HL Deb 10 July 1946 vol 142 cc297-316

2.53 p.m.

THE EARL OF DARNLEY had given Notice that he would move to resolve, That this House hereby affirms its belief that peace will only be established between nations by the adoption of the Christian commands on neighbourly conduct. It therefore resolves in the first place to urge to United Nations that peace treaties shall be governed by those principles, and be therefore devoid of punitive terms either showing or inviting revenge. And in the second place resolves that it will urge and foster the formation of goodwill between recent past friends and foes, all of whose hands, are necessary to create a human brotherhood and avert the peril of atomic annihilation. The noble Earl said: My Lords, this is not an easy Motion to bring before you in acceptable or even arguable form. I have put it down on two previous occasions but it had first to endure a period of enforced detention in the coal mines, and then, on the second occasion, it had to be attached to the very strong supporting coat tails of the three noble Lords who put down Motions and were to have spoken to-day but who have now disappeared and taken their coat tails with them. As a result, it is suspended alone in mid-air. I hasten to say that I hope your Lordships will not imagine that I come to you to-day with any feeling of superiority of any kind, to read a lecture or preach a sermon, or that I think I have any right to do either. Very far from it. I consider myself one of the most ordinary of sinners; if I were to claim superiority, even to a small extent, over any of your Lordships, it would be only over those who never come here to help in our deliberations. I am only speaking to-day because of an urgent desire which I think everybody has a right to gratify; that is, to pursue truth, especially if he feels that he can do so along the lines of reason.

I should like your Lordships to accompany me on a flight of fancy this afternoon. Imagine for a few moments that it is not I who am addressing you here but that all of us together are conducting a survey of the world conditions to-day, and that we have an audience composed not only of the world politicians of to-day but of all those who have conducted the affairs of their different countries since history began—a very large assembly. Just let us see whether we could not justify calling them to task in some such words as these for their handiwork, due to their accumulated efforts. Most respectfully, of course, because many of them are great men and great heroes. We should begin by saying: You have accepted, educated and brought to maturity a system of settlement for international quarrels which, after a thousand years of strife, has achieved the following climax in human existence in the last six years.

First of all, it has starved the world. That is a not inconsiderable achievement considering the money, the labour and brains devoted to food production which, before the war, resulted in large quantities of food being over-produced and even destroyed. And in wasted and starving bodies it has put frightened, restless, tormented souls, homeless, shattered and devoid of hope or security. In addition to killing vast numbers of the gallant young who always offer themselves as sacrifices on these occasions, it has achieved this time the burning alive, suffocation, dismemberment and disintegration of thousands of old men, old women and children by bombing, concentration camps and other horrors, and so brought mourning for the tortured and the dead into nearly every home, or perhaps I should say household, because home is one of the primitive luxuries of which you have now deprived a good many of your subjects. You have made existence a mockery of the idealisms of religion, of philosophy, of art and of music and of the teachings of the great masters thereof.

Existence is no longer a grateful striving for education in the wonderful and inspiring school of the originating purpose, but a demented struggle for the primitive necessities of food, warmth and shelter which; for so many millions, are unobtainable. You have forced humanity to abandon fair dealing, for strikes, black market, and petty crime, have turned human ambition into apathy. By using up all available labour, materials and money for war purposes, you have successfully prevented for a long time any return to normal conditions and still to-day by continuing all the mistrusted manœuvrings on the old lines of power politics, in which new horrors of destruction are brandished and bleated about in the Press and on the wireless, you have delayed the mental recovery for which the world is crying out. In fact, the paralysis and the muddle which you have achieved in human affairs is complete.


Could the noble Lord say to whom he refers by "you"?


Yes. I was referring to the large audience of all the people who have, as I said, governed and run the affairs of their countries since the beginning of history. It is an imaginary audience mostly composed of spirits. I hope I have made that plain. Apparently only the animals still gratefully exult in the superexcellence of their gratuitous gifts and possibilities and pursue their accustomed trusting ways, for which as a reward they get put on to ships and made into targets for atomic bombs. Could not we truthfully now say to this vast assembly that the reason that has caused you to create this climacteric is that you have made force your god and your high-priest. You have continued in the belief that you could impose your will for good or bad by force on your adversary and at the same time create peaceful conditions between yourselves in spite of the obvious fact that such impositions have always led to a crescendo of larger and more terrible revenges. And through this faulty theocracy you have brought your world to the brink of a final phase of destruction and your human race to the danger of a reaction from which there can be no recovery.

Could not you at long last agree that it is now necessary to change your gods if you want to save humanity and by so doing render a long overdue but honest tribute, first, to the many gallant millions who have through the ages suffered a supreme sacrifice at your behest; secondly, to the ordinary working man so that it may be possible to get conditions of an assured prosperity in which he may at long last acquire the necessaries for the conveniences and comforts of life, which so far, through alternative periods of being forced into battle and being immersed in world poverty, in which promises and plans are many but impossible of fulfilment, have never been achieved; and last of all to do an honest service, if I may presume to say so, to the teaching which all the time you have professed to follow. What answer could this large assembly truthfully make if you did say this to them? It is no good their using the old answer that it is an imperfect world and force must be used to keep down the various sinners who came on the scene. This old argument of saints and sinners is out of date in this atomic age. It is not much good being in the right if you do not live to see it, and science has now arranged without any doubt that at the next conflict both types will be reduced to a similar form of dust in a few moments. So the saints and sinners have got to come together and form some kind of intelligent defence against an invocation of the new methods which will make the earth a smouldering ruin.

Pharisaism has got to be sacrificed to save the world, and I venture to say that nobody will mourn for it. This is not to say, of course, that there have not occurred In ancient and modern history many debased characters, torturers, plunderers and murderers of the very highest criminal intent and purpose. Of course there have —we have all seen them lately. But it does mean this, that as force produces in reaction all that is vile in humanity and force is irritated into being by Pharisaism, Pharisaism has had its share in introducing these villains, and it is therefore due for abolition on this score. I venture to submit to your Lordships that if this vast assembly were to answer truthfully, they would have to confess that the present crisis proves beyond all possibility of doubt that all the methods used by humanity so far for regulating international questions are faulty in design and will inevitably result in failure in the future as they have done in the past, and the next failure will probably be fatal and conclusive.

If only this hypothesis could be established, then humanity would do what it should have done long ago: that is to view past procedure with shame, acknowledge faulty methods and search for a method which does carry with it a certificate of assured result. This, I suggest respectfully, exists in the second great command of Christianity, for the efficiency of the orders given by the Founder were proved by the fact that, imbued with the power begotten of such habitual procedure, He was able to influence the mental and physical condition of men and women to the extent of performing what we know as miraculous cures. But even without such a belief, reason will surely assist man in adopting an ethical method of this character, for in spite of all the horrors and atrocities committed by warring man, which apparently increase at every outbreak and which seemingly demand intensification of protective methods which have failed in the past, there are still certain static facts or laws to encourage confidence in achieving peace by ethical methods of relaxation rather than the instinctive ones of compulsion which have now brought humanity face to face with atomic destruction.

This law of cause and effect which I have often referred to before, and to which I do not think I can refer too often, still stands, and it will reveal, if faithfully studied, the fact that the effect must equal the cause, and therefore the more you complain of every evil deed done by individuals or nations, the more must you condemn the causative action of similar size and character, which undoubtedly brought it about. Every aggression, therefore, is due to some cause of disturbing or subversive effect done consciously or unconsciously by neighbouring agents in the near or distant past. In other words, countries even of the most combative type, do not make war for fun, or because they enjoy it, but because they believe they have a grievance which long general adherence to the fetish of war has put in the category of rightful solution by this method. Such grievances often date from a previous defeat, and the penalties demanded by the victors in the form of reparations or altered boundaries, or land and colonies taken away, or from difficult and unfair competition in trade from tariff walls or overcrowding and other examples of man's competitive inhumanity to man. Facts like these are often forgotten, especially by the innocent.

The acknowledged method of redressing grievances has been a good deal of sabre-rattling to start with, arming in the meantime, and then making abusive and threatening speeches which produce similar reactions in the adversary, and the heaps of gunpowder grow until the unavoidable spark sets them on fire. Application to the history books of the world would show that every conflagration has started in such a way in the eyes of the writer, who is always the saint and the adversary the devil. It must be obvious that if the second great command of Christianity to treat your neighbour as you would have him treat you had been followed, the law of cause and effect would have operated accordingly and few, if any, of these wars would have occurred, at any rate in modern times, when the nations had more or less settled down in the parts of the world which they had acquired from their original native owners.

I believe, my Lords, the only hope of survival the world has now lies in the inauguration of a submission to this order. The spirit of man will not stand again the horrors and the tortures which are permitted on such a vast scale in modern war. The suffering of them, and even the reading about them, will destroy its morale and its hope beyond repair. I think, my Lords, it is a remarkable fact that politicians in the past have never yet applied ethical methods to international problems. You read of past politicians, primates, kings and emperors who have led the most devout private lives, but have shrunk from applying their beliefs to international procedure. When I spoke on the atomic bomb last October, I received the somewhat melancholy news from the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, who answered that it would be useless if not dangerous to make overtures of the kind I suggested to debased and dangerous nations. I would like to put this point to him most urgently. If this order of neighbourly treatment is truly the advice of an infallible Master, then it must always succeed, and can be safely and rightly applied to the seemingly most dangerous nations as to an ordinary private dispute between two individuals.

But whatever creed you may belong to, even if you belong to none at all, to treat your neighbour as you would hope to be treated is obviously a certain way of obtaining his co-operation and esteem. And conversely, to treat him with power politics, secret treaties, penalties and punishments—and nowadays with threats of complete annihilation by atomic force—is the one way to provoke his fear, suspicion and ultimate aggression. But the politicians of to-day are still quite as busy with force and power politics as ever, quite unmindful of the fact that the next show-down will mark the end of civilized life. There is the usual nibbling at the edges and the boundaries of conquered aggressors which will produce not security but more and terrible revenge. The atomic bomb is being used as a lever to peace and as a warning to would-be aggressors, quite forgetting that an aggressor will get up to date, and possibly beyond it, before he aggresses. There was a radio commentary from Moscow which is relevant to some of the atomic by-play at the moment. What with one thing and another, the Bikini atom bomb did not bring Doomsday on the world, but it did blow up something rather more important than a couple of obsolete ships. It blew up every vestige of confidence in the seriousness of American thought about atomic disarmament. Why on earth would it have been necessary to carry out the complex and expensive Bikini experiment if the United States were seriously prepared to repudiate atomic weapons? One does not believe that, but it seems rather demonstrative of the kind of effect that is being produced by juggling with atomic energy. Another disturbing feature of the moment is that safety in the future is beginning to be aimed at by the formation of bases, bastions and spheres of influence round frontiers, sometimes composed of nationals and sometimes of neighbours. This is only the motto of "Never again" being put into operation in the old, faulty way, but it is dangerous, and causes misunderstanding and counter-thought and action, though, Heaven knows, it is understandable after the sufferings some of the "curtain builders" have gone through as a result of being involved in past power politics. It is making suspicion and mistrust more rife, and the irritated international mentality is in great danger of drifting into a position where the final slip over the precipice will be unavoidable.

Into this sorry and dangerous hotbed of a world it is the duty of some nation (I hope it will be this one) to sow a seed of new purpose, not in the form of slushy talk, preaching or good advice, but of rational shape and based on the rationalism of the second great Christian command. This is the moment to make a beginning. There are, of course, many forms it could take but one which suggests itself as being plain sailing and obvious is a request to U.N.O. to take notice of determination by His Majesty's Government to attempt to initiate a new era of international relationships by urging the putting into effect of such steps as the following, all of which are necessary to produce good feeling in the future, all of which have been neglected in the past, and the initiating of all of which will mark an obedience to the second great law in that they will follow the lines which would be acceptable to victors if they could change places with the vanquished and constitute a vital and practical way of putting it in to operation.

They are, firstly, to feed not only the invaded but the fallen and defeated; secondly, to abolish all penalties for war and all plans for dismemberment and alteration of territories and boundaries except, as the Atlantic Charter promised, with the consent of the nations concerned, in future peace treaties; thirdly, to increase and emphasize the provisions in the United Nations Charter for the creation of world-wide and comprehensive co-operation and prosperity; and, fourthly, and above all, to disavow belief in the power of force to produce peace and avow the belief that the only way to make atomic and other weapons harmless is the permanent abolition of the causes which might require their use, accompanied by a declaration that His Majesty's Government are to found their international relations in future on courses of similar design, origin and purpose. By those means the seed could be sown of a new era of human existence and a beacon would be lit and stand for ever on a hill where a beacon should be.

I think that a proposition of this kind can easily face the accusations of idealism and impracticability, which I can hear floating about, such as "What's the good of talking that way to Mr. 'A.' or General 'B.', case-hardened reactionaries, or tough guys, as they say in America?" But there are no limits to the mountains that can be moved by this so-called unpractical method, just as there are no limits to the chasm into which humanity will fall if it does not give up its old ideas of what is practical and successful. The hardened reactionaries can be unwound by turning the screw in exactly the opposite way to that which wound them up. Similarly, all the defeats, plunderings of territory and hostile acts of the past—and there are many of them—which have solidified into revenge, creating complexes, can be relaxed by the prospect of more neighbourly conditions in the future. Once it can be generally realized that there is an intention that no nation will ever again be required to submit to the will of a conqueror, then the way will be open for peaceful adjustment. The time has arrived for a necessary and complete reversal of the old ways if the world is to survive. You have all seen the horrors that have taken place; you have seen the results of power politics, alliances, secret diplomacy and treaties, and of wars of aggression, of revenge, of crusades and all the vast conglomeration of death and misery caused by these things which have brought the world to the edge of disaster.

You have seen the reaction in the world to war and its misery—Bolshevism, Fascism, civil war, Nazism, discontent, strikes, apathy and crime. You have seen the reactions to dismembering peace treaties and have noticed the ever-increasing savagery and cruelty with which nations now conduct their warfare and how the so-called rules of warfare have become a fatuity that no one regards. You see science hand in hand with finality and you have seen how the chaos created by all this blood, filth and misapplied genius has produced a dangerous and intractable decline in human morale throughout the world. You know in your hearts that humanity will not survive an atomic war and that such an eventuality is a certainty unless international relations are put on a new basis.

Beyond any possibility of doubt the method of producing peace by the forceful imposition of will has failed and led only to horror, misery, chaos and the edge of finality. The method of producing peace by generous neighbourly solicitude is now the only chance humanity has of surviving. No amount of leagues, U.N.Os., treaties or pacts will stop the world destroying itself with the new weapons of science. The only chance is a change of heart and once this is initiated a genuine ray of hope will shine in the despairing soul in this war-threatened world, and regenerating will begin. It will unwind the coils of evil that have made reactionaries in the world and annul the seeds of the more terrible revenges which the evil and horrible deeds of the last six years as well ell as the more distant past, have sown. It has got to make a beginning and the principle has got to be established. I pray that your Lordships will start it in circulation to-day. I beg to move.

Moved to resolve, That this House hereby affirms its belief that peace will only be established between nations by the adoption of the Christian commands on neighbourly conduct. It therefore resolves in the first place to urge to United Nations that peace treaties shall be governed by those principles, and be therefore devoid of punitive terms either showing or inviting revenge. And in the second place resolves that it will urge and foster the formation of good will between recent and past friends and foes, all of whose hands are necessary to create a human brotherhood and avert the peril of atomic annihilation.—(The Earl of Darnley.)

3.20 p.m.


My Lords, I must crave the indulgence of the House for intervening at this early moment owing to other matters to which I have to attend within a short time. I hope it will be possible following the appeal of the noble Earl that we may be able to have a discussion on foreign affairs suitably arranged before we adjourn. For quite good reasons it was agreed on all sides that it would be desirable that it should not take place to-day. I am sure that every member of your Lordships' House is in sympathy with the noble Earl. I do not think that any one of us would differ from his description of the deplorable effects of war and of the desire that I am sure is in the heart of every decent man of every nation to avoid a repetition of it.

I am reminded that not so long ago there was the Kellogg Pact to which we with others gave our sincere adherence and we cannot but remember the acute disappointment and the agony of the world which followed thereafter. One kept asking oneself as one listened to the noble Earl, fully agreeing with his analysis of the situation, what were we to do, how we were to do it and how we were to help bring about this change of heart. As he said, it is a change in the hearts of men which is essential in all these matters; it is the only hope for the world. All Governments I am sure must be continually possessed with an anxiety as to what they are to do and how they are to act to bring about a better state of things, and I cannot refrain, without any vestige of cynicism whatever, from feeling some regret that the noble Earl was not able to make some more practical and effective suggestions as to how we were going to tackle this great matter.

I do not myself think that if we could look into the hearts of people all over the world there is any body of men anywhere who do not dread a repetition of the last six years, who would not do whatever they could to prevent it, who would not do whatever they could to get a better system of world security. I can tell the noble Earl that His Majesty's Government, not alone I am sure, desire nothing better than that this terrible conflict in any form shall not recur and that we shall hope to bring about a state of things in the world whereby men and women can live better and fuller lives in peace security—we all want it. I do not think there is any vestige of difference between us, but we are confronted, human nature being what it is, with a world which is beset by all manner of suspicions, distrusts, dislikes, even hatreds and greediness. These things when they possess people blot out wisdom and toleration and anything that His Majesty's Government can do to promote a change of heart amongst the nations we shall do. We are seeking nothing for ourselves out of this. I looked up the Charter of the United Nations and if your Lordships will not think it an impertinence—because it is very material to the noble Earl's motion—I would crave your indulgence to allow me to read a portion of it: We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and value of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends to practise tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and by the accepting of principles and the institution of methods to insure that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of economic and social advancement of all peoples have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims. We adhere to that Charter. I pray God that the noble Earl and others may give us light upon our way and guidance in our efforts. I certainly accept the Motion.

3.29 p.m.


My Lords, the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, has said that we are shortly to have a debate on foreign affairs, and there is only one remark I would like to make with regard to the part of the Motion which says that we are to urge and foster the formation of goodwill between recent and past friends and foes. I am sure we are all in general agreement with that, but at the same time we must remember that in fostering goodwill among past and present friends and foes there is a large measure of responsibility for the present situation which our foes of the last four years cannot avoid. We want no revenge for the sake of revenge, but at the same time we feel that every single German person who did not resist the Nazi regime within Germany has a direct responsibility for the support of that regime. It may be a direct responsibility actively exercised by support in one of the armed forces or political organizations, or it may be practical responsibility by reason of silent assent. But the German people cannot escape from that responsibility.

As regards fostering good relations with the foes of the past, we on this side of the House—and I am sure noble Lords on all other sides also—feel that, at the present time, we are taking very active steps towards accomplishing that end. The noble Earl who moved the Resolution said that one of our tasks should be to feed the vanquished. Ask the British housewives to-day whether this country is not carrying out that task of feeding the vanquished to the full. The noble Earl spoke of "generous neighbourly solicitude." It is indeed a case of our turning the other cheek in a Christian spirit, when we recall the "generous neighbourly solicitude" which was meted out to civilian citizens of certain other countries, including our own, who were found within German boundaries at the beginning of the war. We want to see peace on earth and goodwill towards men, but to ensure that the Germany of the future must be a different Germany from the Germany that has existed in the past. When that is assured, then the purposes of this Motion will be fulfilled.

3.34 p.m.


My Lords, I desire to intervene for only a few moments in this debate. The Resolution moved by the noble Earl will, I presume, be published abroad, and I think it may be open to misunderstanding. It may perhaps be thought that members of this House have spent a few hours preaching a sermon to the world, and that they have thereby laid themselves open to the charge of proclaiming that they are holier than others. For the life of me, I could not follow the noble Earl's essay, because he preached of fear and frightfulness, and told us what he thought was going to happen if we did not mend our ways. I, for one, would not like the nation in general and this House in particular to be accused of the sin of self-righteousness, but I would point out that this House has paid the price of the last war and of previous wars, and has paid it in full. Thanks to my membership of this House, I was able recently to go as a member of a delegation to Austria. I returned only a week or two ago. While I was abroad, I found that this country, without making a song about it, was feeding every day 86,000 little children with food bought with the money of the British tax-payer. And not a single member of the British tax-paying public I am sure has raised any objection. The acquiescence of this House goes without saying. When His Majesty's Government adopt a policy of humane rehabilitation, that policy is not the monopoly of any one party. It evolves through the united will and effort of every party of good will in the State.

Again, when I was abroad I found that, without anything in the nature of self-advertisement, this country was trying to do What it could, in the British zone and out of it, in the way of bringing together the broken-hearted. That work is actuated by high moral and ethical principles—principles which are not the monopoly of the Christian religion. I would remind the noble Earl that even though we may call ourselves Christians, we have not a monopoly of goodness. I found that our medical officers, almost out of nothing, were improvising and equipping a huge hospital. They were doing it in most difficult circumstances in the stricken city of Vienna. Everywhere I turned I saw evidence of good work that we—yes, and others also—were trying to do for our enemies. Sooner or later the British housewife will learn that she and her family have been rationed for bread because we have been feeding our enemies. I am certain that in days to come the thought of this will make us feel proud and happy, though, naturally, we now hope that it will be only a temporary expedient.

The noble Earl has evoked visions of the effect of the atomic bomb, of annihilation, of fear and of frightfulness. We want a greater vision than that. We want—and the noble Earl also mentioned this—neighbourliness. We want a good-neighbour policy, and I must say that I am very glad of the reminder which the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, has given us in this connexion. Sometimes we forget the obvious, and we may forget the Atlantic Charter. We may for a time, perhaps, forget what we have but lately set our minds and our hands to do. Therefore, I feel sure that the noble Earl has achieved some good purpose in bringing this matter to our notice once again. But without being self-complacent—Good Lord, deliver us from self-complacency—I think it may well be claimed that the world has made some progress. The noble Earl went for the politicians but, after all, every one of us here is a politician: that is why we are here. Without being self-complacent, I believe we have made progress and that the moral sense of this nation was never more alive and active than it is to-day. I believe that that moral sense is alive and active in other countries as well. At any rate, if the noble Earl has done no other good, he has enabled us, even if we do not all make open confession of our faith, to show that it inspires us. We are determined, and I am sure that all whom we represent in various degrees are determined also, to do what we can to accomplish our desire for a better world. Our people refuse to accept as a true portent the vision of those awful spirits which the noble Earl has invoked before us. They want a better world, and they mean to have a better world. That is a policy which all of us have pledged our word to uphold. We are determined to uphold it. The noble Earl therefore need not be so downhearted. The peoples of the world, and not simply a handful of politicians, are determined that the world shall be made safe. They are determined that the task of making it safe shall not be accomplished through fear—upon which the noble Earl has laid such stress this afternoon—but through love, the love of one's neighbour. It is through the love of one's neighbour, and the determination to do all in our power to ensure that we may live in peace with our neighbours, that we in Europe and other parts of the earth look to accomplish our vision of peace in the future.

3.40 p.m.


My Lords, I desire to say only a very few words. I confess that I am a little anxious about what we are doing this afternoon. The noble Earl has put down a Motion full of admirable sentiments, and part of it setting a proposition to which we could all assent. But we are dealing with a very terrible practical problem. That is, how can we prevent future war? It is the great problem which faces us all. I cannot for a moment bring myself to believe that by passing such a Resolution as this we are going to advance the cause of peace in the slightest degree.




I have no doubt that your Lordships remember the proposal made at the end of the Napoleonic wars by Alexander, Tsar of Russia. I have not the words in mind, but he made a declaration which was very much on the lines of the noble Earl's Motion to-day. He induced the great mass of the people in Europe to give formal assent to the declaration. This country refused to give its assent; we were almost the only country of importance that did refuse. But it never produced the slightest effect in the direction of peace. It was a complete and total failure. I cannot help feeling that if we accept the kind of statements which we have heard to-day, admirable as some of them are, we may give the impression that we think that is the way in which peace will be obtained. If peace is to be obtained it will only be through very practical measures. We have elaborated a very large number of propositions in the Charter of the United Nations. I am quite in favour of those being tried and exploited to the utmost. They are practical propositions as to the actual steps which we should take in order to avoid war whenever it is threatened. That seems the best line of advance which we can make.

I am not one of those who think that we have made no advance. I think we have made very considerable advances, even in my life time, in the direction of peace. I believe that we should continue along the same lines, and that we should not be led aside by what—with all respect to the noble Earl—is nothing but a lot of verbiage. That is my opinion, and I cannot help feeling a little sorry, if the noble Viscount, Lord Addison, will forgive my saying so, that the Government have decided not to oppose this Motion. I think it would have been better, sounder, and more honest, if we had said: "This is not the way to secure peace; we will not pretend to the world that it is. We will not allow the enemies of real measures for peace to use this Motion as a ground for not supporting to the full the practical proposals that we have made for peace, and therefore we shall be forced to oppose it." The Government have taken a different view. I am not criticizing them, but I desire to make my own position plain, that I am not in favour of this Motion.

3.43 p.m.


My Lords, may I add one word to what has fallen from my noble friend Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, who is perfectly right in all that he has put to your Lordships. I should have thought better of the noble sentiments included in the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, if he had commenced by saying in unequivocal language that he condemned without any reservation the monstrous acts for which the Germans were responsible in the late war. I observe something in the terms of the Motion which I think is dangerous. The noble Earl wishes us to say that peace treaties shall be governed by the principles which he has enumerated, and shall be "devoid of punitive terms either showing or inviting revenge."

I am not going to indulge in a disquisition on the ethics of punishment in these cases, but I would remind your Lordships that no less an authority on these questions than the late Archbishop Lang fairly enunciated in this House, when we were discussing the matter before, that because you were a Christian it was not right to condemn all forms of punishment for crime. I am strongly of the view that the course now being taken of trying those criminals, and convicting those found guilty of terrible offences, is the right course. I do not say that the course is to be justified as something which shows or invites revenge, but I say that it is right to punish those who are found guilty of these atrocities. Therefore I am afraid that the reference in this Motion to "punitive terms" may be misunderstood abroad, and I do earnestly ask your Lordships to support the view put before you by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood.


My Lords, I would like to make a few observations on the Motion which has been moved with so much sincerity by the noble Earl—a sincerity which we can all appreciate, whether or not we agree with his Motion. In this matter of Christian conduct, which is the point that I think the noble Earl is most interested in, I have always been impressed by the difference between the conduct of individuals, as one man to another, and the conduct of nations in international life. In the case of individuals, I think that a pretty general effort is made to live up to Christian principles. Such an attempt, however, is often regarded as superfluous in international affairs. This is the great weakness of international life at the present time, and I am convinced that the only solution lies in the application of Christian principles, as accepted by individuals, to the conduct of each country in its relation with others. It is clear, of course, that such conduct cannot be expected unless the people of the country concerned are imbued with such a spirit. The body cannot be healthy if the members that form it are sick or diseased. In consequence, we are bound to conclude that international harmony, which we all desire, must depend on the Christian conduct of the individuals who form the different nations. To achieve this is an heroic task. In my humble opinion, it can only be done through the twin effects of religion and education.

Religion teaches us that no man has a right to absolute sovereignty, which belongs only to his Creator. And what one man cannot claim for himself no group of men have a right to claim. Religion and common sense also teach us, I think, that the exercise of absolute sovereignty in any one nation must lead to chaos in that nation, and therefore to chaos in international affairs. I am convinced that it is only by the voluntary surrender of complete national sovereignty that we can hope for an age of peace.

In conclusion, may I say this. This country and the Commonwealth are in a unique position to-day. We stand as a social democracy, founded on Christian principles, between the knockabout capitalism of the United States and the rigid authoritarianism of Russia. Although we have not the power and the wealth we had in the past, we have the opportunity of taking the moral leadership of the world and I devoutly hope we shall not miss this opportunity.

3.51 p.m.


My Lords, it is with some trepidation that, in the presence of an ex-First Lord of the Admiralty and of my late chief, an ex-First Sea Lord, I rise to address your Lordships and to express the hope that the noble Earl, Lord Darnley, will see fit to withdraw this Motion. The reasons seem to me to be obvious. It is only twelve years ago that in Oslo, when the noble Viscount met the great explorer Fridtjof Nansen, I attended a big dinner. Viscount Cecil said he was surprised to see one whom he was pleased to call a fighting sailor, and he was glad I attended. I said I thought that the League of Nations was humanity's greatest hope but humanity's greatest gamble. As we know, humanity gambled and lost. The noble Viscount the Leader of the House has expressed the main objectives of the United Nations Organization. As U.N.O. is in fact a very important, practical and sophisticated form of the League of Nations, it should be backed by action if necessary.

To-day I cannot help thinking of those six years of standstill⁃six years of total war—when the civilian population suffered so much, and during which time as a Regional Commissioner I saw, as many of your Lordships saw, the most terrible sights imaginable. But humour was always in evidence. There was one occasion when, out of a block of tenement flats, a warden was persuading an old woman of eighty to go down into the shelter. He said, "The alarm has gone. The bombs are actually falling. Why won't you go down?" She mumbled something, repeated it, and the warden gathered that she was looking for her teeth which she thought she had left under the pillow. He got impatient, shook her and said: "Now come on, Madam. It is bombs that are falling, not sandwiches. "And I would say to my friend, the noble Earl, that what we have to face are facts and not theories, for the next few years, anyway.

3.54 p.m.


My Lords, I must say that I am rather at a loss. I understood that my Motion was accepted by the noble Viscount and that that would be final, but I understand now that there is a good deal of disagreement with regard to that course. I am only here to serve your Lordships. I do not want to make any trouble or difficulties. If I ask you to give me leave to withdraw my Motion, I hope you will know that I do not ask for leave to withdraw a single thing I have said—not one thing. I am still just as convinced as ever that everything that has been done up to date in history is being more or less continued in the arrangements that are now being made. There is not nearly enough change of heart—indeed there is no change apparent. Such a change has to be started. I believe that if the Motion had gone out to the world, Viscount Addison having accepted it, it would have lighted the beacon I talked about and put hope into people's hearts. It would not necessarily have done anything practical, because you cannot start with practical devices, nor am I in the least qualified to tell you what the practical devices should be. I am sorry to take this course but, if you really feel it is what you would like me to do I will withdraw my Motion, without withdrawing the sentiments.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn