HL Deb 16 April 1946 vol 140 cc790-822

2.46 p.m.

LORD VANSITTART had given Notice that he would move to resolve, That the re-establishment of an over-centralized Germany is incompatible with European security. The noble Lord said: My Lords, on several occasions during the course of the war I urged that the Central Commissions of Control should not be set up in Berlin because I thought that might prove the thin end of the wedge and gradually conduce to the reestablishment of another over-Berlinized and over-centralized German Reich. I pointed out that decentralization is just as important as the destruction of war potential, because it was on over-centralization that the Germans fought this last war. I raised the matter in this House and I was assured that my apprehensions were unfounded. And so what I thought was an error was committed, and it was aggravated by another, which is the error of zoning Over the week-end I was going through some old notes of mine, and I came across the following, written in 1944: Over-zoning would lead first to the wrong kind of decentralization, that is, by artificial partition, and so back again to the wrong kind of centralism. I submit to the House that that roughly is what is happening to-day.

Anyhow, the Commissions started off in the evil old capital and in a disproportionately great Russian zone. I think the disproportion was another mistake. After that events took their inevitable course. What that course is began to be apparent at the beginning of this year and still more so in the course of the last month. Thus, in mid-March, Franz Dahlem, the German Communist leader, wrote the following: At the root of this struggle"— that is the struggle to force a fusion with the Communists upon the German Social Democrat Party— lies the question whether Berlin shall again hold the leading political position in the new Reich. His colleague, Ulbricht, said exactly the same thing in almost exactly the same words. Simultaneously a Communist committee in the Russian zone put forth a declaration, saying: Berlin and no other city must be the capital of the new Reich. Those are all manifestations in the course of the last month, and in the course of this month they have inclined to multiply. I will quote only one from a German paper, which runs: Youth of Germany! Lift up your heads as if nothing had happened and create your new Reich.

"As if nothing had happened!" "Create your new Reich!" I hope that no one to-day will tell me that my apprehensions were unfounded.

Throughout the course of the Second World War I have always maintained that from the European point of view the only safe solution was the federal one. I say that again to-day. But I would add that it is not only in the interests of Europe, but in the interests of the German people themselves. Surely the one thing that we are all interested in is seeing that the head of some future central German Government does not become another Führer, whether imperially or democratically disguised. The simple way of preventing that is to prevent a central German Government from ever being considerable enough to give him the opportunity. In my writings I have gone into some detail as to how this federalism might work and should work. I do not propose to take your Lordships over all that detailed ground again to-day. Suffice it to say that I anticipated by a year or so the conclusions of Potsdam by recognizing that among the future departments left to the central Government should be those of Customs and Communications, thereby providing for the economic unity of Germany. Nearly all the other departments, I have pointed out, must fall to the province of the autonomous States, just in fact as they used to do. I am alluding to such important matters as education, police, social welfare and health. I would remind your Lordships that it was only in Hitler's time that the control of education was seized by Berlin, and surely we should not be contemplating any new world based upon anything that was done in Hitler's time. Similarly with regard to the police; we should have learnt our bitter inter-war-period lesson, for during that period a centralized German police became an over-armed camouflaged branch of an illegal army. There again we must learn something from the past.

Briefly, the argument may be resumed thus: If the Germans are to learn to govern themselves properly and decently, they must no longer be bossed by Berlin, as has been the case in the past, and as too many of them wish to be the case in the future. While, therefore, I have always recognized the eventual, although not the premature, necessity of a central German Government, I have always held it to be essential that its functions should be strictly limited and never exceeded. I would add, of course, that it would be preferable if the autonomous States could be firmly grounded before a central Government was erected; otherwise there is the danger that the former may be overrun by the latter, just as happened in the past. Now the drift of affairs is in the wrong direction and there is a danger that all the experience of the past may go by the board, and that we may again find ourselves drifting towards an all-pervading German Reich. Yet, at the end of the last war, those who know their business—and they were headed by Marshal Foch—pointed out that if all we did was to substitute an over-centralized German Republic for an over-centralized Kaiser Reich we might very possibly get the same result. Well, they were right. It cannot be too often impressed upon Parliament, public and Press, that in Germany centralism and nationalism go hand in hand.

Now at the present moment Germany is full of ominous features. The danger is that they may be overlooked because of their very multiplicity in the same way as the features of a crowd may be blurred. But if there is one outstanding feature which has run throughout the German continuity, it is the cult of strength, which has always been the hyphen between the Right and the Left. At the present moment it happens that the most vocal exponents of this cult are the extreme Left, the Communists. Of course, they are not alone in that; all the other old nationalist tendencies are there also. Since that is the case, it behoves us to cast a brief glance on their inter-war record. From our point of view it was a rather lamentable one. They were exceedingly hostile to Western democracy. I do not wish to dwell upon that to-day. The point that interests us all is that they found it necessary to compete in nationalism with the Nazis.

There has not been much change in Germany in this respect. There has really not been much spiritual change in any respect, not even in the percentage of Nazism or in the prevalence of nationalism, which is very latent. I would remind your Lordships that as things now stand, nationalism is just as great a danger as Nazism for two reasons: first, it is the parent vice, and secondly, it is less easily detected and more easily condoned. These same men, the German Communists, together with cohorts of militarists, were in charge of the so-called Free German Committee in Moscow during the war. What was the link between them? It was this cult of strength. It was, very obvious in their propaganda, which I followed very closely. Its substance was roughly this: "Strength can serve Germany's ends. It may be needed later, so better give in now." I protested during the war against the tendency of this propaganda and I think your Lordships can understand now why, because we are reaping the consequences. These same people, as I think was obvious would be the case, are now in control of the Russian occupied zone, and it therefore behoves us also to cast a glance not only at the Party record but at the individual record.

I take their two leaders, Pieck and Ulbricht. Ulbricht has always been exceedingly hostile to this country. In earlier years no Junker could have been more ardent for our defeat. Pieck got a position on the Comintern and opined that the future of Germany lay in the destruction of the West. At present the line is to work for a recovery of national strength through the unity of the workers. Well, the formula looks impeccable. What could be more laudable than the unity of the workers?—although I would remind the House that, the unity of the workers and the unity of the Fourth Reich are by no means the same thing. But if you look beneath the surface you find the formula is not quite so impeccable; and sometimes that which is below the surface comes above it rather crudely, as, for example, in a mass meeting which took place in Berlin early this year. That mass meeting was attended by all the four Anti-Fascist Parties: the Socialists, the Communists, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal Democrats. I studied their speeches very carefully, and through them all ran a rather familiar strain: strength, unity, discipline and patriotism—in fact, many of the key words to which we all grew so accustomed during the Second and Third Reichs. The Social Democrat orator went so far as to say: "There is an indissoluble link between our patriotism and national patriotism." As for Herr Pieck, he worked himself up to a burning quotation from Schiller which says that strength is firmly rooted in the Fatherland.

Strength was the motif. "We must have strength, and unity as the cause of creative strength. We are one people, and we must act as such." You may say, "What is wrong with that?" Only that those were the precise words that have preceded two wars. If you look at the formula a little more closely, it is only one word away from the Nazi slogan: "One folk, one Reich, one Fuehrer." The next speaker, the Christian Democrat, was as ardent as anybody for what he called the process of establishing a single central German State, a single, indivisible, German Republic. In other words, there were to be no local autonomies at all. The next speaker went further. He said: "The common Fatherland of all Germans is Germany." You may say that that is all right. Look at it again and you will notice he said "all Germans." In other words, we are getting back to something like the conception of the war mind doctrine of Herr Bohle, who somehow or other found himself in the witness box instead of the dock at Nuremberg.

That that is no exaggerated interpretation emerges from another point in the course of this meeting, and that is that all the four Parties who were opting for this centralized dynamism used the word Gesamtdeutsch, which means the totality of Germans everywhere. But the point about that word is that it was popularized by Herr Otto Bauer, the leading apostle of the Anschluss, in order to cover the annexation of Austria: and vocabularies of that nature are really not compatible with European tranquillity. It is further to be noticed that all four Parties damned federalism because it diminishes the driving force at the centre, and many of them still wish to be driven. That again is a most unhealthy tendency: "Down with debilitating autonomy and up with high-powered concentration!"

Now from these and many other kindred phenomena there are some very useful lessons to be drawn. The first is that defeat has not destroyed the allure of German nationalism. The second is that we must therefore anticipate in due course, when the first numbness has passed, that we shall have to deal with a wave of that nationalism which will take for its assistance and its grievance, as it did in the inter-war years, all the legitimate precautions on the part of the Allies and any period of privation and unemployment. The third is that the idea that national strength and planned central economy go hand in hand has been deeply implanted in the German mind; and the fourth is that therefore at the present moment mass belief in Germany is being directed away from any form of decentralization, either political or economic.

What we are in fact witnessing is the first stage of a new attempt to built up another single Totalitarian Party whose ideology will once again be nationalist. That has been stated very clearly by some of the Socialist Leaders in the Russian zone, notably by one Herr Grotewohl, whose Socialism is, I think, somewhat in doubt. At any rate, he has been greatly intimidated. He said quite openly, "We mean to have this one Party, and all others will shrink into insignificance" That is, I think, clear enough. It is the desire for this higher-powered dynamism which really lies behind this drive for enforced fusion of the Socialist and Communist Parties. That, I think, is what makes it so immensely important. Once again, as occurred during the inter-war period, the Socialist Party and the others will be obliterated in the single Party to which Herr Grotewohl referred. Those who have resisted it have had some very unpleasant experiences, and men like Grotewohl, Gniffke and Fechner have already given in. As to those who still stand out, the least they can expect is expulsion from their Party.

I am not only referring to the Social Democrats; I am thinking of the Christian Democrat leaders also. You saw what happened in regard to the referendum. The opponents of this fusion plucked up sufficient courage to insist on a referendum. It was duly held in the British, French and American zones, and there was a strong majority against it. In the Russian zone it was suppressed. If this fusion goes through elsewhere, I can tell you exactly what will happen. In fact, I think anybody can. Of the Socialist leaders, some will again be seduced by the nationalist appeal, exactly as happened in the inter-war period; recalcitrants will disappear and the conformists will be educated into parrotry.

That is not the end of the story. The new totalitarian drive recognizes quite well that the old Parties, including the Social Democratic Party, cannot deliver the goods—the goods being the German people, who are still 75 per cent. Nazi at heart according to many authorities, including Field-Marshal Montgomery. Therefore a highly dangerous manœuvre is now being resorted to. The new totalitarians have said that they will open their ranks to the rank and file of the Nazi Party, who number anything from ten millions to thirteen millions. The world is not ripe for that yet. If you look at that policy again, you will see it is the old policy in reverse. In 1933 and 1934 the Communists were urged to join the Nazi Party. Now the position is the other way round. Those same tactics are, in fact, being used also in Hungary and Rumania, where members of the Arrow Cross and the Iron Guard have been admitted to the fold. It is also very much in line with the propaganda that was carried out during the war by the Free German Committee in Moscow. I venture to think it is a very dangerous line to take.

It will be asked, "How is it that Russia should back this neo-nationalist over-centralization?" The answer has been given by people like Herr Grotewohl and his Communist colleagues. It comes to this. They tell us there is to be a mono-party; the other parties are to be eliminated. The fusion will result in the mono-party getting control of any Central Government we are unwise enough to set up in Berlin, unless we limit its powers very strictly; and having got control of the Central Government, it will be hoped that that will control the whole country in time. Therefore, you will get the Eastern bloc extended to the Rhine. From the Russian point of view that may be considered to be a measure of security, but from our point of view it would be altogether an exaggerated measure of security. Indeed, the simple facts I have put before your Lordships this afternoon make it very difficult to reconcile a Russian search for security with what is actually happening. If they were really animated by a search for security, surely the last thing in the world they would do would be to support the beginning of this neo-nationalism centred in Berlin.

I am afraid that, on the contrary, their policy is inspired by a certain over-confidence which may cost us all dear, including the Russians) themselves, because to my mind, and I think to that of most people in this House or in Europe, it is realized that to play with German nationalism, even in an embryonic form, is to play with fire. The Russians may end by burning their fingers and ours too. I hope that that may be amicably but clearly pointed out both in Berlin and in Moscow. In any case, I hope we shall allow none of these manæuvres in the British zone. I hope we shall allow no pressure, let alone intimidation, to be exercised upon those who are opposed to this fusion, because, as I have shown your Lordships to-day, a great deal more lies behind it than meets the eye. I think indeed it is time we had a mind and a will of our own in these matters.

The German Social Democrats in Berlin have complained before now that they are in a position of manifest disadvantage, and that the purely negative attitude of the British and the Americans as regards German policy puts them at some disadvantage and takes the heart out of the really democratically minded. Let me point out that, quite naturally, the German Communists have the full and unstinted support of the Russians, but the Social Democrats are left to their own devices. I would not have this House think that I hold any brief for the German Social Democrats, whose record in international affairs has been a most disappointing one. Like all the parties in Germany throughout my life, they have been too accessible to militarist and nationalist influences. Moreover, I think it is highly important for all those in authority to realize that all the old parties are to some extent discredited in Germany, and that there is on the whole less democratic leaning in that country than there was in 1919. That is an unpleasant fact, but it is probably better to recognize it. While the Social Democratic Party has had its failings, it has also had its virtues and I conceive it to be no part of the European tradition or interest that we should allow it to be dragooned into suicide.

Therefore would be very grateful if the Government to-day could tell us a little more about where we stand in all these great matters. Have we got a long-term policy as regards Germany? If so, I confess I do not know what it is, and I do not think most people in Europe know either. I know it is very difficult to decide, but the war has been over for nearly a year, and I think we are bound to decide. I know quite well that there is a Zonal Advisory Council and that we are contemplating elections, at the level of Kreis and Gemeinde, but that is a short-term and not a long-term policy. In particular, I would like to know where we stand in regard to this important matter of federalism. There is plenty of support for it in Germany if we give a lead, but without a lead it will not go far. I noticed over the week-end there were two manifestations of some importance in its favour; one was in the Rhineland and the other was an utterance by the; Prime Minister of Bavaria, who has said that, to most Bavarians centralization is abhorrent because they regard it as the first step towards a new dictatorship. I think he was entirely right in saying that; it is an apprehension that is shared by a great many other people. He has also said something else, which is, I think, both intelligent and true, and that is, that if we ever get to the stage of a European federation, only a Federal Germany would be welcome in it. Many of us would fight the inclusion of any other kind of Germany; we have had some.

I therefore ask for some! enlightenment to-day. I hope the Government will accept this Motion because I cannot conceive that anybody would wish to revert to the over-centralized Germany which has caused so much suffering in the past. I know there is this clamour going on for it; it is going on to a degree that is little realized in this country. I think the answer to that is: Howso great their clamour, Whatsoe'er their claim, Suffer not the old King, Under any name. That quotation comes rather appropriately from a poem called "The Old Issue." I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That the re-establishment of an over-centralized Germany is incompatible with European security.—(Lord Vansittart.)

3.10 p.m.


My Lords, I have no objection to the Motion as it is worded, but I am afraid my whole attitude towards this profound issue is very different from that of the noble Lord who has just spoken. I definitely feel that any over-centralized Government is an easy prey to dictatorship, and I also feel that any dictatorship is a danger to world peace. I was fortunate enough to be on the top of the Zugspitze in 1937, and because we could not be heard by anybody out on the snow I had a very long and interesting talk with a German whom, of course, I had never met before. He said to me that in his opinion Hitler had lost a great deal of popularity during the last two years and he thought that he could only last another two years from 1937 onwards. I have often wondered if Hitler realized the decline in his own position and if that was one of the motives for his aggressive policy. It is well known that dictators do tend to engage in aggression in order to tie their own people to them. This German also told me that Hitler had so completely destroyed all the democratic institutions in Germany that even though the people wanted a change it was almost impossible to see how any sort of democratic régime could possibly be built up. He said: "I am not a Communist—in fact, to tell you the truth, I do not see very much difference between the Communists and the Nazis—but I am quite prepared now on this issue to support the Communists in order to get a change." He assured me that a very large part of the German people shared his opinion.

I am, therefore, definitely in agreement with this Motion against an over-centralized Germany. I believe that what we have to do is to try and build up democracy in Germany, and I believe that that democracy can best be built up in the local government. I believe that local government is not only the best school of democracy, but it is also the greatest strength of democracy. I understand that we have begun by setting up parish councils and urban district councils, though I believe most of the members are nominated at present. But it is by the building up of local government in Germany on a democratic basis that I believe we can best build democracy in Germany. I was going to say restore democracy, but that might be a controversial word, so I will say build up democracy in Germany. When all that has been said—and here I can see that I really do disagree profoundly with the noble Lord who has just sat down—Germany does need in my opinion a central Government—


May I interrupt the noble Lord for a minute? I said explicitly that I did recognize the necessity for a central Government, and I defined very strictly its functions. I have never contested the need for a central Government.


Then we are in agreement on that point also. I think that the people of this country are profoundly disturbed about the food prospects in Europe as a whole, and in Germany as well as the rest of Europe. I think they were more profoundly disturbed when the announcement was made of the Berlin plan for reparations and the levels of German industry. I do not think there is any member of your Lordships' House who approaches this question with a deeper horror of Nazi philosophy—if you can call it philosophy—than I do, or with a greater determination to do all that I can to prevent another world war.

I think I do understand something of the feeling of the martyred nations who suffered so much under the occupation of Germany, but I do want to say to your Lordships that hatred of wrong is not a wise counsellor. It is our responsibility to do the right thing. There were many people in this country who came to be convinced that there were many clauses of the Versailles Treaty which were morally wrong and economically foolish. It was because of our weak position as a result of that sense of moral wrong that we were unable to take any action when Germany unilaterally broke the Versailles Treaty. That must not happen again, but it will happen again if the clauses of the Berlin Agreement are carried out.

We all agree that German war production must be absolutely prevented; but the Berlin plan goes far beyond that. German industry is to be reduced to 50 or 55 per cent, of that of 1938. There will be something like 5,000,000 industrial workers unemployed. Sixty-five per cent, of Germany's exports before the war were in metals, engineering products and chemical goods, and she cannot possibly expand her manufacture and export of consumer goods in order to meet the needs of her essential food imports. It is recognized under the Berlin plan that German consumption is to be forced down to 1932 levels. We have realized already, I think, that you cannot destroy a competitor without destroying a customer, and the whole Potsdam Agreement was a restrictionist economic agreement. We are proposing to make Germany a slum in the midst of Europe. German economy has been to Europe—shall we say almost what London economy is to Britain? And we British have got to carry the heaviest burden of this Jolly and this wickedness. We have charge of the largest industrial area in Germany. We shall have to pour in food to feed the starving millions, and we shall have to pour in men to maintain order amidst all this starvation and misery.

It is perfectly obvious that our Government do not approve of this agreement. It is perfectly obvious that the Foreign Secretary does not approve of this agreement. But it was the best agreement that could be reached at the time. It was based on certain conditions; first of all, on the condition that Germany must become an economic unit again, and that there must be no revision of western boundaries. It was agreed to on the assumption that the population will not exceed 66,500,000, and that there will be sufficient exports to pay for the necessary imports. I think that our Government are possibly right to have felt that any agreement was better than no agreement. But, as I have said before, we have got to carry the burden unless central control is instituted in Germany now, and central Government is built up in Germany in order that she may share the burden of this policy. I do feel most strongly that we should be doing another very foolish thing indeed if we tried to break up Germany in any way, and to destroy her as an economic and, even, as a political unit.

3.23 p.m.


My Lords, it falls to my lot to congratulate the noble Lord who has just spoken on an interesting maiden speech, even if his views will not be shared in all quarters of the House—and I do not think they will, perhaps, not even universally on the Benches immediately around him. But he has spoken with that clarity and that terseness which always make an appeal in this House. I would, if I might, venture to remind him of one thing. He said that hatred of wrong was a bad counsellor. I would venture to remind him that there is very high warrant for hating wrong though not hating the wrongdoer, and I think that we ought to be pretty clear that while we should not harbour unchristian thoughts and should strive to convert wrongdoers, we should always hate wrong, for it is to defeat wrong that we have twice fought and suffered.

This is indeed a very important Motion, and it has been brought before us by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, in a characteristically interesting, informed, and cogent speech. And since he first tabled his Motion, a good deal has happened. We have had the Berlin plan, to which my noble friend Lord Darwen has referred, for the post-war limitation and regulation of German industry. I would like to put one question to the Government upon that plan. As your Lordships are aware, it sets the scale of German industry and directs that German industry shall be divided into four categories. But when the announcement was published in Berlin, the British spokesman said that the British Government had agreed on certain assumptions—fundamental assumptions, as he called them. The first basic assumption—I am quoting from the very full report published in The Times on March 28—was that Germany would be treated as an economic whole, and that her western frontier would not be revised. I would like to know exactly what is the implication of that fundamental assumption. I would venture to suggest that in order to decide what ought to be the future of Germany—whether unitary or federation or independent States—we must first determine what are the conditions on which we ought to insist and, indeed, which are essential to us. In full agreement with the noble Lord who introduced the Motion, I would say that the first and foremost condition should be security. If it were true that a division of Germany into wholly independent States—and I appreciate that the noble Lord did not go as far as that in his Motion; indeed, he definitely dissented from such a proposition—was an essential to security, I believe that that would be an almost unanswerable argument. But, with the noble Lord, I do not take that view. I will return to that matter in a moment.

The second condition on which I think we should, also, all agree, would be that Germany should be as nearly self-supporting as possible in civilian commodities which Germans must have. That means not merely that food and goods must be produced in some way in Germany in the aggregate, but that that food and those goods must be available in all parts of Germany where they are needed for the sustenance of the German population. Obviously, one of the difficulties of isolating the Rhineland and the Ruhr is that they are great industrial areas and extremely small producers of food. In passing I would observe that if it be our aim, as it should be, to get as much as possible of the food that is necessary to feed Germany produced in Germany, it would be very false economy not to permit Germany to have the necessary amount of fertilizers to ensure that the devastated soil in that country—and the soil must have been very much overworked during the five or six years of the war—shall produce as much food as that soil can produce.

The third condition I would venture to put with confidence is that Germany should be able to export enough to pay for her necessary imports. I am not going nearly as far as the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, who said that if you destroy a competitor you destroy a customer. I believe that there is a great deal of economic nonsense—if he will forgive my saying so—in dogmatic statements of that kind. At that rate the best thing would be to restore the whole of Japanese sweated production. That would not be a good thing for the trade of this country, or for a policy of full employment, or for the peace and happiness of the world. But Germany must be able to export enough to pay for her necessary imports.

I put a fourth proposition with which I hope your Lordships will agree. By internal production and by export Germany should not only be able to feed herself but support and sustain the Armies of Occupation in Germany. It really is quite intolerable that we should be paying vast sums—I understand at the rate of £80,000,000 a year—in order to feed Germany, and to pay for the cost of the Army of Occupation. Really that means we are paying German reparations—and not Germany paying reparations. That is not sensible, to put it mildly. Of course there has always been a certain attraction in the idea of the Ruhr and the Rhine-land as a separate State under international trusteeship, ultimately occupying its place in the European comity. I think it may well be that a great opportunity was lost in the fluid and amorphous conditions obtaining at the time of the Congress of Vienna—an opportunity of creating a State along the Rhine whose prosperity would have been bound up with peace, and which would have been strong enough to resist attraction into the orbit of Prussia. But there are many difficulties to-day.

Is a complete separation of constituent German States an essential to security? I do not believe it is, subject to certain provisos. In the first place, certain industries which are the backbone of a war-potential must be absolutely prohibited. I do not think even Lord Darwen would differ from the first of the conditions of the Berlin Declaration, that the production of things like aircraft, ships, heavy tractors, aluminium and synthetic rubber obviously must be absolutely prohibited. Other industries, less vital for war, must be curtailed. That is also in the plan, but is obviously a much more difficult thing. The absolute prohibition of certain well-known types of industry is fairly easy to achieve, with careful supervision. It is much more difficult to say that an industry must produce only 55 or 60 per cent, of a certain commodity. It is difficult to tell, when the commodity is produced in a large number of factories, whether the country is producing 55, 60 or even 65 per cent. On the other hand, it is no good criticizing things because they are difficult, and I do not see a better way of dealing with the position than by saying that these products which are borderline products, shall be put on some quota system of that kind. Then, obviously I think, some special control must be exercised over the industries of the Ruhr.

We must have a plan which will give security; but equally we must have a plan which will work. When one speaks on these matters to-day, in the uncertain and constantly changing situation, one can only speak with limited knowledge. Only those who are in the day-to-day work of government can have full information. But I would say that the essentials of security and of economics are not incompatible at all. The economics of Germany require a measure of economic unity, so that Germans may support themselves as far as possible in food and civilian manufactures. That implies—here I agree with my noble friend who moved the Motion—something in the nature of a Customs Union. It requires and implies a unified and co-ordinated transport system. But this economic co-ordination does not, as I see it, imply or require a unitary and centralized system over the whole field of legislative and administrative activities, where the essential economy of the country is not directly affected. For my own part, and I speak entirely for myself, I would be inclined to press the argument further. Viewed as an administrative problem, is not a wide measure of really effective decentralization most desirable? There is always the risk—Lord Vansittart spoke strongly, but I do not think too strongly, of it—that Germany may seek to revert to a totalitarian system. Not all Germans, but certainly Prussians, do like being driven. It is a most extraordinary characteristic, and it is going to be one of the hardest things to drive out. That is why they can become very good Communists, as well as very good Hitlerites.

Totalitarianism involves intense centralization. It lives upon it. It is a condition of its existence, and decentralization is the best insurance against that risk. May I put another reason? Centralization is slow, cumbrous, and most wasteful of man-power. I am not going in this debate to be controversial, but I think even some of my noble friends opposite are beginning to find perhaps that over-centralization does lead to a, certain clogging of the machine even though they have a great administrative staff at their disposal. Germany is very short of competent non-Nazi administrators, but, under proper supervision, Germany must run German administration, and run it on the right lines; and the German machine must get running as soon as possible. I do not think we can wait for this process of gradualness to which the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, referred. Through eons of time, we shall slowly build up from the parish council to the rural district council, and then after another process from the rural district council to the county council, and so in a decade or two, or a generation or two, there may be gradually built up a system of local government. It really will not wait fifty years. This must be done now. You must get the Germans running the local administration of Germany quickly and on the right lines. And it is much more than parish councils. By the "right lines" I mean two things. I mean the way of personal freedom and peace; I mean the way best suited to different German localities, and that certainly does not necessarily mean the same sealed pattern formed in every place. For all those reasons, the more chance that the Germans have in different German States to work out their own systems and methods on truly democratic lines the more I believe we shall enable the Germans to help themselves and the better I believe we shall safeguard European security and peace.

3.41 p.m.


My Lords, I also have the greatest pleasure in congratulating my noble friend Lord Darwen on what I think your Lordships will agree was a most effective maiden speech—all the more effective because it was not too long! I only regret that on the occasions on which he carried the banner of my Part in the constituencies he was not successful, because I would have liked to have heard that speech, especially in 1919, in the House of Commons. I made a somewhat similar speech myself in 1919 when I moved the rejection of, and voted against, the Treaty of Versailles on the ground that it was economically unworkable. And, if I may venture to agree with my noble friend Lord Darwen, I think—and this is what I missed in Lord Vansittart's speech—the great problem of Germany is not federalism or partition or centralization, but whether that country can survive economically at all. The accounts I get and which no doubt your Lordships also get from our own British zone (where I must say I believe our administrators and military authorities have made the best of a very difficult job and have done marvellous things, in view of all the difficulties) are simply horrifying. The economic fabric of the country has been destroyed. If these things are allowed to go on the results will be appalling for the whole of Europe. That I suggest is the great problem which faces us.

I was delighted to hear in the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart (I am always delighted to hear him speak, anyhow) that he wants the economic unity of Germany. I do not see how you can avoid that at all. The much-hated Berlin—I always thought it was an atrocious city too, although some very fine artists flourish there—was an artificial capital, and because it was an artificial capital it was the focal point of the great German railway system and road system. You can have a political capital wherever you like. In New York State the commercial capital is the City of New York and the political capital is a night's journey away from it at Vermont. You can have your political capital anywhere else, if it is a good thing for Germany, but your economic capital I think is bound to be Berlin.

The other great difficulty I see at the present time is the one that was referred to (and I was so glad to hear it) by the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton. That is that if you are to get increased production—of coal, for example, from the Ruhr—you must allow the workmen and miners to have enough to eat. That means drawing on the great food-producing provinces in the east which at present are practically cut off from the western industrial districts. That is why we are having to send in foodstuffs and maintain a very large army there; that is why we are, in effect, having to pay reparations to Germany instead of getting them. I can see that process going on for a long time. If I may make a prayer to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, I wish he would devote his great talents and his tremendous knowledge to finding some way of solving those economic problems in Germany. We all know the dilemma. For the sake of future security we have to avoid a militarily strong Germany, above all under a Government of dictatorship. I entirely agree with what my noble friend Lord Darwen said there. That is the one danger to be avoided. On the other hand, you have to avoid a further weakening of the whole economic fabric of Europe, and for the economic fabric of Europe a working Germany, a producing Germany, and above all a coal-producing Germany, is absolutely essential. How are you to solve the difficulty presented by these two dilemmas? It can of course be done. In time it will be done. My fear is that in the meantime terrible loss and suffering will occur not only in Germany but among her neighbours, and our future generations will have to pay the price.

The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, also spoke about its being time we had a will and mind of our own. I suppose he was talking about His Majesty's Government having a mind and will of their own. I do not think that is quite fair. In all our dealings with regard to Germany we have to work with our great Allies, and, if they do not see eye to eye with us, we cannot force them to accept our views. The noble Lord asked had we a long-term policy for Germany. I thought it had been explained time and time again during the war what was our long-term policy for Germany. It is perfectly clear to me that we have, at all costs, to prevent a recrudescence of German militarism, to ensure that there shall not again be a Nazi system or any other similar system of extreme nationalism. At the same time we have to give (as was made clear in our statements of war aims during the war) the German people a chance of working their own passage, as was given to the Italians, and eventually to restore their economic prosperity, and the prosperity of their neighbours. I do not see any difficulty with regard to that in the long run. It is in the short ran I see the problem.

In a few days time the Foreign Ministers of what we call the Big Four, are, I understand, meeting in Paris. They are called for April 25. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord Chancellor, when he comes to reply to this debate—which I understand he is going to do—could inform your Lordships whether the big Peace Conference for May 1 is also going to meet in Paris— that, is the conference of twenty-one nations—because, as far as I can make out from the newspapers, the French Government who are to be the hosts, of course, have not yet issued the invitations, because of certain difficulties that apparently face the Foreign Ministers of the Big Four. Apparently a certain amount of preparatory work must still be done before this conference of the twenty-one nations can meet. I was always told by those who were there that with regard to the Versailles Peace Conference' after the First World War the trouble was that there had not been sufficient preliminary preparation, that the great Powers and victors met too soon, before the ground had been properly prepared.

There has now been a year in which to prepare; for this Peace Conference. I hope that these main troubles which still seem to afflict the Councils of the Big Four can be swept away. But I am a little optimistic. I must say, when I look back over history (which is an exercise I might respectfully recommend to the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart) I find we have had three world wars in what we may call modern historical times. There were the Napoleonic Wars. A new map of Europe was drawn after the conclusion of those wars, as Viscount Swinton has reminded us, at the Congress of Vienna. As a result of the arrangements which were made there, peace lasted for one hundred years. Then there was the First World War. Peace settlements were reached at this Paris conference to which I have referred, out of which came the Treaty of Versailles, and the settlement there lasted for twenty years. I am perfectly certain that the States who met together in Vienna to try to redraw the map of devastated and war-weary Europe after the terrible Napoleonic wars were faced with what seemed to be insuperable difficulties. But they succeeded fairly well on the whole.

I do know this, that those men who met together in Versailles at the end of the First World War were faced with greater difficulties than the Foreign Ministers who will meet together in a few days in Paris, who will represent the Big Four. Consider the great difference now. In 1919 there was a great deal of fighting going on in Europe. Active intervention was in full swing against Russia and there was considerable fighting in other parts of the European Continent as well. To-day, in Europe, whatever the difficulties, there is no actual righting by any organized Government forces. There may be disorders created by bandits, guerrillas, and so on, but there are no actual hostilities in progress, at any rate in Europe, whatever is going on in the Far East. That is a tremendous advantage. On the other hand, the economic system of Europe is far more intricate and complicated than in 1919, and infinitely more delicate and complicated than at the time of the Congress of Vienna. It is that economic fabric of Europe that has been so damaged by the modern weapons of wax, especially the air and ground forces, and by the disastrous results of modern campaigning. On balance, I believe that we can say that the difficulties should not be insuperable if only they can be grasped and understood, and I do submit to your Lordships that what is wrong in so man of the debates on this question—and especially those initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, if he will allow me to say so—is over-emphasis on the political aspects and under-emphasis on the economic aspects of Europe's problems.

As to the suggestion of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, about Prussians liking to be driven—I think those were his words—that, of course, is a popular fallacy that is not altogether true in all cases. Prussia, before the Nazis destroyed the other political parties, was the most socialistic of the German States. It was the stronghold of German social democracy, and the social democracy of Prussia was destroyed only by the most violent methods of the Nazis. I am not so hopeless as he is about a revival of Germany democracy as we knew it 150 years ago or in the middle of the last century. In the fifties German democracy was healthy and progressive, and great progress was being made. I do not see why it should take so long to re-establish the beginnings of real democracy in Germany. I did not understand that Lord Darwen suggested it would need generations to build up from the bottom. You will find the leaders in local government work in Germany, and eventually they can rise to higher positions of authority in Germany. But if they are faced with a despairing, hungry, hopeless population, I think we will be putting an impossible task upon them.

One word on this question of the western frontiers of Germany. I did not understand that Lord Swinton or Lord Vansittart proposed tearing away any of the western territories of Germany. The French claim, as I understand it, is that there should be a total separation of the Saar Valley, the Rhine Provinces and the Ruhr. I suppose a case could be made out for the Saar Valley and the Rhenish provinces on the question of mixed population, but the Ruhr Valley—one of the areas for which our unfortunate military governors and civil administrators are responsible in Germany—is, I believe, fairly homogeneous racially, and contains about 8,000,000 Germans. If you tear it away from Germany at the present time, you will create a terrible irridenta for the future.

A much more important point is that the production of coal from the Ruhr is falling continuously, owing to the lack of food for the miners. When we increase the rations for the pit workers at the coal face it does not do much good because their families do not get extra rations and they absent themselves in order to find food for their families, and I do not see how you can blame them. If, in addition to this trouble in the Ruhr coalfields through lack of food—which is the principal reason for the falling of output now, with the disastrous results that will follow—you create a political disturbance by cutting off the Ruhr from the rest of Germany, permanently and definitely, what is going to be the effect on the minds of those miners who we hope will dig coal for the salvation of Germany, of France and of other countries? It is bound to have a still more unsettling effect. There are two things we cannot replace in Europe to-day; the Ruhr coal mines themselves and the Ruhr miners. There is a woeful lack of coal miners all over the world, including this country; and if the Ruhr miners are not doing their best and there is not an increase in the production of Ruhr coal, the economic recovery of Europe on which everything really depends will be still further delayed.

May I draw attention to these sentences from The Times of this morning, in a very interesting column dealing with the whole question of the Ruhr mines? If I may, I would draw Lord Vansittart's attention particularly to it. The correspondent writes from Essen on April 15 and speaks of the British delegation's point of view that if Western Europe is to have lasting benefit from the Ruhr coal basin, the conservation of the capacity of the mines for the future must be balanced against the pressing demands for higher export allocations. Beyond this lies the broader problem"— and this is really the key to the whole matter— that if Germany is to grow more food and thus relieve Britain of some of her present heavy occupation expenses"— and this was the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton's point— adequate coal supplies must be provided for those industries producing fertilizers and agricultural machinery. The vicious chain of cause and effect from which the economic system is suffering, must be broken, and the key to the problem, the British delegation maintains, is food. Food in Germany is a greater problem than centralization, federalism, partition or anything else.

I understand that there is no objection to the Motion itself, but the underlying arguments, I suggest, lost sight of that overriding and all-important fact. I believe His Majesty's Government to-day fully realize the economic problems underlying all these political difficulties in Europe, and in Asia, too, for that matter. I believe, from all I hear, and I repeat it, that our own Military and Civil Government in our own zone has done extraordinarily well. I believe His Majesty's Government have pressed these matters on our Allies, and I hope at this next meeting on the 26th of this month, our warnings and admonitions this time will be listened to.

3.58 p.m.


My Lords, I will not detain you more than a few minutes. It is usual that one who speaks last in a debate finds that most of his speech has gone in the other speeches, but I am glad to say I do not find that to be the case to-day. I was a little surprised to hear the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, say that he thought the Prussians are not people rather of the military and Junker type. I should have thought that the whole of that very aggressive spirit in Germany really emanated from the Prussians. I will tell him a story of a Bavarian who was a friend of mine. After the last war he told me that that was the case, and that if it had not been for the Prussian spirit throughout Germany, he did not think there would have been a war.

With regard to Lord Darwen's speech, on which I congratulate him, I would point out that he mentioned that the thing to do was to do the right thing. I quite agree with him: but what is the right thing at this moment? I think this is an enormously important subject. The only part of the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, with which I did not agree, was that we should hurry on. I believe that we should go slow at the moment, and I shall give my reasons for saying so. Our memories in this country are short; we forgive and we forget very easily. I say that, while we should do everything we can to forgive, we should never forget the evil that has been done. I see a tendency in certain places in this country to-day to try to smooth out the terrible tragedy we have been through, but as far as I can see, there is no repentance in the German mind. There have lately been many illustrations that there is none. The Nuremberg trial is still going on and evidence is produced every day of frightful atrocities; yet the youth of Germany to-day apparently does not realize that fact, or, if it does, it is not ashamed of it. Only yesterday or the day before that it was suggested that Irma Grese was to be held up as a martyr or a saint. Conceive the youth of a country with that mentality at the moment! It is quite appalling.

This Hitler spirit will take a generation to die down and it therefore behoves us to be extremely careful in how we proceed at the present time in permitting Germany to guide her own affairs. This poison of totalitarianism has got its roots in a great many parts of the world. It is, as we all know, really terrorism. We are not quite free from it here, and I am very glad to see that the Home Secretary is going to watch very carefully the activities of the Union of Fascists here. The fear that we all have to look at in the future is interference with the ordinary rights of the citizen. Let us take care that there is no chance of a recurrence of this horrible nightmare which came to reality in Hitler's day and which nearly wrecked the world. I was reading a book the other day, which I dare say some of your Lordships have also read, by a lady called Bella Fromm, in which is demonstrated how easy it is to get that first little wedge in to disturb the democratic or the better government of any country. It is usually said: "Yes, I know, but it will not happen here." It has, however, a very subtle method of infiltration. It is hardly visible at first. The first stage is, "Oh, it will hang itself"; the next stage is, "Don't let us have a row about it," and finally the real terror comes into the hearts of us all.

Let me get back to Germany for a moment. I say that Germany must be held down until we are quite certain that there is definitely a new psychology throughout the whole of Germany and that its culture and the upbringing of its children are altered beyond anything that is likely to take place if Germany is going to be governed by the Germans who are in one's mind now.


The noble Lord will forgive my interrupting, but I am sure he would not like to misrepresent or misunderstand me. There was nothing in my speech to suggest that we could reduce or slow down the occupation of Germany or the necessary supervision. It was concerned with Germans running German local government under proper supervision.


I thank the noble Viscount for his interruption and I am very glad to hear that that is in his mind. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, mentioned a new dictatorship. Do not let us forget that a dictatorship need not necessarily be under one man; you can have a totalitarian government which is just as powerful and just as much a dictator as any government under one man. I shall look upon the future with a great deal of apprehension if we are going to be weak about this. We have had two doses of it and I say, "For goodness sake let us take a strong line and do what Mrs. Bella Fromm suggested—destroy it at the beginning ruthlessly, as it would destroy you."

4.5 p.m.


My Lords, it is not always that I find myself in complete agreement with my noble friend Lord Vansittart, but this time I most strongly support his plea for a federal Germany with a central Government of limited powers. It seems to me that a federal Germany is desirable, not only in the interests of security and peace in Europe in the future but also in the interests of Germany herself. You may ask why I think it is in the interests of Germany herself. The reason I would like to give is that I hold it is only by a federal Germany that you can restore the Rhineland and the Ruhr politically to Germany. If you have what is likely to become a highly centralized Germany, with a totalitarian frame of mind, I believe it would be folly to hand back the Rhineland and the Ruhr to its political control. On the other hand, if you have a federal Germany the position is, I think, utterly different. A federal Germany does not mean the breaking up of Germany, and I am at a loss to understand how noble Lords can hold that view. I remember that 45 years ago I spent a great deal of time in Germany. I was in the various States and the people in those States were very proud of them. They had their separate police and their separate art studies. In fact, they were very devoted to their own States and did not like being dominated by others. Yet Germany at that time was economically prosperous. She was an economic unit and there was no trouble about communications. That is the kind of thing we want to encourage in the Germans—local patriotism rather than that terrible nationalism which has done so much harm in the past. On those grounds I am particularly anxious to support the noble Lord's Motion.

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, we have had a most interesting discussion which has been distinguished by many remarkable speeches, by no means the least remarkable of which was the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Darwen. Some of the later speeches have ranged rather far, and on some of the topics which have been mentioned I think it would be inadvisable and inappropriate that I should make any very specific comment at the present time. The Motion we are discussing is in these terms: That the re-establishment of an over-centralized Germany is incompatible with European security. Speaking on behalf of the Government, I have no hesitation whatever in accepting that Motion. I accept it without prefix or suffix. Were it not that certain observations have been made which make it perhaps desirable that I should say something further, I might have left it at that.

To those of us who think about this problem—and I have thought about it a great deal—there are two principles which we have always to bear in mind. In the first place, we should be fools if, after the experience of 1914–18 and 1939 onwards, we were once again to risk this thing happening. I think all the speeches have stressed the fact that our paramount duty to ourselves, to Europe, to civilization and to posterity is to see that this thing does not happen again. I am bound to say I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Teviot, in what he says. I have asked, I think, everybody who is in a responsible position administering Germany to-day the very question which he propounded to your Lordships. I have asked this: Now that it has become known to the ordinary German that these terrible things have been done, do you find some feeling of regret, of repentance, of indignation that these things have been done by the German leaders? One and all, the answer has always been that there is not the slightest trace of any such feeling. I am bound to mention that to your Lordships because it is a fact we must bear in mind. I have got that from quarters and from officers who by no means are opposed to trying to do everything they can to help the Germans. We must be realists and we must face that fact.

As expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, it is obvious to every one of us that if we are going to leave Germany as a kind of pariah State, as a slum as the noble Lord said, not utilizing her productive capacity and thereby impoverishing Europe and bringing unemployment upon ourselves, that in itself is a deplorable thing. The problem is therefore how without weakening we can do everything we can to restore some measure of prosperity to Germany, for without some measure of German prosperity it is difficult to see how we can get any European prosperity and, from our own point of view, it is very difficult to see how we can get paid anything, not only by way of reparations, but the cost of our administration.

It was in addressing ourselves to that problem that certain principles were laid down at the Potsdam Conference. The first principle was that so far as practicable there was to be uniformity of treatment of the German population throughout Germany. The second principle was that there was to be a decentralization of the political structure and a development of local responsibility, and to that end that no central German Government should for the time being be established; and thirdly, that we should allow certain German administrative departments, such for instance as transport, finance, trade and industry, to operate as far as possible throughout the whole of Germany, but of course under the control of the Control Council. Your Lordships will remember that France was not a party to the agreement at Potsdam. That was not our fault. The Foreign Secretary indicated quite plainly that these matters so plainly affected France that France ought to be a party, but France was not a party and these matters were discussed in the absence of French representatives. When we come to work out these agreements it is not to be wondered that you encounter some difficulty.

There has been some discussion about the attitude of France to the Ruhr and the Rhineland. May I say just this? There are people living in France to-day who have seen their country devastated three times by the Germans and, speaking for myself, I think we must regard the French attitude and the French point of view with the very greatest sympathy. We have the right and they surely have the right to prevent this thing happening again. Though I am expressing no opinion on matters which are going to be the subject of consultation within the next few days, I am sure that the people of this country as a whole, entirely regardless of parties, do feel that France must be relieved of that burden and that care which has been upon her for so many years, France to whom we and to whom all European civilization owe so much.

We have in consequence not got on very well. The Americans and the Russians brought great pressure to bear on the French and our own representatives that we should give separate consideration to the question of central administration and to that of the Western frontiers. The French, with some little support from ourselves, have said that these things cannot be separated, and that you must consider what the frontiers are going to be before you consider the question of central administration.

May I, whilst I think of it, say this in answer to the noble Viscount, Lord Swin- ton, who asked the question about the Berlin agreement? Of course, you have to take some hypothesis, some basis on which to build. The reason of the cause—I have forgotten the exact terminology—was that if hereafter some decision should be reached to separate the Ruhr and the Rhineland then the figures have to be altered. They were figures arrived at on the basis that no such alteration would be made. With regard to the Ruhr and the Rhineland I shall say no more except to remind your Lordships of what the Foreign Secretary said on February 21, that we have not made up our minds and that he was not at that stage prepared to say anything about it.

The main considerations which determine our policy towards this present drive for a strong unified central Government are as follows: We take the view that nothing which has happened recently should modify the attitude we took at Potsdam, namely, that no central Government should yet be established for Germany. In our zone we are doing what we can by means of political decentralization, by strengthening local authorities and local government, by creating independent local police forces, by breaking down the Prussian Civil Service hierarchy, and in every way we can encouraging local initiative. That is the remedy which the noble Lord, Lord Darwen, suggested, and so far as in us lies we are carrying out that policy to the full. Of course, we recognize the advantage to be gained in certain fields from the establishment of central administration, particularly in the field of finance. In economic matters generally the importance of treating Germany as a whole is very obvious. But, my Lords, that is a question which needs to be very carefully watched. These local administrations dealing with particular topics all too easily tend to slip into the position of being a central Government, at any rate in embryo, and therefore we realize that they must be very carefully watched. That is all the more necessary because centralization is now being made a catchword of party politics in Germany. The German Communist Party at the present time are beating the nationalist drum and proclaiming loudly its desire for the unit and centralization of Germany. The United Socialist party are not the least lagging behind, and I say quite frankly it would be a very poor consolation to me if, instead of the doctrine of Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Führer, I had to accept Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Kommissar. We could not hope that measures of centralization of that sort, or that a party founded in that way, would be able to play a useful part in the future of Europe.

I conclude in this way. We have all been accustomed to recommend each other to study history. I think we should probably all agree about this, that Germany in the past has been dangerous in proportion as the administration was centralized. That danger is fully recognized in the Potsdam agreement. It remains, without qualification, the policy of His Majesty's Government to carry out that agreement and to seek the middle road between excessive centralization, on the one hand, and the administrative disintegration with which we had to cope after our entry into Germany on the other. We hope that by these means—and it is not going to be a matter of weeks or months, it must be a matter of years and perhaps of many years of building up local government services by building upon the lines I have suggested—we may be able once more to get a Germany which can play a useful part among the countries of Europe and the politics of Europe, without at the same time being a menace to her neighbours or others around her.

4.23 p.m.


My Lords, I feel that I should make an apology to my noble friend Lord Darwen. He began his speech with so much assurance that I had no idea that it was a maiden effort, and, therefore, I was betrayed into an interruption which I sincerely regret. In the course of his remarks, the noble Lord diverged a little to matters like the Treaty of Versailles, and in view of the late hour I do not think that I can follow him into that terrain now, because it is not strictly related to my Motion. But he seemed to think that I was bent upon what he called "breaking up Germany". I would like to remind him that the distinguished draftsman of the Weimar Constitution, Hugo Preuss, was very keen on this matter of decentralization, and he went so far as to provide for decentralization into units which should not fall below 2,000,000. I am not prepared to go as far as that. In my speech I mentioned the Rhineland, which was or is the largest and most populous province of Prussia, and Bavaria, which is the second largest German State. I would go a considerable way towards the Preuss definition, which was a minimum.

I am exceedingly obliged to those noble Lords who have been good enough to support me in a debate which I feel to have been of great importance. The noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, with whose remarks I find myself in such general agreement, said a great deal about the Ruhr and the Rhineland that I think is related to the debate. Very clearly, it is also a subject in itself, and if I were to embark on that to any extent, we should be having another sitting, and, as your Lordships know, there is another Motion to be considered after mine. I would like to say—I think it bears very much on what the noble Earl, Lord Perth, has said—that I rather believe that if from the start it had been recognized that our policy was one of a loose federalism with very strictly limited power for the central Government, that conception plus prolonged occupation and economic control would have gone very far to have satisfied the French and, therefore, to have avoided some of our present difficulties. I think that that was much in the noble Earl's mind when he spoke.

Lord Strabolgi also tried to tempt me with the half-volley of the Treaty of Versailles, but I am not coming out of my ground for that. He said that in his mind the great problem was whether Germany should survive at all. Even that does not dispense you from the necessity of trying to think out in advance in what form you wish Germany to survive. The noble Lord found fault with me a little saying that it was time that we should have a will of our own. I think it is always time that we should. I believe that phrase applies particularly to making up our minds as to what is going to be our attitude in our zone on this question of enforced fusion. Since the noble Lord challenges me, I will say again that I am not quite sure what a long-term policy is. I know what a short-term policy is. In my view, we cannot very well make up our minds as to what our long-term policy is until we have made up our minds on the issue of federalism.

The noble Lord also invited me to expand my reading of history. I think he failed to observe that I had already accepted his hospitality, in the sense that I indulged in quite a lot of it in my speech. When I accept people's hospitality I never go out of my way to make it unduly expensive by indulging to excess. Therefore, I shall refrain from following the noble Lord back quite as far as Napoleon. Lord Strabolgi also adjured me to pay some attention to a long extract from The Times. I can assure him that on these matters I frequently take The Times as an informant, but somewhat less frequently as a guide. I particularly welcome what Lord Teviot said. One of the things that we have got to be particularly careful about is not to have dictatorship cliques. This is just as unpleasant a prospect as dictatorship by one fairly efficient man—indeed a clique may even have somewhat fewer intuitions, and that would not be to our advantage.

And now as to the speech of the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack. I need not tell him with what gratification I learnt that His Majesty's Government were willing to accept my Motion. I have always felt that it is the duty of this House to use its accumulated experience to give a moral lead in Europe. I think that we have gone some distance in that direction to-day. I was also particularly glad to hear what the noble and learned Lord said about France. I think that is very timely. What he said has also gone some distance in clearing up the apparent contradiction in the Potsdam findings because superficially they face both ways. They recommended both, centralization and decentralization. But as a result of to-day's debate we know better where we stand. I was very glad to hear the noble and learned Lord's resistance to the formula: "Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Kommissar" One of the reasons why I brought forward this Motion to-day is quite explicitly that if we were to allow the present drift to continue, this country and the world at large would within measurable time be confronted with National Communism substituted for National Socialism, and that is a prospect to which no one could look forward with equanimity. It remains for me again to thank those noble Lords who have supported me. I believe that we have done a good day's work today, and again I think the noble and learned Lord, the Lord Chancellor, for having accepted the Motion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.