should like to suggest to my noble friend Lord Samuel that the sentence to which he referred in Chapter V: The General Assembly should not on its own initiative make recommendations on any matter relating to the maintenance of international peace and security which is being dealt with by the Security Council: may have been inserted in order to avoid a difficulty of double jurisdiction which, unfortunately, peccant Powers often tried to utilize during League meetings in order to get away with wrongdoing. I think that that is probably the main reason for the insertion of those words. Secondly, I think that perhaps my noble friend Lord Cecil of Chelwood overlooked a phrase in paragraph (8) of Chapter V, which provides that the General Assembly "should receive and consider annual and special reports from the Security Council." That obviously means that there will be both annual and special reports, and the relationship will therefore be closer than would otherwise be the case.

So much for that main question. I should now like to deal with one other point, which has hardly been raised so far—namely, the question of sovereignty. There is a section of public opinion in this country which holds that to belong to an international organization the purposes of which are the preservation of peace and the promotion of international prosperity and social progress among nations—and that is, I think, a fair summary of the purposes of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference—necessarily involves what is called "a sacrifice of sovereignty." The noble Lord, Lord Winster, himself spoke, I think, of "the sacrifice of sovereign rights." In one sense that is obviously true, but I think that the question requires a little closer examination. If a State were to decide that it would in no case consent to a sacrifice of sovereignty, it could not conclude a treaty of any kind at all, since, in the sense to which I have referred, any treaty does imply some loss or sacrifice of sovereignty. In fact such a State could not even belong to the Universal Postal Union, because that body lays down, among other things, that only a given amount shall be charged on letters and telegrams sent to foreign countries, and that in itself is a definite limitation of fiscal and of postal authority. The same is true in the case of the Geneva Convention which deals with prisoners. There again there is a certain sacrifice (in the sense in which the word is used) of sovereignty, a limitation of sovereignty.

In fact, if a State said, "We are not going to sacrifice any fraction whatever of our sovereignty," that State could have no continuing international relations of any kind, and it could not conclude even an arbitration agreement or commercial treaty. I would, however, like to suggest that we should put to ourselves the question, "Does the conclusion of treaties really imply a sacrifice of sovereignty?" It seems to me that the answer largely depends on the meaning of that extremely elusive word, "sovereignty." I would be prepared to defend the thesis that the making of a treaty involves no loss or sacrifice of sovereignty, but rather that the act in itself constitutes an affirmation of sovereignty. It is simply a decision that in certain given cases a State will follow a given course of action. I think that is a much truer representation of the case. I wonder whether it would be contended that when this country in 1939 gave its famous pledge to Poland that it would come to the aid of that gallant country if it were attacked by Germany, that pledge involved a loss of sovereignty by this country? Surely it is exactly the contrary, and that our assurance resulted from a clear act of sovereignty on our part.

If the argument I have indicated is accepted — and I think it would be very difficult to refute it —then surely it applies equally to membership of an international organization, which after all only implies pledges to take certain action in certain given circumstances. I hold that it is the prerogative of a sovereign State to make any agreement that it chooses, and that in doing so there is no loss of sovereignty involved, since the conclusion of the agreement is in itself a sovereign act. I must apologize for these rather incidental observations, which do, I know, touch only indirectly on the main Motion. But I have, found that this question of sovereignty is in the nature of a stumbling block to various persons with whom I have discussed this question of international organization. It is for this reason that I thought it well to make these few comments on what perhaps is mainly a question of political philosophy though it does arouse violent emotions occasionally from an excess of patriotic feeling.

4.54 p.m.


My Lords, the Motion to which the House has been addressing itself this afternoon has, I think, turned out to be, if I may so express it, unexpectedly topical. When the noble Lord, Lord Winster, tabled his Motion he was not, of course, aware of the impending publication of the conclusions of the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, with which the greater part of the debate has been concerned. His intention, as I understand it, was to promote a general discussion on the problems involved in setting up an international organization after the war, and to give an opportunity to this House to express their views on a matter which, as the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, said, is absolutely vital to us all. I thought, if I may say so, with all due deference, that the noble Lord, Lord Winster's own speech painted perhaps an unduly dark picture of the future. I do not think I ever heard such a jeremiad, and I must confess I thought it was a little strange to hear such scepticism as to the possibility of international co-operation from the Socialist Benches; but perhaps the noble Lord was speaking rather for himself than for his Party as a whole.

But at any rate, whatever one may feel about the noble Lord's own personal opinions, no one could possibly complain of the object which he had in view in tabling his Motion, and indeed it has led, I think, to a most valuable and important debate. I would quite agree with what he said that the more we discuss these difficult problems and the more we bring them before the minds of the British people the more probable it is that a sane and sound public opinion will be built up. And this is, moreover, I think, a subject which your Lordships' House is particularly fitted to discuss, for we are lucky enough to have among our members some of the greatest living authorities on this subject. There is my noble relative Lord Cecil, who took a main part in framing the Covenant of the League of Nations, and there is the noble Earl, Lord Perth, who as the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said, was the Secretary-General of that institution throughout all its greatest days, and I think himself played a very large part in its success. Those noble Lords speak, as I say, with unrivalled experience on these extremely difficult questions, and both of them have made very valuable and helpful contributions to the debate this afternoon. I thought it particularly satisfactory that both Lord Cecil and Lord Perth, and also the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, who was speaking for the Liberal Party and made such a penetrating speech—all those noble Lords, with their long experience, expressed a very great measure of approval of the results that have been achieved at Dumbarton Oaks.

That I believe to be a remarkable tribute to the wisdom and foresight of those who framed the Covenant twenty-five years ago. It is a notable fact that these new proposals should approximate so closely to those which were drawn up at that time after the last war. After so many years of hard experience it has not been found necessary to consider proceeding on any very different lines from those which had already been laid down in the Covenant. That, at any rate, is the view of the experts who assembled at the recent talks to devise new proposals for a world organization after the present struggle. There are, of course, variations, I might perhaps be bold to say improvements, on the original organization in several important respects. I am not to-day proposing to go into any detail on those points which were raised first by Lord Winster and later by other noble Lords who have spoken this afternoon. The House will, I am quite sure, understand that the moment would be premature for any unilateral declaration by any Government on this subject. But I think I might be allowed to make a few general comments. First, I would suggest that the peace system now envisaged in this document, which has been published, is both more flexible and in some respects less legalistic than the League on certain occasions proved to be. As I think the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, said this afternoon, this should facilitate the making of peaceful adjustments in the light of changing conditions, and also—this is equally important—it should render it possible for the new organization to tackle international problems before they degenerate into open disputes.

At this point, perhaps, I might say one word as to a point which was raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood. He asked what organs of the proposed organization would deal with what he called "non-contentious" political problems. He quoted a queer one, the question of Danzig, which in my experience at Geneva was the most contentious problem I ever came across. But I know there are other non-contentious political problems. The answer to him is this. No detailed plan has yet been specially devised to meet these cases. That might well be a matter to be discussed at the United Nations Conference when it comes along. As I understand it there is nothing to prevent the General Assembly dealing with them. It could set up ad hoc organs for dealing with any of these problems.

Now I go on to the second point which we should note with regard to the proposed organization—a point already made by my noble relative Lord Cecil. It places the responsibility for international security four-square on the shoulders of the nations best able to bear it. As he said, that is the main essential for any successful peace system, and I believe it should make for rapid and effective action in preventing war. The third point which I would underline is that the proposals allow for the supply to the organization of a really serviceable set of teeth—a thing that was not always available to the League as we knew it before the war. The military provisions which have been extremely carefully worked out, are intended to ensure that armed force can, if necessary, be brought to bear swiftly and effectively either to maintain or to restore peace. This, as we all know from very bitter experience, is absolutely essential if aggression is to be restrained. Indeed, the forces of International Law and order need to be so strong that aggressors will know they are bound to be beaten if they ever embark on a policy of violence. That is the only way by which aggression will be not merely defeated but, what is more important, averted. I believe it is here, as has been said this afternoon, that the new Air arm will be of immense importance. The noble Lord, Lord Winster, was a little bit sceptical about these military proposals, but I am sure that the House as a whole will agree that, whether they are perfect or not, they represent a very real advance on anything we have known up to now.

Finally, I would refer your Lordships to the establishment of the Economic and Social Council. I believe that this should make it possible for the new organization, if it is adopted by the nations who will ultimately have to discuss it, to deal with vital social and economic questions even more effectively than the League was able to do. As your Lordships know, the League had no such central planning or co-ordinating organ in this particular sphere. Even so, its record of work was far from negligible. It did very valuable work, but it had not this particular central organ. I was glad that the noble Lord, Lord Winster, felt that he could support this particular provision. I would, however, remind him that these social and economic provisions are utterly valueless without a good security organization. He said in the course of his speech—or I understood him to say—that the restraint of aggression was a negative policy or a negative function.


Alone—by itself.


I do not agree that it is a negative function at all, whether by itself or in combination with any other function. It seems to me that it is essential to have restraint from aggression in order to ensure the prosperity of the world. Whatever may be done in the economic sphere, I believe that the security sphere will remain the most important of all.

The Dumbarton Oaks talks are, of course, as has already been said, only the first step. The discussions as yet have not risen above the official level and, moreover, the conclusions only represent the views of the delegates of the four nations represented—the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and China. The purpose of the talks, which were themselves the result of very careful preparatory work in all the capitals concerned, was merely to clear the ground for further discussions at an inter-governmental level, including all the United Nations; but I do think, and I am sure your Lordships will agree, that it is a matter of warm congratulation that so much progress has already been registered. We may well pay tribute to the patience and skill of the delegates who took pant in conversations which have led to agreement on a great many questions which were of an extremely complex, and might easily have been of very controversial, character. There were, of course—some of them have been mentioned this afternoon—several outstanding points on which it was impossible to reach agreement at the official level. As the Prime Minister said in another place on September 28, it is hoped that these outstanding issues will be the subject of further discussion between Heads of Governments before the end of the year with a view to submitting agreed proposals to a full conference of the United Nations. I say that particularly for the benefit of my noble friend Lord Addison who asked a question on this particular point in the war debate last week. That is clearly the right course, for I am sure your Lordships will agree that, in deliberating on matters of such great importance and delicacy, it is wise to proceed with very considerable discretion. I should have thought there never was a case in which it was truer to say, "More haste, less speed."

Lord Winster urged that the public should not be kept in ignorance with regard to these matters. As I said to your Lordships yesterday, I entirely agree. It is essential in the view of His Majesty's Government that there should be the fullest discussion of these proposals, both here in Parliament and at the proposed Conference of the United Nations. I would certainly share the view expressed this afternoon that machinery is not of the slightest use unless there is the will to use it. The people of the world, if they are to support this proposed organization, must be fully informed about it. Unless their support is gained, the organization will fail. At the same time, it will be generally agreed that it was thoroughly sensible that the representatives of the four Powers, on whom the main responsibility must fall for ensuring international peace and security, should have met together and should have produced an agreed working draft before entering into the wider discussions with other nations. But there is no wish, as far as I know, in any quarter—certainly no wish on the part of His Majesty's Government, and I am certain the same is true of other Governments—to present the people of this country or the peoples of our Allies with anything in the nature of a fait accompli. Now that this draft has been produced, we wish to have it fully ventilated and fully discussed.

In particular, this is a matter where the United Kingdom Government must move hand in hand with the Dominion Governments. The general ideas involved have already been the subject of full discussion at the meeting of the Dominion Prime Ministers which took place this spring, and we have kept in close and constant touch with the Dominions since that time. Already, as probably some of your Lordships will have read in the newspapers this morning, Mr. Mackenzie King, in an extremely important statement, has warmly welcomed the wide measure of agreement reached and has promised that these proposals will receive serious and earnest study by the Canadian Government. I am quite certain that that will also be the attitude of the other Dominion Governments. The more closely we can work with them in this—as indeed in all other matters—the better for the world, for I am quite certain that it is on the close collaboration between the nations of the British Commonwealth, within the framework of a world order, that the fate of the proposed organization will largely depend.

This moulding of a new instrument for the preservation of peace and security is a great task. It is probably the greatest task that any of us shall ever have to face. Moreover, as Lord Cecil said this afternoon, it is in accordance with the general wish of mankind. The raw material of the instrument in fact already exists. It is at this very moment being tempered and strengthened in the furnace of war. It is for us and other peace-loving nations to see that we fashion it so well and use it so wisely that we preserve for our children those enduring blessings which we ourselves have never known.

5.11 p.m.


My Lords, it is with regret that I feel I must join the ranks of the Jeremiahs in supporting my noble friend Lord Winster in his Motion and in many of his ideas. I think one idea will be in the minds of nearly all people after this war and that will be, how to prevent another war occurring. That obviously will be the predominant idea. Two world wars in a life-time are two world wars too many, and tremendous pressure is bound to be brought on to different Governments to try and erect some machinery to stop a future inundation which may well sweep away civilization as we know it. After the last war the League of Nations was set up with all the necessary machinery for examining disputes and quarrels, and with everything that should be needed, but it lacked force. It lacked, as Lord Cecil has said, the force to implement its decisions, and as a result when the interest of major Powers came into conflict at once the weakness of the League became exposed. The facade which had been so elaborately erected was seen to be only a facade and gradually the world drifted towards the present disaster.

In my following remarks I would like to emphasize that I am speaking for myself and not in any way for the Labour Party, on the subject of these proposals made at Dumbarton Oaks which we have been examining this afternoon. They are proposals to deal with the situation in connexion with possible disputes and possible wars that might arise; but as far as I can see, from what has necessarily been a brief examination of these proposals, what really is intended is that the victorious United Nations shall eventually control the world. They arc, my Lords, very ambitious and very realistic proposals. The Big Four have, at the moment, or will have on the defeat of Germany, complete power in their hands to control all the other nations and to tell them what they shall do and what they shall not do. In the proposals we see that the ultimate power is to reside in a Security Council. The Security Council decides what is a dispute, what actions can be taken by other nations, what are the dangers that might lead to aggression or war. They are to decide what behaviour is dangerous to peace, what disarmament or armament can be allowed in other nations; what is aggression, who is the aggressor and, finally, what steps shall be taken against the aggressor; and actually they would order the start of military operations. The armed force, as I understand it, will be under the control of the Military Staff Committee which is supposed to advise and help the Security Council, and presumably this Military Staff Committee will actually command the forces in the field.

Who is to compose this Security Council? The Security Council is to consist, in the first place, of four and ultimately of five, of the United Nations; and six other nations which are elected in rotation by a General Assembly. Theoretically, the Big Four or the Big Five could be outvoted by the lesser six, if voting power was equal. This, of course, is the crucial question and the question apparently on which agreement could not be reached; because if voting power is so arranged that the Big Five can outvote any other combination then obviously there is no pretence of any international control. Even if voting is arranged to be equal so that each nation has one vote, the Big Five have only to get one vote of the six nations on their side and all decisions could be decided by them. I only stress this to show that what is actually being proposed is not a League of Nations to control world affairs and to stop aggression, but it is a proposal of the five victorious nations to control the other nations of the world: naturally, all in the interests of peace and they will try to get other friendly nations to give them their help and support in their actions.

For these proposals to work, I think your Lordships will agree with me that three things must happen. The first is that the Big Five must not quarrel amongst themselves; they must remain friendly and united. The second is that the Big Five must continue wholeheartedly to support each other, even when their own interests are not involved. (That is obviously essential for the working of the whole scheme.) The third is that the rest of the world must be willing to help to accept this control and especially not to combine against or actively oppose it. What are the chances of these three different things actually working? Here we reach very debatable ground. It is always unwise to prophesy. Here again I only express a personal opinion when I say that I think it is extremely unlikely that those three points will continue to operate through a long course of years.

It is most unlikely that over a term of years, without a threat from an outside enemy, the Big Five should have no quarrel and no dispute. If they do quarrel who out of them is going to condemn the aggressor? And will all the other nations back up in supporting the members of the Big Five in their condemnation? In any case, whatever happens, peace is gone. It is unfortunately almost always the fact that Allies, after a big war, do fall out. During the pressure of this war we have already seen signs of stresses and strains, and there will be plenty of conflicts lurking in ambuscade for the victors. Furthermore, will war-weary populations rally to the support of these Big Five and be content to go and fight in distant hemispheres in disputes in which they will have apparently no interest? I very much doubt it. Will far-away nations pledge themselves to send their citizens to fight in support of this authority wherever they may be asked to go? I think it is highly improbable. Yet unless all these improbabilities actually work the whole scheme will fall down, another facade will have been erected and another generation will be sacrificed in a third world war. All the idealism and energy and enthusiasm which are genuinely desirous of making a permanent peace will, once again, have been thrown away.

What is the alternative? Is the only alternative to try the League as it was which unfortunately proved such a failure, or is the alternative to go back to the old system of alliances and balance of power which resulted in so many dreadful catastrophies? I suggest that the crux of the problem is this, that if nations really wish to prevent war they must pay the price, and the price they must pay is the surrender of their national sovereignty. I am sorry the noble Earl, Lord Perth, is no longer here, as I should have liked to dispute his definition of sovereignty. He, I think, suggested that a nation by signing a treaty or binding itself to a bargain was giving up sovereignty. I would suggest on the other hand that sovereignty is given up when you delegate your powers to someone else to do what they like. If His Majesty's Government make a bargain that they will deliver some dock equipment to France that is not giving up sovereignty, that is a treaty. But if they delegated to a French Minister power to order what equipment he liked and when he liked, that is definitely giving away the power of choice and sovereignty. I do not want to go further into that point.

It is true that although primitive tribes have combined for war they have never managed to combine for peace. While robber barons maintained their private armies no peace could be established in the land. I maintain that so long as nations will acknowledge no authority greater than their own, and maintain their own war forces to assert their will over others, so long will international war continue. There is only one device which has been found efficacious in stopping war between communities and it is along that line that I suggest, though I may be in the minority of one, the possibilities should be explored. The only device which so far has worked is that of federation upon which the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, has poured scorn this afternoon. It is not easy to establish; it is extremely difficult. We must remember that in the United States of America there was a very calamitous civil war before finally all the States of the Union settled down and federation was consolidated. But as a result there is no danger at all of war breaking out between those States. There is no prospect of war between Nevada and Idaho or between Massachusetts and Maine. The idea of it, to any American, would be ridiculous. In the same way wherever Slates have federated, or in other words, have given up their sovereignty, as in the case of the Soviet Socialist Republics, the Swiss Republic and the Commonwealth of Australia, or the United States of Mexico, the danger of war between those States has been eliminated. But you must have real union, and no closed frontiers; both people and goods must be able to pass freely: and supreme force must lie in the hands of the central Federal Government which must be representative of all the States.

By federation you remove the means of making war from each State and put it into the hands of a federal authority. You take away also most of the motive for making war, for there are no longer monopolies of raw material or labour supply, no restriction on fields of investment. All those things have caused quarrels and disputes and ultimately led to international strife; but when labour and goods flow freely and money can be invested anywhere war is no longer necessary. I suggest that a start could be made by federating the countries of Europe. Never has a better opportunity presented itself than there will be after the collapse of Germany for federating the States of Europe. In modern days a division of Europe into a multitude of small States, with their arbitrary frontiers obstructing trade and development, engendering national hatred, is not only ridiculous but dangerous to peace. It is here than we can begin to solve this important problem. It is not the time at this late hour nor is this the occasion to discuss details of federation, but I hope that this country will be far-sighted enough to work for its establishment and will in time become a leading member of the federation. I should like your Lordships to remember that only between those countries which are federated has the danger of war been completely eliminated. The more you federate, the more groups become groups of federal countries, the more will that danger be done away with, and we may hope that one day the federation of the United States of the World will finally do away with the danger of world war or war in the world.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, I deeply appreciate the reply which the noble Viscount the Leader of the House was good enough to give me. I fully understand the narrow limits within which his reply had necessarily to be confined. I am glad that he approved of my intelligent anticipation of coming events in putting down my Motion but I was sorry to hear that what I said had caused him gloom and despondency. In what I said I spoke in no spirit of scepticism but only in a spirit of wishing to face up to the difficulties involved in these proposed arrangements, because it is to my mind very clear that the reasons which led to the failure of the League of Nations were to be found in the refusal of far too many people to face up to the difficulties involved in the League. Therefore I make no apology for trying to face up to the difficulties in the proposals of Dumbarton Oaks. There is one thing I would like to mention. I happened to hear at first hand a personal tribute from an American who has just arrived in this country by air to the great work of Sir Alexander Cadogan at Dumbarton Oaks. He spoke in terms of the highest praise of Sir Alexander Cadogan, of his great competence and the intense seriousness and the practical nature of the work he did there. I thought your Lordships might be pleased to hear that tribute.

The debate on my Motion has really turned very largely upon the question of the forces which are to be at the disposal of the Security Council. I noticed that the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, opposed the idea of an International Police Force although the difficulties he mentioned have all been faced by the society which advocates that particular idea. I noticed that the noble Viscount in his speech repeatedly spoke about the forces which this Security Council will have at its disposal. The Security Council will have no forces at its command since the forces in question will remain under the command of their own national Governments. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, pointed out in his speech that in his opinion one reason for the failure of the League was that nations would not face up to their undertakings and their obligations when the question of the use of force came up. Why are we to anticipate that the nations represented on the Security Council will be more forthcoming than the nations represented on the League of Nations? I fear very much that what he said on that point is all too true and that when it comes to a question of nations producing their forces and giving sanction to their employment we shall find all the shuffling and shilly-shallying which led to so much trouble in the past. Again I would like to express my thanks, in his absence, to the noble Leader of the House, and I beg to withdraw my Motion.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.