HL Deb 03 December 1946 vol 144 cc554-88

4.35 p.m.

LORD VANSITTART moved to resolve, That every encouragement should be given to the development of close political and economic relations between the countries of Western Europe, since the promotion of political and economic relations between the European States must contribute generally to the effective operation of the United Nations. The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is perhaps a good omen that I have been prefaced by some discourse on forestry because on the subject of my Motion there may be some who do not see the wood for the trees. If any of your Lordships should remember that I spoke at some length on this subject a year ago, I hope it will also be remembered that obstinacy in a bad cause is perseverance in a good one. Of course I shall not go over all the old ground again, but I must briefly recapitulate. Regional agreements are not only approved by the Charter; they are encouraged and invited. Without them the Charter might not work in cases of emergency. The position briefly is that regional agreements are fully justified if the Charter works and doubly justified if it does not. Without a Western regional agreement we should not be able adequately to fulfil our defence obligations. The alternative is the initial chaos to which we have already twice nearly succumbed.

It follows, therefore, as a matter of experience and common sense, that the defences of the West should be co-ordinated. If we had done so before we should probably have prevented both these world wars. If we had even co-ordinated our manufacturing resources, that might have deterred the Germans. As it is, of course, we know what has happened. Above all from, the economic point of view, this Western co-ordination is the necessary substitute for the present crazy pavement of our map. It is necessary also for the future prosperity—and indeed probably for the very survival—of that part of the earth which has made by far the largest contribution to the cultural heritage of mankind. Of that Western civilization we are all products, and to it we and the world owe an immense debt. Now it asks something of us in return, for failing this co-ordination the West will decline as surely as the sun sets there, and that decline will be in no one's interest. On any long economic view it will be against the interests both of the United States and of Russia. This Western co-ordination is directed against no one, but since it has pleased the Russians to pretend that integration is progressive in the East and reactionary in the West, when I first spoke I quoted a long list of wise men of the West—men of the Left, men of good will and men of peace—who have all blessed this noble and useful ideal.

In the West we need nothing that threatens; what we do need is the greatest possible degree of free trade in the widest available area, for that is the basis of large-scale production and it is already definitely enjoyed by both the United States and Russia. We need the lowering of tariff barriers, the regulation of exchanges and the avoidance of wasteful competition. For that a series of inter-locking conventions will be necessary. What could be more harmless or more reasonable? I repeat that nothing contemplated in the West even remotely approaches the degree of rigid integration already reached in the East. When I spoke a year ago Eastern Europe was already criss-crossed with military agreements, which have since been extended and intensified; they provide not only similarity but very frequently identity of arms and training, particularly in the matter of officers. Moreover, those regions are bound together by exclusive economic arrangements and by the denial of free intercourse with the rest of the world.

Nothing of that sort enters into the Western mind. During the past twelve months these Eastern identities have been increased. Look at the Paris Peace Conference and remember the outcry there was against the very idea of such an ancient and accredited simplicity as the free navigation of the Danube. Or look again at the mode of procedure. The Eastern satellites think, vote and speak in one piece. I mention that in no controversial spirit but because these are the people who lecture, and sometimes indeed hector, us for desiring some reasonable degree of unity in the West. I can assure them that we contemplate no kind of unity such as theirs. Any Western participant would have the full use of his soul and his tongue. Moreover, there would be no question of the predominence of any one Power. In a word, there is in the East a bloc in every sense of the word. We need nothing of the sort in the West, and the sooner we get rid of that silly word from our vocabulary the better—it is not even English.

I cannot leave this subject without mentioning that there is at the present moment an apparent attempt to coerce non-Slav Greece into that bloc. I am not going to say more about that to-day because the matter may be brought up before the United Nations. I would only make the obvious comment that nothing in the nature of compulsion enters into our scheme of things. When I spoke a year ago, I mentioned that Field-Marshal Smuts had indicated the necessity of a Western regional organization before the San Francisco Charter was even drafted. Much has happened since then to confirm that point of view. Speaking at The Hague on October the Field-Marshal urged His Majesty's Government to take the lead in forming a United States of Europe, and he urged the small States to press us if we hesitated. To-day I am pressing His Majesty's Government for something much more immediately practical. I feel, moreover, that one ought to say that in the absence of such a lead the position of the smaller States might become precarious and even unendurable. Look again at the Paris Conference. What need have we of any further witness? The small States so far have not had a fair say in the destinies of the world and, therefore, not in their own, and I think they would need ample opportunity in any reforming of Western Europe.

The Field-Marshal went on to say something even more germane to this Motion. He said that regional organizations are better qualified than a world organization to watch particular situations in their own area. I think that is eminently true. He proceeded to say that if no one will take the lead in pressing for this regional political union, let us at least begin on the economic plane as recommended by a Committee of the Social and Economic Commission of the United Nations. He instanced as a beginning the extension of the Customs union between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. He then said something even more cogent, that at present Europe is split up into a large number of small national units which in peace often mutually frustrate each other and in war make their own security more doubtful. That I think is incontestable, but I would not confine that remark to the smaller Powers. Heaven knows that the greater Powers have also in the past made their own security more doubtful. After all, the British Army was nearly cut off in 1914, and the French and British Armies were cut off in 1940. Here, however, there is a large identity of view.

In only one respect would I venture to differ from what the Field-Marshal said. He affirmed that France had refused the offer to take the lead in what he termed "this most important matter of common European interests." He was referring, of course, to the French reception of Mr. Churchill's speech at Zurich. It is true that the French refused any suggestion for an association or partnership with Germany. At the present juncture who would not? I will deal with that later. But on the general issue France did not refuse. She hesitated, and that also is extremely natural, because at present, to speak plainly, the most numerous Party in France is the Communist Party, and, like Communist Parties elsewhere, most unfortunately and through no fault of ours it is anti-British, for all the honeyed words that M. Thorez has recently sought to insert in the British Press. But that only makes it all the more essential that we should give a strong lead to our sorely tried and, to me, still dear French friends.

After all, we can hardly expect them to stand up against the daily deluge of Moscow's Anglophobia unless we give them something to hold on to. So far we have given them nothing adequate, despite one tentative overture on their part. That lead should not be hard to give. We have had our difficulties and differences with the French, but on the whole we come very favourably out of any comparison with the Russians. The French and the Russians have had an alliance for two years, and we have not had that with the French. What has been the result? So far, on the major issues, where there has been a clash of interests between the French and the Germans, the Russians have given the preference to the Germans, most notably in the Russian policy of pressing for the reconstitution of another centralized and unified Reich which might be presenting the Fourth Republic with a fourth death warrant. In all of this there is nothing to deter the French from closer association with old friends and closer neighbours. Indeed, I think that there are many wise Frenchmen who realize now that France will not easily become a great Power unless she combines with us to make Western Europe a great Power.

In rebutting the absurd charge that co-ordination means reaction, when I first spoke I confined myself to quoting Left Wing support. It is now time to turn to the Right. Nine days after Field-Marshal Smuts had spoken, Mr. Eden spoke in Brussels. He said that the Western, European family must grow even more closely together. He urged a strong community of thought, of economic interest and political practice. The purpose of this collaboration would be the preventing of a repetition of the events of 1914 and 1940. On the basis of these regional organizations the wider world organization might be buttressed, and a closer understanding in one area might lead to a wider understanding. Those last sentences, to which I draw your Lordships' special attention, are the essence of the matter. Like the fear of God, they are the beginning, but not the end, of wisdom.

Now I come in rather more detail to Mr. Churchill's speech at Zurich. It would be difficult to expect anyone in Europe at present to envisage any form of association or partnership with Germany. The material and spiritual future of Germany are still wrapped in far too grave an obscurity, and on the moral side the emotions are not favourable. When Herr Schumacher told us four days ago of the regrowth of German nationalism he was telling us nothing that we did not know already and, if I may say so, I hardly think that our prospects for the future are enhanced by a growing tendency in this country to speak as if the Germans were the only suffering people, and as if we alone were responsible for them. Canards of that kind come home to roost before many days, and we might have learnt that from previous experience. After the last war we went to hell by three stages. We began by pity for the Germans, which merged very naturally into sympathy with them, and turned equally naturally into Germanophilia. I am as humane a man as any in this House, although I do sometimes think of other people besides the Germans. I have no objection whatever to the first two stages, provided they do not turn into the third before there is any warrant. I think there might not be any such warrant for a generation.

Nothing in all that, however, has effected the economic and geographical fact that the industries of Western Germany are an integral, although not an exclusive, part of the life of Western Europe, and must have their appropriate place in it. The emphasis must be upon the word "appropriate." The political future of Germany is a very different matter. That must depend upon the political structure of Germany and we do not yet know what that structure is going to be. Only one solution can give us an innocuous Germany, and that is the federal one, but we do not know whether we are going to get it. We do not know, even if we do get it, whether it will be the right kind of federalism. In this case there are two kinds, the good and the worthless. The worthless is the method from on high. You set up your Central Government in Berlin—and what a place to choose after all these warnings!—and Berlin then ordains that certain functions shall appertain to the Provincial Governments. Now that form of federalism is worthless, because what is given from on high can lye revoked from on high. The only form that is any good is that which proceeds from the circumference to the centre. In other words the Provincial Governments, first and firmly established, ordain that certain functions such as Custom and Excise and Communications shall appertain to the Central Government, and then if the Central Government abuses its position, as is so often shown by past history, it is up to the Provincial Governments to revoke their consent.

I am not going any further into that to-day, beyond making the obvious point that a federalized Germany will obviously fit more easily than a centralized one into any future European Federation. We may not be able to federalize all Germany, but we could at least federalize the south and the west. In that case such a reliable element will harmonize more easily within any Western European Federation. But to-day I am not talking about any Western European Federation. That may be the second or the third stage. To-day I am talking about nothing but the rock-bottom common sense of co-ordination. I think it will be apparent from that that no partnership or association is at present possible between Germany or France or, indeed, Germany and anyone. That is just not practical politics now, nor as a matter of fact, is a United States of Europe practical politics now. It is an aspiration and a noble ideal to which we can all pay heartfelt homage; our grandchildren or our children perhaps may see them, if our world meanwhile has not been totally destroyed by some fresh attempt to force upon it another totalitarianism. But how, for the present, could you integrate all Europe when Eastern Europe devotes all the resources of its propaganda to rejecting Western Europe with contumely? Look at the frauds that do duty for elections in that part of the world. How rightly, and how vainly, we have tried to correct them. The Government was condemning them only yesterday.

I see that the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York has a Motion down on to-morrow's Paper pressing for the better treatment of minorities. Of course, I do not anticipate him, but I would merely say what, in any circumstances, I would have said to-day—I fear that it may be rather behind the galloping times. Minority treaties were the good intention after the First World War; what we need to-day are not minority treaties but majority treaties—treaties for the better treatment of majorities. All over Eastern Europe tiny and tyrannical minorities are in front and they rule with a rod of iron. How would you integrate that with this vision? If we made an advance they would have none of us.

If you want to convince yourself how hopeless at the present moment any United States of Europe are, you have only to remember the reception given in Eastern Europe to Mr. Churchill's speech. They condemned as reactionary a policy whose failing is that it is too progressive for our times. They dubbed "incendiary" one of man's most abiding and elusive visions of peace. It may well be that the United States of Europe are part of the vision with which Tennyson in his In Memoriam said: …. one far-off divine event To which the whole creation moves. But note well, he said, "far-off." Even before that, he had written in Locksley Hall" the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world". That was over a hundred years ago. How far have we moved since then? Not very far. And why? Perhaps it was too general, perhaps we were asking too much and too soon, in contrast with our usual habit of too little and too late.

He was succeeded by more practical visionaries. Take, for example, the opinion of Henry Sedgwick, who died in 1900. After his death was published his book The Development of European Policy in which he most explicitly predicted the integration of the States of Western Europe. And he added: "This new political aggregate will be formed on the basis of federal quality." That was fifty years ago, and how far have we moved since then? Again, not very far. And why? I think for that there is little explanation or excuse. We have tried one very noble experiment, the League of Nations, and perhaps that also was too general. If, to use Mr. Eden's words, it had been buttressed upon a Western Regional Organization its fate would have been very different, and we ourselves would never have undergone that second Pentecost of calamity.

I mention these cases to show that for a century men have been talking much and achieving little towards the realization of their own ideals. It is not necessary to say that we have done nothing because we would have everything. The French reply that the "better is the enemy of the good"; and so I ask what are we doing and what are we going to do in this sphere where progress is possible? I know that there have been fruitful conversations between British officials and French officials looking towards an increase in the general volume of trade and to a better exchange of books and films and tourism. Excellent but not enough. Where is the Anglo-French Alliance? For two years the French have had their alliance with the Soviet Government. Where is the Anglo-French counterpart? We must realize the responsibility for the time lag here. If it is we who are hanging back, why not press forward? If the French still hesitate, why haven't we drawn closer to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, as already suggested? Surely we are false to ourselves if, being unable to have forthwith "the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world," we do nothing to create that which we could have without further delay. Surely it is a dereliction of our duty merely to mark time when one practical step forward—le premier pas qui coute. and to our French friends I would say: qui coute si peu—might carry us foward to the full realization of our highest hopes and firmest forms of security.

I have not only great respect but, if I may say so, great affection for this House. It has always endured me with courtesy. I believe that it still has a great part to play in the affairs of man by giving a moral lead where one is most required. I submit that the call is on us to-day. If anyone has any qualms on the subject I beg him to travel with me no further than the Albert Memorial—if he can bear it. You all know the ancient Greek legend of how the god Zeus, disguised as a bull, raped Europa. On one corner of the Memorial you will see the unruffled figure of Europa seated, side-saddle and all proper, upon a bull which shows no sign of that Mediterranean temperament. From this you may judge what our Victorian ancestors preferred to think of those foreign goings on, in so far as it was good form to talk about them at all. And then consider the Europe not of myth but of history, the Europe that you and I have known, torn and I tousled and bloody and raped by bull after bull, each one calling himself a god. I beg that to-day, my Lords, you will do what in us lies at least to preserve the virtue of Western Europe, for it is great. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That every encouragement should be given to the development of close political and economic relations between the countries of Western Europe, since the promotion of political and economic relations between the European States must contribute generally to the effective operation of the United Nations.—(Lord Vansittart.)

5.3 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, who has spoken so brilliantly to your Lordships this afternoon, devoted some considerable part of his speech to the future position of Germany in relation to Western Europe. I am sure that he will forgive me if I do not follow him there. What I rise to do is to give very warm, personal support to the broad case for closer association between the nations of Western Europe which he has urged with such force. I think that the House should certainly be most grateful to the noble Lord for raising this matter again, for it is one which to most of us is of the greatest urgency. I do not suppose that there is anyone who can, to-day, look at the Continent of Europe without grave anxiety. Often in past centuries Europe has been rent by great wars. But, I think that until lately the essential unity of the Continent has never been destroyed. During the eighteenth century—at least until the Napoleonic wars—it was never even seriously threatened.

War, as your Lordships all know, was regarded in those days mainly as an affair of soldiers and sailors. I do not say that the civil population did not suffer. Of course they did in certain cases, but except in the battle areas the ordinary citizens in the countries that were at war—certainly this applies to the people of Britain—were, for the most part, relatively little affected by the conflict. Indeed, as one can read from the memoirs of that time, civilians used to pass to and fro across the borders of the warring States and very often through the zones of the armies themselves without let or hindrance. The fundamental unity of European society was so strong and so stable that it was, as I say, relatively unaffected by temporary conflicts. How great and deplorable a change has come about as the result of the events of the last thirty years. Lord Vansittart, in his speech, said that we had not moved very far in the right direction. I think that that is a classic understatement. We have moved a very long way and in the wrong direction. We, the nations of Europe, are becoming more and more like medieval fortresses with their garrisons looking out upon a hostile world. It is almost impossible, nowadays, for one to pay a visit to a neighbouring country without passports, without permits and licences innumerable, which are themselves the fruit of over developed national suspicions. It is a strange paradox that at this time, when the means of transportation are more rapid and more efficient than ever before, human intercourse between the peoples of Europe and the exchange of goods and services are becoming increasingly more difficult.

What must be the inevitable end of this deplorable tendency? Personally, I feel most profoundly that were this situation allowed to continue to deteriorate, as it has deteriorated in the last thirty years, we should soon be back at something very near the Dark Ages. It seems to me that some means must be found of recreating the unity of Europe, or Europe, and all that is meant by European civilization will perish. As Lord Vansittart has said, that was the theme of the very remarkable and far-sighted speech made not very many weeks ago by Mr. Churchill at Zurich, followed by another equally impressive speech by Field-Marshal Smuts at The Hague. Mr. Churchill, it will be remembered, took as his text the necessity, if European civilization is to survive, of the constitution of a United States of Europe. Who will quarrel with his conception of that as an ultimate objective of European policy? I can think of no one. We have only got to look at the United States of America, happy, united and prosperous, and then turn our eyes to tortured, distracted Europe to draw our own conclusions.

But it would be idle to imagine—and I do not suppose that either Mr. Churchill or Field-Marshal Smuts would ever suggest it—that the progress of the European Continent towards federation or even confederation will be easy or rapid. The wounds of the past are too deep and too painful. Distrust and suspicion are too deeply rooted to be easily or quickly eliminated. Let us indeed keep the United States of Europe before us as an ultimate aim for ourselves, or our children, or our children's children. But do not let us fall into the error of imagining that it can be approached except by very gradual stages. Indeed Field-Marshal Smuts clearly recognized this both in his speech at The Hague and the subsequent speech which he delivered at Brussels, in which he advocated more restricted groupings, economic, I think, or political, if the greater aim of the United States was not immediately attainable. As I understand it, it is to the purpose of defining that first essential stage on this long journey towards European unity and to urging His Majesty's Government to take the first step on that road, that the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, has devoted his remarks to-day. He has pleaded that immediate action should be taken to inaugurate closer association between the countries of Western Europe. Personally—and I have no doubt that I speak for many other noble Lords—I believe that to be an essential preliminary to any further progress towards wider European unity.

Such a closer connexion would not be directed against any other country. When, not long ago, the United States of America negotiated the terms of the Treaty of Chualtepec that was not regarded—so far as I am aware—as offensive action against anybody else. Nor have we in this country made the slightest complaint against the arrangements which Russia has made with her neighbours in Eastern Europe. The noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, reminded us this afternoon that the Charter of the United Nations blesses such arrangements—I will quote the words of the Charter—so long as they are consistent with the principles and purposes of the United Nations. All we and our neighbours at the west end of this continent would be doing would be strictly in harmony with the principles of the Charter. We should indeed be actively buttressing and strengthening the United Nations by re-creating that unity of spirit by which alone international co-operation can be given reality.

We, the nations of Western Europe, are the trustees of a long tradition, of a civilization free and tolerant, of all that we comprehend by the word Christendom. On the firm foundation that we have provided, the greatness of the nations of the new world is based. It would be tragic if Western Europe, which has given so much to the World, were to crumble into disunity and chaos. Yet I believe that is a very real danger to-day. Moreover, as I took the liberty to point out to your Lordships the last time I spoke on this subject—and I hope you will forgive me for reverting to the subject to-day—there are far greater advantages to be gained by such an association than merely European ones. The nations of Western Europe include the great Colonial Powers—France, Holland, Belgium and Portugal. Throughout Africa and the Far East their interests, and the interests of the British Commonwealth, are closely interwoven. In many areas of Western and Central Africa—as the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, knows better than anyone—the territories of those countries and our own form—or should form—closely integrated economic units. On questions of communications, of health, of labour policy and on a hundred other aspects of current policy, close and constant consultation between these countries and ourselves and the other Empire countries, is not only desirable but necessary, if the best results are to be obtained. In this aspect of the policy which I am urging, the interests of ourselves and of our Dominions are identical.

The European aspect of the Western Pact is not by any means the only one which makes it so desirable. It could equally be recommended for the imperial advantages which it gives to the nations concerned. I personally wish that it could have been brought to fruition earlier in the war, when the French; Belgian and Dutch Governments were still in London, and in daily touch with His Majesty's Government. I believe that a valuable opportunity was missed. But at that time the preoccupations of war held all our main attention, and it was understandably difficult to look far into the future. In any case, it is not too late now. But in my belief there is no time to be lost.

I understand that the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, is to reply, and I feel sure that there will be no opposition from the Government to this Motion. The advantages of the policy which it urges must be just as obvious to the Government as they are to us. But there seems to be some reason, which I have never been properly able to understand; why the Government cannot go ahead with practical negotiations. Possibly the explanation is to be found in the natural preoccupations of the Foreign Secretary with his negotiations with the Big Five and the United Nations Organization. He has so herculean a task that it seems unfair that those who have not the same responsibility should press him too hard in this matter. But vital time is passing, and what is practicable now may well not be practicable later on. There is no sphere where it is so true as it is in foreign affairs, that it is essential to strike while the iron is hot. Otherwise new combinations of circumstances arise, and then, too late, it is found that a golden and irrecoverable opportunity has been lost.

I would, therefore, ask the Government to-day to tell us, if they can, where is this hold-up? Is it in our own country? Is it in one of the other countries? We have never been told, and there must be many, like myself, who are beginning to be increasingly bewildered and disturbed at this continued delay. I know how difficult it is to talk very freely, in public, on these questions, especially when some progress is, as I hope, taking place. But I hope it will be possible for the Government spokesman to tell us not only that he sympathizes with the policy that is the subject of the Motion, but that definite steps are being taken—or are about to be taken—to give effect to it. I am sure such an announcement would be warmly welcomed by every thinking man and woman in this country, irrespective of his or her Party. I do beg His Majesty's Government to give us some encouragement on this vital question, for I believe most profoundly, that the achievement of some closer relationship between the nations of Western Europe is of transcendent importance for the future not only of this country and of the British Empire, but also of Western Europe itself and, indeed, of the world.

5.18 p.m.


My Lords, in rising to associate my noble friends on this Bench with what has been said and, in particular, with the Resolution of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, I do not wish to follow either the noble Lord or the noble Viscount who has just sat down into the details of ways and means. Nor will I follow them into discussing the ultimate objective of a United States of Europe, believing, as I do, that that may be premature, and that to hold that out as one's goal is perhaps to commit the error (to which the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, referred) of seeking for the best and neglecting immediate progress. If we look back over the last twelve or eighteen months, how apparent it is that so far from there having been closer co-operation and greater integration in Western Europe, in point of fact the opposite has taken place. In my view a great deal of that is undoubtedly due to what has been done, or not been done, or what is arising out of what has been done in Germany, because I cannot see how there can be integration or co-operation between the western nations in Europe, let alone between the nations of Europe as a whole, if Germany is eliminated from that group.

It is surely impossible for anyone to conceive of the removal of 60,000,000 producers and consumers from a European economy, or even from a world economy, without foreseeing also the shattering consequences which we have witnessed in the last twelve months. Therefore, it is with gratitude and satisfaction that we welcome the announcement made by the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, on the fusion of at least two of the zones in Germany into an economic unit—or into what we hope will become an economic unit—even if that fusion does not apparently cover government and political development there. That that fusion has taken place is, perhaps, due to the results that we have witnessed in the opposite direction over the last twelve months—results for which His Majesty's Government, in this country, as well as other Governments, have their share of responsibility.

At any rate, one of the points that I must regret, without wishing to criticize what has been done, is that that disintegration, which has now in part been repaired, was ever allowed to happen when the war with Germany ceased. Naturally, it will fall to many of your Lordships to ask if, in this fusion which has taken place by the agreement, which has been announced, the third element in Western Germany—the French zone—is to be brought in. The importance of that zone and the importance of the fusion of the two zones in Germany, if not in the context of this Motion, is clearly a question of the future of Germany itself. It is a fundamental issue in what is to happen to the economy of Western Europe, and it does not require imagination, statistics, or information to see why. Unless the productivity of Western Germany is re-integrated into Europe, no economic regional organization is possible either in France, in Belgium, in Holland or in Luxembourg. We have hoped to see, in what may generally be called the Lowlands some "getting together," some unity of economic and social policy which, if my information is right, is in process of happening to some extent. Public opinion in Holland and Belgium certainly appears to be verging in that direction. I believe myself that there cannot be a fait accompli until a solution has been found for Western Germany and the economy of Western Germany, which is so intimately tied up with these Lowland countries.

Having raised that question, I feel that I must rather unwillingly touch on one other point about Germany as a whole. No doubt we would all wish to see Germany treated as a whole, treated, at any rate, as one single problem, treated as an economic entity. It may be that what has happened over the last twelve months has now made that, if not impossible, at any rate, extremely difficult, and so we are driven inevitably to accept the position as we find it, which is that there is a dividing line between Eastern and Western Germany and Eastern and Western Europe, a point which I beg leave to come back to in a minute. But within what it is in our power to do, I suggest that hitherto we have been remiss in not doing as much as we should have done, not only there, but also in those other countries to which the two noble Lords who have preceded me have referred. I think perhaps I can find an explanation of the delay which was referred to by the noble Lord who has just sat down; for delay there has been.

Your Lordships will recall that on March 7, my noble friend the Earl of Perth said that we could not allow our foreign policy to suffer because of lack of co-operation on the Russian side. He was speaking in the context of closer foreign relations with France. To that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, who spoke for His Majesty's Government, said that His Majesty's Government welcomed M. Gouin's statement of January 29, which tentatively, as your Lordships know, proposed a closer relationship with France. M. Gouin's statement was made on January 29, and the statement of the noble and learned Lord Chancellor was made in your Lordships' House on March 7. Nothing had been done by that time, and, so far as I am aware, nothing has been done since. The noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack went on to say—and this perhaps was the clue or the explanation— But now we have dealt with the various matters connected with the United Nations Organization, we shall certainly take it up. We desire, as a fundamental matter, to have the closest possible friendship and relations with France. Again on July 29, he went further and said: I cannot believe that there could be anyone who could see in an alliance between this country and France any danger to others or threat to the peace of the world. That was in July. Since then again nothing has been done. I should like to come back to that in a minute.

The relations which His Majesty's Government have had with various other countries on economic and social issues—I take the example, if I may, of Scandinavia—have been dealt with in each case as several problems. Our issues with Denmark have been one problem; those with Norway another; those with Sweden another. Again, on economic issues with Belgium, with Holland and with France—they have all been dealt with severally. If there were a desire to integrate Western Europe, to group the nations of Western Europe, at any rate, with economic regions, without necessarily entering into defensive or other commitments, to which the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, referred, why are all those relations with these various countries always treated as several problems instead of being taken in groups? Why do we have to deal with the three Scandinavian countries all separately, not consistently very often with what they are trying to do among themselves, and failing in this particular case to take a lead, and a very eminent lead, which was given by Sweden in the contribution which Sweden has made to the reconstruction of Europe, and integrate that with what we are trying to do? So far as I am aware, no sort of attempt has been made in that direction at all.

So we have drifted on. We have drifted on, in the case of the French, for over twelve months, in spite of the spokesman for His Majesty's Government having agreed that the move was right and ought to have been taken, and indeed could now be taken, as the noble Lord said. Still nothing has been done. That catalogue could be extended possibly to include inconsistencies in expressed views about Austria, Italy and other countries. But I do not wish to weary your Lordships with a catalogue of what might appear to be criticisms. May I here interject that, so far as I personally am concerned—and I am sure I speak for the noble Lords on these Benches—no sort of criticism whatsoever is intended of what the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has sought to do and has achieved in the last twelve months. His courage, his patience above all things, and his single-mindedness, have earned the praise and support of, I think, everyone in your Lordships' House and, I should say, with a few exceptions perhaps, of the whole of the country. So if what I have said may appear to be critical, it is not intended as such. It is intended to express wonder why this other side has not been taken up. I should like in a minute to suggest my explanation for it, and, if that is right, it is one which can be remedied.

In view of the disintegration of Europe, to which the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has referred, the matter is clearly urgent, because we are drifting to what may well be the dark ages of modern Europe. I do not know whether the method of historical analogy or history really can teach us anything in these circumstances in which we find ourselves. But there is to me, at least, one extremely striking period in history where some analogy may be found to what we are now faced with. Many of your Lordships will be aware that in 800, 1,100 years ago, Charlemagne was crowned in Rome as the Holy Roman Emperor. Out of that grew the Holy Roman Empire. That was the first attempt in Europe, so far as I know, of closer integration among several and separate nations who, by and large, thought the same, and of probably the greatest of all contributions to modern history until we come down to modern times of the League of Nations and the United Nations Charter. It is a very curious and strange fact that that event took place when Charlemagne had found it necessary to establish a line, not a closely fortified line but a line of demarcation, which was first called the Limes Sorabicus and then became known as the Limes Carolingius, which ran, strangely enough, from the neighbourhood of the Gulf of Lubeck, west of Magdeburg, west of Leipzig, cut through Vienna, followed the line of the Julian Alps and ended up at Trieste. What lay west of that became Western Europe and the civilization that we know.

What made that possible was a community of ideas. It was at that time the Christianity and the Christian ethic against the paganism in the East. It is strange that that ideological boundary between east and west of those days is precisely the ideological boundary to which other speakers have alluded in your Lordships' House before now, and which is the one which faces us now. If that boundary cannot be transgressed, through no fault of ours, we can at least do on our western side of that boundary what Charlemagne and his successors did a thousand years ago. It is that which His Majesty's Government have in this and in so many other places been constantly urged to do, and in regard to which three of us, at any rate, this evening have found it in us to regret that further progress has not been made up to date.

I said earlier on that I would try to find an explanation, and if the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, in his reply were to record in his mind the possible explanation against future use it might perhaps be a suggestion which would cure the difficulties that we see. When some eighteen months ago your Lordships discussed the then recent birth of the United Nations I had cause to complain of how much emphasis had been put on security and the Security Council and how little reference had been made anywhere, even in your Lordships' House, save for one brief reference by the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, to the Social and Economic Council. Has what has been happening not been a perhaps undue pursuit of security from fear of war, from fear for our own security, which has blinded, or at any rate dazzled, His Majesty's Government and others into not giving that same weight and attention to the social and economic aspect of the United Nations? Had that been done there could have been no criticism of what may come out of the regional association, because that is specifically provided for and implicit in all economic arrangements envisaged under U.N.O.

Is this not an example possibly of the result of fear? We have chased after the ideal of security for fear of what the consequences might be and have forgotten too much the every-day things that matter to us to keep alive. And what have been the consequences? The economy of Europe is dying. If there is therefore criticism of the Foreign Minister, and perhaps others, is it not that there has been a chasing after security born out of fear instead of seeking to reconstruct and mend where it is possible? I do not say that the united nations of the world which will produce security is not the right aim of His Majesty's Government as for any other Government, but I do say that that aim and that alone should not be the sole guiding spirit of our foreign policy, and that those gaps which I see, and which I believe others of your Lordships will have seen, to which reference has been made to-day, come from the dazzling ideal of world government and from the fear for our own security to the neglect of more ordinary and in some ways, perhaps, simpler things. If I may relapse into a colloquialism: Are His Majesty's Government perhaps not, and have they not been for the last twelve months, seeking to anchor the rainbow, the rainbow which is the symbol of peace; and in the process of doing that have they forgotten to get their umbrella mended, left their goloshes at home and gone out without a mackintosh? If that is the explanation of these gaps that we find in our foreign policy they are remediable, but they must be remedied before we get pneumonia.

5.39 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Lord who has just spoken has said what was so much in my mind to say that I hope I may be shorter than I feared I might be. Let me begin by saying that I do not think anybody, if he were regarding this problem as a general problem, could deny its importance. It is quite clear, is it not, that it is worth everything to the world to preserve the individual cultures of the relations of Western Europe and that they must not be absorbed by any one all-embracing State. But is it not equally clear that in this modern world in which we live for certain purposes they are inevitably too small? It is clear that we need economic organizations in Europe which must go beyond the bounds of the small States, and unless we somehow correct that the whole economy of Europe will go to pieces. I do not know how far noble Lords will remember that in the war we had a good deal of evidence that people in Europe felt that, for all Hitler's evil, he promised one good thing—the economic unification of Europe; and to some extent he did it. People felt that if that were turned in the right direction and done by decent statesmen instead of by thieves it would be of great benefit. I think there are signs in Europe of a feeling that the present cutting up of Europe into these small isolated entities is a very heavy price to pay for liberation.

Part of our difficulty in regarding this question of the association of Western Europe is that it may mean, I think, two different things. Some of the people who press for it are concerned primarily with questions of security and of power. They think, with a good deal of justice, that the smaller States of Western Europe are too small minnows to swim in the same pond as—I do not think they will be offended by this—such lusty trout as Russia and the United States. Trout are beautiful fish, but it is not good to put them, large as they are, with very small fish, and the small fish are sometimes disturbed about it. When you think in those terms you think primarily in terms of common armaments and common power. I think there might come a day when you will have to think about that very hard, and not only to think about it but to act; but surely we can see the dangers which that project is bound to produce at the present time in the atmosphere of distrust which exists in Europe and which is bound to exist for some time.

I do not think the same thing can possibly hold good when you consider the question of economic reconstruction. But the moment you talk about economic things you come up against the question, which I was going to ask of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, but I think he made it clear in his speech: Where does Western Europe end on the east? Does it end on the Rhine, or on the Elbe or on the Oder? I gather he thought on the Rhine, but I may be doing him an injustice. I agree with him—I do not very often do that—that at the present time it would be foolish to talk of a political association of Western Europe which was to include Germany. As Germany stands at this moment you could not conceivably do it. You would have to know what the future of Germany was going to be and you would have to face, if you did it now, the problem of dividing Germany and of deciding where you were going to divide it. It may be that, patient though we are, we may have reluctantly to give it up as a bad job; we may have to fall back on Lord Rennell's and Charlemagne's line. But we must surely not give up quite so soon the notion of there being a chance—and I put it this way—that Germany could possibly be a bridge in Europe and not a gulf.

I think that if we say we should associate at once, and as closely as we can, the nations of Western Europe, and if we say that the Eastern frontier of Europe is the Rhine and that Germany is excluded, apart from the frightful economic consequences which would ensue we should give up the notion that Germany, or even the Rhineland, could possibly be a bridge. We should create a yawning gulf between the two sides, which would be in that sense empty and invite attack from both sides. The real danger at the moment, as far as I can gather—and I have heard a good deal from people who have been talking to the German young—is that when the Germans get bitter (and there are causes for bitterness) those in the West think they are going to lead a crusade of the West against Russia and that we should be only too pleased to join it. Whether they say the correspondingly opposite thing east of the Elbe I do not know, but I should have thought it was at any rate conceivable. If you leave Germany alone and say you cannot grapple with it, that is going to happen. Therefore it seems to me that it is right to say that we hope there will be political association between the nations of Western Europe, but I think the practical things to do now and at once lie far more in the economic and to some extent in the cultural sphere. It is surely obvious that Europe cannot do without industrial Germany; it cannot do without the Ruhr and it will have to have far more than the Ruhr. Unless therefore we devote ourselves, as the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, has said, to dealing with the question of industrial Germany, the whole situation will get worse and worse.

I always think, if I may be allowed to say so to him, that the noble Lord who moved this Motion is so terribly concerned about anybody ever thinking too much about the Germans that he will not ever look at his own, perhaps I may be allowed to call it, sentimentalism. Would he mind being a little more realistic about it and asking himself what makes people nationalist and Nazi? It is not just the evil character of the Germans; it is being treated in a wrong way, feeling a certain amount of despair and frustration and thinking that nothing could conceivably be worse than present conditions. I think there is every evidence to show that that kind of thing is breeding in the German youth, and if I were a German young man it would breed in me. That is the way people feel. I do not mean to say that as a result of that you should do nothing politically at the moment about Germany, but I do think you must do something economically.

May I make a further point? I want to know how you are to do it. We have listened this afternoon, I am sure with welcome, to the announcement of the union of these two zones. Yet I saw in the Press a statement by someone who had anticipated this, deploring the thought that the American zone and the British zone were going to be united, on the ground that our views on how to run an industrial community and those of the Americans were very different. I hope that the Americans will teach us, and will themselves adopt, what they learnt in their great experiments like that of the Tennessee Valley Authority. It seems to me that America has seen that a far-reaching and wide economic plan can be separated from politics and developed on its own. This is my further point. Is not the only way to separate it from politics to try somehow or other to get the economic reconstruction of Germany and the integration of German economy in Europe done not by Russia, England, America and France, but by the United Nations or by some Committee of that Organization? That may not be possible, but I think it would be immensely preferable that that responsibility should be laid upon the United Nations and not, as it is now, upon Powers which are partly engaged in this ideological struggle. It may not be possible, but it would be preferable if you could get it done by the United Nations, as was hinted in the last words of the noble Lord's Motion.

I do not think he meant exactly that but he chose happy words for my purpose even if you had to bring in the whole of Europe. If you had as partners not only France, and the conquering Powers—America, Russia and this country—I should also like to name Sweden. I should like to bring in those Powers which are interested—Belgium and, above all, Holland, who are concerned about the effect of the whole Ruhr and German industry upon the prosperity of Europe. I think you must do that. I think if you stop at a line and say: "Not any further," you are just asking for trouble.

There is one thing more I want to say, which is a smaller thing and yet, I think, important. The noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, pointed out what a very little way we had gone, not just in political relations but in simpler things which we may roughly call the process of getting together. Would it not be possible to take up very strongly and actively the whole business about the regulations which make travel so difficult, visas and all the rest of it? I should like the British Council or some authority to see that that is done, and I am sure it would pay to finance people to go all over Western Europe. Above all, I would like them to believe in the young. I do not think anything will unite Europe like abundant intercourse between the young. After the last war the most healing influence was work done by young men working for the International Students Service. Whilst the elder statesmen were talking, wondering and saying, "Yes, but at the same time you must remember this, and you must remember that," the young men went and did it. They cannot do it now because they are not allowed to. There are already reports which I have read of an International Students Conference held by the French, with the Germans, Americans and French talking together. That will do more to unify Europe than anything. But I think it must occur freely, easily and on a large scale. It cannot be done now because the difficulties are so great, and therefore I hope that the Government will not forget the cultural side.

The poverty of books is frightful, not only in Germany but in France, Holland, Belgium, and the Scandinavian countries. It is worth anything that we should produce far more paper and get the books printed and over there, and you could begin to produce again a common culture in Europe. I do not think, with great respect to the noble Lord, Lord Rennell, that the Holy Roman Empire was such an achievement as he affirmed. He said it was a beautiful conception but it did not do anything very practical. But what medieval Europe did have was a common culture, and people understood one another. That was the beginning. Now, however, the books are not there, the newspapers do not get about easily and people travel only with difficulty. That sounds a small thing, but I think it is more important than people sometimes realize. I think if we said, "This must be done, and the other things must wait," it would excite no suspicion. It is easily done, but do it with energy, enthusiasm and determination, and then the people will find out the right way in which to produce the association of the countries of Western Europe. Because I do not think we know yet what that way ought to be. I think we ought to get together, and I suggest very strongly that the two ways in which we can get together and prepare for the tasks ahead which are quite appreciable—and this should be our final goal—are the economic way and the cultural way.

5.55 p.m.


My Lords, to say that the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Vansittart, strikes at what is quite obviously the main problem of the day, is a mere banality. I should like to make a slightly less diplomatic approach to it, and suggest that it is quite useless to avoid the main issue. It is a question of the struggle which has broken out on a wide front between the iron curtain and unfettered man. We have this battle in its minor form being fought in Europe itself and in its major form in the world as a whole, represented by the sharply contrasted natures of the Russian and American conceptions of existence. For the prevalence of this problem in its present exacerbated form, we have, it is clear, only the Russians to thank, for without this new kind of war of nerves that she has declared the difficulty of reconciling the two modes of life could, there is no doubt, quite well be solved over a longer or shorter period of years by the evolutionary methods of which we are, I think, the oldest and best exponents.

At the same time, there are certain new elements in this war or, shall we say, in this calculated antithesis, which have recently appeared on the scene and which ought not to pass unobserved. One is the reaction of the Eastern European countries to the Russian hold on them, and the other, much less easily calculable and visible, is the reaction of the Russians themselves to Europe consequent on their displacement from their own country. I was informed on good authority only the other day in Paris that when it is a question of the inhabitants of certain Balkan countries circulating between their own territory and Western Europe, the authorities not only do what they have been doing for some time—namely, refuse to issue exit visas for those who have re-entered the country—but refuse even to issue re-entry visas for those who have left it. If this attitude does not indicate a heightened fear of contamination by Western ideas, then I do not know what it does indicate. Then again, a lecturer at Chatham House informed us not long ago that were it not for the tight hold of the secret police in Poland the whole country would be in a state of chaos, so violent is the renewed prejudice against domination of a foreign element, a prejudice, to use a mild word, which takes us back to the days of the Great Catherine and the Grand Duke Constantine.

The point I wish to make is that these reactions may end by being strong enough in ten, twenty or thirty years time for the raison d'êre of the noble Lord's Motion to be a great deal less valid than it is to-day. I imagine that there are none of us who do not deplore its necessity, and who do not feel that in an age when Europe's world importance is so much diminished, and when Europe is more than ever a promontory of Asia, a united and if possible federalized Europe has become a plain and unescapable necessity, if its importance is not to disappear altogether. But since this is certainly not likely to take place in the near future, I feel that the noble Lord's Motion remains a timely and a justifiable one, and deserves our support. I suggest that His Majesty's Government owe us, in any case, a good deal more information than we have hitherto received on the progress made towards creating at least an economic unity in the West, if only because the obscurity of Russian designs and occasional spurts of unreasonableness on the part of the United States with regard to any imperialism but their own and to world markets, create a situation in which economic ties between countries like ours and like France, Belgium and Holland, which have behind them still territories containing undeveloped populations and large stocks of raw materials, could be the beginning of an entity powerful for good, since Western ideas on social reform are evolving on parallel lines, and useful as a resistance ground against aggression. This is a point which Lord Cranborne has admirably stressed.

The political aspect is more obscure; there is the perennial problem of Spain, and—I think here I disagree with my noble friend Lord Rennell—at least one Scandinavian country is likely to continue to sit on the fence; there is the frightful problem of Germany, where Potsdam and our own muddles, recently the subject of much trenchant comment and deservedly so, have combined to produce a state of affairs wherein, as pointed out not long ago in a highly significant article in Time and Tide, Germans who have no desire to live under Russian control are drifting, mentally and physically, in that direction through sheer exasperation. But if an approach can be made on the economic plane to something resembling a Western unity, the flag, by a reversal of the usual process, may well follow trade. In this case the flag is an all-important one—namely, that of European civilization, a flag that may, if we let the present opportunity pass, end by being furled altogether. No one but England can take the initiative in these matters, England, from whom so much is still expected in spite of our new weaknesses. As Mr. Stephen Spender, who attended the other day a conference of European writers at Geneva, has recently written, "We have reached a time when, if we cannot save Europe, Europe will sink us."

6.04 p.m.


My Lords, by way of commencement on this very important Motion I should like, if you would allow me, to support every word uttered by my noble Leader. But I want to refer to one particular point in which I think His Majesty's Government might give an earnest of good intentions. I am rather like that very much under-rated gentleman, Mr. Squeers; I believe it is a very good thing to find something and do it. I think it would be a help in the present situation. I heard it announced on the wireless the other day that His Majesty's Government had supported a proposal to bring before the United Nations a discussion on how the present Government in Spain could be altered. I am bound to say that I heard that with great regret. For about 300 years Spain has been the cause of numerous wars in Europe, not so much by her own aggression as by reason of the preoccupation of the other European nations as to what was going on on the other side of the Pyrenees. I suggest the time has come when that bad habit should cease. After all, we have been authoritatively informed by the United Nations that Spain is not a danger to European peace. That is, I think, as far as we are entitled to go.

I do not want to go far back in history, but I would remind your Lordships that a year ago most of us who have taken an interest in Spain had very good hopes, and I think they were well founded hopes, that a change of Government and probably a peaceful revolution might take place in Spain. Unfortunately, the other nations of Europe and His Majesty's Government began to say that the internal government of Spain was a matter of concern to them. I drew the attention of your Lordships to that in March last, and to its probable consequences. These consequences have taken place. I saw the other day in an article in The Times that it was estimated that a year ago only 25 per cent. of the people in Spain were supporters of General Franco's Government and that to-day, owing to outside interference, 75 per cent. of the people of Spain were supporters of General Franco's Government. That is only to be expected. At the moment His Majesty's Government of this country is not very popular with a large section of their countrymen, but if any outside person of any kind, private or national, were to attempt to interfere with His Majesty's Government or to dictate to us how we should be governed, we should be the very first to rally round them. They know it, and it is the strength of their position. I do not see why we should think that Spaniards are any less patriotic than we are ourselves.

If your Lordships will not accept figures from a newspaper article, you have only to consider the tone of what I might call the revolutionary Government outside Spain. You will have noticed how that group of gentlemen have lowered their tone very considerably owing to the increasing support for General Franco in Spain. On the previous occasion I was very glad to get an assurance from the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack that however earnestly we desired a change of Government in Spain it would not be set up by force of arms by His Majesty's Government. But if this is brought before the United Nations, how is it going to be effected? It seems to me there are only three ways. One is to stir up a civil war in Spain; the second is to exercise a blockade; and the third, which I hardly venture to mention in your Lordships' House, is assassination. I can see no other way than these three. Which of these three would it be best for the United Nations to adopt? Spain has had enough and to spare of civil war in the last 150 years, and it would be an unthinkable crime that we, who have just come through a war of the kind that has been fought in Europe without any real personal suffering ourselves, should, from our safety, try to bring these sufferings to any other part of Europe. I think that is unthinkable. With regard to a blockade, on this I would like to quote what was said by the Minister of State on October 14 in another place. He pointed out, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, how a blockade must bring unthinkable suffering on the Spanish people themselves.

It would certainly remove some obstacles for the integration of Europe if, for a short time, any mention of Spain could be dropped. Interference will only strengthen the present régime. Worse than that, because, after all, what is the United Nations? It is an organization for world peace. The 1914–1918 war was a war to end war. The last war, as far as I can see, was to end civilization. The next war will be a war to end Man, and if we want to avoid a war to end Man we must have an organization whose job is, in the words of St. Paul, "to seek peace and to ensue it," and not to stir up war in places where it does not at present exist. I only put that forward as a good example of what can be done to bring peace back to this distracted Western Europe, and if sincerely hope that His Majesty's Government do think along the lines of the Motion that has been moved to-day.

6.10 p.m.


My Lords, we have had, as we always do have in this House on these subjects, an exceedingly well-informed discussion, and I would like to say at the outset that, so far as the form of the Motion moved by Lord Vansittart is concerned, we have no objection to it; in fact we think it emphasizes a very vital necessity, that it points to some possibility of immediate progress and should therefore be given effect to so far as that is possible. I feel that, before I come to the immediate elements in the noble Lord's Motion, it is right to say something of the background of these matters at the moment, something which is in the minds of all of us. Whilst we recognize fully that greater co-operation between adjacent States can but be for the good, not only of themselves, but of their neighbours, and is therefore by all means to be fostered, we cannot lose sight of the fact that, at the present moment in human history, there seems to be a sort of race between the development of international co-operation on the one side and the application of the inventions of science to wholesale destruction on the other. That is in the background of what is happening at the present time.

History has shown us over and over again how slow nations are to modify their habits, to adjust their practices to new emergencies—and that is precisely one of the great dangers of the present time. It appears that the inventions of science race ahead much more quickly than man moves in his readjustment to new forms of association which would be a safeguard against the dangers with which science is threatening us. It is no use hiding from ourselves the fact that as a result of this, shall I say, race of science towards the development of destructive power, it may be possible to place in the hands of quite a few people agencies for spreading destruction wholesale and for inaugurating a world-wide catastrophe. I feel that, behind all this, the world is looking with strained anxiety to the efforts that are being made to evolve some international organization which will help us to co-operate on a wider scale than we have ever done before, and will provide security for the people. In fact, there is no reason at all why national differences, national characteristics, should not, themselves, be retained and even developed and become valuable elements in a greater unity than has ever been known before.

The noble Lord's Motion, at all events to my mind, calls up something of our own past history. But the lesson of our own history is not altogether encouraging at this moment. It took us, in this island, hundreds of years to forget our internal feuds and to act in common. But that has not meant diminution of the value of the national differences of the Scot or the Englishman: in the results they have contributed to a greater unity. The British Commonwealth of Nations is another wonderful illustration of individuality developed and flourishing as part of a greater association. The noble Lord's Motion points to other associations which should be developed. He mentioned some of them, and they are obvious to us. There are the common interests of the Scandinavian States and the common interests of the States mentioned by my noble friend who sits behind me—Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland and others. There is every reason why closer and closer association between neighbouring States should be fostered.

I am glad that your Lordships gave a welcome to the small advance—and it is only a small advance—that is signified an the statement that I made to-day about the decision to work in common for economic and other purposes the American and British zones in Germany. In answer to the noble Viscount opposite, I will only say at the moment that I hope it is the beginning of a wider association, but he knows, as well as anybody in this House or outside it, how difficult and tedious is the task of bringing about some of these developments. But, at any rate, this is a welcome beginning, and the point I wish to make is that increased consultation between the active community of interests in Western Europe does not mean any hostility whatever to a wider association. We have got to keep that in our minds all the time or we shall be heading for trouble. Elsewhere in the world you see the same disposition. You see a great movement amongst the Arab countries, for example, for increased consultation. Well, increased consultation, either forced or otherwise, in the Slav regions of the world, is going on before our eyes. It has been referred to more than once today. What we have to do is to make sure that, while we do everything we can to foster ever closer international associations between neighbours, we do not do anything that will divide Europe into East and West as opposing entities; otherwise the end, I am quite sure, must inevitably be disaster. At the same time, we cannot, I think, imagine that the world can continue with national ambitions and national aspirations as they have been in the immediate past or as they are now. The noble Lord spoke of the declension that had taken place in Europe in that respect. It is manifest that national aspirations national characteristics and ideals, must be merged in common efforts with other nations.

My noble friend behind me said that he hoped that the efforts made to foster better neighbourly relations and associations, particularly on economic lines, would make progress. Let me say on that, that nobody is keener than my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary on getting rid of all the nuisances of visas, and so on, to which the noble Viscount referred. If this were a one-sided affair, I can tell him with complete confidence, half the bother would have been done away with a long time ago. Unfortunately, it is not a one-sided affair. We on our side are most anxious to promote better travel facilities and increased movement of students, university representatives, and others, between ourselves and our neighbours. And vitally important it is.

We cannot, however, think in terms of the old lines of the maps. Take the case of Germany, which is a problem that the United Nations have not yet begun to consider. Whilst Germany must have, and ought to have, on its Western side, an integration—if you like to use the term without too formal a sense—with Luxembourg, Belgium and France, for economic and a hundred other reasons, you cannot have an Eastern Germany without similar associations and needs for a community with Poland. This sort of association is just as urgent on one side as on the other. In other words, if we are going to ask for a future scheme of peace in the world, we cannot contemplate the hard and fast division of Europe into East and West, do whatever we may to foster associations on either side. Therefore, while His Majesty's Government are sympathetic and active in seeking to bring about those closer neighbourly associations in economic matters, and in other matters which lie within the noble Lord's Motion (with which we are in hearty sympathy), we are at the same time possessed with the necessity of securing that we do not foster developments which will divide the world once more into opposing camps of East and West.

We are all disappointed with what has been happening in the United Nations Organization during the last twelve months, but still the Organization has made some progress. During the last few weeks, some tantalizing differences have been accommodated, and I would suggest that whilst we do everything we can to foster closer neighbourly relations, and to improve economic co-operation between neighbours in the west of Europe—wherever feasible, and particularly where there are kindred civilizations—we must never lose sight of the necessity of doing everything we can to help the United Nations to come together sufficiently to establish a machinery which will enable national differences, openly and fairly, to be discussed in public, and which will gradually help to remove the essential causes of strife. We must not, and we will not, with infinite patience and despite an infinity of setbacks, lose sight of the need to do everything we can to foster the development of a healthy and strong United Nations Organization. I wish to say that very emphatically. We must try to build around this Organization the machinery for dealing with the misery in the world, for fostering development in backward countries, and for a hundred other purposes, and gradually to attach to this agency much that will promote human well-being and happiness.

Therefore, whilst I agree that increased neighbourliness among neighbours in practical working fashion is to be encouraged everywhere in the world, in our view the only hope for civilization is to, build up a United Nations Organization which will step by step and ultimately become effective, both in securing world peace and in helping to deal with the economic inequalities among nations. Having said that, as I feel it is my duty to say it, lest it should be thought that we are committing ourselves to any narrower projects, I have deep pleasure, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, in accepting the noble Lord's Motion. I think that it embodies practical politics in a very terse way. It is a guide to all of us, and I believe that the result of what he has said, and of the acquiescence of all your Lordships in his Motion, will give great encouragement outside.

6.28 p.m.


My Lords, when a Motion and a debate have come to this happy ending, there is little left for the mover to do, especially at this late hour, except to give thanks. I do very sincerely thank all those who have supported this Motion, particularly the noble Viscount, the Leader of the Opposition, and the noble Lord, the spokesman of the Liberal Party. In particular, I would endorse what the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, said about the need for action and speed, for a great deal of time has already elapsed, and time is a commodity that does not return. I would thank the noble Viscount, particularly, for imputing to me, in one passage in his speech, not only an under-statement but "a classic under-statement." I may say that that is rather a rare experience in my existence, and it only shows that I must be rather careful in future!

On the other hand, I rather gathered from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Lindsay of Birker, that he thought I was approximating to my previous reputation for being a little too hard on the Germans. I should like to make it quite clear that my stand over that matter is that I do not want us to repeat the mistakes which we made after the First World War. We should be chary of giving our confidence until we are quite sure it is justified. This is a case where I think we must follow a course of vigilance, and indeed scepticism, until we are sure of something better. The noble Lord, Lord Lindsay, also asked me for my definition of the term "Western Europe," which is rather a large question. As he did so, however, I should like to say at once that my definition of Western Europe is a good deal wider than any of the countries I happened to mention in my speech. It would certainly include Scandinavia, Switzerland, even Italy. I see that the subject of Spain was introduced. Naturally, geographically the Iberian Peninsula is in Western Europe, but there is nothing more to be said on that subject unless and until Spain adopts a democratic mode of government. I think at that we may leave it.

I pass then to the remarks of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House. He said that we must be careful not to divide Europe into two. I am sure that would be against the wishes of us all, but the fact remains that division has already gone a very long way, through no fault of ours, and I am very deeply convinced that by co-ordinating Western Europe you will tend not to accentuate but to diminish that division. That was why I laid such special stress on these words of Mr. Eden: "From a close understanding in one area a wider understanding may grow." I can assure your Lordships that if you live with a totalitarian country you will find they will respect you the more as they deem you worthy of respect, and although a great deal of abuse has been showered from Eastern quarters on the idea of any integration in the West, you will find, when you have integrated that, that abuse will die down 90 per cent.

For the rest, I should like to thank the Government very sincerely for their welcome and statesmanlike acceptance of this Motion and of this policy. I wish to God that we had had this policy all my life. If we had had it, we would have had a happier and a better world. It is not too late to have that happier and better world even now, if we pursue this policy with resolution. I hope, and many in Europe will be led to believe, that this day's debate marks the beginning of a new phase in British foreign policy. I hope we shall live up to that expectation. It would be fatal for all to agree and then to do nothing, and it will now be for the Foreign Office to push ahead with the necessary negotiations. There is one other thing I should like to say in the few minutes that remain. To-day's proceedings will have given new hope and comfort to all those in Europe who have long looked to us for the lead now given. I therefore hope that this new phase of British foreign policy will be supported with the same virility and unanimity outside the House as inside it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.