HL Deb 23 August 1945 vol 137 cc157-86

2.17 p.m.

Debate resumed (according to Order) on the Motion moved by the Lord Chancellor yesterday—namely, to resolve, That this House approves the Charter of the United Nations Signed at San Francisco on June 26, 1945.


My Lords, as the first speaker in this important debate from these Benches, I hope I may be allowed to add my compliments to those already paid to my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack for his very successful maiden speech yesterday. It was a massive and lucid speech. We on these Benches realize what an asset to us his coming to this House has meant, and I hope your Lordships will agree also that it is an asset to the Upper House of Parliament. I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition cannot be here this afternoon, because I had intended to compliment him on his part, especially in the later stages, in the San Francisco Conference. He and Lord Halifax were, if I may be allowed to drop into the vulgar tongue, left "holding the baby." That baby is still alive. It is being examined by your Lordships this afternoon, so far with approbation, and I shall certainly not depart from that rule.

The debate was ended yesterday by a speech by the noble Earl, Lord Darnley. I am sorry the noble Earl is also prevented from being here to-day. He gave his good wishes to the new Government, and, in thanking him, I was going to say to him that I hoped he would pray for the new Government as well, because we shall need his prayers, believe me, During the war the noble Earl has pursued a consistent pacifist line in this House with courage and moderation. His horn is now exalted. The awful things we have heard described about the atomic bomb are, of course, a great justification for the pacifist case. At the same time, as one who had a small part in the decisions of the Labour Party in the autumn of 1939, I must say that none of us regret the stand we then took that we must intervene at once in the German-Polish war. Indeed, we feel confident that history will justify the policy which the Labour Party pursued before, during and, I hope, after the war.

The great document we are now examining is of course open to criticism. It is nevertheless a remarkable document considering that it was signed by the plenipotentiaries of fifty nations, and we believe that it is a foundation on which even greater things can be built. I wonder what sort of a document it would have been if the high contracting parties representing the fifty nations had been aware then of what we know now—namely, the successful experiment for the utilization of atomic energy for war-like purposes. I venture to suggest that the document would have been vastly different. But that is not a criticism, because only one or two of them knew anything about it, and the first successful experiment in New Mexico was undertaken after the document had been signed. At the same time, it would be—and I am sure your Lordships all agree; indeed we had this said by the Lord Chancellor here and by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place—dangerous to delude ourselves about the immense political and economic implications of this new discovery.

Armies and Navies as we know them, I suggest, are not obsolete but they cannot be used in future for the purpose for which they were organized. The functions of Armies and Navies, as we know them, will be in the future, I suggest, police functions, and there will be unfortunately plenty of police work for them to do for some time to come. The Leader of the Liberal Party, the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, suggested that the War Office should have its name changed to the Army Office. I interrupted him—I am sure he did not mind; he is always very courteous on these occasions—and suggested that it should be called the Office of Army Police, to which he made the appropriate and ready reply. The Air Force will, for a time, have an enhanced importance. I am careful to guard my flank because I understand the noble and gallant Air-Marshal opposite will intervene in this debate; therefore I say that for a few years it will have an added importance. But I suggest to your Lordships that it will also alter in its form and organization, and I can see the day when my noble friend Lord Stansgate will no longer be known as the Secretary of State for Air but as Minister for Aerial Police. In either position I am certain we can rely on his great efficiency and devotion.

The brutal truth, which we may as well face—I do not think it was put quite so bluntly in the debate yesterday in your Lordships' House, but in another place it was echoed in the discussion again and again—is that war as an instrument of national policy, with one country inflicting its will on another by force of arms, which all nations agreed to outlaw under the Briand-Kellogg Pact, can now only be waged by one nation, the United States of America. This is so, not because it has the monopoly of knowledge—and the noble and learned Viscount added the weight of his authority to the statements made by eminent scientists that it will be impossible to keep the secret of the release of atomic energy—but only because the United States for the time being, and only for the time being, has the vast plant needed to make the explosive product. Therefore, for just a few years, the United States will be the only great nation able to wage war as an instrument of national policy. Fortunately, the American people accepted as whole-heartedly as we did the full implication of the Briand-Kellogg Pact and they are pacifist in the best sense of the word. We should be very grateful and humbly thankful, I am sure, that that is the case and that it is the United States which, for a few years, has this monopoly.

As has been very vividly put in your Lordships' House, in those few years mankind has to make this fateful choice: the choice is between a still more terrible and indeed fatal war—the third and last world war, and it will be the last if it comes, and it will end many other things too—waged with atomic explosives and the alternative, which is a world authority controlling this new form of armaments which will make all the older forms of arms obsolete.

I was trying on Monday to find a form of words to describe the situation with regard to the World Charter we are now discussing, together with a foreign diplomat, one of the principal delegates at San Francisco, and we eventually agreed on this form of words. It is as if men had built a small cob or vessel for crossing the English Channel, suitable for that purpose, and then had found they needed a much larger ship or vessel capable of making the passage round Cape Horn. With the best will in the world, the representatives of fifty nations drew up this World Charter, but it will have to be replaced presently by something more powerful, more robust and more—if I may use the term—rogue-proof. I presume His Majesty's Government will presently, when they have time—and they have had a very heavy and sudden burden put upon them—address themselves to the preparations which will have to be made, I submit, for a new San Francisco Conference or a new conference of the fifty nations at some other suitable meeting place.

Furthermore, we have another choice which has not been referred to at any length during the very interesting debate we had yesterday. There seems to be agreement amongst the informed scientists that atomic energy has great potentialities for good, for adding to the wealth of the world as a cheap form of heat and therefore of energy. This can come into use chaotically, attempts can be made to cartelize it by great commercial corporations, and it can inflict immense economic dislocation. After all, the steam engine and electricity, which have brought about industrial revolutions, came into use gradually. This new form of power for construction purposes may come quite suddenly in five, ten or fifteen years, and I submit to your Lordships that very careful study—and I know His Majesty's Government have this in mind—will be required, and it must be international study and examination to see that when it is possible to use atomic energy for increasing the wealth of the whole of humanity it shall be brought about in an orderly, prepared and planned manner. That is one alternative. The other is a great deal of undeserved suffering and what, in the United States, they call technological unemployment.

Therefore the case I hope I have managed to make to your Lordships and on which I hope I carry your agreement, is that everything points, as a result of this extraordinary discovery, to the need of a world authority going far beyond that arranged in the present Charter and far beyond that arranged in the Covenant of the League of Nations—a world authority not only to prevent wars, and above all the third and last great war, but to make the great economic readjustments which will presently be needed. I only pray, and I know many other people echo the prayer—perhaps it accounts for the unmerited gloom with which this news was received—that there will be enough men in the leading nations with the mental calibre and the moral stature to handle this entirely new situation.

If I might descend to a lower level, so to speak, I ventured to warn my noble friend Lord Stansgate that I would invite him, if it was perfectly convenient, to give your Lordships some information on our domestic organization for the study of this new and vital situation. I am sure we all admire Sir John Anderson's public spirit in agreeing to continue the work—it is really only a continuation—which as Lord President of the Council and afterwards as Chancellor of the Exchequer he did as the head of a mixed expert Committee. That of course is a very valuable accession of strength to the Government on the technical side. But who is the Cabinet Minister who is to be responsible? Obviously it requires one. Normally this would be the Lord President of the Council, who in the past has been responsible for the working and support of the Committee of Industrial and Scientific Research. But these studies are going to be far more important and intricate than anything we have had to deal with in the past. It is not a normal situation. I do not ask for an answer to-day; I only throw out the thought. But I would ask my noble friend whether the Scientific Advisory Committee of the War Cabinet is to continue in being. It is not a natural answer to say the answer is in the affirmative, because the eminent scientists who, we know, were prepared to give everything, to risk their lives and work themselves to the utmost during the world war, now have other responsibilities. They want, for example, to continue with their own researches. Will it be possible to continue to enlist the services of the very eminent men who have performed such prodigies of research to the advantage of our nation during the war?

Another domestic matter I might venture to suggest is this. Who is to take the place and do the very valuable work of Lord Cherwell? I understand he was the liaison between the Prime Minister and the scientific world. At least I have always understood so, and it has been publicly stated that these were the valuable services that he performed. I am not myself perfectly satisfied on this matter but I have no doubt my noble friend, if he feels inclined to do so, can give me comfort and say that the existing organizations for scientific research and for liaison between the Government and the world of science and research are at present adequate and will later on be strengthened. In the last Parliament I and other Peers, including the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Liberal Party, who did so with great force and lucidity, put forward the proposal that there should be something in the nature of a Scientific General Staff always at work, always in session, and always at the disposal of the Government. I suggest that the need for it is now paramount.

Again, on a lower level, if I may again use that expression, may I ask my noble friend—I took it upon myself to give him warning of this question—what are we proposing with regard to the economic salvage of Europe and now of Asia? And—this is a question of machinery—is it proposed to suggest to out Allies that something in the nature of the Supreme Economic Council which attempted to do this work after the last war should be reconstituted? I do not want to go into this in any detail because I see from the Order Paper that the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, has a Motion on this particular subject with no day named. I would only hope that time will be found for it when we reassemble in the autumn because it seems to me to be extraordinarily urgent.

As we are discussing the whole question of the peace of the world and the future of mankind, may I ask my noble friend Lord Stansgate, who I understand is to wind up the debate in your Lordships' House, whether he can give some words of hope for the Jewish survivors of Nazi persecution who are now in great distress in various European countries? I am not of course raising the larger question of the future of Palestine. With regard to the policy there I have complete confidence in the wisdom, good sense and honour of the Cabinet; but this is a very urgent question. I am sorry to say that there are thousands of homeless fugitives who have nowhere to go and whose only hope of asylum and a welcome and an opportunity to earn their own living lies in Palestine. I hope, therefore, we shall have some words of comfort for them. I understand from the authorities of the Jewish Agency that the quota of immigration certificates is now exhausted and, with the best will in the world, they can send neither adults nor children among the Jewish refugees to Palestine. I hope my noble friend will give them some words of comfort. After all, two Jewish scientists who escaped from Hitler's clutches did, I understand, contribute very substantially to the solution of the problem of splitting the atom. They did therefore help in shortening the Japanese war and preventing great destruction of life and property.

As I have mentioned Japan, perhaps your Lordships will permit me in my concluding sentences to say that there is rather too much gloom and apprehension about the future settlement in Japan. Some very cogent remarks were made on that subject by my noble friend Lord Latham in his speech in moving the humble Address last week. I used to know Japan rather well and I am going to suggest to your Lordships something that is likely to happen in Japan and which I have not seen referred to any where else, either in debates in Parliament or in the Press. There is in Japan, though it is underground, a proletarian movement. I think it would be wrong to describe it simply as Communist. It is a revolt of the educated, intelligent working class against the appalling conditions of servitude in which they have lived for a generation or more. It has been savagely suppressed, but I have reason to believe from information which reaches me that it still exists. Some of its leaders have managed to escape abroad. This movement may become an important factor in Japan, and may solve some of the difficult problems of the future of the Japanese Dynasty and other matters into which I do not wish to enter in detail now. If it is a fact that this proletarian movement in Japan, which will probably be republican in form—at any rate it is a revolt against the feudalism and militarism which have been Japan's ruin—is what I have been led to believe, I do hope that the Allied Armies of Occupation and their leaders will be well informed in advance as to what to expect. A mere blind persecution of Japanese who are described as Socialists and therefore outside the pale would possibly end this hopeful movement.

It would, after all, be better for the Japanese to get rid themselves of this quaint survival of medievalism that their Government presents rather than for there to be any idea of this being forced upon them by the victorious Allies. These last remarks of mine have, I suggest, a very distinct bearing on the discussion on which we are now engaged, and I wish to add my voice to the general welcome given to the Charter.

2.41 p.m.


My Lords, on this, the first occasion when I have had the temerity to ask if I may be allowed to address your Lordships, I would crave the indulgence which is, I understand, always granted in full and liberal measure to those who have to face the ordeal that I face this afternoon. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, in his speech yesterday said that the main purpose of this Organization is the provision of peace; and here it seems to me that the United Nations Organization starts off with two advantages and one disadvantage as compared with the start which the League of Nations had after the last war. The first advantage, which was developed in the debate yesterday, is that all the nations who fought as Allies in this conflict are now willing actively to participate in the Organization, which was not the case after the last war. The second advantage is that all citizens of all the civilized countries of the world, irrespective of creed and of Party, have seen now the horrors of modern mechanical warfare; and indeed many of them have suffered from the horrors of modern mechanical warfare, and they are determined to insist that their respective Governments shall give continued support and help to this United Nations Organization in order to prevent another war, which would make the conflict which has just ended look like a preliminary skirmish.

There is, however, one great disadvantage which now casts a burden of additional responsibility on those who are directing international affairs. It lies in the very urgent need of coping with far wider and more complex and technical problems (a need which allows for no loss of time in dealing with them), than were dreamed of in 1939, as regards development of the manufacture of weapons of war. It is on that point that I venture address a few remarks to your Lordships. It is as if hitherto we had been fighting with primitive blunt instruments and now, with the development of pilotless aircraft, of locket projectiles and of the atomic explosive, we were starting for the first time to have sharp instruments in our hands. We have one new development overshadowing this question of world security, a development to which the Security Council will have to devote themselves unceasingly; for, while the Armed Forces, on land and sea and in the air, of the different nations will no doubt continue, it is no good thinking that there is any antidote to the bomber carrying the atomic bomb.

This weapon is different from every other weapon which has been developed. Hitherto in war, as the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who was a colleague of mine at the Air Ministry over which he now presides, knows full well; every technical development which we have had has had its antidote, varying in degree of success. Your Lordships will remember the magnetic mine, which took a great toll of our shipping. The antidote was the degaussing of ships. We had the day raider, and we had radiolocation. We had the night bomber, and for that we had what was known as AI. In each case the antidote was only a partial one; as Lord Baldwin said many years ago, and with treat truth, "the bomber will always get through." The antidote will take its toll, but some weapons always get through and inflict their damage, and that fact has had to be accepted by the community, both civil and military. The pilotless or piloted aircraft carrying the atomic bomb is in a different position. The antidote will do its best, but if one weapon gets through the result for which the enemy wishes is achieved. Thus for the atomic bomb there is no antidote which is 100 per cent. effective.

A second somewhat depressing thought is that the scientists inform us that we are still only on the fringe of atomic energy exploration. One can say that the G.H.Q. of modern war is not any more at the headquarters of the Supreme Commander but is in the laboratory of the scientists. One can say that the final issue in modern war is not in the hands of the far-sighted commander so much as in those of the short-sighted physicist, probing the inner mysteries of the structure of the universe, and that the final issue of one more war with the use of these weapons will be the inevitable destruction of humanity.

I have been in discussion with physicists on this matter, and I should like, without quoting the authoritative source, which is one which has been concerned with this problem, to tell you in a few words what this man said. He said: "If you can split the uranium atom, there is no logical reason why developments in the future should not make it possible for other atoms to be split. If you split the carbon atom or if you split the iron atom—and it must be remembered that we have very large natural deposits of both those materials—and if it releases anything like the energy of uranium, which is quite certain to be the case, you could tear a fissure in the earth's crust which would break it like an eggshell and pour out its molten contents into space. To carry the argument of atom-splitting to its final destructive conclusion, if you split the silicon atom—and your Lordships will know that silicon is a basic material which exists in granite, in rock and in nearly all substances—a great proportion of the whole world would become an explosive substance, and it might be accidentally or purposely touched off like one giant bomb. It has been calculated that if such an explosion were started in Piccadilly Circus, where silicon does exist in matter, it would in one-tenth of a second—at the rate of approximately 188,000 miles a second—vaporize Australia.

Those are terrifying thoughts, but it is only right that when we are facing this problem we should face the fact that these dangers exist. They are not Jules Verne impossibilities—and your Lordships will remember how many Jules Verne impossibilities have become, in our lifetime, out-of-date realities. How can we guard against this possibility? That is one problem which your Lordships have been debating, and which has been debated in another place. The Government have set up a Committee to probe into this question, but I believe it is right that we should here and in another place ventilate the problem. I believe disarmament and international supervision of arms manufacture are not enough; I believe that in respect of suspect countries, ex-enemy countries, we must impose a control of scientific development into atomic energy so that its progress is known to nations of good will. I believe that in respect to nations of good will we should agree voluntarily that all atomic research should be pooled, so that civilization can be sure that the statesmen at all times know by whom atomic research work is being carried out. I do not think that that is an impossible proposition.

I do not wish to enter into technicalities, but I would explain that to carry out atomic experiments great electrical power all concentrated at one moment is required, such great force of electrical power as must draw the attention of all the electric power producers in the world to such a sudden and quick demand. Supposing it were agreed that anyone who wished to call upon electric power in excess of say 500 killowatts should require a licence for such call. Then indeed you would be able to ascertain for what purpose it was required. But I suggest that there is one further method which should be explored and that lies in the control of certain materials. Making war by modern methods, it is some compensation for us to know, cannot be conducted without certain vital materials for incorporation in arms and their manufacturer's processes. If you could control this limited number of raw materials you could control the ability of any country to make war. If you knew whether they were being used legitimately for commercial and peaceful purposes, or surreptitiously for secret purposes, you would know whether any secret armament was going on in any country. Such materials are uranium, barium and industrial diamonds, for no nation to-day can carry on any form of mechanical war without industrial diamonds for use in its engineering processes.

Let such materials as these be used by the suspect or ex-enemy countries to the extent that is necessary for their industrial economy as may be determined and allowed at any time by the statesmen of the United Nations. But let there be a check on the import into these suspect countries of such particular vital materials. Then each year, or each period of a year, you could take check of imports of the materials and take stock of the industrial output of that country. There could then be calculated without great difficulty the amount of these vital materials required for absorption into the finished articles or for use in the processes of manufacture. We have learnt a great deal in this war about checking the use of materials, and I do not believe that it is impossible to do something like this. If you know the amount of the materials that is imported into a country and if you also keep a check on the amount of goods produced, using these materials plus the amount used in the making, and the figures broadly tally, you know there is no great secret rearmament going on. If, however, the figures do not tally there will be a case for a closer and further investigation.

I have ventured, my Lords, to put these few remarks before you as to the terrible dangers which do face us, but at the same time I believe that a tremendous opportunity also lies before mankind. If we accept the realities of the situation and are determined that nothing less than insurance against the extinction of humanity by any and every international means is what we will go out for, then we shall be making a great step forward towards ensuring enduring peace in the world. What is more we must realize that we shall be insuring not against warfare merely but against total extinction of mankind.

2.54 p.m.


My Lords, your Lordships will have listened with very great pleasure to the first speech of Lord Balfour of Inchrye in this House, and it is singularly appropriate that he should have chosen the particular aspect of the subject which he has chosen as it is one with which, in view of his experience in the world of aviation, he is particularly fitted to deal. He has had a world-wide view from the air and is therefore well fitted to speak from that point of view in support of this Motion. I speak with a good deal of diffidence myself on this subject in view of the expert and experienced opinions which were expressed in the course of yesterday's debate. Nor do I feel that I can contribute very much except, possibly, on one point which, to my surprise and regret, has not hitherto been raised in the course of the debate by speakers who have preceded me.

The Motion before your Lordships House is: That this House approves the Charter of the United Nations signed at San Francisco on June 26, 1945. The House approves the Charter as a whole, and other speakers have rightly pointed out that suggestions for the amendment of that Charter, in view of the signatures already obtained and the ratifications given, would be inappropriate, but rather that we should concentrate on seeking amendments hereafter and on clarifying certain points. But throughout the debate, not only on this occasion but on the last when the so-called Dumbarton Oaks proposals were under consideration, the whole of the argument and criticism, in so far as there was criticism, were directed to one only of the subjects which the Charter of this association of the United Nations really raises. That was the method of preventing war. And out of that argument have come some comments and criticisms relating to the right of the Great Powers with regard to votes and vetoes, and all those things which some of us might like to have seen stated differently.

But that is not the whole subject. The Security Council is but one part of the machinery. As the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, pointed out yesterday, the machine still requires to be clothed and clothed by the intentions and actions of the Powers who become Members of the association. There is another part and, I venture to suggest to your Lordships, a positive part as against what might be termed the negative part. In the associations of human beings it is easy to find two sorts. Broadly speaking, this Charter is designed either to protect the Members or to prevent other people doing something which the Members do not want them to do. There is, however, another sort of association, a positive association which seeks to advance something, and which is quite irrespective of the membership of the association. It is out of that sort of association that all the great movements which have advanced humanity in this world have come. It is out of that sort of movement, and I submit only out of that sort of movement, that that emotional support to which the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, referred yesterday will come. Emotional support, if it comes, does not arise from associations which, to put them on their lowest basis, may be described as associations made out of the tics of common funk. We are very near the dangerous point where, if another war should break out, humanity may come to an end, and it is right and reasonable that people should be afraid of that. But out of fear does not come progress. Progress comes out of a positive desire to create something new.

There is a point which is provided for in the Charter—it is a point to which no speaker has referred in this House to-day—and to which I wish to refer. Provision is made in the Charter for the Economic and Social Council. Perhaps the most valuable effort of the League of Nations was what they attempted to do almost as it were as a secondary; issue to their original Covenant—the social and economic measures which have lasted and outlasted the League of Nations. In the San Francisco proposals much greater weight, and quite rightly, is attributed to the Economic and Social Council, but with the exception of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, no member of your Lordships' House has, I think, referred to that Council at all. They have only referred to the security aspect and the whole argument has developed round that. What I should like to suggest is that something should be said by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, on this issue of social and economic progress, and if that is done I, and I think other members of your Lordships' House, will be very grateful. If the nations of the world can be induced to come together, not for the purpose only of preventing war, but for the purpose of advancing mankind as a whole, every person in those nations which compose the Members of the United Nations, will feel that they have something personal to contribute and it is within that personal contribution that you will get, I submit, the emotional support without which there will be no real fire and drive behind this new attempt to bring the nations of the world together.

Moreover, in addition to that, if the smaller nations can be made to feel not only that they have a part in this, but that the great nations who, by reason of their population, power, and wealth, must inevitably play a great and growing part in the conduct of world affairs are associated with them, that this Charter exists for the benefit of all and is not there for the purpose of telling them what they must not do, it will go far to dispel the suspicion which may exist, and to which various speakers have referred, that the Great Powers are seeking to arrogate to themselves a predominant position to the exclusion of others and to the benefit of themselves. In other words, if the emphasis and the programme of this association of nations is a positive one, I think that the difficulties about votes and vetoes will fade somewhat into the background. I do not believe that this is a sloppy, sentimental or Utopian idea. I have lived since earliest childhood in a world of foreign affairs and foreign politics, and I have seen enough of public administration also, to know that if the Legislature in proposing a measure were to spend most of its time wondering whether people would obey the law and seeking methods of making them do so, there would be very much less progressive legislation in the world than there is. Legislation, when good, is accepted and obeyed by people without sanctions.

A programme which deals with the advancement of mankind as a whole for this association of nations of the world should be accepted by those nations also without caring too much about the value of votes and vetoes. I am surprised, and perhaps a little perturbed, that in the preamble to the Charter so much play is made with rights and with sovereignty and that so little allusion has been made to the duties of Members. The right reverend Prelate referred yesterday to these rights, but not even he referred to the duties of Members. There is a tendency throughout the world, not only in this but in all other associations, to forget that there is no right without a duty and that is more true in international affairs than in any other form of human activity. I regret that that has not been included in the preamble to the Charter, but that it is open to every nation separately, singly and individually to state that it realizes its duties and to put that in the forefront of its policy in the opening stages of getting this machine working.

So I come to my conclusion, which is to suggest to the noble Viscount who is to reply that he will consider making some reference to the attitude of His Majesty's Government to this, the other side of the Charter, for the reasons which I have given, and because I believe it will dispel some of the suspicions which have been engendered and some of the coldness to which the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, has referred as being observable in certain quarters. It is possible for His Majesty's Government to adopt a line in this case which is wholly constructive, which requires no amendment but which would give a lead to all the nations, including the great nations on this Economic and Social Council as well on the Council of Security, and that also appears to me to be consistent. If His Majesty's Government will do that—what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said only quite lately in another place, when at the beginning of his speech he spoke of the foreign policy of His Majesty's Government having regard to the economic reconstruction of the world as its primary object —I think it will be of value.

The noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, in the course of his remarks yesterday pointed out that our foreign policy and that of other countries are at this moment inextricably tied up with the future of this association of United Nations, the future of which might be prejudiced by a foreign policy adopted at this moment. Instances were given yesterday of the kind of things which might prejudice the issue. Equally this cause, which is so near to all our hearts and to which this country in the past has directed so much attention, can be materially advanced by the foreign policy which is adopted in this country. It has been, in so far as His Majesty's Government have already announced but I would like to see it emphasized, reiterated and developed in greater detail. It is in this way in particular that I think can be achieved what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said in the closing remarks of that speech to which I have referred. He said: Our own part is one of which we can justly be proud. History may well judge that our place is the proudest place of all.… It can fairly be said that we held the fort and preserved the soul of mankind. Our policy must now be worthy of our people. A positive policy which will contribute to rebuilding the world as a whole is the most powerful support that this country, and therefore His Majesty's Government, can give to this attempt to bring some order into international affairs. It is therefore with full sincerity and feeling that I would like to support this Motion, but I hope that that side to which I have referred will not be forgotten, as it has been up to date, and will be referred to in speeches hereafter.

3.11 p.m.


My Lords, I would like to add my congratulations to those of the noble Lord who has just sat down, on the first speech we have heard from Lord Balfour of Inchrye here. It was a somewhat disturbing speech, but most interesting. I rise also to support the Charter in my own way. I have read it through several times, I have read the Commentary too, and I have listened to and read the speeches which have been made here. It is a great step forward and will receive, I am perfectly certain, all the support this country can give. There are three points, I think, which arise before we pass the Charter this afternoon and to which we would like to hear an answer. I listened yesterday with great interest to Lord Cecil's speech, and I could not but be struck when he said: You must preserve peace; the other provisions would become perfectly valueless if you do not succeed in that main point. These points are referred to in Articles 45, 46 and 47, and yet I cannot find them referred to in the Commentary. They are the vital points. All the ideals will fall to the ground if these points fail, and nothing will be of any use. It would become just as valueless as the Kellogg Pact became.

None of the Services want to see another war. As an old Service man I think I can say that. The first question I would like to ask the noble Lord is: What commitments are undertaken by the British Commonwealth under this Charter in terms of the size or the type of forces? Otherwise, if we do not know that, it is rather like signing a blank cheque, which is seldom cashed except in war at the cost of millions of lives. My second point is that it should be published to the world what these forces are. We had dire experience after the last war with the commitments undertaken by this great Empire to keep the peace. No attempt was made to see that there was an adequate force in practically any nation, not merely ourselves, though I am referring to-day to our nation, which ought to lead in this matter. After the last war we were the worst of all in providing any force to keep the peace. I am glad to see that a Military Staff Committee is set up under Article 47, but I am more anxious about when they will make the plans and the means to implement them. I hope the Great Powers will see that the forces they maintain are sufficient. Are all the plans made by the other nations, small as well as large? And again, cannot the size be published to the world? I noted the statement from the Prime Minister yesterday concerning the keeping of armed forces at the disposal of the Security Council. That is a most welcome statement, and a step forward.

I have not mentioned the atomic bomb. The questions I have raised, and one more which I am going to raise, become still more important having regard to that weapon. The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, has said that the obvious thing is publicity and propaganda. I hope that publicity will be given as early as possible to the size of the forces it is necessary to maintain, so that people will know what it will cost them to ensure peace in the future. We cannot have peace without paying for it. We cannot have ideals without paying for them. If it is not known what the size and cost are going to be, it will be very easy to whittle away those forces when the stress of the economic situation occurs. My final point is: What is meant by the strategic areas which are referred to in Articles 82 and 83? The matter is not very clear, but I think they refer only to mandated territories or territories which have been or may be detached from the enemy States as a result of this second World War.

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I must apologize for being unable to be here for this debate except for the last few minutes, but my absence was unavoidable. With regard to the San Francisco Charter, it seems to me, so far as I have been able to understand, that a great advantage is that the most important component parts of the Organization will be sitting all the time. Troubles in the past have arisen where people were able to avoid attendance. I hope that will be borne in mind in the future, because I am a tremendous believer, like your Lordships, in personal contact all the time.

There is another point I wish to raise. It seems to me it is no use talking about good will and friendliness between nations unless we do everything we possibly can to set an example in our own home. When we look around the world we seem to find an awful lot of hate about. Cannot we here set an example in regard to that matter, because it must be extremely difficult for any Foreign Office to deal with a nation that is split up internally. I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, said just now. He referred, I believe, to what my noble friend Lord Samuel said in regard to economics. I think it is enormously important that we should stress the questions that affect every home and everybody in every country, and I put, almost as priority Number one, the question of the health of the world. That is not as good as it ought to be and we might do something in setting an example in regard to it. Those things which affect the everyday life of the people in most countries are, in my view, the things most likely to influence them in regard to peace.

I notice that in another place there was mention of many different countries in the world, but so far as I know nothing has been said about a country for which I have a great affection, and that is China. I wonder whether your Lordships are really cognizant of the extent of its importance and of what we and every country owe to China. I would like to put this idea before your Lordships. At the time of Pearl Harbour, of Singapore and of Burma, China had been at war for a good many years, because they were the first victims of aggression in the world in 1931, when the Japanese attacked Manchuria. How can we possibly ignore the tremendous effort China has made? I read articles in the Press and by various people saying that the Chinese have not put up a very good fight. I went to China and saw the sort of weapons they had with which to fight a nation equipped with all modern armaments, and it is amazing to me that they were able to stand up to them at all. How important it was for us all that they did so, cut off as they were for many years from the world, except over the Himalayas!

China politically is in a state of difficulty—we all have our political upheavals —and I am going to make a suggestion to the Government. No doubt is in their mind and no doubt it is sure to happen, but I suggest that there is nothing that would help more to solve internal difficulties in China, politically and otherwise, than that very soon there should be a sort of Potsdam Conference in regard to the Far East, and that the United Nations, the Allies, should formulate a Far Eastern policy. I see no reason why that should not happen fairly soon. I believe that if that were done it would do more to help solve some of the political difficulties of China than anything else.

I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that the potentialities of world improvement will be enormously influenced by the raising of the standard of living in China. If you work it out, I suppose the Chinese represent one quarter of the population of the world; there are 500,000,000 of them, as near as makes no matter. Once the standard of living begins to rise in a quarter of the population of the world, it is not a question of dealing in 20,000, 30,000 or 50,000 units of a particular commodity; you translate thousands into millions, and even then you are short of the demand. With the great difficulties in commerce and trade which this war has brought upon us, I think that if we are able to help China to what we consider to be a normal condition of affairs and enable her to raise the standard of life of her people, then we shall have been able to do something which will help more than anything else to reconstruct the future of the world.

3.28 p.m.


My Lords, this seems to have been a debate made up mainly of maiden speeches, and although I cannot claim to be exactly a maiden speaker I would ask for the lull indulgence of the House of which I feel thoroughly in need, because if it is a high honour to stand here it is also a great responsibility. Moreover, I have a certain feeling of unreality because the work in this matter has been largely done by the noble Viscount opposite and the late Government, and I feel like the valet in Les Précieuses masquerading in his master's clothes. But if it is a fact that the work was done by the late Government and the endorsement is proposed by the new Government, is that not a demonstration of the complete unanimity that prevails on this subject?

I would like respectfully to be associated with the thanks which have been generally expressed in this House to the Leader of the Opposition for the part which he played at San Francisco with Lord Halifax. His name is especially associated with the trusteeship system, which itself is instinct with the whole spirit of the Charter. After all, he is following in the footsteps of his distintguished kinsman; and although I cannot hope to emulate the authority or the eloquence of the Lord Chancellor, I would like to be associated, as would many thousands in this country, with the tribute paid yesterday to the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood. I remember how, twenty-five years ago, when I was a comparatively young man though with fourteen years' membership of the House of Commons, I watched with admiration the work of the noble Viscount at the first assembly of the League, which met then in the John Huss Hall at Geneva. It must be, if I may say so with respect, a source of great pride to those two noble Lords to add this glorious page to the annals of their famous House. I listened yesterday with great emotion to the speech which was made by Lord Cecil of Chelwood, a pillar of fire, a sort of Shekinah leading us to the promised land indeed but leading us also into very stony territory. He posed some real corkers, if such an expression is permitted in your Lordships' House, which I will do the best I can in my very humble and inexperienced way to answer.

Of course there is not a complete answer. The Charter does not reach that standard of eternal justice which the noble Viscount puts forward. Of course it does not. To put it in the familiar way he said a policeman cannot be arrested. Equally it is not true to say it was merely a bargain. You could not have got this Charter without this agreement, and in view of that, as the noble Viscount the Leader of the Liberal Party said, the right thing was done. But there is more in it than that. After all, the great nations are the great nations. If you are thinking of the peoples of the world you must think of the numbers of people in the world and the great nations are the most numerous nations. Moreover, they are the most powerful nations. It is right if you want the job done and not merely an ideal picture that you should lay the responsibility where the power lies. That is inevitable.

Another point that the noble Lord raised, which stirred my Cobdenite heart, was: What is essentially a domestic issue? Is it a Tariff? I do not know what the word "essential" means. Adverbs are extremely dangerous parts of speech. But at any rate you have an Economic and Social Council. It will be a powerful body deriving all its strength from the Assembly. It can appoint any Commission it pleases, and the Commissions can recommend conventions and the Assembly can ratify them. It may be that some State will come forward and say "You are touching something which is essentially domestic." I do not know who decides that. I imagine the Organization itself would decide it, and I can hardly imagine that the good of the whole world would not transcend a private interest. That is, I think, as far as I can go and I hope I have not gone too far. But at any rate that may be a consolation to those who are really concerned at what the noble Lord has said.

The speeches to-day have been to me, as a newcomer to this House, extremely interesting. One has realized what a very wide latitude prevails here and how much anyone who has an interesting contribution to make, whether it is what we should call in the House of Commons "in order" or not, is able to put it at the service of your Lordships. The right reverend Prelate the Lord Bishop of Chichester yesterday, for instance, spoke about the deportation of Germans. Obviously, that is not a matter which falls within the ambit of this debate, but I would draw his attention to the fact that, in the memorandum issued at the Potsdam Conference, there was a consciousness shown of the possible hardships of this transfer and that the Allied Military Commission was enjoined to see that the transfers were made without undue hardship. That is not everything, but at any rate it shows a realization of the difficulties.

My noble friend Lord Strabolgi raised a number of interesting points which I was very grateful to think did not call for a reply from me at this moment. He referred to the question of displaced persons, the question of Jews, the question of Palestine and the immigration to Palestine. I should think that even in this House that might be slightly on the fringe of order! However, he is not here present and therefore he will acquit me of discourtesy if I do not deal very fully with all those questions.

The matter of the atomic bomb was inevitably raised because it is the most important thing that has happened for I do not know how long. I cannot answer the questions that Lord Strabolgi asked in this connexion. I can only tell him that the Committee under Sir John Anderson who, with the great public spirit one would expect, came forward to continue his work, will go on and he will preside over the Committee. No doubt in due course the personnel of these organizations will he made known. Beyond that I cannot go. The noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, with great technical knowledge, and with a terrifying wealth of detail, dealt with the same point. He made one suggestion with which I personally cannot agree. I do not believe you are going to get what you want by controlling the raw materials. If the noble Lord had lived in the Elizabethan period, as his character and exploits might well have qualified him to do, we should have had to-day precautions against the Spanish menace and safeguards against the domination of the world by General Franco.

Lord Rennell, in his interesting speech, spoke about the need for a positive policy. The noble Lord, Lord Teviot, said the same thing and added that it is by our own behaviour that we shall be judged. I think that is absolutely true. I would remind Lord Rennell that the Lord Chancellor dealt specifically and eloquently with the point that he raised. He said: I hardly think that sufficient recognition has been given to this important aspect of the United Nations Charter, for, if peace is to be maintained, it is this constructive side of the Charter which will become the most important. Lord Rennell therefore can rest assured that the matter he raised is very fully realized by members of the Government. Lord Teviot's speech was extremely interesting, but I do not think I can add anything to the information which he put at the service of the House.

I pass on then to the practical speech of my old chief, Lord Trenchard, who asked: "What forces are you putting at the service of this international Organization, because on that and on the willingness of the public to bear that burden the whole thing depends?" That I understand to be his point, and on that he is right. Then he went on to ask, "What is a strategic area?" That is one of those conundrums to which I think I can give some sort of an answer. If your Lordships will not think it too tedious, I would explain, being the only Service Minister on this Bench, in some detail exactly the working of the Charter, partly in reply to the noble Marshal of the Royal Air Force. Articles 39 and 42 of the Charter set out in the form of a chain of events what is known as the enforcement action which can be taken by the Security Council. We must assume that a dispute has developed, that the Security Council has investigated it and has tried to bring about a peaceful settlement. Let us also assume that the various methods for dissolving disputes which are set out in Chapter VI have failed and that the Security Council is considering whether more drastic steps should be taken.

What must be done at that point is to establish the fact that a threat to peace does in fact exist, or that a breach of the peace or an act of aggression has taken place. One can imagine one of the parties to the dispute arguing that if the other party is reasonable no threat to the peace exists—that was Hitler's method—or both parties might suggest that the problem which has been brought to the notice of the Security Council is one affecting those two States alone, and does not constitute a danger to international peace or security. The Security Council has formally to pronounce on the matter as laid down in Article 39, and then to consider what enforcement action to take to bring the party or parties to book.

The first thing that the Security Council may do is to order compliance with certain provisional measures. For example, if the problem before the Council has arisen through the presentation to a Member State by another of certain demands backed up by the massing of forces on the common frontier, or the occupation by force of disputed territory, the Security Council could order a stand-still or a withdrawal of forces or a cancellation of the mobilization, or the establishment of a neutral zone. These orders would be issued without prejudice to the final settlement of the matters in dispute, and would be designed to prevent an aggravation of the situation during investigation or during consideration of further measures. If the orders of the Security Council are obeyed, it might not be necessary to proceed with more forceful measures, but time would have been gained for a parley and a peaceful settlement might still be achieved. If we next assume that the dispute continues, the Security Council might then order the application of what are called economic sanctions. I pass by the details of that procedure. Finally, under Article 42 the Security Council can order the use of force to restrain the aggressor. This is the nearest that I can get to an answer to the noble Viscount.

How does the Security Council become armed with the forces to make its decisions effective? That is explained in Articles 43 to 48. The proposals are based on our experience in the late war, where a number of Allies have been fighting together for several years against a common enemy. What they have done is to provide their national contingents and to integrate the direction of these by close co-operation in the Higher Command. Allied Supreme Commanders have been appointed, and Staffs have been to a large extent integrated or combined. Many Allied contingents have operated together with great efficiency. That is the experience of the recent war.

Article 43 enjoins all Members of the United Nations to make available to the Security Council on its call—and this is the point, I think, which the noble Viscount was raising—and in accordance with special agreements, "Armed Forces, assistance and facilities." The words "assistance and facilities" cover a wide range, and include such things as bases, munitions, airfields, ports and so on. Your Lordships will observe that the numbers and types of forces, their degree of readiness and their general location are all to be laid down in these agreements. The Security Council has been given the power as a legal entity to make them. The full answer to the noble Viscount, therefore, is that he must wait until these agreements are negotiated and published; and they cannot, of course, be negotiated until the Security Council is in being.

Let us now turn to Article 44. The House will understand that it is asking a good deal of a State which is not represented on the Security Council to ask it to turn out its contingent through a decision of the Council in which that State has had no part. In order to ease that difficulty, it has been agreed in Article 44 that when a decision has been taken to call on the forces of a State to act, that State may send a representative to the Security Council to participate in further decisions of the Council concerning the employment of the forces of that State. That is reasonable, and I think it was proposed by Canada.


Is it decision or discussion?


What exactly "to participate in the decisions" means I do not know. I do not know whether it means debate or not.


I think it is only the discussion that is intended, but I may be wrong.


I think the point is that the country in question is allowed to ask to be heard in the Council and to sit on the Council and put its case. If it convinces the Council, then no doubt the plan which has been previously adopted will be modified to that extent. If it does not convince the Council, then it is obliged to accept the original decision of the Council.


I am deeply grateful, as I am sure the whole House is, to the noble Viscount. It only shows what a pretence it is that I should be presenting the Government's case, when the whole achievement belongs to the noble Viscount opposite. That I cannot prevent. It arose from circumstance beyond our control. I notice by the way that South Dorset remains a sort of Ararat! Article 45 in reality adds nothing to the power already possessed by the Security Council under Article 43. Article 45 in its present form was left in the Charter so as to lay special emphasis upon the air factor. It is clear that in most parts of the world the type of force which can most readily and most effectively be called into play is an Air Force. Provided there is an adequate system of bases available for the use of forces acting under the authority of the Council, national Air Force contingents could very rapidly be concentrated and would thus be extremely useful as deterrents to aggression or as a method of quick and heavy punishment of the aggressor. The invention of the atomic bomb is merely a terrifying magnification of this fact.

We now come to that part of the Charter which deals with the Military Staff Committee. It is evident that the Security Council, which is a body of political representatives, will require a military instrument to advise it and to act for it in the control of the forces placed at its disposal. The experience of the present war was drawn upon in devising this instrument—namely, the Military Staff Committee—which will have a constitution analagous to that of the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee at Washington. The difference, however, is that whereas the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee consisted of the military representatives of two Powers, the Military Staff Committee here is to be composed of the military representatives of the five Powers who have permanent seats on the Security Council. In the war which has just ended the smaller nations have willingly placed their contingents at the disposal of the Allies without demanding representation on the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee. They entrusted the Combined Chiefs of Staff Committee with the task of looking after their interests and conducting the war to the advantage of all concerned, and they have not found that their trust has been abused.

In further answer to the noble and gallant Viscount, I should like to refer to the tasks of the Military Staff Committee, because I think that that touches on his second point, so, far as I can give any answer to it. The tasks of the Military Staff Committee might be sketched out —this is only a sketch—as follows: First, to advise the Security Council on the military requirements for the maintenance of international peace and security. Secondly, to assist in negotiating the special agreements with Member States. It will be remembered that the Chiefs of Staff will serve on this Committee. Thirdly, to advise on the strength, degree of readiness and general location of the air contingents and other quotas of Armed Forces which Member States are to provide on call. Fourthly, to make plans for the employment of the forces placed at the disposal of the Security Council. They will also have to establish Regional Sub-Committees and in due course to consider the regulation of armaments.

Your Lordships will notice that the Military Staff Committee is to consist of the Chiefs of Staff, as I have already mentioned, or their representatives. This is essential. The advice which the Military Staff Committee gives to the Security Council must be authoritative and carry full weight. Gradually the Military Staff Committee will be able to build up a system of security round the world which can be embodied in agreements between the Security Council and the States concerned. The task will not be easy, and much will depend on the willingness of individual States to give effect to the promises which they have made in the Charter. I do not know whether the noble Viscount would wish me to go further than that; I think perhaps I have gone as far as I can wisely go at the present moment.

So much for workmanlike machinery, the existence of which in itself is an evidence of the good faith of the framers of the Charter. It is often said that differences of language, of methods, of character and of loyalties must for ever hamper the integration of the world. On this, if I may, I should like to add a word from my own recent happy experience of five years in the Royal Air Force. No Service requires closer or more exact personal co-operation, more rigid discipline, a greater measure of understanding, or a nobler spirit of sacrifice. It would appear to be the worst field in the world for a mixture of races. Yet in the Royal Air Force officers and other ranks, British, Dominion, American, French, Belgian, Czech, Greek, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish and at times Russian, have lived and worked together as a band of brothers. A Norwegian pilot has led a British squadron of Mustangs to Berlin. French- men have commanded New Zealanders. Czechs, in the glorious Air-Sea Rescue Service, have picked up our pilots under the German guns on the enemy coast. In one mess I have sat down with an Australian, a Pole, a Canadian, a New Zealander and a West Indian. They were all members of the same squadron. There was that very gallant Frenchman, M. Livry, well on in years, whom the youthful pilots of a Mosquito squadron sought as their navigator. It was not only because of his skill that they did so, far from his experience, his high spirit and his heroism they gained inspiration. It has often happened that in one bomber aircraft several nations have been represented. They were knit together. Your Lordships will remember Group Captain Pickard—F for Freddy. He commanded Czechs, and when told that the Czech badge increased the danger to prisoners he promptly donned that foreign emblem himself, and led his squadron. He has gone now.

All this air organization was not an experiment in political idealism: it was a supreme effort in air warfare. And it worked. It was a fighting League of Nations. These boys were deeply patriotic. They wore with pride the national flash on their shoulder, they painted their national emblem on British aircraft. But they realized that patriotism was riot enough, that the fight for liberty was the highest expression of their love of country.

This document, my Lords, is important. It was accepted by fifty States at San Francisco. It has been ratified now by America, by Russia, by ourselves, by France and by New Zealand. But, after all, it is only a document. If the hopes of the world are to be fulfilled, the spirit of this Charter must imbue every aspect of our national policy, military, political, social and commercial. To attempt that will not always be popular. We shall encounter private interests, prejudices and partial affections, but, if the glorious spirit of the League of Nations for war can prevail in the League of Nations for peace, then there is hope for the world.

On Question, Motion agreed to nemine dissentiente.

House adjourned at five minutes before four o'clock.